Writing Update: Return of the Fae 4-5

You might have noticed that the numbers changed since the last time I wrote a post. That’s a good thing!

Yes, I finished writing book 4 and sent it off to my alpha readers just this week. That means I’ll be doing edits and fixes for a while. Yeah, that’s always a thing.

In the meantime, I’m working on the outline for book 5, though I do have two chapters written already. I anticipate it going slowly at first, because it usually does. And that’s okay. It is what it is. I just hope to reach the end without having to re-plot as many times as I did for #4!

This book will have more drama, of course, though in some ways its a lot quieter than the last book. Since the war is over (spoiler), I’m going for more emotional drama in the aftermath. I’ve already managed to make Gil think I ruined his life. He’s so over-dramatic sometimes…

And for the particularly good news…

Book two is now live! That’s right, The Peril of the Fae is finished and out in the world! Woohoo!

Those of you who discovered that book 1 ended rather abruptly will be relieved to know book 2 picks up right where we left off. We get to see actual first contact (instead of mistaken identity), and ladies and gents, it is so much fun!

Anyway, I’d better get back to work, but I just wanted to give you a quick update. (Go get the book!)

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2024 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: Return of the Fae 3-4

Apparently the last time I told you how my writing was going, I was still plotting book 3 of The Return of the Fae. Well, good news! I finished book 3. My alpha readers are working through it while my beta readers work on book 2. I had a lot of fun, which is usually a good sign that you will enjoy reading it. 😉

Now I’m tangled up in a mix of plotting and drafting for book 4. I’ve already replotted at least three times, and I still have a missing chapter. Don’t ask me how I feel about this unless you enjoy grouchy noises.

But I have finished over a third of book 4 and am now knee-deep in drama. Traitors, magic, and war! And more drama is coming, I promise.

In fact, I’ve already written part of the end of the book (when I got stuck on replotting), and it is so much fun. Mwahahaha! When I stopped to return to what I was actually supposed to be doing, I left a character on their knees in shock. And I wasn’t even finished with the surprises!

This series is very different from Unexpected Heroes in at least a couple of ways. One is the subgenre. Instead of epic fantasy, Return of the Fae is contemporary fantasy with a dash of mythology and dollop of sci fi. Another is the reality check. I’ve managed to shoehorn in a LOT of real-life stuff along with the imaginary fae—although it’s possible I’ve claimed that stuff is related to the fae that, in fact, had absolutely nothing to do with it. (But it works so well…)

If you read The Return of the Fae series and find yourself double-checking the news to see what really happened, then I’ll count the books a success. 😉

Anyway, that’s the update. I’m trying to finish the first draft by the end of April or early May. Before book 2 comes out! I know you’re looking forward to that (as am I), and I want to have time to enjoy the release.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2024 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

How I Ramble-Plot a Chapter

I’m trying to include more “how I” posts, even though I realize you probably do things a different way. So this time, it’s how I plot a chapter.

This comes after I have the skeleton of the book outlined, so I know sort of what happens. Yeah, sort of. To figure out what REALLY happens, I go for a walk with my voice recorder, and I talk my way through it. To demonstrate, I’ve included the transcript of an actual plot exercise for The Coming of the Fae, which is in my new series. This scene isn’t terribly spoiler-y (just a little), which is one reason I’m using it instead of something else. I cut out teensy bits for your benefit (stammering, etc), and redacted a spoiler. I stopped the session before reaching the end of the chapter.

(Hop on the treadmill, start the recording)

Okay, we’re going to try chapter 15 again. Ah, which has changed since the last time we tried it, which is all right. And it needs *more, so we need to figure out which threads we have dropped. (Yes, I talk to myself in plural when I plot, because it’s me AND my characters. Or whatever. I’m not crazy.)

So Miknon is going to catch, I guess maybe not over here, but catch some of the highborn swapping empty crates for full ones. Um, moving the food up to their deck.

Let’s see, we also need to check back in on the prince. Oh, in the last chapter with Gil, we need to make sure we have some kind of check in with his family, to see how his mother and brother are doing after the death of Grandpa.

So this chapter, check on the prince, and maybe Miknon is an official spy. Did we already leave the fleet behind? I do not remember. (Pull up outline on phone.) Oo-hoo, do not fall off the treadmill. Ah, yes, we’ve already left the fleet behind. So we need to deal with that. Okay, so this needs to be a political chapter, pretty much.

So in the last chapter whenever it’s appropriate, we need to—we can’t find the council, so we need to keep an eye on them, so the prince asks Miknon to do it, but Miknon doesn’t want to do it. She doesn’t want to be involved in this, and Gil talks her into it, and that I guess is where we give her the friend signals.

Um, okay, so now Miknon is actually following some of them around, trying to find out what they are up to. That’s how she catches them swapping grain. Uh, some of the guards do know (spoiler redacted), dur, because they were in the room when all of this went down. But only a few of the guards. Right, right.

Okay, so, and how are they getting it through the halls—the boxes of grain— without anybody noticing. These people are up at all hours. Okay, what if they have a meeting? The council calls a meeting to update the crew on the progress of the ship and what they’ve discovered. And during the meeting– so everybody who’s awake is at the meeting, supposedly, and they’ll hold another meeting for everyone who’s asleep. And while they’re in the meeting, their cronies are sneaking down the hallway with the grain, and Miknon catches them at it. So she flies in, uh—

But we need to have a funeral, too. Too late to have a funeral, it would have already been way, way over by now. Cuz we are coming up on Mars, right?
Okay, so the meeting is to say we are approaching one of the— we’re approaching the third planet, the red one. Um, it’s half the size of our destination, but we’re going to check it out, because if it’s a possible place to live, then we’ll just move there instead. That’s a good distraction.

Okay. So a lot of backtracking to do. That’s all right, that’s why I plot ahead. (Yes, that’s in the actual recording. I try to encourage myself instead of scold.)
So when Miknon finds out, there are only a limited number of guards that she can talk to, so she has to find one of them. He’s going to pull the rest of the guards and go catch the people, who are going to throw a fit, and Kishar says, um– No, Zaidu says our deck is short on food. The guard says everyone’s deck is short on food. Oh, and Miknon can overhear this by climbing in the light sconce and pretending that she’s supposed to be there. Ha, ha, hide as a light bulb, that’s cute. Okay.

Okay, so… Zaidu says we’re short. Everybody’s short. Well, we’re more important. And ah, this is where we get to pull the (unintelligible), right? And the king promised we would be equal. Well, the king is dead. (Spoiler, sorry, but it wouldn’t make sense without it.) You promised to obey, you promised to follow the will of our leader. The leader is now the council. For now.

And the guard says, well, I can go tell all the lower decks that you’re doing this, and and what will you do then? And Zaidu says our magic is better. And the guard says, do you have enough energy to do your magic when you’re on short rations. Well, we wouldn’t be on short rations if you’d let us take the food. And Kishar says, we don’t want a riot on the ship, and lots of dead bodies would spread disease. We are almost there— he’s right you know. Do the whole Orthallen bit with this. This was a poorly, uh, we apologize for the misunderstanding, and we will put everything back. And Miknon stays in the light sconce, which she gets to, by the way, by sneaking out of the tunnel grille closest to it and gradually coming on. Ah, so she stays there, and after the guard leaves—

Ah, well, okay, so he doesn’t say everything. He says, um, we didn’t realize the other decks were as short as ours. Of course we’re sorry blah blah blah. (Yes, I really said that.) After they leave, then they say, why’d you do that. Well, we can’t afford a riot until we have enough energy to blast them with our magic. Wait until we land and recover, and then we can do whatever we want. Okay, that’s a good start. (End of session.)

I’m sure you noticed several things.

First, I backtrack and change my mind a lot. That’s okay; that’s why I do the pre-plotting.

Second, I change things in previous chapters. Also okay. The back of the embroidery is generally a mess, but the front is the point of the project. In other words, if it works out in the end, it doesn’t matter if the process is messy.

Third, I don’t add much description. That comes later, but it does come. Ditto the emotion. During these plotting sessions, I usually say things like, “He’ll be sad,” or “Insert drama blah blah.” *Shrug* It works for me.

So, does this give me a “finished” plot?

I wish, but no. It does give me really good notes that (usually) let me get the chapter drafted before I go back and edit it. It’s still pretty likely that I will think of stuff to change or add. Again, it doesn’t matter how messy the back of the embroidery is.

What’s the point of this?

Well, first is to entertain you. I know I always like hearing the nitty-gritty details of how authors actually work. If you want a whole book about it, try The Making of Delgath, by Michael J. Sullivan.

Second is to reassure you that it doesn’t matter if your process is different from your writing buddy’s. If it’s working for you, then it’s fine. If it’s not working for you, then try something else.

And in case you missed it, this book is now out! Yay!

Happy writing,
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Character Interviews: Coming of the Fae

Today I’m interviewing a few of the characters from The Return of the Fae series, which is coming soon. On my left are Alexandria and Ian Fitch and Nikos Antonakis. On my right are Gil and Miknon… um, what were your last names again? Right, never mind. (It’s rude to ask a fae for more name than they offer.)

(Alexandria is tall, thin, and brunette. Her brother Ian is blond and short for thirteen. Nikos has black curly hair and impressive muscles. Oops, did I say that out loud? Gil also has black hair, though his is badly cut, and he’s wearing a walking cast on one leg. No, he’s not holding a blue doll on his lap; that’s his sister, Miknon, who is an actual fairy. Excuse me, pixie.)

Where do you live?

Alexandria: We’ve lived all over, because Dad’s in the military.

Nikos: I come from Greece, but I’ll be in the United States for a few years for school.

Gil: Earth. Right?

Ian giggles: Right.

But where did you originally come from, Gil and Miknon?

Gil: Another world. Seven worlds, actually. But they are gone now.

It seems all of you have moved around. What’s your favorite thing about your current location?

Alexandria: Not moving anymore.

Ian: My new family.

Gil: All the space to run around. (He taps his cast.) Soon, I mean.

Miknon: Being able to go wherever I want.

What is your job? What do you do with your days?

Alexandria, Ian, Nikos: Student.

Gil: Zookeeper.

Miknon: Light bulb.

I’m sorry, what? Do we have a translation mishap here?

Gil: No, I think she got it right. The glowing thing that lights a room, yes?

What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?

Nikos: Getting my friends away to be safe.

Alexandria: Saving my mother and brother from Dad.

Ian: Convincing Alexandria to let me keep Gil.

Gil: I’m still working on a treaty with Earth.

Miknon: Stealing two hundred children.

Gil: Sorry, wrong word. RESCUING two hundred children.

Miknon: Right. Rescuing. That’s it.

You all seem pretty good at saving people. Who would you turn to if you needed help?

Miknon: My brother, even if he’s the one who got me in trouble in the first place.

Gil: Hey, that’s not fair!

(Miknon glares at him. Gil shrugs.)

Gil: Okay, maybe that’s fair.

Alexandria: I’d turn to my family.

Ian: Alexandria. She has a list for everything.

Alexandria: Hey!

Nikos: Well, that is true. (He ducks her glare.) But she’s very competent.

Gil: So, there was this time Alexandria attacked a knife-wielding crazy man—

(Alexandria clears her throat.)

Gil: I mean, she wasn’t even armed, but—

(Alexandria folds her arms and glares. Gil shrugs and stops talking.)

So, what are your plans for the next year?

Alexandria: Get a scholarship for college and pass all my classes. I hope.

Ian: Learn a couple of languages.

Nikos: Pass my college classes.

Gil: Finish the treaty and make—someone take over for me so I can have some fun.

Miknon: Research murder trials.

Um, okay. Maybe this is a good time to end the interview. Thank you so much for talking with us today.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: Return of the Fae 2-3

My beta readers are almost to the end of book 1, and so far they seem to think it’s fine. I finished book 2, replotting and all, and doubled the length of one of the short stories. I even eventually got a basic outline for #3 finished—I think.

So now I’m trying to write book 3 while I do final edits on book 1 and the short stories. Multi-tasking, gotta love it. By the time the betas finish book 1, I’ll be ready for them to read book 2, which has a crazy assassin and a mass kidnapping—sort of. No, I don’t want to be more clear. You can find out when you read it. Mwahaha.

Anyway, that’s the latest. Lots and lots of editing, and a start on book 3, which has been a pain and a half to plot. I had to cut up all the scene bits and rearrange them by chapter to see where I had holes and what else I needed. Then rearrange them again. And again. And again. Sigh. I must admit, this isn’t my favorite step of the process, but somebody’s got to do it. Me, I’ve got to do it.

Book 3 is Academy of the Fae, so you should definitely be thinking “high school shenanigans,” except with magic involved. And not everyone wants to be there (which is totally normal, in my experience).

As usual for this series, I’m using some real events to enhance the fiction. It’s still not real, I hope you understand. But I hope it FEELS real.

Several characters have had their lives turned upside down at this point, so they’re flailing around trying to get under control. I don’t plan to make that easy, of course. The more things go wrong, the more fun it is for you to read. Mwahaha.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: Return of the Fae series

Yep, that’s the name of my newest series. For a while, my brain called it Space Fae, until I came up with the actual name.

This is the series I wrote about in November, that is contemporary fantasy with a dash of science fiction and a great big splash of mythology. My work-in-progress tagline is: What if Earth has legends of werewolves, fae, and other myths because we used to be their colony? What if they’re coming back?

I’m having a ton of fun with the premise, and I plan at last six books in the series, though it’s set up in a way that will let me write in it for as long as I want.

I started drafting book 1 late last September and actually finished in early December, way ahead of schedule. Fastest book ever for me! So I started on book 2 and got four chapters done before I got Covid. Phooey! For obvious reasons, that brought my writing to a screeching halt for a while.

Then I had post-Covid-brain for a couple of months, and I only managed to get two more chapters written. Not very helpful. Even worse, I discovered the plot was scarce in obstacles. Sure, the characters had hard things to do, but they were doing them with no difficulty. That’s great in real life, but not very exciting in a book. Covid-brain didn’t want to talk about re-plotting the book, so I took it to my critique group to ask for ideas.

But trouble intervened IRL…

Sadly, my real life has been enough of a mess that I have not yet had a chance to see if the new ideas will work or not, though I am pretty sure I’ll need to majorly rewrite the last two chapters. Sigh.

Then a couple of beta readers got through book 1 and weren’t excited about the ending. I tried this, I tried that, still didn’t work. So I started pondering (which put book 2 on the back burner). It took weeks to come up with a rewrite that might (no guarantee) work. And I still need to see what people think about it.

In the meantime, I decided the prequel wouldn’t work as a reader magnet because it’s epic fantasy instead of contemporary, so I wrote a new short story that I hope has more of the flavor of the series. And then I rewrote it, because that’s the way it goes.

So that’s where I am right now. Will the new ending for book 1 work? How can I replot 90% of book 2? Is the new short story any good? Inquiring minds want to know, and so do I.

Wish me luck!
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: New Series

Well, to tell the truth, I’ve actually been working on TWO new series. One is adult paranormal cozy mystery (still clean, because I don’t write steamy), and it will eventually come out under a name variant. No worries; I’ll announce it. The second series wasn’t supposed to be started until after I finished the mystery trilogy, even though it’s under my usual name. I didn’t even know *what I was writing next for young adult, so it made sense to work on the other one first.

I did have a few ideas I was kicking around, but they were very different ideas, and nothing was producing plot or characters in my brain. So I kept thinking while I wrote the mysteries. I had plenty of time, right?

Then my daughter read me something off… Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere on the internet that she reads things. It was a “what if mythology is wrong” kind of thing, but I’m afraid don’t remember exactly what it said. I laughed, as one does, and quipped back about how it could be right if such-and-such.

Then I stared at her. I could write such-and-such. It would unite MOST of the ideas I’d been kicking around, which was even better than picking one or two of them. There was enough available material with lots of variety. I could have a TON of fun subverting expectations. I could mash together real-life science and history with very unreal other stuff and have a whole new (fake) history that would (incorrectly) explain so much.

So I decided to go ahead and write it.

The series is contemporary fantasy with a dash of science fiction and a great big splash of mythology, so it’s different from my first epic fantasy series but still feels close enough to be “mine.” (One of the reasons the mysteries are coming out under a pen name is because they are so different. The other is that they’re aimed at adults rather than teens.)

Anyway, that was back in early April. I did some quick concept ramblings and character picking, then I started doing research. Due to the very different sources that I’m mashing together, I had to do a lot of research. Plus, even when it probably doesn’t matter, I like being accurate. I’m nerdy like that.

Good news, though. The way I’m setting it up allows for a very long series, if I want to keep writing it and readers want to keep reading it. 😉

Then I had to do some character studies. Sure, I could just learn about my characters as I went along, like I did with my first series, but that’s a lot slower. It took me eight years to finish my first series, and four of those were just finishing the first book. I don’t want this one to take that long to get started, so I’m working more deliberately. Experience has to be good for something, after all.

Then I started plotting the major beats. That created the need for more research. Sigh.

Finally got through that (for now?), and started working on the more detailed outline. That turned up some major problems. I hate when that happens. So I worked on motivations for the past couple of weeks before returning to the outline.

As of now, I have all of book 1 outlined on my max outlining level, and one chapter for book 2, as well as over half of book 2 on the one-sentence-per-chapter level. (Book 2 volunteered…) I also got the entire prequel novella drafted, so progress is being made.

My tentative plan is to write the new series and submit it to my critique group, leaving the already-outlined mystery stories for when I’m blocked or need a break. Eventually, I’ll get them both finished.

Will it work?

I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. 🙂

Marty C. Lee

© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.