Stars Fall Out takes place in a small coastal city dominated by the most prominent university in the northern provinces. The city is under occupation by a vast empire with extensive resources, including people with magical abilities. The catalyst for the bulk of the book’s events is the creation of a new form of magic by one of the university’s professors.

This snippet comes from a scene in which Tirsan ends up listening to that professor’s conspiracy theories. While the professor doesn’t convince him to join him, he does end up being the last straw for Tirsan, who soon writes to his grandfather and asks for a change in the terms that will allow him to inherit land only after he’s finished his studies and found a wife.

Tirsan shrugged, and edged down the street a bit again.

Ghordaa only came closer. “If we come into our own magic, finally, that’s one less way they have to control us. But now, my creation is missing. Even my pencils are missing!”

“Your—you think he took your pencils?”

“Yes! Even those! But it makes sense. How am I supposed to do work of the mind without proper tools?”

I’ve been eavesdropping at Dunkin Donuts while I work on Stars Fall Out.

The employees behind the counter are practicing saying “Welcome to Dunkin Donuts” in spooky voices.

There’s a job interview going on behind me with illegal interview questions.

9/25 scenes done on Stars. I took a little too long on a scene that I came up with four years ago, and that I’ve been looking forward to writing since June. Here’s the excerpt:

Maps. He had given me a pile of maps.

I angled back to the fire, less awkward now that I wasn’t trying to draw. “But these are beautiful.” More beautiful than they needed to be: the swoops, the lines that ran from thick to thin, brush and ink detailing all the hills and buildings of my home. He had made Nirsuathu a work of art rather than a box wrapped in chains, and he had gotten the whole university, even the planetarium.

I sat there studying it so long that he stopped watching for my reactions and looked awkwardly into the fire.

At last, I held them out to him. “Wait…” I snatched them back, and looked at his work again. “Why did you need me to illustrate your brochure?”

“Funny thing, but I can’t draw a cup.”

Rippling mountains. Layered city blocks and tiny spires, even the bakery and the locksmith next door. Streets colliding, separating, winding, curving in precise lines.

“Oh, come on.”

“Ok, I can draw a cup. I can’t make a printing plate. And I didn’t have the illustrations started yet…”

“So you had me do those too.”

“You do have an excellent eye for detail.”

I tend to go for funnier bits when I post excerpts, but here’s a more emotional snippet from Stars Fall Out. I should probably post more like this, since digging in and writing more emotional scenes has been one of the hallmarks of my writing experience with this book.

I attempted to smooth out the note and prop it on my nightstand.

Tyatavar, it began. Not Dearest Tyatavar, or Dear Tyatavar, as some of our dramatic early correspondences had gone. But the extra greeting was entirely superfluous; he had written it into the letters themselves, in the care he had taken with every stem, loop, and curl in my name.

The note had been written by someone who loved me.

I had crumpled it, and thrown it at the wall in the bakery.

Worldbuilding pinch hitters

While writing my secondary world fantasy story, Stars Fall Out, I figuratively referred to a character as a pinch hitter. But in order to have a pinch hitter, you need to have baseball. My options here:

  1. A. Delete this line. It’s not that important.
  2. B. Find a similar term that doesn’t involve baseball.
  3. C. Worldbuild a secondary world sport with a position that would be equivalent to a pinch hitter, incorporate this sport into earlier scenes with references to the pinch hitter position, all so I can use this line here.

So, probably A or B. It’s a line-level issue that doesn’t impact the larger story. Unless I’m in a procrastinating mood when I do my revision, or suddenly think it would be fun to create secondary world baseball. Because if it’s fun, I’ll do it.

Here’s the excerpt in question:

On the countertop, loaves of seed bread formed up in marching order.

My father was telling Vilari how [name of innkeeper] the innkeeper had called him in at the last minute. A secret hero, a [pinch hitter]. Reliable, dependable, known for quality. Between this honor, and the fact the Vilari had kept showing up at the bakery, my father was in fine spirits.

“He came to see me at my class,” he told her. [Some other bakery] is right there, down the hill. Practically in the basement.”

“But who wants bread from the basement?” Vilari laughed at her own joke.

“Who indeed?” Then he ripped off a chunk from one of my loaves. “You slipped on the seeds,” he said.

I tested an end bit as well, and it was pointy in my mouth and throat. “The imperials like more seeds. It seems more authentic to them.” I shouldn’t have said that last bit, but this whole surreal thing with Vilari laughing and joking had disoriented me.

Father opened his mouth, but apparently decided not to lecture me on manufactured authenticity. Not today, anyway. He’d let it stew in his head for a bit.

I could be sure of that.

Fun fact: I’m using the post-by-email feature for this post since I don’t yet have the WordPress app set up on my new phone. This is how I discovered that Gmail now has an autofill feature for email subjects.

This post got the subject “Joke of the week.” Just like a 20-year-old email newsletter!

I’m here, standing before my ending. I’m shooting to use all this month’s NaNoWriMo energy to push through and finish Stars Fall Out.

Since I’ve been going through the draft and tying off loose ends, I thought I’d finally share some short excerpts as I come across them, and as I write them.

This is from a scene in which my character is interrogated for reasons unknown by the Imperial Oneiromancer Master Zanhrori, although she doesn’t realize this at the time–his demeanor doesn’t match his sinister reputation.

“How do you think you did?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I was kind of… baffled by the whole thing.”

“Baffled,” he said, scrawling the word on the paper underneath my name, as though it were a general description of my state of being. “Excellent. Did you know that a baffle is also a type of dessert?”

“No. I did not.”

“There’s a meringue component.” The man sat back in his chair, appearing distant for a moment. As though contemplating dessert, despite the early morning hour.