Fun with process, delays, and chapter 16 of the voice in the forest

Update on the next exclusive

Hi everybody! 
I promise that exclusive story for the newsletter is right around the corner. I wanted so badly to be able to send it to you today, but alas, my cover designer had an emergency and so I got the cover too late to send it along to the newsletter last week.
Which means… next week I’ll load it as another free with newsletter sign up on the website!
YAY!

Update on my process

Because I’ve been thinking about it, and someone asked:

Specifically someone asked me about the way I know the Grimm Star Saga will be an additional nine books or the way I know that Cinders in Midnight Glass, which will come out later this year, will be six books plus a prequel.

They asked how I could possibly know that when I am a pantser.

The truth, as it always is with creative pursuits, is complicated.

I am a pantser. What that means is that I do not do a traditional outline. In fact, I have a sad little page of disconnected notes and seemingly random scribbles and that’s how I start a project.

But, what I almost always have, immediately, that pops into my head fully formed is a character. That character gives me so much information. They tell me what themes and lessons they will learn along the journey of their story. So that’s how I know.

If a character, for example Cinder in the upcoming series, pops into my head and tells me that she has six lessons to learn and they are roughly 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, I know she needs six books.

Occasionally, I am wrong, and so is the character. People lie to themselves, characters are no different. But, so far, those lies have been found in the plots and moments within each book. Not in the overall arc.

My step 2

So, once I have that gobbledygook of notes, I write long hand in my pile of notebooks. Then I write out the major beats of the story I have uncovered on notecards and use those and my very rough draft to do a rewrite as I type it up.

I swear. It sounds bananas, because it is, but this is what happens. 

Now you know why the story I’m writing here, The Voice In The Forest, is such a hot mess. I am not writing it long hand before hand. I am typing it up as we go. 

You also know the dirty little secret of this newsletter and blog story, I WILL need to seriously rewrite it when I’m done and the characters have finally explained to me how we help Blackwell. Does he move on? Does he remain a ghost? How did he die?

I don’t know! They haven’t told me yet!

But, that’s what’s fun about this. 

We get to discover it together. 

Remember, the story we’re writing here is a hot mess first draft, so please forgive the typos and stray grammar. And now for the next Chapter of our story…

The voice in the forest

Chapter 16

Blackwell

They were planning something. 

What? He wasn’t sure. But he had not spent this long watching the machinations of people who weren’t used to being denied not to see the signs when they were plotting to get their way.

No one was in the room anymore, no one was watching her anymore, but the menace of them remained in the air as if it was a ghost even more real than he was.

Arabella may have been thinking about a way to get him to move on, but he had a very real reason to not want to now.

His nonexistent heart screamed inside his chest.

This woman was not going to be their play thing. 

Not if he could help it.

Arabella

Her hand hurt. Having the use of only one was less than ideal and it was already far too tired from her work of the day before. 

Blackwell wasn’t back yet, but she couldn’t wait anymore. 

With a stomach mewling for lunch, she got up from her half weeded flower bed, accepting that she was done for the day.

Yes, it was going to take a lot of work and probably a lot more aches in her hands to get the whole thing done. And she was okay with that.

But wiping out completely, hurting her non cut and bandaged hand, wasn’t a smart thing.

Her mother needed to know she could continue with things. 

“No excuses,” she mumbled as she opened the door and walked inside.

The sting of the heat inside the manor on her nose, cheeks, and already sore fingers told her the wind outside was colder than she realized.

Sniffing as she walked down the hall, the change in temperature making her nose begin to run, she tried to remember how to get to the powder room from the back door.

Rounding a corner, she ran face first into Henry’s chest.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, stepping back as he grabbed onto her elbow to right himself like she had managed to send him off balance. 

“No, I’m sorry. I need to watch where I’m going,” he said, smiling down at her in a way that still felt too familiar, but she was sure was normal.

“I don’t…” She bit her lip and wondered if this was the right way to ask about how to get to the bathroom. Was that something that would be inappropriate? 

Being locked away for too long, left her stumbling over every interaction that wasn’t with someone she knew. And all her stumbles were starting to piss her off.

Ara shook her head and stood up straighter, trying again. 

“Can you direct me to the powder room? I need to wash my hands before lunch.”

There, that was direct and stronger sounding.

He grinned and swept an arm out toward the far end of the hall.

“It’s the second turn on the left then the door around the corner hidden in that alcove.”

“Thank you,” she said and started to move past him.

“Would you like me to have something ready for you in the dining room?” he asked. 

She froze and scanned the hall again.

“I… um, don’t remember where the dining room is,” she had to admit, cursing her own inability to figure out how to get around this maze of a house with too many damn rooms.

He tilted his head and pinched his lips together as a smiled played on them.

Maybe he thought it was cute. It wasn’t. But she buried the urge to tell him so.

No matter how unused to dealing with others she was, she still knew that was not likely to win her any points.

And for now, he was an ally.

“Once you are finished washing up, the dining room’s back door is just across from the alcove. You won’t miss it.”

She nodded in thanks that choked the back of her throat after they wrapped around her irritation with him, and continued on her way to the bathroom.

The person she wanted to talk to, the one she felt most comfortable with, wasn’t around.

And part of her was happy Blackwell had listened about her worries, but part of her wished he was there and looking out for her.

If nothing else, he knew his way around the manor and could have at least pointed her in the right direction.

Now that made her smile. 

Her own personal ghost of not getting lost.

There was no way that was Blackwell’s purpose, the reason eh was stuck as a ghost. It was just silly, and she should probably not tell him what she thought.

But Henry’s guidance proved accurate and she found her way to the sink to wash her hands. 

Leave it to an overgrown house, just shy of palatial, to have a short hallway carved out of the wall to hide the door to the bathroom. 

As if the need to do what every living person in the world did every day was somehow shameful enough to have the door to the room it happened in hidden away.

The bathroom was decorated in a heavy burgundy floral wallpaper. 

It made the light almost garish on Ara’s face as she looked at herself in the mirror, like the rom would have been better suited to a horror movie than in the stately house.

“Nice decorating,” she mumbled down at her hands as she carefully scrubbed away at the dirt and green plant stains while avoiding soaking the bandage on her hand.

Maybe her mother would let her redecorate this bathroom too. It couldn’t have been high on her mom’s list of to do’s.

By the time she was done washing her hands, she was yawning and contemplated the benefit of a nap.

In the dining room, though, all lethargy was shoved into her toes.

Her mother, Trenton, Jameson, and Petra all sat around the table as servants poured through the doors and deposited food on the table.

Blackwell perched in one of the deep window wells, his arms crossed, as he shot daggers out of his eyes at the back of Jameson’s head.

Now was not the time to be unaware of even the smallest thing.

Ara needed to be on guard.

For what, she couldn’t have pin pointed. 

But all the tiny hairs on the back of her neck rose as she took in the faces of the people in the room.

Something had happened.

And none of them would look at her.

Tada!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust anyone in this household beyond the ghost and marginally less so, Ara. Also, I think I need to change point of view, from third person to first maybe?

We’ll see. I will only really know the answer to that little tidbit when we get to the end and I know which will fit the story better. Sometimes it’s very clear, and sometimes, like now, it is as much mystery as knowing how this will end.
As always, Thanks for reading everybody!

— Everly

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