A few weeks (months? Wait, what year is it?) ago, I talked about starting work on
Bloodlands II: A Very Bloody Sequel… Bloodlands Returns Bloodlands: Rise of the Land of the Blood
You know what? I think I’m all tapped out on sequel jokes. I’m just going to go ahead and call it Nightlands.
- Because I said so.
- Because it sounds nice.
- Because it’s in keeping with the X-lands title tradition.
- One book totally constitutes a tradition, right?
- Because the word “night” conveys (at least to me) a sense of mystery, a hidden unknown. What’s mundane in the daylight becomes eerie and sinister in the dark, and the threat of danger lies just barely concealed by a haze of shadow or a blur of moonlight. Since this story will lean more heavily into supernatural elements only glimpsed at in Bloodlands, referencing the realm of night seemed appropriate.
- Because our characters will visit some dark places. Literally and figuratively.
Alright, so now that the title’s taken care of, where am I on the actual writing? I thought it might be fun to do a monthly report-in, so here’s the first one for March:
Word Count: ~40,000.
For reference, Bloodlands was around 142,000 words, but its first draft was closer to 160,000. Just like that draft needed a lot of cutting, this one will too.
I’m nearing the end of Part I, which focuses on establishing the status quo for each character and almost simultaneously tearing it completely (irreparably?) apart.
I’ve signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts in April, with the goal of churning out 50,000 words. I’m a sucker for peer-pressure enforced word count goals, so I’ve always found NaNo helpful for drafting (though not as much for rewriting and editing work). I’m hoping the event will get me to the last third of the book.
A Sample. Like an uncut, un-edited sample, so read at your own risk. Especially if you haven’t finished Bloodlands.
Finally, with a huffing breath, she pushed to her feet and weaved out to the bus stop, still eerie in its desolation. She didn’t sit on the bench inside the shelter, but clutched the straps of her backpack and bounced on the balls of her feet. In her mind, she turned over her favorite mantra, a trick that Senora had taught her after they’d moved to the city.
Nothing bad will happen here. Nothing bad will happen here. Nothing bad will happen here.
The next bus rolled through half an hour later and she huddled into a middle seat, the sole occupant on this evening run, and pressed her forehead to the window as she stared out at the flashing, blurring lights of Break Shore. She’d grown used to the shuffle and chatter of the other students on this homeward journey, and the heft of silence now took every fraction of her willpower to ignore.
Nothing bad will happen here. Nothing bad will happen.
At last, the bus deposited her near her apartment building and she jogged the rest of the way, then bounded up the stairwell steps two at a time until she reached her floor. She expected a stern lecture from Senora upon entering, but realized only as she was turning her key in the door that she’d never heard her phone go off.
Nothing bad will happen.
The door swung open to darkness just ahead of the anxious drop in her chest. As she stepped into the room, a red smell fogged her senses, bitter and metallic.
The smell reminded her of Senora. Of the red-eyed man as well, but mostly of her sister, gun-shot and reeling in the corner of the chapel or with another’s blood across her face and hands in the embers of Well Spring, sickly sour as she’d tried to hold Sierra close in the smoke-stung air.
And here, again, the smell of her welled in the blackness with such strength that Sierra’s gut churned. She froze in the doorway and blinked until her eyes adjusted enough to distinguish two dark smudges in the floor at the far end of the living room. Neither moved.
Nothing bad. Nothing bad.
Sierra padded closer with her heart throbbing in her throat until she was close enough to catch the hint of Senora’s features in the faint glow of the streetlights. The toe of Sierra’s shoe slid in the black stain around her sister’s body. Then, only then, did the silence hovering around her shatter, broken with her own shrill scream.