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Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 390 words. Lord Evil driven to his last bold throw. He's making half of it up as he goes along, and so am I. This can't in any way go wrong, especially if the Young Duke latches onto the thing there was never any chance of him latching onto because, oh, er, whoops. There are a lot of clever people in this room, and at least two epically impetuous ones, and I'm increasingly uncertain as to who's going to win this bout, and how!

The Popinjay: 450 words. Beauty steals the scene from Bright Young Thing, shuts it down, and embarks upon her own. She wasn't supposed to do that. Well, now I begin to understand her, and why she is the person to deal with the Beast-Thing by and by. There's a subtle perversity in her romantic and ingenuous spirit, considerably more disturbing than Money Spider's asocial calculation or Bright Young Thing's edge of cruelty. It's wickedly familiar, but I'm not sure I have a name for it. Not the usual thing that sets belles up with beasts, certainly - nearer to what Arthur Machen meant in The White People, when he discoursed of those great sinners who commit no named sins, and are even rarer and less detectable than great saints. Whether Beauty is heading for great sin or awesome sanctity or just extreme humanity, was always going to be - a matter of interpretation. At any rate, she's already much more formidable than I first took her for.

For my own sins - specifically, trawling YouTube before bed for a half-good version of Cassilda's Song out of The King in Yellow - I was repaid with gloomy and ill-remembered adventures in a decadent Venice. I would call this a step up from my Lankhmar City-Break the other night, except that when my alarm woke me, I found myself channelling Azathoth's internal monologue. As signs go, this is never a good one.

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Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 840 words, of the knife-fight between Fiery Younger Sister and a piece of very frisky scum indeed: nimble young tiger against heavy-pawed old black bear.  I may need to edit some of it for combat realism in the redraft.  Then again, I may not very much, because whilst FYS isn't explicitly supernatural, in her battle-taking she dances somewhere between the poles of Hu Sanniang and the Hound of Ulster, and I'm not sure how naturalistic one can profitably make that sort of thing anyway.

The ghastly resolution tonight, and I well done with it.

The Popinjay: 380 words.  Bright Young Thing may not be a wicked stepsister exactly, but I see the slander didn't just spring out of nowhere, either.  On the other hand, I don't think there are many other people in any world who could treat some of the things Beauty comes out with as sensible conversation rather than affected sentimental drivel, so it all turns the carousel.  I like carousels.  BYT and Beauty would like them too, if only either of them had ever encountered any.

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Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 690 words.  Bringing Fiery Younger Sister's gruelling scene to boiling point.  FYS is reminding me of one of those cartoon characters who produce massive offensive weapons out of thin air at the drop of a hat.  She can't do that physically, but she can pull out of thin air a way to use anything offensively, because she really Just Does Not Care.

There's a limit to how much of that scene I can stand at once, so I skipped ahead for the rest of my wordage to put in the description of Secondary Villain's stronghold: Castle Carrowglaze, the Green Rock of the Blue Boar.  It's kind of a dump, but the setting ought to be worth something to a discerning buyer.

The Popinjay: 340 words.  Bright Young Thing is a very bad person.  A very good bad person.  This is probably why the family's sparkling cynic is also the only one of them who takes her religion seriously instead of piously and conventionally.  Not that the priests could appreciate that - or that Beauty does now.  Because Bright Young Thing is being a very bad person.

Lob Lazy at the House of Silence - 180 words, skipping ahead to the passage of chorus-like fairy-tale linkage between Second and Third Sons' Quests.  More fun with King Dead and Queen Rotten.  And I think this has given me the glory-and-trumpets linkage to follow Third Son's eventual... achievement.  Kateverse history does crop up in strange guises!

Part of the present productivity boom seems to depend on always having something to write opportunistically when the main line is too difficult or too harrowing to speed.  This hasn't worked before, and I'm thinking it has to do with the obvious failure mode: writing everything up to the difficult bit, until all yarns are tangled at once and choke off together.  But slow slogging progress on what's bogged down, with relief writing to keep the flow free elsewhere, may prosper better.  Slog the key, and play the oil for the lock?

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Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 640 words.  Kate and Lord Evil begin their verbal duel.  He reckons he's won this passage, but Kate and I know something he doesn't.  Pure slime, this guy, but horribly good at it when he can be bothered.  He's bothered.

The Popinjay: 550 words.  Introducing the middle sister's viewpoint - Bright Young Thing's - and, as I more than slightly suspected beforehand, she immediately ran away with the story.   Beauty is now the only sister whose head we - I - haven't yet been in.  I've no idea how that will work out when it happens.

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The Popinjay: 430 words closing the Sister Scene.  Beauty has EVIL STEPSISTERS, but apparently not a flying pink pony.  I am going to have to ration the amount of quality family time these people get onstage, since I doubt I can get away with more than two or three scenes like this in a single story.  Also, I must remember not to try and drink fluids whilst channelling Bright Young Thing's conversation.

Me and my big mouth: Turns out it wasn't such a good idea to make jokes about dreaming Thomas Covenant: the Musical, after all.

Okay, it wasn't a musical.

And of course I didn't get to recruit James Stewart, and especially not Campaspe.  In fact, guess who got to play Our Blithe Hero?  Yes.  How right you are.

And the script seemed to be derived from some alternate volume of the Last Chronicles, Against Creator's Running Out of Money - the scene I was acting being an indefinitely prolonged "Thomas and Linden go to confront the evil powers at Revelstone, but first they must stock up on frozen waffles at Tesco!" slice o' not very much life. 

I and the friend who was playing Linden spent more time kvetching about the wallpaper script than we did actually rehearsing it.  And since, in the way of dreams, rehearsing it meant actually being inside the world it described...  Ah, Morpheus! Forgive!

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Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 220 words, as Fiery Younger Sister rides up-dale to explain with a pointy stick what popular revolution is not.  She is sixteen and utopian and believes herself implicitly.

The Popinjay: 480 words.  Beauty and her sisters bring out the absolute worst in one another.  I think I shall have to pack her and Bright Young Thing off to a party, before the reader loses patience with all three of them in isolation.  This should have the happy effect of letting me sneak in a planned romantic complication before I have to tack it on.

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The Popinjay: second chapter begun, with 870 words.  Father is still missing, and Money Spider nerdsplains the fantasyland credit crunch to Bright Young Thing and Beauty, with the ultimate assistance of the Treasure Fairy and the Default Troll.  How will they all avoid getting eaten, and will her younger sisters irritate her into the grave first?

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 220 words, skipping ahead to stay in Langdale, and starting Fiery Younger Sister's scene.  Not a nice head to be in.  All generous rage and no warmth, like a flame that has only an edge.  Narrowly clever, viciously funny, earnestly vulgar.  I think she has one more viewpoint scene coming up after all, in the final battle with the Bad Baron.  It would take a strangely misapplied courage to refuse her that.

I dreamed of spam.  There is no refuge anywhere!

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The Popinjay: 1400 words.  NONONONO DON'T PLUCK THE FLOWER!  Oopsie.

This ends the first section.  For the next bit I need to diverge from the traditional line of the tale, and go back to Beauty and her sisters, whom we shall call Money Spider and Bright Young Thing. 

Just because they're all sort of sympathetic and love each other, doesn't mean they get along...

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The Popinjay: 930 words.  Beauty's father wishes Something would stop doing him favours.

This is showing all the makings of a short novel.

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Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland - 450 words.  The Young Duke and Glamorous Elder Sister find themselves at crossed stars, more through their virtues than their faults.

The Popinjay - 510 words of the enchanted castle, all of which I now see I must plane away and carve deeper.  I'd got from Charles Perrault to Tanith Lee, but I need to move all the way to Algernon Blackwood.  I doubt now it is even really a castle at all.

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The Popinjay - 700 words yesterday.  Beauty's father finds a creepy mansion.

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland - 110 words this morning.  Slept ill, and had no time to drop the lightning-bolt.  My last scene before switching to unplanned-but-needful new point of view for a bit.  This will be the first time we see things from eyes neither Kate's nor Luke's.

I may be even more torpid than usual in commenting for a while, since:

1) Kate & Co. are calling; and,

2) Important RL stuff is calling; and,

3) Lobelia Sackville-Baggins has called already, and walked off with most of my spoons in her umbrella.

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Not so bad going.

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Council of Doom and its rather odd chapter finished.  740 words.

The Popinjay: Beauty's father has suffered the necessary inconvenience.  530 words.

I now go to bed in quest of further vision, or because I am a lazy sod, or something.


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I believe I mentioned declaring a literary Kate-out over the weekend, and finishing the Council Scene of Doom by hook or by crook? 

Hah.  I did manage to extrude a megatastic 140 words, and to stumble upon perhaps the least romantic romantic set-up that has yet been committed to paper since Pierrette Publishing's* now legendary Patient Passion at the Clap Clinic (75pp., available at any good recycling plant near you).  I really wonder where this story is going.  Often.  Some hopes of moving beyond the CSOD tonight.

What I did manage was 1470 words of The Popinjay, linking up the two fragments of text that previously comprised it.  I'm increasingly uncertain whether this is more the Beauty character's story than it is her middle sister's.

* Whose other classic category romances include Surgical Appliance Adventure, Hot in the Sewer, Sex and Ducks and Hovis Rolls, and - in their one serious contribution to the fantasy genre - a strangely neglected vampire-shagger called Bathtime for Bathory.

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Slightly more rested.  About 400 words of The Popinjay, covering Beauty's father's business trip.  Many of these, without any premeditation, ended up as a rhapsodic catalogue of the stuff he carries from his profoundly obscure hometown to a merely undistinguished market on the other side of the wild woods.  It is amazing how much better that carries the story over the leagues than the merely descriptive linking passage I was going to write instead.

This is, specifically, a full-on fairy tale without fairies or princes, or even any very notable role for soldiers and peasants and woodcutters.  It is about merchants and clerks, artists and physicians, diffident middle-class ingenues and howling madness from beyond the walls of the world.  And, I find, it is also about the abundance and kindliness and strangeness of those currents of life where silver is a nobler metal than steel.

And - to get back to the root of the original rose - where spells may be this thing or that, but promises are everything.

Which in turn, no doubt, explains why the trip turns out not to be any matter of lost and found argosies, but a necessary reaction to a very mediaevaloid credit crunch.  I swear I never planned this!

As to the main WIP, I have a serious Kate-out scheduled for the weekend, and shall oblige myself at least to finish the interminable council scene by one means or another.

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I am now back on phone and net.  Also on Hello World! this morning, I slept horribly, and presently exhibit the mental characteristics of a rather surly oyster.  Managed about three sentences of the Beastly Tale in an hour.  Working title now changed from Cosara Town to The Popinjay.  It's almost as much about Beauty's family and their friends as it is about the monstrous liaison.  Don't know where that's been done already.  Probably not this way, anyhow.  Looking to be a novella or short novel, at present.

Clamming up now until I wake up.

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