I so wanted to give this thing a snappier title, but I couldn't think of one. In reading through others' progress journals, I ran across Catrin Lewis's wonderfully concise and organized project listings, so I'm stealing the format. This is what I'm working on: Working Title: The Champion Genre: Fantasy Format: Novel Setting and Time Period: An alternate-history version of 17th century London Premise: A privateer and a professional duelist fall in love against a backdrop of brewing war and court intrigue. Currently Working On: Research and plot development. Just at the moment, my research focus is on A) details of daily living in 17th century Spain, and B) how Early Modern English spies went about their business. I have about 1/3 of the plot done. Comments: There's actually no magic or mythological creatures in this fantasy novel. The only reason I know it would be classified as fantasy is the existence of novels like Ellen Kushner's "Swordspoint" and Guy Gavriel Kay's "The Lions of Al-Rassan." Basically I wanted a historical setting, but didn't want to be shackled by historical events. What I Did Today: Made a bibliography for 17th century Spain Made a bibliography for Elizabethan/Jacobean spies Read ch. 1 of Kay's "The Lions of Al-Rassan." (The beginning is a little slow for my taste, but as this is the ur-example of what I'm trying to accomplish, I really need to read this book.) Read ch.'s 1-8 of Amanda Quick's "Slightly Shady." (I'm reading this one to sharpen my romance skills. The balance of romance vs. other plot elements is about what I'm aiming for, and it's romantic suspense historical, which is close to what I'm doing. That said, I am near the end of my patience with this book. The characters are annoying, among other things.) Read ch. 1 of Nora Roberts' "Blood Magick." (Another romantic suspense historical, this one with fantasy elements. So far, it's much better than "Slightly Shady.") Blocked out about the first third of the novel. Little detail yet--mostly "X hates Y. X tries to kill Y." Went stark raving mad I'll feel much better when I get the plot all the way outlined. Plotting is my weakness, and I feel like if I can get that down, I can handle the rest of the elements. Problems with the plot caused me to put this project on hold for 6 months, and I'm worried this will be yet another false start. Part of the problem is that my potential plot elements are limited by the setting I've chosen. I want a spy running around, but what would that mean in this milieu? I don't . . . know? Everything grinds to a halt, I go back to the books to research. This is taking a long time.