Viiiiictory … Episode III

Nanowrimo 2009 Winner Once again, I have completed National Novel Writing Month! This year’s entry is the third in the Dakota Frost series, Liquid Fire. I’ll have more to say about this later this week, especially the mad scramble to write 38,000 words in 10 days (oy). But until then, let me leave you with the synopsis of Liquid Fire: “Dakota Frost, a magical tattoo artist who can bring tattoos to life, is caught in a war between rival fire magicians over liquid fire – dragon’s blood. An ancient order of pyromancers needs it to survive; modern fireweavers need it to perform their magic — and Dakota Frost is the only person to have summoned a dragon in two hundred years.”

Oh, heck, I’ll throw in a repost of the first chapter too … as edited:

“What is life? No scientist can tell you. Oh, the pocket-protector variety will say that living things move, eat and grow, wrapped up in ten-dollar words like ‘locomotion’ and ‘intake’ and ‘self-organization’. But these by themselves are not life: a waterfall moves more vibrantly than any animal, a fire eats more efficiently, a crystal is more organized.

“A worldly scientist, aware of the dance of the sexes, will mention the heat of metabolism, the fire of reproduction. But a fire eats to live just like we do, but faster: and where we breed in a slow dance of desire, a fire lives in a hot orgy of giving, casting off its own substance, flying sparks, glowing seeds, drifting through the air to start the cycle again. If metabolizing and reproducing were all there were to life, would not fire be alive?

“But life is not any one of these things: life is all of them together. It is the combination of moving and eating and organizing, of metabolism and reproduction, of a thousand things more. Put them all together, and you get more than you started with: a holistic—holy—combination that is more than the sum of its parts. Life is magic.

“Or more precisely, magic is life,” I said. Nowhere was this more clear than with my traveling companions, werekin and vampires whose very biology was woven with magic; but since they would not approve of outed just so I could make a point, I instead picked on myself. “I know this, because I’m a skindancer. I ink magic tattoos that only work because their magical lines are laid on a living canvas that powers them. Each tattoo is like a circuit, that captures the intent of the wearer and projects it out it into the world. But it is the flow of the blood beneath the flex of the skin that powers them: without that life, they’d be useless.”

I don’t know what got me on that dissertation, but when I was done, the airline stranger in the seat to my left—a cute granola girl, curvy almost to the point of chubby, with a refreshing patchouli scent and dirty blond hair so curly it looked like coils of copper wire, I mean, really, just my type, down to the nose ring—put her magazine down and looked at me quizzically.

“Lady, are you for real?” she asked.

Worst. Vacation. Ever. – Till now.

Ten days off to write! No trips, no vacations, no distractions. Just me and writing … but: The “Terminator” version of the common cold. Car repairing turned car totaling and car shopping during hard raining. Cat fights and cat urine. And a desperate scramble to catch up in National Novel Writing Month turning what I love … writing … into a chore.

And then my wife came back Saturday night.

That was great, but things didn’t get better right away. See #3 above, cat urine: our incompletely housetrained Gabby the Cat decided to urinate on a big soft squishy pillow to either

  • (a) reduce his insecurity by marking his protector’s stuff with his scent (the official story as told by everybody’s favorite cat books)
  • (b) show his irritation at his protector locking him in a room (what I strongly suspect based on my study of animal cognition, which might be summed up as saying “just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they’re completely unaware idiots”)

just as I had run a full load of laundry in the washer and thus couldn’t wash it right away, just as I had to run to the airport so I had no time to dispose of it properly, and just in time for the heater to kick in and propagate the smell through the entire house by the time we got back.

Stepping through the door was … an unpleasant moment.

But we persevered. We went out for a late dinner and talked about … hell, everything. We crashed early, I got up at the ass-crack of dawn, fed the cats, went to church, put everything in the hands of God, and went back and slept till noon. By the time we awoke, it was clear that the pillow was the source of the smell and the tarps-plus-blankets wash-immediately-if-soiled solution was working to protect our home as we transition street cat to house-and-yard cat. We had a lovely lunch at our favorite restaurant (Aqui) and test-drove a hybrid (a Prius). Everything, once again, became OK, and it seemed like all the nastiness of that awful ten days rattling around the house mostly with myself, a virus and three irritated cats was at last over.

So: yesterday: 2094 words. Today: 2583 words. As of this moment, I am officially caught up on where I “should have been” for Nano, and I’m on track to finish by tomorrow. And we even have a plan to save our obstraperous little cat, who is mellowing out now that he has two people to entertain him (and to separate the cats from each other so they have time to mellow).

Best of all, my best friend is home.

-the Centaur
P.S. Thanks, God.

+5300 words

Literally dead on +5,300 words, on schedule for today, only 1,280 behind what I would have done at 1,666 words a day … and 6,280 words remaining to finish Nano.

Unlikely to hit all those tomorrow – my wife is returning from a business trip and she gets first dibs on the Centaur before he goes back to pulling the Nano wagon. But maybe this weekend.

+3200 words

… still on schedule, but still not ahead because I am still sick and crashed out for hours after Thanksgiving brunch (or maybe that was the turkey).

Still, Not good. I’d say it’s time to go to the doctor but this on-again-off-again sniffle, cough, randomly crash out for three hours always seems like “it’s getting better”.

Even though it ruined half of my Thanksgiving day, I went to sleep last night actually thinking my cold was probably about over.

Today: carshopping, housecleaning, and, oh yeah, I need ~3800 words to stay on target, ~6500 to get back to where I should be if I’d been keeping up with 1666 words a day from the beginning, and 11,580 words to finish Nanowrimo completely.

+4500 words

35,078 words, 6,588 behind, 14,922 remaining.

Here’s to a productive Turkey Day … and the slight possibility of actually catching up. It would require 8,000+ words. But, since I’m not doing much for Thanksgiving … not traveling myself, wife out of town, only have a brunch with friends … it’ s just within the realm of possibility.
Cross your fingers.

+7001 words

30,289 words complete; 19,711 words remaining, 9,711 words behind where I should be: 40,000 words.

Surely I can make that up tomorrow, if not by Thursday.

Time for pound cake. Then bed.

+4600 words…

…things progressing nicely. 23,288 words, 26,712 remaining. If I keep up this pace (not altogether likely, in fact, but here’s hoping) I will actually finish Nanowrimo early.

+4100 words …

… now officially up to a rate which would see me to the finish line, though I still am almost as many words behind (17981) as I have written (18685). And this is with me still being sick. Bleah.

However, the good news is that I fell in love with the book last night. This is something every author needs to do with their novel, at some point, or they’re never going to do it the justice it deserves, if they finish it at all. Well, I fell in love with Liquid Fire on the streets of Oakland last night … at least the streets of Oakland as seen through the eyes of Dakota Frost.
-the Centaur

35,500 Words To Go…

… still a little slow, but pace picking up. Things progressing. Key discoveries in plot made.

Still, 35,000 words in nine days … oy. I mean, Ok.