Posts Tagged ‘Nanowrimo’


Saturday, November 28th, 2015

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So today I passed my all-time record (for as long as I’ve kept records) at Nano, completing 60,900 words at Nanowrimo. The key I think is not just taking this week off, not just keeping going, but daydreaming about my characters—then, whenever I get inspired, writing that scene. Almost all of the huge spurts you see below came out of that:

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Today, it was pretty easy to write. I got about 500 words finishing up a few loose ends. Then I wrote a longer scene with Cinnamon and her fae mentor the Huntswoman, and almost a day’s worth of writing popped out of my keyboard. Then I decided to write another scene, one from ROOT USER (the third book in the trilogy, of the large manuscript I’m working on) and got 2000 words in about 30 minutes (!), all from choosing to write this:

But no matter how I tries to ignore it … I can’t ignore what they says next.

“And if they lose a hunt,” the jerkboy says, “guess what? They eat the loser—”

“You take that back!” I shouts, poppin’ to my feet. I hops over the nearest table and barrels down on the boy, who’s hoppin’ to his feet as well, his buddies standin’ to come to his aid, actin’ like I’m neither a girl he should play nice with nor a monster who could rip his throat out. “You take that back this instant!”

“What?” the boy says, eyes gleaming at me. “The part where they eat the loser—”

“We are not cannibals!” I screeches, snarlin,’ my whiskers comin’ in, my fur comin’ out.

“I bet she’s eaten her share,” one of the other boys says. “Like, weregazelles and shit—”

“The herbivores are our friends! We runs together! Nobody eats nobody on my hunt!”

“Your hunt,” he says. Everyone’s circled around us now, the boy standin’ out front. He’s big, so, I guesses, he guesses he can take me in a fight. Good fuckin’ luck. He grins with a nasty smile. “Like anyone would follow you—”

“I had twelve followin’ me on my last hunt,” I says. “Thirteen, actually—”

“I thought you could count,” he says. “What, you lose one? Eat one?”

I snarls and steps forward, and he leans back, fists up. I raises mine.

Then I turns away. “Not worth it,” I mutters, lookin’ at the huge crowd around us. He swings and clocks me behind the ear, and I kinda shrugs and shakes him off. “Not worth it at all,” I mutters, boltin’ through the crowd, walkin’ fast towards the exit. “At all—”

“Where are you going, Miss Frost,” says the proctor.

“The deans’s office,” I says. “I just picked a fight.”

“Wait just a minute,” he says, hand reachin’ for me, but I shrugs him off.

“Get off me, or I go to the safety cage,” I says, snarlin. “And call for my Mom.”

“Yeah, call your mother,” says the jerkboy, who followed me.

“Christopher, I see your mouth is open,” the proctor says coolly. “Close it.”

And the scene which follows, in which Cinnamon goes to see the Dean of the Claremont Academy, who’s more cool than even I anticipated — I mean, drill sergeant in a former life? Really? Makes sense. And helped me crack 60,000 words:

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But the point is, never give up on Nano. It will continue to reward you, all the way to the end.

-the Centaur

Viiictory the Thirteenth

Monday, November 23rd, 2015


At last, I’ve completed my 15th National Novel Writing Month challenge successfully! Victory, for the thirteenth time!

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The graph says “HEX CODE”, but as I’ve said before, I discovered in July’s Nano that the manuscript I was working on was actually a trilogy – I already knew that Cinnamon appeared in a trilogy of books called HEX CODE, BOT NET and ROOT USER, but I was puzzled as to why the HEX CODE manuscript seemed both so cramped and so overstuffed. The reason? I was already writing the trilogy, with a discernible “hex code” appearing first, followed by a “bot net” then a “root user”. So I split the manuscript up … and just kept writing, until, earlier this month, I rolled over the end of HEX CODE.

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Perhaps that’s why I was doing so well this year, or perhaps it’s because I’ve written almost seven hundred thousand words in National Novel Writing months at this point. But regardless, I had some real bursts of creativity in there. But even then, I have to tell you: it was always hard. The hardest words on this one were the last 8 … when I thought I was done. But you have to keep going! And the scene that popped out after that is beautiful.

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Regardless, National Novel Writing Month is a joy to participate in, and I’m glad to have done it. The people and the connections I’ve made, the friendships I’ve built, the fantastic events like the Night of Writing Dangerously, the great writing programs that Nano supports, and the worldwide outbursts of creativity have made it all so worthwhile I plan to do it again and again.


So, for now, I leave you with one last excerpt, from BOT NET … containing something I learned about my world of werekindred tonight, when I had to write … and let my creativity take over. As always, excerpts from Nano are first draft material, so, consider yourself advised … but I love what I discovered about Cinnamon’s warehouse tonight.

I looks down at them. All their eyes are glowin. The moon’s gotten into them. It will be up soon. I gots to go take them runnin’ now, or they’ll go crazy. I stands before them, rearin’ up a little, puffin’ my tiger cheeks, lookin’ down at them, and they gets the hint, and steps back from the wall, towards me, towards me, the tiger.

“Alrright,” I snarls. “None of ya get killed, or, as Mom would say, you’re grrrounded. ”

They all laughs, and I grins and stamps a paw.

“You feel the moon?” I says.

“We feel the moon!” they all shouts back. Whoa. Better response then I expected.

“I said, do you feel the moon!” I roars.

“We feel the moon!” the hunt screams.

“Then show me your beasts!” I snarls.

The lawyer strips off his jacket, his shirt, snarling, his head poppin’ out wolf so fast even Tully would have been proud of it. Hanser is a lynx before I’ve gotten a chance to look over at her, and the rest are poppin’ and changing. One buck is havin’ trouble, horns comin’ out of his head, fur crawlin’ over his body, but still no quad form, and I nods to Hanser, who pads over and licks at him playfully as he falls to the ground, crosseyed, eyes half pulled back like a buck’s.

But Willard, man, Willard’s havin’ real trouble. He’s bulked up, six and a half feet tall now, a black fur rug rippling out of his back, and oh-my-bod, what delicious muscles. But the shag carpet, it’s as far as he goes. He grunts, strains, then shakes his head.

He ain’t even taken his shorts off. He knows this is as far as he can go. Personally, I’m glad to have a half-human in the pack—easier to get feedback. He’s obviously got control, or they wouldn’t have given him to me, but is also obviously new to the Life. He needs help.

I prowls up to him.

“This your limit?” I asks, starin’ him in the eye. He nods, embarrassed, and looks away, but I raises a paw and catches him under the chin with the curved side of one of my claws, lookin’ at his head. “Listen to me: there’s no shame in our affliction. Repeat it.”

“Therrre’s no shame in ourrr aff—affl—affliction,” he says.

“Only prrride in our powerrr,” I says. “All of ya. Repeat it.”

“There’s no shame in our affliction,” the lawyer says, like, real articulate, even though he’s on all fours now, and his head’s all wolf. When’s this lack of concentration supposed to kick in? He shakes that wolf head back and forth, then howls, “Only prrride in our powerrrr!”

“Therrre’s no shame in ourrr affliction,” I roars, “only prrride in our powerrr!”

I prowls back and forth in front of them, listenin’ to them repeat it, those that can. The rest yip and yap and bark … except for the buck, who’s sittin’ there, dazed. His eyes are stuck halfway between human and stag, and he looks winded and dazed.

“But never rushin’ the hardest job any human ever has to do: controllin’ their own beast,” I says, steppin’ up to him. “You ain’t ready. There’s no shame; there’s always next moon. But this one, you ain’t ready. You relax, let the elders care for ya.”

The buck nods, still crosseyed, lickin’ his lips.

“Yyyouw waaant meeee,” Hanser yips, then goes quiet.

I looks back to see Fischer, standin’ there, under his broadbrimmed hat. He’s got the doc with him, black bag under his arm, I mean, seriously, cliché! But he nods to us, and they goes and sits with the buck as the rest of my hunt firms up before me.

“Four in front of you, Willard,” I snarls. “Or anyone else wanna sit this moon out?”

The pack howls and yips and brays, crowdin’ forward.

“Nnnever!” Willard says, beatin’ his chest.

“Yall wanna run?” I snarls.

The pack makes a yippin’. Weak.

“Eye said, y’all wanna run?” I roars.

And my whole hunt howls at the top of their lungs.

“Then let’s rrrun,” I roars, and Hanser at my side, bolts off into the forest.

Enjoy. And onward!

-the Centaur

Nanowrimo Continues …

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Somewhat over 25,000 words. Closing in on the end of HEX CODE. That is all…

-the Centaur

Getting it together

Friday, November 13th, 2015

What you see there is my “working stack” at home … the piles of books for my most active projects. These include Dakota Frost (shelves to the left and right that you can’t quite see), Cinnamon Frost (middle shelf on the right, middle center shelf and others below), robotics at work (top shelf on the right), Thinking Ink Press (bottom visible shelf on the right and middle center shelf), Lovecraft studies (middle center shelf and top shelf on the left you can’t quite see), and general writing (above, below, all around).

I accumulate lots and lots of books – too many, some people think – but there’s a careful method to this madness, as most of these books are not recreational, but topical, filling out a library around things I’m trying to accomplish. This means that when I’m working on a problem on, say, a Cinnamon Frost novel, and get stumped, I can have the pleasant experience I had last night of glaring at a Wolfram MathWorld article, not finding all the info I needed, peering through the references … and finding that the references pointed to a book I had on the topic, right in the Cinnamon shelf (pictured above).

For a long time I was terrified of my own library. Well, not terrified, but I’d piled up and accumulated so much stuff that I couldn’t effectively use it. This has been accumulating since the days of my condo in Atlanta, which was approaching near gravitational collapse, but I’ve made two major pushes to clean up the library since I moved to California, which organized it usefully, as I’ve reported on previously, and since then two major pushes to clean up the files. I’ve still got a lot go go – you can see more piles below – but now I’ve got a better system for organizing paper, I am starting to develop a system to get things out of the library and back to used bookstores (slowly, grudgingly, occasionally) and … I actually find myself wanting to go in here again.

The piles are still scary, but now I’ve got a nice reading area set up, which I can lean back and be cozy in…

My current reading pile and art projects are intimidating, but now organized and useful and even attractive …

My cognitive science section has developed a cozy, hallowed feel, that makes me want to dig in more …

… and at last I once again have a workspace which makes me want to sit down and work, or write:

I can’t tell you how healthy that feels. I need to stay on top of that. But for now … time to get back to it.

-the Centaur

P.S. Yes, I do actually use all those computers and monitors, though the one on the far right is slowly getting replaced by the floating hoverboard of an iMac that is now struggling to supplant my MacBook Air as my primary computer (good luck, you’ll need it). For reference, there’s my ancient MacBook Pro on the left, which formerly served as my home server; the iMac that’s replacing it, hovering over the desk, a MacBook Air which is my primary computer, and the secondary keyboard and monitor for my old Linux workstation, which is about to be replaced because it’s not beefy enough for my experiments with ROS.

Why yes, I’m writing a young adult novel…

Friday, November 13th, 2015

… why do you ask?

Technically, a Cinnamon Frost novel is an urban fantasy novel with a young adult protagonist. I am doing some work to make it young adult friendly, up to a point, but at some point you have to acknowledge that as much as we all love her, we’ve got a formerly homeless and abused teenage weretiger with behavior problems as our protagonist, in a world which is a “real” world, not a young adult friendly world – and she’s supposed to be a math genius, and if I’m going to have a story with a math genius, dang it, I want the math to be real math, even if takes me a while to figure out how to coherently explain what the heck a “loxodrome” is.

It’s the spiral you get if you run stairs up the side of a dome, but your architect was lazy and made the stairs cut a fixed angle to the meridians in their drawing, rather than a fixed angle that’s useful for constant climbing. Sigh. That’s not clear either. Needs more work. Back to it …

-the Centaur

P.S. And yes, I’m still on track for Nano.

Nanowrimo is going well…

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

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… just now getting to the point where I can think clearly. For a refresher, I’m working on the Spellpunk series, finishing up HEX CODE … and, since I discovered last time that I was actually writing all three Spellpunks in the same manuscript, there’s a small chance I’ll finish HEX CODE itself this month and move on to BOT NET. More news in a bit. That is all.

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From My Labors Rested

Thursday, July 30th, 2015


Well, another Nano has come to an end. I’ve added over 50,000 words to the HEX CODE manuscript, succeeding at the month’s 50K as of a few days ago, and last night I added the framework for the last few scenes that the revised story still needed, putting me way ahead of the game. Calling it done … for now, that is.

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It’s interesting to compare this with previous months, as I did before. Even after the huge push near the end, I didn’t quite catch up to the last time that I worked on HEX CODE. I must have been going gangbusters!

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I’d love to keep going, but I now see why in the past, whenever I hit the limit, my writing rate dropped off. By my calculations, I have five novels due over the next two years – one down into the final edits, one in rough draft, one (HEX CODE) almost complete, and two more in lesser stages of completion. So it’s good to take a breather … after climbing the mountain.

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Now, back to CLOCKWORK ….

-the Centaur

Viiictory the Twelfth

Sunday, July 26th, 2015


As of this afternoon, I have completed an additional 50,000 words on my Cinnamon Frost novel HEX CODE … making me an official winner of the Nanowrimo challenge twelve times. Woohoo!

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This was a good Nano, in that I stayed ahead of the game more than I thought I had. Even a couple of days I got physically sick helped me, as I holed up with my laptop and typed. Paradoxically, some of the best-feeling personal days I had this month I got no writing done at all. Yet, in the end, I managed to stay ahead, way ahead.

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But, while analyzing this data, I found out something else … I haven’t tackled Nanowrimo twelve times with one failure; I’ve tackled it fourteen times. You see, I remembered all the times I tackled Nanowrimo in November, and all the times I tackled Camp Nanowrimo, and even Script Frenzy. But ever since 2009, I’ve kept day-to-day word counts, and I found at least one more time I’ve tried Nano, in December of 2010. I was apparently having so much fun with CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE that I decided to keep going. Putting all this data together revealed something very interesting: this hasn’t been my best month at Nano.

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In a recent post, I said I thought I’d never been this consistently far ahead for this long, but was I wrong. Way wrong. In 2011, when I was tackling HEX CODE for the first time, I was so far ahead it’s crazy: several thousand words ahead of my best times on all the other months. Apparently I was going gangbusters. This month was close, up till Friday and Saturday where I fell off a bit and then had to take a day of for writing business stuff, but today after writing 4,500+ words I ended up only 8,000 words ahead, but at this time in November of 2011 I was almost 13,000 words ahead.

Cinnamon is such a delightful character, it doesn’t surprise me – though it does hurt your brain writing tens of thousands of words in broken English. Still, I’m really happy with how this book is developing. I realized, partway through this month, that this manuscript is actually the whole of the Spellpunk trilogy, and I reorganized it so the parts of #2 BOT NET and #3 ROOT USER were downstream of where I was writing, letting me focus on the story of HEX CODE #1, giving its own problems and climax. I think it’s gone quite well, giving the story room to breathe, making certain events more rational because they can happen over time in a natural sequence … and giving Cinnamon even more time to shine.

I’ll probably keep going on HEX CODE for a few more days making sure I core dump the rest of my story ideas, but then it will be back to editing THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE in time to send it to Debra, then revising SPECTRAL IRON in time to send it to beta readers, plus two stories for an upcoming anthology, then an essay, plus conference travel, oh finishing the Hugo reading and voting, plus that wedding, and wait shouldn’t I pay my bills aaaaaa ….

It’s a wonderful life. Back to it!

-the Centaur

Reading the Manual after Jumping from the Plane

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015


Still plugging away at HEX CODE. But even in the middle of Nanowrimo, when I’m desperate to make my word count before my upcoming adventures, even when I have a good feel for what needs to happen in the next scene … it still helps to do research. Above you see a pile of books fairly typical for working on Cinnamon Frost stories, plus one recreational one (I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one from the negative space of the context) and here’s how they have helped me. For those just joining us, Cinnamon Frost is a teenage weretiger with Tourette’s Syndrome who grew up basically on the streets, and …

  • Chelsea Cain’s “Wild Child: Girlhoods in the Counterculture” helped me get in touch with something entirely outside my experience … growing up as a teenage weretiger in essentially a werekindred commune.
  • Brooks Landon’s “Building Great Sentences” audio course (of which I have the printed notes above) reminded me to keep vary the patterns in my sentences, which helps me (in my terms) “solve problems” as I try to deliver the information I need to keep the plot moving while maintaining the right rhythm.
  • Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf” also helped me get in touch with the experiences that someone in a marginalized community might have, though I wasn’t able use this idea in today’s writing session, it might come up soon.
  • Patrick Newman’s “Tracking the Weretiger” is just damn fascinating, and is helping me flesh out the plot of the rest of the “Dakota Frost, Skindancer” / “Cinnamon Frost, Spellpunk” / “Quarry” series.
  • The Jesus Seminar’s “The Parables of Jesus” is helping me flesh out the moral dimensions of the story, by deriving the moral stances of the more “heroic” characters from the more “authentic” parables (at least, according to the Seminar) and deriving the stances of the more morally gray characters from the more “questionable” parables. Of course, all Scripture is profitable for instruction … but some parts of it do seem to get Jesus’s message more on point than others, and by assigning a spectrum of goodness to different characters I get to play with a lot of interesting moral conundrums.
  • Mitzi Waltz’s Tourette’s Syndrome: “Finding Answers & Getting Help” is also useful for helping me portray the subtle aspects of Tourette’s Syndrome, which Cinnamon suffers from, but which is notoriously difficult to portray correctly without it devolving into caricature. It has given me new plot ideas for the whole book and actually makes some of Cinnamon’s weird behavior seem much more understandable, but I need to work it in.

As for the last book, for now it’s fun, but who knows, she’s a math genius, so maybe it will work in.

I didn’t read all of these over lunch, but I got a chapter or a half dozen pages of each, and as a consequence: I found out some interesting other conditions people might suffer from, gave them to a character, creating an instant conflict, and gave Cinnamon a new coping tool, leading to more conflict.

Easily three to five hundred words popped out of today’s salsa of reading, putting me way ahead:

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I’m doing my level headed best to not rest on my laurels though, as I have a LOT more to go:

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Still climbing that mountain. Still reading the manual as falling out of the plane. Still writing 1666+ words a day.


-the Centaur

Now this is a different way to start the month

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

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Normally a couple of days into a Nanowrimo project I’m already a bit behind, wondering how I’ll catch up. Today I’m actually ahead for the second day in a row. Onward!

-the Centaur