What makes you hang on the edge of your seat? I call that a favorite, and I talk about some of my current faves over at the Speculative Chic blog!
Go check it out!
I was going to write “And from his labors, he rested” but that’s entirely to uncomfortably Messianic for me, so here’s the scoop: on the last day of Nano, I have stopped at 75,282 words.
This somehow all magically happened because I never lost my momentum after the Night of Writing Dangerously, oh, and because this is Cinnamon Frost, and she’s awesome!
This is the most I’ve ever written in Nano, by a long shot – almost 10,000 words more. Not quite, and I’m not super motivated to make it exactly 10,000 words more. If I think of more words tonight, eh maybe.
Oh yes, the traditional excerpt:
The first challenge was easy—spirit. Awareness. Being aware of faerie.
The second challenge was harder—mind. Intellect. Learnin’ the logic of faerie.
The third challenge was the hardest of all. Body. Emotion. Feeling faerie in your bones.
A huge cacklin’ thing bursts out of the water. Its head is as big as Krishna’s, a huge green dripping thing under a mass of hair, its wide smooth but mottled nose remindin’ me of a diseased muppet. We can’t see the thing’s eyes, but its arms loom around us. Ben and Surrey screams.
“Do you care?” it screams, openin’ a maw filled with giant teeth the size of playing cards. I think it could swallow any of us whole. “Do you care if you diieie?”
“Aaaah!” Benjamin and Surrey screams. “We care! We care!”
The thing looms further forward. “Then flee, mortals, or you may perish here!”
“Don’t flee,” I murmurs. “Or you may perish elsewhere—”
“We—we will not flee,” Surrey cries.
“For we may perish elsewhere,” Benjamin says with sudden insight. Did he hear me?
“But stay here, and death will be certain, mortals!” the thing cries, loomin’ over them.
“Stay anywhere, and death is certain, for mortals!” Benjamin cries.
“And you don’t care if you die,” I murmurs into Surrey’s ear.
“And we don’t care if we die,” Surrey says. “What? Ci—”
“Surely death comes to all mortals,” Benjamin says. “Why should we care?”
“I could make death hurt,” the thing cries, stretchin’ its arms out like a giant Muppet.
“Or we could die in our sleep,” I murmurs. “But I can make death hurt him more.”
I actually have practically finished BOT NET, so next up is Cinnamon Frost #3, ROOT USER! Oh, and editing Dakota Frost #4, SPECTRAL IRON! Due in about 4-5 months. Aaaaaaa!
If I write 11,293 words by the end of the month …
~2900 words a day, not counting today …
I will beat my all time Nanowrimo record of 65,995 words:
Sounds like a worthier goal than spending the same words responding to everyone who’s wrong on the Internet.
So, I just succeeded the 19th time at National Novel Writing Month!
This year, I was working on BOT NET, the second Cinnamon Frost novel. I’m writing these three books in one huge manuscript, which I successfully took from 179591 to 229911 words as of today!
This year, the combination of participating in the Night of Writing Dangerously, plus having the luxury of taking off the week of Thanksgiving to write, really pushed me over the edge:
Interesting, the hole at Thanksgiving. I wonder if that’s true every year? That’s not something you can readily see when you look at the yearly charts since it moves (stay tuned, these charts are going to come back later):
There was a time when almost every post about Nanowrimo I’d include an excerpt. Frankly, that’s gotten harder to do as I’ve switched from doing Nano once per year to three times per year; the Nano material has become more inchoate as I blaze new paths out into story space, requiring more work to turn it into final material. But, occasionally, I can indeed include some material that gives you a flavor …
“I … I gotta be honest here. I needs help.”
“Cinnamon,” Nri says gently. “I know that. I’ve had many, many students before.”
“Another damn teacher,” I rollin’ my eyes. Then I realizes—“Did I say that out loud?”
“Yes, you did,” Nri says, smiling sardonically. “I don’t even think that was Tourette’s.”
“It-it wasn’t,” I says. “I’m sorry, sir, but …” I grimaces. I genuinely don’t know what tone to set here. Act like Mom’s world, use Southern politeness, act like the werekindred, use growls and barks … or, maybe, just be me? Who’s that then? “I, uh, don’t, ah, know how to say this but I wasn’t tryin’ to insult you before or to butter you up now but we gots a real situation and if we leaves it up to my Mom there’s a very good chance that the D of the W. A. will spirit my boyfriend and my alt-crush off to the wilds of nowhevers, and if the elders of the werehold finds out where they are they may go and do somethin’ stupid right on the doorsteps of people totally prepared to do somethin’ stupid, so I’m guessin’ the smart thing is for the people who are smart and wizardly to do somethin’ smart and wizardly, but I can’t do this alone, because I am, like, thirteen, and why in godsname does everybody think I can do everythin?”
Nri stares, blinks, shakes his head, like he’s comin’ out of a trance.
“God, I’d wish I’d timed that,” he says. “I think you talk faster than JFK—”
“Who?” I asks.
“Nevermind,” Nri says. “I’m sold.”
Ah, Cinnamon, you and your wacky hijinks. Thanks for coming into my writing life, wherever the hell you came from.
And now, on to all the things I’ve been putting off blogging while I’ve been working on Nano, including … how to succeed at Nano! (I hope you’ll agree I have some credentials in that area).
Onward, fellow adventurers!
Milestones are coming. And the first of these is catching up on my wordcount for my Nanowrimo project this November, BOT NET!
Winning at Nano always feels like climbing a hill, but for me in particular it almost always feels like I start out sliding back down, Sisyphus-like, as I struggle to get a handle on the story.
But then there comes that magic point where I need to write 1,666 words in a day and I. Got. Nothing. Then I’m forced to be creative, and the real fun stuff happens, an event I call “going off the rails”. Hey, let’s try to embed a tweet!
It’s all too easy for stories to fall in predictable ruts – but in #NaNoWriMo , when you’ve got to produce 50,000 words in a month, sometimes your story “goes off the rails” into territory your conscious mind never expected … and that’s gold! https://t.co/Qmtuzb1XKE
— Anthony Francis (@xenotaur) November 13, 2017
So now things are back on track for the month, and I’m smack in the middle of where I normally am this time of Nano … Actually, it appears I’m ahead. Checking the stats … yep. At this point, I’m normally just shy of 6,000 words behind ( -5,984, though that estimate is numerically precise, it is not likely to be meaningfully accurate ) but today I am 169 words ahead of the Nano wordcount:
I’m one more thing too: 200,000 words into the Cinnamon Frost trilogy.
There are 3 published Dakota Frost novels: FROST MOON, BLOOD ROCK and LIQUID FIRE, and three more finished rough drafts: SPECTRAL IRON, PHANTOM SILVER, and SPIRITUAL GOLD. By my count, I’ve written about 900,000 words about Dakota Frost, Skindancer, the woman who can bring her tattoos to life. But in one sense, that’s expected: I planned Dakota. I wanted to write a character that other people who can relate to.
Cinnamon Frost, as I’ve said before, is a character I never expected. She shoved her way into the Dakota Frost universe, in one of those “step off into space moments”, and she shows no signs of leaving.
Cinnamon might say 200,000 seems significant because of how humans process patterns – how we love all those zeroes – but it’s just a number: 2*10*10*10*10*10. But somehow, it feels right to take it this far, and I look forward to writing the next 100,000 to 150,000 words that will finish her trilogy and give her a chance to live her own literary life.
Time to get back to it.
P. S. I said milestones are coming. If you’ve read closely in this post, you’ll realize another milestone is coming soon. Stay tuned …
So, the good news: I just crossed the 10,000 word mark in Nanowrimo 2017!
The bad news: I need to be at 13,333 words by today!
The good-bad news is, normally I’m closer to 4500 words behind at this point of Nano, so I am ahead of where I am normally behind:
What can I. say? “Don’t get cocky, kid.” Back to it …
No progress on BOT NET for Nanowrimo yet today … yesterday I got my daily word count, but today I needed to core dump some ideas I’d been brewing about a Jeremiah Willstone novella, “Crypt of the Burning Scarab”. I had a brain flash about how to make the plot work out, involving a twisty time travel paradox I haven’t seen before, and wanted to make sure I read up enough physics and math to make sure the idea made sense, then wrote it all down before I dove back into Cinnamon’s world of mathematical magic.
But you know your plot is complicated when you non-ironically need a timeline point 10(ab)”’ – that’s point 10, timelines A&B, variant 3 (prime prime prime).
Happy writing …
Pictured: A few of the math/physics books I’ve been reading on this idea, plus the “GBC” (Goodfellow, Bengio and Courville) Deep Learning book which I’m (re)reading for work.
“Okay, so … um, hi! I’m Cinnamon Frost, and I’m here to tell you that my biographer, Anthony Francis, is busy as fuck writing my next adventure, BOT NET, for National Novel Writing Month! He’s real behind, so as soon as he finishes this post, he’s, like, seriously, getting back to creatin’ my universe!”
Thanks, Cinnamon! Sounds about right! I am now 1170 words in and 3830 words behind according to my spreadsheet. Time to get cracking!
I’ve got a laptop, a table and two and a half hours in the coffeehouse before it closes – GO!
Not literally; we were far south of the literal fires, which just barely missed the homes of our friends. But so many other things have been going wrong that it felt like things were on fire … so no posts for a while, sorry.
But tonight, I got to the last chapter of Dakota Frost #6, SPIRITUAL GOLD.
I will likely finish this chapter Saturday.
That makes today a good day.
Time for some cake.
Pictured: a cat break with Loki. Not how things look right now, but how I feel.
So at Dragon Con I had a reading this year. Yeah, looks like this is the last year I get to bring all my books – too many, to heavy! I read the two flash fiction pieces in Jagged Fragments, “If Looks Could Kill” and “The Secret of the T-Rex’s Arms”, as well as reading the first chapter of Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, a bit of my and Jim Davies’ essay on the psychology of Star Trek’s artificial intelligences, and even a bit of my very first published story, “Sibling Rivalry“. I also gave the presentation I was supposed to give at the SAM Talks before I realized I was double booked; that was “Risk Getting Worse”.
But that wasn’t recorded, so, oh dang, you’ll have to either go to my Amazon page to get my books, or wait until we get “Risk Getting Worse” recorded. But my interview with Nancy Northcott for the Daily Dragon, “Robots, Computers, and Magic“, however, IS online, so I can share it with you all. Even more so, I want to share what I think is the most important part of my interview:
DD: Do you have any one bit of advice for aspiring writers?
AF: Write. Just write. Don’t worry about perfection, or getting published, or even about pleasing anyone else: just write. Write to the end of what you start, and only then worry about what to do with it. In fact, don’t even worry about finishing everything—don’t be afraid to try anything. Artists know they need to fill a sketchbook before sitting down to create a masterwork, but writers sometimes get trapped trying to polish their first inspiration into a final product.
Don’t get trapped on the first hill! Whip out your notebook and write. Write morning pages. Write diary at the end of the day. Write a thousand starts to stories, and if one takes flight, run with it with all the abandon you have in you. Accept all writing, especially your own. Just write. Write.