New Year’s Resolutions 2009

Traditionally I do my New Year’s Resolutions and yearly planning while visiting my family between Christmas and New Years, holed up in a Panera Bread in Haywood Mall in my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. That’s slipped to January in the past few years now that I live 2500 miles away and time in my hometown is pressed – but, now that the tornado has abated, I have come up with a decent set of resolutions. Here goes:

  • Review your resolutions monthly.
    It’s easy to fall off the wagon. My first resolution is to review my New Year’s Resolutions on the first of each month to see if I’m on track
  • Eat two before you buy one.
    I have a huge library of books, comic books, DVDs and music, and the only thing I stay on top of is the music. So this year, I plan to read two books before I buy a new one, and so on with my DVDs and comics. Since I’m an avid book collector and like to stay current with comics, I have added the following subresolutions:
  • Read two books before you buy one, excluding vacations or conferences.
  • Read two comics before you buy one, excluding three new comics a week.
  • Watch two DVDs before you buy one – and don’t let anyone loan you anything.
  • Work out at the gym at least twice a week, at least three weeks a month.
    I already do this. I just don’t want to quit, or fall off the wagon when Sandi’s out of town.
  • Go to a martial arts class at least twice a week, at least three weeks a month.
    I was spotty about this last year, but this year: so far, so good. And for the record, I miss Taido.
  • Review your GTD folder at least once a week, three weeks a month.
    Or it isn’t doing you any good.
  • Publish at least one Fanu Fiku page a month.
    I have a big backlog of pages. That should get me through June if I do it.
  • Spend at least two hours writing at least twice a week.
    I already do this; I just don’t want to fall off the wagon
  • Spend at least two hours doing generative research at least once a week.
    I don’t do this, and need to. I spend much more than two hours a week reading technical materials – maybe five to seven hours a week. So it’s time to give back.
  • Send a short story to a magazine at least once a month.
    Or what am I writing for?
  • Spend at least one hour a week practicing a foreign language.
    Nihongo wa tottemo muzukashii desu, but that’s no excuse.
  • Spend at least one hour a week practicing your poi.
    Or you’re going to look really silly, setting yourself on fire at Burning Man.
  • Each week, contact a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
    Some of my friends call me “the Submarine” – I surface, send a packet, then disappear.
  • Write a blog entry once a week.
    Starting with this one.
  • Read a novel once a month.
    The “fun” resolution.

So now it’s out there: nowhere near as interesting as Jim Davies’ New Year Resolutions, but more useful for the challenges I personally face. At the end of the year, I’ll go back and review this and see how I did.

Another battle won…


… I have just completed ~75,000 words for National Novel Writing Month 2008, which puts me over the top of my self-imposed target for November: 50,000 words more than I started with.

I had those extra 25,000 words to start with because I had planned to do two Nanowrimos back to back, thinking I could finish Blood Rock in October and start a new novel in November. Foolish mortal, who do you think you are, Asimov?

Blood Rock is the sequel to Frost Moon, last year’s Nanowrimo entry. I have already started work on the sequels, Liquid Fire and Hex Code. I have ideas for many more in this series, but I plan to keep doing them only as long as they’re fun.

Like its predecessor, I expect Blood Rock to top out at just under 90,000 words, so hopefully I will be able to finish the first draft in mid-December. Here’s gunning for it!

-the Centaur

National Novel Writing Month 2008 Entry: Blood Rock

So … it once again is National Novel Writing Month, the tenth edition of the yearly “contest” to write 50,000 words in a new novel in one month. I’m going to tweak that a bit: I’ve been working for the last month or so on Blood Rock, the sequel to last year’s Nanowrimo entry, Frost Moon. Blood Rock is a return to the world of “skindancer” Dakota Frost, a magical tattoo artist living in an alternate Atlanta, and it’s quite fun to get back to her universe. I’m already 25,000 words into it … so for my Nanowrimo entry, I’m going to push this through to the end, roughly 75,000 words. The intro:

From the outside, my baby blue Prius looks as normal as can be: a streamlined bubble of a car with an aerodynamic rear-hitch bike rack, humming along on a hybrid gas/electric engine. She couldn’t scream ‘liberal soccer mom’ louder if she was a Volvo plastered with NPR stickers. Peer inside, however, and you see something completely different.

In the driver’s seat, yours truly: a six-foot two woman with a purple-and-black Mohawk – short in front, a la Grace Jones, but lengthening in back until it becomes a long tail curling around my neck. Striking, yes, but what really draws your eyes are my tattoos.

Starting at my temples, a rainbow of tribal daggers curls under the perimeter of my Mohawk, cascading down my neck, rippling out over my arms, and exploding in colorful braids of vines and jewels and butterflies. Beautiful, yes, but that’s not why you can’t look away — its because, out of the corner of your eye, you saw my tattoos move — there, they did it again! You swear, that leaf fluttered, that gem sparkled. It’s like magic!

Why, yes, they did move, and yes, they are magic. Thanks for noticing. All inked at the Rogue Unicorn by yours truly, Dakota Frost, best magical tattoo artist in the Southeast.

Beside me sits a five-nothing teenaged girl, listening to a podcast on her iPod. Normally she’s dressed in a vest and Capri pants, but today she’s in a shockingly conservative schoolgirl’s outfit that clashes with her orange hair and elaborate tiger-striped tattoos.

At first what you see is easy to interpret: an outsider trying to fit in, or a rebel suffering a forced fit. But then your eyes do another double take: are those … cat ears poking out from beneath her head scarf? Did they move? And is that a tail? My God, honey, could she be one of those … what are they called … “were-cats”?

Why yes, her ears did move, and yes, she’s a weretiger. But didn’t your mom tell you it’s rude to point? She has a name: Cinnamon Frost. And she’s my adopted daughter.

Both the Prius and the weretiger in its passenger seat are brand new to me. I met Cinnamon only two months ago, visiting a local werehouse to research a werewolf tattoo, and ended up adopting her after a serial killer damn near killed her trying to get to me. I picked up the Prius right around the same time, a little splurge after winning a tattooing contest.

The adjustment was hard at first: Cinnamon took over my house and tried to take over my life. But my Mom had been a schoolteacher, and I’d learned a few tricks. In the first few weeks after she moved in I put the hammer down, never smiling, setting clear boundaries for her behavior and my sanity. Finally — when she got past the point of the tears, the “not-fairs,” and the most egregious misbehaviors — I eased up, and we once again shared the easy “gee you’re a square but I like you anyway” camaraderie we’d started with.

Now we were peas in a pod; whenever I went out she tagged along, riding shotgun, listening to her audiobooks while I jammed to Rush. The two of us look as different as can be, except for the identical stainless steel collars about our necks, but one minute seeing the two of us laughing together and you’d think I’d been her mother for her whole life.

But today my sunny bundle of fur was feeling quite sullen.

“Don’t worry,” I said, patting her knee softly. One of them will accept you.”

So how much do I need to write each day to do this? Some Python (apologies to the J fans out there, but my J installation was acting cruftly today and I’m just as fast if not faster coding in Python):

>>> for day in range(1,31): print "Nov %d:\t%d" % (day, 25000 + (50000 / 30.0) * day)
...
Nov 1: 26666
Nov 2: 28333
Nov 3: 30000
Nov 4: 31666
Nov 5: 33333
Nov 6: 35000
Nov 7: 36666
Nov 8: 38333
Nov 9: 40000
Nov 10: 41666
Nov 11: 43333
Nov 12: 45000
Nov 13: 46666
Nov 14: 48333
Nov 15: 50000
Nov 16: 51666
Nov 17: 53333
Nov 18: 55000
Nov 19: 56666
Nov 20: 58333
Nov 21: 60000
Nov 22: 61666
Nov 23: 63333
Nov 24: 65000
Nov 25: 66666
Nov 26: 68333
Nov 27: 70000
Nov 28: 71666
Nov 29: 73333
Nov 30: 75000

I’m currently at 26,744 words, so I have a lot to do today. For those people who are starting at word 0, here’s a slight variant of the above you can cut and paste to make your own writing progress chart.

>>> for day in range(1,31): print "Nov %d:\t%d" % (day, (50000 / 30.0) * day)
...
Nov 1: 1666
Nov 2: 3333
Nov 3: 5000
Nov 4: 6666
Nov 5: 8333
Nov 6: 10000
Nov 7: 11666
Nov 8: 13333
Nov 9: 15000
Nov 10: 16666
Nov 11: 18333
Nov 12: 20000
Nov 13: 21666
Nov 14: 23333
Nov 15: 25000
Nov 16: 26666
Nov 17: 28333
Nov 18: 30000
Nov 19: 31666
Nov 20: 33333
Nov 21: 35000
Nov 22: 36666
Nov 23: 38333
Nov 24: 40000
Nov 25: 41666
Nov 26: 43333
Nov 27: 45000
Nov 28: 46666
Nov 29: 48333
Nov 30: 50000

Have fun, everyone!

-the Centaur

Frost Moon Submitted

Friday afternoon I finished revising Frost Moon, and Friday evening I submitted it to a publisher.

Frost Moon was my 2007 Nanowrimo entry and is my second completed novel. 9 beta readers helped me out: Sandi, Barbara, Wally, Fred, Diane, Gayle, Mel, Liza and Keiko; sorry to everyone who didn’t get a copy but if you don’t really bug me about it I’ll forget.

The final document that went out was the 42nd revision with a word count of 87737.

Cross your fingers!
-the Centaur

AnBloWriMo

Recently I heard a friend say “2008 was the year the bloggers died” – because almost all of his friends who were bloggers stopped posting. Well, shame on us. SO, in the tradition of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I announce Anthony’s Blog Writing Month (AnBloWriMo) in which I will attempt to put up one post per day for the next month. Hopefully this won’t amount to boring all of you to tears, but will instead serve as a useful reminder to me to get my backlog moving again. Of course, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive…

Here goes – this counts as number one.
-the Centaur

82,732 Words

I just finished the first draft of a new novel in two and a half months.

And immediately copied it to my USB key:

While I have started many novels and written many short stories, Frost Moon is only the second novel I’ve managed to complete — thank you, Nanowrimo. The first was a much longer epic science fiction novel, homo centauris, that I wrote over fifteen years ago (has it been that long?) but which I never managed to get published. I worked on several others since then, but the closest to completion is an earlier Nanowrimo entry, tentatively titled Deliverance, set in the same universe, which I plan to finish while my alpha readers tackle Frost Moon.

Whew. I feel like celebrating — but why do I not feel like taking a break?
-the Centaur

Viiiictory…

For the second time, I’ve entered and “won” the National Novel Writing Month contest. This challenge is to start a new novel in November and to write 50,000 words of the first draft before the end of the month. And, by becoming a hermit, not responding to email, and writing over Thanksgiving, I did it!

The working title of the novel is Frost Moon (though over on my Nanowrimo profile I was still calling it “Skindancer” before I found out that the full moon that happens during the course of the book is a “frost moon”).

And now, the beginning of Frost Moon. Enjoy.

Frost Moon

I first started wearing a Mohawk to repel low-lifes — barflies, vampires, Republicans, and so on — but when I found my true profession it turned into an ad. People’s eyes are drawn by my hair — no longer a true Mohawk, but a big, unruly “deathhawk,” a stripe of feathered black, purple and white streaks climbing down the center of my head — but they linger on the tattoos, which start as tribalesque vines in the shaved spaces on either side of the ’hawk and then cascade down my throat to my shoulders, flowering into roses and jewels and butterflies.

Their colors are so vivid, their details so sharp many people mistake them for body paint, or assume that they can’t have been done in the States. Yes, they’re real; no, they’re not Japanese — they’re all, with a few exceptions, done by my own hand, right here in Atlanta at the Rogue Unicorn in Little Five Points. Drop by — I’ll ink you. Ask for Dakota Frost.

To retain the more … perceptive … eye, I started wearing an ankle-length leather vest that shows off the intricate designs on my arms, and a cutoff top and lowrider jeans that that show off a tribal yin-yang on my midriff. Throughout it all you can see the curving black tail of some thing big, beginning on the left side of my neck, looping around the yin-yang on my midriff, and arcing through the leaves on my right shoulder. Most people think it’s a dragon, and they wouldn’t be wrong; in case anyone misses the point, I even have the design sewn into the back of a few of my vests.

But those who live on the edge might see a little more: magical runes woven in the tribal designs, working charms woven into the flowers, and, if you look real close at the tail of the dragon, the slow movement of a symbolic familiar. Yes, it did move; and yes, that’s real magic. Drop by the Rogue Unicorn — you’re still asking for the one and only Dakota Frost, the best magical tattooist in the Southeast.

The downside to being a walking ad, of course, is that some of the folks you want to attract start to see you as a scary low-life. We all know that vampires can turn out to be quite decent folk, but so can cleancut young Republicans looking for their first tattoo to impress their tree-hugger girlfriends. As for barflies, well, they’re still barflies; but unfortunately I find the more tats I show the greater the chance that the cops will throw me into the back of the van too if a barfight breaks out.

So I couldn’t help being nervous as two officers marched me into City Hall East…

-the Centaur