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!
One of the things that I’ve been surprised by during this Return to my Library is how much I missed my own ideas. I knew, intuitively, that I used this external collection to help maintain my internal memories, but it wasn’t until now, when a random album came up while I was preparing to go grab some food, that I realized it. The Matrix Revolution started playing, and I was not just reminded of the f@nu fiku series that the Matrix serves as a soundtrack to, but also an older project, DELIVERANCE, a novel set in the Library of Dresan universe. So many things have happened since then – a move to California, a theft in my car, a loss of my notebooks, a fortuitous sale of a new novel series, an ill-considered anthology, and a new project at work – that I had almost lost the mental context of all of that creative enterprise.
Tonight, doing a little random cleanup, in the place which I’d prepared for myself, but somehow forgotten, it all came flooding back.
Maybe all this effort to prepare a great space really is worth it.
Off to get my wordcount on. L8r.
P.S. Yes, it might seem a bit strange to go out to dinner right when I’m celebrating my Library, but if you think that, you have no idea how much of a foodie I am. 😀
I stand corrected. I thought I’d succeeded at Nanowrimo eleven times, and technically that’s true. But it turns out that I’ve taken on a Nano challenge thirteen times and succeeded at it twelve – because of Script Frenzy.
Script Frenzy was the event that predated Camp Nanowrimo in April – a challenge to write 100 pages of a script in the month of April. I took on Script Frenzy once, in 2012 – I think that may have been the last year that it ran. Since 2014, I’ve been doing Camp Nanowrimo, and won at that twice. So every time I’ve taken on an official Nano challenge, I succeeded.
That’s a little over a half a million words. Wow.
But I took on Nano one more time, on my own – in August of 2014. Perhaps because I lacked the support of the community – this was an “unofficial” Nano on my part – or perhaps because the book needed more editing than writing, I only got 10,000 words into the challenge that month. But I’m still very happy how it turned out.
So, to confirm: viiictory, twelve times.
… and not just because I sold 22 copies of my books at Clockwork Alchemy. Though that was a big part of it, the sales themselves aren’t what really mattered to me; it was that 22 copies of my books are in people’s hands, and they were in people’s hands because for the very first time, I had an author’s table.
For the four days that I sat behind that author’s table, behind a fort of my books and my postcards and my wife’s steampunk gears and shelves and even a small tiger, I became part of a community of people – and not just even the wonderful people at the Clockwork Alchemy author’s alley, whom I hope to see again for years and years to come.
No, I became a part of the broader community of science fiction authors, connecting with their readers through science fiction conventions, the way I myself first really connected with the science fiction community, after many years of reading alone. I’ve been a published author for years, and written in a small community for longer, but now I feel connected as never before.
This is a new level of interaction, a new level of connection, a new opportunity for a whole family to create an author’s delight by buying their books and holding them over their heads like mouse ears. Somehow, everything feels more real to me, and I am more inspired than ever before to keep writing and to get the ideas in my head out … and into yours.
I hope we both enjoy it! God bless,
For the 8th time, I have won National Novel Writing Month! This year, I knuckled down early, focusing on getting as much ahead as possible so I could coast early in the month. This really worked because my story soon started turning in unexpected directions as I mined the emotional relationships of the characters, rather than the overarching plot. And I think it worked well! Look at that:
I was successfully able to stay ahead of the game essentially for the whole month, enabling me to finish several days early. I hope to keep writing, to core dump the ideas I’ve had about the story, as while it is wonderful to find unexpected elements of the story (including a shout-out to one of my oldest childhood toys and the origin of the Dresanian universe) there’s more to write.
But now I can take a more leisurely pace, read the giant stack of books I’ve accumulated to help me flesh out the plot ideas, and turn it all into something more interesting. For example, here’s an interesting combination of plot and emotional interaction, none of which I ever really expected:
The mammoth city-sized collection of globules drifted by. Some were firm and puffy like gasbags; some soft like pillows, some trailing and drifting like punctured balloons. So many tentacles fell down from it that it looked like it was raining beneath. Slowly, the globules crested a ridge and began to sink.
Leonid’s mouth parted, but he maintained his firm, watchful, captain on deck boots-wide stance on the window, even though his legs had begun to cramp. Then the city slowly settled to the earth in a cloud of dust.
“It is a city,” Serendipity said. “Or something very much like one.”
“I’m not willing to give it that yet,” Leonid said, as the globules settled and burst, gas streaming up from some, gasbags lifting tentacles up from others, remarkably like towers. “But my mind is open to the possibility. Spores, your grandmother said.”
“Yes,” Serendipity said. “Perhaps the gasbags make the cities, and the spores that they release inhabit the cities. I don’t know—like she said, it appears most of the records of Halfway were sealed after the war. Damnit. And Greatgramma Clarice led me straight into this—”
“Sounds like a dick move,” Leonid said, “but you and your family are all geniuses. Let’s not give up on her just yet. Maybe she thought you were your grandmother’s granddaughter, that you were the right person to deal with Halfway.”
“Maybe,” Serendipity said uncertainly.
“One thing for certain,” Leonid said, smiling down at her, legs still firmly planted on the rail, cutting as heroic a pose as he could, “black sun or no, Halfway is a beautiful world—and we’re going to make the best of it.”
Then something slammed into the ship so hard it knocked him backwards into the soup.
So, my Nanowrimo winner’s t-shirt is on it’s way, I’ve “won” … but I’ve got a lot more to go to get this novel done.
At some point over the past weekend, I broke 40,000 words on Nano. This is no time to get complacent: even though I’m a few days ahead now – only 6200 words from the end – and I’m supposedly on vacation, I may need to go back to work tomorrow to deal with a minor, well, not crisis, but something that demands my attention.
So while that mountain above has impressive height and slope, it ends in a plateau, because the month of November is not done. And if you don’t retain focus, you can end on that plateau, because the end of November is friends and family and Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the year-end scramble at work, if you have one.
SO while I have a lead, I’m going to do what I can to keep it. Speaking of which … I wrote 375 words between what I wrote above and the end of this article. Here’s an excerpt:
“So, still thinking Halfway was a steal?” Sirius asked. “Was it worth it to spend your inheritance on the hideout of a war criminal, no doubt on her way back here?”
“She’s not a war criminal, and she’s not coming back,” Serendipity said. “She’s a prolific and nurturing mother. She would never have left her grandchild behind, much less her own daughter. Same rules as Norylan’s parents: if she could have come back, she would have—”
“Nurturing mother doesn’t mean,” Sirius said, “she wasn’t a war criminal.”
“A few hard choices don’t a monster make,” Serendipity said. “She led the First Contact mission between Dresan and Murra. For all practical intents and purposes, she founded the Dresan-Murran Alliance, the most harmonious grouping of aliens in the universe—”
“Founded on annihilating everyone who didn’t fit that mold?” Sirius said quietly.
For a moment, Serendipity didn’t say anything.
“I can’t take responsibility for the sins of someone who wasn’t even my ancestor,” Serendipity said, “but I’ll defend the values they bequeathed to me, values they developed trying to learn from their mistakes. When my grandmother came, I could have had her kill you all—”
“Hey!” Sirius said. Then he punched her arm. “Ass!”
“Hey!” Serendipity said back, feeling her arm. “Ow—”
“No, you couldn’t have had her kill us,” Sirius said. “She would have sliced up that blaster, and maybe lopped a few arms, or perhaps just gut checked a few of Toren’s goons with the back end of her scythe blades. Your back was turned. She took the room in an instant—”
“She’s a killer,” Serendipity said. “You don’t know her—”
“She’s a First Contact Engineer and a pregnant mother,” Sirius said. “I saw her face. Yes, she’s scary—I’ve never seen anyone that scary—but I could also see relief when she saw we were children. I refuse to believe she would just windmill through us all, rolling heads.”
Serendipity stared at him.
“I’m not sure I agree with you,” she said, “but I think you’re also making my point.”
Back to work.
In only tangentially related Nano news, the beta copies of LIQUID FIRE are on their way to beta readers, and signed copies of DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME are on their way to the winners! Huzzah. I hope you enjoy them!
Not that things are going poorly. They’re actually going quite well… UPDATE:
Quite well indeed.
One of the great things about National Novel Writing Month is that it takes you into places you never anticipated. Well, for most of this month I’ve been working on Section 2 of MAROONED, “Conflicted”, but much of what I’ve written today comes from Section 3, which I’ve alternately called “Determined” or “Galvanized”. And the following section logically follows from the setup of the story … but I had no idea that it was going to happen. No idea at all:
“Buck up, spacer,” Eslyca said. “We’re at war. We have to make hard choices.”
“Like Toren said,” Kyrnal said. He shook his head. “Doesn’t mean I don’t regret it.”
They watched, from behind the cargo bay lights, as Leonid’s crew kept punching. After a while, Eslyca got uncomfortable and shifted; then Kyrnal did the same thing, setting his hands and shifting his boots. But the crew below kept punching … and punching … and punching.
“How long are they going to keep this up?” Eslyca said. “Did she just say five hundred?”
“How long can they keep this up?” Kyrnal said. “And I thought they’d gone soft—”
“YOU THOUGHT WRONG,” boomed a deep mechanical voice behind them, and Kyrnal and Eslyca whirled to see the huge fox-like head of a robot the size of a cargo loader loom behind them, two scorpion-like pincers rising from its tail. “DON’T MOVE!”
Kyrnal whirled and tried to reach for his gun, but the scorpion-pincer shocked him. Eslyca dove aside, but a giant mechanical paw scooped her back up, then Kyrnal too, bringing both of them together—and in range of those darting pincers.
The paws spun them about, and Krynal felt the pincer snap tight on the upper safety harness attachment of his softsuit—the hardest to reach. He tried to grab for it and release himself, but when his hand touched the pincer, he got shocked again.
Then the robot shoved them both out into empty space.
Wait … who are Kyrnal and Eslyca? What do they regret? Why are they spying on Leonid’s camp? What is Leonid’s camp training for? Who’s the robot? And will our intrepid young heroes or villains survive getting thrown out into space by this mechanical monster?
A day or so ahead now, taking a break to run errands. Onward!
Each day in National Novel Writing Month, you need to write 1,666 words. It’s the math: 50,000 words, 30 days, no excuses. The math seems simple: 50,000 / 30 = 1,666 and 2/3, so 1667 words will end you up with 50,010 words at the end of the month. So you may think you can get away with 1,667 words, or 1,666 with 20 words tossed in at the end.
It isn’t that simple.
As you can see from the graph, or from following this blog, some days you just can’t get 1,666 words done. You’re off your game, you’re off on a hike, or a distressed person shows up at your door in need of help. So, I prefer to say that you need to do more than you think you need to in a day – because you need to be caught up before you slip, or you’ll fall behind.
For 24 Hour Comic Day – a challenge to do 24 pages in 24 hours – I and my buddy Nathan at Blitz Comics recommend trying to finish each page in 45 minutes, so you can absorb the inevitable eating, drinking, bathroom breaks and pencil sharpening and still finish your pages on time.
For National Novel Writing Month, I recommend something simpler: just try to get one day ahead, as soon as you can. Work super hard to get that first day of buffer, and then, even if something happens to throw you off, you’re not behind.
So now, at lunch, I’ve finished my daily word count. I have a few errands to run – but tonight, I’ll try to add that second day’s worth of words, so that I’ll not just be ahead for the day, but ahead of the game.
I’m still ahead on National Novel Writing Month, again on the skin of my teeth. Only by being already ahead. Because after I had dinner with my wife last night, after she retired to her art studio and I was just sitting down to finish my word count …
A disoriented older woman showed up on our street, unable to find her way home – and speaking no English.
Our neighbors found her first, and came by for help. We took her to our front porch and tried to calm her while the police were on their way. Slowly her English returned, and slowly we drew out her story: she’d been sick for a long time, she didn’t know where she was, and she just wanted to go home … to a mother and father who in her clearer moments she remembered were dead.
The police arrived, we all tried to comfort her, and then the presence of the police cars attracted the attention of the woman’s husband, who had been driving around the neighborhood looking for her. He confirmed what we suspected: his wife had Alzheimer’s, and could no longer remember her street address, or even her married name.
A moment’s nodding at the couch watching television, and when he looked up, she was gone, out in the street wearing slippers with her shoes in her hand. Alzheimer’s patients often have disrupted sleep or activity schedules, moving when other people expect them to be still – so this experience was by no means unusual.
For the record, report the loss of a loved one to the police immediately, so it will show up in the system if someone finds them.
She ended up safely home. Our prayers go with her.
Sometimes, writing must come second.