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Posts published in “Writing”

The art, craft, and life of writing.

Five Days Behind

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Between the new cat, work, finishing up Blood Rock, and business with Frost Moon, I've gotten far behind on Nanowrimo this month. But now I'm back on track, have finished a more detailed outline which solves some of my plot problems and gives me some fun crunchy stuff to work with ... and have finally caught up to my first day's target word count, ~1700 words (you need to do at least 1666 words a day to complete Nano). Hopefully things will speed up from this point ... need to do ~1933 words a day to finish successfully.

Let’s Give This Thing a Shot

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The only way to make something happen for certain is to prioritize it. Normally when Nanowrimo rolls around I become a submarine and don't blog so much, but if the inhuman writing machine that is Warren Ellis can blog multiple times per day in between writing comic book epics, then so can I, dag nab it.

So, for the month of November, when I'm supposed to be writing 50,000 words of Liquid Fire ... I will blog once a day. So far, so good ... 3 days, 3 posts. Here's to committment - meh.

-the Centaur

National Novel Writing Month 2009 Entry: Liquid Fire

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Well, it is that time of year again: November, and National Novel Writing Month. This year I'm working on Book 3 of the Dakota Frost series, Liquid Fire, which features Dakota, firespinning, and dragons:

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.

As usual, I have a theme, plot, and know almost exactly how it will end. But more than the previous two books in the series, I feel like I'm stepping off into a great void, even though the magic of this book - firespinning - is an art I myself perform, unlike the tattoos featured in Frost Moon (of which I have none) and the graffiti featured in Blood Rock (of which I have done none). All I have to go on this one are love, fire ... and the nightmares from the Hadean.

Wish me luck.
-the Centaur

Frost Moon Back In the Hands of the Editor

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frost moon

Frost Moon, the first novel I wrote that ever got serious interest from a publisher, is now back in the hands of the editor. Things are looking good, we're on the same page for the first twelve chapters ... though, sadly, their 2009 schedule has filled and there's no way the book is going to come out before the beginning of 2010.

Now it's the race to finish the edits of Blood Rock by the end of October, so I can send it to my beta readers and start work on "Liquid Fire" for National Novel Writing Month...

Wish me luck!
-the Centaur

Frost Moon Revised

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So, this weekend I finished the revision of Frost Moon, 2007's Nanowrimo entry, and have submitted it back to the publisher. Initially they sound pleased and hope to get back to me soon - very promising! I have deliberately not mentioned the name of the publishing house so as to "not jinx it" but once I hear back yea or nay I will spill the beans.

In the meantime, I have returned to work on Blood Rock, the sequel, now at 100,000 words and going strong. I suspect I'm closing in on the end here; the current word count includes a lot of notes that will be chopped in the final draft, so hopefully this will come in at under 120,000 words.

As I mentioned before, I have already started work on the sequels, Liquid Fire and Hex Code. I have ideas for many more in this series, and plan to keep doing them as long as they're fun. I'll put up more information when I do the site redesign, hopefully in April.

-the Centaur

New Year’s Resolutions 2009: February Checkin

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Let's see how this thing is going:

  • Review your resolutions monthly.
    Self-referential check.
  • Eat two before you buy one.
    So far so good
  • Work out at the gym at least twice a week, three weeks per month:
    Sandi and I are back on a regular schedule, more or less; 3-4 times per week. Easy to miss a subsequent day once you miss a day.
  • Go to a martial arts class two times a week, at least three weeks per month:
    Been going to the Aikido Center, think I got in at least three weeks last month. Easy to miss a subsequent day once you miss a day.
  • Review your GTD folder at least once a week, three weeks a month.
    So far, so good.
  • Publish at least one Fanu Fiku page a month.
    Total failure on this in January, but I do have a big backlog of pages and worked on a 24 hour comic day, so this is in progress.
  • Spend at least two hours writing at least twice a week.
    On top of it.
  • Spend at least two hours doing generative research at least once a week.
    Total failure on this; I have spent very little time doing this, but at least I'm still reading technical journals at a good pace.
  • Send a short story to a magazine at least once a month.
    Total failure. I need to tackle that this weekend.
  • Spend at least one hour a week practicing a foreign language.
    Total failure.
  • Spend at least one hour a week practicing your poi.
    Had to order new poi as we lost them in a recent trip.
  • Each week, contact a friend you haven't talked to in a while.
    So far so good.
  • Write a blog entry once a week.
    So far so good.
  • Read a novel once a month.
    Total failure at the "fun" resolution. I recently finished re-reading "The Fountainhead" prior to making the resolutions. I'm trying to read Triplanetary but it is frankly gad-ow-ful, and I really don't like saying that about some author's hard work.

So so far we're batting ... meh. 16 resolutions, total failure on 6 of them. Gotta keep at it... suggestions welcome, as would be 24 extra hours every day.

-the Centaur

A Fail Full of Win

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So I just spent the last 24 hours, give or take, doing a 24 Hour Comics Day, an attempt to do a 24 page comic from blank to finished page in 24 hours. I, my buddy Nate, and his buddy Jon started work at 10 on Saturday and worked towards 10 on Sunday (well, actually, Jon started at 6 and worked towards 6 because he keeps different hours). Fueled entirely by pizza, diet cola, and a variety of healthy and unhealthy snacks in a continuing rotation, each of us attempted to produce our own brand new comic book, with no prior effort spent on plot, script or drawings other than thinking.

Our results: FAIL. But it was a good failure. As far as final product went, we didn't have much to show: each of us produced around two finished pages. I was just shy of finishing my second page when I quit at 9:30am, Jon finished 2 when he quit at 5, and Nathan had finished two pages and two half pages when he quit around 8:30. But the byproducts were far more impressive.

I produced a complete story, 26 complete pages of storyboards, and two pages of script for the trickiest dialogue sequences. Jon also produced a complete story, 24 pages of storyboards, and about 5 pages of script. Nathan had a complete story, but during the completion of the pages he became increasingly ruthless about his story and became convinced that he could restructure it better to tell a better story - so he perhaps learned more about his process than any of us.

What I learned about my process is that I'm getting better about taking story ideas, extracting a theme, structuring the plot around the theme, and condensing them to the right size; but I'm still inspired to tell stories much larger than my target lengths. And beyond that, I need to practice drawing: practice faces, practice bodies, practice hands, practice animals, practice everything. I was constantly looking online and in my extensive library for reference models to help me draw things that I should have learned and internalized by now. Admittedly, for the past two years I've been focused on writing, not drawing, but art is made by those who make it, not those who make excuses.

Since we're not done, we've agreed to finish the comics over the next 24 days and then have a party to share the finished comics with our friends. Technically these won't then be 24 hour comics; they're more "Comics inspired by the 24 hour comic day experience." But they will be OUR comics, they'll be finished, and we'll all have one more creative work under our belts.

Ad tractus!
-the Centaur

New Year’s Resolutions 2009

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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…

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... 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