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Posts tagged as “Dakota in the Bay”


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Good news, friends of the Edgeworld! If you’ve caught up on the first two Dakota Frost books and want to try the third, you’re in luck - the Kindle edition of LIQUID FIRE is on sale for $1.99 through the end of the month! Will our lonely tattooed heroine finally find a girlfriend? Will her daughter finally get recognition for her mathematical skill? And will the ancient cadre of wizards out to rule the world let them have a free minute to enjoy a frappe at their favorite bookstore … or will they find themselves fighting fire ninjas to the death in a struggle for control of the spirit of a hatching dragon? Read LIQUID FIRE and you’ll find out!


-the Centaur

Viiictory the Fourteenth

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Viiictory! I successfully completed Nanowrimo for the fourteenth time - adding 50,000 words to PHANTOM SILVER, Dakota Frost #5. And, by working hard, I did it!

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Because of work, life, and other writing, I got behind early this month, and had to press hard to really make it. But I successfully got it off my plate one day early. Because Nano’s site counts words differently than Microsoft Word, I had to push a bit past my Word word count, and so saw something I rarely see on this graph: a negative velocity debt, meaning I could write backwards and still end up finishing the count (at least the Word count) exactly on time.

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For a bit late in the month, especially around the 26th, it was as bad as I’ve ever gotten it: 6000+ words behind only 5 days from the end of the month. But somehow I managed to pull it out, setting a couple of daily records on writing … though I never even came close to my absolute max writing rate of 7,000 words a day.

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Strangely, even though Camp Nano doesn’t have November’s holidays, it still works out that most of the writing gets done near the end of the month. Go figure.

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Alright, late, tired, going to bed, more commentary later.

-the Centaur

Life is More Important

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So after catching up for a while on Camp Nano, I fell behind again … because I and my wife traveled back to Greenville, South Carolina to assist my mother’s rehab from knee surgery, and frankly that’ more important than any amount of word count. The good news is, she’s doing very well, and came home from the hospital yesterday … the even better news is, that my wife and my mom patched it up after eight years of not speaking to each other, a feat which I didn’t think was even possible. What a wonderful trip!

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I lost my momentum the moment I hopped on that plane, and after that it was tough to get it back when I was caring for Mom - you can see the dent in the schedule around the 20th - and getting back on track after that required a full court press. But, in the past several days, I was able to do just that, and managed to pump out 2000+ words on all of the past five days, and double that on three of those. As of tonight, I am caught up.

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As for now, there’s two days left, which I could tackle at a normal pace—though I’ll likely try to finish by Friday so that I can chill out on Saturday and have a nice relaxing weekend.

Wish me luck.

-the Centaur

Reality intervenes, but …

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… we may still pull it out. We’ve been in worse scrapes ...

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Er … well, no we haven’t, but it’s still clearly possible. More news in a bit.

-the Centaur

Now it’s starting to feel possible again …

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I was literally dreaming all night about the chapter I wrote today - I got up several times with tears in my eyes, as one of Dakota’s enemies unexpectedly turned into one of her strongest allies. Fascinating what a fictional world can do to you. But the upshot is, I got 4,000 words done for two days in a row … and have a clear path for what I need to write tomorrow.

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We may win this one yet! Assuming I survive this weekend’s craziness! Which I can’t tell you about, but … aaaa!

-the Centaur

Now that’s what I’m talking about …

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4200 words today! Keep that up for 3 more days, I’ll be more or less back on track.

And then I’ll still have 18,000 words left to write this month. AAAAA!


-the Centaur

Briefly …

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Is the novel back on track? NO. But am I up to speed? YES.

Of course, I know I’ll lose more days, so really, to finish, I’m going to need to do even more than the—hork!—2750 words per day that my spreadsheet predicts I’ll need to do to get back on track.

But I’ve gotten a much better groove, the story is starting to dovetail nicely, and some sections which felt out of place have, after a few moves, found a nice home in the story.

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The rocket is taking off, but there’s a long climb ahead.

Back to it.

-the Centaur

The good news and the bad news

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The good news is I wrote ~2800 words yesterday, more than I needed. The bad news is I wrote 900 of those words by hand in my notebook (so as to not disturb the other diners in the dark and quiet restaurant with the typing coming from my glowing laptop), and took most of this afternoon’s writing session to get them all typed in. Argh! Still, I’m happy with the results ...

“So,” Avenix said. “We have begun to seek out, in all our holdings, other threats—”

I raised my hand. “Hang on,” I said. Filling in the blanks, this ghost had to have been a fae hunter; that’s why they called me. But Avenix wasn’t saying that outright: he seemed to be feeding me my own lines. “You feared a threat to your realm … started a search for dangerous use of magic … then called me to deal with the problem. Did I get that right?”

“Well … yes,” Avenix said.

“Don’t lie to me!” I said, slapping my hand on the table. “What’s your real goal?”

“I am not lying to you,” Avenix said.

“Why would he lie to you?” Nyissa asked. “It’s a reasonable course of action—”

“Are you all insane?” I said. “Do you have no memories? Ten years ago—ten months ago—you’d have all been tearing each other apart, lashing out at everyone in sight, blaming anyone you could get your hands on to deal with your problems. You’d have been at war with Sidhain just because this happened on her doorstep—”

“Not likely,” Avenix said, shuddering.

“Save it! She has a real bad attitude,” I said, “but she’s pretty damn inoffensive for an alleged apocalyptic horror, and I’ve seen you in action against witchhunters! You can’t expect me to believe you’re all playing nice just because I came along!

Sounds like Dakota and Avenix are going to have it out. Onward!

-the Centaur

Back in motion, but not yet on track …

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Several times in the past few days, I’ve finally gotten up to speed on Camp Nanowrimo. Only problem is, because I got so far behind, I need to go 50% faster than I’m already doing … and to catch up this weekend, even if such a thing was possible, I’d have to write eight times as much as I’ve already written today. Aaaa!

Still, onward!

-the Centaur

A Partial Answer …

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… to how I made so little progress yesterday: halfway through yesterday’s writing session, I started entering yesterday’s wordcount into today’s row of the spreadsheet, effectively cutting my apparent wordcount for the day in half.

That would do it.

No excerpts; I just experimented with a new chapter 1 and I want to try it on for size before I share it. But it seems to dovetail nicely with what I’ve already written … and it was 800 free words, springing fully formed from my pen, uh, keyboard.


-the Centaur


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Gaah! How do I spend an hour writing a new long scene and only get 500 words out of it? 17% done, 30% behind. Aaa! Still, I got this. Just … need … to … write … faster ...

-the Centaur


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Is the novel back on track? NO. But I am reaching the point where I have enough traction in the story that I’m starting to make real progress. I’m 14,000+ words behind, I need to write over 2,500 words a day to finish my 50,000 words in the month … but at least I’m making real progress now. An excerpt:

The looming tower of Brendelbane Manor leered down at me, its three irregular windows looking even more like a skull. Yes, it was the same room, the nook at the front of Alissa van Kreveld’s room—but was there now flickering light within?

And … was the thing we’d seen Alissa van Kreveld? The phantom hadn’t looked like a Scottish refugee or a woman of Dutch descent; its hair and face had looked distinctly Asian, like a concept drawing for a mash-up of The Grudge and Memoirs of a Geisha.

So if it wasn’t her … who was it? What was it?

In horror movies, it seemed like you had a fifty-fifty chance of a ghost being a human ghost or a real demon. My personal experience told me next to nothing about ghosts, but any kind of phantom had a seventy percent chance of being a projectia, and a ninety percent chance of it turning out to be something hostile.

I stopped for a moment. No. That was my bad attitude talking. Chris Valentine’s projectia, the Streetscribe’s projectia, Cosgreave’s specter: all hostile. My Dragon, Arcturus’s vines, Avenix’s tentacle monster: all benign. The odds were closer to fifty-fifty. Even if this ghost had chased us out of the property with phantom fire, it might not be a hostile.

Still … my girlfriend was inside, and this thing spat phantom fracking fire.

Screwing up my courage, I drew my sword, ascended the steps … and went inside.


-the Centaur


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Is the novel back on track? NO.

For an idea of why I push so hard on this, though, take a look at this graph of how popular my books have been over time (a graph compiled by myself looking at data from various sources). It may not be readily apparent, but every time a new book is released, all my books spike in popularity, then slowly decline. The graph starts at the release of BLOOD ROCK, and the big gap between that and LIQUID FIRE - working on stories for anthologies - really caused things to fade away. If I want to write all the time, I need people to buy my books, so I need to produce books, to get back on track with novels coming out on a regular basis.

So … back to PHANTOM SILVER.

-the Centaur

Blood in the Water

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Well, shoot. Camp Nano not going well so far. Blast ye, taxes. Is the date right? Should I make Dakota worry about her taxes too, just to be mean? Checking The Grid … no, dangit, her taxes wouldn’t be due until the next book. Sigh.

Back to work.

-the Centaur

Now THAT Was a Book Reading

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So my book reading at Books Inc in Mountain View happened, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. We had a lot of people show up - more than at first I thought - and there was a lot of positive energy from the people in the audience which made it easy to read. (Note: I took pictures before the event, but not during, because I was the speaker, and that would be just rude).


I actually was less nervous and stuttery speaking to this crowd than I was when I was sitting alone in my great room reading the passages I had planned. The thing I'm happiest about, however, is that I planned what I was going to read deliberately.

Normally I read, by reflex, the first section of whatever new thing I've got. But sometimes the setup is not that interesting, so I've tried reading really exciting bits. But that doesn't seem to work either - people demand context.


That led to a brainflash: I decided I should think not about what I wanted to read but what I wanted people to get out of the reading. I chose the first page and a half of FROST MOON to set the stage. At the last minute, I also decided to read a page and a half of BLOOD ROCK, filled with police, magic and vampires, to show progression in the world (and unabashedly to show off what I thought was a nice bit of writing). And then I chose to read the first half of a chapter out of LIQUID FIRE, tuning again at the last minute, to show off the action and adventure of "The Battle of Union Square." People seemed to love it - I even got applause.

What's more, the sequence of selections enabled me to talk about various aspects of the world I'd built - setting it in a time and place, making the action realistic, exploring consequences - and led into a really good Q&A session. Finally, I left a little time out to read the first chunk of THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, which also seemed to strike a chord. At the end, we had a line of people for signing, including one who bought a copy of the whole trilogy; many of those joined us for a victory dinner.

Wow. I am so happy that you all came, and that you all liked it. You really made my day. Thank you.

At first I thought just enough people showed up to fill half the seats, but I was wrong - there were actually many more people standing and watching who didn't sit down because they were late. I didn't see them because I was paying attention to the nearer audience, but I know this because some of them came up afterward to talk to me … and others took pictures and sent them to me.


What a wonderful event. I want to send my sincere thanks to Alex, the whole staff of Books Inc, and the staff of the upstairs Cafe Romanza, who have not only made this a great experience for me, but also have made this environment one of the best places I know to sit down, to get some good coffee, and to find and read a good book - or to imagine and write one.

-the Centaur

At Clockwork Alchemy this Memorial Day

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This Memorial Day weekend, I'll be at the Clockwork Alchemy conference in the Author's Salon. I'll have on hand the new steampunk anthology TWELVE HOURS LATER, plus of course the newly released third Dakota Frost, Skindancer book LIQUID FIRE, which, despite the presence of an airship, is firmly an urban fantasy novel.

If I'm not at my table, I will likely be appearing at:

  • The Science of Airships Saturday, May 23 from 2pm - 3pm in the San Juan Workshop Room
  • Steampunk Comics Saturday, May 23 from 6pm to 7pm in the Author's Salon.
  • Writing Steampunk: Sunday, May 24 from 2pm to 3 pm in the Carmel Fashion Room

In addition to TWELVE HOURS LATER and LIQUID FIRE … I may have something else at the table. Stay tuned.

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-the Centaur


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I think I'll be posting this everywhere for a while … LIQUID FIRE, my third novel, is now available for preorder on Amazon. I talk a bit more about this on the Dakota Frost blog, but after a lot of work with beta readers, editing, and my editor, I'm very proud of this book, which takes Dakota out of her comfort zone in Atlanta and brings her to the San Francisco Bay, where she encounters romance, danger, magic, science, art, mathematics, vampires, werewolves, and the fae. It comes out May 22, but you can preorder it now on Amazon! Go get it! You'll have a blast.

And, almost at the same time, I found out this is coming out on May 22 as well…

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TWELVE HOURS LATER is also available for preorder on Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. Put together by the Treehouse Writers, TWELVE HOURS LATER is a collection of 24 steampunk stories, one for every hour in the day - many of them in linked pairs, half a day apart … hence "Twelve Hours Later". My two stories in the anthology, "The Hour of the Wolf" and "The Time of Ghosts", feature Jeremiah Willstone, the protagonist of "Steampunk Fairy Chick" in the UnCONventional anthology … and also the protagonist of the forthcoming novel THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE from Bell Bridge Books. (It's also set in the same universe as "The Doorway to Extra Time" from the anthology of the almost identical name).

And, believe it or not, I may have something else coming out soon … stay tuned. :-)

-the Centaur

Viiictory the Eleventh

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Woohoo! I just completed Camp Nanowrimo 2015, writing an extra 50,000 words on my novel SPECTRAL IRON! And, for special bonus points, I basically ran out of novel - I finished the end to end rough draft a few days ago, and to get the final few thousand words I had to actually go back through and start fleshing out and polishing! Double woohoo!

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This makes this not just the eleventh time I've finished Nanowrimo, it makes it the first time I've finished a novel during the month. This draft will need a heck of a lot of editing, but it is finished end to end and I had to come up with some very inventive stuff to get it there in the month - which, as always, is the beauty of Nanowrimo.

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As you can see, I spent most of this month in the red, because I started off dealing with nine kinds of crazy. I actually can't remember all the stuff that happened - I remember editing on LIQUID FIRE and nonsense at work and disasters at home and a truly horrific tax situation - or wait, i do remember it all, I just don't want to.

Regardless, I was able to power through in three big chunks, getting close to 3000 words a day most days and 4000 to 5000 words a day when i really cut loose. And some of the things I discovered as I churned forward, cleaning up the plot, took the book from "where is this going" to "I can't do that, can I?" to "O.M.G. that's an AMAZING idea!" which I now love.

Lots to do to clean this up. Can't really show an excerpt - all of this stuff is too near the end of the book. Spoilers.

But still … viiictory.

Now, on to the edits of … THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE! After a nap.

-the Centaur

North, South, East, West … and Wonder

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Has it only been 3 days? Since 1:37AM on Friday morning and now, I've written about 10,000 words. And I'm hoping to get 1,000 to 2,000 more words done tonight - ideally, 3,300 which will put me up to date on Camp Nanowrimo, so I can start to RELAX at last. But it's left me a bit loopy, especially with static at work and from neighbors and with my wife's art show coming up rapidly.

Oh hey, a quick aside on that:


You all should go to the Color Me Free show by my wife Sandi Billingsley, which starts this Friday at Kaleid Gallery in downtown San Jose - opening reception from 7 to 11, this Friday, May 1st.

Okay, back to procrastinating on these three thousand words. That looniness has been very, very creative! The story is really fleshing itself out in strange and unexpected ways. I quote a discussion with a fellow writer who's helping me research the science of the magic of the faery kingdom. Looking it over … hmm … seems pretty spoiler-free. So here is what I told her:

I discovered something about the fae in the Dakota Frost universe which I totally think you will appreciate because you also design faerie worlds. I can explain to you more the next time I see you on Tuesday [at the Write to the End group], but I figured out where they're from, why they left, how they got here, why they're so weird about names and fates and everything, and even why faerie is strange and pathless!

Ok, the last one I got from that crocheting book [Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes]: faerie has hyperbolic geometry ... and hyperbolic geometry cannot be contained in normal three dimensional space. It's like having a map with north, south, east, west and one more direction - the map folds up, wrinkles up like those crocheted hyperbolic planes - and the worst part will be the boundary of the human and faerie worlds, where, forced into a place where it won't fit, it ultimately wrinkles over and starts crossing over itself! Neat, eh?

Well, at least I think it's neat. Faerie has five cardinal directions: North, South, East, West … and Wonder! How inspirational! Onward! Only … a whole normal day's writing ahead of me. Aaa!

Still … onward, into wonder!

-the Centaur