Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “Dakota in the Bay”

Viiiictory, Ten Times

centaur 0
Winner-2014-Web-Banner.jpg Yaay! Once again, I have completed National Novel Writing Month … this will be my 10th successful Nano. I've only been doing it 9 years, but this year, I started tackling Nano more often - in April and August. April was a success, but August I found I wanted to do more editing than writing, so I've officially succeed at Nano just 10 times out of the 11. November Nano 2014-11-26a.png I'll let the August one slide, as it was really ambitious (and I also really try to reserve the time leading up to October for preparation for 24 Hour Comics Day) but when November rolls around, I get serious. This is the time all of my novels are born, and when I see a month start off with the kind of deficit you see above, I get cracking. November Nano 2014-11-26.png I'm so serious about this, I take the whole week of Thanksgiving off every year just to work on this (something that is easier because my family is a rough plane ride back over Thanksgiving, and I see them every Christmas). But you know what? I want to enjoy my Thanksgiving … so I really poured on the juice near the end. Screenshot 2014-11-26 15.09.24.png The National Novel Writing Month site has some awesome word tracking tools, but I often turn off the Internet during Nano, and so I have developed my own Excel spreadsheet specifically for this purpose, which shows me, graphically, how much I need to write to get on track. Cells turn from red to white as I successfully get ahead of the game, and so by the end I was pushing 3-4000 words a day, trying to finish early. And I did, yesterday afternoon, at Panera Bread near my house. 20140713_170421.jpg PHANTOM SILVER is one of the oddest books I've worked on yet. The plot has taken many strange twists and turns, including some that popped out of a deep harvest of some of the older material in my massive cuttings file. It's also turning into a deeply personal story, as my exploration of ghosts has led to an exploration of my characters' ghosts, and, by extension, since my characters are often based on me and my family … I am exploring the ghosts of my own friends and family as well. 20140713_165938.jpg This picture was taken standing quite close to my father's grave (not visible in the picture) and while my father won't picture in the story … I'm having fun exploring Dakota Frost's background, since she came from a (fictional) place in the South that is literally right up the street from where I grew up in real life. But, as fun as it is … I'm glad to be done with this chunk. Already (since yesterday) I've finished a first draft of a short story in the Jeremiah Willstone universe (due at the end of December, for a Clockwork Alchemy special anthology) and I look forward to diving back into the editing of LIQUID FIRE, which is going *very* well. Hopefully you'll see it soon. No excerpts on PHANTOM SILVER, though; there are too many horrible spoilers for other books. You'll have to wait on this one, and I know it will be a while, because SPECTRAL IRON and LIQUID FIRE and HEX CODE must come first; till next time. -the Centaur

Within Striking Distance

centaur 0

November Nano 2014-11-22.png

8 and a half days to go, 11K words remaining. Looks like we are going to do this… oh, an excerpt. Hard to summarize this one, there's so many spoilers for parts of books that aren't out yet:

“Most of the universe is made up of stuff that’s completely invisible,” Doug said. “Matter that we can’t see, holding the galaxies together; energy we can’t feel, pushing them apart. What if there’s a dark magic underpinning the world—undetectable, but influencing everything?”

Till next time.


P.S. DOORWAYS is still on sale. Go buy it lots.

It’s Nano, and I’ve been busy…

centaur 0

Phantom Silver v1 Small.png

… working on Dakota Frost #5: PHANTOM SILVER. What's this one about? Well, the first paragraph says it all:

“Tell me, Dakota Frost,” intoned the squat fae gargoyle, leaning forward, his wide stone face looming until his hooked nose took up nearly the whole of the Skype window on the screen of my shiny new MacBook Pro. “Have you ever thought of becoming an exorcist?”

As you can see, I've been busy catching up from a slow start:

November Nano 2014-11-19.png

Between travel, food poisoning, and catchup on work and editing LIQUID FIRE, it took me until almost the 9th until I got on track, and even then I think it was the Night of Writing Dangerously that got me back on track.


More on that later. Caught up on my word count today, and am even a day ahead, but I gotta go to work.

-the Centaur

A 2 meter exhaust port just beneath the main port

centaur 0

Camp Nanowrimo 2014-04-26a.png

I had decided to take out Aprils to do do Camp Nanowrimo, but as you can see, this was thwarted by my work to finish LIQUID FIRE, which spilled over into the beginning of the month. So since then, I've been racing uphill to try to get back on track … and as of a few days ago, I think I can at last say I'm almost there.

Camp Nanowrimo 2014-04-26b.png

What's even more amazing is that I was able to keep up this pace even when I was out for Easter … and THEN after I caught the cruds on the flight home and ended up spending two days out sick. And it wasn't even crashed out sick, either; we had some internal deadlines at work that I needed to keep moving forward, so I spent most of my sick days working from home, sitting on the front porch bundled up in a blanket with my work laptop on my lap, trying to massage a tricky chunk of data through our pipelines while I watched surreal scenes unfold around me, like one of our elderly neighbors getting taken to the hospital.


But I've grown good writing in the margins, over lunch and at dinner, whenever I can, in the corners. (I'm writing this blogpost at dinner at a nice Irish pub right now, itself squeezed in between afternoon writing group meetings and Sunday evening prep for work). So I was able to, somehow, put in my time each day massaging that data, then still spit out the chunk of words I needed, and not kill myself, or at least not make myself any sicker than I was. And by the end of the week, we had the candidate chunk of data we wanted, I had the words I wanted, and I was out a lot of cold medicine and cough drops.


The weekend was even better for me, with a great swathes of time spent Friday late night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday lunch and early evening chasing that 2 meter exhaust port just below the main port. Allmost there … now I'm just 300 words away from begin caught up. Hopefully, I'll close that final gap late tonight. Wish me luck!

Oh yes, an excerpt:

“Dakota,” Terrance said, not turning his head towards me, eyes guiding the pointer on the screen. “When you guys go back to see this,” he said, reaching his head aside to puff at his air tube to rewind the footage, “I so want to be there.”

My heart fell. I didn’t think it was safe to take a quadriplegic into a war zone. But perhaps that was just me trying to shield him; we could work the security arrangements out. I opened my mouth to warn him of the risks, but just then, he puffed, and the video played.

“There,” Terrance said, the red crosshair of his eye tracker active again. “Watch for it!” At first I saw nothing, and grimaced as my yapping mug nattered on. I was rapidly growing tired of seeing this. Then the black form moved behind me—and in the red circle Terrance had laid out with his eye tracker … I saw the tail of my Mohawk brushed aside.

“Jesus!” I said, fear clutching my heart. “It touched me!”

Oooh … buggedy.

Now let's blow this thing and go home!


SPECTRAL IRON gathering steam

centaur 0


Definitely not the official cover of SPECTRAL IRON … something I just whipped up for my Camp Nanowrimo page. My goal this month is to take this novel from 52,881 words to 102,881 words - adding 50,000 words, just like in Nanowrimo, except now I'm taking the novel from a ghost of nothing and turning it into a full bodied spirit.

Because publishing stacks deadline after deadline, I had to shift from scheduling 50,000 words a year to 100,000 in order to keep to my schedule. 50,000 words is a half-finished book, and I have plenty of those (SPECTRAL IRON, HEX CODE, and MAROONED from Nano, plus STEEL TEARS and few other older books).

100,000 words, in contrast, is a book that can be feasibly completed, and I don't have so many of those ready to go. My 2002 Nano, DELIVERANCE, is at 150,000 words, but it needs a lot of work; my first novel, HOMO CENTAURIS, is a similar length with even more work needed. Not that I will never go back to them … but I need to move forward with new work.

Today was the first day that I really got my groove back on SPECTRAL IRON. The end of last month, when I was supposed to be finishing LIQUID FIRE, was consumed by EOQ (end of quarter) work at work, and so the start of this month was consumed with getting LIQUID FIRE to the publisher. I've only really been working on SPECTRAL IRON seriously this past week.

Camp Nanowrimo 2014-04-12.png

Some of the delay was re-reading the manuscript, some was reorganizing it (some of the sections crept out of plot order as I worked on ideas here and there), some was legitimate work-work getting in the way (gotta pay the bills, so the Search Engine That Starts With a G gets first dibs on my time) but most was just getting my groove back.

Now it's back. I just give you a tiny tease of an excerpt:

“Alright,” Terrance said, becoming less frustrated by the moment. “Alright. I may have no fucking clue what’s going on, but I’m still on the B team, and I have the entire sum of computable human knowledge at my fingertips. What can I do to help?”

“We’re tackling the ghost line,” I said. “But from a new angle. I’m less interested in the places that want to show us their ghosts—and more in the ones that didn’t. I want to know why they declined—particularly ones that were on ghost tours in the 1970’s and dropped out.”

“You may not remember this,” Terrance said, “but there was a recession in the 1970’s. Oil embargoes, gas lines stretching around the block, the double nickel—and the tourist industry in California collapsed. Most just went out of business—”

“But not all of them,” I said. “I know there are dozens of sites, and probably dozens of reasons a site might decline to appear in our show, but we can narrow it down considerably. I’m not asking them to change their minds—I’m asking if the ghost sightings stopped.”

The silence on the line stretched long enough that I thought something happened to him.

“Whoa,” he said at last. “Magic is real—you’ve proved that. Ghosts are real, or at least there are ghost like effects—you’ve caught them on film. So if ghost sightings stopped, it might not be because the light of day has burned away the campfire tales—”

“But because there was some real phenomenon that stopped operating,” I said.

More to come...


From my labors, I rested

centaur 0


So, at long last … I have sent LIQUID FIRE to Bell Bridge books.


This has been a long time in coming; the book that became LIQUID FIRE started with some florid philosophizing about the nature of fire and life by my protagonist Dakota Frost - 270 words written way back in 2008:

Liquid Fire

A Dakota Frost, Skindancer Novel

Dr. Anthony G. Francis, Jr.

Started: 2008-04-19
Rough Draft: 2012-09-26
First Draft: 2012-10-23
Completed Draft: 2013-10-19
Beta Draft: 2013-11-01
Gamma Draft: 2014-04-05

Along the way, the story became something very different, an exploration of Atlanta and San Francisco and Hawaii, of learning and science and magic and mysticism. My obsessive attention to realism led to endless explorations and quite a few set pieces.


Now it's in the hands of Debra Dixon, who's already started to send me feedback. Feedback I'm going to do my best to shelve until May 1st, so I can focus the rest of April on SPECTRAL IRON, which is due early next year. Aaa!


But for now, my labors, I rest. If only for a little while.

-the Centaur

P.S. This is is my fifth completed novel, and the third Dakota Frost. Only 18 more Dakota Frosts to go in the main arc!