Posts Tagged With: novel

The End of the Road – Sort of: NaNoWriMo comes to a close but the story goes on.


So. I finished almost a week ago now and seeing as my ‘victory dance’ was rewarding myself with Dragon Age: Inquisition, i have been hanging out in Thedas since then. If you need me you’ll find me wandering more or less aimlessly through The Hinterlands, or some other bandit choked place.

But that’s not why you’re here are you? You’re here to find out how it all shook out and when you’ll be able to read my Nano masterwork. At least that’s what i hope you’re here for. Well… it’ll be a while now. This is my fourth completed Nano and this year i’ve had a big year in terms of writing. I finally finished working on the draft of The Stonemaidens Cup and have been up to my eyeballs in editing the massive thing. I finished writing and MOST of the editing of Meg Brown number 6: Meg Beats Cancer. I wrote a teleplay for the Nano group for Castle. I wrote a short story that i’m working on editing for Wattpad or somewhere similar, then there is Meg Brown 7 – last year’s Nano project which is just about finished in draft form and now The Normal Zoo. So really, in a weird way, Nano is a bit just like a day at the office.

But i love my office. And i love Nano and all the nano’ers reaching for their dreams.

The Normal Zoo isn’t finished. In fact, it’s gotten a bit bigger since ‘finishing’ the word count goal and will get bigger still as i work to complete it. It’s hard to see right now how much further i have to go. What i should do is take a breath that isn’t filled with Thedas air, take a gander at what i’ve got and start mapping out where to go next from here to finish it. Planning ahead this year (which i confess i didn’t do much of last year) really set me up well to coast on the word count for the first week or two and then it became another heavy slog where the story just puffed out like a popcorn kernal.

In the end, i’m starting to think The Normal Zoo MIGHT just become a series. I hope not. I have too many series already and aside from my Meg Brown Books and the Longmire novels i love by Craig Johnson, i’m just not into series. The trouble is that the book ballooned a little larger than i thought it would. I had more ground to cover than i figured. It’s possible that i’ll be able to chop it down in the end and get it under the word count for publication but it’s really hard to see that right now seeing as i’m at 55,000 or so and i think i JUST rounded the middle.

But again. It’s hard to tell.

So how was Nano this year? In some ways it was fantastic. I got to really tuck in to a story. When you tuck in like that you start with these people and you’re really sort of nervous around them. You don’t know them. They don’t know you. LIke any first time conversation, there’s a little awkwardness and unpleasant silences you or they desperately try to fill. Just like reading, though, you come to know them and they start surprising you and you start to love them a little more and loving them is what you need. Even the bad guys. Yes. I sort of love the Worsteads. I hate them, because they are awful people but they’re very vivid to me. But nothing beats Ashley and Lola and Mia and Emily. I didn’t expect Lola to be into old movies and film noir. That was lovely and we bonded over The Thin Man and My Man Godfrey. I didn’t expect Ashley to be so… funny. She’s really brave but doesn’t believe it at all and she’s… well… hopefully you’ll see. Yeah. I got to know them and for the moment anyway, i’ve left Lola in a bit of a low spot but she’s already trying to work her way out of it and i expect she’s going to get herself into a bit of trouble before then.

I miss the Chateau of Soot. I didn’t spend enough time there and would very much like to – when i rewrite it – give it it’s due. It’s a grand place, full of dust but very homey. I don’t know why it’s called the Chateau of Soot. It’s not actually sooty.

There’s nothing quite like having this thing bubbling and toiling in your head for a while – an idea that is pretty bizarre no matter which way you look at it – and finally sitting down and cranking out on it. It’s a flood like you see in a gum commercial, full of cool blue waves stanching the embers in your head that are threatening to get out of control. It’s a sudden cool ocean breeze on an otherwise sweltering day. It’s a lot of things. And that’s what Nano is all about in my opinion. You get to tell the world, for a full month, go screw yourself, i’m going to let my brain frolic like a deranged sweater-wearing bunny in a field made of minty evergreen grass. You get to put that imagination to use, sometimes for the first time since grade school recess. And yeah. It’s grade school recess.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Second Week Blues – Continuing Tales of the Ravaging NaNo.

PandaGood morning, NaNos. I’m sure by now you’ve collided with that invisible barrier – the two-week blues. You’ve been watching the unbelievable progress of your fellow nanos with a mixture of Hulk Rage and Sad Panda. By now you’ve had some time to get into the middle of your plot and realized it’s all mucky and full of weeds and you’re wondering why the hell I ever bothered with this stupid NaNo stuff. This is usually the point in your november when all seems lost. If you had a fainting couch you would throw yourself dramatically upon it at least once a day. Your hair is getting thin. Your characters suck and they hate you. And why can’t I write an action sequence has crept up and strangled you with its cold icy fingers.

Don’t despair, brave NaNos. It’s only week two. This is the hard part. The rest is easy.

Okay. That’s a lie. But this is the hard part. This is EXACTLY the reason you are doing NaNo.

Here’s the little secret about this giddy madness you’ve engaged in. It isn’t REALLY about writing a novel. It’s about getting over those internal hold ups in you that don’t let you finish your novel. It’s about persistence and grinding away. It’s about the reward of just winning. Sure it’s fun to have a brilliant novel that just rollicks off all over the place like a mining cart full of kittens playing big band music while it hurtles down the rollercoaster track ala Temple of Doom. But that’s not what writing is all about. It’s about work. And a mining cart full of kittens. It’s both. But it’s about getting through those moments and winning in spite of that little niggling voice telling you you can’t and that your ideas are all stupid.

So you’re in the two-week blues. Everybody gets them. Hell, I even got them recently after realizing that my characters have all spent more time in restaurants chatting about the case than actually DOING anything. So I skipped all that stuff and started working on a different part of the story. It is a part, I might add, that I didn’t even know WAS a part until I got desperate and tossed in a guy with a gun. Why? Why not? Voila! Unstuckitude. I know, I know. You want to take yourself seriously and preserve the integrity of your work. You feel the need to keep your plot cohesive. Giant lizards stomping on your city or playing parcheesi with each other while using buildings as seats and a table doesn’t really enter in to your concept for your story. You think i’m just being silly. But the thing is – it isn’t silly if it works. If it gets you putting words on the page – and most importantly – if it gets you to STOP TAKING YOURSELF SO BLASTED SERIOUSLY.

Look, YOU opened the door to the world of imagination. You’ve looked out upon its landscape and took the first steps. You may have laid out your story like a nice yellow brick road and are determined to walk it but just look out on that lovely grass. Look around. Do you have your tourist flyer for the land of imagination? THROW IT OUT! Get off the path. Take a hike. Get lost. Just down the hill over there are some alligators in top hats. What are they doing? You tell me. What kind of trees are those over in that misty valley – the ones with the purple on top that those weird birds keep fluttering around in singing old Morrissey tunes?

NaNo is for you. It’s not about creating an everlasting masterpiece of unbelievable brilliance. It’s about showing yourself that you can win a freaking marathon with your MIND. And it’s about learning how to play again – or maybe for the first time, maybe showing you just how brilliant the imagination can become when blended with the adult in you. Maybe it’s a boot camp for learning to think outside the box. Or maybe it’s the great awful dungeon from which you must escape but you’re the one that writes that story. No one can write it for you.

So what are you going to do, Panda? Are you going to pine at the iron bars of “i’m too far behind so why bother?” Are you going to stare at that massive wall of “My plot is totally boring so why should i keep going because i suck”? Or are you going to invent a troupe of freaking Ninjas to help you scale it? Will you find the bar-bending hulk roaming through your own dungeon? Will you help yourself release your own imagination from the trap of every day. Will YOU win the marathon – dragging yourself across the finish line in a heaving gasp but with a grin wide enough to swallow a bus?

It’s your call, writer.


Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Calm Before The Storm – Nano Prep pt. 3


Listen. Shhhh….

Do you hear that? The Quiet? It’s eerie isn’t it? The cold wind whistles. A crow cries in the distance. A tumbleweed blows by carrying the poems of dashed dreams tied in its desiccated branches. Quiet. Deadly quiet.

I have no pictures of Scapple to share today. No images of the Scrivener set up. My eyes are scanning the distant horizon for that hazy lurking figure. I’m crouched in my trenches. Waiting, Taking deep breaths, hauling in gallons of coffee and dried meat. I’ve got a little fire burning to keep the chill off but there’s a chill buried deeper in my bones that I can’t shake. Will I make it or will that thing stomp me to dust. There’s nothing to do but wait.

Which, of course, isn’t true at all. There’s a ton of shit to do. You’ve got to wave a fond farewell to friends and family. You’ve got to make sure the barricades are well stocked. You’ve got to check your prep again and, seeing as there is still a week to go, you can still prep a lot more. Me? I’m just chilling for now. Tomorrow I do a bit more prep, check the fence and the razor wire but I’m feeling pretty good about my chances because I finished the novel I was working on last week. It’s these little bits of confidence builders that boost the energy for the long haul. Do more of these throughout the year and you’ll be fine. Today I worked on a ton of editing for the other work in progress. Ain’t no moss growing on this rolling stone.

NaNo is just a month of writing, folks. I’ve been going on about what a noble battle it is but the truth is that it’s like Christmas for writers. We throw caution to the wind and dive in feet first. It is the time to be mad. It’s the time for a literary bacchanalia. In the last month I’ve chatted with pantsers who haven’t a clue what they’re going to do. I’ve talked with plotters who have their whole thing laid out to the very last detail. And every variety of literary lunatic in between – some are planning on doing the whole 50,000 in 24 hours, other’s are planning 2 novels of 50,000 and still others are hoping to work through 5 short stories of 10,000 each. It doesn’t matter how you get there. Just get there. Join the party. Throw caution to the wind. Don’t panic. And whatever you do – don’t worry. This isn’t really an epic battle unless it’s an epic battle with yourself and your own torpor or your own resurgent wishes and desires.

Burning Man Car

NaNo is the festival. It’s the burning man of writing. Come one come all. Put that lampshade on your head and sing sea shanty’s. Dress up like a pirate while you work. And if you find yourself stuck, frustrated, confused, or reaching the end of your rope with whatever you’re working on, take a deep breath and find some way to make it FUN. Has the plot gone completely off the rails? Throw in a gang of super intelligent baboons. Is you’re MC pissing you off with his insufferable judgements about people and things? Stomp him to death with Godzilla. Murder him with a troupe of Bulgarian clowns. Why? Because you CAN! Don’t take it seriously if it doesn’t help you. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Don’t think for a second that you will be writing the next nobel prize-winning novel in 30 days of literary abandon. If you do you’re going to miss out while the rest of us are holding hands in the back yard singing sea shanty’s around the burning pyre of our ambition.

Just write.

Be free and howl at the moon. For 50,000 words you can purchase your freedom from everything. That’s all it takes. 50,000. And really that’s nothing. 1700 a day. You can do that in your sleep. Now I sound like a late night advertisement, but seriously. Or not. It’s true. Oh the places you’ll go – moons to visit, space dragons, faeries with a penchant for playing marbles in the back alleys of Manhattan. Freedom. For just 1700 words a day. burningman Car

But you, dear quivering hopeful writer, must make the choice. Are you going to let that poor shriveled thing inside you starve or are you going to give it one hours worth of sustenance a day? That’s all it takes and you too can have your very own set of banjo minnows, or a new moon, or a fleet of interstellar battleships screaming their way to certain doom.

Save yourself, write a book.

Give in to the howling quiet in your brain. Let it feed you. Be a great god and join us  – the weary and the willing – in one more years worth of the valiant stand against the gloom of all there is. Prepare (or don’t. It makes no bother with me) for we – in one week – shall sally forth and do something pretty damned awesome.

(All purchases of soul freedom are non-refundable. Offer not valid on some systems. Please check with your doctor if Soul Freedom is right for you. May cause bouts of giddiness and in some patients, moments of quiet rage, depression, goofiness, insanity, hysteria. Rare side effects include publication and possible fame and fortune)

Categories: Mystery, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Under and Overwhelmed: Writing in the new year

So it’s been a while since the last post and much has happened since i left all of my three faithful readers. The novel continues, very, very, slowly. It’s actually been a while since i’ve worked on it because i’ve run headlong into a series of problems that my earlier devil may care fortitude hasn’t cared to slam headlong through. In fact my devil may care attitude appears to care a little too much for my liking and shrinks away from it. But have no fear! I’m sure something will happen to get it all working again.

I lost my job. Again. Working in mortgages is not a very stable environment, as i’m sure you’re all aware. I’m actually fairly used to this process which is not the same as saying i like it in any way. In fact i think it sucks and i would really really really like to get on with a life independent of mortgages. So if you happen to know of anyone who is looking for an amazingly talented but inexperienced writer direct them here and have them contact me.

I am trying to get my first screenplay back together to send out for another contest. Yes, folks, i know contests aren’t exactly where it’s at but unless someone also knows of an incredible writing agent that can get me in the front door on the basis of a few scripts that have a lot of promise while also having a lot of problems. Well… you know what to do. Go forth, minions, spread your wings and bring me back an agent in your capable clutches!

or not. That’s a bit of a tall order for my minions.

Hopefully my new found freedom will allow me a little more time to write and bemoan the fact that when employment job boards are looking for writers they don’t seem to mean looking for people who write, but rather people who have business degrees and had to pass English 101 in order to get them. That is, of course, if they are looking for writers at all and you don’t type in ‘writer’ only to be maddeningly redirected to a job posting to teach ballet in Arkansas.

Somehow i don’t think i’m qualified for that. He says as he stubs his toe on a loose piece of tile.

So now you’re up to date on my latest. Exciting wasn’t it? Aren’t you glad you tuned in for my witticisms? Carry on then, my Minions. Go do the voodoo that you do so well.

Categories: Fiction, Furry Peach and Mango Otter, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NaNoWriMo: Day 21 – Skipping around

Well today was a bit different. Instead of proceeding in lock step with the outline i had mapped out (which has been variable at best as things have been proceeding mostly in a linear fashion but that linear fashion has a strange tendency to be chopped up to bits and strewn around) i have decided to skip around a little in the plot and sketch out a few scenes later in the story.

In addition i have really started thinking about the revisions. The chapter that was formerly Chapter 4: which was initially the introduction of the senator, now comes well after the (interminably long) banquet and his meeting with Emmie. Chapters 1 and 2 respectively which detail the birth of both main characters and deliver sort of a thread of continuity to the stuff taking place way back in 1892, may end up being jettisoned entirely. They only seem to serve the purpose of extending the introduction of the main characters and preventing the story from starting.

There is a lot of character work that still needs to be done. Emmie is now more of the problem than Tom. She doesn’t really have much of a hook – i don’t generally like characters that have ‘hooks’ or stereotypical archetypes but i do like characters that have a certain perspective or standpoint. I think she certainly has it but its a little more muted than i would like. She shows up really well in the scenes with Alex where she is comfortable but she’s very wary of Tom. She can spar with him well enough -which is good- but i think she’s still trying to figure out what to make of him.

I think, in order to tamp that down a little bit, i may devote a few solo chapters to her. I think it’s important sometimes to give people plenty of space to do their own thing – it tells you a lot about them when the actual plot stuff happens and though it is inefficient work it can be much fun. So for all of you writers out there who actually have stumbled upon this strange little blog in the backwaters of the blogosphere – my advice to you is always be prepared to write junk you never intend to use. It may feel like a waste of time and effort but in my opinion it will really make the focused work time that much quicker and useful and precise.

Well that’s it for now. I’m a little over five thousand words remaining. If i keep up the present pace i will be done with the 50000 by tuesday.

Categories: Fiction, Furry Peach and Mango Otter, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

NaNoWriMo Day 17: Umm… Yeah… Realizing there’s more story than what’s left in word count…

Well this is going to have to be quick again. Just finished for the night. I should say i just cut myself off. Thing’s went well and i have decided to post this under the current title of the project: Furry Peach and Mango Otter. Oddly enough i know exactly why this is why this is the title and yet it has not yet come up in the course of writing it. But that’s writing for you. You should know more about things than the reader.

I’m getting down to the home stretch now, continuing with my metaphors of the past the land is just over the horizon. There is no longer any doubt that i will finish the 50000 words, the question then becomes will the novel be finished with it? I’m going to say – not a chance. There are leagues to go yet – much much more story than the 50000 will allow for the present, and though i am aware that i can be overly wordy at times i can honestly say the number of events remaining precludes the idea of a total finish. That’s alright though. I’ve decided i am not going to let up this pace until the thing is finished. I don’t really trust myself to give it time off. It’s all or nothing.

So. If you’re with me, i will continue this Blog until the draft is finished at which point i’ll happily take a break before going back into it and getting it trimmed down and in shape. In the mean time i will try to be a little more specific and timely with these.

Must go sleep.

Categories: Fiction, Furry Peach and Mango Otter, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

NaNoWriMo Day 16: Good Breeze, Full Sails, Prize in Sight

So it’s been a few days of meagre offerings from the Blog. I apologize. I had to let my writing brain settle from the despair of the 25000 mark. It wasn’t easy. Things were a huge mess and though it didn’t enter my head to surrender i was not relishing the idea of continuing with a substandard product that had become a bit like licking a live grizzly – neither pleasant or advisable.

Things have settled down nicely since yesterday when i crammed in the words in spite of the growing deadline for bedtime. I spent two very productive days doing something i should have done a little more completely in the beginning – outlining and sketching. It’s honestly too soon to tell in the grand scheme of my experience to determine if this is advice i will take from myself. It certainly seems like a good idea, but there is the chance that the terror of losing complete control and then actually losing it is one of those liberating things that clears your mind and allows you to proceed much more happily. I’m not even sure if the ideas that have been germinating rapidly for the past two days would have come at all in the early stages. I was much more focused on THE idea back then – getting it launched.

I guess its a bit like a maiden voyage or a shakedown cruise. You launch the thing and then find out that there’s water coming in. Of course that’s where the analogy ends. I was pretty certain the whole thing was sinking a few days ago. Lesson learned kids, preparation and sketching will save your fiction. If you think you can just whip something up that is grand and delicious on a whim, i wish you luck. But if you find yourself with tattered sails in the doldrums of a frozen wasteland, you’d best get to work looking for land to head to. That is what a sketch is for. Lately i have been scoping out and mapping everything that is to come next. Where i have a clear vision for the events and the scene that is to occur, i will take a bit of time to type it out. In Scrivener this is REALLY easy and if you arrange it right it’s right on hand while your tap tapping away.

Anyway, whatever i’m doing seems to be working because i am feeling a LOT calmer and happier with the work, the characters are developing and becoming more like how i envision them (realizing that there is still much room for descriptive improvement in that regard but that, again, is for the second draft) The story itself is right there, only awaiting the formal words to make it come into being. It feels good.

So there you go. Hopefully this trend continues to the end, whether it does or not i will let you know.

Word Count as of Tuesday night at 11:09 is 34,370.

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

NaNoWriMo Day 11: Etc. Etc. Etc.

Not too much to say today, really. I’m pretty tired but i managed to get in the word count. I’ve been pulling down about 2200 a day for the last few days and the productivity suits me just fine. If this were a real job i would take a nice break about now and do something and then come back to it later.

Today’s work was basically just a continuation of last nights progress. More back story on the second main character – connecting the dots, as it were. I think i would like to take a step back, possibly saturday, and actually give the guy some time to figure out who he is now as opposed to his slightly strange origin which somehow managed to hit all the points i aimed at.

If there is a piece of advice i would give it would be to lay up the areas you want to explore, keeping the main theme of the thing on the back burner but never quite out of sight, then just let it all go. You will probably find that the story has its own way of coming to those points. The danger seems to be when you aim at them too much and try to direct the flow. That doesn’t seem to work with me.

For the time being i think i am going to take a break from the linear writing – which doesn’t seem to be serving the story as well as i would like – and jump around a bit. This method has worked in the past with some of the screenplays i’ve done. I see no reason why it shouldn’t work here. All you need is the hook, the image, the thing that put that scene in your head in the first place and you can maneuver everything. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m still feeling pretty good about the project though. That’s a good thing. I’m fired up and ready to go on the other side of the hill and sled down to the end. Yippeee!!!

Sorry this wasn’t more enlightening for the few folks who care but damned if i’m not just a little tired.

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

NaNoWriMo Day 10: The Ice Begins To Break

… for now.

Day ten is now in the bank and i stand proudly at 21, 726. A little less than halfway there. I wish i had some positive news for the plot which is STILL winding up. But that’s okay. For all of you looking for some advice to hold your head together and fight off the blues, i have stressed it before and i will stress it again. IT’S A DRAFT. The point is not to have perfection it’s to have completion, A beginning, a middle and an end. I can say with some gratitude that i have the beginning pretty well wrapped up. There’s just a few things here and there and then the story can really kick off.

Unfortunately the rest of the story is a little vague. As is customary with what i euphemistically call my process, i have a clearer picture of the end and what i’m heading towards than stuff in the middle. I do have a bit of consciousness regarding some of the events that will lead up to the end, but nothing really concrete just yet. Ideas. Which means i will probably have a few more moments of panic coming up in the next three to six days.

The good news is i followed the advice given in the pep talk. I had HUGE and seemingly insurmountable questions regarding my second main character. The little chapter i had written for him and his cohort led me to think the guy was a bit of a weeny and not exactly leading man material. Contrasting that with the strong start i gave my first main character and the partner in the plot, this was problematic to say the least.

I took a deep breath and put some words together. The guy isn’t born yet but he’s on his way – literally, and the backstory complete with a lot of cold really creates something to build off of. I’m not certain but it may end up on the cutting room floor. This is not a bad thing. In the draft i’m certain it will stay prominently in, but given everything else it may be unnecessary depending on how well i can paint the rest of it from this sketch.

So there you go. Tom now has a mother and a father whom i like immensely. It’s time i drop them in their appropriate Scrivener folders so that they are available for quick reference, and maybe do a little bit of planning ahead for tomorrow. G’night fellow scribbling mad men!

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NaNoWriMo: day 9 – assaulted by ninja plot kittens.

Seriously. I am trying to work and I just can’t seem to get the stuff out of my head. My keyboard, not being the one I have been working in for hours at a stretch, feels weird. And all the whole living squirming beast in my head is screaming for attention I can’t pay to it. Its like some many tentacles Cthulu beast only friendly and not menacing and I can’t get it to go away. If this doesn’t stop its going to be a looking day.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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