Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day Close to 30. Too close 30. Too close. Bad day.

Cutesey title aside, work on the one magician series novella is going well: it is basically about Charlie's first adventure in the weird on her own after the events in the Curdled Magics novel. I'm mostly doing this as backstory for Charlie's own, later adventures on her own in order to flesh out some ideas for the world and give her reference points to weird stuff that don't involve the magician and Jay. I am not sure I will finish it before the actual end of the month, but hope to.

So far the series timeline is:
  • piles of short stories (Over 30).
  • Road Trip novella, during which a trip is made to Oregon to stop creatures from Outside who want a new cold war. 
  • Curdled Magics. The novel, which is about the families of the MCs and the attempt to help a town that has sealed itself off from the world; as a result of the climax of it, Charlie leaves the magician and Jay to travel on her own for a time.
  • Ghosting. Charlie novella.
  • ?: Probably more short stories, once I get back into the flow of them.
I will mostly take December off from stuff, I think, to let my brain recharge a bit, and then spend January - ? on editing Ghoulish Happenings into a viable second draft for people to critique. I have stuff to expand for it and a few minor/major plot issues to fix but once that's done I'll be able to do another attempt at the second novel in that series. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Not the Mid-twenties: a nano update

Burning out a bit on the story. Past 127,000 words, which for me isn't a burn-out point at all this month but I have taken no day actually off from writing and this story is turning from a half-joke into wanting to be serious. Which I didn't expect at all. So I am plotting out the current story, the novel in the story that the narrator describes, building his family life and adding other scenes and such, at least some of which I know won't survive the draft.I'm almost at the point of ditching the narrator's family as fleshed out characters, as the point is more his descent into his own story and subsequent madness.

His unrelenting hatred of nanowrimo also does not help the writing. It is a fun story to do, but I think it would probably be better if it wasn't being done this month, or at least not on the tail end of the other two stories.

Best line from Thursday's writing at Chapters....
"Christopher is a first-year student whose nanowrimo novel is going to look like a five year old trying to write Lolita.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fragment of a scene

Kate was waiting for me when I left the lecture hall. I’d had worse T.A.s, seldom better ones: she was efficient, punctual and probably cared more about my job than I did. The worst people could say about her is that she has a nice personality. It was often also the best they said about her as well.

“You probably crushed some spirits in there,” she said, handing me a stack of papers that were messages from the university. They’d given me an email address even though I never checked it.

“A little crushing never hurt anyone. Anything interesting?”

She shook her head. “There’s a new writer in residence this week. Ronald Forbes, author of the Declare! series –.”

“I know who he is.” I kept walking.

“He sent an email about wanting to get together for coffee this afternoon; should I pencil him in?”
I wanted to say no. I knew Ronald of old, when he wrote for newspapers as Ronnie Forbes, before he created a story mill under his own name. Over a dozen novels come out a year by ‘him’, sometimes with the co-authors listed, often without. Declare! was your basic bare-bones plot: a unit of ex-something or others banded together by a mysterious leader who solved problems all over the world with extreme violence. The world of the thriller became an uglier place when communism died: the communists had standards. Terrorists didn’t. And Ronald and his cadre of authors had leapt into that, having torture scenes by all parties, shallow discussions on whether torture was a legitimate method of information extraction – often with the victim, while doing it. Some called it post-ironic. I didn’t think Ronald was capable of irony.

The lowest point in the series came after the spate of archaeological-thrillers that were all based around religious motifs led him to see an opening in that market. Ronald casually shoehorned Declare! into that by making it a ten-person unit and turning the mysterious leader – often widely held to be a younger John McCain – into Jesus reincarnated. Sales didn’t suffer. The series branched off into other genres after that under some shared-universe umbrella scheme that the best critics called a cheap parasol at best.

And we were to meet for coffee. He would probably ask if I wanted to write some of the series. The worst part was it would be a serious offer without malice in it. And I would say no. No, I don’t want to ghost write for you, Ronald. I would say no because it was all I had left.

Monday, November 18, 2013

And a third novel for the month.....


Jacob Sinclair barely achieved midlist fame as ‘a poor man’s Clancy’ in the 1980s with thriller novels about the CIA assassin Jeremy Burke. The collapse of communism took all his plots with it and his series died the kind of death that sees them mostly lingering unbought at used book stores. A bitter ex- author now teaching English at college and inadvertently destroying the authorial ambitions of his students, he finds his daughter doing National Novel Writing Month and declares the quest to write a 50,000 word ‘novel’ in one month to be an insult to real authors and an affront to Literature itself.

Jacob’s desperate quest to get his novels back in print culminates with a trip to San Francisco that will see him attempt to murder the entire nanowrimo board of directors – who might turn out to be ninjas – in a desperate attempt to defend the art of the written word against the modern insults intent on destroying it.

He may, or may not, be having a mental breakdown.

The Madness: (20-2) Day.

Sci-Fi story goes well, though I think the draft is going to end shortly. One major downside for me and pantsing is that the plot the story develops often doesn't have enough earlier foundations for it to work well. On the plus side, both the story and setting work rather well and I can easily fix it up in another draft and make it work just fine. This draft is, alas, not that one.

Also trying to ignore another story idea entirely, damn it :p

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Madness, the: Day IIIIX The words are hunting me down. Send help.

The second nanowrimo goes well. Just hit 33K  on it, and approaching a grand total of 95,000 words. My plan, story and plot willing, is to get to a total of 100,000 words by the end of tomorrow. I hit the 50K mark on day six and should hit 100K on day 15, which isn't that bad at all. This week has been marked by work and the effort of doing over a weeks worth of work in a single day on Tuesday led to a dismal 2,500 words last night when my brain gave up and demanded sleep.

On the plus side, the sci-fi story is solid and going well. I know how the story ends, and what some characters end-goals are, but I have no idea how the main plot is going to be achieved. If you create what amounts to God (for all intents and purposes) and then wish to upgrade It, what makes you think the god will allow that? It is pretty much the major plot of the book and attempts by various characters to drag the MCs into their conspiracy. As with all grand dreams and plans, it is not going to end well at all.

Some fragments of recent dialogue:

“I’m trying to access files in me. They altered me a lot you know.”
I pause. “Yes?” I offer up warily.
“What if I am now older than you?”
“It really doesn’t work like that.”

I hold myself together, barely ripple, the tendrils of my body still. He has to know my sib hunted System for any information about what was done to me. And that we failed to find anything at all. He’s giving away what he could have traded to us for no reason at all. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Because Asral asked me to. Insisted that I tell you anything I found to make up for his mistake in assuming you were your sibs pet. His father approved it.” Bren smiles slightly at whatever reaction my body gives away. “People aren’t monsters, even the worst of us.”
“That’s not what the war taught us.”
“The war ended. That should have taught you something as well.”

“You misunderstand: I don’t hate you. I do not even pity you. You are not worth that much notice. I suppose I may mildly regret knowing you exist at all.”

“You would be kind? In this world, knowing the things you now know?”
“I will be kind because it is this world. And maybe because there is nothing left to die after hope.”

“A dream that can come true was never a dream at all.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 01010: on writing methods

74,000 words on day 10. 7,500 of that is mostly discardable Rogue Dreams bits, but hey. The new start to said sci-fi story is going quite well and just proves, once again, that me and pantsing a story do not go well together.  I need more of an idea of where a story is going before I start out or it gets nowhere. Every time I've worked on this story it has been about themes, so this draft is tossing all that aside to focus on story. One of them three main characters -- in fact, the one the story was ostensibly about -- no longer exists at all. I know who is manipulating things, though their end-game is still a mystery, and the two MCs are playing off of each other rather well. I think I am going to need to tighten up the timeline and make it only a short time since the end of the war they were involved in, but that's minor.

What I have been thinking of, because of a friend's post on pantsing and plotting, is that those terms have done damage to a lot of writers. (I keep wanting to write 'untold damage', which must be nano creeping into my writing style :)) I don't think making the terms seem exclusive helps anyone, nor does saying a writer is one or the other: some stories can be done entirely by the seat of one's pants, others cannot. At the extremes, plotting is seen as writing out everything that happens in the novel so the story is basically the expansion of an outline where nothing surprising happens. Pantsing becomes, 'omg! AHHHH!' and rants about characters not doing what the writer wants. And so forth.

But ask any writer, once they start a story, about the story. Ask about characters, motivations, goals. And they know. It might only be subconsciously, in the case of the avowed pantser, but the author knows the characters, if not the exact thrust of the story they are going down. Ask 'if this ending happens, what does character B do' and they will be able to figure it out. The novel might be a choose-your-own-adventure in their heads, with story and plot not nailed down tight, but it seldom is for any author. Characters have their own voices. Ideas come up, things get nudged and changed.

Stories grow in the telling.

But thinking one has to write a certain way, that pantsing or plotting means a specific thing, is rubbish of the highest order. Every writer does what works for them. If something doesn't work, discard it and try something else. See what works best for the specific story you're telling. Don't become slaves to the terms, or take absurd pride in defining yourself by one or the other. They aren't mutually exclusive terms, or even clubs which one has to supply credentials to join. You're writing. So go write.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Rogue Dreams: the new start

Written at 2 am for the sci-fi story. New intro, new starting off point. Probably a new story entirely. I have no idea :)

There are warning messages flashing across my right eye. I think that’s what they are. I still have eyes. There is pain. I can feel that burning through whatever passes for sinews in my body like rivers of cold fire. I never thought you could hurt so much you fall out the other side of pain. Never thought. Not once never ever.

Fragments: Luka screams. I watch her left arm dissolve. There is no pain now. I move. I am sharp as my pain, cold as the fire. I tear through plasteel and flesh. Other things. There is other fire. Luka’s right arm pumping out shot after shot into targets. People. Targets.

(I am being shot.)

Luka, running, legs leaving craters in the ground, weapon systems belting out slug-throwers. Didn’t know they put those in anyone anymore. Flowing. Flexing. There used to be pain here. I move around her, blanket in the darkness, darkness as a blanket. She fires around me, something tears apart. Not us not her not me


Silence doesn’t tear apart.

Luka is standing, swaying, left arm ruined coils, right arm smoking and juttering, legs functioning. Functioning. Not real legs. Walks toward me. I try to stand. Nothing to stand with. They changed me. (I was shot. No, Luka. Before. She was shot before.) I fall inward, feel pain. There is pain in the silence. She is grabbing me, my sib, and I am flowing through her grip into the ground.

There are no warnings now. I think

I think this is

I think this is bad

I think we won

We’re not dead so we won.

The madness. Day: After 7. Before 9. Hi?

Yesterday I managed 7.5K by 11:30 pm.  In the space between morning and afternoon I wrote and re-wrote over 3K of words four times. I wrote the last 2K while closing in on midnight, noted that I'd lost both character's voices but there were at least a few pieces of good dialogue to dig through.

Went to bed. Thought. At 1 AM I realized I'd been doing the whole story wrong. At 1:30 AM, I realized the main character shouldn't be in it until near the end. If at all. At 2 AM I got up for over an hour and wrote 1,300 words to start the story back far, far earlier than it had  begun. There is a piece of writing advice that one should begin as close to the end as possible. I began far too close to the end. No one had any reason to care about the other characters. So I'm pulling back. Altering. This may no longer even BE the story I planned to write twice before.

It will be a better one.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A ramble. AKA it is late and I am tired

I have been trying to figure out what to do for a next November project. I worked on two projects in my head a little and discarded others -- not from lack of desire, but I need a mental break from Urban Fantasy in any way, shape and form. It's not an exaggeration to say that Curdled Magics took up all the space that was in my head for stories. I was forcing myself not to change ideas just before November, as I am want to do, and fully expected the draft to take a) longer and b) be longer.

It did not.

So tonight has been bits of research and slowly pulling an old idea back from the recesses of my head. Rogue Dreams began life in 2010 as a nano I scrapped for other stuff. In 2012, the same thing happened again to it despite having over 10K of notes to the project. I fiddled with the idea off and on since, shifting the setting and the kind of story being told by it. Even now my brain is shifting away from notes I wrote less than 20 minutes ago to a new conception of the store.

At core, it is about a boy, his sister, and a robot. It's a bit more complicated, but that's always been the core that the setting continually shifts and alters about. Right now it is YA in my head, but we shall see if that can survive where my brain goes with sci-fi concepts. So now I am going to drag this story from my head in some form, kicking and screaming, and see what it turns into.

With luck.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The madness: Day thix, as Jay would call it ...

Day six: 50,137 words.

 Downside; only one page left of a plot I *thought* would hit 80K :p

Also a couple of scenes I may have to alter or trim as I don't think they fit the series that well at all, but that'll be into the next draft....

A fun scene between Charlie and someone else. Charlie is always far too much fun to write :)

“I was angry: my husband had died not a year before. I was being blamed for his death, called a witch and all manner of lies.”

“So you called up a creature from Outside the universe to show you weren’t a witch.”

“We all do things in haste; what is life but a series of regrets?”

“Lessons on how not to be an asshole?”

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Fun bit from tonight.....

“I’m going to be limited in what I can do, let alone attempt. You should be fine,” I say as Jay looks over at me, “but you’ll definitely want to just eat normal meals.”


“A magician is tied to their place of power: they can sense what people are doing and saying, probably even thinking if they have to, and in a small town they tend to notice and react to oddities much quicker. You eating four breakfasts would count as that.”

Jay gulps at that and manages a small nod.

“We have never tried to starve you,” Charlie says, cocking her head to one side as she studies Jay. “This is probably not the best time to experiment.” He looks relieved until she adds, “but there is no time like the present.”


“You’re the one who said we’ll want to blend in, magician.”

“Having Jay’s stomach growling like a small freight train won’t be blending in. You hungry?” Jay nods, trying to look casual, tongue darting over his lips. “On a scale of one to ten?”

“Thirteen? Maybe eleven?”

Charlie snickers, trying to turn it into a cough.

Day iiii

Things I have learned so far today:

  • Apparently, forming a union may create a god, or at least helped make the god of a local chain of coffee shops.
  • That both Charlie and the magician's mothers are interesting pieces of work needs to be balanced out at some point. I shall probably have Charlie's mother get rid of her husband later on and build on that. 
  • Jay helped beat a curse by eating waffles.
  • Charlie could probably list Starbucks as her religion.
  • apparently I ran out of other things to add and never finished this.
On the other hand, pulled off just over 6K yesterday, which tends to result after doing a 15K day the day before (a new record on my part). Weirdly, the 15K stuff 'feels' better than the 6K, but that's probably because this section shifted into Charlie's POV and I'm not sure if the story needs it to shift between the magician and Charlie this often at this point in the story. The fact that many of the questions Charlie had weren't ones any of the other characters could -- or would -- answer didn't help, but it is going to shift back into gear this morning as more fun stuff about her family comes into play and a god of a casino attempts interesting blackmail...

Sunday, November 03, 2013


In which the magician meets with his sister after an absence of eight years.

The coffee maker beeps. Alex pours everyone a cup, though at least gives Jay a small one, and sits back down. I dump cream and sugar into mine and wait.

“I see that hasn’t changed,” Alex says with the hint of a smile.

“Some things don’t. Are we done sparring?”

“Not on your life. You ran away. No note. No explanation. Do you know what you did to mom?”

“Nothing she couldn’t handle.”

Alex’s right hand twitches on her coffee mug. She takes a sip. “I didn’t know you could be so cold, little brother.”

“I can do a lot of things.”

“Most of those seem to involve running away.”

.... and now hitting 23K and taking a break before shifting into Charlie's POV for a few scenes. Whew.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Day II

Almost at 14K and done for the day as I have to head off for a party this evening.

I have just hit the first major act of the story. The magician -- along with and Charlie and Jay -- are not at his hometown. We get to meet his sister and mother, which will be AWESOME to write and he has to deal with magics he has left undone, what the town thinks of him and we even get to learn his name. It shall be great and crazy fun to write and I'd rather do it all in one mad go than break it up, so ending for the day.

I shall go nuts at it tomorrow, never fear.

Fun line of the day:

We love people for who they are, not who we desire them to be, or we don’t really love them at all.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Day 1 of the madness

7,000 words into Curdled Magic and I already will need to redo the first 6,500. HUZZAH!

I had planned to do the story in first-person past tense for all sorts of good reasons (marketability being one). And did so, but the story faltered at odd parts and the dialogue and tone felt stilted and off. Few lines jumped out at me as being cool or neat. So I shifted into present tense and 500 words later things are flowing far more smoothly. Past tense got into the magician's head too far, taking away some of the mystique of magic (and what he is doing/plans). So shall change it up later on, which won't be anything major: I'll be altering the first two major scenes but not to any huge degree so it's all good.

Mind you, that 7K has only brought me to the third scene of the novel is more than a little worrying :)

Fun bits so far:

Charlie and Jay were in the suite when I returned, the floor covered in stuffing. Jay was sitting on the one bed and looked unharmed but was giving Charlie a wary stare as she stared down at her hands and flexed them slowly as if unsure they were still her own.
“I murdered a dozen teddy bears,” Charlie said flatly. "I have eaten gods. This was worse by far."
"Oh," I said.
“No stuffed bear should tell you they are a bear of very little brain but have a large...” Charlie trailed off. "I need a drink. I need several drinks."


Alderton is a larger town, at least a ten-Starbuck sort of place, Halloween and Christmas decorations already starting to fight for space in store windows.

.... describing town size by # of Starbucks is fun. Charlie is, after all, rubbing off on the magician as well.