Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books Read 2011

I'm taking a moment from le Grand Experiment. For the first time, I'm going to list all the books I read and re-read in 2011. This is probably the longest list I've had in quite a few years. I do apologize if there are misspellings, etc. I did try to check names before putting them in here, but some errors may have escaped me. Much of these are library books, so sorry, please don't ask to borrow.

Some things I learned:
Patrick Rothfuss doesn't write fast enough for me.
Neither does Brandon Sanderson.
Sometimes, the movie is better.
Some "first novels" of famous authors are read merely for the experience
Some oldies but goodies are called that for a reason.
The Count of Monte Cristo is so much better than anyone ever told me.
Some oldies but goodies aren't so good the second time around.
Some books I hated as a kid, I still hate as an adult.
I may have learned how to put down a book I don't like. Maybe. But I haven't learned how to stop hoarding them.

Venitia - Georgette Heyer
A Convenient Marriage - Georgette Heyer
Sylvester - Georgetter Heyer
The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
All the Windwracked Stars - Elizabeth Bear
The Devil You Know - Mike Carey
Blindsight - Peter Watt
101 Dalmations (the full-on novel, not some Disney Goldenbook) Dodi Smith
Where Angels Fear to Tread - E.M. Forster
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
The Professor - Charlotte Bronte
Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Towers of Midnight - Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
A Reaper's Tale - Adam Slade
Agnes Grey - Anne Bronte
Star Wars Death Star - Michael Reaves & Steve Perry
Ventus - Karl Schroeder
Rosemary & Rue - Seanan McGuire
Anna Kerenina - Leo Tolstoy
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Cecilia - Francis Burney
The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
Blood and Iron - Elizabeth Bear
Jacob's Room - Virginia Woolfe
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
The Grey Lady and other stories - Elizabeth Gaskell
The Good Fairies of New York - Martin Millar
At the Mountains of Madness - H.P. Lovecraft
The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan
The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan
The Dragon Reborn - Robert Jordan
Uncle Silas - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Arabella - Georgette Heyer
Almuric - Robert E Howard
Hospital Sketches - Louisa May Alcott
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Little Men - Louisa May Alcott
An Old Fashioned Girl - Louisa May Alcott
Eight Cousins - Louisa May Alcott
A Rose in Bloom - Louisa May Alcott
Behind a Mask - Louisa May Alcott
1984 - George Orwell
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
The Lady in White - Wilkie Collins
Rebecca - Daphne DuMaurier
Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kelsey
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Castle of Wolfenbach - Eliza Parsons
Miss Perigrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
Began but did not finish: Notre Dame de Paris
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
Unholy Ghosts - Stacia Kane
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Out of Time - Monique Martin
The Old Man and the Wasteland - Nick Cole
True Grit - Charles Portis
Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
Peter Pan - J.M. Barry
Port Eternity - C.J. Cherryh
Voyager in the Night - C.J. Cherryh
Death by Scandal - Marguerite Butler
Rosemary & Rue - yes , I read it twice in the same year, shoot me
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss
Graceling - Kristin Cashore
Summer Crossing - Truman Capote
A Sicilian Romance - Ann Radcliffe
Devil in the White City - Erik Larson
Haunted Hotel - Wilkie Collins
Into the Forest - Jean Hegland
Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier

Shorter Works
Susan - Harlan Ellison
Call of Cthulhu - H.P. Lovecraft
The Choice - Edith Wharton
The Enormous Room - Horace Leonard Gold
The Mysterious Key & What it Opened - Louisa May Alcott
Going into Society - Charles Dickens
Bunner Sisters - Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton
Bride of Death - Celina Summers

Monday, December 26, 2011

Exercise Seven: Dear Self

Welcome back from Christmas everyone. I spent four days with my sister, mostly reading. Thinking about reading. Thinking about writing. I decided to post this exercise with no comment :)

Dear Self:

I would like to speak to you about the next six months. I hope they will be more productive and consistent than the last six. To that end, here are a few things we ought to work on.

Well, consistency is one area we need to work on.

It might be good if you occasionally pealed your ass out of this chair and took a walk or something. There might be more room in the chair, and you might see and/or get some sort of inspiration for those novels you write and don't edit.

About those novels you don't edit... you need to edit. As a matter of fact, I see a whole hell of a lot of editing in your future for the next six months. As a matter of fact, all six months. Until at least 3 of the 4 novels you have ready in the new year are ready to submit. As for that other story that keeps popping up out of nowhere, I think you can outline it, you just can't write any of it - not until you've edited.

A better reading schedule. You always say you want to read the genre you're writing or editing at the time, but you don't always do that. I think you should do that.

More time doing everything. You seriously need to work on limiting internet fuckery. Cats make great videos... but you don't have to watch every one. And don't think I don't mean limiting AW, too....

I think that's a good start. Things you should continue: kindness to animals, drinking coffee, witty and or snarky barbs. Those are things you do real good. Don't change any of that. I love those things about you. About me. About us.

Uh... next Dear Self letter: watch it on the voices in the head.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Exercise Six: 1st, Last Line story

Greetings! This one has taken a few days to get together. However, I am sure I will regret this. I've only read it about 20 times, and I'm sure there are tons of mistakes. Please remember - this is just a writing exercise. It's ain't upposed to be perfec.

This is part of le Grand Experiment, where I publicly perform the 12 simple writing exercises put forth by Writer's Digest. (Click link for list). This one is to grab a book and select two chapters. Take the first line from one chapter, the last line from the second chapter you chose, and write a 1000 word short story. I chose The Gunslinger, by Stephen King. And so follows what I loosely refer to as a "story" - your mileage may vary. There is adult situations and language.

Exercise 6
eta: Oh, I read it again and I really, really wanna edit this....

They were in bed when Sheb kicked the door open and came in with the knife. Jack’s first thought: “I can’t believe I left that fucking thing unguarded.” The second: he couldn’t believe Sheb had the balls to touch it.

He vaulted from under the covers, tossing them over Annie, just in case the piano player went for her instead. She gave out a squawk of protest and started to wrestle with the blankets, calling him everything but Jack. Sheb’s entire focus was on the naked gunslinger. That was fine. That was how Jack preferred it.

Sheb lunged at him with an inarticulate cry, something between a scream and a grunt, holding the knife awkwardly in front of him. Jack waited until the last minute and spun to the side, coming back around to smash his elbow down, hard, in the middle of Sheb’s back. The piano player went down, screaming. Jack leapt nimbly over the body and brought his heel down on the hand holding the knife. It squirted out of Sheb’s fingers and scooted under the bed. Great. 

“Annie! Get up!” Jack shouted.

Sheb twisted around onto his back, crying now, for his broken hand as much as for his loss of Annie, weakly striking out with the other hand. Jack grabbed Sheb’s wrist and pulled, hauling him like a sack of potatoes across the floor and out into the hall, shouting “Annie! Get up!” over his shoulder.

“I’m naked!” she yelled back.

Jack’s voice was thunder in the small room. “Get out of that bed, Annie!” Once Sheb’s body crossed the threshold, Jack jumped over it, darted back into the room and slammed the door shut.

Annie was too busy gathering up the sheet and looking sexy to be quick. She must not have heard or realized what the tearing sound from under the bed meant. He ran around the bed and lifted her, bedclothes and all, and dumped her on the floor. He was barely in time.

The spot where her round bum had been sitting started to move. Then to jig, then a green point erupted, sharp as broken glass, the impossible edge of the knife sawing at the mattress. Annie was still shouting in protest, but now she pointed at the bed and screamed.

He lifted the mattress with both hands and threw it over. The large rolltop desk kept it from falling flat. The path of the knife was obvious, a gaping tear in the bottom of the mattress. He tore at it, spreading it wider, his hands slipping on the fibrous material. The mattress was tufted and the interior strings tore at his hand when he plunged it in. His fingers brushed the frenetic wriggling blade and it redoubled its efforts. Wrestling with the heavy mattress, he twisted his hand in the small space, scraping the knuckles on the fibrous filling, the pads of his fingers seeking a hold on the handle. Now the entire blade was free, only the width of the handle kept it from falling out of the mattress. He had one last chance. He thrust his arm forward, almost pushing the knife out, but at the last moment, his fingers tightened around it. Wrenching it free, he shouted in triumph. The green knife, carved entirely from a single piece of jade, was grasped in his bleeding hand. 

“What the hell is that, Jack?” Annie shouted, finally forming words with her shrieks. 

He laughed, dry and bitter. He’d yet to figure out how to explain that one. The knife continued to jitter and vibrate, seeking freedom from his hand. It had been engaged in combat. It wouldn’t stop until it found blood. Carefully changing hands, he smeared what little had welled from his scrapes on the blade. It quieted. “Soon,” he promised it. It vibrated in answer. He glanced down at the blond beauty sprawled on the ground. Now her face was blotchy, there were bags under her eyes. He tucked the knife into his belt and patted it. “Payment for a debt,” he said grimly.

“Whatever. Put the mattress back,” she snapped, tottering to her feet, now wrapped in the sheet. “What’s a gunslinger doing taking a knife as payment for a debt?”

He sighed. “Not payment for a debt. It’s a reminder of a debt I have to pay.” Sorry he’d begun, he mumbled, “It’s not easy to explain.”

“Whatever. I’m up. I’m gonna go open the bar.”

“It’s Sunday,” he said.

“And they’ll need something to wash down the preacher’s bullshit with after. You know fire and brimstone clogs the throat.”

He could see she wanted him to go, uncomfortable with his strange, otherworldy magics now that the sun was up. Retrieving his britches and guns, the only thing he’d had on when she asked him to join her for a drink, and then a little more than a drink, he slipped them on and went down the hall to his own room. There was no sign of the piano player. After pulling on the cleanest shirt he had and washing his face, he went downstairs.

The Wetnap was the only house that sold spirits in Digo Town. It had been a house, but when the original owner removed all the walls in an effort to enlarge the common room, the upstairs threatened to come downstairs. To shore it up, a series of pillars had been placed haphazardly through the space. Over the years, they’d become totem poles. Some carved with shapes or love notes, some covered in graffiti. Marriages written on one pole. Divorces on another. The dead scored in black on a square white pillar. Annie said they were a good thing. They slowed down fights, in the way big rocks thrown in a feed bin will slow down a dog that eats too fast. 

When he reached the last step that spilled him out into the main room, he paused. To his surprise, the man that laid down the fire and brimstone that clogged the throats of the populace was already there, drinking something from a steaming mug. Jack’s kind and brimstone didn’t mix, but there was no going back upstairs now. Jack hitched up his pants and approached the bar. 
“Jack,” the preacher’s voice was low and pleasant, but his gaze focused on the wall behind the bar, just a wide plank of wood laid on sawhorses.


The Indian that tended bar for Annie brought Jack his usual: hot tea with lemon.

“Gonna storm later.”

Jack made a noncommittal sound.

“All sinners should get thee hence,” the preacher continued, rolling his cup between his hands, still not looking at Jack. “Gonna be a bad storm. Digo Town is a bad place for strangers to be stuck in a storm. People get desperate. Get ideas in their head about God and the Devil. Sin. And magic. Do things under cover of wind and rain they wouldn’t dream of doing on a clear day.”

A tremor from the knife at his belt. Warning. Danger. 

The preacher shoved his now empty cup toward the other side of the bar, stood and walked out. The indian behind the bar looked at Jack from big black eyes and said nothing. With glacial slowness, he pulled a lumpy, many patched sack from behind the bar; the gunslinger’s own, as familiar to him as the back of his own hand. It looked fuller than when he’d brought it in. When Jack just stared back at him, the Indian pushed the sack toward him then gestured at the door. The face was stoic, but nothing in the Indian’s quiet face suggested threat. The tremor of the knife at his side seemed to agree. Jack placed his hand on the handle and again promised, “Soon.” An almost glasslike sound rang from the knife. Soon might be never if they didn’t get out of here. Now. He glanced over at the staircase. He’d swore he heard a light step from that direction, but there was no sign of Annie. Maybe she’d hoped he would be gone by the time she came down. He threw back the rest of his tea, tipped the cup in the Indian’s direction and stood up. 

The gunslinger shouldered his tote sack and moved on with it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Exercise 5: Poem

It's time for day 5! Day 5 of what? It's not the fifth day of Christmas. It's not the fifth day of  the everpresent White Sale is it? No. It's the day for the 5th exercise in Le Grand Experiment - all about doing the Writer's Digest 12 days of simple writing exercises. You can find the info in the link. 

Today's exercise is to write a 20 line poem about a memorable moment in my life. I chose the very wise decision I once made to climb over the "Trail Closed" sign at Jade Cove and fell down a cliff. Yeah. Not such a fan of heights anymore. I think I cheated, since I titled it, and you clearly need to read the title along with the poem. Oh well. Here goes.

This looks like a good idea!

Or maybe not.
Is that the sky,
Or did I die?
Move shoulders.
Move toes.
I think I’m good.
Yes, please, take pictures.
I'll want to remember this,
And yes, I am that pale.
Was that 40 or 50 or 60 feet?
By the time I am 20
It may as well be 100
and I’ll almost have forgotten.
Until I see a movie or commercial
With anything higher than 10, 15, 20 feet off the ground.
I don’t climb cliffs or get on airplanes.
I never did learn how to fly.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Exercise Four: Letter to Agent

So today it is the 4th day! Of what, you ask? "That time" of the month? The 4th day stuck on the side of a mountain in a snow storm with no peanut butter? No. It is the 4th exercise as detailed in the Writer's Digest 12 days of simple writing exercises. I have all of them listed in this blog post: Le Grande Experiment. It's time to tell an agent how great I am.

Dear Fabulous Agent:

I'm sure all agents sit and wait for that "tell all" letter, where the crazy writer goes on about themselves instead of their manuscript. Well, Writer's Digest told me to do this, and I'm sure they had their reasons.

I was greatly inspired by Stephen King's On Writing. He says (and I'm paraphrasing from memory) there are competent writers, good writers and genius writers. He says that a competent writer can become good with a lot of hard work and practice, but that genius is something you are born with. And no matter how many days of simple writing exercises you attempt, it will ever elude you. I do not fool with genius. I'm not worried about it. I will not attain it. What I am, in my humble opinion, is a competent writer, probably on the road, or perhaps even now, threatening to achieve almost-greatness. What I think are great are my worlds. I make them out of nothing. Goat hair floating on the wind and a pile of ash on my sister's carpet and I can come up with a magic system, a landscape, populate that landscape with heroes and heroines, victims and villains and throw them all in a story. I think I'm honest as a writer. I'm hard on myself. I don't let 'em off easy is what I'm saying. I don't bring down Gods to save folks, unless the Gods are carefully written in and promise to play by the rules. Or if they break the rules, everything goes all to crap and it would have been better if they'd just left well enough alone. I think I'm original. I make a very good turkey sandwich. I like to twist genres and tropes. If I went to Hogwarts, I'd probably get put in Hufflepuff for being such a loyal friend. And as the ponies tell us, friendship is magic.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Exercise three: Setting

I am ready for Day 3! Day 3 of what? Kindygarden? That weeklong time limit many action movies set for the destruction of the world? No. It’s day three of the 12 days of simple writing exercises. Today’s exercise is supposed to be a setting, based on the most beautiful places I’ve seen.

This gets you thinking. What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen? The Redwood forests of northern California where I grew up is probably at the top of the list. The boles of the trees go up and up forever before the branches spread. You don’t see the canopy without looking up, and it doesn’t allow for much undergrowth, so the forest looks like this landscape of enormous red toothpicks. We spent a lot of time out there in the wilderness. My folks scuba’d back in the 80’s and we went camping near the ocean for much of the summer. 

I spent most of my time in Oklahoma as a child. There is still something to be said for standing in a place where you can see the horizon line to the east and the west, and you’re standing on flat ground. Especially near sunset, that weird time when the stars are out and the sun lays on the horizon, painting the sky in streaks of sherbet. Darkness spreads above you, but the light still lingers near the horizon. It’s weird.

I think the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen isn’t real, and I’m looking at it right now. It came from someone else’s mind, but they may as well have split mine open and made it for me. I’m sure it’s digital, with probably painted images from other artists dropped in. You see, it’s my background picture I use for Scrivener - a fantasy wallpaper I found on the internet.

I guess this isn’t fair, but I’m going to tell you about it as my exercise. The grass is like a carpet. I mean, literally, it looks like a carpet. Well, a very cushy carpet, with fibers going every which way, interrupted with smatterings of wildflowers. And it’s almost European green. That green that you only see in helicopter shots of Ireland and Italy. The background is a series of low, stepped waterfalls; you know the kind, that churns the water into blue green foam, with spray catching the sun and shimmering over everything, so every photo looks like it was taken through a filter. The star of the image, or the place, if we’re pretending it’s real, is the tree. It would take at least two people to circle it with their arms, and the trunk is old and gnarled. Ivy clings to it like strands of green pearls.

Now that I look at it, this could an Elven ampitheatre. The steps of the waterfalls are large enough that you could use them like a stage, your audience sitting on the grass under the tree. You’d have to pitch your voice just right to be heard above the water, but Elven voices aren’t like ours, after all. I imagine if some fool hunter, or princess on the run from royal duties came stumbling into the glen, the Elves could just fade into the trees rimming the edge of the clearing or step beneath the highest water fall at the very back. Or just stand stock still. Humans aren’t exactly perceptive.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Exercise Two: Character

Hello, Fearless Readers. First, let's take a moment to thank the Goddamn Batman for that public service announcement. Today is day two. Day two of what, you ask? Treatments? The second day of the three the kidnappers gave you? What is this day two business? Let me explain. I am conducting le Grande Experiment: the 12 days of simple writing exercises detailed in that there link. The exercise is: Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for.

This is tricky. I could have reached into my past for the 'someone I don't care for', since this is going out into the stratosphere. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Or get my ass kicked. But instead, I chose a celebrity I don't like. And one I think I could take.

Suzanne is around thirty, and to look at her, you'd expect to find her draped in furs and jewels, sipping champagne on someone's yacht. From long black hair that floats down to her waist, the popular bee-stung lips the perfect shade of red that the Hollywood set pays for, and almond shaped blue eyes fringed in black lashes. Everyone who knew and loved her would say it all goes to waste. The ebony hair is usually wound up under a hoodie, and the hour glass figure is swaddled under loose sweat pants. She doesn't have any furs or jewels, and if she did, they wouldn't be much use while cutting down trees, making them into firewood (the only thing she has to heat her home) or feeding them into the chipper. And it's usually beer on Friday nights, not champagne. Those women in the magazines are paid to be sickly and sexy, and Suzanne wouldn't fit in with that, either. She likes to cook, to eat what she cooks; she likes to laugh and she likes to make other people laugh. Sometimes, that laughter hides a lot of pain. And despite the laughter, she sometimes has trouble looking on the bright side of things. In the better times, the glass is half full, but in the dark times, the glass is half empty, and she's only too aware of the frailty of what remains in the glass.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Exercise One: 10 Novels

Ok: Day one! Day one of what you ask? The Apocalypse? Have you seen the infected begin to stagger? The bird flu superdisaster? No. It's day one of le Grand Experiment wherein I perform the 12 simple writing exercises put forth by Writer's Digest, and I do it in public. (See link for complete list) Today is the first exercise: name of 10 books I want to write. Some of these are books I may have mentioned wanting and/or planning to write before, some are names I just came up with for the barest of bare plot bunnies. One of them scares me... it has a name now. It might come to life.

Here we go.

1. Race Across Doomed Flats
2. Last Left
3. Road Dogs
4. Of Later Elves and Dragons
5. The Doubletake
6. The Last War
7. Behold the Dragon
8. Bargain in Buttonwillow
9. Fairies of a Fallen Land
10. Gates of Eden

Hmm. That was kind of fun. Want to list me yours in the comments? Or maybe on your blog?

I'm not sure if I will post the 2nd tomorrow or the day after. We shall see how it goes. Until then, carry on, Fearless Readers.

Le Grande Experiment

Greetings, Fearless Readers. I'm in a spiral. I seem to have spiraled right out of my forward motion. I've lost all belief in my story and all faith in myself.

So. I'm going to put myself out here. I got a Writer's Digest newsletter with "The 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises" by Brian A. Klems. If you would like to see the article, here it is: article

Below I've pasted the list of exercises.

The 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises
Day 1:
Write 10 potential book titles of books you’d like to write.
Day 2:
Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for.
Day 3:
Write a setting based on the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.
Day 4:
Write a letter to an agent telling her how wonderful you are.
Day 5:
Write a 20-line poem about a memorable moment in your life.
Day 6:
Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short story (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story.
Day 7:
Write a letter to yourself telling you what you need to improve in the coming 6 months.
Day 8:
Rewrite a fairy tale from the bad guy’s point of view.
Day 9:
Turn on your TV. Write down the first line that you hear and write a story based on it.
Day 10:
Go sit in a public place and eavesdrop on a conversation. Turn what you hear into a short love story (no matter how much you have to twist what they say).
Day 11:
Write the acknowledgments page that will be placed in your first (next?) published book, thanking all the people who have helped you along the way.
Day 12:
Gather everything you’ve written over the previous 11 days. Pick your favorite. Edit it, polish it and either try to get it published or post it on the Web to share with the world. Be proud of yourself and your work
I'm going to try and post one of these every other day. And I'm going to try and get my mojo back. Hmm....  I wonder if someone from the future came back and stole it, like the 2nd Austen Powers flick? If only I had a Delorean.....
Anyone want to join me in my public humiliation? Not that I'm calling anyone out or anything... and not that I want any of my genius friends to prove once and for all they are the more talented writer... but you know. It could be fun.  Or horrifying. You know.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo Reminisces

Well, it's been a wild and wooly month. On the NaNoWriMo site, there's a video about taking in this next weekend, sleeping and relaxing and reveling in your Post-NaNo afterglow. I, however, have no time to glow. I won, achieving a glorious total of 59,467 in the month of November, but I'm only halfway there.

As always, NaNo was a challenge, a joy, a misery, a time to push myself. I went forth with one of the most detailed outlines I've ever had (which has proven to be painfully bloated) and the goal of 3k a day or bust. I made it most of the time. Below are some points and thoughts I had along the way.

Omg! Pep talk by Brandon* Sanderson!! Yeah. TL;DR. Keep it short and to the point next time, Brian. I have a novel to write this month. Oh. And where the hell is the last Wheel of Time novel?

Thanksgiving: you suck. I mean, everything about you except the times with my family and my mom and sister's amazing cooking. But every year, you take me out of my novel (due to travel time). I come home bloated, swollen and suffering the lingering after-effects of altitude sickness. I also lose my steam and my word counts drop below half of what they were before. I move we change Thanksgiving to October.

3000 words takes longer to write than you think it does. I know that now.

Coffee is, always has been, and ever shall be, my friend and enabler.

The folks at the Office of Letters and Light make wonderful videos. I enjoyed them, looked forward to each new one, and found them inspiring. And amusing. And found myself wishing I worked there. But I don't. I work for a plumbing company.

Scrivener. Is. The. Bomb.

I! Love! Exclamation points!

The internet is not your friend. Yes, it's awesome and all my friends are in the tubes, amongst the cats and the memes, but the internet is not your friend. Or if it is, it's that douchebag that comes over to your house and eats all your chips, clogs the toilet and lets the cat out.

So. That's my take on it. I go forth into December hoping to finish this baby before Christmas. Because once again, the time with family, the wonderful cooking, the swelling, etc. How was your NaNo experience?

eta *Originally called Brandon Sanderson Brain, which I think I meant to put "Brian". But it is Brandon. So double fuckery there. Sorry, Brandon. Now wtf is the last Wheel of Time book?! *stern face*

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I have been validated!

Well, for NaNoWriMo I have been Validated.

(the above thanks to Stacey Graham

I have validated at 56,132, even though I don't think that's even half of the novel. Yes, I am a little front heavy! And I've written shit since I had to clean my apartment and go away for Thanksgiving, not to mention the resulting altitude sickness. (It's a real thing. I can hardly move or do anything when I'm up in the mountains and even when I come home it takes a day or two to recover.) I had forsaken all housekeeping due to NaNo, and if on picking me up and dropping me off my relations had seen its state, I would have been put in a facility for those not capable of taking care of themselves. And then this novel would never get done. However, I now have a clean apartment in which to write!

There are four days left in November, and I hope to get 12k more added before November 30th. That means my target will be 68,116 if I make my daily word count. Only 21,884 off my goal of 90k. I'm not ready to sum up my NaNo experience yet, but I do think I would have kil't it if not for turkey day. 

How about you? Are you validated?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

50K in 19 Days - NaNo Win!

It would seem that I am a winner.

Yay me. :) Looks like I've won NaNo! I had a great day yesterday. Well, I did, my characters, not so much. I almost feel bad for my poor lovers. They haven't even started down the primrose path yet, and I've thrown a big ol' bugaboo in the way! But that's the way of it, I'm afraid. I got over the 50k. I guess I'm around halfway there. If that. I'm afraid I'm looking at a lot more than 100k, here but I know my beginning is a little overstuffed.

This week poses a challenge. Namely, Thanksgiving. I'm only going to be gone a couple of days, but it has been a killer for me in previous years. I spend more than a day or two away from the words, and they sort of shrivel up. I feel bad about bailing on my sister by getting a ride home with my folks on Friday, but actually it keeps her from having to make the long drive for no reason other than to drive me home.

How are you planning to approach the holiday?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Followup: NaNo Checkin

Hello from Friday! I'm up to 48,858 on the NaNo! So very very close to the win, I can taste it.

Was it Elmore Leonard who said he didn't write the boring parts? I really need to take that advice. Or is it "leave out the parts readers tend to skip." I'm afraid I'm writing a lot of boring parts. It's the transitions that are the trouble. You know, skipping over the areas where everyone arrives at the party before the good stuff starts to happen. I'm drawing out that boring arrival part.

The fun part, however, is all the secrets I don't know. I get this feeling as I write in some of the characters that they have secrets of their own, secrets that are going to come flying out of the closet later. That's a great feeling, but I've also gone a little overboard on that before. I tend to start these dangling threads that way only to have to go back and take them out. Hopefully all the character's secrets are along the same line so more plot points don't start jumping out at me!

I think I'm going to win tomorrow! Whoo hoo! Where are you at in your novel?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15: Halfway Point

So, it was easy coming up with a blog post idea on day 15 of NaNoWriMo. It's Halfway Day! I have achieved a startling 42,572 words in that short period of time. I don't mean to sound like a bragasaurus, but I am really proud of myself. Considering the shit work ethic I've had over the last year and a half or so, I feel like I'm pretty much on top of the world right now. I hope you will realize this is just my natural enthusiasm and childlike delight. It will soon slough away and leave me in a trench of despair, so I tend to ride these "I'm awesome" highs for as long as I can.

I'm getting worried about length. I'm not anywhere near half-way through my ponderous outline. It didn't seem ponderous at the time, but now I think... this is getting ponderous. There's only been one moment between my girl and her eventual love interest. Things do get romantical later on, but it begins as a straight up gothic tale.

I'm not exactly where I want to be on word count. I hoped to be at 45k by now and I'm a little short. Also, getting 3k a day is taking a really long time. About 3 to 3-1/2 hours. I know I can write faster than that, but for some reason, I'm not. At least it doesn't feel like a chore. I have to admit that my writing sessions have usually been short - maybe 2 hours, 1 hr 45 minutes sometimes and I strive for 2k. I tend to have a short attention span, I guess.

Well - NaNo Onward! How are you doing? Where are you at in your own NaNo journey?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 13 of NaNoWriMo

How are you doin', WriMo's?! I'm super, thanks for asking!

I'm way past the halfway point to winning NaNo, and more than 1/3 of the way through where I plan to be for the month. I'm at 37,406 words, aiming for 90k for the month. But... this baby is getting wordy. We may be at more of 100k or even 120k. I've read too many of the real gothic romances of the 18th and 19th century, I'm afraid. I won't be getting away with Wilkie Collins or Mrs. Radcliffe type word counts!

I'm finding my outline to be a lifesaver. I think that's why I'm going along so well. I've added quite a bit as I've gone along and the Scrivener "note card" system is really helping. Adding my notes as I go along is a breeze. I've also added all my character cards from real life into the ones in the computer. There's a handy function where you can do a split screen and view your cards above or beside your word processing page. It's a great little refresher, as the plot is about to open up and I'm going to need all those imaginary people. So far, it's just been my girl in the spooky ol' house with the spooky ol' guardian and the crackpot team of servants.

Where are you at? How is it going? We're not even at the halfway point - if you're lagging, I hope you give yourself a little room to get caught up as we go along. Best of luck, WriMo's!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Met My Male Main Character!

Finally! Vampire Baron is in the house! Literally. He just showed up. He wasn't supposed to be here for a day or so, at dinner. Instead, he decided he would stand in my female main character's open doorway as she read off some prose ... dramatically. She might even have said something about bosoms. They had a laugh. Sparks flew. Witticisms were bouncing off the stone walls. It was great. He just appeared like that, and he was fully formed. I didn't know he would be so funny.

This feels like a break, in a way, because I was sweating my heroine. I wasn't sure if I had a fully fledged character or something in a dress that just reacted to what happened. Then I looked at one line on her character card and I knew where to go with her. It said "She's the girl who goes to find the source of a noise!" That says a lot about her. You must understand. To quote Scream, she's not "some big-breasted girl ... running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door." The reason that big breasted girl goes up the stairs is because if she doesn't, you don't have a horror movie. I mean, are those big breasted girls ever very brave? No. Not until they get half their clothes off and hear a noise. All of a sudden, they're Lara Croft.

The reason my girl goes to find that noise is because she's not superstitious. She doesn't believe in the ghost. She knows that darn maid has it in for her. In other words, she has many reasons to inspect that sound or that white cloth that flipped around the corner, or to approach the window that sounds like it's being scratched. That white thing out there could be many things besides a ghost and she wants to know, she wants to stop the superstitious tittle tattle. It makes her smart and brave. And smart, brave people are always interesting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Going a Little NaNo Crazy!

Greetings, all! My mad blog pace has slowed down a little, but not for want of blog ideas. I've been a writing demon! Much to the detriment of my house work, especially in the kitchen area.

I was going to get off the internet and start some reading today. I have two library books and maybe a week and a half left to get them read. Normally, this would be no problem, as I devour paperbacks like a panda does bamboo. However, I've got a number of distractions. NaNo being the biggest one. I just had to go check the NaNoWriMo site before I closed down the old web browser, and found a new video. This got me so fired up, I decided to come and get started writing before reading. Heck. The book's gonna be there later. This inspiration might not.

I also have a new writing program, thanks to NaNo. They have a page with freebies and special offers, and the use of Scrivener free during NaNo and a HALF-OFF discount for winners! I am so gonna be a winner.

Anyway, I downloaded the software - very easy instructions. BY THE BYE: THIS IS NOT A PAID ENDORSEMENT - THIS IS MY OWN TRUTHFUL OPINIONS ON MY EXPERIENCE. I tried to watch the 10- minute quickie video but I think with all the WriMos flooding the joint I had trouble and decided to just do the tutorial that comes with the software. The tutorial (which said would take an hour) took me three. I don't know if that's because I was very tired after work, or what, but I did find it well laid out and educational. There was only one WTF? moment, but I have lost what it was in a fog, something about tags and labels, I think... Anyway, you don't have to use what you don't understand. I had already written 17k, so I spent another 45 minutes uploading it and then splitting it into chapters. I fussed about with how I would enter the outline on the little card created to go with each document (you don't have to use the cards - I go back and forth between the cards and the outline feature.) My only complaint is being able to make the outline a seperate document all on it's own. I guess I can just cut and paste, but I like to tinker with my outline in spare moments. I also feel I've lost a little portability by containing all my info in a program that's at home. The export feature is good, but cut and paste is your only option.

Even so, considering I'm going to be able to get this baby for REALS when I WIN for half price (and it's already a very affordable program - $45 for a Mac version and $40 for Windows at full price), and my incredible brokeness, I am so going to get this. It's great. The "compose" feature alone has made writing a much more pleasant experience. You hit the "compose" button and it either blacks out the rest of your screen, or you can use your own background photo - which I have done.

Idn't she purty? Of course, all I see is the sides. It's great.

Ok, that's enough of me. I gotta go write now. Carry on WriMo's! Fearlessly!