>So what to work on now

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Now that I have (gratefully) taken my post-NaNo break, I’m ready to start writing again; however, this is the first time in many a year I desire to write with a purpose. You see, I posted a list the Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary things forum, and on this list involves two primary goals:

Completing my 2009 novel, and completing my 2008 novel. I’d like to complete the 2008 novel for CreateSpace’s free proof offer for NaNo winners. I’ve missed this offer (or the similar one from Lulu) every year, and dangit, I want this book in my hands, even if not published yet, for sheer vanity’s sake.

Now, I’m struggling with the desire to finish my2007 novel, Heaven’s Bounty. It’s such a GOOD story, and now I’ve finally figured out where I want to go with it, after letting it sit for a year or two.

This is why I’m not a published author yet. It has nothing to do with the quality of my work; I’m convinced that my prose is as good or better than anything you’ll see in Barnes and Noble. It’s the fact that I don’t finish novels, and therefore am unable to submit them for consideration.

So that’s my goal for the coming year: to complete a minimum of one manuscript, and polish it well enough for submission to agents.

Not a publisher, mind you; Like Editorial Ass, I believe firmly in the power of agents to help authors in more ways than just finding a good editor.

But to do this, I have to not only finish a novel, but polish it well enough to put through my critique group, and then polish is MORE into perfection.

But now my dilemma is I have multiple novels that I want to work on. I’m going to finish them all, but in what order?

What I have:

1) My first love, my original. The Story that Had to be Written. I’m currently working on handwriting the second draft, which I’ll then transcribe into the computer. This is the one I’d like to have for the CreateSpace offer.

2) The sequel to the previous one; I know, I know. In all fairness, I HAVE finished the first one, when I was 15 or 16… I know how the first one ends.

3) This year’s. This one is the one about the widow who ends up as a Queen, and then has to take her husband’s assassinated soul, memory, and skills and avenge his death and take back his kingdom. It’s FUN, but it’s lying fallow again, victim of 50k disease. Mortos Rex.

4) 2007’s novel, Heaven’s Bounty. It’s a sci-fi piece about a winged bounty hunter who is captured, wing-clipped, and raped (dark stuff) and set free by her friends, then seeks to find the source of her deceased captor’s freakish shapeshifting powers, powers her love also seems to possess. This one is so much fun, and the voices for all those characters have started up in my head.

5) Of course, Double Edged Sword, though a good chunk of it has gone missing. That’s a hard one to write though, and when I get back to it, it’s going to be like pulling teeth. Good story, just delicate work.

I dunno. I’m going to work on them all… but which first? My bones tell me I need to finish this year’s novel FIRST. It’s what’s most recent in my mind, and dammit, it would be nice to finish a NaNo novel the same year I started it.

But Heaven is calling…

>Squeaky new OS, and writing progress

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A couple of days ago, I installed Windows 7 on my laptop. See, when I bought this thing, it had Vista on it, and I hated it. Oh, I could see the potential, but it’s such a resource hog that doing anything was a big pain. Before I wiped it, it actually took ten minutes to shut down. We won’t talk about how long it took to boot up.

Well, I found a deal online, where students with a .edu email address can get a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional for $30. For $30? Why the heck not. The reviews from friends who have used it have been good, so I decided to take the plunge.

Oh. Em. Gee.

It’s what Vista SHOULD have been. It’s fast, responsive, and shiny.  It does cool things, and my laptop is running the way its specs say it should.

It put me a little bit behind on my word count, setting everything up, but overall, I’ve installed a LOT of operating systems (some multiple times) and this was by far the smoothest, fasted install and setup yet. I’m very impressed, and for the first time, I’m going to give Micro$oft props for not blowing yet another OS.

On the NaNo front, last night I broke 40k.  My aim is 50k by the weekend, and to continue beyond as far as I possibly can. I’m getting into the meat of a new story, and things are really starting to roll.

I’m also competing with Snark.Gallant; we’re running neck and neck, and I’m hoping to overtake him tonight. 😉 Of course, he hasn’t updated for the night, so the bastard has likely added a few more thousand. A worthy opponent indeed.

>With great inspiration, I write

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Last night, I got inspired. You see, the night before last, I hada dream. It was a dream that hung with me all day, and I started thinking about it.

So I started writing. After a total 2.5 hours worth of writing? I’d jumped from 21,705 to 30,474. I hit my stride, and this story has exploded. It’s not really related to my current NaNo, but I did the cheesy old trick of “meanwhile, in another part of the universe.” This one, I fully expect to hit 50k before the month is over, so I’m keeping the words. To see my erratic performance this year, click the widget to open up my progress report.

I love this. This is how NaNoWriMo is supposed to feel. 8,776 words in 2.5 hours, so excited I can barely contain my enthusiasm or stop writing. I was up till 2 AM last night. That’s what I missed. I will post an excerpt from the piece I’m working on, and tell you more about it as it gels soon. For now, I must WRITE.

Today, I’m about to embark upon the terrifying prospect of upgrading my computer from Windows Vista to windows 7. I found a deal that offers a copy of Windows Home Premium or Windows Professional to students for $30. So I’ve downloaded it, and now, all I have to do isfinish backing up the rest of my files. I’m uploading all my non-music stuff to dropbox (which, by the way, thanks to all of you who checked it out… thanks to those referrals, I now have 5 gigs of free storage instead of 2. It’s going to take about five hours to upload all of my remaining photos, but they’ll all be safely stored, and in no risk of erasure by the upgrade.

I’m moving all my music over to the desktop PC. It’s got over 200 gigs… it can handle it. I love modern technology. I can’t believe I’m sending over 12 gigs of music through the air to the PC nearby, while I sit here and type, and while I’m uploading pictures to another storage site. how awesome is that?

So I’m going to take advantage of my remaining hours of backups to write, write, write, and see how much further I can go.

And here, for your interest, is my progress towards my goal of 100k. I’m still a bit behind where I should be, but a couple more nights of writing like last night, and I should be caught up with no problem.

Let’s see if we can’t get a little less red in there, whaddya think?

Onward!

>A little short on my daily goal

Yesterday, I bell a bit short of my goal.  I’m at 6,026, and I was planning on being at 6,670 last night.  That adds a bit more to what I need to have done, but that I can do.  I managed to insert a gratuitous sex scene, but I think it’s actually going to advance the plot a little; add some conflict early on (and not the kind you think, either).

Just to share a little, here’s a short snippet of what I’ve written so far (in all its unedited glory). One of my MCs is an albino; however, I’m trying to make her representation realistic; albinos have serious vision problems, as a result of the lack of pigment in their eyes, and glasses don’t help, either. So she’s actually mostly blind. And magic hasn’t automatically fixed it, either; her spells help, but are imperfect.

Anyway:

   Sara stretched and reached for the ceiling, trying to work the kinks out of her neck and back.  She had been sitting for hours, poring over one of her beloved texts, nose to book, the only way she found it possible to read.  The spectacles that should have been on her face were lying by the book.  They gave her headaches, and they didn’t really help her much, anyway, but her instructors insisted she have them.  They were mostly just fashion accessories at this point.

“Still moldering away in this library?” Larath said,patting her on the shoulder and flopping noisily into the chair. The librarian glared as he scraped chair against floor and knocked three of her books onto the floor.

“Larath, you need to be more careful!” she admonished, stooping to gather up the books.

“Sorry, sis, I’m just not good with this stuff.”  He thumbed through one of the tomes, sniffing and setting it down with a shake of his head.  “Give  me the sawdust in the salle over the musty dusty in here any day.”

She shook her head.  “You’re lucky you have me around, you know, otherwise you’d be a complete ignoramus. How did you even manage to pass your classes?”

Larath grinned at her.  “Easy.You helped me.”

She rolled her eyes.  “I shouldn’t have.  Maybe you would have learned something other than how to swing a sword.  Speaking of which, aren’t you supposed to be practicing for your final practicum?”

He shook his head. “I was supposed to, but instructor Elias managed  to sprain his ankle, so the session was cancelled. I’ve got the rest of the day off!”  he stretched and leaned back in his chair.  He pinwheeled his arms wildly as the chair overbalanced and nearly toppled over, dumping him into the floor. He seized the table and steadied himself.

Sara shook her head again. “You’re hopeless. Get out of here before you tear the place down, or get me kicked out of here. I’ve got to finish this.”

“Nuh uh. I’m here to make sure you eat, young lady. A little bird told me yiou’ve been here *all* day, and haven’t stopped once for anything to eat. If you fall over from starvation, you’ll never have the energy to finish your exams. Or stay up to study for them.”

She sighed. “But I just have a few more pages–”

He grabbed her arm, closed the book, and pulled her up to her feet. “No way. You’re coming with me, now, while lunch is still hot, so you don’t end up with a bowl of stewed leftovers.”

Sara grabbed her cloak and slung it over her shoulders. She murmured a few arcane syllables, twisted her fingers, and pulled the hood of the cloak over her head. “Alright, alright, I’m going.”  She let him guide her through the tables, thankful that this time, at least, she wouldn’t end up with another bruised thigh when some thoughtless ass forgot to push his chair under the table.

“Sara! Sara!” someone called.  She looked back to see the librarian’s indistinct shape, glowing, waving something high in the air.  “Wait!”  The librarian caught up to her, and the glow faded to see the blurry human form.  She blinked to try and clear her vision, but the spell had malfunctioned somehow, and the blur remained.

I need to work on that.  Still not handling the far to near transition well, Sara thought to herself.

“Sara, dear, you forgot your spectacles,” the librarian said, shoving the metal framed lenses into Sara’s hand.  Sara smiled, swallowing the retort, and crammed the spectacles  onto her face. The librarian smiled, and bowed, then scurried off to her desk.

“I thought those didn’t help?” Larath said as they walked out of the library.

“They don’t. No one seems to believe me when I tell them that, though, so they keep insisting I wear them. They give me a headache, but if I don’t wear them, the headache I get from the constant nagging to put them on is worse. So I close my eyes, or just grin and bear it.”

“That is so cool. I wish I could see with my eyes closed,” he commented, holding open a door for her.

“I wish I could see more with them open.”

>NaNoWriMo 2009: First day’s progress: slow but steady

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I didn’t get as much of a boost as I was hoping for, this go round, but I’ve set a comfortable pace that I think I can actually maintain.

Last night’s trauma left me with a pitiful start: 200 words by the time I went to bed. In all fairness, it was the Lortab that left me drowsy and unable to focus, that combined with general exhaustion from a long day and pain from the sprained ankle.

Today has been a frustrating day dealing with malfunctioning forums, although I have been incredibly impressed by their performance thus far. Failures to load aside, they’re staying up and reasonably zippy, given that this is our highest traffic day, and in years past, this always meant CRASHING or completely unusable.

I wrote in drips and drabs, starting and stopping my writing timer so I could keep track of how much actual time I wrote. Most of it happened after 9, when the girls went to bed. Final results?

60 minutes of writing, 3,737 words total. I need 3,334 per day to reach my ultimate goal of at least 100k. My full goal: 100k or a complete novel. Preferably at least the former, combined WITH the latter. I’d really like a complete novel, more than a particular word count, so if I hit 90k and it’s done, I’ll be happy.

i’m starting the story slowly, with the interactions between my two MC. They’re twins (don’t groan, please). One is albino… but she suffers from the same maladies real world albinos do. She’s damn near blind, and has to wear a cloak any time she’s outside, or she’ll get a severe sunburn. This is a fantasy, so she’s learning to use magic to compensate, but it’s imperfect, and she’s definitely a bit handicapped.

Her brother is the protective sort, very outgoing and physical, she’s introverted and academic.

I’ve also introduce the other MC, the third member of their Hunter’s Triad. This thing really has a bit of a YA feel this first chapter, even though they’re 22, because they haven’t yet become Journeymen, and are still students. That’s definitely not the focus I’m going for, though. They’ll be out in the world and their age and student status will be left behind.

I’m trying to decide if I want three POVs or not… there will be at least two, Sara and Larath, but I’m trying to decide if I want to pull L’varen in. I guess it’ll depend on how strongly he comes through for me. Right now, he’s a bit more clownish than I intended. He’ll get more serious, I hope.

Things are flowing smoothly, a good sign. I was already having trouble finding my characters last year at this point. They’re coming through, and already feeling real.

A bit about them: They are both 22, and living under the shadow of very famous, skilled parents. Part of the point of this story is going to be them finding their own identity, outside of a famous family, and making a name for themselves. Sara is not as concerned with this as Larath; she’s content with her books and her magic. He is more ambitious, and is determined to be a greater Hunter than his father, who is one of the best. i’m trying to design them to be not polar opposites, but complementary. They’re close. I’m going to introduce more friction as the story continues, because I want their growing independence from each other and their parents to be a strong focus until the middle of the story, when it’s going to become more about them dealing with the consequences of their family’s past… through no fault of their own.

So, tell me about your stories. If you’re doing NaNo this year, what is your novel about? What genre? How has your first day gone? I’d love to hear from you.

>100k or bust! (I promise. For REAL this time. Honest.)

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I have been wanting to double my wordcount goal this year. I said I was going to last year, but ended up damn near failing for procrastinating to the last minute.

So I made myself a nice motivational calendar.

I used an image from Moodflow – this website also has some lovely mood/ethereal music, if you’re looking.

I created the calendar itself from scratch in photoshop. Overall, I’m really pleased with the results.

I think I’m going to use some of his other images to do some more. I’ll probably do 50k calendars as I have the time.

Low-rez thumbnail: (Click for 1280 x 1024, 265.43 KB high-res version)

1280 x 1024, 265.43 KB

>Oooh, a plot bunny – Want it?

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I had this idea on the way to the grocery store a few minutes ago, and it would be so fun… but I just don’t think I can do it justice.

Someone discovers they have the ability to see digital data… as in, if someone sends a text message, they can see the contents, and watch it as it fires off through the air towards the nearest cell phone tower. They can see the broadcasts as they pass a radio tower.

It shouldn’t take you much effort to see the danger of something like this to someone in today’s digital age. The character is effectively blind, or housebound, since digital everything is well… everywhere. They certainly can’t drive, and might very well live out in the middle of no where in an old farmhouse with no electricity just to get relief.

But we know you can’t have a protagonist without conflict. 😉 The digital age comes to them. Or someone wants them – probably the government, for the powerful ability to see and interpret the data. Imagine a spy who can break codes without any equipment, or who can eavesdrop on an official’s cell phone conversations just by standing nearby.

This character would find themselves in the middle of a lot of unwanted attention. Now, where you want to go from there is up to you. Maybe they’re running, trying to find a place to hide. Maybe they’re looking for the ihghest bidder. Maybe they’re loyal to their country, and are willing to do anything to help. Maybe they’re just trying to learn to control their ability, or develop technology that allows them to filter it.