August Update

Camp NaNoWriMo has concluded, and I can assert it was a success. My goal was to write 50,000 words for the month, and I called it a night on the thirty-first at a total of 66,289. More importantly, however, was the reinforced discipline of writing 2,000 words a day.

While I’m unlikely to reach the million-word mark this year, I’m a person of ambition, and I’m going for 500,000 words written for 2017. My current goal for NaNo17 is 250,000 words, so this should be doable… even more so if I decide to go for the half million in November! It’s been a dream since 2015, but since 2016 was not a viable contender, the half mill has been pushed back. I’m making no promises, though. It’s too early to know if my November will be optimal for that.

Camp was also a great exercise in brainstorming for my next books. The Cursed trilogy (which started as a single book, morphed for fun into a duology, and has continued forth for the last two years as a trilogy) has now decidedly become the Cursed quintet. I also still like my tentative real title for the first book, so I think that might be here to stay. Maybe. Possibly. I’ve edited up to almost one hundred fifty pages of the first book, met my goal for July (to edit through chapter sixteen), and hope to use next week’s “writing sabbatical” to break through to at least to chapter twenty–hopefully beyond, as I’m guessing I’ll have completed chapters seventeen and most of eighteen this week. As it currently stands, there are thirty-five chapters, but one needs to be written yet. Overall, I think I’m looking at about 80-85k words for the first book, maybe a toss more.

In also awesome news, I’ve started taking official violin lessons! I’m so pumped. I’ve only had three lessons so far, but I am loving it. There is something so distinctly compelling and therapeutic about drawing a bow over the strings, even if the only sounds I make right now are strident and amateurish. I will prevail! And since I’m learning music as I go (alas, being able to play by ear has made me, over the years, too lazy to learn how to properly read music), it’s both a physical and a mental challenge. The very best kind! Exclamation points for everyone!

Reading–alas, so little time! I haven’t even burrowed into the fourth Throne of Glass book, even though it’s been two weeks since I finished the third. It’s not for lack of want that I haven’t been reading that much. It’s simply not a priority right now. *slaps self and sniffles* I’m one of those people who likes to stack my activities one on top of the other, and though I could make time to read, I often find myself giving that time over to writing or violin practice. Or just sitting with my dog. Because she’s awesome. And also she’s needy and vindictive and if I don’t give her attention, she does spoiled rotten things not tasteful for detailing here… jerk. I love that dog.

And so, to conclude what will otherwise become a rambling treatise on my affection for my canine, here’s some awesome music by Two Steps from Hell I’ve been listening to the entire time I’ve been writing this post, which you need to hear if you haven’t already, and if you have, you need to hear again:

Happy writing, everyone!

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Caps Lock Days

One of the most beautiful things about being a writer is the ability—well, for me, at least, the need—to create story, to design and get to know characters, to watch and manage how they interact within their environments and their circumstances. The process is surprising, incredible, and depressing in turns, but it’s never boring. Continue reading

Wordsketch: An Assassin’s Tour of Lower Brayven [Fantasy]

I’ve waffled over posting this. It references more mature themes than I’m used to writing. The vast internet may laugh at what I call “mature” themes, but I’ll still rate it PG-13. It was just a quick warm-up I wrote to prep for more serious writing, the first scene that popped into my head when I opened a blank document. I have no plans for it.

Lietta leaped out of the window faster than the old grandfather clock in the corner could fall. When it did crash against the hallway’s tile floor, chiming out a strange melody as its death knell, she was already halfway down the alley, tripping over broken crates overflowing with the shattered glass bottles of underground cabarets. The sweet-sharp burn of grapes and alcohol hovered over the refuse like flies, clotting the air with an oppressive reminder of her early days in the Service. Continue reading

July Update

July means Camp NaNoWriMo, and Camp NaNoWriMo means prep for NaNo itself. It’s been a long time since I wrote regularly (despite all my promises to the contrary). Camp has thus far been a helpful tool to get me back into writing (my goal this month is 50,000 words), though it feels a lot like exercising an atrophied muscle. The distractions are strong, too: I keep thinking of my November goal and then having to zero my focus back in on what matters now. Continue reading

Learning from the Masters: 1953 Hugo Award Winner

Winner: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

The Demolished Man was the 1953 winner of the first Hugo Award. Alfred Bester’s thrilling science fiction tale of trapping a murderer creates a universe populated by characters with questionable intentions as Bester explores what was believed about the psyche in the mid-twentieth century. My personal exposure to what can be called early (very early!) “science fiction” in literature begins and ends with Verne, whose stories did not concentrate, in large part, on the characters’ psychological motivations, reactions, or abilities (unless you consider A Fantasy of Dr Ox as exploring psychology–I highly recommend this book as it’s hilarious). Consequently, I’m not going to attempt a review of The Demolished Man, being otherwise unfamiliar with the literary and scientific conventions of the time.

I’ll do my best not to post anything spoilerish, and my notes are merely that: impressions, techniques and tactics I can quantify and explain. They are by no means comprehensive, and I suggest you attempt to get a copy of the book and read it for yourself. Continue reading

Studying the Masters

With the conclusion of my official education in financial planning, I found myself purposeless. I’m one of those nerds who revels in studying, who grins at the idea of intellectual challenge, who laments the fact that I cannot know all the things I know I do not know, but dang it I’m going to try. So, with studies finished and my time no longer devoured by incessant nosing-to-textbook, the Question became evident: what next? Continue reading

[Short Story] The Long Shadow

I hesitated for months about posting this because I want to do something with the concept and didn’t want to ruin my chances for publication… until I realized I am more interested in self-publication for short stories and this particular iteration needs a lot of work before I get even to that point. If it hadn’t been written for a contest, this story would have been about three times its current length. Even after writing it with the 2500-word limit in mind, I had to chop off 400 words. I have my opinions concerning its quality, but I’ll let you decide. 

The Long Shadow

Samarkin raised a fist, squinting through his blackout goggles at the dust cloud hanging off his stern over the Uzur Desert. His first mate Sitara shut off the ship’s thruster and bowsed up its single sail against the howling gusts, casting the vessel into mechanical silence. The winds of a coming storm screamed over the dunes, punctuated by the metallic clinks of the rig resting its tired parts.

“See a sail yet?” Samarkin asked.

“Should soon, Sir, according to the heat index,” Sitara said in her robotic monotone, rolling over the deck on her treads. Continue reading

March Update

And . . . she’s back! I know I’ve been MIA for the last several months; I promise this is not because I lost steam or “got distracted” in an unintentional sense of the term. I finished the latest draft of Cursed in early February, then put the kibosh on all other writing endeavors—all other creative endeavors, in fact—in favor of throwing myself into the Tartarean pit that is academic study. Perhaps that’s an unfair evaluation of the matter, as I enjoyed it. I was so engrossed in the information, however, I would dream about my notes.

This story has a happy ending: I passed the certification exam, I no longer have to lose myself in studying, and I’m now clawing my way back up out of that chasm and into the more varied routine of daily life. I feel a burst of creative inspiration because I’ve kept it bottled for so long, and I’m now working on harnessing that energy to dedicate to a particular task or tasks.

On the docket for this month, at least as far as writing is concerned, is to get back to writing 250 words a day. I’m going to try my hand again at writing short stories, since I consider them to be my weakest writing skill. In the meantime, I’m glossing over Cursed to refresh my memory on the details of the story, write notes in the margins, and otherwise prepare for the first post-rewrite edit.

Having restricted myself from doing very little else creative beyond playing piano for about twenty minutes every other day or so for the last two months, I’m brimming with ideas that range from the literary to the entrepreneurial to the adventurous. I’ll be adding more relevant posts than this in the near future!

2016: Statistics

Sorry–final post about 2016. While it was not a million-word year, I’m still pleased with the statistical outcome. This year also saw the developmental progression of what started as a mid-grade fantasy, veered into YA, returned to MG, and is solidified for the (hopefully) last time as a YA. I didn’t fully finish any draft of the novel in 2016, but I came close three times, and this last attempt is truly the final one for this “first” draft.

2016 Overview

Total Words Written: 655,507

Most Prolific Month: November (104,327 words)

Most Prolific Non-NaNo Month: February (72,878 words)

Worst Month: October (24,821 words)

Most Words in a Day: 7,042 (November 1)

Most Words in a Non-NaNo Day: 6,391 (February 7)

Fewest Words in a Day: 500 words (October 27)

Days I Didn’t Write: 11

Started Projects: 16

Finished Projects: 6 (2 novels, 4 short stories)

So far, 2017 has brought a lot of other obligations to the forefront, most notably of which is my studying. My test is in March, and the more I study (and the more I talk to experienced test-takers), the more I discover it’s going to be a challenge. Happily, I love challenges, so we’ll see where this one and all others take me.