Category Archives: Nanowrimo 09

Pleasantly Surprised

A little while ago, as I said here, I received my free proof copy of something I wrote during NaNo last year.  Its final wordcount comes in at 300,010 words, and according to my records, I wrote it in the last 8 days of the month. The organization of it is both structured and chaotic – there are fifteen points of view and twenty sections. Within each section is 1k from each of the POVs, in a random order (no, really, I used a randomness generator) assigned before the month began. This comes out as snappy and head-jumpy and a little disorienting.

To be honest, I hadn’t actually looked at since November 30th, when I closed the file and went downstairs to jump around in celebration, have a SoCo and lime, and watch House (f’reals, that’s what I did). But when it came to the decision of which one I wanted to make into my free Createspace book, this one won out. The trilogy I wrote was slightly better organized, but much more poorly written, and the other two were only 50k apiece. By the time I finished this one, I knew that it would require a massive overhaul and probably wouldn’t even resemble the finished product. I told myself that I would read it before sending it off to get printed and bound, but somehow I never got around to it (my laziness astounds me.)

When I actually got the copy, I figured that I should probably read it, if only for shits and giggles. The last 50-some thousand were written in under 24 hours, and as it was the last thing I wrote that month, my brain and my good sense were fairly well worn out.

So I sat down with it. (For the record, the binding held up remarkably well, and the interior looks nice enough; the paper is thick enough that it doesn’t feel like it’ll tear anytime soon). I started to read.

You know what?

It’s actually not that bad.

To be fair, the first 20,000 words – when I was still figuring out who all these characters were – are mind-numbingly boring and disconnected. The next 40,000 words or so, when I was trying to get the plot moving towards something that approached progression, are only marginally better. But after that, when the characters start actually doing things and interacting with each other, it’s not so bad. There are surprisingly few grammar/spelling goofs, and I didn’t run spelling/grammar checks before sending it off to Createspace.

The ending isn’t that hot. I think I was in such a rush to get the last bit done with, that I sort-of forgot the ending that I’d been building up to and sidetracked from it by quite a large margin.

Most of the characters are interesting enough, though there are a couple who shouldn’t be nearly as boring as they come over. I mean, I have a serial killer movie star, a propaganda director turned film director turned propaganda director, an egomaniacal Congressman, and a television evangelist, to name a few.

Some of the plot lines fizzle out because they simply weren’t as interesting when I was writing it as others (there are about four or five through the course of the book), and so they got less attention and less care.

Right now, it ain’t close to publishable. Even if 300,000 words were acceptable for a first novel, I’d still have to beg people to slog on through the first two sections of the book before there was even the promise of something good happening, and they’d probably skim the boring parts through the rest of the book as much as I did – unless they just got tired of the constant head-hopping and threw it against the wall.

Before I reread it, I wasn’t sure that it was even salvageable in anything like its present form. It’s exactly the sort of story I like to write, though, and I held onto some glimmer of hope as I started to reread it. Now that I’m done, I think it really can be saved. I even think most of the characters will stick around, though I’m going to have to figure out how to streamline things a bit more effectively unless I want the next draft to be even longer. (Or maybe I’ll just save this one to be my fifth or sixth novel, when perhaps I’ll have more clout with my publisher…[hah, I wish!])

But for now, I’m just going to be happy.

(and, uh, get back to Burning Eden revisions).

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Createspace!

The back-cover copy:

Enter into a world where you are defined, restricted, and segregated by what your ID card says you are. But it’s a system on the verge of collapse and Cameron Alman is losing control as his pseudo-democractic Congress tries to gain more control for itself. As Cameron is already something of a folk hero, the leader of the Congress makes plans to kidnap him and make him confess all the atrocities committed during the revolution so no one will have any respect for him, and then Connor Haney can take over. but when the plan is actually carried out, things go from bad to worse as everyone tries to get a piece of pie, from the Alman Loyalists to the Church. Meanwhile, the mysterious prison camp on the border of the city contains a terrible secret, one that might bring down the whole country, if onyl someone can get in and out again without getting killed.

So, I know it’s not the same thing as having a book published and stocked on shelves everywhere. But I’ve had a stupid kind of day filled with idiots, and getting this in the mail today boosted my spirits considerably. I’m not going to put it up for sale on createspace as it’s not something that I’m proud enough of to want to splash my name all over. And yeah, I’m aware that my last name is up there; it’s also on that contest link over yonder to the right. Hell if I care. Have fun stalking me. (*grin*)

Next interview tomorrow; book review will also go up tomorrow.

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Another flashback to NaNo

So, back on day 1 of this past November, I wrote my first 50,000 words in 24.5 hours (compressed into a single day thanks to the clock change). I was fairly proud of it when I finished; I’ve done this (50k days) a couple of times in the past as well, and I was never all that thrilled by what came out of it.  Mostly, they tended to be strange and very rambling.  So despite the fact that I felt pretty good about it at 11-whatever it was that I wrote the last word, it was with some trepidation that I printed it out yesterday and sat down to give it a quick read. The first thing I noticed was that I did actually use fewer contractions than I remembered, and that makes it read a bit awkwardly (that’s not to say there aren’t any, because there are, and they tend to show up more in the second half).  The pacing is a bit uneven; a year passes in the space of a few thousand words and then a few days take ten thousand. I still think, as I did when I finished writing it, that the ending is a bit contrived and on the heavy side of illogical, but I don’t think that it’s unfixable. The characterization isn’t very good, but I get a sense of personality from at least a couple of characters. And there are few very grammar/typo goofs, which pleases me. The worst is usually that I forgot a space or omitted a letter from a 2-letter word.  I think it helped that I had a pretty decent outline going in and a helluva lot of determination. Time to put this project officially onto the burner – it’s going to need a complete rewrite, as it’s too short, and I need to figure out how to make best use of the subplots that I callously tossed aside mid-story because I didn’t want to think about them. I think it might even be publishable (someday, naturally). A standalone fantasy, even! (it really does wrap up well; I’d have to stretch pretty hard to find a way to come up with a sequel)

In other news, it’s snowing again. This has been a super winter: biggest storm ever in December, biggest storm ever in February (this past Saturday), and the snowiest winter on record. My alma mater is, for the first time in at least 5 years, closed tomorrow. We’re looking at another 18-24 inches to go on top of the 15 we got on Saturday, and it’s not really been warm enough to melt much of it away in the intervening four days. And my arms and back were just starting to get better from shoveling on Saturday. Bah humbug. (Plus, this much snow pisses my cat off big time. He’s an outdoor cat and when he doesn’t get exercise running around out there, he gets a bit hyperactive and starts going for the other cats)

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hello and goodbye lurky readers?

Hello, to all of you lurky readers. Yes, I know you’re there. I have a nifty stats page that shows me how many hits I get per day/week/month. It doesn’t count unique hits so I suppose it’s possible that I have one or two really, really, REALLY dedicated fans out there who come to the site hundreds of times a day. See, I’m going to share some stats with you. Last November (2008), over the course of the entire month, I got 857 hits. This November, I got 10,681. On the last day of November, I got over 1500 hits in 24 hours. This is freakin’ awesome. I love that. Of course, I’m a little obsessed by things like that and I won’t deny that many days during November, I would be updating the stats page every 15 minutes. It was usually open while I was writing, and it’s at the point where if I type in “s” in my little address-bar-window, the first site that comes up is the stats page.

Anyway. The one thing that I also notice is that post-November, the hits go way, way down. Seriously down. And then they spike again in October, when the new Nano forums go up. It’s a steady decline through December, and by January, I’m down to seriously one or two people who click on me occasionally by accident.

I get it. I’m really only interesting for one thing. I write lots and lots of words in November and everyone comes here either to a) see if I’m a giant fraud/hoax/joke b) to see how I do it c) to commiserate in my general moaning the entire month.  And to be fair, outside of November, I really don’t post that much and the posts generally aren’t incredibly interesting. Worse, now that I’m not even in school anymore, pretty much all I can write about, about myself, is how I sit in this chair all day and bleatingly moan for someone to hire me. I have an Ivy League degree and speak 3 languages other than English, I can write a million words in 30 days, and come the beginning of next year, I’ll probably be working in Target. Awesome. (On the other hand, I bet there are lots of fun stories that I’ll get there. But that’s seriously not the point).

So, my lurky readers, let’s make a deal. I know that I’m not a very interesting person, and I know YOU are (most likely) more interested in reading other things. I expect that most of you will vanish over the next couple of weeks and my stats will go back to where they were 3 or 4 months ago. But I’m going to make an effort, too. I do lots of reading; I’ll try to put up book reviews. I do writing the rest of the year, so I’ll try to comment on that. If I’m ever lucky enough to get a job, I might comment (in an oblique way) about that. I won’t do the news, because I want to keep this blog impartial for the day when an employer stumbles on it.

And on the day when I become a famous, NYT-bestselling author, I will give all of you longtime lurky readers a signed copy of the book. Promise.  You can hold onto this post and shove it in my face on that day. And honestly, I’ll be so over the moon that I’m there that I won’t even blink. I’ll just grab up a dozen copies, sign them off and mail them away.

So, for the few of you that are reading to the end of this post, let’s try to make this work, you and I. I don’t expect you to come every day like you did in November. I won’t update every day. But once a week? Sure. I can probably do that.

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View from the Other Side

Well, here it is. 1:06pm December 1. I got up an hour ago, I’ve taken a shower (I choose not to think about how long it’s been since I took my last). The only things open are Firefox and iTunes.  No Word documents whatsoever.

I won’t lie. I’ve been sitting here for a little while thinking “hmm. wtf am I gonna do now”. There are lots of things that in principle I could do. I could start thinking about Christmas shopping. I could tidy up my room. I could *read a book*. I’ve still got Steven Erikson’s latest, that I imported from the UK back in September, that I only made it to page 200 on and I really want to read that. And there’s also this nifty little piece of writing that I stumbled on a few days ago; it was out of place so I opened it, read it, and have been wanting to work on it for days. It’s neat and features such paragraphs as

“And no one would step in between them, everyone would stand by the sidelines as the friendship imploded, as Vasily locked himself away for another brooding weekend, emerging each successive time aged another few years and eyes a little more dead;  as Nicolaas left headquarters to get secretly high, a secret he knew was secret to none. Then the stares afterwards, ever glancing to bare inner arms as though he would tattoo himself so visibly with the shame of what he did when he could no longer take the world, or could no longer take the sight of the man who stared back at him in the mirror.”

(Okay. I had to open that document to get those lines)

Anyway, there are probably lots of you lurky readers that want to know what the hell I plan to do with this lot now that it’s written and stored in multiple places online and on my flash drive. The first answer is? Let them sit quietly for a little while and ferment.

Then, in January or February, perhaps, I’ll pull the suckers back out and read them. I’ve already forgotten half of them anyway, but I’m still emotionally connected to all the characters. Right now, having just written them, I want to say that three of my four projects will make it to second draft. Under the Infinite Skies is just a silly mess – oh, it’s coherent and everything, it’s just never going to be workable into anything useful…and I don’t want it to be. It’s harmless and silly and it was fun to write. After I’ve read them in a few months time, then I’ll decide how best to proceed: either a) keep pretty much exactly the same plot and rework all the bits that don’t exist or b) take the characters and revamp the plot – it would still go along the same lines but might make more sense or c) good god this is a bunch of crap, let’s get rid of it right now.

Now, I’ve had a couple of requests via PM about some deluded souls who want to read these first drafts. So I’ll throw it out here: if you think you can stagger through a first draft (99.5% grammar/spelling perfect) and actually want to, send me a request through here with an email address or something. But pause for a moment before even thinking about it: the each book in the trilogy is 200,000 and Just a Glimpse is 300,000.  I would prefer that if you *do* decide you want to read something, that you be willing to at least try to do more than glance at the first page.

In the off-chance that you are thinking “hmm, I’ve got oodles of spare time, I wonder how I can best waste it…maybe looking at one of Kate’s Pieces of Dreck” but don’t know which to choose, the following are updated summaries about each of them, now that they’ve actually been written

Legend of Paredin: An old man comes to a village and tells Rawlan that he is the heir of the kingdom to the north, and that his throne has been usurped by the evil Jaron and that it’s his obligation to join the resistance and fight to free the country, a country about which he knows nothing, doesn’t speak the language, can’t even use a sword, etc. Sensibly, Rawlan refuses.  But the resistance starts getting ugly and refugees stream across the borders into Rawlan’s village. He decides that he has to go and take charge, if only to control them and keep them from burning villages to the ground. But when he joins the resistance, it’s just the beginning of a massive web of lies as he learns who he really is and who is actually behind everything that has happened to his new, adopted kingdom. (This is the one I wrote on November 1, and while there are some subplots that vanish into thin air, I think it’s actually pretty decently written for a first draft written in 24 hours.)

Under the Infinite Skies: At one point, the premise made sense to me, and I think that it was based somewhat on my bare-bones knowledge of places like Cyprus. There are two countries who decide to perfectly amicably erect a wall between them and sever all relations between them. On the last night, there’s a giant country-wide party, and a cop from one side ends up sleeping with a young man from the other side. A decade later, he gets a call that because he’s good at catching serial killers, he has to go to the other side and help catch this one (big surprise, it’s the guy he met at the party 10 years previous). When the killer sees him, he assumes that it’s because Vahn, the cop, has finally come back because he loves him. The investigation proceeds, Vahn gets more and more suspicious, and everything nearly ends in tears before it works out for the best. (I don’t think that structurally there’s a lot wrong with this, but it’s a mess conceptually, and the plotline is silly, which is why it’s going to forever be a first draft.)

Just a Glimpse: Enter into a world where you are defined, restricted, and segregated by your class – only certain jobs go to certain classes, certain drugs are legal for some and not others, privileges, housing, etc. You are what color your ID card says you are. But it’s a system on the verge of collapse and Cameron Alman, the leader, is losing control as his pseudo-democratic Congress tries to gain more control for itself. As Cameron is already something of a folk hero, the leader of the Congress makes plans to kidnap him, torture him, and make him confess all the awful things he did during the revolution so that no one will have any respect for him, and then the leader of Congress, Connor Haney, can take over. But when the plan is actually carried out, things go from bad to worse as everyone tries to get a piece of the pie, from the Alman Loyalists to the Church. Meanwhile, the mysterious prison camp just on the border of the city contains a terrible secret, one that might bring down the whole country if only someone can get in and out again without getting killed. (I didn’t have a solid plot when I went into this one, more like an idea and a world and some characters, so the plot wanders for a little before settling down, and I think it’s going to need heavy editing and trimming, but I do like the world it’s set in. Also, if you’re tempted here, beware: there are 15 viewpoints. Just an fyi)

This is How it Ends: The country of Fayrotin is involved in a generations-long war with the ‘squids’, but there are those who want it to end, those who want to keep fighting to the bitter end, and those who don’t care how many die in order to force the war to end. And while they think that the squids are all unified in their desire to fight the humans to the bitter end, they’re wrong.  But this is not a simple story of a war to end all wars – this is a war that has been going on for millenia and can trace its roots all the way back to the old homeland, all the way back to Earth. Across thousands of years, three species, the end is coming and in nearly all of the cases, it is brought upon themselves. (This one is so damn hard to summarize even after the fact because so much is going on, but it was a lot of fun to write, and there are *aliens* in it)

So, what am I going to go and do right now (I swear, I just had to edit that sentence because I typed “write” instead of right)? I’m going to post this blog, go sit on the forums for a while doing absolutely nothing, go back and look at the story mentioned at the beginning of this blog, probably not write anything on it but I might make notes.  Then I’m going to go downstairs and for the first time in a couple of weeks, start making dinner – something that I actually enjoy doing but haven’t had any time for over the past week or two. And later, I’m holding my mother to the promise of a bottle of alcohol of my choice (within reason) to be purchased at the liquor store. I’m thinking Bailey’s, but I haven’t decided yet. Tonight, I’m not going to sit in my room with the door closed, headphones on, typing away. I’m going to go downstairs and watch tv with the family. I might even have a drink while I do so. At probably about 1 or 2 in the morning, I’ll go to bed. I won’t be up until 4 or 5 writing.

It’s a strange feeling. Nano, I already miss you. Can’t wait till next year.

(For the record, I haven’t decided what I’m doing next year. Given that I’m desperately hoping to be employed by then, I may try to write as much as I can while holding down a full-time job. Or I might try to write 50,000 in Russian, which makes me shudder in horror even as I contemplate it. But I took four years of it in college and it might be a useful skills refresher, even if the grammar would make someone want to kill themselves over it. I think 1,667 words of Russian a day would be a real challenge for me.)

And, in case you can’t tell, I obviously miss writing. This blog is nearly 1800 words long.

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Nanowrimo 2009

click to biggenate and check the WC. That’s the total Nano file, with all of the stories smooshed together

11:38pm November 30, 2009

Fuck yeah.

Fuck yeah, man.

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9:10pm 11/30

7k to go, and a bit under 3 hours to do it. Hurrah.

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