Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Fin.

And, I pulled through a win, 50,116 words at around 2 a.m.

I think part of my issue with my mid-novel slog was the fact that I started my novel too early. Not "too early" like I totally cheated at NaNoWriMo, but "too early" as in too early in the action. Too much exposition makes a reader lose interest, and the same is true for the writer. What I was writing technically "happened" to my characters, but could very well have happened off screen. Too much filler, not enough substance.

So, to make my novel (which I didn't even title) more workable, I would need to restructure the beginning third or so of it, switch some thing around, then write to the end. Or just write to the end; I'm not going to continue working on it now. Nor will I, for the love of God, be subbing it this month. People do that, apparently. People do that? Sigh.

But I digress. 50k words achieved. Winner shirt purchased. Congrats to those who participated! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I got to the end and realized I didn't have a point. Ah well.

As previously stated, I was mildly ticked off by an article that seemed to directly opine that, in the absence of Moon Men, science fiction involving the Moon was a foregone conclusion. Of course I've found a .gif that loosely links to this on everybody's favorite "keep clicking" time water, Imgur

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One Small Step....

Yesterday  morning, I was checking the results for agent Janet Reid's most recent flash contest (like you do). I'll save you the skip to the end, I did not win.


In the very first category, "Special recognition for Not Quite a story but man oh man" was me! (and another entrant)

Getting a mention, at all, is the best I've done in one of her contests. And I was very, very pleased and figured I'd share with you guys.

(it's untitled. I suck at titles and only title when I must)

There were enough alerts they became inured to the sound while applying their best quick fixes, sucking canned air and listening to Houston's directions.

They drew lots for who would be the heroic one, the one who would take his fragile flammable self outside the vessel to fix the breach. That was when they thought there was only one.

Eventually they silenced Houston, past caring what anybody on the ground had to communicate to the Heavens. It was easy to envision an uncaring God, with nothing to hold them to Earth.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Something to aspire to

So Janet Reid, from whom much literary wisdom flows, posted about Michael Seese. He's a writer who just spent all of October submitting a story or poem or something each day. Which is awesome.

See, if you want to get published, it isn't enough just to write. This is a grave disappointment that each of us reaches at some point in our, er, "development". As I commented on Ms. Reid's post, nobody's going to do this for me. It isn't like Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery where her Uncle Jimsy finds her trunked manuscript, thinks it's good, and sends it off to a publisher who accepts it right off and BAM Emily is successfully published. She's one of my favorite L.M. Montgomery characters and, unlike the Anne books, the Emily books are only a trilogy.

So. We write but it isn't enough. We much write and spit shine and sand edges and shellack and polish. Then, we must write the Dreaded Query Letter™, which must be hooky and snappy and explanatory and not clichè unless it's just the right kind, and which must be a distilled 250 word form of mind control to make somebody want to read your pages. And request your full. Then talk contract. Then sign. Then send it around to publishers. The Dreaded Synopsis™ is in there somewhere too (and I need to write one for Learn to Howl come December, if I'm going to make the Angry Robot Books open submissions deadline).

So it's important to get your work out there. Get eyes on it (or ears on it, as I did last week with the help of my friend Jacob Burgess). Write, write, edit, write, and submit. Since I just received a rejection from Glimmer Train, I looked the story over again, edited it a bit more, and sent it off to Agni. I sent another one to Lakeside Circus, which is published by Dagan Books (I actually almost sent this one to Strange Horizons, then realized I'd already received that particular rejection from them. It pays to keep a spreadsheet for your submissions and rejections, kiddies!).

I don't have 31 spit-shined works of fiction to sub so I can do 1 a day for a month, but I've been poking around in my "Writing" folders, looking at what I thought was finished, what I know isn't finished, and all of those irritating files I have which are only a couple of sentences and were clearly meant to go in a direction at one time. I have stuff I can work with, and stuff I need to "bring up to code", as it were (removing 'that' whenever possible, that kind of thing). It's funny how organic a process writing is, how things change shape even as you're doing them.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Put this in your earholes!"

Cribbed from my voice actor friend, Jacob Burgess, "Put this in your ears" is exactly the sentiment I want to put across to you.

See, Jacob is doing a project where he reads a new story every week. This week, he did a fun (and funny) Scifi short story of mine entitled "Housekeeping".

You can find Jacob here on Twitter, here on Facebook, and he even actually has his own website, Make Words Happen. Give it a listen, and check out other great things he's done. Like his page, share stuff far and wide, etc. etc.

I hope you enjoy!

(You can also just listen to it here on Sound Cloud, but Sound Cloud doesn't appear to link to anything else, profile wise or anything, and that's frustrating to me. If I find somebody I like, where are the breadcrumbs to lead me to them? Maybe I'm just missing it.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

NaNoWriMo at the library

At the library, we have a couple of different displays that change month by month.

This month? NaNoWriMo. It wasn't even my suggestion! But, we're using my notebooks, fountain pens, and hoodie (I shrank it accidentally. For winning this year, I might get a new hoodie instead of a t-shirt, since I'm not a huge fan of the 8 bit stuff). I even wore a NaNoWriMo shirt on Saturday (my winner's shirt from last year, if I remember aright) but nobody asked about it. I guess they'd rather not appear ignorant?

I managed to make par on Sunday, coming in at 28,590 words on the Asbury Park novel. The funny thing about my difficulty is I think appropriate tension between characters are there, and the situations are interesting, I'm just having a disconnect. Ah well. I'll soldier on. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hitting the Wall?

Well, it's the halfway point through NaNoWriMo, and I am in fact at the halfway mark. I hit 25,000 words before bedtime last night.

I'm only so happy about it, unfortunately.

I am enjoying my project, in theory anyway. It's a topic and location I enjoy. Being "in" my main character's head feels natural and flows well. But my interest level? That's at low tide just now.

Inspiration and motivation are two different things, I feel. Inspiration can catch fire in your thoughts and make everything in the world seem golden and connected and fresh and new and and and. Motivation is a close partner, I guess, but it's different in that motivation is what aims inspiration. Without it, one might end up with unconnected word vomit.

Motivation without inspiration, though, is when you wind up having to resort to butt in chair. Maybe you take prompts, do word sprints, whatever. Maybe you listen to the music that gave you the idea in the first place, or look at pictures, whatever. Those -ions need to work up and get together. Mine...mine have kind of wandered. And I don't like the hair pulling and tooth grinding of working on a project that isn't setting my mind on fire, and that isn't engaging my thoughts when I'm away from it.

I haven't given up on my project yet. I also haven't decided if I'm going to write another half novel of something else and figure eh, 50k is 50k. If it's a new project, it isn't technically cheating, though it isn't one full novel either.

How are you doing, if you're doing NaNoWriMo?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Living History

The Smithsonian just came out with a book called The History of American in 101 Objects. They also had a full issue of their magazine devoted to said objects, if a bit more briefly than the book clearly does. Flipping through the magazine, I got caught up a moment on how many modern things were there. "How can it be history," I thought, "if it's modern?"

Well, silly me. Just because we're living it doesn't mean it isn't history.

Years from now, something that happened today will be history. Hell, something is history as soon as it's happened. Whether it's important history is to be decided later, obviously.

Some things are apparent. When Buzz Aldrin et. al. were on the Moon missions, it was history. They knew they were making history, living it. Funny thing: one of the 101 objects is Neil Armstrong's Space Suit. Another member of my household left the magazine folded open to that, and I happened to lay the book I'm reading, Moondust by Andrew Smith, on top before I took notice. I'm not very far into it, but the introduction was fantastic, and the first chapter is also delivering. I scored it in the library book sale for $1 the day after I decided I was writing a Moon novel. How's that for the universe taking notice?

I actually met one of the Moon landing astronauts, when I was 6 or so. He came to the Jersey Shore Medical Center, where my grandmother was a secretary in the Pathology department. I'm not really sure why the astronaut came to the hospital in 1989 or so, but whatever. The program was supposed to be for children 8 and older, but my dad lied so I could go. I didn't realize the importance, not really, but he realized for me. I'm thankful.

It was Charles "Pete" Conrad, and I have an autographed photo of him that my grandmother framed for me. He died in 1999 due to injuries from a motorcycle accident and is buried in the Arlington Cemetery. He was the commander of Apollo 12, and he was one of the first people to board Skylab.

One of the things I learned from American Gods, which I'm able to generalize a great deal, is a quote from Herodotus: "Call no man happy until he is dead." The notion being you can't take stock and make decision of an entire life until it is over (I may have paraphrased. I don't think it changes the point of the quote if I did.) I have, in the course of dog message board discussions, said "Call no man healthy until he is dead." Because that's the thing: if people are breeding dogs for health, they don't exactly know the "final results" until after a dog has lived his or her entire life. Some Dobermans drop dead as early as 2 or 3 from DCM. Others don't until they're 6 or 8. Some live a great deal longer. Some get cancer, some get bloat. But you don't know, not really.

But you don't know about anything. You just try to do the best you can.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Detail and Dichotomies

In the creation of characters, most of us try like hell to make them leap up off the page. a two dimensional character who doesn't get much screen time can still get the job done, but isn't it much better if you think about them even when you don't see them? Really, that's a way to make a villain worse; who knows what they're up to when you're not watching?

One way characters get rounded out is having their contradictions highlighted. As people, we all have them. Frequently, it will be when it comes to tastes (ask somebody their favorite movies and there will be at least one outlier in there). Somehow, though, when things get to the page, this gets a little stilted. You end up with precious characters, you end up with the hooker with a heart of gold. You end up with the tough "china doll" looking female character who can kick butt but still likes stuffed penguins. Could this be a real person? Yeah, probably. Does it work for fictional characters? It depends on who you ask, I guess.

The thing with characters is they have a life outside your story. They have to, unless you're detailing every second of every day of their lives (please don't). So there are things they like, or do, that somehow could and should get touched upon without becoming the focus of anything.

(now that I've laid this out, I need to think of examples. Hrm.)

In the television show Supernatural (you've watched that, right? You probably should. At least the early seasons. I won't give a cutoff), Dean on occasion mentions movies he's watched (porn and otherwise). In my memory, they don't go to the movies in the course of any of the episodes, but Dean watched "Black Swan" because it involved two hot chicks. Good on you, Dean. That also begs the question how Dean would have handled a Black Swan situation in a hunter capacity, which is an interesting and clever layer to add to the story. Both brothers constantly make culture references that they had to get from somewhere. Some of it is explainable by just having the TV on in hotel rooms, but not everything.

So, now play the game with your characters. When they're not in the book, what are they doing? What did they do before? What will they do after?

Friday, November 8, 2013

My whole world isn't NaNoWriMo, if you wondered

There are times I don't actually know what to put in this space. It's November, sure, but I've already posted a bit too much about NaNoWriMo. It's like how all the food blogs (it seems) are all of the sudden writing about Thanksgiving. It's like three weeks away, but we're wading through Thanksgiving dinner shit. I'm not all that interested. I mean, I'm probably cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but it doesn't mean I need to read about it all across the Internet for a whole month. I imagine it must be the same way when it comes to NaNoWriMo. Not all writers care about it. Not all readers care about it. Some people actively hate it. Sorry guys.

It might be dominating my writing right now, but it isn't all of my writing, actually. It's funny, sometimes, how many ideas I get once I've "locked in" to a project.

Like the Moon thing. And oh yeah, freaking India just launched a Mars probe. The process by which it's leaving Earth's gravitational influence is really interesting, actually. But India has people who have no access to things like clean water and the privilege not to be raped to death on buses for Christ's sake, why are they probing Mars? (And the article I linked just prior ends with: "Even so, some commentators have questioned whether India should be spending its millions on a planetary mission when a significant part of its population are in poverty and figures for childhood malnutrition are some of the highest in the world.")

Or, on this blog called Doug's Darkworld, I read about when the sun kind of didn't happen for 18 months in 535. That there is story fodder, fantasy or otherwise. I'm probably never going to write a hardcore historical fact medieval novel. But sword and sorcery fantasy? Or low magic fantasy? Yeah, sure. I've got an opening half envisioned. I've been poking at it for a little bit, turning it over in my mind.

My brain soup is always slow cooking, regardless of what project I'm working on. Or what project I'd like to be working on. I'm not one of those "My characters aren't cooperating!" people, but there are times my thoughts go their own way, to be sure.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When Ideas Attack

So, here we are, day 6 of NaNoWriMo. I'm on track, with  10406 words as of Monday night/Tuesday morning. Pleased by that, I must say.

I thought out loud about this on Twitter a bit (as one does): as I've gotten "more serious" about writing, NaNoWriMo has become...easier for me. I don't mean I wrote my book in three days (clearly that hasn't happened), but sitting down for an hour and banging out a thousand words or whatever, I can do that like it ain't no thang. Depending.

Obviously, I have quite a lot of time I'm screwing around and not writing (which is why I haven't finished my novel in three days). And I have times I'm working on other ideas because my brain won't shut up.

I will not say I'm writing two novels this month, because I'm not. It's not my goal, I hesitate to want it to be my goal. But there are times I am rampant with ideas, and feel like I need a bucket to catch my ideas. And so I am working on a second "novel project". Let's call it that.

See, I read this article bloggy thing called 9 Scientific Breakthroughs that Killed Science Fiction Subgenres, and it kind of ticked me off, actually. Because why should real science fuck up our scifi? Yeah, that's what I thought.

But anyway, number 3 on the list is "We Put People on the Moon". Uh, okay. What's that got to do with Moon science fiction? I mean, okay, there's no Moon people. We get it. But Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress involved no aliens, but rather people who had originated on Earth and were subsequently functioning on the Moon for a variety of reasons, with obvious survival precautions taken. Sure, nobody just lives on the surface of the Moon. But "no existing Moon civilizations" does not, to me, preclude the existence of science fiction taking place there.

So yeah. Now I'm writing a Moon novel, because fuck those guys. You can't tell me what I'm interested in (and clearly I don't care about whether people want the current genre in which I'm writing, exhibit werewolves). This is not the kind of a thing I can comfortably "sprint" with, for NaNoWriMo, because I do need enough science to make the fiction work.

So what do you think? Are our Moon landings enough to make the moon entirely uninteresting? Should real Science get in the way of genre fiction? Personally, I think they can get along. We'll see.

Monday, November 4, 2013

This is what happens when I take a weekend off....

Me: That guy doesn't blink enough. He looks like a serial killer.
Fiancè: Sometimes you blink too much, and I'd think you were a serial killer if it wasn't for the cleanup involved.
Me: That's fair.

Friend: Oh. I wasn't expecting that. (while taking allergy pills)
Fiancè: Yeah, they're the off brand so they don't have the same coating.
Fiancè: Shut up, Julie

Fiancè: You just violated the Geneva convention with your mouth.

Me: Oh hey, there are Great Danes in the Pokerface video. They're all "Lady, what are you doing?"
Fiancè: Lady Gaga.
Me: They just want to know where the meat dress went.
Fiancè: You girly girl! You like Pokerface! You're all "Oh, I don't mind that song..." You LOVE it.
Me: Okay, maybe I like it.

Fiancè: I think that's the first time I've actually seen somebody wave their arms like they didn't care. Congratulations.

Friend: Honestly, I wanted flying squirrels, but couldn't have them in this state.
Me: You can just go to the library park and get a couple.
Fiancè: Those aren't flying squirrels.
Me: The fuck they aren't. Just get them little goggles and put them in planes.
Fiancè: Jen, you...actually, let me rephrase that. Shut up, Julie.
Friend: Well, there are some flying squirrels that make really good pets.
Fiancè: No, that's just brunettes. Have you met mine? We call her Julie.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Setting and Soundtrack

So I already discussed this in Theme Song: my actual 2013 NaNoWriMo project (as opposed to my original idea) is taking place at the Jersey Shore. And if you mention that reality show to me here in this space, so help me....

But yeah. Nostalgia city.