AROW80 Final Check-In for December 26, 2013

*with apologies to Europe, the band* “It’s the final check-in!!” *guitar riff!*

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Final Thoughts:

I came into AROW80 late in the game, having found out about this writing challenge from Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLE MINDS blog, so I don’t have any real quarter-long goals to talk about, but I am looking forward to the next round and seeing how well I can do at a longer term writing challenge. I have learned a few things about myself as a writer in the short time I’ve been with this group, mainly that I seem to work better when I have people to report to about what I’m doing.  And that being told that my ideas are interesting is the best ego-boost ever. *lol* I’ve also learned that I can work on more than one project at a time without being completely derailed and ceasing all work for ever and ever on one or the other project.  This pleases me no end, since one of my fears as a writer is that I don’t have the attention span necessary to finish a project. Particularly long and involved projects. I’ve also noticed that I’m drawn to projects that require a lot of world building. I’m not sure if this is subconsciously a way to avoid working on the actual writing of the stories or an attempt to recreate a world as in-depth as some of the fanfic universe I’ve written in. I’ve always had a soft spot for meta-materials – books about story universes, about TV series, things like that.  Possibly, it’s a mix of both.

How I did on my goals this last time ‘round: I got the chance to sleep in today, which is great because for the next few days I will be back to a hectic schedule that is unkind to the sleeping in.  On the plus side, I do have a fridge full of food which will make the schedule considerably less hectic since it makes it easier to find something to eat.

The scene inventory I mentioned in my last Check-In did help in starting a rough draft of Chapter Nine based on old scene. Which is good, though I kind of hate a lot of what I’ve written for it and I’m wondering if maybe it would be better suited to earlier in the book. For the time being, I’m just bulling on through and getting the chapter out so I can move on to the next chapter.

Holidays have been good; I got a Barnes and Noble gift card from the girlfriend’s mom and I’m looking for suggestions on writing books if anybody has some good ones to suggest. I hope everybody had and will have a great holiday season. I wish you and your families all the best in the months and years to come.


Interim Plans:

  • Continue working on Defcon: Fade Out with the ultimate goal being Chapter Ten done by midnight on New Year’s Eve, if not before. Considering my work schedule this week, I’m a bit doubtful that this goal will be achieved, but I am at least taking a stab at it.
  • Work on creating pages for my WIPs. This will be the first time I’ve ever done this – particularly for my own original work — and if folks have suggestions about the kind of stuff that should be on those pages/things they want to see/things that should NEVER go on a WIP page, I would be ever so grateful.  I already know that The Semi-Quasi-Mostly Official Handbook to the Gem City Universe will go on the Gem City page and I have some ideas for the other pages as well.  The ‘verses I’m working on include:
    • Defcon:  a potentially five novel series set in a world where, in 1983, a nuclear war was accidentally sparked by a massive asteroid strike in the Kamchatka Peninsula in the former Soviet Union. The series takes place at various points in time after the nuclear war and follows a group of characters through the slow process of recovery. The idea was to write my own take on the cheesy post-apocalyptic men’s adventure series I read when I was a kid in the 1980s, only with slightly more realistic takes on things like radiation effects and cultural changes.  But also including some weird crazy science because a girl should be able to have a few genetically-engineered ape/human hybrid organisms in her post-nuclear future, right?
    • Butcher’s Bill: Another alternate history where when, in 1755, the physician Gerard van Swieten was sent by the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa to investigate claims of vampires in Moravia (part of the Czech Republic) instead of ultimately finding that vampires were nothing more than “ a vain fear, a superstitious credulity, a dark and eventful imagination, simplicity and ignorance among the people” he discovered that vampires were indeed a real and potentially serious problem. The novel itself takes place in America in the present day and follows the activities of the members of Tomescu Disposal Services, a vampire hunting firm, who work the third shift.  The vampires in this world are based more on the vampires of folklore rather than the fictional vampires like Dracula, Lestat and Edward Cullen.
    • Gem City: a world where more or less all of that ‘comic book stuff’ is real and where William Cartwright is the Shamus Who Knows No Shame.  William works as a private investigator, taking on the sorts of cases that other PIs won’t.  His reason for doing this is that his parents were costumed villains who were murdered by a vigilante superhero after their latest court case was thrown out on a legal technicality. The philosophy behind this story world is the idea that the rules need to apply to everybody and that being the good guy doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want and that even bad people deserve the protection of the law. It’s also a chance for me to goof around with superhero tropes.
    • Kinstealer: This is the runt of the story-idea litter. About all I know about it is that it features a scruffy space pirate-type guy who helps fight Cthulu-like aliens and who annoys the other space pirates by flaunting one of the basic rules of their society. The world is based, loosely, on the space opera version of our solar system. In a way, it’s an alternate history wherein the point of departure is that this is a universe where the canals on Mars are real and there are swamps on Venus and interplanetary travel is commonplace enough for there to the space pirates. Inspirations include C.L. Moore’s “Northwest Smith” stories, the Starwolf novels by Edmond Hamilton, Heinlein’s juvenile novels, and, in particular, Alan E. Nourse’s Raiders from the Rings. Not sure how Lovecraft will fit in – this idea pretty much literally came to me in a dream and there were some kind of eldritch horror in the dream but the character was more interested in not being found guilty of violating the ethics of his band of space pirates than worrying about them. There’s probably something in that.

Miscellaneous Plans for the Interim:

  • Survive the next week at work, which will amount to eight days of work before my next weekend (next Thursday and Friday).  It’s not the work itself that’s so rough, but the combination of my and the girlfriend’s work schedules conspiring to make sleep a rare and highly prized commodity.
  • Start eating healthier/cooking at home more and getting in some exercise. Which would probably be easier if a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses wasn’t sitting next to me.
  • Go to bed. Night night!

10 thoughts on “AROW80 Final Check-In for December 26, 2013

  1. ah the tempting dish of . . . close by:) like all those ideas bubbling away in that head of yours – when I began my series it was never intended to be a series and so world building was minimal – am in trouble now 4th book in as I find I am world building after the events and having to check and double check , so keep getting the world building solid and well set up for series its essential – hope you have a good new year festivities and see you back here in 2014 – ROW80 is a good place to be:)

    • What’s worse? They’re holiday flavors! White chocolate with peppermint bits, milk chocolate/cherry cordial, and dark chocolate with mint truffle. Soooo nummy.

      I always wanted Defcon to be a series, but I thought that the book I ultimately started writing would be the first book. Turns out, it is now the fourth of five. Maybe the fifth of five. Or the fourth of six…okay, it’s definitely NOT the first book, is what I’m trying to say here. So that’s kind of giving me nervous fits, but I’m trying to take the attitude that there’s nothing that can’t be solved by the generous application of editing and world building.

      I’m trying to keep a lot of good notes for the world building — since the books are going to feature a lot of the same characters, I’ve created an extensive chart of names, ages, family relations, genders, racial/ethnic backgrounds, etc. so that I don’t screw up and have a character appearing in a story 5 years before she would have been born. Because that would be embarrassing!

  2. Congrats on the gift card. I love useful presents. Okay, to answer your question – the most useful books I’ve found for writing have been this three: Story Engineering and Story Physics, both by Larry Brooks. The other “must have” in my opinion is Christopher Vogel’s “The Writer’s Journey.” All outstanding books.A book from another perspective, but one that links kind of into Story Engineering is Alexandra Sokoloff’s “Screenwriting Tricks for Authors.” For me, everything I’ve mentioned is right next to me through my whole process.

    Alex also has a great blog. I think the title of it is just her name, but since I’m typing in a state of pre-caffeination, I can’t really be certain about anything. (g)

    • Thanks! I’ll be sure to check those titles out and also the blog. And I understand about the dangers of pre-caffeination!

  3. Glad you’re staying with us for another round of the ROW80, Kathy.

    I don’t know if your need to do a lot of world-building is an attempt at procrastination. I suspect it’s a small bit that, but I bet it’s even more a sense that you ‘want to have it all there’. When a story-world builds on itself and pieces are published before others, the risk of having inconsistencies can be daunting…. Especially if you are a fan of well-established fictional worlds by other writers.

    It’s too easy to compare ourselves with our idols.

    My advice? world-build away…. Make the story YOU would want to read. If you do, then you’re more likely to create it with a passionate intensity that will grasp other readers. If you don’t care about it? well… you can guess.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head; I like knowing things about the worlds I create and I like for them to make sense and be internally consistent. A lot of the times, I get ‘sidetracked’ by the world building because I need to have a better understanding of how something works before I can write it. It’s like my Internal Editor brings in an Internal Toddler to sit in the back of my head and go “But…why?” until I come up with a better answer than “Because!”

      And thank you for the encouragement!

      • I forget who said it about worldbuilding, but I’ve seen it in action many many times:
        If you write a thousand pages of a story and edit out all but 200 hundred, the other 800 are still there in the depth and fullness of the story remaining.

        (That was paraphrase, but you get the idea. Nothing is lost.)

  4. Wonderful ideas cooking away here and I wish you continued success in working on all of them. I write historical fiction, but the sense of falling into another world may well be the same, a continual distraction and source of inspiration as the characters slowly emerge into story. About as hypnotic as that bowl of candy. For writing craft books, I really like Elizabeth Lyon’s Manuscript Makeover for revision (consistently positive and her chapters on whole-book structure). I’ve found Brooks’ Story Engineering useful. But most of the time I dip into these books as needed and turn back to my writing. May 2014 be very good for writing — for all of us!

  5. damn lady, no one can accuse you of being an underachiever! and you have time for sleep when?? your various plots sound intriguing. i hope they will be laced with enough vonnegutish absurd humor to hold my attention.

  6. Looking forward to seeing you in the next round. ROW80 has been a wonderful inspiration for me, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself loving it more and more. As far as writing books: Stephen King’s On Writing really inspired me to write every day (or be better about it most days). Happy 2014!

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