AROW80 Check-In: April 30, 2014 — One Month Down, Two to Go

 The Month of World Building is over!  

Thoughts about this exercise:

  • First and foremost, I am pretty proud of the fact that I actually did some world building! I filled out three or four checklists and addressed some areas of the Defcon story universe that I’ve needed to work on.
  • Filling out checklists is hard, at least for me. I start off with the best of intentions to answer ALL THE QUESTIONS (to paraphrase Hyperbole and a Half) and lay out all of my ideas in a clear and concise format and end up staring at the page thinking “…answer all the questions?!” because I get caught up with the idea that I have to fill out the template or checklist as it stands.  Which leads to me giving up because I can’t answer one or two questions for whatever reason.
  • I learned this time around that one way around this personal stumbling block is to give myself permission to drop or alter questions to suit what I want to talk about.  Since 90 percent of the stuff I’ve written is likely never to be seen by anyone but me, it’s easier to let myself play fast and loose.
  • There’s a lot of world building that I don’t need to do, mainly because it’s already been done for me.  The Defcon ‘verse is essentially our world up until November 10, 1983 when all hell breaks loose. There are huge chunks of information that I don’t have to create myself – the geography of the planet, the languages spoken, etc. – just adjust and adapt to suit my needs.  This makes things a lot easier. Kind of like cooking one of those boxed dinners where you just add the meat.
  • On the other hand, while extrapolating from research and building off of the real world makes a lot of my world building a bit easier, it doesn’t cover everything.
  • There are lots of fiddly bits of this and that making up a world and trying to nail down everything is all but impossible.  That way lies madness, I am finding. Best to focus on the details that are important for the story at hand.
  • There is still more work to be done, but taking a month to pause and reflect has been helpful.

Looking Forward:

May is the Month of Typing – i.e. the month where I turn my hand written manuscript which still has missing chunks into a cohesive, typewritten whole that has a beginning, middle and end. For realsies!  Ideally, I’d like to have a complete first draft by the end of May but I’m fairly certain that the Month of Typing is going to end up being The Two Months of Typing With Additional Handwriting to Fill the Gaps.

So, here’s the plan: I’m going to start off by reading through what I have and taking note of what I’ve already done and seeing where the larger holes in character and plot are.  I’m planning on taking a couple, three days for that and maybe start actually typing by Sunday or so.  The good news is, I’m a fast typist so I can knock out a few pages at a time here and there at odd moments.  This is likely going to be a marathon, though, not a sprint.

During the down time at work, there’s going to be more world building, especially trying to expand on the plots and ideas important to the first four books in the Defcon series and also working on character development.

Personal Stuff:

Had an appointment with my primary care physician on Monday and found out that, since January, I have lost 18 pounds – 12 in the last month, most likely due to the Invokana I’ve been taking since my daily walks have gone by the wayside.! I’m now about 242 pounds, so go me!

 

 

Reblogging: Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you by N.K. Jemisin

Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you.  by N.K. Jemisin.

Confirmation bias doesn’t cause the phenomenon of Mysteriously Whitewashed Medieval Europe. (Or Peculiarly Denuded of Women Europe, or Puzzlingly Focused On The Nobility Europe, or any of the other bizarre things we tend to see in medieval Europe-flavored fantasy.) Confirmation bias causes the freakouts that occur whenever somebody points out these phenomena, and names them as inaccuracies.

 

For a variety of reasons, this is relevant to my interests since post-apocalyptic stories in general and the post-apocalyptic men’s adventures I’m trying to riff on with Defcon are loaded with their own confirmation biases that I want to poke many, many holes in.

 

AROW80 Check-In: April 27, 2014

Quick update time! Because it is late and I am tired — y’know, typical Sunday morning ’round these parts!

I finished a fictional species template checklisty thing tonight; I cobbled it together from a few different ones — namely How to Create Fantasy Races or Species, Part 1Sentient Life Forms and Template for Creating and Building a New Fantasy Race for your Fictional World or Story with some additions from Lee Killough’s Checking on Culture

World Building Goals:

  • Noodle a bit more; I found an Extreme Culture Checklist that I’m going to mine for things to work on. Since I’ve decided to continue working on world building/character development next month, there’s not quite the urgency to get things wrapped up that there was but I’d still like to fill the notebook I’m working on by Wednesday night. Just as a goal/stopping point.

Other Goals:

  • Get ready for the Month of Typing (i.e. May) — which will begin with the Reading of the Manuscript. And the Gnashing of the Teeth and the Wailing of the “WHAT THE WHAT?!”
  • Check in with folks since I’ve slacked off lately. Grr.

 

 

AROW80 Check-In: April 23, 2014

Happy World Book Night! Found out about this charity today because a friend of mine is participating as a book giver. The idea is to give books — both newly published books and established classics — away for free to adults to help encourage reading.  There’s also a free ebook available for download.

In other news, I’ve been working on world building and generally being a bit of a lump.  In addition to this being the Month of World Building, it’s also been the Month of Upper Respiratory Annoyances. I got a cold at the beginning of the month, which turned into bronchitis and this week, I had allergies or something.  None of which was debilitating, but I’ve spent more time sleeping stuff off than I really wanted to.

I’ve gotten some stuff done, not as much as I wanted to but I decided the other day that I’m probably going to continue world building after the 30th since I can’t type up my manuscript at work and I need something to keep me occupied.

What I’ve gotten done:

World Building Goals:

  • Finish the Phlebotinum-Development Questions and move on to some shorter form stuff that I want to make notes on.
  • Get ready to start reading through my manuscript and making notes before I start typing up, since I know going in I’m going to have to write some new bits to make things make sense.

Personal Stuff:

Found out the Endodontist that my dentist recommended is out of network for my insurance, so I’m going to call my insurance company and find out how much I will have to pay. A friend recommended his endodontist as well, so there’s another option.

 

AROW80 Check-In: April 20, 2014

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it; everyone else, hope you have a generally lovely day.  I am once again posting wayy too early in the morning before I go to bed, so here we go!

What I’ve Been Doing: I’m still working on the 13 Worldbuilding Questions.  I’m up to #9 and will be working on that tonight. Since I’m trying to do world building for the Defcon series as a whole, and since each book takes place during a different time period, I’m answering some questions by time period to make note of the changes.

I used my car for research purposes tonight, which was kind of cool and fun.  Because World War III is sparked by an asteroid strike, I used an online calculator to figure out the size of the blast I wanted. And the calculator told me other cool things, like the size of the crater that the blast would create — with the information I gave told me the crater’s final diameter would be 2.65 km.  Since I don’t have the best grasp of distances, especially in metric measurement, I used the metric setting on my car’s odometer to get an idea of how long 2.6 kilometers is and…wow, that’s one fairly big crater…

World Building Goals:

  • Finish fiddling with my charts and spreadsheets, re: targets
  • Refine some of my geography
  • Finish the 13 Worldbuilding Questions and move on to the next checklist.

Personal Stuff:

SCHEDULE MY ROOT CANAL! I am calling on Monday and if I don’t…then I will call on Tuesday but I WILL CALL this week because the ache is driving me nuts! The cold gets into the tooth and it’s just this dull ache that…arrglefargle!

AROW80 Check-In: April 16, 2014

The destruction of the world — well, parts of it — continues apace! I’m making charts and spreadsheets, including one based on the largest cities of the world circa 1980 which is helping me to better visualize the information.  And is also a heck of a lot of fun.

AND I finally finished the Original Religion Meme that I started the other day. It topped out at 20 pages’ worth of notes and I’m really happy with how well it turned out.  For one of the questions, which was about what the religion discourages I used the Seven Deadly Sins as a checklist within the checklist and contrasted them with the Seven Heavenly Virtues. (If you look at the Original Religion Meme, it’s part of the question about body modification, which I adjusted to talk about discouraged things in general).

I’ve started working on a new checklist — 13 Worldbuilding Questions.  It’s a short list and I’m thinking it will be good for getting a rough sketch of ideas down.

World Building Goals:

  • Finish fiddling with my charts and spreadsheets, re: targets
  • Finish the 13 Worldbuilding Questions — I’ve got the first two questions done, so I’ve made a start!

Personal Stuff:

I got the second half of my dental cleaning over and done with yesterday. Getting the shots for the anesthesia wasn’t quite as bad as last time. Still sucked, still hurt, but I at least knew what was going to happen.

Still need to schedule the root canal…. Eh-heh…

 

AROW80 Check-In: April 13, 2014

Howdy howdy! I got a late start at posting today’s update based on being dead-dog tired when I got home and not in a frame to think beyond ‘Cheerios are yummy’ and ‘Go to sleep!’

Ok, and also to do some mucking about with charts and spreadsheets for my world building project.

World Building Goals:

I’ve gotten back into the swing of things and I’m revisiting a subject that I’ve been circling around for a while: how badly the US was hit during World War III and what cities were targeted. Like I told my aunt yesterday, it’s not so much world building as it is world destroying.

I’ll admit, I’m very likely putting in wayyy more work than I really need to, but this is one of those things that is going to bug me until I map it out to my satisfaction.

As far as the rest of the world, that I’ve done in some fairly broad strokes based on latitude. Roughly speaking, if the country is located near or below the equator, the better off it was.  Above the equator, the hardest hit areas are between 30 and 60 degrees north latitude, with most of the damage being done to the United States, Soviet Union and Europe.

In less demographic news, I started working on one of the checklists that I’ve been needing to get to. It’s for a religious sect that’s going to play a role in several books.  I’m hoping to finish that checklist tonight and hopefully work on some other checklists about the history of the world and stuff.

I’m almost to the halfway point of the Month of World Building and while I’m not as far along as I’d like to be, there’s still time to catch up so that’s what I’m going to work on this week. CHARRRGE!

Edit to add:  Had a very productive night at work! I managed to get further along in the checklist. I added about ten pages (not full pages, since it’s in an outline format but still! Progress!).

AROW80 Check-In: April 9, 2014

Happy Wednesday!

My aunt and uncle came into town yesterday for a visit, so I’ve been spending the last couple days with them. Today we went to Carilllon Historical Park here in town and showed them the museum and the historical buildings on display. It’s a relatively small museum, but it packs in a LOT of Dayton’s history into that small area.  They even have one entire building dedicated to the Great Flood of 1913.

And, in the main museum building, there is a carousel that features, among the horses, things you can ride on that are Dayton-specific: like a bag of Mike-Sells potato chips — which is apparently the oldest potato chip brand in the US.  And a huge exhibit of classic cash registers with an interactive display that talks about the model and use of each register.  Some of them are pretty fancy-schmancy looking, with scroll work and stained wood finishes. They’re definitely a step up in the pretty department from the bland beige plastic ones we see now!

I’ve always loved museums — primarily because of the aunt who came to visit who took me to them when I was a kid.  I’ve been to Carillon Park a couple times and I always learn something new and interesting there. Ditto for the Air Force Museum which is about 20 minutes from my house and which is an all-day event and not for the feint of feet. I mean, any place that can house several dozen full-sized planes is not gonna be small!  (We didn’t go there today; my aunt and uncle aren’t much for militaria but I gotta shout out for the first Dayton landmark I ever visited).

Though, in a slightly Defcon related note, the Air Force Museum is the home of Bock’s Car, the bomber that dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. On a more cheerful note, there’s also an extensive exhibit dedicated to the Berlin Air Lift, including a discussion of Uncle Wiggle Wings — an American pilot who would drop candy for German children as part of the supply runs he flew during the Berlin Blockade of 1948-1949.

So…upshot is, I like museums. Doesn’t really matter how big or how small it is, I will generally find something of interest in them.

Worldbuilding Goals:

Because of company, I haven’t been writing much though I did type up a brief list of how World War III affects crime — a lot of my notes boil down to ‘due to depopulation, this becomes a lot easier’ but I’m also betting on there being a rise in things like rustling and agricultural crime.

Also, the exhibit on the Great Flood sparked a few ideas for the aftermath of World War III and how communities banded together to help each other and is also going to play a significant part in my vampire hunting novel, Butcher’s Bill (which is set in Dayton).

And visiting with my aunt has given me some ideas for the aunt/niece relationship in Defcon.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back at work so I’ll be doing some more writing and answering of some world building questions and working on some character development.

AROW80 Round 2 Goals — April 7, 2014

Hallo! Welcome back to everybody who has returned to AROW80 for this second round and to everybody who is starting out this time around, Welcome! So glad to see you! You can do it! Yes, even you!

I talked about my round 2 goals in an earlier post but I’m going to restate them here.  I’m approaching things a bit differently than I have the last couple rounds, where I was working on finishing a draft of Defcon: Fade Out, a post-apocalyptic story.  This time around, I’m approaching my goals on a month by month basis.

April:  is Defcon Series World Building Month.  I started, technically, on April 1st with the overall goal being of looking deeper into my story world and figuring out the plots of the books that precede Fade Out as well as trying to make my world feel realer and more concrete to myself — in the hopes of having it translate better to the page and to my readers.

So far, I’m not making as much progress as I’d wanted to — in part because I’ve managed to get myself saddled with a case of bronchitis so I’ve spent a lot of time this month dozing and generally recuperating (it’s not a severe case, but is hitting me just hard enough to give me a hitch in my git-along.  But I have gotten some work done and figured out some areas where I need to work harder — namely in figuring out plots for the books and then worldbuilding based off those plots and the questions about the setting that they raise.

I’m using a notebook — well, a couple notebooks — and a cool little program called A Novel Idea which allows you to record ideas for plots, characters and scenes as well as to link them to each other and to novel ideas.  You can also email your collected ideas to yourself or someone else.  I’ve got it on my iPod and I find it very handy for recording those late night ideas that come when you’re trying to fall asleep.  Best yet, it’s a free ap, though sadly, it appears only to be available for iPods/iPads.

May: is to be the Month of Typing. I’m going to start typing up the manuscript of Defcon: Fade Out and trying to whip it into a fully cohesive shape. I’m taking a month off to try and come at the typing in a fresher state of mind. Since there’s probably going to be some rewriting, I’m giving myself a month at the least for the typing.

June: is to be the Month of Letting People Read My Manuscript, aka “AUGHWHATHAVEIDONE?!” Month. To distract myself, I’m planning on taking a look at some of my other projects — i.e. non-Defcon stuff, because I’ve got something of a dream in mind. A dream I’m hoping to make a reality by this time next year.

My Dream: To make a sale of something I’ve written by the time I’m 45. Preferably a novel, but I’ll take selling a short piece of original fiction. It’s something I’ve wanted for a while now and I think I’m getting to a place in my life where I can make a decent sized stab at that goal. So, I’m putting it out there to the universe in hopes that this will keep me honest and on track.

Also, while we’re talking about dreams, I’d love a stuffed trilobite. Because trilobites are awesome and a soft, squishy flat stuffed trilobite to curl up with would be a treat.

 

Insecure Writers’ Support Group Post for April 2, 2014

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

 

This month, I am tackling the problem of world building for an entire series. Namely, the Defcon series that I’ve been working on for the past bit (ok, ok, on and off since 2007).

I’m facing a fear — or at least an insecurity — by making myself work on creating characters and a world that will be comprehensible and hopefully enjoyable to other people.  This is a big and ambitious project, in part because I’m creating characters who are nothing like myself and who live in a world that I literally can only imagine.  But, I’m going for it because I’ve worked this hard and I’m not stopping now!

CHARGE!

(Well, ok, technically I have yet to get started since I got sick on Sunday night and have spent the last couple days recuperating and trying to sleep off the sick but I’m still mulling things over so that counts, right?)