AROW80 update for 10/29/2014 + Nanowrimo Plans and Schemes

I have finished typing up the last of what I’ve got written (so far) for Defcon: Fade Out and the grand total is 145,247 words. Which blows me away but would make me a lot happier if it was one solid cohesive story. Instead, I’m pretty sure what I’m looking at is actually two separate books — or at least two separate stories that are related by a common thread.  Since the inspiration for this series is cheesy men’s adventure novels from the 1980s and those books did sometimes do “doubles” (i.e. two books in one) I might have this book be one of those.  I have to ponder the plan for this a bit more, but I’m fairly confident I can make it work.  Once again, it comes down to a question of figuring out where the gaps are and writing the bits to fill in those gaps.

Nanowrimo Plans:

I’d originally planned to use Nanowrimo to help fill in the gaps. The original plan was to have things typed up and the inventory done by the first of November. This isn’t going to happen, mainly because I don’t want to half-ass the work trying to get it done over the next two days and I want to hit the ground running come November 1st.

And, to be blunt about it, I need a break from Defcon: Fade Out. I’ve been working on it more or less steadily for a few years now and it’s time for a vacation. So, I’m taking the month of November off and working on something else.

Once again, I’m taking the Nanowrimo Rebel approach to the month. In my case, I’m not going to be working on a novel, I’m going to be working on some short stories. So, call it NaShoStoWriMo instead. The idea is still to try and write 50,000 words but instead of them being one novel, I’m hoping to get at least three or four stories out of the endeavor. I’m using the following word count categories from the SFWA as my guidelines:

  • Short story: less than 7.500 words
  • Novelette: at least 7,500 – 17,500 words
  • Novella: 17,500 – 40,000 words

I’m hoping to keep things within the novelette category. The plan is to make myself work on writing shorter pieces with an eye toward improving my writing’s tightness and my writing speed.  Toward that end and in keeping with the whole Nano-Rebel thing, I’ve actually already started working on one story. It’s an expansion on an idea that I posted a snippet of back in December of last year (it’s the second one in this post).

I have three other story ideas that I want to work on. Another one is set in the Gem City superhero universe, one in the Defcon universe and one that takes place in the Butcher’s Bill vampire hunting universe.  Going with the 50,000 total word goal, that gives me an average of about 12,500 words per story but the ultimate word count would be whatever is needed to finish the story.

Part of the reason for this interest in short stories is to work on finishing a complete story and another reason is to work on trying to get some things ready to submit for publication. One of the things I want to work on for 2015 is submitting something for publication. Toward that end, I’ve picked up a copy of the 2015 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market as a way of encouraging/goading myself onward.

Come December, I’m going to start working on turning Defcon: Fade Out into that elusive goal: a finished piece. I’m also going to take another look at my old attempt at writing a Butcher’s Bill novel.

So, fingers crossed and here goes something!

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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 Check-In for January 15, 2014

First off, I want to apologize for not checking in with as many folks as I usually do this time around.  Real life circumstances — mostly involving a lack of sleep — got in the way but I will endeavor to do better this time around!

Previous Goals: 

  • Up to Season Four in Supernatural! The fit has hit the shan, for Sam and Dean! These are some episodes I’ve never seen so I’m enjoying not getting so many minutes into an episode and going “Oh! Yeah! This is the one where the refrigerator is haunted by the ghosts of leftovers past!”
    • For research purposes, the show is raising some interesting questions about what it means to hunt monsters/live with knowledge that the majority of people don’t have.
  • I finished Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Eleven and I’m working on Chapter 12 now. This one will probably take a bit of doing since it’s a chapter I’m going to have to write from whole cloth but forward motion is continuing and I am happy.
  • I started reading Story Engineering  I finished the chapters on Concept last night at work — and even took notes!
    • On the one hand, I like the book a lot and I think Brooks’ approach is very valuable — it’s certainly a lot more practical than some story writing books I’ve read and I like that.
    • On the other hand, I’m beginning to suspect that Defcon as a whole and this book in particular needs a lot more work than I thought it did. Which is actually something I’ve been worried about for a while now, but Brooks’ book is helping me to put words to my doubts.  This is probably a good thing.  No, it is definitely a good thing, but it is also making me want to whine and stomp my feet because it feels like the work will never end and I’m never going to have a finished book and *flail*.
    • On the third hand, I know that there will be an end and I will finish the work and there is no need to flail like an angry Muppet.

kermit-yay-flail-o

Like this, only with more swearing and maybe tears…

Goals for the Week:

  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out, because if nothing else, I’m at least getting A narrative written down.
  • Keep reading Story Engineering and taking notes. Also to try following the Concept exercise to help flesh out my ideas.
  • I’m also reading Writing the Fiction Series by Karen S. Wiesner. I’m thinking that this book and Story Engineering are going to dove-tail together nicely.
  • Keep reminding myself that, as Jake the Dog says:

Dude sucking at something

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AROW80 Check-In for January 8, 2014

Well, I posted a nice and long list of goals for this quarter on Monday and I have to admit, I haven’t worked on a blessed one of them in the days since. Which is sad considering that thanks to the weather I got an extra couple days off this week.  But, instead of writing, I spent that time relaxing (okay, napping) and kind of recharging my batteries.  And marathon-watching Rosemary and Thyme and Supernatural on Netflix.

I suppose I could make the case that watching Supernatural is kind of/sort of research for Butchers’ Bill, in the sense of seeing the kinds of tropes I want to play with when it comes to hunting supernaturals.  I already know that my vampire hunters aren’t much like Sam and Dean.  For one thing, they live in a world where the supernaturals in general and vampires in particular have been acknowledged as real for years.  And for another, in their world, vampire hunting is a legitimate career choice.  Not the kind of thing you necessarily want your kids to go into, but it’s a living. Watching Supernatural helps me center my world by making me ask myself questions about it and by letting me listen to my characters’ reactions to it (as admittedly woo as that sounds).

Plus, hey, Sam and Dean are hawt.  Not to mention Billy.  *fans self* Whooo!

It also helps that this is a bit of passive research/brainstorming I can do while I work on other things. And, again, the hawtness of the cast does not hurt.

Actual Writing Goals for this week:  I think for this week, at least until Sunday, I’m going to keep it simple and focus on only two goals.

  1. Defcon: Fade Out:
    1. Keep writing. I finished Chapter Ten and am in the middle of Chapter Eleven and I kind of hate what I’ve written but I’m just going to keep bulling through. I’ve got a feeling that Chapter Eleven will either end up on the cutting room floor or will be incorporated in earlier, but regardless it still needs to be written so I can get it out of my head and onto paper.
    2. Complete character checklists for at least two of my main characters as well as the worldbuilding checklists. One for a human/ape hybrid species and the other for a religious subgroup.  Luckily, I have checklists for all of these! I have checklists for EVERYBODY! AHAHHAHAHAHA!
  2. Reading Story Engineering and Story Physics by Larry Brooks. 

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Supernatural: Bloodlust

Since we finished Rosemary and Thyme, we’re back to rewatching Supernatural episodes in order to catch up with the seasons we’ve missed (like, everything after 3, I think…) and we just got to one of my favorite lines in the whole series:

Dean and Sam have been asking a local sheriff about some cattle mutilations and their possible connection to weird satanic ritual stuff.  The sheriff’s response makes me dance in my seat, in part because it’s just so delightfully sarcastic:

Sheriff: Because there’s no such thing as cattle mutilation. Cow drops, leave it in the sun, within forty eight hours the bloat will split it open so clean it’s just about surgical. The bodily fluids fall down into the ground and get soaked up because that’s what gravity does. But, hey, it could be Satan. What newspaper did you say you work for?

AROW80 – First Round Goals List:

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Ok, so it’s the first round of 2014! Whoo!  I started with A Round of Words in 80 Days during the last month or so of the last round of 2013.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say that even in the short time I’ve been involved with this group, I’ve gotten some very positive benefits out of it. I’m finding that it is easier to keep a goal if I have to tell other people about it, but since there’s no pressure to reach a set word goal per day, it’s also easier to forgive myself if I don’t meet a particular goal. Being able to ‘talk’ out loud about what I’m working on and get feedback has been very helpful. If this is your first time with AROW80, welcome! For the folks I met last time, howdy again!

This will be my first full round and I’ve come up with a list of goals that I hope to be successful with this time around. Further information on these projects can be found on this post, under my Current Projects Index page.  So, with crossed fingers and a hopeful heart, here goes my list in order by the project’s current priority (the goals are not in any kind of priority order, they’re just what I think needs to be done for that project):

DEFCON: FADE OUT – Top Priority:

  • Finish writing the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out –  Since November 1st, 2013 I’ve averaged about a chapter every six days. I’m currently on Chapter 11 of a projected twenty so I’m looking at about 56 days if I can maintain the same momentum.
  • Type up the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out.  Luckily, I type about 90 words a minute so this will be fairly quick. In theory.
  • Give the typed-up draft to people to read.
  • Build a blanket fort in which to hide while draft is being read by friends so I will have a secure place in which to shake like a Chihuahua standing on Jello during an earthquake from nerves.
  • Complete Character Checklists for all of my POV characters and major secondary characters. This is something I should have done a while ago, but I find that characters tend to create themselves while I write. (I’ve got a whole word document full of links various checklists for character creation and worldbuilding to choose from, thankfully).
  • Complete a couple other worldbuilding checklists for things that have an impact on the series as a whole.  Ditto that these should have been done earlier but c’est la vie.
  • Begin plotting out books 1-3 and 5 and figuring out what other sorts of checklists I might need to complete for them.

GEM CITY: — Secondary Priority:

  • Type up drafts of stories currently residing in my thinky thoughts book.
  • Complete Character Checklists for main characters, especially William Cartwright, the Shamus Who Has No Shame.
  • Complete Species and Religion Checklist for the Deros
  • Plot out at least one story set in this ‘verse.

BUTCHERS’ BILL – Tertiary priority; probably going to be held over to Round 2:

  • Print out original drafts and give it a read over, see what can be salvaged and create a scene inventory.
  • Complete Species Creation Checklist for vampires so I can establish the rules for what they can and cannot do in this ‘verse.
  • Complete Character Checklists for main characters (sensing a trend, are we?)
  • Plot out book incorporating some new ideas I’ve had for the plot
  • Look into potential research sources for new plot ideas.

KINSTEALER – Back Burner: This idea still needs to percolate since currently there’s not much to it than a bunch of very nebulous thoughts and concepts.  I’m considering writing this one as a Young Adult novel, but I’m not sure. We’ll see how things go.  As should be expected, a variety of checklists need to be finished for this ‘verse.  

 OTHER GOALS:  

  • Complete individual project pages
  • Read the books on writing that I got for myself
  • Not freeze during the cold snap that’s lasting until Tuesday around here.

OTHER STUFF OF INTEREST:

  • I joined WANA — anybody else a member?

AROW80 Final Check-In for December 26, 2013

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

Powered by Linky Tools, you can Click here to visit other AROW80 blogs and to add your own link. Posted up top because this post got long.

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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!

AROW80 Check-in for December 22, 2013

This check-in is going to be short because I got to bed waaay late yesterday and am exhausted this morning (I work overnights, so while it’s technically 0607 in the morning here (redundant, I know), it’s almost past time I went to bed if I want to be rested tomorrow).  Sooo, getting on with it!

Writing Goals:  no bullet list tonight, since I only really worked on Defcon: Fade Out,  But, on the plus side, I managed to finish Chapter Eight! Okay, so I was basically editing/adding to an old draft of Chapter Eight but I am calling this a win!

I also created a scene inventory for what I have written for Defcon: Fade Out.  Because I didn’t write the original drafts in any kind of real logical order, I got it in my head that it would be a good idea to type the book up in Scrivner according to the POV character of a particular scene.  So, now I have a bunch of print outs of scenes listed by character and I went through and wrote out the first line or so of each scene on a list so I can now go shopping through the scenes quickly to find ones to use to plug into the huge, gaping, massive, “Dear God, what was I thinking?!” holes in the story.  And, because I figured out that I don’t have a draft of Chapter Nine yet, I was able to do just that and create a very rough outline that I can work from.   When I wake up tomorrow (which is technically later today), I’m going to copy the selected scenes into a Word Document so I can edit them without having to flip between four different physical documents.

I also came up with some plot-type ideas for Butcher’s Bill which I put in my notebook for later re-visiting.

Current Goals: Sleep the sleep of the just and hopefully not toss and turn for 2 hours like I did last night because my brain wouldn’t shut up. Also, to write/create Chapter Nine of Defcon: Fade Out with an ultimate goal of maybe having it and Chapter Ten done by December 31st.  So that way I can do Chapters 11-20 in 2014 and feel all smug and symmetrical. Which is itself not symmetrical…..okay, bed time it is!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and huge thanks to all of you for your encouragement. Finding this community has been a great experience and I’m very happy to know you all.

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