Final Check-In for Round 4 — December 24, 2015

I hope everybody is having a very happy holiday season! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Happy New Year!  And otherwise, just hope y’all are having a good end of the year.

I…have no idea how well I did on Nano this year. I didn’t keep track of how many words I wrote but I did write quite a bit. Mostly in the Gem City ‘verse. I started off with like, parts of two stories and I’m now sitting on parts of four or five stories! Plus, I’ve done some more work on fleshing out the world, which makes me happy.

I’ve also been doing a lot of research/brain stuffing in the form of reading comic books and comics-related science and philosophy books (Science of Superheroes and Science of Supervillains and Spider-Man and Philosophy, among others).   Which has been fun.

Also, for Christmas, the girlfriend and I got the complete 1960s Batman TV series from her mom. Oh, the cheese! The glorious, glorious, glorious cheese! It even came with a little toy Bat-mobile!

I’m going to keep writing during the break — eventually, I want to corral myself into typing up the stuff I have written, why I’m procrastinating about it, I do not know. Plans for next year are still forming in the back of my mind.

Again, hope you guys have a great holiday season and good luck in your endeavors!

PS: Saw Big Hero Six and it was the best movie I’ve seen in a long, long time.  Highly recommend. Made me cry (duh, Pixar movie); jealous of the storytelling.

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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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Join the Insect Army!

As I said over at Mr. Scalzi’s blog, I want to be either a trilobite (the Ute Native Americans of Utah used to wear them as amulets against disease and bullets and called them pachavee (little water bug) according to Wikipedia) or a 7-spotted ladybird, which is the state insect of Ohio. That’s right, we got a state insect! And a state fossil, which is the trilobite appropriately enough.

Whatever

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld) on SFF.net, during the recent unpleasantness.

Heh heh heh.

I realize, of course, that the person who wrote the comment above meant “insect” as an insult. But what do we know about insects? They are numerous, adaptable, highly successful as a class, and, when they put their mind to it, absolutely unstoppable. No wonder this person seems absolutely terrified.

As it happens, I have for a long time said that there are three types of writers: dinosaurs, mammals and cockroaches. Dinosaurs are the writers…

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About That Coke Ad

Whatever

Dear every conservative getting his underwear in a twist about that Coca Cola Super Bowl commerical in which not only was the “deeply Christian patriotic anthem” sung in something other than the English that Jesus spoke, but also featured a gay couple being happy with their kid:

Dudes, you’re aware that Katharine Lee Bates, the writer of the song, was almost certainly a lesbian, right? And while undoubtedly Christian, Bates used her faith as a foundation for progressive social activism that would have given the conservatives of her time, and possibly some conservatives now, the shudders and shakes (she also nearly resigned her professorship at Wellesley when the school thought to force its faculty to profess their fealty to the Christian faith).

Bates was a pacifist with the dream of uniting people “from the Pacific to the Atlantic, around the other way… and that will include all the…

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The Devil’s In The Details II–Keep Research from Taking Over

Some good thoughts on research and writing from Kristen Lamb. You can read the first part here: The Devil’s in the Details — Taking Your Fiction to Higher Level

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 4.54.49 PM

All right, we’ll do Research Part Duh, um Deux. Last time we talked about how research can take a book to the next level and I also vented about my personal bugaboos when it comes to guns. But here’s the thing, our target audience is likely to have bugaboos as well.

If we write military books, we want military people to like them. But, if we fail to research even basic stuff, we can turn them off. Same with thrillers, historical and even SCI-FI, etc.

Part of the reason for Star Trek’s success was that Roddenberry refused for ST technology to be made up willy-nilly. All technology and “science” had to be based around and grounded in some salient scientific theory….so you can thank Star Trek for automatic doors, cell phones, iPads, and science is still working on hot green women. Apparently there are only so many writers engineers…

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We Were Not Alone

I’m oddly thrilled by the thought that I have Neanderthal DNA in me.

The Cuckoo Club Archives

It’s one of the great themes of storytelling: We Are Not Alone.

All over the world – in literature, mythology, folklore – is the idea that humans share the Earth (the Universe) with some other sentient being or beings.

Gods, nymphs, daevas; fairies, leprechauns, kelpies; trolls, yetis, dwarves.

Others.

There are eversomany much more than six billion of us on the planet now. Some of us read – and write – stories where humans explore the depths of the Universe in search of intelligent life. Some of us follow religions that suggest we are the progeny of divine beings who walk amongst us. And some of us are exploring the inner workings of what makes us human – DNA, the chemical building blocks of life – to come up with some surprising answers.

Hot on the heels of the earlier announcement that a Mesolithic person in…

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An A to Z of Non-Binary Genders

Reblogging

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

So, here’s a thing that happened: Alex Dally MacFarlane had the temerity to suggest that non-binary gender is an actual thing that deserves to be represented in SFF, and certain persons lost their shit, citing a variety of ill-informed reasons that can basically be summarised as “non-binary gender doesn’t really exist, but if it did, we’d still think it was icky and unimportant, and also you’re just a liberal fascist trying to make us sympathise with imaginary humans as part of your nefarious agenda to destroy all men”. And as such persons are apparently incapable of performing a basic Google search before spouting bigoted nonsense all over the internet, I’ve decided to make things easy for them, and compile a handy A to Z of non-binary gender identities in the modern world and throughout history. This is by no means an exhaustive list; for a more comprehensive…

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Every Award-Winning Book Sucks (For Someone)

Whatever

As part of my occasional and hopefully instructive series of entries in which I try to make the point to writers that negative reviews are part of the territory and ultimately not something to get too worked up about or to let scar one’s psyche, I would like to present you excerpts of one star Amazon reviews of every single Hugo-winning novel of the last ten years (of which there are eleven, due to a tie in 2010). I would note that while I quote only one for each novel, in every case, there was more than one to choose from.

In chronological order:

2004:Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold:

I hate it when I see an awesome author seem to get worse as they move on and write other series. I pushed through the first one, and did finish this one, but had to complain about the writing…

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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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Lessons From A Failure: 5 Tipes To Help You Succeed in Your ROW80 By Shauntelle Hamlett

A Round of Words in 80 Days

2013 hasn’t been a good writing year for me.

It started with me failing at the first writing challenge I set for myself:  30 Days of “One Question” interviews.

I accomplished 15.

The streak continued through two sad attempts at ROW80, an incomplete month of “bad poetry” and, last, only because it’s most recent, a half-finished pass at my own version of NANOWRIMO.  I even managed to fail at writing three longhand Morning Pages, a basic journaling challenge for even the most inexperienced writer.

Me and Zig, Cup Half Full Kinda People

So you might be wondering:  “What kind of advice can this woman offer me on succeeding at my ROW80 when she hasn’t even succeeded at her own?”

The answer lies in the words of a brilliant man—Zig Ziglar, the father of Self Help—who once said:

“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”

I’m here to…

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Gone But Not Forgotten, 2013 Edition

A Dispensable List of Comic Book Lists

21+ Comic-Related Professionals and Things We Said Goodbye to in 2013

carmine-infantino1. Carmine Infantino (b. 1925)
In the words of Wikipedia: “Carmine Michael Infantino was an American comic book artist and editor who was a major force in the Silver Age of Comic Books.” This is somewhat akin to saying Mount Everest is a slightly noticeable speed bump between Tibet and Nepal. Infantino was there at the beginning, providing the pencils for that 1956 issue of Showcase that would re-introduce the Flash to readers and jump-start DC’s second wave of superheroes (and Marvel’s, and every other company that got on the bandwagon). Before that landmark issue, he freelanced for all the major comic companies (and plenty of smaller ones) during the 1940s, co-creating the Black Canary for an issue of DC’s Flash Comics; after that issue, he went on to design the “New Look” Batman in the 1960s, got…

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Chapter Seven is Done!

(To the tune of “Pregnant Women are Smug” and with apologies to Garfunkel and Oats — video is not entirely safe for work due to some bad language):

Chapter Seven is Done!

It’s finally finished

I can’t believe it!

I kept putting it off

Because I’m lazy

and was doing other stuff

But I got it done tonight

And it didn’t take long,

And it’s pretty good.

For a rough draft

I mean really rough draft

There’s some stuff I should fix

And some things that don’t make sense yet

Ok, there’s a lot to fix

But there’s time to do that

when I’m typing it up

After this draft is finished

Because if I go back now

It’ll never get done.

So, Chapter seven is done!

It’s finally done!

It’s really done!

Now for Chapter Eight…

……

………

Chapter Eight has begun..

Time to play Candy Crush…

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

All writers face problems with insecurity; it’s not easy to spend hours, days, months or years creating something to send out into the world. When you’re in the middle of a project, when you’ve written yourself into a corner, it’s easy to get discouraged and say “Nope, I suck” and give up.  

Having other writers to talk to is a huge help.  Unfortunately, finding a writing group can be difficult.  Fortunately, these days we have the Internet! And on the Internet we have support groups like the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. 

And IWSG has a new website, which they’d like to make people aware of — and more importantly, they’d like to let people know about the twin benefits available at the ISWG site:

1 – It’s a database of information, focusing on major links, other databases, and resources for writers. Topics include writing tips; publishers, agents, and queries; self-publishing; marketing; contests; publications; and services. Each page is a wealth of information, leading to some of the top sites for authors, and we also post information to help writers every Monday. 

2 – The IWSG itself – the first Wednesday of every month is the official posting day for those with blogs. Members post their insecurities, frustrations, and concerns, and others stop by to offer encouragement and advice. The kindness and words of wisdom have kept writers going when they were ready to quit. Many have discovered solutions to their problems. Friendships have been forged and critique partners established. 

 

The IWSG is also running a contest to help them promote their new website. They’re offering a couple great prize packages. You can read more about it by clicking the above link.

A Helping Hand by Dawn Montgomery

Kathy’s Note: Reblogging this so I have a link I can refer back to when I am in the blues. Especially this line: You’re not a failure. You’re human.

Repeating: You’re not a failure. You’re human.

A Round of Words in 80 Days

“Help me” and “I don’t understand” are two of the hardest phrases to say when you feel really passionate about your book and writing career. We have this strange idea that saying these words to other writers will diminish how they see us.

“I’m discouraged” and “I don’t think I can do this” are two others that drag you into the depths of isolation. You shut yourself down and wonder why you decided to do it in the first place.

I wish I understood why we feel the need to shut ourselves away from others, but everyone does it.

Everyone. Does. It.

I’ve been writing for almost a decade now and I can’t tell you how many times I struggled and stared at my computer screen with despair. That inner editor whispered so many times how much of a failure I was. A fraud. Faking my way through the first…

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I don’t wanna go to work!

Which pretty much means this is a day ending in ‘y’ in which I am scheduled to work.  The snow is still on the ground, but the roads are passable, which is good because I don’t want to get stir crazy.

Just wanted to leave a quick note that I’m really enjoying checking the stats and seeing where people who post/visit this blog come from. Every time a new country pops up, I make a gleeful report to the girlfriend about it.  For someone who’s never been out of the contiguous United States, it’s exciting to me to be able to interact with people from around the world. So, thank you!