AROW80 Update for 4/17/19: Taco Wednesday

Longhairday!

My hair is getting so long (this is what it looks like when I brush it all forward). Not bad for a picture I took at five in the morning without wearing my glasses because that’s when I decided I needed to brush all my hair forward for…reasons.

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This is going to be another quick update, since I don’t have much to report since the last update.

We tried a new restaurant tonight, Rusty Taco. It’s a taco place, hence the name and it’s a pretty good place. I tried their beef brisket and beef fajita tacos and Amy had their fried chicken taco as well as a beef fajita taco. They’re yummy, as are their churros and sopapillas which satisfy the craving for crunchy sweet cinnamon-sugar covered stuff.

Writing-wise, I haven’t gotten much done this week because life got in the way but not in a bad way, just a few things came up that needed my attention, like paying taxes on Monday, sleeping in on Tuesday and running errands with the Amy (and trying the new taco place) today. It was actually kind of nice to take a break from my usual routine.

The good news, I did get an idea for Storm Warnings that will help me explain a few things and I had a separate idea for the larger universe that Storm Warnings and Omegas: Cake Walk are set in and I (hopefully)  will be using later on in other stories.

Catch you on the flip-flop!

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Boilerplate Links:  

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time.Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

AROW80 Update for 4/10/19

I was today years old when I found out that Die Hard was adapted from a book. I’m in the habit of listening to YouTube videos while I’m writing, especially when I’m at the library. This means that at least part of every writing session includes trying to find videos to watch. I like a lot of the video review shows on YouTube including one I’ve recently stumbled on called Lost in Adaptation.

Lost in Adaptation features Dominic “The Dom” Smith who reviews adaptations — he talks about the book and the movie as separate entities then discusses how well the movies adapt the books. He’s done all of the Harry Potter books/movies (enlisting the help of an alter ego/side character called Terrance the D-Bag Ravenclaw), and has done side projects that focus just on reviewing books as well as a series that reviewed the 60’s British TV series, The Prisoner.  Be warned: he does use NC-17 language, so these videos aren’t necessarily safe for work or for younger viewers, but he is very entertaining.

I’ll do a recommendation list of some other reviewers/commentators that I like as well as how I think these sorts of commentary can help one’s writing on another occasion. Trying to keep this short.

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I have not been working as hard as I would like on Storm Warnings, but I am trying to make up for that today. On the good side, I haven’t restarted it again! So, counting that as a win!

Continuing with the dream journal — it’s now about 25 pages long, so…yeah, I’ve dreamed a lot of dreams over the last couple months!

Still been doing the freewriting thing too. That’s up to a little over twenty pages as well, which goes to show that I can ramble like an [obscenity] when I want to. Now to harness that energy toward writing fiction! *Rar!*

I’ve checked in with my accountability partner and we’ve set up a plan for this round. *fingers crossed!*

While I have not come close to finishing Omegas: Cake Walk, I have figured out a side plot that I think will actually help make the next draft of the book a whole lot better and will tie things together nicely. *fingers again crossed*

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I’ve been listening to a J.D. Robb novel in the car. This’ll be the fifth or sixth of Robb’s In Death books that I’ve listened to and I’ve already selected another one to listen to once this one’s done (which’ll be in a day or so).  I shied away from Robb for a while because of some really kind of stupid and petty reasons, most of which center around the fact that Nora Roberts is a romance writer and I don’t read romance.

Side Note:  Yeah, much as I hate to admit it, I used to be one of those folks who sneered at romance novels as being trash (and no, the irony of being a science fiction fan who did this is not lost on me). It was in the early 1990s when my attitude started to change. The internet started becoming a thing and I started looking for information on writing and that led me to a site called All About Romance, which reviewed romance books. For the first time, I got the chance to see romance readers discussing romance books in critical ways and I learned that yes, Virginia, it’s entirely possible to enjoy romance novels and still have a brain in your head.

I actually have read a few romance novels in my time and enjoyed most of the ones I’ve read. It’s almost like any genre can be entertaining if you find the right thing, weird huh?

All of this is a long way of saying that I avoided the In Death series for a long time and finally picked up an audiobook because I was like, “I need something to listen to in the car, we can try this out and see if we like it, if we don’t, eh I’ll bring it back and find something else.”

Long story shorter: I like J.D. Robb. I like the In Death series. I like Eve Dallas and Rourke and Peabody and a lot of the rest of the series. I like the world building Robb did for her version of the future and I can also see it as a cautionary tale for folks wanting to write near-future science fiction series.  More on that in a later post.

I also really like the voice actor who performs the In Death books, Susan Ericksen. A good voice actor can really make or break an audiobook for me. They can also encourage me to read other books just because I want to keep listening to their voice. Ericksen is one who I will look for on other books in the future, as is Ray Porter, Johnny Heller, Bernadette Dunne and Kate Reading (is that not the perfect name for an audiobook reader?!) among others. Oh! Bronson Pinchot is another one — Cousin Balki has some serious range.

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Boilerplate Links:  

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time.Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more.

Oh, where is my Facebook? Oh, where is my Facebook? — No, seriously, where is my Facebook!?

Sing my pain, Larry the Cucumber!

So, if you’ve been on the internet today, you probably know that Facebook is experiencing an outage. I went and made a meme about it because that’s the level of creativity that my brain’s at right now. Which is annoying as hell since…

Because shut up that’s why, Junior Asparagus, you goody-goody little….

*cough* I mean, I *have* been writing. I’ve been working pretty diligently on Storm Warnings and it’s been a bit of a slog. I’m still pretty much at the beginning of the story, much to my annoyance. When I originally came up with this idea, it seemed so damned simple. Like, I knew exactly what I wanted to write and where I wanted to go with it — well, except for the ending. I had no idea how the story was going to end. I’m good at ideas, I’m good at beginnings and I’m decent at middles but endings are my Waterloo.

I might be willing to trade my bellybutton for an ending. Actually, several endings.

Though, in all honesty, my original plan for the story was good but it wasn’t complete. For one thing, I didn’t have any idea why my heroes were getting involved in the story’s main conflict. Or, more accurately, no idea beyond “I, the author, have assembled you in this scene because this is where I want you to be so you can do the things that will get the story running so ok, you’re here, start doing the things!”

And, the characters did do the things. Except that the things they did were just not good. I went through probably half a dozen rewrites of the opening scenes to try and get Storm Warnings to a point where it was something I liked and that felt right. And every time I thought I had it, it would slip away and I’d be back at square one.

I didn’t alter this one because this is pretty much how the plot of Storm Warnings has been treating me. Minus the cute little French accents.

This past week, the whole “Hey, why are the characters actually doing any of this?” thing occurred to me in a big way. So, I set down to try and figure it out.

And I’m kinda happy with what I’ve come up with. It’s a good idea, I think. Or at least a good first-draft fourth-draft idea. It doesn’t just give the characters a reason to be in the scene, it also gives them some actual stakes in the story — which is a good thing, since I want these characters to come across as real people, fighting against the evils of their day, not plaster saints who are above everything and judging others from on high.

So, this is a long, rambling, roundabout way of saying this: writing is hard. Having a plan before you start can serve as a map through unfamiliar territory, but sometimes the map doesn’t mention that the bridge you were expecting to be there was wiped out by a flood.

I knew Storm Warnings was going to be tricky to write for a few reasons:

  1. It’s set in an alternate universe with superpowers and magic and aliens and all the other comic book superhero tropes that show up in Omegas: Cake Walk and the other stories that I’m setting in Universe-46534. — so there’s the need to balance those elements and keep them plausible and believable
  2. I’m introducing not one, not two, but four main heroes as well as an equal number of secondary heroes/characters who will Be Significant In the Future. — Yeahhh, really not sure how I thought I could fit all that in 6,000 words. That was like, wow…yeah.
  3. While this is actually the third story I’ve started in this universe, it’s chronologically the first story to take place in Universe-46534. The characters being introduced will be historical figures in other stories. They’re the original heroes of this world — well, among the original heroes. So…yeah, that’s tricky!
  4. It’s set in the past — specifically, in 1937, so I’m having to check things to make sure that I’m getting details right. On the other hand, the fact that this is an alternate universe, I’ve got some wiggle room for certain things.
  5. The bad guys are literally Nazis. — They’re based on a couple different pro-fascist/pro-Nazi groups that were active in America in the 1930s and 1940s. The trickiest part about them is not turning them into cartoonish mustache-twirling bad guys.
  6. The good guys are from backgrounds that are different from my own — two characters are gay, there’s a few Jewish characters (including some Jewish mobsters who are very happy to get the chance to kick Nazi ass — which is also historically accurate). This, along with the historical setting, adds a couple levels of difficulty.

But, see, I’ve accepted this challenge and I’m going to keep working on it. Because I think this’ll be a good story once it’s finally done. I like the characters, I like the plot I have set up and I like this universe. It’s just sometimes, it’s hard to see the path because it hasn’t been cleared yet. And you’re the one who has to clear it. With an ax. Not a big ax either. A little rinky-dinky ax up against a redwood tree the size of an aircraft carrier or something.


Note: Instagram is also down but I don’t use Instagram so I’m not making VeggieTales themed memes about it.

Other Writing Blather — I am meeting and/or exceeding my goals for the 365 Day Challenge. For the year to date, I’m at 50,000 words! Yay me!


Boilerplate Links:  

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time.Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at #ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

Visit 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook or visit the lady who started it all, Katharine Grubb and learn more. You can also learn more about the 365 Day Challenge — which is closed for 2019, but you can prepare for 2020!

AROW80 Update for 12/5/2018

Let’s just assume that the traditional “It’s been a while since my last update” mea culpa/opening has been written and move on from there.  Ok? We good? Ok, moving on then. 

First things first: Omegas: Cake Walk is currently stalled while I’m working on another story, working title Storm Warnings,  which is…currently stalled. (Anyone else sensing a trend here?) Working on them was going to be my project for NaNoWriMo 2018 but due to a variety of reasons, including plain and simple “Don’t Wanna, Not Gonna,” that didn’t happen.  Am I disappointed? Yeah, especially since 50,000 words would likely have finished both projects and I could be sitting here basking in the joy of having finished them.

But, I didn’t work on them as hard/as much as I could have or should have so instead, I’m sitting here five days into December, with nothing really done to speak of and still in a heck of a slump. Which is not a fun feeling, let me tell you. 

I’m more annoyed about not having my short story done than I am about not having finished Omegas: Cake Walk.  O:CW has been in the works for a while now so I’m used to the idea of it not being done — plus, finishing this draft just means exchanging one phase of the project for another (namely, paring the book down from 150,00 words to a more manageable size). 

am disappointed that I don’t have Storm Warnings done though I’m also inclined to cut myself some slack for reasons I’ll get into in a moment.  The main reason I’m disappointed is because the story is going to be relatively short — under 8.,500 words (so 0.0567% of  Omegas: Cake Walk’s original hand-written length) — so dashing it off should have been relatively quick and easy.  Especially since I had 85% of the plot worked out prior to starting NaNoWriMo, so by rights should have been able to knock Storm Warnings out in a week.

There were some things about Storm Warnings that made (and make) it trickier than other stories I’ve written. First and foremost is the fact that it’s a historical piece, specifically, it’s set in 1937. Well, a 1937 since it’s also an alternate universe, which makes things easier and more difficult, simultaneously! Fortunately, the internet is supremely useful for looking up facts both mundane and obscure — and ‘alternate universe’ can cover a lot of relatively minor sins.

The other problems are related to the first and have mainly to do with issues of characterization for my heroes and my villains. In both cases, I’m writing about people very different from me and wanting to make sure I do them justice.  In the case of the heroes, this means not wanting to make Identity 101-level mistakes and in the case of the villains, this means not wanting to create scenery-chewing, cut-rate Snively Whiplash-clones. And in both cases, I want to remain true to historical accuracy — which, at the risk of sounding arrogant, is the thing I’m least worried about. History is on my side in a lot of what I’ve got planned. 

Sorry for the vagueness, I’ll go into more details once the story itself is done. 

In other news, I’ve started watching the newest season of Doctor Who, the one with the lady Doctor. It’s the first season of the show I’ve watched more than one or two episodes of (the last season I remember watching had the version of the Doctor who carried the question mark umbrella; the episode was Paradise Towers, I think?). I like the female Doctor and I like her companions — especially Ryan and his grandfather.  I’m still working my way through the episodes available on demand through Spectrum. I just finished the episode with Rosa Parks and it about made me cry but that’s partly how well done it was and partly how hormonal I am at the moment.  I’m seriously alternating between “This is so touching!” and “I’d eat my entire foot if I could get it in my mouth.”  (Instead, I’m going to eat some  fancy popcorn and maybe some jelly beans. Sweet Erma Bombeck, perimenopause is like second puberty — nobody wants second puberty!). Oh, and I had an idea for one of my older WIPs, Butcher’s Bill, so that’s happy-making.

And on that note, I’ll check in with you guys later.  It’s time for Arachnids in the UK — I need to alternate between eating and being creeped out.  And finding Jodie Whittaker adorable. 

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Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writingchallenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time.Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellowROWers. Feel free to join us onFacebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at#ROW80.  Or you can do all of the above!

AROW80 Check-In for September 12, 2018

Ok, so, I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I wanted to when I started this back up — but on the other hand? I’m blogging a heck of a lot more than I was before I started back up so, counting that as a win.

Which, oddly enough, seems to be a bit of a theme for me lately. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and found out that my A1C hasn’t changed since my last visit — which is good, since it didn’t get worse but which isn’t great, because it means I haven’t done much of anything to lower it. Still, counting it as a win because stalemate means I still have the chance to improve.

And speaking of stalemates! Omegas: Cake Walk has been stalled for a while now because I’m trying to figure out the ending. Or, more accurately, trying to figure out the next steps that will lead to the final confrontation that will lead, ultimately, to the ending.

In the spirit of not burying the lede, I’ve finally gotten a line on what I want/what needs to happen next and I’m pretty happy with it. It ties together things that I’ve already established and ties into my main POV character’s backstory in ways that please me (vague post is vague, I know….) — I’ll come back to this in a bit, here’s my super-secret writer technique for figuring out what should happen next:  I stopped writing.

I could try to make that more complicated than it is but it honestly boils down to the fact that I stopped writing, took a break and worked on other things for a while.  Mainly, I started typing up the notes I’d taken from The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero by Jess Nevins c. 2017, which led to me deciding to do a bit more digging into the history of superheroes and some more note taking. In fact, I’m still working on that; I’ve recently finished reading through On the Origin of Superheroes: From the Big Bang to Action Comics #1 by Chris Gavaler and I’m currently working my way through Super-History: Comic Book Superheroes and American Society, 1938 to the Present by Jeffery K. Johnson (in this case “the Present” is about 2010).

If you’re looking for books that entertainingly think (and occasionally over think) about comic books and superheroes and how they relate to world and/or American history, I recommend all three of these (plus Gavaler’s Superhero Comics, which I have but haven’t read yet but which touches on some areas of interest to me — including a discussion of the American eugenics movement and superheroes). Oh! And Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye — which I listened to as an audiobook rather than took notes on but I got some good crunchy brain food from it, oh yes indeedy!  I still want to read or listen to Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman too.  And The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid.  Not to mention the books that look at superhero comics’ Jewish roots (seriously, with the possible exception of the creators of Wonder Woman, nearly every other superhero was created by a Jewish writer and/or artist), like:

Plus there’s also The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju — if you want to understand the moral panics against D&D, various flavors of popular music, video games, social media and every other moral panic that’s happened since the early 1950s, read this book. The arguments against all those things got their roots here.

Oh! And the last one I’m going to link to (I swear, otherwise this is all I’m going to be doing for the rest of the day): Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate by Richard Bowers — it talks about the 1940s radio shows where Superman did indeed battle a thinly-veiled version of the Klan and about the real-life guy who went undercover within the Klan to funnel information about them out.  It’s a fun piece of history right up there with my two favorite stories about Jack Kirby:

  • Favorite Jack Kirby Story #1: Kirby helped create Captain America — he was the artist, Joe Simon was the writer.  Captain America debuted in December 1940 — a full year before the US would enter World War II.  Like Action Comics #1, this comic is likely better known for its cover than for its contents.  This is the book that has Captain America decking Hitler. It came out at a time when there were Americans who fully supported Hitler and the Nazi movement (shocking, right?) and, as is the way of such folks, they voiced their objections to the cover in an erudite and mature fashion.Nahhhhhh, they threatened Simon and Kirby’s lives. To the point that the mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia offered protection to both of them.  (Apparently, Fiorello was a Captain America fan; he also once read the Sunday funnies to kids over the radio during a newspaper delivery strike, so nobody would miss out on their favorite strips).  But, that’s just background to my favorite bit of the story (Note: Timely is what Marvel Comics was originally called):  Once, while Jack was in the Timely office, a call came from someone in the lobby. When Kirby answered, the caller threatened Jack with bodily harm if he showed his face. Kirby told the caller he would be right down, but by the time Jack reached street level, there was no one to be found. (source: The Kirby Effect: Making it Personal
  • Favorite Kirby Story #2:  Is sadly not true and I’m disappointed that it’s not but I’m glad I found out the truth.  The story I’d heard was that Kirby, who helped create Black Panther, was told to put more white people in the comic — so the next issue he had Black Panther fighting the Klan.  It’s not true. It feels like it could be true, based on the fact Kirby clearly had no problem bringing real-world evil into his comics and the fact there was a storyline where Black Panther went up against the Klan — but Kirby didn’t write it. You can read more about the myth and about the actual comics here: Black Panther and the Myth of Kirby vs. the KKK.
  • Substitute Favorite Kirby Story #2: Kirby served as a scout in Europe during World War II.  He served with a unit that liberated at least one concentration camp (it should probably go without saying, but Kirby was Jewish; it’s theorized that one of the reasons he was drafted as a scout was because he spoke Yiddish).  This and his other wartime experiences helped to shape his future work which included a lot of anti-fascist elements. Source: 8 Ways Comic Book Legend Jack Kirby Fought Fascism. 

Ok, stepping away from the subject for now because, again, I could go on about the history of comics and how we owe so much of our popular culture to creators who existed on the outside of the mainstream — which would naturally segue into the influence that Baroness Orczy and the Scarlet Pimpernel had on the creation of characters like Batman and Superman (via Zorro) and that would, of course, link back to the fact that modern science fiction essentially began with Mary Shelley and how ironic it is that a bunch of gatekeeping wetsocks want to whine about how women have no place in science fiction and comics when those genres were essentially created by women (you’re welcome!) — and THAT leads to me wanting to do a riff on the Maui “You’re Welcome” song from Moana with Mary Shelley as Maui and that way lies madness! And a complete derailing of what I was trying to talk about.

So, wrenching the controls back from, errr, myself and getting back to it:

Part of the reason for dipping back into this research — other than finding a way to feel like I’m working on writing when I’m actually not — is that I’m wanting to create a superhero universe that has some depth and heft to it, like the Marvel or DC universes do. To do that, I decided a while back that I needed to create the heroes that started things off. Toward that end, I wanted a better idea of how these heroes came about in our world — with the difference being that in the universe of Omegas: Cake Walk, the heroes are real, not legends or four-color images of fantasy.

I’ve got a few ideas and eventually, I’ll share them but they need to percolate a bit longer before I do.

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I said earlier that I’d finally gotten a line on what I want/what needs to happen next  in Omegas: Cake Walk and that I’m happy with it, especially since it ties things together in my POV character’s backstory with what’s going on in the book, as well as a few other bits and bops in ways that make me happy.

How’d I do it? I went back and thought about my POV character’s identity and how it shaped their experiences prior to the events of the book.  Since the character’s identity is different from my own (*insert finger-waving of vagueness here!*), I went online to a writing group and asked for help from folks who might share that identity.

I was nervous about doing so, not so much because I was afraid of that the question would offend a person of the identity I was researching but more because I was dreading getting writing ‘advice’ along the lines of ‘don’t worry about that PC crap! Just write what you want! It doesn’t matter!’

I don’t like that kind of thinking. It brings out my inner Credible Hulk and it’s hard to write a long, well-though out rebuttal on a tiny phone keyboard.

Citing Credible Statistics - the Credible Hulk - Feature Image

Source: Are You Sure You’re Citing Credible Statistics in Your Blog Posts? (which has nothing to do with what I’m talking about but is where I found the above image). 

Luckily, it went well — I got a lot of good advice from people and didn’t have to deal with any bigots or anti-PC apologists. And that advice led to me taking a minute to stop and think about the character’s life prior to the book and how their identity might have been shaped by their life experiences, which in turn led to thinking about how that identity might shape their decisions and experiences during the book itself. Doing so gave me the added push I needed to sit down and write a brief outline of how I’m planning on going forward. It’s honestly the most and the best work I’ve done on the book itself in a month, maybe longer.

I also found out that I’m going to need to do a bit of work when I go back over this draft to make sure that this information is included because otherwise, the book’s not going to make a lick of sense. Not even two licks.

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I’m almost at my self-imposed time limit for this library (I could stay longer, but I want to go home and get something to eat — I’m thinking chicken wings). Another time, I will talk more about my thoughts on Writing the Other and the importance of diversity and representation in writing. Until then, hope you guys have a good week and stay safe.

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A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

 

 

 

 

AROW80 Check-In for August 15, 2018

In terms of actual progress, I haven’t written or typed up much of anything on Omegas: Cake Walk in the last couple of weeks but I do have an idea of where I want to go from where I am so that is helpful beyond measure. Now, it’s just a question of sitting down and making myself do the actual work of writing.  So, in other words, I’m still stalled, but I’ve got some traction now so it’s just a question of rocking out of the rut I’m in!

In an effort to distract myself but still feel productive, I’ve been typing up some notes I took from The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero by Jess Nevins (2017) — and by some notes, I mean an entire single subject notebook’s worth of notes.  The book is very interesting, especially if you’re like me and enjoy over-thinking about things. Nevins looks at the history of superheroes as a genre starting back in 2100 BCE with the Epic of Gilgamesh. He breaks history down into smaller and smaller chunks of time, narrowing his focus on the genre of superheroes.

I read the book because I wanted to create a realistic history for superheroes/powered adventurers in this universe. And it helped and is currently helping because I’m coming up with ideas as I’m typing up my notes.

There’s one small problem with worldbuilding — it’s like eating pistachios or potato chips or whatever your can’t-stop-at-one snack of choice is. Once you get started, you keep finding yourself creating other bits and bobs, some of which are just not useful for the story at hand but that might eventually come in handy. Toward that end, I’m trying to come up with a junk drawer of sorts to keep these ideas close by.  I’m thinking I might end up with yet another Excel spreadsheet (I seriously love using Excel for writing related stuff; it’s super-adaptable and convenient).

And now, back to note taking!

AROW80 Check-In for July 11, 2018

Howdy! There’s not a whole lot to report, except that I’m getting some writing done, which is a nice change from how things have been going. I have actually managed to get three pages written today and I’ve got plans to get a bit more done.  Chapter Twenty-One is moving along apace and I am happy with what I’m doing.

One of the things that has been tricky for this chapter is the fact that I had to stop and do a bit of on the fly worldbuilding.  Luckily, I was able to fall back on some older science fiction ideas and rework them into something that felt right (and which can be tweaked further in order to make better sense later on).   And today, I kinda/sorta outsourced some of my worldbuilding. See, I’ve got aliens from Alpha Centauri/Proxima Centauri and I needed local names for their worlds. So, I looked up a couple generators — one for Nonsense Words at Soybomb.com and one for Lovecraftian Names at Seventh Sanctum (which has scads of other generators for all sorts of things).  I picked out a few words that gave me the right mind-feel and moved on.

Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

AROW80 Check-In for 5/13 and 5/16/2018, plus WIPpet Snippet

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, whoever and however they came to be moms. It’s not a road I chose to go down (maternally speaking, I’m a great crazy uncle), but I admire those who have taken on the task. You are seriously awesome.

I know there are writers who refer to their books/stories/etc as their babies but to me, that analogy doesn’t quite hold up. To me, writing is more like owning a cat — it can be trained, but you need to work at it, it’ll do what it wants, when it wants (including waking you up at 4 am because “ooh! Shiny!”) and if you leave it alone with food, water and a litter box for three days, you won’t get arrested.

This is pretty much what I’ve been doing with Chapter Nineteen until today — partly because non-writing life (i.e. the Day Job — which is technically the Night Job but you get the idea) has taken precedence and partly because I’m trying to work out what comes next. I think I have a line on that so, *happy dance*.

One thing I did manage to accomplish was creating a spreadsheet-based timeline for Omegas: Cake Walk — not so much about the events in the story (though that’s next) but about the lives of the characters/historical events that have impacted them. Now, I can sort by character or by year.

I  also set up a spreadsheet for the next Omegas book — tentatively titled Omegas: Long Shot, which is going to involve time travel to North America in the Pleistocene. The sheet tells me what the year would be by the BC/BCE calendar  and in terms of Years Ago.  It’s also allowed me to get a handle on when certain chronologically-indigenous people were born. This pleases me no end.

Spreadsheets are seriously super-helpful. And fun to play with.

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WIPpet Math: Going with a stupid-easy choice today: It’s May 16, plus Sunday was a holiday so 16 +1 = 17 and therefore here are seventeen paragraphs from Chapter Five of Omegas: Cake Walk.

What You Need to Know: The Omegas have met with Dr. Lawrence and agreed to take on the task of helping her daughter Mackenzie escape from the cult she’s been a part of for the last few years. They’ve made arrangements to meet Mackenzie the next day at a park where she and some other cult members are going to be doing some recruiting/evangelizing.  For today, Winslow (leader of the Omegas) along with Laney and Torque are scoping out the park. And Laney is trying to teach Torque how to look inconspicuous.

Since Omegas: Cake Walk takes place in an alternate-universe Chicago, I figured it’d be nice to have them visit a local landmark.  Jubilee Park is Millennium Park with a name change. The Kapoor Sculpture is Sir Anish Kapoor’s sculpture, Cloud Gate — aka the infamous silver bean.

Note: Like all other snippets, this is from a rough draft and therefore will contain spelling errors and other mistakes. I will be correcting these during the next edit.  Though, Lake Michi-gami isn’t a typo. I’ve changed names around for a lot of places in O:CW, usually defaulting toward indigenous names

“Will you relax?” Laney hissed at Toque as she paused to snap pictures, ostensibly of the view of Lake Michi-gami from the northeastern most corner of the park. “We’re not on a forced march; we’re not under fire. We’re supposed to be just a couple of tourists. Yank the stick out of your ass, already and act like a tourist.”

“I’d be happy to,” Torque said, speaking through a clenched jaw. “But first I’ll need to know how do tourists act?”

“Oh for the love of—” Laney sighed, long-sufferingly. “Here’s a hint: not like you’re marking in review across a parade ground. Just walk like you don’t have any place that you have to be or any time you have to be there. Try looking at the sights. This is one of the prettiest places in the city, after all. Breathe it in.”

Despite his irritation, Torque tried to take Laney’s advice. He forced himself to slow his pace and looked around, taking in his surroundings as something other than territory to scout. The park was pretty, he had to admit. They were strolling past a stage, framed by curved metal plates that shone in the sun. In front of the stage, stretched a wide oval of green lawn that, Torque estimated, stretched for at least half the length of the park. Above the lawn, a web of pipes stretched over the field, supporting a network of lights. Here and there, people walked or ran or simply sat on the lawn. Torque saw two adults playing some kind of a chasing game with a trio of young children, all of them laughing and shrieking. It reminded him of his playschool days, giving him a sudden pang of nostalgia.

“Hold up,” Laney said, stopping roughly halfway along the length of the enormous lawn. “That’s the Big Bean down there, I want to get a shot from this vantage point.”

“All right.” Torque stopped and stood, falling easily and by long habit into parade rest.

Laney glanced at him and rolled her eyes. “Can you be any more conspicuous? Slouch or something; keep standing like that and pigeons are going to roost on you. Or worse.”

“You told me to wait,” Torque said. “I’m waiting.”

“Just – come here, walk out on to the lawn about four steps, turn and face me,” Laney said. “If you’re going to stand out, you can at least be useful while you’re doing it.”

Torque did as he was told, mostly from habit but also to simply have something to do. Laney watched him through the camera’s viewfinder. “Ok, hold it!” she called. “Stop right there and smile. Say ‘Tourist!’”

Torque smiled and waited as Laney took several pictures. She called for him to change position several times, then told him to stand still while she moved further up and down the path, taking pictures of him from several angles.

“Ok, take one step to your right, hold up your right hand like this.” Laney mimed holding her hand in a claw shape. Puzzled, Torque did as she asked. After several more yelled instructions, mostly involving him raising or lowering his hand, Laney finally snapped her picture.

“Got it!” she crowed, happily. “C’mon, let’s go!”

Torque jogged over to her, his long legs eating the distance between them in a few quick bites. As he drew closer, he could see the grin on Laney’s face; it was a mix of happiness and pride. “Here,” she said, handing the camera to Torque so he could see the image on the camera’s screen. The image made it seem like Torque was in the process of plucking the bean-shaped statue in the distance from where it sat.

“I don’t understand?” Torque said, though Laney’s grin was contagious enough that he found himself starting to grin as well. “Why’d you take this picture? It’s not useful for planning our mission, is it?”

Laney shrugged, her grin fading a little. “Well, no,” she said, taking the camera back. “It’s just for fun. You said you wanted to know how tourists act, well, they take cheesy pictures like this. C’mon, we’ve got more park to cover.”

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  and is currently hosted by Emily Wrayburn of Letting the Voices Out and A Keyboard and an Open Mind.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts. You can also request to join The WIPpeteers on Facebook.

AROW80 Round 2 Check-In for 4/8/18 (posted 4/10/18)

Ok, so this update is coming in a couple days late but it’s still coming in so that’s going to be counted as a win by me. Especially since I’m still getting back into the swing of things here.

Goals for the Week:

  • Work on Omegas: Cake Walk (O:CW) Chapter 18 — mainly typing up what I have managed to write this week and hopefully finishing the chapter so I can move on to Chapter 19 and beyond.
  • Work on strategies for getting the most I can out of shorter timeframes within which to write — I used to be able to write during downtime at my job which occasionally meant nice, long stretches of being able to write in a more meandering fashion. Due to my accepting a promotion, my duties have changed at work and, hence, I’ll be having less downtime. So, I’m going to be working on using what time I do have to write effectively. One idea is that instead of writing an entire scene, just writing out a kind of rough outline/bullet point-style list of “What Should Happen” and then using that as a reference from which to type up the next bit on my days off.

Between work and other non-writing aspects of life, I haven’t had the chance to sit down and dedicate a lot of time to Omegas: Cake Walk, but I did have the chance to figure out what I wanted to happen in Chapter 18 and how best to use that to drive the story forward. Since I don’t want to go into a summary of what’s going on quite yet, suffice it to say that I am very happy that I hit upon a way to use a scene that is low on physical action to still convey important plot points and showcase some of the world-building for Omegas: Cake Walk.

Since O:CW and other Gem City stories take place in a world that is based around superhero comics, all kinds of weirdness can occur. There are characters who are genetically engineered super-soldiers, faeries, alchemists, super-scientists, deep-sea dwelling non-humanoid lifeforms that look like a cross between a seal and an octopus (and which are only one of several different underwater dwelling species), human-alien hybrids, and modern-day Neanderthals who are also the first women to play in Major League Baseball, plus all the other accouterments of the diversity that is humanity as we know it.  Needless to say, creating this world has been at one and the same time tremendously fun and tremendously frustrating in terms of “…wait, how would this work? This needs to make sense! Auugh, why don’t we have inter-dimensional Google capabilities?!”

Otherwise, things are going well. Looking forward to spending the day tomorrow typing things up and hopefully getting a goodly chunk of Chapter 18 finished. Will be back tomorrow to share how things go!

To everyone participating in this Round of AROW80, good luck and keep on trucking!

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Powered by Linky Tools:  A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers.  Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, visit (and join) us on Facebook

AROW80 Update for November 5, 2014 + WIPpet

It is cold and wet and rainy and very much November here. I haven’t been writing as much as I wanted to for the first few days of this month — combination of work and lack of oomph — but I got a bit written last night and I’m planning on working on some more tonight and hoping to get close to a goal of 10,0002 words by tonight.

I’m working on a short story set in my Gem City (aka Reverse Batman) universe. From my original post on the idea:

A story about a Reverse Batman-type character — his parents were supervillains in the 1960 who were killed by a rogue hero and because of this, he now works as a private detective doing things like keeping superheroes accountable and such.  He’s also the guy you call when you want to serve divorce papers on The Thing.

The plot is that Will Cartwright, private investigator and owner of QC Investigations, has been hired by his college friend Kylie (aka Wildheart) to help clear her father, the hero Howler, from a murder charge. This scene is Will arriving at the 247th precinct to talk to the detectives investigating the crime.

Detective Sergeant Luna Bastigan was at her desk when I arrived. She looked at me like I was the first plague rat off the boat. She was a short, stocky woman who looked like a cross between a bulldog and a fireplug. She’d come up through the ranks of the GCPD, making detective almost as soon as she was able. She shook her head and leaned back from her keyboard to study me.

 

“Should have known you’d be here sooner or later, Cartwright,” she said. “Let me guess, Howler’s girl hired you to clear her Daddy’s name?”

 

“Close; she calls him Pop-pop,” I said. “She’s pretty convinced that he’s innocent. She’s got a theory and I have to say, it’s got some merit to it.”

 

Bastigan snorted. “I’m sure it does,” she said. “Problem is, she’s not a witness and she’s got a vested interest in lying through her fake little fangs to protect her-“ she snorted. “Pop-pop. Whereas on the other side, I’ve got at least five witnesses willing to swear that Howler did it, was glad he did it and would have done it again if he could have.”

 

“And none of them have any vested interests?” I asked. “C’mon, Bastigan, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ remember?”

 

“Don’t try to school me, Cartwright,” she said. “I know my job. Problem is, the Third Coast Crusaders have a hell of a lot of pull in this town and Tyler Rose is the top of that particular heap. It’s more than just an investigation; it’s a political freaking nightmare.”

There’s more about the Gem City ‘verse here: The Semi-Quasi-Mostly Official Handbook to the Gem City Universe 

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Powered by Linky Tools, A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

AROW80 Check-In: May 28, 2014

It has finally started to rain — a nice downpour that makes me want to go lay down and listen to Skeptoid podcasts about strange and weird things. So, y’know, that’s what I’m a’gonna do ‘cuz I am lazy.

Two more days until my schedule becomes less nuts! Yay!

Writing Goals: Still as they stand; read and ponder, ponder and read. Typing starts June 1st, like it or not.

Reading Goals:  Got a cool new book called The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell, which is pretty much what it says on the tin. He talks about building a kit of knowledge that would allow a post-apocalyptic society to rebuild a technological civilization. Things like, how to rotate crops and make soap (which leads to chemistry) and such other necessities that would make the post-apocalyptic life less nasty, brutish and short.   Highly recommend it, especially since he’s got a nice bibliography of other useful books.

AROW80 Check-In: May 4, 2014

Happy May the 4th!

I’m not what you’d call a huge Star Wars fan, but the movies have been a presence in my life since I was a kid.  I can remember seeing the first Star Wars movie in the theater and being freaked out during Empire by the sight of Darth Vader’s exposed brain and taping the Ewok celebration song from Return of the Jedi when it played on the radio.  I can even, vaguely, remember watching the Star Wars Holiday Special — though I don’t remember much about it.

But even beyond the movies, there was still Star Wars here and there, tucked into the corners of my life.  The Droids and Ewok cartoons, the Wookie Storybook that I used to read to my cousin Bobby when we were kids, the Star Wars Christmas album with it’s toe-tapping holiday classic “What Do You Get  a Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Has a Comb?)”

On a camping trip to South Dakota, me and my cousins listened to an audio tape version of the movie. Plus, at our campsite, my cousin found three or four Star Wars figures that some other kid must have buried and forgot about.  And I bought the novelization of Empire Strikes Back at the campsite store (considering this was around 1980, I think Empire had just recently come out).

Writing this, I’m finding that there isn’t really a point in my life where Star Wars wasn’t there — acting as a kind of white noise in the background.  The Special Editions of the original movies — and while the fireworks at the end of Jedi were cool, but the “Yub Yub” song is still my favorite part of the end of the trilogy.   The Prequel Trilogy…which I can honestly say I don’t entirely hate, but which isn’t ever going to be MY Star Wars trilogy (and that is just fine).

Even right now, sitting in my living room, I can look over at my bookshelf and see Star Wars novels on the shelf (particularly the Republic Commandos series by Karen Traviss which is easily some of my favorite military SF). On my DVD shelf, there are boxed sets of the Clone Wars cartoon — which is/was awesome, even if the original animated movie was just…not. So not.

If there’s a point to this ramble, I think it is this: good stories can and do take on lives of their own and can bring inspiration and joy for generations to come. So, thank you George Lucas for taking us all to a galaxy far, far away and all the magic and wonder and silly, silly arguments you’ve inspired.

And though I am generally fairly even-keeled about things like this, I will fight to the ground* over two things: Han Shot First and Sev Lives!

*no, not really. The ground is pretty mucky around here right now and I got my new capris on. Also, I am lazy.

Writing Goals: Haven’t gotten a blessed thing done as far as rereading my manuscript goes. I did do some research, but otherwise I’ve been reading the Kate Burkholder mysteries by Laura Castillo.

Defcon Related Note: I was very pleased while doing my timeline research for the Defcon ‘verse to find out that Return of the Jedi came out well before November 10, 1983 (the day the war starts). Because a post-apocalypse is terrible; a post-apocalypse where you don’t know if Han got unfrozen is unthinkable!

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!

 

 

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?)

AROW80 Final Check-In for March 26, 2013

Final Thoughts:

This is, technically, my first full round with AROW80 (I started near the end of the last round of 2013).  Looking back at my last final check-in post, it feels like I’ve been participating for a lot longer — in a good way!

How I did on my goals this last time ‘round: When I did my final check-in on December 26, 2013, I was at Chapter Ten of Defcon: Fade Out. . As of today, I’m getting ready to begin Chapter Twenty-three and am at 94K — with a goal of being at 100K by next Monday, so not too shabby!

This round, I’ve focused primarily on one work — Defcon: Fade Out, which is the fifth book in a series set in a post-apocalyptic world where World War III happened in November of 1983.  The book is my homage/riff on post-apocalyptic men’s adventure novels of the 1980s.  (You can read more about it and some of my other projects on my Current Projects Index of Explanation.)

Of course, I say it’s the fifth book but that’s only in the chronological sense — technically, it’s the first book because it is the first and so far only book to be written. Well, mostly written.  And once I get Fade Out finished, I need to start working on the first four books. Which brings me to…

Interim Plans:

I’m going to be approaching Round Two a bit differently. Starting April 1st, I’m going to begin a Month of World Building, focusing on hammering out some details of the Defcon story universe  — including trying to sketch out rough plot outlines for the first four books in the series.  I have a lot of ideas about the Defcon ‘verse that are currently in my head and that I want/need to get down on paper so I can look at them in the clear light of day. So, April is going to be dedicated to answering world building questions and mulling things over.

Technically, I’ve started writing some odd ideas down already but in April, I’m going to try to approach world building with a more focused effort.

I won’t be sharing everything I come up with, but I will share bits and pieces of ideas that I think are interesting and maybe also be writing about the process of world building.

In May, I’m planning on starting to type up my draft of Defcon: Fade Out, which currently exists in two notebooks and a collection of loose pages. Since I can type pretty fast, I’m hoping that this won’t actually take an entire month but I’m giving myself the entire month, just in case. Particularly since I know I’ll be editing and fleshing out as I go.

And then comes June, wherein, once the manuscript is fully typed up, I’m giving copies to friends at work to read it and tell me what they think. That’s for June.  Other plans for June include being a nervous wreck because OMG, people will be reading the ideas that have existed in my head for the last few years and auuuuugh!  I’m seriously thinking of taking some time off and/or giving the manuscript to my friends to read on days when I won’t be at work and thus won’t have to be physically present and freaking out about what they think of my work.

Come June, I might also take a break from Defcon and work on one of my other story ‘verses for a change while I wait to see what people think. It beats chewing my nails off, right?

Personal Goals:  I had a meeting with the diabetes doctor today and she’s very happy with the progress I’ve made in the last few weeks with the Victoza. She’s also prescribed me a new pill called Invokana that’s supposed to help reduce my sugars and help lower my weight (if I’m remembering the conversation right).  And, I lost six pounds!

Other personal goals include getting the @#$# root canal already! And surviving my next cleaning on April 1st. *whimper* Also, walking more.

Hope everybody had a great round and I’m looking forward to seeing everybody come April 7th!  And if anybody has any favorite world building questions/topics, feel free to share in the comments!

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AROW80 Check-In for March 23, 2014

Writing this on Saturday night for posting on Sunday morning again. At this particular moment, I am sitting on my couch not wanting to go to work. In fact, I’m not wanting to get off the couch period.

Sunday Morning Kathy:  And I’m back home and sitting on the couch again and once again, not really wanting to get off of it.  The sad part? I feel more awake now.

# # # # #

Personal Goals:  I’ve managed to walk more days than I haven’t and the route I’ve been taking is 4/5ths of a mile so there’s some happy.

Still haven’t made the root canal appointment yet. It’s not fear so much as waking up in the mid-afternoon and not remembering to make the call until I’m at work. Also, not remembering to check if the place the dentist recommended is covered by my insurance — which I could do right now but will I? While I’m actually thinking about it? Noooo! Maybe I will tomorrow morning before I post this.

Sunday morning Kathy: I actually went and tried to check the insurance company’s website and it is down for maintenance! I tried, I really, really tried! Gahhh…

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out I’m working on Chapter XX, which may end up at the beginning of the book. OR may end up on the cutting room floor, but it’s at least letting me explore some of my antagonists’ motivations.  — SMK: I think I have figured out the purpose of Chapter XX. I think it might be the actual beginning of the book.
  • Word Count: I’m at 91K+ words as of Friday night/Saturday morning. My goal for tonight is at least 92K  — SMK: Haven’t done a final count of what I wrote tonight, but since the last point I stopped at was 91,901 and I have 3 pages worth of writing to count…yeah, I think 92K is in the bag!
  • Ending: Still working on this.

Goals for this week:

  • Make the expletive deleted root canal appointment. 
  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out and aiming for 100K by the end of March.
  • Celebrate girlfriend’s birthday on Monday!
  • Prepare for the Month of Worldbuilding!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for March 19, 2014

Hello, hello, hello! Hope everybody is doing well as we come into the last week before the end of the round.  Other than it being a grey and gloomy day outside and feeling a bit under the weather, I’m doing well.

# # # # #

Personal Goals:  I started walking on Saturday and have managed to go for at least half a mile every day this week except for yesterday. I’m still not close to 10,000 steps a day, but I’m at least being more active than I have been in a long time. And, I’m up to taking the full dose of my Victoza. Yay! 

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out has hit Chapter Twenty-two and I may actually be up to Chapter Twenty-three, depending on where I decide to put the bits I’m working on now.
  • Word Count: I’m at 89,691 words as of last night. It helps that I’m able to count some large sections of a previously written scene that I was editing last night.  Even if I hit 100K before the 31st, I’m going to keep writing up until 3am on Tuesday April 1st (which is when, technically speaking due to my work schedule, my Monday night ends). Then, April 1st, begins the Month Of Worldbuilding!
  • Ending: Still working on this.

Goals for this week:

  • Make a damn root canal appointment. 
  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out and aiming for 100K by the end of March.
  • Celebrate girlfriend’s birthday next Monday!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!