NanoWrimo Day Two

I’m still writing by hand, and I think I’m getting much smoother copy than I usually am at this stage of the game. At the moment, I’m just sticking in place holder counts. 100 words per day, and that means I get my consecutive days of writing badges, but I don’t actually have to type anything, yet. It would be nice to have enough pages typed at some point that I know–fairly closely–how many of my handwritten words go on a page of my notebook. A hundred words off could wind up being a nasty surprise at the end of the month.

Right now, I’m writing the thing in 1st person. I don’t know why. It’s been years since I wrote anything in first person, and furthermore, I don’t know much about that narrator. She’s an engineer. Smart. Female…. And… Uhm… well, at the moment, that’s about it.

This one is much more clearly science fiction than the last one. The story would not exist without the science, or if it did, it would turn out to be a completely different version of the story.

So, to recap. I don’t know anything about the narrator. I don’t know much about the other characters, including by the way, which one of them is the “main” character, if it turns out to be someone other than my narrator. And I don’t really have that much of a plot.

Also, they’re all drifting in space.

So, yup.

It’s definitely NaNoWriMo.

Some years, the thing just clicks, and I wind up with 50,000 words and a solid start.

And some years, I have to keep digging to figure out there’s really not a pony in all this manure.

I haven’t worked on this one long enough to know which one it’s going to be.

IWSG: NaNoWriMo Day One

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

November 1 question – Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

Today’s question was whether I usually finish my nanowrimo quota or  not. And the answer is… it depends. I’m not always ready for a new project at the exact moment the clock strikes midnight on November first. This year, I think I’m about as prepared as I ever am. I have an idea that’s been percolating for a few months, and a few characters I’m crazy about. This time, I expect to have 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Sometimes, though, Nanowrimo hits at the wrong moment in my creative cycle, and my attention is split between the last project I was working on and the brand new one. I didn’t finish my project last year. Not in November, and not later on. In fact, I’m not even sure I remember what it was.

And I think that’s okay. I don’t necessarily think of NaNo as being the whole process. It’s a part of it, maybe, and some years, it’s the part I need at that moment. Other years, I’m into revision or querying, or I’m still writing something else, and the new thing doesn’t take.

Even if I don’t get a new novel out of it, Nano’s a great way to meet people, and get to know other writers. And the support system can’t be beat.

Fighting Off the Last Day of October

Ferris Wheel badge--75 floors in a day.

I have decided it’s not bragging, if they’re small.

So, I’m hitting the end of the month. It’s the day for typing my fingers off trying to get everything I’ve done polished and shiny. I started with a stretch of manuscript to revise, and I have mostly revised it. Getting those scribbles into the computer? Well, that’s another thing.

I don’t suppose you know any publishers who are willing to take manuscripts written on the back of a bank envelope, do you?

Okay. So, I’m cleaning out my purse. Did you know that a page from a legal pad can hit the consistency of a Kleenex, if it’s shoved in the bottom of a purse and pounded for a month? Neither did I, and yet… there it is. Fortunately, most of the rest of my notes have survived fairly intact.

Today is also the day on which I print out all of the scenes that need to be revised in November. (Well, technically, that need to be revised in a week beginning in November. I estimated by weeks, not months.)

And tomorrow, NaNoWriMo begins. Tomorrow is the day I finally get to unwrap my NaNoWriMo notebooks and pens. (And dammit, I’m going to stay on top of the type-ins next month. I’d better. Typing 50,000 words at the end of the month would be overwhelming.)

Wish me luck, and if you want to buddy up, my profile at the NaNoWriMo forum is here.

Shuffling Characters

During my revision, I changed something in my manuscript.

I thought about it before I did it, and I did it, anyway. It’s not the biggest change in the world, but it does impact a few scenes in the future.

Oooh, I’m a time traveler.

There aren’t a lot of scenes I have to fix, but one of my characters needs to be written out of them. **grumble** Well, let’s be honest. He can’t really be there, when he switched sides two chapters back.

Unfortunately, he still has some scenes where he does things that have to get done.

I can’t actually decide whether I’m fixing an inconsistency or changing my mind about how this goes.

Well, never mind. Life goes on without him.


Skills I Actually Have

My latest money making scheme? Meet pumpkins with faces. I could do that. Or… I could become my region’s premiere purveyor of adult themed pumpkins. 

Did I mention these suckers are 50 bucks a pop? No wonder the place only had three.

Writers as Farmers

It’s harvest time, here in the beautiful mid-west, and that’s one of my favorite times of year not to be a farmer. Then, again, it’s also nearly NaNoWriMo time, and 9 out of ten farmers polled said that NaNo is their favorite time of the year NOT to be a writer.

Everybody else says it’s exactly the same thing, except with words, instead of corn.

I mean, you spend an entire year growing something, and then, you hope the prices are high when it hits the market, and people are still buying sorghum.

You have a certain money management paradigm, that goes on with that kind of thing. (Well, yes. Actually, a farmer does get paid a couple of times a year.)

And the only people who really understand are the other people who do the same job.

There are other seasonal professions, of course. Most of them run with the harvest, though. If you own a bar, there’s Football season, and then, there’s Oh, shit, how are we going to pay the rent on an empty bar season.

But that here I am, working on one project for a long period of time… well, that’s very farming.

We’ll just hope it isn’t all that long before I get my grain to market.

The Pantser Plots

NaNoWriMo is coming up, and that always brings us back to the subject of Pantsing vs. Plotting. If you know a hardcore plotter, you know they’ve already been up for months, working on their outline, their character profiles, and their world-building. And technically, none of it counts as jumping the gun.

I, on the other hand, am pretty much a pantser. I fling myself in, and start writing with no idea what I’m doing. Or… if you want to be diplomatic, I fly by the seat of my pants. I’m pretty much as hardcore as it gets. I might just have a beginning idea. The last few times I’ve also had some general thought about who lives or dies at the end, and maybe which couples wind up together.

It’s the “Oh, look, a DUCK!” Method of plotting, and while it produces some amazing twists and turns, it also produces an oversized, garbled manuscript.

On the oversized front, there are a few giveaways that you are writing a scene that you don’t need.

  • If the scene is romantic in any way, chances are good you’ll just wind up cutting it. As much fun as these can be to write, there are proportion issues to deal with. Your characters can’t spend the whole manuscript canoodling.
  • If there’s violence in it. Battle scene? Probably overkill. Serial killer strikes again? No. Focus on ONE victim. Maybe two. Any more than that, and you’re going for ultraviolence.
  • Describing any form of technology. I’m really bad about this. Really, really bad. I like technology. I like the details. One of my`characters owns a computer with direct liquid cooling and a series of daisy-chained motherboards, and you’d better believe I know every single teeny-tiny spec.
  • Any other hobby or interest that has recently heated up. (Yes, atl-atl. Yes, I know. ATL-ATL. And exactly how does that fit in with your Manhattan Socialite on a spaceship?)

So, here I am trying to plot just enough to stay on track and come up with a recognizable first draft.

Keep things organized.

Finish the scenes I start instead of…


Another Post on Ways to Publish

Recently, a co-worker of mine–someone who knows that I am working on a novel–came to me in the break room and handed me a classified ad out of the Penny Press. That’s a small-town all-classified ads type publication with versions for just about every region there is. (Possibly not yours.) Lemme tell you. If you want a new carburetor for your Ford or if you have a few straws of bull semen to sell, the Penny Press is your best friend.

This particular ad began with the phrase “WRITERS WANTED” and then went on to the glories of self vanity/subsidy publishing your novel.

She had the best intentions at heart, so I thanked her, and put the ad in my purse, and maybe felt a little guilty for not explaining the difference.

I’m not talking about the difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing here. This is straight-up vanity press vs. indie publishing.

So, a vanity press is a “publisher” that never says “NO” to anybody who’s got the money to pay them. You pay up front. They make their money off of you, not off of your book. And yes. Just in case that book turns out to be worth anything, they’ll want a majority stake in that. You pay them to publish the thing, but somehow, they still wind up in control with an on-going stake in your book.

In indie publishing–which is a term that’s explicitly supposed to separate Indie Publishers from vanity publishers–you own the intellectual property rights, and you hire people. So, you might hire a cover artist. You pay him for his work, and then, he’s gone. He doesn’t get an on-going stake in your book. And if you also want to hire an editor, you don’t have to hire the cover artist’s best friend. You pay for everything, and any profits above that are yours to keep.

And in traditional publishing, you’re essentially taking on a very selective business partner. Someone who brings knowledge, experience, and money to the table. They’re very selective. They’re not going to publish your children’s book, Baby Hippo’s First Book of Number Bases because they know it’s not going to sell. They bring value to the partnership  (see knowledge, experience, and money) and YOU bring value to the table (your book/intellectual property) and you each wind up with a percentage of the overall business you start together. (And yes, that’s an oversimplification.)

So, on to analogies. Imagine that you want to sell antiques.

There are three basic ways that you can do this.

Subsidy publishing is like a booth at the local antique mall. Nobody cares whether you’re selling Chippendale dressers, or handmade soap, or that nifty collection of Care Bear themed glasses from 1980’s Pizza Hut. (Yes, or human remains.) You pay your rent, and there you are. BUT WAIT… you’re tied in, because people don’t look up booth #217 in the phone book. They look up Antique-y Antique Mall. And–if you’ve been in one of those places–you know that the profits from snack bar, and the t-shirts and so forth all go to the mall, no matter how much rent you’ve put in.

Indie Publishing is like opening your own antique store. You’re going to pick what goes in there, and you’re going to design the logo, and figure out your own snack bar, and advertise your own name, and your own particular niche and if you do it right… well, you own a business. The risk is all yours, and so are the profits.

Traditional publishing is more like that high-end antique store in a nice neighborhood of a big town. IF they think you have something GOOD, you don’t have to pay the rent or put an ad in the phone book, and they already have name recognition that says “We sell the best Care Bear Collector’s Glasses around.” And the partnership should be worth more to you than the fraction that you bring to it.

Doing Things Out Of Books

Everybody needs things to do with their lives, and in general, books are a great place to go, if you need ideas.

One of the great laws of book people is that you will–eventually, whether you admit it or not–go out and do something because you’ve read about it in a book.

And we’re not just talking cook books and how-to’s. Not that cheese making and battle-robots aren’t awesome.

There are also the is that possibles, the how hard could it bes, and worst of all, the dreaded Oh, that sounds like funs.

And that’s how you wind up knee deep in papier mache or standing on a tourist-infested riverboat.

Yup. You have to go to these places. Some of them are pretty. Some of them are historical. And some of them are… fun.

So, in the wonderful world of American poetry (not generally my cup of peanut butter), there’s a poem that’s always stuck with me, at least in part because of the weirdness of it.  I never really “got” the poem, and I probably don’t, now. The guy pours two glasses, one sweet and the other bitter, and gives the sweet one to his friend, while drinking the bitter. And then, his friend marvels at how happy the first guy is.

The internet informs me that this is a metaphor for service to others making you happy.

In light of the fact that the bitter drink was wormwood, I always thought it was a metaphor for not having worms making you happy.

Or… in my internet enlightened phase… shall we point out that wormwood (one variety) is the same thing that gives absinthe its trippy quality?

Maybe Cliff Klingenhagen was just toasted.

At any rate, it turns out that wormwood is currently legal in the US (using it in alcohol manufacture apparently isn’t.) and that it makes a dandy tea. (I’m really not picturing tea in that poem, but maybe…)

Well, what the hell. Can’t be any worse than the corn meal mush was. And if it tastes worse than the pemmican, I’ll just assume it’s a divine punishment of some sort.

Three Dimensional Puzzles

My sister used to buy me three dimensional puzzles as gifts. Since I was never really into them before, I’m not exactly sure how it began. Maybe as an inside joke, or something “appropriately nerdy.” Maybe she ran into one on sale at some point.

At any rate, the trend stuck, and I wound up with a small collection of puzzles, and at least a little interest in them.

They’re challenging, and in the best of all worlds, also beautiful. (Well, let’s be honest, some of them miss the mark and land somewhere near just plain weird.)

I ordered a new one a few days ago. It’s the Hanayama Mobius, and it does happen to be an attractive do-hickey. It’s the first Hanayama puzzle I’ve had.

It managed to arrive a day early, so it was waiting for me when I got home from work.

So, the challenge–as always–is to take it apart.

And then put it back together.

The process took maybe ten or fifteen minutes, not including the time to take pictures, and eat a bowl of clam chowder. (What?!! I was starving!)

On the manufacturer’s difficulty scale, this is a 4 out of 6.

I’m probably going to place it in the basket with the easier puzzles in my world, but it gets points for being attractive. Really solid and well-made.

I’m probably going to look to the tougher levels for the next purchase. Some of the level 6 puzzles are bound to be nice enough for the bookcase, aren’t they?

So, what about you? Any 3D puzzle enthusiasts in the group? Any suggestions for puzzles I’ve got to try?