Friday, November 30, 2007


Last night at around 9:30, I finished Cauldron of Shadows. It is a very very very rough draft, or as I like to say, Draft Zero. PoV jumps around from character to character. Many of the events are out of order, and I have a vague perception that the continuity is ... not very continuous. At least I started a new paragraph when I jumped into another character's head, though most of the time I actually did a section break.

However, I feel that this one is better than the last one, as far as Zero Drafts go. I really want to get to the editing of my two nanonovels before next year, with the goal of understanding how I write and how I can improve my initial drafts. As I mentioned previously, the zero drafts are mainly narration in need of expanded description and detail. If I can produce a more polished, full manuscript, I can sort of reverse engineer it to get a better idea of how many phases I need and focus on better writing rather than just hitting the word count.

In the meantime.... Yay! I finished. Now I can totally goof off for the month of December. *happy dance*

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fantasy and Horror

I stepped out of lurking on the SFReader and nanowrimo blogs to ask around about fantasy stories with strong horror elements. So far these are the results of my inquiries.

The main person who gets mentioned most is Michael Moorcock. I will admit that I had a hard time with the Elric stories when I was younger because basically I was too immature to understand the point of Tragedy. I did enjoy the Corum books. I think that is the right name. It's the one with the necromantic hand and eye. As a teenager I wanted everything to have a happy ending. Now that I am much older, the happy ending is still good, but I realize there is much more to life than happy endings, and sometimes Tragedy is Truth.

So, I need to check out Elric again.

Other authors mentioned:
China Mieville - I picked up The Scar and I'm enjoying it already. Need more.
Steven Erikson - I bought Gardens of the Moon and I am looking forward to it. Bauchelain and Korbal Broach books were also mentioned, about some Necromancers.
Tim Lebbon's novels Dusk and Dawn sound like they are exactly what I am looking for, but I have to order them.
Tanith Lee and her books on Paradys?
James Barclay' Raven novels
David Gemmel, of course
Christopher Golden
R. Scott Bakker
Heroes Die, by Matthew Woodring Stover
THE NIGHT LAND by William Hope Hodgson

Someday that list will include Cauldron of Shadows by Bryan Lee Hitchcock!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Escape Pod

Okay, I have been really lax on my Escape Pod reports, even though I listen to them as soon as possible. So here are my November Escape Pod overviews.

EP130: What We Learned From This Morning’s Newspaper by Robert Silverberg
The Silverberg stories seem dated to me. This was an interesting tale with a twist at the end that did not quite satisfy. It was more ennui than conclusion, though in a fun way. Rather than just slap a moral on the end, Silverberg gives us something more disturbing. Mash up challenge: Follow "What We Learned...." with The Mist by Stephen King. heh

EP131: Hesperia and Glory by Ann Leckie
I enjoyed this story. It had a very 'John Carter of Mars' feel to it as well as the victorian aesthetic which I have found very appealing in such novels as The Prestige. I need to come back to this when I next try to revise my story The Zombie King and Mr. Cooke, which also takes the form of a letter. I learned a great word from the Escape Pod forums: Epistolary is a story in letter or diary format. Cool.

EP132: Sparks in a Cold War by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
An interesting story that brought up a number of questions. It felt almost incomplete, though it did have an ending. I just wanted to know more about the setting, especially the technology. It was interesting that the story just went BAM here we are in the middle of the story, and there was some background, but I feel like just a paragraph or two more of explanation would have been nice. How did the self folding, self transporting stuff work? What was with the cut-grass? I did not get right away that the environment was so harsh. Also, it kind of bothered me that the three trouble-makers were women and then they all had to be killed. It's a woman author, but the story still feels mysoginistic to me. If the story had been written by a man, I think he would have to take the hit on that one. Wierd. I liked the ending.

EP133: Other People’s Money by Cory Doctorow
A little tough to understand the reader, but she had a nice voice. Personally I enjoy the challenge and the exposure to non-American accented English. The story was okay. Not really my bag. Interesting ideas, as many people mentioned on the EP forums, without much action or growth. I think the latter point is the key. It would be okay to have a piece that was mainly dialog, but I want the characters to go somewhere, learn something new... change.

I am an Escape Pod supporter, giving $5 a month. I urge all of my 0 readers to do the same. =)

Final Battle

Last night I wrote the final battle sequence of Cauldron of Shadows. Surprisingly, I was kind of nervous about it. I had a good idea what would happen, but putting it down on paper is a different thing than just thinking about it. IN the end, I kind of jumped around a lot, rather than sticking with one point of view. We'll see how it works. The whole novel kind of spirals in from big sections about specific characters to the end where it is bouncing back and forth with the action.

However, there is a final battle in real life as well. The last 5000 words. Basically I want to write the wrap up, where at least one more character will be killed and then I need to write a few fill-in scenes I thought up after their point in the novel had already passed. No problemo? Yeah, that's what I said at 40k. I just want to be done at this point. That's not to say I won't enjoy writing the last few thousand words, just that the end is so near I can taste it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Buildup

Last night I completed a penultimate action sequence with zombies and sorcery. It was quite fun and ended with frustration for both the heroes and villains. Bernardo the paladin of Pyrothion is turning out to be the big hero, though Lorallee the witch is also doing good things. My villains are truly vile and disgusting. Writing them has been a lot of fun.

I basically ended as the ragtag group of survivors gathered together to go out and confront the hags and their "son" the gray knave. After two nights of attacks and torment, it is clear to them that they have to strike before they lose even more of their numbers. So tonight and probably tomorrow night, I will be working on the final battle scene, killing almost everyone off and having a blast at it.

Thursday will be for Denoument and having a little party with Mechelle when I finish, if she is still awake. It will be cool to finish a day early this year.

I have a lot of reading lined up and it definitely feels like a heavy reading December coming on. I have books by China Mieville, Steven Erikson and Guy Kay. What a list! I am sure I will learn some things and have a great time reading these books.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The End Game

Yesterday was Sunday and the last day of the Thanksgiving break. I wrote 4k on Friday and 5k yesterday to reach 40,000 words. There were some moments last week when I wondered if I had what it takes to finish, but now that the end is near I am excited to finish. I need to write 2250 words each day this week in order to finish by Friday and celebrate with a night of WoW. No problemo.

Things are really coming together now. I pretty much know the fates of all the characters and it is just a matter of telling the rest of the story as outlined.

So far, I have learned the following things in this Nanowrimo:

Heroes who are just decent, stand up, neighborly folks... are boring to write about. It wasn't until I started to flesh out the villains and give them things to do that the writing really took off and I felt like i finally had a novel's worth of ideas.

My rough drafts tend to be mostly narrative. This is something I will have to work on. For Nanowrimo, I suppose it is okay, because I can't really market a 50k novel anyway. What I have is a narrative framework and in the rewrite, I will have to take certain parts and make actual scenes instead of just explaining what happens. I think I will shoot for 80k on the rewrite, unless I get some brilliant idea to take it to 100k. Something to watch out for when it comes time to write on the Neverwoods again.

Also, I find myself consciously padding the language, using the most wordy possible phrases in order to meet the writing deadline. I hope more practice will help curb this. Next year, I will have a better idea of how many phases or scenes I need to flesh out 50k words. This year it was just over 60. I should look at 2006's nanonovel outline to see how many I ended up with. If I can start November with a solid outline at about the right length, then maybe at 10%, I may have enough subject matter that I don't have to pad everything so much.

Perhaps next year I will give myself a gnarlier goal and go for 80k. I hope to learn a lot in the year of editing coming up, so we'll see.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Six-thousand words

Yesterday, I had a great writing day. There was little to do outside of preparing meals for my family and some minor chores so I got in three writing sessions, broken up by the aforementioned meals and some trips to the battlegrounds of WoW.

I was running behind, but by 9pm I had written 6000 words and put myself back on track to finish. Right now I need to write 2200 words a day, not counting two days off for WoW nights with my family. Not bad. If I have another day like yesterday during the coming Turkey Day weekend, I may even finish early.

The biggest issue right now, is that I really don't have any idea how to make the ending exciting. There were going to be some murders, but I like my angsty couple too much to get them killed. I know who all the players are and now it is pretty much down to the final battle, rescuing the unicorn and the village children. Who will live and who will die?

Time for a bloodbath.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Throne of Jade

I am stoked today because I picked up the second novel in Naomi Novik's fantasy series. I get them from The reader is excellent and just listening to the first chapter reminded me of all the reasons I love the first book, His Majesty's Dragon. The depth of feeling between Lawrence and Temeraire is just amazing. It's like a wish fulfillment for a perfect friend and companion. Just love it.

I am hooked on Fortress Draconis now, too, though, so I think I will alternate during my commute, until I catch up with Stackpole and have to start waiting a week between each installment of FD.

My short fiction mags are stacking way up, but I can't let it get to me. THere are so many good novels to read. I also just started Guy Gavriel Kay's A Song for Arbonne and I want to get some reading on that done this weekend. I love his books, though they are quite intimidating as a writer.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reading and Writing Update

I ran a D&D game based on the characters and setting for my nano novel this last weekend. It was a blast, though it ended up running slightly too long. But it gave me some good ideas for things to have the characters do in the novel.

The writing is a bit behind right now. I guess you could say I am in the week 2 blues, but its really more about my own state of mind than any problem coming up with ideas or anything.

Also, I started listening to another podcast novel, Michael A Stackpole's Fortress Draconis. It is quite enjoyable.

I get the feeling that Seventh Son is almost done. New episode today that just rocked, though I am always sad when one of the clones dies. Let's hope it was just a cliff-hanger.

Now.... where did I leave my muse?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ironhand's Daughter by David Gemmell

So, my friend Charles has been suggesting David Gemmell to me for years now. I am a very fickle reader. I love books, but I have to be in just the right frame of mind to start a novel and I rarely leave one unfinished. It's strange that I want to write fantasy novels, but I am reluctant to read many of them.

Anyway, I finally picked up Ironhand's Daughter. This one intrigued me because I like female heroes and I wanted to see how an accomplished writer handled such a story. This book KICKED MY ASS! It was so good. It took me two chapters to get into it, but then I could hardly stand to put it down. Far from the big fat fantasy books where every detail is described, Gemmell hits all the important parts and leaves the fluff on the editing room floor, so to speak. I laughed, I cried, I cheered. Ironhand's Daughter had lots of things I love in a fantasy novel and left me wishing for more. Fortunately there is a sequel and Mr. Gemmell wrote dozens of other books before he passed away last year, including novels about Troy and Alexander the Great. Those are going on my Yule gift list this year.

If my Neverwoods novel comes out a tenth as good as this book, I will be a very happy writer.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Works in Progress

Looking at my work in progress bars on the right always makes me feel like a quitter, but they are not entirely accurate.

On the Black Wings of Night is a completed novel set in a post environmental apocalypse town in northern California. I wrote it for Nanowrimo last year and I want to add another plot and make it 80k, a more marketable length.

Demons of the Neverwoods really IS an unfinished novel. I have the complete outline and I plan to work on it in the first quarter of next year to finish the rough draft.

Couldron of Shadows is my current nanowrimo novel and it is coming along nicely. Hit 10k last night. The only problem is that I am about half way through the story, so I need to take a bit more time describing things, I think.

So, that's the deal. Update complete.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Escape Pod 128, 129, and More

Well, the last couple of Escape Pods have not been my favorites, but I learn something from every show.

Escape Pod 128: Union Dues - Send in the Clowns by Jefferey R Derego. I appreciate the Union Dues stories. Really. They just get me down. Well written. Wonderful ideas. They kick ass, really. But they're such a bummer.

Escape Pod 129: Immortal Sin by Jennifer Pelland. This was a weird story about a brilliant man who is tortured by his own faith and psychosis. He kills a woman, gets away with it and then creates his own sort of hell as he tries to avoid damnation through everlasting life. It put me in mind of a Bad Religion song "Prove It": There's no such thing as hell, but you can make it if you try.

Other Podcasts and reading: Right now I am reading Ironhand's Daughter by David Gemmel, and enjoying three podcast novels: The final installment of JC Hutchins' great Seventh Son trilogy, Scott Sigler's new one Nocturnal and Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps. Really enjoying them all.

Nanowrimo is going well. I was a little behind, but I had a great day yesterday and put in 3k words to bring me up to my goal of 8k. Two thousand more tonight!

Thursday, November 01, 2007


WTF is NaNoWriMo you ask?

Well, I'll tell ya. That's short for National Novel Writing Month. I won last year and I am excited to try again.

This year's novel is called Couldron of Shadows. It is a fantasy/horror story about a group of war scarred veterans returning home in a rustic Italian fantasy setting. Unfortunately their lovely home has acquired some...pests.

yahoo! yippeee kaiay