Friday, November 28, 2008

ZG: Day 26 & 27 - Turkey, Tree Trimming and Zombies!

Day 26: 1,432 words. A little low, but I finished an important scene, and wasn't sure what came next.

Day 27: I forgot to write! Gah! I was making a turkey for the first time, which consumed the day. I didn't remember until 10:00 p.m. while watching the all day House marathon that I was supposed to work on my manuscript. Opps! No big deal - my huge word count on Tuesday covered my butt. Now, however, I need to get down to some serious business. If I flake any more, I'm going to run the risk of falling seriously behind.

So, anyway, no time for lamenting lost words. Yesterday was really fun. We did turkey dinner, played more Left 4 Dead (which resulted in more massively messed up zombie dreams for me last night), finished trimming the mini-tree, and watched some House. And since you all know me, here's some ridiculous pictures chronicling the day.

Here's Erik, stuffing our bird Tom. Cliché, I know. The sad face is because he didn't want me to take a picture of him stuffing Tom.



Tom is ready to go!



And into the oven...



Peep at Tom halfway through...



Ding, Tom is done!



Here's the nice spread. Yum yum yummmmmmm!!!!!



Me, looking all nice for the camera.



Me, how I really looked, diving into the corn so I could stuff my face.



The aftermath. Man, the stuffing was so good - both Erik's and my favorite part. Tip of the day: boil the giblets and use the water from that to make the stuffing. Mmmmmmmm.... I also put spicy sausage and walnuts in the stuffing - my own take on Mom's classic. No celery!



We went on to finish setting up the tree. We bought three fancy ornaments to add to the tree, as well as hooks. Since ornaments don't come with hooks. Whoever decided that one should be shot.

This one is Erik's.



Chunky Butt, checking out the decorating action.



Here's mine. Rudolph! My favorite childhood Christmas movie. And guess what? Oh yes, that reindeer's nose lights up AND he sings to me. The bomb. Period.



I got this one for the kitties. The little name tags say "Miss" and "Chief". Ain't that cute? And so appropriate.



Snuggling the Chunky face.



And Kyra proves the ornament’s clever observation.



Here's the kitties, begging for food. If you blow up the photo by clicking on it, you can see Kyra's tongue sticking out. They wouldn't have been hungry if they ate their giblets!!!!!

It's decided.

My niece and nephew are the cutest kids on the planet. Behold the adorableness of Isabell and Simon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ZG: Day 25 - Personal Best

In an attempt to sample the life of being an author without a full-time job, I resigned myself to the million and a half 5-minute tasks in my inbox yesterday, and between each of them I worked on my manuscript.

And oh snap, I wrote 5,129 words yesterday, my highest word count in a single day since the first day of NaNoWriMo (which was like 5,001). That, folks, is some hot sexiness.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ZG: Day 24 - Erik's B-day!

Got in 1,223 words yesterday. Not bad, not great.

When Erik got home from work, I made him open his gifts. I got him a bunch of swag for his side of the dork room, based on his two favorite animes, Trigun and Full Metal Alchemist.

Then we went to Costco to stare at big TVs. I was actually in the warehouse during the day, and found myself completely fascinated by Blu-Ray. It felt like I was in the movie Transformers, and Megan Fox actually looked human! Crazy. Don't worry though, I resisted. I still don't have a 50" flat screen TV. Some day, some day.

Next we went to a Thai place on Gilman St (the "main street" of Issaquah). Was pretty interesting. We had a seared beef appetizer, and shared cinnamon duck and pineapple fried rice. Afterwards, we went to Baskin Robins. Erik had two scoops, since it was his birthday!

We got home a little before Heroes, so I played a bit of Warhammer while Erik did the rounds of family birthday well wishing on the phone. We watched Heroes, which was a pretty decent episode. Then it was bedtime for us old people. Heh..

Oh, at the top right side of my blog here you can see my winner artwork from NaNoWriMo. Spiffy stuff! I can't decide which one I like better, so I just slapped 'em both up there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

ZG: Day 23 - Research and Relaxation

In celebration of my tiny success, I decided to take a day off writing yesterday for some fun. Not that writing isn't fun for me, but I needed a little time to deflate. I did set up my combined document, verified my word count and readied my new tracking spreadsheet. Then I printed out what I have done to give myself the much desired once over.

Then I played zombie games. For research purposes, of course.

I actually played some of Dead Rising under Erik's watchful eye on Friday. The premise is that you're a freelance photographer going to get the scoop on crazy zombie action in a random town in Colorado. You get dumped on the roof of a shopping mall and have 72 hours to get back to the helicopter. It's a third person game, and the nifty gimmick is that you can pick up nearly anything and use it as a weapon. Baseball bats, steel pipes, umbrellas, gems, golf balls, chairs, CDs. Just about anything can be used. And if it can't be used, it can be worn. Basically, you can walk into a number of stores and change your characters appearance as you continue through your zombie laden adventures.

So, being all curious, I run into the first store on the map, which happens to be a toy store. Sweet. I see an icon for "change clothes." So I do. And I put on a big smiley face head for a hat. The kicker is that I looked exactly the same way in the cut scenes. My next step was getting a fantastic track suit and knee high socks with white sneakers from the sporting goods store. Now, you tell me if you could take the end of the world seriously if you looked like this?



Needless to say, we laughed hysterically and the immersion was completely ruined. It was hard to be scared when I looked like that.

On a more awesome note, we picked up Left 4 Dead on Saturday. Now this is a scary, heart pounding, exciting game. And also a first person shooter, which I suck at. The best part is that the game is co-op, so Erik and I can destroy zombies together, when I'm not accidentally shooting him in the back of the head.

We've played through three of the four campaigns, and I've had dreams about zombies the last two nights in a row. It's intense, the controls are great, and the action never stops. The variety of monster types keeps it interesting (five different "special" zombies with unique traits and behaviors) and the horde is comprised of fast, sprinting zombies, not your slow moving pansy zombies - so watch out! You always have a total of four characters (in our case, us and two NPCs) and keeping each other alive is important. It takes good teamwork to be successful, and the AI of the NPCs is remarkable. I love the fact that they heal you, save you and cover the rear, instead of picking their noses and walking into walls. Great game. Can't wait to play it more.

However, I'm hoping at some point I'll stop spinning in circles while shooting the wall and my teammates with my machine gun when the shit hits the fan.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Days 21 & 22 - Achivement and Word Count Eater

I did it!

Day 21: Weak sauce. 842 words. I think I was having performance anxiety, as I was about to write a very important scene.

Day 22: 3,648 words, pushing me over the 50k mark! Apparently, I got over it. I got into some really tide turning, page turning (hopefully) plot evolution. I think it turned out okay.

So my first total was 50,153 words. I made a combined document for the NaNoWriMo counter, and cut out a few things that really didn't count towards my word total (such as the date on each document). So after punching it in the offical word counter my new total is:

50,048! Woo! Still over 50k! Hahaha!

So, now comes the next step. 100k.

With the pacing of the book, I except the end to clock out around the 100k mark, hopefully a little sooner being that I already know I need to go back and make a few changes and add some more text. I plan to do excerpts at the beginning of each chapter, which I started skipping around chapter four of what I have. I needed to keep moving, and the little excerpts require some deeper thought. Plus, since I didn't really know what was happening in each chapter (at least the details) it became hard to guess what I should be writing. Anyway, that should add to the word count when everything is said and done. There's also some information I needed to include that was left out, simply because I was moving to fast. So, as NaNoWriMo tells me to, I didn't go back, but left myself some markers in the document. That stuff will make editing a little more interesting, so I'm feeling good about it.

According to my updated spreadsheet, my new word goal per day is 1,924 to get to 100k by December 22. If I don't make it, me and my laptop will be eating some time out of my vacation, which I'd like to avoid. On an upside, this could easily tank out earlier than 100k - at least what I have left to write, and not including things I need to flesh out.

So, if anyone wants to keep tracking my process, the header for this will now be:

ZG: Day #

Yes, ZG means Zombie Gladiators. No, there is no title yet. Gr.

This month has been one of the best things I've ever done for my writing, both in confidence and sheer motivation.

Onward, zombies, to February 1 11:59 p.m. (the day I need to be ready to submit for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NaNoWriMo: I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!


50,153 words in 22 days!!!! HOLY SHIT!!! I am SO excited!!!!!!


*dancedancedance*


WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!


Time to go out an get a celebration dinner!

This guppy be screaming, yo!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Funny

Thanks to Tracie for making this Friday go by just a little faster.

Subject Jack Schitt

For some time many of us have wondered just who is Jack Schitt? We find ourselves at a loss when someone says, "You don't know Jack Schitt"! Well, thanks to my genealogy efforts, you can now respond in an intellectual way.

Jack Schitt is the only son of Awe Schitt. Awe Schitt, the fertilizer magnate, married O. Schitt, the owner of Needeep N. Schitt, Inc. They had one son, Jack.

In turn, Jack Schitt married Noe Schitt. The deeply religious couple produced six children: Holie Schitt, Giva Schitt, Fulla Schitt, Bull Schitt, and the twins Deep Schitt and Dip Schitt.

Against her parents' objections, Deep Schitt married Dumb Schitt, a high school dropout. After being married 15 years, Jack and No Schitt divorced. Noe Schitt later married Ted Sherlock, and because her kids were living with them, she wanted to keep her previous name. She was then known as No Schitt Sherlock.

Meanwhile, Dip Schitt married Loda Schitt, and they produced a son with a rather nervous disposition named Chicken Schitt. Two of the other six children, Fulla Schitt and Giva Schitt, were inseparable throughout childhood and subsequently married the Happens brothers in a dual ceremony. The wedding announcement in the newspaper announced the Schitt-Happens nuptials. The Schitt-Happens children were Dawg, Byrd, and Horse.
Bull Schitt, the prodigal son, left home to tour the world. He recently returned from Italy with his new Italian bride, Pisa Schitt.

NOW when someone says, "You don't know Jack Schitt," you can correct them.

Sincerely,

Crock O. Schitt

NaNoWriMo: Day 20 - I hate jeeps. Sugar is the bomb. Bob is my hero.

Wrote 2,481 words last night. Getting into a good groove, with lots and lots of action and excitement in the upcoming chapter. Oh, and I took care of the jeep. Took care of it nice and good.

I killed the jeep. HAH! You hear that, little characters? Hold up my progress and you're gonna get it! Anyone who's a writer will understand the excitement I feel for off'ing an inanimate object. The rest of you can credit it to insanity, if you must.

On a side note: Sugar and Bob from Survivor are pure awesomeness. Did you SEE that episode last night? HILARIOUS! Dude so got what was coming to him. IN. HIS. FACE! This should certainly be one of the crowning moments of Survivor sexiness. Oh and Bob, I never knew you had a little bit of evil in you. *sniff* I'm so proud. Makes me even more excited that my character Rem looks exactly like you.



Unfortunately, I'm still in third place in Fantasy Survivor. Matty, get voted off, kplsthx. You're cramping my style, being that you're the MVP for the two people who are beating me. I so should have picked Bob for my MVP...

Do you think I'd freak Bob out if I sent him fan mail?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Day 19 - Indecisiveness and Scrabble

3,166 words. I has productivity! I was going to write more, but I couldn't make a decision about what I'm going to with the jeep in my manuscript. Sounds devastatingly interesting, doesn't it? Perhaps, it also appears that the answer should be very uncomplicated. Well...uh...

Where is that runty pink rabbit when I have an actual use for his services...

Anyway. Pft. I still haven't made a decision. And I'm bogged down with little tasks and busy work today at work, so I haven't given it any further consideration. Apparently sleeping on it didn't magically provide me with the answer either. Though I did have a crazy dream about Dr. House, a hotel, and running away from a group of assassins on the roof top of said hotel in the rain.

Anyway. Last night I thought I might be able to hit 50k today. I think, perhaps, my optimism may have been a little extreme.

Oh, last night Erik and I played Scrabble. I lost by like 10 points - GRRR! (well, more if you don't count "IQ", which I only resorted to after I let Erik put "Lace" on the board after he said his turn was over and had I played "Que." Hmph!) I blame Erik's strategic placement of "Toe", which blocked 1/3 of the board off for the rest of the game, for my loss. He also played "Than" right where I wanted to put "Noodle". Well, if you look at the picture you can see it was a pretty good game. Oh and "Ripples" - just wanted to point out that would be my word.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

March 23, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins releases for PC.

Bestest. Early. Birthday. Present. Evar.

Evaaaaaaaaaaar!

Warning: I will be unavailable for human contact of any kind during the week following this date.

NaNoWriMo: Day 18 (otherwise known as the day of three W's)

Writing, Warhammer and Wall*E day.

I put in 1,876 words yesterday, just enough to squeak me over the 40k mark. That's pretty neat. Means I'll finish about a week or so ahead schedule. By finish, I mean write 50k words. Finish, in all its bendable definition, does not refer to the end of my manuscript. I'm guesstimating I'll come in around 100k. Which means, this puppy needs to be finished, as in finished-finished as in rough draft finished, before I leave for my holiday vacation in December. This is because January will be the month that ate my soul, otherwise known as the month I spend editing until my eyes bleed.

Warhammer Online started their newest live event (for those of you who were wondering, I did get my pretty mask from the Halloween event last month). Here's the details, if anyone wants to know more about it. This new event is called Heavy Metal and is introducing two new classes to the game. Last night I popped on for about half an hour to do my daily live event task (I get points and fun little items, woo!) and if I do the tasks every day for the next two weeks, I get to play the new classes early. Meh, I'm more excited to be able to secure a name for a character I might never play, than actually playing the new class. Hehe!

Bought Wall*E on DVD last might and watched it with Erik. Love that movie! Anyone who hasn't seen it yet should check it out. One word of warning! Don't watch the Burn*E short film unless you've seen the movie. It gives away all about the main movie, so watch it afterwards. The Presto short film, however, is completely unrelated to the movie, ergo, safe to watch ahead of time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Day 17 (complete with shopping extras and pictures)

It went well. I hit about 3,100 words, putting my total at 38,140.

I might have written more, but Erik and I went to Freddie's to pick up a few things, which evolved into getting a few things for Thanksgiving and Christmas including, but not limited to:

a tree, a turkey, a baster, two really big knives, a thermometer, three boxes of ornaments (of which two sets are purple), Christmas kitty place mats, white lights for the balcony, silly Christmas presents for my co-workers, a two pronged fork for poking the turkey while Erik cuts it (I don't use big knives. It's bad for my fingers and his toes), and an extension cord

I guess being away from the warehouse has lessened my rabid hatred for all things Christmas. Though when Erik started singing Christmas songs, I did threaten his life. Some wounds may never heal.

Here are some pics:



Erik, contemplating how to make the branches look as fluffy and real tree as possible.



Kyra, watching Erik as she plays with her most favoritest toy ever. Yes. That would be a twisty tie.



My lame attempt at making an artsy-fartsy picture of the ornaments I picked out.



Tada! Our little tree, with the cats in hot pursuit.



Chunky Butt approves this festive decor!

The madness shall extend through the holidays!

Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award

Would need a manuscript ready to submit by Feb. 2, else run the risk of not making the quantity received cut off.

I'm gonna give it a try. Heh...this should be interesting.

Shit.

NaNoWriMo: Synopsis

I've been taking part in some critiquing threads over on the NaNoWriMo forums, so I figured I'd post my synopsis in-progress here. Check it out:

The world is ash. Humanity clings to the edges of the continents, leaving the center lands to the corrupted and walking dead. Society has rebuilt itself, with the undead serving as the center of commerce through arena warfare. Wranglers and herders capture wilds, the unchecked undead, and pit them against one another as warriors; gladiators. Gambling, murder, and true death are the philosophies that make a forsaken Earth continue turning on an empty axis.

Kumari, a wrangler whose family was lost, exists to survive; the only fight in her soul is that she will decide the means of her own death. Driven by the need for food and water, Kumari achieves success in the arena, fueled by her uncanny ability to select the perfect gladiator from the wandering hordes. When a gamble against her fiercest rival turns sour, Kumari uncovers his scam and takes from him his treasured child-whore, Heaven.

As Heaven struggles somewhere between the disruption of her compliancy and acceptance of misery, and the chance live for herself, Kumari stares in the maw of her only fear when she is bitten by a wild, and the death she believes so strongly in is threatened.


Oh, by the way, this work in progress is still called "The NaNoWriMo book" or "ZG" which means zombie gladiators. Apparently, I've lost the ability to come up with titles.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Days 14, 15 & 16

Saturday marked the halfway point for NaNoWriMo month, and I can happily report that I am ahead of schedule. Woo! 35,004 words and counting.

Day 14 - I've discovered my two biggest hurdles in writing I think - having a bad day at work and having too much spare time on the weekends. Out of the two, bad day at work as so far been worse for my writing than slacking on the weekends. Friday sucked, resulting in a less than stellar word count of 1,498.

Day 15 & 16 - Over the weekend I faced my smaller nemesis, which is basically slacking off to play video games, or do whatever else I could be doing besides writing. While it ended with me putting it off (I wrote at night both days, right before bed) I still managed to get my word counts both days, banking 1,845 and 2,018.

Overall, what I'm hoping will come of all this is a new found dedication to my writing, which I've always had in my heart but never in practical application. On a good day, where I'm writing something exciting or just find a groove and go with it, I can put in 1,800 to 2,000ish words in just an hour. One hour! I have now firmly decided that there is no longer room for excuses. I don't care what else is going on in my life, there will never again be no time for an hour, at least, of writing a day. As for a bad day at work? Well, they're going to happen. I've just got to try and make myself get something done when they do.

Eventually, writing will become editing, rewriting, etc. But the truth remains the same. I have many, many hours for many, many things in every day. One of them should always be available to work towards my dream. One of them will always be available.

Besides, I've already set a new goal to continue on after NaNoWriMo ends. Amazon.com is having their second Breakthrough Author contest, which ends with three people getting publishing contracts with Penguin. The entries start on February 2, 2009, and they cap after a certain amount of submission are received. Which means I need a synopsis and a finished, polished manuscript by January 31st.

Time to get this dream out of idle and on the road, for real.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Day 13

Got in 1,780 words yesterday, but I'm not sure what I really accomplished. I did some character development post mortis, but I feel like the plot has stalled a bit. I'll see how today goes, and if it still feels as if its putting along, I might jumped forward and fill in the transition later. Or maybe I don't need a transition, at least not an extensive one. Maybe it will just be:

Kumari opened the door, stepping through and into the lab. Everyone was silent, watching her carefully, each for their own reason. She ignored the boring eyes, the slack faces and the questioning expressions.

"We're leaving."


Actually, I think it will be that. The plot ball needs to get rolling, now that the plot bunny muffed up my pace.

I have a milk crate.

Ask a particpant in NaNoWriMo, I recieved weekly pep talk letters from some published authors to try and keep me motivated. This week's, however motivating it may be, discusses what could possibly be my biggest flaw as a writer. Check it out:

"Dear NaNoWriMo Author,

I know what you’re doing. You’re thinking about cheating, aren’t you?

Ha! Caught you!

Come on. One cheater knows another. You think I’ve never been there?

Maybe for some of you it’s not too late: you haven’t crossed the line…maybe you’re just entertaining the idea of abandoning the story you’re currently working on.

Maybe you’re just thinking of taking a break to jot down a few notes about the story you just thought of--that ultra-fresh, totally cool, sure-to-be-a-bestseller you dreamed up the other morning while you were supposed to be figuring out where you took the wrong turn on your work-in-progress.

But I’m here to let you know: That’s how it starts. The next thing you know, you’re doing character sketches. Then a little dialogue. Then whole scenes.

And then you’re through. You’ve given up on your work-in-progress entirely, and the next thing you know, you’ve started working full-time on this new story you thought up. I know only too well what comes next. The excuses. The rationalization: “So what? So I switched stories. I’ve still got a work-in-progress. It’s just not my original work-in-progress. So I’m a little behind in my word count. I’m still writing, right?”

Sure, it seems innocent enough. But the problem with doing this is that of course the new story always seems better than that old busted up, out-of-control story you’ve been working on for so long. That new story has the aura of dewy freshness to it. It’s calling to you! It’s all, “Yoo-hoo…look at me! I don’t have any plot problems and my characters are way-intriguing and some of them wear leather jackets and oh, yeah, you know that weird transition thing you’ve got going on near chapter four that you can’t figure out? I don’t have that!”

I know. It sounds good.

But how long until some other story idea comes along and twitches its enticing little characters at you, and you decide to abandon this new one for it? How many words will you have then?

Not enough for a whole book, that’s how many. And here’s the thing: If you keep doing this, you never will.

Do you think I haven’t been there? Cheating on your current work-in-progress with a new one is the oldest trick in the book! I have a plastic milk crate crammed full of stories I started and never finished because I cheated on them, then got so enamored of my new story, I never went back to the old one. Over and over and over again.

And that, my friends, is how you never finish a book. Take it from someone who has hundreds (maybe even a few thousand) of unfinished stories because of this phenomenon.

So stop right now! Stop using a new story idea (or whatever excuse you’ve come up with) to avoid the work you still have to do on your current work-in-progress!

Put the Shiny New Story away for later, when you’re done with your WIP! If your Shiny New Story is that good, it will still be there waiting for you.

And please…don’t end up like me, with a plastic milk crate full of half-finished stories. Think about what made you fall in love with your work-in-progress in the first place. Shower it with the attention it deserves.

And whatever you do, don’t let it end up in the Milk Crate of Shame. Think of where we’d be if all the great stories we love today ended up there, uncared for and forgotten by their authors, because they got distracted by some Shiny New Idea while they were working.

Take a deep breath. There. Feel better?

Yeah. So do I.

Now let’s get back to work.

And about the cheating…I won’t tell if you won’t.

Meg

Meg Cabot is the author of the Princess Diaries series and the soon-to-be-released Abandon. You can learn more about her and her work by visiting her website."


Le sigh. I can think of at least six things in my milk crate. I haven't strayed off the good path yet - I'm still writing the same project I started for NaNoWriMo. Sticking to it after November will be a test. Will I make it adn stick with this story post NaNoWriMo? Or get distracted by something shiney...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today's Theme: Character Murder

I was going through my Google read, and came across this post by David B. Coe from the blog Science Fiction and Fantasy Novelists. Since it matches so keenly with today's extremely obvious theme development, here it is:

"I’ve just started work on a new project — new series, new world, new everything. I’m actually very excited about it. Yesterday I finished the first chapter of the first book. I mentioned this to my wife last night and then added in passing, “Yeah, the first chapter is done and I haven’t killed off any characters yet.” To which she replied, “Wow! Have you ever done that before?”

I started to assure her that of course I had done this before, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I probably have never written the first chapter of a first book in a new series and NOT killed off at least one character. And in fact, if you take into account all of my completed novels (including the one that’s due out in January, the one that I just submitted, and another that hasn’t been contracted yet) I’ve killed off a character in the first chapter of more than half of them, accounting for some six or seven books. Actually I have something of a reputation for this among my readers. They joke with me about it, telling me that they rarely get too attached to anyone they meet in the early sections of my books because they know that there’s a good chance that the nice person in chapter one won’t be around long enough to see chapter four or five.

What does this say about me? As a writer, I mean. I’m sure it says lots about me from a psychological standpoint but I really don’t want to go there. Why am I so ruthless with my characters early on? Is there a point to it, or is it just a quirk of my writing?

Well, I can tell you that as far as I’m concerned there is a point to it. Several, in fact. First off, I like to start my books with action, with something that will grab my reader by the collar and drag him or her into the story. And let’s face it: there’s nothing like a good murder to kick off a plot. But there’s more to it than that. One of the things that sometimes bothers me as a reader is meeting a character who (whom? I always get this wrong….) I know from the start is untouchable. Oh, this character might get beaten up and will surely find him or herself in one tough spot after another. But I can just tell that this person will survive every predicament and prevail in the end.

I don’t want my readers to feel that way about any character. Of course in my own mind there are characters who I won’t kill off. But I don’t want my readers to know that. And one way I maintain that sense of danger, the feeling that no one is safe, is by introducing a character early on who seems central to the plot, who appears to be one of those untouchable characters. I get inside this person’s head. I give my readers reason to care about this person, I allow them to get comfortable with this person’s point of view. And then, just as my readers are growing attached to this person, I kill the character off.

I know. It’s terribly cruel. I’ve angered readers by doing this. I’ve gotten emails from people who can’t believe that I would kill off so-and-so. They rail at me. Some tell me that they cried. But not one of them has ever said that they stopped reading the book. And in fact they usually tell me that they loved the book in spite of the loss. I believe they loved the book, at least in part, because of the loss.

I’m writing all of this because there are times when I’m reading the work of a beginning writer and I find that the plot isn’t moving anywhere. It’s clogged in a sense. And without wanting to seem too heartless, I will suggest to this person that one way of unclogging the narrative might be to kill off a key character. Many object, at least at first. But many others consider the suggestion and immediately see the possibilities a well placed murder might open up.

Let me put it this way: If there are characters in your story who you can’t even conceive of killing off, then chances are your reader can’t conceive of you killing them off either. And that means that when you place them in danger, the threats to them don’t carry as much weight as they ought to. Think about it. And then consider whether it might be time for you to murder a character.
"

I have to say, I agree completely. And, as anyone who reads what I've written or listens to be babble endless about my plans for my project in the works, I have no issues killing off important folks. In fact, I find it to be a staple of my writing.

I mean, seriously (granted, all this is in the context of the type of story I enjoy to read and write. Yes, happy stories with fuzzy animals are cool too - but someone even died in Kung-Fu Panda, yo.) The world is at war, millions of people are dying all over the globe, but the group of ten adventures get through amazingly without ever suffering a loss? In stories where tragedy is everywhere, violence and evil are your next door neighbor, and the characters are constantly thrown in the way of a freight train for the sake of adventure, some one is going to bite it. And they should! And if they don't, the story (fiction as it may be) looses some sense realism, at least for me.

That being said, my readers better watch out. I'll off anyone at anytime! Bwahahaha! Even at the whim of Jenn's crafty suggestions - who will be getting all of my hate mail.

NaNoWriMo: Day 12

The plot bunny has won. Appropriately enough, there was a thread up on the NaNoWriMo forums regarding this exact thing. The thread was called "Bring Out Your Dead!"

Here's my post:

"RIP (Character name removed to preserve the unexpected factor for those I will be forcing this manuscript on):

You were the reliable backbone, the support for my MC as she struggled to maintain a grip on her humanity. Then, well, an evil plot bunny entered the scene and pushed you into saving (Name also removed, see reason above), the guy who was actually supposed to die. My MC was forced to execute you, as one who is bitten by a zombie must be killed, and will now spiral into a bit darker of a place than originally intended. Your death, however, gave me a much needed journey into the softer parts of my MC before she closes them off completely.

Jenn will be getting my hate mail for this character death as well, just to keep the established trend. (Even though I can't actually blame her for this one. Unlike my poor, poor character Tannorth, who had a very happy life ahead of him at one point before Jenn suggested his most brilliant death.)
"

My first character is dead. My main character had a slight mental break down. I wrote around 2k words, pushing my total to 27,863.

Today, she'll pick herself off, do some dusting off, and continue on the ever-turning and ever-changing road of plot.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Day 11

3,373 words, putting me 56 words short of halfway!

I'm nearly done chapter 7, in which I'm nearly to the end of a character's life. While originally I was very decided and sure of who would die, I'm now having a slight change of mind.

A death is necessary at this point in the novel, to demonstrate how things work in this world. One death would be easy, and perhaps predictable. The other option might be more shocking, and emotionally difficult (hopefully) for the reader and the characters. The ripples would be wider, for sure. It would change the dynamic of the group of characters greatly, if I chose to off the second choice.

Maybe this is what an evil plot bunny truly is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Days 6-10

Well, time flies when you're mixing fun with suffering.

Day 6: 3,106 - a little short of my 3,600 mini goal, but not bad.

Day 7: That's funny...I don't have a document for that day, because I did a big fat 0 words. I don't if this is an acceptable excuse, but I had an all day meeting Friday, which left my noodle moodled. And not in a good way. Yay for working a bit ahead of schedule. Though my nice spreadsheet tracker had to fill in a space with a big NEVER in red and yellow, reminding me so kindly that writing 0 words a day will result in one NEVER reaching their goal. Thanks Excel, I needed that wonderful boost of confidence.

Day 8 & 9: The weekend. I must say, I had some lack of motivation. I just wanted to slack off. I wanted to play video games and did. I went shopping with Erik for a new mattress - which is king sized and very comfortable, I might add - and then for sheets, and a big dish to cook our turkey in for Thanksgiving. We went out to eat. Watched TV and movies. While we waited for the mattress to be dropped off on Sunday, we played some Civ IV. I got level 31 on my Witch Elf in Warhammer Online. Went to the grocery store and got toys for the cats. Played with cats, took pictures of cats.

Never fear. I got 2,020 words on Day 8 and 1,689 on Day 9. Just goes to show me that despite everything else I want/need/must do, there's always time to write if I tie myself to the chair and MAKE myself do it.

Day 10: Another all day meeting at work, which I expected to leave me with another goose egg for a word count. However, Erik and I went out to eat, bought lots of candy from Trader Joe's, and saw a movie (Madagascar 2), and when I got home I found some motivation. In 30 minutes - before Heroes started - I pumped out 936 words. I was proud of myself though. When I started NaNoWriMo, I was planning for these two days of meetings (day 7 and 10) to be a sure mojo killer, part of the reason I've been pushing myself to get in extra words as often as possible.

Now that work is back to normal, I'm sure my writing will be back to normal. In fact, it already is. I'm 250ish words away from hitting today's 1,667.

Now to get level 32, so I can go play with the big boys in Bastion Stair.

Uh, after I hit 1,667 words, of course.

Priorities, yo.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Talking smack is bad karma.

Poor Marcus. My MVP got the boot from Survivor last night, and I have no one to blame but myself. My trash talk was his undoing, I'm sure, as well as my own.

Forgive me, Marcus.

And I'm still in second place. (Even if its by less than 100 points, which is chump change!)

So, my intentions are to silently contemplate my still very possible victory. All is not lost yet, but I will certainly be refraining from leaving threatening messages on Momma Donna's son's (my best friend Nick) voice mail.

Enjoy your solace...for now!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

An upset is coming...

Momma Donna better watch out! I here by predict that I will be usupring her position as the current leader in Fantasy Survior. Tonight.

That is all.

NaNoWriMo: Day 5

2,543 for Day 5, putting my total at 14,871.

I tried a new approach at the end of my writing yesterday. I was doing really well, but needed to take a break right in the middle of an exciting scene, which ends with the introduction of a new character who is pivotal to the story. Well, instead of coming back to it, I decided to pick it up today, right in the middle of the fun stuff. I'm hoping it will give me a boost today, and get me up and over at least 3,600 words if not more.

Rawr! Nothing like some zombies beating each other up to get the mojo in motion!

LOL...that just sounds completely absurd.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Day 4 Retrospective

I ended Day 4 with around 3,600 words for the day. Didn't quite make it to 5k again, but yesterday was still my second most productive day so far.

Here's hoping the very-uninspiring-by-intending-to-be-inspiring meeting I have at 11 doesn't murder my mojo for the afternoon.

What I do find interesting is that I've already broken 12k words (12,274 to be exact) in four days. I was working on my "dark book" for at least three months and I'm only at 26,000 words or so. It took me over two and a half years to finish my first completed manuscript draft, which was about 208,000 words. Granted, I did a lot of editing and rereading while I was working on those projects, but it's kind of refreshing to realize that I can produce pages this quickly when I bunker down and fight the distractions writers face every day; the million reasons not to write regardless of their relevance.

Oh, and I have a confession to make. I reread chapter one yesterday, after I hit my 3,600 words. On the up side, I didn't edit or rewrite - with the exception of fixing a few glaring typos that caught my eye. I found myself having a bit of a wandering mind, concerned if I was writing the story I set out to do. I confirmed that I'm on the right writing track, even if my main character Kumari is stretching her wings in a slightly different direction that I originally expected.

I also confirmed that I'm going to have a lot of cleaning up to do come December.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fable 2 = Fun

It was a pretty fun game. The voice acting was great, particularly Theresa. The humor is fantastic and the dialogue is very creative. I had fun being "neutral" - which really ending up meaning I would the occasional very evil thing to make my meeting get a little further away from holy good person. It was fun having a family -my hero ended up with two kids and a hubby who showered her in presents all the time.

As for game play, the controls were easy to use. The graphics were nice, and I really enjoyed have my pet puppy with me all the time. Overall, the main story is fairly short, but interesting. I wish it had been a bit longer, even though you can keep playing afterwards. Doing random quests are fun, and most have their own little tidbits of story to go with them, but I really like having a strong main plot - which this game had, albeit a short one.


Erik also finished Fable 2, and starting a new character with the intention of being as evil as possible and finish the game as quickly as possible. I'm interested to see how evil looking he actually ends up being.

I think this game is good for the casual gamer as much as a more regular or hardcore gamer. It's short, but I can't say at any point that I wasn't having a blast playing it.


Oh, and this comic about Fable 2 is absolutely hilarious - and true. (Click on the image to make it bigger.)


NaNoWriMo: Day 3 & 4

Still kicking. Got around 1,900 words banked yesterday (Day 3), most of which I wrote at home after a bit of a struggled. Work was long, with some annoying stuff going on - unfortunately, that tends to put a screaming damper in my motivation and creativity. On a normal day, I wouldn't have done anything. But, since it was NaNoWriMo, I forced myself to sit there, damnit, until I met my minimum word count of 1,667.

I was pleasantly surprised when I did a compulsive word count check and discovered I had exceeded the bare bones. Nice.

However, slacker-ness took over right after I saw that I'd surpassed my goal. Opps. No problem though, I'm in good spirits today, and just finished 1,480 words towards my Day 4 goal for today. Time to do some work work though! Silly job for paying the bills and stuff.

I wonder if I can hit 5k again today. Hmm.

I'm also starting to get the uncontrollable itch to reread. I must be strong! I mean, jeez, it's only Day 4! Aggh!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Update: Monstrous Anthology

Looks like my short story won't be seeing the shelf until early next year. Here's the latest news:

Just wanted to give you an update on our anthology Monstrous (aka Giant Creatures). Editing and layout are completed. Cover is very close to completion.

While we'd originally planned on having the book out before the end of the year, and this point that's extremely unlikely. In that light we've decided it's best to hold off until early next year making the book and stories eligible for awards, best-of anthologies, etc. in the new year.


Oh well, no Monstrous stocking stuffers for everyone who has ever met me. Don't fret - it would still make an excellent Valentine's Day gift or a nice edition to Easter baskets.

Would be neat if the anthology got a award though. So, not all bad news. Just impatient news. Hehehe

NaNoWriMo: Days 1 & 2

Started great! I got about 5,000 words on Saturday and another 1,700ish on Sunday. I hit a bit of a wall on Sunday, as I didn't have my character name list with me. Dummy me left it at work. I hate skipping around, so I decided to take a break after I cleared 1,700 before starting the next scene (where I needed the names).

I ended up watching Resident Evil: Extinction, for zombie fighting motivation. So far, I'm still in fantastic spirits, and confidante that I'll meet 50k head on with no problem at all. In fact, I'm hoping to push myself and maybe knock out the whole thing by the end of the month. Whole thing being somewhere around 90-100k? We'll see.

Regardless, I'm getting a sense of perspective here. Writing 1,667 words a day really isn't that much at all. My real goal extends beyond November 31. I'm hoping this will form some really good habits, and get my ass in gear.

It's a wonder what a deadline in your face will do for productivity.