Thursday, December 16, 2010

Update and Musing

Despite your best intentions, I have learned that intent cannot compare to emotion.  Both excitement and disturbance upset the emotional balance necessary for writing.  Writing must be like growing for a plant.  If your pH is out of whack, you produce, but at greater expense of effort and the result will not be as it should. Writing comes from emotion, focused emotion.

What is throwing me out of whack?  Well, I'll share the positive.  I had a job interview on the ninth.  Then I had another scheduled on Monday, and it sounds like a sure thing.  I'd say I'm about 90% hired.  Perhaps would have been 100% today if everyone wasn't snowed--or iced--in.  It is a part-time job relating to writing. 

Even good changes upset your balance.  But, finally, this week I had time to think on the Walker Universe, and I believe I have shortened the number of books in the series to five.  This is quite a change from my once-upon-a-time, fanciful ten.  Today, I hope to resume work on it.

In the meantime, I am also brushing up on grammar from basic to advanced in preparation of my job's start date.  I have good working knowledge, but it has been a while since I thought in terms of subjects and objects and all that.  It is time to start; it'll be good practice.  You may see a few posts on this, dissecting some of my own writing into its grammatical components.  If they are of help, great.  If not, I hope after this week to start truly writing again.

Thanks for your patience, but if I do not see you again, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One, Two, Three: Index.

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Points One, Two, and Three: Edit One

Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  Below is the correct reading order.  You can also find the same on the Works in Progress Page.  

    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point Three: Edit One.

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point Three: Edit One

    Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  I will post the correct reading order as I go on the Works in Progress Page.  

    For those interested in reading what came before this point, I will post an Index shortly.

    By suppertime, I was finishing up work on what I termed the Final Project. Horse hated the entire idea. Over the last while of our time together, he did everything he could to jar the thought from my mind. He almost succeeded. A small band of survivors almost succeeded. Hope of escape almost succeeded. Any desire to fail at the Final Project died with them. Everything came to an end. Not everyone was so fortunate as to choose that end.

    Besides, the horse would survive. He survived before my coming, survived the mist, and would survive me taking leave. He was a survivor. I was not. I didn't have the heart for it. I didn't particularly want to die, but I was resolved to escape Paradise. Permanently. Leaving nothing behind for it take. Over the year, I had come to see that this was the only way left me.

    Walker Novel 2: Place Holder Two, Version One

    The following summary covers the more important bits that lie between the posted KPP2 and soon-to-be posted KPP3. For those interested in this novel for the story's sake instead of the writing method, I hope this summary will help catch you up and not spoil your reading pleasure.

    Summary of Main Events between KPP2 and KPP3.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    No progress

    No progress this weekend, due to happy and not-at-all events.

    Happy events included a Christmas walk where my mom, aunt, and I got to ride on a horse-drawn wagon.

    The unhappy events involved falling prey to a sneaky virus-like program. I assumed it was part of Windows Vista and telling the truth that my computer was about to go kaput. It took me about 12 hours to backup my data and remove 40 GBs of pictures from the harddrive. Then I scan disked. Then I let the program run. It did a few things. Claimed other things were still unfixed. The minute it asked for money, my spidey-sense began to stir. I went back into safe-mode, eventually stumbled across my Temp folder. Inside it, were several exe/applications that went into the trashcan. Why? Because it is extremely unlikely for any legit program to run from Temp. Once I did that, I was ok. Well, except a harddrive free space discrepancy--in safe-mode, I have about 82 GBs free. In regular mode? 70 something. Can't quite recall but I believe it is about 78 or 79. Where did they go?

    Anyway, lesson learned. Any program that claims critical problems? Check out where it is running from. At least something else was gained from this. First, I cleaned up my harddrive some, because these newer computers hate for you to dip under half-way mark on free harddrive space. Second, I have several backup copies of important files. Third, I had to pull out my older computer. It is slower but more reliable--love Acers--and is now my writing computer. My other one, which seems to get a couple viruses a year is now my Internet/Movie watching computer. Even so, internal harddrives are about the most reliable form of backup media. So my writing files and like are going to be backed up from Old Reliable to Panic-Attack Computer from time to time.

    So, those are my excuses. Should have time to write today and snippet tomorrow.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Belated Snippet of Walker Novel Two

    Normally I wouldn't post a snippet on Saturday, but yesterday got away from me.  So here it is.   A little setup and a little spoiler.  Walker has been rescued (that is KPP3, under revision now thanks to a nifty new idea that is gonna effect the rest of the novel from this point onward).  He is currently back in the border-guard/mehnsettir barracks.


    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Snippet #1

    Maha gestured me to a chair and bid me to sit.

    I declined.  And pulled out another special blend cigarette to replace the dying one.  Lit it from it.  After a deep puff, I asked, "How long have the Regulators been deceased?"

    That put her out of sorts.  After a moment of a recalculation on her part, she answered, "Six months after you were exiled."  She eyed the cig.  "Put that out.  You know regulations."

    I ignored her and stubbed the dead on out on my hip and flicked it into her gold-plated trash basket.  Even it bore her name.  "Six months.  Exactly how long ago was that?"

    She gave me a look.  Then gave my cig a new one.  Considering the damage smokes have done to my mind, eh?  I tapped it on a paper-free edge of her almost entirely-paper-free desk.  Her face alternately colored than paled.  Then firming her look, she ponied up, "Six months ago."

    A year.  A year.  A year.  One godsdammned year.  That was how they counted the time they robbed me of.  One year.  [1] My fingers crushed the cig better than my heel ever could.  I pocketed it.  Waste not, want not.

    "You seem surprised, Walker."

    And she had gone blind in the interim.  Surprise was the least my emotions.  Then again, she always found it easy to read what she wanted to in me. 

    After a moment, I managed plainly enough, "Time flows differently when you are the other side of the equation, Colonel."

    Her title was like a slap.  And she returned to the true business at hand, moving to slide behind her desk.  Keeping her desk and duty between us.  She was always good at that.  "You are the current sole heir as Regulator to both Lands, Walker." [2]


    Footnotes, spoiler-heavy.  Some sections have been whited out, so that if you want know, highlight the area with your mouse.

    [1]  It will be explained later on that due to a device on Paradise, his place of exile, he has been gone far longer than one year.  It was in fact, 50 years by his reckoning.  How did he survive that, without aging?  Well, I have a few excuses in place, but he won't learn the real reason until probably Novel No. 3. Back to story.

    [2]  In novel number one, in Romeo and Juliet fashion, the heiress of the Regulator's from the Land he calls home married the heir of the other Land.  In the first novel, couriers are introduced.  They can carry objects, magically miniaturized inside themselves.  They can even carry souls, memory, personality.  Walker is a former courier (no one know this, it is illegal for mehnsettirs to be one), and due to circumstances, he ended up carrying the heiress inside himself and having to marry the heir in her name.  His too--for, in this world, there are such things as name-marriages, or in name only marriages.  This is the type of marriage he has to both heirs.  The main purpose of this kind of marriage is usually to marry an heir to his or her sibling.  This makes it so that all children of either person can be potentially heirs, along with the sibling, without the siblings having to actually have children together.  Sorry, I found the whole sibling-marriage thing of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt icky.  This is how I used that penchant but got around it too for my higher-ups.

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Snippet or Post

    I only have a few more edits left on my Key Plot Point Three.  It is a huge, troublesome part.  8,500 words.  Would have probably been 9,500 if I hadn't removed a section from it for use later.  Even then I am not comfortable with it.  Maybe because I'm not sure if all of it is really Key Plot Point Three material or not.  Also, there is a section of it that is slow.  I envisioned that scene, but what you see in your head doesn't always translate to the page so well.  Maybe that is also part of the problem.  It is not quite what I saw in my head.  Another problem is that it is harder to cut a scene when you know there is some good bits in it.
    Alright, I talked myself out of it.  I will post a snippet today and work this weekend on that plot point.  Monday will be good for posting the actual bit.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    On Beginnings

    Interesting question about beginnings in first person novels at the Absolute Write forums here:

    Beginnings are hard enough when you write in third person, but when you can't even say the name in line one or hint at gender because you are using "I" instead of "he", it sucks that much more.  It is even harder when you can't just skip the beginning and write it later when you know what your novel is really about.  With my new method of writing, whether I write beginning and ending first or just all key plot points, I can't skip the beginning.  It must be written.  And it must work, because around it and other plot points, I flesh in the novel.  Then let's not forget the problems that occur if this is not the first novel in your series. 

    It's tough, writing beginnings. 

    How do you do it?  By not trying to stuff a ton of stuff in a paragraph one.  Besides giving a picture of where my characters are, the key thing I seek to explain is gender.  My main characters/pov characters are male.  I'm not.  And I sometimes put them in situations where the default expected gender is not male. 

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    KPP3 and a Snippet Challenge

    I am making good progress on KPP3, about halfway through it.  However, it is far easier to write when you have been making progress several days in a row than it is to write coming from a standstill.  For that reason, I need to make sure I keep writing five days a week.

    I am starting a writer's challenge in which I post small sections of my work to my blog on a frequent basis.  The rules would be that I must snippet something every other weekday.  It must be of snippetable quality.  And it must come from recent content, dating no earlier than a week ago.  My only excuse would be when I post the next section of the novel.  In that case, the section posting would replace the snippet posting entirely for that day.

    Well, them's the rules.  Let's see if I can keep to 'em.

    Monday, November 29, 2010


    While I am recovering from the holidays, company, and sneak-attack on our dog by a skunk, I am browsing the internet.  I found an interesting blog post about agent myths.  The comments are just as interesting as the blog post.  What do you all think?

    By the way, I don't think I found anything as pervasively awful as the smell of skunk.  Dog's been washed twice, but the smell that seeps into the house takes weeks to go away and it will infiltrate every room and cabinet while it is at it.  I can't even stand doing my allergy medicine right now, because I don't want to smell right now.  Body spray, air fresheners, and even fragrant essences like you put on potpourri can do nothing for it.   And eating?  Forget about it.  That will have to wait until I am out of the house.  Gah!  

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    On Deadlines and Holidays

    I love the sound of deadlines whizzing by, such as the one I set for my nano novel.  I haven't been able to look at my novel for two days straight.  The last few days have been spent in Thanksgiving prep.  And for every preparation you start, two new ones beg for attention.  Hopefully before my family starts trickling in late tonight, I'll have a chance to work on writing again.  But I'm going to have to set new goals.  No shame in that.  As long as I keep moving forward, I have a chance at whatever goal I set.

    Anyway, for those celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving.  I'll see you after it is over, if not before.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Short Fantasy Novels

    Not too long ago on Query Shark, literary agent Janet Reid wrote that "VERY fast paced high octane crime novels clock in at 55,000 words. Science fiction, and the requisite world building usually start at double that. I assume she would say the same for fantasy. 

    Part and parcel of that desire to "take a calculated risk" as outlined in my last post is the consideration of such information from prominent sources like Ms. Reid.  Seeing as how my goal is to write shorter novels whenever possible, I have some unique challenges in store for me.

    However, I do admit to a contrary spirit whenever someone says something like this.  Usually that spirit results in a self-dare.  But I have enough on my to-write list as it is.  In fact, an entire multiverse, of which Walker Universe is one node, that is threatening to expand everyday.  I guess my ornery side will have to make do with Walker Novel 2, which I am actively working on to keep under 69k words.  Make do, for now that is.

    Writer as an Entrepreneur

    Mommy Millionaire author Kim Lavine listed the following as key characteristics of a successful entrepreneur:

    • Persistent
    • Goal-oriented
    • Willing to take a calculated risk
    • Possessing strong vision
    • Competitive
    • Self-confident
    • Creative

    Lucky for me, we don't have to possess all of these from the get go.

    Why do I bring this up?  Because when I first read it, I saw the strong correlation between being a writer and being an entrepreneur.  And if you choose to become a self-publisher of your own works, that goes doubly so. 

    So what do you think, fellow writers?  How do you do according to this list?  Are you like me and have a little ways to go yet?

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One and Two: Index.

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point One and Two: Edit One

    Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  I will post the correct reading order as I go on the Works in Progress Page.

    Key Plot Point One, Edit One:

    Place Holder Number One, Version One.  (For an essential summary of what happened between Key Plot Point One and Two.)  

    Key Plot Point Two, Edit One:

    Thanks for reading!

    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point Two: Edit One.

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point Two: Edit One

    Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  I will post the correct reading order as I go on the Works in Progress Page.  

    If you are interested in reading what came before this point, here are the links for Key Plot Point One's Parts. 
    To know what events occurred between Key Plot Point One and Two, read this Place Holder Summary.  Thanks, and enjoy!


    Sleep was a bygone luxury my nerves couldn't afford. The stones protected us, in theory, but deep down in my soul seeded doubt bloomed anew each time mist--and night--fell, and the eating began. Something I couldn't see and couldn't really feel kept the mist and the death at bay. How long could that last? Magic never lasted forever. Would I even know it when it fell? Would I be sitting here one night, and the predators swarm right in?

    With thoughts like this huddling in my mind as I kept my solitary watch, I was lucky to snatch a few minutes here and there. Horse did better. He did not share in my uneasy vigils, instead sleeping for great spans of time, far more than any horse. Before, I would have taken courage by his seeming lack of concern. What was good for the horse was good for the man. Usually. Except that more than once, when the mist was weak at the beginning and end, he'd forayed amongst the monsters and carnage for dinner. In those brief moments, more one of them than one of us. Even so, he was still part horse, he never went far, would become skittish at sudden movement, and took great care to shake and rub of the ash-like mist once he sought sanctuary with me again. But in those moments, when his demon side would emerge and cavort with his kindred, I never felt more alone.

    Walker Novel 2: Place Holder One, Version One

    The following summary covers the more important bits that lie between the posted KPP1 and soon-to-be posted KPP2. For those interested in this novel for the story's sake, I hope this summary will help catch you up and not spoil your reading pleasure. For those interested in the writing method, the following hints at the nature of Events Level One method. Either way, this is a learning process. My own plans change from the experience gained by the actual writing process. I expect them to change even further, and many times over, by the time the novel is done. But instead of dreading it, I'm coming to rely on it in order to lift practical ideas from purely theoretical.


    Walker 2 Novel: Update on Progress

    Healthy progress so far. 
    • Events-Level One outlined--all 10 of them.
    • 1500 words on ELO1--but not done yet.

    After I get a few more words on ELO1, I'll take a break and start on KPP2 edits.  Originally, I intended to edit and post the Events right after I write them.  The OCDish part of my brain prefers balance and wants to do edits on ELOs like I ended up doing on KPPs--that is, after all of them are written.  The part of my brain that dislikes so much editing agrees.  So that may work out better this time around.  Consistency.

    So that is my new plan--ever-changing, ever-keeping me on my toes.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    The Next Step

    The whole point KPP system is that you write the most important parts first of your novel.  And then you fill in around it.  I had seven key plot points.  They are, in order: the beginning, launch, turning point one, mid point or turning point two, turning point three, climax, and ending.  As I am still new to writing out of order, I wanted to maintain some sense of linear progress.  That is why I wrote these in the above order.  I am saving writing completely out of order for a later stage, when my small attention span is under its greatest strain to stay focused to get finished with this novel.

    So what comes after the KPP?  Well, it is time to return to the beginning and start writing the Events - Level One (ELO) sections of the novel.  In this sense, events are the next most important sections of the novel to write.  They are sense are as self-contained sections as KPPs are.  They can be a scene or a chapter or multiple scenes or chapters.  They are written in order like KPPs are.  But more importantly, ELOs support the KPPs.  Generally you have one before and one after each KPP.  Of course, the beginning and ending will only have one associated ELO, but generally so will the climax which abuts the ending.  Sometimes there is only a minor event between two KPPs.  If that is the case, that event is not written at this time.

    However, I know of the following ELOs for sure:

    • One after the beginning.
    • One after the launch. 
    • One after turning point one.
    • One before midpoint.
    • One before climax.

    My outline is not set in stone.  It becomes more focused with these KPP and ELOs.  However, I do feel there must be some more ELOs.  After I finish the first one, hopefully I'll have a better idea.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    On Key Plot Point One: Plans Often Go Awry.

    If Key Plot Point One (KPP1) were placed in a novel proper, it would encompass several chapters and scenes*. It was all that I felt the Beginning of the novel should contain. Even so, KPP1 did not go according to plan. Originally, meeting the horse was part of KPP2, but it fit better here.

    Also, I originally planned on editing each KPP on the day after I wrote it, so I could maintain running edits throughout writing the novel. I had to adjust my plans for nano. For that reason, I am considering posting multiple versions of this novel as it goes through different editing phases for those those interested in the adjusted method for writing out of order.

    I also planned on writing the one of the first Event PPs yesterday and editing KPP2, but fixing the formatting errors took longer than I thought on my posts. If you notice any lingering errors, please let me know. I just fixed a stray bold tag. I hope there are no others. But to return to my point, the writing and editing goal will begin today**.

    That is all I have time for now. Next posts should include more information on KPP and Level One Event writing.  Perhaps even a posting schedule.



    * Key Plot Points were originally called Key Scenes.  While I am not happy with either name, Scene is confusing since I use the term "scene" to denote a smaller, self-contained section of a chapter.  Sometimes a chapter is made up of just one scene.  To avoid confusion, I'm getting away from calling them Key Scenes.

    **  As KPP2 is under a thousand words currently, it shouldn't take long to edit and post.  However, before I post, I have to figure how to properly summarize the content that lies in between it and that PP.  It will be spoiler-filled, for those more interested in the reading than the writing, I'm afraid.  That is another problem of writing out of order--it is hard to share your work. 

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Index to Parts.

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point One: Edit One

    Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  I will post the correct reading order as I go on the Works in Progress Page.

    Phew!  Finally all posted.  For reading ease, here are the links to all parts of Key Plot Point One.  Later on, I will add links to discussions on the technique I am using and how it is working out so far.


    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part Four/Last

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point One: Edit One

    This key point has been divided into several parts for easier loading.

    You can find Part One, Part Two, and Part Three here.


    Part Four (Last Part)

    I didn't intend from the get-go to use the demon horse's stonehenge. It had a distinct lack of appeal, as the creature obviously wanted something from there and would go there when he woke up. He had sent me an image of it, placing me there too. If I could allow it a human level of reasoning, that all spelled one thing: a trap. All good reasons to stay clear and steer toward the woods.

    But the nearer I got to the skeletal woods, the less I liked it. At certain angles, the woods looked more skeletal than I liked. Sickly. Diseased. And creepy. I couldn't quite convince myself things were not moving within, including the trees themselves.

    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part Three

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point One: Edit One

    This key point has been divided into several parts for easier loading.

    You can find Part One, Part Two, and Part Four here.


    Part Three

    I learned to adapt a soft focus. Soft on target, just to the point where if you looked, you saw something odd, a shimmer like crosshatching of one reality over another but not quite. Ghost like. What it took was time, lots of bumps and bruises and sore egos and sorer patience, to train my eyes to see differently enough. To focus on these different wavelengths of hatching. The clearest, crispiest ones were the ones that I did my best, fastest travelling by, no matter how indirect that route was.

    Eventually, I put my hand on the door of the main house and let go of my focus. The illusion slammed back, and no amount of rubbing took away a bit of my headache. I squinted at my watch to figure how long the direct indirect route took me.

    What it told me made me seek stronger confirmation elsewhere.

    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part Two.

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point One: Edit One

    This key point has been divided into several parts for easier loading.

    You can find Part One, Part Three, and Part Four here.


    Part Two

    The schism spat me out, face first, onto a road. As I pushed myself quickly to my feet, I expected an audience and the need to explain matters when I really rather not at best. Or a group of people who cut and took first and asked questions later at worse.

    Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part One.

    Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

    (c) Jodi Ralston

    Key Plot Point One: Edit One

    This key point has been edited into several parts for easier loading.

    You can find Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four here.


    Part One

    It was a beautiful day to be exiled. Our party of eight stood in a schism's clearing, illumed by that giant, restless, iridescent spark. The air didn't suffocate. The sun didn't blind nor boil you. The mid-morning sky was a cheery clear blue between fluffy confections of . . . . Who was I kidding? Pretty or not, they were going to throw me through that schism never to return this reality again, for doing the right thing.

    "Does the accused have any last words?"

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Behind, behind, behind

    I haven't worked on my nano for days.  Why?  You can read why on my Happy Freelancer blog post.  Winning nano this month isn't too likely, even if I get 50,000 words.  Why?  Because these words are out of order.  Even so, I am going to write everyday, but to boot, I am editing my Key Scene/Plot Points.  I only have the Ending left to write.  It will be interesting to edit the Beginning at the same time as I write the Ending, because the two will play off each other.

    Anyway, I will not make nano this year, but I will write, at my own pace, and I will edit, at my own pace, too.  And as Sam Wyly wrote in 1,000 Dollars and Idea*, defeat simply means you have a new goal to set.  So, I will set a goal for this month.  To have the edited Key Scene/Points posted on this blog by November 30th.  And that goal and others will help me toward achieving my ultimate:  to have the entire novel posted on this blog** by December 31st.  



    * Amazon Affiliate link. 

    ** That does not mean a complete novel, ready to be sold.  This is merely the first round of editing.  The novel will still have another editing session left.  Even then, I wait until the entire series is finished before I self-publish, and the series is somewhere in the range of 8 to 10 books, not including side projects.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Nano2010: Progress - Week One

    Most of my real progress on my nano novel is written down on notebook paper.  A couple days back I came up with what my novel was about and I did a ton of outlining and thinking.  I think a novel will let you know what it is about, if you haven't figured it out already in the planning stages.  Knowing what I know now, my Plot Points or Scenes have changed.  For instance, my Launch Point (the point between between Beginning  and Plot Point One) was the meeting with the demon horse, a character that would change Walker's life.  That Point got merged into the Beginning one and now Walker's capture by the evil, magical mist and mist-men is the Launch. 

    So, with all of these adjustments, some Points are longer than others.  Launch isn't short, but the last Plot Point--Number Three--that I finished is long, weighting in around 6,000 words.  The one I am currently working on, Plot Point Four, looks to be of average length.  I plan on finishing it during tonight's session. 

    But that brings up another point.  My plans for writing one day, editing the next, and starting the next section of writing doesn't working out well when I'm on such a tight deadline of one month, one complete novel.  I'll have to do something about that.  Not sure what yet, but it will mean changing my plans.

    But that is all right.  After all, although Sun Tzu wrote "[the] general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought", he also wrote that "according as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans."  Success as a writer relies both on the strength of your original planning and your ability to adapt when needed.

    I'm adapting.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Nano2010: Day 1 So Far

    Project:  Walker Universe Novel #2
    Due to his actions in Novel 1 (Nano2009), Walker is exiled, but this supposedly paradisal world has gone to hell--being filled with a hungry mist and even hungrier monsters.  Worse yet, hell is catching, spreading to his home-world too.
    Words:  644 words so far.  49,356 to go.
    I stayed up late to write them.  It only took me a half hour to write that.  Stayed up till about 1:00 AM to work on my scene outlines.  They are very rough, and I will not be posting them until they are edited.
    Plans:  To write Key Scene One today.
    I plan on finishing writing Key Scene One today.  Tomorrow, I will start out by editing it and then writing the next Key Scene.  Want to know more about my method of writing and "Key Scenes", read this blog post.  Basically, I write out of order, writing the most important "Scenes" aka Story Arcs first.
    Scene Info:  Entrance into the new world and first look at it.

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Nano Countdown: Research

    Hawn State Park Pictures - Sept 2010 Time gets away from you so easily, I'm afraid.  I am short on Old West research for my nano novel.  You may be in the same position as me.  So what can you do?  Schedule reading periods.  Read something before you start the day's writing.  Read something after you are done for the day that will help you with the next day's piece.  In my case, I have to decide what I need to know about Old West for each "key scene". 

    For instance, the Beginning "Scene" or "Story Arc" is Walker's exile and entrance into a new world.  His first impression.  Originally, I envisioned this as a grassy open place with a dusty road, kinda nondescript.  If I want to hint at my Old West inspiration right away, I am going to have to do better than that.  That is where research comes in.  So nondescript is out, however whatever Walker sees cannot be super scary.  I am saving that for the Launch Scene/Arc, the first firm sign of this world's weirdness in the form of a supernatural and rather toothy horse.  So although this scene is short and my research vague, I know if I do some reading, I'll find that which I need.

    The next key scene is the Launch.  It involves the actual meet of man-eating horse and man, so horse research is needed.  After all, the horse makes a living pretending to be that which it is not--a regular horse.  It has to act . . . horsey.

    That is the first two bits of research I need to do.  How about you?  Research all done or do you conduct research on an as needed basis?

    Friday, October 29, 2010


    Recently, I was reading The Real Kate Chopin by Lorraine Nye Eliot--great book, especially for a yardsale find--and in it, Eliot wrote:

    "For years Kate Chopin had been reading authors she admired in search of an authorial voice suited to her temperament.  She found it as she began to study and translate works of a French writer who would have as great an influence on her writing as Gustave Flaubert had on his."

    It seems odd to seek in the voices of others your own voice, but I have to admit whether or not you seek, you can find it that way.  The biggest influence on a great deal of my fantasy writing is an author who taught me about how pace, action, and humor can co-exist with engaging characters, emotional connection, and angst.  He taught me this through his own works--books I could read in a day.  Books I couldn't put down.

    I don't try to emulate this author.  I just try to learn what I can and apply it in my own way to my own works.

    My greatest influence to this date is Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files series.  Chopin's was Guy de Maupassant.  Who is yours?


    Links and Books of Interest in this Post:
    (Through Amazon - Amazon Affiliate Sales)

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Author, Lead Yourself

    No one can tell you what to write.  No one ever should.  But you have to realize your choices comes with disadvantages.   Sun Tzu wrote in Art of War:

    [In] the wise leader's plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.

    As a writer, you are you own boss--your own leader.  You must know both the disadvantages and advantages of your choices to succeed as a writer. 

    In my case, I choose to write what I like.  Which means, I choose a smaller audience that fantasy allows.  Of that genre, I choose a smaller subgenre.  Finally, I choose a smaller audience that non-traditional publishing allows.  But with self-epublishing, you can get your books into the hands of the readers faster.  It means I can write them to the length that fits the story--and my ever falling attention span.  It means that I can choose to write the books I want, when I want to write, and not be told I shouldn't write them because not enough quantity can be sold to make them viable.  It means I can experiment with them, as well.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to every choice you make.  So I ask, what are you choices?  What advantages do they give you?  What disadvantages do they give you?  Do you write with both in mind?  Do you lead yourself?


    Links or Items of Interest:

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Fantasy Q&A: World-Building and Fourth Wall

    On a thread at the Fantasy Nano forum, someone brought up a question that every fantasy writer must address.  How do you explain the world-building or "rules" of your world in your novel to the reader without making it seem like you are explaining the world-building or "rules" to the reader.  Because in most fiction, you don't pierce or break the fourth wall--you, the author, don't talk directly to the readers.  It is a convention readers expect to be upheld.

    So, how do you relay necessary information to your readers, so they can understand?

    There are a lot of tricks out there.  Such as having a character who does not know the conventions of the society.  Or you can let the reader learn by immersion, like how Antonio Banderas's character in The 13th Warrior movie does to learn the language of his host people.  These and sundry other methods have advantages and disadvantages.

    But whether or not you have a character introduced the rules of the world like us readers are, it doesn't change the fact that world-building affects more than a single situation.  It affects the whole novel.  This is true in the same way your character will change what plot options and events are possible, because he will only act and react in certain ways, different than another character will.  So, immerse your novel in world-building.  If you want to reveal how a certain magic works, do the obvious scene with it--and then go beyond it.  What indirect effects does this magic type have in the world.

    For example, say your character needs to eat a certain plant to do perform a certain spell.  Then think that plant's implications.    

    How is that plant integrated into his world--is it illegal?  Is it as common as aspirin?  Do you have to have a script to get it?  How expensive is it?  Can anyone use it?  Who sells it?  

    What are the effects of the plant on the body--does it make the user high?  Does it give him indigestion?  Must he use more and more to get the same spell effect?  Is it addictive?  Does it react badly with other plant-based spells?  Does it eventually build up in the body, and the build up kills?
    And so on.  Each answer gives you a possibility of showing something about your world-building in the novel.  In a line, in a paragraph, in a fragment of a scene; in a scene, in a chapter.  Small or large.  You can pick which tidbits are relevant to the current scene and show the rest later or not at all.  Some can be implied by the other answers.  You just have to play with it.  You just have to focus your scenes and chapters through an additional lens of world-building, by asking yourself constantly how world-building affects and is affected by this and this and this in your novel.

    Basically, world-build in the details of your novel whenever possible.  Let your world-building be inseparable from your rest of your novel and its components of character and plot and so on.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Story of your Nano Story

    In Mommy Millionaire, author Kim Lavine suggests having a story for your brand--that is,  

    "a written document twenty-five to one hundred words long describing the unique values and benefits of your product or brand".  

    This brought to mind a start-up business class I am taking (First Step FastTrac), in which we budding entrepreneurs are to write a business concept statement.  A business concept is brief--one or two paragraphs and no more than seventy-five words.

    This brought to mind how agents and fellow writers tout the ability to describe your novel very briefly.  In fact, they suggest about the same amount of words. 

    Doesn't seem to be a way to get away from sharp summarization skills in life, huh?

    So, time to think.  What is the Story of this year's nano story?

    So far I have thus for Walker Novel #2:   

    Due to his actions in Novel 1, Walker is exiled, but this supposedly paradisal world has gone to hell--being filled with a hungry mist and even hungrier monsters.  Worse yet, hell is catching, spreading to his home-world too.

    This is rough, but even if it weren't, this would likely change as I write the novel.  However, the First Step literature gives you some very practical advice that relates to writing as well.  This is
    "it is common for the initial Business Concept Statement to change during the process [of writing the feasibility plan]"--which is the point of the class.  "In fact, you may have more to worry about if your business concept doesn't change as a result of the feasibility plan."

    I feel the same is true in writing.  The premise you come up with in the beginning is not always the same as that you finish with.  It will be interesting to see what difference 50,000 words makes on mine.


    Books or Items of Interest Mentioned in This Post:

    Tough Slog Through the Salt-Marshes of Art of War

    I have been reading on Art of War.  Honest, I have.  But I picked a bad time to adopt a new study technique.  Not to say the area I'm studying isn't helpful . . . if I were to find myself in need of fighting in a salt marsh . . . but in relation to modern day?  Not finding much to relate to.  But I will take Sun Tzu's advice on getting past this tough part, taken from the salt-marsh section itself:

    "In crossing the salt-marshes, your sole concern should be to get over them quickly, without any delay."

    Hmm, perhaps I found a way to relate this part of AoW to the modern day after all.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Naught For One, but Something for Two - Nano Strategy - Walker Universe

    Well, my plans were for naught on Walker Novel 1. But I did get more ideas for the series and Walker Novel 2 (Nano'10 Novel). I am trying a different method based off a book I was reading, the Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray. What I am doing is as follows:

    • Key scenes intro.  I have Beginning and End, Plot Point One and Plot Point Three, Midpoint or Plot Point Two, and finally, I have Climax plus one more.  Literary agent Donald Maass spoke of bridging conflict in his Writing the Breakout Novel.  IIRC, his idea of bridging conflict is the series of conflicts that lead up to the first main conflict or event of the novel.  So, in the name of balance, I decided the introductory conflict is not Plot Point One, but falls in between the Beginning and that, like the Climax is between Plot Point Three and the Ending.  This key scene I call the Launch, for it is where things start getting more serious.   Therefore I have seven key scenes.   Now, what do I do with them?
    • Key scene use.  I write these key scenes first, generally by pairs.  Why?  Because I am trying to keep my ADHD brain engaged.  Writing out of order helps.  But I also dislike rewriting, so my plan is once I write these key scenes, to go back and edit them into shape.  From around these seven pillars, I can start the process of filling in the rest of the novel.  I'll speak more on that in another post.  
    So that is it thus far on my technique of laying out foundation or pillar scenes.  I'll leave with books of interest (through Amazon Affiliates) that might be of interest.  I have not read the last book below, but it looks like one to put on my to-get list:

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Journal of Self-EducationTechniques

    I have begun reading a one-of-a-kind book that came too late to help me on my first elit campaigner book.  But I will read and adapt its methods as I go, in preparation for second and third choices in the campaign.  Especially, I seek to adjust it for someone with ADHD on the brain.  What book of coolness am I talking about?

    This one:
    It is about starting your own classical education, but it gave me an idea to become more engaged with this blog.  How?  By adopting and adapting the journal of self-education Ms. Bauer speaks of:

    [The journal of self-education] is the place where the reader takes external information and records it (through the use of quotes, as in the commonplace book); appropriates it through a summary, written in the reader's own words; and then evaluates it through reflection and personal thought. ~ Page 36.

    Most of my journal will be offline and personal, but this blog will hold clips I want to share.  The likely format will be as follows:

    1. Quote or focus
    2. Summary
    3. Rumination

    It is worth a shot anyway, and will likely lead to better implementation of the study material--which is half of what I'm shooting for in the first place.  Action, not just studying.

    We'll see how it goes.  Expect the first post tomorrow.


    Prolonged Campaign on Art of War

    Photo by vlasta2, found on Wikipedia,

    The halfway point of Sun Tzu's Art of War is not just in sight, it has been passed.  I am on nook page 72 out 135.  Thank goodness.  But that reminds me of something.  So, so long ago, I wrote about a key point in the manual.  It was relevant then; it is relevant now. 

    "When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened." ~   From Page 36, Part II, Number 2

    The reading and studying of AoW has threatened to become the much dreaded prolonged campaign.  But Sun Tzu also pointed out:

    "Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays." ~ Same page, Same part, Number 5.

    Though the last part is a downer due to my procrastination, the first part is a pick-me-upper.  Haste does not make great.  The way I read it is:  if a war is not won in a day, why should I expect to the study thereof to be accomplished any faster?  You see, there is much of Sun Tzu's advice to digest.  I'll get dyspepsia of the mind if I try to consume too fast.

    That reminds me of a fresher source of advice.  A Science Daily article covered a study on complex decisions and thinking with the following result:

    "the volunteers who were told to consciously think about the decision for a specific amount of time performed poorly in both experiments [conducted in the study]."  (emphasis mine)

    And that: 

    "although unconscious thought may help us make the right decision in some instances, it is often better to rely on self-paced conscious thought and really focus on the problem at hand."
    Basically, the study showed that putting a time frame on the decision resulted in poorer decision-making results than letting your unconscious decide or letting yourself decide at your own pace.  This involved complex decisions, however.  But it made me wonder:  can it be applied elsewhere in our lives?  Namely, are we wrong to set a specific time-limit on our goals?  So, I began to think, what's the harm in testing my theory out by choosing to read and study at my own pace?--as long as their is an actual pace involved.  Non-existent or when I get to it doesn't quite count, I'm afraid.  Let's see, shall we?

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Nanowrimo 2010

    This year's nanowrimo novel is second novel in the Walker series.  The first of the series was last year's nano winner.  It's been quite a while since I wrote fiction, so in preparation for this year's marathon, I am starting a personal marathon.  I will rewrite Novel #1. 

    Stay tuned for more information on this series, my rewriting technique, and how it goes.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Art of War Ebook - Regrouping

    Photo by vlasta2, found on Wikipedia,

    I am behind on my Campgain for E-Literacy first book choice, Sun Tzu's Art of War.  Why?  Because I fell prey to what exactly Sun Tzu warned about:

    ...if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped.

    . . . though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

    Basically, I didn't time my campaign well.  But with Sun Tzu's advice, I can reshape this campaign for success.  Starting with refocusing.  I'll craft a motive statement, asking myself, "What do I want from this campaign?"  And, "Whom do I want to reach?"

    With that information, I can build a new schedule.  A new plan.  New goals.

    Then, I do it.

    So, Campaign for E-Literacy is about to get a second wind once I do some regrouping.


    Like this article?  Read more articles or posts based off Sun Tzu's advice on my other pages:
    1. Happiness Spotter
    2. Examiner
    3. Gather
    4. Hub
    (links added as they come available)

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    A is For . . .

    Introduction:  On Happiness Spotter, my self-help blog, I wrote about challenging your fears to get what you want in life.  My first program to do just that is this blog, Campaign for E-Literacy.  What is Campaign for E-Literacy?  In a nutshell it is:  Studying twenty-six non-fiction ebooks from Project Gutenberg.  I will select the books by using a title from each letter of the alphabet.  I also must read all ebooks on my nook e-reader.  I am doing this all in the name of increasing my knowledge and competency in life.  And I am starting today.

    Book choice:  What is first up in the Campaign for E-Literacy?  The letter A.  In this case A is for . . . Art of War by Sun Tzu.

    Book reasoning:  It is a classic that survived millennia, and by that reason alone is worth listening too.

    Conclusion:  That's it.  Consider joining me in reading the Art of War or starting your own literacy program.  I would love to know your thoughts on all this.

    Introduction to Campaign for E-Literacy

    Introduction:  On Happiness Spotter, my self-help blog, I wrote about challenging your fears to get what you want in life.  My first program to do just that is this blog, Campaign for E-Literacy.  What is Campaign for E-Literacy?  In a nutshell it is:  Studying twenty-six non-fiction ebooks from Project Gutenberg.  I will select the books by using a title from each letter of the alphabet.  I also must read all ebooks on my nook e-reader.  I am doing this all in the name of increasing my knowledge and competency in life.  And I am starting today.

    My reasoning:  I will enjoy this challenge immensely--reading, learning.  I love both.  If one could make a living by reading, I would be a millionaire already. 

    If that were not enough, here is a quote by John Kieran, an American journalist.  He once said, "I am a part of all that I have read."  I believe that.  So, if I read about knowledgeable, competent people writing about their area of competence, then I become competent, bit by bit, piece by piece, book by book.

    A win-win.

    Format of the program:  I will post updates on my progress, interesting outside material I have read or learned about the subject/author/work, related books I want to read eventually, and the knowledge acquired thus far.  These will mostly be weekly and at milestones as I read through the book--i.e., the beginning of it, the quarter mark, the half-way point, the three-quarters mark, and the ending.  All of this will be posted on this blog.

    Conclusion:  That's it.  Consider joining me in reading my A book or starting your own literacy program.  I would love to know your thoughts on all this.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010


    One positive thing that comes from writing for yourself is that as new inspiration hits and you reach the limit of your very short attention span on one project, you can switch to another project until interest in the old reignites. That is what I am doing.

    Time constraints and work stress limit what I can do on a larger project right now, but except to chip away at the prewriting--which I will still do on Confessions--but I want to complete things. So, I'm working on serialized novellas, a mysterious fantasy.

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Confessions: Prewriting: Concept

    Confessions of a Vampire's Courtesan:  Prewriting: The Concept behind the Novel

    I promised to post what my novel, Confessions of a Vampire's Courtesan, is about. I delayed because I am still trying to figure that out for myself.  That is why I am going through some exercises, based partly off The Weekend Novelist and partly off pure instincts, to have a better understanding of it.

    The concept is in the title. A young man becomes a "courtesan" to vampires. Or rather, he becomes the first in this society where vampires rule and humans are food, game, potential vampires-to-be, or none of the above.

    But you see, Bek, my "courtesan", chooses this path for several reason, but the desire for revenge against those that used, hurt, and discarded him drives him darkly.  His crimes catch up to him, and the vampires force him to produce his confession, which will be publicized as a warning.  However, since he has a flair for entertaining and an unrepentant spirit, he writes them his way.  Sounds fun, huh?

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    First Up For Bat: Confessions series

    So, with my changed goal out of the way, what is up first?  It isn't Labyrinth; no I've been bit--or fanged--by the vampire bug.  I have fantasy novel  . . . series . . . world dealing with a ruling faction of vampires and discriminated against werewolves.  The novel in particular I am working on is called Confessions of a Vampire's Courtesan.

    It has a Regency/Victorian England inspired setting, and is big on "manners".

    I'll post details on it at a later date.  However, I will say my intention on this novel is get it ready for nook by August.  I also want to try a lot of interesting (well, to me at least; hopefully to others too) marketing methods.  I'll post about my campaign and writing progress (and my new techniques) as I go.

    Well, that's it for now.

    Creative path

    Do you ever feel like you have so much to say, but when it comes down to it, you can't get any of it out.  Same way with writing?  My life is . . . complicated now.  My original plans are shot, but I do know I am heading in the right direction.

    I don't want to find agents/editors . . . right now.

    I don't want to seek traditional publishing . . . right now.

    I don't want to live my life by writing "don'ts" . . . not now, not for a long damn time.  By don'ts, I mean every single piece of advice you heard from "don't use passive voice" to "don't write a series".  These I don't want to hear any more.  Stick the fingers in the ears and shout"nah nah nah, not listening", because I am not on don'ts anymore.  I'm on dos.

    So, what am I going to do?  I am going to live by wants.

    I want to write for myself. 

    I want to share what I write with those who have the same tastes as I do.

    I want creative control--i.e., I want to self-publish.

    I want to see my works available for the nook.  I want to read them on the nook (well, on a functional nook, but that is another long, tiring story). 

    I want to see them eventually printed out cheaply and sitting on my book shelf prettily.

    So, I have an insane goal.  All the sound novel ideas I came up with prior to this year?  I am going to write/finish them all.  I don't care how long it takes.  After I get those out of my system, then I'll see if I want to try the traditional route again.  How's that for decomplicating?

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010


    I've been reading some Napoleon Hill, and though my intent is not to get rich by writing, I am still finding ways to apply his points to my writing goals.  I said I was torn between trying for traditional route with Lab/Six and the self-publishing route.  Well, one key ingredient to success is to know exactly what you want.  I can't want both traditional and self-publishing.  That divides my desires.  That makes me the dog with two bones who ends up with none.  I have a hard enough time writing with allergies, overtime, stress, and enervation all eating away at my time; I can't spend my time worrying about what to do with this novel.

    Enough is enough.

    I want to see Lab/Six out there with the world.  I want to see a related duology out there too.  And I want to be in control of my "vision" of this interlocked series.  Therefore, I am going to self-publish and I my goal is to have all three in ebook form by Nov 1, just in time for a nanowrimo break and an anniversary celebration.  After all, these novels are all nanowrimo novels.  That would be easy, if all three were in the same condition as Lab/Six, which needs the least amount of editing work.  But Book One of the duo needs major surgery and Book Two needs rewritten.  Doesn't mean I'm going to say, "Impossible."  Instead, I'm saying, "Hell yeah, let's give it a go."

    But there is more to success than a definite desire, a definite goal.  Another important ingredient is deciding what I am willing to sacrifice to see my desire come to fruition.

    My first sacrifice is distraction.  I'm addicted to reading agent and publishing blogs, keeping up-to-date on the markets and the tastes of agents and publishers.  Well, no more.  I will stop reading them.  Self-publishing these novels will take up the entire year, at the least.  I do not have time to work on and research markets/agents for a "traditional route" novel and my self-pub trio.  Not this year.

    Which leads me to my other sacrifice.  That vampire novel that I wanted to be my "traditional route" novel?  That I was hoping would hit before the trend grows sour?  That I wanted to work on at the same time as Lab/Six?  It will wait until January 2011. 

    Final sacrifice?  I'm cutting back on my nonfiction.  Originally, I intended write three writing articles a week on my blog and submit four articles to outside venues every month.  Now it is just Motivational Monday posts and about two outside articles a month.  I would love to do more.  I would love to self-publish some writing article ebooks, but that is no longer a goal for this year.  Rather, that is pencilled in for 2011.  This is a year for fiction.  My fiction.  My way. 

    These are the first steps toward success.  Though they may be small, they will lead me far.  I'll keep you updated on just how far in this blog.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Lab or Six

    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet." 
    --Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

    I wish that were true with fiction.  As you can tell by the title of my post, I'm torn between two names for my fantasy novel.  Six or Labyrinth--Lab, for short.  Both would work for this novel . . . wouldn't they?

    I could just be displacement at work.  I've started Lab/Six/Temporarily-Nameless novel again.  I've been going back to my old novels, novels that I still believe in, and decided instead of trunking them, I'm going to dust off those old dreams and release them.  . . .. but I'm still undecided whether or not to try the traditional publishing route with this novel or try a free-post/self-pub route.  There are reasons for both routes (suppressing the urge to open FrontPage and whip out a table showing those differences in nice tidy rows and columns).....The point is, I got lotsa words, lotsa thoughts on both sides of the issue, but I'm not getting anywhere on what to do with the novel once I am done.  When you don't know your destination, it is easy to get lost.  It's even easier to give up before you really get started.

    I hate getting lost.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    New Blog

    This blog used to a be a part of my old blog

    Why did I move?  The old blog felt too cluttered.  This way I can focus my fiction in one place, my writing tips and motivations in another place, and my somewhat personal writing experiments and my speech disorder blog elsewhere entirely.

    I have copied over some old posts, but I hope to start new content before too long.  Thanks for your patience.