NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 16: Gold!

“It could be gold,” I said. The sun was high above us, and far too hot for comfort. Our only solace was the fact that the boys’ tracks were particularly easy to follow at the moment, almost as if they’d stopped trying to hide where they were going. That was our theory on why the tracks were so weird for our first couple of days on the trail. It didn’t make any sense if you were looking at it like it was a couple of treasure hunters actively looking for new treasure. But if you assumed they’d already found something and were trying to make it look like they hadn’t, it got closer. It wasn’t perfect, but nothing is, and if you wanted to assume that they didn’t necessarily know how to lay a misleading trail, everything matched up pretty close.

Hence my assessment that they had found a whole vein of pretty, yellow metal.

Tanner snorted. “Gold?”

I nodded. “Gold. It could happen.”

“Have they even discovered gold on this planet?”

I shrugged. “Don’t know. Probably?” What can I say. I’m many things, but a geologist is absolutely not one of them. It all looks like rocks to me, with the only variations that I can usually pick out being substantial changes in color.

“Yeah. Sure. And gold is pretty, but it’s not that good for much these days. Diamonds, on the other hand. Those are useful. Expensive, too. I could see how one of the underworld bosses might try to kill someone to make sure he got to keep them all for himself.”

“Could be a particularly large one,” I said. “A fabled diamond, larger than any ever found on earth. A previous treasure hunter caught a glimpse of it but had to leave before he could grab it. The story’s gotten around, these two actually found it, and your underworld boss found out that they knew.” I paused and thought about it for a moment. “That could be it.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“You started it.”

NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 14: Conflict!

I finally reached that point where the characters are starting to do things I don’t expect them to. I’m not sure if this means I’ve reached a new writing zen or if it’s just another sign that the monkeys now run the circus. Check back next time to see if I’ve figured it out, or if I’ve just gotten more confused!


“Tann. You want to stop for the night?”

I stopped walking and waited for my brother to do the same. I hadn’t noticed it while my legs were still moving, but a weary tingling throbbed in my calves and thighs. It was probably going to turn to a dull ache before the night was through, though if I admitted that to myself or anyone else, I’d also have to admit that I’d been taking it too easy and relying too much on mechanized transportation for the last few months. Somehow, it hurt even more than yesterday, which I had hoped wasn’t going to be possible.

“Tann,” I said again when it looked like he hadn’t heard me. “We’re not going to find them tonight. And I’m tired.”

He took a few more steps but his pace had slowed, and he turned a moment later. “Yeah,” he said. “We can stop.” He sounded tired.

“You okay?” I asked.

He shrugged once and nodded. “Yeah. Just tired.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Just tired and also annoyed that this isn’t as easy as you thought it would be?”

“No.”

“Really?” I asked. “Because I’m pretty sure you thought this was going to go quicker than it is. You were going all white knight and everything.”

“I wasn’t. Come on, Miranda. I’ve been doing this for years. I know how search and rescue jobs go. Probably better than you do, honestly.”

“Yeah,” I said. “You do. And even I know that this is par for the course. So what’s eating you?” I waved my arms more expressively than I needed to. “This is normal!”

“It’s not!”

“How so?” He was shouting. I was yelling. Our voices echoed off the canyon walls, and any plans we’d had for being subtle were straight up gone.

“The trail is wrong. Too obvious, not natural enough, too old.”

“Seriously, Tanner? They’re a couple of lost treasure hunters, not mob triggermen.”

“We don’t know that.”

I glared at him. “You’re kidding me. Did you drink enough today? Because right now it sounds like you got a little too much sun.”

“I’m fine. And I mean it. This doesn’t make sense. The whole trail is too cold. We should be gaining on them, not just barely keeping pace. It’s like they tried to leave the tracks we expected to see, but they’re moving just as fast as we are. It doesn’t make sense. Tell me I’m wrong.”

NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 9: Not a Subtle Person

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Current word count: just over 20K. Writing is going weirdly well from a word count standpoint, and I’m slowly, slowly learning to accept that the first draft is terrible no matter what, and that’s okay. Most of it is currently filled with plotholes and outright plot changes halfway through, but I’ve got a lot of good stuff to work with, and I’m excited to see what happens when I get to edit in December.

Also! I just “finished” the first story that’ll be part of the finished project, and I’m getting more of an idea for an overarching arc. So overall, not too bad for nine days into NaNoWriMo.

Amos Masters is many things. An idiot isn’t often one of them, as much as I wish I could say it was. He was up to something, and while he couldn’t be sure that I knew exactly what it was, he had every reason to believe that I knew something. Combine that with the fact that I was clearly baiting him, it wouldn’t take a genius to realize that I was working an angle. What can I say? I’m not a subtle person.

But I can work to my strengths. Maybe I can’t trick someone into betraying their intentions without them realizing it. But I can definitely piss someone off enough that they do it anyways. Especially if that someone is a hothead like good old Amos.

“I’m warning you, girl. Get out of here before I do something you regret.”

I kept grinning. All he was missing was the long, waxed mustache and the ten gallon hat and he could’ve been a villain out of any old Western. He already had the growling drawl and the nasty sneer down pat. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that, friend. I don’t regret half the stupid things I do. You might manage to annoy me, or maybe even irritated me, but regret it?” I shrugged and spread my arms expansively. “Nah.”

NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 5

WHISKEYHILL

It’s already Day 5 of NaNo, and I’m a little ahead of schedule. So far, this feels way different than any NaNo I’ve done in the past. The words are coming easier, though it feels like there’s an absolute ton of chaff I’ll be sorting through once this is over. Okay, so that part’s normal enough. Anyway! Enjoy another snippet down below.

The first indication that things weren’t going to go the way we expected them to was the fact that we woke up the next morning to the sound of rain. Lots of it. Normally, that would have been a good thing. Despite the name, Verdant is usually anything but—at least, our little corner of it. And while mining and a burgeoning manufacturing business based on the stuff that gets taken out of the ground provide the basis for most of the economy here, there’s also a fair amount of agriculture that goes on as well, since that’s the only way you’re going to be able to feed everyone unless you want to ship in food from another planet. That might have worked back when the colony was smaller, but now that there’s a good half dozen towns with more than ten thousand people in them, it’s just not feasible anymore.

Hence, agriculture. And anytime you’ve got agriculture, you need water. I mean, anytime you’ve got people anywhere you need water, but step that up a notch to water the animals and the plants you’re using to feed the people and things jump into a new realm really fast. But you’re not here to listen to me and my uneducated views on economics and ecosystems. So let me get back to the point.

While rain in the general sense is a great thing for the colony at large, it’s not the best thing for a twenty mile hike with a bunch of cows over the course of two days that’s going to involve some sort of camping. In fact, it’s probably about the worst sort of weather you could have.

Fine. Not the worst. That would be snow. Or maybe record breaking heat. But rain’s not great either, and while it was bad enough for the cows and the horses and the people who were going to be herding them east to Move, it was going to be even worse for the jeep. And by worse, I mean that it was a deal breaker. The road between Orsmith and Move, while it exists, is mostly dirt and occasionally gravel. Which means that when it rains, it becomes mud. Thick, nasty mud of the sort that sucks wheels down to the axles and doesn’t let go. There’s a centuries old joke about the difference between a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a rental vehicle being that you can take the rental everywhere. The jeep might have been both, but when physics itself starts conspiring against you, there’s not a whole lot you can do.

NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 1

WHISKEYHILL

Day 1! It took me a while to get into the swing of writing, especially since this is the first time I’ve done NaNo with characters as well established as Tanner and Miranda. The tone was a little… off for the first thousand words or so, but I started getting the feel for things after that. There’s not a whole lot story-wise for today, just an excerpt that I like well enough. Enjoy it below!

So. The babysitting job. Getting a group of about twenty colonists from Orsmith out to Move, twenty miles away. You’d think it would be simple, right? Even without much infrastructure, there’s still roads enough to get you through, and like I said, both Orsmith and Move are more or less central to the whole Verdant colony. They’re a little rustic, but hardly the uncivilized, wild edge.

Which would lead you to wonder why a group of twenty able-bodied folk felt the need to hire a pair of bounty hunter/mercenaries to get them there. Or it should. Should have raised up red flags for me and Tanner, too, but I was too busy laughing at the silly little colonists, and Tanner was too happy to have found something that wouldn’t bust up his leg any worse than the sheep-thing had already done.


Musings

[Blog] NaNo Cometh

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Six days! Six days until NaNo starts! Six days to get all that last minute planning in, six days to enjoy the fleeting treasure known as free time before the words swallow it all. Six days until we get to begin this wild creative rush.

I’m excited, friends. Nervous, too, but that’s how you know you’re doing it right.

Naturally, standard rambling blog posts will be on hiatus for the duration of the month, replaced by scraps and snippets (or longer bits!) from my great big Tanner and Miranda project, tentatively titled something fun and ridiculous like “Trouble on the New Frontier” or “The Tanner and Miranda Chronicles”. I’m not sure. Titles are hard.

What about all of you? Who else is doing NaNo this year, and what are your projects? Let me know down in the comments!

Musings

[Blog] Autumn and Winter and Early Sunset

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As happens at this time of year, the days grow shorter and darker and the nights grow longer and I remember once again that this is my favorite time of year. Those who know me know that I can, at times, be a bit of a homebody– and these cooler, quieter days are made for staying at home with friends and family, for drinking tea and hot cider, for sitting in front of a crackling fire and maybe talking or maybe not as the mood takes us. The fireplace is a little harder to come by down in California, of course, but we find ways to make do. And I think that’s why I love it when the sun sets early. It makes it easier to just sit, to just relax together.

Musings

[Blog] The Pantser (somewhat) Tamed

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I’m watching November approach with the usual levels of excitement and trepidation. I’ve participated enough times that the 1667 word/day goal no longer sounds absolutely insane, though the looks of concerns every time an innocent bystander stops long enough for me to tell them about the chaotic glory that is NaNoWriMo, the looks of concern they give me when I say the phrase “fifty thousand words in thirty days” remind me that this whole undertaking is a little bit nuts.

Fun, for sure. But also nuts.

And usually, I go into it with minimal levels of planning. By which I mean that I have a single sentence synopsis and rough ideas for most of the main characters when writing starts on November 1. And so far, it’s worked pretty well.

I wonder, though, if this year will be different. With one exception, it’s easily the most established story I’ve chosen to work on for the month. It’s also going to be a substantially different format and far more episodic than I’ve done in the past, and honestly, I don’t know if that’s going to make it easier or harder. Or neither?

I’m not saying I’m planning everything out. Maybe it would be a good thing if I did, but I haven’t managed to do it yet, and with less than three weeks before writing starts (!!!), I can tell you right now that it’s not going to happen. But instead of needing one big plot (which I kinda still do if I want to string all these stories together in a sensible manner), I’m going to need a bunch of smaller plots to get me from point A to point B.

Only time and writing will tell how that’s going to work out for me. Wish me luck?

Musings

[Blog] NaNoWriMo 2018 is on its way!

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I’m so excited! And mildly panicked, but that’s part and parcel. It’s October and that means NaNoWriMo will be here before we know it, and I’ll descend into the madness that is an average of 1667 words per day while still maintaining a ghostly semblance of normal life.

If you read the comments on last week’s post, you may already know this, but my project for this year is going to be a compendium of Tanner and Miranda stories, roughly compiled into an overarching story. That’s the plan, at least! We’ll what actually happens.

Regardless, my plan is to post bits and pieces more or less as I write them– parts I particularly like and do a decent enough job of standing alone– so look for that starting next month, and watch as I slowly lose my grip on reality and what it means to have a normal sleep schedule. I mean, that part isn’t exactly my plan, but I’ve done this crazy thing enough times to know what’s coming.

Writing Prompts

[Blog] Writing Prompts Round 3

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It’s been a week, and I’ve got responses to your prompts! Thanks to those of you who submitted! As promised, here’s some snippets from Tanner and Miranda’s adventures. I can’t confirm or deny if these are “cannon” per se… but they’re the sort of thing that might happen. We’ll see how many work their way into bigger pieces someday.

I was afraid to ask where Tanner had gotten the truck. The truck. The honest-to-goodness, Earth-made, antique, gas-burning, two-door, flatbed, ratting, rumbling hunk of metal that coughed and sputtered its way right out of the pages of history and down the street until it stopped right in front of the boarding house. I should have known I wouldn’t have to ask.

“I told you a few of these old beasts made it out to this end of the galaxy.” He sat in the driver’s seat, grinning ear to ear. I stood and stared at him and tried to figure out when and where he’d learned to drive stick.

When I finally found my tongue, I only managed one word: “Why?”

He cackled. “Because. Come on. Get in!” He leaned over and popped the door open with a rusty creak that would have sent any proper vehicle straight to the junkyard. And yet, I got in. And we spent the rest of the day cruising down the back roads of Halverston in a crazy, out of date contraption. And it was one of the most enjoyable things I’d done in years.

“I’m going to crash it.”

Those weren’t the sort of words you wanted to hear coming out of your copilot’s mouth. Not ever. But especially not when you were seconds away from being home safe. Not when you thought it was finally over.

Funny how they didn’t surprise me, though. It was the fact that I agreed with him that would have worried me if I’d had the time.

“Big explosion?” I asked. I was already reaching up to flip off the safeties and the dozen automated systems that would make our plan impossible. The cockpit shrieked in consternation.

“The biggest,” said Tanner. And he grinned.

“You’re sure it’ll work?”

“Nope. But I think it might, and that’s good enough for me.” He glanced over at me and winked. “Given the circumstances, you know.”

I snorted. “Fine. Good enough. Bail out in 3… 2… 1…”

“Please pass the salt.”

“I told you! I told you it was a terrible idea! I told you and you didn’t listen!”

We were running. People were shooting– at us. My carefully laid plan was strewn behind us in ruins, and somehow we’d managed to complete the job despite it all. All that was left now was getting out alive. And yelling at Tanner for getting us into this mess in the first place.

We skidded around a corner and crashed to a halt behind a couple of huge storage barrels. We panted. We gasped. We held our breath as our pursuers thundered by and didn’t see us.

I waited a good thirty seconds before laying into my brother again. Given that he was doubled over giggling, I don’t know how effective I was. I punched him in the shoulder in a vain attempt to make myself feel better.

“Since when do you put salt on anything!? You never do! That’s how you convinced me that freaking saying ‘please pass the salt’ was a good code phrase!”

He barely managed to get out his answer between bouts of hysterical laughter. “I know.” More laughter. “I know. I know. But–” And he started cackling so hard that I was sure he’d bust a rib. And it would serve him right. “But you wouldn’t believe how bland the food was.”