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.”

Writing Prompts

[Blog] Writing Prompts Open! (Round 3)

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I’m at it again! Send me your writing prompts, and I’ll respond this time next week with a short bit of fiction inspired by your lovely words, pictures, scraps of music, etc. But! This time I’ve got an added twist: your prompts have to be simple– one picture, one piece of music, one word or phrase… and I have to respond with something set in Tanner and Miranda’s world.

Sound good? Bonus points if it’s not something that looks like it should easily relate to the shenanigans of brother/sister bounty hunters on a newly colonized planet.

Also, if you’re looking for a little bit of a challenge of your own, here’s a prompt for you! Feel free to respond or not, with fiction, non fiction, poetry, or whatever floats your boat.

Musings

[Blog] Different Sorts of Progress

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This week, it’s felt like I’m not making any progress with writing at all. The words just aren’t coming, as, sometimes, they won’t. I’ve come down off the giddy high of completing a chapter, only to find that the one I need to write next is different enough from the first that I almost need to relearn what I’m doing. And I’m not going to lie… it’s a little frustrating.

And yet, despite the lack of a climbing wordcount to provide evidence that I have, indeed, been working at this recalcitrant beast of a novel, it hasn’t all been a waste. Because aside from the different pacing causing me some trouble, every time I get stuck it’s been an indication that I don’t have things structured and plotted and planned as well as I thought I did.

So I’ve been going back and outlining and answering all those niggling little questions that keep pulling me up short: “Is that really how the captain of a bunch of bold outriders respond to that situation? Or is that how I think I would/ought to respond to it? What exactly is the method of government in this fictional kingdom thingy? And how big is it?

And there, I have made progress. Organizational progress. And while I fully admit to having, at times, used such things as an excuse to keep from doing the so-called actual work of writing, for once, that’s not true. Because while I may have not made it much farther, at least every question I’ve answered has made the next sentence a little easier to write.

Musings

[Blog] Babel

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Languages fascinate me. English, of course, holds a special place in my heart, both for its myriad quirks and the fact that it’s my own native language, but my interest reaches a bit beyond that. By which I mean that I’m an amateur, wanna-be polyglot, and proud of it. I’ve picked up a fair amount of Spanish, thanks to living in California and a near obsession with keeping up my streak over on Duolingo. I gained some ability with Armenian during my grand adventure there last year. I’ve dabbled with German enough to realize that it’s both really hard and really cool.

I love the way different languages express the same idea, and the way that each one is going to slightly change the way you see that idea. I love the way it causes you to look closer at something you’ve always taken for granted, or the way it makes you think about the idioms you use every day. I’m intrigued by the gap between words and concepts, and the different way different peoples bridge it. So it should come as no surprise that I’d love to get to the point where I can write a decent story in more than one language.

Come to think of it, some of this can probably be traced back to my high school Latin teacher. I wasn’t the best student in his classes, and at the time I was far too frustrated with being forced to learn a language to realize that I actually enjoyed them, but there was one final project he assigned that I loved, even at the time: we had to choose a fiction book and translate a chapter from English to Latin. And he let me choose the first chapter of Mossflower by Brian Jacques.

Like I said above, different languages make you look at things in a new way, and finding the best way to translate it forces you to get down to the nitty-gritty details of meaning that you might otherwise gloss over. I’m not sure how good my translation was at the end (and honestly, I was in tenth grade, and only a middling Latin student, so I have my doubts), but it was fun. And while I’m putting more weight on it now than it earned then, if a high school student stumbling through as direct a translation as she could manage could affect the way she read a children’s book, how much better could it be if she actually gets good enough to do it on purpose?

Musings

[Blog] Happy Dance

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I’m really excited. I finished the first chapter of the second draft* of my novel, and I’m happy with it. For now. And by for now I mean until draft three, because if I don’t keep going I’m gonna get stuck here. Again.

But.

All that’s beside the point. Because right now I’ve got a complete unit of this beast of a story that I’m actually pretty happy with, and I’ve got at least a few bones of the structure of the rest of it, and it’s all been a wonderful boost to my morale.

Sure, there’s hours and hours of work left, and I’ve still got plot holes to discover and fill and worlds to build and work the kinks out of and characters to meet and coax onto the page. But right now, I’m just going to enjoy the fact that I’ve managed to scale this first peak and, hopefully, use the momentum to keep right on going.

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Musings

[Blog] That Other Story

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It’s happening again. I’m sitting down to focus on one story, and I catch myself drifting off and daydreaming and plotting out an entirely different one. One the one hand, I can hardly complain about multiple story ideas bouncing around in my head. On the other, I can’t help but wonder if this is just another sneaky way to procrastinate. (Spoiler: It totally is.)

Even so, it’s a sight better than other, non-story related methods of dragging my feet. Let me explain: there will always be distractions while writing– that goes without saying– but the ones that are the hardest to deal with are the internal ones, not the external ones. If you’ve got external ones, like giddy kids the next room over or construction going on outside or just plain busyness in life, you can almost always snatch a few minutes to write here and there and still make progress. It’s not ideal, but it works.

But if you’ve got internal ones, alternately known as a lack of motivation, or an overactive inner editor, or maybe even writer’s block, it’s that much harder to make those five minutes count. And when you are getting hit from both sides, that’s how you end up with a long stretch of time with not so many words. Or I do, at any rate. But if the internal distractions are still writing related, then at least you’re still training yourself to do that writing thing.

Or in other words, I’m just grateful that my brain is playing the right game and not trying to use the metaphorical ball to play fetch with the cute stray mutt that just walked by.

And who knows, maybe that new idea that ambushed me a couple days ago will be worth pursuing sometime. I wrote it down, just in case.