Musings

[Blog] Final Camp Update July 2019

First, the bad news. My final wordcount for Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019 came in at about 3000 words… so, nowhere near my ambitious goal of 75,000. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed, in myself if nothing else, since I know I can write at that pace, I just didn’t this month. However! If that’s it for the bad news (and it is!) I don’t have much to complain about.

As for the good news, there’s a couple pieces! First, my final wordcount came in at about 3000 words, I wrote almost every day, and I kept working on it all month long. Compared to my other attempts at Camp NaNoWriMo, that’s a resounding victory, and it’s absolutely a step in the right direction. The second has to do with the fact that I may have found another way to help motivate myself. It’s come to my attention that I’m actually a fairly competitive person. Gasp. That being said, when I find ways to harness that competitiveness, things tend to go pretty well. To that end, I’ve made a deal with my dad that for every mile he rides his bike during the month of August, I’ll write a hundred words. As my father is an avid bicyclist, the next thirty one days could prove very interesting. Check back in next Wednesday to see how I’ve fared the first week!

Musings

[Blog] Snippet!

It’s so nice to feel like the bones of a story are decently solid. Most of what I’ve been doing so far this month is “editing”/fleshing out some sections that I’d already done some scribblings on, and the result has been very encouraging, if still moving slower than I’d like it to be, ideally. I’m proud of a couple turns of phrase in particular, actually, so by way of showing off, I’m including a quick excerpt below. Those of you who have been following me for a while might recognize this as very similar to the beginning of The Verdant Wildlife, which is because I’m in the process of completely reworking it so that it can take its place as the first story in the upcoming novel.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the promised snippet.


Our client had arranged to meet up with us at a small mining outpost near the drone’s last known coordinates and had offered to transport us out there on one of her company’s atmo-sprinters. It was a welcome gesture that cut our travel time down to a fraction of what it would have been otherwise. I spent the half-hour ride alternately teasing my brother and staring out the window as semi-developed plains gave way to wild cliffs and canyons.

Even before the sprinter’s pilot started edging the craft down between a couple of jagged cliffs, there was little doubt in my mind that our destination was less a spur of civilization than a small collection of humans trying to do without it. In Coville, I’d gotten the impression that the occasional showdown at high noon was a distinct possibility. Looking down at the approaching outpost, I would have been more surprised to find that such confrontations didn’t happen there with some regularity.

I leaned towards my brother. “I thought you said we weren’t going to get shot at. This looks like the sort of place that gets us shot at.”

“What, the mining camp?” He looked out his own window. “Good thing we won’t be spending much time there.”

I scowled. Now that our hike was more imminent, I found myself less excited about the prospect of tramping around the wilds of a new planet than I had been the day before. And given that I hadn’t been all that enthusiastic about it in the first place, that was saying something.

Tanner winked at me. “It’ll be fun. Like those trips we took growing up.”

I grunted, non-committal. “I hadn’t spent the last eight months crossing the galaxy when we hiked the Sierras.”

“We won’t be moving too fast. There’s a ton of nooks and crannies out here, and that drone could have crashed in any of them. You’ll be fine.” The look on his face was the same one he’d worn when he’d suckered me into exploring an old “haunted” warehouse with him. At night. About three weeks after I’d pranked him in front of all his buddies. But bringing that up wasn’t going to do me any good.

“Congratulations,” I said. “You just managed to make me feel better and worse at the same time.”

He winked. “I aim to please.”

Lucky for him and despite my complaining, I did still enjoy a good hike, if not under these exact circumstances. Not that I’d be caught dead admitting that to him just now.

Musings

[Blog] Camp Update

Not much to report, so far, save that I am definitely running behind for Camp, but I’m optimistic! Reaching my 75K word goal will be a… challenge. But I like a good challenge– and I have a couple of days coming up that I plan to use for writing and pretty much nothing else. Check back next week to see how it goes!

In the meantime, anyone else doing Camp this July? How are your projects doing? How are you doing?

Musings

[Blog] Another Camp, Another Try

It’s July, also known in some circles as one of two Camp NaNoWriMo events. Personally, I’ve always had great success in November, with all its official 30-days-50,000-words madness, but every time I’ve attempted to do a smaller project (or at least one with less ambitious goals) for one of the Camps, I forget that I’m participating half a week in and don’t make much progress at all. So this month, I’m trying something different.

Based on the theory that it doesn’t go well for me because it’s too small a goal, I went the other way and am going to attempt 75,000 words in the month of July. On Tanner and Miranda, of course.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Best case scenario? I finally finish that draft I’ve been poking with a stick since last November!

Musings

[Blog] Editing, Structuring

After the mayhem of NaNo, it’s sometimes (read: usually) easy for the slower pace that takes over in December to feel distressingly unproductive. And certainly, when it comes to word output and time committed to writing, the last three weeks have seen a definite drop-off. Yet, while I might be loathe to admit it at times, that’s not always a bad thing.

For one thing, having the time to guiltlessly devote to friendships, everyday chores, and all the other things that make up day-to-day life, while being good in and of itself, is also the sort of thing that can help improve one’s writing. They say to write what you know, and if you have a good working knowledge of the way life seems to tick, that’s going to show in your writing.

But the slower pace means I have time to start the restructuring and editing process. Which is terrifying. And a lot of work. And weird, because for the first time in my life, I’m writing out of order. I recently got my hands on Scrivener for the first time, and now I understand what all the hype is about. Consider me sold. Being able to drag chapters and scenes around and divide them up into more thought sized chunks is already invaluable. And it makes it so much easier to write what’s coming to mind right at the moment without worrying about how I’ll move it to where it belongs later. I think it’s going to help speed up the entire editing/rewriting process in the long run, which is good because my dad has sent another bag of chocolate covered espresso beans with the understanding that I finish a revised draft sometime in the near future– preferably the end of January. With the espresso beans, it just might happen!

NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 30: The Element of Surprise

Another NaNo has come and gone. And while I’m looking forward to relax a little from the marathon, I’m mostly excited because it looks like this might have actually given me the jumpstart I was hoping for to get me writing a lot and regularly once again. It’s a lovely feeling.

I’m also inordinately proud of myself for blowing my previous NaNo wordcount record out of the water. My final count for the month is just over 75k words, which means that I completed 150% of the official NaNoWriMo goal. Tanner and Miranda are nothing if not fun to write. As always, it’s all incredibly rough and unpolished, not to mentioned only barely structured at best, but it’s a whole lot of grist for the editing mill, and I’m so excited to get to working on it.

So, here’s a last (for NaNoWriMo 2018) snippet of the adventures of a couple of siblings who don’t know how to stay out of trouble. Thanks for reading!


There were two bandits in the doorway. There might be more in the ship behind them, but we couldn’t see them, and we couldn’t hear more than the two we could see. Decent enough odds to make us think that they were the only ones there right at the moment. Well. Some people might think they were good odds. If it was the difference between surviving and not surviving this mission, it might be more ideal to wait until we had a better idea of what was going on, but as they say, time is of the essence, and this was about as good as it was probably going to get. And right now, the door was unlocked. And open.

Tanner and I exchanged a look, took deep breaths, and charged.

Now, these two were probably entirely deserving of whatever justice we might mete out on them during this whole crazy backwards heist. But there was more at stake than just their just deserts, and frankly, unless it was blatant self defense, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about killing anyone and getting that on my conscience. Self defense is one thing. Going in, guns blazing, is entirely another. And while it’s got its time and its place, and I’ve done it before, I didn’t have to right now and I was absolutely fine with that.

So instead, we charged straight forward, fired several shots into the hull above their heads, then broke off to the sides and didn’t let ourselves run in a straight enough line to let them get a bead on us. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t have worked. I mean, it really, really shouldn’t have worked. And yet, it did. The two guards panicked and ducked and fired off a couple of crazy shots into the air above our heads. They missed us entirely and wasted a couple of moments that were more than enough for us to cover the ground between us and them.

And we tackled them. Shoulders down, wrapping our arms around their waists, driving them to the ground. Tanner took the one of the left, I took the one on the right who stood a little further back. Just one of the benefits of being smaller. You can sneak through spaces that wouldn’t be big enough for a lot of people. And it doesn’t meant that you’re not strong enough to go after anyone. As evidenced by the fact that the fellow I tackled went down, and went down hard, despite having about fifty pounds and half a foot on me.

Thank God for the element of surprise and a low center of gravity.

NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 26: My kind of job

I don’t know quite where I’m going with this. But I think it’s going to be fun.


This was my kind of job. The kind that had gotten me into this field in the first place. Both literally, in the sense that Tanner and I were currently crouched in a sage-brush filled field a little way outside of Dalton, and also in the sense you thought I was talking about first. It was the kind rife with adventure and mayhem, and, just as importantly, it was the kind that promised a healthy payout at the end of it.

We just had to finish the job and get back to the client in one piece. Easier said than done, of course, but that’s where the fun comes in.

NaNo18

[NaNo18] Day 23: The Solo Jobs intro

The whole point in my moving out to the absolute end of nowhere that is Verdant is the fact that instead of doing this notoriously dangerous freelancing job solo, I’d get to do it with Tanner watching my back. And I’d be able to watch his. And in the process, both of our life expectancies would jump straight through the roof. Simple.

Of course, when you’re a freelancer, you don’t exactly have the luxury of being super picky about the jobs you take. Well. Not always. And even if you’d like to be picky, there’s always that pesky fact of paying the rent and buying food that reminds you that downtime itself is a luxury, and one that most of us can’t afford all that often. And sometimes, the only jobs available are the ones that only call for one freelancer. And try as you might, they have no interest in hiring the two of you, even at a discount rate. Cheapskates.

As you might have guessed, this would be exactly how Tanner and I found ourselves working different jobs at opposite ends of the colony just a few months after my arrival. Both of them were simple. Well. Were supposed to be simple, but you know as well as anyone else by now how that usually goes. Still, even while keeping in mind that these jobs would inevitably go sideways, one half-way competent freelancer should be able to handle either of them, and I like to think that Tanner and I are more than halfway competent. So while the whole thing was annoying, we took it. It wasn’t like it was the first time either of us had worked alone, of course.

I found my job first. Or I should say, my job found me first.

By this time, Tanner and I were both decently well established throughout the colony. We had reputations. Good ones, for the most part, and our names were starting to come up regularly when folks started looking for “reliable” and “affordable”.All in all, not a bad place to be. Plus, even though we usually worked side by side, we’d managed to set up separate reputations for ourselves as well. You had a sticky situation that required careful wording and a deft touch? Get Tanner. Got a situation where someone was being stubborn and a couple of heads might need knocking? Tanner would probably manage it, but everyone knew I had a certain flair for it, and you’d get results fast. Tanner’s methods tended to keep him on the right side of the Marshals better than mine did, but even mine usually didn’t land me in that much hot water. Because by the time someone was asking for me by name, the heads that needed bashing were probably so far on the wrong side of the law that they’d probably getit coming to them one way or another. And I didn’t leave a trail of bodies.

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.”