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Wow, it's been a bit since I've posted to my LJ. The absence was far from planned, but is as it is. The writing front has been a bit up and down for me through June and July, though I'm hoping to see that turn around.

I've been writing a bit of non-fiction for Vision ( and finally critting again, but on the home front, there hasn't been much fiction going on.

Molly stands about 15k from the end. It's not her fault. A combination of family stuff and a serious, knock me on my back, cold put an end to creativity for a bit. As much as I'd like to blame Molly, so I could move on to something else, it's not her fault. There's also the chance that with things so crazy, the hormone replacement isn't doing its job, a lovely thought considering that some day I'll have to go through ending the medication. But since this is affecting my creativity across the board, Molly is not to blame.

Neither is Selkie, another project currently in limbo. I had started collecting action points and possible reworks as I went through all the wonderful crits, but hit that same wall. This isn't a writer's block as much as a creativity amputation. The good news is that it's starting to fade...I'll admit needing 10+ hours of sleep a night has been a part of this mess.

Oh, and it's even affected my reading. I'm halfway through my very first issue of Neo-Opsis. I was enjoying it a lot, but just haven't read any. I started an issue of Discover magazine... The one thing I am reading is Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood, which I was thinking was too slow and I couldn't find the story and and... Until I realized that it's an epic. It's not about a specific tale. It's about a world and its people and how they interact and how their lives are intertwined. It's exactly the type of novel I love...or used to. So I'm adding this to the pile of missing creativity because all I can read right now easily are short, sweet things that don't ask for much.

Oh, and I need to do something with my hands all the time. I went to a wonderful acapella singing group with my sister and had a wonderful time, but if she hadn't given me some string to weave (okay, crochet without a hook and no, the results weren't pretty) I'd have lost it.

So...that's my update (note the extensive use of ellipses because my mind trails off all the time), and join me in the hope that it's coming to an end. For two days I slept a normal amount and had at least a couple hours of productivity, including sending Shadows of the Sun out to agents. Today was a little rough, but still some useful moments. Here's hoping to find a trend in the right direction.

Oh, and as a last note, a bunch of my first drafts have been calling of late, pulling me into the morass of new things to edit so I don't have to do the hard work of a final polish. I plan to resist until Selkie's set.
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Not too surprising considering my last post, today I put those lovely words on the page: The End.

Coma Wedding is the first novel I have completed since my NaNo almost two years ago on November 30th of 2007. If you've been following for a bit, you'll possibly remember that a medical mystery knocked me silly all of last year and so this is a major win :).

That said, this story is not what I'd consider my normal fare, though elements of it do cross over with other stories. I thought From the Sea was hard to classify (originally Selkie), but Coma Wedding takes it a step further.

This is a romance with no on-screen sex--heck, no sex at all, though a honeymoon has certain implications :). It is a time travel story with no explanation of the event beyond the fates, and the characters don't believe in time travel despite having to admit it happened in this one unique case. Yes, there's a ghost. No, he doesn't haunt, he doesn't scare little children, and he isn't trapped there until some great wrong is undone. He hangs around because something is unfinished, true, but he's so unghostlike that both he and the others often forget his lack of corporeal form until his chill reminds them.

And most importantly, it ends just after the honeymoon...when the Laura gets an offer to return to the industry she loves--in other words, a job.

I haven't reread it yet. It could be the most horrible, mixed-up story ever, but I really don't think so. The characters caught me and wouldn't let go. They dragged me through the chaos of their tale, refusing to settle into any known pattern and refusing to compromise even on something as simple as length. I thought 80k-90k was reasonable...they thought differently.

Whether this story will find a home, I cannot say. Of all my outlier novels, I think this is the furthest out. On the other hand, because it has a (mostly) contemporary setting, because it's about "normal people" despite the strange things that happen to them, it may have an easier time finding a place. After all, the mainstream market tends to be rather egalitarian, even if science fiction and fantasy aren't as welcome. Good thing then, I guess, that the time travel isn't explained :).

And stats:
New Words: 0 words
80 scenes
80 complete - 100% of the novel
0 Scenes remain
0 Remaining word count
107039 Estimated length - with an average of 1338 words per scene.
107039 Current Total
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Hmm, well, it's interesting this...

I completed NaNo on 11/21, a bit late for some years, a bit early for the goal. That's the good part.

The bad part is that I have stopped dead.

I've had some questions about this novel because in some ways it is very much a straight contemporary despite the odd paranormal elements. This would make my third completed contemporary novel...once I complete it...but my belief is that I want to do more fantastical SF or fantasy.

So why is it that these contemporary ideas grab hold and won't let go? The answer must be that a part of me loves these stories. At least that's the answer that I came to.

I thought about how I felt not when thinking about the story from a distance but when I'm writing, when I'm in the characters' heads.

See, my SF and fantasy tends to be hard hitting. I tend to make my characters work for everything and cut the support out from under them at least once. In my contemporary stories, it's more about the positive people parts. It's about how people come together, what pulls them apart and what makes them hold on. All of my contemporaries are happy stories. They might have low points, but nothing like what I put the characters through in my speculative fiction.

So I'm thrilled (?) to discover the cause of my writing drop off is bronchitis. It has nothing at all to do with the story.

The ultimate answer is that both types of stories fill something within me. I like the sappy romantic stories as much as the traumatic, realign-my-world stories. This shouldn't come as any surprise because I read that same spread for the different moods, nor should the pull of a sweet story have startled me considering I was coming off a rough year. That might even be why I couldn't pull off writing Karth's Story earlier this year because that one is a gut-wrencher on many levels.

I guess this post is more about psychology than writing, but there you have it. The good news is that I fully expect as soon as the elephant gets off my chest, words for Coma Wedding will start pouring out.

And stats:
67 scenes
37 complete - 55% of the novel
30 Scenes remain
39,242 Remaining word count
87,640 Estimated length - with an average of 1,308 words per scene.
48,398 Current Total
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The weakest point in my NaNo was the outline, as I've mentioned before.  So this weekend I signed up for a word count marathon on Forward Motion that allows me to count both novel words and world building, unlike NaNo.  I did get a decent jump on my novel, not the 50k I was hoping for, but more than the minimum for sure.

So, Coma Wedding now stands at 44,301 words.  The first act is coming to a close, this piece which sets up the rest of the novel and so is the largest.  It's an odd case because though this is a paranormal, time travel novel, there has been almost nothing to distinguish this from a contemporary...okay, one set in 1977.  Is it working?  I don't know.  But the characters seem likable and their stresses are stressy.  We'll see what it comes out to be in the end, but for the time being, my job is just to write.

The outline has reached almost 17,000 words and takes my characters up to the final step.  I could have written the actual ending today (in the outline at least) but my outline is estimated at 86k already.  The notes I have in the synopsis add a last little twist in that I think is interesting, but at the same time will add word count, though I don't know how much.  I haven't decided whether to leave it in or cut it out, so I didn't put in the final scenes.  I think 86k is enough to get me through NaNo and beyond, so I can make that call when I'm a bit closer to it :).

My current statistics are:

66 scenes
34 complete - 52% of the novel
32 Scenes remain
41695 Remaining word count
85996 Estimated length - with an average of 1303 words per scene.
44301 Current Total

Note that my average words per scene has dropped.  I had a couple scenes come in at 800 rather than 1,400 words.  On the other hand, I still haven't reached the ones I think will run long, so the estimate is a fluid number right now.  Thank goodness for the autocalculator on my spreadsheet :).

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Reason 2002 for completing the outline BEFORE you start to write:

There is nothing more effective against forward progress than the dreaded "something must go here" scene, especially if you're a linear writer who gets bogged if you continue past something that needs to be done in detail. I don't function well with the inline notes saying to [explain X] or [Sally meets Brian here]. It's been a while since I ran across this particular problem because I haven't written with this spare an outline in many years.

Here's my normal process (in sketch):

1) Write a rough synopsis of the whole plot from beginning to end (because synopses always include the end :)).
2) Write a jumble of notes, some of which are scenes, some of which are partial scenes, some of which are multiple scenes.
3) Put them into linear order.
4) Review them for timeline or story tension issues
5) Polish them to make sure the scenes cover what needs to be said in the way it needs to be said.

Okay, that's a very high level take, but mixed in there is "identify all the places where for timeline, pacing, or tension, I need to add transition scenes. Scope out the shape of them."

Sometimes those "scopes" still give me trouble when I get to them, but I can see the scene notes, and if I think around it for a while, I can find an entry point. It helps to know it's coming because I can start nudging around for that entry point while writing the previous scenes.

So imagine my dismay when I glanced ahead this morning and realized that coming off a highly emotional scene, I then jumped some 20 days into the next kicker. Umm, no. I don't care about all the rules that say to "skip the boring parts." You don't hop, skip, and jump your reader through the story. That ends up making them feel like they're on a pogo stick rather than driving a fast car. While both can be thrilling, the first leaves you feeling a little jounced around and dislocated.

So what did I do? I stole from Peter to pay Paul. I took some of the substance out of the next upcoming scene and pushed it into a midstream transition scene that gives (I hope) a sense of how things have been going while also cranking up the tension about what's going to happen next. My heroine is now divided between what she wants and what she thinks she should do, made more complicated by the fact that the situation isn't really in her control anyway.

Or rather that's what I did after I found the entry point. Wasting a whole day trying to figure my way into a scene that I didn't realize was needed until too late was no fun. It makes me even more nervous about the state of my outline, though I've still got a good nine or so scenes before it gets really shaky. What if there are more transition scenes I've missed? What if I'm faced with a point where the entry takes another whole day to discover? And how do I keep from letting the fact that I know some 14k from now I'm going to fall off the end of the Earth (okay the outline) into no man's land result in writer's block, or at least writer's slow as I try not to get there?

The answers are varied:

1) I swear never to do this to myself again (yeah right, but it sounds good and reassuring).
2) I plan to spend a good portion of the weekend strengthening that outline, getting it fleshed out through all the way to the end.
3) Take a deep breath and know that some 10-15 scenes from now, the book will meet the NaNo standards for a win. If I have to stop dead and redo the outline with no forward motion at all, I will still have laid claim to my purple bar. For that, I only need to add one more scene and maintain the current word count per scene average. Since I know some of the scenes coming up are likely to run long--and may actually break into more than one scene--I'm on pretty firm ground where the 50k is concerned.

And yes, I'm watching in the back of my head so I can put together that workshop on initial outlines a handful of FMers, and others, have requested. Maybe it'll give me the opportunity to get ahead so next NaNo I can choose one of my completed outlines to do...assuming the Muse Conference doesn't slam another brand new idea right up to the front line that is :p.

And stats:
35 scenes
25 complete - 71% of the novel
24 Scenes remain
14,183 Remaining word count
49,641 Estimated length - with an average of 1,418 words per scene.
35,458 Current total
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We're almost done with the second week of NaNo, and it has been going very well. My outline has grown hardly at all, now totaling 10,410 with 34 scenes (only two more than a week ago). I've been sitting on my laurels where that's concerned and only the average scene length has improved my estimate which will (assuming scenes meet the average) take me to 49k. Obviously I still have some outline work to do.

Now you'd think I have all the time in the world to work on that outline. After all, it's only the 13th so I've got lots of time to get to 50k. Well, that's true, but it doesn't reflect my current reality. I'm averaging about 2000-2200 a day, and I'm heading into a marathon for the weekend (Forward Motion runs word count marathons every weekend throughout November). My current count is 33,197 words. That means I have 15,877 words left in the scenes in my outline, and I could easily put away that many words between now and Tuesday if things go well.

At least this weekend's marathon is the standard one, so though my outline words don't count for NaNo, I can still get marathon credit to encourage me to flesh out a bit more. It would be nice to have an outline that goes all the way to the end of the book since my progress is such that I might actually make it. I'm not counting on such an explosion however.

The good news is that the second section of the book is one for which I have more scenes (albeit rough ones) already. The third section, however, is hardly scoped at all beyond the very general synopsis.

Regardless, I jumped into NaNo with a fresh idea from about October 18th, a self-imposed edit deadline that had to be met before I could start NaNo so no time to outline, and a year of having written almost nothing. I could so easily have crashed and burned. To be honest, I'm feeling a little draggy as it is, another reason to front load so if I crash halfway, I'll already have my purple bar (it's all about the purple :)). With all that going against me, my progress is phenomenal and I'm happy with it.

That's not to say I haven't had my moments. I've pushed through them so far, and am working under the pressure of pure gumption rather than being drawn to write a lot of the time, but ultimately when I can get myself to focus, the words do come. I've got a very tight knit group of three characters who are recovering, growing, and learning about each other quite nicely. Whether or not this will be some grand opus, whether or not it lingers in my "to edit" pile for much too long, there's no question that I'm producing a novel here :).

Now if only I had a remotely reasonable title :P. If it hadn't been almost the same as a movie, the right title would be While I Was Sleeping, but that's taken so...

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So, the crazy first week of NaNo is complete and I did pretty well, especially considering that I started NaNo with 25 scenes outlined in VERY rough draft, almost all of them involving the second part of a three part book :P.

My word count currently stands at 22,458. I am almost halfway exactly through the first section of the book. It's slow going at times, but overall, the story's coming together.

I just completed my second 48-hour marathon since NaNo began, the first one netting just over 8,000 words and the second just over 7,000 words. On the days in between, I only missed the minimum for NaNo once, and that was by 14 words. Yeah, I know, I should have just tucked something in there, but it was the end of the scene and why put in garbage I'll just have to clean up later.

If I continue at the rate I'm currently maintaining, I should reach 50,000 on November 17th. However, that rate reached a high of 4,046 and is now averaged down to 2,807 and continues to drop. I do have to maintain a bit of padding because I have family coming for Thanksgiving and the weekend before that as well. I may be able to sneak in some writing in the early morning on those days, but I have no way of knowing. It'll help if I'm smart enough to synchronize my laptop, because my study becomes a guest bedroom when people with cat allergies are expected :).

Another interesting outline which was just under 6,000 on November 1st has grown to 10,346. This includes character notes, a map of the ground floor, and other relevant world building on top of the actual outline.

Right now I have a total of 32 scenes outlined (one of which is still rough draft that I hope will flesh out before I get there and am stumped) for an estimated 44,916 words. I'm also hoping to add a few more scenes into the outline before I run out and still have words to add. I do have some 17 additional scenes roughed out, but they're very rough.

Is this my normal NaNo process? Absolutely not. I rarely get to focus 100% on NaNo any more, but usually my NaNo novel is already outlined and clicking in my head all the way through so I can have the pleasure of writing without having to consider all the other aspects. This year has been crazy in many respects, and doesn't seem to be getting any easier. That said, I was facing a year without a single novel written. I might still be in that state because this novel is going to end up significantly longer than 50,000, but I'll be a heck of a lot closer than if I'd given NaNo a pass.

P.S. The book is now titled Coma Wedding. It is still a working title, and one that has little connection to how the story came out, but there you go. That said, it'll still be filed under cm because otherwise I'd have to edit everything :p.
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Okay, so I've been doing a lousy job keeping updates coming. This novel came to be too quickly and I didn't have much background to give for it. However, this has been a monumental NaNo for me. Every other time, I leapt in with focus and confidence, blew through the majority of the word count in the first couple weeks if not the first week, and then danced my way to the finish line before Thanksgiving.

This year wasn't like that.

November posed some unusual challenges for me this year. First off, I was still struggling with an off balance summer that had put me behind on practically everything, then set me up for the desperate need to write so I started a novel in September which had to be finished in time to prep something for NaNo. So, I had already decided to go for a NaNo proper and 50k rather than a completed, full-length novel.

I'd also determined that I'd have to keep working on the Seeing Is Believing edit throughout November because I needed to finish it and the Con Shirt edit on top of everything else.

Then Holly Lisle, who I do programming work for, needed a major back end release for her shop to coincide with her new offerings (fun stuff that you should go check out:

Oh, and I managed to catch my second flu of the year (after the shot :p), because I was so drained from all the running around that exhaustion made me vulnerable. However, I do have to add that this is pretty standard. I seem to get a flu or serious exhaustion-based illness pretty much every year with NaNo. The difference this year was that I'd already had a very serious flu back in October :p.

The upshot of it was that there were five days on which I did nothing, a handful more on which I did less than 1k, and I ended up in a bit of a scramble at the end rather than coasting my way to easy victory.

What have I learned beyond the obvious of not over scheduling myself (something I'm sure to ignore ;))? Though many tout writing every day as the only way, the right way, the way to tell a writer from a wannabe, I'm not an every day writer. It is more draining for me to push a little out consistently than it is to do leaps and bounds. If I can devote a whole focused day and blow out 5k-10k, I end up with more energy than if I do 1k-2k every day for five days. March Madness (40k in seven days) is easier on me than NaNo and I have the rest of the month to prep for it and get other things done.

Which is not to say that I can't write every day, or even consistently. It's more that I can't handle being obligated to, and more to the point, obligated to write more than what I can in my morning hour. That one hour can be anything from 200 to 2000 words, though more often in the 1000-1200 range. Doing that as the first thing after breakfast doesn't seem to have any negative impact at all. It's slower than I'm used to producing, but it blends nicely with my other critting, editing, programming, etc. responsibilities.

So does this mean I'll never do NaNo again? Are you kidding? I'm practically an addict ;). But I think I'll plan to bull rush the beginning from now on so that when I start coasting, I'll have my words well in hand :).

Oh, and yes, the release went off beautifully. And no, Seeing is not done. Sigh. But Sorcery is :D.

And my NaNo novel stats:
New Words: 1322 words (Today to tidy off the ending)
51 scenes
51 complete - 100% of the novel
53169 Final Total - with an average of 1043 words per scene.

Oh, and do note that all my stress (which I think I put in a post) about it being too short was irrelevant. It did not end up at the 54k initially predicted, but came pretty darn close :).

...On further review, it looks like I didn't post about it coming in short. Be grateful :). The last thing you needed was to hear me whining about how this novel would be coming in at 36k, leaving me scrambling for something to fill the 14k hole for NaNo.
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I'm nearing the middle of my first pass edit of Seeing Is Believing and the edit seems to be progressing nicely. I wondered a lot as I was writing whether this would hold together, and I'm still not quite sure. The story is a story, not a random jumble of scenes, but I still worry that it won't come together, that I'm pushing the "main points" too hard, or that no one will get it at all. Maybe all this proves is that I'm a worrier?

Anyway, since I don't have anything fascinating to report besides progress, I thought I'd toss this post in out of order (which is ironic as you'll soon discover). I was going through my files and discovered this post that never made it to the blog. So enjoy a glimpse into the past, when I thought Seeing would never come to an end :).

Seeing Is Believing is now underway again. I had a bit of a hard time starting up after a one month leave of absence besides working on the outline, but not for any of the usual reasons. I got to where I had stopped the previous time and was reading back a bit to get into it when I found a place that made no sense. Even worse, I remembered writing more at that point and those words appeared to have vanished. I spent some panicky moments searching old backups and high and low, but there was just no sign of them at all. Finally, I decided it was a matter of thinking I'd written them because of my detailed outline and that I hadn't actually done so.

Happily, this tale has a better resolution than the depressing one above, and a reminder of why I do not write out of order :p. I had a very concrete image for a scene I was not anywhere near. Instead of ignoring it as I usually do, I went ahead and wrote it, then marked the break with *** so I could easily find my place.

Well, what had happened was simple. One of my writing sessions, not the most recent but the one before that, I had forgotten how I should search for the *** and start writing above it. Following my normal pattern, I had continued the scene at the very end of the file. Then the next time, I remembered and wrote from the ***, stranding that partial scene off at the end of the book. Honestly, I don't know how people manage to write out of order. It's so difficult to keep track of. However, in this case, I accidentally went to the end of the doc and a phrase caught my eye, a phrase that happens in the story well before the extra scene I have floating out there waiting for me to catch up. There were my missing words, and luckily, I found them before I'd rewritten the whole thing.

So, though I don't have the spreadsheet open to get the stats, I have now passed the 50k mark on the story and hope to go back to progressing at a somewhat steady 7k a week or so.
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And the crazy, last minute dash at a novel? It's finally over. Con Shirt has those simple two words at the end that mean everything to a first draft: The End.

I have to say the ending is awful and will require a lot of work. I don't have a good balance on the celebration because they've survived mixed with the "this isn't over yet" feel it should have. Is the book a standalone? Absolutely. Does it leave parts of the story still to be discovered? Yes. To be satisfied, you'd never have to discover any of those parts, but if you enjoyed the first one, those strings should draw you in to the second...which no, I don't even know the shape of, just that there's more to these characters still to come.

But really, the win here is that I'm done in time to prep for NaNo. How insane is that?

Oh, and it neither turned out as horribly short as I'd feared nor in a good solid spot for length. But a published friend assures me that publishers are looking for shorter urban fantasy, so we'll see :). It should also grow a bit in the editing.

And stats:
New Words: 1,190 words
71 scenes
71 complete - 100% of the novel
0 Scenes remain
0 Remaining word count
75,937 estimated length - with an average of 1,070 words per scene.
75,937 Current Total

And scary. Do you realize this novel went from idea to first draft in under 2 months?
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I know it's been a while, but life kind of got away from me. Since the beginning of September, I have experienced crises on pretty much every level of life, with the latest being a bout with a relatively serious flu.

And that's actually why I'm writing this note, which is a partial writing post and a partial Con Shirt update.

First of all, proof positive that when a story grabs hold of me, nothing will stand in its way.

During September, I was working more than forty hours a week, with no weekends off for good behavior, trying to recover from the disaster that was the Jatol hosting company going under. Both Forward Motion and Holly Lisle's sites were affected, as well as a smattering of other friends. The initial transition went rather well all told but then the problems just keep rolling in. Those disasters resulted in a second host move that had to be completed before October 1st and then involved a series of changes to comply with the new host's (TigerTech) requirements, something I was happy to do because those changes made both sites more stable and less vulnerable.

Anyway, for a stay at home Mom/full-time writer, you can imagine how much time that left for my writing tasks. But that's the whole thing. Sure, a lot just didn't happen. Con Shirt, however, rarely let a day go buy without words.

This novel that didn't even exist until the last two weeks of August is now in its final stages and at a whopping 71k and change.

However, if programming and hosting and surgery can't slow the writing down, turns out the flu can. I learned a lot about my writing in these last couple of days, about the mechanics of it.

I've always felt a little like a cheat. I sit down for my writing time, open my mind, and the story pours out as fast as I can get it down. It may not be perfect, but it's there with full sound, shape, color, taste, and texture. My only role is translating that into words on the page.

Now I understand how crucial that role is.

Sitting here during my writing time with my temperature spiking and molasses for brains, I discovered the existence of an actual translation process. It's something I never noticed, seeing myself more as a transcriber, because the translation happens smoothly and unnoticed normally.

The flu broke all that.

I could feel the story, see the story, even hear the story, but I could not translate it. The words remained outside of my grasp, occasional trickles slipping through, but nowhere near my normal speed and agility.

Yes, it was frustrating as all get out. No, I never hope to experience this again. But, on some level, it was a good thing.

This experience has revealed (something that may be obvious to the rest of you, but I can be slow about such things ;)) that I am an integral part to this process, that there's more to my involvement than opening limited headspace to characters and their tales.

Anyway, I just thought I would share this revelation. Having had it, having learned more about my process, I'm ready for the flu to vanish now, thank you. I'm ready to get back my 1k+ productivity that will allow me to start working on my next idea in time for NaNo :).

And current stats for Con Shirt in case you're curious:

New Words: 663 words
71 scenes
64 complete - 90% of the novel
7 Scenes remain
7,805 Remaining word count
79,162 Estimated length - with an average of 1,115 words per scene.
71,357 Current Total

Note that the 7,805 is based on an estimated 1115 words per scene. In actuality, the next 3-4 scenes are all mini-scenes of shifting POV within a single battle and are averaging 250-700 words, so I suspect I'm within 4k of the end.
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So Con Shirt continues along on its merry way. With the exception of one day this week, I've managed between 1k and 1400 per day. Most days that means one scene, but this book has some oddly short ones that come in as low as 504 words, which actually made up the sum total of a whole chapter. I have come up with something that requires changes to numerous scenes, just a bit of seeding misdirection, but otherwise the book is writing in a straight, linear fashion. I've added several scenes ahead, but have not felt the need to add anything behind where the writing has reached. We'll see if it continues.

Oh, and I'm having a hard time dealing with the overall word count. I'd like to see the book reach at least 70k when I'm done with this draft, and it's been fluctuating between 65k and 70k for a while. I'm not quite sure why that's so. It has two POV characters, an armload of threads twisting and twining about each other, and a lot going on. And yet in part because of the many short scenes, it just isn't showing the length I'd expected.

Well, we'll have to see. There's still almost 30k to write and a lot could change in that time. Already a couple scenes have become two scenes instead of staying as one, and it's possible I'll need to add more in between the big events that are coming up.

Really, this book is insane. From conception to past half way in less than a month, and a month when I've been absorbed in massive projects that ate up almost every spare hour. I just hope the book lives up to its promise because I'm really having fun with it :).

And stats:
New Words: 1,302 words
67 scenes
24 chapters
41 complete - 61% of the novel
26 Scenes remain
27,690 Remaining word count
71,355 Estimated length - with an average of 1,065 words per scene.
43,665 Current Total
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So for those of you wondering, yes, I did start Con Shirt for the Labor of Love challenge at Forward Motion. I can't tell you what a wonderful feeling it was to do a single focus concentrated writing binge :). No, it wasn't remotely easy, and yes, I started dragging after the first day, but I still managed just under 34k in four days. How neat is that :)? And I might have gotten a sight closer to the 40k I was shooting for, but a couple of emergencies hit at the same time (the big one being the apparent collapse of Jatol) and my single focus went through a prism and shattered into a billion little color streams :).

So anyway, the story is now playing around at 69k and has 65 scenes all told. The scene length average is low mostly because I've got some really short snippets for scenes, especially in the villain's head. Yes, I can expose the reader to a brutal, pointless murder in 488 words, and maybe even make you feel sympathy for the corpse...or at least so it seemed for me.

This continues to be a stretch novel for me, but that hasn't made it impossible to write by any means. It'll be interesting to see how it all hangs together.

My favorite scenes? Between Rochelle and Mario hands down, though the scene with her sister comes close. It's the relationships that draw me on in this novel. At the same time, the horrifying scenes are quite powerful and cannot be written after dark so people who love horror might find something to appeal in this novel as well.

It's hard to accept the estimated length when I see all the threads that are weaving together to create this novel, and I'm still adding a scene here or there to flesh things out, but bizarrely, I think this will fall on the shorter end of my novel scale (excluding YA). I guess that's a good thing since I tend to go least I hope so.

Anyway, the goal from this moment on is to get Con Shirt done with enough time to relax a bit before NaNo...for which I still don't know what I'm going to write.

And stats:
New Words: 0 writing words today
65 scenes
33 complete - 51% of the novel
32 Scenes remain
34073 Remaining word count
69211 Estimated length - with an average of 1065 words per scene.
35138 Current Total
marfisk: (Default)
Down to the wire with my next book already panting in the wings, Seeing Is Believing is done!

This has been a rough, long road, a good bit because real life kept demanding its fair...or more than fair...share of my time and energy.

Will the story hold together when I reread the draft? Well, I'm not expecting perfection, but the threads are there, it definitely has a beginning, middle, and end, and I like the characters. I'd have to say, though I expect a good bit of editing, I think it will hold, will stand, and will become something grand when I'm done kicking the tires.

Here I am at the end (well, of this step at least) and I have to look back and laugh.

This book began as a "simple" short story idea for the Gotham Writers SF workshop taught through Barnes and Noble University. It was actually my second attempt at a short story for the class, as the first also grew to novel proportions when subject to the provided world building techniques. There's a reason I don't do prework on short stories ;).

Anyway, what is now a complicated tale about a young man finding out who he really is while putting a post-invasion Earth on the path to recovery began as something simple.

The core?


The original idea was in a society where everyone's vision is corrected from birth to be perfect 20/20, what would happen if a renegade offered visual distortion as a pastime? Something along the lines of an opium den but with the "drug" being funny mirrors, distorted lenses, and the like.

If you've never had the chance, go to your local science museum and ask if they have a set of beer goggles. If they don't, tell them to talk to the San Jose Tech Museum (in California) about them. These are a pair of glasses with distortion lenses so you see the way you would if completely drunk. The goal is to walk a straight line...take a basic sobriety test...with them on. Let me tell you it is not remotely easy :).

Anyway, needless to say, this moved well beyond that original concept, so far that very few of those elements remain. Still, it's fun to look back to that starting point and trace the story's roots, which is why I shared the story.

And my final first draft stats:
New Words: 448 words (These last chapters grew tiny ;))
71 scenes
71 complete - 100% of the novel (Oh that 100% looks good :).)
0 Scenes remain
0 Remaining word count
91182 Estimated length - with an average of 1284 words per scene.
91182 Current Total -- (Until I edit that is :).)
marfisk: (Default)
I haven't given an update on Seeing Is Believing for a while and there's a very good reason...I haven't had much to update :p.

However, I am actually nearing the end of this novel, which has taken much longer than I am comfortable with. I like to complete a novel in a 3-4 month span. This one is heading into its 6th month and I'd had high hopes of finishing it before the end of August so I could participate in another writing challenge for a new work. Honestly, I don't think that's going to happen without a scary push that'll exhaust me. Besides, I started Seeing with March Madness oh so long ago and it's taken me this long to get toward the end. If I start another novel now, what are my chances to participate in NaNo with a clean slate?

With regards to the story, I think I started writing before I had the shape of the novel fixed in my head, or maybe it's because this novel has fought me much of the way. I don't think this will turn out to be one of my more coherent drafts, though I'd be happy to be proven wrong. Still, I like the characters and I can feel for the push pull struggle Brian finds himself in, unsure what to believe and what to do as he works his way through the puzzles. With any luck, this will turn out to be a good, strong piece once I'm done editing it.

And stats:
New Words: 1,414 words
69 scenes
59 complete - 86% of the novel
10 Scenes remain
13,646 Remaining word count
94,157 Estimated length - with an average of 13,65 words per scene.
80,511 Current Total
marfisk: (Default)
Seeing Is Believing started as an attempt for a short story (my second attempt in the class) in the Gotham Writers' short story class through Barnes and Noble a couple years ago. Umm, I really need to remember that I can't do prework for short stories. They don't stay that way. The one before this became not one but two novels (When She Calls has been written) and so far two short stories (one of which critters tell me is a novel :)).

This particular story is science fiction set on the Earth about 300 years from now. We have devoted all of humanity's resources to surviving a passive alien invasion and have become so focused on surviving that the idea of prevention has long slipped our minds. Or at least the minds of the majority.

Yeah, I have the strangest ideas sometimes :). Oh, and to make it all was inspired because of Lasik and a childhood of Highlights (c) Hidden Pictures.

The book started out with a simple message. "Don't become so focus on the day to day that you forget to plan for the future " sums up the concept pretty well.

Then I started writing. It's a coming of age novel where a young man has to discover not only that what his mother has told him since his father's death isn't quite the full picture, but that he has a choice as to what he'll do with that knowledge. Themes include the cost of denial, the aggrandizement of one group of people over the rest until the value of humanity's diversity is lost (and I don't mean racially; it's all skills based), the need to take a stand rather than sit back and accept what is the norm not because it's true but because it's comfortable, and half a dozen other things.

That might make it sound disconnected, but so far it isn't writing up that way. All the themes blend together and make Brian miserable :). Ah the life of a master of worlds.

This is not my normal type of anthropological SF, though it has elements of the same, and it's set on Earth, something I usually don't do, and it's complicated (okay, that part's right up my alley ;)).

And to make matters worse, I started writing with only a partial outline in order to participate in a writing challenge I do each year, Forward Motion's March Madness. At some point I need to drop back and fix the outline, but for the moment the ride's been interesting. I know the big picture movements, just not the step by step I usually prefer. I write 6k or longer outlines and craft the novel as I outline. This crafting while writing is new...and me. Personally, I prefer doing this part in the outline, but I'm not going to stop the story until I have to.

Oh, and even more? I've written a partial scene and an almost complete scene out of sequence, something else that is not normal for me. The partial has already been swept into the novel which is now about 38k, but the complete scene comes much later in the story.


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Margaret McGaffey Fisk

April 2017

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