Home Again-Home Again

This is going to be a quick update, because I just got back from a weekend in Kentucky ending with a really long car ride.

So let me say a few things before I get to decompressing:

First: Kentucky – I had a great time. It was kind of a Micro-writing retreat, because Saturday was the only day that I really got anything done.

If you’re in the Louisville area, do yourself a favor and go check out Shenanigans Irish Grille Future you will thank you for it.

Also, stop by Smokey Bones and get yourself some ribs…They may have broken me for all other rib places*.

Second: Ohio – Mate, the effort it took to drop that much water over so large a space can’t be good for one’s health.  Seek some help…

 

Now I’m off to relax…

 

Adventure Awaits

Time: 7:16 pm-ish

Music: None, save the creaking of my joints after sitting in one position for so long.

 

*If you think another place might top Smokey Bones for ribs, leave me a comment. I’ll investigate.  Mmm…ribs…

 

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Friday Fess-Up for November 3rd

Hey, all. Welcome to November.

If you’re like a lot of folk I know, you’ll be participating in a little event they call NaNoWriMo this month. You’re already three days in. Some of you are are track, and some of you aren’t.

As I said on the 26th, I don’t normally do NaNoWriMo, primarily because I’m not usually in a place where I’m starting something new right at the beginning of November. That means, that I’d have to put something on hold for a month while I worked on the November project (Hmmm…The November Project…that sounds like a title)

This year, the stars aligned and I’m all set to – not, officially, start NaNoWriMo-ing. I didn’t sign up on the website, because I’m self-aware enough to know that I’d probably spend more time in the community, than doing any actual writing.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to try something in the spirit of NaNoWriMo.

So I spent the last couple of days of October smoothing out the edges of my world building and, on November 1st, I hit the ground running.

I set a target goal of 1700 words a day. Yes, I know that the actual number of words per day comes out to 1600 and some change, but I rounded up because…math.

AND

If I stay constant with the 1700 words, I’ll finish early. Or I’ll be able to weather days where I don’t get a lot done…

Like today.

I’m typing this in Kentucky. My wife had a goat show she wanted to attend and I’m on a mini writer’s retreat. Only, after getting up on the early side, spending six hours on the road *grumble, traffic, grumble* Checking in, etc.

I’m spent.

I got, like 173 words written. Admittedly, they are 173 words more than I had when I woke up this morning, so I’m still calling it a win, but they are a fry cry from the 1700 words and some change I got Wednesday and Thursday.

I’ll be writing on Saturday, probably not writing on Sunday (that’s the trip back and I’ll be driving).  We’ll see how the rest of the week shakes out.

So now, I’m off to try and find some dinner while it’s still Friday.

 

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The World Wants Brains

The original title of this post was going to be “The World Wants Your Head.” I read that in an article and it stuck with me. If I can find the article, I’ll put a link to it at the bottom of the post*.

The article talked about how the world constantly demands your attention. How it steals away your free time and weighs down on you. Not only does the world demand that you listen, it demands that you to act a certain way. It demands that you like or dislike certain things, to behave or dress a certain way. Think a certain way. And, if you dare to go against the grain, you’re “Selfish”, or “Unrealistic”, or “Undeserving.”

The world wants your whole head, your attention and your thoughts.

But that’s not quite it. Thinking deeper about it, what the world really wants are your brains. Being the time of year it is, and that we’re talking about brrraaaiiiiins…

That brings me to zombies. That’s the really frightening thought here.

You can argue that the real monsters in Zombie stories are the people. That the real scare is in considering what a person is capable of doing to other people when they’re really in the frying pan.

I don’t see it that way. Nothing knocks me out of a zombie story faster than a character doing something stupid and petty for personal gain while, all around them, there are Freaking Zombies!! The lack of “Big Picture” perspective frustrates me.

No, what really gets me about Zombie stories is idea of losing your individuality. When they get you, you become one of them. You may look like yourself, but the thing that makes you, you is gone.

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

I suppose that you could say that one of the things that frightens me the most is losing my sense of self. My individuality. I don’t think you’d be too far off.

That’s what the world wants. Zombies. It wants to strangle your individuality. One of the biggest things that has ever smothered a good idea is five simple words: “What will other people think?”

We all struggle with it.

I’d wager that everyone reading this has, maybe even as recently as this week, used or thought the phrase “Guilty Pleasure” to describe something that they like.

Guilty, because you might be one of a small group of people that enjoy it. Guilty because it isn’t popular, or it showed up on some “10 worst ever” lists.

I’m making a solid effort to remove that phrase from my vocabulary. If you like something, then own that. At no point should you ever have to justify something that you enjoy.

I liked the Will Smith\Kevin Kline version of The Wild Wild West. I still listen to 80’s hair metal bands. I don’t think that Citizen Kane was the best movie ever made.** I have watched the Brendan Frasier version of The Mummy close to the same number of times that I’ve watched Star Wars, and I’ve enjoyed it every time.

I have no “Guilty Pleasures.” There are only things that I dig, that you may or may not also like, and that’s ok.

So like what you like. Do what rings your bells, as often as you can. Especially if you’re a creative type. Do what you love to do, the way you love to do it.

Yes, the world wants brains. It wants brains without knowing that it wants them. The world wants brains even as it tries to stifle them, because only through intelligence and creativity can we find a way to make the world a better place for everyone.

Resistance isn’t futile. Resistance is essential.

 

Time: 12:58 Pm – ish

Music: Epica – The Ultimate Return

*Here’s that article

**If you’re curious, my money is on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I will gladly debate that with you over a burger and a beer.

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Friday Fess-Up: October 26th

So I’m having one of those weeks where I don’t remember much of what happened. It was Sunny – n – Seventy on Saturday and I spent the day doing ALL THE THINGS outside.  Then there was an epic grilling session.

So no writing on Saturday and Sunday, which isn’t unusual.

Monday, I got up to write and all I really remember about that morning was that it was cold. Sleep Monday night was full of what I can only call anxiety-riddled dreams. I remember one where I was bathing one of the dogs and partially flooded the house. I woke up feeling like I was on the tail end of a fight-or-flight response…and I got up late, because 5:30 in the cold and dark just wasn’t happening.

So no writing on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday I got up to write and came away with the name for that alien cow.

Thursday, I got up, looked at my outline for the first time in a while, and I spotted holes in the story.

And that the story wasn’t starting in the right place.

While I’m glad I can fix these beforehand, it still didn’t stop me from questioning ALL THE THINGS – so I’m going back over the outline, pretty much start to finish to make sure that it all makes sense.

I’ve got 5 days to get everything squared away before November, where my friend Lillian and I are *Not* NaNoWrimo-ing, but we are doing a month long sprint. Her goal is a total of 30-40 Thousand words, and I’m shooting for 50 Thousand. It’ll be good to have a writing partner to check in with, compare, commiserate, cry, and celebrate with.

I’ll put it out there: I have no idea how I’m going to manage 50 Thousand words. At least not yet.  I’ll let you know what I came up with on December 1st.

So I’m typing this up on Thursday because I’ve got the time, and I’m not anticipating having the spoons for anything outside of hardcore R-n-R after day-jobbing on Friday.

I’m on schedule tonight, and I’m planning on getting back to The Work on Friday morning, early.  Normally, I’d put down, “Bright and early” but, now-a-days, it’s not so bright outside when I wake up.

So Happy Friday, Folks. This should go live around Noon, so there’ll still be a little bit of Week-day left, but here’s hoping those last few hours pass you by without slowing.

 

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Doubling Down on NaNoWriMo

I don’t normally participate in National Novel Writing Month. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against it. Usually, when November comes around, I’m not in a place where I can participate without putting the current project on hold for a month.

This year is different.

I’ve got an outline down, most of the character work is complete and, a couple of weeks ahead of November 1, I’m ready to go.

Then I looked farther down the timeline and it hit me that, on November 1st, there would be two months left in the year.

50,000 words a month for two months. That’s a book. Or, at least, the first draft of a book.

Daunting…but, doable?

I’ve been rolling the idea over in my head for the last couple of days and I’ve decided to go for it.

I’ll post regular (or regularish) updates here to let you all know how I’m doing. Will I sign up for NaNo this year? Maybe. The jury is still out on that. I can see it turning into a time sink.

Whether or not I do, if you’re participating this year, know that I’ll be scribbling down the words right there with you.

And, if you’re not participating this year, try to find some way to challenge yourself this month. See what you can do.

Adventure Awaits!

 

Time: 11:20 am – ish

Music: Dragonforce – Through the Fire and Flames

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Friday Fess-Up: October 20th

On a rare Saturday* (which will become less rare**, most likely – more on that Sunday) last week, I got some writing done. I got some other stuff done as well, but the writing was up there on the cool list.

That was the only day during the weekend that I wrote.

Monday, I got up to write and it was CHILLY. Coffee alone didn’t cut it and I ended up adding thicker clothes, heavy socks, and slippers. Slippers, people.

Monday night turned out to be a long one, and I opted for the “Near seven hours of sleep” that was behind door number one, rather than the “Near five hours of sleep” which was the prize on the table. So, no writing on Tuesday. Despite the extra sleep, I still ended up dragging ass all day. A condition that I would spend the rest of the week rectifying – beginning with Tuesday night.

Wednesday saw me getting right back into the swing of things…which was when the back to back Overtime days started.

I won’t say that I dodged any bullets on Wednesday or Thursday. They were both 12 hour days, but they could have been longer and I did get up to write (Although I was feeling it on Thursday morning) on both days.

This morning I spent a good (read: unnecessarily long) amount of time trying to come up with a cool, alien sounding name for an animal which is, essentially, a cow.  Come 7:30 am, I had several interesting names for other things, but not this damned bovine. Finally I gave up in disgust (and because I had to get ready for the day-job) and left with far less done than I’d wanted.

I put the figurative cow on the mentally figurative back burner to simmer and something will bubble to the surface, I’m sure.

And that takes me to the doorstep of days that haven’t happened yet. If future me happens to be reading this, please leave a note in the comments about whether or not I (or is it you?) came up with a name overnight.

Oh, and before I sign off. I will be posting this Sunday at the Million Words website. Come on by and check it out.

As usual, that extra post will not disrupt the regular Sunday posty, goodness right here.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Be safe.

 

*Not that Saturdays are ~Rare~. I mean, they happen once a week.  Well, for a Saturday, that should be rare.

**No, I am not getting more than the standard one Saturday per week – though that would be nice…

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Quiet Day

So I’m sitting here looking out the window while I type this. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I can’t not look at the keyboard when I’m typing. I’m not that good of a typist.

It’s the middle of October, unseasonably warm, grey, and windy as hell. The hummingbird feeder is turning a slow circle – I should refill it, but the wind will only make it dribble onto the porch and I’ve got enough flying, stingy things around as it is. Everything my eyes can see from this window is in motion, some of it violent. The weather app on my phone says that there’s a storm coming.

I know how it feels.

I’m restless. I mean I always feel a little like this come fall but, today, it feels like it’s too much. Even the music is too loud.

So I shut it off.

Today needs to be a quiet day. I need to sort out what’s got me on edge. To step back from the noise and think.  So I’m going to try something new. I’m going to turn off the sound on my phone and try and spend as much time as I can in the quiet. And that goes double for the internet. No facebook, no twitter, no internet if I can help it. Time to step back and unplug for a bit. To get some distance from the shock and disappointment that’s become too common now-a-days.

I can see that it’s already started to rain. Might be that it’s time to curl up with a book a warm cup of something.

Here’s hoping you all find a bit of peace in the storm.

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Freaky Friday the 13th Fess-Up for October 13th

How can such a short week feel so long? I’m still working with the same seven days as the rest of you, but I did have less day-job days.

Per usual, I didn’t get any writing done over Saturday and Sunday last week. Those days are, generally, reserved for writerly administrative things.

Despite having the day off the day-job, I got up on Monday (a little bit later than usual for a Monday) and got some writing done. Monday night was pretty long, and I made sleep a priority, so no real writing on Tuesday. I say “Real Writing” in that I didn’t sit down in front of my laptop and get words on the screen. I make it a point to carry around a notepad, and I jotted some things down longhand. This was mostly a brain dump kind of thing.

Some of you might call that writing, but it doesn’t fit the definition that I’ve adopted.

So I’m feeling guilty about that and, when Wednesday morning rolls around, I’m up and ready to go.

Wednesday is when it started raining. I like the rain, especially in October when (usually – this year has been wonky temperature-wise) it’s cool enough to be comfortable and you can sit and listen to the rain hit the window while you work. It’s one of my favorite sounds.

What I don’t like is having to go out in it needlessly. Which, pretty much sums up the day-job on Wednesday. Cold and wet and feeling pressured to go out in it again, and again.

Thursday, I’m starting to drag. I start to drag by the end of the week anyway, but it’s usually on Fridays where I feel it the most at 5:30 am. I got up, made the coffee, and got settled down to write and I *really* didn’t want to stop when when it was time.

It rained pretty much constantly from Wednesday through Thursday. I didn’t see the sun for 48 hours, which was kinda depressing.

Which brings us to today. Life, the Universe, and Everything is heavier than it’s been all week and I’m feeling off. It feels more like an unrelenting week and a half than a mere seven days since the last Fess-Up post.

Looking at it logically, I’ve only missed a day (I’m including today in that because as soon as I post this, I’m heading off to write). To paraphrase Meatloaf, “Four out of Five ain’t bad.”

I feel like I’ve done nothing.

And that feeling makes me want to dart in so many different directions at the same time which won’t get me anywhere.

So this weekend is going to be about regrouping me. As my wife said a few minutes ago (again paraphrasing, because I am more scatterbrained than usual), “Bringing the chaos into order, to relieve the stress.”

With any luck, I’ll be ready to go again on Monday. Maybe I’ll post something about it here, for comparison.

We’ll see.

 

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Otherworldly Folk

Hi All!

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on the world building for a new project. The new shiny is a space opera and I’ve been having fun creating a couple of different alien species, and that’s what I want to talk about this week.

Now I didn’t call this post “ALIENS!!!” or something like that, because this is will move seamlessly between Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

Again, this is world building, so you’re not going to show more than 5-10% of that iceberg (at least I hope so) but you’ve got to know much more than you’re going to reveal.

One of the main things that you’re going to have to figure out is what your Otherworldly Folk look like. Do they look human? Are they taller? Shorter? Same number of limbs? In the same places? What about Facial features? How many eyes do they have and where are they?

All of this might seem pretty obvious, but it will influence just about every decision you make after that.

Lets take a look at one of the alien races that I created: The Tellurians.

Here’s a bit of a description:

“You don’t want to do this, Jax.”

Mai Yin-Zao looked past the blaster barrel pointed at her face and locked eyes with the Tellurian holding the gun on her.

Jax was built like a tree, his skin brown and deeply wrinkled. It was also thick enough to turn a blade and had no give to it whatsoever. Muscle wrapped about his limbs, resembling vines. He should have made noise when he moved, creaking like the trees outside of Mai’s family’s home on Bao-Oquendo, but he was silent as he shifted a second blaster at her partner, Flynn Weyland. 

Jax’s arms were long, and ended in a tangle of twig-like fingers that would have been able to touch the dirty street if they weren’t holding a weapon on her. His eyes were red with a deep brown pupil at the center. Behind it, a viscous fluid roiled. It made Mai a little queasy.

The corners of Jax’s eyes wrinkled and a nearly invisible gash in his face split open in a grin, revealing hundreds of sharp teeth. Despite their appearance, Telurians were strictly carnivorous.

So what do we have? Jax is somewhere in the neighborhood of human height. He looks like he’s got bark for skin and he’s got an external musculature structure. He’s also got really long arms. Why? Because he can’t bend at the waist very far.

That little physiological difference had a HUGE impact on the Tellurians.

For starters, they can’t bend, so they spend their entire lives standing. That means no chairs anywhere in their culture or architecture. There are no beds. Everything is built from a perspective where one is on their feet.

That doesn’t mean much when you’re coming over to dinner, but what if you’re staying the night? Maybe you’re in a car, or a boat, or a space ship that’s under attack and dodging and wheeling to escape. The average human isn’t going to be comfortable.

No chairs or sitting means that I also need to be aware that a Tellurian would never say something like “Have a seat.” or “Take a load off.” or “Get off your ass.”

Anything in my vocabulary that would refer to sitting, laying down, etc. has to be off limits when a Tellurian is speaking, or thinking, etc. There’s no cultural equivalence.

And that’s all from one physical detail. Remember that scene from “The Fellowship of the Ring” movie when Merry comes to the table with an ~enormous~ mug and proclaims “This, my friend, is a Pint!” It takes something that we’re all aware of and uses it to emphasize a specific difference to make the idea of hobbits appear more real in this world.

Regardless of whether you’re writing Fantasy or Science Fiction, if you’re not writing about humans, you’ll need to be thinking about details like that. I almost typed “Little things” there and changed my mind, because they are anything but little.

In addition to that, you’ve got to be aware of “Bigger Picture” things. What does this race use for currency and what do they call it? Do they get along with the other races in the story? Why or why not? What do they call some of the basic social structures that you or I use every day? What kind of religions are there? What about the food? You can get a lot of mileage out of a single meal. What do they use for slang or curse words? Coming up with different ways to cuss a blue streak is a joy.

You could side-step some of that by introducing “Universal” elements: Language, currency, etc. But I would recommend against leaning too heavily on that. Some of those cultural influences will seep in, and they should. That’s what makes the different races seem real. Compare and contrast them, especially when some lack of cultural knowledge causes problems for your main character. Maybe a social gaffe causes some embarrassment, maybe it creates an enemy, maybe it threatens an alliance.

A word of caution:

It is VERY easy to fall into the trap of world-building too much. Yes, knowing your Otherworldly Folk is important. You want to be able to pass yourself off as a native, but don’t let that get in the way of the actual writing, which is what all of this work supports.

There isn’t an easy way to tell when you’re overbuilding, because you never know what elements are going to turn out to be useful to your work. For me, I’ve noticed that my capacity to become distracted from the work increases when I’m reaching the “Enough is Enough” point. Might be it works that way for you.

So go out there and make up some wonderfully Otherworldly Folk. You never know what you’re going to find.

 

Adventure Awaits…

 

Time: 1:34 Pm (ish)

Music: In this Moment – Call Me

 

 

 

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Friday Fess-Up for October 5th

I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda digging the alliteration in the title there.

Anyway, here’s what’s been going on since the last Friday Fess-Up.

I didn’t do a damned thing over the weekend.

Well, that’s not entirely true. You may have noticed that I’ve got a blog. Sunday morning is usually when I’ll get a post up. Sunday is also the day that I schedule the usual tweets for the week. This would include shout-outs for authors that I think are awesome and the occasional shill for my books.

I didn’t do much in the way of writing – and that’s ok.

Without the writer, there isn’t any writing at all, and I think that it’s an important part of the “Craft” side of the equation to be able to realize when you’ve reached your limits.

This is not to say that you’ve always got to be at your peak whenever you sit down to write, but if you’re barely there due to lack of sleep, etc. you get into the realm of diminishing returns pretty quickly.

That said, I did get up to write every day this week (So far.  I’m typing this up on a Thursday night…after my usual bed time). Wednesday ran on for 12 hours. Thursday ran for 12 and a half.

Thursday and Friday mornings after days like that are hard. Hell, the entire day after days like that are hard, but the dark of the morning when the alarm is dragging me out of bed is pretty bleak.

I do it for two reasons:

  1. It’s my writing time and I’ve got to own that, because it’s scarce.
  2. I know that I’ve got to tough it out for two days – tops – and then it’ll be the weekend and I can get caught up.

Again, I don’t recommend it, but sometimes it happens. And when you know your limits, you’ll recognize the difference between mornings when you need that extra two hours of sleep, and mornings when you can get by with a little bit of drag by leaning a little harder into the work to make progress.

So what, you may ask, am I working on?

My current project is a space opera with the working title of: “Jade Moon Waning”

I think I’ve been trying to dig a little too deep into one of my alien species because I can get pretty easily distracted if I’ve got to go look something up, so I’m stopping with what I’ve got.

I’m finishing up the characters – especially the Big Bad Ugly – and, as I’m typing this up, I think that I might be ready to start. Possibly as soon as next week.

Chapter 1.

Page 1.

Scene 1.

Here we go…

Still no elevator pitches. They’re all sounding too complicated and, well, bloated. I’m going to move that to the subconscious to stew for a bit.

As for now, it might be time for a bit of a read, then bed. I’m already behind on sleep by about 30 minutes and I’m still *Really* awake.

Until next time –

Adventure Awaits…

 

Time: 10:24 Pm (ish)

Music: None (I’m trying to be quiet)

 

 

 

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