30 November 2011

Six Digits

Earlier today, I made it across the NaNoWriMo double challenge finish line in two ways: one, I made it a little bit past 100k (100489 words). Two, I wrote the final scene of my novel. What I have feels like a well structured extremely elaborate outline of what could be a good novel someday. This is the first time I've managed a novel length piece without having it fall to pieces.

This evening, I took myself off to Wafflepalooza, our local NaNo region's way of celebrating the final day of the month, and I had a very tasty waffle.

Now, I feel like I could use the help of this little girl. Anyone know if she's taking new clients?

crazy parenting fails - Taking Dad For a Walk
Via Parenting Fails - though I would call this a parenting win.

29 November 2011


Home stretch. I've got a crisis, a battle, and a denouement to go. I'll report back when I'm all finished up. In the meantime, let's have one last Craig Ferguson Cold Open Dance Party, featuring Duran Duran's White Lines.

I want each and every one of you out of your chairs and shaking your boots. If you can't shake it to a song about cocaine lip synced by a pompadour-wearing Craig Ferguson, his amazing friends, and awesome puppets, you're dead inside. Dance, monkeys, dance!

Now get back to work. Those words ain't gonna write themselves.

28 November 2011

One of the Best Things I've Seen in Quite Some Time

Nothing to do with what I'm writing. I'm just trying to keep you amused so you don't notice that I'm not offering you any meaningful content.

I'm at 89021 words. Carry on:

27 November 2011


Last night, I took half an hour before beginning to write, grabbed a blank page, and plotted the end of the novel. I've known for some time how it will end (no I will not tell you just trust me it is great). For a while I've had some pretty strong ideas of the intermediate steps necessary to get there, but I wasn't sure how it was all going to hang together.

Now I know. It's just a matter of getting it all down on paper. I'm so excited. I can't believe I'm finishing this month in a state of excitement rather than in a state of bedraggled wiped-outedness. That is probably on its way, but it will have to wait until Thursday.

For all you WriMos, I hope you are enjoying the last few days of the challenge. While you're planning what you're going to do in December when your time is your own once more, check out Folly Blaine's post on an amazing sale on ebooks by Small Beer Press. We're talking 50% off, people! Apparently the sale is over after November 30. I found Kathe Koja's Under the Poppy and The Child Garden by Geoff Ryman, as well as some terrific short story collections.  

26 November 2011



I Get Letters

What's this, you ask? Why, adorable handmade bookmarks from Red Tash, who sent me stuff because she is awesome. Did you know that her book, This Brilliant Darkness, is available at a special price right now? You should totally buy it. After reading this review by Brent Nichols, I can't wait to read it. Tash, please pass on my thanks to your minions. They make great bookmarks!

I also got a review copy of Michael Monture's Slices in the mail this week. The collection looks excellent. It's available on Kindle and paperback. Many thanks, Michael! I plan to dive into it as soon as November is over.

24 November 2011


Still more writing to go tonight.

Current inspiration: Latcho Drom, a film by Tony Gatlif. The whole thing is wonderful. This is just a little taste.

The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum Needs Your Help

Bad news, my friends: the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore, MD, where Poe began his short story writing career, has had its modest funding withdrawn by the city. Although the building is not under threat because it is considered a landmark, the museum might be forced to close in 2012.

The good members of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore are dedicated to keeping the memory of Poe alive and allowing people to briefly occupy the space where the super creepy and amazing "Berenice" was written, not to mention "King Pest the First," "Ms. Found in a Bottle," and others.

Here's where the good folks at Literary Landmark Press come in. They've put together an anthology of new stories, The Spirit of Poe. Proceeds from the sale of the anthology will go to the Museum to help it during this critical transitional time. Pre-order your copy here. If you're feeling especially generous, order one for yourself and then order one for donation to the Museum so they can sell it in their gift shop and earn extra dollars on it. If you're short on cash, you can always trumpet their cause to the skies. Every little bit helps, right?

Buy or promote the anthology any way you can, and take a few moments to investigate some of the other things you can do to help keep the Poe House and Museum open.

ETA: Poe House curator Jeff Jerome comments that if you want to help the Poe House and Museum, you should check out the new Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum website. I see that, among other ways to help, there's an address there to which you can send donations.

21 November 2011


My current inspiration:

The Burning Times is a remarkable documentary. While some of the claims of its experts have been called into question, it is radically subversive in many ways. This style of feminism, with its focus on recovering women's history and highlighting the deep misogyny of our culture, has long since gone out of style (if it ever was in style?), much to my consternation. As hokey as some aspects of neopaganism are, I think Donna Read and her team make a strong effort to sensitize us to the horrors of what they call "the women's holocaust."

About five minutes in, there's also this bit of weirdness. This guy deserves his own short story, or maybe a cameo in a novel.


17 November 2011


...and just about the end of the first part of my novel. I'm close to par for reaching my goal of 100k this month. Honestly, I have no idea how this is happening, except to say that somehow I have tapped my innate stubbornness in a way I haven't been able to since I was two years old.

Keep writing, everyone, whether you're insane a WriMo or not.

16 November 2011

Nothing More than a Moral Vacuum with a Deviant Message: NaNoWriMo Day 15

Today's title comes from a Vatican condemnation of New Moon, released shortly after the Catholic Church decided to start slamming Hallowe'en. Damn, vampmeyers get all the best reviews. I can only hope that someday, the book I'm writing right now will be similarly described. A girl can dream, can't she?

Word count: 47559. I should indeed pass 50k today. I can't believe I'm planning to spend the rest of the month repeating the overachieving ridiculousness of the last two weeks instead of slipping into a coma like half the internet probably wishes I would.

crazy parenting fails - Not What We Mean by "Turn the Other Cheek"
Via FailBlog

15 November 2011

It's Like That...and That's the Way It Is: NaNoWriMo Day...wait, what day is it?

My story takes place in the Medieval period, so my musical choices are limited, but if I could send my characters to a dance hall sometime in the late 1980s, I would have them moving to this, although maybe not as stylishly as the Red Army:

Sunday's word count took me to 39444. Monday took me to 43812. I'm a little less than a day behind, hoping to pass the mighty 50k by the end of tomorrow's writing. 

13 November 2011

A False Accusation of Poisoning: NaNoWriMo Days 11 and 12

From Pierre Boaistuau's Histoires Prodigieuses (1569)
Right now my source material is an incident in the life of Henry Suso, a 14th-century mystic who was also a follower of Meister Ekhart.

During the time of plague, a popular pastime was accusing various marginalized people and groups of poisoning wells. So severe were the symptoms of plague that many people could not accept that it was a disease, and so they chose to scapegoat members of their own communities. Jews were the most common targets, as the woodcut above depicting a Jew dropping a bag of poison into a well indicates. (The smaller figure with the spiral lower half is the devil, who is peeing into the well for good measure.) As a travelling mystic, Suso also fell under suspicion. When he arrived in one town, people there cornered his slow-witted travelling companion at the inn and made their accusations. The companion panicked, and, as people do under pressure, made up a story about Suso poisoning the local well:

My companion is a wise and experienced man. His Order has entrusted to him a bag of poison to sink n the wells, here and there in the country as far as Alsace, whither he is now bound. Everywhere he goes he goes he will defile everything with the deadly poison. See to it that you get him soon, or he will commit crimes that no one can ever undo. He has just taken out a little bag, and he has thrown it into the village well, so that all those who come to the fair, and drink out of the will, will be poisoned. That is why I stayed here, and would not go out, because I do not like it. And as a proof that I am telling the truth, you should know that he has a large sack, which is full of these bags of poison and with the gold pieces, that he and his Order have got from the Jews to pay him for committing these crimes.
(from Rosemary Horrox, The Black Death)

Such details, the little bags of poison, the Jewish conspiracy, were a common part of scapegoating efforts on the continent during the first waves of the Black Death. In telling that story, Suso's travelling companion would only have confirmed the delusions of the crowd. A mob scene ensued after this. Suso barely escaped with his life. 

Word count: Friday was a good writing day: I got to 37188 words, a little ahead of par. Saturday was not so good for writing, although it was good for other stuff. Word count: 37733. We'll see how far I get tonight after supper.

11 November 2011

If I Could Put Time in a Brothel: NaNoWriMo Day 10

Today's writing opened up the possibility of a sequence of scenes featuring disembodied monks in a brothel. I am afraid that this may be the beginning of the end for my (so far) serious novel. Isn't sticking a ghostly monk in the body of a prostitute basically the ultimate in jumping the shark? (Can we use "jump the shark" as a turn of phrase again? Or has "jumping the shark" jumped the shark?)

No nudge, no wink, just 33371 words.

10 November 2011

Waaaaahhh! NaNoWriMo Days 8 and 9

On Tuesday, I hit a wall. That would be the wall of lack of sleep and the wall of holy crap I've done so much already this month and the wall of I am blowing my own mind. Word count: 24068, about 2400 under par for the old Double NaNo challenge.

On Wednesday, I punched through the wall using the super fist of I can't quit now and I shall overcome and behold my awesomeness. So much is happening in my book now! We're talking body hopping and profound spiritual rituals and nasty revelations that are far nastier than I'd planned. Thank you, subconscious, for storing all those nightmares for me! They are coming in handy right now. Word count: 29499, about 500 words below par.

Now it's Thursday, and time to begin writing again. Many plots to plan and plans to plot.

Via Graphics Grotto

08 November 2011

Making a List, Checking it About a Hundred Times a Day: NaNoWriMo Days 6 and 7

I made it through an action-packed weekend with my word count more or less intact. Despite attending an emergency summit of girlfriends, teaching a double tai chi class on Saturday, and running a four-hour intensive workshop on Sunday, I kept on writing.

By the end of Sunday (Day 6), my word count was at 18953. Day 7, and I'm at 22648. My people are due for a mini-event that will presage the (disastrous) turning point of the end of Act 1. It should make the next couple of days relatively easy to write.

A while back a very wise writer from my home town told me that it's a great idea to keep a running list of characters as you write a novel-length project. Of course it is. I have a terrible habit of forgetting even major characters' names over the course of a ten-page short story. They often get renamed several times - a problem I deal with in revision.

With this project, I have a huge cast I'm working with, and many of the people appear only for a  moment to be disposed of in nasty ways, but you never know - they could show up later. This is a story that deals with life after death and harnessing spirits, after all. I realized I might be causing myself problems later on by not tracking character names, so today before I wrote I sat down and combed through the 36 pages of my manuscript, noting anyone who is mentioned in the course of the story, whether that character is central or not, onstage or not. The list is pretty and of limited legibility. I'm naming people on the fly and will probably do more checking later to see if I've introduced any anachronisms with these names. Major characters are in red; everyone else gets plain old black ink.

06 November 2011

Craig Ferguson Cold Open Dance Party and NaNoWriMo Day 5

I defy you to avoid boogying to this jam, especially once the sharks get into it.

Oh, and I'm at 16725 words.

05 November 2011

Dangerous on the Dance Floor (NaNoWriMo Days 3 and 4)

I am buckling down, my pretties. Yesterday, NaNoWriMo day three, my word count was at 11 957. Today was not an awesome day for writing - Fridays and weekends tend not to be, because that's when I do the majority of my teaching - but I am still ahead of the 100k in 30 days quota at 13 599. After working with my primary MC for the last three days, I've introduced someone new. Someone fabulous. 

I've started making a list of perfectly logical consequences of the way magic works in the story. I can't wait to swing these consequences on my characters. It's going to be awesome, and should make things much, much worse for them. I've named the list "Gruesome Discoveries." In honour of the list, here are my favourite pictures from an image search for "gruesome discoveries." Enjoy, and happy writing.


03 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 2

The sleep deprivation is definitely kicking in. I worked out this evening so I could stretch my old bones and not die when I teach my usual (excessive) round of tai chi classes plus a four-hour workshop this weekend, but then I came home and got right back into the writing. It's day two. I feel a certain obligation to keep up my high volume word count while enthusiasm is still high and my idea still feels good.

I will say this: aiming to write over 3k a day really helps with continuity and keeping the story foremost in your mind. If I'm not getting inky fingers at my desk, I'm thinking about what I'm going to write next. I'm using a tip I learned in grad school while writing the dreaded thesis: park on the downhill slope. Meaning, stop writing for the day in the middle of a good scene that you know will be easy to pick up again the next day. I find it helpful to do that.

Anyhoo, I've chosen a working title: A Plague of Witches. In the car on the way home tonight, Dave cheekily suggested Witch Plague as an alternative, and we got caught up in a discussion about the problem of titles that seem to be asking questions. Say it out loud, with a question mark at the end: Witch Plague?

I also know that at some point there will be golems.

Day two word count: 7604.


02 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 1

Yeeeahhhhhh! (Foam is coming out of my mouth right now. That's normal, right?)

I wrote 3714 words today. My book opens in the year 1348, when the Black Death struck Britain. (It hit bits of the rest of Europe the year before.) My idea concerns death and magic and diverges from what really happened historically on page one. I have no title, not even a working title, and that is driving me nuts.

Beginnings are fun but I know from experience that I have to move carefully. I'm trying to pack my opening scene with good, useful stuff for later, and not garbage that I'll wish I hadn't included. Because NaNo novels fly by so quickly, they need to have solid stuff that you can use later or else they turn into weird fluff by the end of the month. I don't want the fluff. I want necromancy and kickass chicks. Eventually I'll include a cast of thousands (well, tens), but for now my MC / focal point character is turning out to be messed up and cool in all kinds of great ways.

My outline includes the term "farm hooker," although my book will not.

Happy writing, Wrimos.

Coffin Hop Winner and Other Small Matters of Concern in November

The Coffin Hop is over! Booooo! The only thing I can say is that I wish it had gone on for a little longer, so I could have visited more sites while the cool giveaways were still happening. The best thing about the hop, though (besides the terrific badges) is that we can still visit the amazing writers who participated and get to know them that much better. Second best thing: there's going to be another one next year.

(Third best thing: I befuddled many people this past week by using the phrase "I've been coffin hopping" out of context.)

I absolutely loved the answers everyone gave to the question of what you'd like to be buried with. You guys made my Halloween with your awesome, Klingon-funeral wanting, bury-me-with-books needing ways. I love you all equally, but (dum dum dum!):

The winner of the One Buck Horror e-zine collection and the tiny copy of The Ancient Mariner is: Deborah Walker, aka Kelda Crich. Congratulations! I'll be in touch.

As a side note, the response that won my foul little heart was Anthony J Rapino's:

I'd like to be buried naked on a bed of red leaf lettuce. I should shimmer with a sweet glaze of honey (raw and unprocessed please). At my side I'd like a quart of barbeque sauce and some celery sticks.

Bon appetit.

You are sick, sir. And I salute you.

In other news, I won a skill-based ("skill-based") Coffin Hop contest over at Macromere Press, publisher of David Ewald's He Who Shall Remain Shameless. The book consists of fictional conversations with real-life dead people. The contest required you to name a deceased real-life person who you would like to see in the book, and give some reason why. I gave the creepiest answer I could muster, and I won some Amazon dollars for my troubles. I picked up a copy of He Who Shall Remain Shameless with it, because it looks smart and concerns some profound themes and I want to read it and you should too.

Finally, it is that time of year when we lose our heads and decide to write a novel. It's okay, though, because everybody's doing it. And yes, I would jump off a bridge if everyone else was. Hey, swimming together is fun! Posting in November will probably concern NaNoWriMo exclusively, so if you're not into it, you might want to duck and cover because it is going to get obnoxious in here.