Friday, November 30, 2007

Small stuff

I was going to write a post on what a relief it will be to finally finish the second book (the first time I've ever finished on time and on word count). But my sister sent me an e-mail I thought I'd share, just in case something went awry for you this Nano:

"IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER - by Erma Bombeck
(Written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn! With my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you's"; more "I'm sorry's."

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it... live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what.

Instead; let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us."

* * *

Life is all about fresh starts and challenges. For me, the challenge to be able to write a book is over; the fear that I'll run out of ideas has faded under the pressure of Nano (thank you, inner athlete). The next challenge - not a New Year resolution, thanks - is to get some of those books to an agent or editor. It will me versus my greatest fear of all: accepting failure and moving on.

And since I'm in a philosophical mood, one last quote before I get back to work:

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover."

Mark Twain

Thursday, November 29, 2007

One day

I'm a day away from finishing the second book.

For all intents and purposes, I am done, except for the wrap up and two discoveries to finish one plot line and present a possibility for another. One is necessary, the other isn't, but I want to put it in anyway, because it's a delicious hint should I decide to write this as a series. (Yeah, getting published would be great, but if I don't plan for the future, what's a plan for?)

Next week, I'll be posting the statistics of this Nano from my database - and posting a short story since I haven't done one this month and I promised. I guess that means two stories for December.

I wonder if I should write a 'Christmassy' one? With a difference since I'm Pagan. Bears thinking about.

For now, I'm done for the day and it will be a short day tomorrow - yay! Actually, I'm baby sitting my elder brother's young children, so I have to be done as soon as possible.

And just as a side note, we had kangaroos grazing on the front lawn last night. Aww... how cu-ute! Except they crapped all over the driveway. Little dark green nuggets everywhere. Another chore to add to the astonishingly long list of neglect I have to fix. Ah, well. One day to go.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A lot of people have music to write to; you might not actually hear it because you're so involved with your story - and that's a good thing.

One of the most inspirational songs for writers I've yet heard is Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten.

So, if you're wavering a little in your sojourn to write, here are those lyrics:

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh
I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

© N Bedingfield/D Brisebois/W. Rodrigues

Inspiration can be found almost anywhere. Whenever I'm hesitating, I find it in songs like this. It says it all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nano blur

Or maybe Nano rot. I totally forgot to post anything yesterday. I think that's the second time in a week.

I'm going to put it down to the curious state I mind myself in when I'm done writing for the day. I think all creativity has oozed out my ears, because I simply post a word count update, shut everything down and head upstairs. I sit and watch television for an hour, without taking anything in, and stumble off to bed.

There's a blankness of thought once the computer goes off, as if I'm shutting off, too. This last week, I've written 10k more than the week before, and I still have a day left over. I'm pushing it, I know, but it's not about the word count, it's about finishing this book by the end of the week.

My mistake was the first one was too long, much too long, way, way too long, and I've left myself short on time for this one. I'd bash my head against the wall if I thought there was something left inside to rattle.

For most of this book, I have little idea of what I've put down. I know there's a virtual travelogue, but after that? No much of a clue. Violence, probably, sex, yeah; misunderstanding, has to be. The nitty gritty, nope.

And that is the Nano blur. You work so hard on it, on reaching the fifty thousand or a hundred thousand, or whatever your personal goal is, and it damn well wears you out! The final week is blurred. You sit at the computer - as you have every day in November - you set your fingers to the keyboard and away you go until your eyes cross and your fingers fumble simple words. Then you know it's time to quit. Oh, but first, you've got to update your word count and a smile blooms as you post the day's effort.

Crash and burn quickly follows.

And speaking of which, I'm not done yet, so I'll just load up on another cup 'o java.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last Week

Well, the election has been won and lost. I only have two comments to make about the whole thing: Hallelujah, it's over; and how do the Americans put up with the advertising, bitching, counter-bitching for months, nay years? Six weeks was wa-ay long enough for me.

We're into the last five days of Nano, and I'm still motoring along. The guy has lost the girl due to some insecurities and a few judicious comments from a... wretched creature hell bent on getting someone else to end his existence.

The new bad guy is surprised by all three still being alive and is running out of time to hunt down the... things... he needs to ensure he has a new lease on life.

The bad news is I don't think I'll be able to finish this book with another fifty to sixty thousand more to write. The good news, or sort of good news, is that I've worked out a way to turn these two books into more than... two books; there could be three more after these.

I have a surprise conclusion to this one, much like the first book, only... nope, can't give away the ending, but sometimes, heroes do stupid things.

What I like about writing these two is that the characters are telling the story; they're as surprised by events as I am - which sounds a little odd, but that's what writing without an outline means.

So, onward and upward in the word count...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Seven Days

A week until the end of Nano and I can see the end.

Today has probably been the worst writing day. I just can't seem to get involved with the story.

I'm looking out the window at the long grass that needs mowing; I'm thinking of all the housework I've neglected; I'm thinking of the Christmas presents I have to buy and what the menu will be. I'm also wondering when a good time to vote is - yeah, it's election day and I've got to do my civic duty (not that I have a choice since it's compulsory).

All of this dithering means the story has gone off on a tangent somewhere and it's going to be a struggle to get back on track. What I thought was a good idea has turned into a slog because of geography - it's taking my protags too long to reach their destination and writing a travelogue isn't what I want. I doubt readers will want it either.

I still have a couple of pages to write before we get into it again, but at least I'm getting there.

The important aspect of this post is that if you're bored with the writing, the reader will be bored with the reading. It's important to note that, as a writer, if you're having a tough time, then there's something fundamentally wrong; not with style or dialogue or any writing skill, but with the imagery and the content. I'll be doing some significant cutting and rewriting.

I should have listened to my subconscious days ago and I wouldn't be bitching and moaning about it.

The bad news is I'm still writing this crap; the good news is that it will soon be over and I can get on with the real story.

Hmm... the windows could do with a wash and... look at those weeds!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Work rate

I got to the keyboard early this morning. Not because of last night's thunderstorm - though that was a disappointment - but because it was raining.

I've always thought of myself as a 'seasonal' writer; that is, I write more during winter and the cooler months than I do during summer. And now I can prove it.

Since June, I've kept a weather station to check on temperature and rainfall for virtually every day. From my database for November, I can see that the high word counts fall on days when it has been cool and/or rainy, the lower ones, when it's been hot.

I'm also an afternoon writer, with my morning counts abysmal, but rocketing up in the afternoon and evening.

Now, you might be wondering 'so what?', but it tells me I can take mornings off if necessary - and they have been - without putting too much of a dent in my word counts. It also means, I can sleep in, though I don't. But if I needed to, I could.

I also find the statistics interesting. So today, I'm busily beavering away and closing in on the 150k mark. Which means at the moment, I have to end this part of the story and present the more dangerous and devastating realisation that my protags have been set up. Much mayhem then, as they try to escape in order to save the world. Though how they're going to do that, I haven't quite worked out. Something spectacular and sudden, I hope.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Murphy hates me. I know this to be true because yesterday I said how much fun I was having. Murphy cannot have that.

My mouse began to fail. I changed it to a back up. That one went all wiggly across the screen. Changed to the back up for the back up. Nup. Nothing doing and nothing happened.

So, I used the keyboard to struggle along. How many people actually remember pre-mouse days? I'm probably giving away too much there.

Anyway. I got jack of it and shut everything down.

Today, I duly went off and bought a new mouse. Ooooo... shiney. And slick and the mouse zooms around the screen like it's on crack. Happy day! And off I went. A late start because I have to drive nigh on thirty miles into town. But, no problem as long as the mouse works.

Murphy can't possibly allow that: severe thunderstorm warning for the area!

I'm watching the radar and Holy Moly! Look at that those red patches heading in my direction! The dog is twitching, too - a precursor to panic.

And so, after less than four hours writing, I have to shut everything down again, and unplug. Leaving stuff, even on standby, is an invitation to disaster during a thunderstorm. I'll back everything up first, though, just in case.

Tomorrow, when the weather clears I'm... no, better not say anything. Murphy won't like it...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The end... but wait, there's more

What an ending. Kind of unexpected but I knew... well, even the good guys manage to lose the bad guys.

The book came in at just over 130k. I'm not worried, there are chunks, chunks I tell you that can be deleted - they're just... um, not as important as some of the other stuff. Then there are the bits I'll have to expand on, description in particular, which I'm not so good at.

I'll leave it to stew for a month or so.

In the meantime, I've got to get on with the sequel. Yes, indeedy. While Knight Stalker doesn't end on a cliffhanger, there's an ongoing plot thread that deserves a book of its own.

And so, I'm plunging into Knight Hunter. While in the first book, Dominica has to stop a madman from creating more 'immortals', in the second one, she has to stop one Knight from starting a nuclear war, and another from picking up where Rafe left off: creating more 'immortals'. I've even got a surprise or two up my very short sleeve (summer's arrived with a vengeance).

By golly, by crikey, this writing gig is fun. Who wouldn't want to do it?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ending? What ending?

And so, the end is near, blah, blah, blah, blah, the final curtain... Never could remember the middle bit.

Yeah. I thought this morning that I could finally write the ending of this piece, but then the hero decided he was going to rescue the heroine, even though she doesn't need it and got himself caught in the process.

Admirable sentiments, but sucky in the execution. He and a couple of others are not stuck in cells with magnetic locks. Where's MacGyver when you need him? Hmm?? Off playing about through the Stargate, that's what.

Well, for every problem there's a solution, though I can't see it at the moment. I'm guessing it will come to me - all it takes is to turn the problem around and look at it from an alternative viewpoint.

Good thing I've got everybody right where I want them: in dire straits. I've just got to get them out of the cells, defeat the virtually indestructible bad guys, let the anti-hero escape somehow, kill off a couple of people, destroy one man's dream and set the place on fire so there's no evidence of the Knights as a precursor to the next book. Yeah, simple...

Why am I doing this again?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lazy muse

My muse is a lazy slug.

Oh, yes indeed. She doesn't get revved up until after lunch, leaving me to struggle through the morning. The word count doesn't reflect that, but trust me, I haven't written more than two thousand words in a morning session.

It's not that she stays out late, partying to all hours of the morning, or simply refuses to get moving; it's a simple case of her not being a morning person.

It doesn't matter if I have coffee in hand, plan in mind on how to proceed, sitting in front of the keyboard ready to go, either. She just doesn't like to think that hard until after lunch.

Then I'm struggling to keep up. The dialogue, the scenery, the character interaction works better for the muse in the afternoon. I've checked my work after a marathon session and the amount of words I've missed or skipped... I know, I know, no editing until December, but these are the snippets I post on the site, and I can't guarantee I got all of 'em.

Of course, it could be her way of punishing me for starting this NaNo in the first place, when after last year, I'd all but decided not to do it this year.

Yeah, I think she's pissed off. She's had a lovely holiday this year and now she has to work for a living.

I also know she's gonna punish me for writing this. But, I'm off to Canberra this weekend so my nice little graph is going to be small steps, or no steps. But that's why I've numbed my butt on the seat, so I could 'bank' those word counts for days when I knew I'd be away from the keyboard.

All I can say is, she'd better be ready Monday morning, 'cause she is gonna get a flogging as I write the ending to this book.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The worst thing about Nano free-writing, is running out of ideas. Sure, you've got the characters, but then what?

I use the simplest of idea generators - the dreamscape.

Yep, just as I'm about to drop off to sleep, I think about the lead up to where I finished writing and let my mind work it out. So far, it's worked perfectly. Whole scenes and dialogue appear. Last night it was Dominica wielding a rather large Bowie knife, ala Alice in Resident Evil: Extinction with the Ghurkha Kukri. I thought that was really, really cool.

So I didn't forget the images, I replayed it from different angles until I was sure I'd remember. Then I went to sleep.

With this method, I can basically start the day's writing with ease. The difference in daily word counts comes about because, while I write, I also do the basic research I need on the 'net, or look it up in one of my reference texts.

I've never been to Somalia, Djibouti or Ethiopia. I knew they were partially desert, but what type? Sand, gravel, rocks, a mixture of all three? And what types of plants grow there? Are they edible, provide shade, have... things living in, under or around? Then there are the vehicles I'm using, Humvees. What do they look like inside? How many can they seat? What types of models? And the Apache helicopter...

As you can see, this type of research takes time and slows the word rate down considerably. It's all important, though. And tomorrow, I have to find out about Asmera - still in Ethiopia - and what kind of ships dock there. Should be interesting...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comfort Zoning

The best thing about writing is that you can do virtually anything to your characters. I say 'virtually' because there's always the opportunity to try and get them to do things that would be out of character.

I've got my protagonists reconciled - to a point - and on their way to safety... or not.

In any book you write, you have to give your characters a comfort zone. Then you have to strip them of it. Mwahaahaaa! Sorry, couldn't help myself. So. I've got them running around the desert heading for Djibouti. No one chasing them, just a nice long drive to freedom. But. They have two dozen children with them that they rescued. Not much of a problem there: they're all nice, well behaved kids.

The problem I'm giving them is that I'm taking away their comfort zone. They had a destination, now I'm throwing something else into mix.

Yeah. Characters aren't happy, they were looking forward to a nice long soak in a tub, a thick, medium-rare steak, an aged merlot, and a night of... well... adult fun.

They should have expected it. I mean, how often do things go smoothly, even in real life? That's right: Not very.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day's writing, I think...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Life in Art

This morning, I was a little careless doing the washing up and dropped four pasta bowls into the sink. Two broke. A definite 'oh, shit' moment. Yes, these things happen, but they were a Christmas present to my mother some years ago, so the guilt factor rose alarmingly.

While waiting for her to awaken so I could confess, I spent time writing. As you know, I free-write Nano and it was no surprise when my protagonists got themselves into an argument and harsh words were spoken: Dominica finally tossed Ben out of the car in the middle of the desert five hundred miles north of Mogadishu.

Damn, that was mean of me. I thought. But it fit. A nice conflict in a desolate land and a down turn in the relationship. I heard the parental unit finally stir. Time to 'fess up. No harsh words, just understanding that, indeed, these things happen, especially with slippery crockery.

Dom and Ben still haven't made up, though and the rancorous exchanges continue. I think there's still guilt in me for being inattentive and it's being reflected in the book.

But... that's a good thing. If everything runs smoothly, it's boring, so I've got a different kind of conflict and I'll... replace the pasta bowls. I'll also have to find a way to reconcile these two or there won't be happy ending; I'm wondering if it's even possible, but something will occur to me. I hope.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I had thought that without the Author page over at Nano, the cheaters would be kept at bay, since they wouldn't be getting public recognition.

Sadly, this has proven to be wrong. I've come across some numbers that, quite frankly, don't add up.

For me, it's day ten, day nine for those in the U.S. and I've already spotted someone with 130,000 words to their 'credit'. Nope. I don't think so. I don't know any twenty-year-olds, who work full time, who could have that sort of a word count without cheating - be it writing for months before hand, or simply plucking a number out of the air.

And that is another clue to the cheaters: they like rounded numbers. Do you know how difficult it is to get an exact word count ending in 000?

Cheating is one of my buttons. It's dishonest, it's lying, it's disrespecting those who have put the effort in to try.

Oh, sure there are authors there that have great word counts, but I know they are true because I - or my inner athlete - keep an eye on them each year, so I'm aware of what they're capable of; and let me tell you, they rock.

This challenge is hard; I accept that. You've got to think of an idea and run with it at the very least. And it pisses me off that there are those out there who think it's funny or a joke to diss the serious writers.

Yep, it's a button all right. Maybe next year I should write a comedy and teach myself not to get so het up about it; and... maybe pigs will fly.

Friday, November 09, 2007


One marker down. That's the 50k mark, but I don't much feel like writing today.

It could be the completion of the challenge; it could be I'm a bit tired of sitting in front of the screen for hours on end. It's not because I'm stuck. How can you be stuck if you're in the middle of a chase?

Whatever the reason, I have to continue. It's part of what a writer is: getting through the tough parts to finish what you started.

Here's a snippet:

The prick of a blade near her kidney was as sharp as it was unexpected and she froze.

“Into the alley.” A low harsh voice demanded in German. “And don’t scream or I’ll stick you.”

“Okay.” She said and went into an alley between two shops. “What do you want?”

“All your money, for a start.”

Dom turned around. The man was middle-aged, unwashed with filthy streaks across his flat, broad and gaunt face. His eyes darted left and right as if expecting company. His fist clutched the dagger too tightly.

“You ever killed anybody?” She asked.

“Gimme the money. Now!

“Strung out, huh.” She oozed sympathy. “I tell you what. I’ll walk out of here, and you keep your balls intact. How’s that?”

He stepped closer and she coughed at the rank smell coming off his body. “You’ll give me money or I’ll…” He jabbed at her but she didn’t move. The tip of the blade nicked her t-shirt and the skin underneath.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the man who followed her hesitate at the mouth of the alley. He clearly didn’t know what to do.

“Too late, pal, you’ve been spotted.” She dipped her head and the man’s eyes went feral as he saw the other man.

He reached out and grabbed her hair, tugged it back. “Give me your fuckin’ money!”

She kneed him as hard as she dared. He released her hair as he folded over, but his fist struck out and the blade sank into her stomach up to the hilt as he fell.

Dom turned away from the man at the mouth of the alley, blocking his view.

“Damn it.” She said and stared down at the knife. She didn’t need anyone seeing this or the result. It didn’t hurt which told her how bad it truly was. The pain would come later and it would be… ferocious.

Dom pulled out her mobile and dialled Ben’s number.

“Yo!” He answered.

“Ben. Got a little problem.”

“And hello to you too, Dom.” He said cheerfully.

“Ben, get over yourself. I said I had a problem.” She slouched against the wall, her legs weakening.

“What kind?” He asked all cheefulness gone.

“I’m two doors down, in an alley. Bring my long coat would you, please?”

To his credit, he didn’t ask why, simply said he was on his way and hung up.

Dom glanced back to the mouth of the alley, but the man was gone. Her assailant though, still writhed on the filthy concrete, clutching his crown jewels with tears streaking through the dirt on his face, muttering. “Bitch, bitch, bitch.” Over and over.

A few minutes later, Ben came jogging down the alley, her long coat over his arm.

“What’s… up?” He skidded to a stop before the man on the ground. “Uh, oh, what did you do to him?”

“It’s not what I did to him, so much as what he did to me.” Dom replied and turned.

* * *

There you go, first draft only.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Well, damn...

...I didn't see that coming!

Stupid, arrogant bint got herself stabbed. I'm telling you, sometimes, these characters do the most stupid things. I mean sure, she's pissed at Ben for being nasty and storms out, but she should have known better than to let herself be mugged. It's the belief in her invulnerability, but, as you know, in situations where you think you're in control all it takes is a slight distraction and you're doomed. DOOMED, I tell you!

Ah, well, if there weren't complications, it wouldn't be fun to write and it would be a chore to read.

I wonder what Ben's going to do about? Guess I'm about to find out.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Late start today due to having to get it... ah, what's it called? Oh, yes food. Now, the shelves are stocked again, I don't need to waste any more time on the book.

My word count has slowed as a result and because of a need to do research on the run: things like how long it takes to get from Strasbourg to Berlin, what luxury hotels are there, whether there's such a thing as a handheld EMP emitter. You know, the usual.

It's a part of the fun of Nano, I guess, marking out the bit you need and setting the search engine to look while you're still writing.

But I'm up to an easier bit of the story mixed in with complications. You know, sex scenes boost the word count, but you've got to make sure it's appropriate. At least, I do. Now, our hero has discovered our heroine can heal rather quickly and it's put him offside.

What's a hero to do? Demand an explanation and the little woman give it? Nuh uh. None of his business and if he wants to take a hike, there's the door. She don't need nuffink from him; not even sex.

So, how can our hero convince her that a) she needs him, and b) he can help her?

Well, I think I'll let that stew overnight. The answer will appear by tomorrow. And I should reach the 50k mark in the afternoon/evening. It's all a matter of how much I can accomplish today. I don't want to leave myself too much to do - the more tired I get, the more dyslexic my fingers get.

Monday, November 05, 2007

For every problem...

...there is a solution.

Yep, I found a flaw in the so called impregnable security. A weakness, a flaw, that no one could see. Not that it's going to do the villains any good. Hah!

Death! Destruction! And a couple of lucky escapes, I think. We need witnesses to this travesty and the men of Alpha Squad are just the unlucky bods.

So, all up, it's been a fairly productive work day. I had to take a three-hour break to watch my boys demolish Philadelphia, heh, heh, and after that, the writing flowed much better. So I've done five and a half thousand words today. Five thousand a day is the average I'm looking for.

Actually, I'm 'banking' some words because I have to be away in a couple of weekends time and I don't want to regret not being further along than I want to be.

If I get into the groove tomorrow, the 40k is my target. Which means, oh hey, I'll be doing at least one... um... sex scene - they're always good to boost the word count, but it has to be for a purpose, not because I want the 40k.

So, on tomorrow's agenda is blood, guts, danger, sex, regrets, murderous intent, escape from peril... um... hmmm, a revelation or two, and a damned good recipe! I think I'll be posting an excerpt on the site and a snippet here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


It has been remarked, more than once to me, that writing is simply having an idea, sitting down and writing it. So what's so difficult about that? There's also the complaint that "I'd write a book if only I had the time".

I'm sure as writers, you've come up against this attitude. I don't know about you, but it pisses me off. If ill-informed persons actually sat down and did the work, an attitude would undergo a radical change.

And yes, I'm grumpy today. Why? Because of good manners and being too clever for my own good, that's why.

Visitors, while enjoyed, cause me angst when I'm doing a marathon like Nano, no matter how much I deny it verbally and are relieved by the interruption. Today, it wasn't going well. I'm damned well avoiding action, wrote pages of inaction because I couldn't see where to put it!

Characters talking, villains planning, scenery described, back story invoked, but very little in the way of actual action. And I want it.

I'm likely to write some wholesale slaughter tomorrow, just to rid myself of the frustration. But I've come up with a plan to... lessen unnecessary deaths.

I'm going to plan a nice big action scene and write towards it. In fact, I think I'll have the Chateau invaded and let the security system... ahh... you see the problem? I've written an impregnable fortress where Dominica doesn't have to involve herself and that is wrong. The Chateau is so strongly built, not even a nuclear strike can penetrate the walls, so I have to think about how the villains can get in and force my protagonists on the run.

When I thought of the security system, I thought it fun - a misconception on my part because now I have to think of a way to defeat the system, damn it!

I think I'll go and have a beer and brood over it. Something will occur... and maybe I'll let you know...

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Sometimes, it just doesn't work for me.

I've written 10,000 words and I've hit a roadblock. It happens. The story just doesn't want to move forward. Worse, I have to keep reminding myself that this book isn't first person, it's third.

I can see where I went wrong: I started at the wrong spot and probably with the wrong perspective. I could delete it and start again, but the work itself is fine, really, really rough, but fine. How do I get around this? I'm not the kind of writer who can write blocks of text and then fit them later. I write sequentially; I tell the story through the characters eyes.

But my mind was telling me I was wrong in so many ways, thus the current roadblock. The characters wouldn't move on until I saw reason; and so I have.

They're not especially happy with the third person, but they do accept it, knowing I can change that if it doesn't work.

The other change is that I went back to the beginning. It reads better starting in Medieval Germany rather than that part being told as backstory. Well... it's kind of both. I'm doing the block of text thing, but differently: I've written the Germanic scene and I'm now writing the stuff that comes before it, in the current day, if you get what I mean: I'm writing towards this piece, and knowing it is there means I have a link to work towards.

Yeah, it's a candy scene, one the scenes you know you're gonna enjoy writing but have to work towards it. I've now got that scene and am writing to match it. Agreed, it's out of sequence, but once it's done, everything else should flow nicely... I hope.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Getting through

The best way to get through NaNo is to take your time.

The idea of not spending hours and hours at the keyboard, pounding away as the ideas ebb and flow may seem self-defeating, but it does serve a purpose.

The first couple of days to a week are filled with frenetic activity, of people trying to get as much down as possible. That's all good, but if you're in for the long run, then steps must be taken to ensure that you can finish.

There is nothing worse than the second and third week doldrums. By the fourth week, panic sets in if you're behind on the schedule.

For those who have plots and outlines and have run it through the internal editor so many times the editor's run away, those weeks are more about the writing, because there's no need to panic; they know what direction to go in. For those of us who eschew such things as plots and outlines, the month is a mountain to climb, something like Everest, thought that is a molehill compared to writing.

So, how do I do it? How do I manage to put down 150+k in a month or less? By pacing myself. By not ignoring everything else around me and burning out before the deadline. By doing other things.

"Sure, and it's all well and good for you, because you have a fast typing speed." I can hear people say. That's true, but I can't type what I haven't got in my head and, like anyone else who worries about finishing, sometimes the ideas dry up and I'm stuck.

But I take measures against such an unhappy occurrence. I'll type for an hour, an hour and a half, but after that, I'll get up from the keyboard and walk away. I'll do something else for half an hour or twenty minutes. I'll be thinking of something different, too. I'll be blending some coffee to try, I'll be in the garden wondering if I've just killed a new plant or a weed, I'll watch the news or weather for an update, I'll clean part of a room, organise books, watch the muscular workmen building the curb outside my house. I'll do anything except think of the book I'm writing.

When the time is up, I'll sit down, read the last sentence and carry on. And when I'm done for the day, I'll shut down and relax; read a book. Eventually, I'll have, not only the word count, but a book to show for the effort.

It doesn't just work for Nano, it works for other stuff I write, too, and that makes it all manageable.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Yes, we're off and running in this year's Nano.

After a slow start and easing into the groove. It will take a while, the first ten or so pages are so much crap and will probably be deleted. At the very least, a major overhaul is necessary.

I know what I wanted to say, but it's all lacking a good deal of description and characterisation. I figure as I go on, that will come, too.

The first day always suck, no matter how well thought out the initial stages are. Every year I've done this, the first three chapters need major work to fix what I really wanted to say. As long as I hit the high points, I suppose it's okay.

It's not important until I'm done, but it sure is annoying.

I'm thinking I'm going to read this stuff and wince - rightly so, but I want something good enough to post as an excerpt, too. I'll look at what I've done today, tomorrow and make a decision then.

For now, I've done enough - 5k - and I don't want to wear myself out. The trick to completing a book, not just the Nano requirements, is to pace yourself.

I'm done with day one. Tomorrow, well, Dom has to get out of Afghanistan with the loot under the eyes of the United Nations and with a really, really pissed off CIA agent on her tail. I wonder how she's gonna do that?