NaNo 2017, Day 3

Well, I’m doing NaNo again. I put off making the decision until October 31, at about three in the afternoon. While that’s not quite a last-minute decision, it does reflect the amount of energy that I have to give the novel this year. I think that I’m still stinging from the slop that I wrote last year and disappointed that I never managed to wrap my head around a suitable plot for a murder mystery.

The novel-esque thing I’m working on this year is a dystopian novel. It’s sort of science fiction, but not really, although sci-fi spans a really large range and doesn’t have to include aliens or space ships. Though if one shows up in chapter eight, that might up the interest level — mine! I named my novel Waist Removal, and here’s the description I put on the NaNo site:

Dystopian sci-fi/fantasy in which our heroine finds herself wanting to get away from her parents, but her only escape is to get sent away to a state-sponsored fat farm. However, Heroine isn’t fat, and with the government monitoring everyone’s health (for their own good, of course), she has to figure out how to eat enough food to gain weight so she can be “transported.”

I think there might be a love interest in there somewhere, maybe a mystery or some strange documents that Heroine discovers.

I wrote about 2100 words before I settled on a name for Heroine. It was actually easier to come up with a name for her best friend. Oddly, I had as much trouble in my first novel “seeing” the main character, while describing the supporting characters was much easier. At the end of day 3 I finished a synopsis (chapter zero) and chapter 1, and my word count is 4298 (703 behind).

In other writing news, I’ve just broken the 100,000-word barrier and I’m within 56,000 words of my goal for the entire year. NaNo should take care of most of that (if not all), but I’m working on some other projects and trying to schedule them all so NaNo doesn’t eat all my time. I’m accomplishing that by doing self-inflicted word sprints with NaNo. The less time I spend second-guessing myself at this point in the draft, the better, and I’m hoping that as I get more words down my writing momentum will pick up. I want to turn this year of writing angst into one of finishing projects.

And speaking of that, Corrugated Sky‘s second anthology, Smoke and Steam, is due out any day. We’ve submitted our final files to CreateSpace and hope to have the book go live next week. Stay tuned!

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October Is for Anthology

Ah, yes, that’s a bit of a lame title for the blog post this week, but it’s eerily prescient. Last year (in October) we launched Corrugated Sky Publishing with the publication of our first anthology, Tales of the Black Dog. We started a second anthology with the hopes of printing it this spring, but that came and went and then the summer sun burned down on us and we still didn’t have a finished book in hand. And now it’s October again, and we are very, very close to getting the second anthology in print. So close that we will probably have it next week, just in time for Halloween — again!

This second book is called Smoke and Steam and it’s big: 260 pages, which means that what started out as four Steampunk short stories morphed into four Steampunk novellas, including “Wings over Staria” by JC Rock, “Hekatite” by Karen Garvin, “Heart of the Matter” by Michelle Schad, and “Freedom for a Foster” by Cathryn Leigh. We’ll have the book available in paperback and ebook versions on Amazon, but while you’re waiting for our second anthology, why not pick up a copy of the first one — Tales of the Black Dog? After all, it contains some great horror stories, and what better time of year to read them?

With the anthology all but finished except evicting a few typos and finalizing our print files, it’s time for me to get back to other writing projects. The looming question, with November coming up, is whether I’m going to do NaNo this year. I did it last year and managed to meet the word count, so technically I had a “win,” but the story never quite jelled into something worthwhile. It was supposed to be a noir mystery, but the only “noir” was my character riding a bus at night and the only “mystery” was the plot. I loved my title (Killing Palatino); I also liked the art I came up with for the cover. Maybe I’ll dust it off sometime, but not this fall.

I do have another book idea that I’ve been thinking of developing. It would be a young adult story and the protagonist would be a young girl who lives in a country where being healthy is considered a social duty and being overweight is illegal. I want the politics to be in the background, not in-your-face, but I’ll need to develop an interesting character who has motives and desires. I have some ideas, but you’re going to have to wait at least until December to learn more … as will I!

October Scribblings

This year has been pretty unproductive as far as writing goes, although I’m pleased to announce that Corrugated Sky‘s second anthology, Smoke and Steam, is in production and we hope to have it out before Halloween. Save up your dimes and be sure to buy a copy (or two or three)! The book will include four novella-length short stories, so this volume will be much heftier than Tales of the Black Dog, running in the neighborhood of 250 pages.

I have to admit that work has wiped me out mentally this year, but I finally feel as though I’m pulling out of the nose-dive and managing to get back at the keyboard without feeling an overwhelming sense of loathing. Since I work as a copy editor, I read all the time and I guess I just got burned out. Instead of writing and reading, I’ve been taking up knitting (yes, really) and making small projects that make me feel as though I’ve accomplished something. Although I did make a shawl, and that wasn’t really a small project, so I feel doubly accomplished for managing to finish the project (and I’ve even worn it a couple of times).

I have three major writing projects on my desk right now: the Smoke and Steam anthology; my novel, Seacombe Island; and a nonfiction project that I’m developing from my master’s thesis, which has been sitting for three years collecting dust. I’m ambivalent about doing NaNo this year, but a part of me says that I need the mental challenge and group pressure to get back at the keyboard and stay there. We’ll see. I have 26 days to make up my mind!

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 141

My sketch of the clock at Savage Mill, Maryland. Media used: Canson art journal, Utretch sketching pencils, and Ooly Kaleidoscope multi-colored pencils.

I’ve joined a Meetup sketching group to do some urban sketching. Many years ago I took an art studio class, and since then I’ve taken watercolor painting and dabbled a bit with acrylics, markers, and colored pencils. I’m kind of a lazy artist and it helps me to have an assigned project or something particular to focus on to get started. So, with no further ado, let me introduce this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt.

Clocks have been with us for many centuries in one form or the other. We have atomic clocks that measure time down to the pulse of a cesium atom; we have mechanical clocks with gears and flywheels and pendulums; we have sundials, where the shadow cast by the gnomon indicates the hour; and we have water clocks, where the slow drip, drip of water filling up a reservoir is measured to show the passage of time.

Your writing prompt for this week is to come up with a different way to measure the passing of time, whether for an alien race, or a group of humans. You should plan on deciding what kind of measurements would be of importance to your characters, and then design a timekeeping device or some way of tracking time that can be used by more than one person. For example, say your characters only care about the seasons, and they want to measure the solstices and equinoxes. You’re probably thinking about Stonehenge and Mayan temples, but how else could they track these things? And if your characters measure the hours, what kind of device would they use? Water-powered, steam, wind turbine?

Have fun, and plan to do a little bit of research for this one. Some clocks are really works of art and will be a good source of inspiration for you, even if you’re considering something other than a mechanical clock for your timepiece. Also check out sundials for a bit of variety. The North American Sundial Society is a good starting point, and there are links to images as well as instructions for constructing your own sundial, should the maker bug bite you.