Seacombe Island Is Here!

cover of Seacombe Island

It’s here! My novel Seacombe Island has been published and is for sale on Amazon!

I began the novel as a 2011 NaNoWriMo manuscript. Since then, I’ve rewritten and edited most of the chapters several times and added a few characters that the zero draft didn’t include. Somewhere along the way I had put it aside while I finished graduate school, but the amount of work wasn’t ever really the issue. The big problem was that I had trouble developing the main character, Thomas Ashton. I had supporting characters who knew who they were right from the start, but not my protagonist. He was playing his cards close to his chest and refused to confide in me.

And so I put the manuscript aside and let the problem stew for awhile. Eventually I began sorting out some of the themes and gaining a better sense of what the driving forces were behind my characters. As I went through and edited some of the bits that were really irritating me the protagonist’s personality became clearer, and the more I delved into his backstory, the better I understood him.

What really helped me sort out some of the backstory was writing a short story based on the Seacombe Island world, “Hekatite,” which was published in the Smoke and Steam anthology this spring. Even though Tom isn’t in the short story, Edward Grey and Tom’s friend, Samuel Grey, are. Writing about them and figuring out what they were up to, and how it would affect Tom in the future, gave me a guideline and was a lot of fun.

I hope you enjoy Seacombe Island!

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NaNo 2017, Plodding Along

I’m behind the NaNo word-count goal by about 3300 words, so I need to write more than the minimum of 1667 words a day to finish my 2017 novel at the end of November. It’s still well within the realm of possibility, but today, other than being a work day, I’m finding all sorts of excuses to avoid the beast. Write before work? It didn’t happen this morning. I usually take a short coffee break in the morning and fit in some writing, but I avoided that, too. And now it’s nearly lunchtime and I’m writing about not writing instead of writing. Ah, the procrastination has set in!

But there’s nothing new about that, and only one way to fix it. So, a bite of lunch, another cup of coffee, and words. Many, many words. Let them gush forth like a geyser and spray on the virtual page, never mind what gets wet. Unless it’s the keyboard …

Good luck, fellow NaNo writers!

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!

Losing Momentum

Nebble Lighthouse, which I photographed on a trip to Maine several years ago.

Cape Neddick’s Nubble Lighthouse decorated for the holidays. I photographed this on a trip to Maine in 2003.

This November didn’t exactly fill me with the drive to write, but I made myself go the distance and put in the requisite 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. My draft isn’t something that I’m happy with, so I put it aside for other writing that’s on my active project list, which includes a short story, a novel, encyclopedia articles, and a nonfiction book (maybe two).

So I’m sitting here with a basic sketch for a short story that will appear in Corrugated Sky’s spring anthology. I have the characters already, and a basic premise for the story, but I’m trying to sketch an outline for the plot before I start the writing process. I tried a bare-bones outline for NaNoWriMo but ran off the rails at chapter three. This time I’m doing a bit more planning, and the scope of the short story should help me rein in the urge to keep writing and writing.

I’m blaming my lack of concentration on a mixture of boredom, stress, and frustration. We have noisy road construction in the neighborhood and I’m pretty much the only one “in” the office through the middle of the first week of January (I telecommute). It’s a recipe for boredom and stress, and this year has been a monster at work, too. No wonder I can’t get any writing done.

I can’t take a vacation right now, but I can look through my vacation photos and do something creative with them. The Nubble lighthouse photo was taken in 2003 and was one of the first photos that I scanned. This morning I played around with cropping the image and using some Topaz filters to add texture and ramp up the details. Leave a comment and let me know how you like it. Meanwhile, I need to get back to plotting an airship race for the spring Steampunk anthology.