I Can Has Allergies

I really, really, really need to move. Since mid-March I’ve had a stomach bug, allergies, and a sinus infection. After battling the sinus thing for three weeks and coughing so hard that I pulled a muscle, I realized that I needed more than vitamin C. So, I went up to a local walk-in clinic for antibiotics and some nasal spray. Well, that helped a lot, but I still have allergy headaches, and now I’m having eye strain headaches. I need a vacation, and I need a paradise to escape to. It sure looks pretty outside, but … achoo!

In March and early April I’ve so busy that I’ve had to let the blog “rest” for awhile. I had an encyclopedia article on howdahs to complete by the end of March, and then I had to prepare a paper for presentation on Victorian detectives, detective fiction, and journalism for the 2017 meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of British Studies. And this week I just wrapped up an entry on the cultural and historical impact of Ray Bradbury for another encyclopedia. And all this stuff is in addition to my full-time job.

Yes, I do sit at the computer for a very long time every day! And this is a problem, so I’ve joined a local gym and signed up for four training sessions. My second one is today, and I’ve actually worked out twice so far this week.

I’m slowly catching up on my writing goal of 240,000 words for this year, despite a couple of very unproductive weeks. With this blog post, I’m just about 700 words behind where I want to be, but I still have two days left in my writing work week. On the fiction writing front, I’m starting the revisions to my Steampunk story for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology, to be published in late spring or early summer. Seacombe Island is next up; it’s getting a final revision and should also be published this year. I have several nonfiction projects in the queue as well, including a proposal for a chapter in a book on World War I, a book of writer’s prompts, and extending my research and writing about Victorian detectives. Oh, and there might be a cocktail book in the works, too. But that’s for after hours!

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 137

Cutaway view of a shaggy bacterium.

Cutaway view of a shaggy bacterium.

I’m writing a short Steampunk story set in the same world as my Seacombe novel, which I expect to publish this year. The story involves some science, and I went looking for pictures of plant cells so I could describe them in the story as the character sees them. I came across this cutaway image of a bacterium (not a plant, though). I couldn’t find any copyright information on it, so I’ve appropriated it for the blog and done some photo manipulation on it just because I felt the need to do something artsy this morning.

So, this bacterium looks pretty shaggy, doesn’t it? It makes me think of a cheese puff that’s fallen onto a carpet and rolled around for a few days, picking up crumbs and stray hairs. Not that I have stray cheese puffs roaming about my house, mind you! Potato chip crumbs might be another matter …

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt celebrates bacteria. They’re not all bad, and despite the bad rap that Escherichia coli has earned (a rod-shaped bacterium that looks suspiciously like our shaggy friend above), it’s only one variety of E. coli that is dangerous. Many species of bacteria are beneficial, and we wouldn’t have yogurt without them.

In honor of bacteria, for this week’s writing prompt, you have a character who is biologist studying a bacterium that has some very unusual properties. Write a short paragraph describing this microscopic beast and what makes it so special. It doesn’t have to be realistic, but as with any good science fiction you may want to do a little bit of research. Bacteria inhabit some extreme climates, and have even been found living in rocks, so don’t feel that you have to limit the environment that it lives in. Push the boundaries, and come up with something fantastic. Happy writing!

After the Draft is Written…

I’m almost three weeks into my 2016 NaNo novel and let me tell you, it’s just not happening. Oh, yes, I have words on the page. I have dialogue, some description, and pretty spiffy punctuation. I even started this year’s project with a brief outline so I wasn’t pantsing the whole thing. And nothing is coming together. It’s supposed to be a noir murder mystery — and, well, it’s a mystery, all right.

Now, I know that writing a novel in a month is more like training for a marathon than actually running the marathon. You have to practice. You have to write things that you will later cut (many, many things). But you have to keep going. I get that. I’ve never had problems making the word count, but sorting out a complicated plot beforehand would have been more useful than a one-page outline. I just didn’t spend the time doing it because I was involved in getting an anthology off to print (Tales of the Black Dog — buy it!).

So that got me to thinking about what people do with their drafts once November is over. Will you put it aside or keep pressing ahead with the project? Or will you throw it away and be glad not to see the beast again? I’ve got a short poll here that you can take. It’s all in fun, and I’ve left an “Other” box that you can fill in with your own answer. Please, keep your answer PG rated!

It Begins

november-noir
So I was talked into doing National Novel Writing Month again this year (I did 2011 and 2012). The idea was to write a noir story. I have a working title, Killing Palatino, and about 2100 words of prose that I’m really not very happy with. I think this story is going to be rough going, but I understand it’s just a draft and a lot of what is happening on the page is going to be edited within an inch of its literary life before the novel sees the light of day.

This year, instead of pantsing the whole book, I decided to write a brief outline. I had two weeks to get it done. Then one week. Then a day. Last night I sketched in a very short outline on a single-page plot sheet and decided it was enough to get moving on. Hey, I pantsed two whole books so if I have even the barest minimum of an outline to work from that should be enough, right? We’ll see.

At any rate, I’ve met the word-count goal for today and updated my word count on the official website. I think I’m going to play with cover ideas for the finished book in case that helps get my creative juices going. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to go work on my crochet project or clean the bird cage or factor quadratic equations. Because I can.