The December Blues

First of all, I apologize for this not going up yesterday. We had an area-wide Internet outage that lasted for eight hours. I may have gone a bit stir-crazy, because of course everything I needed to be working on required the Internet in some way or another.

(I ended up playing three grand prix circuits with the smaller, mobile one on Mario Kart and reading an entire 400-page mystery novel.)

As I alluded to last week, December is always a rough time for me, creativity wise. I mentioned Nano burnout, but I’ve since realized that it’s a combination of that plus the looming new year. A new year, despite being an arbitrary measurement of time, brings the promise of new things and new accomplishments.

(I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but I’m toying with the idea of reading specific books each month–one book off my over-burdened bookshelves, one book related to writing in some way, that sort of thing.)

(And also starting some sort of regular drawing practice. To justify the amount of fancy pens/pencils I have bought lately.)

So I’m a little burned out on writing because of pounding out 50K in November, and I have ideas of things I want to do but don’t quite feel like I can, because it’s not January yet. And it leads one to a weird limbo state that is, honestly, a creative sinkhole.

That being said, I have made goals for the month. They are:

  • Write an additional 15K on my Nano story. Historically it has been hard to keep going on the Nano story post-Nano, but every time I hold out hope that this is the year that it actually happens.
  • Put out my fourth nonfiction book (this one is on writing consistently) and its associated workbook.
  • Finally finish updating my email list and its automations.
  • Start drawing now–don’t wait til January.
  • Read 4 additional books, which will get me to my yearly 50-book goal.
  • Outline next SkillShare class.
  • Start programming again.

I bought a Python bundle from Humble Bundle last month, and I’ve only done, like, two exercises and I’m already frustrated with it. But practice makes perfect, right? Or provides more aggravation. Time will tell.

Of course, December is also a wash because of lack of time in general. Family things, and Christmas prep, and all that jazz, eating my life. (I think I’m going to make fabric bookmarks for people this year, but that does mean I need to get supplies and get sewing, if so.)

Deccceeeemmmmbbbbeeerrrr.

What do you think, Squiders? Do you feel like December is a black hole, eating all your time? How do you deal with the weird limbo state between the new year and the old one?

I Won NaNoWriMo!

Happy Friday, squiders. Best of luck to you if you’re in the States and braving the stores like a crazy person.

(I did mine online, since most stores offer the same deals online as in store, and then I just cruise in later and pick up my stuff.)

(I bought art supplies, but we’ll talk about that next month.)

It’s November 29th, and as of 7:15 this morning, I’m at 50,000 words on World’s Edge and officially a winner of Nanowrimo 2019.

Excuse me while I bask in your adoration.

Anyway!

You’ll note that I’m about four days behind when I predicted winning Nano (Monday, the 25th), and unfortunately that’s due to a fairly major medical issue that was discovered last Thursday and ate Thursday-Saturday.

(The immediate danger is dealt with, and we’re in the running tests/figuring out what happened stage, which is exhausting but less overall time consuming, at least at the moment.)

If you said, hey, Kit, that’s only three days and yet you’re four days behind, well, the fourth day was yesterday, where I worked out for the first time since said medical emergency and regretted it for the rest of the day. (Also we host Thanksgiving, so.)

I’d like to say I’ll keep writing and get the entire first draft done, oh, mid-January or so, but past experience tells me that even with the best intentions, we’re looking at 5K in December, max.

I love Nano (when appropriate for my goals) but I find that it just…takes a lot out of me. Not sure why. Expectation, maybe? The pressure of the goal? Having to write everyday? (I normally only write during the week the rest of the year.) So it’s hard to keep writing in December, cuz I always feel a little bit burnt out.

Plus December’s hard for other reasons. Just a ton to do to get ready for Christmas (and we’re already behind, due to Thanksgiving being so late) really. So there’s not always as much time to work as one would like.

So, hooray! I accomplished my goal for the month. And I got to work on a project I’ve been waiting on for years. So I call it a good month. I hope it was for you as well. See you in December!

Promo: Phantom Frost by Alfred Wurr

Morning, squiders! Hope you’re having a good Thanksgiving week, if you’re somewhere that celebrates such things, and if not, hopefully you’re at least not buried in snow, like I am.

Today I’ve got a sale for you. This book sounds super cool, not going to lie. The book is normally $5.99, so if it sounds interesting to you too, it’s a good deal.



Sci-fi Fantasy
Date Published: October 2019
Publisher: Wurreal Games

On Sale for $.99

A unique sci-fi/fantasy crossover novel set in the universe of the forthcoming Wurreal Games video game.

Shivurr remembers little before the Bodhi Institute, the secret government installation where he’s been held and studied like a lab rat for the past decade.

It hasn’t been all bad, though, for a soda-pop-loving sci-fi fanboy, especially in 1983. He’s got all the TV, movies and arcade games he could ever want. But lately, flashes of his forgotten past have invaded his dreams: visions of an ancient chamber where the mysteries of his origin may finally be resolved.

Compelled to find it, Shivurr embarks on a quest, fleeing the facility in the dark of night. Escaping is easy; the Bodhi Group guards didn’t dream he’d ever try. The Nevada desert is dangerous for warm bloods; for a snowman, it’s pretty much suicide, even for one with his seemingly magical command of frost and ice.

Hunted by Bodhi Group agents, keeping to the shade when he can find it, he’s determined to survive; he’s got a feeling the world may depend on it. And, if he doesn’t, well, everyone melts eventually, right?


Excerpt

Chapter 1

Lunar Crater

No matter how cool you are, everyone melts, eventually. Those words echoed through my head as I raced across the desert floor, heading northeast toward Lunar Crater, under the Nevada sun. Where I had heard them before, I couldn’t recall. My memory wasn’t what it used to be, but I would hear those words spoken to me in my dreams sometimes, stepping out of the inky black fog of my damaged memory. I think someone close to me had said them ages ago. They were strange words since the only person I knew of for whom melting was a concern was me. Regardless, seldom before was that fate as likely to occur for someone—that being me—as it was today.

I’d been gulping dry air and daydreaming of cold cans of soda pop, muttering product slogans to myself to keep my spirits up for several miles now. Steam rose from my icy shoulders, trailing me in wisps, disappearing into the dry desert air a few feet back. My cold feet left wet footprints on the sandy ground that soon evaporated into nothingness. I kicked a loose rock, stumbled, but caught myself before falling.

Without more moisture, I’ll soon be eating dust, I thought. Just a hot mess for the agents to find. Scratch that—my corpse won’t be around long enough. I’ll melt away, leaving only a trail of faint roundish footprints leading nowhere. They’ll think I flew away, picked up by Soviet agents in a helicopter. I’d love to see Dixon’s face, thinking the Reds got me.

Nineteen hours earlier, I’d escaped a prison—the labs of a top-secret research facility called the Bodhi Institute. For about a decade, I’d been an unwilling participant in more experiments than I care to remember. I’d slipped out a side door in the middle of the night with a small cache of supplies provided by my best friend, Scott. It was easier than expected, but I guess I didn’t seem suicidal to the Bodhi Group watchmen. The weak part of me wished I were back there: trapped but cool, a glass of ice water in hand, watching TV, reading a book, or taking a nap. But my nightmares made that impossible. I’d ignored them for months, while they haunted only my sleep. But when they’d invaded my waking hours, I had to go. I had to find answers. I had to find the ancient chamber that stood at their epicentre and that some instinct told me lay ahead of me, in the desert waste.

I didn’t know who I was or where I came from. Not really; not fully. Sure, I remembered most of the years of my detention with crystal clarity. I knew what I was: an organism of snow and ice, unique in all the world. A snowman, they called me; cold hands with a warm heart. I knew what I was capable of; even with no legs, my feet run like the wind and allow me to jump as high as I am tall. I can do other things—things that frighten and astonish people, people like those chasing me. So much so, they’d locked me up and studied me like a lab rat for the past decade. I remembered all that, but little to nothing further into my past than my capture and imprisonment. And I remembered my name, Shivurr, but it was a name, an identity, that lacked history or context, which was both freeing and frustrating.

 photo Phantom Frost print ipad and iphone_zpsiov9zeji.jpg

About the Author




Alfred Wurr is a Canadian author, video game and software developer, computer scientist, and former Olympic wrestler.


Contact Links




Purchase Link

On Sale for $.99




RABT Book Tours & PR

I should be back Friday to tell you how Nano went. Eat some mashed potatoes for me, squiders.

Meet the Crew of the Hope’s Redemption

I made a huge mistake, squiders.

I was like, oh, well, we’ve talked about the ship, and we’ve talked about the world, so maybe we should talk about the characters! And I should find pictures of the characters, so everyone can see what the heck I’m talking about.

Only I couldn’t find pictures of the characters. Well, admittedly one character has green skin and hair and that was never going to happen, but I was having a hard time with everyone else too, and then I got to pondering posting pics when I didn’t have permission, and in the end I decided it would be easier to use an avatar maker to make the characters.

But I had a hard time finding a maker that would work for everybody too, so I played around with a bunch, and now I have about five versions of everyone in varying shades of success, and I’ve spent two hours of my life on it.

Whoops.

But I suppose we should get on it, right?

So, if you guys remember, I’m trying writing from a non-protagonist point of view for my main character. Think Watson from the Sherlock Holmes story, or whenever they do Star Trek episodes from “below decks.”

So our protagonist, but not our viewpoint character, is Rae. She’s captain of the Hope’s Redemption and the reason the crew is attempting to cross the uncrossable ocean, for reasons she has thus far kept to herself.

Our secondary protagonist/sidekick/potential love interest (for Rae) is Sol, who is a member of the main race that lives on the continent our human crew is trying to escape from. He’s aware of what’s going on and why, and is the main voice of reason onboard.

(I shall have to remember that second one. This species has routinely given me trouble when messing about with this sort of things, and it had options for skin color, ears, and stripes. Wahoo!)

Next we have Marit, who is our viewpoint character. She ran away from home and right into Rae and Sol, just in time to get swept up in all this madness.

And then there’s Viri, who’s basically Marit’s opposite and hence is a bad (or good?) influence.

And last, we have Ead, who was unplanned but whom I love dearly. He and Marit are essentially best friends, and they’re also close in age (youngest on the ship). Poor Ead’s a bit of a worrywart.

(Also he got dinosaurs to the face, poor kid.)

I also have this one of Ead and Sol:

(This generator was called the Hipster generator, har har.)

And there was a LOTR generator where I could stick in as many people as I wanted (green skin was not an option, alas, so that’s why Sol looks the way he does):

(I had to fudge clothes and stuff there. Whee.)

And then there’s other people. I think I’m up to 20 or so named people out of 36. It’s always interesting, trying to juggle a bunch of people who may or may not actually be important.

So, that’s the crew!

I hope everyone’s having a lovely November thus far, and I’ll see you next week!

I Wrote 9000 Words This Weekend

I tell you, because I wrote 7000 words on Saturday, and I think that’s a personal record.

And also, I am now 100% caught back up to where I wanted to be (2K a day, on track to finish November 25), so that makes me feel a lot less stressed. Especially since I’ve remembered the small, mobile ones have Thanksgiving Break all next week and hence will need supervision.

I know there are people out there who routinely write 5-10K words in a day, and more power to them. I’m going to assume they typically have more actual writing time available to them, as well that they probably write faster than me as well.

I’m pretty comfortable in the 2-5K range (and, indeed, when I went for 100K for Nano 2011, I was averaging 4-5K a day) during Nano, and, well, in general. But I’m also not generally in a place where I need to be writing faster than that either. I suppose at some point in time I may be trying to put out more books in a year, and then things will change.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m currently at 37K and should be at 38K by the end of the day, so doing just fine.)

7K is new for me, and I think why it worked is because I outlined the section before I wrote it. Oh, and I re-outlined using my normal method. Sorry, Nano Prep Guide. But you failed me.

If you guys have been with me with a while, you’ll know that I outline my major plot points, and then allow myself a little more freedom in between said plot points. This works great in general, but I’ve found that because this book is so long (I’ve estimated it’ll be 100K in the end, which is pretty standard for a fantasy novel, if not a little short) I have A LOT of distance between my plot points.

For example, my current section (25K-50K) says “Ship somehow makes it through storm, they really can’t go home now” and that has to get me to 50K (“Marit saves…the ship? Rae? Sol? Something, using what she has learned, and realizes she is useful; Rae and Sol have a moment, before Rae doubles down on previous plan”), so I’ve had 12K of freedom and have 13K more, which is actually a bit daunting.

(I also realize that my plot points are pretty dang vague–that’s just how it works for first drafts, cuz I generally have a good idea of how the story needs to go to hit my themes/make sense but not a good idea of specifics. My outline in revision is quite a bit more detailed.)

So what I started doing, as of Friday, was jot down a little phase outline of the next part of the story.

(Well, what actually happened was that Friday was a wash because the smaller, mobile one was very sick and I had to take her to urgent care. So outlining made me feel like I was getting something done even if actual writing was not.)

And I used the Friday outline for my 7K on Saturday, and it worked great.

So I’ve been doing that since, and so far it hasn’t been an issue to hit my 2K a day (though I admit it’s been 3 days, so). I’ve done this a few times before, most notably when writing City of Hope and Ruin, and it really does work well. It gives me the freedom of creativity that I don’t get if I try to outline the whole thing start to finish (and I find that, at least for me, it’s near impossible to do that anyway–my brain just can’t fill in that many details up front), but it allows me to have a plan for the day, so I can move forward faster.

Also, I read something on tumblr about using Comic Sans–that it makes it easier for writing to flow–so I’m trying that too, and have been for most of Nano. I’m not sure if it’s actually making it easier or not, but at this point I’m a little afraid to switch back to experiment.

I hope your November is going well, squiders, and that you’re reaching your own goals! See you Thursday!

Creating a Fantasy Pacific

Heigh ho, squiders, we’re still in the straits of Nano. As of mid-afternoon I’m at a little over 24000 words, so almost halfway, a little ahead of schedule. Not as ahead of schedule as I wanted to be, but eeehhh, not terrible.

(In a perfect world, I write 2K a day, which gets me done about November 25th, and then I don’t have to panic through Thanksgiving. This has happened approximately 3 times out of the many years I’ve done Nano. So.)

We’re into the middle of the story, which has me feeling a bit flail-y and mostly wishing I’d stuck to my normal outlining method. But we are where we are, and now there will be dinosaurs, because WHY NOT.

Tuesday we talked about the Hope’s Redemption, which is the main setting for the story. To continue the theme, I thought we’d talk about the setting of the setting, or the ocean on which the Hope is voyaging.

While Altruia, which is the continent that everyone calls home, is vaguely the size, shape, and climate of Europe, I’ve decided to go with the Pacific for the inspiration of the ocean, for one main reason:

The Pacific is really big.

Even in a modern boat you’re not getting across that sucker that fast. The Atlantic is piddly. The Indian Ocean is decently big but surrounded by a lot of land, so not ideal for shenanigans. And the Antarctic is cold.

Plus there are other neat features of the Pacific:

  • There is a section of the Pacific near the Galapagos called the Doldrums where the wind just…doesn’t blow and ships used to get stuck there for weeks at a time
  • There are thousands of miles between the west coast of North/South America and any islands
  • Most of those islands are piddly
  • Teutonic plates, so volcanos and seaquakes and fun
  • Big and deep and who knows what lurks within

Now, that, being said, the Pacific doesn’t tend to get some of the worst weather systems that, say, the Atlantic or the Indian Oceans get, but the nice thing about fiction is that you can kind of pick and choose what works for you. And then there’s things like currents and maelstroms and hurricanes, which could be anywhere.

(And rogue waves, and contamination that looks like blood, and waterspouts, and weird magnetic disturbances, and converging weather patterns, and tsunamis…)

Anyway, part of the mythology of this world is that Altruia is home to a giant forest, with trees stretching hundreds of feet into the air (roughly modeled off the Giant Sequoia, though they’re deciduous and sequoias are not) and the humans are from a continent to the west. The remains of a fleet of ships reach the shores of Altruia about 300 years before World’s Edge starts, and no matter how anyone tries, they can’t get back home again (or at least, no one’s ever reported back that they have).

But neither do new people come from the west. So basically, this has to be the worst, most impassable section of water.

And goodness, does that sound fun.

If you are on my email list (or thinking about it), know that I am in the process of overhauling it and it is taking much longer than expected. I’m putting together free shorts at the moment, and then I’ve got to edit all my automations and sign-ups. So bear with me on that!

Happy Thursday, squiders!

Let’s Look at the Hope’s Redemption

Happy Tuesdays, squiders! Nano continues apace. I’m keeping about a day ahead of where I’m supposed to be, which is actually a little slow, but we do what we can.

Most of the story takes place on a ocean-faring vessel, known as the Hope’s Redemption. This is a bit interesting, having the entirety of the characters stuck in a tiny place that nonetheless has a lot of moving parts. So I also spent a lot of time on developing the ship, since it’s so important to everything going on around it.

Humans have, of course, been sailing for millennium, so that’s a lot of history to pick through. I went into it with a couple of criteria:

  1. The ship needed to be capable of a cross-ocean trip
  2. The ship needed to be relatively big, but not too big (to save on number of characters)
  3. Based on the state of humans in the later years (during the Trilogy) they couldn’t be at the point of the Age of Sail (late 1700s-mid 1800s)

So I settled on modeling the Hope after a carrack, which is a 15th-century sailing ship. It looks a little like this:

Image by Joseolgon

This type of ship was used a lot by European explorers in the late 1400s/early 1500s. It’s designed to be relatively stable and hold a lot of cargo. And it’s not that big, not compared to later ships. A carrack tended to be about 75 feet in length and have a crew of between 40 and 80 people. I went a little smaller, and settled on a crew of 36 (for my own sanity).

(I have 16 or 17 named crew at this point, so we’re about halfway there.)

I’ve added a couple of boats onto the Hope, which I don’t actually know if was standard practice or not, but I can’t imagine you’d want to beach a giant ship every time you find somewhere new. Or wade between the ship and the beach. Also I have read a lot of the Hornblower books and admit they’ve worn off on me to some extent.

The boats are called the Promise and the Dream, because there’s a theme here.

I also made myself some notes about terminology and how things work, so I hopefully vaguely sound like I know what I’m talking about. Here’s a page of that:

Scanned out of my drawing book

Even with my carefully crafted notes, I’ve noticed me messing it up a few times, so, eh, things to consider once the book is written, I suppose.

So, that’s the Hope! And a very good ship is she, though my landlubber narrator isn’t sure, as of yet.

How’s your month going? Thoughts about sailing ships?