2012: A Year In Review

And the award for least creative blog title ever goes to...

Three guesses.

I suppose this will come a little late to a lot of you, seeing as you live in the future. It's still a few hours ahead of midnight here.

Honestly, I don't remember much of what happened this year, at least not in a coherent fashion. Yesterday, I decided to do Milwordy. I blinked, and suddenly it was February, and I was getting the cramps out of my fingers from writing nothing at all after NaNoWriMo 2011. I scratched behind my ear, and had visions of finished drafts dancing in my head. It was going to be my birthday present to myself, for my 25th birthday.

Well, we all know how that turned out.

This was a year of wins and losses, of making mistakes, and learning, of heavy metal, of excited exultation, and of many, many visits to the Chasm of Despair.

After ten months of National Novel Plotting Month, I still haven't learned how to plan, but I did make a start. I do know now that my mind works in an iterative linear fashion, where every day, I can only see one single tiny end to end thread at a time, and that over time, the collective might evolve into a whole. (Yeah, that's the software developer in me talking.)

I lost Milwordy badly, but I learned that a word counter is just a tool, and not an end. I learned not to lose sight of the real goal, which was to complete something, not to vomit chaos.

I ended up devoloping chronic tendonitis, but I learned my limits. I learned how to prioritize my activities the hard way, to continue doing what I love, without injuring myself.

The old drafts of H öllebergen, Amber, Calor, and previous Dark Arcana rot in their folders, forgotten, but a newer, stronger Dark Arcana, composed of everything that they once were, emerges from the mist.

Speaking of Dark Arcana, I never quite finished even one draft, at least not the way I intended it. However, I did learn when to draw the line. I learned that the Tunnel is much longer and darker than I had once thought, but I also learned to acknowledge, if not accept, small victories.

Even now, as I gear up for a last mad dash to round the thing off before midnight, I can't help feeling that it's done. Then again, I guess

Lastly, one thing I still can't quite believe is that I've been a writing forum addict for less than a year. It seems like just yesterday that I crept onto FebNoWriMo, and stumbled onto the awesomeness of a small community of awesome people who actually know your name! ...In a manner of speaking.

*Cue Cheers theme song.*

(I'm sorry. I had to.)

I learned how to use Twitter. Yes, that had actually been a huge struggle to me. Seemingly simple? Yes, seemingly. I don't think I will ever fully get the hang of it, but I'm getting there.

So, things to work on for 2013:

Learn to plan. To make it less vague, let's say...learn to produce a loose outline of a novel, preferably by doing less work than I am doing now, which is to say, writing it.

Write every day. I have a skip counter, which started on November 1st, 2012. That number is now at 60, because it has been 60 days since I skipped writing. If I don't write some fiction -- even if it's only 100 words -- that number goes back to 0. As that number gets bigger, I find the thought of resetting it progressively harder, and that's just enough to blackmail me into spending at least five minutes writing 100 words. Sometimes, I'm having a bad day, and it stays 100 words. Most of the time, though, it's enough to kick me off. This will continue into 2012. No resets, not even for the new year!

And now, it is time for me to put my money where my mouth is. I have a draft to reorder before the day ends! (Of course, anyone who knows anything about me will know by now that 'day' can stretch well into the small hours. If I haven't gone to sleep, it's still day!)

Six hours to midnight.

Happy New Year, everyone!

"My car doesn't have power windows, but it does have an infinite improbability drive." -- My sister.


The Voice of Chaos. The Tick of Khronos.

It's December 1st. Yep. That time of year again. It is the time for doing things still undone.

The clock is ticking.

Time to avoid writing, and instead stare my eyes out at the TV shows I did not have time to watch in November.

Time to randomly subvert myself in the middle of something completely unrelated to writing, and then slap down words when I least expect it. In fact, I think I WILL do that to myself. I AM NINJA WRITER.

Time to start sketching my characters' clothes and places from the Five Worlds again.

Time to catch up on my reading.

Time to start several things simultaneously in order to accommodate my short attention sp

(I'm really hungry.)

an. And...hopefully finish them all.

Time to avoid as much of the ubiquitous Christmas music I can, and assemble my own delicious tunes: some for me, and some for Dark Arcana. This album would be perfect for Ethan, as he tries to track down what went wrong with history...I really must check out more epic cinematic music!

Listening To:

Time to subvert the topic of my own blog post. Speaking of which, here are the five worlds, along with two...places that are not places.

  • Alpha: Nodus - The source of all things, but which is not the thing itself. The Inside. The Mind. The Inner being.
  • 1. Calor - The age of the false gods. When the truth dies, and a new truth dawns. 
  • 2. Engleter - The age of chaos. When truths and other truths collide in chaos, there is only the human, alone.
  • 3. Quan Sai - The age of fire. When reason trumps emotion, and wrong and right mean the same thing.
  • 4. Acheron - The age of darkness. In the void of truth, deception, chaos, reason, and emotion, there is only the night.
  • 5. Grehai - The age of the human collective. When the nodes are scattered far in space and time, of sentience beyond truth, yet united. 
  • Omega: The Wall - The final rest of all things, that which defines the thing. The Outside. The Outer being.

I have no idea what this even means. This is what happens when I let Dark Arcana do the typing for me. Now this damn hydra bunny is all smug because he knows exactly what he's talking about with all this fancy sounding philosophical stuff, but he won't tell me.

I think my blog posts have gone beyond editing.

This is utter chaos. Interestingly enough, each of these places matches up with a work of fiction that resonates in my head. WHY they resonate I can't very well say, but they do.

  • Calor - A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • Engleter - His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
  • Quan Sai - Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra
  • Acheron - Star Wars and Lord of the Rings
  • Grehai - Neuromancer by William Gibson

Pretty soon, I am going to be bleeding all over the place about how this is the worst idea ever. Oh, hello, Chasm of Despair.

I'm glad to see you've warmed up my comfortable blanket for me.

NaNoMongering 22: The Long Dark Winter of the Soul

I suppose that since NaNoWriMo is now over, I should do a wrap-up post about what I learned, and stuff. Well, that's in here, but fair warning: there is a fair amount of fluff. The last few days were...eventful. Thus, you all get another word vomit post about things that happened to me.

In no particular order:

Yesterday, I finally got a job! I start in about a week and a half. So...yes. That. And...

The Long Dark Winter Of The Soul

On the 26th, I did a mad 4k dash, and won NaNoWriMo.

I am very happy about this. I have won NaNoWriMo before, and with higher word counts, but this was a different sort of victory.

This is the first OLL event for which I wrote every day, without skipping a single day. There it is, my beautiful graph! No ugly plateaus!

This actually makes me feel so much better than any number ever did. Even on those days when all I could squeeze out was 100 words, it was like a pat on the back from my Narrator, as if he was telling me that he's still there, and isn't going to go away any time soon.

If there was one thing I learned from this, it was that perseverance pays off. I can feel my novel existing in the aether, ready to be defined on the page. The pieces slowly click into place, snap by snap, gear by gear, slowly turning. One day the beast will awaken.

I don't expect it to happen for a while yet, but it doesn't matter. What I need is not a higher word count in less time; when I push that hard, I get burnt out, and I take a break that ends up lasting for months, during which time I lose all connection with what I started. I need my novel to stay alive, and that it will, with time, patience, and perseverance. Since I won, I have been writing a little every day, at a slower pace, one that I can keep up. Just a thousand words a day, until this thing is done.

A finished draft. I don't have it yet, but I will soon.

So thank you, OLL, for making it possible for writers like me to push themselves to start. I know I often blame Doctor Who for Dark Arcana's existence, but it was NaNoWriMo that really pushed me to come up with an idea in the first place.

Key word from the first sentence: start. Of course, my goal now is to finish Draft 1, but after that, there is still more work ahead. I will probably leave Draft 1 buried in soft peat for a month or two, but in the mean time, I will start working on a new project, maybe Deus Ex Machina, or the second book of Dark Arcana.

So, to sum up, the Fall Rush to start is done, and now comes The Long Dark Winter Of The Soul, and hopefully the Spring of Completion. This is the long, slow road to polishing the turd I have into something that more nearly resembles the shining vision I have in my head. Write Draft 2. Revise. Edit. Rinse. Repeat. My life is basically one long tunnel at this point.

Dark Arcana: The Amber of Time.
It sounds grand.
This is going to happen. It's going to happen, isn't it?

By the way, all this vomit I vomited just now? Chuck Wendig says it far better than I do, in Here's How You Flush Your NaNoWriMo Efforts Down the Crapper. (Language warning.)

Random Dark Arcana Related Word Vomit

Yes, there is more word vomit. During the past few days, I also "discovered" three new plot bunnies, and two plot segments! I'm only putting in hints here, because I have yet to flesh these things out.

Readers, Characters, Reality.
The Tunnel.

The Cave. Dreams.
Shopping as an extreme sport.

On a side note, I discovered an interesting subplot for Dark Arcana. Okay, interesting is putting it mildly.

This was sheer mindfuckery, of the sort that makes one write it all down.
And then go vomit in the trash can.
Poor Ethan and Caliiry. I'm afraid that they are in for a rough time.

Speaking of rough times, my other little terrors have been acting up too. Yesterday, they all started scaring the crap out of me by having a surprise Disney cosplay party in my head. The worst part is that these characters actually don't look at all like the characters they chose. Just like a real cosplay, they are different people, but...it worked.

The Cast:
Aurana: Belle. *prances around imaginary library*
Ethan: The Beast (He hates his costume. Ethan: YES. In the name of Chaos, Author, WHY?)
Caliiry: Maleficent (She loves her costume. Caliiry: No I don't! What is this Vickie nonsense? Frag you, author. Me: (whisper) She secretly does like it.)
Hermeticus Octodyne: Frollo. (HO: *smirks* Why yes, I AM enjoying this. Me: ...Why, Hermeticus Octodyne, why?)
Oscar: Cinderella (He loves messing with me.)
Wei Lao: Mulan. (Really, Wei Lao? Just because you're the one Asian girl? Isn't that a bit... WL: ...You mean, because Mulan is awesome, and so am I? Then yes.)
Claire: As herself, because she's too cool for this foolery.

On a more sober note, these are both songs that I haven't listened to in forever. Yet, they remind me of a certain tragic stage in Ethan and Aurana's plot. *Sad silence*

Hinder - Lips Of An Angel

The Offspring - Gone Away

Speaking of songs that I haven't heard in AGES, this one sort of reminds me of Ethan...sort of.

Hoobastank - Crawling In The Dark

The Battle of the Battlestar

Backstory: My sister and I are polar opposites. I could make a long list, but the relevant point is that literature and TV-wise, my sister doesn't like science fiction AT ALL. She's even iffy about fantasy. Anyway, I have been trying to get my sister to watch Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica for months. Doctor Who is a lost cause. She just flat out doesn't like it, even after the first three episodes of 9. Inconceivable! But, well, marching to the beat of a different drum and all that, she managed to subvert my mission for a while.

Then yesterday, tragedy struck. For her.

Sister: Want to watch The Office?
Me: Okay.
Sister: ...Aw, there's no new episode! Must have been because of Thanksgiving.
Sister: *internally groans* -__________- *resigns herself to it, because she made the mistake of not having a back up program, and now there's nothing else on*
Me: Challenge accepted! *gleefully starts up the first episode of BSG*

Episode 1, 15 minutes in:
Sister: *bored, texting on her phone, and vaguely glancing at the TV*
Episode 1, 30 minutes in:
Sister: *occasionally forgets to look bored, only checks phone half the time*
Episode 1, 60 minutes in:
Sister: *computer and phone utterly forgotten, leaning forward in chair*
After Episode 1 over:
Sister: "That was better than I thought it would be."
Sister: "And...OMG STARBUCK! She's AWESOME!"
Me: ^___________________^ "Told you."

My work here is done.


NaNoMongering 21: Hey Hey You You Get Off Of My Back

There is an OCD gremlin on my back. It clings to me with little slimy toady arms, and it's got spurs on its boots. It's biting my ear, and presenting to me an impossible writing plan, in triplicate, in three tiers.

Nine hells. Ugh.

Unfortunately, the only way I will get it off my back is, of course, if I do one of the impossible plans.

The goal: 50k.
Present state: 44.7k.

300 words away from 45k. Being that close is the strongest annoyance. The first step is to attain 45k, and reach a round thousand and 5k number mark. The next step is to finish at least 2k words today, which is a daily goal. More OCD gremlin kicking, because that would put me at 47k, and I prefer even thousand number marks, like 46 or 48k. Of course, I can't stop at 46, though, because that would mean writing less than 2k today, and also leaving me 4k away from 50k, making it harder to catch up. Time wise, I have no excuse not to finish today. Even if I hit 48k, the 50k mark adds another layer, because again being that close but not getting there will annoy me. It doesn't help that 50k is where I should have reached today.

But it means that I need 5.3k written today in order to completely silence the demon gremlin, AND get it off me. Everything else will quiet it, but it will still be there, telepathically nagging. I want this thing off me NOW.

Then again, I shouldn't complain.
It could be worse.

Doctor Who, Turn Left, Donna Noble
Doctor Who, Turn Left, Donna Noble
What? Someone once said that this was going to be a serious writing blog, with no more pointless word vomit and random pictures? No? I don't remember this at all.

Time to crank up the word machine. I have Cradle of Filth's Cemetery and Sundown stuck in my head, out of which I got two good titles for possible stories: When Waking Worlds Collide, and Dawn of the Underworld. It reminds me of all these scary caves I see in my dreams, and makes me wonder if they're  all really part of one giant cave, and I just see different bits each time...

But first, pie.


NaNoMongering 20: Exhausted Elementary Epiphany

I wondered whether to include boring stock photography that was vaguely relevant... (TBC)

Yesterday I mused that I might be better off focusing on writing my novel, instead of obsessively aiming for 30 blog posts in November. No point in blogging for blogging's sake, when I have nothing better to add except to repost other people's content and to angst about my word count. The fact is, I have achieved my original aim, which was simple blog necromancy.

Behold the resurrection. Having established a habit of regularly scheduled quantity, the next step is quality. Now I need to post only when I have a good reason.

Having said that, a "good reason" can range anywhere from existential triumph to angsty epiphany to how having only 19 NaNoMongering posts is bothering me and my OCD compels me to round it off to 20. #iregretnothing

I have learned that having a set schedule for tedious activities breeds productivity. Now I choose to subvert my original plan with a better, more sustainable one: blog once a week. I will still have the schedule to kick my butt, but hopefully this means I will actually edit my posts now, instead of word vomiting all over the place. This is actually meant to be a semi-serious (because since when have I ever been able to take myself entirely seriously?) writing blog, to function as a tool for me to help me write more good. How else could I find that, having written 2k of explanation about my WIP, that I still don't know what it's about? All the heaps of inane off-topic drivel, rabid fangirling, angst, fudge posts, etc. may provide fun content, but they defeat this purpose. There's a reason Tumblr exists.

That's not to say I'll cut out all the fun. I can't guarantee that the occasional picture of David Tennant won't slip in. :-)

(cont'd) Or a cheerful picture of fruit that had absolutely nothing to do with anything. There. You get both.

It's still November, though, which means insanity is necessary. (Though with me, this excuse is like a hat on a snowman. Looks good, but hardly required.)

This is a little tune called Smells Like the Write Spirit.

Load up on puns
Bring your pens it's fun to lose and also win
I'm never bored, a sugar hoard
 Write extra late to pad the words

Nano nano nano nano nano
Nano nano nano nano nano
Nano nano nano nano nano
Nano nano nano nano nano

This is NaNo. Time to party!
Mr. Ian Woon is tardy!
I'm a pantser! Time to fly now!
Fifty thousand! NaNoWriMo!

Fearless fighter!
Puny writer!
From a zero!
To a hero!


The count won't come, I must rest,
For wars of words our will shall test,
Our little group will always grin,
And type a tale until The End 

Nano nano nano nano nano (X3)

This is NaNo. It's my story!
Plot a novel. That is scary!
I'm a pantser! How should I know?
Fifty thousand! NaNoWriMo!

Fearless fighter!
Puny writer!
From a zero!
To a hero!


And I forget just why I write,
Oh yeah I guess I'm just insane,
Our angst and doubt, make it hard to win,
We cheer and share the pain.

With the lights out, Midnight oil
Burns as we slave, sweat and toil!
This is stupid! This is pointless!
Aching fingers need some ointment!

Fearless fighter!
Puny writer!
From a zero!
To a hero!


NaNoWriMo! (X9)

Tune stolen borrowed from Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.

NaNoMongering 19: Blog Hop - The Next Big Thing


I almost forgot about this. I know, right, bad Agent Double Oh Zero! Well, it's still November 21st in my time zone, so I guess I haven't technically missed the mark. Anyway, I volunteered for a blog hop. This one is called The Next Big Thing, in which the participants answer questions about their Works In Progress. I was tagged by fellow NaNoer NicoleT.

And now, without further ado, let me introduce you to my baby holy terror of the seven hells Plot Hydra novel series, Dark Arcana.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the working title of your book?

The title of the series is Dark Arcana. The current book, the first, is tentatively titled The Amber of Time. For the rest, I am throwing around possibilities, such as The Octodyne Inheritance, The Clockwork Monk, and The Wells of Acheron.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It is almost entirely the fault of Doctor Who that this idea exists. In October of 2010, I suddenly decided to do NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I immediately knew I wanted to play around with time travel. I started off with certain concepts from Doctor Who which piqued my imagination, and started expanding them. The idea of an agency that sat outside of time, where the members played with timelines, was fascinating. My initial plot bunny started off as a short historical science fiction time travel story with an element of romance. The main characters were an arrogant scientist and a spunky smart-mouthed heroine, and the enemy were a race of alien gargoyle-like beings who went around changing past events for their own ends. It was supposed to be a quick throwaway thing, but over the course of November, it developed into anything but. Now I have an entire hulking Plot Hydra on my hands.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Steampunk. Can anyone say genre patchwork quilt?

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ethan Brooke (MMC) - No clue. He has green eyes, and dark blond hair. I guess someone who looks like that, but not just anyone. I sort of have his face in mind already.
Aurana Lockhart (FMC) - No clue. She has medium toned skin and curly red hair. An actor who looks like that, I guess.
Oscar Tenebrous - Matt Smith
Jonas von Drachenmire - Tom Hiddleston
Madam Pulovski - Eva Green
Caliiry ren Tandoraen/Ante ark Helain - Milla Jovovich
Pergator - No clue. Maybe voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, maybe not.

There are a whole bunch of other characters, but the list is too long to include here, and I don't know who would play them anyway. Although...it is kind of sad that I have no idea who would play my main characters.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a sentence? Impossible. Well, here goes...

Everyone in the universe is after a maguffin called the Amber of Time that will allow them to have complete mastery of history.

Complete crap, I know.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am thinking of publishing this the traditional way. I want a paper copy, and I want to see this in actual bookstores!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oh, am I supposed to have finished? ...I haven't. Two years and counting. Well...that is, if you include all my first drafts, most of which I have abandoned. The latest first draft... 21 days and counting.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

To my knowledge, there really is no other series which is exactly like this one. That is, there is nothing I could point to and definitively say 'if you like this, then you WILL like my series.' Mind you, I think this is a good thing! However...

In terms of certain subjects and recurring motifs, Dark Arcana reminds me of the His Dark Materials trilogy, by Phillip Pullman, most especially the last book, The Amber Spyglass. Dark Arcana has a similarly diverse cast of both human and non-human characters, all of whom are battling for dominion, some for survival. His Dark Materials also has multiple universes.

In terms of plot development, Dark Arcana subtly follows the Hero's Journey archetype. Certain characters go through a transformation from human to superhuman (sometimes metaphorically), as they gear up to face the Big Bad. In that respect, it's reminiscent of such stories as Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars.

In terms of conflict, I suppose... A Song of Ice and Fire. The genre is completely different, but like ASOIAF, none of the characters in Dark Arcana really fit into 'good guy' and 'bad guy' categories. Each person has their point of view, and their motive. Each is capable of being a great hero, but also a great villain. That's not to say that they are all equal. Some are more villainous than others, while others could almost be heroes...in different circumstances. Basically...there is no telling who will win. However, in terms of actual content/genre, Dark Arcana actually more steampunk/science fiction than high fantasy.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Doctor Who. I absolutely love that show. At the time I came up with the idea, I had just finished the 10th Doctor's episodes, and I absolutely loved the vast variety of worlds, ideas, cultures, and philosophical questions that came up. The things that struck me the most in this case were the parallel universe, the fact that the Doctor was the last Time Lord, and the Weeping Angels. In the show, time travel was mostly restricted to just the one universe. The Doctor was a lone god. The Weeping Angels were mere monsters.

I thought: What if, instead of just the one universe, there was a whole mess of universes with different laws linked together into one huge multiverse, and changes actually spawned a new timeline, rather than changing the old one? What if there were a whole group of beings (human or otherwise) with the power to mess with the multiverse like gods, and whose job it was to guard history from...harm? What if there was a race of sentient beings who were biological time travelers, and natural predators of the stream of causality, and thus needed time travel in order to survive?

From there, my imagination exploded, and...Dark Arcana was born.

I suppose, after that, my characters inspired me to continue writing. Dark Arcana, though born almost entirely out of Doctor Who concepts, was never Doctor Who fanfiction. Although I freely admit that I based my MMC, Ethan Brooke, on the 10th Doctor, he soon took on a personality of his own, and pretty much took over the entire series. The same happened with Aurana Lockhart, my FMC.

Now I have to tell their story.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The story is actually multiple genres, depending on whose point of view it is, and what world it is. To Oscar, a peasant child, everything appears as fantasy. To Ethan, who is familiar with science at least up to the 19th century, everything is steampunk. To Caliiry, a Time Agent from the far future who is familiar with advanced tech, everything is explained in almost hard science fiction. To Aurana, a slave with mental blocks installed, magic and tech don't exist. To still others, the use of magic and tech do exist, but are both gross blasphemy against their religion. In this sense, Clarke's law applies: that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

However, it goes beyond that. The story logic allows for different worlds to have different laws of physics...or not physics. In some worlds, magic exists, and science flops, and in others, science dominates, and magic is impossible...and every shade in between. The resulting discrepancies in perception fuel conflict between the characters.

I realize that in all this, I have mentioned precious little about what the series is actually about, so I will attempt that here. There are actually multiple levels of conflict.

The backdrop conflict is between the Time Agents and the Nocharen Sideas. The Time Agents make up a group called the Guardians. They are just regular humans, but they have been pulled out of their own natural history and placed in a facility outside regular time, in order to serve and protect the existence of all sentient species in the multiverse, as well as preserve all the scientific knowledge therein discovered. The Nocharen Sideas are a group of shapeshifting extra-universal aliens, who travel up and down the time streams of the multiverse, and who feed on the energy of temporal paradoxes. Being so at odds in their natures, the Guardians and the Nocharen Sideas are locked in a perpetual time war that has raged through all of known history. The repercussions are felt even within the worlds...

The mid-level conflict takes place in 19th century Terra, where both tech and magic coexist...if not quite peacefully. A few powerful nations have suddenly made striking advances in both. The exception is technophobic Engleter, where the use of both is strictly regulated by the Lord Protector. However, when a power-hungry diplomat from a hostile neighbor tries to overthrow the Lord Protector,
Suddenly, world war looms on the horizon, as nations battle for religious and political supremacy...

Ethan Brooke is a self-titled disciple of chaos and brilliant mad scientist, whose only quest is higher learning, and whose passion is for justice. In the midst of a superstitious society that censures the arts he loves most, and makes them downright illegal, Ethan secretly works on his pet project, a lens to reveal truth. When Ethan uses his invention to acquit a wrongfully accused criminal, the country erupts in chaos. Ethan has always longed to prove that not all those who seek knowledge are necessarily greedy for power. His powers fully exposed to the world, he finds he's unwittingly given the would-be world dominators the perfect weapon with which to quell the dogs of war: himself. Unless he agrees to help develop a superweapon that will protect Engleter's future, Ethan Brooke faces punishment for his unsanctioned practice of the sciences: death.

Aurana Lockhart is a slave of the diplomatic but dictatorial Lord Protector of Engleter II. Provided with wealth and comfort, she is still at the blind mercy of her master's whims. Subconsciously aware of the chains, she still fears to escape, for it means death. Then, a foreign diplomat attempts to overthrow the Lord Protector, and reestablish the forces of tech and magic in Engleter. Seizing her chance in the chaos, Aurana escapes by the skin of her teeth, unknowingly taking with her the AWESOME MAGUFFIN that is the source of all Engleter's blocked magical power. All she wants is to live quietly, but the price of freedom is dear when one's very existence threatens the balance of politics. Thus begins the Hunt...and she is the prey.

Sorry about the crappy vague summary. One day I will nail down just what this book is about, so that I can write an AWESOME synopsis without giving away the whole plot.

Unfortunately, regarding other blogs, I suppose this is a bit of a dead end. I'm not a huge blogger, and most of the ones I know have been linked already. I will update as and when I do come across some others.

Anyway, to those who actually made it through this giant block of text: thank you. To those who didn't...I apologize. I am far better at word vomit than I should be. XD


NaNoMongering 18 - Holy Guacamole

I wrote 4.5k words today.

Whew. Talk about unexpected word vomit!

I hardly dare even to cross my fingers at this point, but...guys...I might have the beginnings of some semblance of a plot! Scenes might just be starting to clump together!

Of course, it's the beginning, and the writing is crap, but...maybe if I hang in there long enough, something will emerge.


Ok. Must cut this off here. Literally falling asleep in the middle of words.

Signing off with a photo of a tube of rolled up paper.


NaNoMongering 17: The Correlation Conundrum

Dark Arcana. The clock of the world ticks, setting the wheels of the spheres in motion. 

I'm listening to Disturbed.

That means I'm really bored.

This is the phase where I absolutely hate my novel, because it's drivel. Either the scenes are all worldbuilding, or they're all conversation.

Currently, Ethan decided that instead of running around in hallways in the afternoon, he'd rather run around on the rooftops at night trying to both evade and meet aliens. I'm not sure what he's after, honestly. He's taking Aurana along, and while she's with him, she could not be more of a wimpy weepy damsel in distress if she tried.

When she's alone, all she does is walk along an infinite street, looking for something, but never finding it. Well, it's ostensibly a Tor Qveth meeting, but even though she keep panicking about being late, she seems to think it's okay to stop for tea and a bun (with jam), read a newspaper, and get oddly hypnotized by seven dots in an advertisement for no reason whatsoever.

Oh, and then there's Oscar. He needs to cross the bridge in order to get to the gate house or something in order to get an Arcaen knife for a little stunt he plans on pulling soon. Knowing Oscar, he'll go above and beyond what is required of him.

Except I have no idea how to get him past the guards. They won't let anyone through at night, but Oscar can't go during the day because he has to work. His powers are useless.

On top of that, I am having some worldbuilding issues. A couple of my spheres are starting to resemble each other. However, each still has its own unique flavor, and taking away one of them would take away an important element of the story. Maybe I'm just making too much of it. Maybe it's okay to have two tiered cities where it's really hard to travel between different levels, especially when the architecture is so different, they're in different countries, and one stratification is more metaphorical than the other.

What's really driving me up the wall is that I have two princes of two different magical nations who are running around as civilians (Iain as a ranger, and Ozan as a monk) who both want to build an empire. However, both the magic systems and culture are so different that putting one in the place of the other would quite defeat the purpose. Or am I worrying about too much too early? I mean, what's the use of building an empire if there is no one to contest the conquering, right? Maybe the fact that they're both equally right. After all, Ozan and Iain are both princes of nations which are highly developed centers of magic and culture (each of which are vastly different for each). They would both fear that one would subsume the other.


But still, can I really include two princes in disguise? Or is this just a sign that the situations are only similar on the surface, but that further complexity will surface as I keep going? In that case, it would mean I'm doing something right.

Or drastically wrong.

I'm getting quite tired of it.

I know how you feel, facepalming Loki.

Time to go scrounge up some food.


NaNoMongering 16: My Mind Palace Is Full of Oompa Loompas

I should be writing. Supposedly some nice motivational pictures should get me moving.

Instead...I am procrastinating by looking at a whole list of them.

Richard Castle 'You Should Be Writing' Screensaver

In fact, what is happening is this:

Then this happened.

Uuuuugh. /Shudder/ You. Get out. I need to go to my mind palace.

Off to write!

Edit: I am now at 33,333. Excellent.


NanoMongering 15: The See-Saw of Hero-Villain Symmetry


Let's get this out of the way first, so that I can finally stop procrastinating on writing. Currently, I am 700 words away from 30k. Hopefully I can at least make that tonight.

I found a song that is oddly applicable to Ethan and Aurana's relationship, inside the Dark Arcana setting. (Memento Mori by Kamelot)

I'm afraid that there is a whole lot of darkness in store for them. :-(

The See-Saw of Hero-Villain Symmetry

This is a thought I had after watching Avengers and the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. Note: Please feel free to call bullshit on me at any time. The idea is that a hero and a villain are two sides of the same coin. Same background. Same characteristics. Same history, with the same traumas. Sometimes they even look the same. Same or highly similar powers. Same fears. They could almost be the same person, but for a single personality trait that is different for each of them, and which drives the choices each makes. 

Loki and Thor. Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Frodo and Gollum. James Bond and Silva in Skyfall (this one is certainly arguable, I included it because it was while watching this movie that I thought of the symmetry). Voldemort, raised in a muggle orphanage, and his rabid fear of death and love of power due to insecurity. Harry, raised by muggles, but kind and loving, but also protective of those he loves, also because of insecurity. Yet, though Harry and Voldemort are so far apart in deed, Harry is still aware of how close he is to becoming the evil that is Voldemort, especially in the fifth book. What keeps him safe is the power of love, which sets him apart from Voldemort. Even Voldemort might have been redeemed, had he defeated his fear of death (which Harry defeats), and learned the power of love.

The surface actions are different. The gut fear is the same. This is the heart of the story.

Their fates are so tightly bound that when one gains, the other loses. Same skills, same fears, but two different driving forces, two different world views. There can only be one triumph in each area (physical, emotional, etc.) A hero may win the war, but a villain can gain enlightenment, etc.

That deep mirror symmetry is what makes the conflict memorable. Actions are forgotten. On some level, both characters know and fear what they could become, at any moment. Any villain can go 'MWA HA HA HA!' and blow up a town, and any hero can kick them in the pants. What readers remember is the emotion, the personal stake that both have.

In a moment of truth, the villain gets inside the hero's head, accesses their shared deepest fears, and tempts him to come to the Dark side. The hero does the reverse to the villain. Being cut from the same cloth, they begin to understand each other. They both could turn. They stand on the edge of the knife. It draws the hero straight into the "long dark night of the soul," where all is dark and there's no light at the end of the tunnel. It is the turning point, where one choice determines everything, and that choice hangs on the single strength that sets apart the two characters. We see just how thin the line between good and evil is, because it all depends on the one thread of difference between the hero and the villain.

This is the ultimate conflict, where the hero has to draw on the personality characteristic which he alone possesses, in order to defeat the thing that the dark Lord could not. This is where Lord Voldemort falls to dark magic, because he fears death, but where Harry triumphs, because he does not fear death, and also knows the power of love. Yet, the victory is all the more poignant, because at the moment he triumphs, the hero understands the villain more completely than the villain himself. He wins, then, not out of the hatred which started off the story, but only with the deepest sadness for the twisted thing which he almost became. In killing the villain, he also kills himself, and the darkness within.

At the same time, the villain also faces a choice. Just as the hero can choose to defeat the darkness, the villain has a chance to let go of the weakness which drove him, and embrace the light. Thus, the symmetry. In Harry Potter, Lord Voldemort failed to do this, and dies, unable to face his doom. However, in Star Wars, even as he dies in defeat, Darth Vader does manage a personal triumph of his own, where he acknowledges that Luke was right.

Thus, the most complex stories in the world boil down to this. The heart drives the theme. Love can defeat even death. Change is inevitable, but even a small creature can shape the direction it takes.

Sorry about the word vomit. I have edited this thing so many times that I'm going nuts. I know I have probably left something important out. It's still not the way I see it in my head. It sounded so much deeper there. I have probably cluttered up the point with a bunch of unnecessary worlds. If only I could remember what my point was in a way that doesn't make it confusing.

I need to stop typing now, don't I?

Dark Arcana

Now if only I could find the symmetry in mine. I know I have at least two sets of hero-villain pairs in Dark Arcana. One is Aurana and Caliiry. (I know I said her name was Ante, but it keeps getting stuck as Caliiry, so it's staying that way.) Another is Ethan and Oscar.

As for Caliiry and Aurana, both of them were poor children ripped out of their world, who ran off in pursuit of greater things, and were bitterly disappointed by what they found, both by circumstance, and other people. They both cope by going off in self-destructive cycles. However, while Caliiry copes by aggressively trying to shut out other people and letting her fear force her to make other people fear her, Aurana longs for other people, but her timidity and fear makes her withdraw within herself.

For Ethan and Oscar...different backgrounds.

Actually, now that I think about it, I wouldn't be surprised if the pairings ended up being Aurana/Oscar and Ethan/Caliiry.

Aurana and Oscar are...very similar people.
And Ethan and Caliiry have similar faults.

In a purely random thought experiment, I wonder what would happen if I tried to combine Caliiry/Aurana and Ethan/Oscar.

...Nope. World would explode.


NaNoMongering 14: Verbosity, Velociraptors, and Villainy, Part III


I hadn't heard this song in forever. Then I randomly listened to it in iTunes recently.


It's Oscar. It's Oscar all over. His voice doesn't sound like this, of course, but it could be him saying the words to me.

Both of those videos are the same song (I Dare You by Shinedown). Sometimes one or the other doesn't work on mobile.

I've always had trouble writing Oscar's POV.

Now he says: Bring it.

Plot? I'll give you plot! Oh, sucFh plot shall I give!

So much, in fact, that I suspect he might be… THE VILLAIN!

I guess, in retrospect, I should have seen it coming when I started wondering how anyone with as screwed up a childhood as he had could possibly turn out normal. I didn't.
I might have mentioned that Oscar bears a noticeable resemblance to a certain eleventh Doctor, although it's not exact. This guy is more muscly, especially when he grows up. I should also have figured it out when he started acting less like a Time Lord and more like Lord Voldemort. Thirdly, it should have rung a huge bell when he started showing psychopathic tendencies, like my Big Bad, Pergator.

Well, I didn't. I still have my doubts. Mostly, it is because the reasons behind his actions are slightly different. Unlike Lord Voldemort, Oscar is still definitely human, and has his moments of kindness, is capable of forming human attachments, and does not possess the cold, calculating mentality that my Big Bad and Lord Voldemort both possess.

If anything, I am guessing that he is kind of a Gollum figure…in too deep, too naive to understand the forces that move him, and powerful enough to be a target.

At least, that is how it starts. Whether he is redeemed in the end or not, I do not know.

It's up to the story evolution, isn't it? Heh, my "hero" might well lose a lot too.

But that is for later.

Tune in next time for the SeeSaw of Symmetry, and The Double Sided Coin of Heroism and Villainy.


NaNoMongering 13: Verbosity, Velociraptors, and Villainy, Part II

Now that I've bored you to death with The Great Saga of Agent's Epic Word Count Which No One Cares About Except Her, let's move on to–

Part II: Velociraptors

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a large word count must be in want of a little editing to root out the insanity that inevitably crops up.

In this case, raptors.

I don't know why they're there. It seems that when I'm stuck for words or inspiration, I skip the mad gunman, and go straight for the raptors. Maybe it's my innate inability to take my world seriously enough that I can resist lampooning it even as I write it.

Anyway, the damn things pop up everywhere. First, there's Oscar creating them all the time in his dreams, because he's scared of them.

Now enter Aurana Lockhart, which, combined with the presence of other humans and table corners, spells disaster. She is a confirmed node of disaster. Chaos accumulates around her like detritus down a clogged drain. Poor Aurana, she can't help it. It is not her fault that Ethan's mother's pet bonsai velociraptors escaped when the Lord Protector came for a visit. Nor did she know that they are let out of their cages at night, when she decided to go for a midnight stroll. Nor is it her fault that Ethan thought an assassin was at the door, and sent a knife whizzing at her head. (She never liked that hat anyway.)

It is her fault that the butler's wig is now acting as a throw pillow in the raptor cage, and that Ethan's best telescope is in shambles. Never say that she doesn't possess weapons of mass destruction when she has her iniquitous parasol and handbag of doom in her hands.

Too bad the raptors don't like her.

Her worst enemy is an evil behemoth named Rupert, The Scourge of Mailmen. The particular pet of Ethan Brooke, Rupert can smell deception a mile away, and has a mean streak the size of Texas. Needless to say, Rupert the Scourge of Mailmen is totally on to Aurana's little masquerade, and loves to torment poor Aurana when no one is looking. Like many arrogant genius mad scientists, Ethan unfailingly picks on the flaws of other humans, but is persistently blind to the...imperfections of his special pets. It is a little known fact to the others that Rupert knows the secrets of the universe, including the ending of this story. He knows what Aurana is, even if Ethan doesn't.

Too bad Rupert can't talk.

Aurana, watch out for the---

*glass breaks*

Ethan's mother never liked that very ugly and very expensive old vase that holds the Ashes of Asvarth anyway.


NaNoMongering 12: Verbosity, Velociraptors, and Villainy, Part I

Part I: Verbosity

I'm not sure about the "Rightful King Hiddleston" bit, but Tom Hiddleston (if this is a real quote) is right.

I'm back. Oh, I'm back with a vengeance!

Travel back in time to the end of Day 11...

I have no idea how it happened.

Actually, I know exactly how it happened. The last bit just went by so fast...

After a busy Sunday, I finally sat down at 9:30 in the evening on Day 11, and slowly squeezed out a few painful, diahrreal words. Three hours later, I was only 1k richer, of butt-numbingly boring dialogue which in no way advanced the plot, and was sure to put the reader to sleep. Still another 1k behind my minimum goal for the day (20k), I was ready to throw in the towel.

Then I turned to Twitter in a last ditch attempt to salvage my NaNo-ly dignity, and word warred with a fellow NaNoer who happened to be online. It was only one 15 minute session and one 10 minute session, but this put me over 20k.

After that, my OCD, and the need to round off things I had left off in the middle, took care of the rest. Oh, I don't actually have OCD. It's just that when I look at my daily word count and total word count, I have an obsessive need to round it off at the nearest ,000 or ,500 mark. It especially bothers me when I am within 250 words of the next thousand count. When I'm in my stride, this often means that I often overshoot my goal when I try to pad on a few more words to hit the mark.

...Enter OCD again. Rinse and repeat.

The rest is history.

Present, End Day 12...

Wrote 3k more through a combination of word sprints, word vomit, and padding with random bits to cross my OCD marks.

I am now at 25k, the halfway mark, 3 days ahead of the NaNo goal, and 1k ahead of my goal.

Woo. Fucking. Hoo.


NaNoMongering 11.5: R.I.P. The Fangirl And The Muse

Well. So my phone took it into its head to scrap my already published Post 11 and revert it to a draft.

A. much. earlier. draft.

With none of the relevant information included.

So for all intents and purposes, the awesome possum original got deleted.

Well, shitsticks and shark attacks.

This is me right now:

 And this was probably the post, just before its accidental death:


I feel ya, post. I feel ya. :-( Woe to the internet browser history that doth not have a cached version available, that I might have resurrected thee with all thy garbled material contents. I sing unto thee, poor forgotten post, a dirge for your craptaculous soul that shall ne'ermore see the stark LCD light of geek night. Thou art beyond even the eldritch powers of the internet necromancer, so no more shalt thou ariseth from the murk, but sleep, and bid a fond farewell from beyond the pale of death. Adieu, though we hardly knew ye. :-(

Well. That clears up some tangles I was having with how much to word vomit in Post 12. It's half drafted, and forthcoming. Prepare for a behemoth.


NaNoMongering 10: Brevity Is The Soul of Shit

Nope. Not gonna stop with the crappy puns.

Anyway, another short post, because it's 3AM and I'm too tired for word vomit.

Word Count: 16699
Body Count: 1.5
Chapters: 4

I'm still writing utter drivel, and complete crap, but today's pep talk on the NaNoWriMo site was exactly what I needed to hear. Exactly!

In any case, despite the shitty and clipped writing, things still seem to be happening.

Oscar scares me. Like many empathetic human beings, he wants to help people when they feel bad. Like many children, he doesn't fully understand the implications of his actions, nor does he see it the way others do. Except his methods of helping are...er...

Simile With a Kid:

Woman: "I'm dirt poor and miserable and all alone. My son has gone off to war. I think he's dead. I just want to see him again."
Kid overhearing: *hugs* "It'll be okay! He'll come home! Oh, and I got you a Christmas present!"
*Everyone goes awwwww about how cute and sweet this is*

Now, Oscar:
Woman: "I'm dirt poor and miserable and all alone. My son has gone off to war. I think he's dead. I just want to see him again."
Oscar: *buys her poison so she can commit suicide, and makes a hallucination for her where she meets her son to hide the agony of her dying, knowing that no other gift he could get her would make her happy, knowing that she's a crazy old woman who lives a miserable life which is only going to end in more misery...and wonders why no one else understands that this is what she wanted most. Wonders why no one else did what had to be done. He can't cure her depression, or her kleptomania, or bring her son back from the dead, but he can ease her pain. And did.*
*Everyone shudders in horror, even more so when he says, 'I was just trying to help! How can making people happy be wrong?'*

O_O What. The Hell. Oscar. 


NaNoMongering 8: A Stinking Turd. And This is the PLEASANT Title.

I am finally caught up! Of course, this is according to the NaNo calendar. Since I'm going for 60k in November, I still have more work.

End Day 7. Total word count is 12,001. Body count is 1.5. Number of chapters is three. Behind by 2k.

I am still writing utter crap. There is not one bit that is suitable even as a passable excerpt. The story is not at all grounded in my characters. I circle around them. It takes place in a void, because of the zero worldbuilding I did. People keep forgetting where they are, so there is a LOT of illogical teleportation via plot holes, where people walk off in one direction, and end up in a place that lies in the opposite direction. People meet each other for no better reason than that something needs to happen.

So far, I have kept brains from exploding with copious amounts of handwavium.

Oh, and plot? That's the strange thing. For once, the slightest semblance of one is developing. Author Above, I even have chapters! UNFORESEEN. That's about it, though - a laundry list of events, the implementation of which are actually so wishy-washy that no one even realizes that something has happened until after it's happened. If only there was a prize for unconsciously avoiding every single important event in the story, only to have 12k of characters running through the streets, running through the sewers, running across the Flatlands, stealing bootlegged liquor, and describing their surroundings at the exact WRONG moments...

Oh yeah, and for some reason, my villain has decided to manifest himself as holographic Jabba the Hutt, and seems determined to prolong every scene by popping up at inopportune moments to irritate Oscar with obscure demands that make no sense, and then refusing to clarify what he means, instead launching off into circuitous arguments that beat about the bush. Examples? Repeatedly asking Oscar to deliver a message...when he hasn't given him any, because, if you please, Pergator doesn't trust Oscar. Then he threatens Oscar about what he'll do to him if Oscar doesn't deliver this message (which he still hasn't given Oscar)...except Pergator is a hologram, and can't do shit to Oscar or anyone.

Except be really, really, annoying, and screw with his mind.

Oh yeah, and Pergator calls himself the Empress.

Oscar is a paper character who just goes along with the flow, and has absolutely no reason whatsoever to get involved in the story other than the fact that the villain chooses to talk to him...and even that was a bit of a deus ex machina.

I had to bring Ethan in to be a douche bag just so that someone would say something interesting.


Oh well. Looks like I'll have to wait until I edit to make this thing just a little bit less crappy. I am going to hold onto the hope that once I finish the story, and once I write some of the other characters' POVs, that maybe this will start to make more sense.

P.S. Now I know who the spy from Dojong is!
P.P.S. I am slowly getting better at using voice dictation to write. I actually wrote 3k that way today. The words are still not as numerous or as good as with typing, but...I hold on the hope that my hands will be better when it comes time to edit.

Listening To:

Design Your Universe By Epica Fiction By Dark Tranquillity
Silverthorn By Kamelot Ragnarok By Tyr


NaNoMongering 7: Warm Up The Fat Lady

Because it ain't over till she sings -- and boy, is she singing. President Obama won both the electoral college and the popular vote, though leading the latter by a hairline margin of a million votes. Talk about close. Still, after a long evening of being glued to the TV, closely following the results of the election with the rest of the nation, I am relieved. Now I don't have to move to Canada for the next four to eight years.

Since I am in the eastern time zone, it was the middle of the night before the results came out, and all the speeches got over. And, of course, Florida is the only state still counting! Why am I not surprised? I think at this point everyone just dropped down from a combination of exhaustion and lack of alcohol.

Anyway. NaNo.

I am STILL behind. Of course, it is really hard to write in the midst of all the excitement, but I think today of all days was a valid excuse. Currently, my word count stands at 9000. Tomorrow, I will have to write 2667 words in order to catch up. Then, after that, I will have to write either 3000 words a day for two days, or 2500 words a day for four days, and catch up with my original goal. After that, it would be back to 2000 words a day.

The biggest challenge I'm facing is the voice dictation. When I type, my ideas flow better. Also, the prose is a lot better, and I find it easy to quickly generate a lot of words and flesh things out. When I use my voice I have to get over the severe mental block I have. Everything comes out much more stilted and awkward than it would have with typing, and it takes me four times as long to write the same material, and that material gives me fewer words. However, I have no choice. Between looking like an idiot talking to myself and writing stuff that is a lot crappier and shorter than it would otherwise have been, and completely busting my hands, I will choose looking like an idiot. Eventually, I think it will settle down, and I will learn how to write by talking also. After all, I learned to type on a Dvorak keyboard. That learning curve was much worse! It is just a matter of teaching the Muse how to work both ways.

Alright. I cannot stay awake any longer. Now I must crash…


NaNoMongering 6: " " - The Existential Title

NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo
I used to have a life you know.
Now I'm in wrimo hell you see,
With a laptop on my knee.

I am really sleepy, so this will be a short entry.

I wrote slightly more than 2000 words today, bringing my grand total for this month to 7400 words. This means that I am still behind, but I should be caught up at least to the NaNo goal of 10,000 tomorrow (Day 6), if I write 2600 words. Then I can get back to my original goal of finishing 60,000 words in a month. Yes, the NaNo goal is only 50,000, but I really need to finish this story by the end of the year. In any case, I found that after getting used to writing 1667 words per day, doing 2000 is really not that much harder. Plus, my OCD self likes the round number better.

Let's just hope my hands cooperate. I make no progress with dictation.


NaNoMongering 5 - It All Started When, Or, The Reading List

Guess what made me want to write? That's right, reading. In school, I was the quiet, shy girl who usually sat by herself, and always had a book. I've been a bookworm all my life. My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, but I do occasionally read other stuff. I usually read three or four books at the same time, sometimes even more. Most of the time, there is one fluff book that I'll finish very fast, one 'regular' book (usually a science fiction/fantasy novel), and then one that's taking time for whatever reason (long/complicated/ponderous/outside my comfort zone).

That said, I have lately been neglecting this favorite pasttime. Bad writer. Bad. So: in an attempt to guilt myself into getting into gear, I am posting my reading list.

Currently Reading:
  • The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene (Nonfiction/Physics) 
  • False Colours by Georgette Heyer (Romance)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Fantasy)
  • No Plot? No Problem! By Chris Baty (Nonfiction)
  • Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (Fantasy)
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven (Science Fiction)

Here is where I hang my head in shame. The reason this list is so long is that three of these books are ones which I started a long time ago, and never finished. One of them was a reread. Hurr durr. Now I get to finish ALL of them before I start anything else! 

I've lately acquired a TON of books, and my bookshelf is a godawful giant messy book pile. It's gotten so bad that I sometimes am at the bookstore and can't remember if I bought a particular book already or not! RED ALERT. Given that I'm the neurotic type who must group everything by awesomeness, by genre, by author, by size, by whether I've read it or not, and by cover style, this chaos is making my inner librarian (who is also my Inner Editor, Frankie) acutely uncomfortable. Oh, and don't even mention all the horizontal books. A book placed horizontally on a bookshelf is an unforgivable offense.

It's worse than a misused semicolon; Q.E.D.

Once I clean out my bookshelf, I'm chasing out the tumbleweed on my Goodreads account. I don't particularly need it as motivation, but the smartphone app has a handy little feature that lets me scan in a book's bar code, and thus automatically add it to my collection. It's a pretty neat way to easily track them...and if I actually muster up the patience to do this, no more racking my brains at the book store to see whether I already bought something!

...And there is a reason that the word NaNoMongering is in the title, isn't there. Well, end of Day 4. Word count total is 5,767, which means I am now 900 words behind. 


NaNoMongering 4 - Of Shoes and Shit and Sabotage, and Carpal Tunnel Things

These slippers are so comfortable, like bunnies made of bubbles on my feet.

And that's it for shoes.

They say, No Pain, No Gain. In fact, it was no gain, all pain. I had meant to hit 6000 words today, but my hands are acting up again, and I cannot type. They do not hurt exactly, but I just know that I cannot push it. I have mostly been staying off the forums because of this. For the rest, I have just been dictating on my phone. I managed to do about 500 words today that way. This brings my word count for November up to 5000. I suppose I can't really complain, since that is where I am supposed to be at the end of Day 3 anyway.

However, my hands are not the root of the issue, nor even the fact that I feel intensely self-conscious speaking the words out loud. Those are all things I can defeat. The real issue is dithering. That is what I spent all day doing. I dithered in the afternoon by reading a book. Then I sat at the computer and stared at the screen. Then I got up, and made myself a sandwich. And then I ate the sandwich, and had to put off writing, because I could not speak and eat at the same time. Then I paused, stared at the screen again, and made myself some tea. Finally, I managed to eke out a few words, although even then, I kept switching to my Internet browser every few seconds, to refresh every single forum I am on. A few minutes later, I had to leave. In this way, I managed to somehow go the whole day by neither doing other things to entertain myself, nor getting any writing done. At best, it is inefficient. At worst, it is self-sabotage.

This happens, in some form or the other, every day.

Time and time again, I have reasoned it out. Either I must write, or I must do something else instead to keep busy, and not worry about it. It sounds simple, in theory. But it is not.

Why do I do this to myself? What is holding me back?

It is not the blank page. I do not actually fear the blank page. I used to, at one time, but I conquered that by simply flying by the seat of my pants. Now I can fill a blank page with anything. This might be my answer.
The blank page could be ANYTHING.

More often than not, it is utter crap, and it scares me. And how is that? Because one crappy page is not so bad. However, an entire draft's worth of crap is daunting. The story is still in there, waiting to meet excavated like fossil. However, the worse the draft, the more complicated the fix. Plot holes are not always easy to resolve, not to mention the innumerable stylistic changes that will need to be made, the scenes that have to be moved around, the things that must be cut, the things that must be added, the things that must be rewritten.

So, do I fear hard work? In a way, yes. Excavating the fossil is a long, hard road. Progress will be slow, and halting. There will be times when I wonder I am moving forward all, or if I am even moving backwards. How do I know that at the end of the road, I will find what I'm looking for?

And that's it. I fear failure. I am so afraid that I will never finish, that I feel like giving up at every step. I am afraid that I am doing all of this for nothing. In short, I am doing my very best to ensure that what I fear will come true.

I sabotage myself.

Well, shit.

Yet, much as I would love to know for sure that the story will be what I want it to be in the end, the truth is, the only way I will ever know is to see it through. Sounds like it's time to head back to the Chasm of Despair.

And here is where it gets nuts. Even in the deepest, darkest chamber of the chasm, I haven't lost all hope. There is still the insane part of me that tells me that I can do it. It is the part that made me start doing these writing competitions in the first place, and the part that makes me want to write at all. It is the part that will not let the story inside of me die unborn, but instead keeps prompting me to go sit at that computer.

It's my Muse, and she has spoken. It is up to me to do the rest. Where there is a will there is a way. I know that once I open up Scrivener, I can stare at the screen, and then fly off to Google, to look for motivational websites and pictures. However, that kind of motivation is a crock: at best the truth, at worst, entertainment, and in all cases procrastination. It can make me think. It can even inspire me. It can't give me will, though. The truth is, nothing can make it easier. Nothing on the Internet can finish my stories for me.

Only I can do that.

One word of time.

And I will.

NaNoMongering 3: A Ray of Light in the Chasm of Despair

End Day 2. Currently, I am at 4,030 words.

A small measure of progress. I think I have finally figured out what Dark Arcana means. I found myself using the words "dark" and "arcane" to describe the use of magic and technology, which, currently, all the citizens of Engleter fear. In fact, it's the job of the Lord Protector to guard against it.

I found out that Dark Arcana refers to any knowledge which people fear, and which they would almost prefer not to know. At first, it refers just to magic and technology, but later, to knowledge of the ways of other "alien" cultures, and finally, to the big unanswerable questions in life, the answers to which are in the "dark," so to speak.

I also found out that my opening scene totally fails. I am going according to the "Hunger Games" opener rules I saw in this blog post. I shall paraphrase.

1. Show what your character cares most about, by showing them overcoming an obstacle because they care.
2. Threaten to take away the thing the character cares about, and thus pitch them into the story.

Yeah, I did neither. It's like Oscar is really hard to write about, and I feel like I have to ease myself into his story by circling around him through other characters. The first scene is really about Mrs. Penicott, the mistress of the ramshackle orphanage where Oscar grew up...and whom we will probably never see again! I know that fantasy epics (to which my story is most similar) tend to take their time about these rules, but this is pushing it.

Oh yes, and twelve year old Oscar is pretending to be a necromancer, just because he can, to scare people. Then he goes and stuffs his face with too many peppermints. One minute he's tiny Lord Voldemort, and the next, he's a scared little kid who wants to go to the circus with his taxi fare.

That's all I know. For all my 4k words, I've spent precious little time actually inside Oscar's head. It's all been Mrs. Penicott. It's like every time there is someone else in the room, I just write entire scenes of dialogue from their POV, and avoid having them DO anything, and avoid Oscar's POV. I need to work on having more action in between the dialogue, and showing where the story is taking place, so that not everyone is a talking head in a void. Oh, and I should probably write ABOUT Oscar at some point.

The worst it can do is to give me more words, after all. :-)

Listening To:

Dear Agony by Breaking Benjamin
Theatre Is Evil by Amanda Palmer

No World Order by Gamma Ray
This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In) by Chevelle


NaNoMongering 2: It's All Downhill From Here

Story Status:

This just in, straight from the Chasm of Despair!

From the Mouths of Morons, Part I:
Me: "You don't wait for the words to come. You just have to force them out one by one."
Sister: "Just like poop."
Brother: "That's why you sometimes write shit."

Sage words, and appropriate. Sorry for calling you morons on the internet, brother and sister. I sacrifice your intelligence in the name of alliteration.

In that vein, I tried to tell my sister what Dark Arcana was about. This was the result:

"Um, it's...character driven. Uh. So there's Oscar, who is a boy with the ability to manipulate reality with his dreams. I mean, he has no control over it. He dreams it and it turns real. And he can't control it, so his nightmares turn real too. And there's Ethan. He's a scientist. He's a genius. And...well, okay, first, there's this time agency that watches over history. And Ethan finds them, so because he found them, they try to recruit him. Except Ethan doesn't believe in destinies and prophecies, so he's all "...No." Then there are these aliens that keep messing with history. The time agency and the aliens are in a time war. Uh."

Major fail. Yeah, there's a third moron in the room also.

I didn't know what my own story was about. All the happiness I felt at finally having a synopsis done just drained away like warm deflated soda trickling down a rusty drain. It means that the only thing holding my plot together is some time war that takes place outside the universe. I have nothing actually happening in the world itself.

This manifests as talking heads: either people are having trippy dreams with no transition between them and reality, or they're just having conversations.

Everything is virtual.
There is no action.
There is no sense of place.
This is why I'm trying to stuff in all this political stuff with all the different plot lines, even though I have no idea how it will work. My bunny cries out for some foundations.


Don't get me wrong. I will figure out what this story is about eventually. I am going to take the shitty road, and force it out one word at a time. Just expect a lot of ranting and raving this month. I finished my 1,667 words for the day. I know what is supposed to happen, but not much of it turned out that way.

In the meantime, let's just say that the Chasm of Despair knows me so well that they have a cave with my name on it.

Nice to see you again, fellas. The usual.

Listening To:

Warp Riders by The Sword Across The Dark by Insomnium
By The Light of The Northern Star by Tyr Darkness in the Light by Unearth
Van Halen by Van Halen 1984 by Van Halen

From the Mouths of Morons, Part II:
Me: *starry eyed* "So Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day. Every day. He said-- what's so funny?"
Sister: *is trying not to laugh* "I'm still thinking about poop. And I know he's thinking about poop."
Brother: *nods*

Sister: "So while you're talking, we're having a telepathic conversation about poop."