Daily Writing Check-in: October 5, 2017

Words/Time: 1 hour, which started with looking over the outline I made in Scrivener for “Pursuit of Power” when I tried to start revising it last year. I got distracted from that by a thought that I’ve been musing over for the last few days and decided if I was going to do it, now would be the time.

I’m aging most of the people in my stories by 3 years. The main characters in the stories I’ve written so far have been around 15-17 years old. The original reason for their ages was due to the fanfiction world this all started in, but I didn’t have any reason to change this before. After all, the beginning of “Pithea” shows the main characters basically just getting started in life. However, I have recently realized that there are plenty of reasons to add some years to their lives.

  1. Even though this is set in a world that is vastly safer than ours (less crime, anyway), the characters are still out on their own a lot more than I would expect a bunch of 15-year-olds to be, even traveling from town to town on their own.
  2. Folks live longer in my story world than they do in real life–not by a lot, but average live span is 25-50 years longer. It stands to reason that kids wouldn’t be pushed into starting their lives as early as I’d made it (14).
  3. I didn’t care for the way the romance felt in some of my stories, when characters were only 16 and falling in love. It isn’t meant to be teenage romance, at least one in particular; it’s meant to be viewed as real, long-lasting. But at least one of my beta readers had a hard time accepting it, because of their age, and she had a point.
  4. I don’t consider this overall series of stories to be YA, but because the book that will likely be the introduction to the entire rest of the series has 2 main characters who start off at 15 years old, it would be hard to convince anyone that the book belonged anywhere but the YA section. It’s not that I plan to have adult situations or coarse language, but the characters grow up, and in another book, are in their 20s. Very likely there will be main characters in their 30s at some point. Aging the main characters to 18 at the start of that cornerstone book will hopefully help with this issue.

So now I’m going through all of my characters who are important enough to be listed in my timeline with an official age (birth month, at least) and figuring out who should be aged forward, and how much. Someone who is in the story as a 62-year-old man, for example, may not be worth changing. And this is what I spent most of the hour on.

You know, my daily challenge check-ins never used to be this detailed.

All of this is because I’m trying to figure out if I should write the continuation of “Pursuit of Power” for NaNoWriMo or not. Aging my characters 3 years does not bring me any closer to that decision.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

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Daily Writing Check-in: October 4, 2017

Words/Time:  1 hour setting up a broad outline in Scrivener for a story that needs rewriting. I’m working toward figuring out what I want to write for NaNoWriMo. I have 3 options, near as I can tell.

  1. Write the story that comes after the novel that I have so-far called “Pursuit of Power,” which itself is still in 1st draft form, and which I have realized is likely going to be book 1 in a sequence of 2 or 3, and the the entire sequence would be more aptly titled “Pursuit of Power.” I have sketchy ideas of what should happen in the next book, and I could spend the next 25 days fleshing that out.
    • Pro: I’ve started to have more ideas about what happens to Alexander after the first story ends, so I’m looking forward to delving into this completely uncharted territory.
    • Pro: It also will easily be 50k words, so no worries there.
    • Con: I’m afraid I may have to tear “Pursuit of Power” apart a bit, take out the scenes that relate more to the over-arcing storylines than they do the specific plot of the first book, and knowing that is ahead of me might make it really hard to plot the next story.
    • Con: We’re talking huge, world-altering things that happen after the first “Pursuit of Power” book, and I’m not sure I’m ready to write that yet.
  2. Rewrite “Outcast,” which still only exists in original fanfiction form. Up until recently I thought I could simply revise it into my original world, but I don’t think that’s going to work anymore. And even if it did, I think I would be foolish to do it that way, since I have grown so much as a write from when I wrote it. Because I still consider the story itself to be one of the best I’ve ever written, I have a hard time remembering that the writing could be better.
    • Pro: Because I love the story so much, and one of the main characters is my favorite of all my characters, that could make the writing easier.
    • Pro: The story is really well outlined, because I took the original story and wrote the basic idea of what happens as scene headers in Scrivener. (Same basic plot, but allows for details to change.)
    • Con: Because it’s a work I’ve written before, I may have a very difficult time writing it new, rather than trying to rewrite the scenes exactly as I remember them. I had the same problem at first when I rewrote “Pithea” from its original fanfiction form…and I once thought I could just revise that into my new world too…I don’t know why I keep thinking that. That could definitely slow me down during NaNo, which is not preferable. On the other hand, I rewrote “Pithea” during NaNo in 2013, and it turned out very well.
    • Con: The original version of the story is only 45,000 words, and I don’t have a lot I plan to add…if anything I may have some places that will be shortened. It’s possible that in the next few weeks (or in the course of the writing), I’ll discover some new plot points for the story, but I can’t say for sure.
  3. Spend the rest of October brainstorming ideas from scratch–throw out ideas I already have, maybe even throw out the world I normally write in, and just see where the next few weeks take me.
    • Pro: Starting fresh might be fun for a change, especially if I am starting with an idea that isn’t in the same world I’ve been entrenched in for years, with the same rules.
    • Con: That is exactly what I thought in 2015 when I decided to write a novel that I planned throughout October, and it was set in modern, normal times (my group of stories are set in a futuristic, somewhat dystopian world). I finished the novel halfway through the month, painfully and messily, and then proceeded to finish the month with a story set in my normal world, one that I had planned to write before setting it aside to try something “fresh” for a change.
    • Con: Though I’m getting back to my writing again, I do still work ~20 hours a week, and can’t even guess what the next 3 weeks will bring (my work tends to fluctuate greatly), so if I don’t end up with enough time to work out a new story, but also didn’t spend the time figuring out how to proceed with 1 or 2 above, I will have a terrible NaNo.

I do believe I have talked myself out of number 3. I’m leaning toward number 1. I may work on “Pursuit of Power” (identifying any scenes that may need to be surgically removed) while also brainstorming the answers to questions I have about “Outcast,” which are related to how to make it work in my world. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, I’ll have an official novel to enter on the site.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

A New Day

I’ve been ready to write this post for about a week now. It’s the first one in almost a year and a half, so I knew it had to be epic, witty, or at least insightful. But I don’t want to write that post. I do want to address it, but in simple words. Though knowing myself as I do, it still may not be short.

At the beginning of last year, I submitted my first novel to publishers, after spending several years creating it. Without knowing if that first novel would be worth publishing, I tried to move on to revising my second novel. Then, I got a job. It was a part-time weekend job at first, working as a game master at an escape room company, but quickly became more than that, with sporadic hours. These two things together pulled me away from my regular writing work, which I’d been fairly consistent with for a few years (minus short hiatuses now and then).

In August last year, I changed to full-time with my job and became a manager. That only solidified my lack of time and mental energy to do any writing. I remember hoping that November, which would bring NaNoWriMo, would help me jump-start back into my writing.

Some time during all of this, I got a couple of rejection letters for my novel, but I was so caught up in how life was going at the time, I barely registered them.

Then in September, my dad had a heart attack and subsequent 6-bypass surgery. He’s doing well now, but was very close to death for about a week (not to be too dramatic). As NaNo approached, I decided to rebel a bit and write about the time he was in the hospital, both because he had a strong desire to know what had happened, and because I thought it might be cathartic for me.

I had a difficult time with the writing, and didn’t even get all of the events written, but I did finish NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, because of my full-time job and the nature of my writing, NaNo did not help me return to my writing.

Fast forward almost a year, and I am now working 20 hours a week (approximately) at the same job, now as Director of Operations. The anniversary of my dad’s heart attack was last month, and he and my mom brought up the writing I said I was doing for NaNoWriMo last year. My dad has been trying to remember everything that happened during his 3-week hospital stay, and hopes that what I had written down would help.

It was still in “NaNo-form,” though, which means typos, things marked for deletion, and generally just hard to read. So I started going back through it, trying to put it in some semblance of a readable form, reading it along the way myself. While doing that, I started going back to other things I’ve written.

Over the course of the 3 weeks, I’ve read through just about everything I’ve written in the last 10 years, from the 2 complete novels, to partially drafted novels, to writing practice, drabbles, ideas, and even some of the fanfiction I wrote early on. I’m starting to have the itch to get back into it, and in some ways, I feel like I’ve just popped my head out of the cave I’ve been hunkered in for the last 17 months.

Going forward, I am going to work on writing as often as I can. I’m not going to pretend that I will be able to do writing work every day like I used to strive for. But even for the last week or so, I’ve already been writing out an outline for a story I’m not sure I want to write, but can’t avoid thinking about, so needed to at least get it down. That passion for just getting the words out is something I really miss, and I want to embrace it.

I think one of the things that disappoints me most about my time in the cave is that I barely remember participating in NaNoWriMo last year. I didn’t blog about it at all; I barely even finished. I enjoy going back later and reading through certain blog posts, remembering my writing journey, but 2016 NaNoWriMo is just a blank spot in my mind. I will be more deliberate this year.

My job, even at 20 hours a week, is still sporadic in the time those hours are put in. As Director of Operations, I am “on” from 9am until 11pm, 6 days a week, meaning that any time someone needs something from me, I’m generally expected to be available and respond. If I want to spend uninterrupted time with my family, I often have to schedule it.

I do enjoy my job. I design, implement, and modify escape rooms and get to be part of many other creative endeavors that our company is always working on. But I know that one of the reasons I do so well at that job is because, in my heart, I am a writer! 

i am a writer

This is from NaNoToons 2015. I don’t even remember last year’s NaNoToons…

For the approaching NaNoWriMo, I want to get back to traditional roots and write a new work of fiction. To do that, I have to sort through ideas I already have, see if any of them are ready to be expanded to a full outline, or decide to start something from scratch. Today begins NaNo prep season (I’m not sure how official that is, but October 1st always feels like the beginning of NaNo prep time to me). I am all in.

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Wow, this place is dusty. I mean, really dusty. Layers of dirt and cobwebs everywhere. It’s not the first time I’ve taken an unintended break from my writing, letting it fall to the side for more than a month, but I think this is the longest gap I’ve had in posts since starting this blog. Previous breaks from writing were at least peppered with good intentions of trying to return, a day here or there where I’d post, and then still fall back into the break.

But it has been almost 2 full months since I posted even an attempt at keeping up with my writing. Which is because I haven’t attempted to keep up with my writing since February 17th. Looking back through my blog, it was even before that that I really started into this slump. It’s interesting to me, at least, to see the progression. It went something like this:

I finished revising my first novel, “Pithea,” to the point of even being able to send it off to a few publishing companies.

I dove right into revising my second novel, the first draft of which had already been written.

I got a new job on the weekends, which largely affected the rest of the week enough to make finding time and energy to write more difficult.

I hit an early roadblock in revising my second novel, and more time and thinking was required to push past it.

My new job started to ask more of me than I expected, including working during the week for a few weeks, thus exhausting me more and making things more strained at home.

I made a conscious decision to put off revising for a few weeks, dropped my daily writing habit, and let myself be lazy in the evenings (my normal writing time) instead of pushing myself to sit at my desk and get some writing work done.

It’s important to note that I am one who in the past has insisted that even people who lead busy lives should be able to find time to write. And I’m not saying now that it’s not true, but I definitely have more perspective on that now. It only took one change to my life and normal routine to throw me off enough to just give up on writing for a while. It took me two months to get to where I am right now, which is starting to feel a strong enough desire to get back to my writing that I’m willing to put aside the lazy evenings for more structured ones again.

It may take a few weeks to be back to where I was for 9 months before this break, writing almost every day. I don’t know when I’ll have time or ideas for another Write Every Day post. It may even take me a few wasted evenings of going back over what I was last doing in my work before I’m able to make any real progress. But the important thing is that I’m finally feeling up to it again.

Something else that bothers me about this break I took is that I fell away from all things writing and blogging. I haven’t read posts by others that I normally keep up with, and I know there’s no way I can find time to go back through 2 months worth of posts (not that I follow all that many blogs regularly).  I’m going to scan through my WP reader and try to hit the highlights, but I don’t want to take so much time reading that it hurts my attempt to start writing again.

I do want to say that I appreciate those of you who contacted me during the last few months to check in or ask if everything was okay. I’m sorry I didn’t respond at the time. I didn’t mean to be rude or anti-social, I just couldn’t get my head into the right space to think about any of this. Hopefully that makes at least some sense.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I hope things get back to normal around here soon. I miss my story world, and even the blogging world I’d created.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 19, 2016

Words/Time:  20 minutes finishing the grammar check of “Pursuit of Power.”

My next step is to finish the timeline of this story that I started back when I outlined it, but only got as far as the last point that this story connected to “Pithea.” That was all that mattered at the time, because I needed to make sure both stories lined up accurately. “Pursuit of Power” goes past the time that “Pithea” ends, so I need to finish the timeline.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 15, 2016

Words/Time:  620 words of writing practice using my Writer Emergency Pack for the first time. With The Triangle published and “Pithea” as far as I can take it for now, my attention turns to “Pursuit of Power.” I’m going to wait at least until Monday to start into revision, partly because my brain could use a rest and partly because I’m not even sure where/how to start. But I didn’t want to let the day go by without writing. I wrote a little bit about the MCs in “Pursuit of Power,” though it was about what would come after that book. It was more enlightening than I thought it would be.

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Pithea, an excerpt

I have posted most of chapter 3 of “Pithea” over on my story blog . I’ll post a little of it here, but if you want to read more, follow the link at the bottom of the text.

If you want some information about the world to better understand some of what is going on here, check out some of the links on this page (Power and Madness would be the key ones for now). However, the excerpt could probably be read without a lot of prior knowledge and be understandable.

This is the first time I’m sharing this much of my novel with anyone outside of family or others who have been somewhat involved in the process. Any comments, questions, or constructive criticism are welcome.


By the time Naolin got back to the inn, it had finally stopped raining. It was dark out, but he wasn’t tired and didn’t want to spend the rest of the night holed up in his room. So instead, he sat down on a bench outside of the inn. He didn’t care that it was wet. He was wet too. A person or two walked by, but nothing interesting happened.

Then two people came flying around the corner of a nearby building, shattering the quiet of the street. Naolin was surprised to recognize his traveling companion as one of the two people, and he jumped to his feet when he saw the frightened look on their faces.

“Missy!” he yelped. “What’s going on?”

His question was answered when a tiger scrambled around the corner behind her. He didn’t know why there was a tiger loose in the city, nor did he care. He jumped up, drawing his sword, and ran to meet Missy and her friend. Blackthore had already turned back to attack the tiger as Naolin reached Missy. Naolin grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him, at the same time stepping past her.

“Ow! What are you doing?” she protested. She yanked her arm out of his grip, and he turned to face her.

As the tiger knocked Blackthore to the ground, Naolin insisted, “You can’t fight this thing. It’s probably maddened, and you only have common training.” Without waiting to see if she would listen to him, he ran over to the tiger and found a nice, open, fleshy spot to insert his sword.

The tiger didn’t like that very much, and it quickly turned around to swat at Naolin with its huge paw. Naolin dropped low to the ground, narrowly avoiding its attack, and then scrambled to the side of the beast. Meanwhile, Missy had gone to help Blackthore up, and then she drew her own dagger. Before she could rush at the tiger herself, Blackthore buried his blade into its rump. It roared in anger and lashed out at the first person it saw, which happened to be Missy. It knocked her down and stood over her.

Blackthore kicked the tiger in the face in an attempt to distract it. It wouldn’t take long for the beast to seriously injure or even kill Missy. Fortunately, Blackthore was successful in his attempt to refocus the tiger’s attention on him, giving Naolin the chance to come around and pull Missy out from under it.

“Just go and find us some help,” he demanded. He refrained from pointing out that he’d been right. Fortunately, she listened to him that time and ran toward the inn. He turned back to help the stranger, who was deftly avoiding the tiger’s paws and teeth while trying to find an opportunity to strike.

Missy reached the inn just as two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were coming out the door. Evidently they had heard what was happening outside because they were leaving the inn in a hurry. As soon as he stepped outside the door, the boy raised his hand toward the tiger. Looking back quickly, Missy saw the tiger struggling against what looked like rope wrapped around its feet.

Blackthore noticed that the tiger was stuck, and took the opportunity to attack from the side, out of the tiger’s reach. Naolin was oblivious to the new circumstances, and Missy saw that he was lying on the ground near the tiger’s front. His sword lay at his side, and blood pooled on the ground next to his head. The girl who had also come out of the inn took a wide berth around the ensnared tiger on her way to Naolin’s side. Missy followed closely behind her.

While Missy was going for help, Naolin had been caught in the side of the head by the tiger’s large paw. If the beast had not been stopped when it had, it likely would have finished the downed Naolin. As Missy approached her traveling companion, she almost had to look away. Long gashes ran down the side of his face, and blood was still streaming out of them. However, the girl who’d gotten there before Missy had already knelt next to the injured Swordsman. Missy was grateful to realize that she’d somehow managed to come across a Cleric right when she needed one.

read more…

Daily Writing Check-in: January 14, 2016

Words/Time:  45 minutes working on another submission for “Pithea.”  I finally buckled down and started on my first query letter. It is nearly done; there’s just one small line that I can’t quite decide how to word. I think (fingers crossed) that after this, submitting to more places will be easier, because I will have created the different documents that I can alter as I need. Except the CV. I’m still unsure what to do about that, so if it comes up…I may spend another 3 days researching.

The Triangle releases tomorrow(!), which I’m a lot more nervous about than I thought I would be. The proof copy of the paperback came today too, almost a week sooner than projected. So things are moving really well on that front.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 12, 2016

Words/Time:  1.5 hours working on a synopsis for “Pithea.” I reworked the synopsis that I sent to the first publisher I submitted to. I found ways to trim some unimportant information and add in more of the meat of the story. Hopefully this new version of the synopsis will usable for multiple submissions before I decide to rewrite it again.

The writing group that I’m part of, which started as NaNoWriMo write-ins and then became a weekly group, met tonight. We’ve decided to make ourselves more official and created a name for our group. Then a Facebook group, so we can better communicate and draw more people in. Though we didn’t get much writing done in the time we met, we have ideas for how to make our weekly meetings more helpful and productive, by adding some structure to it. So that was a lot of fun, to be part of the beginning of something like that.

They’ve already asked me to read an excerpt from “Pithea” sometime soon. I have just the spot picked out, which is actually the same section I will be posting on my story blog soon.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 11, 2016

Words/Time:  1.5 hours working on the cover letter for “Pithea.” That involved a lot of research again, but I think I’m finally on the right track. Hopefully all of this time I’m spending researching now will result in relative ease of writing this and future cover or query letters.

Of course, this isn’t the type of work I had in mind for my 500-word daily challenge, but I have limited time to work on anything writing-related, so I do what I can. And I forgot my plan to do a little writing practice at the outset of each evening’s writing time, but it’s a new plan, so some forgetfulness makes sense.