Daily Writing Check-in: October 8, 2017

Words/Time: 330 words of free writing, followed by 14 minutes of NaNoPrep work.

A few days ago I read a post on a site I have really come to like, and the author had given a word list as a way to inspire some writing. I’ve been wanting to do some free writing alongside my NaNoPrep since I returned to writing a few days ago, but haven’t had a chance to go and dig out my various ways to begin free writing. Word lists have always been a favorite type of writing prompt for me, and today was no exception.

Then I opened my “Pursuit of Power” outline in Scrivener and started looking at what it would be like to cut out the first 1/4 of the story, so the true plot for this book could get started a lot sooner. I also plan to incorporate a character who’s supposed to be a secondary main character in the story more, so I’ve been toying with the idea of starting the story more from her perspective. I didn’t get real far, because I got to my writing late today, but at least it’s something.

 


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 7, 2017

Words/Time: 2:17 hours finishing the 2 mini projects I started in the last 2 days.

So I got 2 stories into my timeline that weren’t there, one of which took some serious fitting in. And then I continued figuring out who I wanted to age 3 years, and who needed a different amount for whatever reason.

Now that these annoying issues are done and fixed, tomorrow I will go back to looking at the post-first-draft outline of “Pursuit of Power” and see what scenes need to be held over for a future book and which ones are important for the real story of this first book. Hopefully I’ll be left with a decent-length book when I’m done. And hopefully this will help me decide what to write for NaNoWriMo.

goal tracker day 7


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!)

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!)

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 writer 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.

A Monday Moment: Homecoming

This is part of the scene I worked on a lot of last week. It continues past this, but goes into novel spoilers. Leahna is the secondary main character in “Pursuit of Power.”


After everything that had happened, Leahna could only think of one thing—seeing her dad. She waited until the morning and then went to the house where she had grown up. There was a sign on the door that announced the house would be sold to the highest bidder on a future date. Leahna stared at the sign for a full minute, trying to process it. Her father was moving out of her childhood home.

She tried the door, but it was locked. She knocked, but there was no answer. Though it was a little early for him to be at work, she went to the Academy anyway. There an old friend of the family told her that her father hadn’t been in for months. Leahna asked if the man knew where her father might be, and she was told to try her brother’s house.

After thanking the man and leaving, Leahna felt like she was in some strange dream. Her family’s house was being sold, her father wasn’t working at the job he loved, and he was staying with Ronald? In that moment, the year she had been away felt like ten. It was as if she was returning from being away at war for a long time, finding everything she left behind gone or different.

She ‘ported directly outside her brother’s house in Jaffna. She had only been there a few times, so she felt awkward as she approached the front door. At least there was no sign on this one.

She knocked tentatively, unsure what she could expect to find behind the door. Ronald answered, laughing at something to which Leahna wasn’t privy. As soon as he saw his older sister, his smile froze and his eyes grew wide.

“Leahna!” he said with exuberance. “You’re…here. You’re back.”

“Yes, I suppose I am,” she said, unsure how he even knew she’d gone anywhere.

“Are you…okay? Is everything okay?” he asked uncertainly.

There was no easy answer to that. “Not…exac—”

Her father appeared behind Ronald. As soon as he saw his eldest daughter in the doorway, he pushed past his son and pulled Leahna into his arms. She didn’t know how to react and simply stood still until he stepped back.

Once she could see him better, she realized that this was not the dad she used to know. He looked ten years older, and yet somehow happier.

“Come on in, Leahna, please,” he said. He backed up, and Ronald did likewise. All three of them moved further into the house. Abner led the way to the living room, where a woman was seated. She stood up when she saw who was with Abner and Ronald.

Betany reacted similarly to Ronald, asking Leahna if she was all right.

“I’m well enough,” Leahna said. She was staring at Betany’s stomach, where there was a noticeable protuberance. She looked to her brother for an explanation.

He offered a pained smile and said, “Betany and I are married, and she is five months pregnant.”

“You are going to have a baby?” Leahna asked, looking between her brother and his wife with some confusion. It was wonderful news; she didn’t understand why everyone looked unhappy about it. Even her father wouldn’t look her in the eye. “That’s wonderful, Ronald!”

He raised his eyebrows and let out a relieved chuckle. “It is?”

“Of course it is! Why? Is there something else going on that I do not know about?”

“No, of course not,” Abner said, going to stand next to Betany. “We just didn’t know how you would feel about Ronald and Betany being married while you were gone.”

“I am sad that I missed it, but I…I suppose I did not expect that you would wait your ceremony until I returned. When I left, part of me thought none of you would ever want to see me again after what happened.”

Her father’s face darkened, and Ronald sighed.

“We were probably harsher with you than we should have been after she died.” Ronald glanced over at Betany and added, “We were definitely harsher than we should have been.”

“What about Noelle?” Leahna asked. “Does she still feel such anger toward me?”

“It is difficult to say,” Abner replied. “We don’t see her much these days either.”

Daily Writing Check-in: April 21, 2016

Words/Time:  627 words of free writing, continuing what I started yesterday, a scene showcasing Leahna and her relationship with her family, which is usually pretty strained. It ended up being a lot more involved than I ever expected it to be. Whether I continue it tomorrow or not, I can’t say. I’ll be working for probably around 12 hours tomorrow, so when I come home, I can’t say what state my mind will be in. But having a scene to jump back into is better than starting something from scratch, so who knows.

I’m letting this free writing (which  might actually turn out to be producing scenes that will work very well in the actual novel) ease me back in after my break. I remember that my revision is stalled at needing to figure out how to start the novel (after the prologue) with the narrator, rather than forgetting that he exists. Until I can figure that out, the revision will go nowhere, but at least I’ve got something to do.

Daily Writing Check-in: April 19, 2016

Words/Time:  566 words of free writing. Before I stopped writing for a while, I was planning to focus on one character during free writing time for a while, to try to draw them out a bit. Some of the characters in “Pursuit of Power” aren’t as developed as I prefer. Back in February, I started with Leahna, the secondary main character in the novel. I’m going to stick with her for now, and today’s writing started with me asking her the question, “What do you really want me to know about you?” This was because, as I mentioned once before, though she has a very big role in the novel, she’s been mostly one-dimensional so far. I think she comes across as being nearly flawless, so I let her ramble on a bit about that today.

A Monday Moment: Between Life & Death

My first Monday Moment now that I am coming back to my writing is the piece that I’m strongly considering using as the prologue for “Pursuit of Power.” It introduces the reader to the main villain of the story, who as of right now doesn’t enter the story nearly soon enough. That’s one of a long list of things to work on. But for now, hopefully this will be of interest.


They think I’m an animal. Some kind of creature. They come into my home and disrespect me, and they’re offended when I break their necks?

Dressed in tattered clothes, standing in a large patch of desert grass and weeds that were matted down in the center, the “beast” stood over the most recent trespasser. The smell didn’t bother her, but the recent piling up of bodies was troublesome.

The first thing she really remembered was waking up in the sand, with blood all over her hands and clothes. She barely even noticed the bladed weapons at her side. For a while, she was in fact like an animal, with no real thoughts, only acting on instinct. At first, she killed only to eat. Then, somehow, her dwelling began to draw unwelcome attention. Then she had to kill to protect her home.

After a time of being around other humans, for as short of a time as any managed to live, she would hear them speak, and began to remember a past life. One in which she was an assassin, and a highly respected and greatly feared member of a powerful order. She was…

She was nothing now. A creature, a thing to be feared by man as death itself. She didn’t know what had happened to her, but she knew that she would never be the same again.

She kicked the body to the edge of the tall grass and brushed her crimson hair out of her face with a blood-stained hand. The sun would be up soon, and the only way she survived the day was to remove herself from it. She lay down amongst the tangle of grass and weeds and disappeared from sight.

At the same time, deeper out in the desert, three men hurried north, following a man mounted on a horse. The man in the lead, Drune, was leading his men—a Cleric, a Power User, and a Bowman—to the location east of Torreo where the creature was said to live. Their orders were to bring her back, but Drune had a feeling that wouldn’t be possible. He didn’t doubt that the creature was, in fact, his boss’s daughter, but he didn’t think she’d come willingly.

After a few hours of traveling, they could just barely see the lights of Torreo in the distance. Drune held up his hand, and the others stopped. He made a few other gestures, then moved ahead alone, slowly. The Cleric held up his hand and created a Power barrier around himself. When Drune called out a command, the other two men moved forward and stood on either side of him. They were thirty yards away from the nest of grass.

Drune sat silently for a moment, listening to the sounds of the desert around him. The approaching morning should have brought a plethora of animal calls, but all were absent. The only sound he heard now was the buzzing of many flies, a noise that clearly came from that large patch of grass.

“She’s in there.”

“Are you sure?” the Bowman questioned. “She’s a Shadow; she could be anywhere.”

“I’m quite sure.” Drune looked out at the horizon, where the first rays of dawn were chasing away the night. “Very few of the reported sightings and deaths happened during the day. She’s there. Go.”

Despite the command, all three remained still for a minute, as if waiting for something. Then, they stepped forward, positioning themselves around the perimeter of the nest.

The User knew it was his move next, but he hesitated for a moment. Regardless of what Drune had said, he didn’t hold out much hope for finding anything human amongst this graveyard of man and beast alike.

There were bodies, both fresh and in the early stages of decay. When his eyes rested on the small bones of a young girl, as evidenced by the tatters of clothing, he shivered. What could kill so indiscriminately? Would the force they brought be enough?

“Do it!” Drune snapped, obviously agitated at having to remind the User of his job.

The User removed a dagger from his belt and held it out in front of himself in trepidation. Finally, he waved his hand in the air. A bright light flashed around the immediate vicinity like lightning.

Then there, between them, appeared a woman with crimson hair. She was standing, no weapons drawn, but clearly ready to attack the intruders. When she realized she’d been uncovered, she didn’t make a move; she only waited.

The same ability that had removed her cloak, though, had also revealed others. A ring of Shadows stood around her, in line with the other three.

She stood still, only moving her eyes to take in the numbers. These new enemies brought the total who had come to stand against her up to thirteen. Then she looked at the Swordsman, still on his horse, who was moving closer to her. Drune stopped just outside the hedge his men had made.

“You know who I am,” he said.

Of course she did. She hadn’t lost her brain.

“We do not want to hurt you.”

I’d kill you before you could try, her thoughts mocked.

“We only wish to bring you back.”

Back? She cocked her head, communicating the unvoiced question.

“We are still your family; you belong with us.”

He said no more, giving her time to respond. She remained silent; she only stood and waited, empty hands at her sides.

In the growing light, Drune could see her better now, and he could tell something was different. The most obvious was her hair. It used to be black. Her skin was paler, her eyes were darker, and if it was possible, she even seemed taller. As she stared into his eyes, he felt her coldness and endless anger and hatred. She hadn’t exactly been compassionate before, but whatever callousness she possessed then was nothing compared to what he saw in her now.

Then she was gone. The User flashed his light again before Drune had to give the command, but it didn’t reveal her this time. Somehow she had moved fast enough to be out of the range of the light in only a second. In another second, the group’s Cleric grunted as his neck was snapped. She was there, behind him, and as his body fell to the sand, she was gone again.

“Find her!” Drune screamed. He felt his stoicism begin to fade. With every second that she remained hidden, her advantage grew. Fear was not something he was used to, as a man in such a powerful position within the Class of Morano. But he felt the fingers of dread creeping into him, and he did not enjoy the feeling.

There. The User’s light caught her. She was visible, and four men charged at her with weapons drawn. Drune watched as she drew her own weapons and threw each man aside as they came. She spun, kicked, stabbed, and sidestepped as the rest came at her at once. The User began to form a simulated blade in the air in front of him, but she cloaked herself again, appearing in front of him a heartbeat later. She buried a dagger in his chest.

Drune’s team was failing, and fast. But he didn’t move. His job was not to die with his men, and he knew it wouldn’t help anyway. She was like nothing he’d ever seen before. For as much as she scared him, she also intrigued him.

When every one of the dozen men he’d brought was lying in bloody ruins around her, she stood in the middle of them and looked at him again.

His heart began to race as she took slow steps toward him. He could already feel those blades slicing through his body. He wouldn’t die though; he could outrun her if he had to. But he didn’t want to leave.

“You don’t have to be alone out here. Morano can offer you so much if you come back.”

Still she walked towards him. When she was five yards in front of him, she stopped—and was suddenly gone.

He swore as he backed his horse up a few steps.

“Rusalki!” he yelled into the emptiness around him. “Your father wants to see you again. He wants you to come back!”

Nothing. He backed up a bit more, and was a heartbeat away from turning around and running when she suddenly appeared next to him.

Rusalki spoke the first words he or anyone had heard from her throat since she had died.

“I want to see my father.”