blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I was not as enthusiastic about MileHiCon this year for a couple admittedly ego-centric reasons, and because I was tired and had had such a wonderful and unique Sirens experience. But I'd made commitments, and so I went.

Thank. Goodness.

At the SFWA meeting, I in-person connected with Nathan Lowell--a wonderful indie writer I'd communicated with online, and waved to once at another local con. We chatted until needing to run off to respective panels, then met up again for whiskey in the afternoon. Eventually we were joined by three other writers--indie writers!--from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and I much enjoyed the three-ish hours we all spent together sharing experiences and encouraging more connections. There were dog stories, too, which makes everything more wonderful.

So now I'm looking at connecting with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, joining their indie publishing group, and picking brains about audio books and the like. And I'm looking at enjoying it.

(That last bit is important, you see, because I've determined life is too short to deal much and long with assholes. Yes, this limits my opportunities. Yes, I'm fine with that.)

Next year, I won't be at MileHiCon, though. It's the same weekend as Sirens. So I did spend some time convincing the folks I met they'd like to check out Sirens. :-)

As for NaNo... I've mentioned elsewhere I'm not doing the "real" NaNoWriMo. Truly, signing up on yet another website, proving my wordcount, and so on does not appeal to me. Besides, I'm starting with a pile of already-written material that will be shuffled in with newly written material, and methinks that's not in the NaNo rules. But for the first time ever, the month of November is one during which I can give writing more time and focus because I do not have children at home, holidays with family do not require extensive travel, and my son's early December birthday doesn't require much planning. Thus I'm doing the nose-grindstone thing for thirty days.

So this is what the next Desert Rising book looks like this morning:

IMG_20161031_100742_615

Most of that will end up trashed or set aside for another novel, since it was first written years ago. Today's task is to shuffle through those piles and pull out all the pieces I might want to use going forward, to integrate those pieces with the existing multiple-viewpoint outline, and translate those pieces onto the Magic Index Cards that will permit me to write the novel.

In other news, I'll be making three frittatas and homemade caramel for apple-dipping so we can have a Halloween family dinner + trick-or-treat this evening.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

100_2193

That's my outdoor solar lamp. (Frost is covering the little panel on top.) The citronella candle is hiding behind it.

The boy has taken himself off to work, packing Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. The remaining leftovers are packaged and/or frozen for future meals. The turkey carcass is tucked in the freezer for future soup, and the dogs are mightily disappointed they weren't allowed to take it outside for themselves. (Raw bones are okay, but cooked bones are not.)

Now I'm settling in with warm cranberry wine, goat cheese and sourdough. I've a little noveling to do today.


Making the 50K NaNo goal isn't going to happen, but I did get 20K of first-draft fiction down. This is a big deal, since my fiction projects since Viable Paradise have been all about revising previous works that were salvageable. That 20K of this month is all brand-spanking-new and shiny. Yes, I stumbled around, wrote and deleted at least as much as I kept, and wandered down some research roads when I should have been pounding out words. But I am having fun, so screw the wordcount. :)

Besides, a bunch of other cool things happened this month, and I wouldn't have wanted a miss a single one of them.

(Okay, maybe I'd have wanted to tinker with some of the events, but not miss them altogether. Hee.)
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
The dogs started their raw food diet last week, chowing down on chicken quarters every morning. Yesterday they had rack of lamb as a treat. In the evening, they have a raw apple, carrots, or banana. They both believe this raw food thing is the bestest most wonderfulest idea ever.

Despite all the reading and research I've done on raw feeding over the last year-plus, I still couldn't shake my fear of feeding the dogs raw chicken bones. Thus I sat on the back porch as they ate, ready to intervene at the first sign of trouble.

Hah.

Ty the Wonderdog had no trouble at all--expected, since he lived on the farm for years and dined on... whatever he and the other farm dog sniffed out in the woods. Seriously, there was a patch of meadow up the hill from our house we nicknamed The Bone Yard because it was the dogs' favorite place to stash their treasure when they could eat no more. I once found a... a thing that so grossed me out, I was determined to get rid of it. After a couple attempts the dogs foiled, I decided to dump it in the fast-moving river, figuring the coyotes that roamed in the woods down there would eventually grab it. That was not to be. Instead the dogs swam down the river to retrieve the thing and return it to The Bone Yard.

So yes, Ty is quite accustomed to raw food.

Gambit was another matter. He was absolutely certain he should love-love-love the chunk of raw meat in his mouth, but he couldn't figure out how to eat it. By the time Ty was licking his lips in satisfaction, Gambit was just starting to experiment with tearing off little nibbles. Ty looked on as Gambit went from nibbling to gnawing. I'm sure he would have pitched in to demonstrate technique, if I hadn't been watching. But in the end, Gambit succeeded in finishing his meal.

Seven raw meals later, it's obvious they're not having trouble with bones, or any other part of the meal. Gambit still takes longer to eat his portion than Ty, but danged near any creature would take longer to eat than Ty.

As for the miscellany:

I've been scolded about working my arm too much--a scolding brought about because I was stupid and re-injured it and am back to wearing a soft brace all the time.

Related to the above, I'm sitting on the Black Belt Review Board today--very excited to watch one of my students test, and excited/sad to watch three adults of my own cohort test because I was supposed to be testing with them.

We shall see how much progress I can make on Crossroads before the end of November. Yesterday was my day to believe everything I write is junk. Stupid junk. Stupid, derivative, incomprehensible, boring junk. But I've been here before and, just like my occasional certainty I'm a clumsy and substandard karateka, the feeling passes.

The above feeling was shown the door this morning, when I got a note from a friend that said his coworker liked my first book and wanted to know when the next one would be coming out.

And, in the most important news of all... DEV PASSED THE WRITTEN DRIVING TEST AND NOW HOLDS A REAL LICENSE. This means that, on Sunday, I can hand him the car keys, he can drive himself to and from work, and I can stay home.

It also means the beginning of fret-festivals every time he leaves the house on his own. I'm assuming the edges of that worry will dull over time, much the same way as every other fear.

Lastly, and least importantly, I've been feeling restless again. Truly, I should have figured out how to have a career as a travel writer. It's been months since I've traveled more than 50 miles from home. I'll be heading to Denver in December, but will be staying with family, so that doesn't really count.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
If I’d planned to keep a steady word count from the alpha and omega of November, I would be woefully behind and ready to redline on the stress meter. Fortunately, I am old enough to have looked at my commitments–on top of the usual, at least one member of my out-of-town family was here for the first six days of the month–and expect myself to do little more than get the ball rolling. I did have an afternoon of angst when the little time I’d actually set aside to write was accompanied by constant conversation, but I gave myself a sharp reality check and a lecture, then did my best to (mostly) let it go.

So here I am today, just starting the third chapter of Crossroads of America, and dangling at less than 6000 words completed. But the good news is I’m making headway on a project that has languished far too long on the “Gee, I should do that someday” list. So far, I’ve had to look up quick facts on density and gravity of the earth’s mantle, and peak leaf-peeping times for northern Illinois. I’ve chatted it up with my geocache-loving friend, planned a quick fact-checking tour to the Slippery Noodle, and pulled current information for a half dozen other sites around Indy. Also, catacombs! Planetariums! Natural Gas! (Trust me–that last one will make sense.)

My decision to play NaNo was made hoping it would excite me about a new project. Not about finishing an old project, not about revising an almost-ready project. Excited about something completely new and different and challenging.

It worked!

Also: A new wellness post is up!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Many years ago, I was able to attend the Writers of the Future writing workshop in Los Angeles, taught by K.D. Wentworth and Tim Powers. K.D. gave me a piece of short story writing advice: Mutilate the cows on the first page. For me, who had a bad habit of burying the SF element too many words into the story, it was an excellent piece of advice.

But it was Tim whom I got to know quite well during that week, and I had the chance to spend much of a later convention hanging out with him and his wife. Over coffee, I expressed my huge admiration for the event-puzzles Tim wrote as secret histories, and asked his advice on writing about the weird and wild in present-day settings. The conversation was fascinating, far-reaching, and made my brain hurt with the effort to keep up. His process of discovering and connecting historical events with fantastical motivations and influences stuck with me as I plotted out Crossroads of America.

Now, Crossroads is not a complex secret history, though it does draw from real historical reports, regional folklore, and local events. But the biggest missing piece has always been why the major character--Jack--ends up in a position of such influence, why she is the one who must act, and why her actions might have the power to solve the, um... problems.

Today, while hunting Google for the names of a couple locations in the California wilderness, I came upon this:

"Scientists are puzzled by a mysterious Los Padres National Forest hot spot where 400-degree ground ignited a wildfire. The hot spot was discovered by fire crews putting out a three-acre fire last summer in the forest's Dick Smith Wilderness."

And all of a sudden, Jack has a complex backstory that makes her the inevitable choice for the role she must play, and it's all based on an actual event!

Now back to adding words to my NaNo count.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
So I'm waiting for my parents to arrive, and hoping they either beat the line of icky storms or choose to hang out at a coffee shop until it passes.

In the meantime, I'm tinkering with the NaNo project. I've decided to focus on the urban fantasy--Crossroads of America--because I (a) have the research at my fingertips, and (b) grew more excited the more I thought about it.

I love the characters. There's Jacqueline, who prefers to go by Jack--an early-thirties Californian geocaching her way across the country to escape the demons of her past. There's Luke--an early-thirties martial arts instructor who hangs out with an informal group of folks interested in and/or with an affinity for supernatural matters. There's Wyatt--a farmer and medium--and Carrie--an intuitive who works with the Indiana Geological Survey And there's Duncan--Jack's best friend, who knows the secrets she wants to forget.

On the other side, there's Mark--a young man who isn't entirely stable--and the Ditch Devil--who takes full advantage of Mark's ambition and ego-fueled gullibility.

And I throw all those people into museums, war memorials, old catacombs, and planetariums. And there might be wolves.

I've been in love with this concept for years. I want to make it happen!

Familial and work obligations will take the first few days of the month, but I have decided it won't matter if I "finish" NaNo with 50K words. The who idea of NaNoWriMo is what's driving me to finally--finally!--give this novel the time it deserves.

Oh yeah... I should probably finish the Sand revisions, too.

NaNoWriMo

Oct. 20th, 2013 12:28 pm
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

And I have signed up.  It’ll be my first time.

Now to choose the project.

The contemporary romance novel?  The upside is the idea barreled into my thoughts, nicely formed.  The downside is I’ve never written romance before, and I must keep reminding myself that—unlike my previous projects—the fate of the world/country/etc. need not hang in the balance for there to be tension.  When writing the outline, I kept trying to drop in fantastical or paranormal elements, but none of them worked.  And again–I’ve never written romance.

What about the urban fantasy I’ve been kicking around in my head for years?  Once upon a time, I had a chapter written, but it has been lost in the multiple moves and computer changes over the last few years.  The upside here is I’m jazzed about the ideas, characters and setting the story in Indianapolis.  The downside is the reason it’s been kicking around in my head is that I’ve never managed to successfully connect the opening plot points with the climax.  NaNo could be the pressure the project needs, or I could end up with little pile of wasted word count.  I’d dearly love to have this project work, since I already have ideas and notes for three sequels.

Then there are other projects that wouldn’t fall under Official NaNo because they’re partials or major revisions—The Drunkard, The Slaughterer, Breath of Stone…  I thought of giving myself the goal to finish Sand of Bone revisions, but despite a few recent potholes, those seem to be ticking along just fine now.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Who else is tossing about ideas for NaNo?  Any decisions?

Crossposted to Blair MacGregor Books at Wordpress.


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