Victory at day 25: My NaNoWriMo Adventure

The dust has settled, and I have emerged victorious over the beast of NaNoWriMo. I planned on finishing today, and that’s exactly what I did.

 

I win!

 

It was a tough fight. It took all of the stubbornness, self-discipline, perseverance and sheer will I had, but I cranked out an average of 2000 words/day for 25 days straight, when most sane or less-driven people were telling me to get my half-dead posterior back to bed. As of yesterday, I’ve been breathing mostly without pain, and can manage very short walks. However, I seem to have caught a cold.

Now, here are my final thoughts on NaNoWriMo, made 100% more true and legitimate because I won.

  1. Get mad. At yourself, your characters, anything. Just be angry. Stare at those stats with hatred and rage in your eyes (especially the “Words remaining” section.) Lemma 1: Don’t get depressed. Be awesome instead.
  2. Find cheerleaders, people who will cheer you on and are so overwhelmingly positive they make you want to puke.
  3. Get writing buddies. Check their progress daily. If you’re not in the top of the bunch (after the crazy people who finish in 10 days, of course) then refer to item 1.
  4. Stick to your goal. If you miss it, compensate the next day. If you manage a spectacular failure of a day, then figure out a way to average it out, and refer to item 1.
  5. Convince yourself that whatever you’re writing is the most fascinating subject known to man. Fall in love with it. Rave on twitter about space stations.
  6. Don’t be afraid to brag. It feels good.

I started crying as I was writing my last sentences. I never cry at books or movies as a rule, I’m usually very aware of the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Something about Sanity Vacuum was different. Maybe it was the way I ended it, or the fact that I’ll miss my characters. Perhaps there’s a certain casual brutality to the zombie genre. I usually know which characters are fodder, and inoculate myself accordingly.

Tomorrow, I go to a small press fair, and see what’s out there in my fair city. I might try to pick up a paying gig with a local company or two, for some spending money and more name out-there-ness. I know the word is exposure, let me have my fun. I won NaNoWriMo today.

Otherwise, I begin writing Zombie Bedtime Stories part 4, Bedlam on Monday, and I begin putting the final touches on Deadlocked. It rolls out in about a week, and I think it’s the best one yet.

December will be a full month. I have one book release, a novella to write, a novel to edit, and two blog hops. I hope you guys are along for the ride! January, I’m wanting to do a blog tour. If anyone is interested in hosting, drop me a line.

Now, I have a bottle of champagne that urgently needs my attention.

The story behind the SPACE STATION: My #NaNoWriMo Work in Progress

There seems to be some curiosity, and an overwhelming fascination with all the space station babbling I’ve been doing. The working title is Sanity Vacuum. I’m not sure what variant of science fiction it is, but I seldom concern myself with the particularities of genre. I find it’s simpler to let others classify it. Right now, no sub-genre seems to fit.

It’s a science fiction story, set about 1000 years from now on a space station called the Extra-Galactic Observatory (EGO) at the edge of the galaxy.

My main character is a girl named Vivian Skye, from the world of Aurora, which features persistent “northern lights” over most of the planet, day and night. As a result, not much advanced technology works on Aurora except for deep underground, and she studied quantum informatics at the planet’s only tech school. She took her first job on the EGO because she wanted to work with advanced quantum computer systems, and to get away from the memories of being disowned by her anti-technology family because of her passion for computers.

The other primary character is the EGO’s computer, quIRK. He is unique in that he’s been programmed to observe human behavior so that he can fit in better and alleviate the stress of extended isolation. quIRK is eccentric, likes cats and the color antiblue, and is generally a bit of a goof. Unknown to everyone, quIRK has become self-aware, though he harbors no ill-will towards the crew, but he is paranoid, because sentient computers are illegal and if discovered he will be destroyed.

The primary antagonist is called Bryce. He comes from a planet named Caesarea, a caste-based planet modeled loosely on the Roman Empire. He is driven to make it to the upper echelons of his society, no matter the cost. He has a general disdain for the crew of the station he administrates, calling them plebeians, and a special hatred for Vivian, whom he refers to as a barbarian because of her Auroran ancestry, because she was assigned to the station to conduct work that he felt entitled to perform. Bryce has become obsessed with quIRK’s emerging personality, and does not want to be blamed for it.

Other characters are Alec, the squash-loving smart-ass Mr. Fix-It from the planet Elyssia who taught quIRK sarcasm, and the two “Newfound Blob” obsessed scientists. (yes, it’s a real space-thing!)

There is a plot. Vivian is intelligent and driven–no matter what happens to her, she redoubles her efforts and keeps going. This enrages Bryce, who has tried to disrupt her work at every turn. Eventually, he figures out a way to compel quIRK to kill her without his knowledge, and the fun lands them drifting into the unknowns of inter galactic space.

Um, whew. That’s the most I’ve ever actually written about the NaNoWriMo WIP. It feels good. I hope it’s coherent! Now, I just need to write the Earth-shattering conclusion.

I’m not posting an excerpt as of yet, because it’s very unpolished and I prefer to be seen at a level closer to my best. I have a propensity for stupid typos, which would probably make me look incompetent if I didn’t catch them before posting.

NaNoWriMo week two – I’m still alive

That’s the good news, I’m still fighting in NaNoWriMo, and I’m500 words above where I wanted to be. That’s with an internal ligament pull that causes even light physical activity to wind me, and being easily exhausted. I’m pretty proud of my resiliency. Some days I just wanted to say I’d make it up the next day and go wallow in bed, but I’m glad to say I’m pushing through.

The novel itself is coming along nicely; it’s within the bounds of my original vision, but the characters have come alive and my futuristic universe feels so real to me. I’m hoping I do an accurate job of conveying that through my characters and descriptions. Of course, it needs a great deal of editing and proofreading before it sees the light of day, but, editing is the other half of the fun! (To me, at least. I love wading into the fray with a red pen and a healthy dose of self-doubt.)

What’s in store for the next week?

  1. I feel better, allowing me to improve my writing time and get that 2k out faster.
  2. Some of the people beta-reading Deadlocked will start to report in.
  3. I have my eye on a couple of short horror publications, so I use my free time from item #1 to work on that. Publications are fun, I want to try to branch out a little.

I’m probably missing something. It’s probably panic/profit, but I’m not much of a pessimist or optimist these days. I just write my words and try not to re-injure myself.

Here’s the rundown of my NaNoWriMo stats. Those of you interested in further deep examination of my numbers/progress can check out my stats. I obsessively update my word count while I’m writing, because I hate seeing my daily average below 2000. It makes me mad.

Words today: 2210

Total words: 30518 (61% complete!)

I’m supposed to finish on the 24th, but I can’t reproduce their numbers, all of my calculations with their figures indicate I’ll finish the 25th. I’m kind of calculator obsessed, I try to calculate everything, whether it matters or not.

What NaNoWriMo has taught me so far

It’s no secret that I spent much of this year awaiting NaNoWriMo. I saw it as a chance to improve my writing, my self-discipline and write this novel idea I’ve been marinating for years.

So far, I’m on schedule. I’ve been aiming for 2000 words per day, which I have met, on average. I’ve had two off days, which I balanced out the following day.

Best word count day: Today, 3000 words. (A new personal best!)

Worst word count: Yesterdat, 1000 words.

I’ve learned a couple of things.

  1. Description is a good way to up your word count, and it also has the added bonus of making your world feel more “real.”
  2. Described stuff? Good! Still stuck? One word: back story. Characters can have pasts, fears, hopes, phobias, much like real people. Like with real people, elements in their environment will bring up feelings, memories and fears. You’ll be surprised with what you can come up with!
  3. Don’t give up.
  4. Tea is amazing.
  5. I’m beginning to suspect that the word count is all mental, and it’s a function of self-doubt.

That’s what I’ve come up with so far.I’ll have more brilliant revelations next week, as exhaustion and burnout begin to overwhelm my mind.

Total word count as of day 9: 18,191 words. I can’t believe I’ve written this much and I’m not even close to killing off any characters yet.

 

The Making of a Zombie Bedtime Story

I’m pleased to announce that Deadlocked is nearing completion. After marathon NaNoWriMo writing sessions, I managed to squeeze in the editing time I missed out on while I was sick, and finally, Deadlocked is off to the beta readers. This is an exciting time for me, I use an opinionated mix of people who don’t really know me, people who know me and are highly critical and opinionated, people who like zombies, people who don’t like zombies but like a good story and two people who do not speak English as a first language (If they have trouble understanding a sentence, or find it unclear, then it’s probably not a good sentence. They are both fluent and enjoy reading English books.)

However, this is the end of the production for a Zombie Bedtime Story. Let’s switch to the beginning, because I am going to be restarting the cycle very soon:

I have a list of ideas, and a rough order that I want the series to follow. I’ve shuffled some ideas and events around, but the series itself has a definite beginning, middle and end.

I take the idea I want to work on, and flesh it out into a story. This story will have a beginning, middle and a conclusion. In my opinion (probably the only one that matters), each story needs to stand on its own. I leave Easter Eggs and tie-ins to future story lines, but nothing as overt as a “true” cliffhanger.

I’ve had good results both with and without outlines, but I usually have a good idea of what the main and side conflicts are, who the characters need to be and what particular flavor of gore I’m going to use. I have a notepad on my desk labeled “squick,” if I’m stuck for something extra gross I refer to it.

Once actual writing starts, the story grows organically, and new characters evolve or appear, buildings, extra character development and back story occur at this stage. I didn’t just sit down at the drawing board and decide what my characters hopes, habits and phobias are. They evolve out of my own sadistic desire to torture them, or because I want to get to know them better. Also, something about character development should go here.

Eventually, I finish writing, and get to editing. Here’s where I add extra details, ramp up the gore and make my characters swear more. I’ll usually flesh out the ending, for that final blaze of glory. If you’ve read Locked In, you know what I’m talking about.

I’ll edit again, especially around where I added new content. Then I send it off to be edited by a very patient person with an encyclopedic knowledge of English grammar, vocabulary and a strong stomach. Once I get it back, I adjust my manuscript accordingly, learn to use a damn em-dash and then, I am at the stage where I sent it off to many proof-readers.

Why did I make this post? I’m not sure. I wanted to write about Deadlocked‘s impending release, in a different kind of light. (It will be after US Thanksgiving, that much I know. I am tentatively hoping for the first week of December.)

What is Deadlocked about already, Thea?

That is an excellent question. Deadlocked is the third part of the Zombie Bedtime Stories, and it flows mid-way out of part #1.

Deadlocked follows Haley’s partner, Frank, as he comes to the realization that something is very wrong. All of his questions and concerns are ignored and he finds himself silenced at every turn. He is determined to save his partner and his friends. However, Frank is no hero, and finds himself fighting for his life as his efforts to do the right thing go horribly wrong.

Stay tuned for excerpts!

This post brought to you by the fact that I didn’t realize I was wearing a hat for the majority of the day.

NaNoWriMo word count: 12,125. There’s a space station in the story, and space stations are cool.

 

NaNoWriMo’s month of insanity begins, and Review Goodness!

Now that the Coffin Hop is over and I’m mostly healthy (mostly, somehow I managed to pull a ligament in my chest. It makes breathing hurt, but at least the pneumonia is all gone) so it’s time to punish myself some more with NaNoWriMo! I am fairly convinced at this point that NaNoWriMo is the best thing ever, although I am sure to revise that sentiment as soon as writer’s block rears its ugly head.

I have a single tip that I have learned in my short time as an author. If you can’t stop, but have writer’s block, start describing something. Anything. Even if it’s during dialogue. Eventually, you’ll write yourself out of the block, because your world has grown to the point where your character knows where to go. It ups your word count, and helps you talk your way out of a nasty corner.

This may be why I am consistently complimented on my descriptions and attention to detail. Readers like it, I think. Maybe? I like juicy world details. Right now I’m writing science fiction, so I just think of my descriptions as “space gore.”

Day 1 total: 2020 words. It took me about four hours, including research on SPACE STUFF. I love space. For a while I was considering applying to do physics graduate studies in experimental astrophysics. I suppose there are other ways to follow that passion for discovery and the unknown.

In the past few days, I’ve received several great reviews of Zombie Bedtime Stories, Locked In and Locked Out. Here’s a rundown:

Confessions of a Psychotic Housewife was good enough to post reviews on both Locked In and Locked Out.

DoubleShot Reviews was kind enough to give Locked In a quad rating, and Locked Out a triple in an epic double review.

And finally, I was a featured horror author for a cute interview by Bloody Bookish.

Or, not so finally, just as I was about to hit publish, I got word that I’ve been featured on Mercurial Musing’s website! Read Of Zombies And Apples with Thea Gregory, now. You’ll get my apple crisp recipe.

I’ve finally burned out all my news, for now. Stay tuned for more NaNoWriMo – inspired ramblings and good news.

The Coffin Hop ends, and here are the winning entries!

The Coffin Hop came and went. Great zombie limericks were written. Unfortunately, pneumonia kept me from being as interactive and active in the Hop as I had hoped to be, but there’s always next time.

Now, for the three winners, and their winning entries!

A. F. Stewart – I love pork, and this made me giggle.

There once was a zombie from Cork
 who ate all his brains with a fork.
 He stabbed them with zeal
 gladly munching his meal
 claiming it tasted like pork.

Kathryn Anne Merkel – Zombies… named Clyde! Bonus points for the word ghoul. I should be more inclusive with respect to undead nomenclature.

I once met a zombie named Clyde
 Who had very recently died
 Not your average ghoul
 He’s really quite cool
 As long as you’re not his new bride.

Rob Smales – It’s a story, told with limericks! How can I resist!

There once was a Zombie named Stan,
 With a very intricate plan.
 He would lie in the dirt,
 And pretend to be hurt,
 And then munch every help-giving man.
But true foresight his plan did lack,
 When he lay in the great muddy track.
 The old lady was blind,
 and it was poorly timed,
 She crushed him with her Pontiac.
Then more traffic came on the double,
 And Stan was in terrible trouble.
 His luck was quite sour,
 He’d chosen Rush Hour,
 Now Stan’s nothing but a Blood Puddle!

Many thanks to all who participated! Stay tuned for another blog post, and some blog redecorating later today, after I begin my NaNoWriMo journey.