It’s been a good week for me. We’ve had unseasonably sunny days, lots of visits from kitties and plenty of snuggles from the domesticated pets. And there was NaNo, which brought me a good story and some nice story seeds this week.
Before I talk about National Novel Writing Month, I do want to say a word or two about Thanksgiving dinner. It’s almost always on a workday in Japan, so I often do my best with some roast chicken and wait for the community Thanksgiving that we do in a huge kitchen with loads of people. (Loads being about 60 or 70 people eating, in our case.)
I miss seeing those people, but it was relaxing not to have to get up early and drive 45 minutes each way for a day of cooking and cleaning (and the very, very nice meal). And since I’m not working for anyone but myself these days, I decided to make a modified Thanksgiving feast. Roasted chicken thighs with sage. My mom’s dressing, cut in half, and mutated with my mom’s scalloped chicken recipe. It’s onions and celery in way too much
I’m writing short stories for National Novel Writing Month, and here’s the elevator pitch for my work in progress:
Tabby Kate, caterwauler at the Brawler’s Grate, is on the run from her boss and former lover, Tuxedo Jones. Stowing away on Captain Alphabet Greebo’s ship seems like an easy solution for getting off the planet without getting noticed, but this stickler for the rules notices right away that he’s got trouble on his hands.
–Weird and Wonderful Stories for Every Holiday (WIP)
It’s about cats in space.
The Dynamic Duo: Captain Alphabet Greebo and Tabby Kate. Unlike their fictional counterparts, they don’t fight crime: they commit it. (E.M. Duskova)
Now, let me backtrack a little bit. We have two housecats and two dogs who have been featured on these screens before. But staying home this summer, I came to realize we’ve got at least seven outdoor cats. One mostly stays in the barn, and I rarely see him (a Tuxedo boy who is white and black), but the others hang around our house and the house next door, waiting
This is the Smith-Waite Tarot Deck (Centennial Edition) in a tin. It’s a very traditional deck full of tarot symbols. (Image by E.M. Duskova)
I created a tarot spread to help spark a new story for National Novel Writing Month, and I thought I’d share it with you. The spread is quite simple. The left side represents my protagonist, the right side my antagonist, and the bottom concerns the plot point.
7 8 9
1. This is the heroine of my story. The seven of cups suggest many choices. The Waite-Smith Little White Book contains the keywords of: fairy favors, imagination, through a looking glass. Also, with that many cups, I thought my heroine might be a bartender. And because my imagination is a little perverse, I thought a tee-total bartender would be a lot of fun to write.
2. This card represents her goal, or the overlying theme of her existence. Bad news, censure or conflict are the key words for the eight of swords. She’s bound by a lot of different ties. (To be honest, this is a difficult card to work with in the position of “goalz!” It suggests a heroine with no agency – which is a constant problem with my work!)
3. This card represents her motivations, or the underlying theme of her existence. The wheel of fortune’s key words are Continue reading →
Christmas goes so well with an airship or two! (Image via Missouri History)
Well, another NaNo here and gone for some of us on Eight Ladies. Three thousand words is better than nothing, and I take heart in the fact that December has often been a great month for story for all of us.
I suck at conflict, both in the real world, and trying to foment it in my fictional worlds. What I like is building up a world with all sorts of rules, and finding a character or two to turn loose in it. But the fact of the matter is, if my characters don’t run into conflict pretty darn soon, the whole thing goes ka-flooey. It gets boring for me as a writer.
This coming week, I’m going to be experimenting with some methods to introduce a conflict into my current National Novel Writing Month project, but for now, I’ll explore some more intimate conflicts.
My order from Amazon brought me Young Romance #2, a serial comic from 1947 (you can see the cover of Young Romance #1 over on the right). “Fifty-two pages of real life stories”! And that comes with five comics, one prose story AND the classic Charles Atlas ad about the bully who kicks sand into the face of the skinny weakling, who in seven short frames manages to build his body and become The Hero of the Beach. Let’s take a look at a couple of those conflicts!
I’ll warn you upfront: this will be a difficult fable if you are expecting me to hand you the moral. I’m not sure what it is, myself, but maybe it’ll give you what you need in your writing journey this month.
Sometimes, the timing is off. (Eileen Duskova)
That said, let me tell you the fable of the green pumpkins. Pumpkins are not easy to come by in northern Japan. You can get them, but you have to look for them. I usually grow my own, and this year, I planted my pumpkins too late. Even though the frost was very late, the poor pumpkins just ran out of time. When the first frost finally rolled around in the middle of October, I was delighted to find that I had about four good-sized pumpkins, even though they were green. I took the biggest two to the porch, because I figured all pumpkins are black in the dark. It probably wouldn’t matter.
I knew they were early, and that they’d not last for a full week. And in the daylight, they were the wrong color. It was OK, though. I think even orange jack-o’-lanterns look a little sad and gutted in the daylight. What mattered was how they looked at night.
Cue the trumpets, toss the confetti, and raise your glass, it’s time to celebrate the rapidly approaching end of NaNo.
About an hour ago I typed my two favorite words – “The End” – and uploaded my final word count and manuscript for validation. As a NaNo “winner”, I have the lovely graphic you see over to the left and a 50,007 word manuscript that can best be described as “a big hot mess.”
My NaNo got off to a slow start this year (I may have slept through a few writing sessions), and there have been a few days with less than stellar word counts, but being off work last week gave me a chance to really focus on writing and get a large number of words on the page that can probably best be described as “quantity” rather than “quality.” There are most certainly plot holes you could drive a truck through, and it’s littered with notes like “something needs to happen here,” but the draft is done.
Once the excitement of finishing the draft cools, it’s time to think about what to do next. Continue reading →
As November continues its rapid race toward December, NaNo has finished its third week, which means there are many new stories out there at about the 35,000+ word mark.
That’s awesome! It also means that there are only about 15,000 more words to go to reach the magic 50,000 end-of-month goal.
I love this part in the process (when I haven’t spent the last week or so staring at a blank screen). After the excitement of the first week and the slowdown of the second, there tends to be a marked change in my writing once I’ve gotten over that 30,000 word point. After that, for better or worse, the story seems to gain momentum and race forward on its own.
The first act of my story ended at around 28,000 words, so I won’t have a completed book at the 50,000 word mark, and what I will have is going to need some definite work (seriously, you can probably see the plot-holes from space), but I’ll have made a real start at getting this story out of my head and on to the page, so that’s a good thing. Continue reading →
No, I don’t mean the after-effect of holiday eating or what happens when the elastic in your gym shorts breaks, I’m talking about what happens right about now during the month of NaNo.
We’re at the mid-way point; probably the most challenging time of the whole month. The initial excitement of the first week, when stories were fresh and new tends to fade about now and be replaced by daily word counts that are a little more challenging to hit and creative ideas that are a little harder to come by.
For some – those whose stories are rolling right along – this can be an exciting part of the process where the germ of a story idea has taken root and grown into something even better than first imagined. For others, this can be the time when what started out as a great idea now looks like a tangled mess with no discernible resolution. You may have written yourself into a corner, or noticed you don’t actually have any solid conflict, or realized that 10,000 words ago your story took and unexpected turn and now you don’t know what’s next.
It can be tempting at this point to read over what you’ve written so far and do a little editing.
The first major rule of writing with tarot cards is: don’t believe everything that comes up will come to pass.
So silly really, and I must lead with the disclaimer that I don’t really believe in fortune-telling methods to predict the future. I do think these methods help us clarify our own thoughts about a situation, but nothing predicts the future.
So, when I gave my daughter a pack of cards and she wanted to read for me, it was extremely foolish to ask, “How will my current story affect my future?” Honestly, this sort of question really does nothing for a person – if the answer is positive, one can start to coast and not do the necessary work. If it is negative, well, then it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I have to say, the tarot is often not very kind about my writing aspirations.
But no. I thought, “This time, the tarot will love me. This time, it will tell me how good it’s going to be.” Really, anyone who has any acquaintance with Lady Luck knows how stupid that is.
New pack of cards; first reading. Never cleansed – but should that make a difference? I don’t think it should! My daughter spread the cards on the floor and mixed them around with both hands, then gathered them up and asked me to cut the cards. I did.