Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Less than 12 Hours

Since rising from my slumber around 7:30, I've been taking care of annoying tasks.  I've finished up my leaves (as finished as they're getting until the rest of them fall, anyway), put on new windshield wiper blades, and attempted to put in a new headlight bulb for half an hour before giving up.  I'll be letting the pro's handle that one.  The instructions in the owner's manual of my Cobalt suck pretty hard.  I figured I could probably do it but I'd have to leave my burning piles of leaves unattended for too long.

Did I already mention I'm working from home tomorrow in the hopes that I'd be getting my water heater installed?  If they don't, I might have to leave the back door unlocked and talk the parents into keeping Belle one day while I'm at work.  My dad said he'd do it but I feel bad having him spending a day doing it.

NaNoWriMo kicks off in less than half a day.  Since I'll be working from home tomorrow, I'll be getting up at my normal time and squeezing in some writing before I start working for the day.  I'm not feeling as confident as I was last week, before everything at my house started breaking down at the same time.  Still, I should be able to hit 50k.  I'll probably be working until December 15th to finish my story like last year.

Carrie and I are slated to hand out candy in Farmington tonight at her parents's house.  She's got another sinus infection so we might end up watching Community at her house instead.

Better go tend the fires.  They'd better be done by 2.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Two more days until NaNoWriMo.

Last night's writer's meeting was a complete success.  Big E and I bounced ideas off of one another and some beer was consumed.  I have a much better handle on my main character now but I came up with that on the drive to his house.  Motivations of many of the characters are much clearer.

My yard is about 80% leaf free.  I've got an hour of bagging to do tomorrow morning along with some touching up.  I'm hoping it won't be windy so I can burn them.  No dirt mustache this time.

I took Belle over for her run after I finished doing leaves.  She ran like a maniac and should sleep good the next few days.  She was limping a bit.  I might have to start giving her fish oil like Carrie gives her dog.  Pictures are forthcoming.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Last Friday Before NaNoWriMo - Complications

I'm working from home today and I'll tell you why.  Last night, Carrie's feet were cold so I decided to fire up the furnace rather than tough it out until November 1st.  Fat chance.  The furnace wouldn't kick on no matter what I did.  So I resolved to call the heating and cooling company I use.  Not a huge deal.

This morning, I went to take a shower and discovered my "hot" water was only a degree or two warmer than the cold.  So now I'm working and killing time until the HVAC place opens so I can get my furnace looked at and likely a new water heater.  At least it all happened BEFORE NaNoWriMo.  Until the furnace gets fixed, I think I'm going to bake things to warm up the house a bit and drink herbal tea to heat up my innards.  It's hard to type when your fingers are cold.

In writing news, I'm scheduled for a writer's meeting with Big E tonight.  I had one with him last year before NaNoWriMo started and it helped me sort things out.

I spent a lot of time yesterday on the way home from work dealing with the motivations of the crew of the Silver Scarab.  I think their relationships will fall apart once they take some of the Hule on board and begin the journey back to Ur, possibly with a fire breaking out or some weird space storm.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


After today, we've only got four more days until NaNoWriMo starts.  Things are getting more tense.  Things are falling into place for me but my outline still has a big blank spot in the middle.  The beginning and the end are really clear though.  I've been toying with the idea of writing the last few chapters first and working toward them.

Some things that will happen to Fenlock as he chases after his lady "love":
  1. A spider equipvalent of the Babelfish from H2G2 will crawl into his ear.  It will help him understand and speak all languages.  It will also start laying eggs...
  2. Sex with a butterfly woman.  He'll wake up with the woman gone and a cocoon stuck to one of his legs.
  3. Enslavement
  4. Waking an alien sorceror thats been in suspended animation for seven hundred years
  5. Getting lost on an alien world and having to barter with the natives
  6. Some kind of ritual scarification
Miscellanous things from the emergency list:
  1. Riders of giant wasps - this will involve wasp larvae hatching from some kind of giant space worm.  The insect kingdom spoon feeds me ideas sometimes
  2. Sargasso - a collection of wrecked ships and asteroids, held together by webbing from the sun spiders.  I think it's a bandit settlement but I'm not sure.  I guess I could transport the Vaults of the Bandit King there from the unfinished Van Owen fragment, possibly with the frog-like robot.
  3. Many kinds of spider-hybrids - spider/ape, spider/wolf, spider/giant centipede...  I figure the Skinweavers will be experimenting quite a bit since they have access to all sorts of ancient magic
  4. Hints of the Phleg out in the darkness beyond the Web.  The fungus folk will be the main villains of the sequel
  5. Hornet men - I like the idea of a Dyson Sphere type of structure around a small sun that acts like a hornet's nest of colossal proportions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Scooba Blog - part 2

The Scooba has been running for at least 45 minutes now.  Here are some observations:
  1. The Scooba tells you when it's water needs changing.  This is great considering you don't want to be scrubbing your floor with dirty water.
  2. The Scooba drives over the dirtiest areas multiple times.  Since I occasionally drip coffee on the floor in a nearly comatose state, this is great.
  3. Belle doesn't hate/fear the Scooba as much as she does the Roomba.  While she clearly dislikes it, I don't think she thinks the Scooba is going to eat her treats.

For the lazy man, the Scooba is the only way to get the kitchen floor clean.  Does it do as good a job as I would in the equivalent amount of time?  No.  Does it do better than I would by sitting in front of the computer and not scrubbing the floor?  Hell yes.  If you're a stickler for cleanliness, the Scooba (and the Roomba, for that matter) is not for you.  If you're the kind of person who likes to say "Fuck it.  That's clean enough for today.  I can always run the robot again tomorrow," you'll be satisfied with the Scooba.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to research how difficult it is to glue a curling shingle back down.  Damn wind.

One of Life's Dilemmas

Is it wrong to NOT take off work Friday for the sole purpose of getting a Bionic Apple from Merbs? | St. Louis, MO | Bionic Apples

Ten Things I Want to Accomplish Before NaNoWriMo

November 1st is only a few short days away.  Here are ten things I want to do before then.
  • Finish reading A Touch of Death by Charles Williams
  • Finish reading The Nomad of Time by Michael Moorcock
  • Finish watching season 1 of Community
  • Give my leaves another go round and burn them
  • Get rid of the red wasps in my front gutter
  • Test my new iRobot Scooba
  • Haul my two stacks of books down to the used bookstore for store credit.
  • Flesh out my outline for Wandering the Web of Worlds
  • Add more items to my emergency list
  • Take more fall pictures while I'm still allowed to go outdoors
One thing that about NaNoWriMo that saddens me a bit is that my quest for a spot in the top 50 of all time on Goodreads will have to be put aside.  I'll lose some ground but it's for the best. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Words to live by from John Scalzi

Someone posted this link on the NaNoWriMo boards.  It's a good rant about writing.

Words to Live By


Like a lot of people who enjoy writing, I have a collection of fragments, stories that ran out of juice before they reached the end.  This year for NaNoWriMo, I'll be mining background material from a couple of them.  The Warp Weaver's Legacy is going to be one of my primary sources of recycled ideas.

Riding high on the wave of satisfaction after completing NaNoWriMo 2008, I decided to try to bust out another novel as fast as I could, an homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs and Philip Jose Farmer.  The first attempt was The Rusted Tower, which crapped out after ten pages when I reallized that the book I really wanted to write was the second book in the projected series.  I tore down The Rusted Tower and started again. 

The Warp Weaver's Legacy flowed fairly smoothly.  John Danner was plucked from his world by a red-headed trickster and thrust into a war spanning multiple planets.  The problem this time was that I lacked focus.  Why have a network of wormholes AND faster than light travel?  After a soft reboot, I started again.

The second draft of WWL had different problems than the first.  While I loved describing the planets and aliens, there was no sense of urgency and I had the sneaking suspicion that I was merely rewriting Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers series.  I put it back on the shelf.  Three months of writing down the tubes.

Only the worlds I created didn't die.  They mutated, coallescing with other ideas I had around the same time.  I kept the world-making machine at the center of the universe and some of the aliens and eventually came up with Wandering the Web of Worlds, something I feel a lot more ownership for.  Philip Jose Farmer never had Nal-Sakaar, the city on the back of a miles wide spider, or a small universe of black orbs resembling Dyson Spheres, linked by the webbing of colossal spiders with glowing abdomens who wander the web of worlds in search of prey.  I love the idea of a decadent culture that turns to conquest out of boredom, another idea I came up with for Warp Weaver that I'll be reusing.

Another thing that I'll likely be working in is this:

I love the image of an Olmec head one hundred feet high and covered with vines or seaweed someplace.  In Warp Weaver, it was in the middle of a grassy plain and choked with vines.  In last year's NaNoWriMo novel, Sailors on the Sea of Dead Gods, it was the head of a petrified god corpse barely peeking above the black waters surrounding Thanadeios, and I'll probably work it into Wandering the Web of Worlds this year, most likely as an asteroid trapped in the web.

In other news, I can't even tell I did leaves for the better part of Sunday afternoon.  Looks like another dirt mustache might be in my future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Los Straitjackets & the Pontani Sisters: Twistin' Gorilla


Including today, there are only seven more days until NaNoWriMo starts.  The following thoughts are going through my mind as we approach liftoff.
  • What if I can't find the time to write every day?
  • What if my story craps out somewhere in the middle?
  • What if it doesn't crap out but I run out of steam before the end?
It's times like these I wish I hadn't deleted my MySpace account.  I had valuable NaNoWriMo info in some of those 1100 blog entries.  I'm quite sure I've gone through these same doubts the previous two years.

Another thing that's occupying my mind as we approach go time is trying to maintain a tone that I'm comfortable with.  While I want to work some humor into the dialogue, much like Jack Vance and Hugh Cook, I also want to keep things from becoming too silly.  Every time I picture Fenlock in the marketplace trying to swindle people it quickly becomes the Monty Python sketch where the guy goes to the office and pays to argue with John Cleese.  I guess I could always balance out the humor with some frightening things.  Spiders lend themselves to horror so well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Leaf Report

So I finally stopped procrastinating and jumped on the mower about 10:30.  Here we are, three hours and some change later.  The yard is 2/3rds of the way done and I'm quitting for the day so I'm not tired when I go over to Carrie's later.

It turns out that if you don't let them get rained on, the bagger never jams and the job goes a lot faster.  It's too windy to burn so they're staying put for now.

The main reason I blogged, however, is to display a particular photo...

The Dirt Mustache!  All bow before it's majesty!  It sort of makes me want to grow a real one.

House of Leaves

I'm referring to my house, not the gimmicky book some people allege is genius incarnate.  The wind of the past two days has knocked down most of my leaves.  I guess I know what I'll be doing once I get sufficiently caffeinated and eat something.  Damn it.  At least I'll get some thinking done.  It's too windy to burn them.  Maybe I could do that one evening this week.

It's safe to say I've finally caught up on sleep after Thursday night's Los Straitjackets concert.  I went to bed at 9:30 and woke up at 7:45.  So much for getting up early and going to Walmart.  Yesterday's weevil infestation has left me with very little to eat in the house.  I guess I'm having leftover ham and beans for brunch in a bit.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I must have tried to start a NaNoWriMo related blog entry five times today but kept coming up dry.  Not much thinking about writing happened today.  It was unseasonably warm and beautiful outside.  I managed to start my emergency list, or my NaNotes, as I'm now calling them.

Since there isn't much new on the NaNo front today, I'll take this time to mention that I've got two more free books on deck to review.  While none of the ones I've received so far were terrible, I'm afraid I'll get such a book in the near future and the ensuing shit storm will cause a blockage in my free book pipeline. 

After my love affair with Boondock Saints, it pains me to say that I disliked Boondock Saints II so much I didn't make it past the forty minute mark.  It felt like a parody of the original more than anything else.  It was shot different, there were too many new characters, and the boys were ten years older and looked fifteen or twenty years older.  It just goes to show you that some sequels should never be made.

Is it too early to be thinking Post-NaNoWriMo?  The next project will definitely be a small town crime novel. 

Breakfast Ruined!

This morning, I had my heart set on French toast for breakfast.  My electric griddle enables me to do six pieces at a time so it's much more efficient than doing it in the skillet.  Before I was even out of bed, I remembered that I ate the last of the bread yesterday for lunch.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I regrouped and decided to make pancakes.  I'd just cracked two eggs and poured in the mix when I noticed black specks in the bowl. 

The sight staring back at me from the depths of the bowl immediately went back to a traumatic experience.  I was almost done eating a bow of Crispix when I noticed a tiny insect on one of the pieces.  It was a weevil!  I stirred my bowl and found others, then wondered how many I'd devoured while I was engrossed in reading the side of the cereal box.

After reliving that childhood nightmare, I dumped the mix into the trash and proceeded to tear apart my pantry, tossing anything suspected of being contaminated.  The rice went, the pasta, the other two boxes of pancake mix that proved to have vermin gleefully playing in it, all went into the trash bag.  Now my pantry is even more bare than before but at least it's clean.

I took Belle over for some exercise this morning.  Pictures are forthcoming.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Gutter and some I & I

After taking a power nap, I climbed up on my garage roof and cleaned the leaves out of the gutters.  I think I'm going to buy better gutter guards in the next few days.  The ones I have are crap.  Anyway, once that was completed, I climbed on the roof of my house.  Yeah.  I figured out why the front one wasn't draining properly.  Not only is it clogged with leaves, a huge colony of red wasps has built a nest in the downspout.  Seeing five red wasps on the corner of the roof and numerous ones flying around have led me to put off cleaning that gutter until the wasps get flooded out or they freeze to death.  Unless I suddenly get courageous while procrastinating instead of writing and spray their asses.  Since there isn't far to run away from them on the roof, I'm not looking forward to attempting it.

Wandering the Web of Worlds - Some Influences and Inspirations:
  • Spelljammer - While I liked the D&D setting that put fantasy characters in space, it wasn't sufficiently different enough from normal space for me and the setting wasn't properly utilized.  You just took flying ships to dungeons instead of horses for the most part.  There was never an epic story tying it all together.  Plus Wizards of the Coast owns the setting and I don't want to get into trouble for using it
  • Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers - Without giving too much away, PJF's World of Tiers is about a family of gods that build pocket dimensions and are constantly at war with one another.  While this doesn't greatly resemble what I'm going to attempt with NaNoWriMo, it was one of the steps in the right direction.  Plus I plan on ripping off the Kickaha character in one of the sequels
  • Hugh Cook's Chronicles of an Age of Darkness - Long story short, Cook writes fantasy about people with motivations, not merely good vs. evil.  That's what I'll be attempting.  Fenlock, one of my main characters, is a lot like a number of Cook's unheroic protagonists.  
  • Jack Vance's Dying Earth - The magic system Vance invented for the Dying Earth and that was subsequently stolen for Dungeons and Dragons is the magic system I'll be using.  I also like the way Vance portrayed wizards as being pompous and bureaucratic and the way his dialogue is overly formal.
  • Thor comics from the 60's - I loved it when Thor would go on some crazy adventure in Asgard with the other Norse Gods.  Sometimes that Jack Kirby had some crazy ideas.

Friday - Nine Days left

Nine days left until NaNoWriMo.  I think I'm in a pretty good place except for my emergency list.  I'd like to get in a writers meeting with Big E before November 1 but I don't know if that's in the cards.

Since Wandering the Web of Worlds is fantasy space opera, there are things I'm going to have to keep in mind:

  • No lasers or laser like effects.  It's not Star Wars.  All of the ship to ship combat is going to be like nautical combat, only in three dimensions.  I'm sure this will be problematic later but I have to keep it in mind
  • Once I establish the physics of fantasy space, I'll have to stick with them.  I'll probably be cribbing those from Spelljammer for the most part
  • Just because it's a fantasy setting, things still have to be logical.  For example, most settlements will be moving to follow the Sun Spiders.  The Sun Spiders themselves eat things they find ensnared in the vast network of webs connecting the spheres.  The settlements have to survive somehow, be it a bizarre symbiosis or magic.

 I got home around two last night and my grand ambitions of productivity on my day off are slowly evaporating.  It's already 9:30 and the only thing I've accomplished so far is drinking coffee and finding Los Straitjackets Twist Party in my CD collection.  On a side note, once I make another pass through the books, the CD's are getting seriously pruned.  Why am I hanging on to Nirvana cds I haven't listened to in twelve years?

At the very least, I want to clean out my gutters today.  Doing some leaves would be nice but I don't think I have it in me.  I want to take a nap this afternoon before I take Carrie out so I'm not crabby and clean up the joint a little.  At the rate I'm going, I'll be lucky to get moving by 11.

Twist Party is a lot better than I remembered.  I have fond memories of the Twistin' Gorilla running between Greg and I when we saw them in Chicago a few years ago.  Good times except for the driving to and fro Chi-Town.

Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy Report

Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy were awesome last night at Off Broadway. 

  • I didn't bring my camera
  • Los Straitjackets went on first
  • Beatle Bob was in attendance
  • Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys were good.  I was particularly impressed by the guitar player.  The two or three songs they did with Los Straitjackets were also good.
  • Plenty of merch, even though I already had all of the cds.
  • Los Straitjackets tore that mother down!  It was the fourth time I've seen them and probably the best.  I hate to say it but Daddy-O's replacement might be a better guitar player.  They played long and fast and never stopped moving.
It was one hell of a good show.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Close Call

Last night, right before bed, Firefox downloaded and installed an update.  After that, it was completely unable to connect to the internet.  I worked around the issue as much as I could and knew I was going to have to do something I'd regret.  The thought of using IE8 at home and suckling from the Microsoft Teat again was a bitter pill to swallow.  I'd just downloaded the installation file for IE8 when inspiration struck.  I simply uninstalled and reinstalled Firefox.  Everything is back to normal.

Just about time to see Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy.  I hope Beatle Bob doesn't ruin this for me.

Thursday at last!

If Friday was Jesus, Thursday would be John the Baptist, paving the way for him.

I had some more NaNoWriMo moments of uneasiness yesterday.  When I orginally came up with my plot, the ship was to be towed around behind some kind of giant space worm.  After some deliberation while walking the dog yesterday, I decided that the Silver Scarab will function based on being infused with life by the Insect King Mrakik.  Meriado Glitch, the magician who's conflicted between his devotion to science and his impressive magical power, will construct the Scarab based on notes in Selerak's journal.  I'm also toying with the idea of the Oligarchy seizing the Scarab at the end and making a small army of them that will show up in one of the sequels.

Looks like I'm going to Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy tonight.  I'd better schedule tomorrow off.

That's about all the material I have at the moment.  Until next time, here's Shoggoths and Sherry, a short story I wrote a couple years ago.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


As I was walking Belle last night, the phrase Sorceror Monks of Kadahk popped into my head.  I pondered the meaning and figured out another supporting character aboard the Silver Scarab.  Jochi, one of the  Soceror Monks of Kadahk, only accepted Tiamar's offer to be part of the crew so he could keep an eye on one of the other magicians, Kashgar Jong.  Kashgar is one of the foremost magicians of the Diamond Khanate, an empire that controls a third of Ur and has designs on the rest.  Kadahk is a tiny mountain country surrounded by the Khanate on all sides but has remained unconquered for two hundred years.  Tensions will run high between the two, each suspecting the other of sabotaging the mission or being a spy for some unknown agency. 
I'm toying with changing the name of my novel.  While I like Wandering the Web of Worlds, I also like these titles:
  • Flight of the Silver Scarab
  • Into the Great Black Beyond
Note to self:  I still need to compile my "Oh shit!" list of emergency items. 

In news only tangently related to NaNoWriMo, there was an iRobot Scooba on Woot this morning.  I now have a floor-scrubbing robot in addition to the apple of my eye, my Roomba Gerald.  Let's hope the Scooba arrives before NaNoWriMo so I have time to play with it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things I'll be doing differently this NaNoWriMo

Looking at the things I learned from NaNoWriMo's past, I've come up with some things I'll be doing differently this year.
  • Disconnecting from the internet when I'm going to write.  It's far too easy to check Goodreads or Facebook when I'm trying to be productive.
  • Writing at the same time every day instead of shoe-horning it in whenever I can.  I really need to get back in the habit of writing every day.
  • Doing my leaves before November 1st so I don't obsess over it while I'm trying to write
  • Keeping my novel on my thumb drive instead of using Google Documents.  In and of itself, Google Documents is great.  The troubles occur when I either don't have internet access or try to paste something to or from Google Documents into some other format.  It looks fine until you start noticing that the quotation marks don't match and the other text messes up your line breaks.
I've also got some potential future projects on the horizon.
  • The Unflappable Templeton Quinn - a steampunk mystery with punch card computers and dirigibles
  • The Gentleman Bookseller - a rewrite of the first novel length story I ever finished, incorporating background material from the aborted sequel and every writing trick I've learned in the past six or seven years.
  • The Gravedigger's Promise - re-working the plot of a crime story I tried writing last spring.  It was too convoluted and two Parker-ish.  I'll mostly be keeping the Gravedigger character and the setting
  • The Silencer - another crime novel, this one about a mutilated gunman seeking revenge and the detective that's on his tail.  I'll be swiping the structure of The Bride Wore Black for this one.
  • All for a Dime - a western about a gunfighter that gets out of a Mexican jail to find out someone's impersonating him and making a bundle off of dime novels and personal appearances
  • Cow Creamer Kerfuffle - a P. G. Wodehouse-inspired caper where everyone's trying to steal the cow creamer that inspired Code of the Woosters

What I've learned from NaNoWriMo's past

After reading an interesting blog entry here, I had planned to steal the topic and write about my past NaNoWriMo experiences.  Then I remembered I did that a couple months ago.  Instead, I'll be listing some things I learned from NaNoWriMo 2008 and NaNoWriMo 2009.
  • Don't wait until November 3rd to start coming up with story ideas (2008)
  • Have some characters before November 1 hits.  Otherwise you'll have to pinch your villain from an older story you wrote (2008)
  • You don't have to have an outline but you'd better have some idea of where things are headed in case you get stuck (2008)
  • Keep a list of things you can throw in if you're short on material (2009)
  • If you get stuck, go for a stroll.  Or curse a lot (2008)
  • It doesn't hurt to start preparing a month or two in advance (2009)
  • Get anything pressing out of the way before NaNoWriMo starts (2009)
  • The easiest way to write more than the minimum about of words per day is to set a minimum length for your chapters and force yourself to write at least one chapter per day.  In 2008, I wrote 2000 word chapters.  In 2009, they were 2400.  This year, I'm shooting for the 3000 to 3400 range.
Now that the official business is out of the way, I had second thoughts about my plot on the way home.  Was I merely rewriting Jack Vance's Cugel story with some other story intersecting it?  Is the tale of a group of wizards flying a beetle-shaped spaceship too similar to last years tale of four heroes sailing on a ship crewed by zombies?  Can I really keep this story going for 100k?

Fortunately, my commute home is a long one and I was able to resolve my issues before they developed into something worse.  I reasoned that while Fenlock has some Cugel in his parentage, I'm also one of his parents.  Cugel's story was about revenge while Fenlock's is about trying to find the girl he's infatuated with so he can engage in adult situations.  Since the characters are different, the setting is different, and the goal is different, I'm thinking the similarities are pretty superficial regarding the Silver Scarab and the Grim Harbinger.  And as for the 100k goal, it's pretty flexible.  If the story ends before then, I'm not going to stretch it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Monday Morning Haze

Yeah, 4:30 came really early today.  Belle kept waking me up last night.  I think her allergies are bothering her.  I also had two NaNoWriMo-related dreams.  Luckily I had some Earl Grey in the house to give me a boost until I got to work.

Speaking of work, I'm on call again this week.  That, coupled with the implementation I've got at an undetermined time later in the week, may leave me unable to attend Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy Thursday.

Not all is lost, however.  I came up with the names and occupations of the crew of the Silver Scarab on the way to work, taking care not to give any of the main characters names that start with the same letter.  I read the Murderer Vine yesterday and there were three characters named Tom or Thomas.  Talk about irksome...

I think I'm in good shape for NaNoWriMo other than crafting my emergency list.  Still, I've got two weeks left.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Yeah, I'm pretty tired from yesterday so I don't anticipate much action today.  I did manage a Walmart run before 7:30 though.  I'm making Greek Salad and pseudo-Gyros tonight.  Another reason for my unproductivity will be that I'm chained to the computer until noon in case this weekend's activities on the system don't go as planned.  I'm sure they'll be fine but I'm on the hook regardless.

In NaNo news, while I was in the bookstore yesterday, John pushed the idea of Goodreads and National Novel Writing Month on two unsuspecting writers and I might be getting another free book to review.

I've been thinking it over and I'm going to combine the faux-Mongol and pseudo-Arabian cultures I'd planned for Wandering the Web of Worlds.  No reason why I can't combine the two.  It's an alien world, after all.  I'm thinking about cutting the magicians of the Silver Scarab from 12 down to 8 or 9 for several reasons.  While I want a few to kill off, I want them to be important when I do.  Additionally, I want their to be room for new crew members as the Scarab travels, like the alien sorceror Hodak.  8 still sounds like too many but will still give me a couple easy kills.

I don't feel like reading at the moment.  Maybe I'll clean the bathtub instead.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Sixteen days until NaNoWriMo kicks off.

Remember yesterday when I said I was planning on working on my leaves today?  It turns out there are scheduling conflicts.  I went for a two hour hike this morning with my dog and I'm going to take a power nap in a few minutes before I go get a new pair of shoes.

The hike was fun except the woods were so grown up that it was hard to take pictures of anything.  My dog had fun though.  She should be pretty manageable until Tuesday at least.  I'll post some pictures later.  Facebook changed the uploader again.  Why aren't any of their unannounced changes improvement?

Not much new on the NaNoWriMo front except for spherical trees floating in the void between worlds.

Friday, October 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2009 - Under the Hood

I mentioned my emergency list a few days ago, containing my notes and things I could throw in if I get stuck.  Here's last year's list, available to the public for informational purposes. 

It's probably not very coherent to other people but it was a godsend when I was writing Sailors on the Sea of Dead Gods last year.  It mutated as I went, of course.  The strikethroughs were for crossing things off as I used them.

I'm also sharing one of my favorite chapters from Sailors last year in it's unedited form:
Chapter 7:

Though Captain Thanatops was tight lipped about the Grim Harbinger's next destination, it was apparent that it weighed heavily on him. He kept his own counsel, speaking little unless asked a direct question, and doubled the size of the nightwatch, even drafting Jhalen, Medrod, and Tolek for the task. Where they were headed and what Thanatops expected to find when they arrived was a mystery. Days rolled by, tension mounted, and the general mood on board the Grim Harbinger blackened.

Jhalen aborted his study of the magical arts for the time being. The summoning of the whale had left him feeling hungover for the better part of a week. The shipmates avoided one another's company apart from meals and watch duty. While Bokko kept a bed in the poop cabin, he rarely occupied it, preferring to sleep hanging upside down from the mast using his prehensile tail and hand-like feet. After a few confrontations with Medrod, Bokko disappeared for two days. When he returned, he wore three ruby rings on his right hand. No one bothered asking where they'd come from.

Watch duty was tense but largely uneventful. No one as sure what the captain was afraid of. Twice they sailed through debris-littered stretches of ocean, as if ships had been torn apart. Once they came across a still-smoking hulk, the water around it littered with bloated and rotting corpses.

Eight days after rescuing Bokko from the demon skates, Captain Thanatops summoned the four adventurers to the forward cabin for a palaver. They arrived to find Thantops pacing along the walls of the cabin while Meladon mopped his brow nervously.

"Take your seats," Thanatops said.

Bokko chose the desk chair while Jhalen and the rest took places on the couches along the room's perimeter. Thanatops sat down hard in his high-backed chair in the corner and took a deep breath.

"The lodestone is leading us deep into the bowels of the territory of the Reavers of Llisk. For days I've been hoping the lodestone would change its course but it has finally stopped. Should the Reavers overtake us, our cause is doomed."

Jhalen rubbed his eyes. He was getting tired of not knowing what was going on. "And who are the Reavers of Llisk?" he asked.

"Slavers, from what I've heard," Medrod said.

Thanatops stood from his seat and crossed the room. "If only they were slavers. Slavers can be bribed. No, the Reavers of Llisk are religious fanatics, devoted to an octopoid god whose coming will herald the end of the multiverse. They scour the worlds touching the Purple Current, taking captives when they can and leaving corpses when they must."

"Captives? I thought you said they weren't slavers," Tolek asked.

"For sacrifices," Thanatops whispered.

Tolek turned toward Jhalen. "When this is over, I may find another tribe," he said.

"So far," Thanatops continued, "we've been lucky. The Reaver fleets haven't crossed our path. But as we move deeper into their territory, a confrontation is nearly a certain thing."

"How long before we find our next man and move on?" Medrod asked.

"Two days at most," Thanatops said.

"Good luck, we will need," Bokko said.

Thanatops nodded. "Go about your business and stay sharp. The fight of our lives may be around the next corner."

The next thirty-six hours were spent in a state of nerve-fraying anticipation. Jhalen tried to read the logs of past captains of the Grim Harbinger he found in the forward cabin but couldn't concentrate. Instead, he spent most of his time staring over the sea, expecting to see the Reavers of Llisk bearing down on them. As they travelled deeper and deeper into Reaver territory, the air cooled and fog banks grew increasingly common. Visibily was limited but Thanatops forbid anyone to light lanterns for fear of their discovery.

In the midst of a particularly dense fog, Jhalen experienced a strange yawning sensation he couldn't explain. Seconds later, the fog vanished as if it had never been and the Grim Harbinger scythed its way through emerald green waters, the indigo ones of the Purple Current having been left behind under the cover of fog. Jhalen ran to the forecastle where Thantos maintained his vigil.

"We've sailed through a gate much like the one I brought you through on Enrik's Hope," Thanatops said. "Our man is close, no doubt."

The Grim Harbinger plowed its way across the featureless green expanse, the emerald waves lapping against the hull. Jhalen was relieved when the call came that an island had been spotted on the horizon. As they drew near, the captain gave orders to circle the island and look for a settlement.

On the eastern side of the island, a great stone pier jutted out into the sea from the red sand beach. On a nearby hilltop, a town of small stone buildings stood over the harbor like a sentry.

"That's where we'll dock," the captain said.

As the Grim Harbinger sailed into port, a sinking feeling errupted in Jhalen's stomach. The only other boat moored at the pier was a battered lifeboat, half-full of sea water.

"This island may be deserted," Jhalen said.

"Easy plunder," Bokko said, licking his lips and cracking his knuckles.

"Let's hope it has at least one occupant," Tolek said.

After the crew tied off, the captain gathered them around.

"We're in Reaver waters and can't afford to spread ourselves too thin. Medrod, take Jhalen, Tolek, and Bokko and make for yonder town. The rest of us will stay near the ship. We'll have to leave in a hurry if the Reavers find us."

Medrod turned to Jhalen, Tolek, and Bokko. "You heard the captain. Follow me!" he said.

Bokko and Jhalen fell into step behind Medrod as he strutted down the stone pier. Tolek brought up the rear, shaking his head. Medrod's already large ego would surely burst its banks now that Captain Thanatops had delegated authority to him.

The pier began on a red sand and gravel beach. Bokko stopped and grabbed a handful of sand, watching it slide through his fingers. He stuffed a fistful in his pocket and continued across the beach. After crossing thirty yards of crimson sand, they reached the steps leading up the hill to the village. The steps were made of a deep red stone veined with black and each step was two yards across and nearly two feet high, making for rough climbing.

By the time they reached the top, all four men were out of breath, though Medrod tried hard to conceal it. A road made of flat read and black stones led into the village. The buildings of the village were composed of the same black-veined red stone as the stairs, though most of them were encrusted with green moss and thorny vines. The scene was eerily silent. They cautiously walked down the street, speaking only in whispers.

"It doesn't look as if anyone has been hear for a long time," Medrod said. "We may be on the wrong island."

"I hope not," Jhalen said.

Tolek looked around and noticed Bokko wasn't with them any more. The sleeg moved silently with disturbing ease.

"Bokko is gone," Tolek said.

"Looking for something to swipe, he is," Jhalen said, doing a passable immitation of Bokko's voice.

Tolek chuffed despite the tension in the air.

Bokko sidled out of an alley up ahead and walked back to the group, shaking his head.

"Desserted, this place is. Worth taking, nothing is," Bokko said.

"Let's press on," Medrod said. "I trust Enrik Wode's magic more than I do the word of a sleeg."

Not for the first time, Jhalen rolled his eyes at Medrod's arrogance.

They walked for a little while longer, passing the empty remains of shops, houses, and temples. The inhabitants of the island must have fled in a hurry, Jhalen thought. Medrod signaled for them to hault and Jhalen nearly bumped into him.

"Listen! Do you hear it?" Medrod said.

Jhalen listened hard for a few seconds before he heard the sound. "It sounded like a child giggling," he said.

"I hear it as well," Tolek said.

Bokko pointed down one of the side streets. "From there, it comes."

The four men walked down the side street and entered a warren of alleyways wreathed in shadows. They turned corners and went down side paths, the source of the giggling was always just out of sight. Sometimes, it seemed to be coming from two directions at once. Jhalen thought they must be nearing the village's edge when he finally caught a glimpse. It looked like a filthy human child, clad in hides, less than three feet tall, topped with a shock of bright white hair.

"I saw it. Why does the child run from us?" he asked.

"Playing games, it is," Bokko said.

The four men quickened their pace but it seemed the child did the same, leading them deeper into the labrythine network of alleys.

"Stop! We only want to help you," Medrod called, his voice echoing off the alley walls.

Jhalen had no idea which direction the Grim Harbinger lay in and dearly hoped Medrod did.

They quickened their pace yet again, Medrod's impatience getting the better of him. The tantalizing glimpses of their quarry grew more and more frequent. Finally, the rounded the corner into alley that formed a T at the end. The child sat huddled beneath a discarded wooden desk near the junction, clearly out of breath.

Medrod turned to Jhalen, smiling. "Tend to the child. Try to find out if its seen anyone on the island recently."

Jhalen looked at Medrod, defiance on his face. "Why me?"

"Just do it. The captain appointed me leader of this expedition and the longer we tarry, the longer it is before we find Enrik Wode."

Jhalen shook his head and left his companions at the mouth of the alley, cautiously making his way to where the child was sheltered. The child looked androgenous to Jhalen but he estimated it was no older than three. It curled up into a ball at his approach. He reached the desk and squatted down on his haunches, his knees popping audibly.

"Don't be afraid, little thing. Can you talk?" he asked.

The child raised its head enought to look at Jhalen with one eye. Jhalen was startled to see its pupils were cat-like slits.

"What's your name," he asked the unresponsive child.

The child folded more tightly into its ball.

Jhalen stroked his chin for a moment, then decided to try touching the child. He reached out with his left hand and the child struck like a snake, sinking its teeth into Jhalen's wrist and ripping bloody furrows across his forearm. Jhalen cried out and cursed violently at the child, who tittered and lept its feet, bolting down the alley.

"What happened?" Medrod called.

"The little teat puller bit me," Jhalen said, clutching he bleeding wrist.

"After him," Medrod yelled.

Medrod, Bokko, and Tolek ran down the alley after the feral child. Jhalen wrapped a rag around his wrist to staunch the bleeding and joined in the chase. The child twisted and turned, never more than a few strides away from the quartet. The chase ended when the child led them down a debris strewn alley that dead ended up against the rear wall of a large church.

"Jhalen," Medrod said.

Jhalen shook his head. "Not this time," he said.

"Fine. I'll talk to the little brat," Medrod said.

Medrod strode down the alley. "Where are your parents, child?" he asked pompously.

The child hissed harshly at Medrod, revealing its mouth full of pointed teeth. Medrod crossed the gap between them. He knelt before the child as Jhalen had minutes before and looked into its eyes. The child smiled and jumped at Medrod's throat. Medrod backhanded the child away, sending it sprawling into the dirt. Jhalen prepared to chide Medrod but the debris littering the alley began rustling. Feral, white-haired children appeared from every nook and cranny, all cat-eyed and sharp toothed. The sounds of the hissing of the feral child-like beasts filled the alley.

"I think I know what happened to the people of this island," Jhalen said. "They were devoured."

"We've been lead into a trap," Medrod said.

The sound of weapons being drawn joined the hissing sound.

Medrod and company slowly backed down the way they'd came, the feral children advancing toward them step by step.

"Run," Medrod yelled.

The men broke into a run, the ravening child-beasts on their trail. They reached the T junction where they'd first made contact with the feral children Medrod stopped in his tracks.

"They're herding us someplace," he said. "I'm sure of it."

"Then we make our stand here and hope for the best," Tolek said.

Jhalen clutched his kurki and punch dagger tightly. He wasn't feeling enthusiastic about fighting beings that so closely resembled human children.

The first of the feral things rounded the corner and flung itself at Medrod. Medrod swung Kymortis in a deadly arc, decapitating the thing as it neared his face. The rest of the pack advanced, heedless of the loss. Tolek charged the advancing mob and swung Tree-Feller as a farmer wields a sickle, mowing down four of the humaniform vermin. Bokko bashed at the child-things with his buckler, piercing any that came within range with his rapier. Jhalen's heart was heavy as he joined the fray, swinging his kurki in vicious downward strikes, kicking at the creatures threatening to bite into his ankles.

The bodies piled up, making it treacherous to maneuver on the battlefield. Medrod's armor kept him largely protected from the enemy but the others were not so lucky. Bokko's tail had a notch missing from where one of the creatures had bitten it. Jhalen upper arm bled from a similar wound. Tolek bled from multiple bites on his stumpy legs but had done the most damage to the enemy by far.

The enemy numbers had dwindled to a handful when a sound reached Jhalen's ears. It was the sound of laughter, the laughter of innumerable children, coming from down the alley at their back.

"More of them, coming from our rear," Tolek called out.

"We can't hold them off forever," Jhalen shouted as he impaled one of the creatures on his punch dagger.

"Retreat, we must," Bokko hissed.

The horrible cacophany of laughter grew louder. Medrod carefully considered the odds. The pack of flesh eaters they'd nearly vanquished was but a fraction of the horde that was quickly closing on them.

"Run!" Medrod shouted.

Nanowrimo vs. The Yardwork

Every year, as I gear up for NaNoWriMo, one obstacle looms over my head like the Sword of Damocles: my yard.  Five acres is a good size yard, even in my rural area, but mine is studded with trees, trees that conspire to drop their leaves around November 1st ever year.  Every year I resolve to do away with them before NaNoWriMo kicks off.  Every year I find something else to occupy my time.  This weekend, I shall attempt to take care of things.  On the plus side, working in the yard always gives me time to think.

One thing I'm struggling with regarding Wandering the Web of Worlds is how many people I want on the Silver Scarab when it leaves Ur for the great black beyond.  I don't want to stock it with red shirts ala Star Trek, although the pseudo-Mongol wizard will be bringing a few archers along.

Since I haven't posted it before, here's the back cover blurb for my Nano novel:
Wandering the Web of Worlds:

At the behest of the High Oligarch, the Confederation of Magicians launches an expedition to the moon, long thought to be a dead world. The magicians build a vessel, the Silver Scarab, and find out that everything they thought they knew about the cosmos was wrong. Meanwhile, Fenlock, a stowaway upon the Silver Scarab, falls in lust with the purple woman they encounter and decides to do whatever it takes to give her a good rogering. Little do they know that their every action is drawing unwanted attention to their forgotten world...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Eighteen more days until the Nanopocalypse is upon us.

I had some ideas in the shower this morning and had to write them down before work.  Mostly red herrings but they'll give the plot a bit more depth.  I think I might write a little in the upcoming weeks to get the old writing gears turning again.  Like Selerak's voyage to the moon seventy years ago that drove him insane...

Carrie came over last night and we made taco pizzas.  They were quite something.  I should have taken pictures of them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Twenty more days.

Cancel the panic attack, Gertrude!  I have had a break through!  Yesterday, while walking my eager hound, I had a few good ideas I need to work into my overall plot.  I figured out a few more whys and wherefores of the story.  Sometime in the next two weeks, I'll need to finallize some names and throw a few things on the "In-Case-of-Emergency-Break-Glass" list but I think I'm in a good place.  I'm also going to work the line "The Confederation of Magicians would never knowingly clutch a scorpion to its breast, unlike certain fairy tale wizarding schools," into things.

Sakaar, the city on the back of a colossal spider, is taking shape although I don't know how long the gang will actually be there.  I'm thinking the city will be largely dependent on an idol that dispenses food and drink every 3.5 days.  The idol will be under control of some kind of demented clergy.  As if there were any other kind...

So how about those trapped Chilean miners?  That's got to suck.

Monday, October 11, 2010

21 more days

Only 21 days until NaNoWriMo kicks off.  I'm pencilling myself in for a minor panic attack over my plot sometime next week.  Actually, it's not as bad as all that.  I've decided to recycle a few parts from the discarded drafts of The Warp-Weaver's Legacy and use them for Fenlock's piece of the book.

I had a weird dream the other night where Carrie signed me up to be in a play.  The character I was playing only had a few lines but spent the entire play in the bathtub, popping up out of the suds as needed.  I think it stems from a scene in one of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books where the captain of the B-ark is similarly afflicted.  It was much less disturbing than the dream I had later that night, where I was swimming and red wasps attacked me every time I surfaced.

The Big E wedding went off without a hitch.  Or so I thought.  The smoke from a thousand cigarettes irritated Carrie's sinuses and aggrivated the infection she hadn't quite gotten over.  It figures that she'd be getting sick the same time I'm finally feeling better.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Great Gift Card Debacle of 2009

This afternoon, Carrie and I are going to a wedding reception.  She reminded me to remember the gift cards earlier and it brought back memories of the last time we brought a gift card to a wedding.  Here's how it went down.

June 19th 2009:
Carrie and I were somewhere between Alton and Bloomsdale on 255, heading home after my brother's rehearsal dinner.  I said "Don't forget to bring the Melting Pot gift card tomorrow."
"I don't have it," she said.
"Didn't I give it to you so I wouldn't lose it?" I asked.
"I don't think so," she said.
"I'm sure I did.  Or I meant to.  Are you sure you don't have it?" I asked.
"Yes but I'll check when I get home."

I dropped Carrie off at her car and headed home, confident that the gift card was in her purse.

June 20th 2009:
I woke up extra early and started looking for the card.  I check all my usual hiding spots and came up empty.  Satisfied, I called Carrie.
"Did you find the card?" I asked.
"No and I tore my house apart," she said.
"Crap.  I guess it's lost.  I'll look again and if I can't find it, we'll stop somewhere and I'll buy another gift card of some type.  If we find the Melting Pot card later, we'll just go there ourselves."
"That sounds okay," Carrie said.

I hung up and resumed my search.  While I pretended to be taking the heat for losing the gift card, I was secretly convinced Carrie lost it.  Still, I ransacked my house.  I checked the file cabinet, the cabinets under the counter, even the pockets of jackets.  Nothing.  I manhandled the refrigerator out of it's nook and found nothing besides a dirty patch of floor and a frightening amount of dog hair. 

As I cursed and pushed the fridge back, I remembered putting the card on top of the refrigerator for safekeeping.  I looked on top of the fridge, even between the pages of the phone books that I never use.  Nothing. 

I stood in the kitchen staring at the fridge when an idea hit me.  I opened the freezer and looked in the small compartment inside the door.  There it was, staring back it me in its maroon envelope: the Melting Pot gift card!  It must have fallen off the top of the fridge and landed inside the freezer when I opened the door!

Ecstatic, I breathed a sigh of relief and went about getting ready for the wedding.

The wedding went off without a hitch.  My best man speech, a Seinfeld-esque bit about the term groom, went over fairly well.  Carrie continues to bring up that she was right about the gift card to this day.  And my brother lost the gift card for a period of time after they moved.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

100k in November?

I just finished writing my daily word count goal on my calendar for NaNoWriMo so I guess I'm officially going for one hundered thousand words in thirty days.  My secret?  I shall write longer chapters...

Over the weekend, I wrote down quite a bit more things I want to include.  I imagine my first week of writing will be setup of the Confederation of Magicians getting their shit together while the hexhound tracks Fenlock and the stolen Talisman of Grolgash across Ammuria to bring him to justice.  I'm going to spend my spare time this month coming up with a loose outline, fleshing out the characters a bit more, and writing down all the little things I can throw in when I get stuck.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Giving 100% 10% at a time: The Slacker report

Another Slackers show has come and gone.  Here's how it all went down.

The doors opened late and shortly after I walked in I was forcibly befriended by a large gentleman named Ron.  He was from Kansas City and had the same Dr. Ring-Ding shirt I was wearing.  We chatted for a little while and it turned out he was at the last Slacker's show I went to in Chicago at the Bottom Lounge.  Ron's girlfriend dragged him away a couple minutes later and I was able to look at the merch table.  No new CDs but I did get yet another Slackers shirt.  Not black or green, if you can believe that.

The Green Room Rockers went by in a blur of acceptable music and the DJ actually was pretty good.  Then the Slackers hit the stage and the place erupted.  Suddenly there were twice as many people there.

I'm going to attempt to reconstruct the set list from memory, though it won't be in order and will be incomplete:
  • Dave's Friend
  • Manuel
  • The Fried Chicken Song
  • Peculiar
  • Married Girl
  • Wasted Days
  • Please Decide
  • Sarah
  • Because
  • Cookin' for Tommy
  • The Same Everday
  • Don't Look Back
  • Keep Him Away
There were a couple more songs I can't recall at the moment.  It was another good show from the Slackers but it seemed a little short.  Then again, it would have seemed too short if they played for three hours.  I hope it's not another couple years before they come back to town.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

So This is the Night

Tonight is the night.  I haven't seen the Slackers since the last Chicago odyssey.  Should be a fun time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Still Slackin'

The Slackers show at The Firebird is fast approaching.  I even dreamt about it last night.  It started off good until Dave Hillyard got out the tape players for the other musicians, an incident reminiscent of that episode of Flight of the Conchords where Brett missed a show and Jemaine played with a recording of Brett.  I'm taking the Monday after the show off since I'm getting too old to get home at 1 and get back up at 4:30 to go to work.

I've come to the conclusion that I need to take better notes, particularly when it comes to stories I'm formulating.  For instance, poor Fenlock is going to have a centipede crawl into his ear.  The centipede will function like the Babelfish in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, only with gruesome side effects.  I had a clever name for this creature several days ago.  As of yesterday, I have no idea what it was.  I swore I wrote it down someplace but I can't seem to find that particular morsel.  Damn it.  Was it cypherpede?  I know it had -pede on the end.  I guess I have 31 days to remember...