I meant to finish the challenge yesterday, because I like to take Sundays off from writing, but it just wasn't happening. So today I finished off The Tale of Haveshi Yellowcrow at 6377 words. Together with The Tale of Latan the Scholar (note to self: think of some good titles) at just under 9500 words, the two make a decent novelette-length duology. Watch for them, and the three weird short-shorts I wrote earlier in the challenge, to be posted here, once they've been run through the editing droid, before I put them up for sale.
And Camp NaNo starts tomorrow. I'll be writing the first draft of Book 3 of Daughter of the Wildings. That whole project is turning out to be so slippery; I'd better pin down any ideas I have when I have them, before they slither away again. I know who Antagonist #1 is in the book, but haven't made any notes on Antagonist #2, who popped into my mind several days ago and is doing his best to pop back out again. And in the meantime, for a while I thought Book 5 was actually going to be Book 4 and that Book 5 would be something totally different, but now the original Book 5 is Book 5 again, but with a completely different ending.
And this is why I'm writing the whole thing in draft before I start releasing any of it. I've read series where the writer seems to start out writing one story at the beginning of the series and then switches to a totally different story by the end. I've also tried to read series that get hung up halfway through when the writer seems to change their whole mind about the darn thing or takes ten years to get the next book out. (Some series published through conventional publication channels also die halfway through because the publisher cancels the series for bizarre publisher reasons. Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Holly Lisle have both written about this. In these cases, the dead series isn't the author's fault.) I don't want to do that to my readers; I want to make sure the whole series is finished and that it fits together and tells a consistent story from beginning to end. Because I think that's the least the reader should expect, and deserves.
So, starting tomorrow, watch for updates from the Camp NaNo writing front. My jury duty got rescheduled to this Tuesday; I'll know late Monday afternoon if I still have to go in, and then just play it from there.
After three days, I've got 3,173 words written on the Tale of Haveshi Yellowcrow, the prequel to the other story I wrote and also based on an old abandoned idea. A few more days should finish it.
For a long time, I never thought of myself as much of a short-story writer. I had maybe a handful of short stories to go with the fifteen or so novellas and novels I'd written. I just figured that short stories weren't a form that I naturally thought in, or that I was comfortable with.
But now, in about three weeks or so, I'll have written five short stories, two of them from ideas I abandoned a long time ago because I wasn't sure how to spin them out into novel-length. Which just goes to show a few things:
1. Don't define yourself by what you think you can or can't do, or what you think you're naturally suited for. You just might surprise yourself, especially if you try.
2. In the new world of publishing (as Dean Wesley Smith calls it), the length of what we write doesn't have to be defined by the needs of the publishing industry. The size of an ebook isn't subject to the same cost-effectiveness considerations that paper books are (the bigger the book, the more expensive it is to print and the more space it takes up, while with a book that's too small, readers aren't willing to pay enough to cover the production expenses), and print-on-demand allows for printing one or two at a time of odd lengths of books (though there are limits to how short and maybe how long POD books can be, as a practical matter). Ideas that once seemed impossible to write to a marketable length can now be dug up from the depths of the hard drive or the file cabinet, dusted off, and given life in the length that's right for them.
So instead of calling myself a short-story writer or a novel writer, I'm a writer of my ideas, and I write them as short or as long as they need to be.
In other news, if you're on Goodreads, come say howdy at my Goodreads author profile.
Last night I finished the Estelend story I was working on. It ended up at about 9,600 words, but will probably get longer when I go back and flesh out some things. My jury duty is postposed to April 2, so this week I think I'll do the companion short story, the backstory on one of the major characters. The whole thing is written out in my head, so it's just a matter of typing it. Once it's actually written, I'll go back and start editing/revising the short fiction from this challenge (three short-shorts, a long short, and a medium short) to make them suitable for human consumption.
Prep for the manuscript markup on Chosen of Azara should be completed tomorrow, so I'm right on pace with that.
I participated in a blog fest put on by Indies Unlimited yesterday, and found some good new reads. From music commentary to exotic travel to expat life to fantasy adventures to lolcats to the joys of being a woman of a certain age, you can probably find something fun to read in the links and blog roll, over to the right in the sidebar.
One of my favorite writing quotes:
If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison
This is why (or a big reason why) I started writing. There were stories I wanted to read that I couldn't find on the bookshelves, so I decided to write them myself. In the fantasy novels I had read up to that time, wizards never got to fall in love. Or if they did, they never got to do anything about it. Kings and princes and warriors and farmboys-with-destinies, yes, but not wizards. And I thought that was unfair, so I decided to write a novel where a wizard got to have a romantic relationship. That's a little bit of what my very very first ever novel is about, and one day I will dust it off and give it a good revising and editing and set it loose into the world.
On the grander scale of things, what is there that won't be done if you don't do them? What songs won't be sung, pictures painted, blankets knitted, meals cooked, jokes told, smiles brought to someone's face, if you don't do it? Find that something, and do it.
So, yesterday, 1034 words written of a story that didn't exist before, and 1302 words today. I'm halfway through the next-to-last chapter of a story that languished for years as a couple of paragraphs and a few lines of dialogue. In a few more days, it will exist as a whole, new, complete thing (if in need of a good whipping-into-shape). There aren't a lot of things more satisfying than that.
Pre-camp challenge, days -11 and -10. 655 words yesterday, and 1161 words today. Evil conspiracies, a fight, and some serious smooching. :D Why I love writing.
This project might not even get to novella length; it might end up in the neighborhood of very long short story. But this story has been waiting a long time to get told, so I don't think it minds how long or short it is. And there are no length requirements in self-publishing as there are in conventional publishing. Stories can be as short or long as they need to be. An awkward length no longer needs to be a reason for a story to not get written and published, and stories no longer need to be cut down or padded out to meet some arbitrary length guideline.
This is a good thing.
Good writing day today. I finished phase 1 of the Chosen of Azara revision and started phase 2, and wrote 1594 words on the Estelend novella. Also, yesterday, one of my test readers for Lost Book of Anggird reported that his cat was mad at him because he was so engrossed in the story that he wasn't paying enough attention to her. Words to warm a writer's heart - though I did convey my apologies and a virtual belly-rub to the cat.
I want to mention a few things I've been reading and enjoying lately by other independent authors. I'm thoroughly enjoying A Fistful of Divas, a western-mystery serial by Camille LaGuire, featuring her young gunslinger couple Mick and Casey McKee. Give it a try; if you like it, there are also a couple of other short stories, a novella, and a full-length novel about Mick and Casey available. Ms. LaGuire has also written a number of other mystery and adventure novels and stories.
I've also been going through Lindsay Buroker's steampunk/fantasy Emperor's Edge novels (and related novellas and short stories) like chocolate. Adventure, action, suspense, engaging characters, magic, amazing technology, and a touch of romance make this series addicting. Ms. Buroker also has a steampunk series set in the Yukon Gold Rush.
Finally, I just started reading Child of the Ghosts by Jonathan Moeller, and am finding it hard to put down. I'm only a quarter of the way through the first book in a six-book series, but so far the story is compelling and, like the other stories I've mention here, keeping me up waaaay too late at night. Mr. Moeller also has a number of other fantasy and science fiction series available.
If you're looking for something new and different to read, something outside of the ordinary, consider giving one of these independent authors a try.
Wrote 1486 words today, to replace what I lost last night and finish up that chapter. While I was thinking through this chapter today, my muse bopped me on the head with a realization: One of the characters in this story is also a character from another unfinished story. I had started that story and then realized I had no idea where it was going or what would happen to the main character. Well, now I know - she ends up in this story. So now I can write that other story as a prequel to this one. I love it when things just fall into place like that.
Today I got most of the next section of the thing I'm writing (note to self: think of a working title, at least) and then my computer crashed. Froze up completely, said there's been an error, then went black and came up with a very ominous sounding message: BOOTMGR MISSING.
Ok, even *I* know that a missing boot manager probably is not a good thing. So first I panicked, then I got on the phone with my son the computer guy, who walked me through figuring out what to Google on my Kindle Fire *huggles Kindle Fire* and started taking me through the steps. Normally I'm good at figuring out what to Google on my own and following directions, but I was still kind of panicking and my brain wasn't functioning right. We got to where it says press the F8 key, which I did, and nothing happened. Repeatedly. To make a long and stupid story short, he had my husband burn a system repair disk on his laptop, and after several go-rounds and errors and false starts and restarts and stuff, my computer is finally restored and working again. And everything's peachy.
Except I lost the 1000 words or so that I wrote right before the crash.
But it could have been much, much worse. Everything else important is backed up to SugarSync, Dropbox, and an external hard drive. Last summer when my old computer died, I was afraid it was my media storage internal hard drive that had gone belly-up and that I had lost my music and videos. I also had photos on that drive, but I back up my photos to online storage. It still would have been a pain to get them all back onto my computer. Fortunately (I guess), it turned out the problem was with the motherboard, which was about to blow, and all my data was safe. Still, I went out and bought a portable external hard drive, which now stores backups of everything. Music, photos, videos, documents, ebooks, everything.
So, a couple of lessons here. First of all, make yourself a system repair disk for your computer now, before you need it. I was lucky that there are two other working computers with the same OS as mine in the house, and one was not being used for video games at the time, so I was able to get a system repair disk made. Go in the control panel, poke around until you find stuff about system repair and maintenance, and follow the directions. Or, if you don't feel computer-savvy enough to do that, have a more knowledgable relative or acquaintance help you. Or, shoot, get the guys at your friendly local computer repair shop to do it for you.
The other thing is, backup BACKUP BACKUP!!!!!!! In at least 2 places, online and external drive, even on a thumb drive if you must, though those aren't really intended for backup but for toting files around and can give out without warning. I use Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) for my writing files, and also back up my writing files and other important files to SugarSync and Dropbox. If you don't have one or the other, sign up, it's free. And if you sign up through one of my referral links, we each get a bonus chunk of free storage:
And it's late, and I'm too tired to re-write those thousand words. I'll try again tomorrow.
First chapter of the novella written, 1161 words. Still no title, because I'm not very good at titles. Hopefully one will come to me as I write, so I'll have something to refer to this project as. A quick summary: it's about a scholar in possession of a very sensitive document who has been ordered to bring that document to the capital, and the unconventional guard who's been assigned to him. Danger ensues.
As I mentioned before, I got the idea for this story from a small fragment of an old project. I started writing 23 years ago, and I think I have every story fragment, finished and unfinished novel, and half-baked idea I ever came up with. Some of those ideas have been around since my very first DOS computer, which my dad gave me as a present for my Master's Degree graduation/first Mother's Day in 1989. They've migrated over six (or maybe more) computers, from DOS to Windows ME (ugh), XP, and 7, through a succession of hard drives, and from 5" floppies to 3" floppies, Zip disks, and now to assorted external drives and cloud backup. There's even a handwritten novel chunk, which I'm working on typing in. So I've saved all these novels and half-novels and idea fragments all this time, thinking maybe I'd get back to them someday. As I look back on them, there's some pretty good ideas in there. The writing makes my eyes bleed - I think I've improved in the last 23 years - but the ideas are good. A lot of those abandoned ideas aren't enough for a full-size novel, but the rise of independent e-book publishing has also seen a return in popluarity of the novella and novelette. No more discarding ideas because they don't fit into the arbitrary word counts required by conventional publishing.
I also still have the first novel I ever wrote, and a completed sequel which I had totally forgotten I had finished. I remembered the idea, but not that I had actually written it all the way to the end. These are on my list to evaluate for possible rewriting, revision and eventual release.
The point of this rambling, I guess, is to say, keep all your old ideas. Even if they don't seem like they're going to go anywhere, you never know what you might do with them in the future.
(Though I'll admit I threw away the original handwritten version of The Lost Book of Anggird once I completed the first draft of the new version because it was so bad.)
Wrote the third of three weird-fantasy-ish shorts tonight. "Mistress of the Mirror," coming in at 1,061 words. This one didn't weird me out as much as last night's story did, but it's still pretty strange.
Watch for all three shorts from this challenge to be posted here on the site, probably sometime next week. In the meantime, tomorrow I'll start the Estelend novella (set in the same world as Chosen of Azara). Target word count: 22,500, or 1500 words a day.
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