NaNoWriMo, Week Four.

I did it. I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. Plus five extra words because sentence.


For NaNoWriMo 2015, I set out to write a bare first draft of Bandits of Celadon, without sub-plots and with minimal description. I finished that two days early, as I closed in on 47,000 words. To qualify for NaNo, I then wrote an extra chapter from one of the sub-plots. That got me to within 200 words of the goalpost with one day to go, so I  wedged in a few sentences where I thought the narrative was jumpy.

Bandits is not a finished product. If I was building a china cabinet, I’d say we haven’t done the glass, the stain or the fancy handles yet. But you can see the overall shape of the piece, and get an idea of how the wood will look. I’d say it’s coming along nicely.

As you can see on the ramp graph above, I stuck very close to the par value of 1667 words per day. That’s an unprecedented amount of writing for me. My first novel, Avians of Celadon, didn’t hit 50,000 words until at least seven months in.

During the month, I uncovered some plot problems and found ways through them. I got help with metal-free barrel construction from a master cooper I met recently, and my trusty volcano expert came through for me as well. I still have some tweaking to do on the time-line; in this version, things tend to happen too fast.

The bad guy is a bandit chieftan on horseback, and the main character is a girl who hears voices from a higher (technological) power. I was struck by a sudden notion for a pitch: Genghis Khan meets Joan of Arc. I’m fighting the temptation to put an arrow through her shoulder.

Thanks to an Odyssey course, I was able to show more and tell less. I’m also pleased that I included smell, sound and touch and occasionally taste as I went along, rather than leaving the senses for separate pass through the manuscript. Now I’m going to let Bandits ferment for a while before returning with my angry red pencil.

I also began to develop ideas for Caravans of Celadon. In particular, Raven and Denver are going to find ways for the Avians and Caravanners to work together. I’m looking forward to that.

I had better pick up the pace on submitting short stories and querying agents; I got neither of those things done in November. One of the few stories I still have out in the market was rejected last week after a pro publication took a very long look at it. It was a nice rejection letter, one of my longest yet. Sigh.

In December, I’ll be revising the opening scenes of Avians in preparation for a submission opportunity in January. My critique group gave me some great ideas for that, and I’ll be meeting them again in just two weeks.

Let’s see if the work ethic I found for NaNo can be maintained.

No, I Did Not Get Published in 2014

About one year ago, I split this blog off from my travel blog, so that my foodie friends wouldn’t have to suffer through my writer’s angst and my writing friends wouldn’t have to put up with my wine snobbery.

At that time, I announced that my goal for 2014 was to get published, and that since my novel probably had a long row to hoe, I would be putting my efforts into writing short stories. I enjoyed this, and I learned a lot from writing some shorts. I had some success; I won the Speculative Fiction category for the annual NOWW (Northwestern Ontario Writer’s Workshop) contest for “Fermi High” a YA story about roller-skating on the moon. Outside of NOWW’s magazine, I did not get into print in 2014. I’m pretty philosophical about that. In retrospect, setting the goal of getting published in a particular year seems naive. Like a young single who vows, “I’m going to get married this year.” Maybe you need to meet the right one first, and build a relationship. So I’m carrying on with my search for an agent or publisher for my novel, and I’ll continue to try and find homes for my handful of short stories, and even write a few more. My writing will improve, and my time will come when it comes.

My day job is as a pilot, and when I’ve had career setbacks or problems with that, I’ve always tried to move forward. Learn new skills, add to the qualifications on my licence with new ratings or endorsements, that kind of thing. I have taken the same approach to my writing.

I enrolled with Odyssey for an online course on Showing versus Telling, and spent January slogging through the assigned work: analyzing and writing and critiquing. I put dozens of hours into the homework, and I got my money’s worth and more. I also had fun! I learned a ton of stuff about the title topic, and even more about critiquing and crafting a scene. I even got to rework one small segment from my novel, and it was revelatory to see the comments of my instructor and fellow students. It made me a stronger writer, and I’m developing new ideas for parts of my book now.

It didn’t make the 2014 cut-off, but my flash fiction “Freezer Burn” was accepted by Antipodean SF and appeared in January 2015, issue 199. The audio podcast is due out on Valentine’s Day, in my own voice.