Thursday, October 23, 2014

NaNoWriMo Once Again

Oh oh, it's almost November.

And if you're a writer, you know what that means (or at least you should): NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. Why it's in November with Thanksgiving and the holidays and only 30 days, I don't know.

In case you're not sure what NaNoWriMo is, it is a challenge to write 50,000 in November. If you do that math, that's an average of 1,667 words per day. Every day. Including Thanksgiving.

I have sort of a love/hate relationship with NaNoWriMo. I have said I don't like it because I think it is responsible for producing a lot of crap writing. But, I like the ideas behind it which is embodied in two things I often say: "Just keep writing" and "Your first draft will suck, get over it and write the damn thing."

In fact, the NaNoWriMo group has you sign a contract stating (among other things):
During the month ahead I realize I will produce clunky dialogue, clich├ęd characters, and deeply flawed plots.  I agree that all of these things will be left in my rough draft, to be corrected and/or excised at a later point.
A lot of people write the crap, but forget the "to be corrected and/or excised at a later point." After NaNoWriMo, there is a lot of work left to do.

This year I'm, once again, planning to participate in NaNoWriMo. I am planning to write a sequel to Treasure of the Black Hole (which is not published, yet).  Treasure of the Black Hole was my NaNoWriMo novel from last year.

But I can't start writing it until November 1st (although I'm doing a little outlining and "pre-writing" now). ("Pre-writing" is when I think about something I'm going to write, but I don't start typing).

In the meantime I have a science fiction novel to edit (tentatively titled Alien Fleets War). And I need to finish up my western/fantasy mashup currently titled The Terror of Tombstone.

I want to have everything out of my way for NaNoWriMo because 1,667 word a day is a blistering pace and I don't need distractions.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Don't Want to Talk About It

Here it is, Tuesday, and I've yet to write about the University of Washington Huskies game against the Oregon Ducks. I guess I don't want to talk about it.

Going into the game I was cautiously optimistic. The Ducks looked vulnerable having been nearly beaten by WSU (of all teams) and losing to Arizona (a loss that knocked them from #2 in the AP poll down to #11).  They had climbed back up to #9 by the time they faced the Huskies.

Also, the Huskies had played very well in their win over California the prior week. I thought if we could play that well, have a little good luck, we might beat the Ducks for the first time in ten years. But what I didn't realize was that a key offensive player for the Ducks was out with injuries for the three games including the loss to Arizona. And he was going to be back for the game with Washington.

At first it looked good. On their first position, the Husky defense held the Ducks to a three-and-out and then the offense put the first points on the board with a field goal.

It went downhill from there. The Huskies didn't play awfully. They just didn't play as brilliantly as they did the week before. And if there was luck to be had, it all seemed to go Oregon's way.

The final score was 20-45. This was not as bad as it could have been.

The Huskies are 5-2 but are 1-2 in conference. Next week we face #14 Arizona State, another tough opponent. We need one more win to be bowl eligible and that will, unless we are lucky and very good next week, come against Colorado who are currently 2-5. That game will be November 1st.

I guess we're back in re-building mode. Seems we have been since the year we went 0-12.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Fran Orenstein and Frances Pauli

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we welcome Fran Orenstein and Frances Pauli.

Fran Orenstein


Fran Orenstein
Fran Orenstein, author of ten fiction books for kids, teens and adults, as well as numerous academic and professional articles and papers. The longer you live, the longer your bio, so please take the time to enjoy my story. Oh, and please visit My World at www.franorenstein.com

Fran Orenstein, Ed.D., award-winning author and poet, wrote her first poem at age eight and submitted a short story to a magazine at age twelve. Fran has been a teacher, written professionally as a magazine editor/writer, counseled people with disabilities, and also wrote political speeches, newsletters, legislation, and promotional material while working for New Jersey State Government for twenty-two years. She has written academically and wrote professional papers on gender equity and violence prevention, which she presented at national and international conferences. Fran managed programs for women in gender equity, early education, and disabilities, as well as serving as Special Projects and Disabilities Officer for the AmeriCorps Commission in New Jersey.


She has a BA in Early Childhood Education, a MEd in Counseling Psychology, and an Ed.D. in Child and Youth Studies.

Fran's book is:

The Book of Mysteries 

Fran's Links:

Website


Frances Pauli

Frances Pauli
Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction, usually with touches of humor or romance, which means, of course, that she has trouble choosing sides.
She's always been a fan of things outside the box, odd, weird or unusual, and that trend follows through to her tales which feature aliens, fairies, and even, on occasion, an assortment of humans.

More information on her work and upcoming releases can be found on her website: http://francespauli.com

Frances' books include:

Shrouded

Kundalis

Kingdoms Gone

Frances' Links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Pintrest
Google+

From the program today:



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Washington Huskies are 5-1

The University of Washington Husky Football team went on the road yesterday for their first conference away game (and second conference game). The Huskies have enjoyed being at home since their season opener in Hawaii. In yesterday's game, they faced California in Berkeley, and surprised a lot of people by winning against what was described as a "high-scoring" Cal Bear offense.

The Husky defense held Cal to 7 points and recovered two fumbles to add 14 to Washington's score. The defense is looking very good after the loss to Stanford two weeks ago (the Huskies had their only bye of the season last week), a game pretty much lost by ineffective offense.

But yesterday, the Husky offense came to the game, making scoring drives that were impressive. Once they started behind their own 5-yard line and drove all they way down the field to make a touchdown. While the defense was responsible for 14 points. the offense added 17 points for a final score of 31-7.

This despite officiating that seemed to favor the Bears. Ball placement on critical downs was bad for the Huskies, favorable for the Bears. The officials called a Washington player for a personal foul with targeting that pulled back a long run. But looking at the replay, there didn't appear to be any foul. Meanwhile, the officials ignored a blatant personal foul by a California player.

Next week the Dawgs face Oregon (this morning ranked #12). Oregon's national champion hopes are pretty much dead after their upset loss to Arizona last weekend. This shows they can be beat but they are probably not ready to lose again. The game is in Eugene, always a tough venue for visitors.

The Huskies are 5-1 overall (1-1 conference) so one more victory from being bowl eligible. If they can't pull off one more win in seven games left, they're in trouble.  However they do have a rough schedule going forward starting with the Ducks, then #20 Arizona, unranked Colorado, #18 UCLA, and #10 Arizona. But as good as the Huskies looked yesterday, they have a chance to pull some upsets.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Speculative Fiction Cantina with Barb Jones and Ken Hart

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we welcome Barb Jones and Ken Hart.

Barb Jones

Barb Jones
Having been born and raised in Hawaii, I loved telling stories ever since I was a child about vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, and witches.  I was a little girl who loved scary stories, much to my mother's dismay.  The scarier - the better.  Hawaii was a perfect place for stories until I moved to Seattle.  I decided to turn a love for the supernatural into writing stories to see if others would love them as much as I do.  Currently, I live in Florida but since I'm a Seattle girl at heart, my stories take place in the Northwest.  I continue to write supernatural stories of vampires, werewolves, witches, and more while enjoying the beaches and sunshine.

Barb's books are:

Queen's Destiny: Blood Prophecy One

The Adventures of Little Arthur and Merlin the Magnificent: The Baby Dragon

Little Arthur and Merlin the Magnificent: Meet the Knights

Barb's Links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter


Ken Hart


Ken Hart
Having been born on December 24 created an important life lesson; choose wisely, the best gifts are not always large, or heavy.  Armed with a high school diploma, I followed a family tradition of military service, and despite Army tours in Vietnam and Iraq, I continued to pursue my favorite activity of reading science fiction.  Now being retired, I have more time to pursue writing which I hope never to tire of.

Ken's Books are: 

The Eyes Behold Tomorrow

Ken's Links:

From the program today:


Flash Fiction Friday: The Formula

Today's Flash Fiction Friday selection is entitled The Formula.

Henderson walked into the diner. He scowled as he glanced around the place. He decided that if you looked up "greasy spoon" in the dictionary, this place wouldn't be clean enough to be the picture.

The changeable-letters sign read "Seat Your elf" (the missing "s" at the bottom of the sign). Henderson wondered what you were supposed to do if you didn't have an elf handy. Or perhaps it was like a "curb your dog" sign, the proprietors wanted to ensure all elves were seated.

He smirked and walked to a booth, sitting down on the vinyl that was shiny from too many asses sliding across it.  The table had a metal rim, grooved and riveted in place.  The top was red Formica that maybe looked cheap once. Now it just looked scratched and abused.

"What'll ya have?" the middle-aged waitress asked.

"I haven't had a chance to look at a menu," Henderson replied.

The waitress pointed to a rack against the window. "There's the menu, I'll be right back."

Henderson thought she was in an awful hurry. The place wasn't crowded. In fact, except for one man sitting at the counter and Henderson, it was empty. That was until she walked in.

She was tall, thin, with long dark hair. In this place she appeared like a rose among dandelions.  Old dandelions that had gone to seed, Henderson amended his thought.  She spotted him and walked over, giving him a chance to admire he long legs and hear her heels clack on the tile.

She slid into the booth.

"Nice place," she breathed.

Henderson frowned. "You picked it."

She smiled sweetly and her blue eyes flashed. "No, I didn't. But no matter."

"What would you like, ma'am?" the waitress asked. Henderson hadn't even seen her walk over.

"Coffee, black," the woman asked. "And a piece of pie."

"We don't have pie," the waitress replied. "Would you like a donut."

The woman's serene smile never wavered. "Sure, a stale donut to match my mood."

The waitress scowled, and Henderson thought for a moment she was about o protest that her donuts weren't stale, until she realized that, yes, they were.

When the rotund figure walked away the woman asked. "Do you have it?"

"Of course," Henderson replied. He reached inside his suit and pulled out a small vial of blue liquid. It shown with its own nacreous light.

"I need your account number," she said.

He handed over a slip of paper.  She extracted a smart phone from her clothes, and typed for a while, occasionally glancing at the paper.

"Is that secure?" Henderson asked, his voice tinged with  anxiety.

The look she gave him was one you might give someone who asked if the sky was blue.

"Done," she said. "You're a very rich man, Mr. Henderson."

He smiled broadly.

She held out her hand and he passed over the vial.

"And what are you going to do with it?" he asked.

"That wasn't part of the deal," she whispered.

"Neither was this," he said, and pulled out a second vial, popped the top, and drank it.

The woman stood up quickly, and started back off.  Henderson slid out of booth and walked slowly after her, the menacing look in his eyes caused even the waitress to take notice.

"I did a little research," Henderson said.  "You're not the CIA. You're working for the Chinese. Now why do the Chinese want my formula?"

The woman was still backing off.  Henderson wasn't surprised when she pulled out a gun.  He was a bit surprised by how fast he moved, and that in a fraction of a second the gun was in his hand and the woman on the floor, looking up at him.

"I'm CIA," she cried. "And you're in big trouble."

He smirked, pointing the gun at her.  "Then why does the CIA need a formula to make men into psychopathic killers? And why does a company owned by the Chinese government pay your expenses?"

Her face fell, letting him know he was right. His skills as an investigator hadn't changed even if he'd retired from the FBI to pursue his dream of inventing a serum that would turn men docile. But it had the opposite effect, and made them killers.  He never believed the CIA wanted it as this woman claimed, so he did some digging.

"What are you going to do?" the woman whimpered.

"Enjoy my money," he said.  "Now give me the vial."

She handed it over with trembling hands.  "Are you going to kill me?"

Henderson smiled.  "No.  I forgot to tell you one thing. The effect only lasts about three minutes. Just long enough to scare you into giving me back my vial of shampoo."

"Shampoo?"

"Yeah," Henderson said with a chuckle. "Just in case you got away, I didn't give you the real formula."

Two men walked in in business suits.  Henderson smiled at them. "Take her away, gentlemen."

"Who are you," the woman asked.

"FBI," one of them said, helping her off the floor.  The other handcuffed her. Henderson turned over the gun to them.

Henderson went back to his booth as they led the woman out. If she talked, and she would, that would help break up a Chinese spy ring in the U.S. He could feel the lingering effects of his formula tingling in his veins.

The waitress was staring at Henderson with her mouth agape.

"What's it take to get some service in this dump?" Henderson snarled.  Must be the last of the formula making him so rude, he thought. But with a hundred million dollars, he could afford to be rude.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cutting Room Floor II

When I edit, I usually make my work in progress (WIP) longer. I'm a very concise writer and am, in fact, too concise too often in my first drafts. (I used to hate school assignments that had length requirements such as 500 words or 10 double-space pages. I could usually say everything that was needed to say in less than the required length.) So after the first draft when I'm doing my edits it's nearly always "Oh, that needs more explanation" or "That needs more detail." I rarely cut.

But sometimes you have to cut. Part of being a writer is knowing what needs to come out.

I am finishing up edits on a WIP (that doesn't have a good title, yet), and I decided I needed to cut out the prologue. Now I loved this prologue. I worked very hard to make the characters sound as if they were in the 19th Century. I loved that it included a character from a later Adept Series novel, Gods of Strife. I loved the historical tie-in. But I had to be brutal with my writing (as all good writers are) and it had to go, all 1,098 words of it.

I've done this before, for the same WIP. That was because I went a different direction with my villain. Sort of the same thing happened again. I went another direction and the villain in the prologue ended up being more of a red herring.

So what did I cut? Well, here it is:

Prologue

Richmond, Virginia, Confederate States of America
April 18, 1865

"Lincoln is dead," the woman said, fixing her sky-blue eyes on Colonel Rogers. She was small of build and her blonde hair hid mostly under her hat. Despite the ruination wreaked upon the states of the Confederacy by the Union armies, she was dressed in impeccable clothes that looked as if they were the height of fashion this season in Paris or London. She wouldn't have looked out of place attending Sunday services at Monumental Church, Rogers thought.

"Some good news for a change," Rogers growled. He still wore his gray uniform with three stars at the collar.  "Unfortunately, Lee surrendered nine days ago. The Confederacy is over." He looked at the woman he knew only as Ariel. "What is the disposition of Secretary Seward and Vice-President Johnson?"

"Seward was only injured," Ariel replied in a plain, matter-of-fact tone. "Johnson is unharmed. Apparently Atzerodt lost his nerve and did not even make an attempt."

"Damn," Rogers spat. He looked at the woman. "Forgive me my language, please."

Ariel dismissed it with a smile. "Believe me, Colonel, I have heard far worse."

Rogers noticed her delicate features. She was an exquisite woman with eyes that seemed to show an inner sadness.

"Have any been captured?" Rogers asked.

"Not to my knowledge," the woman replied. "Not yet, at least."

Rogers breathed a sigh of relief. That gave him time to escape. Booth was ostensibly the leader of the conspiracy but he knew about Rogers' involvement and planning. Booth may have told the others. Rogers was a soldier in the Confederate Army, of course, but he doubted that would accord him any protection if it were found he was involved in the assassination of Lincoln.

"There is the matter of my compensation," the woman was saying as he thought.

"You were to back up Booth if he failed; he did not."

"Still, I am out time, trouble, money, and am fortunate the Union Army is not hunting me, too. We had an arrangement, Colonel, and I expect you to keep your part of the bargain."

Rogers glared at the woman. He was used to members of the fairer sex keeping their place. This supposed female assassin came highly recommended, but the plot had failed and even though it was no fault of hers, Rogers was in no mood for her insolence.

"It is over," Rogers said. "It is all over. And you want your thirty pieces of silver despite it."

Her blue eyes blazed as she looked at him. "I do not care about your Confederacy or your cause. I am paid to do a job. You will recompense me, Colonel, the $500 in gold I was promised. Promised by you, I might add."

"Or what shall you do, ma'am?" Rogers made his voice drip with disregard.

The woman smiled malevolently.

Rogers felt his body go stiff. He couldn't move, could barely breathe, and only his eyes moved under his own command.

"You will pay me what is due, Colonel," the woman hissed.

Rogers could not talk, could not react.

"Blink twice if you agree," Ariel said with menace clinging to her words.

Rogers blinked twice. Suddenly, his body came back under his control.

"Then it's true," he whispered.

"Yes," Ariel growled. "I am what some mistakenly call a 'witch,' but we prefer the term 'adept one.'"

Rogers remembered hearing that term before and that it was not wise to anger these "adept ones." He opened a drawer in the desk, pulled out a small canvas bag, and counted out 25 liberty head double eagle gold coins with a face value of $20 each. They were Union money, not the worthless Confederate paper dollars.

The woman scooped them up and deposited them in her purse.

"Thank you, Colonel Rogers." She said it in a sweet tone, as if he'd brought her flowers.

Rogers growled. That was part of the money he'd saved to escape to the West after the war was lost.

"Tell me," he asked, "if you have . . . powers, why did you not come to the aid of the Confederacy?"

She emitted a bright musical laugh with a lining of bitterness. "I do not believe in your cause or any cause, Colonel. I am a mercenary. Men have treated me with disregard and contempt my entire life, and you have no idea how long that has been. Now, I do what I wish to do, and I earn money with my abilities."

Rogers wondered what she meant by how long she had lived. She appeared merely twenty-five or so years in age, unless you looked into her azure eyes which seemed to show the pain of a long life. Perhaps these "adept ones" lived longer than normal men and women. He did not know. "But if you wished, you could—"

"But I do not wish," she said simply. "I must go now, Colonel. I thank you for your business."

She turned and walked out of his house, one of the few left standing in the capital of the Confederacy.

Rogers sat back. An idea formed. If there were more "adept ones," and if they supported the cause of the Confederacy, it may be possible to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It would take time, and money. But if he could do it the Confederate States of America would rise again. He didn't even know where to start, and perhaps his best lead had just walked out the door.

But if there were these adept ones in the Confederacy, there must be rumors of them. If he could find one, if they would help him, if they were powerful enough . . .

Rogers scowled. That was a great deal of "ifs." But if there was any hope to save the Confederacy, he'd take it. The rumors were that New Orleans was a favored spot for "adept ones." But that was only whispered gossip about something no one really knew existed.

Rogers counted his remaining gold. It might be enough. Whatever he did, he needed to move south before the Union Army captured Booth, and the man told them about Rogers. Travel would be difficult as the Yankees' campaign of destruction left few passable roads and fewer trains. Plus there would be the occupying armies ready to question anyone they deemed suspicious. He growled, unconsciously touching the Colt Navy revolver in the holster at his right hip. It wasn't a lot of protection, but it would have to do to get him to New Orleans.