Sunday, November 10, 2019

All Aboard the Crazy Train

I sent this quote to my best bud Jamie this week:
You are doing this because you are fantastic and brave and curious. And, yes, you are probably a little crazy. And this is a good thing.
— Chris Baty

As soon as I saw that quote I started hearing Ozzy Osborne’s “Crazy Train” in my head. I’ve always thought of it as my theme song. In fact, I’ve been on that train so often I could probably drive it.

Anyway, I must be crazy because I’m still plugging away at NaNo. As I type this, I’m 6,000 words behind. When this is posted I’ll be behind by 7,667 (when you add on the daily 1667). Hopefully by the end of the day I’ll close the gap at least a little.

I’ve changed the beginning a few times, added a prologue, decided to add journal entries to the beginning of each chapter – which can be as time consuming as an actual chapter. And I’ve been struggling with the words themselves. AND I’ve done a crap ton of research on rogue planets and gas giants before deciding the Illezie have only disguised their planet to look like a gas giant. All that time wasted. *sigh*

Then yesterday I actually parked myself in my office, and after hemming and hawing over the words I’d written during the past week I finally convinced myself that I needed to stop worrying and start writing. No one’s ever going to see this but me, so it really doesn’t matter whether it makes sense or not. All that matters is it gets written. Which is kind of the point of NaNo, isn’t it?

So then I pulled out my trusty Neo and made some actually progress – I always seem to write faster on my Neo, maybe it’s because it’s free of distractions. Of course some of that progress was an info dump that I was going to use in the journal entries, but whatever. Words is words.

Goals for the Week:
Forget the anthology (for now) this week is going to be all about catching up on my NaNo word count. This means I have to write 815 words a day in addition to the required 1667. No mean feat considering I haven’t hit the daily goal yet.

I was going to leave you with Ozzy’s version of Crazy Train, but this one was impossible to resist. LOL

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Crap! It’s Thursday!

How did Thursday sneak up on me so quickly?

As you can see, I’m still woefully behind words-wise on my NaNo novel. It’s still early yet, lots of time to catch up. Possibly. Maybe. Hopefully.

As well as adding a prologue that I re-wrote about three times (a NaNo no-no but it was important to the rest of the book) I also kept changing my mind about where exactly it was going to start. Hopefully now that I’m pretty sure I’ve got that right it’ll go a little quicker, if not easier.

And yeah, I am starting each chapter with a journal entry. Or an excerpt from historic records, to be more precise. It’s actually kind of fun – I don’t even have to come up with an actual prophecy, I can just hint at it.

I was going to use the prologue as my excerpt, but it’s over 1,000 words, which is kind of long for an excerpt. So instead I’ll share a piece from the opening of chapter two (which was going to be chapter one before I decided I needed to start further back).

For those of you familiar with the series, this excerpt is about Kaine, whom we met near the end of An Elemental Water. He was a guard who was in love with Nereida, sister of Kairavini (the water elemental).

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, this excerpt is about Kaine. :-D

It was dark, he was surrounded by it. He couldn’t see, couldn’t move, but he could feel. Loss, despair, anguish – the same feelings that had drawn him to her in the beginning. So much pain, but underlying that an astonishing strength of spirit. The strength of her spirit was such that it had been a shock the first time he’d laid eyes on her, so painfully thin she was more skin over bones than flesh and blood. But he’d known in that moment she was his beloved and that he’d do anything, risk everything, to save her. But in the end she’d left him behind. Alone.

“Not alone,” her voice whispered in his mind. “Never alone.”

He felt the fear, almost overwhelming, hers and the others as he worked at the master lock to the doors, felt the heat as he lead the way through the tunnels of the active volcano. He felt her growing weaker in his arms as they finally reached the shore on the other side. And then he felt only despair as her spirit became closed to him.

“I am with you always, my love.”

A speck of light in the darkness, moving closer, resolving itself into the form of a woman. She was tall and thin, but with a healthy glow to her skin unlike the sickly grey tone he was used to. Her hair was long and flowing, and the eyes . . . the eyes were her eyes.

“It is almost time, my love. Soon we will be together once more.”

“You are not real,” he said, but without conviction.

“Soon, my love,” her voice whispered to him, and she turned away.

He could not help himself. “Nereida!” he called . . . and woke up.

Kaine was sitting up in bed, one hand outstretched as though reaching for her. As he recognized his surroundings his hand dropped and he took a couple of deep breaths. This was the fourth time in the last week he’d had the dream, and it was getting more intense each time.

Throwing back the covers he got out of bed.

“Lights, thirty percent,” he said.

He knew by now there was no point in trying to get any more sleep, what he could use was a drink. Pulling on his clothes from the day before, he ran a hand through his hair by way of combing it, and left his room for the lounge.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

It’s NaNoing Time! (God Help Us All)

I freely admit I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be on November 1, but then I’m not usually. At least this year I had my idea ahead of time. Not that it’s doing me any good. There’s a lot of research to be done and I’ve already had to adjust the events I want to have happen because they’re just not scientifically possible. However, as research quite often does, it closed one avenue while opening another.

See, the whole elemental series is rooted in a prophecy that was predicted way back in the mists of time. And to make it even more complicated, it connects back to my very first, unedited, badly written, first novel, the idea for which I came up with in high school. And I really need to start writing some of the pertinent information down so I don’t forget any of it because this was not the only prophecy to set things in motion.

Anyway. I was kind of hoping there’d be a center to the universe, but there isn’t. However, I learned that just as planets orbit a sun, galaxies orbit the universe and that might work even better because I need there to be an extreme amount of time passing between the prophecy and the fulfillment of the prophecy.

I still only have a vague notion of said prophecy, and it’s really something I need to share for the reader to understand what’s going on. Unfortunately, it’s going to take me a while to figure out exactly how to word it properly and I don’t have that kind of time. Plus, starting with a prophecy would be kind of boring, I really need to start with some action. There’s only one solution.

*heaves a big sigh*

I’m going to have to start each chapter with a journal entry, like I did in Elemental Fire and Elemental Water. Something I swore I’d never do again.

Goals For The Week:

At least 2 more stories edited for the new anthology
Catch up and stay on track for NaNo.

Don’t forget to check back Thursday for an excerpt!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy All Hallow’s Eve

As you can see, I did not get my monk story written for today. While the picture intrigues me, I can’t decide whether the monks were good or bad. So I will write the story . . . some day, just not today.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t just leave you hanging so I thought a little poetry might be in order. I wrote this poem a few years ago because I wanted to write something about the Wild Hunt, but I couldn’t come up with an idea for a story.

For those of you who care about these things, this poem is written in the Zejel form.


The Wild Hunt makes its ride tonight
underneath the pale moonlight
a rare and yet a chilling sight.

First the horn sounds loud and fey
Then the hounds begin to bay
And soon the riders are away
To seek a soul, as is their right.

I hear them as they thunder past
They take their freedom while it lasts
These hunters that are unsurpassed
The huntsmen on their quest this night.

Damned are these souls that come from hell
who, in dishonest battle, fell
and now condemned to ride the dell
in search of one more fallen knight.

Merciless, they seek their prey
or any soul that’s lead astray
They’re focused on the need to slay
to set the ancient wrongs aright.

Beware the Hunter’s moon, my friends
Take heed to what the sight portends
The Wild Hunt rides when it ascends
A rare and yet a chilling sight.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Back On A Whole New Track

Despite the lateness of this post today, I feel like I’m getting back on track, albeit a brand new track. Last week got really busy towards the end and it kind of got away from me. But I’m here now, right?

Alrighty then.

As you know, I was trying to put together an anthology of my darker flash stories in time for Christmas. It’s not that I didn’t have enough stories for at least a slim volume, but they all needed work (and my head’s just not in edit mode these days), and who wants to read horror at Christmas? Okay, well some people do, but not the majority of people the anthology is intended for.

So the dark anthology has been scrapped until the new year, and the new plan is to have it ready for next Halloween. This lets me take my time and perhaps it won’t be just flash stories, I have a few longer ones that would fit the bill too.

But I haven’t given up the idea of a book flood anthology. I have a number of lighter stories that will work, and they’re in much better shape than the darker ones. So cross your fingers for me.

Meanwhile, I promised to talk about NaNo for those of you who haven’t yet discovered the joys of writing in a pressure cooker.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short) takes place during the month of November. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days – that’s 1667 words per day. Now they’ve redesigned the website and I don’t find it as easy to navigate as it used to be, so if you’re looking for the full history of it, you might want to do a Google search.

In a nutshell, it started in July of 1999 with Chris Baty and consisted of 21 writers. They had such fun that in 2000 it was moved to the month of November (because it’s such a grey and dismal month and there’s nothing better to do) and they created an official website as well as a few ground rules: you had to use new words only, you couldn’t have a co-author, and your word count had to be verified by the end of the month. They had 140 people sign up – about 30 of them finished.

The next year, to Baty’s astonishment, 5,000 people signed up with 700 finishing, and it’s been growing steadily larger ever since. Last year there were 287,327 participants with 35,387 finishing.

I first attempted NaNo in 2006. I say attempted because I had no clue what I was doing and my story ended at 35,000 words. I missed the next year but in 2008 I completed the challenge, as I did for the next 6 years in a row. I did not participate in 2015, figuring I had enough un-finished books on my hard drive, but I got back in the saddle in 2016 and have been participating ever since. You might find it ironic that my 2017 novel is a sequel to my failed 2006 one.

NaNo is fun, NaNo is frustrating, NaNo is addictive. I totally regret the year I skipped it – I felt itchy the whole month and didn’t really get anything else accomplished. And I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s something that can’t be duplicated at any other time of the year. Under a deadline? Why not try a January NaNo? Nope. Doesn’t work. You have to do it at the same time as the other crazy people around the world.

If you’d like to learn more or sign up, visit their WEBSITE. As I mentioned, they redesigned the site so I’m finding it a little difficult to navigate these days, but I’m sure they’ll iron out all the wrinkles soon. And if you do sign up, look me up to be your buddy – I’m Carol R. Ward over there – and I’ll buddy you back.

Goals For The Week:

At least 3 more stories edited for the new anthology
Come up with a cover design for NaNo novel
Get my research done for NaNo novel
Come up with a game plan for NaNo novel

And since I won’t have an excerpt ready for Thursday, I’m hoping to have a monk story ready for you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Got Cheese?

You know, to go with all that whining I’ve been doing lately. ;-)

Here’s the part where I confess that I’ve been working on this blog post for the last two three hours. I keep deleting what I’ve written because it also seems rather whiny.

“This year’s been a struggle” – whine, whine, whine.

“I suffer from depression” – whine, whine, whine.

“I also have seasonal affective disorder and it’s raining” – whine, whine, whine.

So then I tell myself I need to be more positive, and myself sits back with her feet on my desk, sticking her tongue out and shooting rubber bands at me.

Take a deep breath.

The best writing I’ve done this year is when I don’t stop to think about it, I just do it. I don’t know if that’ll work so well with the editing, but I’m going to give it a try this week. I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not have my anthology edited before the end of next week, but that’s okay. I have an alternate plan for it which might work out even better.

In the meantime, if you saw Saturday’s post then you also saw the picture I posted with the suggestion it be used for this week’s writing prompt (which is why I’m not ending this post with a prompt).

I’ve been posting here on Saturdays and Tuesdays to make it easier on myself because I post on my other blog on Mondays and Fridays. I was going to switch the writing prompt to the Saturday post, like I did this week, and Tuesdays I was going set my goals for the week (with the results showing the following week) but that just seems weird to start the week on Tuesday.

Hmm. Maybe I’ll start setting my goals on Sunday and go to Thursdays for sharing and prompts. Well, for sharing anyway. I’ll probably just forget about the prompts for the month of November while I’m busy with NaNo. And maybe I won’t make the switch until the first of November.

Confused yet? Yeah, me too. LOL

In a nutshell. This week I’m posting today and Saturday – here’s the LINK to that post if you want to give the monk story a try. Next week I’ll post my weekly goals on Tuesday (this week’s goal is simply to get myself organized and moving forward), but then my next post will be Sunday, which will also be a goals post and my strategy for NaNoWriMo.

What’s NaNo, you ask?”

Come back Saturday and I’ll tell you. :-D

Saturday, October 19, 2019


As you may have noticed, I’m not having much luck getting my days organized lately, which also means I’m not getting a whole lot of writing/editing done either. I have all these ideas and good intentions and plans in my head, but something goes seriously awry between the thinking stage and the execution stage.

It’s kind of like learning tai chi. It looks so easy when I watch others do it, one movement flows into another in a graceful ballet, but when I try it myself . . . my feet and my hands don’t like working independently of each other and if I focus on one I lose track of the other.

The stories I’ve been editing were written quickly, with little attention to detail, the focus being on the story itself. Most of them are 1,000 words which makes for good flash fiction but I’m not sure if it makes for a complete story.

So I’m facing a bit of a crisis of conscience with them. Should I add more detail to flesh them out, or would that just be padding them to make them longer? Should I just leave them alone?

No, seriously, I’m asking you – I don’t have the answers.

The more I practice tai chi the easier it gets, just like I’m sure the decisions I’m making on the stories for the anthology will get easier. The routine, however, keeps eluding me as I try and find the perfect spot to work. I’ve been moving from the living room, to my office, to the dining room to work. All of them have their benefits, but none of them are perfect. The living room is the most comfortable, the office is most professional, the dining room allows me to spread my stuff out.

The real problem is my lap top. It has a sucky battery life, which means I need to plug it in wherever I go. At night the lap top is plugged into the powerbar in the living room, which means I have to crawl over the cuddle chair to get to it. It’s a big enough pain in the butt that I tend to stay in the living room even when I know I’m not being as productive (because when I get too comfortable I tend to play a lot of games).

It seems pretty obvious to me that I need to pick a place to work and stick to it. And admit to myself that I get more editing done on a hard copy than an electronic copy of a story. And stop playing so many games. And if I can’t see a way to improve a story I should just leave it alone.

All things to work on this week.

And what has that to do with the monks in the picture? Well, nothing really I guess. I was looking some old writing files for something wondrous to post here and found the picture in a folder. I really wish I’d labelled it with some kind of detail because it’s made me curious. Where was this taken? Are the monks carved from the remnants of trees or from stone? Who were they? So many questions!

This week’s prompt is the picture above. See if you can find some of the answers for next Saturday. :-)