I think NaNoWriMo brings out the best in a writer. Among other things, It shows us how much work we can actually crank out with a little discipline and a hard deadline. Here's one more thing NaNo reveals: How much time writers actually have if they really need it. Once I hit the 50k mark and moved from DOA to other work, I immediately noticed how much time I had.
I've been editing an SF novel I completed about a year ago. It's shorter than The Wreath, which makes it easier, but the science balances things out. There's science in The Wreath, how water molecules link into different structures depending on the state of matter, adhesive and cohesive qualities, etc., but science fiction rests to some extent on the science, and the people who read SF will want to know why something behaves a particular way, the physical laws involved, and other details that make future science work.
I spent some time sketching and painting. Here's one of the two main characters in the SF novel, Alex and Kaffia:
I thought I'd mention that a few days ago I passed my one year anniversary blogging. I think it's the trend for the blogger to link back to some favorite posts, so that's what I'll do:
I've dropped my Nano project and returned to work I started in January. Here's a painting of Corina (I sketched and painted while watching a movie tonight), one of the main characters in a story set in the same ocean world. Music plays a fairly significant role in this story, and she's a 20-something music student from San Jose who's pulled into the plot in the chapter 2. (Click on the image to see a larger version).
Chloe and I spent an hour this morning plotting out three intertwining revenge lines of a story. One's a straight, justified revenge. Someone kills, and the wronged pursues the killer. One's a misplaced revenge, with the wronged going after the wrong person. The reader knows the truth, sympathizes with both sides, but can't do anything to stop the avenger from going down the wrong path. The third's a completely out of proportion, self-destructive, headlong rush into death.
I did a little doodling while we talked, one of Kaffia, a character from a novel I'm trying to sell at the moment, a near-future SF. She's a hacker, so I had to give her a pair of Matrix sunglasses. The second's a scribbly view of Ochleros, a minor character in The Wreath, a descendent of Poseidon. (Gel pens feel so good on paper, I have to scribble).
It's probably obvious, but I changed some of the blog's look. Hope you like it. It's now kind of a wintry-ocean-y theme. Speaking of...are seagulls the toughest damned birds on earth? I've never seen a beach covered in snow before moving to the northeast US, but it is a beautiful thing, and it's crazy to see seagulls slipping on ice and wading through snow as if it was sea-foam.
I should mention that it's snowing here today. There's about three inches on the ground so far.
A couple other things, about the blog: hopefully it will load a little faster. The0phrastus should at least be a little less cluttered. I've placed my links and blogroll into expandable lists on the right, under "My Blogs." I've also removed Trackbacks because I never get any, and it was just more useless text on the screen.
I broke 50k! I'm happy to be here, but not particularly happy about the storytelling. I think I wrote well. It just didn't turn out to be the story I wanted. I started strong, with a sense of direction that sustained me through chapter 16 or 17, but then a lot of it went in strange directions, a new thread of force and motivation for the characters crept in. I lost track of two characters. They show up in the first few chapters, but I never returned to them, and their paths need to be added to DOA to make it complete. Oh well. Good to be done. There's always time to revise.
Chloe worked hard in the beginning, but I don't think she's going to make her goal. I didn't want to push her. I wanted it to be fun. For myself, there was a lot of forcing my fingers to work on the keyboard and my mind to come up with the next sentence, a difficult chore some of the time.
I have 25 copies of The Wreath coming in about a week, and I already have eleven reviewers lined up, most of them through the SCBWI listings. I'm saving a few for family, and then five for bloggers who want one. (Postage is on me, anywhere in the world. If you want one, email Chloe and me through the feedback form at Lykeion Books).
The Wreath went into distribution last night, and it's partially listed (No cover pic) at Barnes & Noble. No one else (Amazon, etc.) has it yet. What's strange about the B&N listing is the December 28 availability date. It's supposed to be early December, the week of the 6th. It may be that they haven't received an actual street date, and so they put it out a month or so.
I just finished Takashi Matsuoka's Cloud of Sparrows, and beyond being an enthralling tale of honor, combat, colliding cultures, love and history, there are a couple noteworthy qualities I have to mention here and study further. I love the wonderfully drawn images of historic Japan's structured society, warfare, bushido, samurai, geisha, peasants, eta. There's a light thread that runs through it, poking fun at the differences between the outsider and Japanese cultures.
But there's one structural element Matsuoka weaves through the story that I didn't predict: predictability. Sure Genji is prescient, which is murder on a suspenseful plot. How's an author supposed to build tension when the main character knows what's going to happen? But that's not who I'm talking about. It's Stark, who leads a very straightforward revenge thread of the plot, traveling around the world to finish off the murderer of his wife and children. From Genji, there was this East studies West with interest plotline. Halfway through the story I was sure Stark was going to reciprocate and go all Zen on me, walk the path, meditate, free himself of his hatred. Nope. It all went exactly as planned, and that's what stunned me. I didn't expect it to end the way it did because that's what I would have expected if the story followed a traditional line. Everything about the plot told me that that wasn't going to be the case, hints very skillfully positioned to steer me away, but that's how it worked out. I have to discover how Matsuoka accomplished this.