NaNo Wrap-Up

I am not going to “win” NaNo.

And I’m okay with that.

Last weekend I had a melt down. It happens occasionally.  My neuroses get the better of me and I realized that something had to give. On Saturday night, I was willing to throw in the towel. My plan was to take the weekend off and return to working onLuck for Hire on Monday. Eric talked my out of my version of the plan and convinced me to keep working One Ahead for the next week. I wouldn’t win NaNo, but I’d come close. I decided that 45,000 words was a reasonable ending point. Haven’t hit it yet, but I will tonight.

The problem with NaNoWriMo is that it’s an abnormal situation, at least for me. On one hand, it’s nice to challenge yourself to reach farther than usual. On the other, sometimes a normal schedule is the better thing. I needed a normal schedule. October was not the rock it usually is. November has been busy on the VOTS side of things, more so than usual. December is going to different than usual too with our trip to Nebraska. And I needed a day off with nothing planned and nothing shirked.

For me, my NaNoWriMo’s mission has been accomplished. I have a nearly completed rough first draft of a novel that I didn’t have a month ago. Today, I’m feeling good about writing. That might not last long, but I’ll take it for today.

I’ll end this November with a link to Title to Come, a tumblr in the style of What Should We Call Me, but for writers. Truth is better when it’s funny.

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Throwback Thursday (11/29/12)

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

Noting that book blogging onften focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:

  1. Pick a book released more than 5 years ago.
  2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
  3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
  4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

A Writer’s Tale by Richard Laymon

For NaNoWriMo participants, the end is nigh. By Saturday, 50,000 words will have been written…or not.

I’m probably going to be in the “not” category, but with a messy ~45,000 word first draft of a future novel. For many writers, the question is “what’s next?” Well, next should probably be shoving that book in a drawer for a few weeks to let it ferment like good kimchi. Go drink a cup of holiday cheer and sing a few carols. Then take it out in January and edit, revise, and expand. Then think about how you want to go about publishing it. And maybe in the meantime, read Richard Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale.

Not as famous as fellow horror writer Stephen King (who also has a solid book on the subject, On Writing), Richard Laymon was more of a blue collar writer. He was  midlister who had initial success in the UK before becoming a backbone writer for Dorchester Publishing’s Leisure imprint. A Writer’s Tale is very honest about the midlist publishing industry in the 1980s and 90s, and about the amount of work it takes to be a consistently published writer. In the last ten years,  publishing has changed a great deal, but I think many of the writing lessons from Laymon still apply. My favorite is right at the beginning, in the dedication: “Persist and Prevail!” A lesson I need to be reminded of more often.

Even if you’re not a writer, why read this book today? Laymon was known for his personable nature and willingness to help new writers. That comes out in his writing about his experiences. It’s an entertaining read if you’re looking for a taste of publishing history from the nitty-gritty side. It’s also an interesting look at story development and contains a slice of horror history as well.

Mount TBR Challenge 2013

2013 Mount TBR Reading Challenge

Hosted by My Reading Block

  • Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2013. No ARCs (none), no library books. No rereads. [To clarify–based on a question raised last year–the intention is to reduce the stack of books that you have bought for yourself or received as presents {birthday, Christmas, “just because,” etc.}. Audiobooks and E-books may count if they are yours and they are one of your primary sources of backlogged books.]
  • You may count any “currently reading” book that you begin prior to January 1–provided that you had 50% or more of the book left to finish in 2013. I will trust you all on that.
  • Books may be used to count for other challenges as well.
  • More guidelines HERE

I’m signing up for Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s. I’ll start with these (maybe) and link up reviews when I have them:

  1. Hiding the Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer
  2. The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow
  3. The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr
  4. Grendel by John Gardner
  5. Leonardo’s Hands by Alois Hotschig

Christmas Spirit Update #1

I’ll be updating Christmas Spirit Challenge progress on Tuesdays through December.

Movies Watched

Elf (2003)

I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Despite many recommendations from family and friends, I had never watched Elf before. See, I’m really a Will Ferrell fan unless he’s not being very Will Ferrell-like (example, Stranger than Fiction). Elf always seemed like it would too over-the-top for me. And it is over-the-top, but it’s also a really sweet film with a good heart. Buddy the Elf is charming in his naivete, very much like the Folly character that I’ve played around with in my writing. The story is a little amorphous. I expected the redemption of James Caan’s character to be more of an event; instead it just sort of happens, which is okay. It keep Elf from being overly sappy and cliched. Of course, the end is all about believing in the spirit of Christmas and, I’ll admit it, made me a little teary-eyed.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

I’ve had a really lousy Christmas. You’ve just managed to kill my New Year’s. If you come back on Easter, you can burn down my apartment.

While You Were Sleeping probably isn’t generally considered a Christmas movie, but it does take place over the holidays and, despite its theatrical release in April, it’s a film I always equate with the December. (Actually, that movie poster is deceptively spring-like as well…) I am very biased toward this movie. It is my favorite romantic comedy, a genre that don’t watch too often. It has all the meet-cutes, the misunderstandings, and the zany cast of background characters that one expects from a good chick-flick. It also had an aspect of random comedy that is really fun to watch and rewatch. Every single performance is great.

Short Stories Read

Added to the Reading List

There are quite a few free Christmas Kindle out there if you’re still looking for additions to your reading list.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (11/26/12)


You know what I’ve missed during November? Book blogging. NaNo plans are winding down, so I think it’s time to get back in to it.

This Week I’m Reading:

Moscow But Dreaming by Ekaterina Sedia

The first short story collection by award-winning author Ekaterina Sedia! One of the more resonant voices to emerge in recent years, this Russian-born author explores the edge between the mundane and fantastical in tales inspired by her homeland as well as worldwide folkloric traditions. With foreword by World Fantasy Award-winner Jeffrey Ford, Moscow But Dreaming showcases singular and lyrical writing that will appeal to fans of slipstream and magical realism, as well as those interested in the uncanny and Russian history. (Goodreads)

An impulse grab from NetGalley. Pretty cover and it’s been a while since I’ve read anything particularly Russian.

Short Story of the Week:

I’m doing some seasonal reading: Brass Canaries by Gwendolyn Clare  and Christmas Wedding by Vylar Kaftan for this week.

The Usual:

A poem, a section of Poetic Edda  & two chapters of A Clash of Kings.

What I Read Last Week:

Still working my way through Carter Beats the Devil. Writing about magicians and reading about magicians makes for some phantasmagoria of the mind.

I will also admit to reading quite a bit of Sherlock fanfic. Did read “His Last Bow” as well last week. It is of course the obvious item of speculation concerning the word “bow.”  It seems reasonable, and I could actually see this being the basis for the first episode of series 3 with Holmes coming out of hiding after his death. (Although, wouldn’t it be interesting if the entirety of series 3 involved Holmes working from the background? That could work.) Anyway, I’m about this close –>||<– to another Holmes-a-thon.

NaNo Progress Report #4

November is less National Novel Writing Month and more National Crappy First Draft Writing Month. NaCraDraWriMo. I think I like it.

I have 16,200 words left to write in 8 days. Most of my writing days this month have been 2000 word days, but I’ve not managed more than four 2000 words days in a row. After fumbling around, I do have some idea of where I’m going, kinda sorta. “Winning” NaNoWriMo isn’t impossible; it is unlikely.

Not much to say about this week. Couldn’t get anything going Monday. I finally got the boxes of my grandparent’s stuff that I packed when I was in Omaha. Spent the evening morose and manic, cleaning and putting stuff away. Recovered with a 3000 word day. Yesterday was too much of a holiday. I did get a few words written, but couldn’t muster the motivation to get much done before heading up to Mark & Tricia’s for Thanksgiving dinner.

Book # 34

Dark Water by Koji Suzuki, Glynne Walley (Translator)

I read the majority of this book on airplanes on the way back from Omaha. My return trip was strangely peppered with unusual events. Delay, further delay caused by an overhead bin that wouldn’t close, rush to make connecting flight in Denver, plane that had to turn around and re-land in Denver because the forward door wouldn’t close, deplane/replane. And as an undercurrent to it all I was reading uneasy stories about one of the things that disturbs me most: water.

The water imagery was one of the things that I found most unsettling about the film The Ring (2002). When I was writing up a Throwback Thursday entry for Suzuki’s Ring, it occurred to me that I had enjoyed the book, but hadn’t sought out any more of his fiction. A visit to PBS solved that with a book that firmly emphasized what I found deliciously creepy about the film and the book.

A thing that I’ve been paying attention to in my reading is how an author defines sense of place, or how the author wants the sense of place to be felt. Glen Hirshberg does a wonderful job of portraying numerous places, but there’s something to be said for the sustained world. Through out the stories in Dark Water the world, Suzuki’s Japan, is bright and clean and polished, but only on the surface. Below is rust and decay and ghosts of various sorts.

The collection has a wrap-around story of a woman and her granddaughter finding things at the beach. It is a foreboding set up. What things will be found? Generally, we’re led to believe that the things, the tales that follow, will be horrible. The first, “Floating Water,” is pretty grim and possibly the most traditional ghost story. Not all the ghosts in this book are the spirits of the undead. “Solitary Isle” is about ghosts of the past that manifest in real ways, as a child and a deserted artificial island. “Watercolors” uses the ghosts of past events to add depth to strange theatrical production.

Throughout there is a juxtaposition of the man made and the natural that begets a weird tension. I don’t know if that’s a particularly Japanese/Tokyo thing or if it’s something I feel being the product of sprawling, mostly land-locked cities. It feels to me that there is some worry that technology and progress have cheated nature, but nature will take her angry revenge in due time.  This is me talking from a place of little knowledge of Japanese literature. This is an observation and a hypothesis, not a full-blown theory.

Dark Water concludes in a gentle way, returning to Kayo and her granddaughter and the revelation of what Kayo considers to be the greatest treasure she’s found on the beach. It’s a comforting ending. A good woman lives a good life among all strangeness in this world.

Format: Trade Paperback
Procurement: PaperbackSwap
Bookmark: CVS coupon from its previous owner.