NaNoWriMo 2018 Update

Today is the 15th—the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo—so I figured I’d do an update.* So, how has it been going?

Word-count-wise, good. I had planned 25 days of writing 2000 words/day with five days off. I haven’t taken any days completely off, but I’ve definitely had a couple of (four) days of sub 1666s days. I’ve also four days substantially over 2000. My best day has been 2715 words which it possibly the best day of writing I’ve had in my entire *mumble mumble* years of writing. According to my plan, I should have 26,000 words written by the end of today. I’m currently at 25,069, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Story-progress-wise, eeeeehhh. I’m not good at story planning. I always feel like, if I plan, I’ll lose interest in the story. As weird as this sounds, I like to be surprised at what might come up while writing. This would be fine if I were good at finding my ways out of story holes, which I’m not. But I have a rough idea of where I’m going and am trying to keep the story moving in that direction. I’m also continually repeating “This is a first draft. First drafts are terrible. But you can’t have a second draft without a first draft.” I’ve been adding a lot of comments. The story will need a lot of work, but I can’t fix a story that doesn’t exist.

* Okay, actually, I figured I’d do an update because I don’t have a review ready. I’m reading The Coddling of the American Mind (which came off hold at an inopportune time) and a book about the last half of David Bowie’s career which I have slated to last until its publication date in February…

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Writing Update, 9/12

Writing Update pic
What’s Going on Work-wise?
I spent time last week and the week before formatting Eric’s Martian Engineer’s Notebook series. It took a little longer than I expected. The books are a deep dive into the science behind Andy Wier’s The Martian and have a lot of mathematical and chemical equations. The biggest hurdle, though, was wading through the Kindle previewer/exporter’s error messages. I’ve been formatting in HTML/CSS and creating my own .opf and .ncx files which are what Amazon uses to build the book’s .mobi file. I understand what I’m doing with each file, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally typo a link, save a file to the wrong folder, or designate something as a “class” instead of an “id.” Figuring out what I’ve done wrong from the error log is amusing/frustrating, but ultimately satisfying as are most debugging endeavors.

I’ve also finished the formatting for One Ahead: The Case of the Sorrowful Seamstress and this week I’m working on an editing pass. I’m 2/3rds through. And then I’ll start working on the cover. …I have very little idea what I want to do for a cover…

Since the beginning of September, I’ve also been reading up on the structure of mysteries. I’m not super great with plot, so I think I might want to try my hand at a more formulaic genre. While not exactly a “how-to” article, one of the more interesting essays on the subject that I’ve found is W. H. Auden’s “The Guilty Vicarage.” I’m toying with the idea of really planning a book leading up to NaNoWriMo. I do already have a character and setting in mind.

Recent Research Topic:
Related to that possible NaNo project, I’ve done a little research on how far into the 20th century the chautauqua edu-tainment movement lasted. Turns out, into the 20s, which is perfect for my purposes. As a shock to none, I’ve also been reading issues of The Sphinx to get a feel for what opportunities there were for working magicians post-WWI.

Writing Update, 7/25

Writing Update pic
How’s It Going?
Eh.

Well, Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is out of Amazon pre-pub review jail. I needed to remove a couple stories and I’ve since restructured it. I rewrote the pertinent intro materials, but now I’m not totally satisfied with the formatting (unrelated to the restructuring). So, I’m sitting on it for the moment.

I did reformat Bounded in a Nutshell, my anthology of short fiction. I’m really pleased with how it looks now. (And I realize now that I hadn’t “finished” the publishing process last night and my changes aren’t live. That might be my current state summed up in, well, a nutshell.) [Edit: But it’s updated now! If you want to toss a dollar my way for some (hopefully) entertaining fiction: Bounded in a Nutshell @ Amazon.]

I’m going to hit all our current books with formatting updates. Next up: Luck for Hire.

Writing Update, 7/11

Writing Update pic
How’s It Going?
Or rather, “Hey, Katherine, wasn’t some sort of anthology that you edited supposed to come out last week or something? What’s up with that?”

Reader, it’s been a rough couple of weeks…

Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is stuck in Amazon review jail. This is a good deal my fault. I don’t want to go into the whole story; I haven’t decided what the ultimate fate of the book is. This happened after I completely reformatted the manuscript in one day due to a problem with an embedded image. (These things are unrelated.)

But I’ve learned two things:

  1. Publishing public domain works through Amazon might be more work than it’s worth.
  2. I rather enjoy formatting ebooks. Maybe something should/will come of that.

So, I spent last week moping, building a palazzo in Minecraft, and deciding what to do next. I need to get back to work.

But it’s such nice place to hang out while my ms is in review jail.
(Created with Lord of the Rings Minecraft mod.)

Writing Update, 6/26

Writing Update pic
How’s It Going?
Good! I’m set to publish Our Past in the Uncanny Valley by Monday. Why Monday? July 2nd is the anniversary of its inception. The idea of an anthology of automata fiction came during a WesterCon panel on Victorian sci-fi. And below is the cover and table of contents:

“The Sand-man” by E. T. A. Hoffmann
“Automatons” by E. T. A. Hoffmann
“Maelzel’s Chess-Player” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Man that Was Used Up” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Artist of the Beautiful” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Bell Tower” by Herman Melville
“The Automaton of Dobello” by H. D. Jenkins
“The Mullenville Mystery” by Julian Hawthorne
“In Love with an Automaton” by anonymous
“The Ablest Man in the World” by Edward Page Mitchell
“The Artificial Man: A Semi-Scientific Story” by Don Quichotte
“The Automatic Maid-of-All-Work” by M. L. Campbell
“Ely’s Automatic Housemaid” by Elizabeth W. Bellamy
“Mr. Corndropper’s Hired Man” by W. M. Stannard
“The Dancing Partner” by Jerome K. Jerome
“The Automaton Lady” by E. E. Kellett
“Moxon’s Master” by Ambrose Bierce
“Mr. Broadbent’s Information” by Henry A. Hering
“How I Won the Derby” by E. E. Kellett

About This WIP

Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is a collection of automaton stories from 1810-1910. From E. T. A. Hoffmann’s nightmarish Olimpia to the enigma of the mechanical chess-playing Turk to a plethora of humorous later-century robot maids, these stories show that our current fears about artificial intelligences aren’t new at all.

Anything Else?

I’m also working on the second Entangled Tome. Entangled Tomes will feature newly formatted versions of lost classics and curated anthologies of works from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The first is Our Past in the Uncanny Valley. The second will be a reformatting of “Mephisto” the Marvellous Automaton which is a pamphlet about a chess-playing automaton—that isn’t the Turk.

Mephisto is putting me though my paces, formatting-wise, with images and tables and all sort of things. This is the first book I’m doing from the beginning in HTML. I’m enjoying the challenge.

Five Word Story Challenge

Balsamo
Balsalmo, from John Gaughan’s collection, Photo courtesy Michael Carbonaro

Lori @ Betwined Reads tagged me a couple weeks ago for this fun little writing challenge. I meant to get it done last week in place of my Wednesday writing update, but I’m not the best at keeping to a blogging schedule. Witness! this will be a Tuesday post.

The “Rules”

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Close your eyes, open to random pages, and point your finger on a random word in the last book you have read. Articles do not count.
  • Repeat the above rule 5 times.
  • List the 5 random words you have.
  • Create a 5 sentence flash fiction using your 5 random words. Each sentence must contain at least one word from your list. You can change the tense of the word as needed.
  • Tag 3 people.

The Stuff

Thanks, Lori!

Okay, I actually picked my words last week from the book I had just finished:  The Doctor and the Kid by Mike Resnick.

The Doctor and the Kid (Weird West Tales, #2)

My words: twisted, strange, justified, credibility, always.

My five sentences:

While the mainstay of his magic act was a talking skull, she had never thought of him as particularly twisted. Oh, sure, he was a little strange. Geniuses were justified in their eccentricities. But the contents of his workshop certainly lent some…credibility…to his reputation.

“He knows to always give any audience what they want,” grinned the skull.

My five sentences are somewhat inspired by the source material and the stories of automata that I’ve been reading and editing, but are mostly me reverting to a fanciful version of Joseffy and his marvelous creations, subjects I haven’t written about in a while.

I am terrible at tagging people. If you’re a writer, take some time out to do this exercise. It’s fun! And if you’re a reader, give it go too. Stories are everywhere!

Writing Update, 5/23


How’s It Going?
It’s going pretty well.

All the stories for Our Past in the Uncanny Valley are formatted. The introductory matter is drafted. Acknowledgements are done.

What’s left:

  • Front matter
  • Additional back matter
  • Table of contents
  • Introductions need to be polished and proofed.
  • Ticky-tack pass on the story formatting.
  • Finalize the cover.

That’s still quite a list, but I have decided on a release date: July 2nd. That’s the year anniversary of the WesterCon panel that inspired the anthology.

About This WIP
Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is a collection of automaton stories from 1810-1910. From the E. T. A. Hoffmann’s nightmarish Olimpia to the enigma of the mechanical chess-playing Turk to the plethora of humorous later-century robot maids, these stories show that our current fears about artificial intelligences aren’t new at all.