Category Archives: knights

Don Quixote

Don Quixote in the library Adolf Schrödter 1834

Don Quixote in the library by Adolf Schrödter 1834

Lately I have been on a Don Quixote binge. Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, volume I, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, and volume II, The Ingenious Knight,  written by by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedrais considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon (a body of books traditionally accepted by scholars as the most important and influential in shaping culture.)

As a founding work of modern Western literature,and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published, such as the Bokklubben World Library ( a series of classical books, mostly novels, published by the Norwegian Book Club since 2002) collection which cites Don Quixote as authors’ choice for the “best literary work ever written.” It is also said that the two parts of this masterpiece have been  translated into more languages than any book other than the Bible. 

Don Quixote had major influence on the literary community, as shown by direct references in Alexandre DumasThe Three Musketeers (1844) and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).

The Story:

Alonso Quixano, the protagonist of the novel (though he is not named until much later in the book), is a retired country gentleman nearing fifty years of age, living in La Mancha with his niece and housekeeper. Although he is mostly a rational man, his excessive reading of books of chivalry has produced a skewed view of reality and what we might consider dementia. In keeping with the theories of the time, not sleeping adequately–because he was reading–has caused his brain to dry. (I LOVE that!) As a result, he is easily given to anger and believes every word of these fictional books of chivalry to be true.

Don Quixote’s niece commits, what is to me, the most heinous crime–she and the Parrish curate burn his library, and lie to him, telling him it was the work of an evil magician. Criminal!!!

He decides to become a knight-errant in search of adventure. To these ends, he dons an old suit of armor, renames himself “Don Quixote”,  and renames his poor old horse “Rocinante.” Cervantes was a genius when he penned the horse–Rocinante is not only Don Quixote’s horse, but is a reflection of Don Quixote himself, ungraceful, past his prime, and in way over his head.

Don Quixote asks his neighbor, Sancho Panza, to be his squire, promising to make him governor of an island. Sancho agrees, and the pair sneak off in the early dawn. At this point their adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote’s attack on the windmills.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra created a wonderful, hilarious masterpiece when he penned Don Quixote. Even in today’s society the plot is relevant and and the characters leap off the pages. The extremes of the human condition are all laid out in glorious prose that has been beautifully translated to English in 2003 by Edith Grossman. The New York Times called Grossman’s translation a “major literary achievement.”

In the original version of Don Quixote there are basically two different types of Castilian Spanish: Old Castilian is spoken only by Don Quixote, while the rest of the roles speak a modern version of Spanish. The Old Castilian of Don Quixote is for comic relief – he copies the language spoken in the chivalric books that made him crazy; and many times, when he talks nobody is able to understand him because his language is too old. This comedic effect translates well to Modern English when the translator has Don Quixote use  Shakespearean English phrases.

I write fantasy, and I read widely. But to those purists who decry the work of genre fiction writers as being “created for the masses,” I would like to say this: it is quite clear that the modern perception of “fantasy” as having no literary merit is complete hogwash when you look at the books that make up the western cannon of great literature. ALL of them are fantasies of one sort or another, beginning with Don Quixote and going forward, and all of them were created for the enjoyment of the masses.

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Update from the Realm of Fantasy

cover_art_Billy_39_s_RevengeI live in a fantasy world, hence the name of this blog. What better way to immerse one’s self in fantasy than in a good book? I love to read, and everyone who follows this blog knows I read anywhere from 1 to 6 books a week.

I also love writing, and right now I have 4 projects in the works:

1. The remastering of Tower of Bones  at the very capable hands of Eagle Eye Editors.

2. Finishing the final draft of Julian Lackland so that it can be made submission-ready.

3. Finishing writing the first draft of Valley of Sorrows.

4. Getting Mountains of the Moon through the editing process at Eagle Eye Editors.

These projects take all my time that isn’t occupied with publicizing Huw the Bard (or editing for other authors, or blogging , or beta-reading, or…)

IMG727Just so you know that I really am writing when I am holed up in the Room of Shame (my office.)

Many of the stories in Julian Lackland evolved from The Last Good Knight, and while there is a great deal that is new, it incorporates all but two chapters of the old book. It details the large events from his life, covering 40 years, beginning as he is leaving court as a very young man, hoping to join Billy Ninefingers and the Rowdies.

Young Julian is a strange mix–incredibly naive about how the world really works but at the same time he is quite worldly-wise about the way people are, and incredibly forgiving. He has a wide view of sexual morality, and a sharply defined view of good and evil.

The other writing project that occupies my time is Valley of Sorrows, the third book in the Tower of Bones series.  I have struggled with that tale, trying to keep it confined into one book.  However, there will be a fourth book that comes out of the mountain of words I have written here. Edwin’s quest will be resolved first, and I hope to get it into print in 2015.

It’s a crazy existence, being a writer, but it’s so fulfilling. I wonder how I ever survived before I had such a wonderful way to spend my time.

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Dial-a-Plot

No matter how careful I am when building my outline, there is always a point where I am writing by the seat of my pants.  As I am normally rather a linear plotter, this can really change the direction a tale goes in.

I hear people whining all the time about this character or that one dying right and left in Game of Thrones. I don’t have HBO, so I’ve never seen it, but I have friends who seem to find this distressing.  I suspect that winging it and writing to a deadline is why people die  so frequently in George R.R. Martin’s world–it’s certainly how they meet a messy end in my world.

But how do we fly freely with our narrative, and yet not destroy the awesome story arc we have created? How do we avoid having to hide the mangled corpses of our beloved characters when they might be useful later?

Enter my home-made Dial-a-Plot (sustainably powered by dark matter).  It’s just your standard circular thingy that can be printed out and taped to your desk.  Whenever you have lost your way writing your epic fantasy, rather than resort to a sudden influx of something as far-fetched as cannibal fairies, feel free to refer back to this little gadget to remind you of those elements that really drive a plot.

Dial-a-Plot

When your writing mind has temporarily lost its momentum and you are stretching the boundaries of common sense, it can’t hurt to take some time to consider the central themes that inject true tension into the story, to keep the action moving and the heroes swinging their swords.

Hopefully you won’t have to resort to killing anyone you might need later, and cannibal fairies won’t take your tale in a direction you can’t recover gracefully from…unless…heh heh…Cannibal FAiries

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Fantasy and the cold hard truth

Saint_Alban_(cropped)In a good novel, there is a moment where the interactions between certain characters can become highly charged, fraught with anger and other intense emotions. That is the case with what I am writing now:  three of my characters spent a long time fighting alongside each other, brothers and sisters in arms, completely dependent on each other.

They have a long history. Several terrible incidents occurred during the war they once fought that they don’t understand, and which created a rift between them. Some of their close companions were killed under bad circumstances (are there ever any good ones?) and each of my characters suffers a little survivor’s guilt.

After the war, they went their separate ways and for the last 25 years, have rarely seen each other or spoken. They all bear a burden of responsibility for things they can’t change, and their lives are affected by this, although they don’t know why. For each of them, their anger and remorse are expressed in different ways.

Two of them can’t be in the same room for long without trying to kill each other.

One character in particular suffers disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and what we call ‘fight or flight syndrome,’ the uncontrollable urge to either fight or flee. These characters all three demonstrate varying degrees of avoidance,  withdrawal, aggressive defense, or in one case, complete frozen immobility. Certain memories trigger these behaviors, and now all three are being forced to face their demons.

My challenge is to bring these people back together with sensitivity and realism, in order to advance my story, and use only 1/3 of the allotted word-count for this book.

Does this sound like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? You’re right. For more information on PTSD, see an article  on the website, Military Pathways, and this news article aired by CBS on their show, 60Minutes.

Because it’s a new term, I can’t refer to this ‘injury of the spirit’ as PTSD in my manuscript. But I can give it another name and air both the symptoms and the sometimes life-long problems untreated PTSD causes.

GeorgeSPatton - WikipediaMy father, and my uncles all suffered from this long after World War II ended. In many ways it has shaped our post WWII society. Our fathers were told to just shut up and  get on with their lives–something that is not always an easy thing. Alcoholism and domestic abuse lay just under the surface of many families in our community, hidden but there.

Prior to World War I, the U.S. Army considered the symptoms of battle fatigue to be cowardice or attempts to avoid combat duty. While the causes, symptoms, and effects of the condition were familiar to physicians, it was generally less understood in military circles. General George Patton garnered substantial controversy after he slapped two United States Army soldiers under his command during the Sicily Campaign of World War II.

It was common for soldiers who reported these symptoms to receive harsh treatment. At the time of the slapping incidents, the two soldiers Patton assaulted were suffering from “battle fatigue,” otherwise known as “shell shock” or “battle stress.” Today, this condition is characterized as a form of PTSD, which can result from prolonged severe exposure to death and destruction, among many other traumatic events.

220px-Sir_Galahad_(Watts)

Even though I write fantasy, the reactions of my characters to certain situations has to be realistic, and that is where a good grasp of what really happens to our vets comes in handy. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is real and affects our returning veterans. More must be done to help ease our military wounded back into society, but generally speaking we pay more lip-service to that problem than we do tax dollars.

We write about incredible personal challenges, because they make great stories. But what about the people who live through those moments? How do they quietly go back to the farm once the war is over, and pretend it never happened? This is what I am writing about now, and it has been an emotional journey for me as as an author and a human being. Everyday, our paths are crossed by men and women living with PTSD caused by a variety of terrible circumstances,  They are just ordinary people trying to keep their lives together, not understanding why they sometimes do the things they do, and wondering why things just keep going to hell all around them.

 

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The road to perdition

I just attempted to read a book.  I say ‘attempted.’ It may have been based on an intriguing idea, and there might have been wonderful characters, but I wouldn’t know, because after three pages of reading, I had to set that travesty aside. Every sentence began with a GERUND.

Gerunds, © Connie J. Jasperson 2014

Now I know how this happens.  New authors who spend a lot of time in writing forums and writing groups, and who have had their work trashed by the group guru as being passive might see using gerunds as a way to generate action in their narrative.

dachshund.04But Mama, what’s a gerund?  Is it like a dachshund?

No dear, gerunds are not like dachshunds, although both are insidious minions of evil that manage to work their way into … where was I? Oh yes, gerunds.

ger·und

ˈjerənd

noun
  1. a form that is derived from a verb but that functions as a noun, in English ending in -ing, e.g., asking in do you mind my asking you

SO a gerund is a verb is a noun that acts like a verb that acts like a noun.

Now that I have cleared that up, what is it really?  A gerund is not like a normal noun because a gerund can take a direct object (just like a verb can).

Basically, they are ING words—DOING words that when you combine them with possessive words such as his, my, him and their, can become nouns.

Writing – He is writing.  (it’s a verb)  I like his writing. (it’s a noun)

Running – The dogs were running. (verb)   The child’s running through the house aggravated me. (noun)

BUT wait—gerunds can also be participles?–oh, those cross-dressing fiends!

Participle phrases always function as adjectives, adding description to the sentence without resorting to that most heinous of writing-group crimes, the dreaded ‘ly’ words ( Satan, get thee away from me):

The child running across the lawn hopes you have brought him a present.

Running across the lawn modifies the noun child.

I could get really technical here and talk infinitives and prepositions–but we just want to get to the writing do-and-don’t part.  Do use them when they are necessary, and  don’t use too many. Remember it’s all about balance. Your narrative is like a ship and words are ballast–get too much on one side and suddenly your ship is at the bottom of Lake Erie.

Gerund phrases and present participle phrases are easy to confuse because they both begin with an ing word. The difference is that a gerund phrase will always function as a noun while a present participle phrase describes another word in the sentence.

SO how are ING words properly used when writing narrative? In my opinion, they should only rarely be used to begin phrases. Confusion abounds when we are too free with them, as they ruin the flow of the narrative for the casual reader.

When you are writing the first draft, none of this matters, because all that matters at that point is getting the story out of your head and onto the paper. HOWEVER, when you are working on the second draft of your manuscript, keep this in mind:

  • Adding excessive words to your narrative will result in a passive narrative. Using gerunds to begin your phrases will not turn a passive voice into an active voice. Instead, you must trim out the unnecessary words, because using active voice for the majority of your sentences makes your meaning clear for readers, and keeps them from becoming too complicated or wordy.

Relying on gerunds to create active phrases and avoid accusations of the dreaded passive writing is taking the road to perdition my friends, because just like any other grammatical crutch,  gerunds are the devil when used improperly.

>>>—<<<

 And on a different note–Last Monday I posted on My Writing Process — and today, Stephen Swartz and Shaun Allan have posted their blogs detailing their own writing processes:

Stephen Swartz can be found at Deconstruction of the Sekuatean Empire

Shaun Allan can be found at Flip and Catch

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Words as Swords

shakespeare-word-cloudGrammar is such a pain. We all speak naturally in a dialect that is indicative of where we live, and there are certain peculiarities that will emerge in our scribbles.

*doh*

I was raised by a set of parents who adored words.  Long words, short words, rhyming words– my siblings and I learned words at a young age and we know how to use them and in what context.

Of course, many of the words I was taught were unique to my family, apparently, but words were important and they were celebrated.

the_last_good_knight_cover-createspace.jpgPeriodically Dad would “lose his words” and what came out of his mouth at that point we were not to repeat….

I have this wealth of words in my head, and yet when I get to cruising on a tale, I inadvertently use the same words rather frequently, as if my head is stuck in a rut.

Words have power. Words can build nations and words can tear them down. “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

51VAA93NY4LWilliam Shakespeare adored words too, and is credited with inventing over 1700 of the words we use today. He did this by changing nouns into verbs, and connecting words together that had never been used before. Some of these words include ‘bedroom’ and ‘courtship.’

Words can win a persons love, and words can destroy a relationship forever. “Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear….”

To have the chance to wallow in words all day long, and get paid for it is more than amazing, it is what I always dreamed of. I live for words, to write them, to read them — to play with them. I get to quote Shakespeare! “Cry ‘havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war….”

Long words, short words, life is built around words.

“Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts…..”

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What the label says

Parisfal - Creator - Hermann Hendrich PD-Art Wikimedia CommonsDuring the Christmas hiatus I’ve been revisiting the manuscript of Mountains of the Moon, tightening it up. I will be sending it to my Beta readers soon, preparatory to the final edit. In the meantime I have still been searching for cover art – my head has an idea of what it needs to be, and I haven’t found it yet, nor have I created the right blurb, although I’m getting close–we want a short, intriguing, sell-the-book sort of blurb.

Huw The Bard progresses slowly–some things just can’t be rushed. I had hoped to have him ready this spring, but that may not happen. The cover is ready, the blurb is ready, but editing is going more slowly than I had anticipated. That is one area I will not rush, so it will go on the back burner for a while. I still plan to enter Huw in the ABNA Contest this year, if and when it is announced, in the genre of Fantasy, as I hope it will be ready to go by then. Nothing is sure or certain in this business, however.

DobrynaThe editing of Julian Lackland is progressing at a good rate–he may be ready for publication before Huw. His cover and blurb are also finished, as is his book trailer. Huw still needs a proper trailer, but we are rolling toward victory!

In the meantime, I am still writing Valley of Sorrows, and it is going really well.  All the threads in my mind are coming together well on paper. That may be a finished novel yet!

One thing that is a bit difficult is trying to decide what genre my work falls under and what labels will get my books to the people who most want the sort of tales I write.  Huw the Bard and Julian Lackland are Historical Fantasies, but there is no genre to cover that! The Tower of Bones series is Epic Fantasy, or so I think, so that is easy (?).

But I’ve never had any luck with my labels.

And labeling is critical–many people won’t look at work that is not in their favorite genre, so they may not stumble upon a work they might enjoy. Conversely, if it is mislabeled, a reader might buy it, find it is not their cup of tea, and write a stinker of a review, based on the fact it is really not at all a historical mystery and what was the author thinking anyway?

So this is my goal for this coming year year: Write good books, label them properly, and perhaps sell a few.

Quaglio_KipfenbergI’ve learned many amazing things about this craft over the last year, things I never knew I had a knack for.  I  sourced the art and designed my own covers for two books, and  Alison DeLuca (our fearless leader at Myrddin Publishing Group) says they will be good covers when the books go to press.  I have helped several authors get their work ready for publication and I managed to make it through another NaNoWriMo as a Municipal Liaison unscathed.

A new year looms, bright and shiny. My ambition is to get the hang of the trickier parts of the marketing of my work–properly labeling it, and making it available to prospective readers. After all, if they can’t find it, they can’t read it!

I hope your Christmas was a warm and cozy thing with good food and family that puts the fun in dysfuntional. I hope the new year brings you everything you need, and some of what you want. I wish you long life and happiness, and the wisdom to appreciate it!

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Knights Running Bare

200px-Saint_George_-_Carlo_CrivelliOne thing we don’t really think about when we first sit down to tell a tale is the attire our characters will be sporting. (Or not sporting, as the case may be.) But it does eventually come up, and how we get that across to our readers without boring them to tears is important.

Much of the time, my characters wear armor, the men and the women both. I’m an equal opportunity author–I think women deserve to be encased in gleaming tin as often as men, so there you go.

When I am reading a historically based novel, I want to be able to picture the characters in the right style of clothing, but unless I am reading the curtain scene in Gone With The Wind, I don’t want exact details. In most cases, a sentence or two giving us a general description is all that is really necessary.

Some of you may say, “But clothes are an essential aspect of the culture I am trying to describe!” I agree – every culture is rich in the way their clothing is decorated, and in what is considered appropriate for each gender. But again, a sentence or two here and there will do the trick. If you give the reader  the general idea they will fill in the blanks with their imagination. Too much detail may cause the reader to lose the momentum of the tale.

As a reader,  unless we are talking armor, I want to know what they are wearing, but don’t waste my time giving me more than a few sentences.

However, if we are talking armor, while I, as the reader, don’t need too many details, you as the AUTHOR, do need to keep some details in mind when you are writing the story. Your knights are not running bare–they are fully clothed in steel. That affects HOW they move.

First of all, it’s important to note that ‘fully armored’ means the characters are wearing:

  1. Helmet:  a form of protective gear worn to protect the head from injuries
  2. Gorget:  a single piece of plate armor hanging from the neck and covering the throat and chest.
  3. Pauldrons (or spaulders):  a single large dome-shaped piece to cover the shoulder
  4. Besagews:  circular defenses designed to protect the armpits
  5. Couters: the defense for the elbow in a piece of plate armor. Initially just a curved piece of metal, as plate armor progressed the couter became an articulated joint.
  6. Vambraces: forearm guards, defenses for covering the forearm
  7. Gauntlets: several different styles of glove, particularly those with an extended cuff covering part of the forearm
  8. Cuirass: back and breastplate
  9. Fauld: bands of metal surrounding both legs, potentially surrounding the entire hips in a form similar to a skirt.
  10. Tassets:a piece of plate armor designed to protect the upper legs
  11. Culet:   a piece of plate armor consisting of small, horizontal ribs that protect the small of the back or the buttocks
  12. Cuisses: to protect the thigh.The word is the plural of the French word cuisse meaning ‘thigh’. While the tassets of a cuirass could protect the upper legs from above, a thrust from below could avoid these defenses. Thus, cuisses were worn on the thighs to protect from such blows.
  13. Poleyns: armor that protected the knee
  14. Greaves: shin armor
  15. Sabatons: covering for the foot. Fourteenth and fifteenth century sabatons typically end in a tapered point well past the actual toes of the wearer’s foot, following fashionable shoe shapes of the fourteenth century. Sabatons of the first half of sixteenth century end at the tip of the toe and may be wider than the actual foot. They were the first piece of armor to be put on.

Charles_Ernest_Butler_-_King_Arthur - via Wikimedia CommonsThat’s a hell of a lot of steel and it took some time to put on. The very fullest sets,  could be configured for a range of different uses, for fighting on foot or on horse. They were complicated and took a while to get on correctly, and a man needed help with some of the more involved things, like lacing them on.

The reader doesn’t need to know this, and they don’t care. But what the AUTHOR needs to know is how this sort of attire affects what your character can actually do!

Realistically, most medieval soldiers did not wear full sets of armor as their daily attire. In general they wore the minimum amount of metal they could get away with unless they were going into a situation that could result in a battle. When your characters are out riding around, if you have them only partially armored, they will be more able to move around in a logical manner, than if you have encased them in a gleaming sardine can.

arthur-knights-table-1Some readers (like me) are quite savvy–they will know you haven’t thought it out well if your fully armored knight is suddenly indulging in a moment of passion with fully dressed Lady Gwen.

Think about the many layers of what your characters are actually wearing–it can’t be done! For that you must undress them, and it is a bit involved, so they must plan ahead for their romantic trysts and leave the armor at home.

When writing historical fiction it is important to remember that people are not really that much different nowadays than they ever were. They get cold, so they wear clothes, in many layers. The warmer the weather, the fewer the layers. Inside a warm building, they may be lightly clad. Keep that  in mind as you are writing, and convey the idea of their attire with a minimum of words, and your reader will get more enjoyment from the tale.

736px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_The_Tune_of_Seven_Towers

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The Dilemma

GRAELENT AND THE FAIRY-WOMAN - Illustration from Legends & Romances of Brittany by Lewis Spence, illustrated by W. Otway Cannell.Romantic love and passion are two things that make up the bulk of many a book I’ve begun to read and then set aside over the past few years. Truthfully, romance novels don’t interest me the way adventure novels do–if they are seasoned well with a bit of romance. Graphic romance with no plot is porn, and I think we should just call it that and be done with it. Adventure with no romance is a travelogue detailing a rough trip, but nothing to write home about.

Dilemma.

In a novel, one without the other just does not work. Words splashed on a page for their shock value have been done and over-done, so for me it’s important to keep myself writing for the quality of the tale. If I do it right, I will intrigue the reader and challenge them, making them want to read more.

Adventure must have some sort of romance to drive the plot forward, some unattainable goal whether it is love or an object. I like to look back at history and see what it was about some tales that have kept the interest of readers, not just for years, but for centuries. What do these tales embody that new works should also have, to make them timeless?

Let’s examine the Arthurian Legend. From the website, www.arthurian-legend.com.

I quote:

Illustration by H.J. Ford for Andrew Lang's Tales of Romance, 1919. Arthur meets the Lady of the Lake and gets the Sword Excalibur“The legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table is the most powerful and enduring in the western world. King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot did not really exist, but their names conjure up a romantic image of gallant knights in shining armour, elegant ladies in medieval castles, heroic quests for the Holy Grail in a world of honour and romance, and the court of Camelot at the centre of a royal and mystical Britain.”

There we have the essence of what constitutes a timeless tale: Powerful people doing heroic deeds, and finding a bit of romance along the way. Set them in intriguing surroundings and dress them in metal or velvet (or both) and voila! Now all you must do is cue the magic–bring on the wise old sorcerer.

Hey, it worked for J.K. Rowling!

Boys_King_Arthur_-_N._C._Wyeth_-_p82I do a lot of reading, and if I am not reading, I am writing. My hope is that at some point in every tale I write, my readers will find themselves completely involved in the tale to the exclusion of the world around them. If that happens, then I have had an impact on my reader, the same way as Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, and Mercedes Lackey have each impacted me.

Someday I will have written that tale.

But if I do that,  I’ll have to sustain the momentum…keep writing good stuff only and forget writing crap….but crap is so much easier to write.

Unfortunately we’re only as good as our next book.

*Doh*

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Kamikaze Noveling

NaNoWriMo-General-FlyerWell, here we are again, back at the beginning, right where my crazy life as a full-time author began. November is National Novel Writing Month and for the next 30 days I plan to write at least 1667 words per day, or double that if possible.

It’s kamikaze noveling–Some people go so far as to use a program called Write or Die. I am crazy, but not that crazy–this program forces you to keep pouring down the words or it will make noises at you, and perhaps delete what you have already written.

I would have to shoot the damned thing. (sorry.)

Even without the cattle prod of Dr. Wicked’s little program, I am going to literally spew the words on to paper, and get that novel written. I will not make corrections, I will not go back and redo anything.  I will just write it as it falls out of my head. Corrections happen in the second draft, and that is for January. What I have to concentrate on now is writing this first draft, just getting it out of my head.

I will not be writing the book I so carefully outlined and planned all last month after all.  I will instead be doing a complete rewrite of the book I have been stalled on for the last year, Valley of Sorrows.  I had an epiphany last Thursday, and I know what I have to do to make that story live. All I have to do is scrap 70,000 words and start over from a different character’s point of view.

*doh*

But writing is like painting your walls–if you don’t like what you’ve written, change it!

SO, What is this NaNoWriMo all about anyway?

nano_12_new_Come_Write_In_Logo1There is an online organization — NaNoWriMo.org —  and according to their Wikipedia page, this is what they are all about:

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing, no matter how bad the writing is, through the end of a first draft. The idea is that many people are scared to start writing because it won’t be any good, and if there’s a time to celebrate length, rather than quality, more people will write an entire first draft, which they can then proceed to edit if they wish.[citation needed]

The project started in July 1999 with just 21 participants, but by the 2010 event over 200,000 people took part – writing a total of over 2.8 billion words.[2]

Writers wishing to participate first register on the project’s website, where they can post profiles and information about their novels, including synopsis and excerpts. Word counts are validated on the site, with writers submitting a copy of their novel for automatic counting. Municipal leaders and regional forums help connect local writers with one another for holding writing events and to provide encouragement.

2013-ML-Facebook-ProfileBut as for how I became involved in it–a young writer friend of mine in the Philippines whom I had met while writing fanfiction for an RPG gamers fansite talked me into entering the 2010 NaNoWriMo. I was hooked! Now I find myself in my second year as Municipal Liaison for the Olympia Washington USA region, helping 1471 local writers pry that book out of their creative mind and get it on paper.

That first year I had no idea what to write, as I had been working on several writing projects for the previous two years. But one night it occurred to me – How does a Hero gracefully retire from the business of saving the world?

Perhaps he doesn’t.

Perhaps there are so few Heroes that there is no graceful retirement… and then I wondered – how did he find himself in that position in the first place? He had been young and strong once; he must have had companions. Why did he not quit when he was ahead? At that point I had my story.

And thus Julian Lackland and Lady Mags were born, and Golden Beau. But they needed a place to live – so along came Billy Nine-fingers, Captain of the Rowdies and his inn, Billy’s Revenge. When I first met Billy and his colorful crew of mercenaries I was hooked. I had to write the tale.

Julian’s tale was originally published through a small publisher, and while that didn’t go so well, it was a great learning experience. He is once again in the works with a new title, a new editor, several new vignettes,  and a leaner style of storytelling. Over the last three years, the characters in Julian’s book  spawned two other novels, one of which, Huw the Bard, is in the editing process at Eagle Eye Editors.

This year is already starting in an awesome way. I am on fire to get John’s story written, and to bring Edwin and the boys home. Now I know what has to be written and at midnight tonight, the first words go down.

I will be sitting in a 24 hour restaurant with some of our other WriMos, at our 2nd annual “First Hours of November” write-in. We will drink coffee and write, write write. I will stay there until the sun is up, writing this wonderful story with 6 or 7 of my new best friends.

Life doesn’t get better than this.

2013-Participant-Twitter-Header (1)

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