Tag Archives: WIP

NaNoWriMo: The 2013 Wrap-up

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The hardest part about National Novel Writing Month was dragging my lazy ass out of bed. That and, well you know, actually writing.

With another NaNoWriMo looming just around the corner, I thought it was time I posted my 2013 Wrap-up:

The Overview

2013 was my first attempt at participating in this chaotic, month-long writing marathon to churn out a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days. Along the way I learned quite a bit about myself, about my writing, and about my own abilities as a writer. I learned that I can write from an outline (granted, an outline thrown together in the week before the event), and still have the freedom to “pants it,” find surprises, and drift from the script now and again. I learned that I can set a writing goal, and I can achieve it. I learned that I can write (almost) everyday.

While I didn’t actually complete an entire novel, I learned that I have the ability to write a “novel-size” manuscript in just thirty days. And I learned (or rather reminded myself) that large quantities of coffee and energy shots can in fact replace sleep.

Overall, it was a great experience (from what I remember anyway, the entire month is all still very much a blur).While I technically “won” the event by hitting the 50,000 word goal on November 30, I’m certain there are some things I could have done differently, not necessarily better, to make the experience even more rewarding. So let’s take a moment to recap my adventures in NaNoWriMo 2013.

The Plan

I signed up mid-October on a whim, and started throwing together a quick outline from a story concept I’d been harboring for some time. I’d never tried to write “fast” before and had never really tested myself to see how many words I could cram out per hour, but I guessed that if I was typing at a good rate and just letting the stream of consciousness flow, just writing whatever came to mind without second guessing sentence structure or word choice, that I could probably hammer out about a thousand words in an hour.

So I planned to give myself roughly two hours per day to write, in the early morning hours before work and before the family started to stir. I hoped to reach two thousand words per day so that I could take Sundays off and not fall behind on word count.

The Process

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

Depending on the day’s work schedule, I would wake up anywhere between 4:30-6 a.m. I’d brew my coffee and take my place on the sofa, working on a T.V. tray set up as a desk with my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard. I had my music of course, ear-buds plugged in to my phone cranking out Pandora. (For some reason I was listening to a lot of Alt-J, Mumford and Sons, and Dave Matthews Band.)

Most days I found it easy to hit my word count in the given time, and I do believe my estimates proved pretty darn accurate. From what I remember, I was averaging right around 1,000 words/hour. There were a few days that I found time to write in the afternoons and those sessions would put me ahead. Me, being the lazy, procrastinating person that I am–instead of using these moments to really take off and up my word count–found opportunity several mornings to only write for an hour or so and then go back to bed for another hour prior to work.

I planned on blogging the whole experience along the way, but became so engrossed that I only managed to poke my head out once for a Week One Update. After that, there was only writing, coffee, and then darkness…

The Aftermath

2013 WriMo Stats
As you can see from the above image, I stayed on track and hit a total of 50,041 words on November 30. I ended up writing every day except for two days, day #10 and #28. Despite that, I never fell behind in the overall word count goal for any given day. I think this is really a good point to take home for anyone attempting the event this year. It is very important to keep your head above water. If you want to write ahead, write ahead, but don’t skip a day if it’s going to put you behind thinking you will make up for it tomorrow. That is, write for credit; don’t write yourself into debt. While I have read a few other writers post about falling behind and then making up for it in a final, glorious surge near the end, writing from a deficit only makes an already difficult challenge that much more challenging.

The Result

2013 WriMo Stats 2
So, what do I have to show for all this, aside from the satisfaction of knowing that I am now officially a WINNER! (With a t-shirt to prove it! Yippee!) plus all that ooey gooey knowledge and creamy-center-filled confidence I gained? Let me tell you: I am now the proud owner of 50,041 words of a half-finished “zero” draft novel that I haven’t looked at since and can barely even recall writing let alone remember what the hell I actually wrote. It is probably complete orangutan puke, but it is mine. It is mine to finish. It is mine to rewrite, edit, and revise. It is mine to turn into something perhaps worthwhile, something that could even one day be yours as well, and if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo, it might never have existed.

If you have never done NaNoWriMo before, don’t kid yourself, this is a very difficult challenge. By December 1, I was exhausted, burned out. With family obligations and a full time job, there’s no way I could keep that kind of pace going for much longer than a month. Even only writing a couple or three hours a day, it just wears you down, both physically and mentally, trying to keep pace and consistently make your word count. But if you can hang with it for the whole month, win or lose, it is extremely rewarding. And yes, I will be “competing” again this year. (As I’ll discuss here in a few days, this year I plan on cheating. Shhhh…)

How about any of you? Done NaNoWriMo in previous years? Care to share your experiences, good or bad? Or, if you’ve never done the event but are thinking about it, please feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below. While I’m still somewhat of a NaNoWriMoNewbie, I’d be happy to chat about the issue, and perhaps we can pull some real veterans into the discussion along with us.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, Just Write!

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Title Change and Other Stuff

I’ve given this quite a bit of thought, and after a few years of living with my WIP poetry chapbook as Nightmare Dreamer, I have decided to completely change the title prior to publication. Better to change it prior to, than after the fact, I suppose. So the new title, as given away by the little graphic above, is…dun dun dun… Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski.
 
There are several reasons I’ve decided to make this change. Both titles come from poems included in the book, but the poem, Come Fly with Death is one of my personal favorites, and honestly I just think it proves to be a more original title. Nightmare Dreamer has always had a slight generic taste to it, at least to me. And although that title and its poem are direct references to Beksinski himself, the genius artist whose work the entire book is inspired from, I feel that the title, Come Fly with Death and its corresponding poem both speak much more closely to the overall spirit of the book as a whole. So, there. It is done.
 
Along with a new title there will be an all new cover design. While my attempts at creating original digital artwork for this title have taught me much in the ways of Photoshop, sadly I must admit that I am not a graphic designer. I will still be creating the cover as far as layout, text placement, etc., but I will be contracting the actual artwork. Perhaps one day I can tinker around and learn enough about Photoshop and the digital arts to do my ideas justice, but in the meantime, I will focus on the writing and leave the visual arts to the visual artists.
 
As far as publication goes, I am getting very close to releasing this chapbook. A few of the poems included had been pending publication elsewhere, and I have been waiting for all that to resolve so that rights could revert back to me. At this point, I am free to publish these poems as I see fit, so I will be moving full steam ahead. Once I finish with the interior layout and scour it for final line edits, I will finalize the cover. I am hoping to have all that done so that it can be released in Ocober, just in time for Halloween. The initial release will be as an ebook on Amazon Kindle, and will also be available as print on demand. I will expand that to include all the other major ebook distributors such as iTunes and Smashwords, but as this is my first adventure into the world of self-publishing, it may take me some time.
 
In other news, my novella, Feeding Lazarus is in final revision and I am looking at a release date of early next year. It will also be getting a new cover design, which I will reveal here as we get closer to publication.
 
Until next we meet, be cool, be safe, and of course, just write.

 


2014: The Year thus Far

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I’ve been away from the blog for a while, away from writing in general in fact. After “winning” NaNoWriMo last year, I decided to take a little break in December, which inadvertently turned into an extended hiatus from writing altogether. I had managed to hit the 50K word goal during the month while working full time, meeting various other obligations, and still spending time with my family, but by the end of it, I was tired, perhaps even burned out. So I decided to take a step back during the holidays, with a plan to return in January. My aim then was to finish the first draft of my Nano novel which, though it stood at 50,000 plus words on December 1, wasn’t (and still isn’t) even close to being a completed anything. I’d left the story dangling somewhere in the hazy middle, in the middle of a terrible and laborious storm if I recall correctly, and that is precisely where it stands today.

Now with the summer months nearly gone, I stand facing September as it screeches near, and I’m wondering where the hell the year went. I don’t want to make excuses for not writing and so I’m not going to dwell on the time lost. I just know this: it is time to get back to The Work. Okay, so not that work exactly. Not the half-completed nonsense novel thus far left by the wayside. Don’t get me wrong, I will finish that sloppy “zero” draft. I will eventually revise, rewrite, mold and sculpt it into something that hopefully won’t make your eyes bleed. But first I just need to get moving again, and I’ve got other projects that have been on the shelf which I feel I owe my obligations to at present.

Also, with another Nano approaching, I don’t think it’s too early to start planning the work to be done during this year’s madness. Yes, that’s right. I am crazy enough to do this thing again. This time however, I’d like to set a personal goal beyond the 50k word count. Hopefully, with a bit of planning and some time to conjure up a decent outline, I’d like to actually complete an entire draft during the month, so as to not end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble roughly half of a completed novel. My personal goal then will be to end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble an entire novel.

So I’ve had a wee little break but now I’ve got work to do. In the coming weeks I’ll be plotting and outlining the new novel as well as working to finish up another novel and a chapbook which have both been in the works for far too long. I’ll be making an effort to post more regularly to the blog, if for nothing else than to pop in and say “hi” and tell you what I had for dinner. No. I won’t really do that. No one really cares about that. But I do have a few ideas to expand upon the current content and make it reflect additional topics outside of writing. Perhaps that will liven the place up, make it more fun, like some sort of futuristic cyborg monkey disco. Wouldn’t that be cool? Anyway, I believe I also promised some posts on the NaNoWriMo experience, so as we draw closer to this year’s event in November, I’ll try to post a summary on my thoughts from the chaos of 2013. So until next time, be cool, be safe, and just write!


A Poem for Brenda: Everything

WIP Disclaimer: Ahem, the following poem is a Work In Progress. It is simple and unedited, just like me. It is likely to change before it ever, if it ever, sees (real) publication. There.

As the title of this post suggests, this one is for my wife, Brenda, but you are all welcome to read it too, I suppose. Honestly, I can't really stop you (since, ya know, it's now on display for the eleventy or so billion people on this here internet). Enjoy!

Everything

I Love her deeply but she doubts me,

challenges me.

If she could see into my heart,

she would never do so again.

If I could just show her my love

like a physical thing,

like an ocean swelling, raging,

full of emotion and madness;

If she could slip her face beyond its surface

to gain but a glimpse

of the unending depths,

she would forever trust me

having witnessed the extent

of all she means to me,

and sleep soundly at night,

knowing beyond doubt,

that she is my everything.

 

 


NaNoWriMo: Post Week One Update

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My journey into this lunatic adventure of National Novel Writing Month is well underway as I’m joining nearly 300,000 other writers (so far) in this grand (insane?) undertaking to write an entire novel in 30 days during the month of November. Now that we’re done with the first quarter (sports term for all you sport-ish people) and boldly going right on into the next, sleep deprived and caffeine juiced, with alienated family and friends, I think it’s time for a quick update to see how things are shaping up.

First, here’s a look at the score card:

Score

 

A quick word on motivation and word output:

The hardest part of this whole adventure thus far has been waking up early. That is, actually opening my eyes, forcing my lazy butt to roll out of bed, and JUST WRITE! I’ve been waking up every morning anywhere between 4:30 and 5:oo a.m., brewing coffee, headphones tuned to Pandora, and then sitting down to write. Nothing else, no distractions. That gives me about two hours before the kids start waking up and then I’m pretty much done for the day. On two days I wrote in the afternoons, once on Saturday while the kids napped and once on Wednesday after work. On each of those days, I cleared over 3,000 words. I’m averaging about 1,000 words an hour. Some hours I get less, but some hours I get more. as far as words go, I guess I’m not doing too bad. (Note: refer to the graph at the top of the post for my daily progress chart.)

But how’s the story shaping up?

That’s a fair question. Allow me to attempt to provide an answer, but since I’m blazing a trail forward and not looking back to see the terrible mess I’m making, I’ll just have to guess. I started with a rough outline that I threw together the week before Nano began. It is basically just a work in progress TOC with the major parts listed and basic details of what’s to happen in each part. I didn’t break it down any further into specific chapters or scenes. In all there are five parts. After nearly 16k words, I’m still floating, rather aimlessly, around in Part I. Clearly I am pantsing it (within the framework of my outline) and I know I’ve written a puke-tastic amount of fluff. I mean, not much has happened yet in terms of plot, and I know that will be an issue ill need to to tackle in the coming drafts, but in the mean time, who cares? I’m fully aware that what I’m creating is a Hot Stinking Mess, but that’s OKAY! At this rate however, I’ll be doing Nano: The Extended Edition until late January before I ever reach the end of that final scene. Oh well, it is what it is. At least I’ll have something to work with once the first (zero?) draft is actually complete. 

And now the summary:

Overall, I’m actually quite amazed that Nano is going this smoothly so far. I honestly felt like it was going to be nearly impossible and that I was completely nuts for even considering it, and now it feels entirely possible. The (seemingly) impossible is now looking quite plausible, perhaps even probable? Now that I’m sensing that accomplishing the goal is actually attainable, my drive and determination are all that much hungrier. All I have to do is keep doing what I’ve been doing and at this pace, I might actually win. Well okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of novel yet to write, but so far I must say it’s looking quite good for the home team.


NaNoWriMo…Wha? I must be Crazy!

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I’ve always suspected that I might be insane. Now it’s official. Read on, I finally have the proof!

Yesterday, on a whim, without a shred of forewarning from my subconscious, I decided to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month.  Why is this so crazy, you might ask? Well in case you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, let me give you a brief rundown. Basically, every November is National Novel Writing Month. Participants sign up (for free) to write one 50,000 word novel in the time span of one month. That’s right, 30 days. One. Entire. Novel.

The goal in itself isn’t crazy, mind you. While I imagine that it might be extremely difficult to write an entire novel in one month, it IS an achievable goal. No, what makes this so crazy for me is that I’m going to attempt this with my current work schedule and home life (which I’m certain is no different than most of the participants). And of course, one thing I simply can not do is neglect my family in order to write. Family first. Writing second. Always, no matter how strong my passions are for writing, that is just the way it must be.

Currently, I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have any time to do any writing whatsoever. I tried the whole, wake-up-an-hour-early thing for a couple of weeks and I think I actually dragged my lazy but outta bed to write a total of…what was it, oh yeah, once. So how am I going to achieve this goal? Well, while it is doubtful that I will actually achieve the goal and “win” NaNoWriMo, (although I will be damned if I’m not going to give it my best shot!) I think staying up later than usual and waking up at oh, say, 4 a.m. is probably a good place to start. So let’s just see if this event will give me the drive. Let’s see if it will give me the kick in the pants I’ve been needing to really make it happen! I figure if I even only meet 10% of the goal, it’s still 10% more of a novel than I started the month with, so hey, what the hell have I got to lose?

In the next twelve days before the writing frenzy begins (twelve? really? is that all?) I’ll be trying to prepare as best as I can by daydreaming plot lines and penning character sketches. I’ll also try to post some information about the actual novel itself such as title, premise, and teasers, but I doubt I’ll have much time to post, if at all, during the month of November. But have no doubt, I will be posting post-NaNoWriMo in the weeks/months after in order to update you on how things went, what I (hopefully) learned during the process, and generally just share my experience.

Ok, now that I’ve gone public with my total insanity, all I need to do is to stock the cupboards with the finest (cheapest, strongest) espresso, a couple of cases of Monster, and a goodly supply of energy shots. Oh, and if I could somehow lose my unquenchable desire for a good nights sleep, that would be helpful as well.

What about you? Participating? Thinking about it? Been there, done that? I’d love to hear from you and any thoughts, advice, or experiences you might like to share! Also, a small smack of encouragement would be great too! 🙂


Nightmare Dreamer (working) Cover

Well I’ve been toying around with this for a few months now and I think it’s finally ready to at least share with some folks. The process for creating this image has been quite a learning experience to say the least. Before starting this I had never used Photoshop or any similar program, unless you count Paint, and well, uhm no.

Bear in mind this is still very much a working cover, and so it will likely change a bit before the book is published, and there is even a good chance I might wake up one day with the need to scrap the whole thing and start over. In either case, the book is coming, so one way or another there will be some sort of cover to go along with it.

Also of note, look for a good sampling of the poems from this chapbook in the August issue of The Horror Zine!

And now I leave you with the blurb (Yes, again…) to go along with the book.  Farewell readers!

Nightmare Dreamer is a chapbook of 20 poems inspired by the artwork of Polish painter Zdzislaw Beksinski. Each poem was crafted out of the poet’s response when viewing individual pieces from the artist’s canon. These are not descriptions of Beksinski’s paintings, nor are they interpretations. Rather, each poem attempts to reflect upon the nature of the individual work that inspired it, as witnessed by the poet during those moments of creation. Like Beksinski’s art, the poems contained here are surrealistic and graphic. They are at times horrific, gothic, and apocalyptic. Above all, they attempt to serve as a rare glimpse into the heart of our darkest nightmares.

Contains reprints from publications such as The Horror Zine, Twisted Dreams Magazine, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Indigo Rising Magazine, Death Head Grin, as well as several poems never before published.

Welcome Dreamers, and may your Nightmares be just beginning…


Poem: Dead Flowers

Dead Flowers

 

Dead flowers in the trees

fall from branches

like the blood from broken lips.

 

Dead flowers in the grasses,

petals curling

like the legs of upturned spiders.

 

Dead flowers on the sidewalk,

sun-scorched and bleaching

like the unfortunate wayward slug.

 

Dead flowers in a hand,

anchored with a burden

like the bones of buried loved ones.

 

Dead flowers on a tablet,

the memory of color fading

like the whispers lost in wind.

 


Rage in Glass

During a recent family trip to an amusement park, an incident with a gorilla inspired me to write this piece. As is the case with most of the poetry I publish here, it is a rough draft WIP, but I thought it might be fun to share. Enjoy!

Rage in Glass

 

Daydreaming…

…bamboo snaps,

wicker rustlings,

crystal dew on moist, misty mornings–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat-tap,

breaking concentration.

A slight jolt,

eyes shifting, giving warning.

 

Mid-day in shade,

awake from napping.

Still groggy, stomach growling.

Companions nearby,

silver lining telling them who’s king–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat-tap.

Annoyance boiling to anger.

Another warning.

Human faces staring, gawking.

 

Again dreaming…

…beneath the canopy,

building beds of brush,

breathing abundant greenery.

Remembering cadence,

sweet nectar rains

drumming on banana leaves,

softly, hypnotic–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat-tap.

Rage surmounting.

Too many futile warnings.

Nearly breaching

captivity-eroded threshold–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat–

SLAM!

Double fists against pane,

full strength never breaking.

Human screaming

resonates through glass.

 


A Poem for Earth Day: Skeleton Earth

In the spirit of Earth Day, I’d like to share a WIP poem that fits the theme for the day. It’s still rough around the edges and I’ll likely revise this post to reflect any changes as I work them out. So without wasting any more of your time, here it is:


Skeleton Earth

 

The flesh upon this skeleton earth

is scattered thin and withered clean,

decay brought forth by a dominant thing,

that slurped and fed ’til all were dead.

 

But something yet remains

within its heart so deep.

Like a cosmic sphere of bone

it churns the marrow at its core,

molten rock that sings

with heat and surging steam.

 

New bonds form from littered remains,

and a seed soon feels the need

to stretch its roots and run,

to sprout from out the crust,

at last to know the sun.

 

The wind will blow

like whispers from the grave,

their molecules joined in synthesis,

paving way for dawning day

to embark this grand new genesis.

 


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