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Saturday, September 28, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 8, 9, 10

As I'm writing this, today would be the start of day 10. Day 8 was another long day with too much to do, and I couldn't even get to the writing of the novel. Our phones came in, so after waking up at 10, and spending from 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm helping wife clean houses, eating, I then spent the rest of the time until 5:30 am activating the three phones, setting up email and the like, getting data and contacts transferred, installing needed apps, etc. Needless to say I didn't have the energy to make a blog post about it.

So today I started thinking. Originally, I'd planned to keep going on the novel and finish it even though it would take longer than 10 days. However, reality set in. I have an edit that came in on a novel that needs to get done within a month. I also planned on doing final edits and publishing Virtual Game, the third novel in the Virtual Chronicles series, during October. I can't afford to take another 10-20 days to finish this novel, which is the pace I'm currently working at. Fine for a NaNo pace, but this isn't even going to be close to 10 days. So finishing this, doing the edits, and being ready for NaNo in November just isn't going to happen. Something's got to give. Since the edit is for my publisher, that comes before finishing this novel.

Bottom line: I took the 10 day challenge and lost. Primarily due to slower typing than I used to have, but even at my old typing speed, I still would have only reached 20 something thousand by this point. This past week turned out to be the worst week of the year to attempt this because I've had much less time than normal to devote to such a project. No way I could have known that going in, but it is what it is.

So my plan now is to put this story on the shelf and schedule another 10 day writing challenge to finish it when I can devote more time to it. For now, I'm done with this challenge. I'll get back to a regular blog posting schedule (I've an interesting short story I'll be posting here once I can get it edited), get my novel edit done in the next few days, edit and publish the third novel of the Virtual Chronicles series, plan my novel for NaNo and get that done in Nov. I've got so many projects in the oven right now, its crazy. On top of that, this week, I came up with another novel idea I want to explore in the near future.

I should adjust the above statement a little. I say I "lost," but not really. True, I did lose the challenge itself. Didn't even come close to reaching the goal. But the truth is I mainly won. First, I've got a 10K start to this novel I didn't have before. It is shaping up to be a fun adventure story, and is exciting to see the world and characters develop. I'm liking the story. My main challenge is going to be to make time for it in the near future to finish it, and not forget about it with everything else going on. But the challenge was fun, logging it was educational, and I had fun even if it was mixed with some disappointments and setbacks. I hope those of you following my logs enjoyed reading about my experiences. Some day, however, I will write a novel in 10 days. Now it is a challenge I intend to conquer. Just not at this time. I will live to fight another day.

So the final ending tally on my 10 day challenge is 10164 words in 17.8 hours of writing. Thanks for taking the journey with me.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 7

Rose up from my slumber at noon. Received shortly the news from my son that he made a 92 on his final and a B for this latest block at Le Cordon Bleu. Very proud of him as he was struggling with it. Went through my morning routine and checked emails/blogs as I ate breakfast.  Did the dishes, and found out wife would be coming early to pick me up. I proceeded to get ready.

She arrived about 2:40. We head off to clean a house. 3:40, I head out to pick son up from Austin. But we meet on the furthest reach of the bus route, so it is a one hour round trip, not a 2.5 hour round trip. Arrive back in town, stop by the AT&T store to get a sim card for switching phones between wife and son.  I drop him off at home, and head off to meet wife at second job. Arrive there at 5 pm. We work and return home a little before 8.

Son studying to be a chef prepares us a lovely chicken and green bean dinner with some type of wine sauce. Delicious. I watch an episode of DS9 while I eat and catch up on emails.

By now, I'm thinking I should be going after the novel, but I'm feeling drowsy and having a hard time motivating myself. I also think wife may be going to bed soon. Instead, I get interested in the Michael J. Fox show. I would have liked to have watched it, but we don't get much in the way of TV. So I settle for watching a 40 minute interview with Michael done about  a month ago.  Being that the has Parkinson's and I likely do too, I'm very interested in what he is doing. He's had it for 20 years.

As a matter of fact, I have an idea that I will at some point, write a story where the protag has Parkinson's, and donate all proceeds to Micheal's foundation. A future project out there somewhere.

Anyway, I finally start to write at 12:30. Go till 1 am to add 287 words to it. Put wife to bed and get my cashews and prunes. Hot tea I made earlier while doing the dishes from dinner. I'm back at the computer at 2 am and type solid until 3:30, another 886 words. Decided to call it a night since wife expects me to be ready at 12:30 to go clean two more houses. Figures the week I pick to do a 10 day novel challenge ends up being one of the heaviest work load in the last year for me, leaving me limited energy and time for writing. And at my speed, that's a killer on the challenge. I usually have two to three days a week with no work. No days this week.

So my totals for today is 1173 words in 2 hours, averaging 587 words per hour.

10 Day Novel Challenge totals for Dragon City:

Day 1: 2281 words in 3.5 hours (652 w/h avg.)
Day 2: 1907 words in 3.25 hours (587 w/h avg.)
Day 3: 1494 words in 3 hours (498 w/h avg.)
Day 4: 2071 words in 3.45 hours (600 w/h avg.)
Day 5: 0 words in 0 hours (0 w/h avg)
Day 6: 1238 words in 2.6 hours (476 w/h avg)
Day 7: 1173 words in 2 hours (587 w/h avg)


Novel Progress: 10164 words in 17.8 hours
Words per Hour: 571
Words per Day: 1452

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 6

Thought about titling today as day 5b.  But decided to keep going  with regular numbering.

Drug myself out of bed at noon. Good almost 9 hours sleep. Started pot of beans going in crock pot, fixed breakfast, and read emails/scanned blogs while eating.  Discovered my package had arrived, but not time to check it out. Had to be ready to go at 1:30, so not much time. Wife showed up a bit late, so we rushed off about 1:40 pm to clean a big house and an office. Returned home a little after 8 pm.  By 8:30, we're eating beans with mushrooms. I catch up on emails while eating.

About 9 pm, I open the Dragon Speak Naturally box up, and proceed to install it. That takes a while, then I go through setting up a profile, registering with support, activating it, and training it to my voice. Start doing some test runs in Libre Office Writer. First problem I had was it kept putting in multiple "well" and "him" mixed in with my words. Tried the help file, but it was no help. Googled it, and came across an article about it. Said it was related to nose and mouth breaths on the mic, and to reposition it.

About the time I tried that, it started giving me a hookerr_nonotifywindow error and stopped working. Another Google search turned up an incompatibility with Adobe Acrobat 10. Followed its instructions and got it working again. Another try, this time with the mic positioned well to the side, I had less insertions of those words, but still there. I'm beginning to think this mic is picking up too much background noise.

By this point, it is 11:30 pm. Wife is getting ready for bed and she needs some attention as she's depressed about the car situation. Not just the hassle of figuring out what we will do, but she really liked that car, so she's in some form of grieving over it being gone. So I spend some time with her until she heads off to dream land.

I move operations into the living room, since I can't talk while she's sleeping. I decide the headset I have is better than the one that came with the program, so I give that a try. No more stray words are inserted randomly, so I decide to attempt some novel writing with it.

I get started at 12:39 am. It is a little slow, because it keeps plugging in the wrong words, failing to put in spaces, capitalize sentences, and such. Plus, I've got to teach it my character's names, like Roth and  Selene. It works, but obviously I've got to get used to it. But I seem to be making a lot of corrections in the text. I stop after 40 minutes of reading. I entered 190 words using that method. An average words per hour of 317. Nowhere near blazing. I can see it can be fast, but make take a little further training to get up to speed.

Meanwhile, I feel I've spent enough time tonight on the thing, and decide to go back to regular typing so I can hopefully get over 1000 words tonight. I move all my stuff back into my room, and start working on the novel at 2:20 am. I go at it solidly for a couple hours, stopping at 4:24 am. I put in an additional 1048 words.

That makes a total for the day of 1238 typed in 2.6 hours. Tomorrow I should have more time, but do have to help wife clean a house and pick up son from Austin to spend the weekend with us. But hope to have more time overall to work on the novel. I may spend some time with Dragon Speak, but unless it starts speeding me up, may not keep using it for this novel. Maybe in time it will work for me.

10 Day Novel Challenge totals for Dragon City:

Day 1: 2281 words in 3.5 hours (652 w/h avg.)
Day 2: 1907 words in 3.25 hours (587 w/h avg.)
Day 3: 1494 words in 3 hours (498 w/h avg.)
Day 4: 2071 words in 3.45 hours (600 w/h avg.)
Day 5: 0 words in 0 hours (0 w/h avg)
Day 6: 1238 words in 2.6 hours (476 w/h avg)


Novel Progress: 8991 words in 15.8 hours
Words per Hour: 569
Words per Day: 1499

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 5

I've decided I'm going to take a mulligan today. I feared this might happen. But subsisting on 3 hours of sleep and awake since 7 am this morning, my brain says to me, "What? You want to create something! Hahahahahahahaha!!"

Up at 7, despite the protest of my body, wife and I head out to clean two houses. One of them a small one-hour job. We're done by 11:30 am. We rush to make the 1:15 drive into Austin in 1:10, pick up son from Le Cordon Bleu, and zip down Lamar to arrive at the MHMR building 2 minutes after 1 pm. (Mental Health and Mental Retardation Dept.) Due to him exhibiting some signs of high-functioning autism, we wanted to have him tested, so if he was, he could get additional help. After 3.5 hours of discussions and testing, the psychiatrist determined that he fell in the "unlikely" category, which means essentially, yes, he does exhibit some signs, but not enough to diagnose him as autistic or having aspergers. So that done, we grabbed a bite, took him grocery shopping, dropped him off at his apartment, and took the 1:15 drive back home.

Needless to say, we were tired. But we did discuss the options with our car situation. The mechanic called on our way to Austin to tell us the engine is toast, as I feared. Won't go into all the details here, but it puts us in a pickle. We'll be one-carring it until we come up with a solution. Not likely the "ideal" will work, but maybe God will make a way. Sad  thing is in the last three months we sunk a good bit of money into repairs and maintenance. My wife wants to go siphon out the gas as we'd just filled it up.

The other task was to call our cell phone company to ask a question, then go online to order phone upgrades. Doing this for son in Le Cordon Bleu. He will like this phone or else. There won't be any way to get another for a while.

That took me to around 11 pm. Wife went to bed early. I wanted to go to bed, but I take a pill at 4 am, and I don't want to take it too early. So I piddled around until 2. I thought maybe I'd jump in and get at least a few words in today, but as I said at the beginning, my brain says, "No writing for you!" So at 2 am I start writing this post, so I can hit the sack early and get in some serious sleep before I wake up to tackle cleaning another couple of buildings with wife tomorrow. Who knows, if I wake up early enough, I might get in some writing in the morning and make it a big number day.

Also to look forward too, Dragon Speak Naturally is coming in tomorrow. I'll probably get to try out that tomorrow and see if it improves my word count or not. So with that I'll sign off.

Totals for today: Nada

10 Day Novel Challenge totals for Dragon City:

Day 1: 2281 words in 3.5 hours (652 w/h avg.)
Day 2: 1907 words in 3.25 hours (587 w/h avg.)
Day 3: 1494 words in 3 hours (498 w/h avg.)
Day 4: 2071 words in 3.45 hours (600 w/h avg.)
Day 5: 0 words in 0 hours (0 w/h avg)


Novel Progress: 7753 words in 13.2 hours
Words per Hour: 587
Words per Day: 1551

Monday, September 23, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 4

This turned out to be a very weird day. What I expected was to get up, run some errands after morning routine, go help my wife clean a house for 2-3 hours, return home, eat dinner, and dive  into the novel.  But as life has it, it didn't want to operate according to my plans.

Woke up at noon. Wife almost immediately calls to deliver the news that her car died at the end of the street and wouldn't start. So she had to take my car. She'd called our two mechanics we use, and gave me the number of a towing company I could call after I check it out. So I walk to the end of the block and try starting it. The starter is turning, but not the engine. Not a good sign. Could be anything from a broken timing gears to a cracked shaft, or some other oddity. So I call the tow truck, make sure nothing  is valuable in the car, and return home to eat breakfast, look at email, respond to blog post, check blogs, FB, etc.

With me stuck at home and wife not needing me to work, due to some space being freed in her schedule, I figured at least one good thing would come of this. I could spend more time writing. So at 3:30 pm I open up my writing database and Libre Office novel file, grab my smoothie, and start typing. 5 minutes later, my wife calls to remind me of the documents we need to gather for the meeting in Austin tomorrow. So I stop at 3:35, adding a whopping 35 words to the novel, and shift gears. (This is why I like writing at night. No such distractions.)

I spend the next 1.75 hours going through paperwork, making calls, on the phone with various people, filling a folder with needed papers. At 6:10 pm, I'm off to the races on the novel again. That takes me to 7:17, a little over an hour, throwing in another 652 words to the story.

Wife comes home, we lazily heat up TV dinners, eat, chat, I watch a few YouTube videos while I eat. At 7:17, I return to writing. Sort of, anyway. Not sure what came over me, but I was obsessing over where this character should come from instead of Bethany, Oklahoma, that would be close to some mountains within view. After viewing a few places on Google street view, settled on Fort Collins, Colorado. (The wonders of modern technology. It might have taken days of looking through books at the library to figure out what I did in 40 minutes at my desk.)

With that out of my way, I really returned to writing the novel at 10:20 and typed for another hour, clocking in another 573 words. I took a break to spend time with the wife and see her off to bed. Eat some ice cream. At 1:25 am I'm back to writing with my bowl of cashews and prunes. Didn't bother with the hot tea because I knew I wouldn't get far on it since it is going to be an early night. Stopped at 2:45 am, another 811 words fed into the hungry novel beast.

Spending one hour writing this blog, then I'm off to bed. I'm turning in early because I've got to be up at 7 am tomorrow, work with wife all morning, then all afternoon will be traveling to Austin to take care of personal needs of my son in Le Cordon Bleu there. Expect to return home late afternoon or early evening. So it will be a long day for me with a little over 3 hours of sleep again, but no nap. I don't know how long I'll be able to work tomorrow night. We'll see.

Today's totals is 2071 words in 3.45 hours, for an average of 600 w/h. Better, even though I didn't feel it was buzzing along. And so far I'm liking the story and characters. Fun to see these stories develop.

10 Day Novel Challenge totals for Dragon City:

Day 1: 2281 words in 3.5 hours (652 w/h avg.)
Day 2: 1907 words in 3.25 hours (587 w/h avg.)
Day 3: 1494 words in 3 hours (498 w/h avg.)
Day 4: 2071 words in 3.45 hours (600 w/h avg.)


Novel Progress: 7753 words in 13.2 hours (587 w/h avg.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 3

Woke up today at 7 am with a little less than 3 hours of sleep under my belt. Hard to convince your body that, yes, you really do need to get up. But I did. I try to get closer to four hours on Sunday morning, but creating yesterday's blog post took longer than expected.

Went to church, coffee hour afterwards, then arrived home around 2:30 pm. Hit the sack until 6 pm. Talked with wife, went out to eat, then went grocery shopping. By a little after 12:30 am, had the groceries put away, the garbage taken out, and some hot gunpowder green tea brewed.  Finally checked email and blogs for the first time today, responded to one email. While wife had her computer time and got ready for bed, I clocked in 45 minutes on the novel, from 1:15 to 2 am, putting in 429 words. Part of that time I spent getting an idea of where I was going next and rough idea of how it would happen. I'm now past the point I'd written to those many years ago. So it is all new, and though I have an idea of what will happen, it can often take turns into ideas or plots/subplots I'd not expected.

Took a break to send the wife off to sleepy land, get myself some cashews and prunes, and return to my writing. Began typing anew at 2:45 and went until 5 with only some bathroom breaks. Added another 1065 words in 2.25 hours.

Total for the day: 1494 words in 3 hours, for an average speed of 498 w/h. Not great, worst average yet. But my fingers don't seem to be very lose tonight. Plus the words were, for a while, coming in spurts instead of flowing. I actually was rolling better toward the end, but I need to get some sleep in. Though my wife only needs me for 2-2.5 hours of work tomorrow, I have several errands to take care of. I'm hoping I'll get an earlier start on the novel tomorrow evening.

So the novel now stands at 5682 words, about where I'd hoped to be close to the first day to be on track. We'll see if we can't at least put in more time tomorrow and make better progress.

10 Day Novel Challenge totals for Dragon City:

Day 1: 2281 words in 3.5 hours (652 w/h avg.)
Day 2: 1907 words in 3.25 hours (587 w/h avg.)
Day 3: 1494 words in 3 hours (498 w/h avg.)


Novel Progress: 5682 words in 9.75 hours (583 w/h avg.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 2

Today the alarm went off at noon so I could take my meds. Saturday mornings tend to be time for wife and I to eat breakfast together and talk, among other things. She'd already eaten, but we spent time together until around 2:30 pm when she ran off to take care of errands. I checked and responded to emails and scanned blogs.

However, I had to get ready for church. I'm Orthodox Christian, for those not aware. I do a bulk of the Byzantine chanting for Vespers on Saturday evenings and Matins Sunday morning. So I worked on getting that ready, which left me an hour and a half for a shower and preparing to leave by 5 pm. Made it there, had the service, we drove back to our city (45 minutes each way), and stopped at a local restaurant for dinner. Returned home around 8:30 pm.

After checking some more emails and responding to an entry on my blog, I finally started working back on the novel right at 10 pm. I made progress, but was broken up by several breaks due to wife and food distractions. One 45 minute block netted me 286 words. After a 10 minute break, I put in another whopping 10 minutes to add 184 words. We took an ice cream break of 30 minutes while talking. Then I typed for another 10 minutes to include 97 words. By this point, I feel like I'm going no where fast.

I took another break to see wife to bed, which took almost 30 minutes. Do we see an inverse pattern here? The breaks are getting bigger than the writing times. But by 12:15 am, with wife fast asleep, I could focus more fully on writing. I typed until 1:45 to increase the story by 900 words. That's better.  About this time I realize I had a problem with topography. Mark for later correction. I wanted mountains. But not in the center of Oklahoma will I get them. lol.

Responded to another up-late writer's comment to my blog. Her comment got me to thinking. At this pace, I'm not going to come anywhere close to finishing this in 10 days. I'll be lucky to do it in 20. So I took my break time to research and purchase with money from my writing account, Dragon Speak Naturally. Should arrive Wednesday since I have Amazon Prime. Might take a little getting used to, but if it works as billed, could get my word count up to speed and stand a better chance of getting close to my target. Meanwhile, I'll have to muddle along with my fingers.

Returned to writing at 2:55, put in another 240 words by 3:31 before calling it a night. Since I've got church in the morning, I have to wake up at 7 am. Normal Sunday routine is to crash for a good 3 hour nap upon returning home, get up to check email, eat dinner and go grocery shopping with wife (a required activity). By then it will be around 10 to midnight before I get back to this.

For today, however, I spent 3.25 hours of writing time to crank out an additional 1907 words. That clocks in at 587 words an hour.

10 Day Novel Challenge totals for Dragon City:

Day 1: 2281 words in 3.5 hours (652 w/h avg.)
Day 2: 1907 words in 3.25 hours (587 w/h avg.)


Novel Progress: 4188 words in 6.75 hours (620 w/h avg.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 1

On starting day of this challenge, awoke at 1 pm. Would have been a solid seven hours of sleep save a nurse call I was expecting woke me around 10 am. Had trouble getting back to sleep, so closer to six hours of sleep. Anyway, went through my morning routine. Grits for breakfast, went through email, started a pot of beans cooking in the slow cooker for dinner. Finished most of the emails but none of the blogs when 3 pm arrived. The time my wife was supposed to be picking me up to go clean a vacation house. But she was running behind which gave me an extra 30 minutes to finish up a reply to an email.

Wife picked me up around 3:40 in the rain. We had to stop at another house first to take care of a couple of items before taking the 20 minute drive to the house we were to clean. At least it was supposed to take 20 minutes, save for the two wrecks we had to snake our way around at 10 mph. But we got there around 4:45, and finished the job a little before 8. Returned home around 8:30.

We promptly partook of pinto beans and a salad while I recaught up on emails and scanned the blogs. Jumped on Facebook to respond to a couple of people and quickly scanned the feeds. Called my son after doing some phone research to find out what he wanted for a phone. We're on a family plan and he's not happy with his android phone. Oh well.

After some time with my wife, she fell asleep early, but she'd have to wake up to get ready for bed. I let her nap while I finally turned my attention to the novel at hand around 10:45 pm. First order of business was to review the outline to orient myself to the proposed plot and the characters. I spent about 30 minutes doing that, changing the names of my two MCs (used them in the novel I did instead of this one some years ago) that gave me opportunity to make them more interesting. Named the two counties where the story takes place, along with three cities I knew I'd need. More will come, but I'll come up with those as I go.

By 11:15, I started writing. I wrote most of the first 1022 words in 1.75 hours, stopping at 1 am. I actually at one point had started the book, and wrote the first two chapters some years ago. I recall most of what I did, but didn't go back and read them. I wanted what I wrote now to be as unencumbered with what I did before as possible. After all, I've hopefully learned a thing or two since then.

Took a break, woke my wife up. We got some ice cream and I made some hot blueberry tea. Returned to writing at 1:26 am. Wife went on Facebook in the meantime. Worked another half hour until 2:06, putting in another 479 words. Took another break to officially put my wife to bed, then grabbed a bowl of prunes and cashews and went back at it at 2:57. I wrote until 4:18, at which point I called it quits. That added another 780 words to the count.

Totals are 2281 words in 3.5 hours of writing, averaging out to 652 words an hour. Better than I did last night. Good NaNo day, but not going to make it in ten days at this pace.

I've mentioned my bad left hand. I suppose I should explain. Last October, and all through NaNo November, I noticed my left hand didn't want to work smoothly. My mind would tell a finger to press a key, and it would do one of three things: press the key once, twice, or not at all. Since then about half the words I'm either pausing to type, or backspacing to erase letters that aren't supposed to be there. It has cut my typing speed in about half of what it used to be, and takes a bit more work to do. I'm thinking I may need to try a voice recognition program. Anyway, finally went to the doctor this past June, and he believes it may be Parkinson's Disease. I've been referred to a neurologist that I'll see in December for a fuller diagnosis. Meanwhile, I am on meds to help control the tremors that developed earlier this year, but my speed has only marginally increased.

I don't say this to gain your pity, just to let you know why my word count per hour is so low to what most people's is. That said, as I've proved last November, have proved the last two days, and will undoubtedly prove again this coming Nov, I can still crank out a novel in a month. If I could put enough hours into it now, I could write one in ten days. But my wife has me on a heavy schedule next week with few, if any, days off. So this will really be a test if I can pull this off. So far, I'm behind. Will take some good writing days to make it. If not, I'll keep going until it is done, and take everyone here with me. Time to get to bed so I can tackle it tomorrow.

10 Day Novel Challenge Totals:

Day 1: 2281


Total: 2281

Thursday, September 19, 2013

10 Day Novel Challenge: Day 0

Thought I'd go ahead and get into the logging groove. I had a short story I'd been working on I wanted to finish before starting the novel.

Before I dig into my daily routine, allow me to warn those familiar with Dean's hours, that I'm not intentionally mimicking him. It just so happens we both keep similar hours. I suspected as much because I caught him up late a few times, but it wasn't until he started logging his day that I realized I'm not so strange after least to him. But wanted to make it clear I'm not trying to copy-cat Dean. I've had this schedule for many years. Just when I worked a full time job, I didn't get much sleep. Now I have more like a part-time job helping my wife clean houses. Fun! But it does give me more time for writing, so I can't complain. As fate would have it, this next week while I'm doing this novel challenge is going to be busier than usual.  Won't help me put in the 6 hours a day I'll need to get close, but we'll give it my best shot.

Today got out of bed around 12:30. Did my morning gig of eating and catching up on emails and blogs. I have to be careful on blogs. It is too easy for me to spend hours going down comment trails. But I also had a few comments to respond to on Facebook about my announcement, and emails.  Combine that with some personal stuff, and it wasn't until 5:40 I sat down to write.

I'd started a short story for my blog earlier this week that I needed to finish. For the first time I tried Dean's trick. But I don't have a stash of half-titles like he does. So I went to Fox News website and looked at titles there. I landed on one title that was about some balloons, and another about an evacuation. I smashed them together into the title "Balloon Evacuation." I'd written about 1262 words on it before today.  I do tend to write my short stories more "seat of the pants," so had developed a good idea where it was going, but still free wheeling it.

I didn't get very far before wife comes home from work, at about 5:55. In those 15 minutes, I logged another 264 words. Still far from done. So I stop to fix dinner, watch some DS9 while eating, then follow that up with some "Honest Trailers" on YouTube. Spent time with wife in there as well. She goes to bed around 11:45 pm. I go make my hot tea, do the dishes, get my cashews and prunes and head back to my computer to write around 12:30 am.

I take off writing the most exciting part of this story. A few stretch breaks but I write pretty solidly from 12:30 to 5:00 and get in an additional 2464 words before the story's done. Decide I'll save the editing and posting for later. Sleep is calling.

Today I wrote 2731 words of fiction (no, I'm not counting my emails and FB posts). Took me a total of about 4.75 hours. That comes out to an average words per hour of 575. Not too great, thanks to my bad left hand. At that rate, I'll need more than 6 hours a day to clock in around 6K a day. Maybe I can pick it up, but not looking real promising.

So I'm writing this blog, another 575 words in 30 minutes...better. Tomorrow starts the novel. Look for day 1 by Saturday.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

10 Days of Excitement

Some of you are going to think I'm crazy, but I'm going to write a novel in 10 days. Yes, that's right. A full novel in 10 days. Not only that, I'm going to put a daily log up each day of how I'm spending my day and progress on the novel.

This idea comes from writer Dean Wesley Smith, who for his yearly challenge decided starting August, among other things, to write a novel every month this year, taking 10 days to write each one. He ended up writing the last one in 15 days instead, but the goal is 10.

For some reason, I decided to join him in at least one run at this, so I told him on his blog when he started his next novel, I would join him in writing a novel in 10 days. I know, I know. He's a long-time professional who has written over 100 published novels. My high point was writing 110K one National Novel Writing  month back in 2008 or 2009, I forget. Close to one novel in 15 days. Now my left fingers don't work so good, so my typing speed is slower. I'll be doing good to put in 1K words an hour. If I can do that, it will be about 6 hours of writing a day. We'll see how it goes.

What's my novel about? Unlike Dean, who is very much a "seat of the pants" writer, I do know what my novel is about. Dean tends to combine half-titles together as a sort of writing prompt, and then start writing  a story. He is often not sure where it is going until almost halfway into writing the thing. I'm more of a hybrid writer in that regard. I like to have an outline of the major plot points and character list, then wing the details for each chapter. Often the outline gets significantly changed by the end, but if I have no idea where the story's going, I'll tend to just stare at the screen.

The story I'm going to do is an outline I created back in 2007.  I had planned to write this story for National Novel Writing Month that November. My publisher at the time suggested writing a sequel to my one published novella at the time, Infinite Realities. That novella was later expanded to a full novel and published by Splashdown Books as Reality's Dawn. Still available for sale. So on day one of NaNo, I changed my mind, shelved this outline, and whipped up a quick outline for what eventually was published as Transforming Realities, and later republished by Splashdown Books as Reality's Ascent.

So this outline has been sitting on my computer for six years, waiting for me to tell its story. I figured this challenge would be the perfect opportunity to bring it to life. The idea comes as a sequel to arguably my most popular short story, "Dragon Stew." As a matter of fact, I plan on using the short story as an opening prologue. But I won't be counting those words for the novel, just new words. The tentative title for the book is Dragon City. It will be a middle-grade/YA novel.

That's all I'm saying about it for now. But one other challenge I'm adding to this. This is part of the experiment. Once written, I'm going to have it edited for typos and the like and put it up for sale by sometime in November. At which point, I'll be writing my next NaNo novel. I don't plan on it being a series, just a one-shot novel story. But I've learned to never say never!

I'll be creating a new category to put these post in called "10 Day Novel Challenge." So if you want to follow the daily log of my progress and writing day, be sure to subscribe via RSS feed or email. Links to do so are under my picture, top-right side of this page. By early Saturday morning, you should see my first report on how my writing day went.

Should be fun!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Light, The Dark, and the Gritty

I'll admit it up front. I don't thing most of my stories, save for a handful of short stories, are gritty. There are dark parts here and there, but few have accused me of writing horror. I can count on one hand how many dark horror short stories I've written. Most of what I've written is a lighter, funner, and punctured with humor. Even my one zombie story, "Confessions of a Zombie's Wife," is more funny than scary.

So I've begun to think about what makes a story dark or gritty. Honestly, dark is easier to get. It is a story that highlight's evil in its fullness. Whether through a creepy monster or a deranged mad man, evil is brought to life. For the writer who is a Christian, with the hope of contrasting it to the light, and ultimately overcome by the Light.

But gritty is a little harder for me to define. Judging by what some Christian authors have said, gritty is any story where the characters cuss or have sex. The more graphic, the grittier the story is.

But I'm not so sure. Another definition of gritty is making the story more realistic, which for some seems to again center around adding cussing and sex. Sure, realistic is also getting your facts correct, avoiding plot holes, and believable dialog, but few would contend those things necessarily make a story gritty. Yet it would seem many would equate gritty as being more true to life.

But I'm still not so sure. Seems something else is missing from the definition.

Being gritty appears to be a good thing. When a reviewer says a story is gritty, that is usually a compliment. Often gritty is followed by words like "compelling" and "raw emotion." Therein probably lies the root of it.

One of the objectives of a good novelist is to engage the reader in experiencing those raw emotions. The more the reader feels their power, the more real the story becomes for them, and the grittier it will feel. That would be true whether we are talking about death or sex.

But wait. There's more! You can't take a happy moment and infuse it with gritty raw emotions without muting the joy of that emotion. Likewise, interjecting joy into a mother grieving over the loss of her son would lessen the impact and believability of that moment emotionally.

So it isn't merely a raw emotion, but gritty is experiencing the raw emotions of darkness. Much as bliss or joy is experiencing the raw emotions of light. Both are realistic within their domains.

The astute reader may have picked up on my title's play on another well known title. A movie called, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." One of my favorites. You can see the link there as well. The Ugly is the result of the Bad, not the Good. Likewise, the gritty is a result of the dark, not the light.

In short, anything that portrays graphically the dark is gritty. Take for example the movie "Saving Private Ryan." I didn't watch it, mainly because of what other people said about it's graphicness of war. From what I've been told, that is gritty.

A more nuanced comparison would be the Star Trek series and the most recent version of Battlestar Galactica. The former, as conceived by Gene Roddenberry, was an optimistic view of human evolution. People tended to get along better, and man had grown past emotions like greed and bigotry. So much so, man no longer worked for money as in a capitalistic system, but exhibited the epitome of a communist society where everyone works for their own betterment while all needs are covered by the society.

Meanwhile, in Battlestar Galactica's universe, people are operating with all sorts of pure and impure motives, trying to get the best of each other. Oh sure, Star Trek had some of that. Especially in the later series. They discovered you had to have some conflict to have a good story. But those were usually considered to be an aberration. Not the norm.

So by and large, Star Trek has been criticized for not being gritty enough. That is, not conveying a compelling emotional sense of man's depravity, and therefore not as "realistic" feeling.

They say that a writer is the worst judge of his own work. So what say you, those who have read my stories? Do you consider any of them gritty? Or lighter fare? What is your definition of gritty?