April Camp NaNo – Week 4

Mmm, s'mores and writing.

Mmm, s’mores and writing.

Minimum word count for April 28: 28,000/30,000

My current word count: 27,772/30,000

Adventures in NaNoing: I FINISHED!

Yes, that’s pretty much the important thing here. I finally wrote “The End.” At some point in the next couple of weeks, I’ll probably skim through, clean it up as best I can, and prepare to send it to the people who, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, actually want to read this thing.

(Also, my final word count? I am so happy it’s a palindrome and that was TOTALLY NOT PLANNED. :-D)

Very Short Excerpt:
Completely unedited, as always.

“What are you waiting for, girl?” General Natriss demands. “I’m not going to stand around here all day. As soon as that shield comes down, I’m going to flay you alive!”

“That’s not really an incentive for me to take the shield down, is it?” I snap back, unable to stop myself from rising to her petty sniping.

General Natriss cackles. “Then take it down and we’ll talk this out like ladies, then. Over a cup of coffee.”

Ugh, coffee. I scowl at her. “Coffee is disgusting. Tea is so much better.”

From the way her eyes widen, you’d think that I had just insulted every member of her family, born and unborn. “You take that back, you…you…”

“Only uncultured, uncouth fools like coffee,” I continue, for no reason other than it is just absolutely hilarious to get her all riled up about this.

Her face twitches, and for a moment I think she’s going to have a seizure. Then her beautiful features harden into granite. “And tea is for spoiled, foppish brats who are too afraid to get their hands dirty.”

Something in her tone ignites a fire deep in my chest, and it’s all I can do not to punch her face right then.

NaNoWriMo Week 3 and #WriteMotivation Update

Header image and thumbnail photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Header image and thumbnail photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

1. Finish Buzz stuff by November 12.
I ended up getting my articles sent in on Nov. 13, finding out I needed three more stories for one of the articles, and finishing them up on Nov. 16. But on the plus side? DONE. SO DONE.

2. Write 50,000 words in November.

Minimum word count for November 18: 30,000/50,000

My word count: 35,332/50,000

Adventures in NaNoing: This week I had probably my highest writing day ever (definitely my highest writing day this NaNo) – I hit 7,301 on Saturday, thanks to a combination of our write-in and several Boxes of Doom (OF DOOOOOM!) in the chat room afterward. That catapulted me over the goal for Saturday and got me a couple of days ahead, which will be really good because Thanksgiving is this week!

Yes! It’s Thanksgiving week! November is more than halfway over. Yeah, I know, it snuck up on me, too. I have no idea if I’ll actually be able to finish this story during November (because when I start out thinking “Oh, I can totally do this in 50,000 words!” I end up getting to 50k and realizing I’m only halfway through the novel *headdesk*) but I’m having a lot of fun writing it, so I will hopefully finish it and not let it languish 2/3 of the way done.

Then again, I think a few people might come after me with pitchforks if I don’t finish it.

In other news, apparently my NaNo traditions now involve getting music from Lissa and getting tea from Rebekah. I’ve gotten stocked up on Danny Elfman music (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride scores, specifically) and enough tea to open my own cafe.

I am also going to drive my roommates crazy singing “Oogie Boogie’s Song” and “Kidnap the Sandy Claws.”

Which, I suppose, is a nice change from driving them crazy singing “Airship Pirate.”

Very Short Excerpt:
Completely unedited. Andrew, this one’s for you.

“I told you to shut up!” Nadine rages.

Edgar stands and squeezes her shoulder sympathetically. “We’ve all lost people in this war.”

She jerks away and stalks toward the door. “Don’t touch me.”

In a response that clearly shows Edgar has no sense of self-preservation, he follows her and rests his hand on her shoulder again. He has only just touched her when Nadine whirls around and decks him right in the jaw. Edgar falls back and crumples to the floor.

“I said don’t touch me,” Nadine repeats, and then she’s gone.

I gasp and run over to him. “Edgar! Are you all right? Seb, can you get some ice or something?”

Edgar sits up and rubs his jaw, and he smiles up at me somewhat crookedly. “It’s all right. She usually feels better once she’s hit somebody.”

I can’t believe him. “And you just decided to up and offer your jaw to the cause?”

“It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last. It’s how you know she likes you,” Edgar explains.

I don’t know who’s more insane, Nadine or him.

Book Review – Changeless by Gail Carriger

I adored Soulless, but have just now gotten around to picking up book 2 in the Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless. Why now?

Partly because of the whole finishing-a-draft thing, and partly because I wanted to get at least ONE of the books in non-Kindle form. Why, you ask?

Changeless by Gail CarrigerWell, Ms. Carriger will be in Tulsa in October for the Nimrod Literary Conference, which means I get a chance to quietly fangirl in person.

Or, you know, just ask her nicely to sign my book. And then talk about tea. And parasols.

ANYWAY.

In Changeless, Alexia Tarabotti is now Lady Alexia Maccon, wife to Lord Conall Maccon and the Alpha female of the Woolsey werewolf pack. However, life is not all moonshine and roses for our intrepid heroine.

Something is triggering a plague of mass humanization, making vampires and werewolves temporarily mortal, which causes the supernatural population of London no end of consternation. Then, as if that weren’t enough, Conall vanishes northward to Scotland on noticeably vague “family business.”

Saddled with her best friend, Ivy, and her annoying sister, Felicity, and armed with tea and her trusty parasol, Alexia takes off to investigate the plague of humanization and track down her wayward husband.

As before, the tone of this book is phenomenal. There’s not a wasted word on the page, and Carriger has a way of twisting phrases just so to tickle your funny bone. (Or at least tickle mine.) More than once, my roommates asked, “What’s so funny?” because I started laughing out loud. Often, in public. Much as I enjoy the stories themselves, Carriger’s writing style is a big part of what makes them so delightful.

Lady Maccon sipped a freshly brewed cup in profound relief. All in all, it had been quite the trying evening thus far. With Ivy and hats in her future, it was only likely to get worse. Tea was a medicinal necessity at this juncture.

Tea is a medicinal necessity at any juncture, frankly.

Alexia continues to be a very fun character: strong, witty, capable, and a believer in a good cup of tea and a proper meal. She’s always ready with her trusty parasol and an arsenal of put-downs. She and Lord Maccon are just as fun in this book as they were previously, perhaps even more so now that they’re married.

Ivy is sometimes eyerolling, sometimes hilarious, but the whole “forbidden love” between her and Tunstell is sidesplitting. Also, Ivy gets (quite accidentally) drunk. On a flying dirigible. It goes about as well as you’d expect.

I did miss Lord Akeldama (he’s here, though not as much as he was in book one). He’s still outrageous, still calling Alexia things like “buttercup,” and still speaking primarily in italics. The precious few scenes with him – especially him, Biffy, and Professor Lyall (Lord Maccon’s Beta) – are just great.

But, we have some new characters in this one, most particularly Madame Lefoux, a talented milliner/inventor who also (gasp!) dresses like a man. She’s a particularly fun addition to the cast, and makes a good foil for Alexia when Conall is not around.

Changeless also fleshes out the world a bit more. We learn more about the history of the werewolves, a little more about the vampires, and (most importantly) the history of Lord Maccon himself. I like the deeper dip into world’s mythology and how the society is set up.

Warning: you probably shouldn’t read this book unless you’ve already got book 3, Blameless, somewhere in easy grabbing distance. The cliffhanger at the end was one that had me going, “Wait, what? What? WHAT?” (Yes, I was doing my very best Tenth Doctor impersonation there.) (And yes, I’ve now got Blameless on my Kindle.)

And really, that ending scene was the only time I felt jarred. I laughed aloud at one line, only to realize two sentences later we had entered “serious business” territory. That was where part of the “wait, what?” reaction came from.

Obviously, Changeless was not only good enough for me to finish in 24 hours, but also good enough for me to buy book three the same week. I really hope the next three books are as good as the first two, because I am enjoying this series immensely.

The Critic Finishes NaNo 2011

NaNoWriMo Winner 2011Holy cow on a cracker, I can’t believe it’s over. This November has flown by. I still haven’t registered that Thursday was December 1, Friday was December 2, and now I’ve got to worry about Christmas shopping.

The last week and a half of NaNo was probably the most manic, which is not unusual. After all, it’s Thanksgiving, which typically means a 4-day weekend at the very least, and all the traveling to visit family that a holiday entails.

Of course, that wreaked havoc on my plan to write every day, because after staying up till midnight or 1 a.m. talking to my cousins, I had to haul into my bedroom, pull out the laptop, and pound out at least 100 words.

Once I got started, it was relatively easy to get 300-400 words, but boy, was I wiped out afterwards.

Plus, November 26 was the first annual Tulsa Write-A-Thon, also known as “The Critic Writes 5,000 Words in Four Hours.”

Because when you factor in the pictures, the goofing off, the setting up, the making of the cheese dip, and the “oh God it’s 4:30 and I’ve got 2200 words left” paranoia, I was lucky to get four hours of writing in.

For the Write-A-Thon, we booked a meeting room for 6 hours (we wanted to take it easy for our first one) and had everybody bring food and drinks and mobile writing instruments (read: notebooks — the paper kind — and laptops — the computer kind). More than a dozen people showed up, at least half brought food, and overall it was a lot of fun.

My goal was to write at least 5,000 words during the write-a-thon with the goal of raising money for the Office of Letters & Light, which is the nonprofit that runs National Novel Writing Month. NaNo has meant a lot to me over the past few years, and one of the reasons I was writing was to give something back.

NaNo 2011 - Wordle

Generally the most-used words in my novel. I am never again writing a main character who has nine letters in her name.

Ultimately, we raised about $200, which is pretty respectable for our first year doing this.

The last few days of the month were filled with Facebook posts and chat room celebrations as people jumped, ran, and crawled their way across the 50,000-word mark.

There are few things more awesome than watching somebody achieve a goal that they never thought they would. One of the most-said things during NaNo (aside from the advice to add pirates, ninjas, or blow something up) is that you never know until you try.

We saw people top 1,500 words in a 30-minute writing challenge when they didn’t think they’d be able to get more than 600 or 700. We had people crank out 7,000 words in the last day to hit their goal. And we had one WriMo finish her novel — a 102,000-word behemoth — with 41 minutes to spare.

That right there? That’s why I come back to this year after year.

NaNo is the reason I have 5 different novels in various stages of completion, from the “oh God not another rewrite” stage to the “good thing first drafts are supposed to be terrible” stage to the “I probably should finish this soon” stage.

NaNo is the reason I have made a solid group of writing friends here in Tulsa.

And NaNo is the reason that I remembered, five years ago, why I love to write.

NaNo 2011 by the Numbers

Novel Stuff
Final official word count: 62,409/50,000
Most words written in a day: 6,017
Fewest words written in a day: 231
Number of pages in MS Word: 97 (Cambria, 11 pt., single-spaced)
Number of characters (with spaces): 348,994 (the equivalent of almost 2,493 tweets)
Number of paragraphs: 2,117
Number of author notes: 2 (only two?)

Write-in Stuff
Number of hours spent at write-ins: 38
Average write-in attendance: 11 people
Highest number of attendees at a write-in: 23
Lowest number of attendees at a write-in: 9
Number of popsicle sticks that fell off the graveyard: 10
Number of gravestones in the character graveyard: …I’m not counting that high. We’re a bloodthirsty bunch.

The character graveyard. We're a bloodthirsty bunch.

Here. You count them.

Random Stuff
Number of times Word froze on me: 14
Number of hours spent listening to Abney Park: 30
Number of hours spent listening to the Sherlock Holmes score: 10
Number of tea bags consumed: 18 pumpkin spice, 15 cinnamon vanilla, and 40 English breakfast

And, my final excerpt (again, with the unedited thing):

“I left Mistress Genevieve in your care,” Wilson said, his voice as even as ever. “You said that she was safe with you. You lied.”

The metal fingers clenched tighter, and Alastair had to wedge his own hands under Wilson’s fingers before he was choked. Below him was nothing but air. His feet kicked uselessly. “The ship was attacked by a dragon. I had slightly more pressing concerns!”

If that news affected Wilson’s judgment, the automaton did not show it. “You lied. I said that if Mistress Genevieve came to harm, I would kill you. I do not lie, Mr. Cole.”

God damn it, this is not how I pictured dying: thrown off a ship by a pissed-off automaton. A pissed-off automaton that was strangling him, on that note. Alastair fought to breathe. “If you kill me, Wilson, you won’t be able to get her back.”

“I do not believe you, Mr. Cole.”

NaNoWriMo – Week 2

The Barenaked Critic Does National Novel Writing Month 2011Wow. I can’t believe week 2 is over, and we’re halfway through the month. That’s not just for NaNo reasons; I have a lot of work-related stuff that needs to be completed before Thanksgiving. Which is a week from Thursday. How did that happen? I don’t recall giving permission for that.

Minimum word count for November 15: 25,005/50,000

My current word count: 31,653/50,000

Adventures in NaNoing: Sunday, November 13, was my highest word count day thus far, with just over 6,000 words logged. I’m thrilled and relieved to have the buffer again. I’m still planning on writing every day, but I have run into a few days where getting much more than 300-400 words just isn’t going to happen.

For example, Friday evening I went out to dinner for a friend’s birthday, which I was perfectly happy to attend, though I didn’t want to stay out till all hours of the night. I can be a semi-hermit one month out of the year, right?

I’ve also spent the bulk of the past week fighting a headache after work, which (understandably) impaired my weekday word count. The past two days I’ve done good with catching up on sleep, though, so hopefully I will not have that same problem going into week 3.

I’ve continued to be impressed with our write-in turnout. Last year, we dropped from about 20 people at the first library write-in to around 10 at the second. This year, I think we actually ended the second library write-in with the same number as last week: 23. Plus, we had another good crowd at the Wendy’s write-in, both in person and online. I can’t express how happy it makes me to see people coming to our events. I think we’ve got a really good group here.

Also, I have to give a shoutout to Lissa for introducing me to Abney Park. When I told her I was writing steampunk this year, she insisted I give them a listen, and lent me some of their CDs.

I. Am. In. Love.

They’ve become the official soundtrack for my story, which is surprising, since normally it’s very difficult for me to listen to music with lyrics when I’m writing (or at least, lyrics in a language I can understand). I will have to acquire more of their music soon; I’ve got at least another 30,000-40,000 words to write on this story.

In moderately related NaNo news, my co-ML bought me some DELICIOUS holiday tea. It’s not caffeinated, which makes it perfect for late-night writing when I don’t NEED to stay up until all hours. And the pumpkin spice tea is a-ma-zing.

Very Short Excerpt:
Remember, this is unedited. Whee!

She tried to take measured breaths, keeping her fury to a manageable level. “You have not answered my question, Mr. Cole.”

His grey eyes flicked from her to Wilson, and then he cleared his throat. “You could have your automaton release me. I’m not going anywhere.”

Genevieve narrowed her eyes. “Were you in my mother’s laboratory?”

His eyes met hers. “Yes.”

Genevieve felt as though her breath was stolen away. He had been in her mother’s laboratory. He had been the one who had run from her. What else did he know? She set her jaw. “Wilson, shut the door. I have some other questions for Mr. Cole.”