Theme Reveal Day! 2016 Blogging from A-Z April Challenge

atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2Grr, I cut my pinky on a mandoline blade when cleaning out a kitchen drawer today.  The giant bandage is making it hard to type.

Today, March 21, is the 2016 Blogging from A-Z April Challenge Theme Reveal!  This year, I have a plan, and I’m actually ahead of myself for once.  Cheers for me!

RULE BRITANNIA--oh wait, that’s the wrong cheer.  Calm down, Grandma.

RULE BRITANNIA–oh wait, that’s the wrong cheer.  Calm down, Grandma.

Image:  stockimages /

Ironically, the captcha for downloading that image was “forever and ever.”

I really enjoyed writing the Character series in the 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge.  In that vein, this year I’ve chosen to pick apart different elements of settings.

In this post on The How to Write Shop, Kathy Steffen states:

A setting does more than add interest; in fact, if your story can take place anywhere and nothing else in your story would need to change, rethink how you have used setting. Make it integral to the story[…]. 

Check out her post; it’s from a few years ago, but she shares some cool creative writing prompts you can use to establish a setting.  And you might want to look at this one on world-building from Chuck Wendig.  He’s so good he makes me feel like a clumsy farmer trying to plow a field with a fork, but he’s also pretty inspiring in between the swears.  In fact, that entire post kind of negates my entire series here.

Your lack of faith disturbs me. -- Darth Gorilla

Your lack of faith disturbs me. — Darth Gorilla

Image:   Arvind Balaraman /

And the captcha for that one was “Plan Ahead.” I’m on a roll here.

I already wrote about setting once before, in this post.  For the Challenge, I’ll cover a few things I didn’t mention and try to expand on those I did.   These posts will pose lots of questions.  You don’t have to answer them all; just pick the ones most applicable to your story.  It may seem overwhelming, but if you picture the setting in your head and you know where you want to put your characters, the answers will come to you.

And remember, nothing is set in stone at this point.  A first draft is only that—a first draft.  But a solid setting in your mind will make moving your characters through the story much easier, as well as orient your readers.  World-building is fun, but it requires careful consideration.

Stay tuned for the Challenge.  I’ll see you there!

NaNoWriMo 2015 Day 30: The End is Nigh

I hope everybody had a safe, sane, and happy Thanksgiving weekend.  If you don’t celebrate the Day of the Turkey, I hope you had a good weekend regardless.

Welp, it’s the last day of NaNoWriMo and I  have not finished Secret Book.  I have written 15,250 words this month, which is more than I wrote on the thing in quite a while, so I don’t consider it a failure at all.   My total words come out to 94,997.

According to my NaNoWriMo stats, at the rate I went this month, I will finish on February 7, 2016.  Maybe.  Maybe sooner, if I push myself through December.  I’m starting to see the links in this story (actually, it’s two stories that converge, then break apart again), and that perks me up a little.  It’s like building something; at first, it’s just a jumble of parts, but when you get to a certain point, you start to see the finished product emerging.

Just stack those over there; we'll have this done in a jiffy.

Just stack those over there, Nigel; we’ll have this done in a jiffy.

Photo: Elizabeth West

I don’t think I’ll do NaNoWriMo to finish something this complicated again.  Tunerville had the distinct advantage of being somewhat simplistic; it’s just a straightforward urban fantasy and I could fly by the seat of my pants throughout.

Remember this guy?  Like him.  

Remember this guy?  Kinda like him.


So now there is a month left to go before New Year’s Day.  I shall lurk a bit and see if I can finish the draft by then.  I’ll keep posting the increased word count (I made a cool spreadsheet) so watch the counter on my homepage.  You’ll know when I’m done.  Hell, they’ll probably hear me scream all the way in London.  I still have a couple of vocabulary posts to go, so expect those upcoming.

Thank you for sticking with me through the lamest NaNoWriMo of all time.  I PROMISE I WILL FINISH.

Now I shall leave you lovely people and go watch The Walking Dead.  Here is a video of a dog who feels my pain at having to get up to go to work after a long weekend.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Day 23 and 24: BLAST

Word count Day 23:  Zippo (on the page)

Word Count Day 24:  2152  

I finished a very pivotal scene.  And I thought of several ways I can tie Protagonist 1’s experiences in so that they foreshadow later events, without actually giving anything away.

Heh heh.

Heh heh.

As a writer, I live for realizations like that.  They’re what keep me going through a first draft.  I think some of the difficulty I’ve been having with Secret Book is that it felt disjointed for so long.  I couldn’t see how the pieces fit together; writing it in a linear fashion would not have helped.  Reading the outline didn’t either.

Now I can see them, as I take them out of the puzzle box of my mind and assemble them on the page.  As scenes go from a summary paragraph to fleshed-out realities, some of the things Protag 1 and 2 do and say are surprising me, but they make more sense now.

Nothing is set in stone at this point.  Everything could change in rewrite.  I so look forward to that adventure.


It’s two days until Thanksgiving in the U.S.  Tonight’s video is from Blue Mountain Cards and gives us an amusing musical look at the standoff between a farmer and his holiday dinner.  Enjoy!

NaNoWriMo 2015 Day 19: Boost!

Word count: 1,873

Holy marathon, Batman, I finished the most annoying scene ever.  It sucks like a giant Dyson from space, but that’s okay.  I just repeat my mantra for pushing through a first draft:  I can fix it later.

Possibly influenced by Scarlett O'Hara.

Possibly influenced by Scarlett O’Hara.

Plus, I broke the 90,000-word mark.  Yay me!  \0/

This book will need to go through several rewrites and about a zillion edits before I’m anywhere close to ready for any beta readers.  In fact, I think I’ll probably have to start on the Rose’s Hostage sequel next, or that poor thing will never get done.

Our bizarre 1960s video for tonight–a cinema snack bar advertisement.  Anyone besides me think that peanut at the beginning looks a little…..protruding?

NaNoWriMo Day 17: Building

Word count: 1,831.

Much better, yes?  As tired as I am today (I have no idea why, but I’m going to bed soon, I promise), I found it easier to write this evening.  That feeling has been rather AWOL of late.  Along with it comes relief.  During those dry spells and blockages, you sometimes think it’s not going to come back.

In tonight’s video, we learn what happens to you when you don’t sleep.  Good night, everybody.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Day 16: Slow Burn

Word count: 797

This is going much more slowly than I thought.  I’m not in a race to finish by the end of the month anymore.  It’s too much pressure.  If I do, then great; if not, I’ll keep going until the book is done.  I think that NaNoWriMo has done that much for me this time around, and that’s good enough.

Writing is like this sometimes.  Some books don’t come as easily as others.  Some characters kick and scream and clutch at the door as you try to draw them into the light.  Rose’s Hostage practically fell out of the keyboard.  Tunerville went faster the more I wrote.  Perhaps this book will too.

Speaking of easy, let this wonderful song by the uber-talented Ed Sheeran insert itself into your ears.  Just try not to tap your feet.  I dare you.

NaNoWriMo Day 15: Post of few words

Word count: 889

Cleaned house; watched Once Upon a Time (hush; I know it’s sort of dumb, but I like it), and managed to get a scene percolating from one of the illustrative passages I mentioned before.  Now it’s late and I am very tired and I have to work tomorrow.

I forgot to update my counter on here last night, so now it will reflect the word count from both today and yesterday.  My NaNoWriMo count stands at 7,540 so far.

In tonight’s video, we see some adorable penguins who managed to break out of their enclosure at a zoo in Denmark but were soon busted.  Helpful hint, guys–you might dry your feet before you try that again!

NaNoWriMo 2015 Day 14: Rounding up the strays

Word count: 1,442

I’m not feeling well tonight, so I decided to comb through my notes for scenes I haven’t written yet.  I found these strays floating through them, where I made notes and then wrote small passages to illustrate them.  They’ll all go in the book.

I also found the name of the road in London that I appropriated for Protagonist 2’s locale.  It’s a pretty road with a lot of Victorian row houses on it.  I stumbled onto it when knocking around Hampstead one day last autumn.  There’s a house listing on this road, and it’s only £4,500,000.  Sure, I’ll make an offer.  IN MY DREAMS.

Image from Google Street View, Heath Hurst Road, Hampstead London  

Image from Google Street View, Heath Hurst Road, Hampstead London

Protagonists 1 and 2 are young adults in the 1960s; here is a hilarious look at their social scene in London at the time.  The narration is super snarky, but it’s a good representation of the kooky fashions of the time.

NaNoWriMo Day 12: Drifting

Word count: 79

Still reading and working with Protag 1’s dossier.  I added a little bit to something I finished, too.  Also, my word count spreadsheet says I only have 84,956 words, so I have updated my counter to reflect that.  Not sure where I went wrong; I probably entered a number incorrectly.

There’s a scene I want to write, but I’ve been avoiding it until I can get a few more words under my belt.  Or perhaps I should just do it.

The most difficult part of a book to write is the middle.  It tends to sag sometimes.  Whether you start at the beginning or skip around like I do, the middle bit is like that stretch of dull, endless highway between your home and your destination.  You’ve gone too far to turn back, but you’re not sure you have enough energy to go on.

And on, and on, and on….

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

You get sleepy and you try to focus on your craft, but you’re anxious to get to the end, and so it suffers.  You drift.  Sometimes you get so far out of your lane that when you go back and reread what you wrote, the incongruity of it is like the blare of a trucker’s horn snapping you out of your doze.  You veer back into your lane and vow to pay attention.  You’re dedicated.

If you want to see an example of dedication, watch this video about a man in India who has cared for his feathered friends for over ten years.  And did you know there are wild parakeets in southeast England?  Yes, it’s true.  I’ve seen them.


Day 8 and 9 NaNoWriMo 2015: Back in the Saddle!

Word count Day 8:  0.

Word count Day 9: 1682.

All right, it’s not Canada Day and I’m not in Canada, but I liked those, okay?

I hope everyone survived the weekend and you’ve recovered from Monday.  The Back of Doom is better– I managed to do a set of stair climbs today (just one, but that’s progress) at work.  And I finished another lingering scene.  Yay!

I was not hung over from Saturday’s experiment, I promise.  I drank a huge glass of water before bed and managed to sleep long enough to awaken with nothing more than a very slight headache.  But an entire week of working while in major pain really took the starch out of me.  I was tired on Saturday, and Sunday I just could. not. even.  I didn’t even get dressed.

You need that every once in a while.  

You need that every once in a while.

Image:  tiverylucky /

So we’re back in the saddle again, and I’m starting to get more into Protagonist 1’s head.  That person’s scenes have been woefully neglected while I carry on my rekindled love affair with England.

Time to go to sleep for tonight.  My office is closed on Wednesday (Veteran’s Day in the US, Remembrance Day in the UK), so hopefully I have some catch-up time.  See you then, Wrimos.