Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WPW: MLIA Homage

**Hi all, welcome to another Writing Prompt Wednesday. Won't you play along? The guidelines are simple, and I'd love to read what you come up with.** Today's WPW is brought to you in the style of My Life is Average

Today, I spent the morning
wandering around the house unshaven, in my oldest dressing gown, feeling vaguely scary, like a crazed uncle who has escaped from the attic. And then I remembered, I do that every day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Bets and Word Counts

I officially declare the 2009 write-off over with. Boy howdy, I am more than ready.

Technically, there's still about twenty minutes left to the contest, but Boudreau finished at 10:00, 'cause he's in another time zone, and I'm just plain done. Deb and Jenny have also said "finito."

Documents have been e-mailed between Boudreau and I and I've done a word count. I used Word for the sake of consistency - 'cause Boudreau and I have both used Open Office at points in the contest and it and Word count words differently (blech, dumb software). So, completed documents got opened in Word and counted.

Total Counts
Me: 40,870
Boudreau: 40,445
Deb: 17,007
Jenny: 11,262

Boy am I ever exhausted and brain-fried. I'm sure I'll have a post up in the next couple days that has more to say about the bet and what I learned from it, (like from doing a blind re-write on the 1st part of Oracle), but for today I've not got that much in me.

Instead, I'll just say an enthusiastic Congratulations! to everyone who participated. You've all done lots in the past two weeks, and I'm proud to have y'all to go up against. Without Boudreau's manic progress, I guarantee you I wouldn't have cranked out as much as I did. That's the beauty of competition.

You all are totally badass in my book, and I'm glad to know you. Now step away from the computer and go do something else.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pedal to the Metal

Today I learned that it is possible to write 10,000 words in one day. Now I am tired. That's all I have to say about that.

Home Stretch

We're almost at the end, folks. We're talking final push time. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WPW: *Sort of

*The pressure of the contest is catching up with me, so I'm interrupting your regularly scheduled Wednesday programming and, following Boudreau's lead, proffering an excerpt from my contest writing rather than the typical WPW fare. This bit comes from Oracle:

He broke the seal on the card, knowing full well that Nonna already knew exactly what it said. One of the luxuries her clients enjoyed was a private telegraph office operated by one of Nonna's staff. The seal on the card did not mean no one knew the message, but that only Nonna and her telegraph operator did. The message was from the Ordish temple and was one word long, “Come.” One could always rely on Corin for his elegant manners and courtesy. Arnell debated ignoring the summons, but if the matter warranted a midnight telegraph, there was a strong possibility it had to do with the trip Arnell had just returned from which meant Corin would be most displeased with being ignored.

Corin's displeasure, in and of itself, did not bother Arnell. He was about as concerned with the man's feelings as fuck all. However, Corin often made his displeasure felt in inconvenient ways. Last time Arnell irritated the high priest, Corin had sent the city guard after him, claiming Arnell had stolen five hundred coin from the temple vault. At the time, Corin had just paid him five hundred coin from the temple vault. Five hundred coin Arnell had on him at the time of his arrest. The city guard did not look kindly on the coincidence and the result had been a very unpleasant night for Arnell as he was roughed up by the guard and tossed in a dank cell to stew. Corin visited the next day and cleared up the “misunderstanding,” but the point had been made. The high priest was not a man to irritate lightly.

Arnell climbed out of the bath. “Duty calls.”

Monday, September 21, 2009


The Cass book now officially has a beginning, middle, and end. I just finished my first complete novel. It's a cool feeling.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ending, and Beginning Again

So, sometime tomorrow, or maybe the next day, there's a very real possibility that I'll have a completed draft of the Cass novel. I'm talking whole she-bang, people. It's an impressive thought. Of course, said draft will be far from perfect, and there's plenty of messiness to clean up, but I'll have a beginning, middle, and end. Whoo-doggie.

But, the contest doesn't end tomorrow, or the next day. That means I'm going to have to dive right into the next project. I've been thinking about going back to Oracle for a while now, (like what, a year and a half?) and it looks like the contest will necessitate this happening ASAP. It's exciting. (Not to mention exhausting. Trying to keep up with Boudreau is tough.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Long and Short of It

Yay! I've just hit the 10,000 word mark for my contest word count. Boudreau's still in the lead, but I'm staying ahead of Deb and Jenny, (until they read this, get fired up, and blow by me).

Today is also interesting for the sake of where I am in the Cass book. For a while, I've been thinking I was at a certain point in the plot, a point that I figured was about half way. But, as I've been doing the contest, having to keep up the pace made me rethink. Basically, I was thinking how certain other things needed to happen before I got going on the final show-down, except I couldn't figure out what those other things were. All I could think of was that I needed more "stuff" because I needed more pages before the big fight. Getting stuck on figuring out that "stuff" brought up a question that I might not have asked myself if I had lots of time to ponder and come up with "stuff." That question: "But, why?"

What's the purpose of waiting? Yeah, the fight itself is going to be kind of short, but there's still plenty of lead up to the fight. Characters need to do certain things, a certain set of actions need to happen. So, why not jump right in? I had an "aha!" moment, which was cool. The biggest problem I was having was second guessing myself - I've started a couple of novels, and even gotten to the end of the middle of one, but this is the first one I'm getting to the end of, and I was worried I was doing it wrong. Bah. Enough of that. Right now is the part where I just write it. Later, if it turns out I actually do need more stuff, I can add it in. It's a very freeing thought.

This morning, I deleted a couple of paragraphs of "stuff" so that instead of spacing out certain events, they were happening on top of each other. It's a lot more fun to write this way.

Okay, back to writing, it's time to beat the tar out of some characters.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

WPW Roundup: 9/17/09

In the midst of contest craziness, Boudreau offers a very meta WPW post.

As I Go Writing

I have discovered that my word processor does not recognize the word "lych." Nor does my web browser, or anything else. More's the pity. It's a good word.

In other news: It's nice to see the contest folk doing so well, though I admit I wouldn't mind a few of them doing a little less well. Punks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thesis Cutting Room Floor

Today, before I add any more words to Cass, I'm doing another revision pass on my thesis preface. One bit that I really like is getting cut, but I didn't want to murder it completely, and it's a pretty stand-alone-y paragraph, so I'm going to share it with you:

During the course of creating the collection, I became more and more interested in the possibilities of the mythology in it. The relationship between the animalistic and magical evokes cultures that believe in the supernatural as a course of fact. A shaman casts a spell and a sick child becomes well. Modern science explains the correlation as a placebo effect, but the child believes in the magic. Either way, the end result is the same. One way or another, the spell worked. I immediately thought of the Anthropology 451 course I took, titled “Culture/Deviance/Psychopathology.” During that course, we discussed Voodoo death, a very real, very extreme example of the effectiveness of a killing curse. Our human relationship with magic is ongoing, even in an era where we cleave to science as the explainer of all things. The genres of magical realism, urban fantasy, high fantasy, and modern fairy tales thrive and seem to say that, even now, science is not enough for us.

WPW: Thesis Progress

**Hi all, welcome to another Writing Prompt Wednesday. Won't you play along? The guidelines are simple, and I'd love to read what you come up with.** (Yes, even with the word count contest, I'm still doing WPW. Of course, it is brief. (No, it doesn't count toward my word count.))

Nelly: How's things? How goes your thesis?
Ben: Well,
you know that weird pull to have everything spotless that I always get when there's something else that really needs to get done?
Nelly: Not going so well, then?
Ben: Well, let's just say, you could eat off my dog.

Monday, September 14, 2009


The contest is on!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On Your Marks... Get Set...

Today I went to the store to pick up some vitally important race supplies:

Dog Food: So Sherman doesn't starve when this bag is empty in a couple days
New Dog Toy & Rawhide: So Sherman can entertain herself
Scented Candle: To better facilitate butt-kicking Feng Shui
New Pens: With which to do some longhand writing while I've got the odd moment here and there but no computer handy
Cookies: To go with the caffeine in my spicy tea and to keep my blood sugar up

Task-wise, I've got just one or two more things I want to wrap up before tomorrow. I'm not sure if I'll wrap them up completely, but I'm pleased with how many things I've already crossed off my list. Metaphorically speaking, I think my calves and hamstrings are well-stretched to start the marathon tomorrow.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Contest Warm Up

Last time I did the writing contest, it was a spur-of-the-moment sort of thing. This time, it's all more planned out and I've decided to be a bit more strategic about it. Mostly, by that, I mean that I've got myself a warm up planned.

The first part of my warm up is simple - to get some other things done before Monday so I can have those things out of the way as I'm powering through pages. So, part of my warm up list includes writing my bio for the CWC website and doing all kinds of English 099 & 101 grading and planning.

The second part of my warm up is more focused on getting ready for the challenge itself. This part includes things like clearing off my kitchen table so I have a place to set up my laptop. I don't have wireless at home, so using my laptop means I won't have the temptations of e-mail, etc. while I'm working. Another part of this plan is to do some Cass edits to sort out a problem I was having with the bit just before the bit I'll be writing from scratch. This'll also help me get back into the project and ready to go.

Strategy, people. I has it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Samoas Incident

Betsy had just woken up from sleeping in and was still wearing her gray terrycloth robe. She still had curlers in her hair, the fuzz of a dream in her head, pillow creases on her face, and an empty spot in her stomach where breakfast was soon to go. In short, she didn't especially feel like answering the door.

But, there was always a chance it could be Publisher's Clearinghouse and the allure of a comically oversized check with lots of zeroes outweighed her vanity. She pulled the door open.

"Good morning Mrs. Sebastianson," said a little pig-tailed girl with a big smile full of braces.

"Er," said Betsy.

"My name is Sally. I live up the street." Sally pointed. Betsy waited for her to get to the point.

"The reason I've come today is I'm doing a fund raiser for school to help raise money for new basketballs for my gym class." Little Sally fumbled with a catalog.

Fund raiser? Betsy perked up. "Got any Samoas?"


"You know, Samoas. Cookies with caramel?"

Sally looked blank, then she held up the catalog. Page after page of stationary and flower bulbs. "You see, this is what we're selling."

"No Samoas then?"

"No, I guess not."

Betsy sighed. "Well, then." Betsy closed the door on little Sally. Maybe Publisher's Clearinghouse would come tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No More Slots/The Detailed Contest Terms

So, I made this bet, with whoever wanted to take me up on it, that I could write more than they could. Much to my surprise, not only did someone take me up on said bet, but three someone's did. I'm officially announcing that the contest is full. Love you lots, but if you haven't joined in yet, you'll have to wait for the next one (or start one yourself).

That said, let me introduce the contestants and lay out the terms.

Me, of course
Jenny, of the CWC
Deb, also of the CWC
and B. Freret, who is a mysterious figure I've only met via the internet

  • The contest will begin at midnight on Monday, September 14th.
  • During the contest, the goal is simple: write a lot of words. Those words will all go toward a specific, unified project (I'll be working on Cass).
  • If, during the contest, someone finishes their project - i.e. they've wrapped up their novel - then they start on their next project. However, the word count does not include miscellaneous stuff like personal e-mails, blog posts, etc. If it's not in the novel/story collection, it doesn't count.
  • Also, obviously, only words written during the contest itself count.
  • During the contest, each contestant will keep a running word count on their respective blog.
  • The contest will end on Sunday, September 27th. Given consideration for UGWP responsibilities/dinner, I'm going to make the deadline 12:00 noon.
  • No later than 12:01 p.m. on the 27th, each contestant will e-mail the others what they've written.
Okay, I think I've gotten all the important points. Oh yeah, the winner gets a free dinner. Now, Jenny and Deb are thinking the person with the lowest word count buys everybody else dinner, but I'm broke, so I'm thinking I'm going to see if I can talk them into changing that a bit - like, the losers pool their resources to buy the winner a meal. And Boudreau, well, I'm working under the assumption that Boudreau might not be in Colorado and thus may be unable to make the dinner. We'll see.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's On

Yesterday I got all bravado-y, and Jenny's not letting me get away with it without a fight. Dang it. We're sorting out terms now. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Any Takers?

I've been thinking about the contest with John lately, and how it got me fired up and produced a ton of writing. Said bet happened last September and I'm in the mood to revisit it. My only difficulty is that I need someone to race against. So, I'm putting out an open invitation to anyone who thinks they can whip me in a word count contest. Think of it like a modified NaNoWriMo.

We can decide on specific terms, but the jist would be that you and I would start on a decided-upon date and crank out as many words as possible for about two weeks. We would each keep a running tally of our respective word count on our respective blogs, and at the end, the loser would by the winner some food/bake them cookies/whatever.

If you're game, respond to this post. If there is more than one person with the gumption to take this on, we can have a three-way ;)

The Squeeze

Hey look, it's September. You may have noticed, I dropped the ball on having an August challenge. By the time I realized I'd forgotten, it was already half way through the month so I decided to let it go.

But now it's September and it's time for another challenge. This one is simple: Do more.

I have three classes this semester and my major goal is to avoid the pattern I've tended to fall into during previous semesters - a pattern of focusing too much on the classes. Let me explain. By focusing too much, I don't mean I've worked too hard at teaching, because I don't think anyone ever can work too hard at being a good teacher. No, the key word here is "focus." Sometimes, the semester gets going and I start blowing off other things because I tell myself that teaching classes is enough work. I tell myself "It's so hard, I deserve a break from cooking/writing/taking Sherman for walks/whatever."

Not this semester, my friends. I've realized in the past that I'm capable of a whole heck of a lot, like whipping out 80 pages of brand new text during my bet with John. So, my challenge for myself this month is two-fold. Part one involves being efficient and on top of my preparations and grading for my classes. Part two involves maximizing my momentum from having an organized schedule again to keep up/catch up with other projects. They say if you really want something done, give the task to a busy person. It's time for me to be that highly efficient busy person again.

For you, I challenge you to take a hard look at your schedule and commitments. I know you're busy. I know you have a lot of important obligations. But, I also know that you can squeeze a little more out of your day. Maybe it's very little, but there's more to be had. A month from now, you might not care that you watched that movie, or took that extra long lunch break, but you'll probably care if you wrote 20 pages more than your goal. Most people have more time available to them than they realize, it's just a matter of squeezing the most out of your time. If you don't believe me, try making a schedule for yourself along the lines of
7 a.m.-7:20 a.m.: Breakfast
7:20 a.m.-7:30 a.m.: Get dressed...
If you can see where all your minutes go, it's a lot easier to get perspective.

Then, once you've figured out how you can squeeze a few more pages/visits to the gym/whatever out of your week, do it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

WPW Round Up: 9/3/2009

Boudreau had another go at WPW this week, with a post about Dora the Explorer and other adventures.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WPW: The First Entry

**Hi all, welcome to another Writing Prompt Wednesday. Won't you play along? The guidelines are simple, and I'd love to read what you come up with.**

Dear Diary,
Before we begin, there is something you should know about me, your narrator. You should know that the narrator a selfish asshole. It's all me, me, me, all the time. My therapist, or, rather, my ex-therapist, foolishly suggested that there was some kind of problem with this. But, what does he know? It's not like a Ph.D from Harvard suddenly makes you king of the universe. Jackass.

Anyway, Diary, now it's just you and me. Well, I mean, me and you. Except, really, you're just an extension of me anyway, so when you get right down to it, it's just me and me. And that, that is the way it should be. So, today is the first day of me telling myself all about me. I can't wait to get started.