It's All About Story

National Novel Writing Month is over and I do not have a novel to show for it. I have some notes, some visual prompts, and nine scenes spread across two time periods. In all it works out to a bit more than 13,000 words of finely crafted, well thought out prose. Ha. Still, a novel it is not. Not by a long shot.
I started off badly, dinking and ducking my word count for the first week. Then I hit it hard during my time off and made good progress and high daily word counts, but that didn’t last. And I may have burned a little too bright, because I burned out quickly after going back to work. Between everything going on at home, the approaching holiday, and going back to work, I floundered and then flopped on my face. No victory dance for me this year.
But I have a good story here and one that I’m going to continue working on, only at a more reasonable pace for someone working 40+ hours a week at a regular job and trying to maintain a marriage and family life.
To everyone that pushed through and hit their 50,000 words, I congratulate you. It’s a good feeling and you should enjoy it. To those who started with the best of intentions and failed to hit the mark, I say, don’t give up the dream, the world needs your story. To those of you who didn’t even try… what the hell, man!

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Success is Slipping Away

It’s early yet. We’re just halfway through the month. I’ve made good progress and written more than I have since last year this time. I have my novel pretty well figured out. But it just ain’t going to happen. I’m only at 13k and I should be at 25k tomorrow.
Last night, when I should have been writing, I watched Arrow with the wife.
This morning when I should have been writing I was doing artsy-fartsy stuff.
This afternoon, when I should have been writing, I was building a light fixture above the dresser, stained my planter cover, and then I went and did Autumn yard clean-up stuff.
Right now, when I should be writing, I’m putting up a blog post  while I wait for the wife to come home so that we can have some dinner.
Okay, I know, if you want to be a writer you’ve got to write. If you want to win NaNoWriMo, you’ve got to write 1,667 words a day. But right now, I can’t find the time for that many words. It usually takes me about 3-hours to reach the 2,000 word mark. I’m just not that fast. And that’s a lot of time.
This is a terrible month for anything, let alone writing. Usually, I can isolate myself away and get it done. But we’re hosting Thanksgiving. The youngest wants to have a birthday party HERE on the 3rd. I’ve got painting still to do, the mantle and top still need to be polyurathaned, I’ve got to get the yard in shape before it snows, and I know I’m forgetting a bunch of other stuff I’m not going to be allowed to ignore  this year.
So, I’m going to continue to write. I’m going to continue to write daily. But I do not see how I’m going to get a 50k story done this month. I’ll try, but you’ve been warned.

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Nine Days Noveling

I didn’t get as much done on the novel as I had hoped over the weekend, but when you include this mornings results I’m up over 7,000 words. Still nearly 8,000 words behind schedule, but the day is not over and I don’t have to go to work Tuesday or Wednesday. Hopefully, I will do less life stuff and more writing with those two days.
I’m still on track to hit my mark if I write 2,000 words a day. The problem with that, is I’m only averaging 779 words a day over the first nine days. Which is far short of the 1,667 words I’m scheduled to write and even further from a mark of 2,000. I’m continuing to push forward, but at this point in the process my optimism is beginning to wane.
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Also, I have updated my word meters in the sidebar.

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Crawling, But Still Moving Forward

I’m way behind schedule with my novel. I feel like I’m still working on my research and ideas, which should have been done last month. I mean shit, I’ve had this idea since late September, shouldn’t I have done more work on it? Why am I still stuck for plot points and scenes.
I’ve managed to get all the scenes figured out for the ‘PAST’ section of the story, but the order they go in is still up in the air. Fortunately, I don’t feel like I need to know where they go to write them. Which is different than my usual way of writing. The ‘PRESENT’ part of the story is still very sketchy, I’m definitely pantsing those parts.
This morning I wrote 1,100 words and I’ll write more later today. I also whipped up a few more wallpapers while I was cooking ideas up in my head.

Paul
I don’t know who this kid is, I’m calling him Paul.

SeekersUnknown
Ares was on a TV show called Seekers of the Unknown

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National Novel Writing Month 2015

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Struggling With My Pantsing

I did not do enough planning last month. The story is very vague in my head. This is not a good place to be. The word count is low. Very low. It’s less than the 1,667 words I should be writing each day. But I haven’t written yet today and this week has been full up of distractions (kids, projects, work, the usual), I hoping for a decent count tonight and to make up lost ground with my upcoming PTO.
I’m taking Monday and Tuesday off, which means that when I walk out on Friday I won’t have to think about work until Thursday morning. Thank you Veterans Day.
Here’s what I’ve wasted my time doing. Yep. You’ve already seen my fake cover. Here are the inspirational wallpapers that slideshow on my screens as I sit here.

Ares Arthur
Here we have muscian Doug Paisley standing in for our hero Ares Arthur

Grant Garrett
This is actor/model/trainer Pierluigi Farne taking on the roll of Grant Garrett

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The whole cast of my imagination (courtesy of the internet) surrounding a creepy root cellar of some sort.

This seems to be developing into some sort of Holmes-Watson / Sheldon-Leonard meet Dresden’s Chicago sort of thing. Which may be good or may be completely removed in rewrite. Only time will tell. I have decided to use this story as a bridge to connect the worlds of my other fiction, you know, because I don’t have enough to do with this story.

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NaNo Exercise 2

The Last Summer of Grand Adventure

Grandma thought a boy should be out of the house on a beautiful mid-summer day. So he had shut off the game, grabbed grandpa’s pocket knife, and stuffed a fistful of the leftover lady fingers into his shorts and went looking for adventure.
The ladyfingers might be duds, he had left them on the picnic table after the fireworks and the morning dew had gotten to them. But they had potential. The pocket knife wasn’t really grandpas, it was his, but it had been a gift from his grandpa when he’d got out of elementary school. It’d been his inheritance. He’d carried it with him every day for the last three years.
“A boy can’t find near as much adventure without a good knife,” grandpa had written in the note, “as he can with one. Be a good boy.”
So Paul took it with him everywhere. And everywhere he went he looked for adventure.
Paul found his walking stick where he’d thrown it, near the base of the black maple that marked the edge of the woods. It wasn’t really a wood, more a little plot of undeveloped land down the road from his house. It was lightly wooded, with lots of open spaces full of waist high grass, and a maze of dirt tracks cleared by kids on BMX and teenagers on dirtbikes. But it was wild and untamed by streets, sidewalks, and most importantly houses.
It was a wild place. Not as wild as the big woods had been, but they’d be gone soon. The bulldozers and machines had shown up in April and the wide swaths that would soon be roads were already cut and edged with cement curbs throughout. Next would come the pavement and then the houses and then the big woods would be gone. But he still had these woods.
He grabbed his walking staff and headed off toward the big lake, where it was more heavily wooded and that much more exciting. He spun the staff like a baton, swung it two handed, and smacked a bunch of green helicopters off a low hanging branch. Down by the water was where the teenagers partied, by the shoreline under the canopy of the big willow tree, out of site from any casual observer and far enough from the road that the police wouldn’t hear them.
He could probably collect enough empties to buy a pop and a Snickers at Richardson’s. And maybe he could find more girly magazines, there hadn’t been any there last time, but the time before he’d found two that hadn’t been ruined by the rain. A half sodden copy of Juggs, full of the biggest boobs he had ever seen, and another with the cover missing that actually showed people doing it. He had taken them home and hidden them in the basement, but his brother had found them and then gotten them taken away by his friend’s mother. Thankfully, his mother hadn’t found them, or been called.
Paul was a little nervous. Not as much as he had been earlier in the summer, but now he’d done this a few times on his own. Mostly he came down here with Grant and Ares, but they were both gone.
Ares was gone every summer, traveling around with his parents doing all sorts of weird stuff. Like last summer, Ares claimed they went to Alaska to look for gold and count bears. Ares didn’t think much of it, but it sounded cool to Paul.
Grant was off spending a month with his grandparents in the U.P., which sounded fun too. Grant’s grandparents were right on the edge of some big woods, one of the national forests. Grant had taken him there once. But all Paul had was these woods and the nightly fights between his parents. So here he was walking in the woods, hoping to find something exciting to share with Grant when he came back. Maybe even something to rival whatever Ares had gotten up to this summer.
As Paul reached the slope he stopped and gave a long listen. He couldn’t see anyone with all the trees, but if they were being rowdy you’d hear them. Sure, there was always the chance of being chased off by the teenagers if he stumbled on them, but he was pretty sure they came down there at night. There were signs of a campfire and some of the magazines and beer cans he’d found were burnt.
He’d heard someone down there once, but hadn’t ventured close enough to see what they were doing. You never knew what the older kids would do. To Paul, teenagers were a whole different species. The girls were different than the girls in his class and different from the moms. The boys were unpredictable and mostly mean. They drank. They smoked. They were always kissing. And they had these magazines. He liked those magazines. You had to be careful around teenagers.
Paul knew that by Christmas, they’d all be fifteen themselves, he and Grant and Ares. They were already teens, but next year they’d be real teenagers, high school kids. Girlfriends. Driver licenses. Jobs. He was not looking forward to it. He’d actually like to go back to sixth-grade and recess three times a day. He found the path and slipped down into the trees.
The first thing he noticed was that someone had dragged an old couch into the clearing under the big willow and left it near the camp fire pit. The second thing made him freeze in his tracks. Then, very slowly, and very quietly, he stepped back and off the path. He slipped into the tall grass and behind a small oak tree. Concealing himself where he could still see, but was pretty sure he wouldn’t be seen.
Right here in front of him. In the shade of the willow. His willow. There was a naked girl in the lake.
A very pretty naked girl.

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NaNo Exercise 1

THE TV IN THE HOUSE

Grant lifted his cappuccino to the level of his chin, his mouth opened, and shut again slowly. His eyes crinkled into a squint and he tilted his head like a curious tabby. The cup drifted down and away, but didn’t reach the table.
“What? Hold on a second. So you’re saying that we’re watching this on TV?” Cindy said.
“No. That is precisely not what I’m saying,” Ares said, as he waved away her words like so many gnats with his free hand. “Let me start again.”
“Our reality. This reality,” Ares said.
“There are others?” Cindy said, with a glance at Grant who had managed to get his cappuccino to his lips only to pull it away again and shrug resignedly.
“Yes, there are others. But for now, we’re only talking about this reality. And this one is like a house,” Ares said.
“How can there be more than one? Things are either real or they’re not. Do you mean, like, heaven and hell or are you talking fairy land?” Cindy said.
“Real and not real are relative to one’s perspective and I am talking about all three, and a few others I think.” Ares said.
Cindy glanced between the two men at her kitchen table and then down at the pocket knife in front of her. Grant set his cup on the kitchen table between them and motioned with his hand that she should slow down, let Ares explain.
“This reality is like a house. Our house. This is where we live and what we know.” Ares glanced out the window and encompassed the street, the neighborhood, the world, probably the whole universe in a sweeping gesture. “They are in the house. They are sitting in the living room watching their big screens and oblivious to what is going on outside.”
“They’re all in the living room,” Cindy said, “They being everyone in the world. They’re all watching the same TV?”
“Precisely. They are in the living room. Grant is there, at the back door looking out into the open garage. He sees more of what is going on outside than they do, because they’re not even looking. They’re watching their own lives meet their own expectations. They are seeing exactly what they want to see,” Ares said.
“Sounds like reality TV,” Cindy said. “That always sucks me in.” Grant smiled and tipped his glass to her appreciatively.
Ares rolled his eyes at his friend, but continued on as though the comment hadn’t been made. He pointed his finger at Grant but directed his words at Cindy.
“Grant is at the back door. Grant is unusual. Grant sees more than most do of the outside world. Or in our case, Grant has a glimpse of realities outside our own.”
“Does Grant see dead people?” Cindy said. “Are you a ghost whisperer like him?”
“He does not and I am not. But he has experiences that provide him with a certain, shall we say, a lack of skepticism.”
Cindy looked to Grant, but he was hiding behind his coffee cup. Ares drew her attention back as he continued.
“As do you. Now that you have discovered this knife.”
“But you, you’re outside this house?” Cindy said.
“Oh, heavens no,” Ares waved aside her presumption. “I am in the garage. Still in the house, but looking out from the garage door at what is outside the house. But even from the garage I can only see some of the yard, a bit of the street, the houses across the way. And it is my nature to not assume that from the garage I can see the extent of this universe.”
“So, you’re in the garage. Grant is at the back door. And everyone else is watching TV. Where am I?” Cindy asked.
Ares pointed back to the knife in front of her. The knife that should not be there. The knife that had disappeared twenty-three years ago. That had reappeared in her cellar two nights past.
“I’d guess, Cindy, that you are sitting on the edge of the couch in the living room and you just saw something flutter outside the window. The thing we’re here discussing is not that knife, but whether you’re going to get up and see what that fluttering was,” Ares said, and took a long sip from his coffee his eyes never leaving her face.

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NaNoWriMo 2015

National Novel Writing Month is creeping up on us. It’ll be here before we know it. Have you been giving it any thought? Do you think you’ll participate this year? I’m planning on participating and I’m planning on succeeding again this year. What I don’t have a plan for is what I’m going to write.
So that has been my focus for the last few days, finding a story. I think I have something that I can work with. I don’t know my characters yet and the plot and story are mere skeletons of ideas, but I have a month to figure all that out. Right now, we need to worry about the cover art for my unfinished, unstarted, unscripted novel. Right!
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And if you could flip it over and read the back cover blurb it might read something like this:

Twenty-three years ago former reality star and part-time ghost hunter, Ares Arthur, lost a friend. No body. No trail. Just gone. The last thing he wants to do is go to his high school reunion and rehash that mystery. But Cindy Bishop is sure to be there and his partner, Grant Garrett, refuses to go alone. Twenty-three years ago they were a trio of junior high adventurers and Cindy couldn’t chose between them. Things were simpler then, before Paul disappeared.

Since that incident, Grant and Cindy have been poison for each other and Ares world view has expanded in ways he would never have imagined. He’s seen things hiding in the shadows: incorporeal spirits, manifest demons, unbound faeries, and others things that can only be called monsters. Grant Garrett has seen things as well, has seen angels both light and dark.

When Cindy presents them with a weathered pocket knife she found in her cellar, a knife unmistakably Paul’s, they begin to realize that things are not quite what they seem in the town of Morgan. And after a deadly confrontation at Drayton Lake, Ares and Grant are left with some startling questions about their past.

Their investigations lead them through their old stomping grounds, back to the mysteries of their adolescence, and push them ever further into a dark world of secrets and dangers in their search for answers to Paul’s disappearance. The two men are drawn into a web of deception, lust, and a magic so compulsive that they may not escape to find the answers they seek.

Can Ares Arthur uncover the secret behind the pocket knife before it’s too late, or will his demise become yet another Morgan legend?

That’s what I’ve got so far. Like I said, I’ve got a month to figure it out. Wish me luck.

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