NaNo

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IWSG: Conflicted

Published March 1, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So I’m back to being insecure again.  (This, I suppose, should come as no great surprise.  If I wasn’t prone to insecurity, why would I be taking part in the support group, right?)

After some SNAFU stuff on the NaNo forums regarding my nearly submitting my 2013 NaNo novel for self-pub, I made a pledge to myself that “screw it; I’m never publishing anything, and that’ll teach those jerks!”  (And no, that didn’t entirely make sense even at the time.  And the people in question were not trying to be jerks.  (Most of them weren’t, anyway.)  But it’s one of those heat-of-the-moment resolutions that becomes firm and feels permanent, because you feel like you’ll have lost if you go back on it.)

After that, I took the smart path of withdrawing from the NaNo forums for the next couple of years, but I don’t learn too good (poor grammar intended), and so I’ve been active on the forums again.

And this time the guy really was trying to be a jerk.

Basically, he said that I’ll be a racist if anyone in my entire novel has a different skin color from everyone else.

Yes, he was advocating an entire planet of uniform skin color.

And he thought that was somehow less racist than having a diverse world.  Ugh.  (And keep in mind, I neither said anything about nor intend to introduce any ethnic stereotyping or prejudices.  It’s a world very unlike our own, without our social construction of “race”.  They have some prejudices, of course, but they’re based on culture and nationality.  (Read any 19th century work wherein the English discuss people from other European nations, and you’ll see the kind of thing I mean.)  But really even those prejudices are unlikely to come up much, because it’s a steampunk/fantasy adventure with heavy doses of m/m romance.  They’re going to be much too busy flying around the world looking for the pieces of the McGuffin and flirting/having sex for weighty social issues to come up much.  Because I write light escapism.)

So, because he said all this crap about the world I’m trying to put together for a series of novels I haven’t even begun to start writing yet, I feel like “now I have to publish it just to prove that f***er wrong.”

But that is in direct opposition to the 2013 doctrine of “never publish anything ever no matter what!”

Which puts me in a weird emotional bind.  All the more weird considering I haven’t even named the main characters yet.  (Well, it kind of grew out of an AU fanfic idea, so for my plotting purposes I’ve been using the names of the movie characters.  Though at this point there’s not much similarity between my characters and the movie ones.)

It’s probably a moot point.  I’ll probably finish the first draft of book one (assuming I ever start writing the thing) and go “wow, this is irredeemably terrible” and go back to writing other stuff.  (That is, after all, what usually happens.  Like my 2012 NaNo novel, the last time I tried to spin an original novel out of a fanfic idea.  I was enjoying writing it at first, but by the time I was done I was just like “ugh, I never wanna see this piece of trash ever again!” and I haven’t opened the file since.)

Anyway, amusingly enough, this all kind of ties in to this month’s optional question

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Because that 2013 NaNo novel?  It was the result when I finally got around to writing something I’d been planning since I was 18.  (So the idea was almost twenty years old.)  I think I had actually started writing it back in the summer of my 18th year, but…not sure what ever happened to the manuscript.  (And I guarantee it had zero similarity to what I eventually wrote.)

Missing Letter Monday – Repeat (11/30)

Published November 28, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

The Spirit of November

The Spirit of November is relentless.
He bellows for his dinner.
“Words!” he cries.
“More words!
“Give me 1,667 words for dinner!
“Give me 1,667 words tomorrow, too!
“Give me nothing less!
“Or else you suffer!”

Countless numbers write, write, write on,
To indulge his hunger.
Never enough.
It’s never enough.

I write.  I write.  I write on.
It’s never good enough.
He returns it with disgust:
“Better words!” he insists.
“Give me better words!
“Or else you suffer!”

I tell him those are the best I possess.

But he’s furious none the less,
Sending me to the dungeons
Of lousy-writer misery.

The Spirit of November [(c) Nintendo]

The Spirit of November, The Novel Writing Month [(c) Nintendo]


MLM icon init MLM A


How else would the spirit of November look, right?

(First posted: 11/30/15.  Serendipitous timing for both of this forbidden letter’s posts to come in November.)

Missing Letter Mondays – No “W”

Published October 31, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

One Day to NaNo

It’s one day to NaNo!
(I can’t say the full name.  Not today.)
It’s one day to NaNo:
Happy All Saint’s Day Eve!
(I can’t use the regular version.  Not today.)

Are you gonna do NaNo, too?
Plotter or pantser?
I’m a planster, myself.
I plan some,
And fly the rest by the seat of my pants.
Or the seat of my pajamas.
(I often type in bed.)

I keep trying to dedicate novels
— Or other bits of fiction —
To things I’m clueless about.

I need to stop doing that.

(So I say, but this year’s is no different.
A rock star discovers he’s got a seven year old son
He never heard about before,
And then his boyfriend the reporter gets offered a better job,
In distant London (in his native land)
And the fledgling family moves across the sea.
And later still, they have another kid,
So the reporter can pass on his genes, too.
Because NaNo.  I guess.)

Rambled long enough,
I guess.

(Yeah, my fiction’s like this, too.)


MLM icon init MLM W

IWSG – July CampNaNo

Published July 6, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m not sure if it was a good decision or a bad decision, but I think it was the only decision I could make.

I’m doing July’s session of CampNaNo.

Okay, that part is a good decision.  No question of that.

But the part I’m still not sure about is that I’m writing fanfic.  It’s the first fanfic I’ve written since…January of…2013? 2014?  Well, one of those two.  It was definitely in a January that I last touched fanfic.

I guess, looking at it that way, it doesn’t sound like a long time.  And compared to the twentyish years I spent writing fanfic (exclusively for more than ten of those years) it really isn’t all that long a time.  But I’d been proud of myself for getting away from fanfic and only writing original stuff.  (Even though much of my “original” material wasn’t really all that original, being based heavily — or entirely — on Greek mythology.)

So why am I doing something I said I wouldn’t do again?

I feel like I didn’t have a choice.  I mean, it’s been taking over my brain, so maybe if I write it all out, it’ll let go, and I can get back to the WIP that was already in progress.  Right?

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IWSG – NaNo Failure

Published December 2, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the first time, I’ve failed NaNo.

In the future, anyone who chances upon my profile will see four wins followed by a loss.  They might think something like “Oh, what a shame she messed up after so many successes!”

Of course, if they click further and look at the stats for the failed novel, then they’ll probably ask themselves “Why in the name of sanity didn’t she validate her novel if she had 87,474 words?!”

Well, the obvious answer is that to me, the goal of NaNo isn’t to write 50,000 words.  To me, the goal is to write a complete novel.

And I didn’t do that.

Read the rest of this entry →

Missing Letter Monday – No “A”

Published November 30, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

The Spirit of November

The Spirit of November is relentless.
He bellows for his dinner.
“Words!” he cries.
“More words!
“Give me 1,667 words for dinner!
“Give me 1,667 words tomorrow, too!
“Give me nothing less!
“Or else you suffer!”

Countless numbers write, write, write on,
To indulge his hunger.
Never enough.
It’s never enough.

I write.  I write.  I write on.
It’s never good enough.
He returns it with disgust:
“Better words!” he insists.
“Give me better words!
“Or else you suffer!”

I tell him those are the best I possess.

But he’s furious none the less,
Sending me to the dungeons
Of lousy-writer misery.

The Spirit of November [(c) Nintendo]

The Spirit of November,
The Novel Writing Month
[(c) Nintendo]


MLM icon init MLM A


How else would the spirit of November look, right?

 

A ludicrous number of references in a short span of time

Published November 26, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Well, okay, it’s a ludicrous number of references compared to my usual fiction, which tends to be either fantasy or set in the Greek heroic period; in both cases, my ability to reference modern culture is between limited and impossible.  I’d had references at various places earlier in this year’s NaNo novel, but never to this extreme before.  The character introductions from the Missing Letter Monday excerpt and yesterday’s excerpt will be needed to understand who the characters are.  Oh, and you need to know that Frank, the pilot, was just returned to them, but due to the odd effects of the air on this island, because he couldn’t be healed in the first week, it will take years for his wounds to heal.  (I know, that makes no sense out of context.  But it does make at least semi-sense once it’s fully explained.  Not that the characters have learned that explanation yet.  They may not even learn the explanation before November ends; it’s the 19th today, and they’re nowhere near learning it.)  The “stack” in Caesar’s hands is a stack of items that Mel brought when she was accompanying the return of Frank, but there was a bit of a quarrel and she left without explaining what they were.  They’re flat, thin, rectangular objects about the size of the front cover of a book from the Loeb Classical Library.  (But less colorful.  I didn’t specify their colors, but they’re either white, black or gray.  Something very dull.  No green or red here.)

Oh…Aiko hasn’t come up in the other excerpts, has she?  She’s the AI in the computer that runs pretty much everything on the island.  (Hence her name “Artificial Intelligence Child”, using the kanji “ko” for “child” while also giving her a genuine Japanese name.  It works so neatly that I must have actually encountered it somewhere else and forgotten about it:  no way I could come up with something that slick on my own.)  She’s only discussed in this excerpt, but I’ll go ahead and quote the description when Ashley first encounters her (while his shoulder still hasn’t healed up yet):

Forcing himself to his feet, Ashley decided he was going to inspect that picture. It was definitely odd somehow. Lurching from one piece of furniture to the next, Ashley made his way over to the wall, leaning his good shoulder against it for support. By the time he got there, the image had changed to a view of the island, this time from directly above, giving a good view of the sealed caldera of the volcano in the center.

“What the **** is going on with this picture?!” he demanded. The frame was nothing special, just a thin, flimsy-looking black frame, without any kind of ornamentation.

“It’s on screen-saver, of course,” a girl’s voice replied, seeming to come from the picture itself. It sounded like the one that Mel had been talking to earlier.

“What the…!!” Ashley tried to step away from the wall, and ended up on the floor.

The girl’s voice laughed at him, and the image of the island faded away to show a girl of about eight years, in a plaid dress with frilly lace around the edges. The girl had very European facial features, pale skin and blue eyes, but long, lustrous, straight black hair, the type that Ashley associated with Asians. From the lacy ribbon in her hair down to her black-and-white striped socks and her platform Mary Janes, there was something about her that just felt off. She was standing against a pure white background — so pure white that Ashley couldn’t tell where the floor ended and the walls started.

“Who are you?” Ashley asked.

“I’m Aiko, of course,” the girl answered, her head tilting to one side. Above her head appeared the letters ‘AI’ followed by a Chinese or Japanese letter. “Who are you? And why are you on the floor?”

“I’m Ashley, and I’m down here ‘cause you scared the **** out of me.”

“You shouldn’t swear like that,” Aiko reprimanded him. “It’s rude.”

Aiko is totally voiced by a Vocaloid, btw.  Probably MAYU.  (Which tells you a lot, if you happen to be familiar with Vocaloid, but next to nothing otherwise.)  Thought I should mention that because it means her speech feels a little awkward and unnatural, but the men hearing it don’t know why, and can’t quite even put their finger on what’s wrong with it.  (I think that’s not mentioned until Paddy comes to hear her, or the similarly Vocaloid-voiced menu when he calls the kitchen to order dinner.  Uh, not that it would literally be Vocaloid in the far future.  Just something like Vocaloid.  (I guess that makes them UTAU, lol.)  But so I hear Vocaloid speech when I’m writing the dialog of the artificial characters.  The menu, btw, got KAITO’s voice.  Lucky menu!))

As in the previous excerpts, I haven’t edited this apart from self-censoring the hard swearing, and maybe correcting a few words with squiggly lines under them in the composition window.  (Though sometimes words have squiggly lines because they’re dialect, or at least just conversational, and sometimes they’re proper nouns from books I haven’t read so I’m not sure what the right spelling is.  *ahem*  I’m a bit ashamed of that…)

Warning:  this is a pretty long excerpt, and the good stuff is towards the end.  But…well, actually, I like all of it.  (For once, I was actually forced to — gasp! — describe things!  Not that I’m very good at it…)  Oh, we’re in Paddy’s head this time, so it always says “Ashe” instead of “Ashley.” Read the rest of this entry →

The oldest NaNo quote ever?

Published November 25, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

It’s not quite a Words Crush Wednesday quote, but I wanted to share another bit from my NaNoWriMo novel.  (This post, btw, is being pre-written on the 12th.)  Within this fairly lengthy snippet (it could have been a lot shorter, but these felt like the ideal starting and stopping places) one of my characters quotes something published in 17 BC.  (Untranslated, mind you.)  If I had time for the NaNo forums, I would totally go ask there if anyone has ever put older words in their NaNo novel.  (Probably a few have, but I would think that most things that old being quoted are in translation only, y’know?)

I think the only thing to be set up — beyond everything in Monday’s excerpt — is that Ricki is a teenage girl from the mid-1980s.  (Or possibly late 1980s.  I tend to go on my memories of the era in describing her outfits, so my initial thought that she would come from 1986-7 may be wrong.  She may be from more like 1989.)  The soldiers are being held in a quarantine zone, and earlier Ricki brought them their vaccinations, which Sergeant-Major Fleischer refused to take…until Caesar injected him with it anyway (fancy futuristic replacement for a syringe that’s a lot less complicated to use) which made Fleischer so exceedingly angry (and violent) that Ashley punched him out to make him shut up.  (Though Ashley hadn’t actually expected him to go down in one punch…)  Oh, one more thing about Ricki.  Caesar and Timmy are both interested in her — especially Caesar — but so far she has mostly spent her on-page time flirting with Ashley, despite that he’s extremely not interested.

Actually, you know what, let me quote part of Ricki’s first appearance before I move on with the main excerpt:

Now that Ashley could see her up close, she seemed to be about sixteen or seventeen, and her ‘dress’ was actually a very long neon pink T-shirt that extended down a bit past her hips, worn over a pair of opaque tights with a pocket watch pattern in loud colors that clashed with her shirt atrociously. Her hair was mostly blond, except for about half an inch or so of brown at the roots. Her bangs were teased up in the most appallingly unappealing manner.

I had a pair of tights like that, btw.  It was watches and ribbons on a nebula-like starfield pattern.  Actually a really cool pattern; I wish I’d kept them.  I wore them with a huge black sweater, rather than a long pink T-shirt, but this is a tropical island, so a sweater would be too hot.  Bizarrely, I’ve yet to discuss her partially grown-out bleach job.  I meant for Ashley to make a (thoughtlessly rude) comment about it early on, but somehow it hasn’t happened yet.

Also, I should probably explain that they were given a fenced in region containing bungalows for them to live in while on the island.  (The fence being locked while they’re in quarantine, naturally.)  There were enough bungalows for every man to have his own (including an empty one for the pilot once he recovered) but one of them had been trashed inside by a six foot tall boar (seriously; you’ll learn more tomorrow) so Ashley volunteered to share with Paddy.  They first met Ricki when they snuck out on the second night, at which time it was explained to them by her and by Mel that they were being quarantined until such a time that the robotic patrols would no longer view them as interlopers and cut them to ribbons.  (There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.)  They don’t like it,  but since it’s only for a week, they’re just putting up with it.  Besides, they’re cushy places, with absolutely any food they want delivered straight to their doors, for free, at any time of the day or night.  Though because of something Ricki said, they’re abstaining from meat, just in case.

As with the previous excerpt, this has not been edited, apart from removing the hard swearing, and correcting any words I notice having a red squiggly line under them.  (But I may well have missed some, so please don’t pay too much attention to my spelling, okay?)  Oh, we’re in Ashley’s POV again, btw.  (So far, I’ve just been bouncing back and forth between his and Paddy’s POVs.  Shortly I’ll also add Ricki as a POV character, for some variety.  And to get out of sweaty male minds…) Read the rest of this entry →

Missing Letter Monday – No “Z”

Published November 23, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

This week for Missing Letter Monday, you’re getting a bit of a look of what I’ve been grinding out this month for NaNoWriMo.  Please keep in mind that the following excerpt is entirely rough; there has been no editing (apart from replacing a few words that had the forbidden letter in them) and the only spell-checking I’ve done is whatever I’ve noticed here having red squiggly lines under it.  (I turned off the red squiggly lines on my word processor ages ago…)  I’ve also done absolutely no research, so if anything doesn’t jive with 1970s speech, and/or the Vietnam War and the military mindset in general, well…what can I say other than “sorry about that”?  If the finished product seems good enough to bother trying to polish up (unlikely, considering that I’m the one writing it) then I’ll do some research and fix up all that stuff.  (Both NaNo and this novel were last minute decisions this year, so there was no chance to do research beforehand.)

The cast:

  • Ashley Pendleton — Our protagonist…essentially.  He’s more beautiful than handsome, and skilled at everything he does.  (In my own defense, he originated in another book, where he was literally the reincarnation of Achilles, so being beautiful and the best at everything was part of the job description.)  He has flame-red hair, blue eyes, and…uh…that’s about all I’ve figured out about his appearance, really.  If he wasn’t in the army, his hair would be in a nice long late sixties/early seventies style, with lots of pretty curls, but since he is in the army, he’s got a crew cut, which he hates.  (Though I’m not sure if the fact that he hates his haircut has come up yet at this point in the story…)  He’s from Detroit…sort of.  It was a random choice when he was just a dead backstory character for that other book; now that he’s the lead, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for him to come from a city I’ve never been to and know nothing about…although I’m not sure his home town really has any impact, since he doesn’t go there at any time during the book.  (It’s still a work in progress, after all!)  He’s twenty, almost twenty-one.  He’s quick to anger, and fiercely loyal to his friends.  Or to his best friend, anyway. (His loyalty to his other friends has not been tested yet with this version of the character; I’m not entirely sure how he’ll react when the time comes.  His new personality is still forming.)  He also frequently displays tunnel vision, ignoring everything outside his core focus.
  • Paddy Morris — Our second protagonist.  He’s also very handsome, and very talented at everything, if not quite as good as Ashley.  He’s the only person allowed to call Ashley by the nickname Ashe.  (And yes, I’m aware that the nickname is usually not spelled with an “e” when it’s being applied to men.)  When Ashley was drafted, Paddy volunteered and somehow managed to pull the right strings to be put in the same unit with him, so that he could watch Ashley’s back and make sure nothing happened to his best friend; he’s that devoted in his friendship.  (I have no idea if it would actually be possible for him to arrange to be in the same unit with Ashley, but…both their fathers were heroes in WWII, so…)  He’s twenty-one, but only barely.  (The quote doesn’t get to the part where the year is mentioned, but it’s 1970.)
  • Sergeant-Major Julius Fleischer — Everything about this guy’s name is temporary.  Particularly the Julius part; it might be too on-the-nose.  (It hasn’t come up yet, but he’s into ancient Rome the way Ashley is into ancient Greece…a fact which also hasn’t come up yet, come to think of it.)  He’s the typical fictional sergeant, really:  shouty and perpetually annoyed by our hero.  (Has there ever been a work of fiction where the NCO in charge of the hero actually likes him/her?)  He’s older than the regular troops; currently, he’s about 35, but maybe that’s too old?  (I have no idea…)  I have not figured out what he looks like; presumably nothing outstanding in either a good or a bad way.
  • Timmy Johnson — Okay, the “Johnson” part is definitely random, and will almost undoubtedly change.  I’ve got no idea what his last name will really end up being.  I went with Johnson because it was literally the first last name I happened to think of.  “Timmy” on the other hand is set more or less in stone.  He’s young — only 18 — and freshly arrived in Vietnam.  He’s from a tiny little town in North Carolina, because…uh…because.  He had to come from somewhere in the South, for reasons, and I went with North Carolina because that’s where my mother comes from.  (His town, however, is a fictional one.)  I have no idea what he looks like, other than “fresh off the farm”…which I do understand is not a “look” per se.
  • Sergeant Caesar Jones — Caesar is a medic.  He’s African-American, from San Francisco, and he joined the army in order to get the money to pay for medical school, because he couldn’t afford it on his own, and didn’t want to be saddled with massive loans to repay.  (He has, however, already gotten his pre-med degree, so he’s older than Ashley and Paddy by about five years; he’s been in the army for several years since joining up.)  He’s very intelligent (definitely the smartest man in the group, by far) but a bit jumpy, and liable to leap into anger too easily.  I don’t have any ideas what he looks like, either, but probably he’s pretty good-looking.  (There’s a girl who’ll show up later on (as of today’s pre-writing session, Nov. 5, she hasn’t even shown up yet) who’s probably going to end up with him, so for her sake it’d be nice if he’s attractive as well as smart and usually very nice.)
  • Frank, the pilot — Yeah, he doesn’t even have a last name yet.  He pilots a helicopter.  I know nothing about him, other than that he and Caesar are on a first-name basis.  (I know, as the writer I should know more than that!  But honestly, he’s not really going to have much of a presence…)

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Away for NaNoWriMo

Published November 1, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Despite that I don’t have time, I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year.  And that means I’m not going to be writing any blog posts.

The sole (planned) exceptions are that I’ve pre-written three of the four Missing Letter Mondays posts for the month of November.  (The fourth will be an excerpt from my novel.  Because that one is “No Z” and since “z” does not occur often in the English language, I figure I’ll save myself some time by just posting some nice tidbit from my novel that doesn’t happen to feature the word “lazy” or anything ending in “-ize”.  (My hero is not given to apologies, so that’s one “-ize” word unlikely to feature…))  If I come up with any really great bits as I’m going, I might decide to post them, too, but…probably not.  After all, it’s really annoying trying to re-format text into Internet formatting.

I don’t know how often I’ll be around in November to read others’ blog posts and/or respond to comments, either.  So if you ask a question on one of my posts and it takes me a week or more to respond, the reason is that I just haven’t been by to see it.

Just wanted to make sure this was clear, so no one could take offense, or wonder why I’ve suddenly stopped posting things.

Most of my usual features will resume in December.  Given the two massive research papers due in the middle of December, the myth re-tellings may not resume until after the papers are turned in, but the Words Crush Wednesday posts will resume, at least.  (Though on the first Wednesday in December, I’ll do an IWSG post, most likely about this year’s NaNo experience.)

(Needless to say, this post was pre-written yesterday.)

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