Monday, November 30, 2009

50K!

There, it's only half past midnight and I managed to drag myself to 50060 words. The story isn't quite finished yet, and I'm not going to finish it tonight, but it's nearly there. The Big Bad is defeated. We just have to do some mopping up.

The ending was totally anticlimactic. Magical powers out of nowhere, and "bye bye, bad guy!" Bah! There must be some way to make it seem more reasonable (and not just look like I wrote myself into a corner), but I'm too tired to think of one now. I'll just sit back and enjoy the purple purple bar for awhile.

I'm done with NaNoWriMo for this year! Thanks to all you fellow WriMos out there for the moral support, and to my family for putting up with me through November!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What giant mecha?! WTF? *headdesks*

I'm not sure why there's a giant mecha now stomping its way into my story, but there it is. Then again, perhaps it was inevitable. (No! No it wasn't! You're delusional because there's only 2 more days of NaNoWriMo left!) Every story needs a giant mecha! (NO! It does not! Shut up! You've lost your marbles! Oh wait, there's two still left in my pocket. That's all right, then. When your children like to play with marble-run toys as much as mine do, you ALWAYS have some marbles in your pockets.)

Um. So anyway. Got to 47K and I'm taking a little break. And then I really do have to get this thing done. I'm relying on the Kodo drummers to see me through. (Best writing music I had all month. Ha! Ha! Ha!) If I can get 1000 words per iteration of their "Best of" album, that's only 3 more times to listen to it! Whee! (Thinking about it, my actual writing speed is more like 700 words per iteration. Still, close enough.)

Onwards to... the climactic Giant Mecha vs the Zombie Goddess showdown! Mwah ha ha ha ha! (In theory. In practice it'll be something dull and anticlimactic. Goddess says: "Go away!" And he does. Because really I have no idea how you're gonna defeat a giant mecha without the massive application of explosives, and they just don't have any available. Pity, that. Well, maybe cause its nervous system to seize up. That's probably the best they can hope for. "I can't stand the confusion in my mind!" (Ob Doctor Who quote))

Friday, November 27, 2009

43K words

...leaving me 7K more to go in the next three days. I supposed if I really tried, I could finish tomorrow or the next day. Hmm. I'm such a plodder. I have a terrible time trying to increase my output. I tried "Write or Die" and just couldn't do it. Bleah. My mind totally froze up and I couldn't type anything.

Will the end of my story coincide with 50000 words? Hmm. I'm trying to make it do so. I'm at the point where the sort-of-villains have morphed into SuperMegaHyperBadness, and the protagonist then has to do much the same thing, and they have their big face-off. Also I have a literal deus ex-machina: I just have to arrange to have the characters rendezvous with the machina part of that. As we already have two gods running around, one more popping out of a machine won't seem that out of place.

I have this thing about creating gods and destroying them. That's THREE novels now with that theme (last year's NaNo, this year's NaNo, and this year's NaNo that I wrote in an alternative universe where I picked the other plot). What can I say? They were different gods, created in different ways, and ... uh...ok, two of the endings aren't that different... um. Ok, but they're wearing different clothes, so to speak! (Not a new obsession with me. Remember when I was, what, 13 years old and I tried to start a cult with my friend, but we really wanted to be gods...? No, of course you don't remember, unless you happen to be that friend I tried to start a cult with.) At least no one in my "Salt Gang Chronicles" has any ambitions to godhood (universal domination, sure, but not godhood). Whew!

Day 27: A New Hope!

...or something like that. I'm at 40K (10K more to go!) and there's only a few days left. I can't wait until I can blow up the Death Star, er, the "Ark"...yeah...that's it...

Oops, I got distracted (did laundry, ate breakfast, watched a few YouTube videos, thought about picking up the thousands of dollars in Monopoly money strewn about the house) and forgot what I was going to babble about. The world may never know! The world doesn't want to know...

(Wow, these little kids are talented!) What was I on about? Oh yeah. Something about staying off Da Intarwebs and concentrating on getting a few thousand words of my novel typed. The plot and I had a reunion early this morning (after I woke up and before I got out of bed). Now we'll see if it has the stamina to make it to the 50K mark.

(I wonder what my kids are building with the LEGOs...hmmm...) This blog post is completely pointless. Even more so than usual! Except at this point I really need to push on and get to 50K. Because I know I can. I just have to STOP WASTING TIME, DAMMIT!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Another day, another snippet

...also known as "Don't bug me about getting the details right!" (Among other things, the light source(s). I keep forgetting who's carrying a light source. Fix in the revision.)

So our protagonists have run away, but it was all pretty useless because the evil Queen and the crazy alchemist have caught up to them again. This is the last thing I wrote. I'm going to take a break and get back to writing after I put the turkey in the oven.

Day ?

It was darker outside than I remembered. How long had we been underground?

Caith sat on the ledge running along the entrance. She turned as she heard us emerge. She said, her tone subdued, "At least we will not have to wait for them. Look!" She pointed her chin upwards.

I looked.

It wasn't dusk. It wasn't a cloud. It was a gargantuan flying rock that blocked out the sun.

The Ark. Its shadow crept down the cliff and sprawled across the rocky banks of the river and over the water. It hung lower in the sky than I had ever seen it before, only clearing the top of the cliff by twenty or thirty feet.

"They didn't need the horses," I whispered, stunned at the sight. "They took the entire Ark and flew after us. I feel almost honored..."

Caith laughed softly, bitterly.

As we watched, it floated silently over us, until the bulk of it hung over the river, while the edge was lined up with the cliff, though still some ways above.

"They know exactly where we are!" hissed Takesh. "Inside! Nothing's changed, just moved up the schedule. Come on!"

He led the way back into the cave. I had to scramble to keep up. I could hear Caith lagging behind us. We passed the trapped section and ducked behind a cluster of rocks on the other side.

"Now what?" I whispered. "Just wait for them to walk into it? We'll need to keep their attention on us."

"I brought this," said Caith grimly. She swung her backpack around and pulled out several pieces of wood and metal which she expertly assembled to form a crossbow. She hooked on the string and wound it tight, grunting at the effort. She set it down, pushing the back end of the stock into her ribs and the front down with her foot, drawing a lever to cock the bow. "One of Sviar's contraptions. Just a toy, but it is deadly enough at short range."

"I didn't know you knew how to use a crossbow," I said. This one was roughly twice the size of the enchanted weapon that Merel the assassin had dropped that fateful night.

"Every child of my village learned as much," said Caith. She loaded a bolt and rested the bow along the top of the rock, sighting down the stock into the trapped chamber. "To keep the sea-raiders at bay."

"Ah," I said. It occurred to me that I had never asked her about her life before she came to the Ark. It was no more her home than it was mine. Well, where ever we came from, we were both likely to die here, on this world. Whether it would happen sooner or later depended on whether we were able to take down Wensel and the Queen. I remembered Merel's spell-tipped bolts. "These two are more than mere sea-raiders. That one bolt won't do much, and you won't have time to reload, anyway."

Caith sighed. "I know this. But I will infuse as much fire as the shaft can bear. I may not have my lady's gifts of power, but I have learned as I can."

Was that a dig at me? "What are you saying? That I haven't? Fine, maybe I should have paid more attention to his crazy alchemist lessons in wizardry, but 'should have' won't help us now."

Unless, that is, I looked into the mirror shard, the one I could still glimpse in the corner of my mind's eye. If I embraced infinite possibility and leaped off the cliff of mortal life.

"I meant no such thing," protested Caith.

"Sure you didn't," I muttered.

"Peace," said Takesh. "This is no time to squabble."

I took a deep breath and shook the thoughts away. "You're right."

"That's because House Hummel uses more direct methods of teaching. They don't wait for the student to be paying attention." Takesh drew the knife from his belt. At least, I had always assumed it was his knife. Now I saw that it wasn't a knife at all, but a blunt-tipped black cylinder, tapered at the ends, with a handle on one end. Takesh spun it theatrically in his hand, then held it up and sighted along the cylinder. A weapon, then? "For instance, they taught me how to use a bio-disruptor pistol. Nasty things. It's meant for emergencies, but I'm beginning to think that's what we have here."

"Yes," I agreed blankly. "Er, what's a 'bio-disruptor pistol'? Does it shoot alchemical fire or something like that?"

"Something worse," said Takesh. "It fires a pellet containing a globule of nanobots designed to rip apart cellular structures and certain organic molecules. The pellet penetrates the skin, after which the casing dissolves and the nanobots are released. They are only active for about thirty seconds. That's more than sufficient in most cases. They can be keyed to specific DNA signatures, but this one isn't currently programmed for it, beyond the default user-coding."

"I'll take your word for it," I said. I could kick myself for not bringing any weapons of my own. All I had was my bare hands and teeth and my belt knife. Useless. Then an idea occurred to me. "Takesh. The lifeforce generators you took from the horses back on the Ark. Can I have one?"

"The what? Oh, the power cells. Right." He found one and handed it to me. He frowned dubiously. "I suppose you can rig it to explode? Be careful. You'll damage 1417, and it won't be able to implement the deep-freeze protocols."

"I should be able to control it better than that," I said. At least, I hoped so. I could almost hear Sviar going through the instructions in the back of my mind. A bit of work on the lifeforce generator with my knife, a needle from my mini sewing kit (I only broke three of them in the process), and silver thread, and I no longer felt so useless. That should wipe the smug look from Caith's face. I glanced secretly at her. Actually, she looked more worried than anything else. Oh well. "It should spit out a stream of fire, along the line of this needle so I can aim it."

"I hope it works," said Takesh.

"Here, I'll test it..." I pointed it behind us.

"No time," whispered Caith. "Listen. I hear voices."

Voices and footsteps. The grating crackle of rocks kicked loose and ground underfoot.

The three of us settled back behind what cover we could. Waiting.

The voices drew closer, the sound bouncing around the corner to us.

"What are you playing at, girl?" Wensel. I heard something scrape against rock, then, "You know it's won't be pretty if we have to drag out by your tails like a pack of cowering dogs."

"Caith!" called the Queen. "Why have you joined these rebellious knaves? I thought better of you. If they've coerced you, I'll have their livers for paste!"

I nearly answered aloud, but bit back the words just in time. I wondered if the others had felt it, this compulsion to stand up and surrender. I held onto my psychic shields. No need to listen for them mentally when we knew perfectly well where they were. Coming closer, coming towards us: that's where.

Now a dim blur of light was visible on the tunnel wall, just beyond our trap. I held my breath and tried not to think too loudly. The light grew wider, resolved into two separate beams.

"Are you here? I can smell your rotting bones, child. Come out before the Queen loses her patience completely," urged Wensel. I heard his stick tapping along the tunnel, and underneath that the uneven scuffle of his footsteps. And then he was visible, a dark silhouette behind the bright glare of the light shining from his right eye. His eye! Mother preserve us, he really had gone and done it. Apotheosis in a lab.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, at least to those folks in the U.S. or celebrating American holidays. So! I'm thankful! I'm thankful!

I'll be inclusive this year and be thankful for the universe. It exists! Isn't that awesome? And life. Isn't it amazing that there's such a thing as life? Even if humans go extinct, still, just to think that life exists...wow. I'm grateful.

ObNaNo: I'm writing, I'm writing...slowly. We're just celebrating Thanksgiving at home, no huge family get togethers or anything like that, so I do have plenty of time today. I'm about 1 day behind my theoretical grand plan, which means I'll still have to be writing on the 30th. (Previous years I reached 50K a few days early.) Mostly I'm afraid I'll reach the end of the story before 50K. I should have made more of a plot to start with. The "plot developments" are rather thin. Hmm. Well, I'll know better next time. My daughter finished /her/ project (a manga-style comic this year instead of pure text) today. Yay her! Hrmph. Yesterday I was whining about my plot and she generously started showering me with "plot cards". Index cards with plot twist ideas she wrote on them. Aieee!!! Who ever heard of such a thing? It's a pity I'm too much of an inflexible doofus to use them. (They were perfectly good ideas, after all. Mostly.) *mumble mumble*

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vampire and elf

The vampire and the elf (well, my vampire and my elf) are both long-lived, potentially immortal creatures, but they approach things very differently. The vampire is all about Plans, about considering the long-term picture. She's not very spontaneous and has trouble adapting to sudden changes in circumstances. Her "visual lag" is just a symptom of the overall problem: what she sees is what was out there 5 seconds ago, 20 seconds ago, a minute ago, etc. depending on how far away she is from where her outsourced visual processors sit. (Of course, she's going to junk her eyes and rely on vampiric bloodsight in the "Nik goes kablooie" story, but it's still relevant for past stories). The elf is all about optimizing for the current situation. Telepaths have a hard time predicting his actions because he has no plans. People can try to manipulate him by manipulating the environment around him, but it's tricky, because he usually sees it differently than you do (there's a chaotic/random element involved). However, one mistake on his part can land him into a hell of a fix. This is why he "went kablooie" after all.

The two of them were paired together, theoretically in order to compensate for each other's weaknesses. We'll see how that worked out...

Not that this has anything to do with my NaNo story. It's from the novel I'm NOT writing right now. I just wanted to jot down a note before I forgot (and my laptop is in another room right now, while this computer happens to be on already.) Naturally, I'm behind already in today's word count, according to my latest writing schedule for this year's NaNo. *mutter mutter*

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What night of writing dangerously?!

I'm off to bed, so thbbbt! Well, at least I did get to 30K tonight. Caith traded in a Takesh for an Adurven, so for the next part of the story, they'll have to rescue Takesh from Wensel somehow and run away. I'm thinking fairy tale pursuit here, but bah! Maybe I'll have hovercraft chases and giant spiders a la "Planet of the Spiders" and bore everyone to death. Ahem.

However, I ripped more tracks off my old CD collection to put on my laptop, so I'm happy. Battlefield Band! The Kodo drummers (with Isao Tomita. This "Nasca Fantasy" album is actually quite funny)! Itzy playing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto! Saint-Saens Symphony #3 (the Organ Symphony, as featured in the movie "Babe")! Plus the "Danse Macabre" and "Bacchanale" (from "Samson and Delilah"). I think I need some Sibelius and Schubert next. Maybe some Bach. I like the Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin. Only J.S. Bach could successfully write a damn fugue for an unaccompanied violin! That one fugue has astonished me ever since I first heard it on the radio lo these many years ago.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I have a Plan!

Ok, for some reason I have a hard time with goals that aren't nice round multiples of 1000. So now I've typed my Grand Plan into my notes file. It looks like this:

23: 35000

25: 40000

27: 45000

29: 50000


Nice and simple, eh? In my NaNo, Wensel also has a Plan. It's a lot more complicated and insane than my plan, which is simply to write 50K words of novel by the end of November. Wensel's plan is to torture poor widdle half-zombie Adurven until she turns into a god. And if she can do it, he can do it. Or something like that. He's sane enough to realize that using yourself as your first experimental subject might prove unwise.

Day ? (Wensel's Plan! In which Addy is being mercilessly tortured.)

"I haven't even started yet, my dear child," said Wensel.

"I don't... I don't understand... how this... how this is turning me... into a god." I had to concentrate to force the words out.

"It's all in your mind," he said. He tapped the side of my helmet, causing a wave of darkness to wash over me. "Remember that."

All in my mind? Is this how he can sleep at night? It's not really torture because it's only imaginary? But he does know better, or he wouldn't need to tie me to the chair.

I wanted to kill him. How I wanted to kill him, then. Rip open his belly and hang him by his own entrails. If only I could crack his skull open and devour his brains, that would ease the pain. And if not, at least he'd be dead and I wouldn't have to listen to his stupid crazy plans.

But the straps were too strong. And the chair wouldn't break. It was bolted to the floor and I couldn't wrench it loose.

There was only one direction to run to escape the pain. I retreated deeper into my own mind. I fled, but the pain chased me down again. All the way to the edge. I found the edge
of all thoughts, an inner darkness that marked the border of death.

/Keep going./ Wensel's voice rode on the crest of the pain, whipping me towards the darkness.

I refused.

He pushed me. The bastard pushed me!

I fell into the darkness and I /knew/ I was dying. Terror worse than the pain had been.

Falling into death, I clutched at any stray thought that could pull me back. In the darkness, I was blind, but at the edge of fading consciousness, I could sense six ghostly presences. I called their names in a desperate plea.

"Sviar! Rhasqu! Faiza! Derghu! No-Tail! Brack!"

"Adurven." Six voices called my name in unison.

Then I was nowhere at all, suspended in a frozen moment between pain and fear. "Help me. I need your help. Please."

"So he's finally taken the plunge, eh?" said Sviar.

"Right off the deep end," I agreed. I felt light-headed from relief. "He wants to turn me into a god."

"And may yet succeed in his blasphemous design," said Rhasqu, sounding worried. "Our natural inclinations work against us."

"What do you mean?"

"We can hardly stand by with our hands in our sleeves and watch you die without trying to save you," said Faiza. "But the nature of our help would start the apotheosis."

"There is nothing natural in it," growled the wolf. "But your path has never been natural. No wonder he chose you to be his running dog."

"Neh, nature is overrated," said Derghu. "Question is, what is it thee wants?"

"I don't know! I just want to live, to have a life, and not be shunted away into a cellar or a lab because people are afraid to look at my face. I want Wensel not to have been such a sadistic, murdering bastard."

"Speaking as a sadistic, murdering bastard, I say you should have stuck a bloody dagger through his heart some night while you had the bloody chance," said Brack. He slipped his sword a few inches out of the sheath, then slammed it back. "Wish I'd had the sense to do that before..."

"What's the use of 'should have's now?" I asked. Then I wished I hadn't. But for once, Brack took no offense, and merely grunted.

"That's the point," said Sviar. "You can change it. If you really want to."

"If you took the reins of your own history and rewrote it," said Faiza. "If you were a god, you could live in all of your time simultaneously."

"That can't be right," I protested. "Or why did the god who became the Ark ever die? He could have changed /his/ history so he didn't end up floating in the void."

"Dangerous," said Rhasqu. "Paradox is forbidden under the aegis of heaven. He choose to live under heaven, so he died under it, too."

"But you wouldn't have to go that far," says Sviar.

"I don't understand how I could go anywhere at all," I said.

"It starts with us," says Rhasqu. "You already share your mind with us. How else could we appear to you here, now?"

"If you absorbed us fully into your being, then Wensel would not be able to hold you here," said Sviar.

"But once you start, you may not be able to stop," said Faiza. "If you leap off a cliff to avoid the tiger, can you halt before you strike the rocks waiting below?"

Friday, November 20, 2009

I really didn't think this through, did I?

And by "this", I mean this idiotic notion to write my novel in "diary" format. I just realized my POV character is about to be taken prisoner. And it's not as if her captor is going to give her much chance to write anything. Not even her 10 page confession. Um. Yeah. Oops.

Ok. I'm at 25K or so. With too many dream sequences. What can I say? I was getting desperate and blocked last night. I need to average about 2500 words/day to get to 50K by the end of November. I can do this...I can do this...how hard can it be? Argh! Now my 5 yr old daughter is taking the NaNoWriMo sticker off my mini-laptop. "I hate this sticker!" she says. Is this an omen? Nooooo!!!!! ("You're making Mommy sad." "I hate this sticker! It's almost all off now." *sigh*)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Whine whine whine...

This is awful. I have to stop listening to that "Numa numa" ("Dragostea Din Tei") song. And where is my vegetarian bacon!? Why can I not find any Morningstar (TM) Bacon Strips!?! I like it better than real bacon, and now I can't find it in any of the stores I go to. How am I supposed to motivate myself to write now, huh? Eh? And what's wrong with these stupid words that none of them want to be in my novel? What is up with that? Thousands of words available to me, but I've forgotten most of them and the rest aren't talking to me. Hrmph.

I am so behind. (Ok, now I'm listening to "All the strange strange creatures". I liked that enough to buy it off amazon.com when I got that $5-in-downloads thingy. Even if they do overuse it in nuWho, but as any Chinese TV serial could tell you, if you have a song, use it, damn you! Play it every episode as often as you can! Ha ha ha ha!) Anyway. Dunno if I'll get to 50K this year. But I have to! Argh! ARGH!

I AM going to get to 25K tonight. I swear by Mad Maudlin's dirty toes. 25K before I go to sleep. GRrrrr. I'm posting this so my oath doesn't evaporate into "I'm soooo tired..." and "tomorrow...I'll do it tomorrow".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

20K...

...and I'm crawling off to sleep now. The last few hundred words were hell. I think I was checking my word count every two sentences. Note to self: don't slack off tomorrow!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shut up and write!

It's the 15th, but I just don't feel like writing tonight. Too bad. No Doctor Who "Waters of Mars" for you until you hit 20K. I'm posting it here to keep myself to that. In fact, no watching/reading/listening to any new material (except the newspaper) until you hit 20K. No wasting time loading more music onto the laptop. If you want to listen to something, just stick in a damn CD. No posting on bboards. No more blog entries.

Shut up and write.

Day 15...not even close!

I'm now officially about 10000 words behind. Unofficially 15K behind according to my personal schedule. Ah ha ha. I write so sloooowly. I looked at what I wrote the rest of the year (4 novellas) and it came out to about 57K in total (approx. from Feb to Sept.). So yeah. I suck! And I'm wondering why the heck I chose to do this story I'm doing now where I've pretty much lost the plot...hm. Well, here's another excerpt to create the illusion that I'm actually going somewhere with this! (No, it wasn't the plot that died, it was one of the characters!)

Day 28

Dreams. A wake. Seven of us gathered to remember her.

We stand in a chamber of stone, underground, but it is brightly lit by the lamp on the marble altar. The white, vaulted ceiling creates the illusion of spaciousness. Behind the altar, a brightly tiled mosaic fills the wall. I recognize the branching form of the tree at the heart of the world, the eagles and the well. I know without having to think that this is a temple of the Eternal Flame.

"So she was Ellismere Elua, eh?" says Sviar. "I knew her, once."

"You were bloody married to her!" says Brack. "For at least one season."

"A long time ago," says Sviar. "Was she wearing the black gloves with the silver dog design on the cuffs?"

"Yes," I say, seeing her again.

"I made those for her. A bride gift. A long time ago. As I recall, they were imbued with the virtue of catching. Crossbow bolts, lightning bolts, sunbeams, or smiles; whatever she turned her hands to." Sviar sighs. "A knight of the Eternal Flame. Well, well. And she was the third. That'll be the last. Three of us dead, three tries to avenge us."

"We don't need no stinking knights," grumbles Brack. This is Josef, not Yuri, but ever since his brother died, he goes by only the one name. "I'll take care of my own bloody vengeance."

"We're dead," says Faiza, turning away from her examination of the mosaic. "Or hadn't you noticed?"

"There's dead," says Sviar. "And dead dead. Which we aren't, but Elua is, eh? Adurven, it's time to show us."

"All right." I take the golden chalice from the altar, the one that appeared under my hands in the way that things do in dreams. I glance inside. It's empty. Then I realize that my palm is bleeding again, from where the Queen's bird impaled me. The blood fills the chalice to the halfway point before the wound closes itself. I lift it in both hands, ignoring the smears of red I leave on the outside of the chalice. "Friends, we are gathered here this night in memory of Ellismere Elua. In the name of the All-father, drink and remember!"

I pass the chalice smoothly to my right, where Sviar stands waiting. In the dream, there is no awkward stiffness in my movements, no sudden clumsiness. Sviar takes the chalice and sips from it before passing it to Brack.

One by one, each of the others sips from the chalice, even Rhasqu, who has taken vows in another faith than that of the All-father.

"The rituals of the dwarves," she sighs. "All blood and fire. But I, too, will remember Ellismere Elua. May her soul find peace."

No-tail is last to drink. For a moment, just long enough, she is a woman with a wolf's head, dipping her muzzle to lap at the blood.

The chalice returns to my hands. Looking into its red-washed depths, I see again the last hour of Elua's life. Everything I remember, we all share now.

A long silence.

"You!" Brack's harsh shout startles me into dropping the chalice. The metallic clatter underlines his next words. "It's your fault she's dead!"

Before I can even blink, he closes the space between us and his sword is...

CLANG!

...is held a fraction of an inch from my neck by another sword.

Faiza's. She holds Brack in her gaze. "Stop! The Queen is to blame. Not Adurven. She's trying to help us. Would you repay good with evil?" Faiza extends her gaze to include Sviar. "Would you?"

Sviar watches. Not moving. That's answer enough to her question. If he wanted to oppose Brack, he would already have acted. I shut my eyes, not wanting to see the blame in his face.

"Neh, this is stupid. If ye want a fight, before ye was dead was time to do it, ya not now," says Derghu, moving up to try to disentangle Brack and Faiza, while at the same time inserting himself between the swords and my neck. "Done is done. If ye want ya girl she dead, then let her death be gain not loss."

Not exactly a vote of confidence, but I'll take it.

The wolf adds her opinion with a growl and a snort before turning her back on us.

Sviar frowns deeply, then bows his head, dropping his silent accusations.

"She was trying to save Caith," says Rhasqu. "Adurven saved a life. The Queen took one. Which would you be?"

"She didn't save /our/ lives. THAT might have done us some good." Even so, Brack slides his sword free and resheathes it with a hiss.

A breath later, Faiza does the same with hers. "As our goblin friend says, done is done. The Queen did seem weaker than she once was. Her power is diminished enough that Ellismere Elua was able to penetrate her defenses."

"The well's running dry." Sviar lifts his head and looks at me. Maybe he forgives me. Maybe. /Married/? Neither of them ever said a word about it before. I wonder just how long ago is "a long time ago"? "Moving the Ark between worlds took a lot out of her. And now there's the strain of keeping her people alive and breathing."

"So her power will run out soon and we'll all die anyway. Why bother with elaborate plans against her?" asks Faiza.

"She won't let it get that far," says Sviar. "She'll try to summon a fresh source of power and bind it as she did the old."

"You think we can put our hands in? That Adurven can?" says Faiza.

"I know we can. Think about what we just saw."

"You've already done the bloody thinking," says Brack. "Skip the theatrics. This ain't the goddamn Sviar show."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some children go pumpkin picking...

...while others collect heads from corpses on the battlefield. Apparently. My NaNo continues to be horrible. The 15th is coming up fast and I'm nowhere NEAR 25K, let alone halfway through the story. Story? What story? All the story has dribbled out and I'm down to random anecdotes. Here's an example from tonight:

Day 16

More rain.

Day 17

More of the same, and more of the same.

A hundred and one things to do with a disembodied head: (Well, three, but who's counting?)

Wisdom and comfort. Bran who was High King of Prydania came back from war as a speaking head. Only seven returned alive, and they feasted in madness at Harlech under Bran's spell until they were able to accept their losses.

Revenge. Douban the physician cured a king of a deadly disease, only to be rewarded with a death sentence. So after his death, he tempted the king into placing his head into a golden basin. The head of Douban then spoke, telling the king to read aloud from a certain page of Douban's book of wonders. But the pages stuck and the king, licking his fingers to turn the pages, was thus poisoned. Fell down dead right in front of Douban's head. A neat trick, but I'd rather not be decapitated in the first place.

As a weapon of terror and plague. When I was seven years old, I witnessed the siege of Chok Du. I was too young to help with the spells, but I helped collect heads from the bodies on the battlefield. I carried them in a basket to where the elders had set up the great big boiling rune-marked cauldrons. I remember the stink and the mud. It kept raining, just like it is now. I remember hearing the ravens and crows crying out in the gray drizzle. I helped load the bespelled heads onto a wheelbarrow for the catapults, which were laid out in two ragged lines. They flung the heads all at once screaming over the battlements. It wasn't long after that until Chok Du opened its gates to us.

Day 18

Clear skies at last. Out painting the wings all day.

Day 19

I saw Caith today. She's looking even paler than usual. She has baggy black circles under her eyes and when she walks, she takes slow jittering steps and leans against the wall when she thinks no one is looking.

Day 20

More rain. The black goop is holding. So far. So it looks like Wensel finally got his spells right.

Author's note: If anyone knows any other traditional examples of talking heads, please leave me a comment! I'm sure I've come across others, but I can't remember them right now. :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Worst NaNo year yet...

And that includes the first year, when I didn't even JOIN NaNoWriMo until the second week (the day I found out about it!) Gluh. I need to give myself more motivating bribes, maybe. And no slithering around to cheat myself. Yeah. Um. Still don't feel like writing. If I don't fall asleep at 10 pm, I should be able to get something done.

Goal tonight: 10K (I'm at 8600 now).

Must...write...faster...Why can't I do 5K a day? Then I could just be done with the stupid thing sooner. I do want to finish it. Honestly. I just haven't reached that point of "I don't care! Just type something in because you have to finish your daily quota before you sleep!" I need to be using "sleep" to motivate myself.

And I have to break myself of this habit of crashing to a halt after I finish writing a scene or a chapter.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bubbles bubbles bubbles...

This is the version my kids keep singing. It seems different from the ones I found on google. I wanted to note it down before we all forgot the words. Technically I should note the tune, too, but I dunno how to do that here. So here goes.


When I was a little baby,
They called me Baby Tim.
They put me in a bathtub,
To see if I could swim.
I drank up all the water,
I ate up all the soap,
Now I'm all sick inside
With bubbles in my throat.
Bubbles bubbles bubbles
Bubbles bubbles bubbles
Bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles
Bubble bubble POP!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Chasm of Despair strikes early...

Guh. Two days with nothing written. Well, I did start off a few paragraphs yesterday, but then just as my daughter jumped out of bed all recovered from the flu, I fell into bed with it and pretty much didn't get out of it until this afternoon. So there I was lying in bed all feverish...my so-called plot swirling around and around in my head making me realize how awful it all was. I had to rearrange everything. I'm still not sure it's going to work. And "magic" is irritating. Everything is too easy. If they can do this, why can't they do that? Wensel and Sviar built a perpetual motion machine and all I could do was wave my hands at them deliriously saying "stop! stop!" without much effect. They can't REALLY go around shattering all kinds of conservation laws can they? There must be a "magical" power source that's gonna run out eventually. Oh yeah. There is. *glares at plot* Behave!

Well, if I could type this, you'd think I could work on the novel. But I probably won't. Not tonight. Tomorrow. I swear. Really, I will work on it tomorrow. And by "work on it" I mean actual words typed into the actual text file. Yep.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A bit more...another excerpt

Three blog posts in a day. A record for me. Anyway, crawled my way to 6000 before midnight. Still behind, but not more behind.

Day 5

Mother preserve us. It wasn't bad as I had feared. It was worse. Worser. I don't even know where we are anymore. Poor, poor Hamund.

I'm in the tower again. It's dark outside and the wind is howling. The walls are shaking from the force of the wind and I can feel the floor shifting underfoot.

What happened? For one thing, Wensel was right about the Queen's ambition.

But I'll try to set it down in order.

The day started normally enough. Everyone was busy scurrying to and fro in aid of the Queen's festivities. Everyone except Wensel. He muttered something about last minute checks, and buried himself in the lower chambers. That's the lower chambers kept under lock and key, the haunted heart of the Ark, where no one ever goes. THOSE lower chambers. First he had me bring him the six jarred heads. After that, he had me running up and down playing fetch for him and checking the angle of the shadows in the courtyard, the temperature of the water from the endless fountain, the direction of the wind, and a dozen other measurements useless to any sane person.

But he's not a sane person. He's a wizard and an alchemist. Did I mention that? Yeah.

Whatever he was up to (with six pickled heads for company!), he didn't deign to share with me. I tried asking him once, but he poked his damn walking stick in my chest and told me to mind my own.

Maybe he felt sorry for it later, because half an hour before the Queen's ball, he came up to meet me in the tower's foyer, a bundle of cloth folded over his elbow.

"Here, Addy," he says. "I've been working you too hard. You deserve a bit of fun. Why don't you go to the ball tonight?"

My mouth drops open.

Wensel holds up a hand. "You have nothing to wear, I know. That's why I brought you these!"

He gestures like a magician, then unfolds the cloth into a sleek black and silver dress, with matching stockings, shoes, hairband, and plain white half-mask. He arranges it all on a wooden chair. "Now get yourself cleaned up. There's a small spell on the mask. So you don't frighten the natives."

I blink. My fingers are already brushing against the dress. It feels like real silk. "Oh. Wow."

Then I gingerly turn the mask over. The back is inscribed with lines of tiny black runes. I can only make out about half of them. Something about faces and harmony.

"It should last you the night. Have fun! See you later!" Wensel picks up his stick again and tip-taps his way back down the stairs. His voice drifts up to me, "'Thank you, sir.' 'Oh, my pleasure, my dear.' Don't just stand there gaping!"

I'm not gaping! I'm just trying to decide if the dress is me or not, and whether I know how to dance (not as far as I know), when I hear a hesitant knock on the door.

I open it to find the Queen's pasty-faced maid servant. "Hello, Caith."

"Um. Hello." She peers around me. "I bear a message from my lady to Wensel. Is he here?"

"He's downstairs." I move aside to let her in. I see her eyes move to the dress, a questioning look on her face. "What!"

She jerks her gaze away and gulps. It's rare that we ever venture into the other's domain, and I know Wensel makes her nervous. She wavers at the top of the stairs. "Sorry. He's in his lab?"

"In the lower chambers," I say. "The lower lower chambers."

Caith turns even paler. "Oh."

"What's the matter? You're not scared of a few haunts, are you?"

"No, of course not." But she doesn't move. She clutches her hands together. Probably praying to her pasty-faced foreign gods. What a goose.

Then I take pity on her. "Come on. I'll go with you."

I slip past her and start down the stairs. I can hear her following me a few seconds later.

The Ark grows colder the deeper you go. It's an unnatural chill, sucking the warmth from your blood. Past Wensel's lab and the lower storage rooms, the spiral tunnel extends farther than seems possible from the outside. Sound can't penetrate its darkness. A scream from down here can't be heard three paces away.

The truth is, the haunts down here /are/ terrifying. Each and every one of them died a violent death. And we of the Ark are responsible. These aren't the ghosts of people, but of monsters filled with hatred and anger for every living thing. Death hasn't changed their malignant temperaments. At least no new ones have been created in the past year, not since the Curse was broken.

But they seem stirred up tonight. Even the air feels stiff and hostile in my lungs. It's an effort to remember to breathe. I wait for Caith to catch up, then take her hand. It feels clammy against my skin, and she seems to be shivering. She whispers, "They want us to die..."

"Don't listen," I advise her. Then I conjure a psychic shield around us both. The pressure of the ghostly voices eases. The air clears and I can hear properly again. "Just a bit further."

One more door, propped open by one of Wensel's books, and we find the alchemist himself in the hemispherical black chamber at the heart of the Ark, the place he calls the "Change Engine." Wensel has five fat candles lit around him, lines chalked between to form a pentagram. He sits in the center with a sheaf of papers and the six jars arranged in a triangle in front of him.

I bang on the door. "Wensel? Sir? The Queen's sent Caith with a message."

Wensel scrambles around to face us. He growls, "What? Now?"

Caith edges forward. She bows, made awkward by sheer terror. "Yes, sorry, Master Wensel, but she says...she wants to know...that is..."

"Swallow it or spit it out, girl!"

Caith swallows visibly. "My lady says that this is the night, as agreed, and inquires into your readiness."

"Of course I'm ready, you little idiot. I'm not down here for my health, you know!" Wensel makes a shooing gesture with his hand. "Away with you!"

Caith manages another bow. Then she takes Wensel at his word and sprints back up the tunnel, the dignity of her office forgotten.

"Damn that woman," mutters Wensel. "I'd guess that came by way of a warning...ah well."

Then he seems to notice me. "You too! Off with you! Go! Scram!"

"Yes, sir." I don't run like Caith, but I don't exactly dawdle either.

Writing...not so much...

But I did play "Frere Jacques" as a round with flute (my daughter) and slide whistle (me)! Mwah ha ha ha! Also "Hava Nagila" with flute and slide whistle. Um. "Hava Nagila" is tricky on a slide whistle, which doesn't sound that great at the best of times. However, a slide whistle is very portable and I don't have to figure out fingerings. But the half steps are evil.

After the kids go to bed, I should be able to hack out some more words. Another character shoved her way into my story. I thought she'd only be there for one scene, but it's gotten complicated. She's an assassin out to kill the Queen in revenge for the dead dwarves. Name, name...I dunno. Is she "Ellismere Elua"? Does that sound sufficiently dwarvish (compared to "Brack", "Sviar" ("SHVEE-ar"), and "Yuri")? What is the deal with dwarves anyway? Why do I have them in the story at all? Why can't these characters have been human, hmm? I need them to be more alien. Their actions should have an edge of irrationality from the human standpoint.

Oh yeah, and the plot's shifted, too. We're going into the alien planet TONIGHT, rather than later. Terraforming is not going to be as easy as the Queen thinks.

Day 4, 8:35 am...

...and the 5 year-old (who is staying home sick today) is sitting on my desk sniffling in my face and trying to roll a little LEGO car down inside the front of my shirt.

"Heh heh, is that tickling you? *makes car noises*"

Now she's lifting a wooden stool with her feet. "Look how strong my feet is! My feet is strong!"

I don't know...when I have a fever, I don't want to run around the house being crazy. Ok, now she wants to play "Connect Four" in my bed. That sounds almost sane.

(2000 words behind...well...as long as I don't fall farther behind it's ok...)

Righto. Time to send my son to school.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 3, and behind. Stupid diary form! I hate it!

Blargh. The biggest problem with this diary format I'm using this year is that when I'm stuck, there's no leaping free to another POV. Last year I rotated between 4 different characters, which made it a lot easier to forge ahead when I blanked out on one of them. Didn't get much done yesterday. Haven't got much done today, though at least I think I can see the scenes I want to write (more than I can say for yesterday).

Diaries are also annoying in that you have to figure out when the character is actually doing the writing. Plus if the character has a tendency to tell things out of order, I still have to keep in mind the actual order of events. And I've never kept a diary myself for more than a few days, so...yeah...why am I torturing myself like this!? Some fudging is required. I'm doing the conversations pretty much verbatim, which the character probably wouldn't really do in a real diary, but I feel that if I just paraphrase everything, it makes it difficult to get into the story.

I'm working on "Day 3" of the novel now, and hope to get "Day 4" (although it might be "day 6" really) tonight. The "Boy Colonist" is still many days away...Meanwhile I'm working on Adurven's counterpart, the Queen's servant, "Caith". (Ha ha! I stole another of my old character's names, but that's about it...this Caith is not that Caith.) Addy despises her, but she's probably wrong to do so. That's the other thing about the first person diary POV: it's harder to get a more objective view of the other characters. Every single thing she writes is biased. With a 3rd person POV, you don't have to color everything so heavily with the POV char's perspective.

So will I change it out of the diary format? Eh...nah...it's still fun to do, and makes a change from my previous stories.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dancing to that crazy music!

My day so far: (The kids have no school today)

"I'm booooorrrred!"

"How do you spell 'swimming pool'?"

"I want a Mommy ride! I want a Mommy ride!"

"No, me!"

"First you go like this, then like this, then like this..."

"Ten times! Do it ten times!"

"Hey, no faaairrrr!"

"Mommy, I'm hungry!"

"He hit me!"

"She was chasing me with a stick!"

*slash sshhhhhhhhtkkkkk fzzzzzt!* --- The Retractable Measuring Tape wars

"She was throwing LEGOs at me!"

"No I wasn't! I was playing with them!"

"The internet is so sloooow! Mommy, make our internet faster! Hey, are you downloading something?"

"I don't WANT to get ready to go. Why do I have to go?"

"I'm drawing a building. Look at my building!"

"Kirby has more colors than you do!"

"Do you know what color 'crimson' is?"

"You're wrooong!"

"My turn to push the shopping cart!"

"She hiiit me!"

"Stop squishing her with the shopping cart!"

"Hey! [Sister] is evil, [sister] is evil!"

"Ahhhh! There's ants in the pumpkin! AAAAIIIIEEEE!"

"I want a semicircle!" "Me too!"

"Hey, how come I got mine last? No faaaiiirrrrr!"

"Do you know what crazy music sounds like?"

"That's not crazy music!"

"Be QUIET!"

"I'm booooo-ooored. What should I do?"

"I don't want to write a story!"

A snippet here, a snippet there

And I just about made it to 2000 words last night (technically, some five minutes after midnight). Now it's Nov 2 and I'm not sure what to do next. I'll post a bit more of novel to give me something fresh to stare at in blank-eyed frustration.

The rest of "Day 1"

"The truth"? What is the truth? Rhasqu says truth isn't something us mere mortals can grasp. There's only your truth, my truth, whatever truth we spin to ourselves. Then again, Rhasqu couldn't grasp a glue-covered stick, let alone anything as slippery as the truth, considering she's just a pickled head in jar.

The truth is, she takes it all unbelievably well. Maybe it comes of being a nun when she was alive. I mean, being stuck in a boring little cell all day isn't that different from being in a glass jar. At least you can see through the walls of the jar. She can still pray or whatever.

"You can pray, too, my child," she told me when I pointed that out. "Your god is not my god, but you shouldn't give up your faith."

"I'm not! I'm not about to fall on my face for the Bitch Goddess of the Ark," I said. "The Ark isn't my home. Especially now the Curse is broken. Not that there is anyone much left to be Cursed..."

And that was about when Wensel caught me.

So yeah.

The truth is, I hate this weird pen he makes me write with. It's not a proper quill at all. It's a hollow stick of bamboo with a little capsule of ink inside, which gets rolled out onto the paper around a tiny metal ball. One of Sviar's inventions, back when he was still in the inventing business. And this paper is too thin. I can just about see through it. It's all yellow and crackly and tears if you breathe too hard on it.

The truth is, I hate Wensel's cheese, that sickly orange stuff he makes himself. It smells like the lab and never melts right on the bread. But I had to eat it for supper again. It's my "reward" for finishing the stupid essay. Thanks, Wensel.

"Eat up, Addy," he says. "That's my girl. Get some of that corpse pallor out of your cheeks."

"Corpse pallor"! That is so typical. At least I know what a comb is, and I'm not the one with two weeks of grizzle sprouting on my face.

And my name is not "Addy"!

I am Adurven, Traveler on the Bone Road, acolyte of the Ossuary of the Forty-Ninth Stone.

My last memory of home: I was on vigil in the tomb of the Unknown Necromancer.

This was to be my last trial before I became a full initiate of our order, but I
failed. I fell asleep. I fell asleep on a cold stone floor, surrounded by cold stone walls. I woke up in a different place, but still cold, still surrounded by stone. The Ark. And that's how I found myself living on a hunk of rock carved out of a dead god, kept floating in the sky by the last dregs of power in his body.

So they say.

The truth is, I don't understand the enchantment that keeps us in the air. I didn't understand how the Curse worked, this Curse that wouldn't let us leave the Ark for more than a few days at a time.

The truth is, I don't understand how the Curse was broken, nor why we are the only survivors.

"You can't leave," Wensel told me over supper. He waved a piece of bread in the air. A bit of cheese was hanging over the edge. I kept waiting for it to fall, but it didn't. "Even without the Curse, you can't leave. You'd hide in the town? They wouldn't accept you. Necromancy is illegal here, you know. Punishable by death. By fire. If you're lucky, they'll cut off your head first."

"I know. I'm not stupid!" I did know. It was one of the first things they warned me about when I came to the Ark. The Bone Road runs through a hostile foreign country, as far as the locals are concerned. Bigots. "It's not like I was going to tell them. I can sweep a floor or carry a bucket as well as the next person. As you know!"

"You hardly need to tell them. You have graveyard dust under your feet. The air of the tomb hangs about your shoulders. And your face..." Wensel reached forward and flicked me on the nose. "That, my dear, is not the face of a living human being."

I winced and turned away. "I'll tell them I have a skin disease. Or leprosy, or whatever."

Wensel snorted. "Do you know how they treat lepers in this world? You're better off with me."

Maybe. Maybe that is the truth.

I am Adurven. I am Wensel's lab assistant. As well as sweeping the floors and carrying buckets, I wash his glassware, stir the alchemical mixtures in the big black cauldrons, bring in the firewood and throw out the ashes. I look after the six pickled heads he keeps in his lab.

Did I say there were just four survivors? There's also these six. They're not exactly alive, but they're not exactly dead, either. It's my duty to keep them that way. It's an easy enough spell. Even an acolyte could manage it.

But I'm not an acolyte anymore.

The truth is, I'm a slave.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Argh! It's November...

And now it's about 5 pm. I went to a write-in for a couple of hours, but didn't write very much. The lack of scenes is getting to me. So, here, I'll post the first bit I did, and stare at that until I'm inspired to write the damn story.

Day 1

Hey, book.

You know what I'm supposed to be writing?

Another of Wensel's stupid brainwashing exercises.

"My duty to the Queen and Ark" in five hundred words.

Well, I won't. The Ark isn't my home. Especially now there's no Curse holding us here anymore, not now there's no one to be Cursed. Just me and Wensel. And the Queen. And the Queen's pasty-faced maid servant, if you can count her. Plus the Queen's horde of worshipping refugees, but they definitely don't count. Anyway, I'm leaving the next time we reach a real town, some place big enough to hide from the Queen's toadies. I'm so gone.

That's what I told him. Actually, it was Rhasqu I was talking to. Wensel was just eavesdropping. Horrible old man, sneaking up on me like that. A hundred years older than me, but he's got sharper ears. Unfair, isn't it? It's old people who are supposed to be half-deaf.

But he heard me.

"Ungrateful child!" Next thing I know he's dragging me by the elbow down the stairs. "If the Queen hears you talking like that..."

Yeah. I know, I know. Zap! Right?

I managed to keep that last bit to myself, but I'm sure he knew what I was thinking. He kept on at me like he did, anyway. Another day, another lecture.

Maybe he really is afraid for me. I know I should be grateful that he shields me
from the Queen's wrath and all that, but he's still a horrible old man.

So he marches me into the storage room and makes me pick up a fresh exercise book. "Now go to your room. I want you to think, really think, about your family --- yes, you need to understand that we are a family --- here. No more idle dreams about the past! We're here now. No looking back. Five hundred words by suppertime. Go!"

So here we are, me and you, book. These aren't the five hundred words I'm supposed to be writing. But you're not the book I'm supposed to be writing in, either.

Ha! See, I slipped two blank books off the shelf. Wensel never noticed. Derghu would be proud of me.

So this is what I'll do.

The other book is for the lies they're stuffing in my mouth. This book is for the truth.