521 new words

Total so far: 10,557.

Yep, I’m back at it. No, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. I just thought it was time.

Okay, okay, I will admit that I’ve been reading blog posts about NaNoWriMo, offering encouragement and support. I’ve also been reading comments from other writers and wanna-bes who are slogging their ways through their own writing projects (both in and out of the program. And they’ve goaded me more than a little to get back to my own novel-in-progress.

I don’t know how long the momentum will last or how far I’ll get this time, but progress is progress… and I’ll take it.

Any of you taking a stab at NaNoWriMo? Or just, you know, writing on your own? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment? Thanks.


Progress… and a problem

654 new words, which brings my total so far to… (drumroll, please)…. 10,036 words.

That’s right, I broke the 10k barrier this morning!

Imma take a moment to bask in that.


OK, that’s enough of that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to have reached a milestone like this, even if it is only about 10 percent of the usual word count on a finished novel.

My lack of more effusive celebration is due entirely to the problem I alluded to in the post title. And that problem is also the reason it took me so long to get past this significant-seeming milepost. (Errr, wordpost??)

The problem: I don’t know what my main female character’s deepest motivation is. In other words, I don’t know what she really wants. And as a novel is generally best when the main characters all want something very badly and spend the book interacting and affecting one another as they try to get those things, it behooves me to figure out what my gal wants.

At this point, she’s more drifting than moving. I need to get to the core of the woman’s motivations, because nothing stalls a book (or a life) more than having no idea where you want to go.

Can you say “fiction mirroring the author’s psychological state”? Because I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up… except very, very old.

Until I get this sorted, I fear my writing is going to be done more in fits and starts than in regular progress.

It’s a little scary.

Can anyone suggest a tool I can use to psychoanalyze my heroine? I could really use the help.


And, one last time: YAY for 10K!

I write like…

… Stephen King when I write drama*, like David Foster Wallace and Arthur Clarke* when I write romance***, and like Chuck Palahniuk and Charles Dickens when I write blog posts.

I know, right?! Pretty heady comparisons!

And, no, I did not make this up.

And also no, I don’t try to write like anyone other than myself, although there’s always seepage, they say.

In fact, I couldn’t have been influenced directly by three of these authors – Clarke, Foster Wallace, and Palahniuk – as I’ve never read any of their works. [Confession: I’m now sorely tempted to correct those reading oversights. Because if they write like me (ahem), I’ll probably really like them!]

I have read King and Dickens extensively.

King was one of my earliest favorite authors, as I started reading his stuff when I was a teenager (yes, a million years ago) and consider him an amazing writer. There’s not much of his oeuvre that I haven’t read (except the Gunslinger series, which started coming out when I wasn’t very patient with serial fiction), and I consider The Stand to be a masterpiece.

I didn’t get into Dickens until I was an adult, but have read and loved his works.

The Meyers thing? I don’t know where that came from. Nope, no Twilight for me. My sole foray in Meyerdom was The Host… which was pretty darned good, but hardly powerful enough writing to have been an influence.

So, if I didn’t make these comparisons up, where do they come from? From here. I read about I Write Like in a blog post by Wil Wheaton, in which he discovered he writes like Cory Doctorow, too. (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the coincidence makes my inner Wheaton-fangirl squee a little… and I wouldn’t lie to you… Really. Promise. Ahem.)

Who do you write like? Go find out, then leave me a note in the comments to tell me, ‘kay?

* Where drama = my short story “Magic Hands”

** Also like Stephenie Meyer and Cory Doctorow, depending on what bit of text I had analyzed.

*** Where romance = my novel-in-the-works

Life happens

I haven’t been writing since my last post.

My house has been unusually quiet, so I’ve had time and few physical distractions, but my brain has been scattered.

The most I’ve been able to do is go through the eight chapters I’ve written so far and create a character spreadsheet, so I can keep track of names, descriptions, relationships. It’s not on any specialized writing software, just Excel. And I expect I’ll keep adding to it until I get to the point where I don’t add named characters (even “extras”). It’s also given me a chance to look at the age/racial/gender roles I’ve assigned, so I can avoid the mistake of making everyone generic. I want the book, set in modern-day Florida, to reflect the diversity of people who are actually here now.

So no writing, but progress nonetheless. I feel like I can move forward now without worrying that I’ll contradict or repeat stuff I’ve already committed to pixels. (I’d already forgotten some of the details, and I’m not even 10K words in yet!)

And I’ve been fantasizing about future developments for my characters, as well as background details/episodes that might flesh them out. Unfortunately, later I don’t remember most of the ideas, although a couple of strong ones resurfaced when I was going through the pages to do the spreadsheet. I scrawled a few keywords in the margins of those pages, so I can develop them further.

I feel like I’ve let myself get distracted by busy work, but it was necessary busy work. I mean, it was going to have to happen at some point. And in the future (if/when I write a different story/book) I’ll start the character spreadsheet waaaaay sooner in the book-writing process.

That’s all technical stuff, though.

The real reason I haven’t been writing, and that my house has been quieter than usual, is that life has interfered in an unavoidable way.

The Hubs has been in Tennessee, at his parent’s house. His dad was diagnosed about three weeks ago with pancreatic cancer, late stage, so he was terminal when he got the news. The Hubs has been there this last eight days, helping his mom with his dad physically, as well as with the work of sorting his belongings and finalizing his arrangements.

And this morning, around 5:45, my father-in-law died in his home, attended by his wife and the Hubs and a hospice nurse.

I’ve been here with our teenage son, taking care of the eight cats and three dogs, working my usual schedule. I couldn’t take off from work on such short notice (due to needing coverage, not due to a lack of leave), although I will be automatically approved off for three days of bereavement. Now I wait to hear what arrangements have been made in Tennessee, so I can take our son and join my husband and his family there.

It’s been hard for me to focus on a romance while I’ve been waiting for news about a family tragedy. Understandably.

Until life settles again, in whatever pattern that may be, I don’t anticipate much creative output. Busy work may be all I can manage.

Because my family is more important than the story.

And the story will wait for a while. I’ll just have to keep a notepad handy, so I can jot down some of my ideas when they’re fresh. There might be gold in there, just waiting to be mined and shaped. I hope.

520 new words!

New total: 9382 words!

717 new words!

Current total: 8862 words.

417 new words!

Current total: 8,145!

Klutzy Kenny: a flash-fiction entry

When he tripped stepping off the landing of the boatramp to the World Showcase Lagoon and fell, he wasn’t thinking about his older brother Bobby calling him Klutzy Kenny for his whole life.

When his sunglasses bounced on the concrete, he wasn’t thinking about how stupid he’d always thought it that in horror movies some silly girl in ridiculously high heels would try to run away at some point, only to trip and fall and get killed by the monster.

He wasn’t thinking, as his head smacked the sidewalk and a coppery taste filled his mouth, that 26 was too young to die or that being chewed on by a zombie was too cliche.

Instead, he was thinking about his mom carping on him to wear sneakers. “You’re gonna break your fool neck in those flipflops, Kenneth. You have enough trouble walking straight without inviting disaster.”

Well, fuck, he thought. She was right.

The last thing he saw before he died was the Eiffel Tower above the restaurant where he’d made reservations for dinner.

The last things he heard were a gutteral snarl close behind him, a woman’s keening wail of terror as she fled, and a toddler calling, “Mommy! Mommmmmy!” after her.

The last thing he smelled was souring melted chocolate ice cream on a Mickey Mouse fudgsicle wrapper two inches from his left eye on the burning concrete, overpowered a second later by an ungodly halitosis. Its mix of old cigarette smoke and decaying meat were bad enough to knock a body out… a moot point in this case.

Then came the pain, blood red and white hot, as the unseen creature clamped its foul teeth on the side of Kenny’s neck, just above his left shoulder, and ripped out a chunk of flesh. Hot spurts of blood from his torn jugular kept perfect time with his slowing heart, coating the face of the nightmare that was gnawing Kenny’s shoulder to the bone.

When his heart stopped, so did the pain, and he was grateful.


It was night when Kenny opened his eyes again, just in time to see the ticket kiosk before he walked into it, but not enough to avoid it. He suspected it would have hurt if he’d been moving faster, but that didn’t seem to be an option.

He shuffled across a moonlit plaza, France behind him and Morocco ahead on his right. The lagoon, dark and stagnant, was on his left.

He could hear others milling around, their steps slow and halting, their breathing labored and wet, but no one was talking. He didn’t feel like talking either. In the distance, concealed loudspeakers were playing what Kenny and Bobby had always described as “relentlessly cheerful, manic Disney music.” They used to caper, monkey-like, when they said it, but tonight the music didn’t move him.

Something was moving him, though, some restlessness or instinct or itch deep inside his brain. He couldn’t stop, even though he had no idea where he was going or what he was looking for. He was operating on some sort of walking autopilot… or shuffling autopilot, anyway.

He let his feet carry him past the Morocco and toward Independence Hall. He had some idea that maybe he would find… something… inside it, and he closed his eyes to try to picture what that thing was. He opened them when another shuffling body bumped into him, knocking him on his ass. The middle and pinky fingers on his left hand bent backward and snapped when he landed hand-first on the steps. Kenny heard the noise, but there was no pain.

Weird, he thought, as he tried to look at the damage. He grasped his pinky and tried to bend it back to a normal angle, but he couldn’t really see it well. Something was definitely wonky with his vision.

Finally, he gave up, rolled onto his knees and crawled. He wasn’t sure he could stand up, and he wasn’t in a hurry, so crawling would do. He’d made it halfway up the stairs when a smell of warm mammal caught him up short. He didn’t know why he wanted it, but – gods – did he want it.

He scrambled to his feet and shamble-ran toward Italy, joining the throng of those like him who had caught the scent too, and who were just as determined to have it as he was. He realized he was drooling and he was starving and he had to have it and chew it and feel its flesh tear in his mouth and fill his aching and empty gullet.

So focused was he on locating the evasive odor that he didn’t see the low concrete wall in front of him. He felt it when it hit his shin and sent him sprawling onto the baby stroller on its far side. When he tried to stand, his right leg wouldn’t support his weight, and he fell again. He looked down and saw his shinbone poking through his skin.

Well, fuck, he thought again.

He settled into a sort of crab-crawl, on his hands and left foot, dragging his broken right leg behind him. He didn’t hear anyone else nearby and the delicious aroma was gone. Still, he had to keep moving.

Hours passed. Canned music played, the others slowly shuffled back into view and Kenny kept crawling.

Just before dawn, he saw the ugliest cat he’d ever seen climbing out of a trashcan near the gates of China. It settled down to gnaw on something it had dragged out of the can, a corndog or pretzel maybe.

Kenny picked up his pace, gaining ground until he saw it wasn’t a cat. It was a huge possum, and it looked so… very… edible.

The possum didn’t notice him until he was nearly on top of it, then it hissed at him and ran off toward Norway.

Well, fuck, he thought. There has to be some food here somewhere in this world. I’m so hungry.


(995 words)

448 new words!

Current total: 7728.

Also, I wrote 347 words on the flash fiction challenge I mentioned a couple of posts ago. If I get my crap together With any luck, tonight I’ll finish it and get it posted before the submissions deadline.

Between the two pieces, I wrote 795 words today!

769 new words!

Current total: 7280.