Tag Archives: National Novel Writing Month

Welcome to the attic of the Green-Walled Tower

Come on it, don’t mind the mess (I don’t pick up that often). Just follow the steps up and up until you get to the top. I’m letting you into the inner sanctum of my writing world in response to an invitation by Amy Reese, at amyreesewrites.com. She is a great writer and a good blogging friend of mine since the beginning of this blog. This is part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, I do believe. Without further ado, here are the four questions that I was given.

1)     What am I working on?

Ah, what a question. It almost pains me to think about it. It’s like I have this jar of wriggly, squirming stories and I love every single, slimy one of them. They are my children: each at a different stage of development but they all have such potential. But then, with some chagrin, I have to cram the top back on top of that sucker or they might get out and I do NOT have time to deal with all of them at the moment.

Yeah, my jar is extra full, I’m afraid. I only mention them here since I work on things slowly, turning them over in my mind over a long time, like a literary Sarlacc.

Plots...I need plots.

Plots…I need plots.

I’m usually pretty private about my projects, but what the hey. Here is what is on my plate:

The Inner Darkness: this was originally a Nanowrimo novel I did in 2009. It has been through several edits since then, but I have a lot of plans for it in my head. No time though. It’s a quirky, first-person fantasy involving an abyss in a cave where people occasionally emerge from. I really love the main character.

The Girl Who Could Snee: I wrote this novel around a story I originally posted on this blog. This one is unfortunately not finished, not for lack of ideas but just time. Why didn’t I finish it originally? Sigh. Why not, indeed?

Brother Alien: This is another novel that is not finished, although with this one, I am still thinking about one particular point. It’s sitting in the belly of the literary Sarlacc, still stewing. It deals with the aftermath of a failed alien invasion.

Special Becky: This is a novella I’m working on, which is based on the series of Friday Fictioneers stories I did, one with the same name. It’s not finished, not because of a lack of ideas or interest, just because other, more urgent projects came up.

I don’t mention all these to brag. If anything, they are a mark of shame that so many are unfinished. I mention them because they are all on my mind and even when I’m not actively working on them, I’m working through ideas for them, until the day I can pull up the file, read through the notes and begin gloriously again to create.

What I am currently working on actively is a collaborative novel. It’s kind of a secret though, so I can’t say much about it. It is a great story though and if/when it’s published, you’ll know all about it.

Pictured: not me

Pictured: not me

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have a confession: I don’t know what my genre is. As you might know, my blog stories tend to be quirky or dark and everything in between.

Of course, those are blog stories. With my novels, seven are adventure stories; four are funny; six have fantasy or sci-fi elements in them. However, if I had to answer this question (which I apparently do) I would say that I combine these elements together in my own style, which makes it different. Also, there are three minor elements that many of my stories share that reveal my personality. 1) other languages are a key part of the story or some character is learning another language, 2) there are often huge, dark expanses, 3) there are other worlds and some way to go between them.


3)     Why do I write what I do?

First and foremost, I write the kind of stuff I want to read. I write my ideal books (as well as I can) so it’s always fun to go back and reread them again and again.

Secondly, I write to express what I believe. I am a Christian, but I don’t mean I want to write blatantly Christian books (mostly because I don’t like to read most blatantly Christian books). I have a lot of beliefs.

I believe the world is a wonderful, magical place; I believe in forgiveness and mercy; I believe in truth; I believe the world is a really complicated place with no easy answers sometimes. For instance, in Brother Alien, the plot turns around the idea of what to do in a stalemate with stranded aliens who have killed hundreds of millions of people. Some people want to wage eternal war, others want to forgive them. Can you ever forgive a crime so great? I want to explore that question.

4)     How does my writing process work?

Many of my novels start with a picture. For a few of them, the picture came from a dream. My very first story, Teardrop, started with the image of a train going up a valley at quitting time. Inside were two different races: one short, one tall. Another one, The Wild Children, started with a dream where I was in a wet, muddy cave. The roof suddenly split open and light streamed in and a hand reached down. That was it; the whole dream. I built the novel around it.

After I have that picture or a What if? idea, I just think about it. I think and think, working the idea back and forth until I have the kernel of a story. Then I start writing. When I begin, I usually have an inkling of where the story will end, but not always. I don’t plot out scenes on paper, since I’ll just change them while I’m writing. If I get stuck on a point, I think on it a while until I get it unstuck.

After I get the rough draft done, I put it away and start something else, usually an edit of another project, since I don’t usually write novel rough drafts back to back. When that edit is done, I’ll come back to the rough draft, reread it and plot out the scenes with all their characters and significant events. Then I can see what needs changing, what needs cutting and adding, and so on.

Thanks for coming on this tour. Now I would like to pass on the challenge to Sharmishtha Basu, if she has any interest in answering these questions. Sharmishtha is a prolific writer and poet from India who manages an impressive number of blogs and specializes in fantasy and paranormal stories.

writing warning

This is true: the teacher in The Wild Children is named after a barista.

Nanowrimo? More like Pernofinmo…

Ah, Nanowrimo. There is always the annual debate among amateur writers: to Nano or not to Nano? Some love the idea and some are against it for various reasons.


Personally, I like Nano. I like the energy and even the deadlines that push you to get things done whether you feel like it or not. I’ve done Nano eight years in a row and won seven of them…until this year. This year I’m not doing it and it’s your fault.

Okay, so it’s obviously not your fault. It’s my fault or at least the fault of this blog. My usual modus operandi for novel writing has been to write a novel in November and then spend the next year (and more) editing it. However, since I started this blog, I have done much less novel editing and consequently, I have two novels from past Nanowrimos that are fifty thousand words long, but are still unfinished stories. As much as I would love to do Nano again this year, I don’t need another unfinished rough draft sitting on my hard drive. What I need is to finish the ones I have.

So I’m not doing Nanowrimo this year. Instead, I’m doing Pernofinmo (Personal Novel Finishing Month) and honestly, it’s a lot harder. For one thing, there’s more editing and retooling of things, which is much slower than just pedal-to-the-metal rough draft writing. Plus, the story I am working on has remained unfinished for two years for a reason. The main theme of the novel is that the main characters (and the whole world for that matter) are struggling with a intractable situation with no easy answers. The problem is, that I don’t have any easy answers either and I have spend tons of hours over the last two years trying to figure out how to end it plausibly. I’ve been making progress, but it’s still slow. I don’t know if I’ll actually finish the story in November, but I’ll try. I still have 21 left.

I get the feeling this guy doesn't like Nanowrimo

I get the feeling this guy doesn’t like Nanowrimo

Do you do Nanowrimo? Why or why not? I’m just curious.

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