Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Over Nine Thousand

I pride myself on being a worker-bee type writer, and NaNoWriMo is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I thought it would be really fun, especially if I chose a project that I didn’t have very well planned. I could just see what would develop organically from a couple of characters and half-scribbled images in my mind. I was right—it’s been a blast. I’m sold. I’ll be back next year and everything.

However… the first day I wrote about ten thousand words, which is a pretty good day. On my best days, I have been able to put about thirty thousand words on paper before dinner, but there’s no rush, so I wasn't geared up to try and have any particularly awesome days this month. I’ve got all month and after ten thousand words I was sleepy, so after that first day I calmed down and just added a couple thousand words to the manuscript here and there, not really stressed about finishing well before the end of the month. Last week I was super busy and I only ended up writing a little over nine thousands words. Still, I was almost to the forty thousand mark Saturday morning.

Then, Monday, tragedy struck. It was back-up day. So, I went to back-up my novel and everyone knows where this is going so I won't even... Ugh.

I didn’t lose the whole thing, though. I’m not that pathetic, this time (I have lost whole books in the past, good job, me.) I did lose everything that I wrote last week. It’s gone forever. I was very pleased with those nine thousand words. The thought of rewriting the last few scenes was pretty awful, because they were not easy scenes to write.

First I cried, then I ate a sandwich and glared at the computer screen, like it’s even his fault. Then, I started writing, with this particularly awesome Youtube video on my mind.

So, that was yesterday and now I’m finally beyond the point where I lost last week’s work. I’m not loving some of this as much as I did the first time around. I just can’t seem to recapture the same tone, in one scene in particular… but, at least one other scene has improved considerably upon being rewritten. I guess that’s just the way it goes.

Anyway, I’m still on track to finish pretty quickly, but geez. Did I really need to learn a lesson just then?

I guess if I have to ask that, I probably didn’t learn it well enough.

I might have just shot myself in the foot.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNo Week Uno!

So far, NaNoWriMo has been pretty awesome:) It’s November 7th and I’m at 25K (and I didn’t do any writing yesterday) so, hopefully I’ll finish quite early and take a week or two to edit and stuff. The veterans of NaNo repeatedly say that editing is the worst thing you can possibly do, so I’ve resisted (ish) the urge to read through what I’ve written and instead just keep adding more, but the result is that I’ll probably have to edit this book more than any other, once it’s actually finished.

It’s nice to get a head start. Half-way done on the sixth wasn’t really what I intended, but cool, cool.

I settled on The MirrorGirl, a project that I worked on years ago, abandoned, turned into a short story, revised, decided I wanted it to be a novel after all, tried to work on a summary, got overwhelmed, came up with the complete story from start to finish in my head, got bored, forgot about, revised the short story again, abandoned again, rediscovered, kidnapped, murdered, resurrected and forgot about again.

The only thing I really kept around from that original version is the characters. The plot has a new face, the style and themes and structures are utterly different… I read through the rules and it’s all kosher. I didn’t write a word of this book before November 1st, I had vague elements floating around that I thought might come to play in the plot, so the story-line itself has been pretty organic.

I decided to switch perspective between the chapters and write it in first person present tense, because I think it suits the story and also because I think that it’s always easier for me to get up to a higher word count in first person present.

So, here’s an excerpt from Nole's perspective:

I like to think I’m not a bad guy. I was perfectly willing to wait another three days—a generous extension—before I sent someone to break Rex’s thumbs. Of course, such warnings proved unnecessary once the man miraculously came up with the money and delivered it in cold, hard, unmarked cash to my kind hand. Considering the humiliation and torment he put me through, I ought to be considered absolved of any wrong I have ever done for being forgiving enough a man to forget. I let him live, didn’t I?

I let him live even after he took advantage of my innocent little Mercy and took her away from me and made it known to the Crime Kings at large. I even let him come back and work for me after the little bint moved on. I let him live when he and his goons lost a very important shipment over a cliff and claimed the boogey-man did it. I’ll even split the financial retribution evenly between all the men on the job, rather than demanding that they each pay me the full amount or take a bullet to the back of skull.

That’s all in the past. Rex is the past. Some men don’t have the nerves to stay at this for long. He gave me my money and now I don’t ever have to see his ugly face again. I’m feeling good about that. If I can put Rex into the past, then maybe Mercy will stay there with him.

It’s dark out already. It’s only five o’clock but looking out my window, the sun is all gone for the day. It clocked out early. I could use a drink. I go over to the cabinet, ready to pour myself something nicer than the crappy beer that gets me my daily prescribed alcohol most of the time. The door opens as I reach the cabinet. On instinct one hand creeps closer to the piece at my side, but it’s just Hector.

“Someone’s here to see you,” says Hector, a little louder than necessary. It’s loading dock day outside. The truck engines are probably still buzzing in his ears.


“Dr. Bleak.” Hector clearly knows that impact these words will have on me, but he tries to play it cool. I will too, once I get over my shock. I try to think of myself as only achieving the levels of necessary evil. Bleak is a whole other class. I don’t know what he’s doing here, but I hope he’s got the wrong place.

Hector moves aside to let a giant enter the room. The man looks like he might be seven feet tall. He’s wide but from his regale stance and broad, strong shoulders I guess that it’s all muscle. His face is hideous. Scars extend from the corners of his mouth up to his ears in an eerie, grisly grin. This man can’t be Bleak. Sure enough, the body-guard moves aside to allow the Doctor to step into the room.

Dr. Bleak looks tiny in comparison to his Muscle. His thin body is draped in a tailored black suit. He wears leather gloves over his delicate hands and a hat which he removes upon entering the room. A full head of white hair is combed neatly beneath the hat. His chilling blue eyes suggest intelligence that must be a requirement for someone like Bleak.

“Have a seat,” I say coolly, gesturing to a pair of chairs in front of my desk. I’m not sure that they’ll be able to hold the weight of the Muscle, but he doesn’t sit down anyway. Bleak does, then he looks expectantly at me. I sit down in my own chair behind the desk. “What can I do for you, Doctor?”

“This is quite a smooth operation you run here.”

I nod at the compliment, it does mean a lot considering the source.

“I’ve always had a fascination for these little factions outside of Salome’s beating heart… You know, someone like you is a real innovator in a lot of ways. You’re a businessman. A gentleman of the community and what you do keeps the community in order.”

“Well, I try my best,” I don’t really know where he’s going with this, but I’m keeping one hand within a few inches of my gun. My eye is trained on Bleak’s huge bodyguard. The man looks totally calm. His enormous hands swollen and red, concentrated around his massive front two knuckles.

“This community has caught my eye recently and well… the truth is, I’ve got a job to do here, but, I wouldn’t want to get in the way of anything or overstep my bounds. Rith isn’t really my territory,” he chuckles. “So, I was thinking that instead of having my men do this job, I’d hire out. I’d hire you, to be specific.”

“You want to pay me for a job out here in Rith?”


“What kind of job?” I can’t possibly imagine what might be relevant to Bleak’s work, all the way out here.

“Little job. Barely any trouble; one day’s effort and it’s all finished,” says Bleak, his voice like crystal chimes.

“What does it entail?”

“There’s a little girl. Her name is Rabbit Blue and she’s a fourth grade student at South Rith Elementary. I want you to abduct her and bring her to Salome’s heart.”

What? Did I hear him right? Here’s where the guy loses me. What the hell could this little girl, Rabbit, have to do with heavy arms manufacturing? This can’t possibly be relevant to Bleak’s work. It’s got to be something personal. I clear my throat and glance at the Muscle’s red knuckles again before I careful enunciate my response. “Well, Mr. Bleak, that’s not really my area of expertise. I’m more of a drugs and gambling type of entrepreneur. You know, the money makers… And to be quite honest, I’ve always found trafficking in little girls to be somewhat distasteful.”

“Oh, I as well. Don’t think I want the child for any kind of unsavory purposes. Mr. Cheshire and I-” he gestures to the mountain of death with the screwed up face, “-are disgusted by the human trafficking groups. Aren’t we, Mr. Cheshire?”

Mr. Cheshire looks disgusted. It’s terrifying.

“I think the girl would be invaluable to my research, is all. She’ll be very well cared for.”

“All the same, my men and I… we don’t really have any experience with abduction. You might want to call in the experts.”

“I’m afraid I could never fund such debauchery,” says Bleak firmly. “You’re endeavors on the other hand are… a pillar of modern society. I see nothing regrettable about giving you more money.”

“How much money are we talking about?”

“What are the going rates for kidnapping now? It’s gone down a bit in the past decade… How about ten million? That’s always seemed such a tight, decent but not ostentatious amount of money.”

I have no problem with Bleak being ostentatious. It’s too much to pass up, especially since it’s bound to be cake—just snatching a little girl. “When do you want her?”

“As soon as possible.”

Tonight, I’m a bad man.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Here's my admittedly flawed, but humorous and 'more-true-than-some-people-want-to-admit' understanding of the situation...

Say I’ve got ninety-nine friends and we’re all hanging out at somebody’s house. Not that of one of the 99, probably something like the house of a friend of a friend, who I’m not really acquainted with, but I think he might have dated someone I know. Anyway, this guy whose house me and my 99 friends are hanging out at decides to go get pizza. He gets a dollar from everyone there, except me, he asks for 20 bucks from me and I go ahead and give it to him because I want pizza, and I did ask from Hawaiian toppings even though I might be the only person eating that pizza. Anyway, 119 dollars isn’t enough money to get pizza for all of us, especially not from the trendy pizza place that this guys goes to (I told him 5 buck was edible, but he didn't believe me) so this guy uses some magic invisible credit money to cover the rest of the bill.

We all eat the pizza, but after it’s gone some of my ninety-nine friends start bugging this guy to give them a dollar. They let him borrow a dollar, now they want a it back. He says he’s run out of magic invisible credit money, so he can’t let them have a dollar. Most of my 99 friends go home, but there are a few who won’t let this dollar thing die. Finally, someone suggests that if this guy can’t give them back the dollars they loaned him, then he should take my money and give every one of my 99 friends a dollar.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, guys. I don’t even have 99 dollars. But then they say that they’ll take whatever I have and distribute it equally among my 99 friends.

No, guys, I’m seriously not giving you any money.

They’re all like, you have to! You don’t deserve that money, plus you ate a ton of pizza, you’re way fat and gross and you definitely have 99 dollars, I saw.

Que es eso? I respond. Peace out, I’m taking my ball and going home.

But then they totally follow me home and hang out on my lawn for two months.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Conversation I had with Jensen at aprox. Midnight the other night.

“I think I’m actually going to do NaNoWriMo this year,” I said trying to keep my voice down as to not awaken the rest of the household.

“NaNoWriMo?” Jensen asked through a mouthful of un-chewed chocolate cupcake.

“Nation Novel Writing Month. It’s when you try to write an entire novel in November.”

Jensen nearly choked on cupcake. “CRAP! I forgot about Sketchtober!”

I forgot about the sleeping people. “It’s October twenty-ninth in a few minutes!”

“Yeah. I was supposed to sketch something every day.”

Anyway. Jensen is my shero and I may have talked her into making up for her unconscious dismissal of Sketchtober by doing NaNoWriMo with me. She has a more concise idea than I do, it seems.

Right now, the biggest problem I’m having is that I can’t decide between the ten ideas I’ve narrowed it down to. The point of NaNoWriMo is to just write, write, write and try to make it a complete story, even if it’s not a great complete story. That’s probably what I need right now. Some, straight-up, self-indulgent, organic writing.

I’m one of those writers who believe that writing is more craft than anything else. If you’ve got talent as a writer, that probably means that you’re clever. Good for you.

“How’s that working out for you?”

Really creating a good story needs more than just cleverosity.

Still, that being said… it’s nice to take a break from being technically good every once in a while and just create something for the pure enjoyment of it. That’s the book I want to write this month; pure enjoyment.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that I don’t want to waste one of my really decent ideas on this.

But... that may be the only kind of idea I care about enough to be married to it for the next month.

Time Stamp: NaNoWriMo starts in a little over five hours and I still am not totally sure what book I'm writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Christopher Nemelka

I have repeatedly been put into a position in which I must work with, cooperate with or live with someone who I have previous mocked viciously (often times, I assert that the mocking is arguably well-deserved, even after I become BFF’s with the subject of the mockery.)

Example: the year before I went to Houston I remembered hearing a story about a bank that was robbed here in Utah. The story went like this: A woman is alone at the bank. It's one of those drive-through deals with the 80's-sci-fi-movie-pipe-line thing that were still kind of new-ish to Utah at the time. So, she’s alone and the robber drives up to the pipe outside and sends a note into the bank that says “Send all the money through this tube or I’ll blow up the bank, I’ve wired it with explosives,” or something menacing and robber-appropriate to that affect. The poor woman then sends all the money through and of course, there were no explosives in the bank and all the doors could have been locked from her desk and the police could have been there in two minutes etc. It was only just a bad situation, but my friends and I REALLY laughed hard about it for a long time and traded ideas for what we would have done in the bank teller's place.

-Send the manager's card through with fifty cents taped to it.

-Give him a sucker from the kiddie's candy jar.

-lock the doors, call the cops and dance obnoxiously in front of the bullet-proof window.

We got some good laughing mileage out of this story.

Soooo, THEN in spite of being sort of irreverent and prone to unjustly mocking people, I decided to do my best to try and serve God.

I went on my mission and after I had been out for almost a year I was made companions with… THE BANK TELLER! I kid you not.

Inevitably, I felt horrible for making fun of her all that time before we ever knew each other. She’s a really lovely person and definitely one of the most intelligent people I know. I felt especially bad after she told me how utterly stupid she felt ten seconds after the robber drove away. Because, this girl is the exact opposite of stupid. It wasn’t fair for me to be so harsh. No one really knows how they will react in a high-pressure situation. It’s easy to look back and say what you would do. I've never been seriously threatened before. Probably. It's debatable. So maybe I should just shut up, yaknow?

Anway, that’s not really the point. The point is that I repeatedly find myself in sort of bizarre relationships like this.We don't always get to be as close as the bank teller and I did, but I usually walk away with a new found respect, at least.

I don't know if that'll happen with Christopher Nemelka though.

Christopher is a man who I still haven’t met, but who now threatens to spend eternity in my family’s cemetery.

As I insinuated above, this egomaniac (emphasis on maniac) is called Christopher Nemelka. He claims to be a reincarnation of my great-great-great grandfather. He's not. God told me.

Because one of my distant relatives believes him she gave him her cemetery plot so that he could rest with MY family.

This is a picture of me and my sisters standing beside my great-grandma Muzzy’s grave (we’re kind of a morbidly sentimental family) we have lots of pictures like this, not always beside dead people we know. The plot on the other side of me is the one that has been reserved for Christopher Nemelka.

Muzzy probably would have been alright with it, actually. I can just see her sighing, smiling innocently and saying “Oh, that poor man…”

His website's address is carved into the headstone and everything. Which prompted my mother (Oh, how I love her.) to say something along the lines of: "There goes the necropolis."