NaNoWriMo 2016 – And the Gates Open

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You guys, I’m doing it. This is the year I *officially* take the plunge. I made an account, I’ve started writing, and I’m gonna win this thing.

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’m taking a break from drafting On the Strings of Oblivion (the sequel to All Flames Cast) to write a new story.

And the Gates Open is the result of some brainstorming I’ve done over the past two months, and the natural extension of a novella idea I came up with. Featuring two main characters, And the Gates Open is about a city under siege by an overwhelming enemy, and the two leaders who consider it their duty to keep the people safe during this time—at odds with each other. Mezra is the high priestess, concerned with the despair that plagues the city-state of Vael and fighting to keep her faith alive in the face of a conquering foreign religion. Vatan is the naturalized former mercenary who finds himself in charge of the garrison at the most important point of Vael’s defenses. Neither likes the other; each has different goals.

And meanwhile, one hundred thousand enemies camp outside the walls, under gathering stormclouds…

Cup of Dcaf: Why I Write

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With November being National Novel Writing Month, I’ve seen a proliferation of posts about writing habits, motivations, help and tips, and, most of all, identity as a writer. NaNo is a big deal in the writing world, especially the amateur section of it (let’s be honest here: the pros were already writing during November). NaNo is the time for people who “always wanted to write a book” to find the motivation and acceptance in the community and sit down at a keyboard or put pen to paper. There’s a general air of beginnings with NaNoWriMo.

For me, though, NaNo is something I’ve struggled with. It feels very much like it’s targeting a different demographic of writer than I fall into. NaNo, for all of its freedoms and encouragement and message, feels very restricting to me. I plan things out way in advance, and even when I don’t or can’t stick to those ambitions, I still have an order of things. NaNo seems like a wrench in the gears when it comes to that.

Because of all this, I’ve been giving a fair amount of thought to my situation and identity as a writer. Continue reading

The End of NaNo – AFC Update

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Well, November has come and gone. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach my goal of finishing the first draft of All Flames Cast this month; I wrote a touch over 50,000 words out of a projected 90k. It was an eye-opening month, however, and I learned a few important things about both the writing process and the story itself.

The main thing I discovered is that I can’t let myself sacrifice narrative pacing for the sake of word count. NaNoWriMo is a great idea, and works very well for a lot of people; I’m certain it could work for me if I kept to the spirit of the month and didn’t dedicate it to a preexisting project of mine. However, with a book like All Flames Cast, which is the product of years’ worth of worldbuilding, notes, and outlining, using a word count as a goal became a bit of a distraction. I had to constantly stop myself from letting my characters ramble, despite the padded word count it would give me. The pacing of All Flames Cast has been enough of a struggle as it is; slowing it down and letting it wander in order to fill out a word count isn’t the way to go.

However, the end result of all this is that I now have a much better idea of how I want the story to flow, and I overcame a major obstacle in keeping my writing on track. On top of that, of course, I am 50,000 words closer to finishing the first draft. Even though I didn’t hit my goal, I did finish Harael’s chapters, so another chapter will be popping up this week in celebration of that.

AFC NaNo Update – Week 4

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Happy (late) Thanksgiving, everyone! It’s a bit of a wake-up call to many of us writers, as it means that we only have a few days left of NaNoWriMo. And so, with the end in sight, I come to you with another update.

And it’s kind of depressing.

At this point, there’s no way I’m going to hit my 90,000 word goal. Between my late start, continuity struggles, and some hefty writer’s block last week, I am just too far behind.*

*But! I will definitely be hitting the 50,000 word mark, at least. I will be done with a significant chunk of the book, including all of Harael’s POVs and most of Tymun’s. All that’s left to do is finish off the climax for Tymun and then move on to Eritan’s stuff, which is the smallest of the three characters’ POVs. As a little bit of a celebration, I am going to relent and post another Harael chapter at the end of the month. It’s pretty crazy, and really kicks off the action for his storyline. Keep an eye out!

All Flames Cast NaNo Update – Weeks 2 and 3

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Well, last week didn’t really go as planned. I hit a major wall with All Flames Cast, and the result is that I am now way off my mark for getting to 90,000 words this month. I had a pretty big day on Saturday, trying to get back on track, but I still have a lot of ground to make up.

A big reason for this is where in the book I am. The parts I’m writing right now are smack dab in the middle: mostly exposition and character-building and setting up for the fun stuff at the end. The problem is, it’s easy to find myself rambling during stretches like these. I have had to consciously prevent myself from letting my characters go down tangents, even when it provides worldbuilding, because I need that page space to be spent moving the plot forward and helping the characters grow. I don’t want this to turn into a 250,000 word monstrosity. If I can keep the word total around 150,000 words, which was my goal from the beginning, I will be very happy.

So, as this third week of NaNo gets going, I find myself with a lot of work to do. All Flames Cast goes on, but we will see if I can really get to 90,000 words now. It was always a daunting goal.

All Flames Cast NaNo Update – Week 1

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We’re officially one week into NaNoWriMo. I’m in a bit of an interesting spot with it, at this point. I totally missed Days 1 and 2, but splurged these last couple days to catch up to the pace I want. If I were going for the 50,000 word count, I’d be pretty much set. At over 16,000 words, I would be very happy with that progress.

Unfortunately, I’m aiming for almost twice the normal number. I really want to finish All Flames Cast this month. With today being the first of my “Surge Days”, I’m beginning to see the enormity of the task at hand. I have done a little over 7000 of the 10,000 I want for today so far, and it’s been draining. It’s gonna be tough to meet this goal. I just have to hope that the momentum of things carries on, and I can pack it all in.

On a happier note, I do have to say that I’m enjoying this different writing experience. While I’m writing this book straight through, one character at a time, by nature that means that the narrative pacing is going to be uneven, at least for how I’m writing it. Right now, I’m getting close to finishing Harael’s story. The chapters I’ve been working on are fast, action-packed, and have a lot of intense emotion. It’s going to be weird, once I finish his arc and move on to Tymun’s…because I’ll be going from writing climax chapters straight back to writing setup chapters. The pacing shock there might take some getting used to, but I’m planning on the personal momentum of finishing an arc to carry me through the earlier Tymun stuff that I need to rewrite.

Either way, check back in next week for the Week 2 update. Between now and then, I think I’m going to be posting a book review, so keep an eye out for that!

All Flames Cast – Harael VII

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The fog was finally beginning to thin out when they crested the ridge and looked down into a long, narrow valley. Harael could see a small lake, nestled against a sheer cliff along the east side. The village itself stretched along most of the length of the valley, hugging the shore of the lake for much of its breadth. As they made their way down the trail, winding back and forth against the slope, their view became clearer and clearer.

By the time they reached the bottom, Harael couldn’t help but stare: the valley was mostly brown, of course, but the winter couldn’t fully grasp the pines coating the far slope. Tall and oddly angular, they gave the area a sort of green fur unlike anything he was used to in Letaal—or even in his hometown of Arbor, many miles north of the capitol. The peaks, rising high ahead, were crowned with white. Continue reading