Take one. They’re free.



A Winner

Of course that does not mean I’m done. It just means I did 50,000 words this month so far. So, what now?

1. Finish the plot line. I’m in the middle of the climax now. I should be able to finish the book in the next few days.

2. Take a moment to appreciate the fact that I have written at least one new rough draft every year since 2000. Before that I’d never actually finished even the rough draft on any of my novel attempts. I kept trying to revise as I went.

3. Get back to revising BSH.

4. Vacuum the living room. No more excuses for putting it off.

5. Send out the wish lists I promised to compile.

6. Get more exercise.

7. Get some more vacation pix ready so I can post about Iceland again.

8. Make some gift bags.

9. Muck out my office.

10. Pay some bills.

11. Buy some gifts

12. Pack.

13. Go home for Christmas.


13 Sentences

150811n 533

The last lines I wrote in my NaNo book tonight:

“The point is, I haven’t found people to be particularly trustworthy.”

“Too late to keep it from me.” She grinned at him, pleased with her logic. “I haven’t been bad so far, have I?”

“But that’s always the way with humans. You act all nice at first. Then you do something horrible!”

“I promise, I will not do anything horrible.” She let her irritation show. “I’m just a girl. What can I do?” Mentally she disregarded the possibility of launching her entire army to hunt him down and kill him.


Taxonomy of a Resolution

The first resolution I listed last Thursday – Write for at least one hour every day – is one I actually started in December. You’d think I’d make that kind of resolution DURING National Novel Writing Month in November. But no. I didn’t think of it until afterward.

At first I was too vague. I thought as long as I spent an hour each day in front of my computer with a file open, that should count. Good old BiCHoK in action. (Butt in chair, hand on keyboard). I actually did get a lot done through the course of the month. I’m not sure how much of it will actually bear fruit, though. I ended up working on the rough drafts for four different novels.

In my experience, it’s rarely a good idea to write the rough draft of more than one book at a time. I tend to lose focus, and stuff drifts in from one book to another when I don’t mean for it. Even when I’m working on radically different projects, it can combine.

Continue reading Taxonomy of a Resolution




Seems like I hardly even announced that I was participating in this years National Novel Writing Month before I won it!

This does not mean the book it done. I have a long way to go in search of a completed plot line, but I’ve achieved the 50,000 plus words of the NaNo challenge. Yay!

Every book is a little different. This one was quite a bit different in process than previous efforts. I did not write anything out ahead of time – no synopsis, and no spreadsheets. But I wasn’t flying into the mist. I had been thinking about various aspects of this story for a couple of years now. But it wasn’t all clear in my mind as I sat down to write – only bits and pieces.

So in a way, it was a bit like when I wrote Uru – a 75,000 Camp NaNo book that I wrote a few years ago. In a way, nothing like it.

At some point I gave up trying to follow a timeline entirely. I jump from scene to scene, writing whatever comes to mind. I can already see more or less how it will all shake into place in the revisions, so I’m still writing with confidence. But I can’t use the end of the previous scene to tell me what to write next. It jumps around too much.

For now, I’ll just celebrate the word count.


The Winner’s Circle

 photo NaNo-2015-Winner-Certificate-Screen_zps8esnrydx.jpg

I did it! I hit 50,000 words! According to NaNoWriMo rules, that means I’ve written a book and have won.

Of course, I haven’t really finished yet. I estimate I’m about two thirds the way through. Maybe a bit more. I still have the most pivotal scene to write – the one the whole book is based on.

I seriously considered taking the story a slightly different way and skipping the pivotal scene all together. I’ve noticed that often when book is written to support a particular scene then that scene will not fit well and need to be removed afterward. It sounds illogical, but I’m not the only one to have written such a book.

On the other hand I have included some truly outlandish and poorly supported scenes and received compliments for them from my beta readers. Considering this one is very well supported, it makes more sense to go for it, even if the logic of the book would have taken me a slightly different direction normally.

As with everything in a rough draft, I can always take it out later.


NaNo and Family

I am particularly blessed because my family not only understands my need to write, they enthusiastically join me. Since I’m by far the most experienced in the field, our in-house word wars have hardly been fair. I generally take a handicap of a couple hundred.

This hasn’t exactly sat well with either Mr. Al or The Girl. Even when they would win if we counted the handicap, they weren’t satisfied. They both wanted to out-write me straight out.

This year, they are both succeeding. It’s not because I’m writing any slower than I have before. I can still whip out six or seven hundred words in fifteen minutes. The changes is that now both of them can also whip out that many words.

So I’m doing better than normal, but still lagging. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.


NaNoWriMo 2015

Yep, I’m doing it again. I’m going to write a book in November. This time it’s going to be a Science Fiction idea that I’ve had floating around in my head for a number of years. It’s one of those great, archetype-filled journey stories. An outcast struggling to find his place in the world ends up the savior of his community.
The only problem this time is that there aren’t any human beings in the story. The hero is a water-based life form. Worse, saying “his” isn’t exactly accurate. A big part of the story is the fact there are six genders. He starts off as one and transitions to another.

I’ve tried to write this book a couple of times before. Both times I got stuck in the first chapter. Both times it was because of the gender issue. Or rather, the fact that English doesn’t accommodate alternatives to the two-gender system very well.

I started off calling him “it”. He really is an it at the beginning. The use of that word it for gender had a cold effect on the story. This time I’ll try it in first person. Hope that does the trick.



I have now officially hit the half way point in my book. I was writing much more efficiently at the beginning of the month when my part time job went full time and my obligations in all kinds of places went nuts.

Now I’ve finally hit a lull in the pressure, and wouldn’t you know the writing slowed way down. I think it’s because I have time to actually think about what I’m putting down “on paper”. When it comes to writing fast, it’s never a good idea to look too closely at what’s there.

Continue reading Halfway


And We Have a Winner!

Yep. I made my NaNo goals. Not only did I write more than 50,000 words, I also covered my entire outline. In other words, I actually finished the book, ODE to Joy, in November.

Every book is a little different, and this proved to be no exception. I wrote the original outline (in a spreadsheet) while traveling in Mongolia. I had certain criteria it had to fit.

First, it had to include the Character named Flynn from the book Zackly Right, which I had written quite a few years ago. After going through some very intensive revisions, Zack is ready to market. If it doesn’t find a home in the New York publishing world, I’ll be self publishing it. I’m giving it a year in which to find a home. Zack has clearly set Flynn up for a sequel. ODE to Joy is supposed to be that sequel. I wrote it now because it will probably take a lot of revision, and I will need to have it ready to go out the chute whenever Zack is published.

Second, it had to be set at least part of the time in a place where Buddhist festival music – horns, drums, bells, and chanting – could be heard in the background of a cell phone call. This, also comes from Zack and is not flexible.

Third, after I decided Mongolia would work for the setting, one of my tour guides asked to be included in the book. So part of the book bounces in and out of a tour very much like the one I went on.

Continue reading And We Have a Winner!


Progress Report

I’m writing a fiction book set in Mongolia for my National Novel Writing Month. (Yeah, like you didn’t know that already.) I’m using a lot of the things I experienced there as part of the book.

For instance, there is a scene set at the Chengus Kahn Memorial statue. There’s another that features Turtle Rock, and a couple set in UlaanBaatar. So far. I expect to have several there before I’m done. Does the airport there count as separate? The leather pouch used to ferment milk gets a mention, as does the way a ger smells.

Continue reading Progress Report


Suzie’s House 296 : Yes, I Do Have a Family

Suzie's House

“Drab, Pulsate, and Tendril.”

“Shouldn’t you be doing that at home, Ben?” I dumped another pile of dishes into the sudsy side of the sink.

“Seriously. What kind of words are these?”

Continue reading Suzie’s House 296 : Yes, I Do Have a Family


NaNoWriMo 2012


It’s National Novel Writing Month again. It’s kind of funny they should call it that when people from all over the world do it at the same time. National? Which nation?

Anyway, the idea is to write a book in November. We’re talking rough draft here. My rough drafts are always really, really rough. I’ve been known to throw the whole thing away and start from scratch. Sometimes more than once.

For instance, last year I worked on a dragon oriented book for NaNo. I’d already written the book once, and had the plot mostly ironed out that way, but had chosen the wrong point of view, so I tossed out the original manuscript entirely, and wrote it for NaNo from scratch. I hit the 50,000 easily enough by the end of the month, but didn’t finish the manuscript until the end of December.

Continue reading NaNoWriMo 2012


76,806 Words

Sometimes things just come together for you. The book I just wrote was like that. Not so much the ending, which I changed three or four times as I went, but just the way the book came together as a whole was great. I’ve got a couple of Works In Progress that are like pulling teeth. To have one whip together so fast and so clean from a start with so little to go on was really fun.

This manuscript – tentatively titled Watching Uru – was something I did for the Camp NaNo National Novel Writing Month event for August. About a week before we were supposed to start, I thought I’d give this idea a try. I’d had a series of re-occurring daydreams involving a particular character. These daydreams mostly resolved into individual scenes, but they weren’t necessarily related, and I didn’t have a central premiss. I wasn’t at all sure this was going to work.

I opened up a spreadsheet and put each scene on a row in a particular column. There were about twenty of them, all told. I then looked for something that might be chronological about them, something that might be a theme, and anything even remotely resembling a plot. To my utter amazement – it had it all, and didn’t even have any scenes that had to be eliminated due to timing or logic conflicts. Everything could be made to fit.

I then added some scenes as connective tissue and fill in, numbered everything in the order in which I thought they should appear, and did a data sort to automatically put it all in order for me. I love spreadsheets for stuff like this.

I then went through and added approximate dates to show the chronology in a different column and in another put in what point of view the scene should be in. Normally I would go on to add GMC and emotional arc information for each scene, but my week was up, so I skipped it and went straight into the writing.

A few days later, I’d had some ideas for the way things should go, and certain details had an impact on the plot, so I went back to the spreadsheet. I removed some scenes, re-arranged a few, and added a few, all while still keeping my word count high.

I went through the same process two more times before finishing the book. At the end I mostly just winged it. My word count got slow, but it wasn’t worth messing with the spreadsheet again. Finally, I thought I was right at the end, so I put aside everything else in my life to focus on finishing. I pushed hard, but couldn’t finish it in one day. I finished it the next day.

If only all the books I write would come together so easily.

So that’s why I was so slow getting back to you a few days ago. My head was totally in a different world. Now I’m ready to get back to… um… reality? 🙂


Camp NaNo



right now.




National Novel Writing Month.

they say 50,000. Shooting for 75,000.

Doing well so far.

Been 10


21 to go.

And I’m on schedule.



I’ve become a NaNo addict.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every year in November. The idea is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in one month. This is the third time I’ve done it.

Why? Because of the library.

Yeah, yeah, the library is there all year long. What does it have to do with NaNo? Well, a bunch of us get together in the library to encourage one another to get our words written. I have discovered that I can write much more effectively when I am sitting with other people who are also writing. I focus better, and take it more seriously. I can do as much in two hours as I normally do taking all day.

We meet once a week. I can’t wait until the next one.

The first time I wrote the rough draft of Remember Me. It’s a Suzie’s House book and too deeply entwined with the Suzie’s House story (It’s about Ben’s mother) so that I’ve struggled with the revisions, but I’m hoping to have it come out this coming year. The next NaNo book I wrote was actually two, as Crazy Love only took 40,000 words and I had time left. I went on to Start Beautiful Spanish Hussy, which I haven’t finished yet.

This year it’s a fantasy book about dragons and dire wolves and a girl’s quest to find her father. I’m shooting for 100,000 words, but I’ll count myself a winner if I get the first 50,000 done.

If you’re a novelist, have you ever tried NaNo? How did it work out for you?