...and I'm kind of terrified. Am I ready? No. Is anybody ever really ready? I vowed to Be Prepared like a good little scout, but I'm way behind. Today's goal is to sketch out fifteen more scenes. I banged out fifteen yesterday, and that will give me thirty scenes/chapters which is a good place to start. They will no doubt be shuffled, re-worked, and some of them scrapped and/or replaced before it's all over, but at least I'll have a framework to start hanging words on.
Still kind of scared.
Tenting with panthers
...and I just realized we missed Elanor's birthday on the second! I'm a terrible mom!!!! Yeah, she's "just" a cat, but that's still lame. She's my youngest and will be my baby for a long time. Happy second birthday, Spook! May the coming year bring you many more (safe) adventures.
Pre-writing and all that it entails is actually a lot of fun, for me, anyway. To learn more about pre-writing in general, check out a couple of great podcasts from the Writing Excuses team. I love doing research and am one of those people who can take an hour to look up something in a dictionary because of distractions that lead down rabbit trails. The internet is even worse: global rabbit trails!
The guest post today over at Kristen Lamb's Blog is all about creating backstory as part of your pre-writing. Piper Bayard gives us license, nay, orders, to backstory the heck out of not just the main characters in our writing but pretty much everybody who walks across the stage and has a line. I can see this as a series of great warm-up sessions, but it's also just a really great way to get your characters and world fully realized. If anybody struggles with plotting like I do, this kind of world-building is going to help a LOT, because the more you know about the people and places of your creation the more naturally events and decisions are going to flow from your fertile imagination.
At any rate, it's another way to play "God", and writers are nothing if not control freaks.
Recent events in my life have reminded me that if you don't do get moving and try to do those things that you really want to do ASAP, then you may get to the end of your life never having done anything. With that in mind, I'm going to jump off the deep end and charge into National Novel Writing Month, colloquially known as NaNoWriMo, in a few weeks. It's a personal challenge to write at least 50,000 words in the month of November: basically, get a book written. It's do-able, I just have to DO IT.
I took a stab at it back in 2006 but was derailed when the Spouse's computer died and I loaned him mine to keep him functional. I think I was about 18,000 words in when that happened. I probably still could have done it, but between writing challenges and other life stuff that November, I was pretty much doomed.
This year the decks are more clear, I have more than one machine to write on, and I'm kicking around an idea for what I think could be a fun, lightweight romance novel. I am "outlining" and casting it even now. Stay tuned...
There is much darkness in this world. If you are hurting, deeply and profoundly, and it seems you'll
never escape it, and if you try to it will just make things worse...
those are the demons talking. Whether these demons are literal or
figurative is not for me to decipher. The bottom line is that, whatever
they are in a given situation, they LIE. They want you to suffer alone
and hopeless and absolutely sure that nobody can understand or help.
They are wrong. Your inner torment, your horrible secret, is never so extreme that it can't be shared and healed, but that knowledge is power the "voices" don't want you to have.
The real secret that those lying S.O.B.s don't want you to know is that
you are loved by people around you and the Creator of the Universe,
even if you can't see it. Those "demons" will do ANYTHING to stop you
from understanding this. If you make a decision to get help, they will
double their efforts to sabotage you. Someone once asked the great
evangelist Charles Finney, "Do you really believe in a literal devil?"
He responded, "You try opposing him for a while, and you see if he's
literal or not."
It is very hard for most of us to ask for help,
almost impossible if you're a man. It's part of the Frontier Code to be
self-reliant. What we forget is that the Frontier Code also includes a
lot of group support, like getting together to erect barns and houses,
maple sugar boiling, harvests, childbirth, defending each other from
bandits and other predators, and other events we should always be ready
to help with.
If you have children, please, please teach them
and model for them that there's nothing weak about asking for help,
especially if it's with something serious. Tell and show the people
close to you that you are always there to lend an ear if they need to
unburden themselves. Will this end all personal suffering? Will it fix
everybody's problems? No, but it might help somebody get to a place
where they feel they can share the load.
Sometimes, no matter how
much a person is offered help or told and shown that they have a "safe
place" to find help, they fall under the constant onslaught from the
darkness. Yesterday a friend of mine lost her spouse, and I lost a
friend, to that oppression. I'm still in shock, but not so much that I
can't be sad and angry.
Just remember: the darkness fears the
light. The demons don't want you to know they're always, always running
scared. [Mark 1:24] This is why they're so nasty. There's nothing like a
cornered predator to show you a fight. You don't have to fight alone.
And now, for something completely different: food!
Mom used to make a version of this that probably originated
with a Campbell's soup ad in the 50s, since the principal ingredients other
than "chicken" and "rice" were cream of mushroom and
chicken gumbo canned soups. Oh, and a package of onion soup mix. I grew up on
this and it's great hot or as a leftover (hot or cold). However.... packaged
soups are full of really unhealthy ingredients. In the last few years I've
noticed that I have serious GI issues after eating it, so I stopped making it.
The other day I asked my spouse what some of his favorite foods were, and
"chicken and rice" came up, so I decided to try to re-invent this
thing without all the pasteurized milk, bad sodium, corn syrup, wheat
thickener, MSG, and who knows what else. I think it's pretty darned good. Our
local Costco is now carrying organic chicken, so it’s even better!
Remember: none of this is set in stone. Want to add peas?
Hate mushrooms? Think it needs some celery seed? Go for it.
Oven to 350°
2 cups of rice
(I use brown, but you can use whatever you want)
4 cups of water
& 1 tsp. bullion paste, or 2 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken stock
Half a large
onion cut into chunks
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks,
2 packages of
onion soup mix (I use Trader Joe’s, because it isn’t full of weird stuff)
as many as you want to fit in there.
In a 9x13 or equivalent baking dish/pan….
Stir up everything but the chicken and
one of the packages of onion soup mix until distributed evenly.
Sprinkle some of the second soup mix on
Place the chicken in, pushing into the
Sprinkle the rest of the soup mix on
-Cover with foil and bake for two hours. Take
it out and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
The third installment in the Monster Hunter International saga takes us in a slightly different direction and focuses entirely on The Boss: Earl Harbinger. Artfully told in a real-time style and peppered with flashbacks that give us Earl's back story, this novel hits the ground running and doesn't let up. This is the kind of page-turner that will keep you up past your bed time. That's what it did to me, anyway: hello, three AM.
This story also introduces one of the most interesting origin stories for a particular type of supernatural creature that I've ever encountered.
Intelligent characters with plausible arcs, nail-bitingly intense running battles, and enough weapons tech to keep the hardcore gun guys entertained. Bonus: female characters you can cheer for, sympathize with, and admire. No screaming "arm candy" babes or "faux dude" chicks here.