NaNoWriMo Day 29: (Almost) Done!

November 30, 2010

November has almost drawn to a close. I finally reached my goal of 70,000 words tonight at the Blue Danube write-in. Current count is 70,087

Tomorrow, I will have to pack up my things, leave San Francisco, and fly back to the reasonably frozen lands of Ontario.

But… I had a great NaNoWriMo this month, and look forward to even greater things to come in December and the new year.

Getting to bed early now. Much packing to be done in the morning.

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Nanowrimo day 27: Seeing the sights

November 28, 2010

Current word count: 63,187 words

Tentative target for November 30th: 70,000 words

Words written over the past 2 days: 2150

I’ve finished the new short story idea that I started Tuesday evening, ‘Alien artifact.’ Struggled a bit to find a new project to keep writing on, and I’ve possibly settled on beginning an idea that I was thinking of doing for my Nanowrimo before I settled on ‘The onus of Grace.’ So it probably won’t be something I can finish in the next four days, which is probably to the good. I can stop it once I get into December and then get back to that start later.

In other news, I haven’t writen much lately because I’ve been spending more time on touristy stuff and less on write-ins. My time in San Fran is definitely starting to draw to an end – I have only two full days left, in addition to what’s left of tonight, and Tuesday, which is the day I fly home.

Yesterday (friday): Spent all day on the bus tour to Monterey and Carmel, which was fun, but a little exhausting. Had fried chicken, corn on the cob, and mashed potatoes from a Forest Gump-themed shrimp shop in Cannery Row. Squeezed in a few hundred words at the pebble beach golf course, and at Carmel before the twilight faded too far. Got rather lost in Carmel after the sun went down – it’s a town without many street lights, but managed to find the bus just in time to not get left behind. Left my umbrella on the bus when I got dropped off at my hotel.

Today (saturday): Rainy. Got my umbrella delivered in the morning by a tour bus driver. Went down to the Cow Palace to take part in the Dickens Fair Victorian Christmas, which was mentioned by some people on the sfbrowncoats group. I was hoping to be recognized by some of them in my browncoats t-shirt, but the only one I actually met was Louise, who had posted details about where to find her and how to recognize her. Still had a great time, filled up the memory card on my camera, had a roast beef dinner for lunch, and the Legion Fantastique stuff was awesome!

Went home a little on the early side, and got some more words written.

Tomorrow (sunday): I have a booking for the Alcatraz ferry at 11am, and a bus tour to Muir woods and Sausalito starting at 2pm. Looking forward to it.

Monday: Nothing particular planned, except for meeting a guy from the area who I first met through a Roswell fanfic community, and have stayed in touch with over IM for several years. I’m going to BART all the way out to Dublin, and we’ll have lunch.


Nanowrimo Day 25: Thanks list

November 25, 2010

Of course, as a true Canadian, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family back in early October with my family, but being in San Francisco on American Thanksgiving, it was hard not to think of some other things and people that I’m thankful for, a lot of them relevant for this blog, so:

– I’m thankful for all the wonderful people at the Office of Letters and Light, who make such incredible events possible for writers all over the world.

– I’m thankful for everybody else who has taken the time to set up or moderate a participatory writing website, including: Stringing Words, Nanowriye, JulNoWriMo, JanNoWriMo, April Fool’s, NaNoEdMo, NaNoFiMo, and many others.

– I’m thankful that I have the financial resources and vacation days to take a trip like this one.

– I’m thankful that I have family, friends, and coworkers who are supportive and encouraging about my crazy writing ambitions.

– I’m thankful for everybody else who has opened up their pocketbook and donated to support NaNoWriMo or Script Frenzy going.

– I’m thankful for everybody in San Francisco who has made me welcome at a write-in, which has been just about everybody I’ve met at a San Francisco write-in.

– I’m thankful for all the incredible writers back in Hamilton in the Nanowrimo group – and the Hamilton Writers group at Chesters who’ve given me great feedback on all kinds of excerpts.

– I’m grateful to Ammy from the sfbrowncoats group for offering a ticket to the Dickens fair to a complete stranger.

– I’m grateful to the entire gang at Stringing Words for their encouragement, critiques, support, and sense of mutual accountability.
I’m probably leaving some people out, but I’ll leave it at this for now. Happy holiday, if you’re in America, and Happy Thursday to everybody else.


Nanowrimo day 24: Pie is squared.

November 25, 2010

Well, today I had my ‘pie time’ with Chris Baty and Lindsey Grant, and it was awesome. (One week to the day since I first got the coupon and started freaking out that they wouldn’t be able to fit me in, by the by.) Rode the BART up to Ashby station in south Berkeley, and all the while I kept thinking of one of those Simpsons episodes with Sideshow Bob – the one where they had a montage of all of his ‘Hello, Bart’ moments, and one of them was actually Bob on a subway platform as the train pulls into the station – and Bart Simpson nowhere in sight. 😀

So, I got there a few minutes early, actually took a picture of the Office and Letters and Light storefront, before going into the Sweet Adeline Bakeshop and finding a free table that looks like it could fit the three of us. As I was getting settled, in comes Chris Baty, tells me, “Hi Chris, I’ll be back in a few minutes,” and continues on to the washrooms in the back.

I get up to take a look at the treats that are available, along comes Lindsey, and she mentions that she’s not sure where Chris went. “He just left the office a minute or two ago.”

“He just came through, I think he’s using the facilities,” I mention, and she looks a bit relieved.

So – I had two little almond tea cakes that were delicious – reminding me of the almondette cookies that we used to get in plastic tray packages when I was young – and a bottle of organic apple cider. Chris Baty had a slice of the lemon tart pie, which he didn’t finish, and tea, green tea I think. Lindsey had some kind of weird cake with pudding in the center or something like that. We took everything back to the Office of Letters and Light building, with Lindsey promising to bring the plates back to the bakeshop later.

I was introduced to a few people in the tech department on the way through, then we arranged ourselves around the conference table and started to chat. It was a great talk, ranging from topics like the wild parrots of telegraph hill and the marriage that they ruined, to how to get more Nanowrimo participants to donate to the Office of Letters and Light, and discussing programs to encourage people to work towards getting their Nanowrimo novels published or their Frenzy scripts produced. Also the snowflake method.

After about an hour, Chris started to very nicely get me up and moving out, explaining that he had another commitment in fifteen minutes, and gave me the full tour of the premises, letting me take a few pictures, and handling a few more introductions. That was pretty much it.

I got to keep my pie coupon, with a scrawl on the back that it is ‘Redeemed’, the date, and Chris Baty’s signature.

Oh, and on my way back to the BART, I saw a sign for ‘The other hobbit’ fantasy and science fiction books, and couldn’t resist going in and looking around. Picked up a Buffy season 7 collection. Also, on my way back to the BART, I got somewhat lost and had to ask someone for the way to the station – only to realize I was maybe fifteen feet away from the edge of the station parking lot. D’oh!!

Nearly pointless Thanksgiving day update from Lindsey: “I think the “pie” I had was called buckle cake…it was very much like a flat round muffin. Yum yum :)”


Nanowrimo Day 23 – jumping from story to story.

November 24, 2010

It’s been a good few days, since the Night of Writing Dangerously. I took a couple of hop-on, hop-off bus tours of San Francisco on Monday, touring around downtown, climbing up to the top of Telegraph Hill, (but not to the observation deck of Coit Tower because the elevator was out for repair,) and crossing the Golden Gate bridge.

I’ve also been attending a number of local San Francisco write-ins – last night at the Blue Danube cafe, this morning at Nervous Dog coffee in the mission district, and this evening at Epicenter. It’s been great going to all of these different neighborhoods in SF, meeting other writers, and adding onto my word count.

When I was planning for Nanowrimo, I said that if I actually got to 50k on or around the 21st, and finished my novel idea then or soon after, I would keep writing at more or less the same pace and work on science fiction-based short stories, especially ones that I could consider submitting for Clarion and Clarion West. At the NOWD, I pulled out one, ‘Harry and Mars,’ a story that I’d started around the end of September, (as part of my September projects list, ‘Start a new science fiction story’,) and abandoned since then. I actually made a lot of headway on it Sunday night, and finished it yesterday soon after getting to the Blue Danube. Ack. ‘Now what?’ I didn’t have any other sci-fi ideas waiting and ready to be written.

I ended up trying an incomplete fanfic chapter just to see if the words would flow there, though I hadn’t really planned to do any fanfic during November. Sure enough, Michael Guerin and Lana Lang’s crossover chemistry was still working fairly well in chapter 3 of ‘A Roswellian Alien in Metropolis’, so I kept working on that, through the Nervous dog write-in this morning, and finished the chapter at Epicenter. I really didn’t want to start another fanfic chapter during Nano, so what next?

Asha, the other Nano-er who made it to Epicenter, had mentioned something about brainstorming, so I actually opened up a scratch pad file on the Dana to list out possible notions, just starting from my ideas about what Science Fiction was. Slowly a new idea gelled, a sort of sequel notion to my 2009 Nanovel, and also a psychological mystery, about a commanding officer who must decide if one of his specialists is a psychotic delusional, only paranoid enough to lie to him, or if one of the specialist’s team members actually did steal something valuable from him. Of course, writing a mystery without knowing ‘who done it and how the sleuth figures it out beforehand’ can be a great way to write yourself into a block – I have a strong notion, but won’t tell you now.

A few trivia items relating to ‘Harry and Mars.’ A few months from now, in the spring of 2011, we can celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first human being entering Earth orbit. And also, I mention something in the first draft of ‘Harry and Mars’ about there not having been anybody who died in space before, as opposed to fatalities within Earth’s atmosphere when a spacecraft was taking off or landing. Unfortunately, I didn’t research that enough to find out about the Soyuz 11 disaster, and will have to rewrite it.

Sweet selections with Chris B and Lindsey G tomorrow – I can’t wait!


Nanowrimo Day 21: The NOWD has landed!

November 21, 2010

Mini-posts from the Night of Writing Dangerously…

5:30 pm Pacific time – have chosen a table and set up my netbook, made my choices for the raffle, and begun entering words.

6:45 pm Pacific time – I hit 50,000 words! I was the seventh one to ring the big bell for winning. Sarah was joking about running back and forth to announce winners all night, but I don’t think anybody’s rung in the past ten minutes or so, since me and the lady after me.

Midnight pacific time – back in the hotel, didn’t keep up with posting throughout the evening obviously. But a few high points:

  1. Chris Baty gave a great speech about “If we have it in us to write a 50,000 word book in 30 days, what else do we have in us?” I managed to catch all of it in video on my digital camera.
  2. Rachael Herron’s talk about how to move from Nanowrimo to publication was also amazing – hitting a lot of the things about revisions and query letters that I’ve been thinking about lately, with practical advice from the perspective of somebody who’s recently been through it all.
  3. I also enjoyed Jen Arzt’s talk about Script Frenzy, though it was more aimed at those who’ve never tried the Frenzy before, not veterans like me. I went up to her afterward and thanked her for the effort that she’d put into running the event, and mentioned the ‘Beat sheet’ series that I was running on this blog a few months ago.
  4. 2 other writers from our table hit the 50k mark before the night was out.
  5. I got some great material written for “Harry and Mars”, a short psychological sci-fi piece that I started at the end of September. Turns out it might be even shorter than I expected, for the first draft at least.

Good night!


Nanowrimo Day 20 – Ran out of Snowflake

November 20, 2010

Forty six thousand, eight hundred and forty three words.

Thirty-one hundred and fifty seven short of the target.

And I’ve gotten pretty much to the end of my snowflake outline. The bad’un has been defeated, the hero and heroine have sorted out their issues and found happily ever after, the whole kit and caboodle. So what do I do now?

I could try to write a little epilogue and describe a little of their happily ever after, maybe the start of the hero’s next mission. I could go back and look for places where I can insert or expand new words.

I suspect that maybe I’ll need to do both in order to get where I need to be.

Wish me luck! And many thanks to the San Fran natives who welcomed me to the write-in this morning at Reader’s cafe.


Nanowrimo day 19: A fairly good day.

November 20, 2010

So – my first full day in San Francisco, this year.

Word count – up to 43504. Not really where I want to be, just two days before the Night of Writing Dangerously, but I lost a bit of writing time with packing and the flight, and I think that I’ll be able to get there.

Still stuck in a slightly inferior little ‘unrenovated’ room at the top of the Crescent Hotel – was supposed to get moved to a better room today, but it didn’t work out. We’ll try again tomorrow.

Got a Muni/Bart RFID card, loaded it with some money, and rode the MUNI over to a small writein approximately halfway across town this evening, and back. That was good.

And I went on a tour of the Winchester mystery house in San Jose, which was fun and full of good stuff that I might incorporate into a story at some point – either bit by bit, or with a big deliberate homage. It might actually fit into a Firefly fanfic idea that I’ve been blocked on for awhile – the Serenity Valley Mystery House or something like that.

And there was another girl on the tour who reminded me of Mary in my Nano story. Funny how that keeps happening.

Possibly best of all, I’ve established contact with Lindsey Grant via the Nanomail feature on the National Novel Writing Month site – actually, we talked about my ‘open letter’ – I gave her a heads-up, and she sent a nice reply back saying that the points were valid and that the script for the video had been rushed, which I understand. Anyway, she’s assured me that she and Chris Baty will be happy to find time to talk with me at the bakery right next to the Office of Letters and Light office, and that she’ll have to check with Chris about his schedule and get back to me on Monday.

On the bad side, traffic in and around San Fran is just terrible, sigh. And the weather hasn’t been so great either.


Nanowrimo day 17: Pie on my face.

November 17, 2010

More from National Novel Writing Month

Haven’t had time to blog much, been busy writing! Up to 39,563 – and I want to at least hit 40k before I finally go to bed tonight. Plot’s coming along pretty well too, and I’m having lots of fun, which is the most important thing. Well, fun and word counts might be tied for most important.

Had another busy weekend, including a great Midway party – dinner out at Kelsey’s Bar and Grill in Westdale. Went out to the Hamilton Writer’s meeting at Chester’s last night, instead of going to an unofficial Write-in at the Williams on the bayfront, and it was a very good choice – I read out the first scene of my Nano from the Dana alphasmart screen, got some positive feedback, and we had some interesting discussions between those who are trying their hands at Nano and those who have steered clear. Also got to critique a new chapter from Rob’s latest thriller, and an article on hearing loss.

In other news – I fly out to San Francisco tomorrow.

Because I knew that I’d be in the Bay area for a while, I actually coughed up a substantial donation to the Office of Letters and Light – the one that includes ‘certificate good for pie with Chris Baty and Lindsey Grant.’ Figured that it’d be a cool experience, and the money goes to a good cause, right.

I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for arranging the meeting, but since there weren’t any further instructions with the email receipt of my donation, I figured I’d need to check the certificate itself.

Waiting for my package of official donor goods has been an interesting and tense experience. Now, I actually coughed up the money on Halloween, and I wasn’t really expecting any miracles from the shipping.

Two package slips for pickup were in my mailbox on Friday evening, after I got back from the write-in at McMaster. I actually assumed that two packages would cover everything. When I went up to the drugstore over on Rosedale, Saturday, I got two of the rolled tubes that they send posters in, (and occasionally use to play make-believe robots ) and sometimes stuff other goodies in.

Toted the tubes back home, unpacked them. Two nifty posters, but that was all.

Monday afternoon, a small package that actually fit into my mailbox! Cool!! But again, when I unpacked it, there was some cool merchandise that I’d ordered – a pack of nifty laptop stickers, the official Nanowrimo notebook and pen… and a reciept that mentioned that the ‘Superhero donation thank-you gifts shipped seperately.’

Okay, this was getting tight, I realized. But there was still a chance to get the certificate before I flew out, and if not, I’d just send an email and explain the predicament, right?

When I went by my apartment yesterday between work and Chester’s in Gore Park, there was another package pick-up slip in the hallway outside my door. Actually considered going home from Chester’s via Rosedale before it closed, but the rain was miserable and I didn’t end up doing that. Took a detour on the way home tonight instead.

Finally! One certificate, along with many other interesting goodies. Looked for the instructions about what to do next. There it was, in small print…

“To schedule your pie time with Chris and Lindsey, please email _________@nanowrimo.org at least three weeks before your arrival. Coupon fully transferrable. Pie expires 12/1/2011. Thank you for supporting Nanowrimo!”

What the??

Three weeks before my arrival? Yeah, I can understand the preference for some warning, but I’d need to route my email server through the TARDIS to pull that off now. Of course, my ‘arrival,’ tomorrow, isn’t really the key. The important item is my departure from the Bay area, which is not quite two weeks away. And I have to say, I don’t expect to be visiting the San Francisco area again in the next year.

I immediately rushed over to the computer and typed out an email explaining my predicament and asking if anything could be done. Still waiting to hear back, so best wishes for a happy ending gratefully accepted!

PS: For the record, I don’t really like pie. Do you think that they’ll let me eat cake?


In (mild) defense of the Inner Editor.

November 12, 2010

An open letter to Lindsey Grant, of the Office of Letters and Light

Nov 12 2010

Lindsey,

Ever since I watched your NanoVideo segment ‘Silencing your Inner Editor’, something’s been nagging me about it. As I drifted off to sleep last night after a successful write-in, the reasons why came clear – you are maligning my Inner Editor, and likely those of tens of thousands of other writers around the world. I cannot let these calumnies stand unrefuted.

Lest I get tarred and feathered myself, I should be clear that I don’t believe my Inner Editor has a part to play in National Novel Writing Month. And the little voice inside me that whispers the sort of things you mention in the video – that my writing isn’t worthwhile, that I should stop and give up etcetera – that voice is there, and it deserves every bit of abuse you threw in its direction. But that’s not what I’d call my Inner Editor, and I propose calling that voice the Inner Critic.

The Inner Editor is a different beast. He doesn’t want me to give up writing, or think that my words aren’t worthwhile. He goes the other direction, nagging at me to make each phrase and sentence the best that it could possibly be. If he suggests deleting my draft so far, it’s only because he thinks that I could start over again and do it better – if he whispers that I shouldn’t start the next scene, it’s only because he thinks that the scene I’ve just finished could use some polishing.

So no, I don’t listen to my Inner Editor during November – that’s part of the point of National Novel Writing Month. But neither do I believe that he should be ‘trashed’ permanently. He has a worthwhile contribution to make to my writing, and in fact I’ve spent several months this past year working closely with him, trying to get my 2007 Nanovel ‘The Long Way Home’ into suitable condition that I could show it to an agent!

Rather than a trash bin, I suggest a well-appointed and comfortable cage as the proper way to keep an Inner Editor out of the way for November. Make sure to stock it with all of that healthy food that takes a long time to prepare that he keeps saying you should eat more of instead of junk, and offer him plenty of your old manuscripts to read through and make notes in the margins – as long as he promises not to show them to you until the 1st of December.
Wishing you high word counts,

Chris K.


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