Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So close

Sunday I made a big push to the finish of volume 4 (it's all written in spiral-bound notebooks). And now I have 99,110 words. So close to 100K! Not that it's an important milestone, but it would be neat.

And now I have only the final volume to type, 160 pages. It would be so neat to have this all typed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A New Low

My Word doc now stands at approximately 87,000 words. Today I got a new message: Word can no longer display spelling and grammar errors, as there are too many.


I was thinking, maybe I should enter some of my characters' names into the auxiliary dictionary?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last night I dreamed that Neil Gaiman is the reincarnation of Mark Twain.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Void

This novel is a void, and not in a good way. In the 80K I've typed, there are about five recurring characters. There are about five locations. It seems incredibly un-populated. Everyone sits talking for pages and pages, but only with one another, and then they move to a different location and talk with other people. I need some action (other than the one exciting violent scene I have, which I love).

I've started populating it. I'm creating characters. I'm adding locations. Yesterday, I created two characters for the main characters to interact with, and I've scouted locations for them. (For some reason, I need real locations to visualize.) I need to decide where to put a hell mouth, somewhere near the DVP and Lawrence ave. It can't be at Don Mills mall, I'm using that for something else.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Minor accomplishments department

I might have mentioned before that when I started typing this novel, I found that I had written two-and-a-half chapters, and then restarted at Chapter one, with Chapter 3's content, switching from first to third person. Today's amazing accomplishment is that I managed to get things straightened out so I have the same number of chapters as chapter numbers. This entailed merging two chapters into one, and another two into one, and deleting one entirely. I know it's incredibly unimportant, and I could just renumber things, but as I'm still typing (I've got 80K typed!) it would be a little messy.

So this just feels good.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"The Unthinkable: Who survives when disaster strikes, and why" by Amanda Ripley

Why I read it: Recommended by my friend Nadine. Also, I read an interview with the author in Salon? where she listed off a few things that you can do now to survive in the future.

Bookmark: Library receipt.

Tastes like chicken: "The Lucifer Effect" by Philip Zimbardo.

This book is packed with anecdotes about different disasters, and people who survived, and people who didn't. Kind of a compare-and-contrast.

What I liked: This book used references in what I think of as the Rolling Stone style. That's where the author refers to an expert, and then repeatedly re-refers to them using some clever note, like "Robyn, the tech writer" so I could remember quickly and easily who they were, and what they were experts on. A lot of the newspapers and magazines I read don't do that, and in long-form journalism, I often find myself searching back for who the heck this person was. That drives me nuts.

By the way, I think of it as Rolling Stone style because that's where I first noticed it, and I figured they did it so the stoned people reading the magazine, or the ones with "long term loss of short term memory", would still be able to enjoy the articles.

Not so much: Like some of the negative Amazon reviews, I wished there was more practical advice. Sometimes it seemed like a catalog of disasters, rather than a survival guide. At the same time, there's always the US Armed Forces Survival Guide.

Lesson: Wear flats, stay fit, stay calm, learn to text on my phone...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On a roll.

Saturday night, I stayed up editing chapter 3 until just before 2am, which turns into 3am when you factor in the time change. I've managed to consolidate three bad chapters into one that actually progressess the plot.

Sunday night I noticed I was about 12 pages from copy-typing the end of second notebook (of five, but the first was very short), so I stayed up until past 1am typing that (and on a school night, too!). The justification, in my own mind, was I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway, what with the night before messing up my circadian rhythm, and the time change meaning it felt like "just" midnight.

I'm well past the 50K mark, which is great.

While I was pulling out the next notebook from the filing cabinet, I came across the original plan for this book (not the sheets, one per chapter, that describe what's going to happen, but the folder that contains my original character sketches and an outline). I had intended this book to be 60-69,000 words long. At least I have plenty of text to delete.

Last night I stayed up until 12:45 doing a third pass on Chapter 1. It's almost not embarrassing now to read it over.

Maybe tonight I will delete chapters 4 and 5. That will leave some free numbers! And I have an idea about adding some characters to Chapter 6. Chapters with no characters don't work so well.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"the Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

Why I read it: This book was recommended on various blogs I read (this one and this one come to mind, but maybe others as well). It was up for a cybil. I was trapped at the mall for an hour last Sunday, and so I went to the bookstore and kind of accidentally read the first 40 pages. And after that it just sort of came home with me.

I showed it to the boy in the car on the way home. He finished it on Wednesday.

Tastes like chicken: Ys by Joanna Newsom. I know it's a CD, but it makes sense to me.

Bookmark: Store receipt

What I liked: Wow. This book totally hooked me. I read a bunch of pages last night while sitting around in public, and I laughed out loud. I totally cared about Katniss. The scene about Rue's bread made me cry.

The story takes place in a future society that has risen up out of the ruins of the USA. There's a capitol, somewhere in the rockies, and 12 districts (used to be 13, until there was a rebellion and the 13th was destroyed). Katniss lives in district 12, which is in Appalachia. The districts seem like small towns, really, small enough that everybody knows everybody.

Due to the rebellion that was long before Katniss was born, the 12 districts have to send two tributes each to the capitol every year for the opportunity to fight to the death for the entertainment of the people of the capitol, and for the ongoing punishment of the people of the districts (who you would think had been punished enough already, considering that they don't get to eat the food they grow, or use the coal they mine, etc.). Katniss, of course, gets to go. The story is told from her voice.

She's a really good main character, because she's totally likeable even though she's got huge flaws. She is an unreliable narrator, I suppose, because she has some really significant trust issues. I found myself shaking my head at her, seeing what other people intended, and how she perceived things.

Haymitch was also an awesome character.

What I hated: That I have to wait for a sequel that doesn't come out until September. What's up with that?

Lesson: Right now I'm trying to figure out how to make one of my characters in my wretched novel at least a little bit likeable. Maybe Katniss can help me with that.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I wonder where the NEA actually has this list...

The Big Read (http://www.neabigread.org/) said that, on average, adults have only read six books on this list. So ... copy this list, remove my yeses, add your comments, and put in a total.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - YES
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien – YES
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - YES
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling – YES
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - YES
6 The Bible – Parts
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - YES
8 1984 - George Orwell - YES
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - YES
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens - YES
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - YES
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy – YES
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller – we have it…
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – we have it…
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier – started it…
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - YES
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks -
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger – Started it…
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger -
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot-
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell -
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - YES
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens-
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - YES
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - YES
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh - YES
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky -
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck -
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - YES
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame - YES
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens -
33 The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - YES
34 Emma - Jane Austen - YES
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen -
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - YES (Why is this listed separately from row 33?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini -
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres-
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - YES
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne – YES
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell -YES
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - YES
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving -
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - YES
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood – Have it…
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding - YES
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan – No, but really liked “Enduring Love”
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel - Have it…
52 Dune - Frank Herbert- YES
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons -
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen -
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth -
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon -
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens -
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - YES
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon -
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck – YES
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov -
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt -
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold –
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas -
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac -
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy -
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding -
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie -
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville -
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens -
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - YES
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett -
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson -
75 Ulysses - James Joyce -
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath -
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome -
78 Germinal - Emile Zola -
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray -
80 Possession - AS Byatt-
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens -
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell -
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker -
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro -
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert -
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry -
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White - YES
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom -
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Have it…
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton –
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad - YES
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupe – YES
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks -
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams - YES
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole - YES
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute -
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas -
98 Hamlet – Shakespeare – YES
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - YES
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo -

Total 36… not bad.

It's not all bad

Last night I typed up a rather nice flying scene.

Of course, the destination was rather pointless.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

At least he's a minor character

Oh, my god.

Sometimes when I'm typing this stuff up, I come across something so unbelievably horrible I'm speechless. I seem to have created the most new-age Satan ever. I quote:

"Too bad the humans got the story of what happened so wrong,” Lucifer said. He moved on to another picture. It was the standard hellish torture scene – humans writhing, demons whipping, blood and pain and shit.

“I figured that was your doing,” Vivianne said. The story of Eden, not this
painting. Though it was well-done, too.

“I won’t argue. It could have been one of my minions,” Lucifer
said. “You don’t have a lot of fans down here.” He led her past another
painting, of a Hell on Earth. It might have been Hawaii, paradise being
destroyed by the fires of the deep. Humans usually caught the majesty of nature in this type of scene. Here, it was about Hell’s dominion over Earth. It was somewhat offensive, perhaps.

“All your work?” Vivianne asked.

“Oh, no,” Lucifer said. “I’m gifted with them all the time. As angels are
supposed to exist solely to give pleasure to god, so Demons apparently exist only to attempt to entertain me.”

“I thought demons were placed in the universe to try to take your job,”
Vivianne said.

“That, too,” Lucifer sighed. He walked along the row slowly so she could look at all the pictures. Many of them were portraits of him, and a lot of those weren’t terribly flattering. Hedidn’t seem terribly impressed by any of them.

The back of that Brandon Sanderson book had a link to his blog, where apparently you can read deleted scenes. This, I think, will be deleted, and stay that way.

Except I just put it on the internet, where it will live forever.