2020 Round Up

So, that was a year, wasn’t it?

My goals for the year were to write 150K words of fiction and to publish a book. I achieved the first, much to my surprise, and sort of managed the second. If one counts re-releasing a book as publishing it.

Despite not publishing anything new, I remain proud of how much I wrote this year. February in particular was a very successful month. I did have some off months as lockdown took its toll, but I think that’s to be expected.

A Moral Dilemma | Archer Snippet

Hello! How did November treat everyone? I was doing okay at NaNoWriMo until this happened, so I ended up with just 23,000 words. SMALL MAJICKS is stuck on my old laptop until the new one and a transfer wire arrive, but a writer writes don’t they? And what I’ve been writing is the first story in a series. Here, then, are the opening lines from PROTECTORATE SPACE: ARCHER

Ribbons of pink and purple strung across the stars, light glinting off the particles to make it appear that the nebula danced in a breeze. Captain Peregrine Archer watched the display from the bridge seat of the SS Celeste and debated his next move. The nebula marked the edge of Protectorate space and he’d no authority beyond it. On the other hand, the steady ping of a distress signal sounded from the comms console and part of Celeste’s mission was to provide aid where necessary.

He shifted his gaze to Lieutenant Rynne Wilkes at the comm. “Still nothing from Command?”
“No, sir.” Her brown eyes brimmed with concern. “Not even an indication they’ve received our transmission.”

Please visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their posts

Plotting, Wikipedia Style

Younger Son was watching something on Netflix the other day, the plot of which I completely lost, so I went on to Wikipedia to read the film’s summary. In doing so, I realised that a Wikipedia style breakdown could work when writing a book.

Let’s look at the original Star Wars film. The story is encapsulated in just five paragraphs which block out the main plot points in broad strokes. The lack of descriptive details or reliance on emotion is pretty much how a synopsis is written, only considerably shorter.

Let’s look at the second paragraph:

The droids are captured by Jawa traders, who sell them to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. While cleaning R2-D2, Luke accidentally triggers part of a holographic recording of Leia, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only Kenobi whom Luke knows is “Old Ben” Kenobi, an elderly hermit. He asks his uncle if he knows anything, but he curtly drops the subject. The next morning, Luke finds R2-D2 missing, and while searching for him, encounters Old Ben. Ben, who reveals his true name to be Obi-Wan, tells Luke of his days as a Jedi Knight, former peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic who derived their power from an energy field called the Force until they were wiped out by the Galactic Empire. Contrary to what his uncle has told him, Luke learns that his father fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight until Vader, a former pupil of Obi-Wan’s, turned to the dark side of the Force and murdered him. Obi-Wan then presents Luke with his father’s old weapon, a blue-bladed lightsaber.

This is almost all of the first act, wrapped up in a few sentences. There’s enough detail to understand the plot, but it skips Luke being attacked by Sandmen and the full recording from Leia. There’s also background information that would, were this a novel, be an info dump. Here it’s framework that allows you to understand what’s going on.

It’s a style that I’m trying with my latest WIP, currently untitled. It’s let me sketch the plot out without worrying about beats or percentages; things that don’t need to be addressed during a rough draft. It also means I can concentrate on individual scenes while not losing sight of the overall story – great for someone who tends to write out of order!

Technical Issues

For those that don’t know, my husband is in a wheelchair following a stroke. The brain injury means that, while he can see, he can’t always process what he’s seeing. His cognitive skills are not what they were, but because he’s in his head, he can’t recognise the degeneration.

Being outside of his head, I can. Especially when his issues come together in a perfect storm which involves him running into my laptop and breaking the screen. Halfway through NaNoWriMo.

Reader, there was much swearing and lots of tears.

I’m currently using an old, ropy machine. I’ve worked out a budget for December and I can afford a replacement. Just before Christmas is bad timing, but this is my career. It’s a necessary expense if I’m to pursue it.

In Due Time Small Majicks Snippet

Welcome Science Fiction Romance Brigade Fans! This is my first snippet in quite some time, and the first from my NaNovel Small Majicks. I’ve skipped an entire scene so I can introduce you all to Wenrys, my hero. *g*

Halfway across the ocean, a storm had risen, and the resulting wind howled through the rigging of a dirigible. Wenrys Gaval gripped the wheel as it strained against his grip, his feet planted wide and sweat slicking his back. Another blast ripped the wood from his hands. The aircraft slew sideways across the snow-filled sky.

Wenrys swore. He wrenched the wheel back, correcting his course. Snow flurried white, blinding his vision. All he had to go on was his compass. He really hoped the setting he’d taken just before the storm hit had been true. Otherwise he’d be in a great deal of trouble. He was already in fairly dire straits. His dirigible was riding the edge of the storm. If it overtook him…

Cold burned around his left wrist as he accessed his limited magic to push the engine harder. The reminder did not improve his mood any. He glowered at the seemingly innocuous bangle and cursed those who’d placed it on him. Their day of reckoning would come in due time. He would be free.

Nano Report – Week 2

So traditionally week 2 is where nano’ers hit a rough spot. The shine of our ideas has dulled, we’re usually getting to the dreaded Middle, and our steam dissipates somewhat.

The start of week 2 this year fell on the American election. The entire world watched and, as the result became clearer, began to celebrate. I was on Discord with my fellow WriYe writers. Even just through text there was a real party spirit. I decided one day wouldn’t make a difference to NaNo, and took it off.

Then woke up on Sunday with a filthy cold. I tried to write. I tried to crochet. My brain felt like cotton wool and I couldn’t keep hold of a single thought. So I went to bed.

Monday, I sat and wrote out a plan. I was going to write until lunch, crochet in the afternoon, then perhaps get more words down after dinner. Then next door’s pups escaped the garden and one went under a van. They don’t have a car, so cue me driving around trying to find a vet. Pup is now fine, but is was hella stressful.

I’d already decided to re-release Tin Cat and had made noises about that. I suppose I was procrastinating somewhat, but I will be going ahead as it’s ready to go. With that distraction mostly out of the way, I’m going to focus on writing.

Really.

Coming Soon – TIN CAT

Yesterday I decided I wanted to reanimate my mostly dead writing career, starting with my most popular novella TIN CAT.

Miracle Max from The Princess Bride saying "Mostly dead is slightly alive."

I didn’t have a digital copy of any file. I’m fairly sure that’s an authorial sin of some kind. I’ve plans to get a SSD and, you know, keep doc files and PDFs. But I digress.

Pippa had a copy and emailed it to me. We weren’t sure if there was a DRM on it, but it went through Calibre fine. So I now have a Word doc, cleaned up and almost ready to go. I’ve emailed Champagne – who were the original publishers – about the cover. In the meantime, I found the original stock photo, so I can recreate a similar cover if push comes to shove.

I’m not sure when I’ll be hitting “publish”, but it could be as soon as December.