The blog for The Solitaire Rose Experience. Yes, the blog revolution is utterly and completely over. However, I haven't figured that out yet, so I'll be listing articles, ideas, links, and other internet debris. Now, you can join in! And be mocked mercilessly!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NaNoWriMo Progress for Solitaire Rose

Last weekend is done.

I wrote Friday night, and then yesterday, I spent the day either relaxing or writing. I watched a couple of movies, caught up on some TV, and then wrote. And wrote and wrote and wrote. The story flowed for some of the time, and other times it wasn't easy. I finally got to the end of the Second Act last night, broke 38,000 words, and although I had planned to hit 40k by the end of the day, in the end, I was too tired, too drained and completely out of story.

I went to bed and tried to work out the problems I had set up for myself, and thought about how I had spent a Saturday night at my keyboard, pounding away. Today, I woke up, had breakfast, watched a little more TV and, around noon, started writing again.

My current word count is 43,050. I got my 5K for today, and I only have to write 7,000 words to meet the NaNoWriMo deadline. For the first time since the beginning of the month, I am ahead. Of course, I didn't get anything eaten, don't have anything made for lunch, and have two big loads of laundry to do, but I Am Ahead.

Story-wise, I have hit the Really Bad Scene, and it was where I had to stop. In previous zombie novels, characters have died. A lot of them. When I started working on editing the first one, I was surprised at who died...characters who had a lot of story left in them, but then, that's how life is. In this novel, there has been a grand total of one death, and because of that, I think it is all the more horrific. It MEANS more. I used the exact words I had in my head when I first imagined the scene a couple of years ago.

I have no idea how my characters are going to get out of the situation I have put them in. There are a few seeds planted, but I have no idea if any of them will work. I have 7000 words to go in order to meet the NaNo deadline, but the books will end up being longer. I have three “flashbacks” that I decided not to write because they will need a research I don't have time for. I have a couple of sequences I will go back and add because I know there are a few scenes that were in my head, I was sure I wrote them, but they never made it onto the page.

In terms of pure writing VOLUME, I'm pretty amazed. Over 12,000 words over the last three days. I am 86.1% done. It wasn't easy. It never is. Anyone who says writing is easy, isn't really pulling it from a place inside themselves, and the last three days, I have been pulling this story from my darkest fears.

Now, when I go back and want to know what I was going through as I wrote this novel, I have a record.

When I hit 50k, I'll set up a place on my website so people can see the rough draft. I'll probably take a break before finishing the novel, but I want to finish it up by the end of the year. Right now, though, it's all about those last 6950 words and wherte they are going to come from.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I missed Tuesday Night's entry

So, we'll go back in time:

I broke 30K tonight. 30136.

Not bad considering that my computer crashed tonight when I was about an hour into my nightly writing, and I lost around 1500 words. I had set Open Office to AutoSave, but after the crash, Open Office assured me that it didn't have any document called "today" to recover, and I spent a good half hour looking for ways to try to coax those missing words from my machine.

And it won.

I remembered the plot points I had written: Helen had a panic attack and tries to convince our main group to go back for the missing people, but the leader of the group shoots her down, pretty brutally. A lot of character interaction, and what I feel is a good look at what goes on inside the head of someone having a panic attack.

Then, a quiet character steps forward to take the blame for their situation and gives her backstory, explaining WHY these people would leave a safe environment to go into danger.


Because they didn't know how bad things were. Now, they are on the run, trying to get back home. That's the overall thrust of this novel (and the next few if I continue it). There is a term in writing called "The McGuffin". That's the thing that starts the plot, even though it's not the POINT of the plot. In Casablanca, the McGuffin is the letters of transit, but the plot is the relationship between Rick and Ilsa.

Ray and Will, our two missing characters, are going to be out of the story for a while, to build suspense. The last we saw them, they were trying to get away from The Others, had been found and were under gunfire. All our other characters know is that they heard a few bursts of gunfire while they were getting away, and have no idea what it means.

Things I still need to do:

-Get a couple of good ideas of stories to tell about what happened while civilization was falling, or hidden backstory to one of the main characters as between chapter interludes
-Decide if the characters even GET to the Army base in this book, or if that's for the next one.
-Sort out what happened to Ray and Will. Things don't look good for them

As much as losing those words upset me, I think this version of the this passage is stronger, probably because I'd worked it through in my head, and tonight's 3000 words count as a second draft.

Still, I have 9 days for 20,000 words. Not insurmountable, especially with a holiday and two weekend days before the 30th. Last year, I plowed through 10,000 words on one quiet Sunday at the coffee house when an Ex Girl Friend showed up with her new boyfriend. It was a case where I channeled all of my negative emotion into the writing rather than deal with it. Hopefully, this year, I can get the same word count without the emotional upset.

Then again, every character is still alive. I don't know as any of the zombies novels has had THAT happen.

I see that this thread is getting a lot of views, so I thank you for your attention, time and interest. I hope that next year, we can get some of you readers to become WRITERS.

NaNoWriMo Progress for Solitaire Rose

NaNoWriMo Progress for Solitaire Rose


That means that while I am still behind, I only need to write 15,000 words in the next seven days.

I got very little writing done on Thursday, and none on Wednesday. Wednesday I visit with friends for Role Playing Games...the one social constant in my lif e for the past four years or so. The guy who runs the game is someone I met through NaNoWriMo, and even though he doesn't do it any more, it's still the thing that brought us together, oddly enough.

Yesterday, my son and I were invited to his house, and we had our meal with his family and friends, and it was a lot of fun. For the last 15 years, I worked on holidays, and now having them off leaves me a bit confused. I'm used to thinking of holidays are these horrible things I have to guide the residents through, because their issues explode around the holidays. Now, it's a day off of work, and I need to start creating some traditions.

It was a bit easier for me to write about a world with a tiny number of human beings because work was almost empty. Out of about 40 people, there were seven, and because my work computer hasn't been set up yet (we moved everyone on Tuesday, and I'm still waiting for a working computer), I was in an office far away from the people who were working with me.

I had to drive in today, since the buses don't go as far as they do on normal business days, and mine would have dropped me off about 5 miles from work. I drove in, and when I got done, I decided that I'd stop at my favorite coffee house and write. I drink Earl Gray tea, which is $2.75 a cup...and you get a free refill, so with my generous tip, I can stay here for about three hours and write for $5. It's social, as I can watch people to get ideas, and I dont' feel as isolated as I do at home (or at work today).

I am still trying to get the story to go to the third act I envisioned, but at 35,000 words, I'm going to have to FORCE a second act ending soon. The character interplay is fascinating to me, and I am really working with the idea of what it would be like to travel long distances in w world with no cars where you are simply prey.

I wrote a scene on Tuesday night that illustrated just how Helen deals with her panic attacks, and then the last 5,000 words are showing how they affect her perceptions of the people around her. She's connecting with our little band of travelers in a healthy way. Which is good for her, but...

Well, it IS a horror novel, and nothing particularly horrible has happened in a while. And they have been very lucky for the last week or so. Bad things are coming, and they are coming soon.

My plan is to write 5000 words tomorrow and 5000 Sunday. That will bring me to 45000 words with five days left. An EASY last week, especially if I get to the third act. The last past of a novel is always the easiest part. All of the pieces are in place, and all you need to do is just write what happens. As with any of the novels I have written and LIKED, I have planted all kinds of little ideas and plot seeds through the story that I start to magically pull together without really trying. It's almost organic how it all ties together.

It's the 23rd, and I love my novel again, am only 3000 words behind, and think that I am going to come out of this with a publishable novel. Just need to clean it (and the three that come before it) up and make them presentable.

But that's for December. November is writing, and November is good.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Still writing, but hating myself while doing so

Oh, yeah, I'm still writing, and I'm still behind. I'll finish this year if I can crank out 2100 words a day for the next 10 days, and with a Holiday and two weekend days, I have time to catch up.

I dove into the writing yesterday after being blocked and only getting a few hundred words a day for most of last week. I realized why, of course, because it's the Mid Novel Blah.

About halfway through a novel, you question yourself.

I suck.

No one will want to read this.

My characters are boring.

I'm not getting these ideas across.

I should give up and read a GOOD book.

I'm stupid for trying.

It hits every novel at the half way point, especially when the novel has gone off the rails and isn't anywhere close to the plot you started with. This novel was headed to a place where Our Heroes come upon an Army base where the people inside have decided to follow orders to the letter, refusing to see that the world around them has changed, and they are doing horrible things because they were ordered to.

Instead, my character haven't been able to get away from their camp because of a group of people we know nothing about. They may be evil, or they may be just like our heroes, worried they are under attack and lashing out first.

When a novel gets its own plot, you go with it. It also is social commentary without me thinking about enemy we know nothing about and fear because we don't know about them? Ring a bell with anyone?

My characters are coming into focus, doing things I didn't expect, and changing as they go on this journey, just like me.

When I get to the end, I still may not have a novel anyone wants to read, but I WILL finish it. I WILL complete this race. I may not be first, but I WILL get done.

I won't let the doubt beat me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Solitaire Rose | National Novel Writing Month

Solitaire Rose | National Novel Writing Month


Yes, I am a bit behind, but I broke 20K tonight. I couldn't write Monday night, as I just had nothing in me for the novel and on Tuesday I went out with a friend from work to see Star Trek in the movie theater, and got him in time to deal with Home stuff.

Tonight I wrote, finishing a back scene and then finally making back to where I SHOULD be writing instead of filling in gaps and saying, "I forgot this scene." I had a concert CD playing, but within about ten minutes I wasn't paying attention to it any more as the words flowed. It was like breaking a dam tonight, and the scenes came quickly and easily. Characters reacted, things got worse, and my characters have formed two groups who are traveling apart. I don't know what will come of it, but I like the new dynamic, as it puts all of them out of their comfort zones, and forces my two leads to confront what they fear most.

I write zombie novels because I want to write about current social and political issues without writing about them, if that makes any sense. I wanted this to be about how we have become a nation that tortures, and how we have moved from a nation that cringes in horror and accuses our enemies of it to one that does so, and mocks those who say it is wrong.

That's still going to be there, but the theme emerged as I wrote tonight.

The lead male character, Ray, was the lead in the last two novels, and has gone from being a safe, protected but unfulfilled person, to a man who is slowly losing everything. He's had people he's been in charge of die, he's lost the use of an arm, but most of all, he's compromising himself to survive, and at what point do those compromises make it so you aren't YOU any more.

The scariest scene in the book isn't zombies being thrown through the air by a tornado, zombies trying to break into a house with no way out, or a house on fire, with the exits blocked.

It's when Ray has done something horrible to another human being just because the man in involved in a slavery ring. The scene is:

[i]“I already have. Now, let's get back. That caravan is heading toward the others, and if we hurry, we'll get there before they do. They move slowly because of their slaves and if we run, we'll beat them there.”

“It's wrong,” Will said, unable to look away. Unable to move. “We aren't like that. They may be slavers, but we're better than they are.”

“No,” Ray said, “You may be, but I'm not. Not any more.”[/i]

Not any more.

If there is a worse hell, I can't think of what it would be.

Every year, this exercise changes me, both as an artist, and as a person. This year is no different. Thanks you for following me as I go on this journey.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ten days in

Not much energy was insane all week, and I got very little writing down before today. AND, all of it seems to have gone missing, so I had to rewrite everything I'd written since Tuesday (about 1500 words). I'll post more about it tomorrow, but I skipped ahead past the scene I was working on in hopes it was on my home computer, got to a nice cliffhanger and have gone back to write the missing words as well as the end of that scene.

Spend the night at my favorite coffee house and got over 4K written tonight. I'm at 17K, and will break the 20K barrier tomorrow. Still liking the novel, but I have to get the characters MOVING or they'll never make it to where the main part of the plot is. That's right, I'm at 17K, and my characters haven't physically moved.

However, a new set of antagonists have showed, and I think they will be chasing the characters, meaning the danger is rising. As I read through the novel, Karen seems utterly expendable to readers, so they will be looking for her to die. Too bad she's not going to. And knowing that, I can play with it. I can mess with reader expectations, which s always good in my mind.

Now, off to the car, then home and to bed, unless the pretty barrista starts asking me about my novel and British comedies again, in which case, I'll be awake a lot longer than I plan to be.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What kind of weekend it has been

What kind of day it has been

I have been a poor blogger, but the writing is still moving.

Helen’s story, the first chapter, was fun to write. A nice horror chapter, with some good imagry, a deep look into how she reacted to disaster and her full background. Kind of an intro to her and why she is the way she is.

The first “interlude” was like pulling teeth, and was the hardest thing I’ve written. EVER. I started and then deleted about four or five times before I finally decided to go with the meeting in which the characters who will be traveling tell everyone else that they are leaving. It was a talking heads scene, and brings the reader up to speed on things that were in my head. It all felt like endless exposition, so in the rewrite, I’ll have to focus on getting into everyone’s head, and HOW they came to their decisions, since I always find that more important than what they have decided.

The weekend wasn’t an easy one for writing. I help my friend Tommy move all day on Saturday, and after lifting and carrying things for about 10 hours, I just wanted to lay down, not move, and I had no energy left for writing. Fine. I was ahead on my word count after Thursday and Friday, so I skipped it.

Sunday, I was feeling the aftereffects of helping someone move, and could only sit for about a half hour at a time before I’d stiffen up. Still, I got my older characters together with Helen, and have spent the last couple of days mixing the characters, figuring out the new dynamic and setting the main plot in motion. There are hidden agendas, interpersonal relationships friction and such starting to show, and I’m going to be writing the first big “action beat” today on my way home from work on the bus.

What I wasn’t counting on was Ray, the protagonist from the last two novels in is taking over this book. I’d planned to push him to the side and let Helen be the main protagonist, but Ray is putting himself center stage. He’s the kind of character I like to write: Conflicted, a leader who doesn’t want to be a leader, and in this novel he is going through a crisis of faith in himself. He’d been through a LOT of bad experiences, and he’s been pushing them to the side for the last two novels, and this is the novel when they start pushing back.

Only 11,642 words in, and I’ve lost all control of the novel. That’s a good thing, although the main plot is still moving forward.

Today, I have no idea if I’ll get to write, as we are in our busiest time of the year, and I didn’t even have time for lunch…I forgot my laptop (grabbed the wrong bag) and won’t get home until around 9 PM tonight. Still, I WANT to write, and as long as I still WANT to write, I’ll find a way.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaNo Day One

I’m off at a rapid pace, around 5000 or so words so far, and more to come tonight after I blog this. It’s always like that, though, since the start of a novel is something that has been kicking around in my head for a while (this one had a scene that I literally dreamed about 2 years ago involving zombies and a tornado…creepy), and I want to just blast it out of my brain as fast as possible.

The novel is so far focusing on the new “main character”, a mentally ill woman who has been “broken” by what has happened to her over the last few years. I started my writing thinking that she had a form of Borderline Personality, but as I write it, it a deeper form of trauma that (like most mental illness) doesn’t fit cleanly into a single term. Looking through her eyes is an amazing experience, and I hope other people get a strong reaction about her. I can’t say she’s going to be LIKEABLE, but she’s interesting and a great whole person. Helen is a character who means the world to me, and I have no idea where she will end up at the end of the book.

I have three other new characters who will be showing up in this sequel, and a lot of the characters from the first two novels will be falling away as the book (s?) and main characters begin a trek across the country to see what’s left. It’s a journey novel, but like all journeys, the destination isn’t what is important. That’s the theme I had in the last two novels, but this one will allow that to fade into the background.

Two of the new characters are set in my head. Will and Hope are a couple, and if the symbolism isn’t ham-fisted enough, Hope + Will = Love. They are in this novel for background, to react to the main characters and to give the reader the feeling that anyone can die at any time. I have their fears, their hopes, their backgrounds, their foibles and their failures, and if they don’t make it into this book…there’s always next time, right?

Nikki is still an enigma to me. She’s the last of the new characters, and all I know about her is that her husband was killed in the last book, so she is traveling with the rest to get away from where it happened. I’ll learn about her as I write.

This weekend will be harder writing, as I have to give all of the background from the first two novels, introduce all of the returning characters and make the reader care about them even if they haven’t read anything about them before. But, if I fail at that, I can fix it in January. November is all about the word count.

And one day in, I’m ahead.