Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Number Three!

I gave a list of my anticipated goals for 2014.  I'm not sure if I should keep 5, but I'm not really sure how I'm Mundelein rather than in Illini6.
going to narrow it down.  I will recount it here now, but know that I'm only going to cover professional type material here on this blog.  As such many of my goals will be covered in Flowers of

1.  Learn Greek - that is a must, and I've placed it above and before all else.  If I do nothing else this year, even if I lose my job, I must finally learn Greek.  What I do with this however will not be tracked here.  I'll track this in Flowers of Mundelein.

2.  Archaeology - I can see how I might drop this, however I've volunteered to "help" run a Archaeology Merit Badge clinic.  At long last I  have a legitimate reason to pursue Archaeology and someone relying on my to produce.  If I didn't commit to helping I could slid this down on the priority list again.  I'll have to see on this one.  It is a maybe.  Also, I think this will probably be covered in Flowers.

3.  Writing - this belongs squarely in this blog and I'll come back to this one.

4.  New Job - I can't really control if I need this or not, but if I do it will certainly move very high up the priority list.  At this point I may have to keep it very high anyway for piece of mind.  I may track that here, as it is professional, but I may not.

5.  Commissioner - This is not really a goal, but a general catch-all for my Scouting function.  It is personal and will be covered in Flowers, but it is also a commitment I made to others and they are relying on me.  I'm going to set goals for others, so I had better keep up my end.

Let's go back and look at number three.  I want to keep a couple of rule sets in mind:

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

SMART Goals are:

  1. Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  2. Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  3. Achievable - state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  4. Relevant – stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter.
  5. Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Last year I used Results-oriented for #4, but what I mean is something that is really important and the results matter.

I highlighted Heinlein's rule #2 because I think it may be the one I most often break and the one that is certainly easiest for me to break.  I'm going keep that in the forefront of my mind and work on it.

With these in mind, I want to take January as Prop's Novel Finishing Month (ProNoFiNo) for Hidden Temple to the Lost Gods.  By, "finished" I mean a complete first draft with nothing in it like [put something here] or [explain something] or even [rewrite this].   This will be a adding month and not a refining month.

In March I'm going to sign up for NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month).  This is like NaNoWriMo, but in this you must spend 50 hours editing.

Once I've edited Temple to a good second draft I'm going to start marketing it.  By the end of April I will have it out to at least one publisher.  I will keep putting it out until I do get it published.

GOAL:  Get Hidden Temple to the Lost Gods published by the end of the year.
  1. ProNoFiMo in January
  2. NaNoEdMo in March
  3. Research publishing in April
  4. Send it out to publishers starting end of April.
There you go, simple.

Oh, and Robert J. Sawyer added a sixth rule:  Start Working on Something Else.

I like this a lot and I do find this easy.  I almost always do this, and sometimes I've done it before #2, which is less good, or more ungood.  

On the other hand I might have to do this to follow Ray Bradbury's advice to write 400 words a day or Terry Pratchett's advice to write 500 words a day.  I don't know which should override the other.  This one is important, but I think actually FINISHING a novel overrides it.

Once I get that done, then maybe I can make a goal as simple as, average 400 words a day for a year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

All I Want for Christmas is Stephen Fry for Doctor!

First of all, Merry Christmas to you all and Happy Boxing Day!

When I started writing this post I had only recently found out that Matt Smith is ending his stint as the Doctor on Doctor Who at the end of this current "series" (in US parlance it's called a season).  Last night I watched several episodes of Doctor Who and a special regarding Matt Smith's tenure on the show.  I saw most of "The Time of the Doctor" which is Matt Smith's last episode.

This begs me to finally finish this post and put it up.

Peter Capaldi is the next Doctor, but I want to go on record as strongly endorsing Stephen Fry as the Doctor.  I think he would be a brilliant choice.
Mr. Fry has criticized Doctor Who as being a children's program, which it is.  I have no problem with that and he said he thinks it is fine as much as occasional fast food is.

This very attitude goes very far to explaining why I think Steven Fry would be the best Doctor, and what I think is wrong with New Who.

With Steven Fry you always get the feeling that there is something more, something behind and above what you see; what he is presenting.  I get a feeling of a much larger world when I listen to or watch Steven Fry.

Steven Fry has taken up the colors of techno-champion and knight of the endangered from the fallen Douglas Adams, and I find his approach more subtle and light hearted.

I have three problems with New Who.  The most prominent is how flashy, polished, expensive, orchestral and grandiose it is.  At first I thought that was my problem, that I was just pining for the old, campy, synthesizer, cheap Who of my youth.

In fact I've realized that it is not glitz vs camp, but see vs imagine.  The thing that made those old campy, cheap episodes so great was that it was very clear that there was much more out there in the universe than you saw, there had to be.

I'm a big fan of Old Time Radio and audio dramas in general.  I love how you have to bring something to it yourself.  It challenges the audience to "see" what is happening in the story.

I think the cheapness of old Who did that in many ways.  It almost made you want to close your eyes and imagine the universe, or at least try to understand what they were trying to represent by the quarry or the abandoned hotel.  The way the show was, it challenged you to pretend with it that they weren't running back and forth down the same hallway.

They've taken that away for the most part with New Who.  They've committed to trying to show you exactly what things are supposed to look like.  Once you start doing that then you have told the audience to sit back and watch because you are going to do everything for them.

I get the feeling when I listen or watch Stephen Fry that he is challenging us in some way.

The second problem I have is probably the smallest one: the phone.  New Who bends to our current need for constant instantaneous connection.  The companions can call and talk to the Doctor in real time, with no delays no matter where or WHEN he is.

This is just pure magic and bursts the suspension of disbelief faster than a poorly made costume or badly build TARDIS wall.  I don't know how Fry could fix that.  Maybe they should just get rid of it.

My final objection to New Who is that he has saved the universe, how can they top that?  In old Who he would land somewhere random (mostly), find a local problem, help them fix it and gallivant off again.  The whole of New Who starts off with the notion that he destroyed Gallifrey and the Time Lords to save all of time and space.  They left themselves no room to go up.

I think that was somewhat okay with Christopher Eccleston because he seemed a bit of an outlaw and almost seemed on the lam at that time.  Tenant took that feeling away.  I'm not sure Smith brought it back, but the threats to the Doctor's life did make it seem a bit more focused and less hyperbole (maybe why I like Smith better than Tenant).

I get the feeling that Fry could really do that in spades.  Even if the grand gestures and the universal saves continue I would get the feeling that the small stuff mattered, that those pockets of problems are out there and they need to be dealt with as well.  Fry is capable of showing you the improvements in technology but never letting you forget the environmental and social struggles that are still out there and very real.

I know he won't be the next Doctor.  I know Peter Capaldi has already started, but I can still wish can't I?  Isn't it the season for that?

PS:  Every time I watch Doctor Who I want to write a Doctor Who type story.  Stop it!  Stop flirting with my muse Doctor, she's supposed to be helping me finish my horror novel; leave her alone.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

First Blog Post on My New Keyboard

This is the first ever post I'm writing on my new tablet keyboard.

Before the last post about Doctor Who I was terribly busy with getting ready for Christmas.  Now it's more than half over (my side will be doing Christmas on St. Basil's Day).

I need to report on my goals progress, but it is so close to the end of the year I don't know if it would be worth doing.  One thing I do want to share is what I think must be my goals for next year and the priorities.

I think I need to limit my goals very much.  I wanted to make one for each role I have in life and one each for Mind, Body and Spirit.  I think instead for 2014 I need only a handful (read no more than five) that touch on as many roles as possible.

What I've come up with so far is thus:
1.  Learn Greek
2.  Archaeology
3.  Writing
4.  New Job
5.  Commissioner

I need to use the SMART system to define these and put measures on them.  I'll do that over the next few posts.

The first priority, the first thing foremost above all else and at the cost of all other goals I need to learn to speak and read Greek.  I won't detail why exactly that's true here, but it is.

The others follow in the priority I gave, I think, so far.  I'll let you know as I go.  Also, I will only be tracking my writing goals here.  Most of my personal goals will be tracked and discussed on my Flowers of Mundelein blog.

Now that I've written a post on my tablet keyboard, I think I will be doing it a lot.  That is the purpose of the keyboard and most of the reason for the tablet.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

I Won, Really I Did

Anotherealm.com has a bimonthly flash fiction contest.  They give a theme and you try to write a Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror short story no more than 100 words.

Back in July I submitted a short story to that contest.  The theme of the contest was, "Reality TV."

I hate reality TV, but I wrote a story and entered anyway.

And I won first place.

My story is called "Real Other World."  You can go there to read the prize wining story (actually there is no "prize" but I like to tell people I'm a prize winning author).

I've entered this contest before and won several times.  I really like it.  It was actually where I learned about Flash Fiction.  The first story I ever wrote in that style, and the first story I ever had "published" was for Anotherealm.  I think the first story I ever sold was for them too.  That one was called, "Alone" and it's still one of my favorites.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Kαλό μήνα and Happy Christmas Season

The last poll was a total bust.  No one voted at all, not one single vote.  I did get responses though.  I've decided to go with the American Legion.  I'll be sending in the application a bit later.

My new poll is Christmas related.  What is you're favorite Christmas tune (song or carol)?

I got the list from Wikipedia of the top ten Christmas tunes.  If your favorite is not on the list please let me know what it is in the comments.

Friday, November 29, 2013

I Won Again!

The book is called, Hidden Temple to the Lost Gods.  It's a horror novel.

This was by far the easiest one to actually finish and I got to 50,000 words earlier than any previous attempt.  I was actually within 350 words on Wednesday, 27 Nov 13, but some of that was an outline I wrote after the beginning of November and when I pulled it out it was almost a thousand words.  I made those up and added the last bit.

I thought I would end up with more of a novel "kit."  A collection of unlinked chapters or scenes with instructions on how to put them together and what needed to be added to connect them.  That's not quite what I have.  This has a beginning, middle and an end.  Some of the characters need to be built up, and some switched up in their roles, but it is mostly in there in sloppy, ugly, unreadable first draft.

I only hope I can focus long enough and hard enough to get it fixed up enough to send it out to publishers.  That will have to wait for another month.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Backwards My Novel Is Being Written

Scary how my eyes line up
I'm going to hate myself later.  I normally plot all this stuff out and have a detailed outline before I start to write.  I normally know just where I want to go and pretty much the route I want to take to get there well ahead of time.  It's the small details I leave for the writing, usually.  Plan first, write later.

Not this time around.

I have no plot, no protagonist.  I'm just letting them go and hoping to sort it out later.  I don't know if it will work.

This is the fun part.  Figuring it out later will be not as much fun.  I'm eating desert first and leaving the dreaded brussel sprouts for later.

Things are going well, I'm keeping up with the word count, but there are a lot of notes to my future self on what to do where.

I'm throwing stuff down, tossing stuff out all over the place.  I didn't put down ground clothes and tape carefully around the windows and trim.  I'm slopping it all over and leaving the clean  up for my later self.

I'm sorry later self, I really am.  I'll make it up to you, promise.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Combat Pole/Poll? and Happy Veterans' Day!

National Guard Bird holding some poles for me
from Wikipedia
Happy Veterans' Day and thank you to all my vet family, friends and their families.

The last poll was the most successful of all.  There were nine votes (I hesitate to say nine people voted because this is Chicago).

Spiders and Other were tied for scariest things with three each.  Maybe it was the unknown factor of "Other" that played in.  Based on comments I think I know what two of the others were.

Tied for second place were The Dentist, Heights and The Dark.  I could make a joke about going to the dentist on Mount Everest at night, but somehow it seems like it would be an old joke.

I want to start a new poll and this being Veterans' Day I wanted to ask on this blog the question I've been asking myself ever since I got back from Afghanistan:  which should I join, the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Both are fine organizations that I would feel proud to join and that I would like to support, but I don't want to join both.  If I had to chose one which one?

I think I've been sitting on the fence too long.  The longer I take to

decide the longer both of them don't get my support as a member.

Questions I ask myself about the organizations that are relevant to me, and the answers to which (or your opinions on the answers) you my readers may be able to provide.

Which is more supportive of the BSA?
Which has political views more in line with my own?
Which has nicer hats?
Which is older, has a more proud history?
Which would look better on a resume / help more with networking?
Which would benefit more from my membership?
Who do I know that is in the VFW or the Legion?
Which has more famous members / alumni?

In my town the VFW and Legion meet in the same storefront office.  Most members are the same.

I like that the VFW is for combat vets only, point there.

The Legion gave an award to my eldest daughter a few years ago for a paper she wrote, so they have a point there.

I know that the VFW has it's origins in the the Spanish American War and the Philippine-American War.  That is a strike against it.  I'm not proud of either of those wars.

Please help me decide.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

NaNo Birthday

Enjoying one of the
best BDay presents ever
It's my birthday and NaNoWriMo is going along exactly according to plan (Muhahahahahaha).

Should I take the day off of writing to enjoy or should I get cake all over the keyboard?

Let me know.

BTW, I labeled this "Holiday" because I firmly believe that someday this day will be celebrated as a holiday (at least it will be in some country I make up and/or on some ConWorld I create).

Enjoy the day!

Friday, November 01, 2013

NaNo Begins, Kαλό μήνα!

For better or worse, I've started.  I don't have a full outline yet.  I'm attacking it as a discovery writer.
Hope it works.  Wish me luck.

NaNoWriMo 2013 Final Prep Post - Da Outline!

Props to "Prop"
Well, it's finally here.  My last chance, the final day before the madness begins.  I've got my hardware all set up and whether or not I'm ready, it's time to go.

One last thing.  Here is the outline for Temple of the Lost Gods.  There are parts missing, but that to to protect the innocent from spoilers.  The outline is complete I assure you...

trust me.

I failed.  I had set aside time to write this last night and some things changed.  I was unable to write this and unable to write my outline.  I will have to write my outline and synopsises in such a way that I will be able to incorporate them into the novel itself and use them in my word count.  I will try to post them here as I do them.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Prep Halloween Day Part 3

From Monica,
I guess that's what she looks like
when she writes
Again, going off Kaye Dacus' list:

4.      There are several key items in this story
a.       The old telescope.  It turns out that Pattell's old telescope, the one that the evil Astronomy professor used is stored in the Library with the astronomical records.  Both are quite interesting.  The lens of the telescope is apparently etched with an image.  What could it be?
b.      The Relics that the cult possess.  Ethan has something and Lucy has a few things.  What could they be and what power do they contain
c.       There are several books and records in the Library.  Some are complete, some partial.  Some are copies and some are original.  All contain some portion or pieces of arcane knowledge (similar to Lovecraft's Necronomicon).
d.      The Temple of the Lost Gods.  This is apparently a dollhouse sized model of a Greek temple carved of stone and includes carved lettering assumed to be spells.  The stone is not what it seems.  The carvings are not what they seem and the temple as a whole is not what it seems.  The struggle for it is very real.
5.      Dress is normal for most at most times. 
a.       Okay, I'll let you in on something about the cult.  When they perform "spells" they must wear clothing that is knit.  All of their clothing, from top clothes to underclothing and shoes.  They must have received this clothing as a gift.  It had to have been knitted by reciting stanzas from certain books, spells as it were.  The material used will remain a secret until the time when it is most appropriate to reveal in the story.  The nature of the knitting needles as well.
6.      Minor characters include:
a.       I will get back to you on this, I'll probably develop them as I need them
7.      Style?  I got style; including:
a.       Unusual, foreign, archaic, uniquely spelled, and made-up names.
b.      All place names.
c.       Names of restaurants, stores, schools, and other establishments.
d.      Anything that gets a red squiggly line as you type it. Anything that shows up as a spelling error (whether it’s fictional or the computer just doesn’t recognize it)
e.       Foreign, archaic, regional, or made up words and phrases.
f.       I will build this part as I go
8.      Theme is good losing to evil.  I thought I explained that before
9.      This is really the money part of this whole post.  If I can nail this down then I stand the best chance of getting my novel written:

a.       Maybe a should have a whole separate post just for the outline

NaNoWriMo 2013 Prep Halloween Day Part 2

Blogger doesn't like a whole bunch of pictures, so I'm dividing these up.

3.  Scenes
My locations:
(although there is far too much land showing (the buildings of Pattell University are tightly packed together) these give you an idea of the types and look of the buildings)
Faculty Building

LAS Building 1
LAS Building 2


Student Union

Library interior

Library interior

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Prep Continues and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Behind me, in the water?
Kaye Dacus is currently running a series on prepping for NaNo.  She seems to have nine pieces so far:
  1. Pick software
  2. Main characters
  3. Scenes
  4. Props [yeah,I like that, oh, she means the "stuff" in the story]
  5. Clothing
  6. Minor characters
  7. Style sheet
  8. Theme
  9. Outline and/or synopsis
My answers:

  1. I'm using EverNote to keep track and to write down my notes in a Story Bible
  2. Here are my main characters again:


  1. Ethan
    Blogger doesn't like a lot of pictures so I'm going to have to continue this in another post...

NaNoWriMo 2013 Prep Continues

Frozen Cthulhu, yum!
I'm going to go ahead and give you the detailed description of Pattell University, then my next post I'll go back and hit Kaye Dacus' instructions.

Pattell University
  • Motto:  Victory to the Enlightened
  • Established:  1920
  • Type:  Private
  • Location:  SE Corner of N. Halstead and W. Division
    • Roughly a triangle pointing down
    • Borders
      • Division on North
      • Larrabee on the East
      • Halstead on the NE to the River
      • River on the East
      • Larrabee and Kingsbury on the South
  • Students
    • Undergrad: 4000
    • Grad:  1000
  • Faculty:  500 
  • Colors:  Scarlet and Orange with Yellow accents / piping (Scarlet is Engineers and Field Artillery, Orange is Signal, Yellow is Cavalry)
  • Nickname:  Thunder
  • Sports
    • Div III
    • Men's
      1. Lacrosse
      2. Swimming and Diving
      3. Volleyball
      4. Water polo
      • Formerly had:
        1. Basketball
        2. Football
        3. Gymnastics
    • Women's
      1. Field Hockey
      2. Swimming and Diving
      3. Volleyball
      4. Water polo
      • Formerly had:
        1. Basketball
        2. Gymnastics
  • Colleges:
    • College of Architecture
    • College of Education and Library and Information Science
    • School of Medicine
    • College of LAS
  • Campus
    • Walled campus
    • All bricks
    • Buildings crammed together - They were designed by the architecture students to work almost exactly like a jigsaw
    • No building taller than 8 floors
    • 17 Buildings
      • Each College has 2 instructional buildings and one residence hall (N to S)
      1. Hospital
      2. Medical School Building
      3. Medical Residence Hall*
      4. LAS Building 1*
      5. LAS Building 2*
      6. LAS Residence Hall*
      7. Architecture Buliding 1*
      8. Architecture Building 2*
      9. Architecture Residence Hall*
      10. Ed & LIS Building*
      11. ED & LIS Residence Hall*
      12. Student Union
      13. Faculty Building
      14. Administrative Building
      15. Library
      16. Gymnasium
      17. Natatorium
      18. Athletic field with 2000 seats
  1. History
    1. In 1804 Pattell's oldest son, Louis, left Chicago to attend a university in the east.  He met a schoolteacher who longed to learn more.  They fell in love and were married.  He promised to teach her as much as a man would learn to earn a bachelors' degree. 
    2. In 1808, the father died and Louis brought his wife back to Chicago.  By the time they arrived, his younger brother had taken over the paternal duties.  Louis and his wife, Louise moved north along the river in an amicable agreement between the brothers.  Louis feared that he would be too far from Fort Dearborn to seek refuge there so he moved his house to Goose Island while farming on the east bank of the river.
    3. In their house, Louis taught Louise everything that he could.  Louis majored in astronomy and had brought what was at the time the most powerful telescope west of the Appalachians to his house.  He built the house to have an observatory in the top floor.
      1. The astronomy was useful for the farmers and they published a small almanac.
      2. Although it was called the Pattell Women's Academy at first as a derisive term, this was the first school for adults in the west.
      3. It was soon apparent in the boomtown of Chicago that the math Louis knew was much more useful than the astronomy and he gained more and more business students.
      4. The school thrived and grew.
    4. By 1820, it was referred to as the Pattell Academy and the first brick building was built.
      1. The Smith building (named after the financier who invested the money to build it) was 3 stories tall.  The first story was administrative offices, the second story was classrooms and the top floor was an observatory.  It was the tallest building in Chicago.
    5. By 1830, the Pattells had built several more brick buildings on the island and moved to the east bank for residence.
    6. In 1850, Louis died, but his wife and children continued to teach accounting, business, and astronomy.
      1. The astronomy was dying, but Louise hired an eccentric professor to come to their "Academy."  He was a strange and evil man.  It was Louise's last official act before dying.
      2. Louis' son Michael hated the astronomy professor.  He built the school so much that they decided to expand to the Pattell holdings on the east bank.  Michael built an extremely substantial building for the library just south of his house.  This was as far south as the Academy would go in what was named the New Campus.
      3. The buildings and their surrounding wall on the island were referred to as the Old Campus after that.
    7. In 1860 both Michael and the evil astronomy professor died.  Astronomy was moved off the curriculum and all the astronomic data was moved to the Library for long-term storage.
      1. Michael's son Henry became head of the school at Michael's death and he named himself Dean.  He was not a fan of business or math and he pushed to expand the Academy in the realm of science.
      2. Henry went to the Civil War as a Signal Officer.  He championed the use of balloons for Artillery spotting
      3. After the war Henry returned with several new friends he had made in the war.  They included Artillery Officers, Engineer Officers and Signal Officers, some from very prominent Chicago families
      4. Under Henry, the school was divided into the Business Division, the Law Division and the Natural History Division.  NHD was the smallest but Henry forced it to grow, despite the lack of interest, funds and teachers.
    8. By the time of the Great Fire, the school had occupied all the ground it ever would.
      1. All the buildings on the east bank (or the New Campus) were destroyed by the fire except the Library.
      2. The New Campus was slowly rebuilt.
      3. Henry was killed in the fire and the Pattell family lost control of the school.
    9. Former Engineer Officer John Lox took control of the school
      1. Lox
        1. Had become an avowed pacifist after the war
        2. Youngest of the Civil War vets in the faculty, but also the best trained educator
        3. Came from a very wealthy family in New England
        4. His family was indispensable in financing the new school
      2. School was re-designated Pattell University
        1. The Business Division was converted to the College of Architecture
        2. The Law Division became the College of Library Science
        3. The Natural History Division became the College of Natural History  
        4. Portions of the library were used as a make-shift hospital immediately after the Fire.  Several of the doctors and nurses stayed and helped form the College of Medicine
      3. Lox sold off the buildings and land on Goose Island in order to help finance the rebuilding of the new school grounds
      4. Sports
        1. As amateur sports took off in the 1880s and 90s Lox insisted that no violent sports would be played at Pattell.  
        2. He most encouraged swimming and diving.
      5. Lox died in 1915 at 75
    10. Several more lucrative sports were added between 1915 and 1935 (football, basketball, gymnastics), but by 1965 they had dwindled to the current 8 varsity teams

Emergency Worldbuilding Part 2

Death for NaNo failure!
Holly advises in worldbuilding to build only what you need, which includes:

  1. "Special physics"
  2. Organized terrain
  3. Defined inhabitants
  4. Uniform method of counting time, weights and measures
  5. Defined cultures
  6. Spoken and written languages
  7. Consistent technological level
  8. Cast of characters
My answers are:
  1. The special physics are a sort of cross between H.P Lovecraft's spells in the Necronomicon and Douglas Adams' Starship Bistromath.  If you understand math sufficiently and manipulate the equations correctly, given the right set of conditions you can perform scientific achievements so astounding that they are indistinguishable from magic.
  2. Pattell University is situated along the North Branch of the Chicago River.  It is situated so that it should have been consumed in the Great Chicago Fire.  I have a fairly good description of it and I will share that later.
  3. What she meant by this was races, or species.
    1. I'm not sure how much of this to tell without spoiling things.  I do have a sort of mythos and/or pantheon worked out and they play a significant part in the story since the "magical" science was not created nor discovered by humans.  It is alien "technology."
  4. Time, weight and measures are measured in the normal fashion in the US.
  5. The cultures are fairly standard except the cult.  I'd rather not spell that out here due to spoilers.
  6. English will be the primary language.  The aliens are incapable of rendering human speech sounds and we would be unable to pronounce theirs if they had an auditory language.  Communication is through mental influence and a constructed language provided by aliens at some point in the distant past.
  7. Modern tech other than what was provided by the aliens.
  8. I've shown the characters in the previous post.
That was probably less than satisfying.  I do have some behind the scenes stuff to work on, but let's go on to another list and see if it will be a bit more tantalizing for the readers.

Annalee Newitz has rules for Quick and Dirty worldbuilding:
  1. Do a little research
  2. Have a few rules
  3. Don't obsess over consistency
  4. Consider what's good and what's bad about your world
  5. Create characters who are plausibly the products of your world
My answers to Ms Newitz include:
  1. Given the time limit I've given myself, there can be only little
  2. Again, I'm forced to simplicity.  I will follow all known laws of physics in this story.  What physics doesn't know is where I will fabricate, stretch and BS.
  3. Okay
  4. This is probably the place where we can really sink our teeth in.
    1. Good
      1. There are good people
      2. There are brave people
      3. People do fall in love
    2. Bad
      1. There are evil people
      2. There are powers beyond our comprehension that is insanely dangerous to our entire planet and completely indifferent to our whole galaxy.  It isn't that the universe is out to kill us, the universe is just deadly and destructive period.
      3. Being good and brave will not help in the end
      4. Love may just be instincts, our genes driving us to procreate them, a chemical mix that has nothing to do with destiny or true love.
      5. Life is the result of random forces and will end as a result of random forces
  5. Certainly, I always do.  I feel that characters are a strong point for me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Emergency Worldbuilding Part 1

Got's to be quick about this,
you never know who might be after you.
Maybe I should call this CRASH Worldbuilding.  I was looking back over my notes and stuff I've printed for ideas and I don't know if I can do this.  I've got a mood, a sort of vibe that I want to use, but there are some big gaping holes.  It's like listening to a phone conversation when the other person keeps going in and out.  You might get that they are frantic about something but the details are so sketchy that you can't do anything about it.

I can only hope that I crash through this window and get there to find that the few things I have in my pockets and my presence are enough to solve whatever problem it is that caller wanted to frantically tell me about.

I can't believe I've been thinking about some of these characters and this story concept for five years without putting them in a story!  You can't find the characters fleshed out, and the ideas I was banging around here.  I'm not going to use all of them or at least not all of them as they are depicted in that post.  I'll let you know how I change them in the next couple of posts when I get to the appropriate part of worldbuilding.

Ok, starting with Holly Lisle's requirements to start a novel:
  1. Know your world
  2. Know your characters
  3. Know your conflict
  4. Embrace a theme
  5. Determine a voice
  6. Know your genre
  7. Know your expectations
My answers to her:
  1. The world will be Chicago in the present.  However, it's not quite that simple.  
    1. I will be using Pattell University as the main setting and that's fictional.  
    2. I'll also be assuming a whole specific universe, one in which there are aliens and with the right application of mathematics humans can do things that appear to be magic.  
    3. Those two pieces need work
  2. Characters, I got's this.  Four big changes from my old 2008 post:
    1. Lucy LaBarbara - without spoilers let's just say that she is not a professor, and not an alien.  She is the leader of the cult and has access to a great deal of power and knowledge.
    2. Peter Nicostratus  (renamed Phillip O'Higgins)- not too old and not eyeless.  He is an anthropologist that specializes in Cryptotheology, or as he calls it Cryptolatrology (Greek for the study of hidden worship)
    3. I'm adding two characters: 
      1. Chitra Abberline: a private detective, formerly a Chicago Police Officer.  She was dismissed from the force after phychiatric care resulting from an incident which cause a mental breakdown.  She was the officer on the scene in which unspeakable acts were performed and "magic" was used.  She actually has no mental illiness but the scene was simply too much for her mind to handle.  She has learned how to handle the memory, but it came too late and her superiors were biased against her as a female officer.  She is physically active and fit, if rather plain looking and unimposing in size.  She is a capable investigator and 
      2. Ethan Gagnon: a cultist.  He is a student at Pattell University and started the cult.  He has access to certain relics and was able to work out some basic mathematical spells.  He believes the universe must be brought to an end and a new one raised in its place, but he believes this must be done from the energy generated by the suffering of sacrifices.  He led the cult until Lucy arrived.  He hates the loss of power and subverts the group whenever possible.  He does not and cannot understand reality to the extent Lucy does.
  3. My conflict will be the struggle for an ancient relic that may be a portal to unimaginable power, but also inconceivable reality that will stretch human mental and emotional capacity like trying to fill a water balloon with a fire hose.
  4. The theme is actually multifacited
    1. The universe is not only more complicated than we imagine, but more complicated than we can imagine, and trying to do so will cause a mind-BLOWING experience
    2. The eventual collapse of even the most powerful human, or more broadly, earthly conceits.  "Dust in the Wind" as it were.
    3. Horror doesn't have to be ugly, at least not to look at
  5. I will be using third person limited.  My powers of mathematics are far too feeble to assume anything more comprehensive.  My POV will be as if I'm a ghost in the head of the detective, or just over her shoulder.  Depending on how the writing goes I may also haunt Larry's shoulder (that was the original intent of the story).
  6. I'm shooting for a sort of gothic horror.  I've written this before with some success, so I feel most confident here.
  7. "'Do you expect me to talk?'  'No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.'""  I expect to win, to finish the book with a real ending.  With that in mind I'm going to throw in placeholders where needed for details and descriptions.  I may even write the thing like stepping stones, jumping from scene to scene, giving a brief synopsis of each, and when that's done going back and filling in as much as I can until the time runs out.  If you can imagine a pyramid laid out in perfect symetry so that the base is equal to the height, that was my last successful NaNo attempt, or at least the plan.  2/3rds of the way through I realized I'd never make it to the full height so I cut the angle and reached a peak, but far short of the originally intended height (I truncated the ending).  This time I intend to build like a skyscraper instead.  I'll build the frame and starting hanging the walls on it until the time runs out.  It will have the right height (ending) but need to be filled in.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Time to Get Kraken

I'm trying to write here, Mr. Cthulhu
If I'm going to be ready to write a whole novel in November I'm going to have to get ready.  I know it might
seem too late, but I figure if I buckle down and get cracking I can be ready to at least write it as a discover novel.

What is a discover novel?  I'm not sure if it's an official term, but I know that some people are discovery writers.  This means that they have a general situation and characters set when they start, but they either don't know where the story is going to go or they know where they want the story to go, but if the characters take it in a different direction they let them.

I have a couple of guides to help me prepare.  I've done 30 Days of Worldbuilding before, but I don't have that kind of time now.  I'm going to have to use an abbreviated guide.

First, to start a novel Holly Lisle says:

  1. Know your world
  2. Know your characters
  3. Know your conflict
  4. Embrace a theme
  5. Determine a voice
  6. Know your genre
  7. Know your expectations
Holly advises in worldbuilding to build only what you need, which includes:
  1. "Special physics"
  2. Organized terrain
  3. Defined inhabitants
  4. Uniform method of counting time, weights and measures
  5. Defined cultures
  6. Spoken and written languages
  7. Consistent technological level
  8. Cast of characters
Annalee Newitz has rules for Quick and Dirty worldbuilding:
  1. Do a little research
  2. Have a few rules
  3. Don't obsess over consistency
  4. Consider what's good and what's bad about your world
  5. Create characters who are plausibly the products of your world
Patricia Wrede advises that for worldbuilding you need to know:
  1. Trade
  2. Religion
  3. Geography
  4. Countries / maps
  5. Politics
  6. Culture
  7. Magic [or SF tech if appropriate]
Kaye Dacus is currently running a series on prepping for NaNo.  She seems to have nine pieces so far:
  1. Pick software
  2. Main characters
  3. Scenes
  4. Props [yeah,I like that, oh, she means the "stuff" in the story]
  5. Clothing
  6. Minor characters
  7. Style sheet
  8. Theme
  9. Outline and/or synopsis
I've also read H.P. Lovecraft's notes on how he writes a story:
  1. Prepare a synopsis in order of occurrence
  2. Prepare a synopsis in order of narration
  3. Write out the story
  4. Refine
So now, instead of 30 things I have 38.  Well, that's not exactly true because some overlap and some are not appropriate.  I think I really have it down to about 10 things, maybe a dozen to do in the next five days.

No problem!

I'm going to share what I can here.  I won't give anything away so I can't share everything.  If I can get the beginnings of the prep work done I know the story and characters will take me the rest of the way.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Next Book Will Involve a Library

I've talked about this before.

Again, this year the weather is crazy cold and cloudy.  Again, my thoughts turn toward horror, but this year I've been thinking about what I can write and what I can't.  What I can write includes horror.

Did I mention I'm very seriously considering participating in NaNoWriMo?

Well I am.

Time Isn't Holding Up

Kaye Dacus in her blog today says you need to calculate the time you have in November to see if you will be able to write the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo.

After a "once in a lifetime" trip, when I found myself "in another part of the world," "with a beautiful house and a beautiful wife..."  I grabbed my Google calendar and my notebook do do some calculatin'.

I figure I can write about 1,000 words an hour.  When I'm really in the writing mood I'm actually "writing" all day long and the word count is merely the time it takes to type.  I am a very slow typer (16.7 words per minute).  This means that I need 50 hours in order to get my book done.

The way I counted I should have 58 hours to type.  That's enough, Tha's e-NUF!

Now I just need to come up with the plot, characters, theme, mood, and location.  No biggie at all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Which One Can You See?

I'm not sure if Cthulhu wants to join the US Army, or if he thinks he can hide on the couch too.

Maybe he's just tired.

Still I think sleeping on the bottom of the Pacific is just a tad less obvious.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Who is that tapping?

"...Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door..."

By Eddie Poe

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'm Baaaaack

I'm back from Tanzania.

I actually got back on Thursday afternoon, but I hadn't gotten the chance to get to the blog until now.  I was in Morogoro, Tanzania helping out the Maarabara at the Regional Hospital.

They didn't keep me from shaving, I just didn't while I was there.  Pretty scary isn't it?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

What I Can't Write

There were some things Lovecraft couldn't draw
I can't write mystery, hard sci fi, romance, police procedural, high fantasy; and I'll tell you why.

I seem to be telegraphing my antagonist when I write mystery.  I don't know if I don't have the right kind of devious mind, but my bad guy is too obvious too early.

I don't have the math skills for hard science fiction.  The kind of sci-fi I'm thinking of you really need to be able to explore the mathematical possibilities of things and I just don't have the math chops to even ask a math/physics person a question they won't scoff at (I know, I've tried).  I also don't have a hard science education.  Anthropology is considered a "soft" science.

I can't write romance or police procedurals because I just don't like them.  I don't like them enough to read them, I would never be able to write them.  You may be confused by my dislike of police procedurals, but you see I don't see that subject as one suitable for entertainment.

High fantasy is a bit of a puzzler.  I love certain fantasy, Tolkien, Pratchett, Asprin, Le Guin spring to mind.  I just can't stand others.  Again, if I can't read it I could never write it.  I don't think I could write it based on a very few authors because the sample size is just too small.  Additionally, I just can't get into it the way some people can.  I'm just not comfortable working in the genre.  I had been at one time, but I think I'm in a different place in my life and it just doesn't sit right with me anymore.

I'm not moaning or whining.  This is purely analytical and I'm using the process of elimination to determine what I CAN write.

What does that leave me?  Soft SF, contemporary fantasy, horror.  What type of horror?  Not slasher, I don't know about suspense, but I think I'm pretty good as weird fiction.

What I like to read:  Mystery (mostly cozies or cozy-esque), Hard SF, very select fantasy and very select horror.

Very select horror?  Why would I be able to write horror and not fantasy if my reading tastes are similarly limited in either genre?  I'm not really sure, but horror is what I've sold.  About 75% of the very very VERY meager earnings I've made have been with horror stories, or at least weird fiction.

I think it may be because it doesn't scare me to write it.  You know how it was always your older sibling, the one that wasn't actually afraid that told all the scary stories when you were young.  They were able to get into it with intensity and enjoy it.  They could dig in and make it ghastly and suspenseful.  It didn't bother them to leave a hero hanging over the edge of a cliff until the next bedtime story or to kill everyone off at the end of a campfire story.

The trick to writing that way is to keep your audience's fear in mind.  I have heard some authors that write what scares them, and that's great because they can check the effectiveness against themselves.  My way I can't do that, but if I always keep my audience in mind, which I do, I can do it reasonably well.

I think another trick is to make it as believable as possible for as long as possible.  That way the audience won't know when you strayed from actual facts and into the woods.  They will just suddenly find themselves in the deep dark without knowing how they got there or how to get out.  No idea how to get out at all.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

What Was God Pointing At?

I've really no idea, that's what scares me.

I took this while out walking in the Uluguru mountains on Saturday.

Chicago in Morogoro

My best guess is that there was some sort of dimensional wormhole from Chicago to Africa.  Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I spotted this while I was out walking yesterday.  I know there must have been some sort of strange geometry because it took me about two hours to walk just over 4.25 km.  And then it took only about an hour to get back.

Also frustrating and confusing, I only got to see the first ten minutes of the All Blacks and Springboks battling it out for the Championship Rugby title.  If you want to know more, send me an email.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

But Where's the Necronomicon?

I've been looking back on my list of ideas for horror stories, in preparation to write another novel in November.

I have a lot of really great ideas so the first challenge will be to narrow it down.  The second, and much bigger challenge will be to execute the plan.

I went to three bookstores and the regional library today.  I thought that finding Lovecraft in Swahili would be a great boost to my motivation, but alas there was no Lovecraft.  I turned from the L shelves and found this little grouping.

Remember how I was writing about Hemingway, and there he is, very close to Herbert's Dune.  Maybe I need to write about worms (I'll be sure to step without rhythm).

Friday, October 04, 2013

Cthulhu hotel

It may not seem to Lovecraftian, but this hotel next door to me is full of stuff like this wall.  I could easily see Hemingway sitting here and writing a novel.  In fact, last night I started the very preliminary work for my next novel.  This one is going to be a horror one.  I'm getting myself ready by reading "At the Mountains of Madness." 

BTW, this mountain is very real.  It is the Uluguru mountains and I walk by them every day.  There are no zebras (at least there aren't any more) there  is actually a soccer pitch where the painting shows zebras.  The horror!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Been Looking for a Tanzanian Cthulhu Image

Courtesy of Makezine.com
Can't seem to find one.  I looked in here, but no dice.  I wonder why everyone ran out screaming, guess they've never seen an American before.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Kalo mena Africa

It's a marvelous night for a moon dance - not.  It's raining pretty well here.

And here we are again in Cthulhu month except this time I'm starting it in Africa.  I'm roughing it a bit, without my computer right now or my Greek fonts.

Come great old ones or high water I will post the new poll tomorrow.  I might be able to dredge up some African flavored Cthulhu stuff, but for now you'll have to make do with what I find.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy INTERNATIONAL Talk Like a Pirate Day

It has been far too long, but I've been trying to get some guidance and some go ahead to post about where I am and what I'm doing.  I've gotten no such communication, but I have to post anyway.

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  I have to mention that because I am in Africa.  I have not talked like a pirate, but everyone here thinks I talk funny anyway.

Enjoy the day and as things move forward I think I will get into a better routine and be able to post more.

School bus, school bus, school bus (parked at the Kibaha Hotel, not too far from Dar Es Salaam).

Friday, August 09, 2013

Moving, Changing, Updating, Shucking and Jiving

You may have noticed some changes around here.  I'm in the process of making this a more professional site.  I am going to brand myself and make this a site of William A. La Fleur, author.

What this site will include:

  1. Full stories
  2. Excerpts of FINISHED stories
  3. Essays
  4. Reviews
  5. Commentaries
  6. Jokes
  7. Publishing reports
  8. Writing goals etc
  9. Polls
  10. World building / story ideas
What it will no longer include:

  1. Angsty posts, moany posts and posts with complaints
  2. Some of the non-germane comments
  3. Partial stories
  4. Family reports
  5. The faux take-over attempt
  6. Personal / private goals

As I'm working to transition I will be trying out a couple of different looks as well. Feel free to let me know what you think about the looks.

Also as part of the transition I will be sorting things into virtual boxes marked:

  • Keep As Is
  • Keep But Modify
  • Move to a Different Blog
  • Toss
If you want to weigh in on what should go in which box, that's welcome as well.  I'm already conflicted about the reports on my bike commutes.

I'm thinking of creating separate, stand-alone pages for each of the stories I publish here.  That way the blog posts will be more of a log while the stories will be easier to find and read.