Reboot!

Nov. 6th, 2015 06:03 pm
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
Greetings. It's been a rough two years, but I'm back.

For the past two years, my work schedule has gone from very busy, to very very insanely busy, and basically stayed there. I've dealt with a coworker who flamed out and dumped their entire caseload on me, and also a three month period of absolutely no income while the government body who writes my paycheque "upgraded" their system. During that entire time, I carried a caseload of over 100 clients and worked every one of them as hard as I could.

It didn't leave much time or brainpower left over for writing, and even less time for blogging about writing.

However, I now see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as my work load at the day job. In addition to that, I've had some important boosts to my writing brain, and I believe I'm firmly back in the saddle now, with enough brainpower left over on the side to attend to my social media as well.

In September, I attended the Out of Excuses Retreat. When I got back from that utterly life-changing experience, I went to the Surrey International Writer's Conference, and pitched OtherWhere to an agent, who asked for a full manuscript.

I've decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, so that I can concentrate on getting my manuscript up to par and getting it out to the agent.

In the meantime, I am committing to updating this blog regularly again. I intend to update on a rotating schedule, every Friday, and it'll probably be more writing and life updates, and writing exercises, rather than reviews. Though I will probably do the odd review, as well.

So thanks for being patient! I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say.
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
It's nearly here! After several months of work and a few data crashes, the Motivation course is going to go live on my website tomorrow.

I know that I've said that I think this course will help you, no matter who you are. Let me tell you why.

I have known as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a writer. I remember being in high school, and writing reams and reams of paper. The very first novel I ever wrote and completed was a Star Trek: DS9 fanfic - I figured I could get it published as a novel tie-in, if I could just polish it up enough. A friend of mine read it for me, and my next novel, which was a truly horrific vampire novel. And the next. I think that one had aliens in it. It was also terrible.

Then I hit university and my focus shifted to fanfiction. And somewhere along the line, I stopped writing completely. I knew I still wanted to write. I spent hours roleplaying online, writing shared stories with other people, but I felt totally unmotivated to actually write. It felt like work. I still had my passion, but any time it came time to write something down without working from the prompt of another person, I just never seemed to get around to it.

I tried NaNoWriMo a few times, and fizzled out after a few days every time. After five years of basically nothing, I was facing down the death of my dream, and wondering if maybe writing was just too hard for me. I wondered if I just couldn't do it.

Then I started learning and applying the kinds of techniques that I've put in the course. Most of all, I applied the technique that I mentioned in my last post - I remembered what I loved about writing, what I wanted out of life, and I focused on that rather than my fear.

I started writing, and I've never looked back. That was 10 years ago, and I am more sure than ever that writing is what I want to do, what I can do, and what I will do full time, someday.

That's why I know these techniques are good. Because they ended my 5 years of writer's block, and they have stood the test of time.

Now it's your turn, and I'm looking forward to having you come along with me on this journey.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)


6-day Supreme Court trial (which I totally won), and I still won NaNoWriMo with a day to spare.

I'm pretty much the most badass person I know.

Now to rest.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
But I have over 26,000 words. Halfway there and it's only the 11th. Woo!

Tip: celebrate your successes.

Also, get more sleep.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
Yesterday I was travelling and had no internet access, so I was unable to update the blog.

Travelling is fun, and I'm sure a lot of people have travel plans for November, since I have no doubt that a large proportion of Wrimos are American. Personally, that's not the reason I'm not at home - it's my birthday and my wife and I are in Victoria, BC, staying at a bed and breakfast.

But travelling doesn't have to mean no words get done. All it takes is a little planning.

If you don't expect to have any time to write, then plan for that, bank up words by making a special effort to buckle down in the days before your trip, so you create a buffer and don't feel discouraged when you get back. Otherwise, make a specific effort to carve out time during your trip when you can write without neglecting your other responsibilities.

Sure, you might have family time that you can't get out of and that's normal. But there may be times when you're not expected to be doing anything else. I had a ferry ride to get to where I am, and I made a point of writing while on the ferry. Right now I'm sitting at the B&B. Miko is off doing a photoshoot, which is part of the reason we came here, and I'm using that time to get my words in. Tomorrow will be ferry time again. In the end, I expect to have at least as many words done during this trip as I would have done if I were at home, yet I'm still having a great time and getting to enjoy my vacation.

Don't get discouraged by a disruption to your routine. You can still find time, even if it's just half an hour, to get something done. I promise if you do that, the feeling of accomplishment you will feel, knowing you did the right thing and worked towards your goals instead of throwing it out the window, will make the sacrifice worthwhile.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
No, really. I honestly forgot. I also wrote a lot of words.

I have 17,083 words, which I'm proud of! Nyla has finally figured out she has superpowers, and is pretty sure she knows how they work, however crazy and illogical it might be. Time to ruin her life! But that'll wait until tomorrow.

Today's tip: When you screw up, strikeout is your friend.

I try not to go back and revise, but sometimes you have a really amazing idea for a better way for a scene to go. It does take a while to edit, and I strongly discourage people from spending much time doing this. You can spend an hour going over a scene and only add a few words, or even lose them. That's an hour you could have been adding to your wordcount.

But sometimes you just have to. In cases like that, don't ever delete words you wrote. Strike through them (It's ctrl-shift-minus sign in Scrivener) and write the new thing. Of course, you might find bits of what you wrote before that you want to keep and fiddle around with, which is fine, but at least you won't lose the bits you actually don't want to keep.

They still count for your NaNoWriMo words, so don't rob yourself by using the delete key.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo)
I wrote chapter three, another 1878 words, for a total of 6160 words.

I was struggling with this one a little bit. My outline said that Nyla meets a particular character, and locates a particular place - a gaming store - which will be very important for the series. However, I was having a lot of trouble writing the scene, because while I knew the goals I needed to hit, I didn't have any conflict for the scene.

Thankfully, I managed to push through. I came up with enough of a conflict to carry the scene, wrote some nice conversations, and introduced two characters I hadn't intended to introduce so soon - but it actually works better that way.

It wasn't something I thought of before I sat down to write. When I sat down, I didn't know how I was going to make it through the scene. But I think that's a good lesson. One of the things I often struggle with is the desire to know the shape of a scene before I sit down to write it, and if I don't know how I'm going to fix the problems I see, I hesitate to start.

So today's tip: Even if you feel like you're heading into fog, write your way to a solution. You can always tighten up the scene later, but if you just keep writing, feeling your way through, moving back and forth as you figure out the problems, you will find a solution.

Just start, and don't stop.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo: Logic)
Today I wrote chapter two of my new novel, and added another 2200 words to my pile.



I've learned something about myself already, and it's only the second day: I believe I'm an outliner when it comes to plot, but I'm a pantser when it comes to characters. This is a thing that's possible! I think the only reason I didn't realize it before is because I've always heard of planner vs. pantser as being an all or nothing thing. Sure, some people are more organized, more pantsy than others, but I've never heard anyone say they divide things up this way.

Here's why I believe it's true: I've been planning The Geek Club for about a year, at least. Some aspects I've been working on for longer. It has been through two major incarnations, and I have incorporated an entirely different novel (which I trunked halfway through the planning process).

The planning process had been halted for a while, but in July I had a flash of inspiration to take the book in a whole different direction. At that point I had a general idea for plot, and several characters. Since July I've completed a full plot outline and written a tonne of worldbuilding notes.

Three days before NaNoWriMo started, I was still cudgelling my brain, trying to come up with villains.

I had one villain who wasn't going to be important until probably the third novel. I had several sub-plots that suggested antagonists I needed to come up with, and I couldn't come up with anything.

Over the years, I've tried lots of different methods for developing characters. I would try questionnaires, write pages and pages of great info, and nearly all of it would get thrown out when I started the book. Whenever I was writing, I'd either completely forget about things I came up with in the questionnaire, or I would find it confining.

Today and yesterday, after a week of struggling to come up with something, anything that would constitute an antagonist for my story (other than faceless organizations), three living, breathing characters walked onto the page to interact with my main characters without any effort at all. I don't know everything about them, but they're great characters and I'm excited about them. And I feel like now that they exist I can flesh them out.

So my tip today is: Everyone does it differently. Figure out what works for you, and do that. Keep an open mind, and don't assume that what works for other people is the only way to do it.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo)
Today I started a brand new story, which I've dubbed The Geek Club. It's about a group of geeky females who get powers and become superheros. Also vampires, werewolves, and Lovecraftian horrors.

I completed chapter one, in which my main character, Nyla, and her twin brother Nolan, meet their respective roommates. For some reason, the roommates don't seem to like each other. But Nyla's sorority-obsessed roommate, Kailey, seems really excited to meet them.

Wordcount so far: 2003/50,000!

Tip of the day: I saw this on tumblr, and used it for the first time today.

Sometimes when you're writing along, you suddenly run across a detail that you need to think about. For example, today I realized that I never actually worked out what school Nyla goes to. It's a pretty important detail that's going to take a lot of research. I might need to pick a real school, or to make up a fake school so I can manipulate the details however I like.

For a second, I pulled up Google, but then I realized that if I wanted to do all this research, it was really going to cut into my writing time, which is pretty precious!

So instead, all I did was call it 'elephant university' and move on.

Any time you come across a detail like that, where figuring it out will interrupt your flow with research or a lot of thinking, just put in the word 'elephant' and keep going. When you're done writing for the day, maybe you can go back and do the research, or wait until your draft is finished and fill it in on the revision.

Either way, the point is to just keep writing for the month of November.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
The response to my survey was truly exciting, and I am already noodling ideas for the first module, which - by popular demand - is definitely going to be about motivation, and Getting Shit Done.

However, I won't be putting anything out until at least December. Because NaNoWriMo. I'm sure you understand.

But in light of that delay, I'm putting something out there as a challenge and an awesome opportunity for people who are interested in the course. Those people should totally do NaNo with me.

I know NaNoWriMo can be scary, and I know that you have only a week or so before November starts. You may be saying "But Jess! I don't have a plot or anything, how can I get ready in time?" You may be saying "I've never written anything original before, and now you want me to start by writing a 50,000 word novel? You're crazy!"

The thing is, this is my 11th year of doing NaNoWriMo, and after all my years of doing this crazy challenge, I know one thing for sure: There is no downside to trying, and there are tonnes of upsides.

If you sign up and don't make 50,000 words, then you still made however many number of words you likely wouldn't have written if you didn't sign up. I will not personally come to your house and shame you for not finishing the task. What I will do, is congratulate you for doing what you did. Because anything you do is an accomplishment, and you deserve to feel good about it. You can still try again next year, too!

Not only is there no downside to trying, but just by signing up for the mailing list and committing to helping me put together this course, I am going to make a HUGE commitment to you that may actually screw me over for finishing NaNoWriMo myself this year: If you come along with me on this journey, what I do promise is that I will help you. I will schedule live online write-ins so we can get together and bang out words. More than that, I invite you to write to me if you get stuck or need encouragement. I will even spend the rest of October helping you to get ready.

All you need to do is join my buddy list AND join my mailing list, and when you need a lift or have a problem, then email me, and mention in your email that you are part of the course mailing list. I will do my best to help you, whatever the snag you've run into. I will brainstorm with you, give you advice, and coaching and buttpats. A lot of the people who filled out the survey told me that you would pay for coaching - well, here is your chance to get some for free.

But you have to be doing NaNoWriMo this year.

This is going to be awesome.
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)


After finishing the month of April, I had a string of busy days. I think I needed a little time away from the blog, but I do feel pretty good about what I accomplished this month.

I finished the A-Z Blog Challenge, while at the same time writing about 15,000 words of a "short" story. The blog posts I plan to compile into a book, so I counted those words towards my Camp NaNoWriMo goal. The story I wrote is another story in the Grim Hunter series, and will be the last, and longest, story in the anthology I plan to release of all the stories to date.

I expect to have another 5000 words or so of the Grim story, and then editing and formatting begins.

The upshot is, I'm pretty pleased with the amount I accomplished this month. For the month of May I want to keep up a regular blogging schedule, finish the Grim story, and continue editing OtherWhere. Wish me luck!
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
I've been silent because, well, my internet is disconnected currently while I am in the process of moving. However! Today was designated as my posting date for [community profile] originalbigbang, so I turned my phone into an internet hub and stopped packing to get it posted.

My contribution was Grim Opera, which is the fifth story in a series of short stories I've been writing for several years. There are vampires and shape shifters and gay sex, and each of the stories riffs off of a story from classic literature. You should go read it.

The story should stand on its own no problem. I plan on publishing all five of the stories, plus some other short stories, as a collection next spring sometime. I haven't yet talked to my cover artist about that yet, and my wife may be contributing stories as well, so the project is still sort of nebulous, but that's the general shape of the plan at the moment.

As part of the Big Bang, [personal profile] astro_noms also made a mix tape to go with it. I don't have the room on my data plan to download it yet, but I'm excited to listen to it.

While I'm connected, I might as well mention: I've been snatching moments to write here and there and have accumulated 7500 words on NaNoWriMo so far this month. It's been really great, flowing well, though my time to write has been limited. I'm behind, but I feel like I can catch up no problem when I have time to do so, which will be next week...

I took yesterday off, though, despite technically having downtime in which I could have written, because it was my birthday! I celebrated by having a really good burger and fries, then going home and NOT packing, and instead marathoning downloaded episodes of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Then I slept the sleep of the dead. It was a good evening.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo: Logic)
Since it's now less than a week before November 1st, I thought I'd do a post with my tips about how to get ready to win NaNoWriMo. There's certainly no turn-key method that'll guarantee you succeed - the only way to ensure that is to wage an epic battle between procrastination and stubbornness within your own soul, and come out on top. But there are a few things that can maximize your chances.

This is a post for people who have some seriousness about their writing. If you just want to write something down and don't have any ambition to publish the novel at some point in the future, that's great! This post may not be for you, though.

1. Prepare your plot

Many people sit down on November 1st with little idea of what they're doing. Maybe they have a general idea of the plot, maybe a few characters rattling around in their brain, and some clue of the ending. When they get stuck, they go to the forums and get a prompt, maybe add ninjas, and just keep writing something whether it makes sense or not.

If that's what works for you, then great. It certainly doesn't work for me, and I think if you want to really maximize your chances of getting to 50,000 words (and having something coherent and possibly one day publishable at the end) I really recommend doing some legwork up front.

Before November 1st, I like to have an outline. It doesn't have to be exhaustive. What I like to have is a list of all of the scenes I expect to have in the novel, with just a couple of sentences to remind me of the important things that need to happen in that scene to further the plot.

The outline isn't a rigid cage that constrains your writing from then on. What it is, is a roadmap - just a series of signposts that will get you from the beginning to the end. You may get to the end of a scene and realize that you need another scene in between there and the next one to get where you're going, or you may end up completely reworking the whole thing on November 15th because you just had a fantastic idea that completely changes the ending, but that's okay.

To me, having these guideposts is vital. Rather than wasting time trying to think of where you need to go next, you have a clear map to follow, which has gotten me through some difficult writing nights. It also allows you to skip ahead (something I've never done, but I hear many people do) if you hit a difficult spot and need to come back to it later.

2. Create your mental space

There's nothing more difficult than trying to focus on some intensive writing in a location that is rife with distractions. If you can't get away from your roommates and find a quiet corner, consider going to a coffee shop or library for a couple of hours to get in your words.

Write-ins are great, as well. Though not completely free of distractions, everyone there generally does want to get writing done, and the energy at an event like that can give your productivity a real boost. It's really worth getting on the mailing list for your area and trying to get out to a write-in or two if you can, or finding a buddy to write with.

Turn off the internet, turn on some music, and focus on writing. If you have to set a timer for 15 minutes at a time to get yourself that focus, do it. The more you can create the conditions to maximize your ability to write without distractions or other pressures, the more words you can pump out in a shorter period of time, making it easier for you to get your words in before the world intrudes.

3. Carve out time

It can often be hard to set aside a couple of hours each night, with all the pressures of life trying to get in the way. Try writing for fifteen minutes before work, and spend part of your lunch break getting some words out as well. If you get home from work or school with 500 words under your belt, it's a great boost to know that you only need another thousand or so that day!

Everyone's schedule is different, so look at where you can fit in a few extra short writing stints here and there in your own life. It's not as hard as you might think when you really sit down to think about it. If there's a time of day when you write best, that doesn't mean you can't get a few words here and there, at other times.

Bring a notebook with you wherever you go so you can take advantage of any unexpected time you might have during the day, too. Got a doctor's appointment? Don't read a magazine or play on your phone while in the waiting room, jot down some words.

4. Do more than you have to

The biggest thing that has helped me in the past has been front-loading the words. On November 1st, you've turned off your phone, your family knows to leave you alone, and you're excited and fresh. Don't waste that energy! There will be days, maybe even whole weeks, when you aren't able to write at all, or can only get in a few words. If you know that you've got more words than you need, those bad days are less of a hit to your confidence.

I always start with the goal of writing a minimum 2000 words a day, not 1667, which is the bare minimum you need to reach 50,000 words. I highly recommend doing the same.

I'd love to hear any other tips you guys might have.
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)
So I've been struggling to update regularly, and so I've decided to implement some structure to the blog, so that I have a particular target and update at least once a week. Accordingly, I've decided that I'm going to do a rotating weekly post, on different topics. For example, on week 1 I would do an update about my projects and writing generally, then week 2 would be a writing tip post, week 3 would be a review, and week 4 will be something relating to real life or discussion of something that's not writing related. I figure having that kind of structure will give me something concrete to think about, so I can plan out my posts and actually post something - I'm tired of just doing update posts because I have nothing specific to write about.

It'll also mean that I have to try to read or listen to something that I can review at least once per month, which is a laudable goal I guess.

Given the rotation above, and the fact that my last post was a review, that means that this week is writing update week.

Firstly, in exciting news Mortis Unbound is now available in PHYSICAL BOOK FORM. Check it out.

I have actually held my book in my hands and I can say without reservation that it makes a sweet physical object. The binding is strong and the paper is high quality. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and Createspace's procedure was really easy to use and completely free. I'm really happy I decided to look into it.

In less exciting, but nevertheless news, I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo, it being less than 10 days before it's supposed to start. Feel free to add me and say hello. I'm a big proponent of NaNoWriMo and I've been doing it yearly since 2003 - through law school and all the rest. I didn't win every year, but I feel it's done a lot for my productivity and confidence.

Of course, it wouldn't be November if the shit weren't hitting the fan, so I'll be trying to do this while moving. Fun times. I'll keep you guys posted.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo)
No sooner are Kendra and Sam bedding down in the creepy laboratory castle in Zhen, but someone on a gryphon comes flying down to Sam's balcony and snatches him away. Kendra tries to stop him, but the kidnapper does something to knock him out, and off they go.

Thankfully, Kendra is no damsel in distress. While Damien makes his way into the castle to try to rescue her, Kendra engages in a magical battle with the centaur. Though Blaise is stronger on his home turf, Damien helps Kendra overcome a sound-based magical attack that nearly knocks her out, and Kendra recovers her broomstick. They head off to rescue Sam.

Meanwhile, Sam wakes up again. At first, he thinks he's back in the hospital, but it's a different sort of prison cell - and a much comfier one. Within minutes, the King of Gen finally shows himself.

He's Landon. No one is likely surprised at this point.

Landon tells Sam that he needs his help, and takes him on a tour of Gen, to show him what a wonderful place he's built. The tour is marred by an incident of mob justice, as a vampire is dragged bodily from her house and ejected from the city. Landon explains that while vampires are probably nice people in general, they are considered 'undesirables', because they prey on other citizens. He wants to keep his people safe, so vampires aren't allowed in his country.

Sam finally loses patience and demands to know what Landon wants from him. Landon admits that he wants Sam to perform a spell that will allow Landon to become the King of Kun. He wants, ultimately, for the entire world to be united under his rule, and claims that this will make everyone happier and safer.

Sam is horrified by the murderous and power-grasping behaviour of someone who looks like his best friend, and flatly refuses to help. Landon isn't happy.

--

I just finished Chapter 13, and I'm now just over 42,000 words into NaNoWriMo. Sitting on November 25th, with 5 days left to go, I'm feeling really good about winning this year. In fact, I'm going to see if I can polish off the last 8000 words this weekend.

While I'm feeling accomplished and excited about my success, 2000 words a day is a pretty difficult pace to sustain, and I'm looking forward to backing right down in December, though I intend to keep moving forward, just with time to work on other things.

I'm thinking of giving myself a goal of 500 words a day here on out. I've always had a daily goal of 1000 words, but on days when I don't set aside at least an hour to write, it's difficult to meet. I wind up writing nothing unless I have a good chunk of time to devote to it.

It also gives me little time to devote to things like research or editing. I have to do one or the other, so there are many days I don't get any words at all.

I have been struggling for months to figure out how to sustain working on my current draft - Dreaming - and also work on editing The Sleeping Death so I can start querying it. Ideally, I need time to work on researching Sengoku Era Japan for my next book series as well! Somehow, there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all.

So instead, I'm thinking that if I have a goal of only 500, then even on days when I go out and don't get home until late, I could still meet the goal. In a 15 minute stint, I could easily hit that goal, and that means that if I got home at 10:00 after a movie or something, I could still take 15 measly minutes and get my words in.

It's an experiment. I'll let you know how it goes!
jessicasteiner: (Default)
So the last time I updated was... Day 12. It's now Day 20. Go me. I am the slackiest.

I can't feel too bad, because I have been writing since then. I wrote about 8000 words since my last update, actually. But I just haven't really felt like writing blog posts afterwards, I guess.

In fact, I feel like I hit my Week 2 slump in Week 3 instead. No clue why. But I've only missed two days of writing since my last update, despite feeling...slumpish. I'm hanging on to my lead by the skin of my teeth, as well. My stats aren't looking quite as pretty on the site, but I am not behind, and that's important.

Also, I woke up this morning with an exciting idea that I think is going to break me out of the slump. I've been struggling with this whole section of the story for some reason, and I'm not entirely sure why. At least, I know that my centaur/psychologist character isn't interesting me nearly as much as I wanted him to, and I feel like at some point later I'll need to go back and jazz him up, make him more quirky and terrifying. So I guess that's a big reason why :/ But I think this idea will give me an opportunity to let this character flower into the terrifying mad scientist I originally envisioned, and I think that'll make it a whole lot more fun.

---

On another note, I've noticed that the timer thing in Liquid Story Binder is both motivating me and screwing me up at the same time. It's really quite fascinating.

If I'm committed to writing and get rid of all other distractions (like plurk, livejournal, rping, aim, etc.) I can write like the wind and the timer keeps me plugging away.

But if I don't feel like putting all those distractions away and instead I want to just pick away at writing, doing a few words here and there (which I know is bad bad bad but sometimes I want to do it anyway, because I'm a masochist and like making myself miserable, I guess) I hesitate to open LCB at ALL because I know the timer will be ticking away even though I'm not looking at it.

Even when I'm planning on doing a writing session with no distractions, I don't open LCB until I'm ready to drop everything and go, and sometimes that means I don't start writing until hours after I intended to, because I keep getting distracted, doing other things, without that window open and staring at me from my computer. I used to open Microsoft Word and just have it sit there while I did a bit of email and such, and then it would keep sitting there like "You were going to write, remember?" until I finally surrendered and went "Oh yeah...better...close my email and get to that".

None of this is coherent, I know.

--

When we last met our intrepid heroes, they had just been attacked by a horrible monster in a lake, and Damien left because things were getting too hot for him.

Sam and Kendra continued on their journey and passed the border into Zhen. This is a rather pretty country with lots of grassland and gently rolling hills.

And thunderstorms. Lots of them.

And also horrifying mutated creatures who try to capture them.

They run from the mutants, and Damien appears out of nowhere to distract them long enough to get out of Zhen and back across the border into Shun, where the mutants won't come. They rest for a bit, and decide to try flying over Zhen instead. They only have one broom, but Kendra has wings. She says if they rest frequently, and don't go too fast, they can make it. The broom definitely can't support the weight of all three of them (it can barely handle both Sam and Damien), and Damien wants to come, though he won't say why he's changed his mind.

So they try it, flying deeper into Zhen and avoiding the mutants, until Kendra calls for a break. Again the mutants show up and encircle them, cutting off their escape, but instead of attacking and eating them, one of the mutants explains that their King has requested their presence at the castle, and is offering them a place to rest and assistance on their journey.

Reluctantly, Sam, Kendra, and Damien climb into the coach that's provided for them, and are brought to the castle in the middle of Zhen. Damien manages to give everyone the slip, and Sam and Kendra are welcomed to Zhen by a majestic (if I bit oddball) centaur, quite different from the ones that Sam ran into way back in Chapter 1. His name is Blaise, and he looks exactly like Sam's psychiatrist at the hospital in the real world.

Back in the real world, we see Kendra and Landon coming to visit Sam again. Blaise the psychiatrist tells them that there's a problem - Sam won't wake up, no matter what they do. Something is very wrong, and he believes that Sam's mind is retreating from reality.

In the dream world, Sam and Kendra are offered assistance in getting over the Gen mountains, which lie on the far side of Zhen. They're also offered dry clothes and a meal and a night of rest. Though neither of them is comfortable here in this creepy stone castle, they agree to stay. It's not like they really have any choice.
jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
It's now day 12. I think last update I was on day 9 and had just started Chapter 10. It's now day 12 of NaNoWriMo and I just finished it. It was longer than Chapter 9. Sob.

--

Kendra, Sam and Damien succeed in eluding the Thief King in the dark and head West towards the country of Kun, which is supposed to be peaceful. Little do they know that the Queen is already dead.

They pause to get supplies in a city in Li, and while Damien goes to get food and money, both of which were stolen by the bandits, though they thankfully do have the rest of their belongings, Kendra and Sam browse at the market. A gang of cat-headed thugs try to surround and capture them, and they manage to elude them, meeting up with Damien and flying away before the thugs can catch them. Damien has heard rumours that the King of Gen has offered a reward to anyone who brings them to him, hence the near-capture.

Then they reach Kun. Or at least, the border. They can't get into Kun, because the entire country is encased in a magical, fluctuating storm. Kendra explains that the Kings and Queens aren't just died to their country in certain magical ways. The country shapes itself according to the personality and desires of its monarch. If there is no monarch, there's nothing to tell the country how to be, and that seems to be the situation with Kun. They can't explain how it's possible that a monarch could have died without passing their Queenship on to a successor, but that's a question for later. They have to turn back.

Instead, they go north, to a lake that dominates the central part of the whole world. The lake is dark and foul, and is apparently inhabited by something called a Shiketh, which makes it impassable.

They see a lonely cart drive up to the very edge of the lake, and begin pitching bodies in. When Sam stops to watch this, horrified, he sees the bodies attacked by some kind of enormous monster. All he can see are the claws of the monster, which can cut a corpse in two with ease. Then a claw attacks him, and his broom is destroyed, though thankfully he isn't eaten.

Damien decides that things have gotten far too dangerous for him, following around with these two, and leaves. Kendra can't blame him, and she and Sam head on towards a country called Zhen, which is apparently not much better than what they've just left behind.

--

I've had some days of major productivity - as much as 4000 words in a day - and some days of nothing, but I definitely can't say that week 2 has been difficult. I'm almost through it, and I hope I can keep up the pace in week 3. I'm at about 23k right now and considering trying to push forward to 25k by the end of the night. We'll see how it goes after I've gotten some dinner in me!
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)
So yesterday was my birthday. I received a new laptop, so I made the executive decision to spend the evening a) having a lovely dinner and drinks, and b) loading all of my files and programs onto my new laptop, instead of writing.

I can't say I regret that decision. But as of today I'd got all of my files transferred over, I've got Liquid Story Binder loaded up, and I was ready to go.

--

Today I decided to call Chapter 9 finished and add a new scene onto the beginning of Chapter 10, instead of continuing the longest scene ever. It had a pretty decent cliffhanger the way I had it, so I think it worked, and it meant that Chapter 10 starts with a bang.

Literally.

With a little smart thinking on Sam's part, Kendra manages to incapacitate their two guards. Then Kendra uses her magic to cause a lot of chaos, and Damien sneaks into the supply tent to rescue their things, his things, and their broomsticks.

They fly away, but are being pursued by an angry Thief King with powerful magic, and a whole lot of bowmen trying to bring them down. Obviously Anju doesn't want them dead, but she is trying to force them to land and come quietly, and is keeping the sky lit up with magical flame.

Sam remembers the amulet that had been used against Kendra to block her magic while she was being held prisoner. He's got it in his pocket, and he loops back, rides his broom straight at the spider Queen from hell, and drops it right onto her.

This causes her magic to fizzle, and the three escapees are able to lose their pursuers in the dark by heading in a different direction.

--

After I'd gotten that written - and in mid-sentence - I got interrupted by my roommate coming in to talk about some stuff he'd done tonight. I've got about 1920 words for the day, so I decided once he'd gone to bed, that I'd leave the rest for tomorrow night.

I have about 17,000 words now, and I'm still well ahead of the necessary pace. Week two seems to be going well so far! I usually have a really hard time motivating myself to write in the second week, and I did feel a little bit of that malaise tonight, but I forced myself to get going, and it went well. I just have to keep on myself and not let myself get distracted.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo: Logic)
This is the longest chapter in the universe.

The last two days I've been working on Chapter 9. Still. It's still not done.

--

When we last left our intrepid heroes, Sam and Kendra had reached the desert country of Li. They were attacked by a band of raiders, who brought them down off their broomsticks and took them prisoner.

The leader of the raiders is the King of Li, a fearsome creature with one eye and eight legs. His lower body is like a spider, but with a human torso. He turns out to look exactly like one of the partners at Sam's firm, Anju Singh, who is a woman. Sam is convinced this means the 'King' is actually a lady, though what this means is unknown.

Anju plans to either sell her prisoners into slavery, or sell them to their enemy, the King of Gen, for whatever reward he will give her. They place an amulet around Kendra's neck that makes it impossible to use magic, and tie them up.

Meanwhile, the King of Gen attacks Kun, the country where Sam and Kendra were headed. He murders the defenceless Queen of Kun in cold blood, and carves a large gem out of her body. It had previously been revealed that each of the Kings and Queens has a similar gem somewhere on their body and it gives them great power as part of their position.

Things look bleak for Sam and Kendra, but then a dog enters their tent. The dog turns out to be a werewolf, who looks exactly like their son in the real world, Damien. Damien offers help in escaping, in return for taking him to Kun. Why he needs to escape from the raiders, and what he's doing there, disguised as a mutt, is currently unknown.

--

I got a LOT of writing done on the weekend - over 6000 words. Tonight I stopped at around 1800 words, because it was a natural stopping point, but after the hard work I did on the weekend, I think I deserve it XD Also I didn't get to start working on writing today until past 8:00, so it's getting late now. I'm excited to get going on the Grand Escape, though! I have some fun ideas about how they'll pull it off.

I've passed 15,000 words, so this year's NaNoWriMo is looking really doable at this point. My toughest part is always week 2, which is why I've been working so hard at giving myself a healthy margin to work from, but if I can keep up some momentum, I'm sure I'll be fine.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
Welp, today I came back to Dreaming, refreshed and ready to tackle it again after my break. I had a sort of tentative goal of 5000 words for today, but I didn't get started until late, had an interruption in the form of houseguests for an hour, and then hit a slight wall when I realized I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to do the next bit and needed to have a bit of a think. So I topped out a little over 3000 words for the day.

I still feel really good about it, though XD 5000 words in one day is something I've only managed a couple of times. It was an ambitious goal and I'm happy with 3000, which puts me over 10,000 words for the month so far.

--

Today I wrote Chapter 8, which turned out to be pretty short. The first bit is from Sam's best friend, Landon's, POV, in third person. He reflects on his own perspective on all of this. While he cares about Sam, he also is determined to get the partnership at the firm, and feels he's likely to get it anyway. He thinks it's probably best for everyone if Sam just gives in now, instead of working himself into a nervous wreck competing with him for the spot.

Kendra comes out of the room, distressed, and Landon gets perhaps a bit too intimate while comforting her. Is he just a close friend? Or does he have designs on Sam's wife as well as his promotion? We find out that it was Landon's idea that Kendra sign Sam's rights over.

Then we're back in Sam's POV as the doctor returns. Sam is angry and shouts a lot, and finally takes a swing at his doctor. This has predictably poor results, considering Sam's in a mental institution at the moment, and they sedate him.

This sends us into Chapter 9, where Sam wakes up in the castle where he had gone to sleep earlier. He dresses in native clothing with the help of invisible, magical servants, has breakfast with Kendra in the huge, empty castle, and then they depart, using broomsticks to travel faster. Riding a broomstick and dealing with all of this magic is disconcerting to Sam, but also fun.

Right now he questions whether the whole episode in the hospital is even real. Maybe everything he's experienced has been a dream up to this point. He has a hard time believing that there's a real world where he could have a breakdown like that, and where his wife would betray him to such an extent.

They reach the borders of the country of Shun and enter Li, which is a vast desert. And that's where I stopped for the night, because they're about to be attacked, and I have to decide if I want them to land first ;)

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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