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I was kindly tagged for this meme by Brit Mandelo. Time for a finals break!

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Whisper-Trail (as I am sure everyone reading this LJ knows by now).

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Thoughts about urban fantasy--particularly, about the mundane protagonist in urban fantasy novels and how to make that work without any kind of Chosen One thing. These thoughts have been percolating for a while, it's also part of the last urban fantasy novel I drafted (not sure if that one is salvageable), but this is a different take.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Urban fantasy, with a dash of mystery. I guess early-college-age protagonists aren't quite YA, so it's probably in that weird "New Adult" category.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Shockingly (I am horrible at actors!), I have some for this: Ellen Page as Heather (the protagonist). Evanna Lynch as Eva (Heather's roommate). A younger Natalie Portman as Els. I don't know who would play Francis (detective, sort of) or Marisol (Heather's ex-girlfriend) or a lot of other people--there isn't a very wide spectrum of gender presentation among young-ish female actors. (I do not blame the actors for this.)

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Twilight for sensible people, but with lesbians. --um. Heather helps to solve a supernatural murder mystery, and gets in for a lot more than she bargained for.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
An excellent question. When I find out, I will let you know.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
So far, almost a year (earliest file is from January 17, 2012), due to stops and starts; I'm almost exactly halfway through.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Finder by Emma Bull, which I only realized recently. Also, Lies and Prophecy by Marie Brennan.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
That is a very good question, and I have lost all my notes. (Actually they are probably in a notebook somewhere, but one I do not have with me at the moment.)

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
It's full of queer people! It's full of people frequently being horribly awkward, but well-intentioned, and mostly-but-not-entirely avoiding being total jerks to each other! Also, major restructuring of power within a city, and the problems of how to be a part of a community you really want to be a part of without forcing your way into it. And I am pretty sure the major emotional relationship in the novel is going to be the protagonist gaining a best friend.

Is there anyone who hasn't done this meme yet who wants to? If so, sound off in the comments, and consider yourself tagged.
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40030 / 80000

Halfway! If this is as much fiction as gets written tonight, I am okay with that. I have done a bit of reading, and been stressed about a number of things (applications! story submissions! readings being assigned late and not uploaded as pdfs and all the copies being checked out of my library!), and walked to the grocery store to lay in supplies against Possible Huge Storm. And I am halfway done with Whisper-Trail, which doesn't mean all that much in emotional ways but is still a nice milestone.

There was a plan as to how I was going to finish this novel by early December, but that is not going to happen unless I NaNo the remaining 40k-or-so, and, well, that's unlikely what with thesis and the fact that Hamlet goes up the last weekend of November and so on. (Though if I brought my laptop to full runs and so on I could probably get a lot done; Rosencrantz is not really onstage that much.)

Other fun thing that's happened recently: class schedules are up for next semester, a.k.a. Alena's Last Semester of Undergrad. I should probably email a couple of professors, but there is half a chance I could end up taking two history of the book/reading classes at Smith next semester to counterpoint the Electronics that's required for my major. That...would be a pretty awesome schedule, really.
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39624 / 80000

So close, so close! Aaagh. I know what the rest of this scene should be--it mirrors and inverts the first scene of the novel in a lot of ways, and it is basically exactly halfway through the book, and that's so cool especially because I did not do this consciously (except now that I've noticed, I am doing it consciously, and trying really hard not to mess it up)--but have not yet written it. See above re: trying really hard not to mess it up. (I know, I know, it's a first draft.)

But still--words. Any day that has words is a good writing day.
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39022 / 80000

Words! Actual words! My Tuesday seminar was canceled this week, so I ended up spending an hour and a half at a cafe with a cookie and tea. I established a new writing notebook--my old one, which I began just before leaving for England this summer, was pretty much full--and then wrote a Whisper-Trail scene in it, which I typed up this morning before class. Now I ought to write the next scene, but I am not totally certain what that is.

In the meantime, drafted part of my thesis's introduction tonight. It's got [citation needed] scattered throughout the text, and some of it's a bit mushy, but that's okay. It exists, which is what matters, really. Something! Something of a start, something to hang on to.

Other than that, not much is going on. Had rehearsal tonight for Hamlet; was reminded, yet again, of how huge a shock it's going to be when we do the full run-through. I'm Rosencrantz, see, and so all of my rehearsals so far have been "add more physical comedy, add more silly, no, more silly than that..." (This evening I played the Ministry Of Silly Walks clip for my Guildenstern.) I am told the rest of the play is, well, rather different.

The Halloween orchestra concert is Friday night. We are all hoping it is not actually cursed and we do not, like last year, end up pelting across campus terrified in a blizzard with tree limbs falling all around us. (And lose someone's glasses and have no power for two days.) A Halloween orchestra concert with soundtrack music and waltzing is an excellent tradition, and I would hate to have to give it up just because it was cursed.
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Thanks to some good suggestions/feedback here and elsewhere online, I graphed my plot today:

...x-axis works by chapter; y-axis, which is "relative plot importance", runs from "that's cool" to "OH SHIT BEARS". Each plot thread has its own color of marker. As I was saying on twitter, it is a very squishy scale, but hey--whatever works.

I have realized that part of why I am running out of steam at this point is because I am not very good at large-scale plotting. There's a certain amount I can extrapolate and make bigger and then my brain stops working. Maybe I need someone to kick me and say, "More explosions!" Maybe I just need a brain that can handle all fifteen plot threads and character arcs and put it all together for me. Maybe I need to stop whining and just write the damn thing.

(This is also a "change feet" moment, where the big green plot thread recedes and the brown one soars up again. Changing feet in a novel is always hard. No momentum for the moment, a calm before the storm, a point where Heather has to stand up and drive events herself, and so particularly hard to jump back in after a long time away.)

But I have skipped/skimmed through a lot of Whisper-Trail-so-far in making the graph, which has gotten the novel-so-far considerably more back in my head than it was, anyway. Maybe one of these days I will start putting words down again; that'd be nice.
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37453 / 80000

Not as much progress as I'd like, but more than none! (Words yesterday; pretty much no other day this week. I need to figure out when I can slip in writing-time.)

I now have, actually and officially, a Complete Class Schedule. It only took...a week and a half. It is full of excellent classes and interesting topics. Work, as always, continues awesome. I have started training in my replacement, have been given a pay boost, and have been granted access to more places I need to go to do the stuff I do. Win.

Also, this happened, and subsequently this. There was also a cloak involved, except none of the indoor photos really worked out, and it was too warm out this morning to make Kate wear a cloak outside. Ah well.

Tonight we're hosting the second of hopefully many Doctor Who parties. The one last week was a success despite a large thunderstorm and--weirdly--a tornado watch (Massachusetts, what are you doing). We were going to bake something this week, but, well, TPotS.

(...and I actually did homework this afternoon, even though our site where professors post readings was down for two hours; I was Resourceful and found the reading on the internet, and by the time I'd finished that, the site was back up and I could watch half of the documentary. So I didn't bake anything. Oh well. Next week, maybe.)

It's interesting how quickly I've slipped back into the rhythms of the semester. It's only been a week and a half, but all the patterns are there: lunches here, dinners here, except on these days when dinners are here; these people; these places...

We're establishing some new patterns, too, of course. Some are good, some not-so-great, but here's to keeping the good ones going and stamping the not-so-good patterns before they get out of the door.
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36624 / 80000

Okay, so, obtaining carrel: best idea. I didn't have PE this morning, so I picked up the box I'd shipped to myself, stuck it in my room, grabbed my laptop, and hied myself to the library for the hour and a half before class. Turned off my wifi, settled into the desk/the quiet space/the nice window with sunlight and fresh air right next to me and just wrote. I am definitely making an effort to categorize it as "the space where you don't worry about the internet" in my head, because having that? Priceless.

Of course, other Mondays/Wednesdays I'll have PE (and then hurry back to my room to change before class), but I will work out other times to do this. Like the hour right now--other Monday afternoons, once I establish a routine, I'll have 1-2 open. If I can figure out what to do with my laptop during lunch (key question! I can't bring my bag in to lunch with me) I could in fact head to my carrel right after eating...

...anyway, I have proven to myself that this works. And I got words! Writing always makes me feel good about myself.
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35625 / 80000

Okay I win now right? Actual words! For the first time this semester! This scene may be terrible, but it now exists. I may have to adjust daily wordcount goals to account for me not writing for a week and a day, but I suspect that once I get my inertia back I could do a thousand words a day (depending on the day), so. We'll see. For now: words! Yay!
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No words! Because I got up and packed the rest of my belongings and then [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae and I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and then there was dinner and the tail ends of packing...

...so I guess I will be trying to write 1.5k tomorrow on planes. Should be a good time! While at the museum I did scribble down a few plot points, so at least I have some things to be getting on with. And then I'll drop all my stuff off at campus, dash off to visit my grandfather for a day or so, and return just in time to move in properly/figure out my entire schedule/start classes. Not necessarily in that order. It's kind of surreal that it's all happening so soon.

We'll see if I hit 35k proper by the end of tomorrow, but as-is I am pretty pleased with my progress during August. If I keep going through the semester, I should have no problem finishing the draft.

See you all in a couple of days!
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33444 / 80000


In other news, UMass cannot accommodate my food allergies. Which is fun, 'cause my two best options for a physics class this fall are a) at UMass and b) during lunchtime. I'm sure everything will work out--I am talking to the new disability services person at MHC about options--but it's kind of exhausting how things keep going wrong.

Aaand then I went to the Minnesota State Fair, where there was a plethora of gay crop art (at least one piece of it was gay videogame crop art!) and a Katniss scarecrow, and cider freezes and lemonade and roasted corn and a free a cappella concert.

And because somehow this is my life, it turned out to be library day at the State Fair. I got a temporary tattoo that says READ and a library button that says "I got carded" (I had to show my library card to get that one, and asked "which one?" because am I a total library dork? I am a total library dork). Also I scored a color-changing plastic cup that says "I'd rather be at THE LIBRARY" which is definitely going to replace my Census On Campus cup for toothbrushing. (I asked them what color it changes to, but they didn't know, because it was 90-something today and nothing was cold enough for the cup to change color. I will have to investigate.)

Maybe I should pack? I am leaving super-early on Friday morning so probably I should pack but it's possible that I will just crash early and stuff everything into my luggage tomorrow. Other than "write a thousand words and maybe type up that last Anne Conway letter" that's all I have planned, so.
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32404 / 80000

I have succeeded in providing my protagonist with a Deadline. Also, in achieving word-count for today, despite initial uncertainty as to one antagonist/ally's motivation.
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31359 / 80000

Some amount of "this is the worst novel, this is horrible, why am I writing it". But I am having fun inventing these secret-rulers-of-the-supernatural-city; that's a definite plus.

Also I started packing for college. It's my last year and that's scary. Packing only makes it more real (although, since I am leaving in four days, it's going to be even more real very soon). Augh!
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30342 / 80000

My subplot is veering wildly between implications-of-romance, BFFs, and total bros. Best relationship or best relationship? (Answer: better than most of the other ones the protagonist has had!)

In any case, past 30k, and word-count for today. Yesterday I wrote approximately nothing and actually I have no idea why; part of it was running head-first into the middle of a scene where I had to stop and think and rearrange the pieces before the conversation became coherent--which I couldn't manage yesterday, but did today. And on account of which I have a new plot complication! Those are always nice.

Five days left in August to reach my goal of 35k. Even with a couple of lost days in there, I have not gotten off track (rah!), and hopefully I will be able to keep it going through the vagaries of Seeing Friends and Packing Everything Ever.
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26885 / 80000

Somehow I am actually getting wordcount, even though Lake Superior is right outside our door. Probably because I have been writing a bit of the book that's one of the images I had in my head when I started it.

...so I am now 1/3 of the way through the official wordcount of this book. People have bowed out, main characters have made terrible plans, information has been revealed at great cost, protagonists have been injured and subsequently rescued from Minnesotan November weather while in shock. I am having fun.

It's interesting, because we've got the Internet here but it's much easier somehow for me to ignore it all and go write a thousand words than it is at home. Even though there's all this gorgeous outside. Not sure why that is; will have to contemplate it.

Um. I am doing other stuff too, though, honest. In non-writing-related vacation updates: stuck feet in Lake Superior, went "oh god oh god oh god it's cold", jumped out, repeated; scrambled about on rocks; got rained on; bought a couple of books and read one of them; and had a shot of maple syrup for dessert, thereby fulfilling a childhood dream. Also, have been silly with [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae somewhat continually. It has been, and continues to be, an excellent vacation.
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24676 / 80000

Only ~700 words for today, but I need to pause before the next (big) scene and figure out exactly what's happening. In it, in the story...

...also, I am technically on vacation--well, on a trip--and there was much sitting in the car today. We're staying just across the street from Lake Superior, close enough to see it from windows and to hear the waves (if we left the windows open on this chilly night). Earlier in the evening, we had a fire and watched the stars. But now, I think, it is time to sleep. I can catch up on novel-words some other time.
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23961 / 80000

Early words today, courtesy of word-wars with the redoubtable Scribofelidae. (Which is good, because I am leaving on a trip this afternoon for a few days and should probably pack some clothing.) Peeling off my protagonist's support network one by one. She'll either have to Stand Alone, or give up on her pride for once and ask for help.
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22738 / 80000

And then my urban fantasy protagonists have an argument about classism and its ramifications for supernatural crime-solving. This is probably how you can tell that I am the one writing this book.

Someday I will have to decide whether the central relationship in this novel will end up best friends or lovers, but I do not have to choose today. (Best friends, I'm pretty sure, but the potential for lovers is there. But, of course, both of them have some serious growing and changing to do before they can get to either of these happy states.)

Building a nice amount of inertia here. Still on track for Planned Event to happen when I want it to, as far as I can tell. (There's the getting of information, and then the arguing about what to do with it, and maybe the going-for-backup...)


Aug. 17th, 2012 12:38 pm
aamcnamara: (Default)
Thinking about how I'm going to finish this novel, now that my previous schedule got completely messed up. (I was totally going to write 20k in June while doing research full-time and exploring London! And then definitely going to write another 20k in July!)

Let's say ~1k per day through the end of August; that'd put me at ~35k. 500 words per day in September, October, and November (shooting lower since that'll be during the semester) would be about 15k per month, which adds up to 45k, and 45 plus 35 is...80k. Which is the target length for this thing. (I suspect I will not write 500 words every day during the semester, but if I make that my goal, maybe I can get myself to crash through a bunch on the days I do write.)

And then I stick it in a box for a couple of months and breathe deeply.

Halfway decent plan? Halfway decent plan. Now I just have to roll up my sleeves and get some words for today.
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21369 / 80000

Woot! Past 20k and the approximate one-quarter mark of the book! New progress-bar color to celebrate the passing of another 10k.

I reconfigured the one-off character I threw in two days ago to introduce a character who needed to be introduced, and that helped me figure out how to reorganize the exposition/discovery of information. And I may have even figured out how to get the event I thought should end quote-unquote Act One at about the one-third mark. Very win. (The ideas were hiding in the shower. They always are.)

So, onwards, and I have got some good momentum--I know what the next scene should probably be, I just have to place it in time/space and figure out a few more characters' details. With luck I will write that tomorrow, figure out the next scene, and keep moving along. I hope that this novel is actually worth something; I am quite enjoying writing it.
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19612 / 80000

Some words! I may have to go back tomorrow and revise a bit--someone knows things they shouldn't, as things stand. (Of course, the question is, who does know those things? The protagonist has to learn them somehow.)

Other news of the day: the physics class I was planning to take has been cancelled. Partly "oh, man"--that's two out of three classes for fall semester gone. Partly "ooh" because the possible replacement class for my minor-capstone was scheduled opposite that physics class...but if that's now cancelled, too...

...anyway, we'll see how things work out. There's only so much I can do on that front before the semester starts, though.

I also voted in the primary elections, partly/mostly to make sure I was still registered to vote in MN--I really want to vote against the ban-gay-marriage-in-the-state-constitution thing in November. (It's already illegal in Minnesota, this is just to make it double-plus-illegal. Or something. Possibly the best proof that people are scared gay marriage will become a normal thing, still scary.)

Tomorrow, maybe I will actually type up some of my research notes. I have only had the notebooks sitting on my desk for a week...

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