Monthly Archives: November 2016

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 28

Don’t laugh at me.

Yes, I know the last “daily” update was Day 7. Yes, I can add, or subtract, or whatever I’m supposed to do to make me feel ashamed that I definitely did not keep up with my blog on a daily basis during NaNo.

My head duly hung in shame, you should know that I’m actually less than 1000 words from completing 50,000 words of La Dotta, my second novel in The Journeyman.

I’m not even making excuses. I just barely hung in there, using what little creative energy I have to create this story. When I turned to my blog, it was always with a sigh of tomorrow… Sarah’s story comes first.

My creative turnips needing wringing.

As a result, I’ve got the first quarter of the book pretty much done, and then I’ve been working on pearls–scenes I’ll string together and turn into the rest of the novel.

I’m so glad I’ve done this, because now I can go back into the first book, Shadow of the Portico and have a much clearer idea of where the story is going. There is more political intrigue in La Dotta, where Shadow has more life and death adventure. And of course, Sarah’s story is very different from Giovanni’s, since Sarah comes from a Journeyman family.

The last part that I’ll be doing today is a conversation between Niccolo and his brother. So much of the skeleton of my writing is dialogue, and I put flesh around it later–details, movement, setting, other information. I sometimes wonder if I missed my calling as a script writer.

I had a funny chat with a fellow NaNoWriMo author here in Austin, about how so much of dialogue and action happens in white rooms with no furniture. I probably could have made this writing marathon a lot easier if I spent pages describing the wainscoting and the hardness of the oak chairs with the worn cushions that had faded to a sad, gray chintz and flattened to virtual nonexistence. I could make non existence two words.

Manufacturing words is fun.

So I’ll let you know when to pop the Asti Spumante on my behalf when I cross that 50,000 word finish line. Maybe tomorrow, if I can stay awake this evening to write.

Anyway, song of the day. So during my busy month when I heartlessly ignored you, dear bloggee, one of the things I did was go see a Yes concert… well, 3/5ths of Yes. Jon Anderson (who sounded amazing), Trevor Rabin (I had such a thing for him in high school and now I feel old), and Rick Wakeman (the becaped keyboard wizard) played an astounding set of Yes music, including one of my absolute favorites.

I’m an old bass player, you see, and Yes had the best bassist to ever lend a foundation to a rhythm section — Chris Squire, who we lost in 2015. However, ARW brought on Lee Pomeroy, an extraordinary bassist in his own right. They performed Long Distance Runaround, and at the end of the song, when the guitar plays a series of natural harmonics, the song usually segues into a piece called The Fish, which was a Chris Squire feature with him playing all the instrumental parts on bass guitar with drums. It starts at about 3:35.

Sure enough, at the concert, Pomeroy sampled himself right on stage, playing The Fish and breaking into a solo that had this bass player standing and cheering (and ignoring grumpy old men shouting down in front behind me).

So in honor of my being MIA in November–no, there’s no real connection, except I went to this concert–here is the original version of Long Distance Runaround, concluding with The Fish. That lyric at the end is, “Schindleria praematurus,” the scientific name for some kind of weird looking transparent fish. We don’t ask why. It’s a bass solo, a rare and beautiful thing. We just accept it.


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NaNo Journal Day 7

Not bad… seven days in and I haven’t collapsed in a heap yet, despite the time change.

Today I wrote one of the finale scenes. Yes, I’m taking that whole not writing sequentially thing seriously. But I’m actually following the advice of the Seven Point Story Structure, which says that we want to start at the end.

That may sound counterintuitive, but it makes sense for the same reason that we put the final destination into our GPS. The resolution of a story really defines what the story is about. It’s where the whole thing is going. In so doing, you can write the beginning with the end already worked out.

With that, and speaking of endings, today’s journal is brought to you by Blue October, who has provided a glimpse of what a happily ever after may look like… after.

And if anyone deserves so much happily, it’s Emilia and Niccolo. Well, and other characters, too…

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NaNo Journal, Day 6

Liberated from my constraints about writing in a pretty, linear order, today I wrote all kinds of stuff. I wrote my mood, and my mood was schmoopie.

Having a magnificent husband sometimes puts you in that mood.

Just saying.

So I’m all caught up now. Tomorrow I really have to throw myself into another project–editing my friend’s novella. I’m nearly done, but it may set me back a day or two with NaNo and La Dotta.

But that’s why God created weekends.

Today’s schmoopie writing was brought to you by k. d. lang, and one of my all-time favorite albums, Invincible Summer. We may feature more k. d. before I’m done, just because that voice.

We can say a lot about Sarah’s life in La Dotta… it’s frustrating, infuriating, disappointing, messy, wrong. But Giovanni will never, ever, allow it to stay ordinary, not since he came waltzing in.

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NaNo Journal, Day 5

Let’s start with Day 4. Zip, nada, no-thing.

Sometimes I need to be a teacher and grade papers. And sometimes I need to work football games at my high school. And sometimes I go home and collapse in a heap.

But that was yesterday. Today was better.

I struggled mightily with coming up with an opening scene. I wrote one that I didn’t much care for (I’m counting the words anyway). Eventually, my mentor best buddy told me that I don’t HAVE to write it sequentially.


I didn’t write Shadow of the Portico sequentially, and it ended up being quite a job putting it together in some kind of order that made sense. So I didn’t want to repeat that mistake.

Except, maybe that wasn’t a mistake. Maybe the mistake was not having an outline, a road map that covered beginning, middle, and end. In fact, having an outline means I have the freedom to write as ideas they come to me, since putting them together will be much easier with a plan in place.

So okay, I won’t write in order. Here we go.

As if my insecurities were zapped by my newfound freedom, I came up with a better starting scene. I’m pretty sure this one will stick.

And while I’m still a few words behind (6509 / 8335), I’m still in the running.

So today’s song is brought to you by one night stands and Sam Smith.

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NaNo Journal, Day 3

There’s a trick to writing 50,000 words in a month that doesn’t even have the decency to provide 31 days. The trick is to plow through. Don’t stop. Keep spewing words, and don’t pause to edit or doubt yourself.

It’s called shutting down your internal editor. That small voice inside of you that is desperately trying to tell you that everything you write is complete and utter bilge.

It’s hard to quiet that voice, that self doubt, that better angel who is saying, you know, you’re using too many adverbs. But in my current writing adventure, I’ve discovered a force much more powerful and damning than my internal editor.

My external editor.

Let me be clear. My editor is also my dearest friend and writing buddy, and I adore her, admire her tremendously. So when I wrote a scene that was what I call a book-sequel scene, meaning a scene that explains something that happened in my previous book, I thought I’d run it by her. You know, just a quick look to see if I was on track.

She completely garroted it, sweetly, with generous words and copious blood.

Of course, I reacted like anyone would after a garroting–I couldn’t breathe. But then, she did something magnificent. She taught me some rather profound lessons about writing a sequel. Specifically, she told me where to start this bugger.

It’s what I needed to hear. I needed to not write a book-sequel scene. I needed to start my sequel in a place that made sense, so my readers could actually see what was going on, not guess it from my oblique references and Sarah’s emotional instability.

So my word count was low yesterday. (I’m still counting the scene I wrote, may it rest in peace.) I decided to stop and give some thought to this new beginning, and give it fresh start. Three days in. Bless my heart.

But seriously, thank you, Olivia, for not allowing me to write anything less than the best I can do. I’m blowing grateful, if exhausted, kisses your way.

Today’s writing is sponsored by Phil Collins, with a live version of Against All Odds, which is significantly more tolerable than the movie video. This song, because Giovanni was the only one who really knew Sarah at all.


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NaNo Journal, Day 2

I’m finding there’s a certain skill involved in writing a sequel. Early in the story, I have to inform, or at least remind, the reader of events that happened in the previous novel. This is not into a standalone novel–you really need to read Shadow of the Portico before you read La Dotta.

One of the early scenes in this novel, one I wrote today, describes an event at the close of Shadow from Sarah’s point of view. It’s tricky to find the balance between saying in a television announcer voice, “Previously, on The Journeymen…” and actually telling and continuing a story that readers may be familiar with.

It was hard to write. It made me sad, nearly brought me to tears. Maybe I’m a little too attached to the make-believe people in my head.

Anyway, today’s Journeyman Journal is brought to you buy Roxette and her uncertain feelings about what may or may not have been love… but whatever it was, it’s over now.

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NaNoWriMo Journal, Day 1

Yeah, I don’t know if I’m really going to do a daily journal for National Novel Writing Month. But I can try… right?

I’ll be writing book two in the series this month. It’s called La Dotta, and it focuses on Sarah from the first novel, and the aftermath of her failed romance with Giovanni.

Sarah has a fresh PhD and a brilliant mind… and a stutter. That makes it hard for her to become a professor, and she’s not sure what else to do with her life. So as she takes a job as a barista, and she’s feeling quite discouraged.

Since music often informs my writing, this is the song that I have in mind while writing about Sarah’s seemingly hopeless situation. I picture it coming from the point of view of Giovanni, even though he’s not with her anymore. Thank you, Gotye, for knowing Sarah so well you wrote a song about her. (By the way, Gotye reminds me a bit of Giovanni. He’s part of the amalgamation of men who inspired the picture I have in my mind as I write him.) Oh, and this video is just plain awesome.

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