NaNoWriMo (Day 1)

I've decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. I've been working on games for all of 2011 and this has proven to be a wonderful break. I don't have to consider, "How will the players use this?" or "How can I balance this with that?" Really, it's been a lot of fun. And the writing is fast-fast-fast. I've been burning through this thing and I'll be posting the chapters as I go. 

I wanted to write something "non-magical." That is, something that wouldn't fit on the science fiction/fantasy shelf. So, I decided to write a crime novel. I like fantasy novels less and less these days. I'm reading too much Stark and Palahniuk and Ellroy and Burroughs and writers who don't view massive page/word count as a virtue.

I have a goal with this book: "Write like a shotgun blast. Immediate, deafening. And make the outcome painful and bloody." Also, I want the opening line of every chapter to be a barbed hook in the eye: you can't look away. And with that in mind…


When Paccini turned around, the masked man put a gun in his face, grabbed him by the collar and twisted until Paccini could barely breathe.

Vincent Paccini was in his blue leisure suit. It did not compliment his figure. He was a soldier in the Bonanno Family running one of those loan shops you see when you get off the freeway. He wasn’t too bright, and he knew it, but he appreciated the trust Anthony Bonanno gave him by putting him in this place. And now, there was a masked man pointing a silenced pistol at his face.

“Oh, shit,” he said.


NaNoWriMo, 1 & 2

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s an average of 1667 words per day.

I’ve chosen to write my fantasy caper novel. I don’t have a title just yet, but I do have a character. A doozy of a character. You’ll meet him right away.

This is gonna be a mean one, folks. Bloody as hell. Don’t get attached to anybody.

And here we go.

1 & 2

NaNoWriMo: The Book of Whispered Psalms

One of the books I’m considering working on–the one that would take the most work–is something along the lines of what Tanith Lee did with her Flat Earth books. (Something else I owe to noltain.)

The Book of Whispered Psalms is a collection of interwoven stories about the men and women of a Temple devoted to the Goddess of Erotic Love. A fantasy novel, of course, but one that would deal openly and frankly with sexual politics.

The High Priestess of the Temple, Alenja Valcroix (I flipped a coin for gender… honest!), is not the focus of the novel, but she is an almost omni-present character. Given the nature of such a place, stories revolve around her rather than directly involve her. Think of the way Gaiman handled Dream in his Sandman stories and you get the picture.

Stories about the clients, the priests and priestesses, jealousy, bigotry, hatred, rival temples, assassins, politics, poison, intrigue, bribery, murder… and, of course, sex.

This is my most challenging choice. There is no direct, linear plot, but a collection of smaller plots that must fit together. I did this with No Loyal Knight, and while it was fun, it was also a chore. (It also involved a lot of inserting small clues in the earlier stories once I discovered something in a later story. For example, having Pearl pop up in Dead Friends didn’t occur until after I began writing Shinju.)

I have a few characters in mind, a bit of a plot, and a twist that I like very much. This is Option #1.

NaNoWriMo Planning, Part 2

I want something easy and fun. My usual writing project involves a lot of research, planning, and work. Not this time. This time, I want something fun.

I pulled down a bunch of books that I had fun reading and looked fun to write. I also wanted t do an obvious pastiche. Something that would be recognizable as “Oh, John is doing that.” I don’t intend this to be a very serious novel, but something that could be read over a weekend.

As examples of what I wanted to write, I took a few books off my shelf and had them in front of me. I had Richard Stark, H.P. Lovecraft, and Tanith Lee. These were the big contenders.

For Stark, writing something dark, gritty and full of pulp seemed the choice. That alone would be fun, but how to make it distinctly mine? I’ve had an idea for a long time on this one: writing a Richard Stark novel in a sword & sorcery setting. Not fantasy, but sword and fuckin’ sorcery. Elric without the whining. Conan with brains. Something along those lines. The Parker character is so much fun to read and, I’m told, a helluva lot of fun to write. Creating a Parker-esque character in that kind of setting would be so different than anything else I see on the market right now. It would be about 50,000 words (the right word count) and just wicked and mean. A sword & sorcery caper. Yeah, that would rock.

For Lovecraft, I’d be trying to add something to the mythos that was distinctly me. And distinctly modern. One of the problems I find with a lot of the modern Lovecraftians is that they’re still hooked on “the universe is big” being scary. It isn’t scary anymore. It was in the ’20’s, but not anymore. We know the universe is big. Not scary. Lovecraft’s intention wasn’t to demonstrate that the universe is big, cold, and uncaring. That wasn’t his intention. The horror comes from coming to the understanding that we are very, very small. Hitting his reader with that particular hammer was Lovecraft’s intention. So, how to do that to a modern audience? That’s the rub. If I tackle this project, I have a plan to do it.

For Tanith Lee, I’d want to write a pillow book. A collection of very scary and very erotic stories that link together like Arabian Nights. I’ve dabbled in this particular course before, but this one would take the most work. I can write con men and I can write Cthulhu, but writing erotica is damn challenging. Like horror, erotica straddles a line. Go too far and it’s just silly. Don’t go far enough, and the reader just gets bored. And so, if I choose this course of action, it’ll be the most challenging… which is a temptation all in itself.

Those are the three I’m debating right now. I have a favorite, but I’m keeping that to myself for the moment.

NaNoWriMo Planning

I’m looking over my bookshelf, thinking about what kind of book I want to write for November. A good book is like a good friend. You meet for the first time, there’s the rush of novelty (pun apology), the immediate enthusiasm of finding a new personality you mesh with so easily.

Your relationship lasts until the last page is turned. Then, suddenly, it’s over. The book goes back on the shelf… patiently waiting for you to remember that friendship.

I found one of those friends tonight. Going through my shelves, it was sitting on top of something else, half-fallen behind the others. I picked it up, held it in my hands for a moment… and for no reason at all, I began to cry.

Like finding a forgotten friend from childhood, I held the book close to me. I opened to my favorite chapter and began reading, remembering the joy, fear, sadness, and triumph this friend had given me.

It was because of that I first read this book. For that, and many other things, I owe her so much.

(The devestating line: “Hazel… I’ve come to ask you to join my owsla…”)