30 November 2014

Are You a Winner, too?

As many of you know, November has been a particularly arduous month, mostly because I chose was compelled to join in all the fun of the National Novel Writing Month. I've had to decline in previous years because November is a busy month in the academic calendar.

However, this year I needed something to jump-start the writing juices after giving birth to my Vampire novel A DRY PATCH OF SKIN--which is still viable even a month after Halloween. (Get it for your loved ones for the holidays; they'll scratch you for it. Makes a great gift for relatives who have skin issues.)

So into #NaNoWriMo I dove with an opening scene and some notes of how it proceeds leftover from junior high school. I started off at a good pace, then that day job and its attendant duties reared its ugly head as I knew it would. I struggled to add a few paragraphs between classes. I worked in the evenings to cobble a few pages more. Weekends were all writing time. Suddenly I was hooked on the story and the writing became an obsession. 

My simple sci-fi tale of the little alien guy captured and taken away from his home world for no apparent reason, forced to work hard labor, who learns and grows, and is determined to escape and return home, filled my mind for most of every day. Part of the fun (of making him suffer, ironically) was inventing his home world's landscape, flora and fauna, social life, and religious beliefs. I tried to rethink how this society would see the universe and how they would communicate. I did not want to invent a whole new language as I had done for THE DREAM LAND Trilogy (e.g., Ghoupallean, Zetin, Roue, and Danid). (Makes a great #CyberMonday gift or a nice box to stuff under the tree!)

Inventing a new world slowed down my writing so I gave myself permission to write crap. Just get the story out...err, umm, down. Tell what happens, toss in a scene here and there, charge ahead to that 50,000 word goal line. And so I did. In fact, I hit the 49,999 word mark just three weeks into November and rested with my toes barely touching the line for a couple days. Then I leaped ahead. I always knew I'd have the final week free to write thanks to a full week holiday break from school. I knew no matter what I achieved in the month, I could catch up then. I even dared to edit out a few hundred words, lowering my word count. Cocky, I know.

By the time I entered this extended Thanksgiving break, I was past 50,000 words. I dared take a couple days off. I knew this story would not be finished at 50,000, not even at 55,000 words. I settled at a comfortable total of 55,555 words but upon validation on the NaNoWriMo website, I was credited with only 55,396 words. However, based on where I am in the story, I predict about 75,000 to 80,000 to finish it. And the final two twists will Blow Your Mind! (This is the fun part of writing: blowing readers' minds.) 

Originally, I was setting the story on the same world that I used for THE DREAM LAND Trilogy but in its NaNoWriMo incarnation, I made it an entirely new world, a warm, lush, vibrant planet where the indigenous intelligent life runs around half naked. Too bad for our mild-mannered hero Toog that he is taken to a cold, frozen wasteland to labor with a menagerie of beings taken from many different worlds or kept in a frosty stone-walled prison cell until he is needed--or that he must hide in a chilly cave after he escapes the prison and the work camp. Now how will he get off the planet to return home to his family? 

That is THE MASTERS' RIDDLE, of course. (Spoiler: It involves an interdimensional doorway, similar to that central trope used in THE DREAM LAND Trilogy.) And if Toog does make it home, what will he find there? Will his society have left him behind? Or will he suffer the same kind of time-differential the astronauts in the film INTERSTELLAR experienced?

Coming to an ebook reading device near you probably sometime in 2015.

And so I won...like everyone does who plays...similar to a youth soccer league, I suppose. And here is my certificate to prove it! 

Also available for your #CyberMonday consideration are two non-sci-fi novels that will leave you tearful and distraught by the final page: AFTER ILIUM and A BEAUTIFUL CHILL.

(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.


  1. Replies
    1. You're used to the fun. For me, well, I said it above, didn't I?