Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Storage Unit

I've decided to dabble a little with - a place where you write a very short story (1024 characters - not words).  It can be an original story, or you can write a prequel or sequel to anyone else's story.  It looks like a really awesome community.  I put this up just a few minutes ago: - I wrote and edited that piece in about 15-20 minutes.  I think this is going to be a good place to practice both writing and editing.
"Storage Unit"
We won the auction for the storage unit at 3PM; we had to have it empty by 4PM. Easy, right?
We should have seen the signs right off the bat: none of the other bidders seemed very interested in bidding on the unit. It’s like they knew, and they didn’t want anything to do with it. I thought we had just lucked out and got an amazing haul.
At first, Todd and I thought we did hit the jackpot. We found all sorts of antiques from the ’20s – the 1820s, that is. Everything was in pristine condition. We were going to make a killing. And we only paid a buck for it all!
That’s when we found the chest. We thought we hit the mother load, the haul that would make our year. You never find something bad in an antique chest.
Todd carefully pried it open, and I felt a chill shiver its way down my spine. A terrible smell assaulted my nose, and I retched immediately. But the part that had me running for the hills was the bandaged, rotting hand whose fingers were gripped tightly around Todd’s fat neck.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Battlestar Galactica #17: "Someone to Watch Over Me"

Good Lords of Kobol, I watched this episode what seemed like ages ago.  I haven't had the time to type it up until now.  So here we go, with notes at the end.

I'm so glad that heavily serialized TV shows have episode recaps; it's been a long time since I last watched a season 4 episode, but thankfully all I needed to remember was that Anders is in a coma, and Boomer's back (and in the brig).

I almost forgot that Boomer hasn't had any kind of reuniting with the Galactica crew - it makes sense that the crew's first reaction is to lock her up (she had after all shot The Old Man).  Anyway, about the episode: I should have realized this was going to be a Chief Does Something Stupid episode from the moment the Cylons said they were going to try Boomer for treason.

Thankfully that wasn't the only story in the episode.  ti revolved aroudn a strange piano player sticking his nose into Kara's life.  After a while it became apparent that he is actually Kara's father, though I was surprised to learn that A) she doesn't recognize him until she plays the notes Hera drew, and B) that he wasn't really there.

I guess people just figured, "Kara's crazy!"

I'm curious to know what the significance is of the song Kara played, and why Cavill wants Hera.  Also, the episode got insanely nuts.  You'll see in my notes below, which I took as I watched the episode..

  • Creepy shot of Kara's burned corpse in the mirror!
  • Toothpaste is the prize for doing a good job amongst pilots <- Good touch of realism that's been missing for a while
  • Really driving home the dullness of their current lives
  • Adama hasn't forgotten what Boomer did - linking back to season one.  Tying up loose ends, good.  Also Chief still has feelings for Boomer?
  • Not sure I like the "mysterious piano player" who's suddenly in Kara's life
  • Flashbacks to Seasons 1 & 2!
  • They're doing a good job showing the ship falling apart, but this really should have happened a lot earlier
  • WTF is Cylon Projection??
  • Kara seems to have mellowed out a LOT
  • That burned corpse is just the right amount of creepy
  • Oh Chief, don't do anything stupid...
  • I'm thinking the piano player is Kara's Dad <- wrote that one about half-way through
  • creepycreepycreepycreepy Boomer!!! <- seriously she was the creepiest in this episode.  So terrible.
  • Aaaand more music-activating weirdness.
  • This is officially nuts
  • Holy Frak!  So that must have been her plan all along, to steal Hera
  • The Chief is just not good at decision-making

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Subway Haiku

I wrote this tweet yesterday:
@stephen_g: I think I spotted a subway sub in a snowbank; desperate to escape death by mastication only to freeze to death in the snow.
It inspired me this morning while waiting for the bus to write a haiku.

Destined for stomach;
Escape any way possible.
Icy death awaits.

Creative Commons License
Desperation by Stephen Gower is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pocketwatch Excerpt

I'm a little further behind than I would like to be with this story, but I've been having difficulty getting started with the re-writes.  Too much procrastination, basically.  Anyway, I haven't quite finished it but I thought I would share a short section of the story with you.  It's currently un-edited, so it could probably use some spit & polish

I guess I'll set it up a bit, as if I were on a talk show and setting up a video clip for the host.  So the main character, Larry Adelstein, was sent to clean up the attic as punishment.  For what, I don't honestly know at this point as I'm writing scenes out of order.  Anyway, after some "scary" moments trying to make his way up there in the first place, he discovers the titular pocket watch...

Dad sent me upstairs to clean the attic that night.  I hated going up there; actually, it was probably more accurate to say that I was afraid to go up.  That fear was probably helped along by the fact that I’d only been up there once, when I was about seven years old.  And even then, I went up in the daylight.  I still get a chill thinking about going up there at night.
 We had one of those old attics that had a folding staircase that pulled down from the ceiling.  The stairs were made of very old wood, and creaked even when they were pulled down.  When I looked up toward the attic from the bottom of the stairs, it was pitch black.  I could make out some cobwebs here and there, but nothing beyond the gaping black mouth swallowing all forms of light.
 I placed my hand gently on the railing, careful not to grip too tightly.  It was very smooth, like it had been sanded down recently, but I couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t going to get a sliver anyway.  I lifted my left foot and tested out the first step; it seemed stable enough, even though I thought that it felt a little soft.
 I took a deep breath, and stepped onto the stairs with my right foot.  I climbed carefully up the stairs toward the maw waiting for me above, wincing at every creak and groan with each step.  I was waiting for the boards to give out from beneath me, causing me to fall and probably break my leg. 
I knew there was a light in the attic; there was a long string attached to a short metal chain that I had to pull in order to switch it on.  I knew it was somewhere in the middle of the room, but I couldn’t find it because I stupidly forgot to bring a flashlight with me.
 I walked slowly toward what I thought was the middle of the room, bumping against boxes along the way.  The floorboards in the attic were no better than the ones on the staircase; they protested with every step I took, and my pulse quickened as I expected my next step to send me through the floor.  When it didn’t, I breathed another sigh of relief.
 There was a small sliver of light filtering in through the window from the street lamp around the corner, but it wasn’t providing enough light to be any help.  Thankfully my eyes were starting to adjust to the dark, and I could at least make out the outlines of the boxes I was tripping over.
 I looked around the attic to see if I could spot the old white string that ran up to the light.  A few feet in front of me, I saw a light cord sway in the chilly breeze that was flowing through the attic.  I grabbed the string and pulled, and shielded my eyes from the suddenly bright light that flooded the room.
 It was no wonder I tripped over what felt like every box ever stored in the attic.  As smart as Dad is, he was pretty dumb about storing his stuff up here.  It looked like he simply brought the boxes up just far enough to get them on the floor, and then pushed them as hard as he could toward the other side of the attic.
 I had a look around to see where I should start.  It seemed that at one point Dad did put some effort into organizing the attic because there were a few metal shelves against the wall where the ceiling was a little higher, and boxes stacked neatly beside them.
 There was a weird smell, too.  It was the musky “old” smell mixed with a thick layer of dust.  The combination wasn’t pleasant, but I was also thankful that there weren’t any dead animals lying around up there.
 I decided that it would be best to just take the scattered boxes and stack them with the others against the wall.  I picked up what looked like one of the heavier boxes and heaved it over to the corner with the others.  As I set it down, something on one of the metal shelving units caught my eye.
 It was an old pocket watch; it looked like it was made of solid gold.  While the years hidden away in the attic dulled it a little, the light from the bulb in the centre of the attic was reflecting brilliantly from it.  I picked it up, and I was surprised at how much heft it had.
 Despite the cold air flowing through the attic, the watch was strangely warm, like someone had just taken it out of his pocket.  On the front of the hunter case was an elaborate engraving of what looked like a snake eating its own tail.  I ran my fingers over the engraving, and marveled at the craftsmanship.  After staring at it for another few seconds, I popped open the hunter case.
 The watch face itself didn’t look as fancy as the case.  It was a simple white face with black roman numerals, perfectly preserved underneath pristine glass.  Other than the dulled gold, the watch looked like it hadn’t been touched by time at all.

I cut out some bits in there that are a little too rough.  But there you go.

Friday, December 10, 2010

No Excerpt Today

Sorry, I haven't finished with the story yet (read: I've done a lot of outlining, but no actual re-writing).  I do have a BSG review written in a notebook that I did last weekend, and I'll try to post it this weekend.  But also the plan is to start Draft 2 for Pocketwatch.

I would work on it tonight except that I am going to ye olde hockey game.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

50th Post

I think it's absolutely fantastic that my 50th post is the one where I tell all three readers about the deadline I set for my short story collection.

I plan to have everything collected and put together as a first draft by FEBRUARY 20, 2010.  That gives me 75 days to write / revise at least 10 stories, which I think is way more than enough time for somebody who writes a LOT, but it is a realistic and comfortable goal for somebody like me who doesn't always get a lot of time to write.

Some things I wanted to point out:
- I've got 7 stories in various stages - from not written yet all the way to just needs some polish - so there are three slots that simply need ideas injected into them, and then I have 10 stories
- I'm planning on throwing in some haikus in there.  I love writing haikus.
- Just so we're clear, I mean that by February 20th I want all of my stories to be complete.  The deadline for having everything properly formatted will be determined later, I just want to make sure I have everything ready to go by the 20th.

This is something very ambitious for me, and I'm excited about it.  I'm going to start work on my NaNo story tonight, but will probably just be sticking to outlining and narrowing down which plot points I want to keep, etc. etc.  The bottom line is I'm trying to keep this from being intimidating / daunting, because if I feel like I can't do this then it won't get done.

I'm just going to follow the oodles of people who've given the following advice: just put your work out there.  You run the risk of people not liking your work, but if you don't put your work out at all, you'll guarantee that no one will like it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Slight Interlude

I read / heard about this today: George Lucas is buying up film rights for dead movie stars.  It seems that the intention is to use them in movies, or commercials, or something.  Either way I was reminded of this (slightly), and wanted to share:

The Critic, "Dr. Jay" (Part 1) (skip to 4:50 if you don't want to watch the whole thing) (Part 2)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Now what?

It's been a few days since the novel writing thingie ended; I've been on a cool-down period from writing for those few days, feeling a temporary burn-out.  The creative bug is back, and I'm trying to ease myself back into Writing Mode™.  This means that  I *should* be ready to start the editing process of my novel Monday or Tuesday; if not, I deserve a swift kick in the pants.  Expect an excerpt by Friday.

You'll notice I didn't say "expect the first chapter by Friday", because I finally decided what I'm going to do with the novel.  I'm going to turn it into a short story, and write a bunch of others to make a little anthology.  I will probably dig up older stories I have lying around somewhere and polish those a bit.  I have one piece that needs some work but I put off doing it forever because I thought it was too daunting at the time.  Now?  Not so daunting, but it still requires major work.

(I am most definitely NOT taking part in that ABNA thing.  I sincerely hope that somebody (anybody) I know does and has success, though.  And by "somebody I know" I also mean Internet acquaintances, not just in-person-friends.  Look I'm just trying to say I'm not hinting at any one specific person, and I'm only saying this because that's how it looks the way I wrote it.  I should just stop right there.)

Now that I've made my decision, I need to have a plan in place.  So here it is, and it includes EVERYTHING that is remotely related to writing.
  • Complete a short story anthology, with 10 stories at minimum.  If I end up writing more than 10, that would be gravy.  I haven't worked out a completion date yet, as it depends on how many stories I have now vs how many stories I still need to write.
  • Publish said anthology via CreateSpace / Kindle store.  Make available as a regular PDF as well
  • Finish my episode reviews of Battlestar Galactica Season 4, and start a new series of reviews for Caprica.  BSG should be finished by the end of December no problem (I believe I have 4 episodes left), Caprica can wait until January / the new year.
  • ???
  • Profit
The last two items are clearly a reference to a well-known joke.  Or maybe not well-known, as I feel the need to point out that it is a joke / reference.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ABNA 2011

Thanks to a forum post on the NaNoWriMo websites, I was made aware of the Breakthrough Novel Award.  The deadline I believe is February 6 2011 so if you just completed your novel yesterday, you have some time to finish editing it.  Or maybe you have a novel already completed, and you want to try your luck on the opportunity to get a publishing contract with friggin Penguin which includes a $15,000 advance.

I think, since my plan was to have the novel edited and complete by the end of December (is that still possible?  I think so), I might have a go at submitting it.  I won't worry about doing the whole "cut it to a short story" thing until after I know whether or not I have enough to turn out a proper novel.  I think I do, it just needs work.

This is sort of a "why the heck not" kind of deal - I fully expect that my novel - or short story collection, however it ends up - will be available via the self publishing route.  Hopefully though, somebody sees this blog post and goes "Holy shit I should submit my novel to this contest and friggin WIN that bitch"

*ahem* carry on.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I won!

I did it - I made it to 50,000 grueling words.  I promised that I would post the first chapter after I was done - and I wll do that next week after I've spent a little bit of time away from my opus work in progress.  Just wanted to share with everyone that I am DONE.

I will be celebrating tonight by recording a podcast - look for that later tonight!

Monday, November 29, 2010


I haven't posted on here since last Tuesday, mainly because I've been busy writing / doing other things.  I did mention that typing the novel gave me a lot more free time, right?  Anyway, now I'm at 45k.

I must admit, I finished the actual NaNoWriMo story I started writing on November 1st before I got to 45k.  I think it was around 44k.  What I'm writing now is a short story about the main character's grandfather when he was in grade nine.  I think I'm going to go the route I thought of in one of my last posts - turn the story I wrote into a short story, and write a few other stories about the time travelin' pocket watch.

Either way, I have less than 5,000 words until I hit 50k.  I'm so close to that benchmark, but the words are starting to get harder to churn out.  I thought that if I started a different story it might be easier to hit the 50k mark, but so far it hasn't.  I will find a way, though.

Just thought I'd update people on how things are going.  I hope to have it all finished soon, because I want to do a podcast Tuesday night instead of trying to finish the novel in the last minute (so to speak).;

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Give Up...

...handwriting, that is.  I was able to hand write 28,774 words of my novel.  That's about 58%, over half.  Unfortunately, I just couldn't keep up.  The only reason I'm so far behind is not because I'm struggling to find the story; rather it's because my hand can't keep up.

As an example, just now I typed out 1200 words in under 20 minutes.  To write 1200 words by hand, I would have spent almost an hour, if not longer.  Thanks to doing a quick 20-minute "sprint", I got to my 30k word goal that I wanted to hit yesterday.  In other words, if I don't do any more writing tonight, I'll still be satisfied.  Of course I plan on doing more, but I have a few other things to take care of first.

And that's the freeing part of all this.  I know that I can bang out a large amount of words in a short period of time, which leaves me more time to do other things (for instance tonight I want to take my dog on a walk, clean up the kitchen, and later will be seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1).  When I was handwriting, I felt slightly discouraged when I didn't hit a word goal simply because it took me too long to write the words.

The one thing I will miss about handwriting is the creative feeling that came with it.  I honestly feel a slight disconnect between my brain and my typing, while the connection was stronger when I wrote by hand.  I'm still going to carry around my binder, because I may find myself in situations where it's easier to hand write, so not all is lost.

I'm excited - I know that I will reach 50k for sure now, and I won't completely wreck my hand doing it anymore.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Finding Time to Write

As I type this blog entry, I sit at just over 27k for my NaNoWriMo word count.  I'm almost 10k behind where my NaNo stats tell me I should be.  I'm not really down about that at all, don't get me wrong - I have plenty of story left to tell and a lot of time coming up at the end of the week to do it.

But that's part of the issue, is finding time to write.  I want to get up to 30k by the end of today, but where am I going to fit that in?  I write at lunch while I'm at work, but I can only usually get just under 1000 words done.  I write after I get home from work, if I can fit some time in between grocery shopping.  Sometimes I just can't fit it in.

That's where my struggle is going to be for the next 8 days; I'm going to need to make a better effort to get this thing written and finished.  While I have a half day of work on Thursday and a day off on Friday, and will take full advantage of that free time to get some work done, that doesn't mean I have a free pass to slack off before that.

It's going to take a lot of balancing, and maybe some late / early hours, but I have to do my best to reach 50k because if I don't at least try, then it's not really worth it.

As a side note: I had small ideas prickling in my head that maybe this story I'm working on would be best condensed to a short story as part of a compilation of various stories about a time travelling pocket watch.  While I'm going to finish the story at hand, I will assess that possibility when I read over my story as a whole during the editing process.

EDIT: My side note also means that if I run out of story before 50k I will just start a new story and I feel that would not count as "cheating".

Monday, November 15, 2010


November 12th is the day where NaNoWriMo writers should be at 20,004 words (if they are following the general 1,667 words per day guideline).  Today however is November 15th, the half-way point.  My novel sits at 20,325 words, or roughly 41% complete.  What does this mean?  Superficially, that there are only 30,000 words left to write.  But I thought I would look back at my first 20,000 words so far.

The most obvious observation is that my writing style and narrative voice has adapted over 20,000 pages.  If you were to compare the first page I wrote with the most recent page I wrote, you would probably think two different writers wrote each one.  I've definitely noticed a growth in skill as I've continued to write, though I think I'd say that the skill was already there - I just haven't used it in a long time, so it took a few hundred thousand words to come back.  Oh also I changed from 3rd person to 1st person.  Go me!

I wish I could easily scan over the document and pick out all instances of alliteration, because I apparently love to use it.  Some day, if this book ever becomes anything remotely close to popular, I'll make the first draft available for people to read and have a chuckle.  There's even a direct reference to the parting of the Red Sea in there, but it's the most basic, obvious reference in the world and so therefore will not be staying in the final draft.

And that's another thing - I'm writing this story with a (very) basic outline.  I know that I want my character to go from Point A to B, and have vague ideas of how to get to Point B, but it's all going by the seat of my pants.  Unfortunately that means that there's a lot of meandering along and not always a lot of plot advancement, but it's giving me something to work with when I go back and edit later.  This is not the biggest problem though, as my main issues are keeping facts / different plot points straight.  This may lead to hair-pulling editing later.

I feel like a broken record though, in regards to editing.  I'm making a conscious choice not to edit as I go, or else I wouldn't be making very much progress.  As a result, I am very aware of areas in the book that need work (and let's not joke around, the whole thing needs work).  It honestly makes me dread the notion of editing this thing, and not want to do it.

But that is ultimately the difference between a writer who sells his/her books and the writer who doesn't: the writer that sells is the writer that puts the work into it.  And make no mistake, all of this?  This is work.  It's also a challenge, and one that I don't intend to give up on until November 30th.  I have to say, there have been points where I've thought about giving up and finishing on my own time; but that's why this is a competition against myself to win.  By giving up, I lose; I know for a fact if I don't finish it this month, the chances are low of me taking the initiative to go back and finish it.

One last thing: writing this has brought out my creative energy again.  Before October, when I decided to commit myself to this month-long haul, I had many misgivings about my own writing.  I was still proud of things I wrote, but that pride melted away like a snowman in October (oh yes, that was a terrible simile on purpose).  I had no confidence in what I was doing, and no motivating drive to do anything new.  I feel that after I finish the novel, that drive will stick and I'll have new creative output other than just this beast in the weeks/months to come.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fundamental Changes

I went for a walk with my dog Hank last night, and as it was a fairly quiet and clear night, it was the perfect time to do some thinking about my novel.  I had just gotten past the recommended goal of 16,670 words (I believe I'm at 16,775?  Sounds about right) and it was time for a well-earned break.

The thing I realized while I was walking was that my novel needs a fundamental change, one that will require a major rewrite when it's done.  While that sounds like a big job - and it is - it's not actually that much of a big deal.  The change I'm talking about is switching from limited 3rd person to writing the novel in 1st person, from the perspective of the main character.

If you recall, I posted at the end of October of my dilemma - what point of view should I write from?  I ended up choosing 3rd person limited, because it gave me more freedom of vocabulary to describe things.  Unfortunately, that has also led to some pretty flat characters that really aren't all that interesting.  It's fortunate that I've realized this during the writing process only a third into the novel rather than after I've written the whole thing and am in the middle of trying to edit the beast.

This is something I should have realized after I wrote my opening chapter; I felt it was weakly written, but I chalked it up to lack of practice (and it's true, my prose has improved immensely since then).  I won't deny that it is a pale shadow of the opening chapter I had in mind - one that was designed to be written from the first person and the main character's perspective.

While I'm going to re-write the opening chapter during my next writing session, I'm not going back and doing any other rewriting until after November 30th.  And, I'm going to keep writing the story from the third person point of view; the reason for this is because I've decided that this draft will also serve as a comprehensive outline.  That's going to make rewriting a heck of a lot easier and less daunting, especially since I will have a clear direction for the novel rather than writing on the fly.

I think given this revelation, I should at some point post an excerpt from the original first chapter and what I come up with in my rewrite.  I think it would be interesting to see the drastic difference.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Pitfalls of Handwriting a Novel

For some crazy reason, I decided before the start of NaNoWriMo that I would handwrite the novel.  I think the idea had something to do with being able to write anywhere, not just at a computer.  So far that's about the only practical reason I can think of.  Why was I so dumb to think that handwriting was a good idea?

After all, the biggest problem after I'm finished this thing is going to be typing it up.  I'm at 11k words right now - and let me tell you, my handwriting is not the easiest to read.  There are words that merge together in a messy jumble, and in some of the places where I decided to add a word, it's very hard to read.

As for the word count - at first I decided to update my word count by using an average word/page, which I determined after the first 5 pages of my novel.  I quickly threw this out the window after hand-counting some more pages, because my average number was way off from what I was fitting on the page.  That's not to say I'm so terrible at math that I can't calculate my average word/page, I just mean that I wildly fluctuate from lower than, same as, or higher than the average that I was missing a lot of words for my daily word count.

Surprisingly, what I thought would have been the worst aspect of all this has not been a factor at all.  I thought my wrist and hand would be screaming in pain, and that I would be jumping ship from the paper notebook to the electronic notebook.  That hasn't been the case at all, for which I am very thankful.  Otherwise I think I wouldn't even be this far in my writing.

I think the greatest benefit, the one that outweighs both of the negatives I mentioned above, is that the writing process is not being slowed down by the easy access to a delete key.  Sure, I can easily cross out words, but I find that I rarely do that unless there's a change I feel I really need to make.  I find that I'm thinking about what I'm putting to paper as I write - sure, the novel will need major work (see my twitter updates) when I'm done, but my creative output has never been as good as it is right now.

As crazy and sadistic as handwriting a 50,000+ word novel is, it is definitely working to my benefit.  I think it is the sole reason why I have the confidence to say that I WILL cross the 50k finish line and I WILL work hard to trim the novel into shape after November 30th.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Do You Cheat?

Hello out there!  I'm taking (yet another) break from writing my novel.  While I'm writing this ahead of time, I'm sure that I'll have deserved yet another break at some point in the future.

My question today is: do you cheat in NaNoWriMo?  I don't mean the little tricks that boost your word count (eliminating contractions, writing out full names every time, so on and so forth).  I mean really cheat.  The word count that you update on the NaNo website is never validated until the last week or so of the month, which means you could give yourself an extremely high word count if you chose to do so.

Of course, once you uploaded your file for validation, the proper word count would be reflected.  But I'm sure that doesn't stop some people from trying to "fit in" and keep up their word count when faced with other writers who are legitimately reaching different plateaus.

Personally, I don't cheat.  What is really the point?  The word count is really a competition against yourself, not other people.  Plus, as I said, you have to validate your word count at the end in order to be declared a "winner".  Sure I could enter that I wrote 100k words, but as soon as I upload my file the NaNoBots (those sound cool, by the way) would see that I really wrote 35k or 40k or what have you.

Of course there are ways around that too - NaNoWriMo even gives you a link to a Lorem Ipsum generator, for those that are handwriting.  That certainly wouldn't stop anyone from adding a few extra thousand words to their novel to reach the 50,000 word goal if they're just a little short.  Then they too would be able to claim the CreateSpace free proof.  Or the software discounts.  Or the flashy Internet badge.

And THAT is really the reason why I don't cheat in NaNoWriMo.  There are actually prizes on the line for people who manage to write 50,000 words, prizes that cost somebody real money.  So not only are you denying yourself the actual purpose of a prize by cheating, you're stealing.  Sort of.

I think in that case, I don't mind doing the little bit of word padding to legitimately write 50,000 words and earn my CreateSpace proof copy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Writing "Crap"

I told myself I was going to stay far, far away from the NaNoWriMo forums this year.  I've kept that promise in part, because I haven't been posting.  Just reading.  And it is driving me insane.  That's where I found this nugget.

If you believe the posters in this thread, there are a lot of people participating in NaNoWriMo shitting gold bricks (if you'll pardon my language).  The entire thread is basically a bunch of authors saying, "Oh, I don't write crap.  My stuff is ALWAYS good."

I understand that they're trying to talk about authors writing in silly, random scenes into their novels just to boost their word count.  However, how it really comes across (and especially in the original post), is authors saying that because they edit as they write, the words they're writing are of the highest possible quality.  They likely think that their draft needs a slight grammar/spelling polish, and it's ready to go to press.

This is why publishers hate NaNoWriMo - a bunch of authors think their writing is good enough to submit as soon as they're done writing their book, because they think they're that good at editing on the fly.  I will note that I mentioned I would only be doing a quick edit on my novel, but that will happen AFTER I finish writing it.  And even then, I doubt I'll be sending the manuscript to publishers of any kind (electronic or traditional).

NaNoWriMo is about writing 50,000 words in 30 days - how you choose to do so is your own business.  Editing on the fly will speed up the process after November 30th, but at the same time that you're speed-writing, you're speed-editing.  You're bound to miss something, just as much as someone who is not editing as they write will miss a lot more.

Sure, damn me for writing a detailed account of how my two main characters cleaned up an attic.  But don't tell me that the words you write on paper are any better in your FIRST DRAFT than mine are.  We should consider ourselves on the same page after November 30th; you just have to spend considerably less time in the editing process.

EDIT: Some people have recently responded in that thread with voices of reason.  At least some people in that thread espouse the same view point about NaNoWriMo that I do.  *phew!*

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4

What kind of benchmark is "Day 4"?  I should really be writing this tomorrow.  But who really cares?  I have the opportunity to write a blog post today, so I'm taking it gosh darnit!

I'm going to put my progress thus far in a side bar on the blog, but for now here's how I'm doing:

4188 words, or as it translates to my handwriting, 17 pages.  So far that represents two chapters, though those are being roughly defined at this point and will be fixed up in the editing process anyway.  In fact I am more than willing to bet that these 17 pages would really turn out to be something like 10 pages after editing.

Some things I've learned in the last 4 days: my wrist loves marathon writing with gel pens.  So far I haven't experienced any crippling pain from my writing, so I'll take that as a Good Sign.  Of course I haven't been writing for hours at a time, so that also helps. 

I also learned that the vision in my head is far different from what I'm jotting down on paper - what I envisioned beforehand is not getting written exactly on paper.  BUT again that's where the editing process will help.  I know that what I'm writing now is not doing justice to what I want to come across in my writing, so I'll be able to expand later after re-reading and seeing that it has room for improvement.

I am also, technically speaking, behind in my word count.  This is because Life Happened yesterday, and I only managed two and a half pages.  I just finished that half page, which means I need roughly 10 more pages to get caught up.  Hopefully I can do so, but I have plans tonight - so that may not be possible.  Maybe my friends will understand if I write the novel while we watch a movie.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo Artisans

The talk of NaNoWriMo is almost always restricted to the purpose of the competition itself: writing.  There's a good and obvious reason for that, and I don't feel that I need to explain it.  What's looked over most of the time are the artists who are generous enough to create book covers.

To the left you can see what one of the aforementioned generous souls created for my novel.  Her forum name is Lauraqua something and donated her free time to do this.  It exceeds the skill level I would have put toward it by quite a bit, and as I said - it was free.  The quality is pretty much all I could hope for, and this is something that a lot of people would otherwise charge for.

However, the spirit of NaNoWriMo seems to bring out the best in people, as Lauraqua isn't the only artisan to offer their cover design services.  There's also Radio-Nowhere, who on top of having a novel to write herself and working a full-time job, offered her excellent services to forum members a month ago.  You can check out her work in this thread, or her website.  Unfortunately she had to put a stop to any new requests, but the covers she made are pretty fantastic.

There's also the 30 Covers, 30 Days competition, which challenges 30 artists to design a cover for nominated novels.  It's a quieter side that doesn't really get much recognition in the flurry of scratching pens (does that metaphor even work?  flurry of scratching pens?), but it really should.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 1 in the Books

Day one is in the books.  The shortest way to convey to you how it's gone today, I started writing this post at friggin 2:45pm.  So not very well.  I didn't start writing in the morning, as was my intention.  I wrote approximately 671 words in 45 minutes at lunch time today, which in hindsight is not terrible.  It's just that I feel my prose is terrible and needs major work.

This in itself is not really surprising - I recognize that I am not primarily a fiction writer, and that this is simply a first draft.  Everything can be fixed when I type it up - worst-case scenario, I hire a ghost-writer and be done with it.  Worst-case for sure though, I mean I don't have any money / illusions of making money off this book.

As I said I began typing this in the middle of the afternoon, so please don't feel like I'm being all "doom and gloom" on you.  There's a positive message to this post, despite the negative beginnings.  The point is that I learned something, though its importance is as yet unknown.  For now it's "high" because there's nothing else on the list.

What Did I Learn Today?
I learned ... what the hell did I learn?  To try not to read the story as I write it.  And to describe every frigging thing.  And also to just "not care", which I sort of took from Wil Wheaton's playbook (I can't find the link, but basically he wrote a story entirely for the fun of it, without letting his inner doubting self tell him otherwise.  It was a good inspirational post).

Without really having read back on my work, I already feel that there is a drastic difference between the stuff I wrote between 12:30 and 1:15 and what I wrote after 6pm tonight.  So I'm going to keep on going with that vibe.  Mind you I'm sure half of what I've written is still crap, but that's for Stephen Gower, Editor to decide - not Stephen Gower, Author.

For the record, I am at 1,724 words (approximate number based on an average of 245 words/page).


Today is November 1, 2010, marking the start of (inter)National Novel Writing Month.  Naturally,I'm writing up this blog post rather than writing my story.  Don't worry, I will be doing some writing today.  Promise.  I just may not hit my 2000-word goal, which would be an approximate count anyway.

I have a series of blog posts planned (sort of) for the month, and things are going to start with the side of NaNoWriMo you don't often hear about: the cover artists.  That post will be coming later this week, because as I mentioned I have some writing to do.  Although I kind of have to do this thing called "my job" before I can get to any writing.

Happy writing everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

BSG Season 4 Episode 16 - Deadlock

Another clunker, I'm afraid, this one seeing such amazing scriptwriting as "Adama looks at the walls and ceiling." What was interesting was Ellen's return - but I'll get to that in a moment.

The underlying theme of the episode is the blending of Cylons and humans, made painfully obvious to us as Cylon work crews work to repair the Galactica (which leads to the aforementioned stare fests from Adama).  The Cylon-Cylon pairing of Saul and Caprica 6, which led to a pregnancy, falls apart as they lose the baby.  The Cylons are posting pictures of models lost during the war, the same as the humans.  It's already started - the Cylons are a part of the fleet.

That was pretty much the important part to this episode.  The other part was Ellen's return.  Presumably we were supposed to get some more answers like last week's episode, but she instead returned to her previously petty form from before she died.  She's apparently the same Ellen as before, but slightly different.  As far as answers are concerned, Anders' brain reactivated or something so we'll probably get more next episode.

From what I understand there are only four more episodes to go, so I hope that the fact that Baltar's followers got big guns leads to something fun.  Well, fun for the viewers, it'll probably not be so good for those on the Galactica.

Final note for this episode: while it was pretty bad, the scenes after Tigh loses his unborn child are VERY well done and acted.  Those scenes were probably the best of the episode.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NaNo Warm-up #1: Halloween

Did you buy Machine of Death yesterday?  I did - and by the way, it reached #1 on the bestseller list!  Good job everyone!

So this is something I handwrote on Monday, October 25th as a practice session for NaNoWrimo.  I'm going to do a few of them this week, though I may not get to posting all of them until next week.  I'm TRYING not to overload anyone who follows the blog (read: the two people who actually subscribe).  In this first excersize, I was trying to determine an average word/page.


What a topical way to start off my writing practice.  Halloween (or as some prefer, Hallowe'en) is coming this Sunday.  I think the optimal trick-or-treat action will start at around 7:30, though there's no reason you can't start celebrating right at midnight.  Celebrate in your dreams, if you insist on sleeping.

One of the best ways to celebrate All Hallow's Eve is to don a scary costume.  This practice of course dates back many years - a lot further than I wish to look into.  Suffice it to say, the idea of the costume has grown from simply "scary" to "creative".  Unfortuantely this is an area where I lack the necessary expertise.

I'm always terrible when it comes to brainstorming costume ideas.  Either I can't come up with an idea at all, or I lack the skills to pull off a decent version of my vision.  When I was younger - elementary school young - I had the luxury of my mother's help when it came to costumes.

During my childhood I've been the following: a ghost, a vampire (complete with glow-in-the-dark teeth and a cape that was far too long), a ghostbuster, a Crayola crayon, and a Ninja Turtle.  I think the Ninja Turtle was my mom's best work, although the felt Ghostbusters patch was pretty good.

I'm enver oen to spend a lot of money on elaborate costumes - a lot of the time, I wing it using what's available.  With Vanessa's help last year, I became a Western bad guy - completed with an older toy gun from my youth.  It turned otu fairly well, and I'm just glad nobody thought I had a real gun at the bar.

This year is slightly problematic: up until last week, we weren't planning on doing anything for halloween.  Then we were invited to a party, where dressing up would be expected.  Now, I've had flashes of trying to figure out hwo to make a Battlestar Galactica uniform (I've been watching that a lot lately), but I don't have the time.  Or the skills.

I could try to be Ron Burgundy (Anchorman), but that hinges on finding the perfect red blazer from Value Village.  And that's not happening at all.  However, I recently remembered a costume I can put together, for which I have all the materials.

Of course I can't reveal the costume now - that will have to wait until after Halloween!


I counted 402 words, 8 paragraphs.  It was actually one and a half pages, so I made my calculations based on how much I wrote in one page.  My average words/paragraph was 50.25, and there were 5 paragraphs on the first page - which gave me an average of 251 words/page.

My daily goal is 2000 words, so that means approximately 8 pages.  I've since done another exercise (which will be posted later) that gave me similar results, so I've determined I need to write 8-10 pages depending on how big I write.

More on my exercise results later!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Machine of Death

I have some posts to type up about my NaNo training but I thought I'd take the time to do some promoting of a book!

I'm not sure how many of you read Dinosaur Comics (if you don't, you should - it is a fantastic comic!), but five years ago the Machine of Death project was kick-started thanks to this comic.

Now, the book is available over at - and right now it's on sale for less than $10!

They're trying to get the book to #1 on the sales chart, so I thought I'd do my part in helping to promote it.  It is a really cool book with an awesome premise, and is very collaborative in nature. I thought I'd share :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Little Narrative Problem

With NaNoWriMo coming up in a week, I thought I would start sharing some behind-the-scenes blog posts to go along with my writing.  This is honestly what's going to occupy most of the blog in the coming weeks, so I hope that I'm entertaining enough for you to keep reading over November (or as beardites will call it, MOvember).

I have a little problem about what kind of narrative to use for my novel (if you don't remember what my novel is going to be about, let me help you remember).  The problem is that I don't know who the narrator is.  Is it Larry, who is the main character for the book (in other words, 1st person narrative)?  Is it an observer closely following Larry's actions (3rd person limited)?  Or is the narrator simply Q (omnicscient 3rd person)?

The reason why I'm in this dilemma is because I am playing a few scenes around in my head (not writing, that would be cheating) and some of them - the opening chapter for instance - is perfect for 1st person, while others require a more sophisticated narrator than a high school kid.  If I go with 1st person, I feel that there will be places in the book where I want to use words and references that would be far outside of the main character's immediate grasp.

I exaggerate a bit - the character probably would know some of the things I'd write, but it's hard to make readers believe that when you're writing from a character's personal voice.  I also don't think I could accurately capture a high school student's mentality to within 90-100%, which means a separate voice would be helpful.  That of course ruins my "perfect" opening scene that I have in my head.

I know I can easily jump between narrative voices as I write, but I don't think that's very practical.  I should stick with one form from the beginning.

So does anyone have any suggestions?  I would love to write a scene both ways prior to November, but I then wouldn't be able to use those words for the story without rewriting them.  Any advice would be extremely helpful! :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Season 4 - Episode 15 (No Exit)

No Exit, or my preferred title, Info Dump, is about as boring a show as you can probably imagine.  There is absolutely no drama or tension in this episode.  No, scratch that.  There is a little of both, but it's so hard to find it over the huge information dump that it barely registers.  So let me help you find it.

Anders, who last week was shot in the head, is struggling to survive.  As a fortunate happenstance of getting shot in the brain, he's starting to remember everything about the Final Five's life on Earth.  He gathers the other three together for story time.  So where's the drama in this info dump?  Quite simple: will Anders finish the story before they have to remove the bullet from his brain?  Will he die before he gets to the good part?  We'll never know (until next week)!

We found out at the end of last episode that Galactica is showing a lot of stress from battle damage.  I have to admit, the tension was hard to find - but it's there.  When the Chief offers to use Cylon biotechnology to fix the dying ship, The Old Man flat out refuses and insists on an entirely human crew.  Eventually he relents after seeing how much damage there really is (and after learning construction crews cut corners in the first place), and allows Tyrol to proceed with using whatever methods necessary to repair the ship.

Oh, in case you missed it, the tension was between Admiral Adama and Chief Tyrol about whether or not to use Cylon technology.  See what I mean?

Anyway the episode was satisfactory enough in that it gave us some more information, but nothing really happened.  Hoping next episode is better.

Oh dang, I almost forgot the best part of the episode: John Hodgman as himself playing a brain specialist.  He was awesome.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shameless Cross-Promotion

I run a podcast called Alternative Airwaves - maybe you've heard of it?

Anyway, just last week I put up a new episode, and I finally wrote a blog post for it.  Check it out at

Also there's a link to it above this page if for some reason you don't want to click the link I just typed out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Season 4: The Oath + Blood on the Scales

I am so happy for these episodes, a two-parter that started with The Oath and ended with Blood on the Scales.  I'd still say that Revelations was the better episode, but these two are so far the best "bottle" episodes (to use the parlance from The Next Generation companion) of the season.  By that I mean that they didn't do a whole lot to advance the story arc, but they had killer action.  They reminded me a lot of the Pegasus arc.

So as at the end of the last episode, Gaeta and Zarek are up to No Good.  Gaeta is angry about the Cylons joining the fleet, and Zarek - well he just wants to take control of the fleet altogether.  They begin a coup, and take over the Galactica with a surprising show of force; Gaeta is disgusted by Zarek's methods, and is trying to keep bloodshed to a minimum.  But, Zarek explains, that's impossible if you want to actually take control.

Some cool things happened in this episode:
- We finally see Zarek for what he is: a monster.  He was introduced as a revolutionary prisoner in season 1, and despite some glimpses of a good person coming through, he's finally revealed himself as the villain.
- Some awesome action sequences for Lee - been a long time coming since he dropped the uniform for the suit.  I doubt he's going to re-enter the military, mainly because...
- Zarek murdered the Quarum, so Lee is the last remaining member.  I think that makes him Vice-President.

And quite possibly the finest moment: Roslin, aboard the Cylon base ship, is under the impression that Adama is dead and the revolutionaries have won.  Desperate and angry, she unleashes everything on Zarek:
Do you hear me? I will use every cannon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eyeteeth to end you. I swear it! I'm coming for all of you!

You have to see the clip for yourself if you haven't already - it's awesome and scary.  The episode also marks the end of Zarek and Gaeta - a shame on two counts.  For one, Zarek was a good foil for the President.  I doubt there will be much conflict on that front beyond "what do we do with the government?".  Two, Gaeta was a good character.  Well, that's pretty much the only reason for number two.

Looking forward to the next episodes, which look like "answer" shows.  Previews say that Anders (one of the final five) starts remembering everything, and Ellen is resurrected. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review :: The Social Network

This review is flagged for "Possible Spoilers" - ye be warned.

Finally saw what is likely the most talked-about movie of the Fall film season.  People have been generally saying very good things about it, and I was already fascinated after seeing a short trailer a while back.  Some of the talk about The Social Network has had "Oscar buzz" thrown in there - and honestly I can see it winning some Oscars for acting, but maybe not anything like "Best Picture".  MAYBE best Screenplay Adaptation, or whatever the category is for that one - since this was adapted from a book which was adapted from court depositions.

I found few flaws in this movie, to be frank.  Actually, I found no flaws.  I can't name off any one of them to you without watching it a second time (which I fully intend to do once this is available on DVD).  The relationships in the movie seemed real, despite the fact that virtually no time was spent setting them up.

The thing I liked the best was that this was a movie about the people and about ambition, rather than about "the making of Facebook".  In fact even in the scenes we're shown of them making Facebook (which do not take up very much screen time at all), the focus isn't really on making the website.  This movie is all about what happened to the people while the site was in its infancy.

I could go on quite a bit about the movie, but there is a Filmspotting podcast that really does all the talking for me, at least about the more deeper meanings of the movie.  Some of the other things I really liked were the twins - apparently played Data/Lore style with one actor - and the little touches.  By that I mean the Windows XP screen savers, the old Facebook layout, Livejournal, and so forth.

And lastly, this paragraph is devoted entirely to Jesse Eisenberg.  I'd only seen him previously in Zombieland, in which he gave off a definitively Michael Cera vibe.  I still thought he was good, but he felt too much like a Spider-Man clone of Cera.  He most definitely comes into his own in this film!  And after seeing pictures of the real Mark Zuckerberg, they really lucked out in getting somebody who can really act and also look like the real Zuckerberg.  Oh, and Justin Timberlake looked a lot like Sean Parker, apart from showing how well he can act (Best Supporting Actor, anybody?).

Overall it was a great movie.  Don't miss out on seeing it - though if you're not a "going out to the movies" type of person, it's not really necessary to see it on the big screen.  DVD will do.  Either way, it is a must-see.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Season 4: Episode 12

Here we go for Episode 12, A Disquiet Follows My Soul.

Despite the numerous amount of depressed people, it seemed like the fleet was going to move on from the disaster that is Earth (though you have to admit, it's not as bad as New Caprica) and move on to answering some more questions.

Except it's not that easy.  The government is at a stand-still (though it's being pushed into uproar by a mischievious Tom Zarek), and the President is still in hiding.  Adama shows that he's got more conviction brushing his teeth than half the crew on Galactica and tries to push her back into the public, but she realizes that her life is too short to really give a flying frak about anything.

And Adama is looking seriously cheesed at all the trash laying about the Galactica.  Despite all but giving up at the end of the episode (sort of...that's not entirely accurate but I don't know how to describe it), he looks like he's about to explode into some AdamaRage on the crew in the next episode.  The crew is languishing and I know he wants them to step up their game.  Good to know he still trusts Tigh, despite being a Cylon - I highly doubt he would be so tolerant 4 seasons ago.  More great character growth!

But what I've been trying to get at is that this episode served up some excellent story telling in using the classic plot mover, "if all is well throw in another obstacle!"  There was a small uprising involving the Oil Tanker leaving the fleet, but they got it back by force.  However at the end of the episode Zarek and Gaeta are clearly up to No Good.

Their shenanigans are my benefit, because there will actually be some intrigue in the remaining episodes beyond just answering all the lingering questions.  The fleet is way too comfortable right now - depression and suicides aside - and the season needs some new conflict.  The debate over the Cylon/Human alliance is it, and I'm hoping for some good stories.  They've still gotta top Revelations!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Well THIS is a movie I didn't expect, but I really should have.

And truth be told, I'm interested in seeing more of this movie.  I wasn't a big fan of the 2nd and 3rd Pirates movies, but it's a fun franchise and there are a lot worse movies out there to watch.

When there's another trailer available I'll put up a link.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dexter - Season 5, Episode 1

I finally saw the Season 5 premiere yesterday (I haven't watched episode 2, so I'm probably going to be an episode behind all season long).  My overall impressions were that it felt like a direct continuation of last season.  Considering that it essentially WAS a direct continuation, that means the writers did a good job here.  Alright, after this points be spoilers so turn away while you can.

We pick up from last season's (pretty shocking) finale: Dexter has just come home to find Rita murdered in her bathtub by Trinity, and called 911 to call in the murder.  We learn later that he called it in reporting it almost as a lab report.  This Is Important.  Dexter blurts out to Deb and the responding officers, "It was me".  Meaning of course that it was his actions that ultimately led to Rita's murder, not that he actually murdered her.  But it makes him look pretty bad.

And that's the essential set-up for the episode.  Dexter has no clue how to deal with Rita's death - everyone (well not everyone...Quinn) remarks that next-door neighbour Elliott was more broken up about the death than Dexter.  He's showing absolutely no emotion - he can't even break the news to his step-children without trying to emulate the funeral director.  Even Deb breaks down before Dexter.

But it does all lead to a point where Dexter finally snaps and wails on some hick.  Dexter shows that he is really human, and despite trying to initially run away, realizes he needs to return and face the consequences of Rita's death (which include delivering a pretty moving eulogy and cooperating with an FBI interview).

I feel like the theme of the season (and the corresponding "villain") is going to be that of consequences.  This episode does a really good job of setting up the theme.  I think that this episode is going to act as a microcosm for the rest of the year - Dexter feels the weight of Rita's death, and deals with the consequences and faces them.

What I liked about the episode: The emotions were bang on for every character.  At least, I thought they were bang on for what we've been shown of the characters over 4 years.  I liked that Dexter finally gave in to his emotions and came to his senses.  I liked that we saw Dex and Rita's first date.

What I didn't like: Quinn and Deb's insistence that Dexter wasn't acting normal because he wasn't showing emotion.  To me, it seemed that Dexter was in shock for the first three quarters of the episode.  He didn't know what to do.  Dexter has never dealt with death on precisely this level before; it just hasn't hit him.  And yet neither Deb nor Quinn see that he hasn't fully realized what's happened.

What I'm indifferent about: Quinn.  He's the new Doakes, no doubt about that.  He thinks Dexter is up to no good, and potentially Rita's killer.  I feel like we've been there, done that (re: Doakes), BUT the reason I'm so far indifferent is because Quinn at least seems to have some common decency.  Whereas Doakes would probably bark at him during the funeral, Quinn appears to feel some sympathy for the man in some places. 

It seems like Quinn is going to be a fairly well-developped character, so I'm willing to wait to see how he plays out.  So far this episode, he's in neutral territory.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Episode 11

Continuing on, with Episode 11: Sometimes a Great Notion

The aftermath of finding a dead planet, the survivors of the 12 tribes and the rebel base ship are trying to figure out how to deal with the situation at hand.  Well, I assume the rebel base ship is doing the same - we never see them really.  Morality is at an all-time low - I think that is well-represented by the President's utter depression.  I believe she is representing the entire fleet with her feelings.  The greatest tragedy out of all of this is D, who shoots herself despite appearing to be extremely happy.

Starbuck finds her decaying body and crashed Viper, which leads us initially to think that she is a Cylon.  But that's still not clear, which I appreciate, because I always thought it was too easy for Starbuck to be one of the Final Five.  There's got to be another reason - maybe that's not actually her?  But she burned the body, so I don't know.

In the end of the episode Tigh realizes that Ellen is the fifth - which is what I guessed a few episodes ago.

So I was right - this episode was not as good as the last one, but it is starting to answer some questions (while asking new ones - thanks!).  I can't wait to see more.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

National Crazy Month

I already wrote a post with NaNoWriMo in the title so I thought I'd address the reality of this endeavour by calling it like it is: crazy.  A 50k (at minimum) novel in 30 days?  Yes, I think everyone involved in the project considers it crazy.

What's crazier is my declaration of my participation in public.  It means that I have to come up with SOMETHING in November, or risk shaming myself for not at least attempting the challenge.  And yet here I am - so please put the public shaming on hold for at least a couple of months.  Please?

Right, so here is the very brief synopsis of the story I will be writing from November 1-30:
Larry is just trying to get through high school with as few bruises as possible when he finds an old pocketwatch that allows him to travel through time. He uses the it to climb the rungs of the social ladder - until he witnesses his future self being expelled after pulling off a seemingly innocent prank. Will Larry suffer the consequences of meddling with time, or will he fix everything before he ruins his future?
Larry is honestly a temporary name, but as I wrote in my notes, it's growing on me due to having (re-)watched The Big Lebowski recently.  I don't even have a title for this thing, but that's really not important.  I bet it has something to do with the word "time".  Maybe I'll go a different direction entirely and call it "The Pocketwatch".  Actually, I rather like "The Pocketwatch".  Maybe I should use that as a working title.

And here is where I declare my intentions.  Emphasis on the word "intentions", because what I intend to do and what I actually do will be different things indeed.

I intend to:
  • Write 2,000 words per day.  This will equate to 60,000 words in total, and is above the recommended 1,667 words per day that totals up to about 50k.
  • Post an edited excerpt of the novel on December 1st on this blog
  • Do a one-pass edit to make sure the story works and cut out word padding (which will happen, for sure), terrible writing (also inevitable), etc.
  • Do one more edit for grammar and spelling.  I expect most of the spelling to be caught by spell-check, but I doubt the grammar will be 100%.
  • Do one of A) shop it around to an e-publisher or B) self-publish.
The reason I say 'e-publisher' is because that way I don't have to spend money printing and mailing manuscripts.  Public shaming only applies if I don't complete the novel & edit, not the publishing bit.  Just FYI.  Well maybe just the novel completion bit, I mean editing is a lot more daunting than writing.

I think that settles everything.  Looking forward to November!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Season 4, Episodes 9 & 10

In my continuing series of reviews of the episodic Television programme known as Battlestar Galactica, I have watched the next two episodes - The Hub and Revelations - and correspondingly have reviews to share.

9. The Hub
- I liked the way they approached the continuation of this one, showing us what happened prior to finding all those destroyed base ships and the wrecked Raptor.
- They've unboxed Deanna - good.  Hopefully this means we'll get some answers out of her!
- I particularly enjoyed the moment when she "revealed" that the President was a Cylon.  It was a moment where my line of thought was, "Okay, she's gotta be joking!  They're playing up the suspensful music too!" and it turns out that was indeed the case.  I like that they didn't take a commercial break to reveal that she was just joshin'
- Not sure what to make of Roslin in this episode.  Her visions, her decision to save Baltar...I just don't know.
- Speaking of Baltar - for some reason I thought he already revealed that he gave up the access codes.  Good to know he's not feeling guilty about that anymore, that he's moved on.  Just trying to figure out what he was getting at as far as telling the Centurion about the Cylon God and whatnot.

10. Revelations
- You can feel the apprehension from the Four in the fleet when Deanna announced she wanted them to come forward.  Though I don't understand why Tori was there - at least the other three had reason to be on the flight deck.
- I think Tori must be programmed differently than the other three.  She at least seems the most "Cylon" of the four of them.
- Holy crap, Tigh is actually revealing himself to Adama?  This is nuts.  I seriously stopped the video right after he revealed himself and suggested sticking him in an airlock.  I am in unbelievable suspense.
- Wow.  President Adama (Apollo) has some balls.  I understand though - they probably all feel betrayed so being so callous when it comes to killing a Cylon who you thought was human is easy.  He would have sent Tigh out the air lock if Kara didn't stop him.
- I didn't think they'd actually get to Earth already!  I was thinking it's an end-of-the-show type of goal.  But now that they're there, it's in ruins.
- Which means the rest of the season should be devoted to answering tons of questions, which hopefully means they'll still have some exciting episodes left.  This was the best episode yet this season, I hope not to be let down.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review:: Easy A

I've split this review into parts in keeping with one of the movie's themes.  In Part 1, I give a general review which contains no spoilers.  In Part 2, I will reveal my post-viewing critical thoughts of the movie that back up my general opinion in Part 1, but MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.  Ye be warned.

Part 1

Let's not split hairs: this is a teenager / high school movie, and is aimed at said audience.  Maybe even the college kids who aren't too far removed from their glory days are in that audience.  Having said that, it is still enjoyable for people like me who are 26 and several years removed from either high school or college.

The story is as it looks in the previews: Olive helps out a gay friend by pretending to have sex with him at a party, and then continues to help other students by having fake sex.  It all inevitably spirals out of control, which is where the conflict comes in.  It's a pretty funny movie with only a few negatives (at least, negatives from my perspective), but for Easy A, getting an A is not so easy (haha, see what I did there?  Oh yeah, there are some wonderful puns in this movie too); I give it a B, which would have been a B- if it hadn't been for the really clever opening/end credit sequence.

On to Part 2 - where there might be some spoilers.  But for this kind of movie, I don't think being spoiled is that big of a deal.  Other people might think so, hence my generous warning.

Part 2: Why I gave Easy A a B OR this part is also really long so hang in there please

The top reason for why I didn't give it a higher grade is because I didn't know what movie this was trying to be.  For the first half of the movie, it had its own identity and stood fairly evenly on its own legs.  Near the end, it becomes a pastiche of John Hughes homages and the movie loses itself.  By "loses itself" I don't mean to say that it becomes a bad movie, but that its legs give out and the movie has to use a Hughes-Crutch to make it to the finish line.  Oh man, I am just picturing Felix Gaeta hobbling to the finish line in a track meet.  Okay sorry, no Battlestar Galactica in here.

The self-referential bits begin early in the film - acknowledging how fitting it is that in every movie the book they study in class has a significant relevance to the events in the movie, yadda yadda yadda.  Alright, I can excuse that because we know from the beginning that Olive is narrating From the Future, and It's Funny To Say That We're Not In a Movie But The Events Are Exactly Like a Movie.  Or something.

But then Olive brings up John Hughes movies (clips are even shown to us), and the final sequences are direct homages to those same movies.  This is the point where I get confused about what kind of movie this is, and I think I would have preferred it if it tried to reach the end without getting Hughes to prop it up.

I believe that the reason I have a problem with the Hughes-crutch is not that I don't like Hughes - far from it.  It's more than just because I think the movie could have done well on its own; it's because I also think it doesn't make any sense.

I assume that Olive is either 17, or about to turn 18 during this movie.  That places her birth at 1992.  Sure lists a bunch of writing credits in the early 2000s, but Hughes' last actual movie was Curly Sue in 1991.  The movies Olive talks about were made between 1984 and 1986, 1988 tops.  Is the movie trying to tell me these movies are actually relevant to teenagers these days?  I'm 26 and even I haven't watched all of his movies, nor do I have any strong desire to do so.

This tells me that the movie is simply a vehicle for the writers to re-live their memories of their favourite John Hughes movies, and it got green-lit because it was something edgy that the teenagers would like anyway.  And maybe they'll look into these movies they mentioned along the way (probably not).

In my opinion this movie would have been better served by paying homage with subtelty.  The movie-goers who would appreciate the references would feel excited and smart for pointing them out to their friends (I know I would).

Wow all that and I didn't even mention that I didn't like Olive's parents.  Way too liberal for my tastes - but I don't think they were meant to be real in any sense.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In which I seek help with NaNoWriMo 2010

The blog posts here automatically get ported to Facebook (at a snail's pace, but they get there) so there might be some people reading this that don't know what "NaNoWriMo" is beyond thinking it's some sort of comically miniature organization.  Not quite - it's a rather lengthy acronym for National Novel Writing Month.  I guess it should really be InterNaNoWriMo because it really is an international event that gets publicity all over the Internet.  Either way, it shall be known from here on as "NaNo" for (even) short(er).

I've participated a couple of times - the first few times when it was a smaller event, I don't think I even got a word of a story on the page.  Last year was my most successful attempt, though I still didn't reach the 50,000 word landmark to "win" the "competition".  There is a very simple reason for this: I procrastinate and make excuses for not finding the time to write.

There is another reason, and it's also why I am going back and forth in my head about my participation in the 2010 edition of NaNo.  I've discovered in the last few months that I am much more attuned to writing non-fiction than fiction.  Sure, I know critically what makes a good story, but I have difficulty writing a good story.  Sure, I could practice and get better, but I find it more natural to write non-fiction and communicate from my perspective instead of a made-up character's perspective.

When I read an article or essay I've written, I can often look back at it with pride, knowing that I think it's good.  When I read a story I've written, I don't usually react the same way.  I think it's not good enough, that I could do better. 

I also struggle with editing fiction.  It just doesn't come as easily as editing, for instance, an essay.  With fiction, it's like I've written something in French and am trying to correct the grammar.  I can get by, but it will still look a little sloppy.

Still, NaNo is tempting.  If you win - that is, write 50k words in 30 days - you get a lot of goodies.  One of them is a free proof of your book at CreateSpace.  It's not the most professional looking thing, and definitely not the same as getting published, but for my writing level it's a pretty neat thing.  This is why I always think about taking part in the grueling task that is forcing yourself to write 50k words.

What should I do?  I have some ideas for a novel if I were to take part.  If I do this, I don't think I would do any kind of planning ahead of time - just wing it.  As long as I write 1,667 words a day, that's all that matters for this undertaking.  Opinions, anybody?

Monday, September 20, 2010

World of Wonders

I keep wanting to discuss this book with everyone but I don't want to keep making blog posts.  So I thought I'd keep track of my thoughts as I read in a draft post.  Here's what I wrote recently on a forum, after being 7 chapters in:

So far it is a captivating enough story, but I'm not sure I see the point. It seems like it would be better read in quick succession of Fifth Business and Manticore, rather than waiting several years after reading Manticore. I haven't gotten to the point of putting the book down in frustration, as I did with Philip K. Dick's We Can Build You, but the book is definitely walking on a tight rope with me right now. Especially since I just picked up Spook Country for $2 and am itching to read that.

I wrote the above about a month ago.  I kinda gave up on reading World of Wonders, because I wasn't staying very interested in it.  Progress on Spook Country is going slowly as I am currently trying to get through some old TV shows (Battlestar Galactica, going to get caught up on Stargate Universe, and so forth).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Episodes 7 & 8

I've watched another two episodes since last week - and they're dealing less with the religion crap and telling more action stories.  Good in my books, because that's what turned me away from BSG for a bit.

7. Guess What's Coming to Dinner?
- The humans and the rebel Cylons are set to start an alliance in order to destroy the resurrection hub, which means that the Cylons would no longer be able to come back to life.
- The Cylons also want to "unbox" the 3s (played by Xena) so they can find the Final Five.  I don't think I've ever seen Tigh so terrified in the lifetime of the series.  The funny thing is that his suggestion to just "blow up the whole thing" is still quite in character, while at the same time hiding his identity as a Cylon.
- I really wish Tori was never introduced as a character.  I don't care that she's one of the Final Five...I don't like her character.
- I feel bad for Mr. Gaeta.  I didn't really think it would come to losing his leg, but then again, it was probably hella infected because he was lying with a gunshot wound for what...10 hours or something?  Maybe it was 4.  Anyway also crazy that he didn't want to be put under while they removed his leg...that's just weird and freaky.

8. Sine Qua Non
- I keep wanting to type that out as Sine Qua Nom Nom Nom
- Admiral Adama is the man in this episode - Thank God. Oh sorry, I meant Thank Gods.  Gotta keep in line with the show.  Anyway the point is it's nice to see The Old Man finally getting some decent screen time.
- Wait what?  Caprica 6 is pregnant with Tigh's child?  That is crazy.  ALTHOUGH if I'm not mistaken he is halucinating / seeing his dead wife's face instead of the 6's.  So that might have something to do with it.
- I'm starting to get the idea that Tigh's wife might be the final model.  But I don't think that's right because the final unrevealed Cylon is purportedly still in the fleet.  Maybe it's Geata?
- It's interesting to see Adama recognize that he is no longer objective about the rescue mission - I say that because I recently watched the season 1 episode where he sacrifices resources to rescue one pilot and refuses to give up.  It's nice to see some growth.
- Also I am more than sure that it's going to be the Caprica 6 that steals Hera from Athena.  She shot the wrong model.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns

After deciding the other day that Linkin Park is my new guilty musical pleasure, I decided to check out their new offering: A Thousand Suns.  Here are my thoughts on the album.

Having not listened to any of their previous albums (that's coming soon), just their singles, it sounds as though this album is a departure from their "norm".  There are samples galore in this album, with a heavier emphasis on rapping in the songs.  There are maybe two-three songs that conform more to what they are known for.

Overall the album plays as one long piece - I can't say that I've really noticed any "track breaks" between the songs when I listened to it.  They all merged together quite nicely, and I have to say I enjoyed the album.  I don't know which track is my favourite, but I did like "Robot Boy", "Waiting for the End", and "Blackout".  No surprise that those are some of the more "traditional" type tracks.

Of the "departure" tracks, I think "Burning in the Skies" is pretty solid, as is "Wretches and Kings".  The best thing out of all of it is that none of the tracks sound like the songs at the end of the Transformers movies (which was one of my previous gripes about Linkin Park - that many of their songs sound similar).

Friday, September 10, 2010

BSG Season 4, Episode 6 - "Faith"

The second half of "The Road Less Traveled", there's a lot more action happening in this episode.  And a lot less Baltar.  This is all good in my books, and the episode was definitely a good one.

- I particularly enjoyed that this episode advanced the plot.  It didn't seem like last week's episode was doing much, if anything at all - in fact I feel that they could have edited the sequences of "The Road ..." into "Faith" and still gotten the same results.
- Nana Visitor was in this episode!  I suppose it's the Ronald Moore connection?  Anyway it was nice to see Major Kira again, even if she was just playing a one-off cancer patient.
- Adama was in about 2 minutes of screen time in both of these episodes combined.  It seemed out of place for him to suddenly show up at the end of the episode.
- So I think this means that the Colonial fleet will now have a Base Star at their disposal?  Albeit a damaged one, it still gives them an extra means of protection.

I've got one more episode ready to go, and then I have to download the rest of the season (and convert it to ipod friendly formats).  I'm glad I decided to do this!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NHL Slapshot Review

I finally got the game - after trading in something like 8 games, I was able to purchase NHL Slapshot for $12 and change.  Pretty sweet, considering my aversion to paying $70.  So how does the game measure up?

Admittedly, I haven't played too much of the game yet.  I jumped into a quick exhibition game, pitting my favourite Ottawa Senators against the despised Toronto Maple Leafs (which, for some reason, have a rating of 86 compared to Ottawa's 85).  This was after spending about 15 minutes trying to put the stick peripheral together, which is not very well documented in either the game manual or the accompanying training video.

I then decided to play the new mode for this game, Peewee to Pro.  It's exactly what it sounds like - you take a player (which you can either create or select from existing players) from the Peewee leagues all the way up to the NHL.  Thankfully you can start at any level: Peewee, Bantam, Junior, or Pro; I say thankfully because the Peewee games can get a little tedious - thank goodness for 2 minute periods!  However the games do get a little challenging after a few games, and gives you a good learning curve for playing with the stick.  It's also beneficial that in both Peewee and Bantam there are no penalties or play stoppages, so you can get even more used to the controls.

There's no mode available to take full control of a team over the course of several seasons, but that's mostly because this game is not aimed at the people who would want to play NHL 11 (which unfortunately is me).  Even more indicative of that is the ability to skip the season and jump right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is actually a feature that disappeared from previous iterations of the NHL franchise, so I appreciate it.

And in thinking about it, I really don't mind not being able to build a team the way you can in the regular NHL series.  There will be online roster updates, and the ability is there to edit rosters, so it's still customizeable.  I generally don't play more than a few seasons anyway, and the peewee to pro mode fills that gap well enough.

The soundtrack for this game is amazing (the Olé song notwithstanding).  There are gems like The Final Countdown (yes, THAT song), The Twilight Zone, and Shipping Up to Boston.  Overall, fun and awesome tunes.

As for graphics - well, they're standard EA graphics.  Good player models, and great animations.  The gameplay is good too, even if it does lean more toward arcade hockey.  I can tell you it is certainly a lot of fun setting up goals (more so than scoring them - which is also a lot of fun!).

If you're hard-up for hockey realism, you're probably better off with NHL 2K11 for the wii - or NHL 11 if you have a PS3 or xbox.  But if you prefer a fun game with great graphics and gameplay, NHL Slapshot is the game to go with.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NHL Slapshot

I rarely get excited about video games, because for the longest time I owned only a PS2.  For a while that was still okay - I had a current-generation machine, up until the PS3 came out.  Even then after a year or so the PS2 was still a fairly popular console.  But these days, nobody really cares for it.  Even after I got a Wii last year (which I won in a contest - woohoo!), I'm still a little blazé about new titles because I stopped following them.

If only EA Sports' NHL series was available for the Wii...then I would be excited about video games.  Well, NHL Slapshot is the next best thing!  It's produced by a separate team at EA Sports, but apparently uses the same player database as the PS3/xbox counterparts.  The graphics look like they're up to par as well, even though the Wii is a less powerful console.  So it's safe to say that I'm pretty excited about this game!

Unfortunately it's $69.99 before taxes so I'm going to have to wait a bit (I hate spending $70 on games.  Maybe that's why I never upgraded my console...), but I will have NHL Slapshot and provide an actual review.  Maybe I can figure out how to take screen captures of the game while I play.  Or I'll just use my digital camera.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Story Idea: Don't Look Up

I got this picture of a short story in my head this morning, and wrote out what I could remember:

A man is sitting at a metal table in a white room. There is a sign that says "Don't look up". Skip forward, two men in suits find him dead (skull crushed or something, don't know); "I guess he looked up."

What I'm picturing here (I think) is some sort of interrogation room for the place that houses the "don't look up" sign.  There's just one question I have for this idea, which would help me figure out what the actual story is:

What the heck kind of place is this that requires someone not to look up or else face death?

If I can answer that, I have a story.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Season 4 -_Possible Spoilers_-

Despite the fact that this show has been over for more than a year now, I still haven't finished watching season 4.  I last watched episode 4, where SPOILERS Callie is blown out of the airlock by one of the Final Five.  I'm now onto episode 5; the fifth Cylon is still unrevealed, incidentally.  Way to drag it out guys.

Anyway I'm going to do an episode-by-episode account of my thoughts.  Here we go, for The Road Less Travelled.

- Never have I been more appreciative of a "last time on..." sequence before an episode.  I was partially concerned that I might not remember what transpired in the last 4 episodes.  The good news is, I don't have to sit through 4 extra episodes of Baltar being Priest Gaius, and they showed me all I need to know.
- The bad news is that I remember why I didn't worry too much about watching the rest of the show.  This episode so far is a lot of theological nonsense from Baltar and the reactions of the crew on board the Demetrius realizing (or remembering?) that Starbuck is insane.
- Speaking of insane, half the good pilots are on this mission to find Earth.  What would happen if Galactica was attacked?
- The one bit of continuity that I really like from season 1 through to now is how much the Leoben model messes with Cara's head.  I mean, nothing's more evident of that than during their "marriage" in season 3, but the two of them have some sort of connection - and it's been there since the first season.  It's a nice touch.
- I really hope the Baltar stuff is going in an interesting direction, because so far it is absolutely the most boring part of this episode for me. 
- Thank goodness Helo grew a backbone.  All episode long he's been caving to Starbuck's demands and doing the whole "following orders" bit, but he finally stood up for what he thinks is right.  I'm glad, because I've found his character can be a tad whiney and a bit of a pushover.

To be continued eh?  I think I'm going to save the next episode for next week, so I can appreciate the build-up.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Revisionist History

This is the post where I finally admit that I write a lot of posts, frequently.  I would space them out a week at a time, but the problem is that some of them become less relevant the more I sit on them.  Okay, I'll try to space out posts like these, I promise.  Non time-sensitive posts will go up when they go up.

Anyway I just wanted to point out that you'll never see a group of people so into revisionist history than sports fans.  I admit I'm guilty of being a revisionist myself - and the best example I can think of is the recent departure of Anton Volchenkov from the Ottawa Senators to the New Jersey Devils.

For the longest time Volchenkov was our darling defenceman - the shot blocking leader, he was the best D-man available in the league.  But as soon as it started to become evident that he was going to be testing free agent waters, we (we fans, that is) started to notice some problems in his game.  He can't handle the puck if his life depended on it.  He could get injured any day - don't sign him for more than two years!  And so on.

The same sort of thing happened with Dany Heatley, but mostly that was because he was a dick about the whole "requesting a trade" deal.  Still, revisionist history is at its peak in sports.  Any other prime examples out there?  In sports, or in anything else.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


My expectations for this movie from the preview were in one spot, and what the movie delivered were somewhere else entirely.

And I don't mean that in a good way, either.

I expected a light-hearted "real life superhero" movie, but instead got a bloody, gory movie that wasn't exactly what I had in mind for the night. I should have went with Date Night, or Gunless.

I really don't like when a trailer delivers false expectations; granted I understand why the trailer couldn't show all the blood and guts, but they did paint it as a much different movie.

Also, remember how people would say The Matrix was so violent because of all the guns and shooting and people dying? Wow, were we ever tame in 1999.

Incidentally I want to watch The Matrix now.