Monday, November 5, 2012

November? Must be NaNoWriMo!

Ah, yes, the annual November plunge. Into the depths of National Novel Writing Month. For those who don't know, the basic idea is to start on November 1st, and write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel, ending on November 30. That breaks down to 1,667 words a day, every day. I did my first NaNo in 2008, participated again in 2009 and 2010, and skipped last year to work on editing the 2008 novel. I'm diving in again this year. It's fun, frustrating, desperate at times, and sure feels good when you hit that 50k.

I'm doing something kind of out of my usual comfort zone this year. It is still a fantasy, because I'm happy writing that sort of thing. But this year, I'm aiming at a middle grade audience. I have no idea if I can pull it off. I'm already not sure I have the right voice, but if you don't try, you never know what you can do, right? This may well end up being stuffed somewhere no one will ever see it, but at the same time, it's kind of fun working on something that has no purpose other than to see if I can.

Everyone has to figure out their own strategy for dealing with this month of furious writing. We all have lives that go on, regardless of NaNoWriMo. For me, I find setting goals and having a plan works best. I'm not a "pantser"- I can't just sit down with some vague idea and start writing. I get lost too easily. I tried it once and the mess that resulted? Well, let's just say I'm pretty sure I won't go there again. I'm an outliner. I need a plan, a pretty decent idea where we're all going. Not to say its set in stone, and things never change, because they surely do, but I have to start with some sort of plan.

And goals. 2,000 words a day. For a couple reasons. First. it gives me a buffer when things get a bit hectic later in the month. Thanksgiving is in November, you know. And that means at least one day of not getting much done. If I have a buffer built up, I can still get to the goal without killing myself in the process.

Second, 2,000 words is about all my poor little brain can deal with in one day. Sometimes, if I'm working on a piece that I have pretty well planned out and know well, I can do a fair bit more. Most often, I run into real brain fatigue right around the 2K mark. It's okay. It lets me relax a bit and let things work in the background, which makes the next day's effort less stressful.

I don't follow things like word sprints and other group things, mainly because most are internet based, and I find it better to shut down FB, Twitter, G+, email, and all that while I'm working. Otherwise, I waste too much time "just reading a few more posts". (No one else has that problem, right? Liars.)

So, off I go, into the wild ride that is NaNoWriMo once again. I'm trying to keep a public accounting going, by posting my total words and words added on FB and Twitter daily. I hope anyone who sees me falling behind will give me a shove. I'll see you in December, hopefully 50,000 words farther than I was at the beginning of the month.

To all the other WriMo's out there- good luck! Keep writing!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate 1) by Gail Carriger

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alexia Tarabotti has no soul. Really. She's a preternatural, born without a soul, which allows her to negate supernatural powers with a touch. But that's not the worst of her problems, mainly because almost no one knows. No, her real troubles stem from the fact that she is 25, plain, and had an Italian father. She is, in her society, a spinster. Alexia is resigned to her station. And then, she (quite accidentally) kills a vampire at a party. Very bad form. The incident is investigated by the loud, devilishly good-looking Lord Maccon, working for the Queen's Bureau of Unnatural Registry. As they probe into the sudden appearance of a rogue vampire, they discover that known vampires have been disappearing, and unknown vampires are appearing. As they investigate, they discover a plot that could have dire consequences for the supernatural segment of society.

I truly enjoyed this book. Set in an alternate Victorian London, it is part steampunk, part romance, and part comedy. The characters are lovely- Alexia is smart, not afraid to speak her mind, and quite quick-witted. Other main characters are as enjoyable, especially Alexia's gay vampire friend, who speaks in italics, of course. The writing is clean and nicely paced, the dialogue is witty, and the Victorian elements are true to form. It reads quickly. The premise is interesting and intriguing.

Problems? Well, yes, a few. First, we are reminded, much more often than is necessary, of Alexia's appearance (she has her father's Italian complexion, large nose, and intellect), her less-than-marrigeable state (she is 25, and well, look at her- there's the appearance thing again), and the rest of her physical appearance (she is apparently a bit curvier than acceptable). A few reminders, yes, but at times it felt like being hit over the head with it, time after time.

And, while some of the circumstances (I won't go into more detail in order to avoid spoilers) that Alexia finds herself in, particularly with Lord Maccon, are stretching things a bit. They do provide some of the most amusing scenes in the book, but still, in those particular situations, I found myself a bit hard-pressed to believe the reactions.

Still, those are minor issues, and I didn't find them really detracting from my enjoyment of the book. It is fun, amusing, and a nice example of the steampunk genre.

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