Friday, December 30, 2011

Year end writing goal met!

I'm happy to say that as of this evening, I've wrapped up this year's NaNo novel, the sequel to Trust. The rough draft came in at 95,000 words and its actually complete from beginning to end. I'm so bad about leaving gaps to fill in later, but this time, no sir, its really, really done. And I like it. I'd toss out that I love it, but it's a rough draft so that would be a little extreme. Let's just say I'm pleased.

I'm also pleased to announce that I found a role for Chuck. I know, he said he was happy here in my last post. I had great plans for him, mentoring him in how to actually be evil and all, but something came up and he was perfect. And no, I didn't kill him. He did get punched in the face, but the medic assures me he'll be fine once the swelling goes down.

This means I can start polishing a few of the shorts floating around on my hard drive and get Trust back into Query land in the coming months. Hooray for starting the New Year without a half finished editing or novel project looming over me!

Hey, there's a first time for everything.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Victims of the Knife: A late Christmas gift

This year, rather than throw myself into the holidays, I've assumed my Gollum-self and hunkered down in my writing cave. Yes, I filled the stockings, baked the cookies, hosted the extended family, cleaned the house, did the tree and presents thing with the kids, but then I ran back to my cave where only the tip tapping of keys could be heard throughout the day. It helps that my family got a Kinnect for Christmas and have been heavily occupied with it, which means more writing time for me.

My goal is to wrap up Trust's sequel, which was my NaNo novel, by the end of this year. Yes, that means there are only mere days left, but I'm almost there!

Which brings me to this announcement from Chuck, the Barthromian captain.

"We're ready for me now?"

I nod. "Go on. The others are listening."

Chuck clears his throat. "As many of you know, Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him vanished a couple days ago. Many of us thought he'd wandered back into the wastelands behind the desk after our plan to get our beloved writer to write us back into novels failed. We were wrong."

Nekar shouts, "Well where did he go?"

Chuck looks at me. "She wrote him into the sequel."

Protests fill the air.

"Now, now, I know this doesn't seem fair, but trust me, we should be grateful."

He leans close and whispers, "And thank you for not keeping your word to write me into that novel."

"You just weren't right for it. I'll find somewhere else for you."

"No, really, that's fine. I'm happy here." He plants a huge grin on his face. "See, really happy. No need to send me elsewhere."

"Suit yourself." I direct his attention back to the angry throng.

Chuck steps to the edge of the desk. "I've seen where he went. We're better off here. Way better off. She may have let him back in, and even given him part of his name back, but he was crazy and she killed him."

"That's right." I eye my suddenly silent characters one by one. "So next time you fill out your Christmas lists, keep in mind that I might give you what you ask for, but I won't guarantee you'll like it."

"This is the part where you laugh evily," Chuck whispers.

"I'll let you take that part. You need the practice. Now get out of here, I have a novel to finish writing."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wrapping up before Christmas

As the end of the year approaches, kid obligations are in a lull and business slows thanks to the oncoming holidays, I finally have time to get to some of the things I've put off...some for a very long time.

First and foremost, I've had time to work on the sequel to Trust that was my NaNo Novel this year. As of this morning, I've cracked 80k. Woohoo! I'm aiming for 95-100 knowing that I have a lot of things earlier on that I can clean out during edits which will bring me back into the 90k range. Then its getting shelved for awhile so I can take Trust from the shelf where it's been resting since October and polish then launch into query round two.

Then comes one of the projects my kids dread: The mom cleaning of their rooms. The Purge. We started with an hour in each room. So far, two stacks of outgrown clothes, one huge box of books to be donated to my NaNo book drive, and a bulging bag of garbage. Round two tomorrow.

As I baked Christmas cookies this past weekend, I found myself needing my missing seventh cookie sheet to toss into the oven/staging rotation. (Yeah, there were a lot of cookies.) This poor cookie sheet as been sitting on top of my son's bookcase for...egads...umm...years? He'd been working on some little sand on stickers craft thing at the time and we put it away when he lost interest. You guessed it, he never got interested again. So on it was piled his scrapbook and everything that should have gone in it.

Now, I knew I was behind on this little motherly project, but as I unburied the cookie sheet (which was in pristine condition compared to is long used counterparts by the way), I discovered I'd not updated his scrapbook since second grade. He's in eighth this year. *headdesk*

Hours later, report cards tucked away, certificates proudly displayed, pictures attached, and birthday cards, movie stubs, artwork and award ribbons arranged, the much pared down pile was tucked neatly into the pages of the scrapbook and a stack of artwork and reports went into a box in the attic. Whew!

Tomorrow brings my daughters scrapbook, but that's only three years behind. Bah, no problem. Who am I kidding? *shudder*

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I'm not crazy, I'm just creative

As I was getting my day started (wandering the internet), I came across this article -- Scientific American: The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric -- and being a little eccentric myself, I had to go check it out. Whoa! How true! Not that I see my characters chasing me around (other than in my writing area), or have a germ free zone, and I do shower regularly, but on so many other accounts, a huge resounding yes!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Critiquing and the Percolator

One of the reasons I enjoy critiquing the writing of others is because it helps me make my own writing better. Yep, I'm selfish like that. Not only do I find it so much easier to point out the things that bug me or that just don't feel quite right in other people's work, but it then makes me think about those exact things when I'm writing. I've become paranoid that if I happen to post a chapter for critique, that same person might read it and call me out on the same issues I've recently harped on them about. My inner editor is armed with a steel ruler and she's not afraid to use it!

Beyond that, in the conversations often struck up after a critique, things I've been percolating on my own writing sometimes hit me. As they did today. I'd been working with someone on a troublesome opening chapter. In the back of my mind, it occurred to me that I had a novel with an opening chapter that had a very similar problem--the tension fizzled by the end of the chapter. It wrapped up too neatly instead of leading into chapter two.

Hours after this virtual conversation, I was out racing from one thing to the next (my overachiever scale back plan doesn't activate for months yet), and a lightbulb went off. I now have the answer to what I need to add to the first chapter of a novel that I haven't touched in over two years to make it work! Swan Queen, there is hope for you yet!

*insert evil laughter and much milking of the giant cow* And if you have no idea what that means, go read this.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Confessions of a recovering overachiever

Sorry for the sudden lapse of silence, but after a month-long blogging challenge with my discarded characters, I've needed a little time off.

Fourteen years ago, pregnant with my first child, I had lofty visions of all the wonderful and meaningful things I wanted to do for and with mhy children. It started with a journal while still pregnant, covering everything from current events, to family history and then milestones as my children grew up. I would soon become involved with their schools, their hobbies, and all things connected to them. We would make our own christmas cards every year, by hand. We'd make Christmas cookies for family, co-workers and neighbors. We had big family birthday parties. This was all great and wonderful and everyone was happy.

However, somewhere around hitting forty I came to the conclussion I'd run out of patience and time. Year after year becomes a rush of one project leading to the next with little to no downtime in between. You may remember that last year I buried my tattered superwoman cape. This year I'm going a step further. I'm allowing myself to put my overachiever tendancies aside and join the ranks of the average.

Last month I offically put in my notice that I will not being taking on the Young Writers Program next November. I also put in my notice that I'll be stepping down from Girl Scouts as of the end of this school year. And even bigger, (because this has been one of my pet projects for eight years now) I'm handing off half my elementary christmas craft program to my new assistant whom I'm training this year. Then, after next year, I'm done with that entirely. That's three huge time-sucking programs crossed off my list. Whew!

I will also freely admit that I didn't make Christmas cards this year. We're using up extras from years past. We're cutting back cookie production to immediate family only. My christmas tree has way more ornaments on one side than the other, and yet, my normally twitchy self is ok with that. Half my outside Christmas lights didn't work this year so I threw them away and I haven't replaced them. In fact, I let the kids put the working ones up and they look pretty atrocious. Oh well.

Now if all this cutting back will give me some of this mythical "free time" to do the things I like to do for me, I'll be a happy average woman.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 30

Well halle-freakin-lujah, we’ve reached day 30! Between getting pricked by paperclips, accosted by discarded characters, being interrogated and doing a little of my own, and holding actual conversations with my Scorpius bobblehead, I was growing a little concerned that this month would end with me losing my goal for this year’s NaNo: to retain my sanity.

As of last night around 9pm, I completed my 50k word goal. The novel needs another 30 to 40k to finish out the draft, but I like where it’s going and aside from some questionable dialogue, my current in-play characters are behaving. One of my characters, thanks to the rewrite of Trust has become far darker and downright creepy in book two. He surprised even me. I love when that happens.

So how much did I write this month? Well, this blog challenge led to an additional 10k, in addition to the 50k novel in progress, at least 10k in planning/organizational emails with my co-ml (I’d get an exact number because I’m curious like that, but it would take way too long), 3k in pep talks and regional forum posts and daily notes, facebook messages of encouragement, answering NaNoMail… yeah, a lot. Let’s just call it that and let my fingers rest, shall we?

And for this last day, I’m to share a link to my story. I’ll compromise and share the opening scene. Enjoy.

I didn’t think my shipping business was overly successful, not to the point where anyone would want me dead over it. But as I lay there on the floor, observing the fine spray of my blood on my office wall, I had to consider that I might be wrong.

Heavy footsteps drew closer.

Damn. I knew I was rusty, having been out of the business for over four years, but it was still disappointing to know that I’d not done any serious damage with the two knives I’d managed to throw before toppling from my chair. I tried to peer around my desk, but my body wouldn’t cooperate.

Rhaine was going to be pissed that I missed dinner yet again.
The footsteps stopped.

Something tingled inside my head. The telepathic barriers I’d erected years ago dissolved as my mental strength faded.

The tingle came again. Familiar.

The black form of my killer loomed over me. “Oh fuck! Vayen, is that you?”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 29

As I watch my discarded characters--I’d call them darlings, but they’ve ticked me of this month—dismantle their ream wall and reshape all those paperclips, I can only shake my head. Well, that’s not entirely true, I could laugh at the Barthromians that Chuck is making clean up all the camel crap with teaspoons on their hands and knees.

There’s hope for that man yet.

This is what happens when you let characters run amuck with a plot. They make a mess. Sometimes it’s good to see where they will go, how they will grow and the twists that you hadn’t planned on, but there is a limit to the chaos you should let them make. Even in a rough draft. Unless you want that draft covered in crap, keep them somewhat on track.

Since all my characters are busy, I’ll have Scorpius ask the question of the day…or at least put on of the tiny flyers in his hands and pretend.

What was the one thing in which I indulged to keep myself writing?

Bad dialogue. I could say drinking or chocolate, both of which are somewhat true, but no, mostly bad dialogue. When a scene stopped moving, I let someone speak their mind and the sparks started flying. While this is good, it usually resulted in a lot of responses like, “Good” “Fine” “No” from the character being ranted at with an occasional comment to egg the other character on. There will be some definite clean up involved but no, I won’t be doing it with a spoon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 28

The boys who don’t get blown up run toward me. “We’d love to give you something. Please tell us, what would you like? What’s the one thing you’ve been depriving yourself all November?”

“Umm. Nothing? I can write my 1,667 words in an hour and half. It doesn’t take that much time out of my day. In fact, I’m usually writing around that long every day anyway, just not as productively.”

“How about a DVR full of tv shows?” asks one.

“Or a whole day to surf the internet?” asks the other.

“No, I’ve been keeping up with everything pretty well. Now, tell me, what’s behind that wall you’ve built?”

They run back to the wall, waving their hands over their heads and screaming.

The wookie noise sounds again. And again.

I step on a bent open paperclip. The stupid thing pokes into my sock and I stumble into the paper wall. Reams of paper slide off the stacks, falling behind the wall with loud thuds.

Characters go running in all directions.

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him has two long ropes with…

I do a double take. “Are those camels? Where the hell did you get camels?”

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him leads the shambling and wookie noise making camels toward me. Two Barthromian soldiers leap onto their backs. One falls off. The other scrambles his way onto the back of the camel and hits the camel on the side of the neck. Two huge guns pop out of the sides of the camel’s hump.

“Whoa. Cyborg camels?”

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him stands proudly before the camels with the ropes in hand. “Gun-toting camels. You may remember writing them in a couple blog posts.”

“I do remember that, yes.”

“But you never used them in a novel. Therefore they are a discarded idea. They ended up here.”

“I’m pretty sure I’d have noticed them around. Not to mention, I never wrote them into a novel, so they don’t technically count.”

“You can argue blog vs. novel theory with me all day, but we have demands and if they’re not met, you’ll be sorry.”

The second Barthromian soldier finally makes his way onto his camel and produces a second set of guns.

“What are you going to do, shoot me?”

Ms. Wildstar emerges from behind the paper wall and stands by his side. She looks me in the eye. “If you don’t write us back into the sequel, yes. We all came from that novel universe. You can work us in. You can send us back. And you will do it.”

“Hmm. Let me think about this.” I tap my chin. “No.” I point at the gun-toting camels and they disappear. The Barthromian soldiers fall to the floor. “I may let you silly and willful characters run amuck around here and sometimes in my novels as well, but thisis my world and ultimately, I say what goes. So no. No more threats. No gun-toting camels. And no getting written back in.”

I put my hands on my hips and glare down at them all. “You will all go pick up the mess you made out there and go about your business peacefully until I write otherwise.”

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him glares right back at me. “And if we don’t?”

I smile down on him. “You end up with the camels. Deleted.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 27

Nekar runs down the path at me as I approach the far wall. He pants and waves his hands. “What are you doing over here?”

“Coming to see what you guys are up to.” I peer over him. So what are you hiding behind that wall of reams of paper? For that matter, where did you guys get so many reams of paper?”

“You bought them months ago. A whole case and then some. It was a back to school deal with a rebate.”

“And you guys are have stacked them up into what looks like quite the fortified wall over here. Are those paper clips sticking out between the reams?”

He glances over this shoulder. “They might be.”

I take another step.

“Hey, how’s your word count coming along?”

“I’m ahead. I plan on reaching 50k on Tuesday. Taking it a little easy today.”

“Wait, what? You’re ahead? We kind of thought you’d wait until the last day.”

“Well I don’t plan on it.”

“But you procrastinate all the time! You work best under pressure. Don’t you think so? Some of your most interesting twists come from word wars. It’s all about the pressure. Maybe you should go get yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate and relax in front of the tv for a while. Kick back, relax since you’re ahead. You deserve some down time. Go on.”

“Down time is for January. I’ve got things to write and people to see. Get of out my way.”

I get a step further before I’m pelted with adverb cards from all sides. Disturbingly, annoyingly, irately, stubbornly, vivaciously… that one had to be lobbed by Delilah. I wade through the cards. “Onward!”

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 26

I can’t take Chuck sitting there, staring, waiting, tapping his perfectly rounded and buffed fingernails on the CD stack another minute. Getting up is the only way to find some peace. This means I have to pick my way through the paper-wad paths, making sure to watch out for wayward paperclips, any booby traps set by Nekar or Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him and attempt not to step on anyone.

The thought of a character squishing between my toes makes me reconsider sitting back down and dealing with Chuck. But no, it’s going to be a long while before I find a spot to use Chuck and I need to find out what all these strange noises are.

Chuck runs to the edge of the desk, stopping just before he flies off the edge. “Wait! Where are you going? You promised to write me in!”

“I’ll be back, Chuck. Just going for a walk.”

My walk gets all of three steps before I step on a card. I pick up to return it to an overturned crate. Sharply gives me a paper cut. Stupid adverbs!

“Thanks. I accidently knocked that over.” Delilah yells up to me. She runs around picking up more cards. “Where are you headed?”

“Over there.” I point to the opposite end of the room where all the odd sounds have been coming from.

“Oh.” She glances around. “Umm. Did anyone ask you a question yet today?”

“Not yet.”

“Have you done any research in your NaNo novel preparation?”

“Not exactly. But I did just finish the first book so if you want to call all those months of revising and plot refining research for the sequel, I’ll go with it.”

“Ok. Sure! Can you tell me more?”

“Not much more to tell.”

“There must be. Tell me all about it. Take your time. I’d love to hear every detail.”

I cross my arms and glare down at her. “It almost sounds like you’re trying to buy some time.”

“Oh no, no, not at all.” She flashes me her most charming smile.

“I wrote that smile, dear. It doesn’t work on me. Now move aside before I step on you.”

She dodges out of the way as I set off again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 25

Captain Chuck creeps over to my laptop, glancing over his shoulder with each third step.

“No one is watching you, by the way.”

“I feel like I should sneak though, being a spy and all.”

“Well quit it. You look silly.”

“Okay, fine.” He stands up straight and dusts off his uniform.

“Is that hair on your uniform?”

“Yes, and it’s not mine.” He winks.

“I appreciated your message the other day. I’m assuming this hair is related?”

“Yes.” He winks again.

“Is this going to require me getting out of my chair and traversing the paper wads?”

“I’d recommend it.”

“What are you, a freakin magic 8 ball?”

“Not sure. Ask again later.”

I roll my eyes and shake my head. “I take it you have a question?”

“I do. Since this story has changed so much from the one I was cut from so long ago, I’d like to get to know the characters I’ll be interacting with when you write me back in. What are their names and how did you choose them?”

“Write you back in? Oh yes, I did mention that didn’t I. Hmm. Well, I suppose you should know them then. Ms. MC is Anastassia. Her last name is still subject to change so we’ll leave that out for now. I picked her name because I’ve always had a curiosity with the Russian princess of the same name. Not that this Anastassia is a princess in any way, but the name caught my attention.

“Mr. MC is Vayen. His name came from a variation of Vayne, a character in C.J. Cherryh’s Gate of Iverl. I loved the name and his devotion to the FMC. That, in part, shaped Vayen as he came into his own when I switched the entire story to his POV years ago.

“Well then, now I know who they are. I don’t suppose you’ll tell me anything more about them?”

“You’ll just have to wait and see, Chuck.”

He wrings his hands. “Umm, exactly how long will I have to wait?”

Darn it, now I have find somewhere to put him in. I was hoping he’d forget. “Until I get to the point where I plan on putting you in. I’m not there yet.”

“Thanks then. I’ll be waiting over there.” He goes to the stack of CDs and sits down.

Well that's annoying. I guess I should get to writing so I can get rid of him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 24

The boys who don’t get blown up approach me warily. One says, “We’ve been charged with asking the question of the day.”

“It’s not about music,” says the other one.

“Well that’s a relief. What is it today?”

“Religion,” says the first one.

The other one nods. “Is it featured in your novel?”

“Yes, in fact it is.”

A loud pop sounds in the distance.

“What was that?”

The boys look at each other. “Nothing,” they say in unison.

“Uhh, yeah.” I peer into the paper-wadded landscape but don’t see anything unusual. “Anyway, Geva is the female god featured in my novel. Mr. MC’s people are pretty technologically minded but he still likes to think there’s someone out there to blame for his problems…err…I mean to pray to for help when he’s in a bad situation. He’s not one for actual worship and there aren’t any churches. I’d consider it part of his society’s perpetuated culture more so than a religion as we think of it.

“Ms. MC does follow the religion of the planet nearest where she was during a tumultuous time in her life. Using her telepathic gifts she became a middle-level priestess before giving up after being told she could go no higher because she was an outsider. So rather than bring peace to individuals through linking minds and performing healings, she became a soldier and sought peace that way.”

The pop sounds again followed by a rumbling bray that reminds me of a Wookie.

“What the hell is that?”

“Was that the signal?” says one of the boys.

The other elbows him in the ribs. “We’ll go check it out and get back to you.”

“You do that.”

They run to the edge of the desk and disappear.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 23

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him saunters across my desktop and leans against my laptop screen. “So, how’s the writing going?”

“Pretty good, though not a word yet today. Been rather busy around here with work and getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow.”

“Ah yes, that’s a day we don’t usually see you around here, isn’t it? Too busy dealing with cooking, traveling to visit family and all that sort of thing. No time for writing.”

“I’m having people here this year, so no traveling. I should have time to write. Probably not later in the day though.”

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him marks something on his hand.

“What are you doing there? Are you writing on your hand?”

“Me? No, not at all. That would be silly. Who does that?”

“You do, apparently. What were you writing?”

“Nothing. Say, I believe I’m supposed to ask you a question today. Let’s see.” He pulls out his creased flyer. “I…uhhh…” He looks around and reads the flyer again, his brow creasing more and more with each second.

“Is there a problem?”

“Umm, no. It’s just…”

“Just what?”

He licks his lips and slaps on a half-assed smile. “Do animals play any part in your story?”

I purse my lips and ponder this question for a several very long and silent minutes, taking secret joy in watching beads of sweat form in his brow. “Say, weren’t you feeling ill last time you were up here? Better now?”

“Oh yes, much better.” His gaze darts to his shoulders and then back to me.

“Good to hear. Wouldn’t want you to start sneezing up huge globs of phylum.”

“Yeah.” He laughs nervously. “So animals?”

“No, not in my novel this year. I’ve written in some dogs and horses in the past, but hmm, no just not a big animal writer, I guess.” A nagging thought persuades me to check my calendar. It is the twenty-third. “Have you seen Chuck?”

“The Barthromian captain?”


“He told me I should take his place today. Said he wasn’t feeling well.”

“Don’t tell me he’s got what you had the other day.”

“I don’t know. Hey, I’ve got to get going anyway. I’ll check on him and let him know you asked about him.”

“You do that.” Though I was pretty sure my spy was doing a fine job. Chuck had some promise after all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 22

Glicfip perches on the edge of my very dusty candle holder. “Delilah said I should come ask the question for today. Something about making sure everything was good between you two?”

“Charming girl, isn’t she?” Not gifted with subtlety though.

“She is. She’s got lots of charms.”

“Oh, I’m sure she does.” I hold up my hands. “No details necessary. Don’t want to know.”

“Right. Sorry. Anyway, we were wondering what happened to your other NaNo novels. You seem to write them every year but no one gets discarded. Either than means you write a whole lot better than you used to or that you’ve never bothered to revise them.”

“First off, what’s this we thing? You and who else?”

“The guys. Well, except for the boys who don’t get blown up. They were too busy helping the Barthromians work with the dust bunnies, but now Captain Chuck has shut that all down.”

“Ah. And why do we care what’s going on with other novels?”

“Everyone’s holding onto hope for a way out of this character purgatory.”

“Is this one of those ‘or else’ situations where you try to pressure me into writing you all back in or some mysterious threat will appear?”

His gaze darts around my desk and he chews his lip. “Umm no. Not at all. Why would you say that?”

“Oh, just a hunch.” Delilah isn’t the only one lacking subtlety.

“Yes, I’m writing more carefully these days which means less character casualties—in the discarded sense anyway. Also a sort of yes as to the revisions. I have worked on revising Sahmara’s Sunset and Swan Queen and sold one of the short stories I wrote during last year’s NaNo rebel effort, but for the most part, my attention has been on cleaning up Trust for its return to queryland. I do certainly have plans to get to all the NaNo novels haunting my hard drive at some point.”

“Good to know. I’ll pass that on. Thanks!” He strides to the edge of the desk and descends into the paper-filled landscape.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 21

I rip the masking tape from the Barthomian Captain’s mouth. “Chuck, I have a deal for you.”

“Why would I want to make a deal with you?”

“Because I could keep you up here decorating my tissue box forever. Would you like that? You realize, that being a fictional character, I can just leave out the commonplace things like feeding you, making sure you get bathroom breaks, sleep, you know, all the day to day stuff we writers sometimes skip over and the reader assumes happened? What if it just never happened, Chuck?”

“That would suck.”


“You’ve been up here since, what, day nine?”


“No shower, no change of clothes, no food, water or a bathroom. Enjoying this?”

“Not really.”

“Those soldiers of yours are morons. Sadly you have the only twinkle of evil among the entire lot of you. I need you back among them. Shut down that stupid dust bunny shelter, find out what Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him is up to. Report back by day twenty-three.

“I’ll gladly go back to my men, but spy on my fellow discarded characters? I don’t know about that.”

“You’re evil! Come on. Embrace it!” I pull the rest of the tape off him, letting him enjoy a few moments of freedom.


“There just might be a spot in this novel for you.”

His eyes light up. “Really?”


“Wait a minute. What was the question for today?”

I hand him the flyer on which he and Delilah had written their confession.

“That’s what I thought. What are your goals for this novel and do you actually plan to complete it? I don’t want to be stuck in some half-finished, archived file for a decade or two.”

“Never fear, Chuck. I plan on finishing this one. Someday soon, it might even go on to my crit group were people will read about you.”

“Read about me? Really? I’ve waited for that for so long!”

“So what do you say?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” He sprints to the edge of the desk and leaps off with a victorious whoop.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 20

They must be desperate to distract me. That’s what passes through my mind as I see Trala climb over the edge of my desk. I feel dumber just being near her. Maybe that was their plan. Hmmm.

“What can I do for you, Trala?”

“I’m supposed to ask you a question today. This paper said so.” She holds up a heavily creased flyer.

“Oh joy. What’s the question?”

“If you could meet one fictional character from any book you’ve ever read, who would it be?”

“Interesting question. I’m going to go with none of them. I like my romance men on the page. No one is near as attractive and sexy all the time in real life. And really, most of them are trouble at first. I really don’t need that sort of aggravation. I’ll leave that to the female romance lead.”

A low, loud sound comes from behind a distant pile of paper wads. I glance over there but don’t see anything.

“What was that?”

“What? I didn’t hear anything.” Trala blinks her big blue eyes.

“Uhh, ok then. Well, fantasy novel guys could be fun too, but I’ve read how often the wash – not near enough. And their teeth? Ok, so that might not be mentioned on the pages, but we know. Same with pirates. All well and good on the page, but no sir. Not live.

“I can’t think of a female character that I’d be anxious to meet in person. We’d probably hate each other in short order. Vampires? Umm no. Safer on the page. Sci-fi guys? Hmm. Most of them are on the run, violent, have troubled pasts, a price on their heads, serious issues, weird gifts… yeah. I’m going to pass there too. I’ll keep enjoying characters on the page where I can put them down when I want to and spend time with them when it works out, and totally on my terms.”

A second deep throaty sound is cut off by someone shrieking. “No really. What’s going on over there?”

“Oh nothing. Probably just Marin harassing the Barthomians. They’ve been trying to tame dust bunnies.” She rolls her eyes. “Stupidest thing I’ve ever heard off.”

“Yes, it is.” And I don’t just mean the bunnies. Those Barthromians need some direction. And that didn’t sound like Marin or dust bunnies. Unless they were really big dust bunnies. I need a spy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 19

I flick the card reading stealthily off my keyboard and peer around, finally spotting Nekar. The card reading invisibly doesn’t do a very good job of hiding him.

“Might as well come out. I can see you.”

“Damn. I need bigger cards.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that would help.” I drum my fingertips on the desktop. “So, what have you seen up here?”

“Nothing.” One of the cards in his hand drops.


I hold up the card and shake my head. “Nice try.”

“I was just doing some research. Really.”

None of the cards leap out to give me a clue so I just nod.

“Ms. Wildstar said you wrote that Mox guy into your new novel. I wanted to see if there as a place for me too. We’re not that different, me and him, you know.” He glares at the laptop. “But I couldn’t figure out where the hell you have your novel file. Your writing folder is a damned mess!”

“It’s organized chaos. It works for me.” I pick him up and set him far from the tissue box. “Sorry to say, it’s because you and Mox are not all that different that you will not be written into this novel.”

Repetition was an excuse they’d all come to accept, but in all honestly in this case, it’s because they aren’t the same at all. What kind of deluded image does this guy have of himself? Mox was a good guy. Nekar was a bad guy. He never even had a somewhat middle ground, for goodness sake!

“While you’re up here, do you have a question to ask me?”

“It’s not my turn, but the schedule seems to be off, so sure.” He pulls a copy of the flyer from a pocket in his coat. “Which authors or books have inspired your writing?”

In this case of this particular novel and main character, I’d have to say Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series. Assassins and dry wit are two of my favorite things. I happened to be reading the series when I changed the direction of Trust many years ago, switching everything from Ms. MC to Mr. MC’s pov.”

“I could do dry wit. I’ve also killed people,” Nekar offers.

“I know.” I pat him on the head. “But we’re back at that repetition thing again. You should run along now before you end up in a sticky situation.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 18

Twenty-five uniformed men march onto the desktop. One steps forward. “Excuse us, She Who Taps The Keys. We are looking for our Captain.”

“You and everyone else. Haven’t seen him.”

“He was supposed to ask you question today. He hasn’t been here yet?”

“I said I haven’t seen him. Is there something else, or can I get back to writing?”

The man turns and looks to the others. Several of them nod. He turns back to me. “Our beloved Captain has been missing for over a week. No trace of him has been found. We can only assume something horrible happened. We request your permission to elect a new captain.”

“A guy goes missing for a week and you’re all set to replace him? Not big on waiting are you?”

He leans in close and give me a conspiratorial nod. “I’ve rather had my eye on the position for years.”

Could it be? One of my impotent evildoers has a drop of ambition? Perhaps there is hope for them after all. “And just what kind of captain would you be? I’d like to see some changes. You Barthromians have been stagnant for decades.”

“Oh, me too.” He grins, which makes his eyes sparkle and a dimple show up on his cheek.

“Cut that out. Don’t ever grin again.”

“But,” he pouts, “I have so many plans. I have a vision!” He spays his fingers out and raises them high. The sparkle and dimple return. “New uniforms, something blue like Delilah’s eyes, and with some sequins! We’re so sick of these drab things! And pencils! We want pencils. One for each man, so we can play tic-tac-toe to hone our strategic skills. And that one,” he points to a blushing young man, “he would like to open a shelter for the dust bunnies. You see, they’re just lonely and misunderstood! They could be trained. They could become wonderful pets!”

I just sit, blinking, amazed at this glimpse into the Barthromian mind. Amazed, no, perhaps disturbed. Yeah, probably more that. “While I’m thinking that over, ask today’s question.”

“Of course.” He snaps to attention. “Who is the antagonist in your novel and what drives them?”

“There are several. The ex-best friend who has a chip on his shoulder the size of his dead wife and child. Kess, a returning bad guy who was good for a brief section of the last novel and is back to being bad, though perhaps reluctantly. He is trying to give the star system better leadership. It just happens not to jive with Mr. MCs vision, nor are his tactics appreciated. And then there’s the Council. Still there and still wanting expansion and domination over the known universe. Isn’t that what armies and plentiful resources to sustain them are for?”

He puts a hand over his gaping mouth. “They sound evil.”

“And you don’t. Request denied.”

Twenty-five sulky Barthromians shuffle off the desktop.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 16/17

"Scorpius, I’m going to toss day sixteen’s question to you since no one came up here to ask it. Wait, you can’t ask questions, you can only answer them."

Okay, I’ve got this then since we’re already running a day behind. Turns out this is as darn appropriate question.

What else do I have going on in my life and how much is it shafting my efforts to win NaNo?

Well, we all know that I buried my superwoman cape last year. However, here’s a quick glimpse into a single week’s obligations beyond my own writing of 50k.

Monday – Young Writers Program student meeting , grocery shopping for me and my mother-in-law, Boy Scout meeting and work
Tuesday – Girl Scout meeting, worked late on an installation job, Hosted a write-in for adult NaNo participants, shopped for upcoming PTO event items, girl scout project supplies, NaNo celebratory chocolate, and donation for food drive for son’s school, and one other meeting that I had to cancel on because of the write-in.
Wednesday – Young Writers Program student meeting, picked up CSA veggies, worked, watched Survivor with family – oh hey, we’re all in the same room for a whole hour!
Thursday – OMG nothing but work (thanks to the fact we cancelled a PTO meeting.)
Friday – work, host evening online write-in for adult NaNo participants, help with PTO movie night and somewhere in there transport teen son to evening school party. Clone self?
Saturday – Transport son across town to afternoon boy scout event. Spend a couple hours with daughter at an activity orientation. Work in the yard / clean up garden / work if I have to.
Sunday - Spend some time sitting in the same room with husband during our one night of evening tv time. Catch up on laundry, dishes, cleaning and making sure kids have homework done, have cleaned themselves, their rooms and their clothes.

There, we’ve got that one covered. Still no one up here? Now I’m getting concerned.

“Hey,” I rip the masking tape from the Barthromian captain’s mouth. “I guess today is yours even though the schedule said that you have tomorrow. Do you have a name? I mean, I didn’t write you with one, but I’m getting sick of referring to you indirectly.”

He rubs the masking tape residue from his lips. “Chuck.”

“Uhh, really? That’s not very, I don’t know, alien sounding. Or terrifying. Come on, you’re the leader of the bad guys.”

“No, I think I’m sticking with Chuck. I rather like it. And truly, I do appreciate that you let me pick my own name, especially after that Glicfip debacle.”

“And now you’re being polite and using words like debacle. Where did I go wrong?” I drop my head into my hands. “Ask the darn question.”

“What time period is your novel set and is it on this world or another?”

“It’s in the future, in another star system, and takes place on several planets.”

“Very nice. Sounds like a story I could really get into.”

I slap new piece of tape over his mouth. “Nice try, Chuck.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 15

“So Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him, we meet again.”

He scowls. “We do.”

“Well, aren’t you extra surly today? What brings you to the desktop?”

“The Barthromians are missing their captain. Do you have anything to do with that?”

“Me?” I take a second to reassure myself that I’ve securely re-taped and gagged the annoyingly good captain to the backside of the tissue box. “Nope.”

“Maybe we should ask your friend there.” He points at Scorpius standing next to my laptop.

“Scorpius is a bobblehead. He can’t talk.”

“Oh, but I think he can.” Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him approaches the still figurine. “So, Scorpius, have you seen the Barthromian captain on the desktop within the past week?”

He gives Scorpius a little tap under the chin. “See, he says yes.”

“Now that’s just cheating.” I knock my chair into the desk. Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him staggers. “See, now he says no.”

“You just slammed into the desk!”

“You hit him under the chin to make him nod!”

“Is she lying about the captain, Scorpius?”

“Oh come on!” I spot a glob of something shiny on his coat and point at it. “What’s that? It looks like a giant blob of mucus.”

Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him turns slowly to look the glob on his shoulder. “That’s nothing. Say, umm, do any of your characters have a disability or mental illness this year? That dysotopian novella you did a couple years ago, the one with the mentally handicapped guy, uhh what was his name… Anyway, that was fascinating.”

“No, but thanks. So really though, what is that on your coat?”

“Must have sneezed. Woo, yeah, not feeling so well. Probably should go lie down.” He runs for the edge of the desk. “Wouldn’t want to get you sick. We’re only halfway through NaNo.” He dives over the edge.

I look to Scorpius. “Think their still up to something out there?’

He nods.

“Yeah, me too.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 14

I peer down into my pen cup, realizing it’s been a long time since I’ve used any of them. With my handwriting being so atrocious, it’s just better I stick with typing whenever possible. Wow, these things area really dusty. “You guys still alive in there?”

Delilah shrieks, “Get me out of here! I have baby dust bunny bites all over my legs!”

“The confession first.” I reach down in there and wait until I feel paper between my fingers. I scan the scrawlings on the paper. “A revolt, huh?”

“That was the plan, yes,” says the Barthromian captain. “Now, if you don’t mind, I believe this girl has been traumatized enough. Keep me if you must, but let her go.”

I sigh. “Chivalrous behavior? Really? You’re supposed to be evil!”

“It seems you failed miserably.”

“So did your plan. Mox won’t be helping you.”

Satisfied when both characters look suitably dejected, I extract Delilah from the cup. “Now then, I suppose you want to go back to your beloved Glicfip.

She nods emphatically.

“Two things then. First, you have a question to ask me.” I hand her the flyer.

Delilah scans the list of questions and then clears her throat. “Is the sexuality of your characters a large part of your novel’s story? If so, are there characters who deviate from the heterosexual “norm”? In what way?

“A large part? Not exactly. There is some sex between two characters who have been involved for several years and are now engaged. She’s currently holding out now until the big day and that’s causing some definite frustrations on Mr. MC’s part. I haven’t run across any characters who operate outside the hetrosexual norm in this particular novel. It doesn’t feel needed for this plot.”

“What the second thing?”

“If you say a word of what happened up here to anyone down there, I’ll write Glicfip into a novel with his own personal harem.”

“You wouldn’t!”

I tap a few keys. “Try me.”

She scurries off the desk without so much as a glance at the captain still stuck in my cup.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 13

“Ms. Wildstar, how nice to see you again. I hear you’ve been on a little vacation.”

She smiles tightly and grips the edge of her seat on the stack of dusty CDs. “Not really. Those stupid boys don’t know what they’re talking about. You know they were never developed for their minds. All they were meant to do was get horribly murdered so Mr. MC would be more sympathetic to Ms. MC.”

“I suppose so.” Ms. Wildstar’s mind wasn’t all that developed either, but I didn't point that out. “So what can I do for you today?”

"Ms. MC was supposed to describe Mr. MC for us, but she couldn't make it. Something about not being able to get a sitter because she's stuck on a buried, hidden spaceship with her kids."

“Ah yes, she’s in a bit of a predicament at the moment. So are you going to take her place?”

“No, I brought someone else to do it.” She slides off the CD stack and goes to the edge of the desk where she motions to someone below. “Someone you haven’t talked to yet this month.”

I take a quick inventory of my discarded characters. They all seem to be covered. Hmmm.

A man in his late twenties with dark skin, hair and eyes climbs into the desktop. He stands protectively near Ms. Wildstar.

I wrack my brain and finally arrive at a name. “Mr. MC’s brother’s best friend, Mox?”

“So you do remember me.”

“No, she doesn’t. She’s scrambling. There’s a reason you were left out there undiscovered in wads of yellowed paper. If she remembered you, she’d have brought you to live with us years ago.”

I tap my chin. “Interesting. I’d not thought about you in years. It’s been drafts.”

“Yeah, I saw some of the new stuff when we were making our way here. Much better. Rather sorry I’m not in it though.”

“I’m intrigued. What do you have to tell us about Mr. MC?”

“He was a nice young man, responsible, striving to be like his brother. But when Chesser died, the poor kid was left at the whims of Ms. MC and she ruined him.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, and you’re working from old information. He truly does love Ms. MC and she him. She doesn’t pull him into her troubled world until years after she did before. He’s his own man now. Sure they’ve had some rough times, but in this new novel, he’s doing the best he can in a world were everyone seems bent on ruining the happy little life he and Ms. MC had set up for themselves.”

“Wow, that doesn’t sound near as bad.” He leaves Ms. MC’s side and sits on the CD stack. “I never liked Ms. MC before but she sounds much more sympathetic now.”

“That was my intention.”

Ms. Wildstar stomps over to his side with her arms crossed and a scowl on her young face. “You said you were going to help us. Now you’re sitting her all chitty chatty with She Who Taps The Keys. This was not part of the deal.”

I put on my benevolent smile. “Mox, it seems like you were a decorated soldier, dedicated and loyal. You had a lot of skills Chesser used while you were on missions together and when he died, you did your best to give Mr. MC some guidance.”

He sits up proudly and puffs out his chest. “That’s me.”

“You know what…” I glance at my laptop.

“No! No, no, no!” Ms. Wildstar runs toward my keyboard.

“I have the perfect place for you in this novel.” I quickly type his name.

Mox vanishes.

Ms. Wildstar stomps on my keyboard. “That wasn’t fair! You! You know...” She shakes her fist at me.

“Know what?” I smile at the utterly frustrated teen.

She bites her lip and lowers her fist. “Nothing. I have to go.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 12

Two pairs of trembling hands lightly touch my desktop. The boys-who-don’t-get-blown-up appear seconds later. “Excuse us, She Who Taps The Keys, we are looking for some of our friends who have gotten lost.”

“Haven’t seen anyone since yesterday. How’s your project going?”

They look at each other and then back at me. “What project?”

“The one where you ask me questions, of course. What did you think I meant?” Maybe I should grab them too. Nah, there are enough people wondering where the two are that I already have.

“Oh, that. Quite well I think,” says one.

“Marin and Nekar have been happy with everyone,” says the other.

“Have they now. What about Ms. Wildstar, is she happy too?”

“Haven’t seen her-”

“For a couple days,” finishes the other.

“I hope she’s not missing too.”

“No, she’s off-”

The other one jabs him in the side with his elbow. “She’s taking a break.”

“Of course. I’m sure she’s tired after arranging this project.”

“She had help.”

“Did she?”

“Um, we’re supposed to ask you a question today,” says the one who did the jabbing. “If you were behind on your word count and were going to pull and all-nighter to catch up. What would your playlist of inspirational music look like?”

The pens in the cup begin to rattle. I talk a little louder to cover the noise and put my hand over the cup, stilling the pens inside. “Seriously? Didn’t we cover this with the last question you two were up here?”

“I suppose we did. So no music then?”

“I have been inspired by certain songs, such as when I was working on the novel you two came from, but no, not when I’m actually writing. No music. In fact, even when I’m plotting while driving around town, I turn the radio off.”

“Silence. Got it,” says the one with the loose lips.

“But you’re not good at it,” mutters the other one as they creep back over the edge of the desk.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 11

I unfold the flyer I took from the pocket of the Barthromian captain and look it over. Other than a letter B next to day 18 and 22 there aren’t any clues to be found. Delilah didn’t have any pockets but even a pat down didn’t produce anything of use. “Are you two comfortable?”

Delilah and the Barthromian captain blink twice.

“Good. If you’re ready to talk I’ll gladly remove some of that uncomfortable tape.”

They blink again.

“Looks like today’s question is about collaborative writing.” I rip the tape from their mouths. “Since no one has come to ask it yet, I’ll just take this one.”

Something jabs my foot. I clamp my hand over the two characters taped side by side to my tissue box. Glancing downward, I spot Glicfip poking my sock with a half bent open paperclip. “Can I help you with something?”

“Have you seen Delilah?”

“Not since she asked her question yesterday.”

“I’m supposed to ask you one today. Mind if I skip it? I’d really like to keep searching for her. I’m starting to get worried.”

“We can hope the dust bunnies didn’t get her. That would be such a shame.”

Glicfip pales. “You don’t think… No. She’s got to be around here somewhere. I’ll keep looking.”

“Okay then. Good luck.” I wave as he sets off town the paper wad lined paths.

Once he’s out of sight, I turn back to the characters squirming and mumbling under my hand. “Now then, about this collaborative writing thing. No, I haven’t done that and I’m not into roleplaying games. However, I’d suggest you two get on it.”

I pull the tape off of their bodies and drop them in the pen-filled cup. The useless flyer goes in too. “You have until tomorrow to write me a full confession on the back of that or you’ll be playing the role of dust bunny food.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 10

With the Barthromian captain taped securely to my pen box and turned to face the black wastelands behind my desk, I patiently await my next visitor.

Delilah hoists up her low cut dress to better cover her ample cleavage and smiles. “Hello.”

“Is that the dress Ms. MC used to wear to that year end party?”

“Yeah, you cut it three drafts ago. Ms. Wildstar wanted it, but she couldn’t fill it out like I can.” She spins around.

“Indeed. I don’t think Ms. MC even did it such justice.”


“Totally.” I smile. “How does Glicfip like it?”

“He loves it. Oh, and thank you for giving him a new name. It’s much easier to say. And it sounds so different.”

“Like he comes from a whole different planet or something.”

“Exactly!” She grins.

“So what can I do for you today?”

“I’m supposed to ask you about manifesting your love of writing when you’re not doing Nano.”

“You mean, my other project outside of NaNoWriMo?”

Her grin hastily downgrades to a wavering smile. “Yes, those.”

“I think we both know that I write all year, well, other than the summer months. Those are often too busy and filled with interruptions to get much done, but if something really has me fired up, I’ve been known write even then. I also enjoy critiquing writing for other people when I’m in a non-writing mode, which sometimes happens between projects or when I’m on an editing/revising binge.”

My pens begin to jangle in their plastic cup set into the empty tissue box. Delilah jumps.

“What was that?” She wraps her arms around herself. “Are there dust bunnies back there? Trala says they’re horrible and mean and ugly! You’ll protect me, won’t you?”

“I’m not Glicfip, dear. I’ve killed characters. Many of them. Even ones I really like when it serves a good purpose.”

The box bounces. Then pens bounce with it, thunking up and down.

“Maybe if you had something important to tell me, I’d be more inclined to protect you.”

The girl looks around wildly. “I don’t know anything important. Really, I don’t. I should go.”

“So soon?”

She dashes for the edge of the desk, but the tight dress confines her steps. I grab her.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 9

Still yawning, I’m peacefully going about my wake up and check my email routine when someone climbs over the edge of my desk. The captain of the Barthromians straightens his uniform and paces my desktop, his heels clicking with each step. “So, who did you tell?”


“Come on, you told others. You can’t hide it. We know.”

“Who knows what? Of course I talk to people.” I really need to start drinking coffee or maybe ring my desk in barbed wire until I’m ready to be sociable.

Click, click, click go the heels of his polished black boots. “You know what I’m talking about. Who. Did. You. Tell.”

I close my laptop and sit forward. “Talking slowly is only effective if you also yell. At least, that seems to be the general consensus. How about you stand still?” I grab him by the legs and pick him up. “Now, just what are you ranting about this early in the morning?”

“Reliable sources have reported that you have been spreading confidential information.” He pushes against my hand as if he actually thinks he could break free.

“Regarding what?”

“The project code-named NaNoWriMo. Ms. Wildstar said no one was to speak of it. Especially not you.”

I squeeze a little more. “Project, huh? I suppose I have been talking about NaNoWriMo, but that was kind of the point of this month—to share my writing experiences with others.”

He freezes. “Writing? You’re talking about… writing?”

“Yes, I’ve told everyone who will stand still long enough to listen about NaNoWriMo.” I bring him up close to my face. “People know to leave me alone this month because I’m stressed enough to snap heads off with all I’ve got going on in addition to NaNo.”

“Oh.” He dons a winning grin. “My mistake. So sorry. Would you mind putting me down now?”

“I don’t think so.” I grab my roll of masking tape. “I can interrogate too.”

After taping him to the tissue box that holds all my pens, I sit back. “So, just what is project NaNoWriMo?”

“We’re not supposed to talk about it. The memo said so.”

“Especially not to me?”

“Notto you.” He bangs the back of his head on the box, and lets out a growl. “Damned typos! They’ll be the death of us all.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 8

When I see Ms. Wildstar on my desktop, I’m only mildly relieved. “Been awhile. Where have you been?”

“Hanging out with Nekar. Why?”

“Why did he and Glicfip switched days? Was he too busy hanging out with you? Speaking of which, I know you two always seem to be near each other, but hanging out? Really?”

She shrugs. “Glicfip had to get a haircut on his assigned day. You know how he is with looking good.”

I have to wonder if Nekar has been coaching her. She’s awfully nonchalant if she is truly hiding something.

“With Xander gone, I needed someone to talk to. Glicfip and Delilah are often busy. All Trala does is rave about the dust bunnies and the boys-who-don’t-get-blown-up are rather attached to one another.”

“As in tied or glued together or attached?”

“Yeah, that.” She cocks her head and a sly smile creeps across her face. “You didn’t know? I thought you knew everything about all of us.”

“I do.” For the most part, but she doesn’t need to know that. “I was just making sure they’d not fallen into a vat of glue or tangle of masking tape when the dove off my desk the other day.”

“Uh huh.”

“Do you have a question for today or did you just come up here to annoy me?”

“What’s your word count? It’s supposed to be 13,336 today.”

“Well, it’s not 13,336. I did manage to squeak in over 10k last night thanks to some word wars. Weekends and Mondays are not good writing times for me. Too many people at home and too many obligations to juggle. Today, I should be able to pound out some words.

“Famous last words?” She smirks

“Ha. Ha.”

“I should get going then. I wouldn’t want to distract you.” She waves and dashes to the edge of the desk.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 7

As I sit here, waiting at my desk, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll see Ms. Wildstar today or if she’ll scrape up yet another discarded character to stand in her place. The boys-who-don’t-get-blown-up clearly didn’t want to be up here. I really have to wonder what she’s bribing them all with.

My wondering comes to an end as I see a hand and then a head pop over the edge of the desk. “Welcome, Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him.”

He stands up and shakes out his dusty clothes. Scars from his adventures in the dark wasteland behind my desk stand out starkly on his face and arms. He scowls. “You really remembered all of that?”

“It is your name. It’s my job to remember.” I make sure my notes are covered with my hand and smile confidently. “So what question do you bring for me today?”

“I’m supposed to ask you where your favorite place to write is. But really, I wanted to ask you for a new name. This one is total crap*!”

“Now, now, no need for that. I suppose, since I gave Glicfip a new-”

“Wait, what the hell did you just say?”


He shakes his head. “You’re cruel, you know that?”

“It’s also my job to be cruel.”

“Have you ever considered that your job requirements sound a lot like mine?”

“Can’t say that I have, but now you that mention it… Mine doesn’t pay near as well though.”

“That’s because you don’t actually have to deal with the dead bodies. You just make the rest of us do the dirty work.”

“Good point. So you want a new name? How about Bshhtvep?”

“I’ll pass. Keep the mouthful. We’ll see how long you can keep it straight.” He glances off in the distance and nods.

I spin around in my chair and scan our paper-filled surroundings. “Who are you nodding to?”

It’s far too quiet out there. The adverb crates are unattended. Ms. Wildstar’s paper stack is vacant. The corners are empty, as are the paper wad lined pathways. Not even a whisper or crinkle of paper reaches my ears.

“What are you guys up to?”

“Just doing our jobs, like you.” He smiles.

I have no idea what Ms. MC saw in this guy. He’s slimy. Not literally, that would be messy.

“Didn’t I ask you a question?” he asks.

“Um, yeah.” I keep my eyes on him and the far too quietness below. “I have this desk but I also like the freedom of not being tied to one place. I write in bed, on the couch, at the kitchen table, sometimes the stairway if it’s the one pseudo quiet place I can find in the house while still keeping in touch with what’s going on with the family. They tend to get annoyed when I shut myself away in here for hours on end. Though, I usually try to write when they’re gone because I’m more productive then.

“I’d say we’re done here. I’ll be seeing you soon.” He grins as he climbs over the edge.

*was severely edited to be all ages friendly.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 6

“Almighty She Who Taps the Keys, we are reporting for duty.” Twenty-six extremely pale men in dirt-colored uniforms snap to attention on the desktop.

I have to remember to give Ms. Wildstar credit for recruiting even the Barthromians in her efforts to delay her next visit. Or maybe she’s up to something. “What’s Ms. Wildstar up to these days?”

“Sorry ma’am, we weren’t written to be spies.”

“Right. What were you written for again? Oh yes, to be bad guys. So be bad and do something you weren’t written for. Come on, break the mold.”

All twenty-six of them stare at the desktop. The leader quietly says, “We don’t know how.”

“You’re worthless. All of you. Not that it should be a surprise. You’re here.” I sigh. “Fine, what’s your question?”

“What do you find most stressful about writing 50,000 words in thirty days?”

“Getting my work done when I’d rather be writing. Too often, writing wins. Which means work piles up and then I’m running around swearing at everything until I’m caught up again.”

“It’s all about time management, ma’am.”

“Yes, well, when you can find the time to be bad, you get back to me on your time management advice. Until then, you’re dismissed.”

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 5

Two bare-chested, seventeenish looking boys peek over the desktop. “Excuse us, are we in the right place?”

“This is different. Can’t say as I’ve seen the two of you up here before. You boys-who-don’t-get-blown-up tend to stick to the corners of the room. Ms. Wildstar is really making sure you all get a turn, isn’t she?”

They nod nervously and stand at the very edge of the desk.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to blow you up again just for asking a question. Out with it.”

“What are two-” starts one boy

“Songs from your playlist that-” says the other

“You feel are connected with your novel-”

“And why?”

“Wow, you guys are a regular little interviewing duo, aren’t you? That’s really annoying. Maybe I should blow you up again.”

One backs up half a step and teeters on the edge. The other catches him, pulling him back to safety.”

“I’m kidding. Maybe.” I shuffle through the items on my desktop. “Where is that music device… Behind the Scorpius bobblehead? He says yes, but he always says yes. No. Behind this awesomely foiled sun and moon birthday card from six years ago? No. Behind my repurposed empty tissue box that holds pens and pencils? No. Oooh that’s right. I don’t have one. I write in silence. I love silence. How the heck am I supposed to hear you guys yammering in my head if I have music playing?”

The boys yelp and fling themselves over the edge.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 4

Good-looking-cocky-fighter-pilot-that-once-slept-with-Ms-MC-and-was-violently-killed by-Mr-MC sits on the edge of my desktop, panting. “That’s a long climb up.”

“Been awhile since you’ve been up here. You should spend less time ogling Delilah and more time exercising.”

“I exercise with Delilah all the time.” He winks.

“And she weighs all of, what, a hundred pounds after downing a sheet cake? You might want to try something with a little more resistance now and then. And no, I’m not talking about broadening your sexual exploits.”

“Oh come on, look at me, I’m ripped. I don’t need weights.”

“That’s because I wrote you that way. Keep dining on fantasy ‘food’ and I’ll have to write you some bigger clothes. Don’t you have a question you’re supposed to ask me?”

Good-looking-cocky-fighter-pilot-that-once-slept-with-Ms-MC-and-was-violently-killed by-Mr-MC pulls out a paper from his pocket. “Yeah, why do I have this hideous name when the other characters you’ve pulled out of here for their names have vanished?”

“Because I’m She Who Taps the Keys, that’s why.”

He crosses his arms and taps his foot. “Oh look, I’m He Who Taps His Foot.”

“Fine. Because I recycled other aspects of their characters along with their names, but I haven’t had a need for a playboy fighter pilot. You’re stuck here in character purgatory, buddy.”

“Then I demand a new name before I ask my all important question.”

“Uhh. How about Glcfp. That encompasses enough to help me remember who you are without being such a mouthful.”

“Seriously? Glcfp? How do you even pronounce that?”

I grab my sharpie and fill out a new nametag. After slapping it on his chest I lean back and look him over. “Yep. That works. You are hereby known as, Glicfip.”

“You realize that’s still horrible, right?”

“Take it or leave it, Glicfip. Ask your question already.”

“What is the genre of your novel and why did you choose it?”

“I chose it because it’s a sequel and I kinda need it to be the same genre. Which is sci-fi by the way.”

“Fair enough. Can I be excused before I end up with an even stupider name?”

I wave my sharpie marker at him. “Probably a good idea.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 3

Nekar stands at one end of my desk, his jaw tight and his narrowed eyes gleaming. “You.”

Ms. MC stands at the other end of my desk looking equally as perturbed. “You.” She glares at me. “When you invited me out here, I didn’t think it was to help you dispose of these cast offs. I mean, that’s not a problem, but I thought you said something about an interview.”

“I did. Nekar, cut the western showdown bit and do what you came up here to do.”

“You can’t honestly expect to interview her.” He throws down Stubbornly and Adamantly on the desktop.

“Hey, it was supposed to be Good-looking-cocky-fighter-pilot-that-once-slept-with-Ms-MC-and-was-violently-killed by-Mr-MC’s turn, but you switched days. Not my problem. Get on with it.” I shoo him toward Ms. MC.

They eye each other with distaste.

“I could come back another day,” Ms. MC says.

“No, just get on with it, Nekar.”

He says through clenched teeth, “Tell the people who you are.”

“I’m Ms. MC. Idiot. Why don’t you tell them who I am?”

“I know who you’re not anymore. We’ve got your eyes, nails and body armor floating around here. How the hell did you even fit in that? I suppose prancing around in a skin-tight suit while doing the Council’s dirty work was a little too sexy for you?”

“I don’t prance and I don’t do sexy.”

“But Mr. MC finds you attractive anyway. How nice for you. I suppose he’s into you for what’s on the inside.” He throws a card at Ms. MC.

She peers at it. “Sarcastically? As if we hadn’t picked up on that? This is why you didn’t make the cut. You’re redundant.” She looks to me. “Are you sure I can’t kill him? I have a pulse pistol right here. It would only take a second.”

“Do you have any idea how hard it would be to clean Nekar bits out of my keyboard? No thanks. We better wrap this up before someone gets hurt. Nekar, thank Ms. MC.”

“Are you freaking kidding me?” He hurls an armload of adverbs at Ms. MC and jumps off the edge of the desktop.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 2

“Trala? Hey, so, uhhh, what brings you up here?” I look at once pretty woman now covered in dust bunny remains and cobwebs. Her cherished blue dress is tattered. Scratches cover her legs and arms.

“Didn’t think I was still around did you? Thought the dust bunnies at me, I bet. You said they were cute and fuzzy! Lies! They’re vile little creatures. And their teeth!”

“They are? I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize they’d gone wild.”

“Yeah, right. Ms. Wildstar says otherwise.”

“Did she send you up here? I wondered where she’d gotten off to.”

Trala wipes some of the cobwebs from her hair and flips her long dark locks over her shoulders. “She gave me this flyer and told me to ask you a question about some Nana na mo thing.

“It’s NaNoWriMo, but nevermind, wouldn’t want you to sprain something. What’s today’s question?”

She squints at the flyer. “What is the title of your story?”

“I have no idea.”

“That’s an odd title.”

“It is, isn’t it?”

“Next I’m supposed to ask why you choose that title.”

“Because I don’t know what the book is called yet!” I take a deep breath and let it out. “Hey Trala, have you ever heard the term TSTL?”

“No. Why?”

“You should go look it up. I think you’d find it enlightening.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews 1

Ms. Wildstar sits primly on the edge of my container of paperclips and rubberbands and clears her throat. “So, She Who Taps the Keys, I hear you’re doing this NaNoWriMo thing again.”

“Where’d you hear that?”

“The flyer you threw down at us last week. You know, the one with thirty questions and the scrawled note to elect someone to ask them. Now I see why you type all the time. It took three of us to decipher your handwriting.”

“Yeah, sorry about that. My handwriting sucks. I freely admit it.” I rub my hands together. “So what’s the question for day one?”

“We all know you’ve done this before, but go ahead and tell us just how long you’ve been insane.” She coughs. “I mean, how long you’ve been participating.”

“This will be my sixth year. I’ve made to 50k every time. It will also be my fifth year coaching students through the Young Writer’s Program and my third year as a Municipal Liaison for my local region. I stay very busy during November.”

“We know. We hear you. Clickty-clacking all freaking morning. And talking to yourself. Do you even realize you do that? And would it kill you to get take a shower and get dressed before plunking down in front of that thing for hours?” She jabs a finger at my laptop.

“It might.” I glare at her. “I think we’ve have enough of this little interview for today.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

November won't be quiet

November has usually meant a silent blog for me due to NaNoWriMo taking over my life, but not this year. No sir. My host of discarded characters have decreed that they'll not sit quietly and be ignored.

Frankly, they've been rather secretive lately. I don't trust them to sit quietly and I certainly don't dare ignore them.

In hopes of flushing out what's going on behind the paper piles, I've devised a project that will keep them busy and, in theory, allow me the chance to flush out a few clues as to what their up to. Wish me luck.

Stay tuned for Victims of the Knife: The NaNo Interviews. Coming Nov 1.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Victims of the Knife: Grief and Zombies

Ms. Wildstar looks around cautiously. "Did you hear that huge whoop last night?"

Nekar nods. "I think it's safe to say she finished the rewrite."

"That means we're not going back in, are we." She sits down on a stack of paper and rests her chin on her hands. "We're stuck here while Xander is off having fun."

Nekar pats her shoulder. "Don't worry. I hear she might be working in the sequel during NaNo. There's still hope for us. Besides, you wouldn't like Xander now. He's older and only has a few speaking lines. He's not even the same man...err...boy."

"She rewrote him? My Xander?" Tears roll down Ms. Wildstar's cheeks. "I'll never see him again. We had so much fun together--searching for discarded technology, feasting on fantasy "food", acting out that cut scene where Ms. MC got to dress up and then she and Mr. MC when to that fancy party and then they-"

"I think we both know what happens next and I really don't need to hear the details. You're half my age for goodness sake. You know how long its been since I got to be in a scene like that? Four drafts ago. At least. You do not want to get me aroused."

Ms. Wildstar sniffs. "You really think there's hope we might get into the sequel?"

"Uhh, no. Not a chance." Nekar laughs.

"But you said there was hope."

"I was lying. I do that. But we might end up with some new friends."

"Wait, did you say NaNo was coming?"

"Yes, but if she does go with the sequel, I doubt we'll end up with NaNo zombies this year."

"But if she doesn't..." Ignoring the threat of paper cuts, Ms. Wildstar grasps the edge of her seat in white-knuckled terror.

"We'll need weapons." They run off toward the tower of precariously balanced paper wads as if the zombies are already at their heels.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The weasels have arrived

As NaNoWriMo season approaches Rippy McWeasel, our region's mascot, and I have been busy screening weasel recruits. These wily little creatures must have what it takes to become rabid cyborg attack weasels, hellbent on keeping writers in line during the November writing frenzy. It's not an easy task to keep a distracted writer on task. So many gadgets, and that darn internet and "just one more thing before I open up my WIP file". Shiny chickens, jobs, obligations, families, all those things that get in the way of writing time. Well, these weasels will have none of that. They must be heartless, able to withstand sobbing and ranting, pleading, rationalizations, deals one made with ones self, and downright bribery.

It's not every weasel that is prepared to become one of Rippy's elite rabid cyborg attack weasels. No sir. It takes years of training. That's why most weasels must take on cyborg parts to keep going after their natural lifespans would have taken them out of action. Yesterday, this first batch, stood on their stubby little feet for hours while Rippy instructed them in the ways of keeping writers in their seats.

To begin their field training, these weasels will be sent out into writer's homes this November. They will experience a NaNo and all that can distract a writer from writing 50k in thirty days. And in December, they will have either proven themselves worthy or slunk off into the shadows to live in shame.

So if you're contemplating NaNo this year, sit down and write your 50k. You wouldn't want to condemn one of these little creatures to failure, would you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Victims of the Knife: The Storm

Ms. Wildstar looks up from her dinner of fantasy novel cast off generic "food" and grimaces. "Is that thunder?"

Xander cocks his head a listens for a minute. "Hail?"

Nekar shakes his head. "She's writing again. About time. Just be glad she's on the laptop and not that old keyboard that sounded like a herd of elephants on speed."

"What are elephants?" asks Xander. "Are they similar to those gun-toting camels we heard about in the interview with Marion Sipe?

"No. Nevermind. I forgot you were from another planet."

Xander sets is plate on the ground. "So are you."

"Yeah well, I've been around a lot longer than you." Nekar picks up one of the freshly fallen paper wads. "Anyone see any new discarded food scenes? I'm sick of this bad food joke crap we've been stuck with for months."

"I haven't read much of it yet. The wads keep falling. I almost got crushed by a 3k pile of words yesterday." Xander looks up warily. "Anyone find any armor? Maybe a helmet? I don't care if its fantasy or sci-fi, as long as it protects my head."

"Nope, sorry," Ms Wildstar says as she finishes off her meal. "It's mostly been arguments and heavy paragraphs of character thought. I think I found a ration bar if anyone wants one."

Nekar shakes his head. "I'm not that hungry." His eyes grow wide. "Xander! You're fading!"

"YES!" Xander performs a double fist pump, full on mentos grin and leaps into the air. "Our gracious and wonderfully talented writer has found a role for me in the rewrite! I'm back in!"

Nekar hurls a paper wad at Xander as he vanishes. "Suck up."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Plot bunny zombies are going to eat my brains!

It's been a busy and productive week around here. I've been gleefully murdering darlings left and right. Nine chapters have undergone my knife over the past week. Three scenes have been gutted and plundered. Two were sold as slaves and one is locked a closet. It wasn't even my closet. Someone is sure in for a surprise!

Why rewrite three scenes that I've loved and toted about proudly for years? Well, I'm still conquering the episodic feel issue as well as the whole Mr. MC must take charge of the plot issue. I ended up two hours behind at work yesterday thanks to Mr. and Mrs. MCs combining three scenes into one (and I only counted that as one in the gut and plunder count. Woohoo!) intense and definitely character defining scene. I'm still loving it a day later so it can't completely suck.

On the NaNo prep front, I wrapped up project zombie with a horde of plot bunnies, pumpkin heads, cats and folklore zombies! I'm hoping these tiny zombies will go well in the upcoming raffle. Check out this book to make your own zombies. Next sewing project: Weasels. Lots and lots of weasels.

Monday, September 5, 2011


With school (finally) back in session, it's time to dive back into writing and begin planning this year's NaNoWriMo regional events. While I have yet to accomplish any writing that is post worthy, I have made strides toward NaNo plannning so we'll go with that for today.

Which brings us to zombies!

Zombies make great raffle prizes. Who doesn't love the lurching, brain-craving, partially decomposed undead?

Books don't just attack me at bookstores. Oh no. They lurk at craft stores too! I saw this cover and couldn't resist.

Next week's project: Plot Bunny Zombies!!! Just look at their cute guts dripping out of their flufffy little bellies. Auww.

Friday, August 26, 2011

August Readingfest - OUCH!

As my readingfest frenzy creeps toward its end --September, with the kids back in school should see my back to my quiet writing time-- I finished George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows. I'd only read that one once before and I was amazed at how much I'd missed my first time through. It may be that I'd forgotten more than I remembered after six years, but I have a feeling it was more a case of devouring the book and missing subtleties of the plot lines. Having read the first four books now in close succession, the forth felt the weakest, mostly for the simple fact that it was only half of what was going on during that book's timeline.

It's book five, A Dance with Dragons that I have to thank for the fire red sunburn on my back today. Just a couple chapters at the beach...and one more...maybe just one more. Roll over? I can't read on my back! Just one more chapter.

I'll slather myself in aloe and read from the comfort of my couch in air conditioned house from now on. Or acutally remember to apply sun screen. That probably would have been a good idea too. Hmm, staying inside, yeah, that's a safer option, I think.

Book five of A Song of Ice and Fire promises to make up for the partial story of book four by relaying all the character's stories we missed in A Feast for Crows and then concluding by twining them all together again so we can happily lead into book six--which is promised in the opening notes. I just hope it won't be another six year wait. Ahem. I'll try to be patient. Besides, I have another few days of reading until I reach the end and the long wait for the next one begins.

Something I've noticed along the way: weasels. They're everywhere in this series. Particularly in book three, which is filled with them. Rippy McWeasel is not particularly pleased with the way his kind are portrayed in these books. I've told him to be quiet and bide his time. NaNoWriMo will be here soon and his time to shine will come.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August Readingfest

A couple weekends ago we took a long weekend road trip to Chicago. This trip reinforced the facts that I am NOT a big city kinda girl and that my TBR pile has gathered dust for far too long. To keep my daughter busy, we had stopped at the video store to stock up on DVDs for the long ride. As we wandered through the family video section I spy City of Ember and something clicks in the back of my head. Huh, that sounds familiar. Why? Oooooh! I have that book... and its sequel... in my TBR pile... from 2004. Behind much? Umm yeah.

The problem with buying books from a book club blurb is that I occasionally a smidge misled. As I sat watching the movie, I realized, I'd unwittingly purchased two YA books. I'm not a huge YA fan. I know, I know, YA is hugely popular right now, but I like my books dark and twisted or erotic and with plots that keep me guessing. As for the movie of City of Ember, I enjoyed watching it with my eight year old daughter. The effects were disappointing in the main action scene, but otherwise, it was pretty good. After finishing the movie, I vowed to clear these books from my stack.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau was slightly darker than the movie and not filled with the hand holding reminders and explanations that plague some of the YA I've encountered. While I admit I kept waiting for something dark, sinister or twisted to happen, (it didn't) the plot and its ending was still gratifying in it's own simple way. I wish I could share what drove me to purchase the book in the first place, perhaps it was just the post-apocalyptic flavor, but that several years ago so I don't remember exactly. Apparently there are two more books in the series now that I was not aware of until writing this post. If I happen across them, I might have to pick them up as I will be passing these books on to both of my kids (13 & 8) to read. With both a teen girl and a boy as the MCs this book fits a wide audience. If you enjoy YA and have five to six hours you'd like to spend in a book, this one might be for you.

The People of Sparks This sequel picks up right where City of Ember left off, with Lina and Doon experiencing the outside world for the first time in their lives. This book makes you think a little about all the skills and knowledge we (and our children) take for granted. The moral of the story was a shade more in your face than I prefer even in books for kids, but it did have a character twist that I didn't see coming so I must give credit for that. Another quick read and perfect for my kids. Now I just have to keep them off their laptops long enough to pick up a book.

With two books read in two days, I was feeling far too accomplished. I'd waited a long time (too long because the newest of the series is now taunting me from the top of the TBR pile), but I finally allowed myself to sink into the sumptuous feast that is George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings. Since I'd just watched Game of Thrones on TV, I didn't need to refresh myself with the first book of A song of Ice and Fire. This was my third time through the early books of this series, but I wanted everything fresh in my head so I could fully enjoy the fifth book when I get to it. The series should have been named A Feast of Words and Characters. If you have not yet allowed yourself the utter pleasure of reading this fantasy masterpiece, indulge yourself. Go on. Do it. Now.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

July Readingfest 3

I'm thinking this reading frenzy is going to continue into August since it's not looking like Camp NaNo is going to work for me then either. At least I'm getting my TBR pile thinned out a little. A very little. But hey, it's constructive and it's progress. This week I was the crazy lady at the county fair, walking around with a book in her hand, reading for ten minutes here and there while my daughter rode the rides.

To finish out my mission of completing the entire Dune series, I sought out Winds of Dune. This is the story of Lady Jessica that continues on after Paul of Dune. For those of you who have questioned the necessity of these newer Dune novels, on this particular one, I agree with you. While Paul of Dune delved into major questions about what drove Paul to leave his new empire behind and disappear into the desert, the few further answers revealed in Winds of Dune could have been tucked into Paul's novel. Filled with what felt with a lot of repeated information, this novel didn't give me the same compelling urge to devour it as the other did. If you're a big fan of the House Vernius plotline, you'll find the answers to all those pesky little questions that have popped up since back in Dune: House Atreides and all the newer books that have followed. If that's not a priority, I'd recommend Paul of Dune and moving on to Children of Dune.

After finishing Hunters of Dune -- which is one of those novels you go into knowing that it's going to end with only half the story told thanks to the author's notes -- I was in such a lurch to find Sandworms of Dune immediately, that I read the last page, set the book down and picked up the phone. I called my local book consignment store (where I'm selling all my leftover NaNoWriMo bookdrive novels) and asked if they had it. They didn't. So I sucked it up and drove to Barnes and Noble.

I can't tell you how long it's been since I've bought a new book off the shelf. Years. This is the problem with reading and critiquing so many other peoples novels, belonging to a book club and living close to a used book store, I don't get out much in that sense. When did the price of a paperback rise to $9.99?

Sandworms of Dune was everything I'd hoped it would be, a well-told, satisfying conclusion to the entire series, old and new. If you can image all sixteen Dune books in a neat stack topped with a bow, that's pretty much what finishing Sandworms of Dune felt like. I was a little concerned when I read that many of the original characters were back (as gholas), trapped aboard a giant no-ship, jumping around the universe to hide from a mysterious unknown Enemy -- you know the nameless, unknown bad entity that hasn't done anything really yet but everyone fears just cause they feel the Enemy is "bad". Granted, there were a few points that seemed obvious to me before the characters figured them out, but as a whole, the novel worked and the series now feels complete.

Wrapping up an epic that spans thousands of years with so many main characters, both good and bad, was a tall order, but Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson managed to do it. Hooray! And now I can set the Dune universe on my bookshelf, take a deep breath and move on. What will I reach for next?