NaNoWriMo Update #4

 

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A pen and paper sketch of a creature from the story. Image by D. Buck

As many of my readers know, I’ve been participating in the summer version NaNoWriMo, known as Camp NaNoWriMo.  Well, we’re nearing the end of the month and this is only my fourth status update. Why, you may ask? The answer is simple: I’ve actually been writing at a decent pace!

Originally, my goal was to hit 60,000 words by the end of the month, effectively finishing the first draft of the novel. This goal didn’t last long; I realized after factoring in family, graduate studies, work and life into my schedule, I probably could only realistically do about half of that. So, I lowered my goal to 30,000.

Despite a strong start, an interesting (to me, at least) character and three completed chapters, I realized even 30K was a bit of a stretch for my word goal. Then, I lowered it to 12,000 words. I figured with my already busy schedule, I’d be able to accomplish that goal and complete the Camp.

 

The idea here was to stay committed for the entire month, rather than giving up entirely, as I have in past NaNoWriMo competitions. I’m proud to say that as of today – July 23, 2017 – I am at just over 11,000 words. I will hit my monthly goal and continue in November proper. Until then, I’ll continue to work on the story, refine it, edit it, have others read it and more.

I’m glad I’ve chosen to participate in this and keep steady. Now, I will continue to write away. If anyone is interested in checking out the story when it’s completed – to help with a proof of the first draft – drop me a line here and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Aside from the novel, there are some other exciting things happening that I’ll post about soon. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time!

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What I’ve been up to lately

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Alucard needs a cup of coffee…

Hello, I figured I’d write an update about what I’ve been up to lately.  In between writing about books for this site and working on my own novel for Camp NaNoWriMo,  I am a frequent writer and contributor for the excellent site, Nerdvana. Below are links to several articles I’ve written for that site, with more to come soon. I hope anyone who reads this blog will check them out, (hopefully) like them and share as much as possible. I’m always interested in feedback as well, so let me know what you think.

Here we go:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features:

Last Breath of a Console

The DLC has Landed

A Review of the Castlevania Netflix series

My Castlevania Retrospective
Part 1 – Dracula Rises
Part 2 – Dark Symphony
Part 3 – Circle, Lament and Harmony
Part 4 – Portraits of Sorrow
Part 5 – Dracula Rises no More
Part 6 – Resurrection

Check them out and let me know what you think!

Coming soon, I’ll have my thoughts on Jack L. Chalker’s Midnight at the Well of Souls, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter’s The Long Earth and another NaNoWriMo Progress Report and look for more Nerdvana articles in the future (sign up for the site; it’s pretty awesome). Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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NaNoWriMo Progress Report # 3 – Writer’s Block Edition

Over the past week, I’ve written 11,150 words for my Camp NaNoWriMo Project. The characters are taking on a life of their own and some of the story is basically writing itself.

Now, I’m at a bit of a road block. After an exciting first few chapters, my entire plot is starting to go in directions I hadn’t planned for. Thankfully, I have an outline and a basic idea of where to head from here, but I’m having some difficulty finding the words to get there.

To combat this, I plan to try out one of the Word Sprints and to check out some of the exercises contained in the “care package” e-mails they send us daily.

I hope everyone else is having some luck with their stories and I’d love to know how some of you overcome writer’s block when it does happen.

NaNoWriMo Progress Report #2

Good morning and happy Independence Day to all! I thought I’d check in and share my progress on Camp NaNoWriMo.

The good news is, we’re off to a strong start. I completed a ten chapter outline prior to starting the project and have completed almost 10,000 words. I’ve been hit with sudden bursts of inspiration and the characters are going in vastly different directions than originally intended.

Now, for my biggest hurdle: keeping the plot going in a non-contrived way. I feel I can succeed here, but it’s going to be tough at a few spots. It’s been interesting so far and I’m hoping to complete a few chapters over the weekend. Wish me luck!

Now, if only I could find someone to do some kick-ass cover art for the project…

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NaNoWriMo Progress Report #1

As I posted previously, I intend to enter this year’s NaNoWriMo. I decided to get started with their summer retreat and figured I would post a progress report. Here goes:

I began outlining my story. I have a primary protagonist and his personality is starting to fill out as I write about him. The story already took a tangent from its course to create a few interesting scenes. The outline has changed so many times that if I turned on the “tracking” feature in Word, it would crash the program.

So, I plan to outline in Word and do everything else in Scrivener, which is an inexpensive and awesome program for novelists. It allows the author to create character sketches, jot down ideas, export in epub format and more. It is, in a word, awesome.

I also signed up for the July version of NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo. I wonder how far I’ll get? I will be updating sporadically through the month as I move along the journey. We’ll see if I finish the darn thing this go-round!

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Exploring Frederik Pohl’s Heechee Saga Part 3 – Heechee Rendezvous

The third novel in the Heechee Saga, Heechee Rendezvous, is the perfect place to end the series. Never mind that there are three other books; only one of them, Annals of the Heechee, continues the main plot.

Heechee Rendezvous neatly wraps up everything that began in Gateway. The reader is introduced to an aging, ailing Robinette Broadhead, his Artificial Intelligence companion, Albert (a facsimile of Albert Einstein) and a few of Broadheads “friends” and acquaintances.

As the story unfolds, the reader also meets a Heechee officer named Captain, emerging from the black hole in the center of the universe to confront the space-faring humans and warn them of an unknown danger of the universe, setting up the grand finale of the main series.

The tone here is consistent: it’s all told from the perspective of Robinette Broadhead, who at this point has barely evolved his personality at all and is, in fact, regressing to the same type of person he was in Gateway. Why? Because he is feeling his mortality.

The novel eventually becomes a race against time in several ways: Broadhead against his own health, Broadhead’s scientific research against constant terrorism and Wan’s frantic search through several black holes using Heechee technology.

In this novel, the reader will finally meet the Heechee, be introduced to old characters and find out how Broadhead deals with his mortality problem. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll leave it at that.

Something I quite enjoyed about this story is we see the character of Wan, from the previous novel, become somewhat of a villainous presence, though this is greatly overshadowed by Pohl’s introduction of the titular aliens early on in the story. I also, despite his unlikable nature, quite like Robinette Broadhead and can relate to him in some ways.

Pohl’s prose is consistent and well done, engaging the reader and making them care about what happens to these characters. I am interested to see how book four handles the new relationships man has forged with the Heechee and the unknown, mysterious threat that scared the Heechee into a black hole in the first place.

We’ll continue the journey through the Gateway as soon as I finish reading the fourth installment (and conclusion of the main series). Books five and six are anthology collections set in the Heechee universe.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading/sharing/etc…

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Exploring Frederik Pohl’s Heechee Saga Part 2 – Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

Hello, and welcome to part two of our exploration of Frederik Pohl’s Heechee Saga. Today, the focus will be on book two of the series, “Beyond the Blue Event Horizon.” In the previous novel, “Gateway,” the reader meets one Robinette Broadhead, the filthy rich, guilt-ridden expedition survivor and somewhat unlikable narrator.

The first thing the reader will notice about the book is this: it starts out in the third person, introducing a boy named Wan, currently living off-world on a Heechee artifact. Next, it switches to first person with a different narrator from the previous book. In this chapter, the reader is introduced to Paul, a pilot, and his family: his wife Lurvy, sister-in-law Janine and father-in-law, Peter.

It is here the reader learns the primary conceit of the story: Robinette Broadhead financed an expedition to find the Heechee Food Factory, so-called because it mines the basic elements of life from comets: Carbon Hydrogen Oxygen and Nitrogen or CHON for short.

As the story unfolds, the perspective eventually shifts from third-person whenever the explorers are involved to Broadhead’s perspective. Broadhead is, once again, our primary protagonist, whom everything revolves around. This time, however, he is much more likable.

Don’t let that last sentence fool you; he’s still selfish, odd and kind of an ass. It’s just that now, he’s not so guilty and self-absorbed. He has a machine intelligence in the guise of Albert Einstein with whom he spends most of his time. His wife, S. Ya Lovorovna from the previous book, helps build and create several machine intelligences throughout the story.

She also becomes a major part of the plot, but I won’t spoil that for you as the result of an interesting concept that was fleshed out in a disappointing way, the 100-day fever. It actually becomes a major plot point, directly affecting upcoming events in the series.

In “Beyond the Blue Event Horizon,” Pohl does an excellent job delivering on some of the suspense built up in “Gateway” and adds a few more interesting elements to the story. The one which sticks out the most in my mind is the Dream Bed, which is essentially a large telepathic transmitter. You can imagine what sort of shenanigans folks can get up to with one of those.

The title refers to the blue hue of the event horizon of a black hole, which is a reference to the end of “Gateway.” It is well done, interesting, engaging and a worthy successor to “Gateway.” There is substantially less psycho-babble and outdated concepts, but the book does suffer from a few anachronistic tendencies and a few inconsistencies. I still highly recommend it.

“Beyond the Blue Event Horizon” is available on Amazon here.