Heavens. I can’t believe I let this sit for 10 months. A quick run-down of the things that have happened since my last update:

  • I won the 2012 Laine Cunningham Novel Award from The Blotter with my novel Perishables. It’s three connected stories about various experiences of a zombie apocalypse. In one of them, a vampire is at a meeting of his homeowners’ association when the dead rise. It’s a little silly and a little funny and a little serious and it has terrible recipes in it.
  • I published Perishables via Smashwords and Kindle and then decided to edit and publish the sequel, called Tooth & Nail. It’s built on a heavily edited NaNoWriMo I did some years ago about the same vampire.
  • I worked the partisan primary runoff election and my staff never mentioned the O’Keefe video. I’m sure they had seen it, but no one brought it up. I was intensely grateful.
  • I worked the general election in November. Jesus H. Christ on a platinum surfboard, what a day. I’ve never been so busy. It was busier than the partisan primary but the county gave me lots of staff and we all survived. There were partisan observers from both major parties in my precinct but they were very kind to me and to one another. Again, I’m sure lots of those people had seen the video but no one said anything. I was at least ten times as grateful because I had plenty more to think about that day. I also passed the election without any major run-ins with campaigners though I did have a couple of really amusing conversations with them.
  • I spent much of last autumn thinking about Tooth & Nail while I did a few promotional activities for Perishables: interviews on blogs and podcasts, for instance, and a few Google Hangouts with a group devoted to zombie fiction fandom. It was nice, after all the stupid bullshit of a year ago, to have a fictional world in which I could curl up and forget reality.
  • I ran my first 5K fun-run last October and my friend who is 6’7″ and ex-Army Airborne had trouble keeping up with me.
  • I spent November, December and January editing Tooth & Nail and dealing with my next-to-last class in the graduate certificate program I’ve been pursuing. I was kind of a stress ball.
  • I’ve spent the spring semester dealing with my last class and I still am kind of a stress ball.
  • I tried to play in two games of Call of Cthulhu at Dragon*Con last year, both of which were disastrous busts. I ended up running a one-shot for the Scourge of Nibelheim (aka “the Vampire group”) a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it but it ran too long and I didn’t get to include like half the stuff I came up with for it because I am just terrible at managing a game and remembering, you know, the poignant bits.
  • I had Shadowrun pretty much ruined for me, and for all my friends, by one really terrible game of it at Dragon*Con. Way to stay classy, totally-separate-and-self-isolating-and-aggressively-dickishly-insular Shadowrun Dragon*Con gaming track.
  • I ran my first timed 5K a few weeks ago and on a cloudy, rainy morning of running uphill at ~40F I clocked in at 25:13.6, 7th out of 46. I am extremely happy with that!
  • I’ve learned to love Twitter. Seriously, I used to say it was the diametric opposite of what I wanted the Internet to grow up to be but it is pretty great.
  • I gave a five-minute lightning talk at the #cc10 get-together celebrating 10 years of Creative Commons:

  • I’m approximately two years behind on reading comics. I plan to catch up as soon as I finish this graduate certificate program next month.
  • I’ve been asked to contribute a short story to an anthology built around the theme of “invasion” and am currently mulling some ideas. I am super-excited!
  • I attended my twenty year high school reunion and survived it and even reconnected majorly with some really wonderful people I knew back in the day. Facebook and life in general have gotten a lot more entertaining as a result.
  • I’ve joined a queer softball league.
  • I’m going to be a guest at ConCarolinas in Charlotte the weekend of 5/31 through 6/2!
  • I want the word “marriage” and I want to win the Supreme Court cases, absolutely, but I am also a little bit afraid that the queer communities will be divided into “normals” and “freaks” if we win and that the Right will use our victory as an opportunity to draw a line between those of us who are already primed for idle conformity: relatively moneyed, adhering more closely to rigid gender roles and identities, white, middle-class, “safe”. It will be vital, if we win this, to remember that it still must be okay to be different. Difference is what has given us the culture we create and celebrate together and difference has given us the advantages we are afforded by outsider status in the larger culture around us. We must continue to value people who have different families, different identities, different relationships (or none at all), different goals, different priorities and different beliefs. We do not all have to settle down into quiet, monogamous, dom/sub, top/bottom dichotomies defined by doggy day care and dinner parties. We have to stay freaks somehow.
  • My house is ruled by my cats and sometimes I find that really frustrating but mostly I am thrilled beyond measure at their benevolent dictatorship.
  • I’ve been watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9 while at the gym and it is really fucking good.
  • Last year I skipped NaNoWriMo – what would have been my tenth – to focus on editing Tooth & Nail. This summer I’m doing My Own Private NaNo to work on the first draft of a science fiction novel, the setting for which was developed in a two-session game of Microscope played by Scourge of Nibelheim.
  • We tried Fiasco this year and it is so. Freaking. Fun.
  • I bought a new camera – an Olympus – and I loooooove it.

Is that everything? I think that’s everything. A year of blogging in a single post. Heavens, indeed.

Done, at long last.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner Badge

I’ve had a really productive weekend and tonight I’ve been cranking out the word count like nobody’s business so that my NaNo is just shy of 43,500. Who knew sticking my two favorite characters in a room and making one spill his secrets would be fun to write, eh? Sheesh. Sometimes I wonder why I make this so hard for myself, why I spend so much time spinning my wheels on the story, but whatever. Now is not the time to question myself; now is the time to be grateful for my success.

I’ve added a couple of chapters and I’ve also added a Chapter Zero at the beginning in which Our Hero closes an earlier case as a way to observe what it is he does in his school. It’s an idea stolen from James Bond novels and films and I’m sure Sir Ian Fleming stole it from someone else. I want to say it happens at the beginning of The Maltese Falcon but now I honestly can’t remember. Chandler starts all the Marlowe novels at the commencement of a fresh case but I can’t do that and Chandler was a genius anyway. I mean, seriously, people say they’re trying to write the Great American Novel but guess what: Chandler already did it and saved us all the trouble. The Long Goodbye is simply the best novel written in America in the 20th century as far as I’m concerned. No, I have not read all novels written in America in the 20th century, or even very many of them, but it’s hard as hell for me to imagine one that does a better job.

I update the PDF linked in the post below every day, as that’s one of my backup locations for total oh-shit-just-in-case scenarios, but I’ve been told that there are persons who do not realize that the link below does not point to a stale, 10K-word version of my NaNo for this year so here’s another link just in case: Tricks Up My Sleeve at 27,000 words and counting.

By the normal math I should be at 21,671 words, so I’m ahead of the game. I’ve also managed to stay on top of my homework and the gym and my walking/running schedule, more or less. Things I have not stayed on top of include anything else in the universe, but such is life in November. I’m mostly impressed with myself for having more or less managed this whole school-work-life-writing balance thing and only burning five days of leave to do it. So far.

My goal for today was to cross the 10K word mark, which I did with relative aplomb. My story so far has already undergone a number of changes. I was going for a slightly campy “gay boy Nancy Drew meets Brick” thing and instead it’s turned out to be slightly more hard-boiled than I had thought it would be but that does not mean it’s actually hard-boiled; that means that my main character’s campy qualities are more unconscious. He likes to think of himself as a hard-boiled adventure hero and that is, itself, campy. I’ve also added some elements – the love interest is a second-string quarterback playing the role of well-muscled femme fatale – and deleted some. Originally he was going to have these minor magic powers and I still kinda sorta want those? Maybe? But I’ve decided that if he’s going to have them then he doesn’t know he has them yet. I’m leaving the door open to them manifesting halfway through if I need them but overall I’m actually enjoying writing something more “realistic” than usual for all that it’s at all realistic, which is to say that it isn’t at all realistic in the least.

I’m having a lot of fun this year, already. I’m having as much fun as I had last year and about ten million times as much fun as I had the year before that, the only year I refuse to link or to show to anyone because it was such an unrelentingly awful pain to write much less to read.

All done.

Sleep now.

This year I’m writing a novel called Deal With the Devil, about a vampire and a vigilante hero and a self-styled super villain in Durham, NC. It’s sort of a sequel to Tooth and Nail, in that it stars Withrow. He shows up in lots of things I write, though, so really I guess it’s just part of the overall continuum of that fictional world.

Today I hit the 25,000 word mark. I was going to walk to the coffee shop to do my writing but I lazed around and didn’t have time and felt guilty about it because I haven’t worked out for jack in the last two weeks as the weather has turned and NaNo has eaten into my free time. Hitting the halfway point on a six thousand word writing spree, though, is worth it.

I am a sucker for Internet narcissism and thus I went through “I Write Like” with the first pages of all my NaNo’s:

My brain-destroyingly terrible sci-fi entry from 2009:

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

My trashy gay noir 2008 NaNoWriMo, Particular People:

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

2007’s redneck vampire-centric Tooth and Nail:

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

In the Fuck Yes department, 2006’s horror fantasy noir The Palanquin Cat:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

2005’s sci-fi sequel Root Shell:

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

2004’s sci-fi adventure Shell Access:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

2003’s poli-sci-fi Life, Liberty And…:

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Given that one’s about a Libertarian governor who completely fucks things up, that’s pretty satisfying.

51,600 words and finished in a hurry. I hated it. I’m not linking it. Maybe in a year or two. Bascha or Josh can ask me for a copy via email but dear gods, no one wants to read this. No one good should ever want to read this. Still, digital schwag:


Weekend travels and an overwhelming hate of the book so far have slowed me down. I am determined to finish before Thursday, though, which may have me up half the night on Wednesday but it will be worth it. The Boyf has been insanely patient with my short fuse as I have slogged this far. Things are going to be so nice come Thursday.

Interesting to me is the fact that when I switched perspective characters at 35,000 words, for what I thought would just be a scene, I was instantly more engaged. I can’t make him the perspective character the whole time, but I am going to try to make him the perspective character for as much as I can of what remains. The words, like spice, must flow.

Just over 25,000 words as of today and almost entirely unrelentingly awful. Seriously, fantasy? Never. Again.

I started last night just after midnight. I went to D&D today, so that was a big chunk of non-writing time, but I still made it past the 3,000 word mark. Here’s a PDF link for Bascha.

I face a quandary: write my NaNo using the Dyson Sphere setting invented by my gaming group and friends of ours a few years ago or write another Withrow story?

Pros/Cons of the Dyson Sphere world:

  • new setting (pro)
  • new setting (con)
  • characters that aren’t yet fully defined and the ones that are don’t yet wholly interest me (con)
  • a whole world of societies and cultures to create, or at least several different societies/cultures to create (con)
  • opportunity to design whole societies & cultures (pro)
  • a setting that I find really engaging and interesting after having had it in the back of my mind for years (pro)
  • what I consider, on first examination, to be a pretty clever use of the undead in a story (pro)
  • a genuinely creepy thing about how the undead work in that world (pro)
  • possibly way too much story for 50K (pro & con)
  • no idea where the story ends or what it’s about beyond some very vague one-line thematic descriptions, such as “fulfillment is living to see the realization of a goal, not dying in its service” and “to run away from one situation is usually to run towards another” (con)
  • five weeks before NaNo starts (con).

Pros/cons of the new Withrow story:

  • characters that are pretty much fully-formed and interesting to me (pro)
  • it’s a semi-sequel to a NaNo I’ve already written and my one experience with a sequel was terrible (con)
  • set in the town where I live, so super-easy to research with many possibilities for field trips (pro)
  • too much opportunity for distraction in the name of “research” (con)
  • possibly not enough story for 50K words without padding like hell (con)
  • a character I already know I love to write (pro)
  • a character I’ve already possibly written too much (con)

I’m at a loss. In the meantime I’m trying to do character sketches for the Dyson Sphere world. I didn’t have a name for it until five minutes ago, which was itself almost enough to get me to abandon it. I guess my real quandary is, do I do NaNo to challenge myself (Dyson Sphere world) or to enjoy myself (Withrow story)? No one reads them and I have no delusion of turning them into a great literary career so they really are for my enjoyment alone but I also really do like to approach it as an exercise, not just an entertainment.


Dark Stores from the site Not If But When.

Particular People (PDF link), my NaNoWriMo last year, was set in the very real 100 Oaks Mall – a wonderfully ironic name that made me wonder if that’s how many trees they cut down to build the place or if they instead had installed 100 saplings in containers inside the mall. 100 Oaks was a Nashville, TN, shopping mall that opened and closed repeatedly over the course of its life. It’s now been bought by Vanderbilt and is being redeveloped as medical offices or something. When I asked KJ to get me pictures of it last year she couldn’t because it had been closed off in preparation for that work.

On a practical level, of course, it’s always preferable to see existing spaces redeveloped instead of new projects take up new spaces but were I king tomorrow I would decree that a certain percentage of dead retail and development spaces had to be kept around, unmaintained, as silent monuments to… something. Hubris? Ecology? I don’t even know what lesson is to be learned there, just that there is a lesson there of some sort. That the CitySearch page for 100 Oaks is still up is both amusing and insufficient.

So, I am definitely doing Script Frenzy in April. (Crud, April? That’s really, really soon.) I’m going to be writing a comic book script because that’s a medium I love so, you know, since I don’t know a damned thing about writing a script I might as well enjoy myself while I screw up. I’m currently kicking the following around in conversations:

What could possibly fuel a really serious beef against a university? Assume a full-fledged university with an attached hospital and medical school, the works. Mr. Pink Eyes very keenly suggested someone who might have had, you know, surgery performed on them using instruments soaked by accident in hydraulic fluid rather than antiseptic, such as happened at an august local institution. I like that. I like that a lot. Unfortunately, it’s too close to fact. Variants? Other ideas? Someone cut from a sports team? Someone whose entire sport/academic department/major/sorority/library gets shut down in the shite economy?

Any suggestions are most welcome.

Also, NEVERMORE‘s lineup is out and wow. Classic horror films (IN 3-D!) next to a hilarious shorts collection next to a bunch of new horror and NC premieres? Hells yes. I am ordering a 10-pass if any of the usual suspects see something they’d like to see and I’ve got an extra ticket for it. I’m particularly interested in Blackspot, The Disappeared and Reel Zombies.

Tangential: isn’t it about time NEVERMORE started giving out prizes? Maybe it’s a huge pain in the ass, maybe it requires a whole ado of certification or dues in the League of Award-Granting Film Festivals, I honestly have no idea, but I would have paid extra to get to vote for American Astronaut for best feature the year they showed it; the same goes for The Host and… damn. Now I’ve forgotten the name of that amazing movie I watched last year, the super-cold 1950’s gangster movie. Damn. Anyway, that.

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