I had a net gain today of 1131 words, but wrote a lot more than that.

Matt and I spent a couple hours talking worldbuilding and characters last night, and I made a bunch of changes and did a lot of rethinking this morning.

Short post today — four hours of writing and developing, classwork, forums, email, and other work stuff, and then other STUFF does not leave a lot of time for blogging.

But I love where the story is heading.

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The Ohio Series: Writing this one works differently

I mentioned that I’m going to have a different pseudonym for the Ohio series books (and I have real titles and a real series title for this project) — but all of that is staying under wraps until after I start bringing out the books and letting them find their readers.

But this is an odd project for me in another way, too.

I’m also writing these differently. I’m sort of collaborating with Matt — I’m doing the writing, but…

I’m printing off each chapter as I finish it, and putting it on Matt’s desk. He’s making notes in the margins, and I’m going back the next day and making changes the next day based on his comments, and then adding new stuff.

Well, we’re only on day two, so that’s how I think it’ll end up working.

This is something new for both of us, and yesterday he read what I’d printed off for him, and then thought about it, and we ended up having a long talk about the intro, the world, the worldbuilding, the main character, the magic…

Fun, in places really moving… we’re both pulling from deeply personal parts of our lives on this project. And what he brought to it yesterday gave me something so strong this morning that I ended up making myself cry as I was writing.

But I was pulling stuff out as quickly as I was putting stuff in. And at the end of two hours and change of writing, I was down a net 63 words. So this morning my little image shows a negative number.

Positive changes in the story, though. Something a lot better to build on in the weeks to come.

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The Ohio Series, Book One, and The Emerald Sun planning

I’ve spent the weekend and the last couple of days trying to figure out my writing schedule. I ran out of The Wishbone Conspiracy before I planned too, and that has to sit in a corner being quiet for a month, resting and getting cold so I can get an objective look at it when I do the revision.

I have not had time to read through and build out the backstory details for The Emerald Sun, because I’ve been simultaneously writing first drafts of two novels plus the biggest writing class I’ve ever done. How to Write a Novel, of which I’m starting Lesson 35 as soon as I do this post.

So I had writing time today, and nothing I’d planned to write that I COULD write. Because of that, I started the first book of what is NOT going to be called The Ohio Series, but which is going to be set in Ohio.

And to my amazement, the novel started in a condo in South Florida with a young woman who, when an old dude showed up to tell her that her grandmother had left her a house, and who countered with, “I never had any grandmothers.”

And got weirder from there. By the end of the first scene, magic had happened, and I was hooked.

Got 1834 words by the time I finally pulled myself away. Not as many as my goal when I set up a stock template for 70,000-word novels last week, but way more than I’d expected to get starting cold.

On now to HTWAN Lesson 35: Writing Endings with Multiple Antagonists and Multiple Climaxes. Or what I call Playing on Hard Mode.

Oh, yes. Over the next several weekends, I will be reading and noting and worldbuilding from the first two books in the Moon & Sun series to get the voice of the protagonist back, and to plan out the final story. At the point where I finish the first draft of Dead Man’s Party, which will be in three more weeks, I’ll be ready to  start writing The Emerald Sun, which I’m considering changing to The Emerald Sky.

And I’ll have a space in my schedule ready-made for it. It can, as suggested by my daughter while we were working together today, become my next Monday novel.

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Origin of the phrase WILD HAIR UP HIS ASS: a true story

I ended up looking up the origin of the phrase “wild hair up his ass” this morning, and discovered there is shit-all about it on the internet.

This in itself is astonishing — it’s the INTERNET, you know? It knows everything. But apparently not.

The best I could find, well, the only thing I could find, was “does something completely unexpected.”

ORIGIN, folks. “This is what a phrase means” is not the same thing “where the fuck did this phrase come from?”

But now, my friend, I have discovered the origin of this phrase I’ve been hearing folks say my entire life.

I was in the bathroom this morning getting ready for work.

My cat was in the bathroom using his litter box.

And all of a sudden, he leaps out of the box, runs in tight circles in an absolute panic (which in a bathroom that small is a good trick), and comes to a skidding stop in front of my feet, at which point he crouches, body rigid, eyes black, ears locked back, tail whipping back and forth like we are both about to be devoured by aliens only he can see.

I look around to see what scared him.


I bend over, rest a hand on his shoulders, assure him that everything is okay, that he is all right, that nothing is going to get him…

And he relaxes, rolls on his side…

Which is when I spot about an inch of cat turd hanging from his butt, suspended as if by magic.

Probably NOT magic, I think, and grab a piece of toilet paper, and give the turd a gentle tug…

And slowly remove what’s holding it there, which is about six inches of one human hair.

Mine. Matt shaves his head, Joe keeps his hair short.

Guess who had a wild hair up his butt?

So now he’s calm, happy, purring. I pet his little fat head and kick him out of the bathroom, and get my shower.

Which is when I look up, and see the lizard hanging on the drywall above the tiles, eyeing me.

I just keep taking my shower — I spent time as a kid in both Costa Rica and Guatemala, and I have shared showers with scarier critters than that.

At least until this one dropped of the wall to the floor of the tub, and I did my own version of a “wild hair” dance.

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I got my words this morning in three ten-minute runs — and I love what I got. I ran a smidge over my goal, but that’s okay. This scene was a short, tight run through the third of four scenes that are occurring simultaneously in the novel as my characters go tearing toward the ending.

The world of Dead Man’s Party is talking to me. I like it, at least the part of it that occurs later, as I understand the story that’s been crawling out of my process.

I like it enough that after I do the revision, I’m going to revise and publish it and see how it does for me, and consider writing other books in the same world. I can already think of a number of other books in the world.

But post-apocalyptic cannibal/zombie/AI is a bit outside where I usually play. So we’ll see whether the first one gets any interest before I fling myself yet again into “gee, I could write in this world forever.”

For writers:

My revision of this novel is going to become the Streamlined Revision Process demo for my How to Revise Your Novel class, which is getting its long-overdue upgrade/update after I finish the first draft of How to Write a Novel.

Which is going to be soon now.

I’m kicking myself for not having used the process I came up with in How to Write a Novel to write other novels. I could have had so much more fiction written, even though most of my time has been going toward class-building.

Regret gets you nowhere, though — so now I can just be grateful that I asked the right questions while I was building the class, and that I’ll have finished the first drafts of two novels written simultaneously just a couple weeks apart.

And will have a LOT of fiction to revise in the next couple of months.

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This is awkward.

You have plans when you’re writing a novel, you know what you’re writing toward, you’re moving along at your planned pace, doing your planned scenes, and you start writing a scene you know was coming and have been looking forward to writing…

And your MUSE shows you a character you have been writing about in emails, and writing toward in this book…

And the face you see is not the face you expected.

Oh, boy… not even a little bit.

You read what you just wrote, and you think… “What the hell? Where did that come from?”

And you can’t even delete it, because it’s RIGHT.

It isn’t what you planned, but just as in life, fiction happens while you’re making other plans.

When your plans weren’t as good as reality, you just shut up and keep writing.

As for how this happens…?

The good, solid, gripping surprise that blindsides you, the writer, comes from your right brain asking questions you don’t hear, playing around with edges and corners of your story and your story world that your conscious mind isn’t considering, knowing things your Inner Editor doesn’t…

And when your Right-Brain Muse commits this startling change, your Inner Editor reads it, and instead of slapping the Muse with well-deserved admonishment for wrecking a perfectly good plan, it just mutters, “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that.”

And you end the first draft of your novel ten thousand words and about a week and a half early.

For me, ending short of my planned word count is not actually a problem.

I always run long in revision — always end up adding in scenes to create some foreshadowing for important bits (and today’s little revelation is going to need some of that) and tying things together, because I want to make sure my characters don’t drop, “Suddenly, TRAIN” on anyone’s head.

I am, in other words, not the jerk my MUSE is — the one who just dropped “Suddenly, TRAIN” on mine.

So for at least one week, I’ll let The Wishbone Conspiracy sit. Since I’m not on a hard deadline, I’ll probably be better off it I let it sit for a month.

And then, when I’ve recovered from the shock of actually being done with the first draft, and have had a chance to let all the words get cold, I’ll print it off and revise it.

As Fridays go? So far, this one is… remarkable.

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Today I discovered something I did not know — that the layered conspiracy that pulled Cady and her allies into danger did so with way more initial planning than I’d realized.

That the horrifying crimes she uncovered and solved might have just been a convenient way for someone to get her in front of a much bigger and much older secret — something that has been legally murdering people for a couple hundred years.

There are two big questions I don’t have answers for yet.

The first is: Why has it been brought to light now?

And the second is: EXACTLY why was it hidden in the first place?

I get a little shivery just thinking about the depth of deceit involved in this, and about what sort of terrifying secret might be tucked away at the back of it.

I’ll get the answer to the first question by the end of this novel.

The second question?

That’s bigger. A lot bigger. And the thing I think every time I look at it is… “When they find the answers, my folks had better be ready for the consequences.”

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I’m doing a third edition of Character Clinic — the second one had a bunch of dead links, I never did get a print version put together for it, my class website has changed domains, and a few other things.

So today I did bug-hunting, put together a new cover, (one that matches my better covers on my site), and am doing a nice Vellum version that I can put out as print and then publish wide to all my usual places.

Not done yet. But got a TON finished before I ran out of time.

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Dead Man’s Party: I lost a character I loved today

I got my words today — 1112 of them, which was more than the 1075 I had to get.

And they absolutely flew. And mostly I loved what I got, and the part that I hated still was necessary and important to the story. It was good storytelling — and good storytelling beats being nice to your characters one hundred times out of a hundred.

Even though what I had to write broke my heart.

Had a character I’d known at the beginning would die at the end.

And then I had this absolutely great thing that happened that kept him from dying — and like the Energizer Bunny he kept going, and going, and I could see him at the end of the book, actually getting to live out the rest of a life.

But no. This morning while I was outlining, my Muse said, “So now, today, he has to die.”

And I was protesting, going, “Wait, no, no… I figured out how to save him.”

And Muse said, “No. I figure out how to save him, and I saved him because this thing he has to do today is what kills him.

And then the Muse showed me what he had to do today.

And my Muse (that monster) was right.

I have three or four SHORT chapters left to get to the end of this novel, and I’m so excited because I love the story, and I’m really looking forward to doing the revision.

But today the story broke my heart.

It did it for all the right reasons, and the guy who didn’t make it was already a hero — which I knew — and he became a bigger hero.

But dammit.

You know what I mean?

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