These are 8 fantastic maps that might change your perspective. Do you write and describe your world or use maps? What can maps lie about? What if someone found a “treasure map” that was much more of a lying liars? Someone is surely making maps that deliberately mislead about something?
A Chance Encounter by Jennifer Deese
Jennifer Deese first officially joined the writing world and became a published author in 2013 with her inaugural novella, The Orchid Keeper. Miss Deese is fond of writing shorter stories versus full sized novels. Her first book will eventually be the prequel novella to a series of short books called The Osipian Chronicles. From childhood her mother has foster her imagination and love of reading…which Deese sees as the roots of her love for writing, especially fantasy. As a lover of nature it is not surprising that it tends to play a part in many of her writings. A mother and a Nana, Jennifer Deese looks forward to spending time with her loved ones. She resides in Pennsylvania with her two dogs and boyfriend James and his son.
Music is provided by MADS.
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I’m going to talk a bit about my approach to Nanowrimo this year…
It may be TMI? Maybe? I’m trying to share. I was talking with someone recently about how much I love Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast. She’s so open and honest. (Or appears she is at least.) I like the ones where she just tells you how she’s feeling and what’s happening even more than the interviews. Like oh, she can do it, not every day is awesome, I can have a bad day and still come back and do ok. I can freak out and panic inside and that doesn’t make me a bad writer or bad whatever. I can keep going.
I’m nervous. I’m stressed. I’m panicked.
So my first problem is that I’ve been slacking on creative/fiction writing lately. I’ve been writing blog posts, I’ve been editing things, I’ve been critiquing, supporting, I’ve worked on some monstrous writing focused projects at work that have taken a lot of my creative and writing brain and by the time I get home I’m pretty burned out.
So I’ve been slacking on the fiction. I finished up a project nearish the start of October and haven’t bitten off a full new project since then. I’ve made notes on a couple of new projects that I want to work on post NaNo (yay more Smoke Jumpers stuff) but I didn’t start because I wanted to keep my focus on the NaNo project.
Um…Just do it?
I can’t wake up any earlier because I’ve been getting up super early to go into work and get extra stuff done. But I’m hoping that lightens up a bit by the middle of this week, then I’ll just keep getting up early and spend that extra first hour working on the novel.
I already have (good) plans for the 1st, but I’m going to carve out at least one hour a night the rest of the week. It might not be enough, it might not be enough to even make it. But I think it should be a good start.
One hour means one hour. Not 15 minutes while doing this or that. It means 4 solid, focused blocks of 15 minutes of writing, which should be entirely doable. I’ll do 4 sprints a night.
I’m set and scheduled for all of November, so I just need to keep up the promotion and other things I do, but hopefully I can let the hunting new work/opportunities slack a little. (I do have some amazing authors with some wonderful stories coming up through the month!)
I’m doing Jenna’s first book. It is a full rewrite. I normally go into NaNo with a pretty solid idea and usually some planning, that often goes out the window. This time I have basically a really bad outline and an end. Which is what I consider this book to be. The book isn’t bad, it just doesn’t work well…maybe a little bad. Not good…I’m rewriting because I think it has a lot of potential, I just think I left a lot of that potential behind the first pass. I have the second book in the trilogy written and so I know where I want to point my character, and I want to follow a lot of the same path as the first book, but basically not at all…if that makes sense. So I feel both more prepared and less than I ever have.
When/If I Fail
It really is ok.
I still have my day job. I still have my home. I still have the wonderful podcast. I still can keep writing it AFTER December 1st.
I know for some people it helps to have hard deadlines and impending doom to finish projects. But I’m already freaking out about failing something I haven’t started yet and have a good track record of finishing despite obstacles and stresses larger than what I anticipate this year.
I know that accepting the consequences of failure make me more likely to succeed.
I’ve been thinking more about NaNo lately and if it is still right for me? I like having a month dedicated/set aside for/focused on novels. Partly because while I usually do a lot of writing I am more often writing shorter pieces, flash, short and novella length stuff for different projects. I like those a lot. But I also like the novels. Having some space carved out for writing those novels is really helpful.
Having the NaNoWriMo community can be helpful. (It is part of why I wanted to try out Scribophile, so see if that could work, I’m still testing that.) A good place to go for support or questions. A good place to go and help someone and feel better because I’ve helped and supported someone else and so yes I can do this. (Yes, knowing I can/am helpful to others makes me feel better about my own chances of success, brain weird.)
So I think that for this year at least NaNoWriMo is still for me because it gives me a chance/a reason to stop and focus on just one novel project.
Next year though I think I’ll shift and maybe give myself a cheat of the weekend before to help prep even if some prep means some writing. I’m too much of a stickler for the rules for my own good sometimes.
If you stuck through all of that, what does NaNo do for you? Problems? Writing? Anything? Can I help you somehow to feel better about my chances of success? Did I mention my brain is weird?
Now! Dammit! Or else! Plan your novel. (This is dear me, love me, you can do whatever you want.)
I need to do some more planning as the end of the month looms large.
Easy: Jenna’s first novel, a full rewrite. (That part is hard, knowing was it is is the easy part, also reading that sentence, hard.)
- Make a Pinterest board (or rather add to the one I already have)
- Pull out and enhance physical descriptions of the people I already have from both books 1 and 2
- Write up description of the mashup/remade character
- Consider the scenes that need to be added – figure out what the goal will be and about what they need to be and then let them noodle around in my brain
- Set up time to write – create a real plan (either first thing in the morning, later in the day, weekends, etc)
- Plan more backstory weaving in
Jenna’s novel is the first in an urban fantasy trilogy. A young woman who is struggling to regain her life after a long absence from the world is finally feeling settled. Now she’s finally gotten a job offer, she’s meeting new people. And she’s got a shiny little necklace.
The second book is written and I’m feeling pretty good about it, but the first needs to come in line with it. I know basically where the third will go for the big arc on it.
Now I just need better titles. Oof titles.
A brief update about audiobooks and Audible.
I narrated a book a few months ago and it is finally out on Audible. So you can listen to me read a very geeky urban fantasy with wolves and where I say the word bitch a bunch.
Which earrings look best with fur? Kira Walker is a geek and UNIX systems administrator who has a bad hair day at least once a month. But when a wolf attacks Kira and her BFF in downtown Denver around the full moon, she’s devastated. Now, like it or not, Kira is unemployed, and the head of Denver’s werewolf pack is getting a little too friendly for her tastes. And, oddly, she keeps finding herself naked in front of road workers. Caught in this new world, Kira discovers there are sinister forces at work. Rogue werewolves have declared war against humans, and when Kira’s other BFF is kidnapped, it gets Kira snarling mad. Can she solve the riddle of the Enchanted Forest before the rogue werewolves kill again? Fashion-challenged Kira will learn that werewolves have a strong bite.
Want to know more about using Audible? I came across a great Guide to Audible from Sajan Parikh.
And if you want to try Audible for yourself you can sign up for any of the three giveaways to get a chance to win a free audiobook. (Which you could use to listen to me narrate Howling Dead.)
Chuck Wendig threw down some sort of gauntlet filled with geese and assassins and lightening. And also pretty pictures. Because what good is a goose without a pretty picture? I don’t understand either. I’m secretly not entirely sure he understands. Shh.
But what I do understand is a challenge. This challenge was to write a 1K flash fiction piece about a photo from a random photo generator.
I also did audio. You can download the mp3 here: Cold Escape audio
Or read it below.
Again. I lifted my left foot and leaned forward. I was falling more than walking.
Again. I lifted my right foot, I could barely feel anything except the cold. It burned the little skin that was exposed. My body shook in a desperate attempt to warm up. My right foot crunched into the snow as I put it down.
Again. Lift foot. The boots I’d stolen weren’t warm enough. The three layers of pants weren’t enough. Foot crunched into snow, I felt the grasses laden with frost push up under my pants and scrape against my skin.
Again. Lift foot. Don’t fall. My arms flailed out automatically, to steady my body, I didn’t feel like I had control of it anymore. My too short sleeves exposed my bare skin to the icy cold. The shock of the cold made me gasp. The frozen air filled my lungs. I couldn’t stop. I had to move forward.
Again. I shook as I lifted my foot. I thought about pulling my arms back to my body, they obeyed slowly. I tried to tug the sleeves on the three layers of sweaters I had manage steal. I couldn’t do it without taking my hands out of the sweater sleeves I’d cut and sewn into a semblance of mittens. I brought my foot down. I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t turn around.
Again. I lifted my foot. I didn’t know how long I’d been here. But I couldn’t stay another day, staying meant death. I’d rather die out here, than back there. I had to keep moving forward. I looked down, through my frost laden lashes, at my hands. I pulled one mitten sleeve off. I worked as quick as I could to pull the sleeves of the sweaters down, and wrangle the mitten back on. My foot came down.
Again. I repeated with the other hand as I lifted my foot. I had to keep moving. I knew they wouldn’t notice I was gone until morning, but I didn’t know how long that would be, or how far I could get by then. I pulled my arms in close to my body. I wanted to cry and shake and curl up into a ball. I put my foot down, another step forward.
Again. If I could get past the grey beyond, past the clouds, I would be out, I could be free, I could be safe. My foot slid in the boot as I lifted it. The boots were too big, even with the extra socks. I put my head down again and just thought about the steps.
Again. A few steps later or a few thousand. I looked up and saw the tree. Standing tall, proud, alone. Each branch, no matter how tiny was thick with frost. The sky was a crystal blue. At some point the sun had come up behind me. It was another of those days that I would have called a lovely day a few months ago. Sunny and blue, with only a few wisps of clouds. But it held death. Probably mine.
Again. If only I could get to the tree. I wasn’t sure what then. Stop and scrape the snow from the inside of my boots. The rolling grey beyond still seemed a forever away. But the tree, I could make it to the tree. My foot came down, the crackling and crunching sound I knew was there but I could only hear the thoughts in my head, my ears too cold, my brain too cold. Everything was too cold.
Again. A sound as I lifted my leg, the cold of the pants pressing against my skin trading for the cold of the air trapped between my skin and the cloth. A whisper. Not dogs or machines or people yelling behind me. A warm whisper. Warm. A whisper like hot cider, like a bowl of hot soup, warm to the core.
Again. The whisper filled me. I lifted my head to look for the source. Only the endless expanse of frost and snow covered grasses poking up and the one lone tree. I gave a heavy warm sigh and the moisture from my breath clung to my lashes, lacing them together. The tree.
Again. It wanted me closer. I kept moving. It was a hum that filled me. It promised I would be free. I was close. I would be safe. I would be free. I would not be dragged back.
Again. I was almost there. I paused, reaching up to brush the frost from my eyes. The tree reached out for me. I stepped toward the nearest branch. Low, low enough for me to touch. I reached up at the curled finger covered in frost. I didn’t remember taking my mitten off. But I wasn’t cold anymore. I stroked the frost with my finger and it melted away, the water ran down my hand, it should have burned my skin with cold.
Again. I tried to lift my legs but they were frozen in place. They weren’t cold, but they were frozen, heavy, unmoving. I tried to twist, but my waist wouldn’t move. My arm still stretched out to the tree. My fingers turned the color of bark, cracking. I wasn’t cold. I tried to wiggle my toes and felt them stretch down into the earth. The roots of the other tree wrapped around my toes.
I didn’t need to move again. They would never drag me back. They would never capture me. I was safe. I was still. I was free. I felt the branches grow from me. I hadn’t made it to the grey, but I wouldn’t be take back.
Now we two beckon to others. We whisper of the safety, the freedom, the life that can be lived. Someday we will be many. We will be space enough for some to hide in, before continuing on. Someday, one will make it beyond the grey.
I’ve got less than 7000 to go to get to the shiny Nano 50K goal. Less than 10K to get to the end of the first draft. What does that mean?
If I Finish Early
I’m going to go back and write the Missing Chapters. I am really good about backing things up. I actually have four copies of the files for the first book in this series. None of them have the Missing Chapters. I’m starting to wonder if I wrote them.
I seem to remember that I wrote the final chapters and kind of hated them. I came back later and rewrote them. I think at some point I deleted them and then never saved the new ones. I will look again to see if there is some magical secret storage place (possibly dropbox, I’ve already checked in the usual suspects, but also back things up to dropbox as a if fire happens tool). Mostly though? I think I have to go and dig my damn toes in and write them. AGAIN.
I’m setting the book/s aside for December. I need space between the writing and the edit. I figure I can work on something(s) else for a month and then come back to the first book and the new nano book and try to burn through editing them both. I’ve already got a good list of edit notes for them.
Unfortunately, the first book is going to require a good bit of surgery, cutting out one entire plotline and adding in a brand new one. It will make it much stronger, but a lot of work.
My plan for December is to write at least one short, and polish up two of them. I’ve got two for the series I’m working on that both need editing.
I also have the short for the Anthology I’ve been working on with Stefan Budansew. Mine is ready to go on that.
And name things.
Anything. I’m horrible with names. I don’t have any good names for my current works in progress. They are all named for the series or main character with a number. Jenna 1, Jenna 2. These are not good names. I want to come up with one good damn name in December.
For the Flash Fiction Pop Culture Challenge from Chuck Wendig I rolled up a 7 for The Mothman Prophecies (which of course I have not seen, however I have seen many shows on cryptoeverything, read books, listened to podcasts —Monster Talk is awesome– so I decided to go with what I know of Mothman the cryptid and call that a win) and Princess Bride (which I have seen, most notably at a midnight showing I once went to alone because it was a really bad no good horrible time but the feel in a packed theater of people who knew all the lines was both the most warm fuzzy thing and the closest to a cult I’ve ever been).
I stomped down the well worn stone path. My bag and sword were heavy and hot. I was sticky and uncomfortable. The air wasn’t even cool at night.
I saw it again. The huge thing, eight feet tall, wings as wide as four men’s arms stretched tip to tip, bright glowing red eyes, he sat perched on top of something I couldn’t make out. The moonlight only illuminated his plate sized red eyes.
“Yes, I’m coming for you.” I shouted at it. It felt like the thousandth time. “I will avenge my parents. Now if you could just wait there for a few minutes and we can properly have this out.”
I didn’t bother to drop my bag or draw my sword. He’d fly off as soon as I got close. I stopped and peeled my shirt away from my skin and fanned it trying to get some air flow going. “It’s like a thousand degrees here, could you at least like flap your wings for a breeze?” At least I wasn’t wearing trousers, mom had been right about a long, light skirt being surprisingly travel friendly.
“Oh, fine.” I drew my sword and charged forward. As I neared the fence post it dove at me. I lifted the sword, aiming for the side, just damage one of his wings. He’d be down and I could fight him face to face.
I managed to connect with the edge of the leathery wing, but adding one more small cut wasn’t enough to take him down today. The force of the wind generated nearly knocked me over but I was ready this time.
After he flew away I turned to face the danger. Wherever he went, there was danger.
An old woman came out of a hut a short distance from the overly tall fence post. “You’re here to steal my son, you hussy! Well, you can’t have him!” She threw something at me. She had a great arm for an old woman. It landed near me, but didn’t hit me. I crouched down to examine it.
As soon as I did I stood up, when the jerk with the wings shows up there is danger and you run away. I turned and a rat the size of a large dog leapt at me. I swung my sword making a connection, but its hide was too thick to cut through easily.
Another came at me from the side. I swung again, connecting with its side, I knocked it away it gave a horrible squeal.
“No!” The deep bellow startled me but I managed to keep my attention on the third rat coming at me. I swung my sword aiming to hit its face with the flat side of my sword, it squealed and ran away and I turned for the next.
Except when I turned there was a man, a giant, twice as tall as me. He reached down and picked up the fourth rat pulling it out of the way of my sword. I kept going with my swing and toppled over.
A fifth rat, they seemed to run away after they were hit, managed to get its teeth into my leg. As I lifted my sword the giant lifted the rat who didn’t let go of me.
The giant held up the rat by the tail, the rat held me by the leg. I was dangling with my sword above my head, which was of course actually below me. Mom never warned me that a skirt could get in the way if I was being hung upside down by a giant holding onto a rat who was biting me.
“Go away!” The giant shook us. I clung to the sword, the rat clung to me, the giant clung to the rat.
“I’m trying to, but your friend won’t let go of me.” I shouted up to the giant.
“Mitsy, drop it!” The rat let go of me and I fell to the ground. The giant cradled the huge rat against his chest and grabbed another.
I scrambled to my feet and started to run away.
“You stay away from my baby!” The old woman yelled again.
“I’m trying to stay away!” I ran down the hill past the hut shouting. Another rat was coming after me but it stopped. I hoped it meant that the giant had grabbed his friend.
I heard a screech. I hoped it was the horrible man with the wings and not the rats.
I’d walked for weeks looking for the winged man without seeing him. Lately I’d been seeing him more than once a day. I was getting closer. I would avenge my parents. He collapsed a bridge on them.
I kept on running and stumbling forward. I finally regained my balance and put my sword away. I turned around and looked back. I could see the giant sitting on the ground with the rats climbing over him. I slowed and continued down the path.
The screech came again. I looked for the red plate sized glowing eyes. I spotted them in a dark wood to the side.
“Why can’t you ever be like in a nice warm cabin with a cozy fire?” I was hopeful that the last cut to the wing would slow him down. Maybe after all these years I was finally making progress.
He screeched again. He unfurled the huge wings. Behind him something lit up the space and I got a very good look at his wings. Over the years I’d gotten a few cuts into the rough leathery wings, so maybe it was finally making a difference.
I entered the woods and off to my left a flare of light caught my attention. A flare of fire rising up out of the ground. I stepped away but it burned for a few moments and then died down. I walked over to it and kicked at the ground. It smelled like sulfur. There were no trees or bushes growing around it.
“This is a danger I can handle. I looked around for rocks with moss on them and followed the path of them, avoiding the occasional spurts of fire.” The giant man folded his wings around him. Usually he unfurled them to take off as I got closer.
“Hey!” I figured I might as well try something different since I was this close now. I stepped around a bare sandy area and watched a rock sink in fast. “Moss good, sand bad. Check.” I kept moving toward the man slowly. “Stick around for a moment and have a chat with me.”
He seemed to be leaning against a tree. He didn’t move away. I didn’t pull my sword out, but I did keep a very close eye on where all the sandy spots were and where the ground was safely mossy. I wasn’t quite close enough to strike but the ground around me was growing and green so I stopped.
“You killed my parents. Tell me why.” I didn’t care why, I just wanted to avenge them. I watched carefully to see what he’d do. If I could get closer I could strike.
He screeched again, then he spoke. His voice was weirdly thin and reedy, it seemed like it would blow away. It didn’t fit at all with his giant size. “I don’t kill anyone or hurt anyone. I warn. Why do you chase danger?”
I frowned. “I don’t chase danger, I’m chasing you. You collapsed the bridge on my parents. Do you even remember killing them?” I struggled to remember watching the bridge that fell. My parents were in a boat below the bridge and the boat was destroyed, they weren’t able to swim out with all the debris falling around them.
“I remember. You started chasing danger that day. The only thing you’ve gotten better at is finding trouble. I didn’t do anything to them. The bridge was collapsing, I was trying to warn people away.” He unfurled his wings.
This was my last moment. I had to make a difference now. I saw the five steps that it would take to close the distance to him. I pulled out my sword and closed four of them. His wings drooped, he didn’t take off.
I closed the final step and stabbed at his torso. I was going to avenge them. The sword went in more smoothly than I expected.
He didn’t move away. He didn’t scream. He didn’t pull back. He sighed. “I told you, I warn. I’m not here to hurt you. I didn’t hurt them.”
I frowned and pulled the sword out and swung again. This time slicing at his wing. I could feel the sword as it cut through, but nothing on the wing changed. It was like I hadn’t done anything.
He sighed again. I swung over and over. At his neck, I even tried to stab at his weird giant plate eyes. Nothing mattered. “Do you feel any better?”
“Not really.” I jerked and tugged to get the sword out of the tree behind him. He just kept standing there, looking bored.
“Sometimes bad things happen. I’m there to warn people away from bad things. If you don’t take the warning I can’t help you.” He flexed his wings a bit, the edges looked exactly the same amount of frayed as they always had.
My parents, I couldn’t avenge them. I’d tried for over half my life and I couldn’t even manage to do that. I’d learned to sword fight. I’d become an expert tracker. I’d fought all kinds of crazy things. But I couldn’t fight something that wouldn’t die.
But I could try. I stepped forward and punched him. My fist connected with him, he felt like a man, my hand hurt like I’d punched a man in the jaw. He was totally unfazed. I stepped back, watching the fire spurt up beside him, running right through his wing.
“Well, what do I do now?” I put my sword away and plopped on the ground, away from the sand and sulfur smell. My life had no goal, no meaning, no aim. I hung my head defeated.
“Have you considered becoming a pirate?”