Animals

Here’s your breakish for animals.

Jaguars

Humans have killed 26 Panamanian Jaguars this year from Mental Floss.

Cattle and sheep ranchers are setting up shop in jaguar territory, which puts everyone in a pretty dangerous position. More than half of the forest in the Isthmus of Panama is already gone. The cats are running out of safe spaces to go. And on top of that, humans have moved in on their wild food supply.

Humans are not good at (or depending on your point of view extremely good at) living with the rest of the world.

They survived the ice age. Hopefully, they can survive the human age.

Nova Scotian Blobs

That’s an animal right? Yup! And it is an incredibly cool one. Well many? Bryozoan colony from Doubtful News.

Bryozoan Colony from Doubtful News
Bryozoan Colony from Doubtful News

I love stuff like this. Both super weird to me animals and things that people think are crazy and possibly <ins conspiracy here> but turn out to be something so much cooler! Also I love “zooid” which according to the all powerful Wikipedia is “a single animal that is part of a colonial animal. It it one of those things that gets the gears in my brain turning. Crazy zooid aliens.

Werewolves

Not real animals. Maybe slightly less cool than zooid bryozoan colonies, but maybe easier to turn into fantasy creatures…maybe not. More common to turn into main characters?

An old post about Jacques Roulet and werewolves in France is a great read.

In that year two hunters came across two wolves feeding on the body of a dead 15 year old boy. As they chased the wolves into the forest they came across Jacques Roulet with his clothing in tatters, his hands drenched in blood, and with shreds of human flesh under his fingernails.

BEARDOG

That is all. Go look. Seriously.

My Approach to NaNoWriMo

I’m going to talk a bit about my approach to Nanowrimo this year…

Nano!
Nano!

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.

A problem

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.

Strategy

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.

Podcast?

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!)

Project?

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’s ok.

It’s ok.

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.

Why NaNoWriMo?

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?

Good luck!

S1.21 An Axe

An Axe is written by Mariah Avix.

An Axe is a Smoke Jumper story. Look for Faye’s novella, Summer Solace, in the spring.

Mariah Avix is the creator of 600 Second Saga. A space for developing authors to explore the realms of science fiction and fantasy in 10 minutes or less every week.
Mariah writes magical tales of how technology will change our world, and technologically laced tales of magic, that probably isn’t real.
She is currently working on a series of novellas about shapeshifters who fight wildfires, a trilogy about a woman who refuses to admit that she has the M word (magic), and endless flash fiction.
When she’s not writing she walks along the rivers and parks throughout her city looking for inspiration.

 

Music is provided by MADS.

You can support 600 Second Saga by giving us a 5 star review on your podcast tool.

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Death and Weddings

I’ve been plotting out a Smoke Jumper novella. I’ve been wanting to write a mystery for a while and the idea came to me for a murder set at a destination wedding. So I’ve been researching death and weddings. It’s been…weird.

First the wedding!

I’ve been making a Pinterest board. Just like other Pinterest board makers. Except my thought when I look at something is, “Would this make a good clue?” “Would this make a good red herring?” “How will this factor into the death?” “I wonder which bridesmaid’s dress color will look good with blood?” “What picturesque location would be best to find a dead body?”

Basically, it’ll be a sort of rustic farm wedding, with a dead body and a shape shifter. That’s how most weddings are right?

rustic wedding
Matt MacGillivray

Death and corpses

I’ve seen this making rounds but The Human Body After Death is extremely helpful.

I’m having a poisons problem. Wolfsbane seems WAY to obvious considering that my shifter will be a wolf.

Here’s a list of 10 poisons used to kill people (beware audio – sorry!) The real problem for me is where and what I’d like to use. Poison ivy just won’t cut it. I’m not sure if this poison will be the actual weapon, or a red herring, but I know I need something that is plant based, ideally found in North America, super ideally found in the Rocky Mountains. Hm.

Mysteries

15 Tips from Elizabeth Craig

25 Things You Need to Know from Susan Spann

Really old post but had some good stuff about plotting clues which I’ve been having trouble with.

This (long!) post has some clue examples which is also helpful. Beware it isn’t even for writers, it is for creating one of those mystery dinner things I think. But I really liked the clues section.

 

 

Quick roundup

Falcons

The Smoke Jumper series features peregrine falcons and I’ve been reading a lot about them. They are predators, which makes them great scarecrows.

peregrine falcon from Carlos Delgado

Reviews

They are incredibly important. I’m really bad at them. I highly recommend this great write-up about why they are important and how to do them.

Swimming cyborgs

This one comes back the we don’t know what robots are. Or we can’t accurately see the future. Or just science is awesome. I think mostly that last one. It is interesting what we take from nature. Sometimes things you might not expect. Also swimming and belly dancing have a lot in common. (This story was so interesting it made it into my cache twice.)

 

An Axe

It is Friday and that means another challenge from Chuck Wendig. This time it was a knock on the door. Never one to follow directions I went for a crash into a door. An axe. A couple peregrine falcons. A bear. And a fire.

trees and cliff
Trees on a cliff in the Rockies

An Axe

The impact on the solid pine door reverberated through the house.

Faye was out of bed and running to the front door in a heartbeat. She flung open the door and stared down at her half boy, half falcon son. His wings twitched and stretched out as they tried to shift to arms.

He croaked out the worst word. “Fire.”

She shifted in a moment. She couldn’t stay. He would be ok. He had to be.

“The gulch.”

Her husband came out of the bedroom.

She dove off the edge of the porch and spread her wings. He would stay, he would raise the alarm, he would take care of Jacob.

Faye angled toward an updraft. The gulch. There were always fires in the mountains, but fire could go from small and local to drawing unwanted attention quickly.

She spotted the orange lick of flame and pulled her wings in. Faye aimed for the fire and let her instincts take over. Her speed increased.

Resources

When I go looking for information I find I often go back to the same resources. Yes, I mostly start with Wikipedia and Google. But if those aren’t finding me what I want I have a few other places I regularly loop through.

Cracked – personal experience column

I know it is a humor site but it is surprisingly good, especially the personal experience. Depending on what you are looking for it can be a good place to go. There is a lot of adult language. I cannot express this enough. But if I want a little background story on someone who wrote video games or cleaned swimming pools? This is great.

Ars Technica

This is a great site for news. They frequently do a surprisingly good job on the research so I use this on the current stories I want information on.

Mental Floss

There isn’t a lot of original content here but it is a good place to find links to other stuff and they do a very good job of citing sources. It is often a place I stop when I feel like something should exist but I’m having a hard time finding what I want. They do sometimes put together fun lists and posts as well.

Science Based Medicine

This is a site I come to for medical news and when I’m not sure of something. Is this really a thing? Ask SBM. It helps to understand what the science and evidence say about medicine and I am not great at reading medical papers, I can scan them but I often miss stuff. So this is a good tool to get the actual understanding of what is happening.

Scientific American

I’ve certainly linked to this often enough. Good resources, links to the studies, interesting stories. All the stuff you want.What sources do you use that might be unusual to help you find the information you need?

Nano Update – Done

Done

I’m done. I wash my hands of it. I actually finished on the 23rd with the bulk of the book. I went through and put in notes where I need to fix things. I pulled the first book into the Scrivener along side it so that I can make sure I’ve got good continuity between the two. This seems like what it was made for. I can have open my information about her magnetic bracelet (more like this – though more do it yourself and not so much like this) so I make sure I’m getting the look right and the list o-stuff she currently is carrying with her on it stays consistent.

I also went through and highlighted the scenes from the first book that I know will need a significant rework (in addition to the 2-3 that just need to be written) which is only 3 of them. So overall not as bad as I’d feared. One will need to be basically redone completely but the other 2 have a lot of salvageable stuff.

Next steps for Jenna

I’m setting her aside. This is, hopefully, 1 and 2 in a trilogy. I have a really long way to go on getting them edited up and polished and ready. But I’m hoping to really dive into that in January. I figure a month off to work on other things is a good break.

I fully expect editing book one to be painful. But it won’t be as bad as my last, for so many reasons. And I think book 2 shouldn’t be too bad. I’m looking forward to having them ready to go.

Next project

Shorts. More shorts. They are fun and fast and I think they are helping me get better at writing, plotting, planning. All good things. I’ve got two in the novelette range (for me I am aiming for 10-12K) that need polish and can be put on a shelf for something I’m hoping to put together.

The next one I’m going to work on is a shake out my brain and do something very different short. Based on a bunch of rejected suggestions from a friend who gave really bad ideas this NaNo. Bad ideas lead to good ones.

No Elvis though. It doesn’t fit my universe.