NAnoWRImo (to the tune of Hallelujah)

4 syllables. It just works. I realized this not because I’m praising the start of the best productive writing time of the year (although I am excited) but because my choir is learning Handel’s Messiah and the chorus is stuck in my head.

I’ve been working out my 2016 NaNoWriMo masterpiece for a couple months now. One little bitty bit at a time. Part of the fun of Nnwm is the spontaneity, how it makes you dig to the core of your creativity to come up with the next thousand words. BUT. I have found it is much more effective to start with a basic plot and characters and background, so I don’t spend my writing time doing all this research. I need to spend it doing OTHER research.

This year I’m going back to my writing roots and setting the book in Cerinoit, the world I created in my childhood. It means a lot of digging into previous books to note prominent people (royalty, generals, magicians, etc.) and events. I’m almost finished with the digging, but I know there is a war that influences the characters in my new book, but… I can’t remember who’s at war with whom or why. So… more reading!!

Plot elements I have so far = girl becomes a monk to avoid the military draft; every person born in this country has a word of power, and all magic ability comes from that word (which almost but not quite totally breaks my already loose rules of magic for this world); girl learns her word (Flight), and is somehow pulled into the war repercussions (not the war itself, which is across the ocean, but politics, shortages, and turmoil that happens to the support people left behind). That’s all I got. November starts next week. Yup!

A few words for all you NaNoWriMo folks: Just write. You are exercising verbal fluency and strengthening the neural pathways necessary to come up with words, scenes, and conclusions quickly. That’s the real power of NaNoWriMo. That, and the confidence boost that comes when you can say “I’ve written a novel.”

Let’s have an awesome November!

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My my, time flies

It was brought to my attention that I haven’t posted on this blog for a while. Meaning more than a year. It’s somewhat alarming, but I can directly pinpoint the change as being when I got a new job, so I don’t feel too bad. Just… in the yoke of wretchedness….

To make it all better, I have posted information on my latest Nanowrimo project, A Horde of Gummies. If anyone is interested in actually reading the book, let me know, and I’ll send you the epub (or pdf). I’m insanely curious as to how it reads to other people. (But also covertly embarrassed.)

In other news, I have discovered the importance of highlighters for non-fiction books. A few years ago, writing in a book was equivalent to defacing a sacred work… but now I’ve realized life is too short to hunt through a book for ‘that one part’.

I’m currently reading Characters and Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card, which is straightforward and useful. One of the parts I highlighted was something akin to ‘people are different people depending on whom they’re with’. To me, my character is always my precious character as I see her. But she can’t be. She has to be different to different people. She’s going to be quiet around her teachers, but more outspoken when she’s with her best friend, bossier around her little brother, and childlike around her doting father. As Card points out, people have different histories with different people. Different jokes, different keywords, etc.

Also, people live up to expectations. Meaning, if your manager treats you like you are amazing, you’ll do your best to be amazing. If your big brother treats you like a kid, you’ll probably act like a kid around him. If someone you respect turns to you for an opinion, you won’t want to disappoint them.

So… everything is awesome!

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The Fourth Princess of Bengal: Chapter 25

Chapter 25 : The Blue-Eyed Bandit

The sun was sinking low, the moon visible as a faint drop on the canvas of sky, when the delightful day took a downturn. Saeng was watching the clouds drift, humming along as Vis Avara sang a traveling tune, contentedly full of spicy pastries and bananas. A small dark cloud edged over the silvery gray and the daughter of Moon lifted her head, suddenly alert. “There is trouble,” she said, moving Bellat Abi to the bench by her side. Vis Avara continued to sing, through a frown that passed his face, and when Saeng drew the handle of a sword from her sack he shook his head at her. She was relieved, for she had never fought a real fight, yet disappointed in this feeling, for she had been trained — as a daughter of the Beast King! So instead she wove a strand of her hair around the gifted silver bracelet, she placed it around the cat’s neck and continued to hum, gathering her courage.

They wore deep browns and light grays and dirty yellow, head scarfs and neck scarfs and makeshift shoes, they swung long scimitars with no trained skill but dangerous familiarity, and they spoke too loud. Saeng covered her ears, frightened by the clamor, then felt childish and tried to appear unaffected. The merchant had stopped his cart, keeping his hands clear in front of him, the two boys in the back sat still as the wagon was surrounded by the bandits.

“Throw us your purse—”

“— and a bit of your goods—”

“—and we’ll leave you unharmed,” they said, and Saeng resisted the urge to glower at the fiends.

“Can you not find pleasure in honest work?” she asked, then regretted drawing attention to herself too early.

The man who may or may not have been the leader of the bandits put a foot on the front wheel and hoisted himself up so he was eye-level with the princess, and as his blue eyes peered into hers of pale yellow his confident swagger was tinged by unease. “Tell me what work is honest, and I’ll tell you there’s no pleasure to be found,” he replied in perhaps a milder tone than he’d intended.

“I hear gardening is rewarding,” said the princess, trying not to let her own uncertainty show.

The bandit laughed, a short bark without humor. “And where did you hear such a thing?”

“From a gardener,” said the princess.

“What joy is there in pulling weeds, what reward can there be when your labor goes to the pleasure of others?”

“Joy in caring for living things, joy in the scent of jasmine, joy in regarding beauty.”

“That is no joy for me.”

She gazed straight into his deep blue eyes. “Then your joys must be sad ones.”

The bandit looked to the merchant. “I will tarry no longer.”

“Joy in a better prize?” said the princess quickly.

“There is no better prize.”

“See! You are lost! I assure you, there is a better prize. Surely worth triple your stealings from this honest merchant.”

“Then I shall take both.”

“Nay, ’tis one or the other.”

The merchant placed a hand on her shoulder. “Hush, my child. He who recognizes only the value of money cares little for the values of others.”

Saeng swallowed sadness, unable to fully comprehend that a human being might be willing to kill good people for sake of money. Was it because she never wanted for a thing in the world? Raised differently, would money mean the same to her as it did to this dreadful man?

“My offer still stands,” she managed to say.

“Your offer is unclear, I grow weary of riddles,” said the blue-eyed bandit.

Saeng stood and drew back her head scarf. “I am Saeng, the fourth princess of Bengal. Return me to any loyal man and your reward will be great.”

“Great indeed, for I will take what I wanted and you as well.”

“No, one or the other I said.”

“It matters not what you say, I do what I want.”

“You’ll do what I want — though, it’s not really what I want, for I’d rather you left good people alone.”

“A princess without power is an ordinary girl.”

Too quickly for the bandit to do anything but pull back half an inch, Saeng drew her sword and placed the tip to the side of his neck. “Accept my terms!”

“You are a spoilt child, expecting always to get her way.”

“You do not wish to see my tantrums,” she returned, though she could not recall if she had ever, in fact, thrown a tantrum.

“Would this be your definition of honest work? Killing your subjects?”

“No subject of mine is a dishonest man.”

“Then you have very few subjects, princess.”

“Please! You must accept. The grandchildren of Vis Avara are waiting for his return, the tradesmen are expecting their goods. I am a better prize and my will you shall heed in this matter.”

The bandit lifted a hand to the blade, and the princess tried to look stern as Lynx, unwavering before the gaze of his dull blue eyes.

“Thrice the value, you say?”

“Thrice, I say.”

He smiled darkly, and she suspected he planned to fabricate the sum he would have earned from the merchant’s purse and goods, but she would deal with that later. If she must. She had only specified a reward on her delivery, did it harm her honor to escape that delivery? Decisions were much easier when she was at the palace! Two days gone and already she was betraying her moral teachings!

“Then I accept.”

She drew away her sword, he stepped down and offered her a hand to follow. Saeng turned to the merchant and smiled. “Thank you, Vis Avara. You are a wonderful person.”

“More wonderful I am each time I see you smile,” he replied, eyebrows pinched and fingers clamped.

Saeng picked up her cat and hopped off the wagon without assistance, then waived the good merchant away.

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The Fourth Princess of Bengal: Chapter 24

Chapter 24 : Vis Avara and Bellat Abi

The morning market in Ma’uw was as crowded as the night, it seemed no end to the people in this city where nobody must sleep! The fourth princess of Bengal thought never to see so many sights again as long as she lived. “I could watch this, all day,” she said to the cat, and the cat did not respond from where it was draped around her shoulders.

Navigating out of this torrent spent so much of her energy that Saeng stopped outside the city walls to rest — before she had gone anywhere! “I shan’t make it farther east than this!” she exclaimed.

“Heading east, are you?” asked the guard who had been watching her.

“East I will go if even possibly I can stand up. I fear I may be rooted here.”

“The old merchant is going east. Seek a ride from him.” The guard pointed to a richly-dressed man checking the axles on his wagon stopped by the side of the road. This sounded like another adventure calling, so Saeng sprang to her feet and said to the guard, “Thank you for a welcome direction,” as she smiled in her normal charming way.

“Sir, we are both stopped here, shall we start on together?” Saeng asked the merchant.

“A young lady asks a seat in my wagon,” the merchant said to the horse, “it is no trouble to me and less trouble for she.”

Saeng tugged the tail of the cat. “I have also this cat who must ride with me as I ride the wagon.”

“The cat who must ride with you as you ride, is welcome as you are to ride by my side.”

“Thank you! People are so kind.”

“Kindness is got as kindness is given the same. Does your sleepy cat have a name?”

The princess laughed and began to help a boy load the last few parcels into the back of the wagon, where also two servants would ride, for she was placed at the front with the merchant. She said to him once they were away, “My cat will have a name, good sir, once you have told me your own.”

“I am Vis Avara to you and your cat, though I am called Papa more often than that.”

The princess clapped her hands. “Vis Avara! I’ll not forget. Now, please name my cat?” She laughed and covered her mouth with her scarf. “I should not speak so much, I think.”

“Your voice is music to me; as for the cat, his name is Bellat Abi.”

“Bellat Abi? What does that mean?”

And to pass the time, the playful merchant wove her a great story of adventure and woe, that had little to do with Bellat Abi and much more to do with an elephant name Po.

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And now it’s December, the most musical time of the year

I completed NaNoWriMo with a whopping 74,804 words, past my goal of 70k, just shy of an even 75k.

This marks the completion of the CAUTION quartet. It’s my first quartet. And I haven’t even finished a trilogy before so this is extra special. Bonus: I even like the ending! I thought it was silly and rushed when I did it (feeling silly and rushed), but when I went back I was pleased. This series turned out as fun as it started, and a lot better than I’d ever thought it would be.

Today’s Topic: Favorite novel-ing music

Anime soundtracks: All Kajiura Yuki (Mai-hime, Cosette, .hack, Pandora Hearts, etc.), Shinsekai Yori, Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note, Natsume Yuujin Chou, Yu-gi-oh Duel Monsters, YuYu Hakusho (symphonic), all Joe Hisaishi (Ghibli)

Movie soundtracks: Amelie, Coraline, Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean, Gladiator, The Hobbit and LoTR, Lion King, How to Train Your Dragon, Chocolat, Brave, House of Flying Daggers, Crouching Tiger, Last of the Mohicans, Lord of the Dance, Star Wars (but then I start singing the Imperial March so success is 50/50)

Game soundtracks: Halo and Final Fantasy.

Artists instrumental: Himekami, Kieko Matsui, David Lanz, David Arkenstone, Cusco, Aine Minogue, John Tesh, Lindsey Stirling, Michele Mclaughlin, Sur Sudha, Yanni

Artists lyrical: Cecile Corbel, Akino Arai, Damh The Bard, Faun, Enya, Gary Stadler, Kalafina, Kokia, Loreena McKennitt, Origa, Rin’, Woodland

Songs I frequently put on repeat: Mountain Wind (Mamer), Transformation (Daine Arkenstone), the Gathering (Aine Minogue), Master of Tides (Lindsey Stirling)

Conclusion: Instrumental music makes it a lot easier to concentrate. But sometimes you need the magic of voices.

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