Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 9 - 1029 Words - Give or Take

I wasted about 500 or so words earlier in the day, trying to help with this election, but I don't even want to count them. I got my thousand words in the novel anyway.

Running Total: 6030 Words.

Karla's mother enters into it sooner and more forcefully than I thought. Which may mess up a later scene, but we'll have to see. Also a later scene in which George discovers a Vietnamese restaurant! After months of an enforced diet of hamburgers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 8 - 682 Words - The Beginning Begins

While I didn't actually make the goal I wanted, something good for the opening chapter broke loose.

(I found myself in the children's shoes section of Meijers, scribbling madly. I wasn't actually there to buy children's shoes. It was just the most convenient spot to pull over my cart as I went from the Pharmacy at one corner to the distant dairy section at the opposite. Except I was in the wrong store, and so I ended up in the veggies aisle rather than dairy - and I forgot the cream and bought a lovely red sweet pepper instead. My senior cat was much disappointed. Shredded cheese, however, turned out to be acceptable consolation.)

Running Total: 5001 Words.

In today's scene, George gets the phone call from his mentor, who is trying to lure him back to work by asking him to just help out for a little bit in finding a missing kid.

I cannot shake the idea that the mentor's name insists on being Edna Kravitz - which is so utterly wrong (hint - think Bewitched) or perhaps is ridiculously right. She is not a fussy, nosy neighbor. She's... like... she's "M" or something. And then I think "gee, what if Samantha's nosy neighbor had been played by Judi Dench?" Perhaps a characterization is born....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 7 - a bunch of little sketches

While it can be fun and relaxing to just draw a little something in the evening each night, I realize that I'm not going to get better if I don't do bigger projects other than what I can do in a single evening.

So I'm changing my "A picture is worth a thousand words" thing to at least two hours of drawing. I did that today - mostly sketching out some foundation items for later.

Tomorrow I get back to the novel. I hope to get more than 1000 words done, but we'll see....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 6 - Nothing Like a Dame

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays are really tough days, and so they will be the days I commonly do illustrations. I've really got to work on my sketching and rendering, and so I will be doing some replications of bits from pulp magazines for a while.

Today's picture is from the cover of a pulp magazine, The Storyteller, from 1937. I love that pose. Even though it is a stylized "surprise" pose from the period (specifically for sexy dames when interrupted getting into bed by nasty gunmen) I think it is something that will make a good foundation for something completely different. Like a mysterious figure pointing something out. (That's why I gave her that longer, more fairytale romantic hair.)

I'm doing these pictures in Photoshop CS3, with a little Wacom Bamboo tablet. It's not the smallest one, but the one that's about 3.5 by 5 inches. It lists for about $99, and I got it from Staples for about $70. (Amazon currently has it at, ulp, $450! So you won't see any Amazon Associates affiliates link for it here, much as I would like a share of that price.)

While I'm working on the sketching and rendering at home, I am working on a fuller variety of drawing skills at work, because I need to get good at Corel Painter so I can help more of our students. Painter is a very very cool program that imitates real artistic media - from oil paints to chalk to watercolor to pencils of various sorts - with a lot of nifty computer features thrown in. It is, unfortunately a very buggy program, and prone to give people technical trouble, however.
I am not counting that work in the Dare, but I will probably post some of it later on. (In some cases, I might redo the work I'm doing here with Painter and a big tablet, just to see how much difference it makes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 5 - A Little Picture of Suspense

Loooooooonnnnnggg day at work but I did get a picture done for one of my short suspense stories. I have work to do on it, especially with the water and the color choice. I want it to be more lurid - a yellow sky perhaps. (I also am going to revamp the website where the story will be published - it will appear as a larger cover image, rather than just a small opening illustration as it is here.)

I can't really finish it until I have an idea of the final colors and layout of the website, but you can at least read the story on the rudimentary webpage.

The story is called Alibi. It was published a few years ago in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine. It concerns a man who has set up a perfect alibi so he can murder his wife. Could there possibly be a downside to that.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 4 - 1058 words - More at the Crime Scene

It is not too late, so I shall reward myself by watching the pilot of White Collar which friends tell me is great. I know nothing about it, except that it stars the guy who played Chuck's old friend/enemy in my favorite comedy spy series Chuck. And all of my friends who love Chuck seem to love this so far. (The links go to IMDb, where you can watch episodes online. They are also at Hulu.)

Running Total: 4319 Words.

I had other scenes in mind when I sat down to write, but as I finished up a little of what I started yesterday, I just kept going. As they wait for the police, George makes a call to his girlfriend which does not go well.

Tomorrow is my long long day at work, so I will probably be doing only artwork when I get home.

Day 3 - 1502 Words, Our Heroes Find a Body

Made the mistake of heading for East Lansing without checking the football schedule today. Turned out my timing was okay. I thought I must have arrived just as the game began, but it turns out I was there FOUR hours before the game. In spite of the wind and dreary rain, the town was clogged with tailgaters, partying in the miserable weather. (This is permanent twilight season in Michigan, the state with the fewest sunny days in the lower 48.)

But I got some good writing done as I sat at Taco Bell, sipping refills of Pepsi and waiting for the traffic to clear out.

Running Total 3261 Words

1502 words today. Karla tells George he should NOT admit that he doesn't have a fingerprint scanner in his cell phone, or people will mistake him for not being a spy. George apologizes for disappointing her, and asks her to not tell the police that he has collected the dead guy's fingerprint.

Tomorrow I should not stay up as late, so I wanted to get as far ahead as I could. (I must also remember to get rice and gas tomorrow. Nothing to do with the book, I actually need rice and gas....)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 2 - One and a half pictures and 439 words

I wasn't happy with my illustrations today, but I spent too much time on them to not count them. I felt guilty at not achieving what I wanted artistically, though, so I went back at the novel again. Fleshed out what I wrote yesterday, and extended it a little. Not yet to the next scene.

Running total: 1759 words.

As for the pictures, I think I had forgotten the style I was going for. So they were more exploratory sketches. I'm preparing a site for the children's fiction I've published over the years, but I'm also going to do some illustration for mystery stories. For both I am drawn to the style of pulp magazines. Bright, often using line drawings and flat colors.

The Curious Cat is finished, but I suspect my little orange guy (which is a picture of my real little orange guy, who is the star of Catnip Time) is going to be a part of something bigger.

The Cabin is more of a concept sketch, but I'm not happy with it yet.

Now, the Cop and the Detective illustration is something I like - but I did it before the dare began. It's a good example of what I'm going for overall.

So, anyway, on the novel I fleshed out what I wrote yesterday, and extended it a little. But I'm not yet to the next scene.

The music today was the theme from The Third Man, because that's the tune running in Karla's head. She wonders if perhaps this means that there was a third man involved and the body is not who they think it is. (But she's thinking of the wrong body.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 1 - 1320 Words Toward a Finished Novel AND a Better World

It was a Jimmy Stewart day. Our local theater screens some classic movies every so often, and today they played Harvey. And later they are going to have The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart. Couple this with the fact that one of my book's main characters is a serious classic movie fanatic, and I'd say it was a grand day to begin this novel dare.

Today's total: 1320 words

1137 words on the novel. Scenes from the middle of the book. Karla cleans up the mess. George accuses her of curing his girlfriend via 1970's feminist movies. (Haven't got to her response of "No, it was Casablanca" yet.)

183 words on an open letter to my union membership about voting in the next election of college trustees. I figured I should include the campaign letter because I took time out from my novel writing to compose it. (One can only hope it will make a difference.)

A couple of techniques that helped with today's progress:

  • Take notes the night before.
  • Start something early. Even if you only have a short time in the morning, a few sentences can be all it takes to give you a boost later when you can really sit down and work.
  • Take some time to recharge the mind. (We went to the movies.)
  • Listen to some energizing music to liven your brain and get in the mood. (Thus I recommend tonight's selection of Glenn Miller's In The Mood.)

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The 64 Thousand Word Novel Dare

Every dare has to begin with setting the goals and parameters.

The Projects:

The Novel - a comic mystery novel. I've got a good title, but for now I'm not publicizing it. (Later maybe.) I'll give some background on it as I post updates.

The Illustrations - I am building websites for some of my published short fiction. They really need artwork.

Miscellaneous writing - unlike other dares I've done, I will include writing for other projects in the daily count. I just want to keep going. I will include any work I do on articles for sites like eHow, short fiction, even poetry. I will not include posts I make here, but I may include posts to other blogs.

The Dates:

64 days of writing from October 22, 2009 to January 1, 2010.

The Goals:

64,000 words or 64 illustrations or any combination of the two.

1. 1000 words per day.

2. A picture is worth a thousand words.

3. Because this is the worst time of year for writing in terms of interferance from my day job, I will count words typed in from old drafts and notes. (But it can't be simply copied and pasted in, and I have to note it in my public updates here.)

Although I may write on other projects, I want this novel to be pretty much whole (if kinda spotty and rough) by the end of the year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Writing Dare to Start Thursday

What is a Writing Dare?

It's a challenge to accomplish a certain amount of writing - usually a novel - with in a limited amount of time. It's usually used as a tool to get something done, or sometimes to get something started. Often it's a group of people who challenge each other, and all post their goals and daily progress updates.

The most famous novel dare is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Every November people join NaNoWriMo to try to push themselves to finish the rough draft of a novel in a single month. It's pretty challenging - asking for a 50,000 word novel by the end of the thirty day month.

The Clarion Workshop alumni also tend to challenge each other a lot, often setting the bar even higher, at 60,000 or even 90,000 in a month.

However, many of us need to run a dare when we don't have time for a really challenging goal. A slower paced goal can be a good way to get through a tough patch when there are a lot of other things demanding your time.

I will be posting my own goals and some description of what I'm working on by Thursday - when the dare begins in earnest!