Shaking ideas loose

I have a nasty little sinus infection, which has slowed my head down to feel like it’s filled with cotton wool and pain. So I’m taking some time out, sitting in the shade, watching the clouds roll across the sky and trying to think through the next chapter. And the next year.

We’re three-quarters through the year. How has your year gone, compared to your plans? Have you started making plans for next year?

For the remaining quarter, is anybody doing ninktober alternative prompts? Or planning on nano?

I’m probably not going to be up for Nano, but I’ll stick to the same thing I’ve been doing for 21 months so far… just trying to write every day, at least 10 words a day. We’ll see where it takes me!

Where will the last 3 months of 2021 take you?

38 comments

  1. We’re three-quarters through the year. How has your year gone, compared to your plans? Have you started making plans for next year?

    Hahahaha.

    I’ve a suspicion I should have abandoned my plans years back, or at least not gone forward with the ambitious new plan, and instead made a stink back then.

    Where will the last 3 months of 2021 take you?

    Probably should have an exit plan. My health is questionable enough, in certain ways enough, that pretty much nothing can be worth the apparent risk of the vaccine.

    Just trying to pull stuff together for work, in case the high handed upper management decide /not/ to act capriciously.

    1. You can always recalibrate with a new plan. While there’s life, there’s stubborn ability to go off on a tangent to what was expected before, and leave everyone else scratching their head!

      …Which would explain how I ended up in Alaska in the first place.

      1. Optimism at that point was running a bit on spite and anger.

        I vaguely recall wondering about bits of it, but I found out something interesting today. Last spring or sometime I was having problems, and found that putting certain minerals really high took away the excessive depression.

        Well, during summer’s difficulties I may have accidentally cut my dosing in half. Without noticing it.

        If true, it would explain much. Anyway, I’m trying to adjust back up carefully, and see if this seems correct.

        Got a push in, and have learned some new things that will help going forward.

  2. Finish the stories in this story set, then do NaNo, if the novel will wait that long. It really wants to get written. After that, I have no idea. My plans keep getting kicked all cattywampus by outside forces. Oh, and I need to run the first revisions (names where [name1] currently stands) and light polishing on _White Gold of Empire_ so it can go to the beta readers. I want to get it, and _Familiar Paths_ out the door by the end of the year.

  3. It’s been a fairly good year for writing, but I’ve been having trouble with the finishing and publishing part. _Finally_ hit the publishing button in August and will try to have at least shorter works to kick out the door, with two novels in progress and maybe finish one before Christmas?

    Oh, Christmas. Wasn’t I saying something about “Must get out a paper version of Igor?” Yes. Must.

    I’ll definitely do NaNoWriMo, it’s my annual “stop editing and just put words on paper” tune up. I’m waffling on which not-Wine of the Gods story idea to go with. Sort shake up my head and get out of the rut.

    1. Congrats on getting Igor out the door! Whether he wanted to be or not! I’m sure you can paper over the worst of it…

      Actually, random question: do you find you sell a noticeable amount of paper? I am amused and bemused by the persistent small trickle of paper sales, now that I have them out in such.

      1. We always build a trade paperback version of our books. Trades permit us to do book festivals, local bookstore signings, and library events. It is more work to make a nice trade, but they do sell. Just in real small quantities. We also sell them online; some people like a physical book in their hand. I think it depends on the title and genre. Disposable bubblegum reading won’t sell many trades so it’s primarily or only eBook. How to sew cloth grocery bags complete with patterns, schematics, and layouts has to be in trade because eBook doesn’t like that level of art.

      2. I sell very few paper versions, almost all the YA series. I think I’ve sold a single Directorate Omnibus.

        But since Igor’s sort of a new series, I thought I’d give it a try. *sigh* Already second guessing the cover and thinking I ought change it before i do the paper version, if I’m going to change it already.

  4. Trying to plant my seat in a chair, for an hour a day, at the same time every day, for an extra early start on NaNoWriMo.
    I’m currently playing with an idea that I need some feedback on, because I’m fighting the “I don’t think that opening is working quite right, let me strangle it in the crib by changing everything multiple times” impulse.

      1. That’s what happened with this year’s NaNo novel. The bit near the end got written first, leaving me with, “Oh great. How do I get there from, um, the beginning more or less? Wherever the beginning will be?”

      2. That’s really good general advice. Sadly, it’s not the issue here. This is more of a…
        (Bloody hades, I’ll just post the thing.)

        “Bureaucracy is the bane of the supervillain.”
        My name is Bill. I’m a Fed. I had been tasked with investigating YESSAH, the correspondence school of choice for aspiring henchmen. Officially, the supervillain gimmick was a metaphor, but we’d seen a lot of their graduates as unindicted co-conspirators. Somebody decided that we should look into it, and it was my lucky day. I was in my first class “Be the Dragon: Human Resources for Effective Organizations”. The instructor continued.
        “Bureaucracy exists to diffuse blame, so that none can be accountable. Supervillainy concentrates blame into one point. When you see a supervillain on the witness stand scoffing that ‘he couldn’t possibly have known that’, he’s telling the truth. His support staff certainly did, but that was never the question. The supervillain exists to shield his organization, so that it can accomplish superhuman things in his name.”
        He went on to name several celebrity CEOs to demonstrate his point. I was not aware of any of them being supervillains. Maybe they were. Maybe they weren’t. But they were effective. Mainly at shaking down the government, but their shareholders approved.
        “Your magic number is 25. Kenneth Galbraith did some groundbreaking work showing that any organization inevitably becomes a bureaucracy before it comprises 35 people. (We’ll set aside his conclusion of “therefore socialize all the things!” as unproven and unhelpful.) You’ll need to bring in specialists on occasion, to deal with inevitable nepotism, and some of your employees might not be the most socially apt, so you will need wiggle room.”

        I had homework. The assignment was to write a personal mission statement. The professor stated that he expected few, if any of us, to qualify for the executive track. I didn’t want to do it. I’ve seen enough of the vapid things, carefully weasel worded to commit to nothing, while opening up subordinates for summary dismissal. So rather than do it, I was enjoying a nice cold beer. Or two. No more than three. While watching the talking heads on the news channel assure us that there was no way the President’s direct order had caused the obvious consequence. Screw it. I didn’t want this stupid assignment. I opened up the form to enter my answer. I’m not naive. I know full well that other feds spent three years entrapping Randy Weaver, then killed most of his family in a tantrum when he refused to play ball. There’s no shortage of people in my agency who would be better suited for this crap. I just want to protect regular people from criminals, and it’s criminals who write the laws. The words “Power demands responsibility” looked lonely in the empty space. I didn’t care. I pushed “Send”, and went to bed.

          1. What happens?
            Metascale? Punch-clock villain starts on his journey to supervillain, and takes down swamp creatures along the way.

            1. Microscale: who does he meet in this class that will help him take out the swamp creatures they get hired by, after graduation? What were their statements? Which one was the most hilarious?

              1. A mysterious patron who just recognized motive, and sees opportunity. The patron’s representative (who perhaps enjoys disguises a bit too much). Access to a Rolodex of specialized skills. The alter ego which he’ll be constructing.
                But really, mostly part of being the everybody in “everybody knew”, and being unable to do a darned thing about it.

                1. That’s still macroscale. Focus down to the human level.

                  He went to bed. The next scene is another day. What does he want? What is he going to do to try to get it? Who interferes? What do they want? Does he get what he wants, and if so, what complication does it bring?

                  Or does he not get what he wants, and furthermore…?

                  1. Heh.
                    I’m solid for the first third, and largely set for the last third.
                    It’s the middle portion that kills me. 🙂 (This time will be different. I’ve hired a squire named Sancho.)

                    My main concern, was that I was being too ham handed. And that a government agent ignoring the law might not be appropriate for the zeitgeist.

                    1. I think you may be over planning. Keeping all that in mind, but just start with something like, “And in the morning, I regretted it as the Professor singled out . . . ” Then stop _telling_ and get inside the character’s head and show the read how he feels.

                      I know this sounds backwards, but is using the first person enabling you to keep the character at arms’ length? Try third person for a few paragraphs and see if it flows better.

                    2. Don’t worry about hamhanded.

                      And let the zeitgeist take care of itself. Generally, do you think the writers that we now think of as channeling the zeitgeist understood it that way? Many of the people who think that abstractly and theoretically about what they are writing are literary, and there are loads and loads of literary stories that get ignored, because they suck, and are similar to intellectual claptrap of decades prior.

                      Specifically, this situation is a mess. I think no one has any real idea of what is going on. I mean, what, on God’s green earth, is actually going on here? I’m sometimes able to use a gift for figuring things out, and I have no real understanding of this. I just know that I want to know, that I am angry, and that I want to do something about it.

                      I want to read OldNFO’s April Fool. I have it, I’m pretty sure. However, I know very well that I’m not emotionally up for it.

                      I can’t promise to read your story immediately, or ask you to take my money.

                      Thing is, this stuff that is going on is in many places. I’m one of the ‘everyone’, and I really really dislike it. I kinda desperately need to know that your protagonist finds an answer that works for him. I mean, you’ve said as much, and I trust you, but it is not the same as experiencing it.

                      There are definitely people asking the same questions. Maybe we all have to find our own answers.

                      And, you have nailed the soul of the superhero genre.

                      I can’t speak to the specific advice as well as the others, but please believe that they have advised you correctly about the essence of this.

  5. Our plans as of 1 January 2021? Hahahahahahahaha!
    My elderly mother living in the next state broke her wrist in two places on Valentine’s Day. She lives in a death trap of a house with my elderly father sinking into Alzheimer’s. She won’t hear of moving and we had to *FIGHT* to get her to install railings in the narrow, steep staircase and a hundred other jobs.

    As we recovered from above, IngramSpark did what they thought best and put us at risk of being cancelled by Amazon and sued by Agatha Christie Limited. Mad scramble on our part to figure out what happened (not our fault!) Thank God it doesn’t look like the worst
    will happen.

    Soon afterwards, dear daughter started having full-blown night-time panic attacks. Late night emergency room visits. Luckily, Hershey medical center doesn’t see much action from the knife and gun club so we got seen. Sleep, unlike bridge and tunnel panic attacks, cannot be avoided. She’s doing much better now, in part to better living through modern pharmaceuticals.

    We went from zero cats to four and discovered why no one adopts adult cats. Kittens are easier. They’re adapting. Maybe they’ll even let me clip their claws someday.

    Our sales fell off a cliff.

    Oh, yeah, we did some writing while putting out fires.

    Next year, God willing, will be calmer.

    1. Here’s to calmer, better health, and less publishing hijinks! I can’t speak for less cat hijinks, as those seem to increase the happier the cats get, but less snarls and snafus everywhere else!

  6. Trying to kick “The Other Princess” out the door this year.

    Probably won’t NaNo because there are more stories needing to be shoved onward, and no burning idea to write.

    1. Yay for plans to get one out the door!

      Do you tend to work on multiple stories at the same time? The last time I tried editing one while writing another, it led to mass confusion on my parts as to whom was doing what with which to whom. Possibly it’s easier if the books don’t contains the same characters, but I haven’t tried that yet.

      1. All the time. It’s a horrible habit but I can only keep going on stories if I keep circling around.

        In this case, however, The Other Princess is on the backburner so it will cool off before the final pass. I ought to start that any day now.

  7. “Where will the last 3 months of 2021 take you?”

    To war! [sound trumpet clarion!]

    I’m doing a combination airborne and ground assault on a “hotel,” aka hardened military/spy building in coastal Thailand. This time the Valkyries are pretending to be humans as misdirection, so they can’t just surface a giant tank five miles off the coast and cut the top off the building with a plasma gun. Also no air strikes and no nuking shit from orbit just to be sure. It’s face punching time.

    I’m planning on dropping them HALO on top of the building at night with light armored assault from the street, just to make it difficult for the bad guys in the hotel. The Valkyries won’t be having any humans along physically, so they’ll have a bit more leeway to punch bad guys and break their stuff.

    Now I have to do a bunch of research on how to attack a building. Yeehaw!

      1. There’s a rule for that? ~:D

        I had the giant tanks storm a necromancer’s castle in the 4th book. It was defended by the Dark Ones, the largest of which was a familiar giant flying squid. I had a lot of fun blowing up the squid, but the castle didn’t last long at 2 megatons per second.

        So for this one I’ve been researching armored glass. Surprisingly breakable to weapons over .50 caliber. The windows of tanks for example are 8″ of hardened glass plates separated by sheets of plastic. 3 rounds of .50 BMG hardball will penetrate all the way through. Automobile armored glass such as one sees in armored limos won’t stop a .50 BMG and won’t even slow down a 20mm. Yes, you can buy rifles that shoot 20mm. (Or they exist, anyway. Local laws may vary etc.)

        A sufficiently beefy Shield Maiden can bail out the back of a C-130 and land on the roof, then James Bond down to the balcony and peck her way through the glass with a 20mm and some plastique. Also there are hostages, so that’s a problem too. You don’t want to break the window but liquefy the hostages, or pepper them with 20mm.

        On the other hand, there are some interesting widgets out there for breaking rocks. I figure the glass is going to function kinda/sorta like rock, and I’ve seen guys break boulders by drilling a little hole, putting a .22 blank down it and then sticking a heavy rod down behind and hitting it with a hammer. I wouldn’t -do- that because I value my limbs and fingers, but I don’t mind describing somebody else doing it in a work of fiction.

  8. Last year I got 3 books done. This year I hoped to do the same. So far… goose egg. Though I’m finally getting back to it and have a decent chunk on one story and a bit on two others.

    Now I have to figure out how to publish the other 3 without killing the writing again. My goal is to publish Whirlwind of Stars, Bearskin, and Fairy Farm by end of the year. And finish Firebrand and either Spun Light or House Upon the Hill by the same.

    1. If you can manage to write and publish at the same time, you’re doing better than me. The reason Blood, Oil, & Love wasn’t published until last month is because I couldn’t write A Perfect Day while also working on the edits & publication of Blood.

      The writing comes back, though. In fits and starts, perhaps, but it comes back. Not unlike a cat who’s scampered out of the kitchen after a loud clanging noise, but can still smell the fish… It creeps back. And possibly ambushes you. Or, stand in one place stirring too long, and little paws climb your thigh in dramatic plea for attention…

  9. Still recovering from a year of medical disaster (all fine now, thanks — down 40 lbs and falling, and healthier than I’ve been in decades). I didn’t die, but my computer did — it took a LONG time for the brain fog to dissipate (older reduce-blood-sugar meds which were now redundant and robbing my brain of fuel) so I could set up a new platform, and I’m still in recovery for all my business systems (had to turn off advertising, etc.).

    BUT… I’m working on book 3 of my new series (I’m planning to release books 1-3 at 1-month pre-order intervals once I’ve started book 4. Even while recovering, I found a way to start accumulating so much material that I ended up with half-a-book’s worth (50K words) of outline/scene fragments. Not my usual approach (which is more pantser-like) but very very fruitful. Now the tough part is splitting time between writing and bringing all the business systems back up.

    1. Congratulations on overcoming medical disaster! I understand all too well how that can eat a year of your life. And yeah, there’s the slow dissipation of brain fog, the “I thought I was recovered, but now I see am I actually recovered, I think…”

      Don’t sweat the change in processes too much: I know authors that range from plotting to pantsing book to book, even within the same series. Roll with it, and don’t think you’re stuck with the new process forever. It’s an exploration. As far as scheduling… if you manage that, let me know how, please!

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