Nanowrimo epic win!

No Sunday recs today – I’m too wiped out by a) finishing up a (not great) draft of an academic article in the morning, and b) writing around 5,000 words of my novel and thus WINNING NANOWRIMO YAAAY. This counts as an epic win because not only did I get over 50k, I wrapped up the whole story, too.

113 pages, 17 chapters. LibreOffice says I’ve got 51,565 words, the Nanowrimo website says 51,871. But whatever the precise wordcount – it means Nanowrimo success, and I actually finished this novel draft too, typed “the end” and all. Feeling dazed but very pleased. This is the most coherent Nanowrimo draft I’ve ever managed! A lot of that is thanks to the fact that I was using a lot of elements from the old version of the novel – but in the end, this novel is very distinctly its own thing.

I think I’m getting a bit better at plotting too, which is encouraging. I tried many different tactics for plotting before Nano, but in the end something like the “tent pole” method worked best (see this excellent post by Chuck Wendig). I figured out the most essential plot points – both external and internal – before Nano and especially after the first week, when I stopped to plan things out properly. Then, as I wrote, I figured out the stuff that needed to come in between those plot points, and by the end was outlining chapters in even more detail. This method worked for this draft, at least!

Oh yeah, how weird was it to actually divide the novel into chapters during Nano? REALLY WEIRD. But it seemed to work for this draft, surprisingly enough.

I think that with some editing (well, plenty) this might become Something. And that makes me very happy. I’m so glad I didn’t abandon this old idea – which was what I was on the verge of doing at the end of October. I’m so glad I managed to have enough energy to write every day (or very nearly every day) during a month that has mostly been horrendously busy, and dark, and stressful.

Nanowrimo saved my November.

Sunday recs: Sunshine

The world’s a horrible mess right now, even more than usual. As an antidote for all the hate and attacks worldwide, here is a story to read that gave me the warm fuzzies. Reader, I hope it brings you joy too.

Shimmering, Warm and Bright by Shveta Thakrar (in the current issue of Interfictions). I read this story today and it made me feel so content. It’s written so beautifully, such loving attention to language. Despite the difficult issues dealt with in it, the positivity shining through (pun intended) made me feel hopeful. More anti-grimdark stuff like this, please!

An Alphabet of Embers cover reveal!

Squee! Cover reveal day for An Alphabet of Embers, an anthology of unclassifiables, edited by Rose Lemberg and including a story by yours truly!

Look at the pretty!

And here is Sofia Samatar’s blurb for the book:

“An Alphabet of Embers pulses with passionate lyricism. These tales burn, rage, comfort, and light the night. Each piece gives off its own particular glow; together, they illuminate a startling new landscape of speculative fiction, of world literature, of language.” -Sofia Samatar, World Fantasy Award winner

This is going to be an amazing thing, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve got my own cow in the ditch (as we say in Finnish). Really happy to be part of this project. Publication in early 2016!

Sunday recs: Bone Swans

I just finished Bone Swans, a collection of stories by C.S.E. Cooney – very highly recommended!

A great collection of stories, poetry singing along with the narrative (and often included, too, to dazzling effect). C.S.E. Cooney’s writing just has this amazing energy and panache to it. I love it. How they’re written – the juicy, glorious language – is such an important part of her stories. This collection is really diverse, with a range of narrators and styles.

My favourites were “Martyr’s Gem” and “How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One”, stories I’d enjoyed already previously. I just adore pretty much every character in “Martyr’s Gem” – especially lovely Shursta! The oral culture is done so well, too. The storytelling bit always gives me the shivers.

“How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One” is an awesome fairytale reworking. The narrator is such a joy, and I love how this version plays out. It’s set in the same world as some of Cooney’s other stories, too, such as “The Last Sophia” (in Strange Horizons) and her two Dark Breakers novellas – all of them highly recommended too! It’s so cool to see a writer doing several stories in the same world.

I was also really impressed by “Life on the Sun” and “The Bone Swans of Amandale” (so creepy in a great fairytale way!). The final tale, “The Big Bah-Ha”, appealed to me the least, but I think that’s mostly because I’m creeped out by clowns and so couldn’t enjoy the story as much due to subject matter. However, that was basically my only quibble with this collection.

You should also check out all of Claire Cooney’s poetry because it’s awesome.

Nanowrimo time!

Sooo it’s 1 November, and obviously that means NANOWRIMO. I’m swamped with PhD and translation/language check work, but despite that, I’m doing Nano again. Since 2008, I’ve only not done it for one year (2013), so I guess I’m a bit hooked. :D

Nano is just a great way to get a writing project done despite busyness. The group support of the Nano site just really helps me get stuff done. There’s something about that word count bar…

Yep. This year I’m sort of continuing what I did during Camp Nanowrimo in April: rewriting an old novel (…originally my first Nanowrimo novel, in 2008, ooops) that really couldn’t survive in its old form. The plan is for this to be the last time I rewrite this thing. If this attempt doesn’t work, I’ll just trunk the thing.

But based on how quickly I got my word count for today done, I suspect this might even work! Changing from 3rd to 1st person was probably a good choice. Now to get the final plot nailed down as much as I can, to make writing during busydays easier – and then some more writing, because really, it’s been ages since I wrote this much and I’d forgotten how much fun it is.