Written? Kitten!

I know, you are muttering to yourself, “Whatever is she talking about? Cats and writing have very little in common. I wish she’d get on with it and give some real writing advice.”

Ah, but there is where you are mistaken. I always knew that cats, or more accurately in this case, kittens have much in common with writing and finally there is an on-line site that agrees.

The site is called ‘Written? Kitten!’ and I haven’t had this much fun writing my
NaNoWriMo novel in a long time. The way it works is that every time you write a hundred words into the box, a picture of a kitten is revealed in the box next to it. Another hundred words? Another irresistibly adorable kitten appears in the box.

What a great way to sidestep the question of whether the words are of any quality or not. Does it really matter how much you have to fight for words, when you have a kitten to look forward to when you complete a hundred of them?

The amount of words necessary to get your kitten is adjustable in increments from one hundred, to two hundred and fifty all the way to a thousand. Also, the box has a buffer, but, as always, it is advisable to save your words on your computer occasionally as you type. The words were still in the box the next day I visited the site though, so you’ll have to erase
them between writing sessions.

This might be the alternative to Write or Die that some of us, who respond better to positive reinforcement rather than negative, were looking for.

(Images courtesy of Bill Davenport, Dominic Morel, and Joel Dietle @ stock.xchng)

Fifty Thousand Words and What Exactly is a NaNo String?

It feels as if I just woke up from a long and exciting dream. I look around bleary-eyed and confused. Wait, what just happened? Where was I?

Oh, yes. I was writing. And writing. Until I forgot who I was and why I’m here. This is what I love about NaNoWriMo.

But yesterday I finished my fifty thousand words, and am trying to take a breather. Not that fifty thousand words does a novel make, and there’s plenty of revision coming up before it’s fit for anyone to see. (And, who are we kidding, no one sees my work anyway!) But I did get the words, and actually wrote most of them according to plan.

Yes, I had a plan. I’ve won this challenge this twice before, and while I had lot of fun writing my story and exploring my characters, I pretty much ended up crash landing the stories on or around November 30. I think my prospects of ending gracefully this year are much better, thanks to my outline on Scrivener. Here it is, in all its blue, lilac and cork board glory:

See the pretty colored index cards? I have them sorted by point of view, and I’ve done my best to include the conflict and the twist on each, along with the setting. All of these are happily subject to change should something better come along, but if not, at least I have something I can write that takes me on the path to my ending.

Lastly, I bet everyone’s wondering, “Just what is a NaNo string?” It’s something cooked up by my brilliant regional ML’s and here is what it looks like, when it’s done.

For each day one completes their 1667 words one ties a knot in the string, until the string has thirty knots in it and the fifty thousand words are completed. I will be proudly displaying it at the write-in today!

Why, you ask, am I going to a write-in, when I’ve completed my fifty thousand words? I reply; for the companionship, to cheer on my fellow writers, and…to write a few thousand words more.

Because I don’t want to stop. Ever.

Hitting the Spot: For Music Lovers

All right music lovers. Just an update on my latest fix for my music addiction. It’s free, it’s easy, and it pays the musicians for the music they make. It’s called Spotify.

After downloading the free software, a window quite similar to iTunes appears where the user can enter the name of a band or song and choose from a list of matches. Even among my admittedly odd music choices, I have yet not to find one of them. I can make playlists of my selections, with the only drawback being that the playlist can’t be shuffled. The free option has occasional ads, and the omnipresent plug for Facebook on the screen, but for the price and convenience I haven’t found a better option yet. You do have to be on Facebook to get an account, which is something to consider, but so far I haven’t had any problems with it.

Happy listening!

Character Interview: Rigel Mondryan

I recently learned that it is a good idea to post character interviews on one’s blog, to give readers an idea of what to expect in the story. Since I’ve been doing these for a while as a way to get to know the cast before starting filming, I’ll take a shot at posting a few once in a while. I didn’t know readers were interested in this stuff, but I’m thrilled that they would be.

So, here is an interview I did last summer with Rigel, main character in’The Dragon’s Milk Chronicles’, once I discovered where he liked to hang out. The woods, figures, I’ll have to get mud on my shoes for this one! The things a writer has to do to get the story.

Shafts of sunlight pierce the branches above us, and Rigel walks between them. They turn his dusky hair to gold when they strike him. His footsteps are silent for such a bulky man, his motion graceful, like that of an experienced hunter. If I didn’t know better I would be afraid. Cerule, even as a goddess, shivered when she saw the set in his jaw and the rage in his eyes.

He stops to stare at the branches above, as a crow rustles its wings and takes off, making raucous calls, alerting the forest to the presence of the predator.

I break through brush and run to catch up with him.

“Rigel?” I call after him as I get close enough for him to hear me.

He turns swiftly, his hand already on his sword. I raise my hands in surrender. “It’s just me. Your author.” I try to smile, but my lips are shaking too much to manage more than what might be interpreted as a short courtesy grin.

“What is your name and who is your family?” he asks.

“I have no family in your world, and my name would be unfamiliar to you. I come from the other side.” I lower my hands cautiously and offer, “I made you.”

He takes his hand from the sword, and I can see the tension in his shoulders give way. He looks about him one more time before motioning me closer to his side. He seems surprised by my frailty. “What do you want?”

“Just to talk and get to know you. I’m pretty excited to start writing you, and I need to know a few things about your past. Such as it is.”

He looks me over with those fiery eyes, amber without end. It appears he finds me acceptable, not an easy feat for me to accomplish, since I know what it takes to measure up to his standards.

“Let’s walk then. I have dinner to catch.”

He is every bit as rugged as I imagined him. His eyes are barely visible behind all that hair, like a furry creature of the forest, a bear or a wolf. Behind his beard his broken lips work hard to make the words clear. It is obvious he has worked very hard to disguise the mark left behind as a consequence of sharing his affections with the woman he wished he could love.

“Do you think of her still?” I ask as we begin walking on the path only he seems to be able to see. I fall behind him, trying to keep my footsteps inside his.

“You mean Lia?”

“If that is her name. I apologize if I haven’t been consistent with my names. There are so many of them to discover.”

“I do, and I honor her still. But she has moved on to the next life.”

“Which brings me to my next question. Do you believe there even is a next life?”

“You don’t leave much to the imagination, do you?” he growls.

“Sorry, if this is too much.”

“No, you have a right to know, since you made me. And, shouldn’t you already know the answer to that question? Since you made me and all?”

“Actually,” I say, “I wrote you so that you might answer it for me.”

This was fun. Rigel was keeping me on my toes already.

“So be it.” He lifts a low-hanging branch for me to pass underneath, then is ahead of me again in a few swift strides. I had molded a bit of Aragorn into him, and I could see it already.

“Our leaders tell us there are gods that will receive us if we are victorious and honorable in battle,” he says. “But they themselves don’t avail themselves of the opportunity they claim we have. Why is that? Why would they send the less worthy to fight if they themselves aren’t at the head of the phalanx?”

“I think I know, but I’ll let you tell me.”

“It’s because they don’t believe their own rubbish. They indoctrinate people’s belief’s, but have another philosophy entirely for themselves.” He pushes his cloak out of the way as he works his way through a tight spot between two trees. He extends his hand to help me through the rough stones that block the path.

“What are you hunting today?” I ask.

“Venison. I will mix the meat with that of the farm animals to make it last further. It is what they used to do in the Before.”

“What do you know about Before?”

We stop at the edge of a clearing. The sun shines brightly on the grass and the goldenrod. Dragonflies make a determined path across its length, scanning the meadow for their next meal. We stand to admire it together.

“Kairos told me most of what he knew about the Before. I believe that he was taken, along with all the other Wizards, because they are the only ones who spread the truth. In the Before, we were all gods, we could communicate across the world with only the tips of our fingers, we could see the face of those we love far away in magic mirrors. We could fly in dragons that would hold hundreds of us in their bellies and takes us across oceans. Kairos showed me pictures of those times, like windows into that time. I have come to believe him. That time was real.”

He scrunches his bushy eyebrows together to squint at me. “You are from that time, aren’t you? You have come to discover what has happened and to warn them about this, haven’t you?”

“I can’t warn them, Rigel. They won’t listen to one small voice, and many have predicted some kind of future that includes worse destruction than the one you occupy. Be happy you don’t reside in their stories. It is not for me to tell them. I can only imagine and question. Destiny is not in my hands.”

He snorted, and looked out into the meadow. “So now we wait. But we must be silent now, or the deer will sense us.”

“So you’re saying this isn’t a good time to talk?”

“Maybe after I’ve brought dinner home. But don’t be afraid to come back, now that you know where to find me.”

Playlist: All About Words

Okay, writers. This one’s for you, especially if you’ve signed up for a writing challenge called National Novel Writing Month, which starts today! Thirteen songs, enough to fit nicely on a CD, that pertain to writing in some way or another—and don’t try to tell me Struggle doesn’t fit—we’ve all struggled to get words at some point, so it’s in.

Enjoy, and happy writing.

Write through the Night Mirrors Lights and Offerings
Words Doves The Last Broadcast
Everyday I Write the Book Elvis Costello The Best of Elvis Costello
Paper Talking Heads Fear of Music
Written in Reverse Spoon Transference
Struggle Ringside Ringside
Write Your Story Ken Andrews Secrets of the Lost Satellite
The Story And One Virgin Superstar
Every Word Hybrid Disappear Here
Cello Song (feat. Jose Gonzalez) The Books Dark was the Night
Publish My Love Rogue Wave Descended Like Vultures

Listen to this playlist on youtube @ All About Words

(Images courtesy of Marija Jure, Tiina Ti, Nick Normann, Thijs de Leeuw @ stock.xchng)