NaNoWriMo 2014 Book Cover and Current Word Count

Every Word is True

The working cover I made for my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel. (Spoiler alert: some words might not actually be true.)

Also, a handy graphic that updates with my word count so you can see what I’ve got going. I’m at 8670 words, above word count for day 4, and I have a pretty good idea what’s coming next. I hope.

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Indiana Romance Writers of America: Golden Opportunities Contest

From the Indiana chapter of Romance Writers of AmericaIndiana Golden Opportunity Contest.

We welcome you to help us celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Indiana’s Golden Opportunity (IGO), one of the Midwest’s premier contests. The Indiana chapter of Romance Writers of America® (IRWA) has a well-deserved reputation for offering detailed, encouraging comments to our contest entrants from experienced professionals. Our four-page score sheet is designed to help entrants identify the elements of storytelling at which they excel while pinpointing the elements that require more attention. This means entrants will receive feedback that will help them create a quality polished manuscript. Many past winners have successfully sold the manuscripts they entered in the IGO, and we like to think we played a part in that. The contest is also a great way to prepare your work for Golden Heart. IGO attracts some of the most well-respected names in the industry as category and final judges.

This is an interesting opportunity for me, especially given that I’ll hopefully have a much more complete manuscript at the end of June than I do currently for my NaNoWriMo book. I could potentially enter this.

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links for 2011-09-07

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Tails and Tales

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Tim O’Brian In The Atlantic – discussing the sources of creativity and how to tell a well-imagined story:

My sons, Timmy and Tad–both fans of Winnie the Pooh–have taken lately to wearing tails. At our local Wal-Mart, and occasionally at church, the boys sport lengths of clothesline dangling from their trousers. They prowl the neighborhood trailing an assortment of ribbons, coat hangers, telephone cords, fishing line, belts, blankets, drapery tassels, and electrical extension cords. People notice. Things have gotten out of hand. Alas, we have become a family of tails, and, though I’m embarrassed to make this confession, even my wife and I have been persuaded to spruce up our fashion acts. Meredith jogs in a tail. I write in a tail. Yesterday, in a most undignified moment, I answered the doorbell having forgotten the Slinky jiggling restlessly at my buttocks. Imagine the judgments taking shape in the eyes of the UPS man.

Our household seems caught up in a kind of reverse evolution, tumbling backward through the millennia, alighting in an age in which the ancestral tail was both common and quietly useful. Like our tree-dwelling relatives, the O’Brien tribe has grown comfortable with its tails. We groom them. We miss them at bath time. We view their absence in our fellow man with pity and suspicion.

Now, as I sit here with my coffee at the kitchen table, I find myself wondering if something about this tail business might smack of the unwholesome, even of the aberrant and fanatical.

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J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore was gay.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Harry Potter fans, the rumours are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay.
JK Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series, outed the beloved character today while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall in New York. After reading briefly from the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she took questions from audience members.
She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds “true love”.
“Dumbledore is gay,” the author responded to gasps and applause.
She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. “Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” Rowling said of Dumbledore’s feelings, adding that Dumbledore was “horribly, terribly let down”.
Dumbledore’s love, she observed, was his “great tragedy”.
“Oh, my God,” Rowling concluded with a laugh, “the fan fiction.”
Potter readers on fan sites and elsewhere on the internet have speculated on the sexuality of Dumbledore, noting that he has no close relationship with women and a mysterious, troubled past. And explicit scenes with Dumbledore already have appeared in fan fiction.
Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character.
Rowling, finishing a brief “Open Book Tour” of the United States, her first tour there since 2000, also said that she regarded her Potter books as a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and urged her fans to “question authority”.
Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason.

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David Sedaris Exaggerates!

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The New Republic comes out with a world-rocking revelation: David Sedaris embellishes his humorous non-fiction memoirs.
Um, no shit, Sherlock. You needed to write an article to tell us this? He’s a humor writer. I sort of figured out he was gilding the lily on my own, thanks. As if any one person has that much funny shit just happen to them randomly. Think about it – is your life that funny? Is anyone’s? Of course he punches it up to make it more funny. It’s not a big deal. He’s not a frackin’ presidential biographer for crap’s sake. I hope that he keeps doing it – he makes me laugh my ass off.
Hell, I didn’t even think it was that big a deal when James Frey exaggerated, except that there were people who looked at his book as some sort of self-help inspirational piece. But even then, I hardly think that was Frey’s fault.

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Book Review: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics
by Marisha Pessl
This is my favorite of the year, and will probably make the list of of my favorite books ever. I’m not sure I can do it justice in reviewing it, but I hope I can do a bit better than Publishers Weekly, whom I’m going to quote entirely just to get the plot synopsis out of the way:

Pessl’s stunning debut is an elaborate construction modeled after the syllabus of a college literature course — 36 chapters are named after everything from Othello to Paradise Lost to The Big Sleep — that culminates with a final exam. It comes as no surprise, then, that teen narrator Blue Van Meer, the daughter of an itinerant academic, has an impressive vocabulary and a knack for esoteric citation that makes Salinger’s Seymour Glass look like a dunce. Following the mysterious death of her butterfly-obsessed mother, Blue and her father, Gareth, embark, in another nod to Nabokov, on a tour of picturesque college towns, never staying anyplace longer than a semester. This doesn’t bode well for Blue’s social life, but when the Van Meers settle in Stockton, N.C., for the entirety of Blue’s senior year, she befriends—sort of—a group of eccentric geniuses (referred to by their classmates as the Bluebloods) and their ringleader, film studies teacher Hannah Schneider. As Blue becomes enmeshed with Hannah and the Bluebloods, the novel becomes a murder mystery so intricately plotted that, after absorbing the late-chapter revelations, readers will be tempted to start again at the beginning in order to watch the tiny clues fall into place. Like its intriguing main characters, this novel is many things at once—it’s a campy, knowing take on the themes that made The Secret History and Prep such massive bestsellers, a wry sendup of most of the Western canon and, most importantly, a sincere and uniquely twisted look at love, coming of age and identity.

I’m surprised that PW could write such a lengthy paragraph about the novel that didn’t do more than show glimpses of the main character, Blue Van Meer, who is the heart and soul of the book. It is tempting to focus on Pessl’s structure and literary allusions — but the cleverness of those devices is secondary to her skill at constructing the character of Blue, who is almost prescient in her intelligence and at the same time as naive as any teenager, without a trace of contradiction between the two. In fact, the “knack for esoteric citation” is Blue’s wry comic punctation throughout the narrative, and does as much for character development as it does for illuminating the plot.
And then there’s Blue’s father, Gareth, who plays almost as large a role in the book as Blue. We see him completely through his daughter’s eyes, and this is clearly a girl who loves and is completely influenced by her father, although she’s not blind to his foibles and follies, and not shy about asserting her own agenda, even though he’s used to getting his way. Gareth Van Meer is a scholar and an intellectual elitist, and though he’s obviously highly intelligent, he’s not quite as smart as he thinks he is, which is charming with a bit of schadenfreudey-whimsy thrown in.
The murder mystery itself is neatly wrapped up at the end of the novel — but there are enough threads to weave a sequel into the story, and I certainly hope that happens; I hope we haven’t heard the last of Blue Van Meer.

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Remember when…

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Stolen from Scott, after seeing a couple places.
If you read this (even if we don’t speak often or don’t really know each other) please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want — good or bad — BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. Leave me a comment and tell me what you don’t remember about us.

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I want to sleep on the street at night, with the chill ground underneath me. I want to dance with my eyes closed in the center of the floor, feeling strangers’ bodies moving and the music pounding in my head until I’ve lost track of where I am, and who I am and the only thing left is the movement, driving fast and wild.
I want to stand in the storm, soaked by the rain and listen to the thunder rage around me. I want to scream at the moon until there’s no sound left in my throat and no energy left in my body. I want to hunt with animals, silent and fierce, tearing at raw flesh with my teeth and tasting death’s warm blood in my mouth. I want to race my car at a hundred miles an hour and crash it into a cement wall; shattering glass and twisting metal all around me, the sound screaming in my ears. I want to cut myself with a razor, watch myself bleed onto a cold stone floor until I slip away.
I need a sensation to remind me I’m alive, something extreme; something harsh, cold, searing, electric, piercing. Something wild to wake up my half-beating heart. I want to build my own house, to swing an axe, to feel sweat on my brow, to exert myself. I tell myself that I’m happy–look at all I have–but I’m deceiving myself. I want a grand passion.
You color my dreams–vivid thoughts, stories interweaving, that I can’t believe I think of myself. But I awake and they slip away, I snatch at them but the roll away from me as ink on a wax surface. It seems futile for me to write anything, because I have no new commentary on the human condition that is unique and original. But I’ve been lonely and hungry for something practically all of my life.

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