NaNoFeed: Back again, this time with feeling

So it’s that time of year again. This time I’m not doing a whole project from scratch, because there’s already a suite of novels awaiting expansion and revision. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last 12 years, it’s this: The starting point isn’t the novel, but the universe.
Watch this spot for more.

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NaNoFeed: on being a winner at 10K (2017)

So your Third Shift ML did a third-shift all-nighter the other day, which is a very sneaky beast because it looks like Normal Daylight Life, except I’m supposed to be sleeping during the day.
Anyway I did some of the discord server sprints and it was awesome and I hit 10K. Which is pretty much where I’m going to park. Meanwhile, my pre ordered winner shirt arrived in the mail, and I decided I was going to wear it.
Manifesto follows: “I scored 10K and I am wearing the winner’s shirt dangit”
  • I am wearing the shirt because on average I scored 58K every one of the last 10 years.
  • I am wearing the shirt for the years I did the challenge without knowing it existed. (i wrote 50K – by hand, in composition books – at least one November in the 2000s before I took up the official challenge in 2008.)
  • I am wearing the shirt because I made my goal – 10K this year – and I’m working full time and going to school full time, so no question I am a winner.
  • I am wearing the shirt because I like the design and there are years I won but didn’t get the shirt because I was meh about that year’s design and/or theme. (ok, low-res video games – not so much chez moi. ditto slaying dragons. I don’t relate.)
  • I am wearing the shirt because I am a recovering workaholic and I managed to do the challenge in a healthy way this year while writing the best prose of my life and feeling like a member of international writing community.
So, all o’y’all are winners. Seriously. You’re doing the thing even if it’s a small thing. A small thing is not No Thing, or worse, nothing. A small thing is a thing you did.
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NaNoFeed: this year’s challenge (Writing for the Beloved Reader)

National Novel Writing Month is a fresh challenge for me every year because I use it for an opportunity to try something new. Last year’s challenge, which has become this year’s practice, was Small Writing.

This year, I’m going back to the roots of storytelling and Writing for the Beloved Reader. My writing-brother Lev Mirov will be seeing my work for November in real time. Poet, editor, and scholar, Lev has had a huge influence on the way that I work. His brilliant essay On Small Writing has changed me, not only as a novelist and poet, but in my approach to work in the big world.

Lev and I did this challenge informally last year; his comments on character interviews for the Ship’s Heart novel cycle turned a minor villain into the hero of her own story. I realized that I’ve always written my best work as gifts to particular readers, but to do it consciously and in real time is exhilarating.

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NaNoFeed: Beginning again (2017 project)

It’s been nearly a year since I posted here, so I’m beginning again with my tenth National Novel Writing project, Night Shift Variations.

2017NightShift NaNoBookCover - 230 x 300

NIght Shift Variations: Tales from the Hidden Hours

On either side of the story-gate between here and there, strange things happen in the dark hours.

    • Two storytelling mages duel for control of the future.
    • A piece of the future lands in the past, rousing untold stories in a family of Black necromancers. In the shadow of a shuttered asylum, three generations face down the hungry spirits of a theme park to complete the blood exorcism of a roller coaster.
    • In a haunted railroad station, night shift security guards give directions to the multiverse and grapple with what the boss never told them.
    • An intelligent house who was once a starship explains the exodus to another generation of small children.
    • A family emigrates to a terraforming project to find themselves trapped in a nightmare of engineering hubris
    • A starship engineer commissions the greatest sculptor of her generation to create a ritual of iconoclasm.



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The Revolutionary Fluff Manifesto (No More Tragedy Porn for the Duration, kthxbai)

Given what just happened and what has been happening and what is yet to happen and some of us are dreading, I present the Revolutionary Fluff Manifesto.
Happy stories give us hope. They give us a shape for the future we want.
  •  They feed us while we’re at war
  •  they remind us that we’re human, because humans are distinguished by laughter.
  • They let us relax for a while

    They keep our eyes on the prize, a world where love and laughter can happen in he open square under the sky. They remind us of what’s important, what we’re defending.

    Happy stories written with ruthless realism – a clear understanding of how evil works, how it plays out, and how it can be defeated – that’s political education right there, and it tastes good too.Let’s have a moratorium on Tragedy Porn, given what is happening now. I’m really tired of privileged (rich, white, cisgender, male, het, and intersections thereof) who think they’re Elevated rather than Fucking Twisted in esthetic  contemplation of disaster that happens to someone else.

    Go forth then, beloveds, art your heart out, love your happy stories, and know you are doing something sacred.

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NaNoFeed: on sorting through the debris field, and the art of explosition

So in my NaNoFeed post about not being the pope of the non-existent One True NaNo, I wrote this piece of deathless wisdom:

Some of the best mysteries are about sorting through the debris field to figure out what happened.

Which of course turns out to be the frame for this year’s novel project. We open with a bang (which you can read here) and the rest of the novel is the answer to the question “why’d she do that? how’d she do that? was he really that bad a guy?” (spoiler: he was, and then some.)

I am writing the thing out of order, pretty much bits and pieces, in the grand tradition of the novel as bundle of secret papers. Someone else’s secret papers.

Make that: someone else’s secret papers that have been blown around by a category 5 hurricane and then pushed through a wormhole. (The hurricane is metaphorical. The wormhole is not.)

I am also Not Writing. Today, in fact, I am poking through the piles of random stuff and making lists of scenes to write next. Here on out, I’m going to roll dice to see which character my protagonist shares a scene with, and make a list of all the times they meet, and picking out the most explosive ones, the ones that are going to be a ball to write.

Actually, by Not Writing (in the Strict Sense of Wordcount) I am writing in the Small Writing sense. Stuff is cooking on multiple burners in pots of dubious provenance, some of which are going to shoot gouts of flame toward the ceiling when I take off the lid.

This is called the Art of Explosition, i.e. showing things by blowing them up. I know they tell you “show don’t tell” but I am telling you “blow it up, and then let all sorts of head-scratching ensue about what the heck just happened.”

Also, this year, I have a Beloved Reader riding shotgun with me, but that’s a whole nother post.


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Weekend Writing Warriors (Sunday 30 October) character interview #2, The Clone’s Complaint

​Each week, Weekend Writing Warriors presents a selection of excerpts from writers in a variety of genres. Check out the other offerings here.


A Ship is huge by the standards of a shuttle, but by the standards of a planet, it’s a tiny toy world, a little jewel of human ingenuity and theatrical deception.

V told me about their first visit planet-side, that sense of space and terror, the hair-raising sensation of oceans and poles driving the motion of the air. It’s one thing to know it in theory, yet another to feel it in one’s body. The Ships are designed to deceive planet-siders (myself, I was quite delightfully deceived) but planets have their own minds.

Behind the walls of the passenger quarters, of course, the Ship has vastness untold. It’s a forest world traversing the interstellar deeps, very much like its distant ancestor, thes seagoing cities of the ship-colonies of Karis.

From orbit, I saw the jeweled strings of light that mark the ship-colonies on the nightside.

The Ships are a marvel and a glory, but I’m happy to be home. 


In the approach to NaNo 2016 we begin conversation with the unnamed chronicler preparing Chaika’s case before the Great Council of Karis. Character interview for NaNoWriMo 2016 project The Clone’s Complaint. 

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