My Blog is back

My server on which I hosted my email, websites, code repositories and so much more crashed back in June. I didn’t even notice until much later, because the emails that were supposed to tell me that one of the hard drives had died went into the spam folders both on my mail server and on gmail. For some reason though I finally saw a mail that told me about the degraded array. First thing I did was to contact my hoster who changed the hard-drive before I could even finish pulling backups of … this blog for example. Or of my virtual machine that hosted my email server. Then I messed up integrating the new harddrive. Never done that before. And lost the whole server in the process. (Despite the gracious and generous help of others)

Ever since then my digital life has been … not quite dead but not alive either. At first I tried to reclaim the server and tried setting up email through a docker container. It worked somewhat. But I never managed to configure it the way I needed and I never learned docker sufficiently to feel “back in control”. So I was not getting all my emails. Worse or not: some emails were even bouncing f.e. To services like kickstarter. That’s how I noticed something was wrong in the first place, so probably good.

Over the summer I didn’t have time to fix the situation. I noticed how dependent I was on all these services and how much time it had taken to set it up and how little to destroy it. A few weeks ago I decided, to stuff my personal paranoia somewhere and move away from hosting stuff myself. I moved one of my mail domains to gmail and my blog to wordpress. And here I am typing away my first blogpost in months. 

And as of next week I am finally back to working on the Novel (yes capitalized) … full time. 

Cylon Writing

The Cassandra Project Cover
Preliminary Cover
Like the Cylons I finally have a plan. The project I am working on which was originally titled “Mind Bleed” and was started in October/November 2014 for the NaNoWriMo is still not finished. I had too little time to plan and that fact has come back twice to bite me. The original November draft came to about 53k words. In my ‘deleted scenes’ folder I have another 20k. The current draft begun as the first rewrite. It is now titled “The Cassandra Project” and I am just shy of crossing the 100k mark. But I am labeling the current version as the second rewrite or third draft, because when I got to about the same mark as the original draft I got stuck again. Why? The ending. What I had in mind just didn’t make any sense. And I couldn’t find a way to get there.
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State of Writing

I just noticed that I didn’t update since finishing NaNoWriMo.

Well, besides a six week trip to South-East Asia, I haven’t been idling. I spent a bit of time writing a few flash pieces on WriteOn. But for some reason I dropped out of that community. I let myself get too involved, and it started taking too much time. And I felt I had to concentrate on starting the second draft of Mind Bleed. Because I never finished the first draft of my NaNo novel. I made it to 55k words but not to the end of the story. I got stuck somewhere around two thirds.

So I spent some time traveling. Then some time thinking of what I did wrong the first time around. I found I had done too little planning of characters, plot and setting? So basically everything was missing. I tried to fix that with a month of planning.

It didn’t turn out easy.

I am now just 700 words shy of 60k on the second draft, and I got stuck yet again around the two thirds mark. I could recycle next to nothing from the original draft. I rewrote everything and it became a new story. But somehow I ended up in a different corner with the same result: stuck. A couple of days ago, I unstuck myself by deciding to write the prologue. In my timeline, I have a very well defined set of events that lead up to the current story. It suddenly became easy again to write 2k words a day where before I was struggling to get even a 1000.

Why do I have such a hard time writing the end of my stories?

I am optimistic concerning the prologue. And I believe with that part of the story in place, I can finally fix my main character’s arc. The project also suffers from being too ambitious. I have three viewpoint characters (plus two in an interlude). I am estimating that the prologue-part of the story will take another 6-8k words, and the wrapping up of the story will need another 15-20k.

So lots more to write.

NaNoWriMo: the final stretch

I finished the 50k on Friday. It was a back-breaking – quite nearly literally – day of writing. I wrote about 4k words that day. I just wanted to be able to take a break on Saturday. Here are my final diary entries from the writing marathon that is NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMoDay21

I expect to have to write between 15k and 25k more words to finish the story. Since I haven’t written a word except for blog-posts, emails and the week-end-write-in, I doubt I’ll finish the story in November.
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NaNoWriMo Diary Continued

The ship’s journey diary of my NaNoWriMo Adventures (originally written on the WriteOn forums). Part One to be found here.

I am currently at nearly 31k words and nearing the completion of Act 1 (of 3)

NaNoWriMo 12 Days
NaNoWriMo Progress after 12 Days

Update: I managed to finish Act 1 today, stopping just short of 34k words. My average is back at 2,610 words/day, much more realistic, than the calculation you can see on the screenshot which was taken this morning, when I had barely added words for the day.
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Favorite Online Writing Resources

While doing Nanowrimo, one does need to spend some time procrastinating. So I am finally polishing my list of writing resources.

  • TV Tropes is the best inspiration, it also warns you of the worst pitfalls and clichés.
  • I write in English, I often have to look up words in the dictionary.
  • English has all these beautiful words meaning comparable, similar or even identical things. I love the Thesaurus. Also very useful for colors
  • My favorite writing podcast, just 15 minutes long
  • Just books.
  • Writing Tips and more writing tips.
  • Writers Helping Writers. Wonderful resource with the Emotion Thesaurus and many more.
  • Names and more names.
  • Are your characters all scared of the same something? Fear not.
  • Ask Google anything.
  • The IMDB is a treasure trove of actor’s pictures (as is Google image search), I – like many others – tend to use actors as faces for characters, at least during the outlining phase
  • The single great know-it-all, it may not always be deep enough for a scientist, but for a writer the wikipedia is perfect (and so obvious I nearly forgot to list it)
  • And currently (until end of November 2014): Nano Storybundle (includes awesome Shadows Beneath)

Books on Writing that I can recommend. The list might be longer, if only I read more books on writing.

Most important tools I am using:

  • Scrivener – writing suite for PC or MAC
  • WriteOMeter – a tomato timer for writers
  • Evernote – to keep my research
  • Still looking for a good mobile writing tool for my tablet

Of course the inter-webs are full of great resources you can use in your writing. These are just some of the things that I use the most …

NaNoWriMo – The First 6 Days

Mind Bleed Cover
As I noted before, this year I am doing NaNoWriMo. After some time of brooding about a title I finally found one I liked: “Mind Bleed” – of course if something better turns up, I will change the title again. For now it’s still quite fitting. Here’s the novel’s blurb (although I have to update that I think):

In 2113 mega-corporations rule a divided world. Lys teaches hacking in the Fringe, a destitute ghetto spreading like a tumor around the lavish campus of Quanao Inc. When a student dies of cerebral hemorrhaging in her class, and others complain of head-aches and recurring dreams playing games with a suspiciously familiar stranger, she is stunned. When nobody else cares, she begins to investigate. Lys stumbles upon a nefarious techno-conspiracy linked by dreams to her vanished, traitorous ex.
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