nanowrimo novel 2011


In the Devil’s Shadow

Uriel Collins knows that he is a resurrected man. He knows that he was once a villain by the name of Isaac, though he does not remember anything prior to his violent death. He’s going to Mileston anyway, to seek out whatever remnants of the life he may have inherited from Isaac. It’s so hard, not having a past. Everyone needs to start somewhere.

There are some sins so black that even a monster couldn’t possibly ignore them. When Uriel decides to dig up the crimes of Isaac Collins, both the living and the murdered have plenty they want to say. Some speak in riddles. Some speak with guns.


If you’re doing NaNoWriMo 2011, you can find me here!

Happy writing!

one thing to another

So, how is NaNo going for everyone?

I’m behind– probably as far behind as I’ve ever been at 14k/18.3k par– but I’m also taking some time off of work to rest and not get sick. I’m hoping that I can catch up.

Also, while I love this book, sometimes it takes me to very strange places. Has this ever happened to anyone?

My paladin and my amateur inventor (both young ladies) need to get to a city down south. They took a train, so I began my scene in the train. To show them heading off.

The weapon that they brought wasn’t hidden well enough. It was confiscated. The paladin worried for the train worker’s safety, as that weapon is dangerous in a wholly unusual way (an electric spear). She decided that they needed to break into the luggage car and reclaim it. So now I’m not writing a travel scene. It’s now a steampunk train robbery.

Then the attendant who’d taken the spear in the first place showed up with a buddy in the back and started going through the passengers’ bags, looking for things to take. I hear so many stories of people losing things on airlines that I have it in my head that everyone in the luggage rooms must be a thief. The sliding luggage with the momentum of the train pressed against the paladin’s injury, she got caught by the fellow who lingered… he had a pistol…

Long story short, she has a pair of thieves to turn in, an embalmed body she found stuffed into a trunk (being smuggled to the remote country), and all they really want is that spear.

How on earth did I get here?

I love it when the middle writes itself, but… I’m bewildered.

it’s begining to feel a lot like nanowrimo

Because I’m a hopeless addict, I’ll again be participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that is, and you want to write a book, go check it out. If you are participating, buddy me!

Since I’m only halfway through The Artificer’s Angels, I’ll be finishing that this year. I have a badass ending in mind, and a fuzzy idea about the middle, and too many main characters. I hope I can juggle them all.

nano excerpt

Maxwell’s goal was the very back of his laboratory, next to the drafting table. Uriel’s hibernation put him standing against the wall. For extra safety, Maxwell had had him strap himself into a set of electro-magnetic cuffs at the wrists, the waist, the neck. “This is Uriel.”

Samin looked the man up and down, more than a little disturbed.

Uriel looked human.

He was a big man, just about the same age as Samin if looks were to be any judge. His skin was tan, and because Uriel wore a worker’s undershirt Samin could see that Uriel was heavily muscled. His hair was black, pulled back into a knot behind him, his nose and jaw very strong. He looked like a beast of a fellow, someone Samin would want his axe nearby should he prove unfriendly. Samin turned back to Maxwell. “What is this?”

“He’s… we’ll call him my servant.” Maxwell reached around the back of Uriel’s head and tapped a button he’d installed there– a ‘kill’ switch, should Uriel ever become dangerous. Now Maxwell mostly used it as a way to shock him out of hibernation.

Uriel’s eyes opened. They were red, and they glowed slightly.

“So… is he human?” Samin asked. “I can’t tell.”

“He used to be,” Maxwell said. “I needed a prototype to resurrect after Leo died. I couldn’t try blind on my son.”

“He’s a dead man?”

“I didn’t kill him, if that’s what you’re asking. Filched him out of a hospital morgue. There were some problems, of course, with doing it that way. He’d been dead for at least an hour, and he’s never remembered anything about his life.” Maxwell gestured with his cane brandishing it up and down Uriel’s chest. “This man can carry over a literal ton, and yet delicate enough to reassemble eggshells. Mind like a calculator, memory like a written book. A few extra toys built in here and there. I think this is the pinnacle of my life’s work.”

Maxwell walked to a control booth well away from Uriel and flipped a lever. Uriel’s cuffs were released.

“Why do you keep him locked up?” Samin asked.

“Because he’s dangerous,” Maxwell replied. “Most great artificers are killed by their own creations, you know. I mean to see that that does not become me. Uriel…” Maxwell handed him the list he had written. “I need these things. Load up the crab and ready the hatch doors.” Uriel nodded and left to start collecting things. Maxwell frowned and turned back. “Except for Leo’s personal effects on the bottom… I’ll get those.”

Maxwell seemed to have forgotten about Samin– he left him in his laboratory alone with Uriel.

Samin was fascinated and horrified at the same time. “But…” he finally said, “What is the difference, then, between what Maxwell has done to you, and what Gennyson has done to Leo?”

He hadn’t expected an answer.

“I’ll need a detailed description of what Gennyson did to the younger Gallows before I can answer that,” Uriel said without breaking his work. “But given context and the evidence of grave robbery combined with Gennyson’s history with Maxwell Gallows, I suspect Gennyson had stolen the boy’s body?”

Samin blinked. “Stole, stored, deconstructed, cobbled together badly.”

“Then the difference is that Maxwell is better at his art than Gennyson. In matters of freedom, I have more– the difference between slavery and prison, retrospectively. In situation, his was the better, as Leo continues to have allies after his remaking.” Uriel mounted the ladder at the far side and began to pull it back and forth, taking parts and pieces from selected shelves, packing them into bags for transportation.

“You’re a slave?”

“Yes and no.” Uriel hopped down from the ladder, slammed the stone floor with both feet on landing. “The technical definition of slavery is, ‘a person that is owned by another’. Now, if that definition was expanded, all machines and devices of civilization are the slaves of men, as are all beasts, pets, livestock. The question you must ask is, ‘am I human, or not?’. What is a person? Is it a mind, or a will? Can a dead man yet retain a soul? What is the elusive quality that defines humanity?”

Samin’s mouth was dry. “Do you want out?”

For a brief moment, Uriel stopped working. His voice had such intensity that Samin stepped back. “Yes.”

Samin did not interrupt Uriel again.

I love my villains.

the golden ratio (for writing!)

What is the golden ratio?

The golden ratio is a pattern found in nature, a proportion that is found aesthetically pleasing to the eye. To put it very, very simply, it’s a ratio of 1:1.618 (the latter number is an irrational number called phi, but let’s skip the math). You find this proportion everywhere, the human body, seashells, architecture, web design, music, even.

I’ve mentioned before my suspicion that the golden ratio could be applied to writing composition; now, I’ve found a way to apply it to plot. I’ve made a small, simple javascript function that takes in the intended word count length of your project, the number of major events in your novel, and plots out where they should occur by the golden ratio. Since WordPress is silly and won’t let me add raw javascript to my blog directly, I’ve added it to my (yet unfinished) website.

The Golden Ratio, for writing

For instance, NaNoWriMo is coming up. This is the output for three events in a 50,000 word book:

0 words – The Beginning
22360 words – Event 1
36179 words – Event 2
44720 words – Event 3
50000 words – The End

So according to the golden mean, my first big event should happen around the 22,360 word mark, my second around 36k.

This is purely theoretical, but from what I’ve seen of it, the numbers look like they’d do for a nice composition. Take a look, and tell me what you think!

old art, from ‘the artificer’s angels’

Sortof like the scrap I found not long ago, I came some of my old ‘Artificer’s Angels’ art in a packed notebook. Some of these were neat enough to share. 🙂

Who doesn’t love airships?

Air ships and gliders!

My heroine’s family is mostly dark skinned; her second-eldest brother has a polished version of this tattooed over his heart in white ink.

Matthew's Tattoo

Violetta (pencil)

A color image of the last one:

Violetta

And finally… that old digital painting of my villain. Or, one of the stories’ three villains. I think Uriel has the purest motivation of the lot, yet he’s still somehow the most evil.

Uriel (recolored)

how do you prepare for nano?

Personally, I’ve been haunting the fantasy forums and coyly posting whenever I see some opportunity to show off (at least I’m honest?), then wondering if I could be writing out a detailed plot. Notes on the church bulletins during the announcements, daydreaming situations… really, though, I think the best way to set out a tone is to write out bits and pieces.

I had an idea for a scene and tone that I liked a short while ago. I can’t write for nano yet, but so long as I don’t use my samples for my wordcount, it’s all good.

Here’s something that I came up with:

“You’re going to spar, Miss Soarin?” Leo asked, and forced a smile. He stepped carefully away from Merrily, hands held behind his back in what he considered a respectful pose.

“Yep!” Merrily hoisted up the hem of her lemon-yellow gingham skirt. “I’ve got trousers on. See?”

Her trousers were brown, the sort of stiff canvas that the Soarin boys wore about the yard. The garment fit her so well that the cut suggested tailoring. He could imagine a healthy Misses Soarin laboring by lamplight with measuring tape and needle… Leo stopped his imagination there and tried not to think about Merrily’s legs. “But… why not just wear trousers? You might take off your skirts…”

Merrily’s smile turned at once, and she sent him a pointed glare, dropped the hem of her skirt, and marched off toward her brothers and their sand bag targets.

Leo fumbled, grasped for something else to say. He certainly hadn’t meant it as an insult; he needed to make it better. “… Mechanics wear trousers!”

That probably wasn’t it.

So… anyone else doing NaNo want to write snippets along with me? Comment with a link; I’ll post them on my site.

nano plan

It’s a bit early for it, but with National Novel Writing Month a bare month and a half away, I thought that I’d outline my project and a few of the details. Anyone participating in NaNo is welcome to add me to their buddies list– [my profile].

The Artificer’s Angels
POV: Third person omniscient. Currently out of fashion, but nonetheless holds promise.
Rating: PG – PG13. I’m in the mood for something lighter.
Genre: Fantasy.
Sub-Genres: Magical-steampunk, action/adventure, romance.

Most grave robbers take the jewelry. This one stole the body.

On a tour of a mechanist’s laboratories– her brother’s workplace– Merrily Soarin wanders off, peeks into an ajar door, and discovers a boy in a glass tube. Just before Merrily is caught, she could have sworn that he looked at her. As if he were still alive.

Enter master artificer Maxwell Gallows, once famous, now infamous. He’s been looking for his son’s corpse for a long time, and meeting Merrily Soarin was the best thing that had yet happened for his search. But there are a few problems.

Maxwell Gallows would rather kill Merrily than repay her for her help. The mechanist is an old enemy, and won’t back down from a fight. Resurrection is illegal, and protocol dictates that the recipient be destroyed. Leo, the artificer’s son, is so damaged that his next death will be his last no matter how brilliant his father. To make matters worse, in an attempt to steal some of Maxwell’s old projects, the mechanist accidentally activated one.


Major Characters:

Leo Gallows – Leo has a good, level head on his shoulders, and unlike his father, he has a strong conscience. He’s unbearably shy around girls, and doesn’t take well to Merrily’s constant hugs. He’s on his way to becoming an artificer in his own right.

Maxwell Gallows – Manic, driven, brilliant, but also self-centered and elitist. He doesn’t take well to being helped by a farming family, much less a religious one. He’s killed Leo twice in lab accidents.

Merrily Soarin – Cheerful, impulsive, accepting, and the bringer of hugs. Merrily spent half of her childhood working on the farm, a quarter taking stupid dares, and another quarter trying to resuscitate injured animals. The family has a little graveyard beyond the garden where Merrily buries the ones that don’t make it.

Paul Soarin – One of Merrily’s five older brothers, Paul bears the nickname of ‘Shadow’ for his tenancy to conform and follow.

Abraham Gennyson – A strong mechanist, Paul’s boss, and one of Maxwell’s old rivals. Abraham is brilliant at clockwork, but does not understand biological engineering or magic.

Uriel – The prototype Maxwell used before he tried to rebuild his son after his first death. Maxwell pulled Uriel out of a hospital morgue, but in the process of resurrecting him, erased his memories. Maxwell thought it was ironic to give him the name of an angel.