Monthly Archives: November 2010

Productive week, but not so much for NaNoWriMo

Well, the past ten days have been very productive, in a lot of ways, but my NaNoWriMo novel has kind of fallen by the wayside.  It’s stalled out at just over 27,000 words.  I’ll probably try to bring that up over 30,000 words before the end of November (this Tuesday), just to even it out, but hitting 50,000 words is extremely unlikely now.

Part of it was the holidays, of course.  But another part of it was that I was suddenly struck with a wave of ideas to salvage my YA near-future dystopian novel, Eastside-84.

Yes, I know.  Our subconscious just loves to do this to us, when we’re in the middle of a project:  throw great ideas for new stories at us, hoping to distract us from completing the boring story we’re currently working on.  Unfortunately for Murderous Requiem (my NaNoWriMo  novel), I’ve been wracking my brain for a way to save Eastside-84 for months now.

Like my YA novel about teen suicide, By That Sin Fell The Angels, Eastside-84 has been a disturbing novel to write.  Once again, I’m trying to cast a spotlight on our society’s treatment of adolescent sexuality, and what I’m seeing is pretty ugly.  The novel postulates a near future in which the technology exists to repress the sexual development of teenagers, basically keeping them in a sort of stasis (called Extended Childhood, in the novel) until they reach the age of twenty-one.  The process is then “unlocked,” and they “catch up” to their actual sexual maturity level in a short period of time.

What’s made this book so difficult is that the people who have read parts of it (it’s about halfway done, theoretically) just haven’t been “getting” it.

The first question they ask is, “Given the possibility of implementing this, why would society do this to children?”  The answer to that, I think, can be found in our current obsession with keeping children innocent.  A family in the midwest, in recent years, had their two daughters taken away by the state for a year, because they took what they believed to be cute photographs of the girls — then about three and five years old — playing in the bathtub.  (My own parents had photos of my brother and I like this, at about the same ages, in our family photo album.)  The store developing the photos reported them to the police.   The anti-masturbation and anti-sex education campaigns coming out of the religious right are part of a similar desire to keep children from growing up, in my opinion.  (There’s more to it than that — a desire to regulate sexual activity, in general — but that’s a big part of it.)  And parents and our society seem geniunely frightened of teenagers these days, as if the mere fact that you’re in your teens makes you a criminal.  There are numerous examples of businesses putting up anti-teen devices to drive them away, as if they’re some kind of vermin.

The second question I get is, “How did this come about?”  It was my initial premise that, by the time the story takes place, this technology would be nearly universal in the United States.  But it’s really radical and liable to upset a lot of people.  Even extrapolating on the disturbing resurgeance of religious conservatism in the recent election, it’s hard to imagine everyone in the country going along with a radical idea like this.  And there were other events in the novel that simply seemed improbable, or if they did occur, it seemed unlikely that the national response would be quite what I’d predicted.

The third question I get is, “Why would your main character act so young?  Even if it’s possible that his sexual development has been repressed, he would have learned something about anatomy and sex from observation.”  My response to that is, clearly I haven’t written it well enough.  The entire idea is that, if we can successfully prevent children from growing up sexually, they won’t grow up mentally, either.  What’s necessary is for me to make it clearer that Paul, my main character, has no access to the information sources we take for granted these days.  Society has been successful in preventing him from learning about sexuality.

On the other hand, there is an underlying them in the novel similar to Michael Crichten’s “Nature finds a way.” in Jurassic Park.  These kids do start to experience sexual feelings, despite the best efforts of the insane adults trying to repress their natural development.  But then that leads to one of the more disturbing aspects of the novel:  how do you portray this without getting really creepy?  Remember, their bodies still look about twelve years old.  Any sexual exploration between these characters has to be extremely tame, and even then, it’s likely to be disturbing to most readers.

But Eastside-84 has continued to haunt me, even when it seemed that it just wasn’t going to work.  Not all of my writing is supposed to be “important.”  Quite a lot of it is simply supposed to entertain.  My two recently pubished works are a good example of this.  How socially relevant can a Christmas Regency be, after all?  (No offense intended to other authors of Christmas Regencies.)  But a few of my books seem to have something to say, and Eastside-84 is one of them.

The new ideas I came up with this week have gotten me past a number of the concerns voiced by my readers — concerns, I would like to point out, that I considered to be absolutely correct.  Even if they seemed to have missed the point, at times, that was not the fault of my readers, but due to the story not being coherent.  I think the new ideas will tighten up the story and make it much more understandable.

But alas for my NaNo novel.  I do intend to finish it, as I think Dreamspinner Press might go for it.  But it will have to wait.

In the meantime, I’ve also been working on a piece of music for my brother — the main theme for his 50s-style sci-fi film, The Atomic Attack of the Son of the Seaweed Creature!  I promised it to him over a year ago, but between buying a house, getting a dog, getting married and getting published for the first time, my music and film projects have fallen by the wayside.  It’s time to pick those up and get them under control.  My main issue with Atomic Attack has been the inclusion of a software theremin in the theme.  It sounds terrific, but it’s a bitch to use.  It took two days to get a decent recording of the main motif, and I’m still mixing it in.  But I hope to be finished with that later today.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Writing, Young Adult

Getting back on track for NaNoWriMo…sort of

Now that I have successfully married Erich and turned in my final edits for The Christmas Wager (coming out on December 22nd), I’m attempting to get back in gear for NaNoWriMo

It’s not going to be easy, catching up.  As of today, I should have a word count of 28,334.  I do not.  My current word count is 17,201, thanks to four days of inactivity.  I’m starting to make headway again — last night, I wrote 1,700 words — but I’m going to have to start flying through, if I’m going to have any hope of hitting 50,000 by November 30th.

And of course we have Thankgsiving coming up.  This should be…challenging….

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Filed under Christmas, NaNoWriMo, Romance, Victorian, Writing


I haven’t had time to post recently, since our marriage ceremony was coming up and that was taking up all of my time and energy because we were planning the best wedding with compact mirrors for wedding favours.  But of course, that had to take precedence over everything else for a few days!

On Saturday, November 13th, 2010, I was officially married to Erich Rickheit at the beautifully restored Victorian hotel, Wentworth by the Sea.    Somewhere between 60 and 70 of our friends and family were in attendance, and the ceremony was performed by our friend, the Reverend Maureen Reddington-Wilde.  Afterwards, High Tea was served in the Grand Ballroom (the only ballroom with the original Victorian woodwork) to the sounds of a live string quartet called Artful Noise.

It was amazing.  Erich and I, along with Maureen and our two Best Men, were dressed in reproduction Victorian suits, and quite a large number of our guests showed up in Victorian clothing, as well.  Erich’s Best Man, Brian Reichert, and my Best Man, Bret Fessenden (my brother, of course), gave a couple touching and funny toasts.  After Erich and I stumbled through a few minutes of a waltz, much to the amusement of our guests, my parents joined us on the dance floor, and soon I had to request a second waltz, because a number of people were asking to dance with both grooms.  It made for some humorous moments, as many of our male guests were straight, but still took their turns to dance with us. 

The cake and flowers were all wonderful and hotel blew us all away with its elegance and the efficiency of the staff.  It was a truly epic day that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

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Filed under Gay Marriage, Romance, Victorian

NaNoWriMo, Ho!

No, I don’t mean I’m a ho for NaNoWriMo.  But I’m finally off and running on my NaNo novel, after falling behind by about three days last week, due to other responsibilities.  I spent the weekend writing and managed to crank out almost 5,000 words.  That’s not a lot by some people’s standards, but it brings me up to just over one day behind.  Hopefully, I’ll make up the rest soon.

My wedding is this coming weekend, and of course, we have Thanksgiving weekend coming up two weekends after that.  So this isn’t the ideal month for me to be writing a novel.  But so far it’s going fairly smoothly, as far as the actual writing goes.

Once again, I discovered that the most difficult scene to write was the sex scene.  I agonized over it for hours, as Erich can attest.  I would write a line or two, then walk away, stuck, until I could think of what to write next.  The funny thing is, I consider setting up sexually charged situations and creating sexual tension to be one of my strong points.  I love putting two guys together in ways that challenge their conceptions and opens them up to the possibility of becoming lovers.

But I’ve always skipped over the sex scenes themselves, find them rather dull.  As I’m often heard to say, “When it comes to the part where we’re inserting Tab A into Slot B, I start to tune out and skip ahead to the next bit of actual character interraction.”  However, the publishing market where I’m beginning to get my foot in the door, at last, prefers steamy sex scenes.  And ultimately, I don’t object to writing steamy sex scenes.  I simply need to figure out how to make them about character development, in order to keep them interesting to me. 

So I ended up with a sex scene that touches upon past conflicts between the two characters, and the fact that they can’t resist each other, despite the fact that they don’t think they have a future together.  And I don’t think it came out half bad.  One challenge, though, with having a sex scene at the beginning of the novel, is where to now?  They’ve already hopped in bed together and we already know they love each other.  So what’s next?  I’m going to have to explore the issues in their past that have kept them apart.

The main thing, right now, is to keep moving.  Normally, I would have to write 1,667 words a day to keep up, but since I’ve fallen behind, I’m shooting for at least 2,000 words tonight.

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Filed under Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Galley proof for “The Christmas Wager” turned in

I returned the galley proof for “The Christmas Wager” to my editor at Dreamspinner tonight, just slightly late.  But they’re in Texas, and two hours behind me, so hopefully they’ll consider it on time. 

It was a lot tougher than proofing “The Meaning of Vengeance.”  Not only was it longer and therefore more prone to have minor mistakes in punctuation, grammar and (depressingly) word usage, but the editor appears to know the Victorian time period fairly well, and was able to zero in on my weak spots.  I sent my characters to the grocers, in one scene.  Were there grocers at that time?  I’m not sure.  How does one address a duchess?  Well, I managed to get it wrong. 

But the really hard part was fixing inconsistencies my editor found in the story.  In one scene, Thomas takes his neice downstairs on their way to meet Hew and Duncan, but they stop to talk to her father.  Susan tells her father something Hew told her.  But when did he tell her?  She was on her way to see him, and hadn’t had a chance to talk to him that morning.  In another scene, Thomas decides he isn’t quite ready to try anal sex.  But we’d earlier established that he didn’t know men did that together, so why would it even occur to him?

Now I just remembered something I meant to change, but forgot.  Aargh!

I’ll have to send a follow-up e-mail…

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Filed under Christmas, Romance, Victorian, Writing


Things are not going well for me, at the moment.  Oh, I don’t mean anything catastrophic.  Just stuff piling up and getting under my skin, making it difficult to write.

First of all, though I don’t want this to become a political blog, I have to say the recent election was rough.  I knew the Democrats were going to take a beating, and I can cope with that.  But locally, we now have some newly elected conservatives who have made it one of their primary goals to repeal gay marriage in New Hampshire.  I can deal with people having differences of opinion on how money from the State budget should be spent.  I can deal with differences over gun control, marijuana legalization (which can lead to a lot of problems like dificulting people to get a job, I recommend to visit this site to learn how to get through the urine tests on job intervires), security issues, etc.  But as far as I’m concerned, this is an assault against my personal rights by people who really aren’t affected in any way by me marrying Erich.  They get to wake up in the morning, kiss their spouse goodbye and head to work, where they get to dedicate their time to preventing me from having a spouse.  They are ignorant and vile.

Erich and I will be married before any of these bigots get the chance to prevent it.  In the past, when states have overturned gay marriage, anyone who has been married already has been allowed to keep that status.  So maybe we’ll be safe from their machinations.  Maybe.  But other gays in the state won’t be.  So it may come down to a long, very ugly battle to retain something we’d already won.

Another thing that’s stressing me out is my galley proof for “The Christmas Wager.”  Not because there are any major problems with it, but because there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to work on it.  I have to go through the entire thing and accept all the corrections the editor has made, one by one, or reject them and explain why.  It’s incredibly time-consuming.  Not to mention that Microsoft Word’s change tracking is cumbersome and awkward to use.  I keep trying to accept changes and having to fight to get the correct menu to pop up. 

There are also some minor changes to the story that need to be done.  A line inserted, here and there, to explain certain points.  Other lines corrected to eliminate inconsistencies.  And all of it has to be done by tomorrow.

I also foolishly decided to tackle NaNoWriMo this year, and I’m falling behind on my writing.  Largely because I’m too unhappy to get into the story.  It’s coming along, but not nearly fast enough, and watching my word count slip is just chipping away at my motivation even further!

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Filed under Christmas, Gay Marriage, NaNoWriMo, Romance, Victorian, Writing