Friday, March 19

Math: Making Novels Scary Since Two Hours Ago

Sometimes I dabble with the occasional cross sums puzzle, or add my dex mod to damage with a ranged weapon, or wrangle with web layout sizing, or scribble out fractions to figure out how to make a small enough cake to fit the volume of the more easily-washed round dish. I don't have the fierce, animal-like survival instinct that kept so many of my fellow writer types from taking math classes in college, though I can avoid a compound interest equation with the best of them.

But even I should have known not to involve the powers of mathematics in figuring out how much of my novel I have left to write. My current deadline, as imposed by my partner, is one week from today, at midnight. By then I am to have to have a either a complete novel, or a total of 99,975 words. Whichever I hit first. Already, my deleted scenes folder holds 5,000 words. It contains such gems as my main character's suffocation-by-whipped-cream suicide attempt; the irrelevent and little-known tale of how unicorns were banned from the paradise of Calgary, as Adam and Eve from Eden; and Thanksgiving Day 1985, in which the reader learns a great deal about the Macy's parade and my main character's cousin, Derelict Uncle Donald's derelict son Derelict Donald Junior, whose name was repeated ad nauseum to boost my NaNoWriMo 2008 word count. Considering the deleted scenes folder, I'd been figuring on the end coming around 105,000 words. Just another few days of writing after the deadline. Until Math came and tempted me to figure out a more accurate estimate, based on the average lengh of my completed scenes.

Before Math, I was content having a bunch of completed scenes, and a bunch of half-completed scenes. Post Math? I'm feeling overwhelmed by a fraction written on the notebook in front of me, a certain 15/65. Finished scenes out of total scenes. I can comfort myself and say that the fraction doesn't reflect how much I have written on the other 50 scenes, or all my plotting work. But if the fraction is stark, its cousin the percentage is the blunt (i.e. tactless) sort of wanker who asks if you've gained weight. The percentage says, in its friendly tone of passive aggression, "Are you aware that 23% of your novel is readable? That 23% is less than one quarter? And that fifteen non-consecutive scenes, totalling 29,000 words, can be shown to the other humans? But since they're meant to be read consecutively, you really only have one scene that works out-of-context, and that's the first one. It's 1.5% of your scene count."

Discouraging, right? But word count-wise (this is before Math, again) 87-91% was all done, just not in neat chunks with beginings and ends. Back to the scenes. Those 15 completed scenes averaged 1,999 words each. For each planned or partially written scene that was under 1,999, I added the difference to my word count projection. So for a scene that came to 1700, I would add 299. For one at 744, I would add 1255. For the scenes over 1,999, I added nothing; most of those are only missing small gaps, or need rearranging. My projection of 105,00 words shot up to 118,327, a number that's best pals with my 1.5% readable scenes. I can see them sitting up in grimy bleachers, heckling me and chucking beer cans at my optimistic 87-91% done.

Losing 10% of my completion status is the novelling equivalent of switching to Daylight Savings Time, but I still have 77% done. And that's over three quarters. But optimism isn't the moral of my story. The moral of my story is that Math is a bastard, because 77% is where I was two months ago.

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Sunday, September 27

A Tatooine Halloween Die-o-Rama

Here's my tastefully not-to-scale depiction of traditional Halloween festivities on Tatooine. While select guests fly awfully close to Tatooine's twin suns on their way to witness Luke Skywalker's execution, others hang around outside Jabba's Palace for refreshments. Grand Admiral Thrawn never misses the bantha-sized Halloween Oreos. :) If it doesn't show up, the message on the side reads:
Mssr. Jabba the hutt
cordially invites you to his
Spooky Halloween Party
and Formal Exectution of
Jedi Luke Skywalker et al.
at the Pit of Carkoon.
Please R. S. V. P.

Monday, December 17

National Maple Syrup Day

While it's not likely to inspire a religious frenzy of gift-buying, or even "national" celebration in the true sense of the word, National Maple Syrup Day, celebrated on December 17, is an excuse to pause the other holiday madness, and eat a stack of pancakes. National Maple Syrup day celebrates 100% maple syrup, not maple-flavored syrup, not pancake syrup, and certainly not high fructose corn syrup. It's a day to applaud syrup from trees, shun Aunt Jemima, and spend the extra few dollars to buy pure 100% maple syrup.

December 17 appears to be a random choice for National Maple Syrup Day. Maple producers harvest sugar maple sap in March, which is when the Massachusetts Maple Producers' Association participates in month-long maple festivities. Local farms in other areas of the Northeastern United States and Canada also celebrate in March with syrup-making demonstrations, and of course, plenty of food drenched in syrup. While it seems likely that a syrup producer could have started National Maple Syrup Day, its roots are undocumented, and generally unmentioned. December 17 has no apparent reason for being National Maple Syrup Day, and is only national in the respect that someone, somewhere tacked the word "national" onto an invented holiday to catapult it into the ranks of bizarre holidays such as National Chocolate Covered Anything Day and National Roast Suckling Pig Day, the two special days before and after National Maple Syrup Day.

But the roots don't matter for anyone out to honor their favorite French toast topping. National Maple Syrup Day isn't going to receive a full-on inquisition into its roots as a pagan holiday, or the quaint 19th century customs that led to our modern celebration of National Maple Syrup Day. Its origins are undocumented, but whoever started it first was clearly someone with a great love of maple syrup. Appreciation of the syrup and complete disregard for calorie counting are the only important traditions of this obscure holiday, which has found a niche on recipe websites internationally. recognizes National Maple Syrup Day and dedicates a page to the history of maple syrup and recipes using maple syrup. Mr. Breakfast, of, lists National Maple Syrup Day among the "16 Breakfast Holidays."

Forget the peculiarities of National Maple Syrup Day, forget the madness of the holiday season. This December 17, go to the grocery store and pick up a jug of pure maple syrup with a basket full of syrup-ready foods. Eat pancakes, ice cream, chicken, and salad with maple syrup. Try some new recipes. Remember to replace your tuna sandwich with a tuna-maple sandwich, and your fruitcake with a maple fruitcake.

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Saturday, December 8

fake tree

The fake tree is now in the living room, all dolled up with the increasing amount of ornaments we end up with each year. I sort of hijacked the camera while we were decorating, and my candid photography got us a lot of creepy pictures, pictures of people yawning, chewing, and leaning over stuff with butt cracks a-showing. Next week, I think I'll buy a cheap pine tree air freshener and hide it somewhere, like last year. In half an hour, Jeff and I are probably going to watch the old Grinch special, or Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. So far I'm feeling very much in the holiday spirit, but it's still disheartening to not have found a crappy part time job yet. Why is it that none of these places that say they're hiring ever hire me?

I've been working on various web things when I'm supposed to be doing papers--more on that when something exists.

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Wednesday, December 5

Salem State

Congratulations! You have been admitted to Salem State College as a transfer, resident student for the 2008 Spring semester in the English major. Additional information will be mailed to you.

Because I sent in my application online this time, I was able to check every few days to see if it had been processed. I probably won't receive the letter until next week, but that's still under a month for processing time.

Things are looking up; Saturday I finished writing my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, and now I've been re-accepted in Salem. This time, I'm going. Too bad my dad is putting a damper on the whole thing, obsessively asking questions that people ask in the "should I apply" stage of the process, not the "I've been accepted" stage. He also acts like he's trying to free me of some kind of overwhelming naivete that, apparently, I possess. Wow, I didn't know that I'm going to have to pay for college after it's over, thank you ever so freakin' much.

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Saturday, December 1


This year I participated in National Novel Writing Month, and tonight I passed the 50,000 word mark, making me a winner.

Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Winner

Take that, Erin! :)

A synopsis of Stars Will Fall Out:
When Jil Doyle skips her homecoming dance, she witnesses a mysterious girl sink into the pond at the park. The next day she finds a strange vial that allows to her travel through the pond and into another world, where she meets Aria, the mysterious girl. Aria has been traveling from her own world to Jil's to go to rock shows and escape her daily life working at a bakery and planning her upcoming wedding. Soon Jil finds herself using the vial to escape like Aria, and both girls are balancing double lives. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Jil and Aria, the creator of the vials has a sinister reason to steal them back, and it might be connected to the stars that have been falling out of the sky. Only Aria's nerdy fiance suspects that her sister Violet might be at the center of it all, but not even he realizes that the innocuous professor of magic might be as well.

Starting off in Week 1, it took some time getting used to writing 1,667 plus words per day. I was still focusing too much on good writing rather than output, but I did make a couple plot/ character connections that established the rest of the story arc. Luckily, I had some scene ideas written down so I didn't have to spend too much time thinking about what to write. During Week 2, I spend three days too depressed to write, and gave up completely. Giving up like that, I felt strangely empty, and I went back to writing just before the start of Week 3, although I was still depressed

Around Thanksgiving, I had a five-day weekend so I wrote 2000-4000 words on each of those days. After the first week, I also went to all the Write-ins at Barnes and Noble in Bellingham, where I managed to type 1000 words or so per hour. About this time, I concentrated on making my friends "effective agents of guilt and terror" as per the instruction in No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNo.

Two days ago I managed a 7000 word day, and today I wrote another 4500 for the win. A lot of the writing is crap, but plenty is crap that just needs editing. I still need quite a few more scenes, including a climax that involves a Winnebago and a Ancient Druid Spirit, and possibly a wedding. I'll also need to figure out a lot of details about the fantasy world, which I'm writing in a steampunk style, and then name or rename several characters.

After that, it'll just take about five edits or so.

And, Dan: Thanks for the support, and the sparkly bubbling stuff and chocolate just now.

Here's my Nano Profile, which has statistics, and an excerpt.

Wheeeee! I'm a novelist now. :)
X-posted to My Barely Updated Livejournal

Monday, November 26

Windows Vista infuriates me.

Saturday, June 2

"From the directors of The 40 Year-Old Virgin... a comedy about the things that happen.... when you least expect it."

Aren't there people who look over banner ads before they're posted on the internet? THEM, not IT. A comedy about the things that happen when you least expect them. Or, a comedy about the thing that happens when you least expect it. Savvy?


Trip update coming soon.

Tuesday, March 27

sweet diesel

In Boston, a regular traveler on the orange line complained of a stench at one of the stations, sort of a sulphur smell.

In response a representative of MBTA said on FOX 25:

The only thing I smelled was the scent of sweet and reliable transit service.

Worth an entire entry? Oh yeahhhh....

In other news:
-Got a new Chevy Prizm

Friday, March 9

memorial to squeaky

Ass shot of Squeaky
My nice little 2001 Chevy Prizm will totaled, and I have until noon tomorrow to clean the rest of my stuff out. The pic is from last year's New Hampshire trip when Dan and I visited Maria, went to Middle Earth Music Hall, and explored Hanover.

Highlights of my time with Squeaky
(yes, I know how lame that sounds)
August 2005- March 2007:
-Tony the Russian, who we bought the car from. It was like shopping with Boris Badenov
-Visiting the Alternate Universe Tim Guy
-Salem, third trip.
-Mine and Dan's third anniversary/ Valentine's Day in Newport at the Cheeky Monkey
-The New Hampshire trip
-Elroy-watching trips in Boxboro
-Salem, fourth trip
-Mall rats