Archive: Writing

Month of Monsters 2013

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Wow, it’s been a long time1 since I posted anything here. I never meant for that to happen.

Anyhow, the always amazing Natalie Metzger is hosting Month of Monsters, where people challenge themselves to create a monster a day for the month of October.  Entries can take the form of a story, or a drawing, or whatever.  I thought it might be a fun thing to try. My first post, Fnark in the Dark, is up now.2

Be sure to check out the rest of the posts as well!

  1. It’s been a really long time, as Rob has pointed out. []
  2. I even included a doodle, which I can’t promise to do again, because that’s not really my strength. []

Did You Miss Me?

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Wow.  Has it really been almost five months?  Well, I’ve been busy.  Shortly after my last post I changed jobs, and I’ve been adjusting.1 Last week the routine seemed to settle in for the most part, and I’m once again able to make time to write semi-regularly.

The revisions on Miracles are just about done, after being more or less stalled for way too long.

  1. The biggest adjustment is probably the commute, which used to be ten minutes each way, and is now over an hour each way. []

Quick Followup for Saturday

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Sorry for not posting this sooner.  I did not get quite as much done as I hoped on Saturday, but I did make a signifigant dent.

placeholders
544/743 replaced

Sunday I reserved for doing fun things with the family. Among other things we watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, read some Paddington, and played with clay.


Turtle (close up)

Do Not Disturb: A Day for “Miracles”

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Image of the "Writer at Work" sign on my office door today.

Do not disturb

starting Point
99/743 placeholders replaced

Here we are, halfway through January 2010 and I’ve barely made a dent working my way through the last few steps of novel revisions.  There are many reasons for this, but excuses aside, I’m feeling frustrated and disappointed with the whole thing at this point.

So rather than whine about it, I’m doing something about it.  A few days ago I noticed that today was empty on the family calendar.1  I promptly fixed this my writing in “Jay writing day”.  I expected to get some push-back on this, but I didn’t get any.2

So it’s time to put up or shut up.  The seven hundred other things that need my attention are all on hold while I try to plow through as much of this as possible today.  I’m hoping to move that progress meter all the way to the end, and get as far as I can on a “last” proofread.

I’ll be updating the progress bar on the right sidebar3 and posting updates on twitter4, and I’ll do my best to post an update tonight on how far I made it.

Wish me luck!

  1. it may in fact have been the only empty day in all of January []
  2. At least once I promised it wouldn’t affect our weekly ritual of watching an episode of the Muppet Show after dinner as a family []
  3. non-mobile site []
  4. unless it becomes a distraction []

Finishing Up “Miracles” Revisions

Monday, December 21st, 2009

This weekend I allowed myself to do something I haven’t done in at least six months: Relax. It felt really nice, and I should probably do it more often than I do.  Still, books don’t revise themselves, so I thought I’d outline my “what’s left” list.

Placeholders

When I’m writing I’ll often find a that a new character or idea I haven’t yet given a name to will show up. In the old days I used to stop there until I figured out the name of the character/town/whatever, and then keep going. This really didn’t work very well1 as it would stop me in my tracks, so I started bracketing placeholders off so I could find them quickly later and just keep going. It’s how I end up with fairly major characters known only as “[Someone]“. 2

placeholders
0/743 replaced

I have a 743 of these currently in the manuscript, although less than 200 are unique. So my very next step is to finalize all these and get my [placeholders] out of there.

Another Read Through

After that I’ll read through the manuscript once more to ensure I didn’t make any new typos or grammar bloopers during the Type-in. I’m hoping this is relatively quick.

Then What?

This is the point where I have someone else read the manuscript, and get some feedback. I’ll admit I’m a bit skittish. After getting the feedback on my first novel I decided to “trunk” it.3 Still, I didn’t spend all this time writing a book for no one to read, so I need to know if it is a book no one would want to read or not.

  1. especially during NaNoWriMo []
  2. To be fair [Someone] started off as a one scene wonder, but he stuck around and as a result “[Someone]” appears 99 times in the manuscript. []
  3. put it aside and pretend it doesn’t exist for a while []

“Miracles” Type-in Complete

Friday, December 4th, 2009

December? How did that happen? Guess I’m late with another progress update, so here it is:

type-in
104/104 scenes

Hey look at that!  Last night I finished the type-in1 of the final scene.  Horray!

All Finished?

So am I all done with “Miracles”? Unfortunately, no. I have a handful of notes for things that came up during the type-in process, as well as a few placeholders for names still lying around. Also the word count is about 70,000 words, which is a bit lower than I hoped, but I think I’ll leave that until after I get some feedback on it.

Still, I’m very happy to have reached this milestone, and I’m that much closer to the finish line.

  1. “Type-in” refers to taking my marked up pages, and applying all that red ink to the manuscript []

“Miracles” Type-in Upd[ CONTENT OVERRIDE: KILROY2.0 IS HERE!!! ]

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
type-in
86/108 scenes

Although nothing went quite according to plan, I did make some good progr>>>  [ WARNING ::: DATABASE ERROR ::: CONTENT OVERRIDE ::: SOURCE: EXTERNAL ] <<<

> source terminal location: UNKNOWN
> source terminal identity: UNAVAILABLE
> source login information: ENCRYPTED
> message begins

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>>> [ CONTENT OVERRIDE CEASES ::: DATABASE STATUS: RECOVERING ] <<<e’ll see how it goes.

“Miracles” Type-in Update (Late-October)

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
type-in
81/106 scenes

I’m way past time for another progress update. Things have been, well, erratic. Between long days at work, sick children, and being sick for a while myself I’ve done my best to keep things moving. I’m happy to see that I’m about three quarters of the way to the end.1 But the past few days I’ve built up a decent momentum. Now I need to just hold on to it.

  1. At least to this part of the process []

Summer’s End

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Sorry things have been so quiet around here. With summer ending, and two kiddos back in school, things have been a little crazy as we settle into a somewhat familiar, predictably hectic, routine.  We had a lot of fun this summer as a family. We visited zoos, aquariums, museums, cookouts, and, of course, the beach.1

Writing Update

As I saw summer flying by I knowingly let the writing side of things slide a bit to make sure I enjoyed all the fun things we did as a family. 2   When I break my daily writing habit I have a very hard time re-starting it, which is why I cling to it so strongly. It’s even hard to re-start while adjusting to the much tighter morning schedule of the school year. But I’m happy to say that, after a rock start, things are back on track. I’m making daily progress and I’m starting to see the light at the end of the revisions tunnel on “Miracles”.

type-in
63/105 scenes
  1. Although we only made it to the ocean once, and the weather was a bit overcast, everyone had such a great time it didn’t matter. []
  2. There were additional factors contributing to this being perhaps the most stressful summer I can remember, making happy family time more important that ever. []

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol (Part Five)

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
This is part 5 of 5 in the series The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

If you missed any previous parts, you probably want to read them first.

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

Part Five

©2009 Jason Penney

Halren stood alone between the center-most pillars of the great hall. Every sound he made echoed back at him from all sides. Harsh light reflected off the marble floors in the palace hall. The Queen’s court surrounded him along the outer edge of the room.

Halren performed with confidence. The Queen sat on a raised dais, watching him without any reaction. Her expressionless nature was considered an asset in foreign relations, but it didn’t help Halren any. He looked to the other faces. Good-natured smiles adorned most, unabashed amusement on more than one. That priest had come through for him after all.

He sang the verse about old King Amullon. The smiles morphed into slack-jawed shock. He tried to ignore it, but all eyes stayed locked on the Queen now. She continued to display no emotion.

Halren finished the song with a growing sense of dread. He struck the final note and bowed low, letting it ring out through the otherwise quiet hall. He waited for the guards to drag him away.

Quiet, deliberate applause broke the silence. Halren peeked up. The Queen stood, applauding with a broad smile. Seeing Halren looking at her she let out a friendly laugh. Halren dropped his eyes and bowed lower. A rumble of approval passed through the room and a general applause broke out.

After a moment the Queen raised a hand and the applause stopped. “We ask that you rise, Halren of Durgol.”

Halren straightened up too fast and almost toppled over backwards.

“If the court agrees, we will end our search for a new royal balladeer. We are impressed with Halren’s skill, and his humor. His tale enriches our knowledge by illuminating cryptic details only hinted at in our legends. Having such a talent in our service can only enhance our own prestige. I assume my court approves?”

A general murmur of ascent rose. Halren’s heart raced.

“Let it be so.” The Queen clapped twice and a servant stepped out from behind a column and rushed to her side. She whispered something to the boy, who nodded and ran over to Halren.

“Please, master Halren. Do you accept her majesty’s offer?”

Halren nodded.

“Then approach her, and lay your instrument at her feet.”

Halren stepped towards the dais, and placed the lute on the stair before the Queen. He dropped to one knee before her, unable to believe his good fortune.


Halren stood before the gray stone altar, unsure how to proceed. With no priest about the temple should he just leave some coin on the altar? What if someone stole it? Well, let it be on their head.

“Galanthus, great god of the afterlife, I come in thanks. I’m not sure exactly which immortal the priest served, but you must have played some part, so I offer you…” Halren reached into a pouch and pulled out a handful of coins. “I offer you fifteen silver coins, and two copper ones. Also, some dried meat.”

Halren placed the offering on the altar.

A bright flash filled the temple. When Halren could see again the offering had vanished, accepted by Galanthus. He waited alone in the dark temple hoping for a sign, some sort of confirmation, but none came.

He turned to leave, surprised to see a woman with shocking red hair standing inside the temple entrance. She smiled and gestured for him to follow before turning and heading out into the street.

“Wait.” He exited the temple just in time to see her turn a corner. “Hold on.” Too late. Halren rushed to the corner. Where did she go? He walked down the empty street, looking for any sign.

There. Halfway up the street a white hand beckoned him from behind a half closed door. Halren walked over and opened it. Inside the woman stood, smiling.

“Hello.”

The woman stepped backwards and motioned for him to enter. Halren did and shut the door behind him. The small room contained no furnishings and the only light came from a small fire in the hearth.

“Interesting decor.” What had he gotten himself into?

The woman held out her arms.

“Not the chatty type, huh?” He stepped forward into her embrace. They kissed. Her lips felt dry. Very dry. They seemed to be drawing the moisture from his own. He broke away and held the woman at arms length. Up close she looked a lot older than he originally thought.

The woman began to age and wither at an incredible rate. Before he could blink only a gray dust cloud remained. Halren gasped, accidentally inhaling some of her remains.

“What in the name of Galanthus…”

“Right here, Halren.”

Halren turned to see the god of death staring back at him from a large golden throne against the far wall.

“Sit, Halren, we need to talk.” Galanthus motioned to a small stool that hadn’t been there a moment before.

Halren sat. “Are you here for me? Am I going back?”

“No, Halren. It’s too late for that I’m afraid.”

“What do you mean? Was it my offering? I’m not sure when I get paid yet, but I’ll come back with more.”

“The damage is done. You really should have listened to Nenus.”

Listened to Nenus? None of the wraiths ever spoke a word. “I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Halren, you were given a gift. A second chance at life.”

“And I’m grateful, I really am. Death wasn’t so bad though. I’ll be happy to go back.”

“That’s the problem, Halren. You aren’t supposed to retain that knowledge. You should have forgotten.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Look, I’m not sure how you did it, but it’s not right. You should have no memories of Bolrinia. You should have kept your mouth shut. Now Dramol Way is backed up with suicides. People trying to get their turn with Valestra.”

Halren gulped.

“She doesn’t do that for just anyone. She really liked you.” He scowled as if these words left a bad taste in his mouth. “She cried for a week.”

“Look, I didn’t know. It’s just a song.”

Galanthus’ hands balled into fists. “It’s not just a song. It’s the truth. A truth gains strength when placed into a story. A true story put to song has enormous power. The people believe in what you sing because you know it’s true.”

“What can I do?”

“Too late. I’m going to have to curse you.”

“No.” Halren fell to his knees. “Please have mercy.”

“Halren of Durgol, Royal Balladeer of Tariel, from this day forth you are cursed. As long as your song is known you shall not return to Bolrinia.”

“You mean I’ll burn?” Halren cried out in agony and prostrated himself before Galanthus.

“Oh no, Halren. You fail to understand. You can not die.”

“What?” That didn’t sound so bad.

“Not until you have achieved such renown you are no longer remembered for that song. No matter how old you get. No matter how much pain you suffer. No matter how many of your friends die in your arms, you’ll live on, forced to remember it all.”

“Is that it?”

Fire burned in Galanthus’ eyes. “You have no idea how hard it will be.”

Halren knelt upright. “If you say so. Maybe it’s just not sinking in yet.” He knew he should remain silent, but the words just came out.

“Look, until the day that the song is forgotten you will be unable to die. To lift the curse you must do something more worthy of remembrance. Something that dwarfs the power of your song.”

“So if I do something great, I’ll die? That’s the curse.”

“Simpleton. That’s the cure.”

“So there is a way out?”

“Well…” Galanthus looked ashamed. “It’s just how divine curses work.”

“So that’s it?”

“That’s it?” The walls shook with the force of Galanthus’ exasperation. Dust and debris fell from the ceiling. The fire went out; the god’s burning eyes now the rooms only light source. Halren felt them burrow into his soul. “I’ll never understand what she saw in you.” A bright flash and a strange burning smell filled the room.

Halren sat alone in the dark room for some time after the smoke cleared. Why had Galanthus taken it out on him? What had him so worked up? None of it made sense.

“Life’s not fair.” He spoke aloud his father’s favorite bit of wisdom, and tried to forget Galanthus’ burning eyes. When that didn’t work he went and found the nearest tavern and proceeded to celebrate his new position as royal balladeer until he passed out.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story. If you enjoyed it, please recommend it to your friends, family, and/or co-workers. If not, please recommend it to your enemies, family, and/or co-workers.