Blogging Antithesis: Day 22

Today was an amazing day–gorgeous weather meant a beach walk with actual wading and swimming in the ocean, a rare treat this far north.

On the downside, the heat was exhausting, and despite two long shifts at the keyboard, I found myself unable to produce anything intelligible, so I’m packing it in early tonight so I can take a fresh run at it tomorrow.

Today’s progress: Negligible.

Blogging Antithesis: Day 21

Please excuse the tardiness of the post. I wound up wrestling with plot threads last night and only hit a groove after I was very, very tired, and I essentially fell asleep at my keyboard.

Now I’m awake, and bringing you the chronicle, time-shift style.

The characters have hijacked the story. Entirely. I now have almost no idea where this thing is going. Occasionally, I reach over into the bin of material I already wrote, and those days result in low net word counts, because I’m taking a scene that was written with another context in mind and retooling it for the existing storylines.

My subsconscious obviously knew what it as up to, since so many of these scenes are working perfectly in their new digs, but repainting the set where they’re taking place is a different kind of work, and it feels much more like work than does just writing from scracth.

Odd, that. I can remember a time where I didn’t have the confidence to write a book like this without a lot of scaffolding.

Anyway, I clocked another modest net gain today of just over a thousand words.
Starting word count: 37,543
Ending word count: 38,638

38,638 / 120000 words

Blogging Antithesis: Day 19 & 20

Oooh, boy, there’s nothing that’ll wear you out faster than emerging from a long emergency. The last few weeks, since I started blogging this, has been that kind of process.

A few things happen when you get out from under a major, long-term stress load.

The first is that your activity level goes up. No matter how athletic you normally are, existential stress changes the way your body deals with exercise. Some kinds of stress make you shelter-in-place, other kinds of stress drive you to hard physical labor in order to burn off enough adrenaline so that you can think straight. Since the stress in my universe has been both kinds, there’s been a pendulum effect the last couple years where I alternated between periods of intense activity and periods of intense inactivity–depending, largely, on whether the stress-flavor-of-the-month I was facing down.

Moving house, for example, was a different kind of stress than dealing with death in the family.

But whether the stress was one that drove you to heavy work or to shelter in place (or to spend a lot of time working at the computer), when it finally lifts, you can’t keep still. You roam the hills and dales and beaches and barrows until your feet are likely to fall off and you can’t seem to stay awake unless you’re moving.

Which dovetails nicely with the other thing that happens.
Your whole system has gotten so used to dealing with stress, that when all that low-level, long-term cortisol leaves your system, you just kind of…crash.

It’s a happy crash. A beautiful crash. But it’s one that involves a lot of sleeping, and, if you’re trying to write every day, you wind up spending a lot of time writing words backwards.

Which gets to be pretty annoying.

The latest chapter in the end of my long emergency was dropping the Free Will episode yesterday (scroll down, you’ll find it). Getting that podcast back up and going is something of a major milestone, and the moment I hit “post,” I more-or-less collapsed on the spot.

Not because it as a Herculean task. Just because, having it done, my whole body said to itself “well, there’s something we don’t have to worry about anymore. Here’s your pleasure endorphines. You can get rid of the stress hormones now,” and, all at once, it was like I was a marionette and someone cut my strings.

The downside of that was that I only registered a net gain of 337 words (again, I wrote more, but also cut quite a lot as I start to chew through scenes I wrote last year that now have no relevance to the story), and I fell asleep at the keyboard before I could do my daily post.

Tonight was better, though I was still fighting off a powerful amount of fatigue.

Today, I made just over 2100 words.

Starting word count: 35,424
Ending word count: 37,543

37,543 / 120000 words

Free Will, Episode 09

Free Will is BACK! Now, as the story opens up and we see other pebbles in the avalanche, it’s time for Episode 9 of Free Will and Other Compulsions, in which Jade paints a naked person, Joss hatches a plan, and Marian ponders egg rolls.

Cast this week (in order of appearance):
Lorien Wheeler as Jade
Christiana Ellis as The Agitator
George Chlentzos as Douglas Reeves
Kitty NicIaian as The Ambi
Miss Kalendar as Alyssa Hartman
Veronica Giguere as Marian Shelley
Andrea Fender as Jana
and Dave Robison as Blake

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Blogging Antithesis: Day 18

A hell of a storm hit today–almost literally out of the clear blue sky, at four PM, and it blew hard and drove horizontal rain till well near midnight. It’s that time of year when the weather joggles back and forth like a drunk trying to walk a line.

Normally in the winter, rain won’t keep us inside–it can’t, not with a high-energy dog that needs her exercise.

Today, though, it was the kind of storm you don’t go out in if you want to keep your sanity. Since it’s already a fragile commodity for me anyway, I compromised. Instead of two hours walking on the beach to wear her out, I got to wrestle with her on and off for almost three.

Yeah, it ate into work time, but it was a hell of a workout. You try getting the best of a sixty pound dog with a hundred thirty pounds of pulling power–lift that up by a rope (because she won’t let go unless I give the command) and you’ve got yourself your very own variable resistance high-cardio home gym.

So, for my four shifts, I spent one on admin, one on wearing out the pooch, then I came to the evening, which is when things got fun.

All that administrative work in the last couple weeks has cleared a hell of a backlog that needed to be dealt with sooner or later, because it was obstructing other work. Now, it’s cleared up enough that the other work can get rolling.

Like mixing the next episode of the Free Will podcast, which will drop late tomorrow night (or, tonight, I guess, since it’s already 5AM Thursday and I’m on my way to bed in a moment).

Got about 3/4 of the episode mixed, then switched over at about 1:30AM to work on Book 3. I cycled back a couple chapters, as I found a few continuity errors as a result of doing the podcast. Work was slow going, but after cutting a bunch and adding a bunch more, I wound up ahead a full chapter and up a little over a thousand words.

Tomorrow, though,s hould be another high-count day, so watch this space and see if I pull it off 🙂

Starting word count: 34,070
Ending Word count: 35,087

35,087 / 120000 words

Blogging Antithesis: Day 17

Ah, tax season, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Actually, that’s only half-jesting. There was a time when I not only couldn’t stand math, I looked on taxes with the kind of pallid terror that most people reserve for venomous snakes (I have personally never had much problem with snakes. They’re fascinating creatures, and they only bite if you scare them). Now, all this number crunching satisfies some sort of primal urge for order. It feels rather like a good game of chess.

Anyway, that ate up the bulk of my day, so I still only got one shift of writing in. On the upside, it was a good solid shift, leaving me with upwards of 2700 new words and some very good progress on the story.

Starting word count: 31309
Ending word count: 34,070

34,070 / 120000 words

Blogging Antithesis: Day 16

I missed this blog post last night, so I’m doing two tonight. I got stuck down deep in the chapter I was writing and only tore myself away when I realized that I was misspelling every word–literally. The little red lines under the words were a clue–I leave the spell-checker on as I write because of this little quirk. I’m a pretty dyslexic guy, and the more tired I get, the more I flop letters and make number mistakes in orders of magnitude or in place transposition, and suchlike. Since my normal copy is almost typo-free and I am (a few troublesome words excepted) an exceptional speller (due, ironically, to the way I learned to cope with my dyslexia) when those little red lines start showing up a lot, I know I’m in trouble. Not too long after that happens, I start swapping around people’s names, and doing this any time I can’t remember a noun (it’s always nouns–verbs don’t do this to me):

[Name] scratched her head as she regarded the [noun]

Which makes my life hell on the proofreading pass. I get the betas asking me “what the hell are you talking about?” and I look at the manuscript and say: “Hell if I know.”

So all told, I only pulled down 1318 words yesterday, which is stupidly-small for the amount of time I spent on them (4 hours). Turns out that there are some writing skills I’m very rusty on. Particularly, multiple distinct POVs, juggling multiple intersecting plotlines, and writing scenes where there are more than three people in a conversation. These are things I got very good with in Down From Ten and Antithesis 1 & 2, and then…failed to practice for the next dozen or so books. Turns out it’s a perishable skill, and I’m going through a heavy-duty retraining regime with the beginning of this book.

As far as the rest of the day? Well, I spent it doing spring cleaning. I can’t overstate how deeply satisfying spring cleaning is.

So, here’s the damage.
Starting WC: 29,991
Finished WC: 31,309

31,309 / 120000 words

Blogging Antithesis: Day 15

Sundays are normally the downtime-day in the Sawyer house. We have a regular lunch with a bevy of other local writers, where the introverts in the group get their social time in and we all gab about publishing, craft, and the various antics the townsfolk have gotten up to recently.

After that, Kitty and I usually make hot-stone neopolitan-style pizza for dinner (at least, we do as long as I remember to wake up the sourdough starter and make up a batch of dough at a reasonable hour) and settle down for some movies, or to catch up on one of the various serial shows that we’re currently obsessed with, and entertain the dog until she plops down in front of the fireplace to sleep.

Today, on top of all that, I had some auto repairs to do–and then, to celebrate, we took the sports car out to shoot some canyons with Trixie in tow. It’s a bit of a trick fitting a full-sized, high-energy dog into a convertible with two adult humans, but the weather was gorgeous and the car needed a shakedown, and we need to start getting Trixie used to car travel again. Driving season is coming, and she’s a few months out of practice on being a good passenger.

After a glorious thirty mile drive on some of Lincoln County’s most gorgeous driving roads (seriously, anytime I go out in the convertible here it’s like I’ve died and gone to driving heaven), we came back for pizza and birthday festivities with an old friend–which left me pretty wiped out.

I seriously considered giving the writing a miss today, but sometime during the crust-tossing process, I got a flash of insight on how to make the Joss and Ali story really sing, so I trudged upstairs to the office at four in the morning and started noodling around.

After a few false starts, I finaly got my teeth into the story, and bounced back and forth between writing new words and reviewing sections of book 2 for continuity checks. Wound up coming in slightly under a thousand words, but they’re definitely keepers, and for a day when I wasn’t going to write at all, I call that a win.

So, here’s the damage.
Starting word count: 29,011
Ending word count: 29,991

29,991 / 120000 words

Released: Blood and Weeds (Lantham #7)

If you’re looking for the daily writing blog, I’m currently doing a very late writing shift after taking most of the the day off. There was a birthday party tonight, and it was glorious, which merited some schedule squshiness.

Okay, everyone, this is the big one. Back when I originally planned the Clarke Lantham Mysteries, I had four books in mind. And Then She Was Gone and Silent Victor you’ve read (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?). The series ender Extinction Tango still lies in front of us. The last one I’d originally planned for was Blood and Weeds.

And now it’s here. The biggest, baddest, darkest, twistiest Lantham yet. This one goes places that even I was scared to go, and if it doesn’t leave you gasping and strung out and gagging for more by the end…well, then, I don’t know what to tell you, because that’s the effect it had on all the beta readers, including the one that is hypercritical of my work and only likes my writing “sometimes.”

If you thought the stakes were high when Lantham was hunted by mercenaries in In The Cloud, or when he was at death’s door in He Ain’t Heavy, or when the Chinese government wanted his hide in Silent Victor, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This time it’s not just his ass on the line–this time, the case might just spell the end for everything, and everyone he loves.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this one. So, here’s the straight dope on what it is, and where to find it.

Blood and Weeds

Good neighbors make good victims…
When ten-year-old Teddy Stride wanted to impress the professional snoop down the street, he opened his own detective agency. But when Teddy’s father goes off the rails, and his precocious investigative prowess fails him, he turns to the only firm he knows who might be able to find out what’s wrong before it’s too late: Clarke Lantham Investigations.
Clarke Lantham hates family squabbles, but something about Teddy made it impossible to say no. Lantham had no way to know that taking the case would send him straight to the heart of the biggest academic scandal in state history, and set him on a collision course with ghosts from his past that could jeopardize his freedom, ruin his career, and endanger the life of everyone he loves.

Fathers may sin, but the children shall bleed.

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