Monthly Archives: November 2007

Another NaNoWriMo Triumph!

This just in from M. D.: she’s completed the NaNoWriMo challenge for another year! I’m very proud of her. She tells me that her work-in-progress, tentatively entitled Noth’Nor, can be loosely called a space western, simply because the story happens on a ranch on another planet. After some doubts about whether she would continue playing with it after November, she told me that she probably will for the simple reason that she hates leaving stuff lying around, half alive…

However, when she started telling me about the story, I decided I had my doubts about whether this is an appropriate branching of her writing.

Well, first of all, it’s not really a space western. Sure, it happens on a ranch, but you’re talking sabotage and attempted murder rather than an oater, and there’s a sprinkling of romance thrown it (oh, pulease …). Not really her style, she says, and I agree. I think she should stick to my case files, at least that stuff really happened, hard as is it to believe. Bad enough she got wrapped up in those cloning stories. That first one, Synergy, maybe could happen; it’s a hundred years in the future. But that other one, the one coming out next year? Clone farms. Huh.

M. D. looks pretty determined to try to finish Noth’Nor, so I’ve decided to keep my trap shut for a while. It’s bad enough Christmas is coming. I don’t want to fight about writing genres on top of it. Too depressing. I’ll just shake her hand and say well done on that NaNo thing and jump her after the new year.

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Destiny’s delayed

Wouldn’t you love being able to say that? Well, unfortunately, I’m not talking of the world’s destiny but of the publication of Meter Destiny, the latest installment in my case files. It just happened that M. D. was talking about it with her publisher Zumaya Otherworlds, and they’ve decided to delay at least 6 months. She says she’s not all that upset since she hasn’t had time to think of promoting the book at all, what with her trip to Rome and NaNoWriMo.

I’m not that upset about it either. It’ll give me more time to sort out my notes on the Kayzar case that I solved last year.

Okay, I had some help from Aldus, Claire, and Fred. But who ended up with the kids in the first place? Yours truly.

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NaNoWriMo — How it’s going

I’ve just had a chat with M. D. about her experience with NaNoWriMo this year. She told me she completed, even exceeded the 50K goal last year and expects to do the same this year. There are some differences, however.

Last year was frenetic, with huge numbers of word every day. She missed only one day of writing, which proved productive but mentally and physically exhausting.

This year, with last year under her belt, she’s more relaxed. You only have to look at her statistics on this blog to see that. The grey parts are the number of words she should have written to meet the daily goal, the green ones what she actually wrote, the red ones the parts she’s missed. So obviously she hasn’t been writing every day.

On the other hand she tells me that she’s having a lot more fun. She now sees the month as a time to completely ignore her internal editor, to try new stories, a new style, a new tone. If turns out she doesn’t do anything with the 50K? She doesn’t care. She’ll have learned a lot in that month. Here are some of the things she says she learned:

  1. For a first draft, turn off the internal editor (IE); that means use as many of the things you’re not supposed to use such as adjectives, adverbs, flowery or melodramatic expressions and, horror of horrors, clichés.
  2. Try something stylish. In this case, she’s dumping her two favorite punctuation marks: the comma and the dash. She noticed that she uses them heavily and this time is trying to write without them as much as possible. It completely changes the style of the writing.
  3. Think outside your own box. M. D. has been working on my Case Files, of course, and has also written a more serious novel, Synergy, but this time she’s writing a story about farming on another planet, with murder, sabotage, and romance sprinkled in. Since she’s turned off her IE, she doesn’t tell herself she’s not good at it. She just writes, chuckles, and moves on.
  4. You can’t go back. She’s had to resist going back to read the story. Sure, she’s taking notes on what happened so she can jog her own memory, but she’s not reading what she wrote. If she did that, that damn IE would sprout again (it only takes a few drops of revising to do so). Can’t do that. Once the story is done, it’ll be time to reminisce and correct the past.

There were other things I wanted to ask but M. D. was in a rush to go back to her writing so I let her go. Besides, I have a new client coming in and I’m looking forward to telling him to get lost.

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NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of the year and my collaborator, M. D. Benoit, is doing National Novel Writing Month. To succeed, she must write a 50,000 word novel in one month. So what? I told her. Okay, she says. Think about writing a 200 page novel in one month. And think that less than 10% finish in that month. Ha.

Last year she finished, and went on to complete the novel. Of course, it was easy for her since she used one of my case files, the one where I get stuck with a child. At least I thought it was a child.

This year I told her “you’re on your own, kid” so she’s writing some kind of space western that involves land-grab, murder, and a genetically enhanced kid. Where did she get that, I ask you?

Anyway, just to show I’m a nice guy, I said I’d post her progress on my blog, and maybe an excerpt or two. I don’t have much time, since I’m hard at work solving a crime, but hey, anything to help a poor writer.

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Rome — Sights and Sounds

Day 2

Since on our arrival we had gone north-east to the Colosseum, we decided to walk this time to the north-west, in a great big circle that would take us through several piazzas and, of course, fountains.

tn_borghese_fountain02.JPGOne of the things I remember about Rome, and which charmed me the most, is its fountains. Water, water everywhere. Rome’s water system was one of the wonders of the world, and it still is. From the magnificent Fontana di Trevi to the nasoni (meaning big nose because of the shape of their spout), water flows constantly, pure, fresh, and drinkable. The fountain basins are clean and free of debris and the water sparkles through to the bottom. It comes from deep springs and is as pure as mineral water. It amazed me that I could find, all of a sudden, a nasone with continuously running water where I could fill my bottle with cold water and drink my fill.

Romans are great drinkers of water. In any restaurant, to ask for a liter of acqua minerale for two is normal. You have a choice of naturale or frizzante. That last word always made me want to giggle because it resembles the French word “friser”, meaning “to curl”. And indeed, the sparkling water makes your tongue curl up.

We took the tram (number “8”) to Torre Argentina. Taking public transport in Rome is an experience. It’s not only necessary to buy a ticket, but you also need to validate it once you’re on the bus or tram or train. In truth, very few seem to do it, and during the time we were there, we saw inspectors only once. The fines are steep if you get caught without a ticket, though, so it’s not a good idea to hop a but without a ticket. Tickets are also valid for 75 minutes, regardless of how many transports you take, from the time of validation. We were very impressed with the public transportation system; many buses, passing by often, were the norm, although we were in the center of town, which may be different than the suburbs.

nettuno_pa_navona.JPGWe started with Piazza Navona, which I found somewhat disappointing, maybe because it was empty of people. (We went back another day in the afternoon and it was packed. The atmosphere was quite different). The oval piazza is dotted with three huge fountains, the middle one, being restored while we were there, topped with an obelisk. It is the Fontana dei Fiumi, designed by Bernini which, of course, we couldn’t see. At each end, the Fontana del Moro and the Fontana del Nettuno, impressive in their own right.

We then went by the church of Sant’Angostino to have a look at Caravaggio’s Madonna di Loreto, a beautiful painting that created a furore because he had depicted Jesus’s mother with bare feet, resembling any woman. The painting is indeed beautiful and moving, modestly set in a side apse, as it not to detract from the sanctity of the church itself, which was very quiet and dignified. We sat in the pew for a few moments, absorbing the quiet of the place.

( Day 2 continues in the next post. Aren’t you glad we were there for a month?)

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