Might of the Steelgods - Postmortem

on Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Alright people, here's where it gets fun. Nathan posts random crap about the book he just wrote! Ready? Go!

Wordcount Totals
Total Word Count: 94,764 words
Total Days: 29
Average Per Day: 3,268 words
Days Missed: 2
Days I Wrote: 27
Average Per Days Actually Spent Writing: 3,510 words
Total Chapters: 28, plus Prologue and Epilogue 
Chapters I Think Suck: 2

Wordcount for what I consider the first act: 37,706 words
Wordcount for what I consider the second act: 23,608 words
Wordcount for what I consider the third act: 33,299 words
How surprised I am considering this actually is kind of balanced: Very

Viewpoint, Characters, and World
Viewpoint: First-person semi-limited (the book is a "retelling" from future Cevan)
Main Characters Introduced: 6 (Cevan, Devent, Rosemary, April, Roc, Divine)
Number of Chapters Containing the actual physical appearance of...
Cevan: All of them (viewpoint character, ho!)
Devent: 7
Rosemary: 12
April: 9
Roc: 6
Divine: 6
Gears of Anbar: 4
Peacemakers: 6
Number of regions in the world: 3 (Tempered Lands, Steel-Imbued Domain, Blight)
Number actually visited in this book: 1 (Tempered, maybe a touch of Blight but not true Blight)
When I finally got around to drawing a final map: Act 2

Random Things
Number of Steelgods Actually Seen in the Book: 0
Number of times I actually use the phrase "Might of the Steelgods" in some form or another in the text: 2
Number of times I use the phrase "Destroyer of the World": 35
Steampunk elements that crept in: 2-3
Days spent planning the book before I actually began: Uh...maybe 2 at most?
Chapter location when I finally outlined the rest of the book: 17 (out of 29)
Battles/fights completely discovery written: All of them (about 5? 6?)
Number of times people got killed in ways one might consider "gruesome": 2
Number of people who died on screen: 13 (I think. The battle at the end got kind of crazy)
Number of people Cevan kills with his freaking sword he hauls around the entire book: 0 (way to go, dude)

Stuff I need to fix
Things I think I overused: blinking, sighing, glaring, hissing
Things I think I underused: A Thesaurus

Series Ideas
Number of books before Cevan sees April again: 2
Number of books before Cevan sees Roc again: 1
Number of books before Cevan sees Divine again: 1

Wordle: Might of the Steelgods
Word it seems I used the most: back (weird)

Enough useless crap for you?
I'll be re-reading it (probably during my classes and during breaks at work) this week, and also do some minor editing bits during that time. After that, anybody who I know well enough can feel free to request the rough draft, so long as they realize it's a rough draft.

If anything, you should read it for the final fight scene, because it's badass.

Well, that's it. Steelgod September is closed. But we still have one day left in September? Hmmm. What else starts with "S" that I could name this last day of the month after?

PS That's right, it's totally Starcraft 2 September tomorrow.

Steelgod September: Day Twenty-Nine (1,784 words)




Might of the Steelgods, Book One, is complete.
And AHEAD of schedule, I might add. Last I checked September had one day left.

Doesn't matter. It's done. 100% Vamoosh. Finished.
And that makes Steelgod September a resounding success in getting me writing after my two month stagnation/quagmire period. Hoorah!

I will devote an entire post to the stats shortly, giving you tons of useless information you never bothered to care about. But I care, since it's my blog. So suck on that.

Anyway, it's done. Book in a month. Enjoy the stats once I finish vegging my brain on SC2.

“An end,” I whispered, opening my hand and looking the small gear over again. “Seems to be something my story will be forever lacking.”
And giving one last glance at the failing sun, I turned and stepped back into the wagon, shutting the door behind me. 

Steelgod September: Day Twenty-Eight (9,136 words)

on Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I don't think I need to say I wrote a lot today, because I wrote a lot today. I also went to the temple, studied for a test, and wrote a paper. The book is very close to being done. I have to finish this chapter that's about 3/4 done, write one (short) one, and a short epilogue. I might even try to finish it tomorrow, just so I'll be a day early.
If I do, I'll probably make a big blog post about it either tomorrow or Thursday, with total word count, my thoughts, etc. It has been both stressful and stressless, being forced to write every day, forced to push the book forward even when I'd rather be playing Starcraft. And while there are certainly some sections that will need some severe editing, I am very satisfied with the end result. I don't see it needing too much work before it is in a publishing state.

Here's a spoiler-free quote for you. I'm going to play some Starcraft.

“Will I see you again?”
April didn’t respond. She looked away, staring vacantly off into the distance. I blinked, and reached out and touched her cheek.
“Cevan,” April whispered, still not turning towards me. “You know the answer to that question.”
I just stared at her. My mind wandered to the events of my life. Being chased out of York, the town sacked by the Peacemakers. Running, always running, living in fear that the night would be my last. Of fighting through London, where Devent had nearly been killed trying to save me from imposing Gears. The Peacemaker, his smile cruel, his methods ruthless, baiting me by abusing my step-siblings. *CUT FOR SPOILERS*
All that death, all that killing, all that pain. It surrounded me, swallowed me up in its life. Everywhere I went, destruction clamored at my coattails. And it would continue to do so, until the day I died.
“That...” I felt my lip tremble. “Isn’t the life I want you to have.”
“No.” April nodded. “It isn’t.”

Edit: I wrote an extra 394 last night before going to bed, finishing the chapter. Still didn't make 10k. Oh well. 

Steelgod September: Day Twenty-Seven (4,020 words)

on Monday, September 27, 2010
These next two chapters were originally meant to be one, but as you can see by the already huge length, it isn't going to work out that way. I have a hunch that the chapter following these will also be broken into two chunks, but we shall see.

I am still very much sick. Tomorrow I bowed out of both work and volunteering, as I am probably super contagious. I'm also considering just ditching my one class (from 8-9:15) in leu of getting more sleep. That would probably be beneficial in the long run.

With this time I plan on both sleeping and writing. I have a paper due Wed and a test to study for, but aside from that I am reasonably free. We shall see how well that turns out; maybe I can get a good 10k tomorrow and have little left for the remaining two days.

That is all. Here is your (relatively) spoiler-free bit.

Divine’s eyes darkened. “I won’t fail. I swore an oath, do you not recall?” 
He loosed the fingers of his right hand from around the sword hilt, revealing a cloth with a bloody line cut across. “I will do my part. And meet you by the Northernmost gate, once this whole mess is over.”
“I hope so.” Rosemary looked out towards the crowd. “Come on, Cevan; dawn was several minutes ago.”
I nodded. As I followed her back into the resisting crowd, I heard Divine call to use.
“May the Steelgods find it in their blessing to assist you!” And then he turned and made his way through the crowd, towards the back of the gallows.
“Brilliant thing to shout, in a town run by unbelievers,” Rosemary grumbled.

Steelgod September: Days Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, and Twenty-Six (14,059 words combined)

on Sunday, September 26, 2010
That averages to ~3,500 words a day, for those curious. Here's the story on what's going on with this.

- I didn't write on Thursday, at all. Due to circumstances beyond my control (and a little silly), I didn't get back from my test until about 9:30, and hadn't eaten dinner yet. So...I ate dinner and played Deathspank 2 instead of writing. Despite knowing it would mess me up if I skipped a day, which it did.
- The day after (Friday) I came home deathly sick, but determined to  write. I managed to churn out a chapter, making me only a day behind.
- The next day (Saturday), I realized my plan for two chapters was actually going to need to be three, so I wrote two chapters that day. Because of this addition, I was still a chapter behind.
- Today, I wrote in two large chunks (6,204 today, for the record), churning out two chapters. Technically I should be up to date now, but I realized the next chapter that I'd planned for one will actually have to be two, so I'm still "behind" if Sep. 30th is my due date. Which leads me to ask: Why didn't I pick a month with thirty-one days instead of thirty to do this? Because I'm crazy like a fox, that's why.

So, 14,059, technically in three days. In terms of actual writing, thats about ~4,700 for the days I wrote (deleting thursday from the equation), which is also quite decent.

I love getting to the end of books. I get crazy motivated to finish it, and the writing usually ends up being really good (these two chapters I wrote today I particularly like).

In personal news, I'm still really sick. I also have a quiz and a paper due Wednesday, and a test next week, but I'm not too worried assuming I get better rather than worse. Plus, I'm all jacked up on Sudafed and Advil, so I should be ok. Is it weird that some of my best writing actually happens when I'm sick? Maybe it's some form of release.

In non writing news, I finished my "ranking" matches in Starcraft 2. I'm a freaking Platinum in the 1v1 group (thats second to best), and my group with work buddies is Bronze in 4v4 (that's the worst, but we are at the top of the bronze ranking). Thus proving I'm a terrible team player, and I'm fairly certain I'm going to get crushed if I play against Platinum people.

I played a bit of the game, and beat the single-player mission. I liked the story, if it was a bit overwrought and melodramatic at times. It knew exactly what fans wanted, though, and gave them just that so it's hard to fault it. It's like Transformers 2, there isn't much of merit in it, but they knew who they were pandering to and did it right. Except Starcraft 2 is WAY better than Transformers 2.

I should give you four quotes for four days, but we are entering spoiler territory, so you just get one.

And here's hoping I get less crazy sick soon.

I stepped forward just in time. Rosemary drew a final line. Though I couldn’t feel the object snap into place as I’d had no part in its creation, I imagined what it must have felt for the Graffiti to complete. The hammer, which had been nothing more than a floating connection of lines, suddenly had weight and form. It fell from the air, where I caught it by its handle.
The feeling was instantly familiar, almost comforting. The “wood” of the handle was rough, with a smoothed portion where one would hold their hand. The head was heavy and strong. 
Careful to not put too much weight on my injured leg, I swung at the chains holding my step-sister. They sparked and rattled as the Created hammer hit. Another strike, and I was falling into the natural swing of it. I was at April’s again, smashing an unruly piece of metal with all the force I had. Again and again I struck, the previously impenetrable metal links giving way under the might of the hammer’s swings. At last, with a roar, I smashed the final piece of a link to pieces. It dissolved to dust under the crushing blow, and Rosemary’s left hand was free.
I wiped my sweating brow with my arm, taking a breather before attacking the other chain. Rosemary twisted her wrist, the bit of chain still attached rattling, making sure it still worked. She was staring at me intently, a look of surprise across her injured features.
I suddenly felt very self-conscious. “Um...yes?” I asked, feeling sweat run down my back. “Did you want me to do something else?”
Rosemary shook her head slowly. “You...look different, Cevan. Really different. I mean...just look at yourself!”
I shrugged and looked down. With my shirt off, one could see the muscles of my chest and abdomen. I’d never really noticed it during my weeks of relentless work with April, but now that Rosemary pointed it out there was no question.
I looked as if I’d been cut out of wood, chiseled from the scrawny, gangly boy I’d been when the Peacemaker had attacked two weeks ago. While not quite as large as the Peacemaker had been, I was certainly well-defined now, with toned arms and chest. I couldn’t keep the grin back as I moved to work on April’s other bound hand.
“Yeah, I guess I finally got out of the cart and got some exercise,” I laughed, smashing the hammer down as before. It felt good, really good, to hit something with a hammer. 

Steelgod September: Day Twenty-Two (3,703 words)

on Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Not as bad as yesterdays, but I don't think it's my best, at least not the last part. I work better in small bursts if I plan on writing large amounts; I haven't had the time ever since my volunteer job started up, so I have to write it all in the evenings (and from the same times, too: from 9-whenever I'm done). Since I'm on a rather...strenuous writing schedule to finish this within the month, I'm forced to keep going even if it is terrible. So I do. Editing ahoy.

If I ever managed to do this full-time (yes, huge if), I'd probably write four times a day, each in 1.5-2k chunks, if not more. That would be easy, allow for breaks, and get books done pretty quick. In my current state, I write a lot, take a fake break (being like I just eat a snack instead of clearing my palette of all things book-related), and then come back. It works kind of, but...not as good as taking a whole hour off to read or play xbox or something.

Anyway, thats how I function. I have a test tomorrow night, so hopefully I manage to get something written. I didn't play Starcraft 2 today (despite borrowing a power cord after all), so that's something.


I knew the map. Judging by the distance, I was almost there. If I’d tried, I could probably see the Peacemaker’s rendezvous point ahead of me past all the trees and shrubs. But I didn’t look forward. I kept my head to the side, staring with intent southward. 
South. Where Steel Summit was. Where April was. 
And then it finally hit me. 
I collapsed into howling sobs, startling a few rabbits who had been watching me curiously. I grabbed my hair and yanked it, then raked my face with my fingernails in relentless agony. I was trembling so much I could hardly stay on my knees, and I feel forward, pounding the leaf-covered earth with unquenchable torment.
I was going to die. This was the end. I’d never see April again. I’d left her, alone, at Steel Summit. I was going to die. 
I am going to die within the hour. 

Bonus Bit

You get another piece from yesterday's trash, if only because it sums up all my frustration in one beautiful, swear-laden paragraph.

Also my laptop power cord finally gave up the ghost, so I'm going to be laptopless for a while (unless I steal my wife's). This could lead to immense boredom and a general lack of school productivity, which in turn will lead to a lack of writing productivity.

Hopefully the cheap knockoff cord I bought off eBay shows up before too long.

“Cevan, you damned, stupid, cowardly, putrid, wretched son of a bitch!” Roc tossed the
plate aside. “Why are you just standing there? Cook his ass like a chicken at dinner!”

Steelgod September: Day Twenty-One (3,461 words)

on Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I have had a long day, and the chapter I wrote today freaking sucks. I had ideas for how it would work, but when I finally got around to writing it...it came up severely lacking. It happens, and I know it happens (this is what editing is for), but it still sucks.

Needless to say this has not been an awesome week for writing, in regards to quality. Quantity I have and in spades, but it really hasn't been that fantastic.

Still, I finished the chapter, and that means there are eight chapters left. I'm completely debating this scene even existing in its current state, but again that will have to wait for the edits.

Aside from that, I'm surviving school. I have my first real test Thursday evening. I'm in the volunteering groove full time. All in all, I'm extremely busy and quite stressed. Despite my love for writing, I'm going to be glad when September is over and I can take a break from Steelgods.

Speaking of which, I thought of many good ideas for the series whilst walking around campus and various other locations (I had lots of small burst of free time today, which I spent wandering around). Ideas about how to advance Cevan, what kind of person I want him to become, things like that. I think they'll work decent.

If I get over hating what I'm writing right now. Ah well, whatever. Tomorrow will be better, I hope. We are finally getting to the end of this thing. Climax of the novel: go!

Here's the bit. Try to not throw up.

I drew my sword, moving into the only stance I remembered Devent teaching me. I froze, however, upon seeing the weapons of the Gears.
The axes were pneumatically powered, the folded pieces unfolding into long weapons. They were at least a good seven feet long, thick, and made of brown steel. Set in two points along the shaft were collections of small holes, and it was over these that the Teeth pressed their hands. As they clenched, their gauntlets gave a small crunch, locking into place. 
What? I stared, both Creationist and sword-hands forward. There was a sudden blast of steam, the moisture hissing from between where the gauntlets and handle met. A sudden grinding sound, metal on metal, resonated from the axes. Within the three-pronged axe-head spun a circular blade. Gapes between axe-heads allowed the twirling, serrated weapon extensive leeway.  It spun faster and faster, steam escaping from its cracks as it accelerated.
I didn’t need a very active imagination to deduce what would happen should a rotating blade like that touch me. I’d never seen such technology before, in all my years in Tempered. It was far more advanced than anything west of the Biting Mountains, the range separating Tempered from Steel-Imbued. 

Steelgod September: Day Twenty (4,096 words)

on Monday, September 20, 2010
Chapter ran long, but that is because of planning. See, I have ten chapters left (nine now), and ten days left. So I HAVE to get done what I say I'm going to get done or else I won't finish in time. So, I'm going to just write until my goal is accomplished, regardless of word count. I have a hunch it's going to usually be over.

I'm debating the end of this chapter. I got a little too excited about dropping steampunk hints, and might have put them in too soon. Or perhaps not; I'll see what I do with it. Needless to say, things are going to get interesting.

Now, onto a less positive topic: rejection!

Now that this is resolved I figure I can say it on here: I got a request for a manuscript about a month or so ago. And not just from anybody, from JABberwocky agency (Brandon's agency). Needless to say, I edited that bad boy and shipped it off. I took care to not get too excited about it, because rejection happens all the time.

Well, my prophecy was correct. I got a rejection letter today from JABberwocky. Damn.

I'm not too upset about the whole thing, mostly because I anticipated it. But it is hard to distance oneself from things such as this, especially when it is a culmination of a life's dream (and a potential career). Deep down, I do feel a bit sad that it didn't work out. Who wouldn't want to have an agent or and editor want your work? It's certainly something worth working towards.

This is only the...sixth rejection for Paradise Seekers thus far? I send out a good dozen and most haven't returned yet. I'm considering sending it to a few more places, once life slows down. I'll also send WGMD and Steelgods out once they are finished as well.

It is just unfortunate. One always thinks they'll get lucky the first time, not have to slog through fileboxes of rejection letters before finally breaking through. That just isn't the case.

At any rate, I am moving onward to bigger and better things. Like finishing Might of the Steelgods.

Which, by the way, I wrote THIS in today!

“What happened?” I pressed. “How did you take it [the Graffiti] from me?”
Roc shook his head. “You saw it twice, and you still don’t get it? Here’s a life tip: don’t try your hand at being a magician, or illusionist. You are terrible.”
“Spare me!” I groaned. “What did you do?”
“Think about it.”
I did. “You finished the abstract,” I concluded. “And that made it yours.”
“Exactly.” Roc wiggled a Tipped finger at me. I shook my head.
“But when I was trained, my instructor finished abstracts,” I remembered April drawing a tongue onto my smiling face many nights previous, “and they weren’t stolen.”
“And there’s the trick,” Roc smiled. “You can only steal someone’s Graffiti if you really want to. No slight desires, no half-assing it. You want to need it, more than anything. Then, when you finish it, it becomes yours.”
I was still confused. “But how did you ‘need’ my fire abstract? I can understand last night, but right now? It offered nothing for you.”
Roc rose his hands into the air. “Bluffer, you seem to forget. I’m a Gambler. I live my entire life based around theft, trickery, conniving schemes, and generally being a terrible person. Stealing is just something I do. I want everything. If I see something that I don’t have, or even that I do have, I need it. Thus, stealing your silly abstract means very little to me. I take it as easily as I draw breath.”
He pushed a finger to my forehead. I was grateful it was not a Tipped one. “You, on the other hand, are a sheltered little twit. You couldn’t steal something if it was practically handed to you. Since you aren’t nearly as morally ravaged as I am, you’ll probably never be able to steal an abstract in your life.”

Steelgod September: Day Nineteen (1,918 words)

on Sunday, September 19, 2010
Just under. My paper took longer than expected, as did studying, but mostly I felt really sick and got distracted by Starcraft 2 again. Maybe I should uninstall the game and make it a reward for finishing Might of the Steelgods. That's actually a fairly decent idea.

I have figured out the rest of the book, sort of. Tomorrow during a more boring class I'll probably write out a chapter outline, and then assign them to days. That way I'll have goals with my writing, and hopefully then I'll write more. Also, having and end in sight makes me write a lot better.

I realized that this semester, as far as real tests go, I only have two classes that have the textbook definition of "real tests" (my two gender courses). My other classes either have high point, in class quizzes, lots of writing assignments, or reports. So, that is actually a huge de-stresser, because it means I don't have to worry about stuff like that as often.

I still have crazy busy schedules, but not having lots of stuff due every time I turn around (minus my writing class) is certainly a relief.

Anyway, I have a test Thursday, so I'm going to spend my evenings studying. I am also really really going to try and write more, I swear. Maybe I should lock my Windows partition on my Mac and give Bec the password...then I'll have to ask her every time I want to play. There's an idea.

Fat quote tonight because I feel like it.

Roc punched the wall for emphasis, followed by him wincing and holding his hand tightly in pain. After shaking it a few times he spoke. 
“Fine. You win. I’ll teach you how to steal Creation.”
“Not good enough.”
“What!” Roc threw his hands in the air. “What the hell is wrong with you? You say one thing and then-”
“Oh, just calm down and listen!” I had lost all patience. “I just want you to swear it.”
Roc stopped ranting, and his eyes lit up. “Swear it? By what?”
I paused. As I looked at the sudden glee that had taken the Gambler’s face, I came to a harsh realization.
He probably doesn’t believe in much of anything worth swearing to, I grit my teeth. He’s probably itching for an opportunity to break his word. I’d best make sure he swears by something he cares about.
Roc twisted a finger in circles. “By....what? Did you fall asleep on me, standing up? The Peacemakers? The Almighty Steelgods? My dear sweet mother? Name your oath, and I’ll commit.”
He doesn’t care about any of those things, I found it hard to think with my mind so tired. What could he...
“Swear by...” I had it, “your reputation.”

Steelgod September: Day Eighteen (2,104 words)

on Saturday, September 18, 2010
Busy day. Didn't study. Played Starcraft 2. But I still wrote.
Tomorrow's plan is to study and write a LOT. I gotta start pumping out words on weekends, as during the actual week it's a huge pain in the butt.

Here's the bit. I'll write more tomorrow, I hope. If school doesn't completely kill me.

And I gotta get the heck off Starcraft 2. I have won 14 of my 15 games, so...

Roc continued. “Luckily for us both, I am good friends with the innkeeper. Cut him a piece of my winnings a few years back, made enough for him to buy fresh stock when he was nearly out of business. Don’t know if he’ll give you the same favors, but I suppose sleeping in a corner is better than sleeping outside, eh Cevan?”
“Don’t call me that in public,” I said quickly, a bit of Devent’s influence finally coming through. “Last thing I’d want is someone to decide they needed a few extra bolts.”
“A few thousand extra bolts,” Roc pointed out, grinning with a mouth full of teeth. “Your price just keeps rising every few months. I’d say the older you get, the more you are worth.”
“Like cheese or a fine wine,” I grumbled under my breath. “My life just gets better and better as time goes by.”

- Borrowing

Steelgod September: Days 16 and 17 (4,123 words)

I didn't write on the 16th. It was bad; I basically just played Starcraft 2 and felt burned out. It WAS a thursday, which is the worst day of the week because it isn't friday, so I had that against me.
Luckily I made it up on the 17th, where I wrote 2k in two chunks during the day. So, in the end, I still met my goals, if I was a little behind. I did forget to blog though.

Regarding the story, I'm...a bit lost at this point. I have an idea of where I want him to go and how I want this to happen, but not enough to feel that confident writing. I know I need to start working towards the end (the month's over half over), but while I know what happens after he GETS to a certain place, I'm not certain exactly HOW he gets there (or the time inbetween).

I guess I'll figure something out.

Well, I'm going to study for a test and then have Writing Group 1.0 for critique and writing. Should be fun. Sometime next week I'm going to plan a day-by-day plot requirement so I can get this done, for certain, by the end of September.

It's also 300 words away from 50k, which is awesome too. It's almost as long as Paradise Seekers (which was 69k at the end of the first draft).

The Gambler rolled his eyes and put his hands to his knees. With an exaggerated effort he drew himself up. “Right. You didn’t do anything wrong. No, not at all. Thank goodness that, instead of just taking me privately aside and telling me you knew I was cheating, you decided to scream it to everybody in the entire damn bar. And then, instead of just letting me bluff about knowing Graffiti, you not only call me on it but you try to blow us all to hell. Brilliant plan, boy.”
“What? Don’t even try!” I felt my stomach churn in frustration. “You can’t possibly blame the fact that, since you are a rotten cheater, liar, and conman, you getting caught is somehow my fault.”
“I was a rotten cheater, liar, and conman,” Roc’s tone was indignant. “Until some babied brat decided to ruin everything good I had going on. Do you know how hard it is to keep a reputation? And then to have it shattered in an instant, all that good will gone and everybody not trusting you wherever you go?”
Don’t I ever

-The Path of a Gambler

Steelgod September: Day Fifteen (2,448 words)

on Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I was going to finish this chapter, but I really need to go to bed early tonight, so I'm cutting it short. I'm going to count this as the first time school/work/volunteer work actually cut into my writing time a noticeable amount, because if I didn't have school tomorrow I'd for certain finish this chapter (I'd say it has another 1k left).

But, that's not the point. I'm also hitting that magical part in my book where I hate it. Yep, that part. I'm about 1/3-1/2 way through, sitting at 45k, so it makes sense. Dammit.

Speaking of halfway, September is half over today. So I have 15 days to finish this book. It's gonna happen. I wish we had another day off, though, where I could bum rush 10-15k in a day and get done early. Ah well. It's not hard if it isn't fun. Wait, that's backwards. Whatever.

Here's the bit.

And yes, Roc is a dirty rotten cheater.

He nodded to the crowd, earning a few nods back. I looked down at the cards at the table again. They glowed in the light, transparent.
Transparent. Some of them completely transparent.
I leapt to my feet, shoving my hand aside. “You cheat!” I screamed, pointing to his cards. “You rotten cheater!”
The men around me, probably expecting an incident like what had happened with the last loser, moved in to take me away. With a twist I dodge their grasp, snatching at Roc’s cards just before the Gambler could recover them. I didn’t get them all, but as I touched the transparent ones I knew my assumption was correct. 
“Graffitied cards!” I yelled. The crowd fell silent. I held the cards high; away from the real ones and in clearer light, the scheme was now obvious. The cards had a rough edge to them, probably due to the quickness Roc would have had to sketch them after I’d revealed my incredible hand. The men moving to grab me stopped in their tracks, staring at my outstretched arm.

Chapter 14 - Stealing Creation

Random Stuff

1. Go watch this trailer with sound. I don't even care about Halo, but this is like the greatest video game trailer ever made.

2. I volunteered today, reading stories to kids who can't read good and want to do other things good too. I read about a bunch of dudes who got trapped in a mine, and a guy who hitched a ride from Cuba to Spain in the wheel-well of a passenger plane and didn't die. I need to bring a bottle of water next time if I'm going to be reading for two hours straight.

3. They are re-releasing Shadow of the Colossus  and Ico on PS3 in HD and remade. This will be gotten. Shadow of the Colossus is one of the best examples of how video games can be art (alongside Braid and Limbo)

4. On that note, the Shadow of the Colossus soundtrack is a great thing to write too.

5. There's a girl in my class right now who looks like Hermonie from the Harry Potter movies. Maybe it is Emma Watson. Probably not though.

6. I kept saying all week I'd go to bed early. I haven't. I'm on the verge of death every morning.

7. Here is what I do in a week: Go to work 17 hours a week, go to 15 credits of school, and do 10 hours volunteer work. And write 2k words a day. How am I not dead yet.

8. I'm considering doing a "Best of Useless" post in preparation for the Where Gods and Mortals Dance revision. Nobody will care but me and maybe Jason. But that's ok because I only have like 15 followers anyway.

9. I'm seriously looking forward to getting out of BYU. I don't like BYU. At all. And I'm going to school here. Whoops.

10. That's it.

Steelgod September: Day Fourteen (3,680 words)

on Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Beat my goal today. Lots of chit-chat between Cevan and the new character. A crazy, bipolar gambler who cheats and is generally a douche to everybody. This will be grand.

Can't talk much, have to sleep. My day from hell today wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Tomorrow might suck, though.

That's it. Here's your bit. You got a Mockingjay review, so no complaining.

I drew Rosemary’s Creationist Tools from my pocket, taking care none saw it. I snapped the bracelet and one Tip to my finger, not bothering to connect the two. I then placed the remaining four Tips on the table, keeping my left hand concealed in the sleeve of my overly-large shirt. 
“I have these,” I said, laying each down individually. “I’m certain they are worth more than you ask.”
A hush fell over the crowd. The Gambler, he had called himself Roc, stared intently at the four Tools, his eyes widening. He licked his lips once, and I saw a flash of greed cross his young, handsome features. 
“I’ll be damned,” he whispered. “Are those real?”

BOOK REVIEW - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

By Suzanne Collins (Official Page)

Blurb Review

While the previous two books were exceptionally strong, Mockingjay fails to provide a satisfying conclusion to Katness' world, war, or love triangle. More a critique of war rather than a third book in a trilogy, Mockingjay will undoubtedly fail to satisfy fans of the first two (excellent) books.

Full Review

*Might have very minor spoilers.*

It's hard to write a review of this book, because no matter what you say you'll find a bunch of people who agree with you, and a bunch that don't. Specifically, I've seen that people are divided into three group.

1. The people who say they like the book because it was just another Hunger Games book. They don't really back up their reasons except that it was the conclusion to two fantastic previous novels. Usually these are the kind of people that just read what is popular (ie Twilight, etc.) and are probably afraid to trash-talk the book because their writing group will hate them. There are lots of these people on Amazon.

2. The next step, where you have people who hate the book. They have a variety of reasons, most of them because the main character is just a pawn in a wargame, effectively destroying all character development she had in the past two books. They also tend to dislike the rather forced and boring ending. They often have lots of very valid reasons and are usually very smart (unlike group #1. Group #1 is sheep, in my completely unbiased opinion).

3. Then you have the people who like to argue for the sake of arguing. Often these are people from #1 who have taken a few English or Philosophy courses, and felt they are the expert on this. These people point out the book is perfect, because it shows how war is such a terrible, pointless thing, and Katness being just a boring pawn throughout the book is an example of the life of a soldier. She's a kid in an adult's world, and she is treated like one. They also like to point out how stupid #2 is, for not getting the "deeper meaning" of the book.

I firmly plant myself in #2.5. I didn't like the book, but the reason I didn't like the book was because it was a terrible book. If it had been written by itself, I probably would have thought it was at least half-way decent.

No, the reason I really didn't enjoy Mockingjay was the fact that it was the third book in a series, a series that had strong characters, character development, clear conflict, and even an interesting love triangle. The problem is that, while Mockingjay resolves a lot of these issues, it is resolved in the most passive, bland way, with most of the major leering choices Katness has been facing happened to her, not by her.

This problem permeates the entire book. It starts by basically infodumping what was one of the biggest mysteries fans were anticipating: what was in District 13. Collins hinted at this a bit in Hunger Games, frequently in Catching Fire, and then starts Mockingjay with Kat on a hovercraft to District 13, explaining exactly what sort of rebellion was there and how they operate. On the way there Kat (obviously) thinks about it in a way that one only would if she was explaining it in great detail to a reader, basically allowing Collins to destroy whatever anticipation fans had about this reveal.

It doesn't set a good stage, but it only gets worse from there.

Kat quickly falls into the category of "passive protagonist." Ask any author, and they'll tell you this is a common mistake among new authors, to have a protagonist on the sidelines throughout an entire book. This is exactly what happens to Kat. Minus a few scenes where she pushes a few things through, Kat is shuffled throughout the book, making no choices of her own. One could argue the other books did this and they'd be correct, but the difference is in Mockingjay Kat doesn't seem to care she's being shoved around. In the previous books, she had an air of defiance around her, a desire to survive. Plus, she was trying to work their system throughout, manipulating it with Peeta as the pair of them tried to make sense of their dystopian world. She doesn't really seem to care much this time. She was wounded in the last book, and many of her friends were killed, and this fact seems to eat away at her so much she just slumps into a depressed mess anytime something hard comes up.

This isn't the Kat that was developed from the previous books. Someone get her some Prozac.

This issue permeates every facet of the novel, along with misconstrued logic about guilt and responsibility. When no-name characters die (off screen and even off book) because of indirect means that might have been related to Katness, she had a huge mental breakdown that encompasses all her throughts. But later, when *spoiler, but you knew this was going to happen* main characters die, including a rather key one *end spoiler*, Kat hardly even thinks about it. She just goes with what everyone tells her to do again, following the flow.

Again, one could argue this book is making a statement about war. But if that's what Collins want to do with this series, she really could have hinted at it better. Or maybe written a different book showing how dehumanizing war is. The first two books were dark and gritty but entertaining. We love watching people suffer and endure through, which is what these two books are. We don't like watching someone endure things begrudgingly, not wanting to follow orders but not resisting at all in either case. It's boring, and it wasn't what this series was about.

The whole concept of "stumbling through the third book" continues to the ending. Now, remember what I've said countless times: I love open endings. I even love endings that are bleak, that are dark, and that came at a cost I am not sure I was willing to make. The problem is, Mockingjay tries for this type of ending, but falls flat on its face. The ending segment, like the rest of the book, is Kat simply complying. Even who she eventually hooks up with (finally picking between Gale and Peeta) is based solely on who is there at the time. She continues through life with said person, even having kids, but never stating she loves him or cares about him; it's more like she did it because he was the only one available.

I addressed character development slightly, and how Katness has been growing up throughout the last few books, but in this one doesn't go anywhere. In fact, she digresses from a girl dealing with both being in the phase of life where she does "grow up," and being forced to be more of an adult due to her circumstances. However, in Mockingjay, she spends most of the book either lying in a hospital bed from some injury, or conforming unwillingly (though she doesn't put up much of a fight) to the wants of District 13. Where is the girl who was so headstrong, so rebellious, so determined? It was her determination that caused her to survive not one but two hunger games. Did it all just completely die? And don't give me the "all the horrible things that happened killed her motivation," because that's garbage. Terrible things happened in the first and second books, and the way her character grew and reacted indicated that she is the type of person to push back, harder. That was how she was developed. Maybe yes, in this situation, someone would fall back into depression, but there was no transition to this change. It just happened at the start of Mockingjay. This wasn't the Katness I knew and followed in the first two books, it was some new, passive person with her name.

I'd also like to point out a comment my wife made, and that was that the female characters in this book don't really feel like female characters. Kat is, throughout the series, an embodiment of traites usually associated with the "masculine" side of the gender spectrum. She's independent, goal-oriented, and rarely emotional. In Mockingjay it's almost as if Collins was like, "Oh crap, Kat's a girl and she doesn't act like one," and did a complete 180, making her the embodiment of the general novel stereotype of women: passive, compliant, and emotional. Note I'm not saying girls in real life are like this, but these are often traites in literature that tend to tie with each gender, specifically. Kat is ever extremely masculine or stereotypically feminine. I was fine with her being a tomboy, if it had been consistant. Since it wasn't, it just made Kat look like an experiment where Collins tried to figure out how to write a girl character in her last book and failed.

Perhaps the biggest crime this book commits is that it falls into routine. The previous two books have all had a very similar formula: Kat has to make a life-altering decision. She chooses to follow it, much to the dismay of everybody including herself. She gets prettied up by superficial bimbos and made a movie-star. She then gets thrown into a huge battleground, one that usually lasts the rest of the book, which will then end with a lot of main characters dying and a startling reveal. Mockingjay doesn't differentiate from this. The only difference between its system and the one of Hunger Games or Catching Fire is that in those two books the main battleground was the titular Hunger Games, while this one she is sent on a mission to...well, I'm avoiding spoilers, but basically she and a group of friends from across both books have to fight a bunch of people. ]

It's the same formula.

One could argue, "But Nathan you twit, you loved The Dresden Files. Aren't those books the same thing over and over?" Well, it is true that each Dresden books follows a similar pattern of plateau, climax, plateau, climax, plateau, huge climax. However, the formula isn't as ridged, and Butcher is smart enough to know to completely change the nature of the conflict in each novel. Sometimes it's earth-shattering. Sometimes it involves Dresden directly, other times it involves his friends or just a random person he met. It mixes it up, while adding large chunks to the overall, underlying plot, which makes the books both familiar and new at the same time. It's like watching a TV show, where you know that (because it's almost time for a commercial) a conflict will come. But we still enjoy it because 1. We know the formula and 2. We know the writer knows, so it will try to be unique and hook us every time. Mockingjay doesn't do this. I literally knew what was going to happen the minute Kat decided (minor spoiler) to become the Mockingjay, their war hero. Everything past that was just me re-reading the first two books in a new setting. Even the twists at the end were foreseeable (with maybe one or two minor exceptions), because you knew which characters were "safe" to die, and which were "untouchable." It was really unfortunate.

Overall? As stated, I didn't despise the book (despite my long comments above). The reason I nitpicked so much was because I loved the first two books to death. I made the dumb mistake both times of picking each book up at about 11:00 pm, and then couldn't stop until it was done at 3-4am. Mockingjay wasn't like this at all; I spent most of the time trying to force myself to keep reading it, mostly because I knew my wife wanted to. I had this same issue with the seventh Harry Potter book; in an attempt to create a conclusion that tied up all the ends, the book lost its purpose and became exceptionally dull.

If you are a Hunger Games fan, you actually might be best off skipping this one. Just make up your own ending, pick who you want Katness hooking up with and roll with it. If you must read it...well, I don't know what advice to give. The cover is pretty, and amazon took forever to ship it to me.

I still recommend this trilogy, however, because the first two books are exceptionally good. It's sad, though, because reading Mockingjay has forever tainted the appeal of Hunger Games and Catching Fire, because knowing that all that character development is for naught kind of ruins large chunks of the first two books.

Steelgod September: Day Thirteen (1694 words)

on Monday, September 13, 2010
A bit under today, and I'll probably be a bit under tomorrow too, honestly. School was crazy today as was work, things just kept going and going and wouldn't stop. Tomorrow my capstone starts (tutoring kids at a middle school), which will eat away any breaks I had in the middle of my school/work schedule. Seriously, I get up at 8 and get home at 5 (sometimes six), without so much as a lunch break. Life just got CRAZY.

Despite that, I'm going to keep writing, still maintaining that 2k a day. One of the major problems was the fact that this chapter...just drags. I'm getting a main character from point A (which was exciting) to point B (which also will be exciting), but the jerk has to walk there. Yeah, I know I could just magically teleport him with the whole "that evening," but because I've said explicitly: "HE HAS A WEEK TO GET THERE," I can't just skip whole days like that. Kills the timebomb, the tension. Or whatever.

I like to pretend I know what I'm doing, ok? Hush.

Here's your thing. I'm going to bed.

The map Devent had only contained the Tempered Lands. On the Eastern side I saw the Biting Range, a long row of jagged mountains running the entire length of Tempered’s border. And, at their northernmost point, next to London, lay the path that lead to the one place on earth I never wanted to go. 
The Steel-Imbued Domain.
I’d seen maps of it before, though there were few in Tempered. It cut like a jagged tooth from the side of the world, thrusting itself deep into the Gulf of Oil and the Unclean Sea. At its heart lay Last Washington, a city rumored to be so large it alone could encompass a third of the Tempered Lands. And in New Washington...
The Steelgods, I thought, taking care to not trip on a fallen branch that crossed the road. The Creators of the World. Truth, Memory, and Knowledge. Omnipotent and immortal beings, said to be older than any human who ever lived. The rulers and protectors of us all.
And, for some reason, they want me to destroy everything.

Steelgod September: Day Twelve (3,780 Words)

on Sunday, September 12, 2010
Gonna be quick tonight, because I have a huge day tomorrow and I need to sleep.

Wrote a lot today. Basically an entire chapter, and one that pushes the plot forward. Bec was sad because it separated two main character whose interactions she enjoyed. Don't worry, they'll be back someday.

I'm calling this the end of act one, officially. Act two begins...NOW. And we'll see what happens now that Cevan is off doing stupid things again.

Other news...uh...I'm playing Disagea 2 a lot, and it's addicting and fun. My schedule is exploding with stuff to do this week, as my capstone is falling into place, so my writing might actually stay at 2k words as anticipated. Seriously, my life is about to get awful. Luckily this is my last semester ever (!!!) so that provides at least some motivation.

Anyway. Bed. Here's the bit.

April set her stick down and sat down next to me, pushing the blankets I used for bedsheets aside. She was also panting, and she wiped sweat from her brow with the arm of her shirt. 
“Well, that was fun. I didn’t know you could swordfight.”
“Devent taught me a little,” I admitted. “But I’m pretty terrible. Plus, whenever I’m forced to fight someone for real, I usually choke up and make a complete ass out of myself.”
“That’s an enormous surprise.”

Steelgod September: Day Eleven (5,887 words)

That's right, suckers. I'm back, and with a vengeance. About 4k of these were done in one (off and on) sitting, where I played while Bec played Plants vs Zombies on the Xbox. I'd pop in from time to time to see how she was doing, when my brain refused to function, then it would be right back to writing. Worked quite well.

I've noticed that I am able to write a lot when I'm drawn into a scene. Usually, drawing me in requires two things:
1. That I have a general idea about what will happen, and this involves a lot of unique character development or a twist (or both).
2. I know what the result is, but have no idea how it will get there.

The second bit is a discovery writing part, and in this situation it makes writing really fun. See, I get sucked into the scene, where I (the author) want to know what happens. Since I only have a basic idea, I'm forced to keep writing, or I'll be left off in a crappy spot of the book. So, next thing you know, I've written almost 6k in one sitting.

Another thing I've noticed when I write a lot (I used to write 5-6k a day normal when finishing WGMD, so this isn't exactly monumental) is that, re-reading it, it has a lot of silly mistakes. Like word repetition and sentences that just don't make sense. I also blame this on discovery writing, because I see the scene as it unfolds rather than knowing exactly what is there, so continuity errors and basic descriptions sometimes get mixed up. I'll re-read it tonight before going to bed (or tomorrow morning) and try and catch the stupid little things before tomorrow.

Other than that, I played a lot of Starcraft 2 today. Writing Group 1.0 (which is rapidly becoming Gaming Group 1.0...who am I kidding, they've been that for a while) got their computers, and we had two copies and a trial code, so we all played together against bots for a while.

I also played two online 1v1 matches and won both. I can quit now. I have 100% victory record. Take that, suckers.

Other than that, I took a character I liked today and made him a terrible person. I'd...sort of planned it happening (I had some characters and one of them had to end up being terrible, I just hadn't decided which). The situation presented itself and I took it, also altering another main character's past in the process. Discovery writing is so fun. I get to ruin people's lives on a whim.

Here's your quote. I also wrote a line, "[He had] scars without stories." which, as I was writing it, I felt was profound and clever. Maybe it wasn't, I dunno. I just really liked it (describing aforementioned terrible person who had multiple scars that he wouldn't talk about how he got them).

Here's the quote, for real this time. It's long. Because I wrote a lot. Directly proportional. Or something. I don't care, It's freaking 1:30 in the morning.

“Did I ever tell you about the time I saw a Cog?” The man with the scar, he had said his name was Fredrick, gargled through a mouthful of ale. I shook my head, leaning back slightly so as to not get as much of his foul breath.
“No, you didn’t. You haven’t told me any stories, as a matter of fact, since you just met me five minutes ago.”
“Really?” Fredrick burped and I winced, much to April’s amusement. She clanked the ice in her cold cider, her eyes sparkling in lamplight. “Well, then I’d better tell it to you!”
“I guess you’d better,” I agreed with a sigh, taking a sip of dandelion wine. “Have at it.”
Fredrick drew a long drink, it dribbled out the corners of his mouth and onto his shirt. I watched with disgust, reminding myself to never make drinking a habit, no matter how miserable my life became. 
“Well,” Fredrick wiped his mouth and burped again. “It was two years ago, see...”
It wasn’t hard to ignore the drunkard. I’d spent plenty of years phasing out Devent and Rosemary’s yammering, and he wasn’t nearly as loud or coherent enough to take offense at my inattentiveness. I glanced back at April. She shot me a smile, and continued her conversation about metal prices with the man sitting next to her. 
The Steelgod’s Salvation was larger than I had anticipated, at least twice the size of April’s shop and just as tall. It was lavishly decorated with paintings, odd ornaments, and severed animal heads. It even had a set of crossed swords of the mantel; I assume they;re a mandatory decoration for every pub in all of Tempered. The place was lit from ornate metal chandeliers, similar to the one in April’s bedroom. When I’d asked her about it, she’d turned a bit red before admitting she’d made them herself. They were detailed and, unlike the ones in the shop, well polished and maintained. 

- Chapter 10, Unbreakable

Steelgod September: Day Ten (1,728 words)

on Friday, September 10, 2010
I missed my goal today, for the first time. But I have a reasonable excuse.

1. I was at school or work from 8-5. I usually have time to write inbetween. I didn't today.
2. I got new internet at home, which means I can now do more stuff on it like watch movies or play games. Speaking of games...
3. I got Starcraft 2. Best Buy price matched KMart's sale, so I got it for cheap. It was a big coincidence, too, that...
4. There was a SC2 lan party with the IT guys on campus, which I attended and got stomped. Oh well, it was still fun, and I'm excited to figure out that game.

Needless to say, I got home at like 11:45, and I wrote from 12:15-1:00 (right now). So, that isn't completely awful, especially considering I had no idea what was going on in this chapter.

But hey, I wrote something which works. I'll write more tomorrow to make up for it.

Or I'll play Starcraft 2 all day.

One or the other. Maybe both.

Bit for today, a magic info dump!

“Exactly,” April pointed to another mistake I’d made. “The messier the mark, the more out of control it is. It’s like when Creationist draw objects they want to make real instead of abstracts; it has to be precise. I’m certain Rosemary never made a mistake when she had to physically create something to last.”
“Right, but that’s something that has a real world equivalent. These are just images representing the ideas,” I retorted.
“Doesn’t matter. The more precise you are in the abstract, the more control you have over it. When I draw in the shop, I can choose if I want it to be a thin beam or a wide explosion. It just requires a few extra moments.”
Easy for her to say, I grumbled, having to fix yet another miswritten line. Rosemary couldn’t even draw Fire as well as she did, and Rosemary could make actual objects. Besides, if I’m going to use this to fight a Peacemaker, the more the better. I don’t need control; I need enough fire to roast the skin from his bones. 

Steelgod September: Day Nine (3,382 words)

on Thursday, September 9, 2010
Good day today, especially considering I wasn't sure what was going down in this chapter exactly. I figured it out, but now I REALLY have no idea what's going on NEXT chapter. I'm doomed.

I messed up my knee badly today. I'm not sure how. I think I twisted it or stepped on something wrong, I'm not sure. At any rate, it hurts like crazy, and I really hope I didn't break anything essential. I don't want to pay to have some doctor scan it and say nothing's wrong. But I really don't want to pay to have him say I broke my knee off or something.


Well, draw me something!” April grinned. Her Graffiti, having been neglected for a few seconds, was starting to fade. The bits would join the circle of firebugs before dissolving.
I concentrated, holding my hand in front of me, firebugs already beginning to investigate the light curiously. I didn’t know what to draw, so I just moved my fingers as gracefully as I could muster, imagining artistic patterns and designs, like April’s.
I drew for about a minute, bugs circling around me, light spinning like a whirlwind. At last I finished, signing my name in the air with a flourish, and turned back to April.
She was giggling and shaking her head. I blinked, then felt my blood rush to my face.
April had to cover her mouth to keep laughter in. “Steelgods, you are terrible at Graffiti.”
“Oh come on!” I groaned, looking back at my Graffiti. I hadn’t thought it was too bad when I was drawing it, but now that I could see it without bias I realized she was right. It looked completely awful. A chicken could have scratched something better in the dirt.

- Chapter 8, Touching Creation

Quote of FOREVER

My friend Eric is a discovery writer and he hates it. He just sent me a ranting email with this gem in it, which I am going to put on a shirt and wear everywhere.

"Discovery writing stinks because I have these amazing ideas, like lions and tigers and cobras, and then I put them in a big box and wait for them to interact but instead they just sit there and sleep like at a zoo."

Follow up: I remembered what I was going to say.

on Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Today, Steelgods crossed into 22k words (not bad for 8 days of work with school and work starting back up). But why this number is significant is thus: It's officially passed the total length of Effulgent Corruption thus far. And I was working on Effulgent Corruption for (in theory) two months.

Needless to say, there is a point to this.

I have to be properly motivated to function. As a child I was very into piano playing (I was pretty good, too, if I am allowed a moment to abandon humility). By the age of 12, I could probably play any song you presented to me. The problem was, I could only learn songs I liked. If my teacher picked a song, no matter how hard or easy, and I despised it, I couldn't do it. It would take months. But often I'd request extremely difficult pieces of music and learn them really fast. I still remember wanting to learn Rondo Alla Turka by Mozart when I was about 11 or 12. At that time, my hand wasn't even long enough to reach the full octave without straining. My piano teacher said I wasn't allowed to learn it, and assigned me something instead. I practiced like a crazy person, and learned the entire song in under a week. He came back the next week and I sat down, didn't even open the book, and started playing. Yeah, I was kind of an arrogant turd, but that isn't the point of the story (or maybe it is. You decide).

My point is that I do my best work when I want to do it. This is why writing as a career is something I really want to shoot for: it's something I love, and something I want to do. Within that, I need to really want to accomplish something in order for me to get a lot done.

I really wanted to finish my fifth full novel. I did want it to be Effulgent Corruption, but I also knew full well that Effulgent Corruption probably won't be my breakthrough novel. It's going to be much too long. I have a much better chance with WGMD, Paradise Seekers, or Steelgods. So, the motivation was lost. If I'm going to devote an undisclosed amount of my life and (essentially) career towards something, I'd like it to be worthwhile. Effulgent Corruption wasn't doing it for me, at this point in time.

Steelgods has, however. I know I have to keep it fast, fresh, and I'm not worry about it being rough. Since it isn't my "darling" like Effulgent Corruption has become, I'm not scared of breaking it. I am just rolling with the punches, taking mistakes and moving on rather than analyzing them to death. Plus, I have a deadline (I'm going to finish this book in September), so I have both a goal and a point when I know I'll be done with it. It makes for excellent motivation.

So, all in all, while I'm a bit disgusted with myself for wasting two good months I could have been writing (though I did edit Paradise Seekers and submit it to everybody and their mother, so it wasn't a complete waste), I'm glad I could learn this about myself. I don't plan on abandoning Effulgent Corruption, I just know to not dwell too long on something when I'm not going anywhere. I'm not saying I'm giving up on pushing through rough parts, far from it, but if I can only churn out 21k in two months, something is wrong. I just need to be able to recognize it early, so less time is wasted.

Along that note, I've decided my plans for my next few months of writing. Behold!

September: Write Might of the Steelgods. I'm well into that, and I'm going to finish it and not worry about anything else.
October: Revise WGMD completely. As in, have an Alpha reader manuscript ready. This is going to be a monumental amount of work, but I think by then I'll have let it sit enough to make these changes, and also I'll still be fresh with writing. I might take the first week in October off, though.
November: Depending on how long WGMD revisions take, it could take all of November too. Probably not, but it's possible. If it doesn't, I'm going to spend the rest of the month planning for Steelgods book 2, because...
December: "Devent December" (lame, I know, but that's the only thing in the book that also starts with a "d"). Write Steelgods Book 2 in a month. Good exercise, good warm up, getting me ready for....
January (I'll be done with school!): Brandon's class. I'm going to write Effulgent Corruption for that. If anything, it'll force me to write it. I'm not going back and editing the 21k I've written already; I'm just going to start where I left off. The goal is to do with it what I did with WGMD: get far enough along that I can either finish it during the semester, or slightly after. I'll also be job hunting. Joy.

After that, I'm not certain. Steelgods 3 needs to be written. The WGMD sequel, The Truth Behind His Voice is also sitting in limbo. Lacrymosa could be rewritten. Or I could have a new idea by then (I probably will), so maybe I'll run with that. We'll see.

This was a lot longer than I anticipated. I'm going to bed.

Steelgod September: Day Eight (2,846 words)

I wanted to write more, believe me I did, but I'm just too burned out. I'm getting sick, school and work were never-ending, and I didn't get to split my writing up as I usually do (morning, lunch, evening). Needless to say it suffered for it.

I still got a reasonable amount done, despite wanting to just crash and play Xbox all night. I did play a little Plants vs Zombies (which came out on Xbox today!) co-op with my wife. Fun times. She has an obsession with plant pots.

What's my random garbage spouting about today? Um...I don't know, actually. I thought of some things about WGMD and some basic ideas for Steelgods. I nearly died of boredom at work and got a massive headache. I also kept forgetting I have assignments due (luckily they aren't until Friday).

Basically, seniorites like crazy. Finally setting in, hardcore. Awesome.

And with that boring statement about my life, here's some stuff I wrote today.

“I’m going to hurt for weeks,” I complained, managing to get another bite on the end of my knife. “I never thought swinging a hammer back and forth would be so much work.”
“Hard work is the best kind,” April commented, picking the last bits of meat from the bone. “Makes you appreciate it when you are finished.”
“Right, considering all I made was that,” I pointed to the piece of metal alongside me on the table. It was a short knife, crudely made, the metal wider in some parts than others along the blade. April had insisted I etch my name into the side. “I don’t know why you didn’t just throw it back into the fire to be made into something else.”
April watched me for a moment, her dinner done. Her features grew soft, as did her words. “I want you to see something.”
“What?” I mumbled, another piece in my mouth. She was right about the muscle relaxants; I found movement was easier.
“Flip your knife over.”
“The one I just made?” I moved to grab it.
“No, Aluminum. The one in your hand.”
It took a moment to sink in, and then I looked at the knife I was clasping between my fingers. It was then I noticed it was imperfect, little more than a straight piece of metal rather than an actual eating utensil. On the hilt was an indentation, two letters. “A.E.”
I didn’t know April’s last name, but I knew the lesson she was presenting. I looked back up at her; her blue eyes sparkled warmly, and a beautiful smile was across her face.
“See? We all start somewhere,” was all she said. She rose, tossing her bones into the fire and depositing her plate into the same barrel as before.

- Chapter 7, Flame and Steel

Steelgod September: Day Seven (2,648 words)

on Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Wrote a good deal today, and I might write more should I feel like it. This chapter went from "eh" to "hmm" to "aha!" as I realized exactly the details of how I was going to make this part work. That's one of those perks of discovery writing: you don't know until you write it exactly what is going to happen. Makes things fun.

I'm pleased with how this book is going. It's fun to be writing fantasy again, and I'm trying to keep it fast-moving and fresh. With luck, it won't be a huge discovery written mess like the first 1/2 of WGMD, so it won't require too much editing out of the block. We'll see.

I had something else I was going to blog about today, but I totally forgot. Oh well. Guess it isn't important.

If I write more I'll edit this post to reflect that.

“Well, shall we pray to this food? Perhaps the Steelgods could help you with their divine providence.”
I snorted, which earned me an inquisitive stare from April. “Sure. Maybe those metal morons could do something for me. They’ve certainly been helpful thus far.”
April’s cheeks turned red. “You are here, aren’t you? Alive?”
She was staring at me intently. I blinked, and gave the slightest of nods.
“And your step-siblings, they were not killed in the shuffle, right? They are still alive?”
I nodded again.
“Then you have much to thank the Steelgods for,” April finished, looking back at her soup. I expected her to say more, but she simply continued stirring, eyes never leaving the bowl.

Bonus Round: Nathan can't sleep.

You probably follow this blog because you want to hear about writing. Now you get to hear about how I can't sleep, and I have school at 8:00 tomorrow morning. Yay!

Actually, this is just me rambling about writing and stuff, so unless you have some sort of an emotional investment in my writing career, you might prefer to not trouble yourself.

Quick Hits:

- Got my final back from Brandon Sanderson's class (hooray!). More details later, needless to say it was extremely helpful with WGMD ideas.
- On WGMD ideas: I've decided to edit it in October. And by edit I mean rewrite a good 1/3-1/2 of the book. It's a big task, but I think it would be worth it.
- More on WGMD: Tonight Bec and I did one of our famous "we should be sleeping, but instead we are talking about books" things, and I managed to figure out a lot of things to do to fix WGMD. This includes almost completely cutting a side-character's story arch. While certainly a "darling" (as Writing Excuses would call it), this guy's gotta go. He just overly complicates and already complicated plot, and axing him actually makes lots of things fall into place. There are lots of other bits as well, but knowing that, at last, I have a goal with editing makes it much easier.
- Steelgods Book One - As part of the previously mentioned brainstorming, Bec and I figured out the general gist of the rest of this Steelgods book. I also am going to make a timeline for ideas I've had and which books (in the series) I want them in, so I can stop wanting to put ideas I need to use later into this one. Bad. But knowing where I'm going is extremely helpful, and will accelerate writing, to be sure.
- Steelgods is also suffering from a problem Lacrymosa had: sitting on that line between epic adult fantasy and YA. I'm certain the series will probably transform into more adult as it progresses (as our protagonist ages at least six years over the course of the books), but as for what I'm writing now, it is hard to say. But, I figure there are worse problems one can have with a book, so I'm going to bite my lip and move on.
- Starting next week, I'm upping my minimum daily count from 2k to 3k. I had to work long hours last week (and this week) due to school starting and my job being understaffed, but after that it should calm down and I'll be back on track.

On a side note, a few things I've noticed/learned while writing Steelgods:

- I'm trying harder to make my sentences flow better, as well as make them shorter. I have a big problem with this.
- A few alpha readers mentioned Paradise Seekers starts slow. I am doing my best (or have done my best) to remedy this in Steelgods.
- I'm trying to be less wordy, i.e. use one word instead of two whenever possible. Brandon actually mentioned this in my WGMD bit I sent him, so I'll double my efforts.
- Less passive voice. This has been a weakness of mine from the very start (Lacrymosa is like...90% passive voice). I've been slowly getting better, but it creeps in from time to time.
- Less "ly" words. This is a big one, and one I still struggle with a lot. However, now that I'm aware (and cutting sentences usually involves cutting "ly" words anyway), this should help reduce editing once it gets finished.

I don't know what the point of all this is. I'm tired and I still can't sleep. Maybe I'll write more. I'm pretty sure 1:30 am writing from me won't exactly be the top of my game. Maybe planning is a better idea. Whatever.

*has Brain Stew by Green Day stuck in his head...it's strangely applicable to my situation*

Steelgod September: Day Six (2,283 words)

on Monday, September 6, 2010
I was hoping to get more today, but I suppose I'll take what I can get. I finished the unfinished chapter today, and started the next. And I just now realized I have no idea where this story is going.

Which is bad.

Oh well. I'll figure it out tomorrow during class.

I'm really enjoying the premise of this book, mostly because of the creativity it allows in my viewpoint. The style is mostly third-person limited, but I'm allow to slip to omniscient if needs be. The reasoning is, the book is a retelling of the story by Cevan, essentially after he destroyed the world. Since he now can recognize the key parts that contributed to his eventual downfall, I'm allowed small bursts of foreshadowing and hinting that lend more towards omniscient writing. It's fun, to say the very least, mostly because I'm discovery writing so these hints I'm throwing down I'm making up as I go. I am keeping note of them, however, so that I don't end up with unfulfilled promises once the series draws to a close.

Aside from that, I felt the chapter was decent, and I'm curious to see where this goes. The book will probably slow down a little now, which is nice, allowing banter between Cevan and his current host (April). Should be fun, make for a good first act.

The second and third act are where things get dicy. I'm still deciding how they'll play out. I know how the book ends, but I'm still devising how exactly they'll get there. I'm certain it will be awesome, in any case.

Quote time, the Peacemaker's oath:

Peace through Control. 
Life through Creation. 
Damnation through Steel.

Steelgod September: Day Five (2,353 words)

on Sunday, September 5, 2010
For the first time, I have found my chapter unfinished at the end of the day. Ah well; it was a light day, and the fact I got this many still amazes me. We had writing group over to read all our progress in our "Write a decent book in a month" party and critique it thus far. I got some interesting Steelgods comments, which will prove helpful.

Now that I'm blogging daily, I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about things you probably don't care about. So I'm going to talk about video games. Specifically, Bioware games.

For the uninitiated, Bioware is a rather popular game company that makes American RPGs. Specifically, they made the Knights of the Old Republic game on Xbox, as well as the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. The reason I want to comment on them is that they receive copious amounts of praise from just about everyone in the industry for their "spectacular stories." It is often brought up that only Bioware knows how to write game stories that are comparable to movies, books, or other forms of literature/media. Seriously, everybody says that.

My problem is I disagree. I have watched a roommate play through KOTAR 1 & 2 multiple times. I have also beaten Mass Effect 1 probably four times, Mass Effect 2 twice, and am still working on Dragon Age. I am inclined to disagree that Bioware writes good stores. On the contrary, I'd say their stores are just passable. Usually they are cliche, predictable, and are just good enough to keep things moving. Granted, they are still heads above most game stories (save perhaps a game like Braid), but that doesn't make them good. When compared to just about any high-class sci-fi or fantasy novel, they fall flat.

But what Bioware does damn near immaculately is characters. They know how to make characters that are real, three-dimensional beings, rather than just cardboard cutouts of video game and sci-fi/fantasy cliches.

I'd give examples, but I'm lazy. So maybe some other time. The point is that, a huge part of Bioware games is interacting with your "crew." You often have long strings of dialogue choices that change frequently depending on how far into the game you are. As you begin to learn the characters, you begin to understand exactly what appeals to them, and it is then you realize almost all are not as simple as you think.

Ok, I'll give an example. Take Morrigan from Dragon Age. She's a snappy witch, who gets sent with you basically because her "mother" is sick of her hanging around and complaining. At first she comes off as just a jerk to everybody, who usually wants the people you help to solve their own problems and loves making fun of your party members as you travel the world. She's a great character.

The thing is, you have to take this into account when you talk to her. In most game, if you pick the generally flirty, nice responses to questions when talking to characters, it's the "right" answer. They'll like you, end of story. Morrigan isn't like that. If you are mushy or too "goody two-shoes," she'll insult you to your face. However, if you return her banter, giving her a taste of her own medicine, she'll like that And, in turn, she'll open up more.

Something I also like about her is she border between sympathetic and un-sympathetic throughout the game, especially towards the end when you have to make a serious decision concerning her. With most game characters, you have a belief that, no matter how mean they are, everybody crusty on the outside is soft on the inside. Morrigan isn't like this. While she might have a sliver of goodness in her, she sure as hell isn't going to let anybody see it. So, while you like her because she's clever (ex: "Oh good, now we have a dog. And Allistar is still the stupidest member of the party."), you come to realize she isn't going to turn out all tulips and roses. She's a witch, in more ways then one, and it makes her character captivating.

So, the point is that I'm sick of hearing people praise bioware games, when they should be praising their character development. I have yet to play a game made by Bioware where I didn't feel a genuine connection with each and every character by the time the game ended, even the characters I initially hated. Because they are so real, they are believable, and because they are so believable they become sympathetic. It's such a huge break from video game stereotypes, it's quite refreshing.

Ok, that's enough of that. Here's your bit from today. I'll finish the chapter tomorrow.

For being so small, they sure have a lot of Tinkers, I realized, noticing the mechanical servants as they darted to and fro between buildings, accomplishing their various tasks. Why have the Peacemakers graced them with so many?
I poised this question to April between ragged gasps; my arm was beginning to hurt again, and my chest was still sore from the Peacemaker’s blast the night previous. April looked back at Rosehip with a peculiar look on her face, and with what I thought was a touch of sadness.
“My dad,” she began, her eyes darting back and forth as she watched the Tinkers, “he was a master mechanic, as well as a smith. One day when he was swimming in the far lake, he noticed the bottom was coated with remains of destroyed Tinkers. It was as if someone had dumped them there, centuries ago, in a large pit. Then rainwater or an underground stream filled it, covering their graveyard.”
I stumbled, and quick as light April grabbed me, hoisting me up by my shoulder as she prevented me from falling. Her hands were rough and callused, and her tug was somewhat uncomfortable, like she didn’t know her own strength.
“Thanks,” I mumbled, trying my best to undo the damage I’d caused previous with my flippant comments. She gave a slight nod before continuing.
“Dad convinced the village to haul them all out. It was a huge mess; most were in pieces, and all of them were deactivated. They dumped the whole pile into our shop, for dad to work on. I was six then, and I remember staying up late watching father work, putting pieces together and drawing new parts to experiment with using Graffiti.”

Side Comment: Why Submitting to People Is Fun!

on Saturday, September 4, 2010
Reason: Because you actually get mail. *


Yes I don't ever get mail, and even a rejection letter is a step up. Don't judge me!

The real point is that it's exciting to come home from school every day and see if I got something. Even if it's a rejection, the idea that somebody actually maybe thought about considering the crap I write for fun in my free time is worth the rejection. Do I want to write for a living? Hell yes I do. But for now, even if I'm cranking out 2-3k a day, I still consider it just a hobby. I still work 20+ hours a week, go to school, have parties, etc. And since it is a hobby, I always have this weird idea that the stuff I write really isn't that great.

It isn't a fear, per say. It's just a thought. We all have that thing were we think stuff we created was great, mostly because we created it. It's hard to see the glaring errors because, deep down, we want it to succeed. So, we keep thinking it's great.

Now somebody is going to argue and say it's the opposite, that we hate our work and always see it harshest. Yeah, that might be true too, but I really doubt anybody (even you, argumentative reader!) really hates their work as much as they say. You know why?

Because you didn't quit. Which means you still harbor the idea that it's still good enough to be worth something.

In other news: this really got off topic. Point is: I want some letter back from people I submitted Paradise Seekers too, because I'm impatient. And it's like 1:00 in the morning. What is wrong with me. I should be sleeping.


* Except I've only heard back from like three people, and only one of those was letter form (two were emails). I'm ready to get rejected: send it on over!**

**Though I'm also ready to get not-rejected too. Wink wink.

Steelgod September: Day Four (3,886 words)

Wrote a lot today, in three chunks with breaks in between. That, unfortunately, doesn't mean it is any good, and I really am not a huge fan of what I wrote. However, I'm following the "Write or Die" tactic where I just go and ignore any stupidities (plus, it's discovery writing, something has to be bad). In the end, it moved the plot, and it is a scene that exists. It's too long, but I'll survive. Plot is moving.

In other news, I know what is happening next chapter, but past that I'm in the dark. I'll need to spend some time planning should this story actually, you know, have a decent plot. There are a few things I like about writing a series vs stand-alone, which I will now elaborate on.

Lots of times when I write, I have way too many good ideas that I want in a particular book. Usually this results in one of three things:
1. A bunch of the ideas get cut, and it bothers me (Paradise Seekers)
2. The ideas get put in, but due to length/time/etc. I end up having to rush them, and they don't end up as elaborate as I would have hoped (Harbinger).
3. I put every idea ever in, and the book is huge and kind of not that great (Lacrymosa).

There is the rare instance that I find what I feel is a good balance (Where Gods and Mortals Dance), but even then that novel is too long. Usually it just doesn't work, and I end up planning series (see now-dead Ringforger, and the fact that Effulgent Corruption was planned as a minimum two books from the start) that never get written.

However, actually writing a series that I know is a series from the start is actually pretty fun (and a new experience). I get to hint at things that I know won't show up for a while, as well as introduce things in a bare detail (one that works for this book) that will be elaborated on later. And, if I get a cool idea that I really wan't to use but just can't in this book, I can sleep knowing that if I really want, I can add it in later. It's a neat thing.

At any rate, Steelgods was always intended to be something I write when I'm stuck on my "main" writing, with the requirement I write the entire books in a month or less, so that will give me plenty of time between books to plan the next one. Hooray.

Enough blabbing, here's today's crap.

"April cocked her head, disbelief in her eyes. “Bandits? This far west? I’ve heard stories from bards about packs of them by the Steel-Imbued Land’s borders. You know, where people actually have money.”
She looked down at my ruined pants. “Then again, those seem fairly expensive. Are you the son of a Spoke?”
I couldn’t hold back the snort of laughter. “Don’t I wish. Spoke wouldn’t allow their children this far from the Imbued. At least, not without an escort of Cog-”
“Don’t say their name,” April interrupted hastily.
I laughed again. “Cogs? Why?”
“My father told me stories about them,” April didn’t meet my eyes. “Inhuman monsters, once men but now more machine. People transformed to serve the Steelgods. Don’t say their name.”
I rolled my eyes. “Part machine? I really doubt-”
“Have you seen one?” April interrupted. I shook my head.
“Well then, you can’t talk.”
We were silent, and again I wished I could travel back and restart the conversation. "

Steelgod September: Day Three (2,013 words)

on Friday, September 3, 2010
The fact I managed today is a miracle, I want you to know that. All the odds were against me, but I pulled it off. I actually wrote this many words in about 45 minutes, because that constituted all my free time today.
Here's what I had to do:
Class at 8, work at 9:30 (I wrote a little between 9-9:30)
School at 12, Work at 2 (I ate lunch between 1-2 and came to work early)
3-4 (right now), I managed to write the rest of the chapter. Yay! That's good, because...
4-5 I have a class, and 5:30-probably midnight we are having a work Xbox party that I organized, so I have to be there to make sure everything goes smoothly.
So pretty much I had maybe an hour and a half free time today, but I still managed to meet my word goal.
Yes, I'm proud of myself. Plus, the chapter's actually decent (and gets me where I need it to go), so mission accomplished.

I thought of some more cool ideas for the story, and I'm working on ways to make the magic more...awesome. Awesomer. Whatever.

Here's your thing. Now if you'll excuse me, I have class and and xbox party (and a long weekend, thank goodness) to attend to.

" It took everything I had to push forward, fighting through the thick, palpable darkness as I stumbled. I tripped on roots and stumbled over shrubbery. I didn’t bother covering my face this time, instead just leaning forward and shoving through the various branches that caught hold of me. Twigs snapped and branches broke, and still I could hear the Peacemaker coming. There was a sudden crack, and the tree which I had just recently fallen alongside was yanked up from the earth like a weed. The area at its base glowed slightly for a moment, then the light of Graffiti dissipated.
Steelgods, I swore, throwing myself forward again with a newfound zeal. This thing isn’t a man; it’s some sort of demigod.
The adrenaline had done much to help me ignore my pain, and I did my best to not think of the status of my right arm. I shoved objects out of my way, hearing the cries of small animals and angry birds as I continued my escape. I couldn’t let the Peacemaker catch me. "