Tag Archives: plans

A to Z Challenge, Joyce Flavor

(So, when I said in my previous post that, later this week, I would explain the additional rules I would be following for the A to Z Challenge, I had not yet properly grasped that, uh, it’s Thursday. The lateness of the week is pretty severe at this point.)

Because I like making life difficult for myself, I have devised a complex process by which I will determine what I’m going to write about on each day of the challenge. Here’s the concept: each day of the challenge, I will be writing the opening scene of a novel that doesn’t really exist. To pick a topic, the first thing I will do is decide on the word to focus on, one which starts with the letter of the day. I’m going to be using sites like this one to get long list of words, then I’m going to feed those into Wordle, which can winnow the list down to a few words if I want it to. For additional inspiration, I’ll be incorporating random entries from TV Tropes.

This will not be properly random. I will still use my discretion in choosing words and I reserve the right to press the random button more than once before settling on something. But I will list both word and trope at the start of each entry, so you can see what my prompt was.

Oh, did I mention that I only have 24 hours in which to write each entry? One scene, roughly one thousand words, the start of something great. This will be a combination of loose and rigid, panicked and fun. I’ll write the entries the day before they’re due; that way, they’ll be available to read first thing on the day they correspond with.

That’s the plan. On the plus side, there’s no need to worry in advance about any given entry. On the other hand, I’m hoping I don’t accidentally get myself in a corner where I have to write about murderous girlfriends and the word “Xerox.” Wish me luck.

A to Z Blog Challenge


I’m currently on a week of unplanned vacation from all my social media activities. I needed to recharge and get back on track. I just wanted to mention, though, that I’m signed up for the A to Z Challenge starting in April. 26 letters in 26 days will definitely qualify as a challenge for this disorganized blogger, but I’m going to make it happen.

I’m planning my topics now and will be writing them during the month of February. That will leave me free to schedule them for automatic posting and go make the rounds to the other blogs that will be participating. (I’m signed up as #345, which feels like an auspicious number indeed.) I’m looking forward to meeting as many of those other people as I can. I hope people enjoy what I have planned here as well.

Too many projects, not enough magnification

Or, I’m getting too old for this shit. I have been unhappy about my blog theme (lime! tiny text! narrow column! LIME!) and casually poking around at alternatives when I can get my internet connection to cope with all those preview images. (Here I am compelled to add a whiny note about the four hours spent unable to connect to any website with any browser today.) And I have come to the following conclusion: WordPress themes were designed by ten-year-olds with the vision of gods and mighty eagles. I cannot buy text big enough for my eyes, it seems. I should be due for my annual eye exam in a couple of months and I’m curious, as the doctor may tell me that my eyes were secretly replaced with shiny, shiny marbles in the past year. But after much trial and error–mostly error–Small Wonders has a new theme, some new links, and other random housekeeping bits.

Figurehead is officially being moved to the back burner, to simmer for an unspecified amount of time until I can get it to work right. The more I think about it, the more miserable it makes me. It needs to go sit while I figure out, among other things, how to make a FTL drive I like and how to incorporate more animals.

In its place, I’m developing a new novel idea to be written over October and November. (Too many projects, you say? You’re not wrong…) The new novel is called The Jackrabbit House and it’s higher fantasy than I usually write. I am, I think, excited about it. And it, unlike just about everything else I’ve thought up lately, has the requisite high dose of talking animals. I hate to restrict my writing to little boxes of genre or topic, but, uh, I’m really shaping up to be “that talking animal author.” (There is also an emerging theme of “houses” in my work. Overcompensating for my own tiny abode?)

I’ve also still got a bunch of short stories floating around, more or less ready to be written. The top priority on that front is the Oct/Nov SS*BB. I am also–fingers crossed–planning a short story to submit to Holly Lisle’s Rebel Tales (background here) when it starts taking submissions. It is a Jackrabbit House prequel and even if JH ends up being too long to go into Rebel Tales (limit is 90k), it would still be a great way to generate attention for it.


So, here’s the deal. I spent two weeks over the July/August transition brought down by a matched set of massive ear infections, which had me fevered, weepy and unable to chew. During which time, if I may remind you, I wanted to start writing Figurehead. Yeah. That went swell.

So now I’m well again, though my hearing is still slightly off, and I’ve written a bit on Figurehead. Except what I’m getting is Firefly-style rust-and-a-prayer sci-fi. Figurehead really, really needs to be shinier than that. Seriously, I cannot express to you in strong enough terms how much I am ending up with a Firefly knock-off. I’m quite upset about this. It’s not the first time I’ve had someone else’s story get a stranglehold over mine, but it’s never pleasant.

So Figurehead is on another temporary hold. I might get back to it in October or I might just save it for NaNoWriMo and go from there. In the meantime, I’ve got two things to get done:

1) Hammer out, in detail and with consequences aplenty, the special physics of the Figurehead-verse; I’ve got some ideas about hyperspace that I need to think about and how I might put the world through the wringer with them.

2) For the love of god, write something. If I don’t write and finish some fiction, I will actively lose my marbles; I’m already this close to smashing all the dishes in the kitchen in a fit of pique every time someone turns the television on. Do not interrupt this brain right now.

What I need in the rule department is not a restrictively detailed guide to everything, but a few hard, horrible rules I can inflict on the populace. I need conflict coming out their ears (everyone should have ear suffering right now, as far as I’m concerned). I’d also rather like to do some free writing, non-scenes, just to get some of the settings down on paper in a way I like. I want to feel the world in my bones and the fact that I don’t yet may be the reason why I’m getting this damn Firefly pastiche. I love the show, but that chair is already occupied.

What I need in the fiction department are words. Many and varied and did I mention many? I’ve got a short-list of possible short story ideas I’m working my way through. I’ve got a Sentence for a short fantasy whodunit featuring a world I’ve been wanting to write in for a while. (I’m getting notions of doing linked short stories exploring the world or having this be a side story for a novel; I have to keep beating on myself to WRITE THE DAMN THING FIRST.) In the wings I have kernels of ideas for two sci-fi stories, short and middling lengths, which will get worked on today. And I have bits and bobs floating around for the Oct/Nov SS*BB. It’s fairy tales and folklore and I’ve got an itch to retell the Frog Prince, possibly in space, but I’m undecided.

So that’s where things stand and why I’ve been quiet for so long. I am making an effort (admittedly, strictly in the contemplative sense, which is to say, useless) to post more snippets and background here from what I’m working on. My work has just been so wonky lately. Time to get back on track.

Figurehead Intro

I have a short story out for consideration with Asimov’s at the moment and another waiting in the wings to be written for someone else. But mostly right now, I’m feeling the loss of HoC as a regular, long project to work on. So I’ve been doing planning work on a new project–Figurehead. It’ll be a hair longer than HoC was and this one is sci-fi. Space opera, in fact. And with the return of regular work, I need a return to regular posting here. So I’m going to make an effort to post regular tidbits about this project, particularly because I won’t be having any free fiction here for a bit. So:

A maintenance slave and her ship’s renegade AI must track down the cartographer captain they mutinied against when his successor plunges the rest of the crew into pirates’ prison.

(As a note, I’m going through Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways course again to do the planning on this project. The sentence above is, in fact, The Sentence for Figurehead. The Sentence is one of the first and best tools in the course and learning how it works has been the difference between flailing around with only a vague sense of what I was writing about and having a clear, usable definition of what the story was and where it was headed.  See the affiliate link in the sidebar if you’d like to know more about this fantastic course.)

Today, I finished the first rough sketches of the four characters mentioned in The Sentence.

The Victoria Jefferson is an AI system used to run complex military space ships and her personal goal is to expand her knowledge base as far as she can. From the character outline: “I believe that learning is the highest goal of any creature intelligent enough to have self-awareness. It elevates, it improves, it makes all things possible. Learning must be the individual’s first priority. Without learning, even survival becomes a matter of nothing more than chance. Learning allows us to direct our own lives.”

Mally is a mechanical prodigy who grew up as a messenger slave on a massive space station and no payday yet has made her feel like she’s free. “Born number six and that’s seven kids too many, sold off to the first messenger keeper what comes calling, stuck at that for fifteen cold, hard years before someone hijacks the transport I’m on, and all a sudden I’m not going home again. I got metal in my head and metal in my blood. I ain’t high-class folk and I ain’t too nice. I keep my mouth shut and my head down. And if that keeps me alive, it don’t mean I like it.”

Captain Benjamin Oryana, M.C. is a master cartographer, plotting “footfalls” used by faster-than-light ships to traverse space in short jumps, and he uses his well-paying official job to finance his real passion: “Apart from letting me make a damn good living if I choose to, getting my cartographer’s license gave me the means and the excuse to go poking around the very edges of the world we know and to sometimes go careening into the parts we don’t know at all. I can make money collecting stories, so long as I use those stories to find footfalls. I never have to be bored. Boredom is the only sin I believe in and the only torture I can’t bear.”

Cresley Turner is a middle-aged gunner still trying to make his fortune so he can go back home to the girl he left behind. He blames life in space, on the edges of the civilized universe, for his personal failures: “People don’t belong in space. It ain’t right. It’s just something you’ve got to pass through to get to places worth going. But spend too much time up there, and you forget what it means to be a person. To be human. You just get caught up in that mass of weirdness out there. People have got to spend as much time around other humans as they can if they want to survive it. Don’t keep too much with aliens and don’t stay on the ship when you make port.”

The next step is to work out the details of my conflict. Then I’ve got a bit of time to spend on world building–dicking around with the rules of time and space, for one–and finally I get to start planning scenes. That should get me through July, with actual fiction starting in August, if all goes well.