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Ninja Elves, the Ghost of Christmas Past and Nutcrackers

Click for larger card! Joyeux Noël, Bonne Christmeusse, Fröhliche Weihnachten, God Jul, Feliz Navidad, Maligayamg Pasko, Merry Christmas! It has been a fun filled couple of weeks at the Ellis household. Click the card for a full blown visit from the Ninja Elves! After many years of planning to send Christmas cards, this year we managed.

I’ve been fighting a sinus infection off and on for several weeks. As a result, I haven’t done a lot of posting. Time to remedy that. I’ve got several irons in the fire and a fairly busy holiday season planned. Aside from the holiday cheer on the left, I’ve also participated in a group reading of A Christmas Carol with The Podcast Community on Facebook.

My part starts about 10:29 in and you can tell from the outset that I’m the neophyte. The audio is low and a little muddy. I’m still working out the kinks with my audio setup. Still, I had a lot of fun so hopefully the enthusiasm will shine through if nothing else does. You can listen to it below or download it from here. For whatever reason, I fail at embedding the player. I’ll do some more research and try again later.

Between now and Christmas, I’m working on a very short story for the weekly challenge at 100 Word Stories involving a Nutcracker, tinsel and three blind mice. I’ll let you know when I’ve submitted it. I’ve also signed up for Starship Modeler’s Seeds contest. I don’t know that I’ll have the gas to get that one completed by January 2nd. We’ll have to see. Plus, I’ve got another project simmering on the back burner that I’ve been playing with for a for a while. More on that later; later being another post.

Progress on Project Mjölnir proceeds apace and I’ve had the opportunity to clean up the blog a bit. The Hierarchy of Dominance is coming together nicely with the help of my good friends at The Midlothian Writers’ Workshop. They have had to plow through an enormous amount of deathless prose so you won’t have to. Thanks Jarod, Anita, Gail, Pat, Blaine and Louis! (Mel, where are you?) One of my questions was featured at I’ve become my parents. And, I’m sure there will be cookies, joyous Christmas cookies, to eat along the way.

Of course, all these plans presuppose that the offspring are willing to allow it.

There are also Legos to build, models to complete, school work to grade (ah, home schooling), hallways to paint, offices to clean and year end paper work to complete. Good thing I took a week off.

Yes, my sick days do roll over into the next year. Why do you ask?

Project Mjölnir – Phase 1 is Over … But Wait, There’s More!

image We have a winner! After an interesting month, I finally stumbled across the finish line about 2:30 this morning with a total of 50,192 words! I done, but I’m not done-done, I still have more story to go. I’d have to say that I’m about half way through a tale of heartache, angst, passion and things that blow up … in space. Oh, and starships, hostile aliens, giant killer robots, nefarious politicians and damsels-not-in-distress. (“We can take care of ourselves, thank you very much!“) I have managed to pull off Phase 1, but that was the easy part! Project Mjölnir rolls on; I have December and January to finish the draft and complete the edits. This is no time to shilly shally.

NaNoWriMo was a win, but is wasn’t a pretty win. Thanksgiving week I spent four to six hours a day, hammering out deathless prose at a rate of eight to ten thousand words per day. That saved me. I would have been far better off if I’d stuck with the 1,667 words per day suggestion, but I’ll get to the hard lessons learned a bit later. How much of the final push am I going to keep? Well, all of the ideas generated in the final seven days will be incorporated in some fashion, however looking over what I actually ground out; very little of the prose, at least in its current form. There’s going to a world of editing and rewriting in my future.

I did (finally) pick up some tips I found useful and some habits I found helpful. I may sound like I’m weaseling around, but after all of the pep talks, write-ins, critique groups and helpful family suggestions, the only thing I found to be universal is you need to pick what works for you! And this is what worked for me:

  1. Adhere to the BIC principle. Whether it’s your happy place, man cave, bomb shelter, whatever; park it and write.
  2. Turn Twitter off. Yep, I’m addicted, there are so many interesting people. I’ve detoured several times to follow threads of conversation.  So, remove as many distractions as possible. There will always be a reason to not write. Learn to ignore it.
  3. Don’t edit until the first draft is completed! Don’t continue to pick at it, you’ll leave a scar.
  4. Follow the outline until it doesn’t make sense. Then, set the outline aside. I lost whole days trying to make some plot point fit in my outline. As we say in broadcasting, “We’ll fix it in post.”
  5. No, you can’t catch up tomorrow, do it now! Set aside a regular time, whether fixed point in the ever changing temporal stream or after the baby goes down for her nap, and write.
  6. No, you can’t cut your writing time short and make up for it by writing for a longer period of time tomorrow. Instead, write the normal length of time today and then write for a longer stretch tomorrow.
  7. Karate is physical exercise, writing is mental exercise. With both, the only way to improve, to get stronger, faster and more graceful, is to practice every day. You have to push yourself in order to improve. You have to challenge yourself to build confidence.
  8. Take notes, lots of notes. Life is easier with a crib sheet.
  9. Don’t feel like you have to write your story linearly. I was stuck near the middle of the tale and the only way I crossed the word count finish line was by writing the final epic battle scene and the resulting comeuppance. I’ve got a couple of characters I really don’t like, so I justly desserted them. (And no, I spelled that correctly!) We all can’t be Robert E. Howard.
  10. Take all advice with a grain of salt. Or, if you prefer, pepper. Season it the way you like and don’t allow someone else to unduly flavor your story for you.

There are likely more, but a sensed a theme when I started repeating myself, so I stopped. Now that I have established something of a habit with my writing, I’ll be back on a more regular basis.

No, seriously, I will.

Stop laughing!

Hard Lessons learned from Week 1 of NaNoWriMo & Bonus Draft!

Check out my page!This first week started out with a bang and ended in a sputter. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I cranked out what is for me an impressive 8,695 words. Then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, nothing. Not a squeak. Now, I could come up with a host of excuses for the drought but the main reason is lack of BIC. All of this means I have a lot of sitting in the near future, cause with Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the month I won’t have a lot of time to play catch up. For my money, the single best thing an writer can do to improve his writing is, well, to write.

Another lesson learned, don’t lose momentum. I had a ton of momentum going into Friday, then I squandered it. It’s hard enough to develop the discipline to write, try getting it back after an attack of slacktidous!

Standard Caveats Apply

Again, not wanting to appear like I’m whining, just trying to convey the difficulty I’m having getting back into that groove I had.

I had a hard truth to face; no matter what grand plans I may have, the plain and simple fact of the matter is unless I continue to write, Project Mjölnir isn’t going to get finished. That was quite the reality check.

Last lesson learned actually came from Jeff Hite, a podcaster I follow on Twitter. He (along with others) suggested posting some of the raw drafts from NaNoWriMo on his blog. I balked at the thought initially, but after some consideration (and reading some of the other authors entries) I’m going to float an example for comment. In other words, why or why didn’t you like it. I’m not sold on this. My initial drafts are tedious and filled with errors and clearly not my best effort.

This is also the draft I’m going to float by my writers group. Please remember, this is a draft copy. That means that it is a raw, unedited story likely to be replete with misspellings, questionable grammar, odd phrasing and tenuous logic. This copy may or may not appear in the finished product, or it may be substantially changed, altered or edited. In other words, enjoy it while it lasts, it may not come around again.

They are dancing under deep blue skies.
His little girl stands on his feet and grabs his hands.  They dance in a meadow, turn after turn, to the sounds of joy and laughter. Gentle breezes waft dandelion seeds to and fro in the warm summer sunshine.
“Spin me, Daddy! Spin me!” she cries and leans back, clutching his hands tighter and tighter. Her bright face is upturned, her sparkling eyes watching the skies.
“Faster, Daddy! Faster!”  She shrieks in exaltation as she and her father whirl about.
“Careful, honey,” her worried mother admonishes from their picnic blanket. “You hold on tight to your father, you hear?”
Now, he is worried, too. He begins to slow his spinning.
“Now, chere, you listen to your mama,” he says, “won’t be fun for any one, if you fall.”
“You’ll catch me, Daddy,” she shouts. “You’ll catch …”
Her little fingers, slick with perspiration, slip from his grasp and she tumbles into the grass, looking, for all the world, like a porcelain doll in a pinafore, tossed carelessly into a corner.
He didn’t catch her! She trusted him and he didn’t catch her! He rushes to her, as she begins to wail …

… making it hard to think. Every alarm had never gone off during training.
The console next to him exploded into searing fragments of circuitry and blobs of molten plastic. Lieutenant Montauk was blown into the opposite bulkhead where she fell to the deck with the grace of a discarded ragdoll. The unnatural position of her limbs and what remained of her head, told the commander his next action was futile. Still, he stabbed the “All-Call” button.
“Medic! Officer down on the bridge; I repeat, officer down!”
He felt like he was screaming into the com. The blast had momentarily deafened him. The noise of the life-support fans and the cacophony of alarms had combined into a roar that made concentration difficult. Even his normally taciturn XO had to yell to get his attention.
“Sir, the Orr vessel is attempting to lock on!”
The view screen was hard to see, through the thickening, smoky haze, but the command readouts at his station indicated the saucer shaped ship was ready to fire another volley.
“Evasive maneuver Delta-Delta-Five,” he barked.
“Delta-Delta-Five, aye,” his XO answered.
His corvette, The City of New Orleans, danced away from the pulsed fire of the Orr. Lieutenant Montauk was dead. That was on him. It was also on him to make her death count for something.
“XO, charge the primary and light me two sticks!”
“Primary charged,” his XO replied. “And we’ve got 75’s in both tubes.” The XO grinned at his commanding officer. “Though you might’ve had something like this in mind.”
He grinned back, but there was little humor involved. The siege of the Centaurus System was well into its second day and it was looking grim for the 3rd Battle Fleet of the Terran Sphere. The Rio Estrellas shipyards, where the bulk of the fighting was occurring, didn’t even belong to them. The yards belonged to their allies, the Republic of New Texas. If the Orr hadn’t been so insistent on ramming their agenda down the collective throats of humanity, the Terran Sphere might well have sat this one out.
But, the Quorum had been adamant on this point; when one sovran state presumes to dictate the actions of another, the latter must either capitulate and become a vassal or, stand ready to preserve their sovereignty. The Quorum voted for preservation. All of which meant he had a butcher’s bill to deliver.
“Guns,” he said, “I want the full five second burst from the spinal laser into their sensor array. Slave the tubes to the primary. Port launches when the laser fires. Starboard launches a half a second later.”
“Sir,” his XO said, “if we discharge the primary weapon completely, it’ll take five minutes for it to recharge. We’ll be essentially defenseless. ”
“I’m aware, XO.  If you know another way to blind their point defense, I’m all ears.”
The XO shook his head.
“Alright, then; Guns, prepare to fire on my mark”, he said.
“Primary full discharge, aye. Birds in port and starboard, aye,” the gunner reported.
“Nav, on my mark, Crazy Ivan.”
“Crazy Ivan, aye!”
“Nav … wait … wait … Mark!”
The main engines went silent and the nose thrusters thundered to life. The ship flipped end for end, lining up rather exactingly on the Orr vessel.
“Guns … Mark!”
The City of New Orleans’ primary weapon, the spinal laser, lit the dark with 975 gigawatts of star fury. At the same time, the ship shuddered as 75 megaton Lancer anti-ship missiles roared from first the port and then, the starboard launch tubes.
“Heads away!”
“Hostile fire incoming,” the navigator reported.
This wasn’t going to be pretty. The corvette had to maintain position until the laser completely discharged. This left them, more or less, a sitting duck.
“Guns, give me a countdown clock. Nav, execute Whiskey-Serra-Golf on my mark.”
“Whiskey-Serra-Golf, Aye!”
“Countdown, aye, in three … two …”
“Brace for impact!” The navigator warned.
“Mark!” He cried.
The nimble corvette flipped end for end, again, while rolling to the port side. The main engines thundered to life. But, they had waited too long.
Return fire from the Orr battleship turned the aft sections of the ship into so much metallic confetti. Hull breach and structural integrity alarms wailed, complete with the warbling containment siren. If containment was breached, then it was all over.
Suddenly, the return fire stopped.
“Give me eyes on my sky!” he commanded.
The XO pointed the viewer aft. The Lancer missiles were essentially scaled down versions of the Longhorn weapons systems. These birds were capital ship killers, designed with a reinforced warhead to allow the missile to penetrate two or three decks into the target vessel before detonating.
The first missile had impacted the main sensor array. The resulting explosion had opened a four deck crater in the saucer, like a giant ice cream scoop making a hollow. The navigator of the Orr vessel jerked the ship away from the first missile and put it directly in the path of the second.
The second missile drove in amid-ships.  This explosion breached containment. A small sun erupted in the center of the Orr vessel; the expanding plasma pushing the broken ship apart in two halves.
The bridge erupted in cheers.  The XO grabbed his hand and shook it, pounding on his back with the other hand. He felt a smile stretching tightly across his face.
“Settle down,” he thundered. “Let’s not get too carried away! It’s a bit early to celebrate!” But, even he didn’t believe it. They had bested an Orr battle saucer! Not many in the fleet could say that!
“Sir,” his navigator barked, jerking him from his revelries. “It’s the Cole!”
The two halves of the Orr ship had drifted far enough apart to reveal, in the distance, the Galactic Cruiser SSC Cole breaking apart under concentrated weapons fire from another Orr battle saucer.
“Kelly Anne,” he whispered, involuntarily. He gave his head a shake and got back to business.
“Engineering, damage report!”
“Too soon to tell commander,” a tinny voice said from the speaker. “The Mains are offline. We have a massive coolant leak and …”
“Belay that,” he said, his eyes glued to the view screen. “Guns?”
“With the Mains down, the primary weapon is offline. Both port and starboard tubes are compromised. It’ll take about …”
He didn’t hear the rest. He was watching the Cole, literally coming to pieces under the relentless, withering fire of the Orr.  The Cole would lose containment any minute now. At least her end would be mercifully quick.
“Sir,” navigation reported. “We’re getting a weird field reading.”
Suddenly, the elongated shape of an Inbetweener ship phased into normal space/time, directly in the path of the Orr barrage and shielded the Cole. The stricken vessel continued to be racked with explosions. The faint nimbus of the ship’s atmosphere could be seen, gushing from the wounds and streaming along behind it. Life support was down and the cold, hard night of space dominated the corridors and rooms on the Cole.
The Inbetweener ship enveloped to SSC Cole in white light, too bright to be directly looked at. When the light faded, the Inbetweener vessel and the Cole were gone.
“Kelly …”

Captain Thomas Wyatt Swift awoke with a start, breathing hard. His undershirt had stuck to him, cold and clammy. The acrid smell of fear and the bitter taste of loss permeated the room. He swung his legs over the side of the bunk and sat on the edge, his head in his hands.
It was the 25th anniversary of Kelly Anne’s death. He took the picture of his sunny faced bride from the night stand.  She had been the youngest surgeon to serve on a capital ship. He was so proud of her.
They had been career military, the bright and shining couple of promise. She was the youngest surgeon and he was the youngest officer ever to be given his own command, even if he had to jump services to do it. When the Epsilon Eridani massacre occurred, the Terran Sphere had more vessels than captains. So, a brash, tactically brilliant Marine 2nd lieutenant was detached to the Republic of New Texas and bumped to Commander of the corvette, SSC City of New Orleans. He had been twenty-five, as had his bride. Their daughter had been four.
He traced the edge of the frame with his finger, contemplating the image. In the picture, he was holding her and she was holding Victoria, dandelion seeds wafting all around them. His baby girl so resembled her mother.
After the battle, he sent Victoria to live with Kelly Anne’s parents. His parents were deceased and a ship of the line was no place to raise a toddler.  He couldn’t have her underfoot, distracting him, reminding him of her mother. At first, he visited as often as he could, but he didn’t know what to do with her, so the visits became fewer and farther between. Calls turned into vidcards, vidcards into generic gifts on special occasions. Slowly, he extracted himself from his daughter’s life.
He liked to fool himself into thinking he had kept tabs on her. She had been fascinated with other races, especially the Heavy Worlders and Inbetweeners. That fascination paid off, for she graduated summa cum laude in extraterrestrial anthropology and biology and landed a job, fresh out of college, in the private sector, working for one of the MulitCorps. But that had been five years ago. His gifts had long been returned unopened and his attempts to speak with her, rebuffed. He had no idea what she was doing now. His first failure had been as her father.
He put the picture down and stepped over to the shower. Under the sonics and water vapor he took stock of the situation. This was the beginning of the end for him and he knew that. The Knights of the Southern Cross would be withdrawing from New Galveston by the end of the month to go back to wherever they had come from; a direct result of the Unity movement in the Quorum and the cancellation of the Mjöllnir Project, the very thing that had given the Sphere the tactical edge for the past quarter century. It seems he had gone from failing personally to failing professionally.
As consolation, he would be given his final command today, on the anniversary of the Centaurus Cease Fire. The symbolism wasn’t lost on him. The Battle of New Galveston and the Rio Estrellas shipyards were where his career began. It would also be where it ended. After this tour, he would probably be forced to retire. He had been too vocal in his support of the Knights. That didn’t sit well with the members of the Unity Movement.
This command was a balm, to keep him quiet, he was sure; the hybrid battle cruiser SSC Matthew Mason, experimental flagship and proof of concept vessel for the ideas realized by the Mjöllnir Project. There had originally been plans for twenty-two of this class. Now, there would be only the one. Members of the Quorum had recognized his vulnerability. The past ten years of his life had been devoted to the realization of this vessel. It was more his child than Victoria.
Stifling morbid thoughts, Swift toweled himself dry and exited the shower. He might as well get a jump on the day’s event. Ship launches absorbed enormous amounts of time and he had other things to do today.
He could go to the launch in his full dress uniform, but it didn’t seem appropriate. That would appear to be an endorsement of the Quorum’s foolishness. Better to go out like he came in, duty before honor.
He put on his duty uniform, black trousers, crisp white shirt and a black waist coat, with captain’s bars in the shoulders and, the white beret of Captaincy. He hadn’t worn this in a long time. The media had been reporting that his head had grown. Perhaps he should try it on now. It would be terribly embarrassing later, at the podium, if he had to tug and stretch to get this thing on. Not only that, but it would prove the media buzzards right. That was unacceptable. He stepped to the mirror.
Eyes blue as the Gulf and as hard as space stared back at him. But, there were signs of softening. His nose was just as aquiline as ever, but his hair had fled and his square jaw was getting some additional padding.  So was his middle.
Swift tugged his waistcoat into place and looked, really looked at his trademark scar. It was the one thing that made him instantly identifiable. Starting at what would have been his hair line, the scar ran vertically through his left eyebrow, down his cheek, to bisect his jaw line.  It was a punctuation mark to hang his beret on.
He never dreamed or had nightmares about that; pulling the KSC Fleet Admiral out of the wreckage of his flag ship, The Celestial Hand. Of course, he couldn’t remember much about it at all, not after what had happen to the Cole.
He put the beret on. It still fit.
There was a knock at his door.
“Enter,” he said.
“Nice hat. I got coffee and booze,” Commander Nathaniel Newton said upon entering. “Which do you want?”
“Coffee, please,” Swift replied, pulling the beret off of his head and tucking it into his waistcoat. “Good morning Nat. I guess you’ll have to drink the booze.”
“Nah, I lied. They’re both coffee, “the commander replied good-naturedly, handing his captain an insulated cup. They were of an age. Newton had been Swift’s XO ever since he lost Thomas Hardy to the wreckage of The Celestial Hand. He knew what today meant to his captain and he had come prepared.
“Any idea what pasture they’ll be sending us to?” he asked.
“Actually, I get to choose. I’ve been thinking about investigating the rumors of the Mnoran cache on Epsilon Eridani,” Swift replied.
Newton raised his eyebrows.
“I know it’s been picked over, Nat, however, I believe the new Helios sensor suite can pick up an outline of the cache, if it exists at all,” Swift explained.
“And, of course, The White Ship’s been spotted over that-a-way,” Newton said, with a grimace. His captain got a bit maudlin this time of year.
“The White Ship is a myth, Nat. The Cole was destroyed a long time ago. Kelly Anne’s ship wasn’t just venting when it disappeared, it had haloed.”
Newton winced. The halo effect was produced when enough water vapor had crystallized to reflect star light. As a rule of thumb, it was generally the same amount of water vapor you would normally find in the life support plant of the vessel sporting the halo. That would only occur if the atmosphere in a ship fully vented.
“Sorry, my friend,” he said. “I didn’t mean to open old wounds; I just thought you might be chasing moonbeams.”
“It’s an old scar,” Swift replied. “Older than this one, at any rate,” he said, rubbing his cheek. “Well, XO, drink up, we’ve a busy day ahead of us.”
Swift took a long pull on the now cool coffee, swallowing a mouthful. The flavor of roasted beans was overcome by the burn of alcohol as it singed down his throat.
“I thought you said this was coffee,” he gasped, at his grinning XO.
“Oh, it is,” the cheerful executive office replied, taking a swallow; “Irish coffee.

NaNoWriMo Notes – Day 1: Project Mjölnir – Phase 1

Check out my page! Just a quick note. You’re liable to get a lot of these one offs in the coming weeks. Interesting day so far. I was able to crank out 2111 words before work this morning, so I’m feeling pretty good about my first day’s progress. I’m not even going to look at it. I have a feeling that it’s mostly dreck, but that’s okay.

NaNoWriMo has been having issues with their site, so they haven’t published their widgets yet. My home rolled ones failed in Internet Explorer requiring a work around. That was fun. Over on the Project Mjölnir page, I was able to get all my preliminary work done, except a trial podcast. I had been hoping to limber up with a reading of The Raven for Halloween, but I ran out of time. I’ll have to move that down into another phase, along with the forgotten task of obtaining cover art.

Standard caveats apply

I’m going to take a moment here to talk about one the primary tools that I’m using for NaNoWriMo; yWriter. This is near and dear to my heart for a couple of reasons. First, it lends itself very nicely to the research, outline and storyboard approach to novel writing that I’m happiest with. It has a ton of features and is easy to use. Heaps of useful information out on the site.

Secondly, Simon Haynes, creator of yWriter,  is not only a successful application programmer, but also a published novelist. I just love that!

I follow Simon on Twitter and I believe he is in one of my circles on Google+. Other than that, I received no consideration or remuneration for this review. Simon wouldn’t know me from Adam. Well, maybe if Adam has hair.

Until tomorrow (or the next time I can take a breath).

With all the excitement of NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to forget what this is all about; raising money to benefit writing programs for children and adults. NaNoWriteMo is a marathon and like a marathon runner, I am seeking sponsors to help me raise $2500 dollars.

With massive cutbacks in liberal arts funding to public and private schools, now is the time for organizations like The Office of Letters and Light, creators of the National Novel Writer’s Month, to step up and bridge the gap. A $10 donation, the price of a single lunch, can help provide needed instruction and foster a life long love of writing in a child. This donation is fully tax deductible.

I’m also giving a private reading of selections from the novel in January for those who donation here. (If you can’t attend, I’ll be recording it and I’ll be happy to send you a link to a downloadable copy.) There will also be a Q & A session after the reading where you can find out about my creative process.

Thank you for your support!

Twitter Addiction, Podcastitis & NaNoWriMo in 5

image You really don’t know what effect you have on people, especially people you barely know.

Let me get this out in the open; I have a compulsive personality. It’s a quirk, to be sure, but it’s one I fully embrace and own. So, when presented a new and shiny toy, there is a great likelihood that I will wear it out; for instance, my current infatuation with Twitter. That’s really a half truth, I’ve become somewhat enamored with all social media, from the cotton candy favored confection that is Facebook to the more sophisticated and professional LinkedIn.

Competing with this overwhelming need to comment on everything is a secret love that I have hidden away, lo these many years. That love is air-time. I’m not talking grabbing some sky on a half-pipe. No, I’m talking about talking; platters spinning, cans on and mic hot. You see, for the first thirteen years of my professional career, I was a broadcaster.

I did voice work at many of the radio and television stations in and around the Richmond area. To be honest, I’d forgotten how much fun it was. That is, until I met (virtually) these four guys: Tee Morris, Odin1Eye, Richard Green & Jeff Hite. To be fair, they probably had no idea what was about to happen … probably.

Jeff is likely wondering how he wound up on the list. Well, it’s Odin’s fault. Wait for it, we’ll get there. Jeff put out a call, on Twitter, for bit parts in the Pirate’s Cove rendition of Treasure Island. I sent him a quick read of the first couple of paragraphs of Little Fuzzy. He replied “with a voice like that there are going to be a lot of people after you.” Yes, I know he could have meant that in many ways. Hopefully, DHS will not come knocking. It was a little compliment, but it meant a lot to me, having not stood in front of a microphone for any extended time in over a decade. Thanks, Jeff!

Nice as it was, that alone wasn’t enough to get me motivated. Cue Odin1Eye, who put out a call for promos for his podcast, View from Valhalla. It got me to thinking (never a good sign, especially when breakables are around). I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year anyway and I had been toying with the idea of podcasting for a while (due in large part to Tee; yes details  later), so why not promote my idea as a Project! A Project that had thought and stuff behind it! I cut Odin a promo and he used it in VfV Episode 93. That gave me the courage to try out for the bit parts in Treasure Island. See, told you I’d wrap it back.

Okay, so I’m going to do this podcast thing. I thought I’d lost my stealth-like, ninja assassin voice. Evidently not. And the project, the carefully considered, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project; I’ll be doing that too. Again, I’m sure that Jeff  and Odin had no idea that just encouraging me would provoke this kind of response. So don’t blame them … entirely.

Richard’s contribution was even more innocuous; he listed me as a source in The “Geek Out!” Daily for the Japan’s Defense Ministry Would Like to Introduce You To Their Little Friend story. I had no idea anyone was taking me all that seriously on Twitter. He probably didn’t intend for me to feel so validated, yet I was and fired up enough to take completing the NaNo challenge seriously.

Which brings us to Tee. Frankly, the more I find out about his accomplishments, the more intimidated I am. He’s an award-winning author and podcaster. He is also a really smart guy when it comes to operating in the social media arena. (No, I don’t call anyone a guru, but if I were to call anyone a social media expert, Tee would be the guru to see.) In fact, it was his Podcasting for Dummies books that I used as a foundation to build my studio. He is one of the most effective communicators I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. In short, he’s doing many of the things I want to be doing, except he’s doing them well. And younger. I’d like to say we’re of an age. I’d like to say it, but it wouldn’t be true.

Naturally, in what should come as no shock to those that know me, I got competitive. Perhaps I should have said, inspired. Clearly, I’m behind the curve. Audio has changed a lot in the past ten years. All the editing is done digitally now; no more adhesive tape, grease pencils and razor blades. No more open reel tape recorders or having to hand wind your cartridges. No more dinosaurs roaming the Earth. Time for me to study up, buttercup.

Not content to just do NaNoWriMo, I’ve obligated myself to podcasting the finished product. No, I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into; but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m about to find out.

I’m still working on the back story, history and story outline together. I’ll update the Project Mjölnir page as I get the tasks completed. This Project and all the shenanigans associated with it are due, in large part, to the encouragement from these kind people, who (whom? gets me every time) I’ve never met IRL. All they did was take a little time and acknowledge my interest. Many thanks to you four, whether you realize it or not, you’ve given me a great deal of motivation. As it turns out, that’s exactly what I needed.

With all the excitement of NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to forget what this is all about; raising money to benefit writing programs for children and adults. NaNoWriteMo is a marathon and like a marathon runner, I am seeking sponsors to help me raise $2500 dollars.

With massive cutbacks in liberal arts funding to public and private schools, now is the time for organizations like The Office of Letters and Light, creators of the National Novel Writer’s Month, to step up and bridge the gap. A $10 donation, the price of a single lunch, can help provide needed instruction and foster a life long love of writing in a child. This donation is fully tax deductible.

I’m also giving a private reading of selections from the novel in January for those who donation here. (If you can’t attend, I’ll be recording it and I’ll be happy to send you a link to a downloadable copy.) There will also be a Q & A session after the reading where you can find out about my creative process.

Thank you for your support!

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