Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all my American friends enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving!

"Thanksgiving-Brownscombe" by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe

“Thanksgiving-Brownscombe” by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe – Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal http://www.lakenhal.nl/persberichtendetail.php?id=144. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thanksgiving-Brownscombe.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Thanksgiving-Brownscombe.jpg

We have already had a wonderful dinner and are enjoying a quiet afternoon before we further stuff our faces at about 3, with dessert. It is just us today; we will be visiting family for Christmas this year (and which, in truth, we do almost every year).

For my husband and I, it is the first day in the past 60 days when we have not strictly counted our calories. (I have lost 9 pounds, and he has lost 10.) I plan to estimate the calories so as to not lose my 60 day streak in MyFitnessPal, but I’m not particularly watching them today.

We will put up our Christmas tree sometime over the weekend, but we will not be hitting the shops. Neither one of us are Black Friday fans, but we have been known to participate in Cyber Monday. And I think I’ll probably get some writing done.

If you have a long weekend this week, what are you up to?

Could I Be Finished and Just Didn’t Know It?

I was thinking about how to do this final confrontation at the end of my book when I thought of a plot twist that I loved. But I realized that if I used this plot twist, I would have to spend another 50,000 words resolving it. Almost enough for another book. Or a door-stopper for this one.

And then I realized that I had been wondering how I would continue the series, anyway. Other than some over-arching scenes, I had nothing. But if I proceed with this … well, it gives my characters almost impossible odds to overcome. I have no idea how I would pull it off.

What more can a storyteller want?

So I’m feeling this idea out. I’ll need to move one scene back within the 95,000 or so words that I’d be keeping, but fortunately, the scene is somewhat portable. I’d have to put my confrontation in a different place, but I’m cool with that. It would also leave a well-established villain alive for future conflict, which is always good.

I’m not seeing any negatives. And I’m excited!

Devising a Mathematical Formula for Time Travel

So my husband forwarded me a funny:

Math Geek Funny

It took me a moment to get it, but when I did, I just knew that I had to work out a time-travel formula for East of Yesterday. I broke out my calculator, and got to work.

I mostly did this for fun. I didn’t expect it to be useful for the story.

I am not usually much of a math geek. I got as far as College Algebra, when I ambitiously took an accelerated class. I barely kept up. Matrices almost blew out my brain cells. College Algebra was my only C in college. After that, I barely clung to the Honor Roll. If I had taken the regular class, I might have moved on from there, but as it was, I was done. So I have never learned calculus. It’s right behind Latin on the list of things I want to learn before I die.

Anyway, I started with a real-life formula related to the one spoofed above:

Time = Distance / Speed

And I played with the numbers until I found a formula that worked for the travel times in my story. Here’s the formula for going back in time.

ThB = (ds)2

Time-hours Back equals distance times speed squared.

I suppose an example would be instructive.

distance = 100 miles
speed = 50mph

100 x 50 = 5000
5000 squared = 25,000,000 timehours

25,000,000 timehours divided by 8760 hours per year equals 2853.881 timedays
Divided by 356 days = 7.82 years traveled back.

I ignored leap years. This is fiction, after all. Here’s the formula to move forward.

ThF = π((ds)2)

Time-hours Forward equals pi times (distance times speed squared)

Why pi? Because what fun is a make-believe formula without it? Besides, I wanted travel to the future to be roughly three times “faster” than travel to the past, so I thought, why not pi? The only argument against it was because time is linear, not circular. But a character in my story had another opinion:

“So.” He clapped his hands together, obviously at a loss for what to say, “how was your trip?”

“Faster than I expected,” Adele said. “At least, the time-traveling part was. The rest of it was pretty awful.”

“Oh, yes—that.” He seemed relieved to be on a familiar subject. “It’s the added velocity of time that you experienced.”

“Added velocity?”

“Well, time moves forward, after all. So when you move forward in time, you have all that velocity behind you. When you go back, you have to work against that velocity. The multiplier is pi, to be precise, although I don’t know why that makes sense, since there is nothing circular about time.” He paused and then snapped his fingers. “Unless you’re traveling in time. Of course! Now it makes perfect sense.” He pulled a notebook out of his pocket and began to write.

(Please excuse the crudity of these paragraphs. I have not had a chance to edit or revise.)

Someone who has taken calc could perhaps critique my formulas. All I know is the numbers work for my story, and they let me know when the characters have moved too quickly (or slowly). And it made for some interesting revisions.

So the effort turned out to be more useful than I thought.

Pressing on to The End

My last post was very valuable to me. I have sorted out all the issues with the manuscript, and am now pressing on to the end. I had to cut about 3000 words of redundant and irrelevant scenes, but once I did that, I had nothing in front of me except blank pages and plot markers. Therefore, I was able to write almost 4000 words since my last post.They all came in a rush–just like they have done for most of this book. Too bad I got mired in so many plot changes…

This experience has shown me that I need to post weekly–it keeps my inspiration flowing.

Recent Research

This week, I researched STDs and confirmed an earlier decision that one of my characters is going to get syphilis. Naturally, he totally deserves it. But he’s kind of an ally to my protagonists–a shades-of-gray type of character–so they’ll have to get him fixed up in a future book. He just has to get north of 1950 or so.

Why syphilis? Mostly because it is curable. I want to use the guy in future books. And I need him healthy.

I noticed something … well, disturbing when I was doing the research. Here is a bust of a man with advanced syphilis. Note the skull protrusions:

Tertiary syphilis head

And now, a beloved character from children’s animated film:

90s-Hunchback-of-Notre-DameI am fairly weirded out.

Research Road Trip?

Google Maps has been greatly helpful with imagery from the various towns and cities that my characters pass on the road-trip portion of my novel, but I keep thinking that I’d like to make the drive for real. It would involve driving up to South Carolina, and driving back down south on my non-interstate route. It will probably be a three day trip–one day there, and allow for two days back. So this may be something I’ll do early next year. All my vacation for this year is spoken for. If I do this, I will definitely be posting on it. My family loves long car trips–even my daughter–so I expect it to be a good time for all.

Multibook Commitment

Another thing I decided on in the last few weeks was that this will definitely be a multibook commitment. I toyed with the idea of trying to tie everything up in one book, but it would end up being about 150,000 words and would definitely have pacing problems, because the last 25,000 or so words have been sloping toward an ending. Plus, I know how I am going to segue into that book.

So that’s it for now. Thanks for the support and encouraging words.

Writing Engines are Humming

What a week. Using the road map I made for myself last week, I finally gritted my way through a very difficult rewrite, pushing East of Yesterday up to over 100,000 words. Then I started cutting scenes that had become either redundant or irrelevant after the rewrite, and chopped it down to 97,000 words. And now I’m back up to 99,000 with nothing but blank pages before me.

And right now, that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t have blank page syndrome–I had full page syndrome. I had page after page of irrelevancy and redundancy, with tiny dollops here and there of stuff I needed to keep. I was daunted at the thought of straightening it all out. But I pressed on and pressed through, and now I can see the end in sight.

One thing I keep running into is what I call temporal inconsistencies. I don’t do a lot of twisting time in knots–because it’s really difficult to follow–but what little I do has to be consistent from either end of time. It’s hard to explain. You’ll have to read it for yourself. Well, I caught myself writing in an inconsistency when I was going to have someone warn someone else about something he has already done, but has yet to do. And then I realized the warning made no sense. And then I realized that it could make sense, if I just tweaked it a little bit.

Here’s a snip, from Mike’s point-of-view. He’s talking to his friend, Brad. It starts with Mike.

“Wait. Did you say you were going to ride home with him?”

“Yup. All the way to 1975. Remember that weird problem I had back then? When you said I’d been in a fight, but I really wasn’t?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, you described a guy that looked a lot like this Lysander cat. I don’t know what I did, but I guess I’ll find out, right? And we do know I pop him a good one and he’s down for the count?”

“Well … yeah.”

“So you head back to the 20s and hang tight. I’ll misdirect him back to the 70s, use my Good Knight on him, and I’ll be back before you get home.”

“But how—“

“Look, I can’t stay—they think I’m out to take a piss. Just get out of here, for the love of God. They’re still looking for Adele.”

And he ran off into the night.

The Good Knight is what he calls is famous (or infamous) right jab.

It’s fun to write. And I’m hoping it’s fun to read as well. :)

End-of-Book Slog

So I guess I’m on hiatus. Kind of.

I’ve written over 100,000 words of East of Yesterday, and I’m trying to wrestle this story into a satisfying ending. My productivity has been steady but not great. I am slowly working through it. And it seems that the word count does keep creeping up, so that’s progress.

But unfortunately, I’ve totally outlined this story, and every time I’ve done that, it has killed my writing pace. I wish I knew why. The best I can figure is that when I write it down, even as a bubble in a Visio flowchart (as I did this time), it takes away some of the freshness of the plot, dampening my enthusiasm somewhat. For the next book, I will revert to using scene titles in my Navigation Pane of Word. That approach tends to guide me through the plot, as if I were being led on a leash.

Hmm. Good idea. I think I’ll do that with the rest of the plot milestones in the story. It may just help.

Hey–thanks for your help! I gotta run now and try this out. I’ll try to pop in with an update soon.

Debut Showcase – Wickedly Dangerous

Wickedly Dangerous Cover

Wickedly Dangerous
by Deborah Blake
Berkeley Publishing
Mass Market Paperback or Ebook

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

I wish I could say that Debut Showcases were back for good. Deborah wrote reviews for Debuts and Reviews for quite a while, and I have long planned to showcase her fiction debut. I am intrigued by the mixture of the strange old legend, fey boundaries, the enchanted RV and of course, the polymorphed dragon. Plus, who can resist an Irish sheriff?