Tag Archives: Writing

NaNoWriMo 2006: Here we go again…

NaNoWriMo 2006November is nearly upon us, and around here that means it’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month. Once again, Laura and I will each be attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in just thirty short days. We are far from alone in this venture; yesterday we met with thirty or so people who will be writing their own novels next month. Throughout the month, we will meet at coffee shops, libraries and bookstores to discuss our progress, trade ideas, tips and traps, and compete in 20-minute Word Sprints.

For some people, the regular meetings are their most productive time (a few Cleveland-area writers can produce over a thousand words in a single 20-minute sprint), for others they are a way to share their triumphs or heartbreak. For me, they are an excuse to drink large café mochas and eat sweets.

Laura and I will be on a twenty-three hour a day television moratorium all throughout November in order to prevent the idiot box from absorbing precious writing time. The TiVo will take care of recording our favorite shows, and we have allowed ourselves an hour each day to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

One of the Cleveland-area participants has loaned Laura a laptop, an elderly Compaq with a 150MHz Pentium Processor and 32MB of RAM running Windows 98 and RoughDraft 3.0. This should come in very handy, as Laura spends much of her day in the living room with Kyle, her desktop far out of reach. After NaNoWriMo is finished, the laptop will become part of the official loaner laptop pool, a handful of laptops that NaNo founder Chris Baty and company ship out to needy novelists each year in late October.

This year, NaNoWriMo will be a little different for me. For starters, I actually have a story in mind, with a nearly-complete storyarc; it’s a blend of science fiction, action and suspense with a bit of political satire thrown in just to complicate things. I’m also part of a joint venture between Mur Lafferty (I Should Be Writing), The House of the Harping Monkey and P.G. Holyfield called The NanoMonkeys. It’s a daily podcast featuring tips and tricks, interviews, and the occasional reality check. I’ve heard a few of the segments, including an interview with podcast novelist, J.C. Hutchins (7th Son), and they all sound very good.

November looks to be a busy month and if all goes well I’ll have a first draft of Yesterday’s Tomorrow before the sun rises on December 1st.

Podcast: The Round Table, Season 3, Episode 3

The Round Table

Due to some incompetent conjuring on the part of the wizard, Weirdbeard, the episode of The Round Table that appeared in late September took place outside of our normal time-space continuum. Those who tuned into the aberrant transmission found that the regular hosts had been replaced by Dan, Chad, Dawn and Adam from the Fear the Boot podcast.

Rest assured that the appropriate counterspell has been cast (podcastus returnum!) and all has been set to right.

In fact, when the Cleveland contingent of The Round Table returned to our proper place, we found some shiny new recording equipment waiting for us! Where before Chris, Julia and I huddled around Chris’ MacBook like rain-drenched Scouts ’round a tiny campfire, we now record in style at the gloriously appointed Erie Vista Studio! We each have our own Audio-Technica DR-VX1 dynamic microphone on a sleek, black boom stand, all three of which are plugged into a shiny new Behringer Eurorack 1002 mixer.

What better way to break in the new equipment than by recording a brand new episode of The Round Table? This time out, we talked to podcaster, game designer and New York Times bestselling author, Tracy Hickman. Tracy is the co-creator of the Dragonlance RPG setting, co-author (with Margaret Weis) of nearly a dozen Dragonlance novels, and author of The Immortals, which is now available at Podiobooks.com. Tracy and his wife, Laura, co-authored the Bronze Canticles trilogy and co-host the Dragonhearth podcast.

The episode clocks in at nearly two hours and includes not only our discussion with Tracy, but response to listener feedback, the latest geeky recommendations from all four hosts and assorted tomfoolery.

Download the show. (01:50:03)
Subscribe to The Round Table feed.

Local Man Helps Scientists Prove Existence of Ego

Every once in a while, I write up a fake news article designed to mimic the style of The Onion. I wrote this one a couple of years ago, before KJToo.com existed. I’m pretty sure we’ve all encountered our own Derek Thibideaux at some point. Enjoy.


“The ego as we formerly understood it was a psychological construct. Today, we know differently. Today, we have evidence to suggest a physical manifestation of the ego.”

So said Dr. Raymond Smithfield at a press conference yesterday. Doctor Smithfield is a theoretical physicist at the esteemed Mauser-Hopkins Institute of Physical Sciences in Ellsworth, New Hampshire. The new evidence Dr. Smithfield refers to comes in the form of Derek Thibideaux, a sales clerk at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Mentor, Ohio. Thibideaux is regarded by his co-workers to be the single most self-involved person on the face of the planet.

“He’s got an opinion about everything,” said one co-worker, who preferred to remain anonymous. “No one can stand to even talk to him, because if you say one wrong thing he’ll rant for a good hour about why you’re wrong, how stupid you are, and why his point-of-view should be adopted by everyone. God, his ego is huge.”

“‘Huge’ is something of an understatement,” said Dr. Smithfield. “The size of Mr. Thibideaux’s ego defies explanation. What we can say is that it has a direct physical effect on the world as we know it. This an unprecedented discovery.”

Specifically, Derek Thibideaux’s ego exerts gravitation pull on everything around him. “Mr. Thibideaux weighs less than three hundred pounds, but our instruments have detected a gravitational field around his body.” The mass required to generate such a field, says Dr. Smithfield, “would be incomprehensible to the layperson. We literally have no point of reference for such a thing. It’s far less than that of Earth’s moon, but far greater than that of any man-made object or structure on our planet.”

The field is strong enough that Dr. Smithfield and his team were able to detect it without instruments. “The effect this gravitational force has on the human body is rather unusual,” he said, “typically manifesting in a mild nausea.”

“Derek’s presence is generally enough to make me ill,” said co-worker Melissa Hadley. “He’s so self-centered, I can hardly stand to be around him.”

“This is really quite a common complaint about severely egotistical individuals,” confirms Dr. Smithfield. “Until now, it’s always been assumed that this sensation of illness was merely figurative or – at the very worst – psychosomatic. Our findings reveal that it is very real, and that there is a physiological explanation for it.”

The team anticipated some skepticism. “It really is an unprecedented notion,” Dr. Smithfield admits, “but we’re confident that all our bases have been covered.”

Dr. Edmund Whittier headed the project. “We have been extremely careful and systematic throughout the discovery and quantification processes,” he said. “We certainly didn’t want to go public with this without due diligence. All other factors have been taken into account. The only possible source of this gravitational anomaly is Derek’s hyper-inflated ego.”

Not surprisingly, Thibideaux’s ego has grown significantly larger since the findings were verified. “Quite honestly,” said Dr. Smithfield, “we’re a little concerned. The gravitational force created by Derek’s ego increases proportional with his self-esteem.”

Dr. Whittier echoed his colleague’s concerns. “As self-centered as Derek is at present, this new attention simply exacerbates the problem. We’ve already found that gravitational field is growing. While this field causes mild nausea in humans, it can kill smaller animals, such as lab rats, and it’s only going to get stronger.”

Strong enough, Smithfield and Whittier theorize, to eventually bring about the destruction of the planet Earth, and perhaps even reshape the solar system as we now know it. “At the present rate of growth, we could see widespread loss of life in a few months. By the end of the year, Derek’s ego will be strong enough to alter the orbit of man-made satellites.”

There’s no telling how powerful this force could eventually become. “Derek knows that people are interested in him, that he is special, and this awareness serves only to feed his already astounding ego,” says Dr. Smithfield. “Whether the attention is positive or negative, Derek’s sense of self-importance is increasing exponentially. That could cause Earth’s moon to plummet into the planet, pull Venus and Mars into Earth orbit, or even send us careening into the sun.”

Efforts to reverse or even slow the growth of Thibideaux’s ego have proven unsuccessful. “Derek’s ego is, as best as we can tell, feeding on itself. We have experimented with sexual rejection, social ridicule and a number of other tried-and-true ego-deflating mechanisms with absolutely no effect,” said Dr. Smithfield. “We have been unable to find a way to negatively impact his self-esteem.”

“Great,” said Melissa Hayward. “As if he wasn’t overbearing before. It’s going to be practically impossible to work with him now.” Hayward is one of several female co-workers whose sexual rejection failed to damage Thibideaux’s ego.

“However you look at it, this is one of the most significant scientific findings in our lifetime,” said Dr. Whittier, “but we don’t know whether to call it a breakthrough in physics or psychology.”

[Editor’s Note: Though Derek Thibideaux repeatedly made himself available for interviews, none of our reporters could stand to talk to him for more than a few seconds. He really is an arrogant, self-absorbed, condescending prick.]

The Assignment

After work last Thursday I met with Charley, one of the Cleveland-area Wrimos who blew the doors off 50,000 words back in November. We chatted about writing as we sipped our ridiculously huge “not compensating for anything” café mochas.

Charley brought up an exercise he used to do with his college roommate wherein they would write stories based on a random assortment of words. I’ve done this sort of thing before, so I asked Charley to send me an e-mail with a half-dozen words that I could use as the seeds for a short story.

These are the words that showed up in my inbox last night: dichotomy microverse gulp indictment pests scrape.

Pfft! Piece of cake.