A NaNoWriMo Blog

Monday, December 26, 2005

That's All He Wrote

85,485 words and 254 pages later, my first draft of The Valkyrie's Tale is complete.

And I'm exhausted. Now, I get to go rest my brain for a while, and then comes editing, which is extremely difficult. And then comes trying to sell the thing, and that's even tougher. But the good news is that the toughest part is done--I started a novel and wrote it through to completion. Yay me.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


So when last I checked in, I was at 50,000 words or so, and pretty pleased. But I wasn't done, by my own admission. Indeed, I thought at the time I had 30,000 words or so to add to complete my first draft.

Well, 15,000 down, about 20,000 to go. I've just passed 65,000 words, and am about to set up the reason that my party has to invade the headquarters of the dastardly Cadre. Will they succeed? (Probably--I'd feel really bad if they didn't.) Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Handsome Dan, Play the Victory Sound!

As Howard Dean once said: YEARGH!

I am officially, as of right now, at 50,120 words. By NaNoWriMo rules, I am a winner!

Of course, there's still...oh...about 30% of the book left. Plus editing. Sadly, I have many more weeks of writing yet before I can even declare the narrative complete.

Still, producing 153 pages of prose in under a month is nothing I'm going to scoff at. I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far. Now, I have to finish the work I've started--or this doesn't mean much.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Getting There

Well, it took 7,000 words in the last 30 hours or so, but I'm officially back on pace--a full 78 words ahead of it, in fact, at 40,078 words.

I actually had a fun moment last night, when it struck me that a character I'd mentioned two chapters back as an almost throwaway (she was meant merely as evidence that failed Valkyries didn't get killed, or even shunned--they were just sort of shipped away) is in fact playing a pivotal role in not just a jailbreak, but in the final assault on the Cadre's stronghold. I love it when stuff like that fits together, and indeed, it's almost like my subconscious knew this was coming four days before I did.

At any rate, over 80% to goal, and about 40% of what I expect the final wordcount to be. I expect when I'm done getting the narrative down I'll be in the 75,000 range--and there are definitely enough sections I wish to add to in the story that 90,000-100,000 should be the final tally.

Monday, November 21, 2005


So you may be wondering where I've gone (or, based on the hit count, you may not have been). Well, last Tuesday morning I woke up to a shooting pain in my right eye. I've had this before, but this was about as bad as ever; I drove to work with essentially septuple vision in that eye, and my vision didn't improve during the day. That evening, my eye started to feel like something was in it; by the next morning, it was red and swollen and hurt constantly, growing worse with each blink.

Well, several trips to the optometrist later, I can tell you that I suffer from recurring corneal erosions, which means that occasionally, part of the top layer of my cornea pulls off with my eyelid instead of remaining attached to the rest of the cornea. Which is about as fun as it sounds.

Of course, there are all sorts of fun things with that, as you may expect--when you feel like you've got something in your eye 100% of the time, it's hard to think two sentences down the line, much less plan out your novel. So I simply lay in pain for several days, letting myself get out of the flow of the story and allowing the inertia that had previously been my ally to become my foe.

Oh well. I can't get the time back, but I'm only about 6,000 words behind. That's not great, but a 2,300 word a day pace should get the job done. Considering my plan has always been to write 15,000-20,000 words over Thanksgiving weekend, 50,000 should still be very attainable.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Over Halfway!

I'm now officially over halfway to the goal--25,005 words, leaving 24,995 to go. I've hit the halfway point on 11/12, meaning I've got eighteen full days to accomplish what took me twelve so far. Huzzah!

Write On!

Went to my first write-in last night at Nina's in St. Paul. Amazingly, I actually advanced the ball a bit--it was nice also to be among a group of similarly suffering folks.

I just may get over 50% done this weekend, which would be nice; I am coming up on the most difficult writing, the "road of trials" section of the book, which is basically my traveling party running into a series of tests that, while entertaining, are only tangentally related to the main narrative drivetrain.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Well, I passed the 20,000 word barrier, hitting 20,298 tonight. It was a bit of a struggle at the end; I don't think the stuff I wrote in the last hour was my best, but who knows? I may reread it tomorrow and marvel. Or I may mark it up mercilessly. Time will tell.

At any rate, just so you can see that I am, in fact, writing stuff, here's a battle scene:

It was about a half an hour later when they heard the groan.

Lorelei had just recomposed herself; Miia and Malcolm had given her a wide berth, and while Radulf had come and lain by her feet, she wasn't talkative. Indeed, the first words anyone in the party had spoken since entering the battlefield were spoken in unison, as Malcolm, Lorelei, and Miia all said, at once, "What the—"

None of them could complete the thought, as there was a sudden tremor, followed by a tremendous quake that dropped them all.

"Swords!" called Lorelei by reflex, bouncing up and forcing herself to hold her feet. Miia was a bit slower on the uptake, but soon enough she had risen to a defensive position.

Malcolm, for his part, was being bounced away from the two Valkyries, hollering bloody murder—until his howls were replaced by terrible howling..

Out of one of the tarry places, a huge tendril had suddenly shot forth, twelve feet high at least. It flowed upward, and stopped in place.

And turned.

"On your guard," Lorelei called out. "I don't like the looks of this."

"You think?" Miia shouted. "What is it?"

A deep rumbling thrum came from the monolith.

"Lassies!" shouted Malcolm, trying in vain to remain upright. "Get away! He'll kill you!"

The top of the column slowly distorted into three divots. Two at top. A larger one below.

Eyes and mouth.

"Hhhhhhyyyyyyooooouuuu!" the beast cried, and threw a tarry tenticle out, grasping Miia before she had time to react, and lifting her five feet off the ground, her sword clattering to the ground.

"Go, Lorelei!" she cried out.

"Like Hell," came the reply, as Lorelei strode forward. "Drop her!"

The beast roared out something like a cross between peals of derisive laughter and a small earthquake.

"He's not scared of you, lass!" said Malcolm, crawling over to her position. "Your swords can't hurt him!"

"What is he?" said Lorelei, dropping to a crouching position.

"He's a huge tarry monster."

"I can see that."

"He's an ardbeg!" continued Malcolm. "What's left of a shapeshifter after he dies."


"'Tis deep magic, lass. Concentrated ambrosia is just part of the potion involved. The person taking it is mortal—all things are. But the residue of the spell remains for years after the creature dies."

The conference was broken up by a piercing scream from Miia.

"All right, enough chitchat. What kills it?"

"Nothing, lass. 'Tis already dead."

"You've been a lot of help, Malcolm," said Lorelei, leaping to her feet and accelerating toward the beast at full speed.

She looked at the creature, looking for a weakness. Seeing none, she did the best thing she could; she leapt, and struck at the tendril that was holding Miia.

The ardbeg roared in protest as the tar cleaved partially. Unfortunately, Lorelei's sword remained stuck fast.

"That's a problem," she muttered, falling back, hand searching the ground as another tendril shot out.

Lorelei dropped and rolled away as the tar impacted the earth, shaking the ground. She kept her eyes up; the ardbeg's grip on Miia had loosened just enough that her friend was slowly working her way loose.

Another tendril shot at her just as her hand touched paydirt; she grabbed and rolled away, springing up and swinging the sword with wanton abandon at the trunk above.

The ardbeg screamed as the tendril dropped, and hit the ground, bringing Miia in tow with a sploosh.

Lorelei rushed to her friend, who was already busy extricating herself. "Get the steel!" Miia called out, and Lorelei immediately obliged, seeing happily that both swords had stuck to the fallen side of the tendril.

Miia pulled herself free like a kid pulling taffy—she stretched the tar until it broke. She and Lorelei then rushed back to where Radulf was dutifully propping Malcolm up.

"How are you?" asked Lorelei, as she tried to think of some sort of defense.

"Well, I'm sticky and oily," said Miia. "But not in a good way."

"Lasses, I hate to repeat myself, but let's go!"

The beast shot forth an arcing tendril that landed behind them, and it slowly began to pull itself toward them.

"No, I think this one wants to dance," said Lorelei, moving her sword slowly. Then, suddenly, she paused, and smiled.

"I'm going to owe you another bottle of whisky, Malcolm," she said. "Miia, get the flint ready."


But Lorelei was already at her pack, pulling out a bottle of tan liquid and the blue tunic she'd purchased; she hated to lose this already, but there wasn't time to debate. She doused the tunic, pushed it into the bottle, and shouted, "Spark!"

Miia had realized what she was doing; she struck the flint and the shirt ignited.

Lorelei rose and tossed the flaming bottle to the foot of the ardbeg. "Grab Malcolm," she said, "And run!"

Miia grasped Malcolm around the middle, paying no heed to his protests, while Lorelei urged Radulf into a dead sprint. They dove behind a rise just as the bottle exploded.

The ardbeg screamed out in a dull roar as it was overwhelmed by the flames. Slowly, they crept up and down every tendril of the beast, until it slowly melted into a pool of black, which slowly cooled to obsidian.

The party had watched in fear and fascination; it was just as the beast was starting to cool that Miia spoke up.

"Well, that explains it," she said, pointing to a bit of charred cloth and a partially molten bronze ensign in the shape of a cannon.

"He was one of Fowler's men," said Lorelei, laughing. "I bet one you killed."

"Trying to return the favor, I guess," said Miia, smiling in spite of herself. And for the first time in over a week, she laughed.

Good night.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Riding the Rollercoaster

14,240 and counting. That's ahead of pace, still, and makes me feel all good.

Unfortunately, I'm starting to realize a few things:

  • While I may hit 50,000 words this month, there is no way I'm going to be "done" with my novel. That's well and good, of course--you still "win" as long as you get 50,000 words down, and I think that's increasingly attainable--especially given that the last half of the month favors me more than the first. And I never expected to have a draft worthy of submission by December 1. But I'm 14,240 in, Lorelei hasn't met her God-Teacher yet, and they've still got a heretofore unplanned excursion to a meeting of the Urusks' High Council. Not to mention that even when they meet Zvonimir, we're at maybe 25% of the way through the story. And that's not including a few things that I intend to add in the editing process--details on battles, a bit more shading, and so forth. I'm figuring 100,000 words will get 'er done--or about 300-400 pages. Whee!
  • Characters are starting to morph on me. That should happen--characters should start insisting that pace my early intentions, they have their own lives and views on things, thank you very much. Lorelei is more reserved than I thought, and more plagued by self-doubt. Miia is more fiery, and more reckless. Malcolm is more noble than I thought, by a large, large margin. That necessitated the stopover with the Urusks. And I haven't even met Zvonimir yet, other than as a few asides--and he's arguably the most complex character I've conceived of.
  • I'm starting to hit the rollercoaster. I'm blowing very hot and cold--one minute I think I might just have something, and most other minutes I think I'm churning out garbage. The nice thing about NaNoWriMo is that the goal of 50,000 words keeps you marching forward in the face of doubt; once I've written half this story, I'm going to finish it up through sheer intertia. That's why I started this in the first place.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Comment Spam!

Sorry, Robin, I've added word verification to the comments. So while this site will still be good for reading about stuff I'm writing, it will no longer give you your penis enlarger fix.

As for my current stats--11,932 words, just shy of 24%, a pace of 1704 1/2 words a day--in other words, right in the ballpark. Odds are I won't advance the ball much over the next few days, but I'm in a good position. Plus, shades of deus ex machina, Miia's no longer dying thanks to Malcolm and his whisky, rosemary, and ambrosia potion, so I'm feeling less bad about how I've abused poor Miia and Lorelei so far.

Biggest problem now? I'm starting to be plagued by self-doubt. That still, small voice that tells me that the stuff just isn't good. I'm trying to ignore it--and I think it's just possible I will.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Breaking 10,000

Well, I close the day just across the 10,000 line--10,020 words, to be precise. I just got through writing a hard scene--after Lorelei returns to the Valkyrie encampment, the Cadre attacks, killing everyone but her and one other. Not a happy scene. Not a good time.

Lorelei and Miia are now traveling overland toward parts unknown. At least next they run into Malcolm, who should bring some much-needed levity.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Moving at a Medium Pace

Well, having a slow day at work can come in handy sometimes. Between time I was up last night, too congested to sleep, and a longish break, I've added another 1500 words, and am clocking in at 6,711. The pace to write 50,000 by November 30 is 1666 2/3 words a day--I'm happy to say my pace is 1677.75--meaning I should complete my 50,000 words by 11:54 PM on the 30th.

Actually, I'm quite happy with my production. Tomorrow should give me the chance to add another 2,000 words or so. I'd love to actually get to 10K by tomorrow. I don't think that's outside the realm of possibility.

What's actually making me happy is that I'm actually liking the story thus far. I think there's something worthwhile there--and looking very much forward to the next couple chapters, which will include an all-out assault on Lorelei's home, a flight to Neri, and an uruisg who has short-man syndrome to the nth degree.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

3,552, Beyatch!

Well, that was fun! I topped out the day at 5,285 words total--meaning I produced 3,552 of those today. Not bad! Better yet, I'm back on pace to finish on time. As I said in my first post here, it's not the end of the world if I miss the target--but I'd rather hit it.

Off to sleep--I suspect by this time tomorrow I'll only be around 6,000 words or so, but my goal of 12,000 by Sunday at midnight appears at least theoretically possible, so that's a good sign.

Brief Timewasting Stuff

Well, give me an hour and I can add 1000 words. So far I'm at 2,882, my goal of hitting 5,000 by the end of the night seems well within reach. If I could only breathe out of my right nostril, it's be great!

At any rate, just because Flash linked to me (thanks!), here's a look at the names of four of the Dramatis Personae:

Lorelei Voss, a Valkyrie Apprentice

Miia Aalto, a Valkyrie Apprentice

Malcolm MacChaluim, an Uruisg

Prof. Zvonimir M. Pasternak, a God-Teacher

I'm actually pretty proud of "Zvonimir." The name just sings, don't it?

All right, enough time wasted; back to it.

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of--but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.

Well, so far so good. I'm about 1700 words in, which doesn't sound like much, but the first two days of the month have been nights where I care for my daughter; that I got anything in is a pleasant surprise. Tonight should be a good night for writing, save that I feel miserably sick; that won't stop me, though, as I write well when loopy on the cold pills.

At any rate, the numbers so far: 1733 words, 48,267 to go. That's behind pace by about 1500 words or so, but assuming I can put in a couple hours tonight (and there's no reason I can't), I'm hoping to be around 5,000 words by the end of the night.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Welcome One and All

Hello, my name is Jeff Fecke. You may know me from my main blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, where I expound on stuff now and again.

I've put together this blog specifically to talk about my experiences during the
2005 National Novel Writing Month, which challenges people to try to produce a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30, 2005.

Why do I want to blog this? Many reasons:
  1. It's a timewaster. As any good writer knows, you need timewasters. If you don't waste time, there's no challenge.
  2. It's a potential feedback generator. Note: I'm not suggesting it will actually generate feedback, only that it potentially could.
  3. It lets me restate what I'm writing in another way. This one is the most important, and the real reason I'm doing this. Stories have a way of taking on internal logic and running away, especially fantasy stories. That's not good. By occasionally writing out what I'm thinking, and why, I give myself the opportunity to see things from a perspective outside the story. That's important.

At any rate, if you're still reading, good for you. Here's the opening scene, which you may mock at will:

She ran down the hill with reckless abandon, feeling the summer sun beat down on her auburn hair, the solid ground beneath her feet. She knew this land; it was her home. She had run down this hill dozens of times. Gracefully, she spun at the end, and looked back up the knoll to her house.

She furrowed her brow. That wasn't right.

The home was altogether different from any she'd ever seen before, a strange shape, a strange color. It was like no house she'd ever seen. And yet she knew it was hers.

She began to walk up the hill again, slowly this time. She reached to her side for her sword, and found it was not there—only an odd, rough fabric altogether different than the leather and mail she was accustomed to.

She quickened her step. This wasn't right.

And yet, somehow she knew it was.

As she approached, she saw a woman tending to a garden. The woman's clothes were as oddly off as the rest of this place, and yet, when the woman looked up, there was recognition in her eyes.

"There you are!" the woman said, smiling. "Go on inside, dear. Brian and your dad are getting dinner ready."

Lorelei looked at the door. This felt so much like home to her. But she knew it couldn't be.

She didn't have a family. She never had.