Sunday, November 11, 2018

NaNo'ing again, for the eighth time.

I haven't made a big deal about it, as concerned about this past week's election as I've been. But yes, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month again this year.

For the uninitiated, the idea is to start writing a novel on November 1st and keep writing every day, 1,667 words per day. If you can stick to it, you will write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. I mean, it's math: 1,667 per day x 30 days in November = 50,010 words. So really you could slack off on the final day and write just 1,662 words. Or you could write 1,666 words two out of three days and 1,667 the rest of the days. Your choice.

How many pages is 1,667 words? If a page is 500 words single-spaced, then your goal is to write a hair over three pages per day.

This is my eighth time participating in NaNoWriMo -- and if I fail this year, it would be my first time ever. So I don't plan to fail. (My previous NaNo novels, for those keeping track at home: The Maidens' War in 2008, SwanSong in 2009, Seized in 2011, Gravid in 2012, Undertow in 2013, Spider's Lifeline in 2015, and Maggie in the Dark in 2016.)

Which is why I'm doing it again. This has not been a very productive year for me, writing-wise -- which is a roundabout way of saying it has sucked. I usually publish three or four books per year, but this year I've published just one -- Mom's House -- and I've got nothing in the pipeline for the rest of this calendar year except maybe an omnibus for the Transcendence trilogy. There are a lot of reasons for my lack of productivity, but mostly it can be attributed to fallout from the sale of my mother's house in January and our sudden move in the spring. I've started a couple of things, but haven't finished anything. So with November coming up, I figured an arbitrary and capricious deadline was just what I needed to get back on track. After all, it's worked for me before.

The new book doesn't have a title yet. The working title for the series is Elemental Truths, but I expect that will change. This first book is set in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and the main character is a TV actor who decided she needed to hike the Appalachian Trail. Near Harpers Ferry, she finds a body in the Shenandoah River. The police believe the guy was a kayaker who drowned, but Our Hero is an undine -- a Water Elemental -- and she knows the guy didn't drown. Things get weirder from there.

I'm kind of cheating with this novel. For NaNo in November, you're supposed to write a brand-new book -- but what I'm working on this month is one of the projects I started earlier this year. When I dusted it off, I was surprised to learn that I'd written about 11,000 words before I set it aside. So although my official NaNo word count right now is about 19,500 words, really I'm about 30,000 words into the book. My books typically top out at around 53,000 words, so I expect to finish this book well before NaNo's over. If I do, I plan to start working on the second book in the series. In any case, I'll keep writing 'til I've cranked out 50,000 new words this month.

I'm not worried. It's not like the NaNo Police will come looking for me.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, and on whether I come up with a name for the book.

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These moments of watery blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Two more days.

I'm sure you've heard by now -- even if you don't live in the US -- that this coming Tuesday, Americans will be going to the polls. (I'm pretty sure everyone in the galaxy has heard. We've certainly been making enough noise about it.)

This is a midterm election -- it happens halfway between the four-year Presidential elections -- and even though we're voting on candidates for every Congressional seat and one-third of those for US senators (as well as a ton of state and local offices), the current occupant of the White House wants everyone to believe that he's on the ballot again this time. In a way, he is; a lot of Americans are disgusted with the way he has conducted himself so far and with the way his fellow Republicans in Congress have refused to make any meaningful moves toward reining him in. There's been a lot of talk about a "blue wave" coming, and a fair amount of hold-your-breath hopefulness about the percentage of early ballots being cast around the country.

So here we are, two days out. And FiveThirtyEight, a polling aggregator that has a reputation for being pretty even-handed and maybe even a little conservative, gives the Democrats a 6 in 7 chance of capturing the House, and Republicans a 5 in 6 chance of keeping the Senate.

But polls can only tell you so much. Two days before the last Presidential election, the polls had Hillary Clinton as the winner. A lot of Democrats still aren't over that abrupt loss -- and they're trying hard not to get too excited right now, lest it happen again. As the saying goes, he who expects nothing shall not be disappointed.

The suspense is getting to me, too, a little. I had planned to be out of town this coming week, so I got an absentee ballot and mailed it in several weeks ago, and now I'm ready for the votes to be counted and the hoopla to be over.

The process of voting by mail was easy and painless. I don't know why more states -- including Virginia -- don't allow everyone to vote by mail.

Wait. Yes, I do.

Once upon a time, or so I've been told, Republicans in Virginia Beach tried to get more involvement in the city's elections. Now at that time, the Virginia Republican Party used the caucus system to select their candidates, and the party officials in Virginia Beach wanted more people to show up to their local caucus. So they hired a consultant, and he came up with a whole bunch of ideas for increasing turnout. I can't remember what they were, but let's just say they involved things like holding the caucus at a more convenient time for working people. To which the horrified officials responded: "But if we did that, just anybody might show up."

That spirit is alive and well today. That's how you get dumb rules like the one that requires Native Americans in North Dakota to present an ID with a street address in order to vote, when state officials know good and well most folks who live on reservations don't have street addresses. It's also how you get Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp throwing out tens of thousands of African-American voters' registrations on a technicality because he's running for governor against a black woman. After a judge slapped his wrist for it, he then charged his opponent's party with hacking and launched an investigation despite having zero evidence.

Aside from that, there's the gerrymandering that both parties have engaged in. And hey, the Russians are still out there playing their own games with our electoral system, and nobody in charge seems to be too concerned about stopping them.

The odds are long that our election will be 100% fair. But we can overwhelm those odds if we all just show up to vote.

Tuesday. Mark your calendar. Show up. Vote.

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This bloggy get-out-the-vote exhortation has been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.