Novel Month 2020: Ready to rock and roll

Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope you’re out there playing tricks and getting treats. Or just out there in general, because life’s too short to be scared of a virus with a 99.87% survival rate.

Another November is upon us, and that means it’s yet again time for the big writing push that is Nanowrimo. This will be my 10th attempt, and what I hope to be my 9th straight successful year. As always, the “official” goal is an original novel of 50,000 words, but you know I play by my own rules. Either/or, in this case. If I get to 50K without finishing the book, I’ll consider it a victory. If I get to the end of the story first, well, I’m not going to pad it just for the sake of numbers.

As always, here are my previous successful attempts:

  • 2012: Heirs of Divinity
  • 2013: Out of the Past
  • 2014: Before I Wake
  • 2015: The City and the Hill
  • 2016: Nocturne
  • 2017: The Soulstone Sorcerer
  • 2018: Seasons Change
  • 2019: Winds of Change

Three of these have since become part of my Otherworld series; a fourth, Seasons Change, is a kind of side story. Heirs of Divinity is my perennial “I’ll get it out eventually” novel, and I’ve been giving you that lie for about 4 years now. I put The Soulstone Sorcerer on my Patreon a few months back. And Before I Wake, of course, was my first self-published book, and you can still get it on the Kindle Store. It’s a lot rougher than my present works, but I remain proud of it.

That leaves Nocturne, and I want to talk about it just a little bit before I get into 2020’s entry. Nocturne came about because of two events. First, the Great American Eclipse of 2017, which I had the good fortune to watch from my driveway. I planned for almost two full years before the big day (which was, coincidentally enough, my father’s 55th birthday), and those plans influenced my thoughts often in the intervening time. So, one day in October 2016, I was taking a shower, and I had a thought. Eclipses are considered omens in many cultures, but what if they actually factored into a magic system? The rest is history.

November 2016, though, also had an event that could not be ignored, and that’s why Nocturne keeps coming to mind now. As we all know, that was the last presidential election. Well, the time influenced me greatly, bleeding into the story in a way I’ve not done since. Some parts of Nocturne are absolutely allegory. Maxon, for instance, represents the extremists who are once again wreaking havoc on our cities, while Aures, the conniving businessman who comes out of nowhere, plays both sides against one another, and takes power in the ensuing confusion, has a fairly obvious real-world counterpart.

I never expected that novel to continue being culturally relevant four years later, but here we are. To this day, I maintain that it is my greatest work. Never mind that I wrote the first draft in 7 weeks, and parts of it were practically on instinct. To me, it stands as my highest literary achievement.

But I want something different this year. I’m tired of politics. It’s politics that stole the past 8 months of my life (and counting). It’s politics that sent me into new levels of depression in April. And July. And a couple of weeks ago. So let’s find something else.

The original plan, such as it was, revolved around Otherworld #20. (Actually, it should be considered Otherworld #32, but…reasons.) I had a few plans for it, and I just finished the previous entry this week. so it seemed a natural fit, except that I started getting the feeling that it would be too political. The metaplot for the third Otherworld “season” is a succession crisis. I know I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from inserting references to this year’s election. As the whole point is to avoid that as much as possible, I shelved the idea. Otherworld #20 can wait until next year, because I’ve already decided that 2021 will not see new releases of the series.

So what am I writing, if not that?

Readers of my Patreon status updates will know that I finished the draft for my fourth Orphans of the Stars sci-fi novel, Time in the Sun, earlier this month. It was a climactic moment for many reasons, not the least because it was my 60th completed story. I’d planned this series to span at least 8 books, possibly 9, but I don’t have any notes on what’s to happen in future books. All I did have was a vague idea of where it would begin, and a title: On the Stellar Sea.

That will be my Nanowrimo entry this year. Orphans of the Stars #5, On the Stellar Sea. I very seriously doubt I’ll finish the entire novel in November, as my initial estimate would be around 120,000 words. (Shut up, 2017!) If I can get 50K in the next month, I’ll gladly call that a win. If I reach the end by December 31, even better, but we’ll call that a stretch goal.

If you’re playing along at home, I’ll close out with a variation on my sign-off catchphrase: Keep writing!

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