Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thurber House: Day Eleven (...and sometimes you get the bear!)

Today I've spent the whole day working on my new project.

I'm 3,938 words in, near the end of chapter two, and really really proud of it.

Although there are connections with my other four books (the three Thrones & Bones novels and the just-completed secret manuscript), it's a departure from what I've done so far in other ways.  And I'm really thrilled by how it starts.

It's really an amazing opportunity to be able to concentrate so completely on my work, with the only interruptions being when I get to talk about my work. Wow.

Tomorrow I'll have another signing with the campers. And that's cool! But tonight, more words!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thurber House: Day Ten

Today began with two back to back sessions of the writing camp at the Thurber Center next door. I taught two groups of approximately forty students total.

I created a special presentation when I got to Columbus that lasts an hour. The first fifteen minutes are about my Thrones & Bones books, then I spend forty-five minutes teaching a writing workshop. This is a super-condensed version of my ScripTips presentation, broken into three fifteen minute parts with a writing exercise in each one. I'd given it four times prior to today, and--if I may say so myself--it's really come together. Plus, today's campers really felt engaged and enthusiastic (though that's been true the entire time I've been here.) The trading cards remain a big hit, as ever.

When I got back to Thurber House I learned that the Book Loft has been getting requests for my books and wanted me to sign some copies of Frostborn and Nightborn for the store. So if you're in Columbus and you want signed copies, you might give them a holler.

Then it was such and back to working on the new project.

As per usual, I took an end of the afternoon walk to German Village and back. The evening was spent making nachos--I browned some turkey meat this time--and then returned to the work. I'm now 2,180 pages into the new project, closing in on the end of chapter one. I really like what I've done so far, though I am again writing without a detailed outline.

I spent some time looking for the right angle of approach for the initial pages, and as it does many times, humor came to my rescue. I didn't think this one was going to be a humorous story, and its certainly got the promise of some dark elements as it appears in my mind right now, but I'm glad that there's going to be lighter moments as well.

I also got word today that a dear friend maybe coming into town on Saturday. I'll save the details for the blog of the day of, but I'm excited to see him (and his wonderful wife). And that's it. I've left a thief trapped inside a mark's guarded estate and I really need to figure out how she's going to get out. So I'll leave you here and return to the world of Qualth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Thurber House: Day Nine (Gladden and a River walk)

Today I went to the Gladden Community House, a United Way affiliated non-profit agency providing education and recreation programs, emergency assistance, and advocacy and support for individuals, families, and groups.

We set up in a recreation room and tapped into a wall-mounted television, where I gave a presentation to about twenty kids of varying ages on my Thrones & Bones series and my (abbreviated) ScripTips writing course. The kids were great--there was one boy in particular who really took to the material--and the Thrones & Bones trading cards that I gave out were a very big hit. As they always are.

Then it was back to Thurber House for the afternoon. I worked for a bit and then, at five, I went out for a two hour walk. I walked to the river, where there are really nice bike trails, then walked along one for 1.5 miles before crossing and coming back along the Scioto Trail. It's the furtherest I've walked since arriving here, the highlight of which was being hissed at by two geese.

Although I'm eating a lot of yogurt and fruit, I'm starting to feel vegetable-deficient, so tonight I sautéed broccoli and spinach leaves to go along with a ham, cheese, jalapeños and guacamole sandwich. Also had some very spicy pickles. Very.

I won't stay up quite as late tonight because I have to teach two hours back to back tomorrow at the Thurber Center from 9:30 to 11:30, but I've still got to accomplish more today before calling it a night.

Meanwhile, as a side effect of the long periods of isolation, I have started to talk out loud to myself. This is okay in the apartment, but I seem to be doing it outside during my walks as well. We'll see where this goes.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Thurber House: Day Eight (Sometimes the Bear Gets You)

I finished a manuscript last night, and today was the first day of working exclusively on something brand new. Or should have been. I spent some of the morning sending the previous book out to beta readers for feedback. (Very important.) And a lot of the day banging my head. (Necessary evil.) And some of it watching TV. (Refilling the well?)

I do have names for several key characters now and that's a big deal, because with the name comes the first suggestions of personality. The name makes them real. And I've got some idea of my starting location. It's a new city, and when I visit a location I tend to build it from the ground up first. So I've been working on its key features and peoples. Things are shaping up. But I need to know more about its history and how the MacGuffin connects to same.

And I should say a thank you to Pathfinder Tales author Dave Gross for pointing out how I name I almost went with could be misconstrued. Now that I know Dave has such a dirty mind I'll run more things by him for a vetting.

But other aspects of this tale haven't given up their secrets yet. I teach that the bad guy and the antagonist aren't necessarily the same thing, and that's the case with this story. So I've got my antagonist--and boy is she--but I'm still fleshing out my bad guy and what they're up to.

I took an hour and forty minute walk today hoping to clear my head. It didn't. What I did manage to do is to surreptitiously insert two Thrones & Bones trading cards into a copy of Frostborn at The Book Loft of German Village.  What I didn't managed to do is crack wide open the nut of inspiration and gulp down its wisdom. Still working on that.

But it's 10pm and I'm still staring at the screen, doing that which you do before the words flow.

Meanwhile, here's a unicorn munching on some roses, in the park across from Thurber House. It sprang from his mind and the story it comes from is on a plaque on the ground. The rest of the park is well-manicured but the unicorn gets a sort of flowery grove to himself.

More, I hope, tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Thurber House: Day Seven, Week One & a Manuscript Complete!


This evening marks a solid week I've lived in Thurber House as the 2016 Children's Writer-in-Residence.  I've spent the time working on a rewrite of a recently completed manuscript, and today, I knuckled down and wrote for the longest protracted session since I got here. I didn't even stop for lunch, just drank a protein shake at my desk.

I did take a break at 5pm, to take an hour walk around the city, during which I passed the spot of the original Wendy's hamburger restaurant. (It isn't there anymore, but a marker is).

Then I came back and wrote for another two hours and I finished! Draft two of the secret project is done, and it's already been sent to a few of my volunteer readers.

So this Herculean accomplishment must be celebrated in style, and it was--with a huge plate of nachos, Dragon's Milk, and catching up on episodes of Game of Thrones.  (I'm not to the finale yet, but I'm getting there. So far, though, I prefer season five to season six.)

Meanwhile, I've been making notes towards the next project all week, and tomorrow I start working on it in earnest. No other obligations tomorrow, just writing, so I have a good chunk of time to dive in on day one of project two. And three more weeks to go!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Thurber House: Day Six (Alone for the Weekend)

Thurber House is mine! All mine! Mwa-ha-ha!

Actually, I'm alone here today. The people who work here during the week are gone and I've the house to myself. Some volunteers come by in the afternoon to lead tours, but the house has been largely silent.

Oh, and the handyman came to fix the toilet! So, that's a little taste of real life.

But I  spent several hours of the morning researching the quality and type of medieval locks and the history of the looking glass. All work for the next project. And the bulk of the day was spent on polishing the previous one. I've reached chapter fourteen (of twenty one) in the rewrite. It's 9:41 pm here but I hope to get at least one more chapter polished before I head to bed.

Around four o'clock I set out on a two-ish hour jaunt around Columbus. This time I returned to German Village and The Book Loft, then had a Milk Chocolate Passion Fruit and a tea at Pistachio Vera. Although the sign pictured here is from Mikey's Late Night Slice.

Then it was back here to cook my own supper and more writing. And a phone call from a good friend in Los Angeles.

Uneventful days actually mean productive work, so I hope we'll have more of those.

Things I Miss Most About Home, Part Two:

1. My Dishwasher.
2. My Dishwasher.
3. My Dishwasher.
4. My Dishwasher.
5. Weight Lifting (but not as much as My Dishwasher).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Thurber House: Day Five (The Self-Guided Food and Drink Walking Tour)

I stayed up late last night and was woken early by a phone call, but despite that I still managed to get halfway through the rewrite of my first draft of the recent project. Which is pretty good progress here in week one of my  Thurber House Children's Writer-in-Residence stint. Then at 3:30 pm, the campers in the Thurber Center had a presentation for their parents, after which they brought their folks to Thurber House, gave them a tour of the first two floors, and best of all, has me sign copious copies of Frostborn and Nightborn. I was in the front parlor of the house, seated on a couch at a table that normally holds an historic tea set, mobbed by enthusiastic children. A wonderful afternoon!

Then, after a day of being inside, I decided to walk half an hour to North Market, where I sampled Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. The  Salted Caramel was good, but Brambleberry Crips was everything the stranger in line behind me said it would be!

After this, I walked fifteen minutes to Wolf's Ridge Brewing, with the best intentions to merely scope it out for later. But in their wonderful Tap Room Francis the very helpful bartender introduced me to one of the best beers I've had in ages, the Dire Wolf Canis Mexicanus, an imperial stout spiced with Mexican peppers. This had to paired with something, naturally, and so I dined on Duck Confit Tacos. But one glad of Canis Mexicanus is hardly sufficient, so the second glass was paired with Habanero Cheesecake.

Finally, I took a twenty minute walk in the still hot sun back to Thurber House, where I decided to take Friday night to finish watching Game of Thrones season five (wow).

Now that's a day!