Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm a loser at National Novel Writing Month. But that's okay, I'm also a winner.

It's interesting to write this way, with a deadline looming, being urged in odd little emails to write, write, write, without any eye to revisions. I usually start a novel with a fairly tight plotline laid out. For my last novel, I even knew how long each chapter was (roughly) and what would occur in each. 

For this novel, which I'm currently calling Mr. Pale Steps Out, I wrote up a simple plot paragraph -

A criminal, reminiscent of Stark's Parker, is accidentally trapped in a bomb shelter during a heist gone wrong in Utah in the 1950's. When he is released, seven long years later, he finds himself in a post apocalyptic wasteland. A new bomb that was being tested has detonated, releasing a series of deadly plagues, killing many, infecting others with diseases and causing mutations. Mr. Pale, dubbed as such by the large, simple man that frees him, joins a plot to rob a wagon train on the way to Las Vegas, carrying a load of The Sands poker chips that are now the accepted currency for that part of the West.

Since then, my plot has veered pretty wildly. I dropped the entire heist portion, deciding it would be a better story for a future Mr. Pale novel and decided on a simple revenge story. Then I added some flashbacks to the job that lands him in the bunker in the first place. Then a sub-plot with a commune and some madman named The Wizard. Re-reading it, I've decided that part is going away and changed the voice to present tense for the main portion of the book. At one point, I considered adding a third main character.

Needless to say, I've got a LOT of revisions ahead of me when I get done with this book. I'll probably delete well over 5,000 words and add a few more thousand back in. But when it's all said and done, I should have a tight, unique little story that I'm very happy with, and most importantly, I'll have gotten the spirit of writing back into my fingers. So bravo, NaNoWriMo, you've made me feel like a champion, 50,000 words or not.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Every year they do it. Somehow. Authors worldwide spend thirty days, the month of November, writing a book for National Novel Writing Month. Fifty Thousand Words. That's right around 1,700 a day. The oddly worded NaNoWriMo is upon us!

Which isn't too bad when you look at it from a day to day standpoint, but when you suddenly miss a day because you worked a 10 hour shift and drove 70 minutes to and from work and made dinner and by the end of the night you were just too darned tired? Yeah, then you've gotta get in 3,000 words to catch up. 

And November seems like a horrible month to do this, at least for me. I'm dealing with Christmas at home and work, and the weather outside, which means a longer commute and possibly snow shoveling... To say nothing of what a slow typist I am anyway! To me a month like April or February seems like a better one, a month with less going on.

But I'm gonna try it. Mostly because I have a great idea for a Post Apocalyptic Crime Novel, set in the 50's. And because I'm tired of working on my zombie novel for a little while. So far I haven't done too badly, I'm at just below 17,000 words. Of course, I'm supposed to be at over 20k... So keep an eye on that blue box at the top of my post, that's my real-time ticker of where I'm at.

Anyone else here writing their NaNoWriMo project this month? And how in the world do you do it??

Monday, November 8, 2010

Everything you see before you is a lie.

My name is not Neal Kristopher, though both of the words do appear in my legal name. I chose my nom de plume for a couple of reasons. Number one, and I'll just come right out and say this, I don't like my last name. Never have, never will. Growing up, I didn't have the best relationship with my father, from whence it comes - I didn't have one at all, for that matter - but that isn't why. It just never sounded that great to me in my head. It's not pretty or cool.

But I like the rest of my name pretty well, so with a few adjustments, Neal Kristopher came about.

The other reason I went with that name is simple. There are a lot of authors that write in the Horror/Mystery/Thriller fiction field that I like and respect that have last names starting with "K" & "L". That might be a brash or overtly commercial reason to do that, with the lofty ambition of being shelved next to someone, which presupposes that I'll be published in physical form in the first place, but there ya go. I can think of nothing cooler than walking into a book store and seeing one of my books next to Stephen King, Marshall Karp, William Lashner, Joe Lansdale, H.P. Lovecraft or J.A. Konrath. Even Dean Koontz, who I don't really read but he sells a lot of books. Well, maybe piles of my book on a table with a big blown up version of the cover, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm getting ahead of myself because I'm also not actually an "Author." Not a published one, anyway. I have written a couple of books, I'm in the process of finishing up a horror novel and I'm cranking away on a novel for National Novel Writing Month, but for all intents and purposes, I consider myself a writer, not an author.The only book I've submitted to agents was a children's ghost adventure. While it garnered some genuine interest, I decided to set it aside until I was in the right spot to make some re-writes.

But all of that's going to change soon. Thanks to modern technology and the tireless efforts of authors like J.A. Konrath, the idea of  being a self published author without the backing of an agent or publisher is very real. So in the next few months, I plan to finish the two books I'm working on now - Graves, a zombie horror novel and Mr. Pale Steps Out, a post apocalyptic crime novel set in the fifties. Then, because I feel like I still should if I ever want to hold a physical copy in my hand, I'll do some querying. But after that, the interesting part happens.

I plan to self publish the novels through Amazon and Barnes & Noble as e-books.

So everything may be a lie right now, but it's a fiction I plan to make fact, come Hell or high water. I hope you'll join me on my quest.

For those that are curious, I also have a blog HERE, which is more family oriented and candid but has a lot of writing updates too.