Seven more buffalo covers drawn! Over half done with the buffalo covers now.

With a wonderful surprise - I've added to my own collection now. Swapped some for ten Mystic first day covers, nice four color printed ones for the "Celebrating a Century" stamps - the 1980's series. It's $25 worth and they're very nice collectibles - and I didn't draw those, they're neat! lol - also I swapped for a $10 Flugel cover that's much older and a couple of amusing cartoon covers.

My collection is looking respectable now, it's not just a stock of swappers. I'm enjoying this. Going to have to make time to make up an AOL page to display my covers, see if I can get something happening online with it too. The buffaloes did come out well in Prismacolor.

And we have our grand plans for the America's Greetings issue - all the states, right? Done up as bright antique postcard designs, Greetings from New York, Greetings from Montana et cetera. I'll be drawing ten full sets. And instead of architecture, which I'm not very good at, I'll be doing state flowers on them. I like drawing flowers. The cool thing about drawing flowers is getting to use that many different colors and shades. They're fun. And I've had some interesting ideas on how to lay them out too.

Basically plants and animals are my thing. I've got a wildflowers book and a garden catalogue to work from, but don't have a set of birds books to do 'state flower and state bird' so will wind up doing the flower prominently - which will also pick up the brilliant colors of the stamps. The stamp is part of the composition too. Andrew is sending them out to be postmarked in their states, a neat thing the post office is doing. So they'll be spectacular sets and we'll each have four sets to sell or trade and one to keep.

I got in a little writing before I went. Had to. Have made a promise to myself to get in a little even on the days taken up with other things, after Lazette "Zette" Gifford mentioned she hadn't gone a day without writing in ten years, it made me think that was a good idea!

I've also covered my monitor in sticky notes. My, those things are useful! Lot of things to do tomorrow but I finally have a Topic for my Terza Rima... a vampire poem that will be unusual, reflective, original and interesting. Life stages for the undead. A bit philosophical but hey, it's a poem, not a story. Besides, it may even have plot!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Okay, the last blog did vanish. Good thing Blogger came up. Let's see. I've got rid of a broken tooth and a tooth root that bothered me for years. Forward Motion is down and I'm vaguely trying to write on drugs. Vicodan should be good for creativity, but pain's not. I think the Vicodan is wearing off. It is time for another one and that might stir either A) some creativity or B) a nap.

So what to do when the brain's not completely in gear? Reread bits of Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Internalizing the Breakout Novel principles will do tons for my creativity and the marketability of what I do for fun.

Speaking of stuff done for fun, there's also a Poetry Challenge. I'm mildly stumped on it for a moment. Secretly, I'm enjoying it - because they are exercises in interesting styles and metres. I like metred poetry. I like poetry that's got rhyme too, on some deep level it's got to actually sound like poetry. Looking for a good horrific topic though. I don't feel like doing something light on the amount of cat hair in my life or something bland on the fact that it's raining or something silly on the absent teeth. What I really want is to come up with a terza rima that is either 'dramatic dark fantasy' or outright horror. Something powerful, like the one I did on The Color Black.

I will blat constantly to the skies that I'm a terrible poet - but poetry's a hobby and once in a while I do manage to do a good one. Usually on about one in a hundred tries. Usually inspired by an exercise, in fact - and terza rima is just structured enough that it wouldn't break the flow of a fantasy novel if I used it for illustration either. Though if I don't use it as illustration I might be able to place it in a magazine.

I would like to do that and I would like it to be above all some very unearthly poem. Something that really fits with speculative fiction. Something that is NOT... the sort of thing... that I don't tend to read. Not that light verse isn't fun sometimes. It's just not my mood. Mood is definitely a thing for poetry and what I want to do is something dramatic and dark.

And yes, with a plot.

This is the tricky bit, because that means coming up with a short-short idea, a plot so tiny it will fit in half a dozen verses or so.

So now I'm doing a brainstorm in Blog... this entry really is a typical disjointed wandering ramble more like my private journal! A glimpse into my mind. A soliloquy that's not. You're there. You're out there, I know a few people who read this and it's not the same thing as writing poetry warmup blather back at home where no one's going to see the false starts, weird shortcuts and odd topic changes that come up.

Back to the Breakout Novel.

Maybe I can pick up a topic for the poem and then really raise the stakes...

If I get something decent enough to post, I'll post its location if it's accepted somewhere...

Robert and Ari >^..^< (I like looking at the rain! It's pretty and he got me good windows in this apartment. They match! Did you know that?)


Progress Blog, Day 5, actually almost 3 in the morning after it ended.

61,695 at the end of chapter 12. Or, 40,612 words during March Novel Writing Madness. Not a Three Day sprint, since I had four effective days to do it in, but a good run. A very good run. I'm reeling about it, in part because the pressure of the sprint got me writing reasonably well too. I'm fairly happy with the contents. The ideas are there. The plot is solid. The quest - oh, for epic questing it is such a strange little thing because it fused with a couple of out-genre ideas.

Marathoning creates an atmosphere of taut, time-based intensity, the bomb has to be defused by 0800 on the second day or it will take out the city, the information must reach the Allies before the weapon reaches the Nazi high command, the submarine will be out of air within 12 hours if they don't find a way to surface.

Magic when applied with any military sense will, like any military innovation, make its own rules. I laid an unofficial 'you have two days advantage' into the chess-game aspect of the book. I will need to google on castles and castle sites and military history when this is over, to find a quote I remember but not accurately. Something to the effect that a castle is a military machine. Karactis, the main opponent, was just about winning and the heroes are snatching victory or at least stalemate from the jaws of defeat. Karactis almost had it all in the bag. That's the arc. That means it could go farther and this novel could be 'the first battle that turned the tide' or it could tie up in the destruction of Karactis as a stand alone that would need a few centuries for the world to steep and cough up another evil that grand. I don't know yet which it's going to be. I do know that the great race is under constant magical bombardment and the objective is going home and rallying defense against Karactis, effectively.

I know that whether the book actually all takes place in just two days, or a decent military minded reader could just tell 'those two days made the difference' isn't a problem. On that level it works and it's not just travelogue at all. What's hilarious is that I really am bouncing off of Tolkein.

I'm just not bouncing off of some of the obvious Tolkein things that usually get knocked around as 'cheesy imitation Tolkein product' - it's not just that there are elves. What I took away with me from Lord of the Rings, what really endured for me, was a small scene in Mordor when the hobbits were working their way in on their commando mission. It was the two scared orc sentries talking about elves and seeing elves as terrifying and their lit swords as frightening equipment. It was those two little drafted guys who got stuck with Sauron for government and being born of a race that a race with shining swords thought was evil that really stuck, and some of the slanted descriptions of the orcs were - descriptions of poverty and oppression. I felt for the orcs as a bunch of little guys a lot like hobbits themselves, but stuck in a bad situation where they'd be looking up to the life of a Welsh coal miner as a real boost to standard of living. Not that they were nice guys. They bullied each other and picked on each other too and were mired in the kind of meanness that poverty encourages. But they were real and they moved me. And how they felt about the War of the Ring was the difference between Tolkein and the imitations (or the rather playable computer and role playing games loosely based on Tolkein that give rise to the legend of Imitation Tolkein, in which moral considerations generally give way to Experience Points and Better Equipment and Higher Levels on the way to Win Screens). Tolkein's world was dark. Tolkein's world didn't have the blood repainted a pinkish vermilion in neat little streaks and the bodies smelled bad on those battlefields. Tolkein's world wasn't spiffed up and romanticized.

So when I finally set out to write a 'classic quest' it turned into - too much background reading on the middle ages, too much detail of medieval life not to show it with a bit of grittiness. It's getting gritty again this next chapter, I know what the next chapter is. Among other realities of medieval life, barons do not always support their kings and wave the mug in cheery loyalty because the True King returned to the land. Even if he's got mages with him and he's splashing about a bit of magic now and then. Barons by and large prefer kings that won't levy too much on them and won't inquire too closely into their local affairs at all. Reformers are generally dangerous to barons unless the baron's a reformer in the king's faction and thus really cheering him on. Ugly stuff, medieval politics.

Which is to say instead of swiping anything in particular from Tolkein, when I look at Tolkein I'm looking at some techniques and brush strokes and 'how do you render a cow in the distance in the background' more than what breed of cow. I'm happy with the book.

I'm a little brain-cheezed from writing marathon pace for five days too! Fun to just blather and blunder! Purr@you...

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Progress Blog. Day 5, 5am. Between now and midnight, I need to reach a high mark of 61,083. Current count: 53,478

Well. It's nowhere near impossible at my usual pace. My usual pace has run to about 1,000 an hour. Today's writing did not move at that pace, it was only a few hundred an hour. I'm hitting what must be something like 'the wall' that runners get, the point where it takes effort. The prose is still going reasonably well. I simply refuse to believe otherwise. It's either good or it's fixable.

I've slowed because I'm bashing the stuff. It's slowed because I'm getting a bit too fussy about it and not just letting it really shoot from wherever the stories come from. There goes the right song - "Psychic Wars" by Blue Oyster Cult.

Things are getting too easy on them.

It had better get darker again.

Robert A. Sloan, author of way too many novels...
Ari the cat >^..^<