Excerpt: WIP of Chapter 4 from “The Nature of the Beast”

Excerpt: WIP of Chapter 4 from “The Nature of the Beast”

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…Unfortunately, these were no ordinary wolves. These wolves were way too large. Some walked on their hind legs. One, catching the attention of the shocked brave, grabbed him with an almost human hand by the front of his coat. He lead the man further away into the woods, and dropped him in a patch of brush. Hiding him from view. The wolf then looked the brave in the eye, and whispered. “Sit! Stay. Good boy.”

The brave looked on in disbelief as the wolf ran back to join the pack.

By this time, the sun had set.

The brave crawled back in shadow. He could not hear his brother. He did not know if he still lived. He could not see, but he could hear. And all he heard were the ghastly screams of the Wendigo, and the monstrous growls of the pack.

Moments later all fell silent. And then just as quickly, a chorus of wolf song. A signal to the night sky of a battle hard fought and won.

Quickly, the brave returned to the campsite, concerned about his brother.

By the campfire, the brave saw what was left of the Wendigo. Pieces of his flesh removed. Limbs missing. His jaw and heart removed. By the campfire, he expected the pack to surround their kill, and perhaps take in more in their frenzy. He expected to see wolves. Instead, he saw men. Several men. Some naked and kept warm by the hair on their body. Some barely covered in scraps of what was left of clothing. Some covered in blood. Some nursing wounds. All surrounded the kill. None approached the tent.

“You know, when I told you to stay, little one, I meant stay there until this was all over and we walked away.” A voice, deep and foreign, forceful yet nonthreatening echoed through the trees. “If we wanted you dead, we would have taken care of that in quick measure.” It was one of the pack of men. The brave, knowing that spirits were at work here, stepped forward. Head down, awaiting judgement. “Come, come forward. No use in hiding it now. You’ve seen us. Surprise.”

“Wh…” the brave stuttered. “What are you?”

“French,” was the reply given in the brave’s language, followed by a rousing chorus of manly laughter…

Working Cover for a Working Title.
Working Cover for a Working Title.

It was a good day, yesterday. This is the roughest of the roughest draft. 95% of what has been written will probably never see the light of day, and that’s okay.

But, I do hope that this little exchange makes the cut.

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Like A Potter’s Wheel (Personal NaNo Update)

Almost 700 words today before the kids come home. Considering that the past couple of days have been a wash, and tomorrow being a school holiday, I consider that a win.

At this moment, I’m taking a little break to regroup. pottery-457445_1920

Here’s an update for Chapter 2 of my story. Put simply. It sucks.

But it doesn’t matter. I have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter, because it’s all about the word count, word count, word count. Who cares if it doesn’t make sense? Who cares if you get a little meta because you’re working on a few hours of sleep? It doesn’t matter, because it will all “get fixed in post” as they say in the film business.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about getting it right. It’s about getting it out. Like a potter’s wheel, you are going to start with a hideous lump, then after a while, with all the time, patience and understanding you can muster, you too can make something wonderful.

Anyway, Im taking a break to regroup. It’s not writer’s block. Not now, anyway. It’s that I’ve come to that wonderful realm that can either bolster courage in the hero, or make the weak run in terror.

I have reached a point where no amount of research is going to help me.

It’s that point where no map can tell me where to go. that moment when the dirt road turns into prairie.

I have reached a literary wilderness, and I’m kind of excited about it.

I don’t want to give too much away, and I don’t really think I have to. Let’s just say that a few of my characters are based on folklore, and in researching an origin for these beings, (and let’s face it, I’m a sucker for Origin Stories) the all powerful search engines come back to me with a mighty indifference.

Me: What are these things?

Search Engine: They are horrible creatures of myth.

Me: Where did they come from?

SE: They came from the Great Plains or Canada.

Me: What are there origins?

SE: …

Me: Hellooooo?

SE: [shrug] muhdunno… here, wanna buy something?

Trying to base my story on uncharted territory? What would Neil Gaiman do?

He would make it work, that’s what he’d do.

I’m a storyteller. I tell stories. It is my job, my duty, my honor to just make shit up.

I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Now excuse me while I go get my hands dirty.

THE NEW YOU

And On The Fourth Day, The Author Went, “Pbtbtbtbbbfft”!

And On The Fourth Day, The Author Went, “Pbtbtbtbbbfft”!

Yesterday morning, the coffee went down easy, and my infant son needed no persuasion in taking his mid-morning nap. It was dark and rainy outside, quiet and still inside. The conditions were right to get some serious wordage down.

Instead, taking notes was a bigger priority.

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Just over 6000 words so far.

Question asked by NaNoWriMo: “Are you a Planner, or are you a Pantser?”

Me: “I’m a Planner. See? I have notes.”

Nano: “Really?”

Me: “Really. I’m a planner.”

Nano: “Are you?”

Me: “Yes.”

Nano: “Really?”

Me: “…no…no, not really.”

I had all the best intentions when I started with my loose collection of scribbles and browser bookmarks, but more time was spent investigating a current subject on the story at that moment, than has been in the days leading up to it.

I can’t help it, I’m a Pantser. Have been for as long as I can remember.

Yesterday, I was all about getting to my goal, and getting there as soon as possible. Now whether it was the strength of the java that was making all the voices in my head talk over each other, or finally admitting to myself that I’m more comfortable making it up as I go along, or laundry, or whatever, the morning was mostly taken up with making an outline for a section of a chapter [breathe].

Downloading software, all of it free. Then, I remembered that you get what you pay for. Nothing is going to take the place with what I’m using already. So, good-bye Ywriter. Adios, Storyteller. This go around, I’ll stick with Google Docs and Windows Word Pad. It’s messy, nothing is in one place, but it works. For now.

With that little issue behind me, I failed to notice that the afternoon was fading away into evening. It was almost dinner and family time. I look down at my word count, and I barely made it passed 250.

At this rate, it was going to be the next day when I would finish.

9 PM in the evening; head down, keep typing.

11:30 PM, I exceeded the quota be at least a few dozen words.

It wasn’t pretty, but I remember reading somewhere that it doesn’t have to be. Although quality is the ultimate goal, for the time being quantity is going to have to trump quality. There will be time for editing later.

The conversation between two characters had become heated until I saw my word count spin well passed 1667. It was at that point that I indulged in a little End Zone Dance…

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Yep, I was punchy.

It kind of felt like that old cartoon with the wolf and the sheepdog?

“Morning, Ralph.”

“Morning, Sam.”

It’s an old cartoon kids, go ask your parents.

Anyway, back to it… Few thousand more words to go.

New Title for NaNoWriMo Project

New Title for NaNoWriMo Project

What I said before about not knowing a thing about the NaNoWriMo community and how I had a feeling that I was in good company?

Welp, turns out I was right.

It was mentioned to me that after I signed up, I should spend a few moments in NaNo’s forums to get better acquainted with the people and the culture. Kind of a big deal, because I’m so anti-social that even the possibility of engaging with another human being on something so passive as a message board, makes me want to go hide in a cave somewhCorthell Hall, University of Southern Maine, Gorham MEere.

It’s like I’m going back to school. Walking around the quad with a map in my hand, only occasionally glancing up to see where I’m going, and noticing a few hundred more people just as fresh faced and confused as I am. All of us nervous, excited, and eager to get started on a new adventure; The Freshman Syndrome.

Look, years ago, I thought I was on a career path. I thought I knew what I was doing, and I was so sure that I would never have to be in a position of starting over. If I could find my 18 year old self, and would look him square in the eye and tell him…

“It’s all about starting over.”

“Nothing in life is certain,” I would say grabbing the front of his pizza-stained Watchmen t-shirt. “Not even the path in front of you. You will stumble, you will fall, and you will get back up many times. Don’t shut yourself off, or shut yourself out. Keep yourself open to possibility, work hard. And for the love of all things holy…do not, I repeat, do NOT be afraid or ashamed to stop and ask for directions.”

I hate asking for directions.

By extension, I hate asking for help. The ego takes over when driving blindly into unknown worlds like…Lower Manhattan, Upstate Vermont (“wait, we’re in Canada now? How’d that happen?” True story), and a blank word processor at the inception of writing a novel. I hate asking for…anything, actually. I have this (points finger at head and swirls it around in a jerky, clockwise motion)…thing where I compulsively take down my Amazon Wish List at the beginning of every December, because I feel that it’s a burden for other people to look at it for some reason. I hate asking. Which is why it was kind of a big deal for me to ask for help renaming my story.

I started with calling this story “Fearsome Critters” which is also the title of an ancient compendium written by Henry H. Tryon, published by Idlewild Press in 1939. The book is written with the dryest of Samuel Clemens-style humor about mythical beasts found across the country, with an emphasis on the ones found in the Northern wilderness. Even though the book is in the public domain, I still felt that it was a better option to go with a different title. I liked it, I liked it a lot. And even though my project is loosely based on this text, it still felt wrong to use it.

Whenever I sit down and start writing, constructing a title of whatever I’m writing comes much later; it’s usually the last thing I do before hitting the “Publish” button. I signed up for NaNo, and immediately starting filling out my dashboard, my bio, my avatar, as if I’m decorating my cubicle. Then, it came time to put up or shut up when they asked if I was ready to “submit my novel”; basically establishing an intention “for realzies“for my book. I’m used to doing that last, now I need to do it first.

(Crumples up campus map in frustration) Can anybody tell me where the cafeteria is?

On a forum conversation titled, “Suggest a Title – 2015 edition” I found many people in the same boat I was; we have a plot, and outline, no title. I also noticed a greater proportion of NaNo vets and participants who were more than eager to help. One of which, helped me. Which is surprising, because I was resigning myself to getting buried and lost in the conversation.

As usual.

This person sent me a list of title ideas. Most of them were great, but the one that stuck out the most was “The Nature of the Beast”. My book is set in modern day America, and it has a menagerie of mythical creatures running around. The story has a lot to do with war and power, and human (and not so human) rights. I thought the title was perfect, so I thanked her, and now I’m running with it.

Oh and also, I had to make a cover. Actually, that’s not true. The process of cranking out this whale would not have been impeded with the absence of a book cover, so let me rephrase. I had the option of making a cover. For a guy who spends an inordinate amount of time finding online Photoshop tutorials, a wet-behind-the-ear approach to design, and a tendency to proactively procrastinate, it was just the thing I needed to keep me occupied on a Friday morning.

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They say that bad cover = bad sales. And, I’m inclined to agree with that. It’s a start. It’s sort of what I’m looking for.

Sort of.

I’m sure that my honest but ugly attempt at a cover that doesn’t suck, might be scrutinized by a host of professional designers. And that’s okay. I look forward to it. At the end of this thing, around the time when I send this out for editing for the 4th or 5th time, and I’m comfortable with what I’ve written, I’ll again be asking for help. I’d like to think that I know what I’m doing when it comes to designing things. Then again, I’d like my book to sell, so sometimes leaving things in the hands of professionals might be a better option.

Today is the first day of November. The starting pistol has been fired, and everyone is shuffling forward.

I’m submitting my word count later tonight, but before I go, I’d like to know if you have any suggestions for the cover and/or title.

Thank you, and see you soon.