One of my current works in progress, Fidelity, features a hero from Australia. As I’ve followed the news coming out of Australia, I can’t help but wonder how Graham (my character) would feel about it all. The fires have been raging since November of last year. I wish I could say I’ve been following the crisis from the beginning, but I have not.
I have a long relationship with anxiety and depression, and I have learned over the years that too much news leads me into a spiral. Yet, now I find that I’ve let myself swing too far into isolationism. What I really need is a news summary that I can dip into and then get out of as soon as possible, so as not to be sucked into the swell of almighty depression that comes from realizing you are living in a terrible age full of apocalyptic suffering. See what happens?
In an effort to bring myself up to speed, I did a little research this morning on what has been happening in Australia. I thought it was worth sharing.
First, if you need a good summary of what’s been going on, try this Time article. Warning, it includes videos of the destruction which are disturbing. The article contains some very helpful graphics, too. Toward the bottom of the article, it contains links to various charitable organizations that are helping those affected by the fires. Next, head to NPR for a good article about the crisis, just published on January 10.
When I learn about crises such as what is happening in Australia, I have a tendency to become so overwhelmed that I do nothing. So I have a three fold plan this time. First, I will choose a charity to donate monitary funds to. Second, I will spread what I learn to those that I know. And Third, I will continue to do my part to help the climate crisis.
Much love to those affected by the fires in Australia. Graham and I are with you in spirit.
It’s November, which means it’s NaNoWriMo! What is NaNoWriMo you ask? It’s National Novel Writing Month, when a bunch of writers the world over try to write 50,000 words in one month. Check out their official website here.
I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year, because, life. But I love keeping up with other writers’ progress all the same. It gives me a creative boost just to think about all my fellow writers out there, working so hard this month to realize their dreams.
It’s also got me thinking about 50,000 words. I am not sure I have ever reached that goal. A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods is a novella, around 35,000 words. The current draft of Fidelity is 49,500 words. The Foll Stones is stalling out at 49,000. It seems I have trouble hitting that magical number – 50,000.
Why 50,000? Because that’s the average novel length. And to be honest, that’s pretty short. I’ll give you an example. One of my all time favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time, is about 50,000 words. I would not consider that to be a long book.
It’s really got me thinking. Maybe my style is just succinct. In fact, this is not a new thing for me. In college, my papers would rarely reach the requested number of pages. I would fall short by half a page or so, almost every time! I remember worrying about it, and speaking to my professor and advisor, Dr. Germaine Murray. She reassured me that I said what I needed to say and supported my ideas with fewer words, which was perfectly fine.
Now, a novel is not the same as a research paper. However, I’ve started to think about the possibility that I may not write long novels. Maybe shorter work is just my style. As a new writer, it’s hard to know when something is my style, and when something is happening because I’m a novice. For now, I’ll keep working on my 45,000 average. Perhaps I’ll hit that magic number this month, during the amazing creative juju of NaNoWriMo.
I often have to do a bit of research for my writing. This latest novel, which is set here on Earth in the near-ish future, required some digging into some interesting topics. I’m currently researching types of explosives (and wondering if I’m getting myself placed on a watch list somewhere). Before that, it was the city of Plymouth in England. This same story called for information about the Banana River in Florida, and the Darling River in Australia.
At one point, my heroin needs a place to stay in London and she chooses to stay at a bed and breakfast. I knew just what I was looking for (and indeed, what I had already written), and I wanted to find something like it in London. I guess I thought it would be cool if something that it were realistic and available. Well guess what? I found it!
I give you, The Hurlingham Bed & Breakfast:
It is simply lovely looking. Now, most of you know that I have never been to London, or England, or anywhere except a small town in Canada. No matter! I have Google maps and street view. Using my super tech skills (haha), I did some sleuthing and realized that this lovely, perfect, idyllic gem of a place is just too far from the hospital in downtown London that I chose for some important scenes.
Not to be stumped, I decided to do a bit more research and find something closer. And ta-da! I found a hip, affordable hostel that I would absolutely stay in if I didn’t have to share a room with strangers (sorry, it’s a thing).
I give you, The Horse & Stables:
This place is an awesome looking hostel right in the heart of London. It’s situated across the Thames from the Palace of Westminster. Westminster is also a key location in my novel, so that was a plus. The Horse & Stables looks really cool. Sort of hip. I mean, check out these other photos:
Totally slick, but not the right fit for my heroin. What’s an author to do? Smash ’em together and bend the truth! So while my bed and breakfast isn’t exactly either of these, it was inspired by both of them. Add these two spots to my (very) long list of places to visit once I get to England!
Here’s the thing with works in progress. If I’m not careful, my works in progress can stay in limbo forever. Not being edited, not be published, just percolating. I have a story I’ve been working on for ten years, one I’ve been working on for about twelve, and one that has only been in the works for less than a year.
I’m currently revising this one, which I’ve called Fidelity. I really don’t like the title, but I do love this story. There’s adventure, romance, aliens, and technology. It needs work though. As I work on revisions, I thought it would be fun to post a little bit from one of the early chapters. Have a read, and let me know what you think.
Excerpt from Fidelity
“Sora, I need those latest files sorted and delivered to the appropriate departments within the hour.”
She felt a surge of annoyance. Whittle new darn well that she was the fastest tech on the floor. But she tamped it down and said only, “Of course, Mr. Whittle.”
Whittle wrung his hands in a practiced manner. “Your uncle asked me especially to make sure you kept up on your work, Sora.”
Sora gaped at him. She knew Uncle Victor had been chummy with Mr. Whittle, but to ask that he check up on her? That he made sure she got her work done? That was absurd. She was nearly twenty-two, and had been taking care of herself since her and Toma’s parents had left when she was nineteen. She closed her mouth, her face flushed with anger, but she forced herself to take a deep breath.
“The files will be sent within the next twenty minutes, Mr. Whittle. Is there anything else you needed?”
A little flustered by her direct response, Whittle only mumbled a negative and wandered off to micromanage someone else.
Okay then. If Whittle and her uncle needed these files sent right away, then she had no choice. She tapped on the abnormal file and dragged it to the open application.
She knew immediately that something was wrong.
This was no inventory list. It was an unreadable text file. But it wasn’t an error—this file had been security scrambled. At first, Sora thought it was a secure transmission that had been mislabeled. But she didn’t recognize any of the security codes the author had used.
Indecision snaked through her, and she glanced over her shoulder to make sure Mr. Whittle had truly gone.
How could she know how to direct this if she didn’t decode it? Yes, it might be classified data, but it was mislabeled. Surely that wouldn’t come back on her? Screw it.
A few tabs of the keypad and her console was running the decoding algorithms. The computer beeped as it processed the first page. It was a data file—a blueprint. Sora puzzled over the details of the unknown structure, but she couldn’t make it out.
The computer beeped again. This next image file was of a map, and one she recognized. It was London. Blueprints and maps of London? It made no sense. Just when Sora was beginning to think that someone’s personal vacation plans got scrambled in the ether, the computer beeped again.
This was a text file. They were directions. Detailed directions on how to plant a soft bomb so that it wouldn’t trigger security protocols.
Sora felt her heart began to race. She took a shaky breath. Soft bombs were incredibly lethal. They had been banned since the end of World War III, over 60 years ago. Who would even have the ability to procure the components? And what were the planning to do with it?
With a sickening jolt, Sora understood. The Dendriforms. The soft bomb was to destroy the Dendriform delegation. To halt the peace talks. That had to be it. But a bomb like that wouldn’t just kill the Dendriforms, it would reduce London to ashes.