Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rodent of death

What can you say?

A rodent of death, or something.

Make sure to swallow whatever you were chewing before reading this.

Alpha read

The quarantine is over.

After a month in the virtual drawer I picked up my alpha version and read it. Story holds, and that was my main concern. It's also about as badly written as I feared, but only parts of it. Large chunks work as they should, which is more than I had hoped for.

Now we enter pre beta. Two or three month's worth of editing and I should have a beta. Well, rewriting if I want to be honest. Editing is by far too mild an expression for what needs to be done.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

EC 2007

I've made a blog dedicated to the 2007 European Championship in V:TES.


Well, the header refers to the card game I enjoy and not my writing.

We ran the Gothenburg V:TES storyline tournament earlier today. Interesting.
I personally performed abysmally, but I don't think that invalidates the deck I'm tuning. I believe it's more a matter of weight rather than if an idea is good.
In my case I'm probably too light on votes.

Stealthy !Tor are more fun to play than I had assumed.

Well, I'll tweak the deck a little more before I give it another try.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Look, snow!

Yup, as I wrote.

Sad fact is it's already melting away. I made sure to run out and grab this piece of proof that we had indeed seen a moment of winter here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007



It's arrived. With snow and everything.

For a while I thought we wouldn't get one at all this time. Rainy days followed windy ones, with the exception of those that were rainy and windy.
Now? Snow, biting cold in the air and it crackles whenever you take a step.

So, it probably won't last for long, but at least I will know that we had a proper winter here, even if only for a few days.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Autumn 1641, Verd

Autumn 1641, Verd

And what happens now? Armed outworlders in Keen, but they didn't look like soldiers. Thugs really, like the scum in the Free Inquisition.

Kandaren shook his head and rode on. In pursuit of sorts, but no rider could ever hope to catch up with outworlder glider wagons. No magic, he was sure of that. The wagons never ceased to function when they passed his staff master, and nothing magical worked close to the black staffs. They were so powerful that staff masters weren't allowed inside the city walls.

Madness! Pillars of the Holy Inquisition and they're never allowed inside the imperial capital. Will never be. He grinned at the irony. We hunt down anyone wielding the forbidden arts and the very city I call home lives and dies with that magic.

He had lied once before to save a life. He could lie to himself to shield the illusion. Belief, there had to be some kind of belief, or he would lose faith and so would his men. They didn't deserve that.

And that belief was what kept him on the paved highway to Roadbreak. Not that they would be able to change anything, not even carry a message, because farwriters were faster even than outworlder gliders. But it would make a difference that the inquisition cared. No matter what happened the people living along the highway had to see men in red and black, because if the Holy Inquisition didn't care then who did?

Ho rode and waved his men to follow him. Waved for them to believe a lie. That they would make a change. One squadron armed with crossbows and sabers.

He sighed as he rested in his saddle. Soon the rhythmical clattering of hooves against white stone lulled him to an uneasy sleep, and he dreamed, and he laughed in his sleep. Maybe they would matter. In a way.

Spring 1641, Hasselden

Spring 1641, Hasselden

Another wave rolled in, and riding it Eyresteus landed his boat on the beach.

Kandaren looked at the old man dragging it further up the shore. Not a good day then. Otherwise Eyresteus would have called from his boat to get the other fishermen to help him land his catch.

Greybeard, harpoon and boat moved like shadows against the setting sun, but Kandaren didn't need to see to know every movement, every sound and even the feeling of wood polished smooth as Khanati silk. A childhood spent and lost by the sea had taught him well, and when it claimed, first his father in a storm, and then his mother during a winter that heard her racking until she only had her life left to cough up, Eyresteus took him in.

For seven years he had been mentor, grandfather and father in one. Now he was only an old man who had once been the center of the world, and he had grown old.

Self conscious of his uniform he backed away before Eyresteus could notice him. Right now Kandaren only wanted to be the happy youth who had managed to forgive the unfairness that took his parents, and that youth had no place in the Holy Inquisition. And his mission here had no place with decency.

Eyresteus must have known whatever it was that ate a young boy's mother from the inside, and it was all too obvious that he never forgot it.

"See your dad," his wife had said half an afternoon earlier, unholy light shining through threadbare blankets covering her body. She must have known he would see it. She must have known he would see it healing her, and she had always been the one knowing people.

Now he had seen the man who was his father in all but name, but he didn't plan to be seen. Later he would lie to his staff master, and someone, somewhere around Hasselden, would live on to use the forbidden powers. Decency. He wouldn't kill a healer who took such a risk to help a poor woman.

Kandaren shrugged. That was a lie. He wouldn't kill a healer who gave his father's wife a few extra years. Lie or not, all that mattered was that he wouldn't kill.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The things we do for a smoke

Sweden banned smoking from indoor public space a year and a half ago. Thus we who shared this vice were expelled to beer gardens and other outdoors serving areas.
A good move I think, but that's not part of this reflection.

From late spring to early autumn this doesn't present a major problem, but winters, well winters...
They are kind of cold. Cold is implied in the very word winter.
And still we persist.

A few days ago I decided the weather was perfect for a mug of coffee outdoors, or maybe I was plain stupid.


I'll start writing something I call snapshots here. Not right away, but they'll pop up from time to time.

I'll label them as such to make it easier to set them apart.

As the rewriting part of my work comes closer I've identified a few major problems with the WIP as it stands now, and a couple of them effectively shuts down the outlining of my next book.

The snapshots are mainly to get me back on track again.

Expect 200 to 1000 words long scenes. No real story as such, but the scenes will be set within the time frame of my main story. I get a setting and a reference to an event written and you'll have a piece of the world where the real story takes place.

And yes, I know. First publishing rights out the window for each and every of those snapshots. I don't care. They're not really meant for publishing in the first place.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Indexer entry

The primitive joke of an indexer, Bloggkartan
at bloggkartan.se requires this incredibly idiotic way for registering.

Grabbing the stack

It's time to take that stack of printed sheets and read.

Painful, and in places surprisingly good. That's what I expect from reading through my entire first draft.
There are notes on it already. I'll read those and jot down my own as well. After that? Another week in the virtual drawer and then the time has come for rewriting.

Of the 100 000 words currently written I'll be happy if 80 000 survives. I doubt it. Descriptive padding and I should have a finished result of around 120 000 words.

I know. Less is more and all that, but to say that my descriptions are lackluster is to give them credit. Another kind way of putting it would be to say that I write a terse prose, so descriptive padding it is.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On reading and communication

What is the difference between writing and speaking?

It's there.
You know it. I know it, but what is it?
Or is it?

It's a topic I've spent a fair amount of time thinking of, and this is my take on the problem.

I'll assume you're familiar with the scene where a lovestruck person sits at a table, pen in hand, and writes a letter. Attempts to write one is a better description we find out when we learn about the discarded earlier attempts crumbled on the floor.
I'll get back to this scene later.

We like to differ between spoken and written communication, and I believe that those two words sometimes confuse us. Both refer to the sender, the one who speaks or writes.
In ways the recipient is far more interesting.

Let's have a look at spoken communication. It's so much more than the words. Tone, facial expressions and probably smells as well. A good reason to be more careful when you're in the phone as you only have tone to go by. Misunderstandings become a measurable risk.
We take the non-verbal aspect for granted. Or maybe I should say the non-word based aspect. The phrase: "Could you please repeat that again?" becomes a polite request to make certain you got the message right, whereas in a face to face conversation it could be taken as impolite.

Remember that I'm still talking about the receiving end.

Now, what about the written counterpart? Well, first of all we are aware that we're limited to the words alone. The words we see confer the entire message. They're deliberate, thought through, weighed and valued. In other words, they've passed a test.
We take that writer of letters for granted. The words we read are not, can not be, the ones written on small balls of paper lying on the floor.

Comes the era of immediate written messages. Email, to a degree, but mostly chat-rooms, IRC or whatever you prefer to call live written communication.
Here we err. We read the words. We know that what we read was never placed on the scales to be weighed. After all they arrived on the screen mere seconds after the message they're a reply to.
And still we persist. There's something with written words. It has to be absolute, to represent every aspect of what we can read into them. In ways we expect them to define the writer as a person to a much greater degree than we would if they were spoken.

So to my conclusion. Sometimes writing is indeed speaking, and we as readers have a responsibility to understand that. Or we'll simply be unable to understand at all.


So, router arrived today and I've installed it.

If I understand this right I'm now sharing wireless access points with some 150 000 other people around the world.

It'll be interesting to find out how many more places I can actually connect from now on.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And crapometer done

Finally the last crapometer is done.

Close to 700 hooks read and several dozens 750 words long entries handled after that.
Miss Snark has spent the better part of a month doing this. I doubt we'll see an undertaking of this magnitude again, at least not by her.

Have a look. The sheer volume of entries makes it a goldmine for learning.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

First read, living outline

And now I've received the first piece of input from my wife. The poor woman had to slug her way through my first draft from start to end.

I believe some writers call them alpha readers -- the masochistic few who accept the pain of reading a first draft.
In this case it's more than so. Bea, that's my wife, helps me out with concepts, plot ideas and characters even before I write the story. That makes her too involved to give true evaluation on the finished material, but it also makes her perfect for runtime checks of how what I've written compares to what I've said during conversations.

She knows more of the 3 p:s, place, plot and people, than what's inside the pages. That gives her an opportunity to point out where things have gone missing. An 'untainted' reader would just be left in confusion.

It also made me understand that I have a living outline available -- a person who follows me throughout the entire process.

Post tournament

Eventually I chose a vote/bleeder.

Did so so. Final table, but the composition of my !Ven deck was not optimized. A few more wakes and deflects would have made a huge difference. Well, for a first build it wasn't too bad.

Best of all, it gave me back the hunger for new decks and new ideas. Be warned, soon Scotsman will see all kinds of peculiar decks -- most more interesting than actually good.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Tomorrow's a tournament, and I haven't built a deck yet.

So what should I do?
A bleeder?
A voter?

Maybe something that can push opponents to torpor? But I've been in that neighborhood for quite some time, and it doesn't seem to be a winning strategy for me.

A Toreador blocker or a voter of the same clan? Been there, done that and quite literally got the T-shirt.

Most likely some kind of bruise bleed. Bleed defense has to be handled somehow. I'll see about that.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

And one epoch goes to the grave

Not that it was readable as such, but there certainly was a sense of national pride knowing it stubbornly refused to die.
No more.

Crack of Death

And we have a winner!

A group of writers have banded together to poke fun at Publish America, a vanity publisher in the US.

They aimed at writing the second worst novel ever published. The prize for worst goes to another sting aimed at, you guessed it -- Publish America, named Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea. Say that name fast and you'll get the general idea.

Crack of Death by Sharla Tann, yep, another name that ought to have had the claxons blaring, but, oh well.

All in all some fun news about a not so fun part of the publishing industry.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

When post beta becomes pre alpha

No, I'm not referring to my writing this time.
Blogger, that's the place where my and many other blogs are to be found, declared their beta version as stable only a few days ago. I had a few issues with the beta originally, but after that things have been smooth.

Switching from beta to stable had numerous blogs moving from the old stable to the new, which pretty much was the beta. I noticed an immediate hit on performance, but that was expected.

Since a few hours numerous blogs are simply gone. Error messages the only proof a blog used to be found there. That was not expected.

We'll see if mine also becomes one of the faulty blogs or not.

Too early in the season

And only two of us showed up for the year's first pub game.
Well, VTES and duels don't go together, so no games. A pity.

I did get to taste my way through a number of nice ales and some single malt. All in all a good evening with the predictably less good day after.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Between writing the outline

I need sessions to cleanse my mind from what I'm doing to do it at all.

Did that make sense?

Outlining and world building is in a way a more creative process than the actual writing.
It's the part when I imagine what I'll later write that troubles me. Outlining is by definition such a part. I need to think and dream and discard what I come up with.

So, cleansing sessions.

Play a game. Check, we do that once a week.

Read a book. Check. I love reading.

Do crits, and by all means receive them. Check. I'm lucky enough to be part of a hard nosed crit group. Reading a story with critical eyes, needing to analyse it to be able to give useful input and try to convey what I have noticed to the writer.
It goes the other way of course. I need to try to understand how my text looks in the eyes of another when I receive a crit.

Exchanging crits is an absolutely wonderful way to force myself to think outside the box, and I promise you -- living with a manuscript for several months makes that box very, very small indeed.

Once again, the words here mirror how I am wired. What works for me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

More outlining

Part two of my outlining.

Beware, this is partially my way of thinking aloud, so coherence won't be the main theme of these articles.

How to proceed with the actual work?

This is what works for me. Someone else may very well find it contrary to all common sense, and they would probably be right as far as they work best.

I define boundaries. A starting setup and an end I aim for. It usually includes the main characters, one or more places and some kind of time-stamp.
From there I decide upon a number of events which will not happen.
After that I take a few notes and leave the idea. A few days spent thinking about it allows me to add events in the middle I actually want to occur. Those events are matched against the characters I plan to use. No match -- start from scratch.

What does this translate to with my upcoming project?

I have the surviving characters from Frays in the Weave. I know they're all north of the Narrow Sea, an inland sea I have mapped in the world I created.
I know how the political situation is when I left Frays in the Weave.
That's the beginning.

I've planned to continue with a military/political story, and that kind of requires an end of a military nature with political repercussions. A big battle would be the easy way out. It doesn't have to be one though. I plan to go for a semi victorious military standoff instead, but this isn't written in stone.
The end, no matter how it turns out, will happen south of the Narrow Sea.

To keep the story from branching out too wildly I'll keep it geographically between where the story starts and where it ends. By this I mean I'll keep the entire story within a triangle on my map. It's a comparatively small area but large enough to encompass different nations.

These limits are so vague there's no risk for a mismatch between them and my characters. There is also pitifully little story to it.
As for solving that dilemma I know I left most of my characters with problems brewing. That takes care of my start, but it also leaves me with the decision on which of the problems I ought to handle as sub plots and which should be part of the main arc of the story.
I'm still in the thinking part of this so I'll leave it at that for a time.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I had almost forgotten how boring I find this part of the writing process.

I said boring, not forgotten. I'm unable to create a coherent story unless I create a map of sorts first. By map I mean a story-map rather than something used in an atlas.
Of course, if needed, the more traditional kind of map might be a part of the outline as well.

Now, that outline becomes more of a suggestion than a template I have to follow, and it becomes more and more evident the further into the story I've come. Even though the beginning is likely to follow the outline rather closely the end may have deviated far enough to make the outline unrecognizable.

Enter my next project. Primarily it's supposed to be the next book in a series, and as such I had some kind of vague idea of what the story would be when I embarked upon Frays in the Weave.
Now my characters are firmly entrenched on the wrong side of an inland sea and there are plot lines that, while best left alone in a stand alone work, needs handling in a part two unless I shall have my readers feel cheated. All in all half a books worth of plot before I can pursue the original arc.

This is where outlining comes in. How do I weave plots and subplots into the arc without disturbing it. It's what I prefer to call the layout of the story -- where the balance between events is decided.

I'll leave the topic for now and return back later with more coherent thoughts on the matter.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A bad autumn

Or rather a rather depressing lack of winter. As we don't see anything even remotely resembling snow things are usually either gray or black.

So, just a reminder that we'll see this again within half a year.

Monday, January 01, 2007

2006: December

A break during Christmas shopping.

2006: November

Our venue for the weekly card games celebrated ten years in business. Regulars received an invitation, and whatever else we are, we sure are regulars.

2006: October

The extreme weather had us waiting until October before we had normal autumn temperatures.

Summer finally deserting us for real helped my writing a lot. Having one laptop permanently destroyed did not.

2006: September

And give me that remote!

2006: August

Gothenburg has a one week long party during the second week of August.
During this month Sweden is virtually invaded by continental tourists spending their vacation as close as possible to the nature that seems to be lacking where they come from.

2006: July

July is our main summer month here. Sweden used to close shop during this month earlier. Today vacations are spread over the summer in a more rational way.

I think the photo shows one beloved cliche concerning the Swedish summer.

2006: June

Midsummer's eve is a major holiday in Sweden. We don't seem to share this holiday with many other nations.

Gathering friends for an outdoors dinner is the traditional way of spending the evening. Food is mainly pickled herring, cooked fresh potato and schnaps. Well, the latter is drunk of course.

2006: May

Spring last year saw a new V:TES expansion that caused quite some controversy within the community.

2006: April

We visited family in Japan, and my wife combined it with a project she is involved with.
The shot is from Nara, close to the great Buddha.

2006: Mars

A Monday evening like most others. A few friends, a few more decks and beer.
We've been running the weekly pub games for some three or four years by now.

2006: February

It would be another four months until she started walking.

2006: January

The Christmas tree stays a bit into the month of January here. I'm honestly not entirely clear about what daughter or wife is doing, but it looked kind of cute, and it's a common enough theme for early January here in Sweden.