Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Forcing Inspiration

Between Jan 1st and March 28th, I wrote one single story.  I did a little more writing than that, but didn't finish anything.

Between March 28th and April 30th, I wrote about 28 stories.

This is why I decided to join Camp NaNoWriMo at the last minute -- because forcing yourself to write really does work for me.  But sometimes a little outside pressure helps me to force myself to write.

Camp NaNoWriMo works a bit differently than the regular NaNoWriMo.  Their November event goal is to write 50,000 words on a brand new novel.  Of course, I've pretty much always changed the rules a bit for myself, but I've always tried to write 50,000 words.  For the April event, you set your own goals and can do what you like, but they place you in a "cabin" with a bunch of other participants, and that way you can communicate with other writers and encourage each other.

A week or so ago one of the participants in my cabin was asking for advice on what to do when you just don't feel motivated, when the story doesn't inspire you.  The only real advice I could offer was to keep writing anyway -- I find that not writing leads to more not writing.  I don't think about writing, I'm not inspired to write, and a month or two goes by with very little production.  If I write, even when I don't like what I'm coming up with, it usually leads to more writing and better inspiration, and a lot more productivity.

Directly after giving this advice, I had to put it into action myself.  After Norwescon I was a day or two behind schedule, and it took me a couple more days to produce Grandpa Anarchy and the Fiendishly Foul Fetid Frog and Grandpa Empathy at the Gates of Hell.  These two stories are not well constructed or well written, and I was decidedly not inspired to work on the sequels.  But I was feeling a lot of pressure, now several days behind schedule.  I managed to force myself to work on the next few stories.  The two I had been loathe to finish -- Iron Maiden Surprise and Crack Squad of Misftis -- actually turned out pretty good, and the stories I wrote after that -- The Pompatus of Love, Stronger, Diary of an Anarchist and The Archimedes Death Ray are especially good stories.  Stronger is a story I've wanted to write for a long time, but the other three I pretty much came up with on the spot based on the titles alone.  I would never have written these stories if I hadn't forced myself to write when I didn't feel inspired.

The last story is an example of how an entire story arises from nowhere.  I've been listening to an audio version of Harold Lamb's book Hannibal, and had just listened to the fall of Syracuse and the slaying of Archimedes a day or two before.  I decided to look up Archimedes on the web to read more about him.  When I typed in his name, Google anticipated the next two words:  "Archimedes Death Ray".  Intrigued, I tried that search and read about the disputed legend that Archimedes was able to use mirrors and sunlight to set Roman galleys on fire.

I really liked the phrase "Archimedes Death Ray" and I made a story file with that title.  I googled the phrase "Archimedes was the first mad scientist" and I got several hits.  A lot of people have thought this already!  I did more research on the subject of Death Rays and remote-controlled death satellites -- Wikipedia and TV Tropes are wonderful for this stuff -- and the setting and dialog started forming in my head.  Then inspiration struck, and I knew how the story had to end.

I have a book called The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.  The central premise is that you work at being creative.  People that sit around waiting for inspiration don't get a lot done.  Forcing yourself to work at a creative task every day makes it much easier for inspiration to strike.

I'm still not very good at setting aside a specific time to write, or making a habit of writing every day at a given time -- but I have ample evidence that when I force myself to write, good things happen and I get a lot accomplished.  Which is good, because I have so many writing projects in the wings to work on that I could write every day for the rest of my life and not accomplish everything I want to.

I also saw this Pablo Picasso quote today:

 "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."

2014 Writing Goals -- End of April Update

Although I'm jumping the gun a bit here, I'm really excited about what I've accomplished this month so I wanted to do this now.  As I write, I am still in the middle of finishing The Death Ray of Archimedes, but it's more than half written and I clearly know how it ends, so I should be able to finish it before Noon.

So!  My update:

1.  Write a Grandpa Anarchy Story a week.

For April I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, in which my goals were 35,000 words (I adjusted downwards from 50,000 words after the first week) and, more importantly, to write a new Grandpa Anarchy story every day.  I did not entirely succeed in that second goal -- once you fall behind it's very hard to catch up, writing two stories in a day takes a great deal of effort -- but the important thing is I wrote a bunch of new stories, and the ones I haven't finished I will finish in the next few days.

Here's my new totals for the year, based on my one story a week (4 per month) goal:


Feb 07:  Revealing
March 29:  About A Hell Boy
March 30:  If Books Could Kill
March 31:  Out Of Cheese Error


April 1:  Villain of the Weak
April 2:  Banana Also Rises
April 3:  The Eagle Has Landed
April 4:  Bombs Away


April 5:  Landoff
April 6:  Disorientation
April 7:  Landmark Decision
April 8:  Trick of the Trade


April 9:  Blah Blah Blah
April 10:  Reboot
April 11:  Four Weddings and Nine Hundred Funerals
April 12:  Beneath the Skin


April 13:  The Hand You're Dealt
April 14:  Grandpa Anarchy the Musical Act One
April 16:  Grandpa Anarchy the Musical Act Three
April 17:  The Bane of the Black Spork


April 18:  Temple of the Dog
April 19:  Startup
April 20:  Grandpa Anarchy and the Fiendishly Foul Fetid Frog
April 21:  Grandpa Empathy at the Gates of Hell


April 22:  Iron Maiden Surprise
April 23:  Crack Squad of Misfits
April 26:  The Pompatus of Love
April 27:  Stronger


April 28:  Diary of an Anarchist
April 30:  The Archimedes Death Ray
April 30:  Nobody Cries for Superman

2.  Write a Tai-Pan story every 2 months (6 in the year).

No progress.

3.  Finish the third "magical girl" arc for Girl's School, and try to wrap things up.

No progress.

4.  Write 4 short stories set in my Otherworld Blues universe.

No progress.

5.  Draw a picture each month.

No progress.

5.  Publish Book One of my Grandpa Anarchy stories, edit 2nd book, assemble stories for 3rd book.

No progress.

List of stories I intend to work on:

Grandpa Anarchy Stories

Stronger:  This one is finished!
The Eagle Has Landed:  This one is also finished!

Return to Amethyst Part 3 (needs title):  No progress.
World of Hero:  No progress.
Second Class (working title):  I did a lot of work on this in eary January, nothing since.
Unpossible:  No progress.
Performance Review:  No progress.

Fan Fiction

Girl's School, Third Magical Girl Arc (Kahotep Adventure):  No progress.
I Can See Clearly Now:  No progress.
A Goddess In Oz:  No progress.

Other Original Fiction

Otherworld Blues Stories:  No progress.
Jubel In Oz:  No progress.

Tai-Pan Stories

Bitch, Chance Encounter, Blanking the Lady (variations), Zesh and the Bitted Throug:  No progress.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 28: Stronger, Diary of an Anarchist

Before I fell asleep last night I had to get back up and jot down a bunch of lines that popped into my head for the story Diary of an Anarchist.  Then at work today I started working on Stronger, and everything fell together.  Really, I've had this entire story plotted out and rough-sketched for a long while now, but suddenly this morning I knew exactly how everything fit together and I kept working on it until it was done.

Stronger is a story set in Butte Montana in 1920.  Grandpa is given the chance to go back to the day that his mentor, the Gentleman Brawler, was killed by a union-busting vigilante named the Boston Breaker.  But is getting revenge for something that happened nearly a hundred years ago really something Grandpa wants to pursue?

Meanwhile, Diary of an Anarchist starts out with Kid Continuity and the Continuity Crusaders visiting the same town on the same day, because Grandpa doesn't actually talk about what happened that day much, and Kid Continuity's best avenue of research is to watch events as they unfold.  But can they do that without interfering?  And what really happened to the Boston Breaker after he killed the Gentleman Brawler?  Kid Continuity is going to find out.

I only got one scene for the second story written, but it's fun to compare:

Grandpa found himself on a dusty road in the middle of a mining town.  He knew this by the people he saw -- men in work clothes.  They were African Americans, Chinese, Russians, men from every corner of the earth.  Their clothing was caked in the dust of the streets and the grime from the mines.  Grandpa knew these people.  They worked hard, drank hard, played hard.  He also knew this town.  He'd been here before.
A tumbleweed rolled slowly across the road.  A crow cawed overhead.
"Where are we, Grandpa?" a voice asked.
Grandpa glanced to his left.  Here was his sidekick -- a young boy named Sparky.  He was unfortunately dressed in blue tights decorated with yellow electricity bolts.
"This is Butte, Montana, 1920," said Grandpa.  "Home of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, and the largest collection of Industrial Workers of the World.  It's an ugly place, full of  strikes and back-alley union busting...."
Grandpa paused.  A cart pulled by four horses was barreling down the street.  A young boy -- not much older than Sparky -- was crossing in front of it, unaware.
Grandpa acted on instinct.  He charged forward.  He scooped the boy into his arms and rolled.  Hooves and wheels passed within a foot of where they lay in the dirt.
Grandpa got slowly to his feet.  "Got to watch where you're walking, kid," he said.
"Thanks, mister!" the boy replied, and ran off.  Grandpa stared after him.
"That was quick thinking," said Sparky.  When Grandpa didn't respond, he added,  "Is something wrong?"
"Nah," Grandpa finally replied.  "That is, it's exactly what I suspected.  And why not?  Damned guardian probably does this on purpose -- sends you back to the most momentous day of your life.
"That kid I just rescued?" Grandpa said.  "That was me."

That's the second scene in Stronger.  I had fun with this scene, because I wrote it again in my first scene for Diary of an Anarchist.  Or did I?

In a narrow alleyway, five people appeared from nowhere.  There were three women and two men.  Despite apparent attempts to dress like the locals, the group looked more like members of a Steampunk fantasy club than locals of a mining town.  This was especially true for the man wearing flight leathers, goggles, and a large electronic machine of some sort as a backpack.
"Where are we?" asked a dark-skinned woman dressed like a well-off gambler.  She had long black braided hair.
"Butte, Montana, 1920," replied the man with the backpack.
The dark-skinnned woman frowned.  "One day, you're going to tell us where we're headed before we go there."
"Ravella, Wayback Lad," said a second woman, "This is where and when the Gentleman Brawler died."  She wore a blue dress and a hat with a strange symbol in silver on it -- a sort of squared-off infinte knot.  She appeared to be the leader.
The largest of the group -- a massive man dressed like a 1920's Chicago mobster -- gave a low whistle.  He said, "Kid Continuty's going for the whole shebang, is that it?"
"I don't get it," said the last member of the group -- a woman with mousy hair and glasses, who was dressed like a Steampunk spelunker who expected to battle subterranean creatures.  Her outfit includes makeshift armor plates and several weapons.
"Of course you don't, Natural Twenty," said Kid Continuity.  "You never pay attention in our briefings.  Mighty Tim is correct -- this is ground zero for Grandpa Anarchy. This is one day before he became Grandpa Anarchy."  She grinned.  "Today he's just a sidekick named Little Pauley Pugilist.  Tell me, do any of you know why he named himself Anarchy?"
Nobody answered.  Kid Continuity said, "Butte was the "Gibraltar of Unionism" around this time.  There's one company that runs the town -- the Anaconda Mining Company.   This was a hotbed of activity for the Wobblies -- the Industrial Workers of the World, who were anarchists to some.  They opposed war, which made them very unpopular during World War I, but they were also very egalitarian, accepting African Americans, Asians, women, immigrants of all types.  If you were an industrial worker, you were welcome.
"Grandpa had a soft spot for these people," said Kid Continuity.  "Especially after he saw several of them gunned down in cold blood."
"I always thought it was because he's a devil-may-care, ignore-the-rules, lead-with-the-fist kind of brawler," said Mighty Tim.
"That's too simple and you know it," said Kid Continuity.  "Grandpa never talks about it, so the exact details have been hard to pin down.
"That's why we're here."
"So we're not fixing a continuity glitch?" asked Natural Twenty.
"Nope," Kid Continuity replied.  "We're here to observe and record.  That's it."
The quartet stepped out into the street.  There was a commotion to the right.  A cart pulled by four horses barreled towards them.  A young boy wearing a newsboy hat was at that moment crossing the street, oblivious.
There was no time to think.  Natural Twenty darted forward.  She grabbed the boy and rolled.  Hooves and wheels passed within inches of where the two lay in the dirt.
The two stood.  "Wow," the boy said.  "Thanks, lady!"  He retrieved his hat and placed it on his head, then glanced at her.  His eyes widened.  "Hey, you're dressed funny," he exclaimed.  "Are you a hero?"
Natural Twenty glanced back at the others, but they had blended into the background.  "Uh... yeah, sorta," she said.
"Just like me and Gentleman Brawler," said the kid.  "And that other guy, the Boston Breaker.  Are you hear to stop the union violence too?"

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 27: The Pompatus of Love

I only wrote one story today so I'm still several behind.  I haven't even figured out yet what today's story is going to be.  I finished yesterday's story, called The Pompatus Of Love.  It's 1,548 words -- probably a bit too long, but I'll go back and edit it later.  This one is a strange story based on a Cecil Adams Straight Dope article, and involves a guitar-stealing hippie clown called the Midnight Joker and his army of paper doll women.

So for now, I am still four stories behind.  I have Act Two of Grandpa Anarchy The Musical to write, and Past Life Sister from Thursday, and There Is No Try from Friday, and whatever today's story is.  Drumroll please....

Diary of an Anarchist.  Which is a play on The Anarchist Cookbook, I think (not a very good one), and is possibly the story about how Grandpa Anarchy came to name himself Anarchy.  Except I think that story is already being told in another story that I haven't finished -- which I forget the name of now.  Maybe I can straighten it out tomorrow, maybe there's two ways to tell the same story.

*EDIT*  I went back and found the other story I was thinking of... Stronger.  I really want to write that one, it's a longer story but I have it all plotted out and partially written, and it's central to what makes Grandpa Anarchy who he is.  It doesn't explain why Grandpa Anarchy chose his name per se, but it tells the full story and the reader can certainly make inferences based on that, I think.

Anyway, I think today's story is actually Stronger, and tomorrow's story will be Diary of an Anarchist.  Which will be on the same theme, but maybe from a different angle.  In Stronger Grandpa is given a chance to go back in time and kill the man who killed his mentor, before that death happens.  But of course, all of that is what made Grandpa Anarchy who he is, and he knows this.  For Diary of an Anarchist, I could just have Grandpa explaining his name in a different way... or I could come up with a story for the Continuity Crusaders, who time travel and are led by Kid Continuity, who is obsessed with fixing plot holes in Grandpa Anarchy's back story.  I'd just have to figure out what plot hole would bring them back to the same incident.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 26: Not A Good Week

I haven't updated all week because there hasn't been much to report on.  My output this week has been terrible -- for the last week and a half, really, going back to April 14-15-16 when my three stories were the three Acts of Grandpa Anarchy the Musical.  I never wrote Act 2, which was my story for April 15th, and I didn't finish Act 3 until Saturday the 19th -- but I did finish The Bane of the Black Spork on the 15th, even though it counted as my story for the 16th.

I was really worried about my production slipping during Norwescon but I did okay -- I did nothing on the 17th but I got Temple of the Dog written on the 18th, Grandpa Anarchy the Musical Act Three written on the 19th, and Startup written on the morning of the 20th (which counted as my story for Saturday the 19th.  For my Sunday the 20th story I read off titles from my story idea files until someone (Julesong) picked a title they liked, which was Grandpa Anarchy and the Fiendishly Foul Fetid Frog.  To this my friends suggested I add the subtitle Part Five of the Amphibiad Trilogy, so I did.

Ostensibly this story involved a battle with a giant toad demon in the middle of a city, but I didn't have much beyond that.  On the other hand, Temple of the Dog had involved the defeat of some kind of frog god creature.  Based on the "part five of the trilogy" subtitle, I decided to write one of those stories where' you're dropped into the middle of a much larger story and a lot of stuff gets thrown at you all at once, and you have to make sense of it all.  And I decided that this would involve a frog goddess (possibly the one from Temple of the Dog) trying to destroy the world.  I could use Non-Sequiter Lass again, a sidekick that I kind of liked, and I could throw in some other characters/stuff without really explaining everything.

Unfortunately on Sunday I was still 2 stories behind schedule, (needed to finish Act Two of the musical, and the above story) and instead of getting anything else done I went home and goofed off.  And I've goofed off (in the form of playing Guild Wars 2, when I'm not at work) for much of the rest of the week.

I finally managed to finish Grandpa Anarchy and the Fiendishly Foul Fetid Frog, Part Five of the Amphibiad Trilogy on Wednesday the 23rd.  By this point I had again decided to turn several stories into a series -- because this is my response to falling behind, it allows me to have a set group of characters and villains already figured out for the next few stories.  My story for Monday the 21st was originally going to be Grandpa Empathy, a play on the TV Trope called "We Want Our Jerk Back" in which an annoying character is changed or removed and everyone regrets the change.  Grandpa Anarchy is an annoying character -- but he's also a very good fighter on the side of good.  Having him become an empathetic, non-violent peace-lover when everyone needs him to fight seemed liked a good idea to write around.

I changed this into Grandpa Empathy at the Gates of Hell, Part Twelve of the Amphibiad Trilogy, and managed to finish it on Thursday.  But I really didn't like it or the story that preceded it.

Tuesday I woke up with an idea of making an all-female superhero group for my universe called the Iron Maidens.  Later on I couldn't recall why this was such a great idea, but in any case I made my story for Tuesday Iron Maiden Suprise, Part Fourteen of the Amphibiad Trilogy.  I am still trying to finish this one -- but I haven't written much today, so we'll see.

Wednesday's story became Crack Squad of Misfits, Part Nineteen of the Amphibiad Trilogy.  This one was based on a phrase from the back of a book at Norwescon.  It's clearly another famous trope, and I managed to work it into an idea that I like a lot, and works for the end of my "random pieces of a great quest" series.  I'll probably like it better than any of the others.  Whether I can go back and salvage any of these stories later on is anyone's guess -- the first two are kind of bloated stories without a point (which is why they become bloated -- I don't necessarily know where I'm going with the ideas, so it's hard to be concise).  Sadly, this story is yet unfinished as well.

By this point I'm so far behind schedule that I only have titles pulled from my story file for Thursday and Friday's stories -- I haven't worked on them at all.  For Thursday I have Past Life Sister, which is barely an idea; for Friday I have There Is No Try, which is nothing but a title (but conversely probably has more promise because the possibilities are wide open, I can probably come up with something); today's story is The Pompatus of Love, for which I actually have a bit of plot, but I'm not sure if there's a punch line yet.

So I am currently six stories behind.  If I wrote three stories today and three tomorrow, I'd still be a story behind.  But I goofed off most of today and it's past 9 PM now; I'll be lucky to finish one story today.

On the other hand, when I did this sort of thing for NaNoWriMo in November 2012, I only finished 24 stories for the month, out of 30 that I started.  So in reality I've been doing pretty well up til now.

*EDIT*  So I finished Iron Maiden Surprise.  It's 1,525 words and actually, I like it quite a bit.  It's not too long, it's not pointless or bloated.  I think it works pretty well.

*2nd EDIT*  Stayed up 'til 2:30 AM to finish Crack Squad of Misfits.  1,009 words.  As expected, I like it.  I think it works pretty well.

Now I'm feeling better, having finished two stories in essentially one day (if you don't count that it's after Midnight and technically already Sunday).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 20: Startup & Writer's Night Update

I've been trying to keep up with my writing at Norwescon.  On Friday I finished one story, Temple of the Dog, and on Saturday morning I managed to finish Grandpa Anarchy the Musical, Act III.  There was an extra song that I moved to the end of the story file and eventually decided to not use, but I had trouble deleting it from within iPad -- copy and paste is a bitch with a touch screen.

So I saved it to Dropbox, imported it to my laptop, and polished it off there.  Later I updated Dropbox with the final version.

In the meantime Gene had sent out an e-mail about Saturday's Writer's Night.  I asked if he wanted a story of mine to read, and he said sure... but I didn't check my e-mail until we were at dinner right before 7 PM, when writer's night starts.  (I only have internet access in certain parts of the con.)  I searched quickly through my finished stories and sent a link from my Dropbox to a long-finished story that I like, City of the Monkey God.

Keith immediately started reading it -- apparently I sent the link to the entire mailing list.  But I meant to have read at Writer's Night, so that was cool.

Sunday afternoon I ran into Edd who was at writer's night the night before.  He said they'd read my story and it was well-received, and it was good that I'd sent it.  I mentioned that of course Gene has access to all of my stories in Dropbox, but not all of them are necessarily ready to read at writer's night.  I'd picked out one I thought worked well.

Edd said that he assumed there was a part one and two since they read part three, and I was confused.  Apparently what actually was read was my just-completed version of Grandpa Anarchy the Musical part III, and not even the version with the partially-finished song removed.  That's kind of horrifying in a way since even I haven't read all the way through it yet, or decided how well it works, or done any editing.  So I don't know how that happened, but apparently people liked it.

Now I really do need to finish Act II.

Saturday night we played The Totally Renamed Spy Game and for a while none of us could keep a lair around for more than two turns at most.  At one point when we were setting up puny 1-point lairs we joked that we had to fund our new lairs with a Kickstarter campaign, and someone suggested that this would make a good Grandpa Anarchy story.  So between about fifteen minutes or so before going to bed and about half an hour to forty-five minutes the next morning, I wrote Startup based on this idea.  I read it to Keith and Juli and they agreed that it works, but even as short as 840 words, it might be too long.  I'll edit it later.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day 18: Temple of the Dog

I didn't get much writing done Thursday.  I spent half the day getting ready for Norwescon and alternately goofing off and playing Guild Wars 2.  Once at the con I registered, immediately went to dinner, got stuff into the room and went to several panels -- no time to write.

I did better on Friday.  I spent half the day working on Grandpa Anarchy The Musical Act III on my iPad, and in the evening used the laptop to bash out another story, Temple of the Dog.  I had some vague idea that this was going to be a play on the "your princess is in another castle" joke, but I didn't like the ending when I got there and so I reworked it a bit to add more punch.  I'm not sure if it was a complete success, but I had fun with the sidekick, Non-Sequiter Lass.

Unpossible Man stared up at the demonic stone gargoyles and the strangely-carved pillars.  The gullet of the temple was like an open wound, festering with darkness that seemed to seep into the ground.  The air felt slick and greasy.  The place reeked of rotting flesh.
"Neat!" Unpossible Man exclaimed.  He held up his smartphone and snapped a picture.
Grandpa and Deep Fat Fryer stared at their companion. "Really?" Grandpa asked.  "We stand before what may well be a portal into hell, and all you can say is 'neat'?"
"Stonework like this is always cool," said Unpossible Man.  "Just look at the eyes on those things -- as if they were alive!  Every scale is perfectly rendered, down to minute details!  You can practically smell their vile breath!"  He grinned and added, "Stuff like this always gets me jazzed.  Evil temples never skimp on the details, they never disappoint.  You don't get master craftsman and artisans like they used to enslave in the old days."
"It's an evil temple to an evil god," said Grandpa.  "Once you've seen one, you've seen them all."
"But what if the Babalonians had shared their knowledge of batteries?" asked Non-Sequiter Girl.
"Hang on," said Deep Fat Fryer.  "Laranuu  the Spider Dog?  Don't you mean Spider God?"
"No," said Grandpa, and strode into the temple.
Once your eyes adjusted to the darkness, you noticed that the walls glowed with weak light from flourescent lichen.  By this dim glow they saw the statue in the main hall -- an eight-limbed beast with compound eyes and a canine form.  The slathering jaws jutted with hundreds of jagged, sharklike teeth.
"Laranuu the Spider Dog," said Grandpa.
"So it is," said Deep Fat Fryer.  Unpossible Man snapped another picture.

I spent more time working on Grandpa Anarchy The Musical Act III this morning.  Everything's written except the villain's swan song.  I had another fun sidekick for the final scene:  Boy Redundant Lad.  He turned out to be quite useful -- anything Grandpa needed, he had three of.

The ship began to list.  Minions were fleeing now, paying no attention to Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick.  The bodies of many of their companions lay on the deck already, crushed or bit in half by the giant centipedes.  The soldiers leaped from the deck of the ship, deploying parachutes once they were free of the burning structure.
"Kid," said Grandpa, eyeing a giant centipede.  "You got a harpoon gun in all of that equipment you carry?"
"Yes, Mr. Anarchy Grandpa Anarchy Sir, yes I do!" Boy Redundant Lad replied.  "I have five!"
"Just need one for now," said Grandpa.  He took the weapon and aimed.  The harpoon struck a centipede in the head.  It thrashed, knocking minions and a second centipede from the ship's deck.  Grandpa grabbed a second speargun and shot another of the beasts.
By now the deck was listing badly.  "Better grab a couple of parachutes off the dead," said Grandpa.  "We'll need them in a minute."
"Yes Sir, Mr. Anarchy Grandpa Anarchy Sir!  I have three, plus the two built into my costume!"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 16: Bane of the Black Spork

Tomorrow is Norwescon 2014, and the guest of honor will be Michael Moorcock.  I was going to dig out one of my Elric books and read it -- but apparently I don't own any of them.  This is odd because I know I owned all six of the original DAW books when I was young, and I have virtually never gotten rid of any books I've bought, but I couldn't say when the last time was that I laid eyes on these particular books.  They may well have been missing from my collection for more than 20 years, or maybe I lost them two months ago when I moved.  No idea.

So anyway, I decided to write a Grandpa Anarchy story that played on the idea of the famous albino antihero.  I did some research, and I actually wound up downloading a few songs by Cirith Ungol, a metal band from  the early 80's that liked using Michael Whelan's covers for the DAW publications of the Elric books for their own album covers -- which is cool, the cover for Stormbringer is an awesome picture, a classic image of sword and sorcery art, and probably the reason I ever picked up a Michael Moorcock book in the first place.

I created a playlist called Bane of the Black Sword, which includes three Cirith Ungol songs (including "King of the Dead" which is the title of one of the Wheland paintings, and also two of at least three Blind Guardian songs about Elric, and some other Tolkien-inspired fantasy songs and some similar stuff that I like.

And I wrote my story -- The Bane of the Black Spork, (because:  spork) which came in at 1,070 words.  This was a fun one, I had the plot almost immediately.  My villain Death Medal is just very clearly a huge, huge fan of Elric and of all the heavy metal tie-ins.  I had to change the names and concept a bit to protect myself from directly ripping off Mr. Moorcock, but Alaric, culinary chef-king of Dragon Isle with his demonic spork Stormbroiler should not be hard to spot the influence on.  I had fun with all of the bands that have written about him or used his image for their covers too.

I'm a day behind since I still haven't finished Grandpa Anarchy the Musical Act Two.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 15: Too Many Songs!

As it turns out, thinking up songs for a villain to sing in a musical is absurdly easy.

My plans for Grandpa Anarchy, The Musical are three acts, with two songs per act.  I figured that's about as much as I could get away with and still squeeze in enough story to move the plot along.  Act One would be a scene from Kid Calculus's early days as a sidekick to Grandpa Anarchy, when he doesn't doubt Grandpa in the least.  Act Two would be the incident where he's left for dead and turns against Grandpa Anarchy, and Act Three would be him as a full-fledged villain being defeated.

I had songs lined up for Act Two and Act Three:  I really wanted to use either Defying Gravity or Let It Go, and once I realized how easily the first song becomes Defying Anarchy, there was no way I wasn't going to use that.  But then I woke up yesterday morning with two new song ideas in my head.  The first was based on Top Of The World:

I want to blow up the world, want its complete destruction
And the only explanation I can find
Is the hate that I find when your name crosses my mind
Loathing makes me want to blow up the world

The second would be the villain's swan song after he's defeated in Act Three:

I don't wanna talk
About my plans to destroy you
You've defeated me,
Now that's history
I've played all my cards
And then you smashed them all
There's nothing more to say
The hero wins the day

The villain takes a fall
He never wins at all
To fail bitterly
That's my destiny

I was in command
Double-checking all my plans
To me it all made sense
No chink in my defense
Within my walls of doom
'Twas here I would crush that man
But I was a fool
Forgetting all the rules

The gods may throw the dice
Their cheating is precise
The game is rigged, you see
Against villainy
The villain takes a fall
To some neanderthal
Who claims to fight for truth
No matter how uncouth

At the same time I had some ideas for how to adapt Let It Go.  So I had a lot of ideas for songs... and a couple of more ideas to shore up the plot a bit.  I've rearranged my first few stories slightly so that Kid Calculus is the sidekick immediately before Circuit Girl.  This is important because Circuit Girl is kind of a lynch-pin to a lot of the back story in my series.  She was one of Grandpa's best sidekicks until she was murdered by Carnival Act.  I've mentioned her many  times, I've done stories with her younger brother as a sidekick in her footsteps, her death haunted Grandpa Anarchy for a long time -- but I've never actually had her appear onscreen, except as a ghost and that was not the real Circuit Girl anyway.  So it made perfect sense to me to have her confront Kid Calculus at some point.  He's going down the path to villainy, she's very steadfast in her conviction that good triumphs over all; he warns her that Grandpa Anarchy is going to get her killed, she replies that if that is the case, she will die upholding justice.

Kid Calculus respects Circuit Girl, I think.  They're both genius-level tech types.  But they fundamentally disagree here, and both are partially in the right.  So there's good plot material there, and a chance to show what Circuit Girl was really like.

Anyway -- I didn't get much actual writing done yesterday, just a few paragraphs.  But this morning I once again woke up with song ideas in my head.  This time it was Hate Is An Open Door, which would be my second song stolen from Frozen, but it makes me laugh so I might try to use it.  The other idea was I Don't Know How To Hate Him, borrowing from Jesus Christ Superstar.  I'm not sure if that's a song sung by Kid Calculus or Circuit Girl -- but probably a song for Act Two.  I really like that idea as well, so I'll probably use it.  But at this point I have too many song ideas so I'll have to sacrifice something somewhere.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 14: Grandpa Anarchy The Musical, Act One

One of my story files that I've had for a while was titled Grandpa Anarchy The Musical.  When I first created it I had no idea what I actually intended to do with it, I just thought it was a funny title so I made a file with hat title and saved it.

Later, sometime last year, I decided that a musical should have songs -- that if I could come up with some hero-themed songs based on well known musical numbers (so that the melody was obvious), I could have a lot of fun with the idea.  I sketched out the start of "If I Was A Villain" and "My Favorite Things" and left it at that.  I didn't really know where I was going with the idea yet.

This past week I had decided to assemble a new music playlist starting with two songs that have an awful lot in common:  Let It Go, from Disney's Frozen, and Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked.  Both songs are about breaking away from authority and taking control of our own life, and exploring what you can really do with your power.  And both hold the promise of possibly crossing that line from good to evil.  In Frozen, the older sister Elsa ultimately does not really turn evil -- but in the original version of the movie she did (which is how the original fairy tale goes I believe).  In Wicked, Elphaba has good reasons for her actions, but essentially becomes the Wicked Witch of the West (at least, is portrayed that way).

One other thing both songs have in common -- they're both sung by Idina Menzel.

(In fact, you can find several Let It Go/Defying Gravity mashups on Youtube, so quite a few people see the connections.)

So with all of this in my head, I turned today to Grandpa Anarchy The Musical.  It seemed like an obvious choice to do a song based on either Let It Go or Defying Gravity, and once I had thought about it, I settled on a story about how Kid Calculus goes from Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick, to his nemesis, to a truly evil villain (which he's in the process of becoming in a couple of the stories I've recently written -- Villain of the Weak and Disorientation.)  Thus this is a musical in three acts -- one where Kid Calculus is a young and innocent sidekick, one where he's abandoned by Grandpa Anarchy and becomes his bitter rival, and one where he makes the leap to full villain and is defeated.

Which allows me to make the centerpiece of my second act a song called Defying Anarchy.  ^_^

But today was Act One.  Since this is a big project, I decided to break each act up into a separate story for the purposes of finishing a story a day.  Act One ends up being 1,232 words long, so it's about the length of a typical Grandpa Anarchy story.  I'm expecting each act to contain two songs -- this one has both My Favorite Things and If I Were A Villain.

Unpossible Man looked about the smoke-filled, rubble-strewn lair.  He grinned like a kid in a candy store.
"You know," he said, "I really love my job.  I mean really love it."
Nina grinned.  "Beating up Nazis does put me in a good mood," she agreed.
"I know exactly what you mean," said Grandpa Anarchy.  "Nothing makes me happier than punching a bad guy."  He paused a moment, then said, "In fact, I think I'd put it this way."  He began to sing:

"Face punches, fist fights and smashing of villains,
"Last-second rescues that stops men from killin',
"Bad guys entrapped in a wiretap sting,
"These are a few of my favorite things."

Deep Fat Fryer nodded enthusiastically.  "That's right!" he said.  He sang:

"Zombies on fire and flame balls exploding,
"Lightning that gives you a sense of foreboding,
"Taking down Totengräber fall or spring,
"These are a few of my favorite things."

Unpossible Man grinned.  He did a little pirouette and sang:

"Costumes of spandex, and muscular heroes,
"Lairs being blown up by spies with two zeros,
"Breaking an underground slave traffic ring,
"These are a few of my favorite things."

Then all three sang:

"When the death ray
"Gets in my way,
"When the world is doomed,
"I simply remember my favorite things,
"And then death is not presumed."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 12/13: Beneath The Skin, The Hand You're Dealt

Yesterday (Saturday) I finished Four Weddings and Nine Hundred Funerals.  It's a bit long at a little over 2,000 words and four scenes, and I'm not sure it has a very big punchline ending, so I'm not sure how pleased I am with it at the moment.  But it does involve several marriages between superheroes in my universe, so it's got some character/back story development that I like.  So I'll probably let it sit for a while and try to make it work better at a later point.

Today I finished Reboot, a story that involves the members of the League of Two-Fisted Justice getting new costumes as part of promotion for an upcoming team movie.  This one is short, and doesn't need to be any longer.  I happen to like it, I think.

After that I managed to patch together Beneath The Skin, which actually has the League facing off against the same villain as in Reboot.  This is Death Medal, whom I've used quite a lot lately.  He was clearly a villain that I needed to use more, but at this point he's been in at least 5 stories written in the last 2 weeks, so maybe I need to find other villains to use again.  Probably it's time for Kid Calculus to step up his game another notch.

Lastly, I managed to put together a new idea I had today into a story called The Hand You're Dealt.  This was originally based on an article about how often people have quit the X-Men, and how it's a standard trope, in those comics particularly.  I decided to write a story around that idea, which I first called "Quitters" or "Quitters Never Prosper" and then changed to "10 Minute Retirement" which is one of the names of this kind of trope on TV Tropes.  But ultimately I changed the name to the above after I had finished, because it kind of turned into a story where none of the big-name supergroups were available (in the case of the League of Two-Fisted Justice, it was because everyone had  temporarily quit), and the President of the U.S. has to call on one of the more unlikely supergroups in my universe for help.

This story is pretty thin at 777 words.  It reads as complete from beginning to end, but needs some work in the form of added description and fleshing out.  I'm calling it complete, but I'll probably try to rework it a little bit tomorrow.

So that's three stories written today, which means I'm finally all caught up again.  I've now written 16 stories in 16 days, 17 stories for the year, so I'm already ahead of my goal to write a Grandpa Anarchy story a week for 2014.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 11: Four Weddings and Nine Hundred Funerals

Four Weddings and Nine Hundred Funerals is a title I stole from a Twitter meme.  I like it, and I made it my story of the day -- but aside from some speculation on who the four weddings would be for, I got nothing written on it.  Still, I sense an Eastern hero or two in the mix, with a thousand ninjas attacking the wedding.  I may be able to come up with something tomorrow.

What I did today was to complete Trick of the Trade.  I had an idea for how it could work, and I managed to put together two scenes that read through fairly well, but when I got to the end, I realized it was 1.  Far too long, and 2.  Really didn't have a good ending.  So right now it sucks -- but it sucks with a plot and with substance, at least.  Yesterday it sucked with no plot or substance, and I wasn't sure where I was going with it.

But I think I like what I wrote, for the most part.  Instead of a boring conversation with no point (which is all I had for a story yesterday) I turned it into a battle scene involving the entire League of Two-Fisted Justice, and I do like that:

Sunlight filtered through tall trees to the forest floor below.  Here a battle was being fought, between several costumed humans and a humanoid fox dressed in medieval armor.  An old man in a  rumpled gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast charged the fox.  He swung hard, but the creature blocked this easily. 
"You send old men to fight me?" the fox sneered.  He grasped the old man's wrist and threw him fifty feet into brush.  "Where is the Monkey King?  I was expecting to fight the great Sun Wukong and his new legion of heroes!"
"He couldn't make it!" another yelled.  This was a massive human -- seven feet tall and three hundred and fifty pounds -- dressed in blue and black spandex with a form-fitting hood and mask.  He bounded at the fox,  swinging.  Again the fox blocked the punch, but this time he slid twenty feet across  the forest floor, scattering leaves and dirt.
"Ha!" the fox exclaimed.  "At least this fellow knows how to throw a punch!"  He swung, and the big man was launched backwards, crashing into a tree trunk, which shattered.  The towering pine crashed down with a loud swoosh and bang.
"Ha ha!" exclaimed the fox.  "A tree falls in the forest, and Reynard  the Fox hears it!  Foolish humans!  Do you think to oppose me?  I am a god!"
The big man in blue and black got to his feet.  "I'm Unpossible Man," he said.  "We're the League of Two-Fisted Justice."  He grasped the downed tree and broke off a 20-foot length of trunk.  "Think your punches hurt me?  Think again.  That's unpossible." 
Unpossible Man swung the trunk around like a club.  The fox leaped over it.  Moments later, a blast of orange fire enveloped him.  The fox screamed and jumped higher.  "Ow!  Ow!" he yelled.  "That smarts!  What gives?  Nobody said anything about fire...."
A short, balding black man in red and yellow robes of leather studded with rhinestones  held two fireballs above his palms.  "Feel the wrath of the god of fire!" he exclaimed.  "I am the Deep Fat Fryer, and I preach the gospel of the blast furnace!  I bring the heat and light of the very sun itself!  Even gods bow down before the flames of heaven!"
He tossed the fireballs at the fox, who scrambled to avoid them.  Unpossible Man caught him with the back swing of his  tree-trunk club.  The fox went flying, crashing through another tree, which fell.
The woods smelled of pine and wood smoke now.  Small fires burned among the brush.  The old man in the gray suit climbed from the bushes, aided by a much younger man dressed like like a Nashville Cowboy in a white Elvis-style jumpsuit, cowboy boots, hat, and dark shades.  The belt and buckle were Elvis-worthy as well, but what really drew the attention were the dozens upon dozens of tiny abrasive grinding wheels attached to the outfit.
"Thanks," Grindstone Cowboy," said the old man.  He cracked his knuckles.  "My name's Grandpa Anarchy," he said, "and I don't bow down before any earthly gods!"  He charged the fox.
"I'm not asking you to bow down," said the fox.  He blocked a punch, lifted Grandpa into the air, and tossed him a good hundred feet.  "I just want you to stop getting up!"
Grandpa Anarchy rolled over.  He groaned.

I assume my brain will figure out a better ending for this soon, and I'll find a way to cut it down so it's not so long.  The fight scene doesn't feel long, but the second scene does....

I also didn't get any more work done on Reboot, so I'm two stories behind for now.

(Edit)  No sooner had I finished writing this, then a solution presented itself.

My idea for this story was to play on the popularity of villains allowing themselves to get captured to further their plans.  This is a plot point in The Avengers, in Skyfall, in The Dark Knight, and in the recent Star Trek movie.  My first attempt was to write the story after Reynard had been captured, but that was a lot of boring talk and no action.  My second attempt started with the above opening and led to Reynard surrendering, after which I went to a second long scene written after he's been captured.  This was all very long and boring.  I had an idea that it would be funny if he executes his plan, but doesn't know how to escape the jail cell -- he didn't plan far enough ahead.  But once I wrote to that point, it didn't seem very funny.  It was a long ways to go for very little payoff.

And then I realized, if the League is as genre-savvy as they normally are, they know that a trickster god offering to surrender is bad news.  So they can respond appropriately.

Suddenly I have an ending at the end of scene one, and it's much funnier.  I don't even need the long-winded scene two.  So I wrote a lot tonight, but didn't keep most of what I wrote -- but I think it was worth it, I now have a story that I think works, and that I like.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 10: Reboot

The story I worked on today is called Reboot.  Or possibly Rebrand.  Or something else if I come up with a better title.

The idea is that they're doing a League of Two-Fisted Justice  movie, because superhero moves are really popular right now.  The last two Grandpa Anarchy movies -- Anarchy Rising and Anarchy Forever have done really well, and a series of movies about the members of the Archons of Excellence have culminated in an extremely successful team-up movie, called Archons of Excellence, amazingly enough.  The Archons are almost always head and shoulders above the competition, so their movie is my world's equivalent of the Avengers movie.  But now the studio that does the Grandpa Anarchy movies wants to try a team-up film of their own, even though Unpossible Man is the only other member of the team who has ever been in a movie, and that was a B-grade movie from the sixties.

And before they make the movie, they're doing a complete overhaul/rebranding of the members of the League.  New costumes, new comic books, the whole works.  Even if said heroes don't really want new costumes.

One of my problems is that my back catalog of Grandpa Anarchy stories is so large (and the list of story ideas that I haven't written is so large) that I forget what I've actually written sometimes.  So for example, I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned before that Unpossible Man had one single movie to his name, but I don't know where I mentioned that.  I also could swear that I've written a story about Grandpa Anarchy getting a makeover which was tied to a new comic book reboot -- but maybe that was just an idea that I didn't actually write.  I know I wrote a story called Dark Anarchy in which a darker, grimmer Grandpa Anarchy made an appearance -- but that was something different.  But that might be what became of my "rebranded Anarchy" idea.  (Also, I read through Dark Anarchy and boy, does that story need some fleshing out!)

Anyway, I failed to finish my story today, nor did I find a solution to how to end Trick Of The Trade.  I didn't work on that one at all.

So I'm falling behind a bit, although I got a lot written on today's story and at least I know how I want to end it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Camp NaNo, Day 9: Blah Blah Blah and Trick of the Trade

This morning I got up and checked the Second Life Universe forums, and there was a spam message.  These forums are heavily-trafficked and are a prime target for spam bots, and the mods are really good about nuking these things quickly, but sometimes I see them before they disappear.  And in the manner of these things, I found the spam-generated message quite fascinating:

The genre has your time past languished, and no superheroes operate our Hollywood gods, however presently within the primary of a current breed of biblical epics, a prophet is reworked as a superhero, associate antediluvian dark knight. With Noah, Darren Aronofsky (The fighter, Black Swan) directs his 1st blockbuster spectacle, a $130-million gamble that shows off his cosmic predilection with an influence for comedy, associated fulfills associate ambition that began with AN end literary composition he wrote regarding Noah’s Ark as a 13-year-old child in borough.Aronofsky has pumped-up the recent Testament’s slim narrative of the recent man and therefore the ocean with a heavy-metal load of sci-fi fantasy, associated solid AN apocalyptic story that owes the utmost amount to Waterworld and therefore the Lord of the Rings on Genesis. though Aronofsky preserves the core of the Genesis story.

I especially liked "no superheroes operate our Hollywood gods" and the phrase "antediluvian dark knight" which would make good titles for Grandpa Anarchy stories probably (shorten the first to"Our Hollywood Gods" maybe).  Anyway I was inspired by this message, and by the end of the workday I'd finished a new story, Blah Blah Blah.  Here's the first part of the story:

A display mannequin in blue coveralls ran down the street.   It yelled, "Demand furniture!  They know I am a no-nonsense industrialist who has dedicated my life to finding all-natural treatments for devastating!"  Then it lifted a parked car and tossed it onto the sidewalk.
People screamed.  Two more of the creatures appeared, also dressed in blue  coveralls, like crash test dummies come to life.  One yelled, "Your roses!  Realize that rain water contertops to make certain!"  It smashed a shop window.
"Lawn Mower Style Line Trimmer!" the third exclaimed.  It ripped up a street sign.  "At the insights you gain about those weird, bizarre symbols in your dreams!"
A rusting 1958 AMC Ambassador station wagon barreled around the street.  It plowed into one of the dummies, who bounced off the hood.  "Just look at everything that I am going!" it yelled as it flew through the air.  It hit the pavement head-first and collapsed, unmoving.
Two people emerged from the car.  One was a young woman in an orange form-fitting cat outfit, complete with ears and tail.  The other was an old man in a rumpled gray suit and fedora.  A silver anarchy symbol was stitched over the left breast.
"Spambots!" Grandpa Anarchy growled.  "I hate those things!  Always spouting unintelligible gibberish.  Just ignore what they say and take them down -- got it, Blah Blah Ginger?"
The girl stared at him blankly.  "I'm sorry?  Did you say something?"
"Exactly!" said Grandpa.  "Let's do this!"
The two remaining bots ran towards them.  One brandished a sign post.  "The genre has your time past languished," it yelled, swinging the makeshift club.  Grandpa ducked.  "No superheroes operate our Hollywood gods!  However presently within the primary of a current breed of biblical epics, a prophet is reworked as a superhero...."
Grandpa's fist connected with the bot's chin.  Its head spun about.  "Associate antediluvian dark knight!  With Noah!" it shouted.  Grandpa grasped the head and twisted further.  It separated from the body with a shower of sparks.
"That's  two, Ginger!" he yelled.
"What?" his sidekick asked.  She was locked in combat with the other bot.  Grandpa grasped its head and twisted it off.
Another bot appeared at the end of the street.  It saw them.  "But even so," it called out, "writing frequent love letters with words!"
Grandpa lifted the street sign and charged, impaling the bot.  It grasped the aluminum shaft.  "This might be the message of Nymphomaniac , if so there's one," it said, and died in a shower of sparks.
Grandpa grimaced.  "We need to find who's responsible for these bots," he said.  "And I think I know exactly who it is.  Let's go, Blah Blah Ginger."
"What?" she asked.

"Blah Blah Ginger" was the title of another story idea (no idea, just the title really) that I created last Saturday, after my friend Gene used the phrase several times.  It's a reference to the Far Side cartoon about what cats year when you speak to them  (actually I just Googled it -- Ginger is the dog, she hears her own name.  Fluffy the cat doesn't hear anything.  But I'm not sure I want to change my story at this point).  I had no idea what to do with the idea at the time, but Blah Blah Ginger makes a  great sidekick, and suggested a really good ending for the story too.

My goal for the day was to complete two stories so I could get caught up on my output -- but the second story still hasn't fully come together.  The idea behind the working title of Captured was a play on "the villain allows himself to get captured so he can sow dissent among the heroes -- it was his plan all along!" which is very popular with villains these days, they're all doing it (see:  Avengers, The Dark Knight, Skyfall, Star Trek).  I decided I wanted a god-level villain or adversary, and further decided that I wanted a trickster god.  After due consideration I picked Reynard the fox.  I also have my sidekick for this story:  The Grindstone Cowboy.  But the story itself hasn't really jelled yet, I've got a lot of dialog but nothing really happening and no idea of what the ending should be or where I'm going with the idea.

Still, I got 1,100 words written on it.  I've got most of the characters and setup, and I'm sure my brain will supply the correct flow of events and the ending at some point.  I just need to sleep on it.  In the meantime I renamed it Trick of the Trade.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 8: Landmark Decision

I finished Landmark Decision, which involves some inspiration from my friend Jeff supplied to me last Saturday.  It's very short -- 699 words -- but I think it works well enough.  In this story, aliens are out to destroy all of the landmarks in the world.

I'm calling this my Saturday story, but once again I failed to write a second story so I'm still a day behind schedule.  My story for today, which I'll hopefully write tomorrow, it currently titled Captured, but needs a better name.  It will probably feature a sidekick suggested by a friend at work, "The Grindstone Cowboy."

I went to bed last night not satisfied with how Landoff ended.  This morning I woke up with an idea of how to improve it -- so it's slightly better than it was.  Still not sure how much I like it though.  I need to rework Disorientation a bit too.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 7: Landoff

Finished a story today, Landoff.  This is an idea I've had before but was reinforced on Saturday after seeing Captain America:  The Winter Soldier.  This is based on the idea that helicarriers (and flying fortresses in general) always crash.  It's 1,164 words long.

I don't really like it much, it was a struggle to finish and doesn't have a very strong ending.  But anyway, for now it's a completed story.  I was going to write two today to catch up but once again I failed to do that.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 6: Disorientation

I didn't manage to write anything yesterday -- though I have a story started that I will hopefully finish tomorrow, along with another story, so that I can catch up.  We'll see.  In the meantime, I came up with a story idea tonight and wrote the entire thing in about two hours, 1,191 words.  My friend Matt supplied a great title for it.  Here's the first part of what I just wrote:

Mark A Davis

A World War II battleship sat in an abandoned aircraft hanger outside of Cleveland.  How it got there unnoticed was anyone's guess, but clearly people had been busy retrofitting it.  It had wings -- four massive steel structures with jet engines attached, and giant turbine engines.  Workers crawled over it, adding finishing touches including a fresh coating of black paint.
On the deck, several hundred men were gathered.  These were clearly the sort for whom the word "bruiser" had been coined -- big, powerful guys who bore the scars of past fights and were likely to get in many future brawls.  They were probably not quite suitable for the U.S. Military, but would make excellent mafia mooks.
On the aft deck several stories up stood a young man.  He wore a form-fitting black outfit over which silver symbols floated, like mathematical formulae that were constantly rewriting themselves.  He leaped to the top of the rail and stepped out into space -- and drifted down to the gathered men.  He continued to float several feet in the air before them.  A small holographic computer followed him around.
"Greetings, gentlemen," he said.   "My name is Kid Calculus.  Perhaps you've heard of me?"
Most of them stared up blankly.  One said, "Here, you're one of them League of Former Sidekick types."
"Indeed," replied Kid Calculus.  "Obviously I've left them behind.  I'm moving up, gentlemen.  My plans are too big to be contained by a league of former sidekicks.  Unlike them, I've embraced the fact that I am a villain.  I want to make waves.  I want to be feared by all.  I want the world to tremble before my might!"
His voice had increased in volume until he was yelling.  A huge cheer went up from the assembled men.  Kid Calculus raised his fists, grinning.  But one man spoke up.  "Kid Calculus?" he said.  "I'm supposed to fear a name like that?  Not Doctor Calculus or Baron Calculus?  You want me to work for someone who calls himself Kid Calculus?"
Kid Calculus drew a gun and fired.  The mook in question slumped to the deck.  The villain demanded, "Are there any other complaints about my name?  No?  Good."
In a calmer voice Kid Calculus said, "Now, I know you were all blind hires -- I guess that's pretty standard in this business, but this is my first time doing this sort of thing.  Anyway, I want to welcome you all aboard my new flying fortress and base of operations!  Not to mention your new home!   From these decks, gentlemen, we will rain terror down on an unsuspecting populace!"
There was another loud cheer.  Kid Calculus smiled again, but another voice spoke up.   "You call this a flying fortress?  It's just a rusting old ship.  I've worked for Baron Climate Change, now there's a man who knows how to build a flying fortress...."
Kid Calculus tapped his holographic keypad.  A dimensional door opened up beneath the mook, who disappeared through it.  The door instantly closed.
"Where'd he go?" someone asked.  "Where'd you send him?"
"To the moon," Kid Calculus replied.  "That should provide a nice little conundrum for whichever space agency finds his corpse.  Now, did you all get your employee handbooks?  I want you to read those very carefully -- punishments for violating the rules can be quite severe."  He laughed, and added, "I am of course not joking....

Friday, April 4, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 4: Bombs Away

Sometimes things just fall together.

My plan for the day was to work on a story idea I had called Bombs Away.  This was meant to be an encounter with a villain named Brain Bomb who was an "explosivekinetic" -- he manifests bombs with his mind.  I really didn't have a story idea behind this, just a fun idea for a villain, but I worked out who the sidekick was and what the situation was -- the villain was trashing the local mall.  This allowed for some fun descriptions of mall food court places blowing up.  I wrote about 1/3 to 1/2 of the story.

The problem was, I still had no idea where the story was going or how it was supposed to end.  Having Grandpa defeat the villain wasn't an ending with any surprise or comedy.  I had no idea how to work it into something that was funny or unexpected.

I had also planned on writing two stories today, because tomorrow we have a Tai-Pan Work Party tomorrow and I likely won't have a lot of time to work on a Grandpa Anarchy story.  So, stuck on what to do with Bombs Away, I decided to work on my other story for the day, an idea titled Already Failed, which was an argument between Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick on what constitutes a "risk worth taking".  The Sidekick argues that it's a dumb expression, a risk was only worth taking if it succeeds.  Grandpa counters that if you don't take a risk, you've failed already.  I had an idea for how to end it in a funny manner too -- I just didn't have a villain or a situation to put it in.

It occured to me that story A was a villain and a situation, story B was something that could happen looking for a situation and a villain.  If I put them together, I had one complete story.

So now Bombs Away is almost done, and I'm in search of a new second story to work on tonight.  Right now I think that will be Beneath The Skin, in which some villain finds a way to release the inner monster within Grandpa Anarchy.  Grandpa's allies need to defeat him -- but can they hurt their friend?  (Naturally, they're all quite eager to do so.)

Update:  finished Bombs Away before bedtime.  1,160 words... possibly not one of my better stories though.  But oh well, on to the next one!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 3: The Eagle Has Landed

I had to stay up later than planned to get my story for day 3 finished, but I managed it.  This is The Eagle Has Landed, a four-scene story of 2,759 words (of which 1,500 words had been written before today).  So this is a longer story than my usual, and again doesn't have a "Boffo" ending, but I think it works pretty well.  The villain is once again Baron Climate Change (I really like using him) and the sidekick is the Russian Eagle, who is also a hero from Russian and someone who reveals a secret connection to Grandpa Anarchy.

Anyway, had fun with this one.  I don't know what I'll do for tomorrow yet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 2: The Banana Also Rises

I have finished my story for today, The Banana Also Rises.  At 979 words it feels a bit short -- for a story that involves 9 different people.  This is a story I had planned to write since I finished Brothers And Sisters.  That story dealt with the Eternal Order of the Second Banana, a secret society of former sidekicks.  My new story deals with the Second Banana Strike Force, a secret, elite group of super-powered agents made up of members of the Eternal Order, who aid heroes and especially aid other sidekicks.

I'm glad I was finally able to get this story sorted out.  It probably needs a rewrite, and it's not one of my stories with a real boffo ending, (Boffo Ending would be a good story title wouldn't it?), but it does have an ending that feels like it works.  I dunno, I'll set it aside and read it again later and see what I think.

As usual I had more ideas than I could fit into the story so I made a new file with leftover parts, which I'll probably never do anything with.  (One idea I didn't use involved the strike force employing a giant banana-wielding monkey mecha.)

I also created another new story file today.  While listening to this week's To The Best Of Our Knowledge, there was a reference made to Karlheinz Stockhausen, a German composer who, a few days after the events of 9/11, said:

Well, what happened there is, of course—now all of you must adjust your brains—the biggest work of art there has ever been.

He of course got a lot of flack and had to try and explain himself.  In the show (during an interview with novelist Richard Powers) they talk about whether art in the 20th century can be shocking or terrifying, in the way that it was (for example) during the first performance of Stravinsky's The Rites of Spring, which caused people to riot.  And they discuss what Stockhausen meant -- that an artist wants to "transform people with what they do", they want to "create an effect in another person, to send a message, to transform history."  Which according to Powers is the same thing a terrorist wants to do.

Anyway all of this got me thinking about terrorism and destruction as performance art, and what kind of villains would think that way.  Carnival Act thought that way, but I've since killed him off, so I need to think of another villain of Grandpa Anarchy's who thinks in the same way.

I jotted all of my ideas on this down and saved them to a file called Godzilla Was An Artist.

Also, this is a strange side note, but in searching on "destruction as art", I came across The Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS), which was a 3 day gathering of artists, poets and scientists to speak on the subject of destruction as art.  One of the events mentioned:
John Latham constructed three large "Skoob Towers" out of books, which they called "The laws of England", and set fire to them outside of the British Museum.
What struck me was that this symposium was held in 1966 on Sept 9, 10, and Sept 11.  (Cue Twilight Zone music).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Camp NaNo Day 1: Villain Of The Weak

Started and completed a story which is 1,253 words long.  So far, so good!  My story is Villain Of The Weak, in which Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick Kid Tuesday fight Kid Calculus, a former sidekick and also a former member of the League Of Former Sidekicks, who has now declared his intention to become Grandpa's new arch nemesis.  But it takes more than a declaration to be the arch nemesis of Grandpa Anarchy!

I also created three new story files today, called Couldn't Be Bolder, Flailing Around, and Monster.  I'm not sure any of them qualify as full-blown ideas -- well, the second one might in fact qualify.  In reverse order, they are:  some lines and notes about bad people who grow up to be bad villains, jotted down while listening to this week's This American Life which was about bad kids; some lines and ideas based on the song Losing My Religion, but with the core of an idea about an insecure someone whose fantasies and nightmares manifest as real things; and more lines from the song Bungle In The Jungle, because the line "Couldn't Be Bolder" seemed like a possible story title.

But tomorrow's story will be Banana Also Rises, I think.