Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 28

Wordcount: 3,135

But it's on the wrong story!
I have officially given up on my Lemur NaNo novel. Why? Because for one thing, I shall have to delete much of it and I need to conceptualise what is actually going to happen with the plot. It's not going anywhere, it needs to be dragged back on target.

So, instead I am adding in a few bits of "foreshadowing" to MKQ. And proof-reading it on my kindle.

I have already discovered:
~ contradicting previous assertions made on goblins and faeries in general - twice
~ changed a character's name without realising (fixed)

And am also wondering if I should foreshadow the terrible chefs - Rumpel and Stiltskin, or leave them as a (not too) pleasant surprise.

Friday, November 25, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 25 - COMPLETED



As I have now attained my goal of 50k words, although my novel is far from finished, I think I may give it a break for today and concetrate instead on some art, or maybe editting "Midsummer Knight's Quest". You see - this year instead of a free proof copy - Createspace are giving away 5 copies of an actual published book (but you have to pay postage). Since it will need to be used by June and there is no way in hades that I will have "Lemurs: A Saga" publishable by than (heck, it probably won't even be finished), I could use it to buy 5 more copies of "Aroha's Grand Adventure" - but I'm already sitting on 5 copies that I'm trying to sell (want it? $20 each + postage and it will be autographed), I've decided to finally finish up Hemlock's story.

"Midsummer Knight" needs a fair bit of tweaking - namely I need to do a bunch of illustrations again, thanks to Aurora becoming Mystery and changing species from a sunbittern to a bush stone-curlew. I might even need to redo the cover, although I rather like it the way it was. And I've done a little editting to fit in Mystery over Aurora.

Here's the new cover:



I am hoping it WILL have the title on the spine, once I get the story itself uploaded.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 24

Wordcount: 2,051
Total Wordcount: 51.708
Percentage: 103%

According to OpenOffice, I am finished. According to the Validator, I have another 70 words to go.

I shall finish it tomorrow. And there will be celebration. And muffins. Definitely muffins.

Rakoto has had his first lesson in fighting, met Eloise's brother, Roland and also had his first glimpse of the Alpha Hunter, Noir.

And all this before breakfast. His breakfast, that is, not mine. I wrote this between breakfast and heading to work - just to get matters straight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 23

Wordcount: 1,481
Total Wordcount: 49,657
Percentage: 99.3

Almost there! Another day and I shall have crossed the threshold and then will have to write another 2k words or so to get the official wordcount. No matter - I've plenty of time - almost a week and the story seems to be flowing okay.

Aurelia has faced off against the kinaoly, but where is Kelyloza?
Rakoto is learning how to fight. It is not going to do him well.

Bit of fun today, because I want my city of Narivo to somewhat resemble the actual city of Antananarivo, so I've been looking on google earth. Alas, no streetview of Madagascar, but Earth shows me the contours and all, so I can see which bits are ridges and which are gullies. As the editting begins, I shall create the city in more vivid colours -maybe even rustle up a map.

Tomorrow, shall hopefully be a day of celebration.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 22

Wordcount: 1,385
Total Wordcount: 48 176
Percentage: 96.4%

So close... And the plot has hardly moved very far at all. Aurelia and her team are messing around in the Tsingy, where she appears to have now befriended the mandrill that may possibly have killed her friend (accidentally...). I need to finish this chapter and get back to Rakoto.

At this rate, it might be a trilogy yet. Can I tie this up in another 25000 words or so? Time will tell...

But now, I need that thing called sleep.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 21

Wordcount: 2,186
Total Wordcount: 46, 791
Percentage: 93.6%

And we're into the home strait now! I'll be done by friday at the latest - with the wordcount at least - if not the story - which still has a loooong way to go.

I have nothing profound to say today.

Goodnight!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 20

Wordcount: 1,898
Total Wordcount: 44,605
Percentage: 89.2%

I would have liked to finish on 90% today, but alas, the chapter I was writing is complete and it is time for that elusive thing called sleep.

I am wondering where this story is going - like Part one - which I wrote in June, it is moving at what seems to be a snail's pace, yet is hopefully interesting enough to keep the reader entertained and for each occurance to have some relevance to the plot. I am just not yet entirely sure what.

In today's instalment, Aurelia has discovered that her diminutive friend has been captured by a mythic beast referred to as the "kinaoly". A kinaoly is: A horrible looking elf of folklore. Or, in this case, a troll - well, actually, it's a mandrill. Now, the purpose that this mandrill serves is unclear. Rumour has it, that he is a cruel and malicious being who slaughters and eats lemurs at the least provacation and is dangerous and should not be messed with... The bones and assorted other debri scattered around his lair are testament to this theory.

But.. I'm not yet convinced. The monkeys (vazaha) are outlawed by royal decree and any found living in Madigaska is likely to be killed on sight. So, who is to say that this mandrill is not simply hiding in the Tsingy and wants nothing more than to eat durian and scorpions and be left alone? Current theory is that he was a crew-hand on one of the ships that sailed neared the coast - and being dimwitted and easily manipulated, wound up getting dumped by his companions. Then, he stumbled about, trying to befriend the local lemurs, merely to find himself attached and chased away - beaten with sticks and burned by fire. He ran into the Tsingy to escape the vicious lemurs and immediately got lost. He likes the tsingy - nobody tries to hurt him and he's found a place with plenty of food, water and a nice private cave system to make into his lair (ok, bit of abnormal behaviour there). But... sometimes he gets lonely... So when the little tsidy stumbles into his territory, he decides to keep her as a sort of friend/pet because she can tell him lovely stories and keep him company.

Except it appears that he's about to have Aurelia drop on him from above and stab him in the throat while he's asleep. Not very sporting, I know.

So, without further ado, I give to you the Kinaoly:
(it's dark, so Aurelia can only see in monochromes)

This was clearly the kinaoly's lair, and it had made some effort to add some homely touches. It was open to the sky, moonlight streaming down to illuminate the great beast crouching in its centre. The floor was covered in a thick layer of dried grass, with scraps of cloth and torn lambas littered across it. There was a wooden bucket and a wicker basket filled with fruit. Durian fruit, Aurelia noted. He must have visited the pond. I wonder whether it was before, or after, we left? I am glad we did not run into it then.

She watched a while longer. The great beast did rather resemble Chike, she observed, at least in general shape. But if he were a monkey, he was truly a monster of the monkey world. His large, muscular body was covered in a short pelt of dark fur, which thickened into a shaggy made around his neck and shoulders. Pale fur fringed his belly. But it was his face that startled Aurelia the most, for it truly was the face of a monster. He had been turned away from her, so that she could only see the back of his head, but something caught his attention, and he turned around, to stare directly at her.

His face jutted out into a long snout, framed by large circlets of pale flesh, as though he were wearing a plate on his nose. The skin that ran between them was a darker colour, maybe red, Aurelia surmised, although moonlight had diluted the colour from the world. Two great black nostrils flared at the end of the snout, and he moved his head slowly, as though trying to locate her with tiny, dark, oval eyes. She drew back instrinctively, although surely he could not see her, not with the moonlight behind him and nothing but shadows behind her.

Smell company?” He said, his voice low and deep, but plaintive too, as though he were a kit asking his mother a question.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 19

Wordcount: 2.007
Total Wordcount: 42,786
Percentage: 85%

I have actually composed more like 3000+ words today, but I deleted that extra 1000 that I had hanging on the end and getting in the way. They were starting to annoy me. I am still going steadily, but the plot is crawling and I have a feeling some heavy editting shall be involved in the next few months. Instead of publishing this one to use with my coupon (should I get it), I shall instead concentrate on completing "Midsummer Knight's Quest" and purchase that with my 5x free copies. But first... I have to achieve 50k.

I'm running much on par as I was with NaNo's past. Last year, at this point, I was *almost* finished. With SocNoc, I was struggling - I ended up deleting around 5000 words from that story. Still, the ones I put in instead were better.

I don't have any interesting quotes for today. So have some art instead:


Seal/Penguin hybrid


Gryphon composed of Waxwing and Genet.

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 18

Wordcount: 2.088
Total Wordcount: 40, 779
Percentage: 81.6

You might be excused for thinking I was finding this NaNo a romp in the park -a walk down easy street. You'd be wrong. I've reached the midmonth doldrums. That is to say, the story has ceased to flow and I am now having to force the words out of my head and my heart. The characters have decided to stop sitting in my head and barking orders, and have decided to sneak off and have a delicious meal of banana custard and rice, with vanilla rhums.

In some ways, the conceptualising is still working - I have a vague idea of where the plot is going, but no great handle on how to get it there. Still, I'll get through this, and tomorrow my wordcount might even be up to 90%.

Yeh, we can dream.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 17

Wordcount: 1,062 (1,752)
Total Wordcount: 38, 691
Percentage: 77.4%

Why the number in brackets? Cos that's how many I would have written had I not decided to delete a bunch and rewrite the scene. Anyhow, it's better now. But I think I'll keep those extra 690 words tacked on the end, because the official wordcount validator and my Open Office wordcount are having a disagreement to the cost of over 1300 words. I think it must be the "-" I have been known to use on (every) occasion. Perhaps if I went through and replaced them all with ";" my wordcoutn would decrease significantly.

Hrm, let's try that (and save first!) - count = 38,584 - so that lost me about 100 words.
Now what happens if I delete all the "s - wordcount= 37,316

What does the official validator currently say? wordcount = 37,321.
And what do I get in Microsoft word? 37,319

I guess we see what is more accurate. Does anyone know how I can set OpenOffice to stop counting "s?

Once I get the wordcount up to around 52k, then I can delete the excess words cos it will make the wordcount >50k.

Anyhow, I should quit goofing around and get some beauty sleep. Although I did get around 10 hours last night. And I still ain't anywhere near beautiful.

Rakoto and Kary (a gentle lemur with a bad case of mange and baldness):
Aww, no need to be embarrassed,” said the kit. “We all make mistakes and you're just too nice. You always think the best of lemurs. That's why greedy sods like that kotrika, he take advantages with you. Miso, he was just looking out for you. Tryin' to teach you to not be so gobble.”

Pardon?”

Gobble, you know, not to believe what everyone tells you is always the truth.”

I believe you mean 'gullible'?” Rakoto corrected.

Yeh, gobble. You're gobble.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 16

Wordcount: 925
Total Wordcount: 36,939
Percentage: 72.9%

I am very tired tonight. Possibly because the neighbour's decided to have a domestic at 11.30 pm (resulting in the man shouting VERY loudly and with very foul language before storming out and speeding off in his car - I hope to cool down). And then it stormed - wind and rain rattling the windows and roof. By the time I left for work the sun was shining, and it has been a lovely day overall.

But I did not get a lot of sleep.

So here's some lemur facts to entertain you:
(from Smithsonian)

Lemur expressions:
  • Staring open-mouth face: The eyes are opened wide, the mouth is open with the teeth covered by the lips. This occurs when mobbing a predator or serves to communicate an inhibited threat.
  • Staring bared-teeth scream face: The eyes are opened wide, the mouth is open with the corners drawn back so that the teeth and gums are revealed. This display occurs with terror flight.
  • Silent bared-teeth face: The eyes are staring at the stimulus, the eye brows are either relaxed or up, and the corners of the mouth are drawn back allowing the teeth to show. This is used to communicate submission or a friendly approach. <- THEY CAN SMILE!
  • Bared-teeth gecker face: Similar to silent bared-teeth face only with a rapid noise attached to it. This display occurs during subordinate flee-approach conflicts and also when an infant is bothered.
  • Pout face: The eyes are opened wide and the lips are pushed forward such that the mouth resembles an "O" shape. This occurs with contact calls and also occurs with begging.
  • Hoot face: The lips are pushed forward to resemble something called a "trumpet-mouth.” This display occurs with long-distance calls (e.g. territorial calls).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 15

Wordcount: 1, 816
Total Wordcount: 36,040
Percentage: 72%

I declared tonight that I could not go to bed until I had written at least 1000 words. Then Rakoto took over and out poured nearly 2000. Awesome!

Rakoto learns why naive highborn sifakas should not visit the markets by themselves and has his first run-in with Misokosoko. Ah, Miso is fun. He's more cynical and scornful than I expected him to be.

Rakoto frowned. “What do you mean?”

The kotrika sighed. “I mean you get good deal, excellent deal,” he declared, plucking the saphira from Rakoto's hand. Too late, Rakoto realised that it did indeed take the scruffy little lemur both hands to hold its weight. “Now, you want me wrap 'em or take as is?”

The little rat's cheated me, Rakoto realised. “Azafady, I would like it wrapped,” he declared. He pointed at a neatly folded blue kerchief, tucked under one of the belts. “In that.”

But that is genuine silk!” The kotrika declared. “I cannot just give it away.”

And why not?” Came a low voice from beside them. Rakoto whirled to see the one-eyed varika had sauntered over. He crouched beside the kotrika's stall, tail draped over his shoulder. The vivid circlet of orange fur, partnered with the silk eyepatch, made him look both dangerous and sly. “You've just pretty much robbed him in front of everyone.”

The kotrika sputtered. “Robbed him? I never! This is honest business, it is.”

It is?” The one-eyed varika cocked his head. “And I'm a mongoose's uncle. The kit's a na├»ve little highborn and cos he's as dimwitted as a drongo, you've just skinned him. So give him the damned piece of cloth and his belts and know that you've gotten the leafy end of the stick.”

The kotrika glanced about to find many pairs of eyes upon him, he hastened to wrap the two belts into the piece of silk. Shoved it at Rakoto. “There you go,” he said.

Rakoto reached out to take it, but the varika interrupted. “No, you ain't done yet, kit. I reckon as this cheeky bandit here oughta toss in that mirror and that there comb. Unless he wants me to go singing to the Queen's Hunters about how as he's skinning the...” he winked at Rakoto, “prince an' all.”

Rakoto startled. He was not used to being recognised and identified as a prince – his own mother failed to acknowledge him. And whilst he did spend much of his time in the company of the Queen's advisor, it seemed generally assumed that he was an apprentice or runaround.

Prince?” The kotrika stammered, shaking his head.

Didn't ya see him in the parade yesterday? All fine and fancy with his blue collar and all?”

The kotrika's ears flattened and his tail sagged. He shoved everything together – the wrapped belts, the comb, the mirror and a small carved goblet. “Take it,” he said, “go, go. You done good from me, you did. Really.”

Rakoto took it, and hopped away, bemused. It was a lumpy armload and he rather wanted to set it down. Also, he could not stop shaking. But he could not give into such urges yet, because the varika had followed him.

Misaotra,” Rakoto said, his voice wavering.

Well, you can thank me,” declared the varika. “But thanks ain't much to a one-eyed homeless chap like meself. I done you a good turn, I reckon you owe me one now. You don't be wanting that comb or that mirror, do yous just?”

No, I suppose I do not require them. Here, take them – they are yours. You have more then earned them.” He held them out to the varika.

To which, the varika slapped him in the shoulder, hard enough to send him staggering over. The weight of the collars unbalanced him, and he toppled into the dirt. Cowering into a ball, he hugged the bundle to his chest.

What,” he whimpered. “What are you doing?”

A crowd had gathered, as crowds do around such an unexpected example of market theatre.

The varika loomed over him, close enough so that Rakoto could smell the spice of his fur and see the distain in his one eye.

You is just gonna give it to me? He snarled. “Not even try to argue? You is soft,” he snarled. “Like a baby bird fresh from the nest. Just waiting for the mongoose to eat you. And she'll gobble you up. You've gotta grow teeth and learn how to use them or you ain't never gonna be nothing more than the Queen's little pet.”

With that he scooped up the mirror and the brush, nudged Rakoto hard with his foot, and scampered off on three limbs. The crowds parted to let him through and began to disperse. The show was over, and no blood had been spilt. A vague scent of disappointment hunt in the air.

Rakoto picked himself up, shook the dust from his fur. He was scared, but worse than that, he was humiliated.

I shall find you, you one-eyed scoundrel,” he growled. “And I shall show you that I do have teeth and I know how to use the... Ow!” A small, hard fruit had whizzed through the air, striking him on the cheek. He whirled in time to see a small lemur, his bald head hidden beneath an oversized hat. The little lemur laughed, and darted away.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 14

Wordcount: 1, 683
Total Wordcount: 34, 224
Percentage: 68%

Okay, so now my lemurs are riding on the back of a hippopotamus in a special submersible construct.

I think I might be going officially crazy.

Or as the lemurs say it - "adala".

Just like Tristan...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 13

Wordcount: 2,627
Total Wordcount: 32,541
Percentage: 65%

Today I completed my requisite 1000 words before breakfast, ate and went to work. Work gave me time to think, to mull over what I had written and to work out a manner in which to revise it - to make it more interesting - hopefully a little more entertaining and to introduce Tristan, the saarcastic avahy who talks to bats. And, as it turns out, has a pet hippopotamus called Mathilde.

*gasp* You say - what is she doing introducing hippos to Madagascar? She's already added antelopes - how far can she stretch reality?

Well, folks, I hate to tell you this - but this IS a novel about lemurs that talk and live in tree houses and sail boats and things. I don't think realism is going to count.

And besides, hippos once lived in Madagascar. Sure they were "pygmy hippos", but a mere 2m hippo is going to be a monster to a 40cm (excluding the tail), lemur - isn't it just? Anyhow, the pygmy hippo (there were 3 species, maybe not closely related) became extinct years ago - except that the Malagasy people still tell tales of it. Kilopilopitsofy were what the Malagasy folk called it. But I think Mathilde is easier to remember.
Crocodile!” Aurelia shrieked, grabbing Astrid and pushing her back from the pool's edge.

Something immense appeared from the water, directly beneath the paddling lemurs. A great, gray shadow that rose and rose. Contance's fingers closed about the rope. She clutched it and began hauling herself along as Ngara braced against a rock. The ankomba tugged with her teeth and hands. Astrid scurried to help her, and Aurelia followed, wrapping their hands about the coarse fibres, pulling and pulling for all that they were worth.

Constance reached a semi-submerged rock, hauled herself onto it and leapt for shore. She scampered up onto the rocks and crouched. Her fur hung in dripping clumps – the waterproofing oil no match for the complete dunking.

Tristan,” she gasped. “We have to safe him.”

The beast rose from the waters. A head like a rock, cracking open into great gaping jaws lined with spear-like tusks and a gret, purple-grey tongue. Beyond that, the dark maw of a throat that looked big enough to swallow a lemur. Whole.

Tristan!” Astrid cried, lunging forward. “Where is he? I cannot see him!”

He must have been dragged beneath it, Aurelia realised, crushed by that massive bulk. What is this monster? Is this the kinaoly?

The creature lunged forward, head dropping back down into the water, so that only the eyes and the upper snout remained above water. On its head, between its bulging eyebrows, perched a small brown sifaka.

Tristan stood and shook himself, then reached down and touched the creature's head. It walked to the shore and he hopped off and onto a rock.

My friends,” he said. “I would like you to meet Mathilde.”



So yeh, i've added hippos.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 12

Wordcount: 3,266
Total Wordcount: 29,914
Percentage: 59.8%

Discovered today that the NaNo Validator and I don't agree - Open Office says I have nearly 30k, Validator loses me about 1k. So I'll have to overdo the mark. Still, that doesn't seem a problem. I'm at almost 60% and it's not even halfway through the month yet.

Today I crippled a character. Badly. I broke her back. I'm not sure why, except that I had trouble spelling her name and I kinda wanted to cut down the amount of characters I had PLUS a bit of dramatic sadness is always useful.

I also packaged up a bunch of art cards to be posted out on monday and set up a store on facebook so that people can buy my cards and stuff. Also, ordered more things through Visaprint. This time I actually had to pay for some of them.

And I finally finished this picture:



It's Niirsha from the excellent novel "Petal Storm" by Paul Kidd. According to his website, they're supposed to be tiny people with like four arms, antennae and wings, but since the descriptions kept mentioning chitin etc, they're bees to me. Anthro bees. And to all those that disagree - I'll set a giant jumping spider on you!

But I did give her hair. I think it kind of suits her.


Friday, November 11, 2011

NaNoWrimo, 11/11/11 (day 11)

Wordcount: 4,021
Total Wordcount: 26,648
Percentage: 53.3%

Today's goal was to get to 25k. Despite thinking that I had achieved not much of anything today, I managed to attain and beat that goal!

Writing for Rakoto is awesome. When I first conceptualised Rakoto, I intended him to be a sulky little brat, possibly a bit prone to misbehaving or retreating inside himself. I intended his not-sister to bully him and I intended Araminta (his foster mother to treat him with scorn). However, that didn't feel right - he was, after all, the son of the Queen, and demanded respect. He developed a crush on Isabella (his not-sister) and she turned out to be a somewhat snobbish little upstart and smart alec. Rakoto still became a quiet, thoughtful (as in, he thought a lot), young fellow, who did not really understand his own identity. He did not sulk much, but does tend to overthink situations. He does not act impulsively.

Part of the reason that Rakoto is turning out alright, is because of Mephistopheles. When I first started, Mephi's role wasn't too clear either - he was the advisor to the Queen (now fallen from her favour) but I did not realise until recently that he avidly disliked her and opposed a lot of her decisions. When she displaced him, he took to tutoring Rakoto - his goal being to raise the youngster to be a decent steward until a female heir is sired and can take the throne. Thus, despite his blood heritage, Rakoto has wound up neither a vicious murderer nor a scheming, manipulative, selfish prince. He is still, alas, easily manipulated and quite naive.

Today we hear Eloise's story, have a run-in with a couple of trainee Hunters and get involved in several conversations. If in doubt, write dialogue, it seems.

From the way it is currently looking, the rebel group - or rather, rebel trio (Misokosoko, Dahira and the nameless tsidy) will wind up aligning with Mephi, Rakoto and the Forgotten against the Queen, Noir and any other hunters. Which seem to also involve Eloise's brother, Roland. He's also new to the plot and I have no idea what role he will play.

Mephistopheles nudged him with his cold nose. “You have a heart,” he said. “There is no question about that.” He paused. “Have you ever wondered whom your father might be?”

Rakoto sighed. Of course he had wondered, on numerous occasions. He tried to make light of the matter. “Are you trying to tell me that I am not Radama's son?”

His tutor chuckled. “You are a smart kit,” he said, “and good with numbers. Yet, in the eyes of royal law, you are Radama's son, but have you ever wondered whom actually sired you?”

I always rather hoped it was you,” Rakoto admitted, feeling a little silly.

Several expressions crossed Mephistopheles strange face. Surprise, sadness and then it finally settled on delight. “Me?” He said. “You would choose the ugliest lemur in the entire city as your sire?”

You are not ugly, just strange. I have never seen a lemur like you before.” He sighed. “And I know it is silly, because I know that whatever you are, it is definitely not sifaka-kin. But you did spend a lot of time with my mother and you are so wise and kind and well... you are the sort of father I would have liked to have.“ He paused, ears pricking. “Do you know whom my father is?”

Mephistopheles frowned and seemed about to say something, then shook his head. “No,” he said, “I do not know.”

But you were the Queen's Advisor, Rakoto thought. Nobody knew her as you did. Therefore, you must know the truth. He shuddered. And it must be so terrible, if you would choose to lie to me thus. But he held his tongue. Some truths were better left buried.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 10

Wordcount: 2,622
Total Wordcount: 22,627
Percentage: 45.3%

Sometimes your characters behave in an entirely unexpected fashion. Such was the story today, when Mephistopheles took Rakoto (his student) to meet with the Hadinoina. But first, a bit of context. Rakoto is the son of the Queen. After his birth, he was basically handed over to a foster mother and Mephistopheles was appointed as his tutor. Mephi is no longer the Queen's advisor, btw, she kidna lost faith in him after he lied to her one too many times. Anyhow, Mephi has been (it turns out - it surprised me even!) visiting the Hadinoina when not tutoring the young prince, and teaching them a basic education.

So, firstly, the Hadinoina are the young kits left behind when their parents were put into labour camps or forced to join the military. Or orphaned by said military. The name means "orphans" and most probably are orphans, now. They are under-nourished, rarely see the sun, and live by begging, stealing and scavenging what the lemurs above them drop. Some are deformed due to the afore mentioned military and most have mange. One even has a mohawk.

Anyhow, Rakoto has been raised in the upper levels - he's never gone hungry except by choice and he's never been starved of the sunlight. His tutor provides a decent father figure (better than his real father) and he has his fostermother and not-sister as well. He's better adjusted than I actually intended him to be.

And it appears that he has developed a compassionate streak. He seems to be nothing like either his mother or his father.
He also now seems to be showing a distinct interest in the leader of the Haadinoina, a one-armed sifaka called "Eloise". She didn't exist until this morning when I spontaneously created her. Although I suspect the future might not be so rosy for her...

I am intrigued to see where this story arc might be going. Maybe Rakoto will decide to join the rebels instead of being kitnapped by them.

Or maybe both will happen.

Quite a long quote today. Rakoto meets Eloise and the other orphans.

There were perhaps fifty of them, some a year or two in age, others barely weaned. Tiny infants, with bulbous heads and clutching hands, clung to the fur of some of the older ones. All of them were skinny, their eyes large in their hollow faces. Most were balding, fur falling out in scruffy clumps. A sign of malnutrition or disease, Rakoto could not tell. His nostrils were too overwhelmed by the stench of them to make a proper identification. They were sick and they were dirty, and they were staring at him with open-eyed reverance. No, not at him, but at Mephistopheles.

They know him, Rakoto realised. He has been here before. He gulped as one came forward. A scrawny female sifaka with one arm severed at the elbow. She may have been beautiful, had she a proper diet and sunlight. But her fur was matted with twigs and leaves and her eyes large and haunted.

This is Eloise,” Mephistopheles explained.

She smiled at Rakoto, her pose suggested submission, but she refused to lower her eyes. Instead, they bored into him, as though seeing deep into his soul. “Salama,” she said. “I am pleased to meet you.”

She came forward to touch his nose in greeting and he shied back. Mephistopheles pressed in behind him, so that he could back away no further. She smelt... not that terrible, actually. A little like damp and leaf-mould, of something lost and forgotten. But there was no sickness on her, nothing but a great and shadowing sorrow.

Salama,” he replied. “I am known as Rakoto.”

Salama Rakoto,” Eloise replied. “Welcome to our dank kingdom. It is not much, but it is home to us, and your presence allows us a ray of light we have not been granted. We are grateful that you have chosen to visit us here.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 9

Wordcount: 1,795
Total Wordcount: 20,005
Percentage: 40.01%

To kill or not to kill?
It is a dilemma any budding writer must face.
In this case - I can over-dramatise and extend a scene that will likely have little relevance to the main plot but will increase my wordcount.
On the other hand, should I just not move the seven of them towards their final destination?

The situation - Aurelia and her merry crew of Karazana have made there way into a gully, climbing down the steep cliff in the pouring rain. It is treacherous going, and upon arriving, Aurelia and her new sidekick, Ngara (I promise I shall draw her soon) find that most of the otehrs have beaten them there.

Except one of the team is missing. The hyperactive, over enthusiastic one.

Now, I have three options here:
1. I can have her sheltering somewhere and be completely fine
2. She could have fallen and died
3. She could have fallen and crippled herself.

Now, as you can see, all this successfully does is make the reader go "woooh, that's cruel!" And eliminates a largely unnecessary character from the plot.

But if she's that unnecessary, why did I have her in it in the first place?

So I could kill her?

To add about two minutes of colour at the beginning - she didn't really get much of a role at all.

Maybe I'll skip back to Rakoto's POV while I ponder this point.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 8

Wordcount: 2,105
Total Wordcount: 18,210
Percentage: 36.4%

Coming along, steady and strong. Aurelia seems to have teamed up with Ngara now, a newly created character - a blue-eyed black lemur. The reason these lemurs have blue eyes, yet are not part of the royal line, stems from a time in generations past when one of the black lemurs saved the life of the current queen at the time. They were given the gift of the royal blue eyes to forever show their loyalty and dedication to the crown.

So it seems rather appropriate that her new friend is such a lemur.

Meanwhile, they're wandering through the Tsiny in the pouring rain. Not much fun at all. Drenched, not quite sure where they are or where they're going - they're about to have an alien encounter:

A moment later Aurelia saw a flowing white shape, far off in the distance, flitting through the trees.

What's that?” She wondered. “It looks... almost like a lemur.”

But so white,” Ngara remarked. “Whiter even than you. Or at least, than you are now that you're covered in rain and dirt and goodness knows what else.”

Could it be a lemures?” Aurelia wondered. “Come to lead us to safety?”

We can hope,” came the response. “Not all lemures are benign. Some are malicious or seek company, by luring the living doom.”

Aurelia frowned at her. “Are you trying to scare me?”

Ngara shrugged. “Maybe,” she said. “A little. Why, were you scared?”

Maybe,” Aurelia replied. “A little.”



A bioluminscent lemur? I think not. Or maybe it is? Time to spend hours researching how creatures make themselves bioluminescent. Have to figure out how to spell it first!

Flag that, let's go watch Farscape and draw anthro bees.

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 7

Wordcount: 1,607
Total Wordcount: 16,105
Percentage: 32.3%

Today was the first day I got up at 5am to write before work.
Not a great deal of fun. But I managed to force out around 1000 words before I left, than added a few hundred more for luck.

Getting home, I tried to draw an anthropomorphic bee as an ATC illustration of the book I am currently reading ("Petal Storm" by Paul Kidd, it's very good) and discovered that anthro bees are really hard to draw.

Anyhow, I am developing the lemur city of Narivo in a little more depth - or perhaps height is a better word. It is structured in layers - the sifaka (the elite, rich etc) live in the upper reaches of the branches, further down live the varika craftslemurs, futher down still live in the general workers, and the ground is the realm of the peddlars and musicians, along with the homeless. The fifth quarter (which doesn't officially exist) is where the refugees live.

It appears in my head that Kotrika (sportive lemurs) are peddlars, and tsidy (mouse lemurs) act as couriers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 6

Wordcount: 1,400
Total Wordcount: 14,498
Percentage: 29%

Today was the first day* I did not reach the requisite 1665 words. Not a big deal since I am well ahead on the wordcount (since if I were just doing the requisite minimum/day I would have achieved only 9900 by now).

So, why did I not succeed, may you ask?

Well, the plot's a little slow moving at the moment. I'm basically just writing scene-stuff and the "journey" and I'm also pretty tired. In one story thread, Aurelia and six other lemurs (including Constance, her rival) are traipsing across the Tsingy to visit a refugee camp. In the other story thread, Rakoto is about to be shown the underbelly of Narivo by his tutor, Mephistopheles. Mephi's species as not yet been identified - I wonder if any reader would have noticed that? There's hints and vague descriptions of parts of him (his fur, his fingers, his ears, his eyes) but I have never yet said "the aiay".

Today was also the first day back at work after my week holiday. Now, sundays are always quite tiring - as there are only ever 4 staff members on sundays and although we are not a particularly busy store, sunday can be busy - usually depending on the weather. Today the weather was actually beautiful, but we still have quite a few customers.

Also, sunday is also the day the new My Little Pony episode is uploaded.
Yeh, I'm a MLP fan.

And lastly, my mother rang. I can't write and talk at the same time, but I can draw and/or colour, so I finished up this image of Snoshti:



She's a Hedge Imp from the most excellent "Dreamdark: Blackbringer" by the amazing, the awesome, the imaginative, Laini Taylor.

And here's a random picture of my book cases:


Now mostly organised after the earthquakes - and stacked two deep with the ones in back being piled flat, top to bottom of the shelf. I put the pretty ones in the front!

Anyhow, to bed! Tomorrow i must be up with the birds (5am) because now I'm back at work it's time to get back into the pattern of 1000 words before breakfast.

* except for that day when I deleted about 500 words and then had to use the today's wordcount - yesterday's wordcount to work out my total - I had also written as much I'd deleted.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 5

Wordcount: 2,193
Total Wordcount: 13,098
Percentage: 26.2%

Today was a slightly less productive working day. I got up early, did my usual early morning routine (shower, emails, forums, breakfast) then decided to bake a batch of muffins and wash the dishes. Why? Because I was meeting some friends for a picnic in the park and then we were going to check out the new central city shopping district. Anyhow, got out around 1000 words, then got restless, packed up the (now cooled) muffins and wandered into town early. The new shopping village is really cute - it's composed of shipping crates - and they are all brightly coloured. One lady commented that it looked like it was "made of lego":







Anyhow, after that I made my way to the meeting point and sat int eh sun reading for about half an hour before it became apparent that nobody was coming to my picnic :( But as one lass had been texting me to say she was running late, I decided to walk to her place instead.

Where we sat and talked for about 2 hours before walking back into town to have dinner at the best vegetarian restaurant in Christchurch - the Lotus Heart. We then parted ways - them to go watch things blow up and make pretty lights, me to come home and have an "early night" because I am back at work tomorrow.

Well... so much for that plan (it's just gone 11.30 pm).

Anyhow, to keep it short - in today's writing, Aurelia has been chosen to go on a patrol to meet up with a group of refugees that have just set up camp in the Stone Forest. In her party are her tree-mate, Astrid; a sensible blue-eyed black lemur; a hyperactive brown lemur; a Lake Aloatra Gentle Lemur and a Coquerel's sifaka who has proven to be not the nicest of lemurs to meet. She's a bit of a bully, to be frank.

Anyhow, no quote cos you've got pretty pictures instead and I need to go to bed.

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 4

Wordcount: 2,911
Total Wordcount: 10, 905
Percentage: 21.8%

Rakoto attends a ceremony for the dead and Kelyloza returns to the Karazana with news of refugees having entered the Stone Forest. There's a bit of foreshadowing (Dahira and Misokoso are hanging around) but nothing that I probably won't end up editting futher, later.

The freakish lemur from yesterday shows up again today:

The shriek startled them all, stunning the crowd into silence. It was terrible and blood-curdling; filled with so much pain and loathing that fear washed over Rakoto like a monsoon.

A ragged excuse for a lemur crouched on a branch before the parade, her gaze directed towards the Queen.

You killed them,” she screamed, pointing at the Queen. “You sent them to their death. She's killing them all,” the lemur looked up now and Rakoto recognised her. She was the tortured lemur that had abused him under the tree. Her eyes shone with mad fevour. “She'll take your mates, she'll take your kits. Like she took mine. And why? Why? Because we did not pay our fealty. We could not pay our fealty. Our fields were torched, our antelopes roasted alive. So we could not pay our fealty, and thus she took her taxes in blood and sweat. Sweat and tears.”

She's no Queen. She's an abomination.”

At that, Ouida lunged for her; at the same moment as the ragged lemur sprang from the tree. She struck the Queen, throwing her into the dirt, jaws snapping. Ouida grabbed her by the throat, heaved her into the air. Tossed her to the ground and planted one large foot on her spine. In less than a minute, the lemur was subdued and dragged away.

For a moment, stunned silence. Then the varimena started plucking his kabosy, the drummers started pounding their instruments and the procession began again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 3

Wordcount: 1,285
Total Wordcount: 7,994
Percentage:16%

It may appear that I have written less today, but what I actually did was run through and delete and rewrite some portions of the former passages, therefore dropping the word count before adding to it. So the results are somewhat skewed and I have no idea if I actually made it or not. It matters little, as I am still running somewhat ahead of schedule. Woooh, go me!

Tired now. Rakoto's storyline seems to involve a lot of talking and a moderate amount of him whining about being royal blood (or not, as the case actually is). I am not sure if I shall ever warm to Rakoto as a character. The sooner I get him kitnapped and in the paws of Misosokoso (I'm looking forward to introducing people to him), the better.

Will go to bed now, and ponder the next passage - I suspect it shall involve a wanna-be assassin crashing Ramava's Biannual Deth Festival and trying to kill Ranavalona. Maybe Rakoto will learn a few home truths re: his mother's rather debatable way of ruling.

A screech rent the air, a sound so terrible that Rakoto leapt in the air, fur bristling as a lemur tumbled from the tree. It crashed into the ground beside him, dragging itself into a crouch. Stared up at him with wild, pale eyes. Her fur was spiked and crazy, jutting out at all angles, a tattered lambas hung about her. Her fur, once white, was now stained with dirt and matted with twigs and grim.

Doom,” she proclaimed, rising one finger to point at him. “Doom and death, death and doom. The curse of your father flows through your veins. The curse of your mother poisons all that it touches. Doom, death and doom, doom and death. You will pay; Rakoto, son of Ranavalona. Rakoto, son of the black. Doom!”

Her finger shook as it pointed at Rakoto. “My family,” she hissed, “are dead. My children – taken to the mines. My brothers and sisters – recruited as dealers of death. All dead. She killed them. She killed us.”

With those words, she sprang back up into the tree and disappeared through the leafy branches. Rakoto sank back against the tree branch, shaking. Who was she? He wondered. What is she doing here? Why does she hate me so? Then, after a moment. What has my mother done to deserve such hatred?


NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 2

Wordcount: 2, 822
Total Wordcount:6,709
Percentage: 13.4%

Further character development - Aurelia learns a little more about her heritage and we get a glimpse into what it is the Karazana (the Sisters) actually do. Then we skip across to the rather pompous Rakoto and his not-sister, Isabella, how has somewhere along the way decided to be hyperactive with a short attention span. Go Isa! Initially, Aurelia had been called Isabelle, but I changed that because of "Twilight". Then I thought - why not have her as a minor character, a stuck-up little snob who gets her not-brother into trouble.

And here's a picture I coloured today too - it's inspired by "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" and is a glimpse of some of Brimstone's creations in his workshop.









And as an additional note - I have tons of $1 Art Card Auctions and a Chimera Commission up on Trademe.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's November again - NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 1

I'm not yet finished writing for the day, so I'll update my wordcount later.

I'm a pretty experienced NaNo Writer now - this will be my fourth NaNo challenge, and is my fifth 50k-in-a-month Challenge. I have completed the challenge three out of four times - and the time I failed was because I ran out of words at 36k and didn't feel like writing anything else. That was back in 2002, I believe.

Summary of NaNo's past:

2002: Long Odds
Wordcount: 26, 599
Status: Completed before attaining 50,000
Plot: $25 commission on Furbid for Moldred. He asked for a space opera, featuring his characters. Contains some sex scenes. I no longer do story commissions.

2003: Scavengers of the Deadlands
Wordcount: 97,001 words (not all of which were written during NaNo)
Status: Incomplete
Plot: Furries, A Magical university, a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland, air ships...
Am thinking of reworking this as a Furry Steampunk story and finishing it. I DO remember where it was headed. And having re-read it recently - it's actually fairly decent.




Between 2004-2008 I was going to undergo NaNo again, to rework "Quest for Lemuria" but I either never got onto it, or never wrote more than a tiny amount, because I can't even seem to find which of the variants it actually was.

2008: Midsummer Knight's Quest (non-NaNo)
Wordcount: 75, 175
Status: Complete, requires final edit
Plot: A goblin finds an egg, which hatches out and the chick imprints on him. He then befriends a brownie and goes on to help save their valley home from an evil developer.
This one is also not half bad, and definitely deserves that final polish and publish. Had to change the species of the bird however - which means some of the art needs to be redrawn.




2010: Aroha's Grand Adventure
Wordcount: 54,852 (includes Appendix)
Status: Complete and published
Plot: A weka chick with a love of human food is kidnapped by a small child and transported from Greymouth to Christchurch. Upon arriving, she escapes and makes her way home - having many adventures upon the way, making some new friends (and some fiends as well) and eating everything and anything.
I loved writing this book - Aroha was just such a character, the story almost seemed to write itself. I love you Aroha!


2011: Lemurs: A Saga (part 1) (SocNoc - June Challenge)
Wordcount: 80, 245
Status: complete, requires edit (also, part two not yet written)
Plot: The previous ruler of Madigaska has died, leaving no legitimate heirs. Thus an Ursurper Queen has claimed the throne. However, an illegitimate heir remains - and now must run for her life, and hide to survive, for the Ursurper will not relinquish her throne easily.
Epic fantasy, stereotypical plot, but all the characters are lemurs and there is no magic.

Thus, for NaNo, I shall be continuing Aurelia's story with:

2011: Lemurs: A Saga (part 2)
When we left Aurelia, she had finally found sanctuary in the Stone Forest, with the mysterious "Sisters" (the Karazana). Separated from all those she knows and loves, she is about to face her biggest challenge yet - as the Queen's grasp on the land intensifies and her reigh grows brutal and absolute. Can one small lemur save her kingdom?

Wordcount: 3,087
Total Wordcount:3, 087
Percentage: 6.2%

Here are some of my tips today on writing an epic novel:
~ have a list of character names; who they are and what they do - and in this case, species.
~ also a list of place names is very useful, particularly if they are foreign and complicated
~ keep a timeline - I've just made one of mine and found a few tweaks I need to make

Colourful Birds of Madagascar


Four species, three of which I've actually seen (and I think I may have heard a Rock Thrush).

Forest Rock-Thrush; Pitta-like Ground Roller
Yellow-bellied Sunbird-asity; Paradise Flycatcher

More Mad Mutant Bunnies



Naked molebunny:
This little guy is naked because fur is unnecessary when you live in the ground. His ears are reduced in size to reduce friction and his feet are longer to act as shovels. He has small eyes and only limited sight. His whiskers have developed into sensing tendrils, which he uses to locate food - his main diet is insects and worms.




Dust Bunny
This teeny tiny little bunny lives in the urban environment, specifically human habitations. She favours untidy, cluttered homes. Measuring only a few inches in height, she is a hoarder of small and useless bits and pieces - paperclips, coins, rubber bands, scraps of paper, which she uses to line her nest. When danger threatens, she curls up into a ball, resembling a great puffball of dust. But be warned, because if she is picked up or touched, she does have very sharp teeth.

Mega Bunny
This extremely large lapus evolution is found in woodland. He uses his short trunk to drag down branches and strip them of leaves, which he eats. He also uses his sharp inscisors to strip bark from trees.

Beach Bunny (my favourite)
Ths little Beach Bunny makes her home on sandy shores, where she feeds on kelp, as well as small molluscs, crabs and worms. She dips the tendrils at the side of her mouth into rockpools and uses them to sense her prey. If frightened, she curls up into a ball, protected by both her overlapping armour plates and the cryptic markings act as camouflage. It has been found that Beach Bunnies living in different environments are coloured to match their habitat.

Wedding of the Dead



My second instalment in the Circle Journal swap - which now means that I have no more to do until next year!! This was - like the first one - for someone who likes dark, creepy etc scenes. As you know, I am not highly skilled at dark nor creepy. Conveniently, she also suggested I might like to do something Tim Burton-esque and listed in her profile that she was quite partial to Catrinas.

Not knowing what Catrinas were, I did a little google search and decided that yes - that is what I would do.

Initially I intended to do a Graveyard picnic, but alas, that did not do so well - Catrinas look wrong sitting down, so then I did a little bit of a search for "goth brides" and found some lovely cake toppers. Which I pretty much just copied. But the cat, horse, squirrel and bird are almost original. And the graveyard is our local Barbadoes cemetary - except the gravestones are standing up. I had some pictures of it that I'd taken for the "cemetary photo swap".

This was fun, and kept me up until after midnight on 31st October - All Hallow's Eve. I was contemplating starting on my NaNoWriMi novel after midnight, but it was hard enough to colour, let alone to write.