Sixth short story finished with 19 hours to spare! Whew. That got down to the wire, because it’s also crunch time on my internship project and I haven’t had a lot of writing energy. Even better, something like 1000 words of that story are actually handwritten, little snatches of writing I got done on the sly during meetings. (There’s a good reason to always carry a notepad!)

Of course, on the BOO side, I just found out the anthology I was trying to write for (which had previously been listed as open until filled) actually changed over to having a deadline of August 1. BOO. Oh well. I have a silly steampunk mystery story on hand now, ready to go. Ish. It’ll be ready to go once I’ve given it some time and edited.

Excerpt from The Flying Turk

 Much to Simms’ relief, it was plain enough that the nobility assumed he and the Captain were of their class, even if their faces were plainly not known. There was a raised eyebrow here and there, to go with all the curtseying and bowing, a bit of whispering behind fans, but Simms was a keen eavesdropper among his other less savory skills, and he quickly discerned that the topic of discussion was which lord and lady they happened to be, not who had shoved that gorilla of a commoner into a natty suit and thrust him onto their delicate sensibilities. With that he relaxed, and smiled (with careful mental vacancy) and helped himself to a glass of wine from one of the waiters bobbing gently around the room. He even managed to pry his arm away from Captain Ramos long enough to acquire some bits of cheese and some lovely little sausages from a silver tray.

This, he thought, made the trip much more worth it. The rich really did occupy a different world from the one in which he’d grown up. There were bits of apple in the sausage, and who knew what else.

He stuffed another sausage into his mouth as Captain Ramos introduced him to yet another lady as ‘Lord Parnell-Muttar’ and mumbled something about being charmed. The lady in question, noting the smear of grease (if expensive grease) on his lips declined to offer her hand to be kissed. He almost wiped his lips on the back of his glove until the Captain produced a handkerchief from her padded-out bosom and shoved it into his hand.

“I haven’t eaten since breakfast,” he muttered at her as she steered them farther into the ballroom.

“In this at least, you’re acting the part quite well,” she muttered back. “Just try not to eat too many of those sausages. I have to share a room with you later.”

“You don’t eat too many sausages,” he muttered, well aware that was exceedingly weak as a retort, even by his own standards. He was about to protest a bit more loudly when Captain Ramos tugged him away from another waiter with a delightfully loaded tray, but one glance at her expression showed she was a woman on the hunt, not one mocking her poor, starving companion. Her expression was fixed into one of smiling politeness, but there was a sharpness to her gaze that Simms recognized well.

Two of the stories I’ve written are aimed for submission calls that don’t end until August 31, though. I double checked! So I have a week or two and then I can start editing my heart out.


Day 23: 1,605 words

“Rage Over Babylon” by Ziv Qual

Project: A Fickle and Restless Weapon (title revealed!)
New words written: 1,605
Total Write-a-Thon words: 30,771

After a marathon session today (nearly four hours), I completed the final chapter of the Tower novel– you know what? Fuck it. I’m finally going to call it by its proper title.

I completed the final chapter of A Fickle and Restless Weapon, and typed THE END, simultaneously meeting my Write-a-Thon goal (with 771 words to spare).

I still can’t get over it. I FINISHED WRITING MY NOVEL.

It still needs some work, especially the second half of the book, and I’ll probably do at least one more general revision of the whole thing, but it’s out of my head, it’s set in electrons, and it’s done.

Plus, now The Clarion Foundation will get all of the money that was pledged on my behalf, in addition to the outright donations, which comes to a total of $1,213.00. I can’t thank all of my generous donors enough, and I’ll be getting the promised goodies out to you all as soon as I can.

I should probably note that there’s still one day left to donate, so even though I’ve made my goal, you can still sponsor me, and know that the money will go to a worthy cause.

I’m going to take a nap now.


Extract: “They were stopped three times by automated security tollbooths, but the barcodes on their entry paperwork, forged by an acquaintance of the captain of the ship towards which they progressed, passed enough muster that they were allowed through each time with only a minimum of delay. Vahid was astonished that even a negligible MinStab presence was not established here, that they had entrusted the security of one of the busiest ports in the world to a system of fallible servers and subroutines, that the government’s obsessive suspicions had just an obvious blind spot. And at this thought, Vahid’s own paranoia surged to the surface. It was just too easy. That had to be driving directly into a trap.”

One Day To Go…

I did not get my desired word count today–work on another project ate up some time. But I did actually pinpoint something I need to incorporate more strongly into the next edit, and figured out how the final chapter is going to go. Those don’t show up in word count totals but are still pretty important.

One day left! How’s everybody doing?

Day 22: 1,032 words

“Rage Over Babylon” by Ziv Qual

Project: The Tower novel (title withheld)
New words written: 1,032
Total Write-a-Thon words so far: 29,166

Finished the penultimate chapter, and started the very final one. I really debated writing what I did today, as it turns the novel into even more of a tragedy than I had originally intended, but in the end, I had to do what was right for the story. Decisions, especially destructive ones, must come with a cost. My own writing came very very close to making me cry today.

I’m now only 834 words from my Write-a-Thon goal, and I was strongly tempted to just bash through and complete them today, but I have some other writing-related matters that I must attend to today (such as finishing the preface for the anthology I edited of new Singaporean speculative fiction, Fish Eats Lion) that just can’t wait. Plus, I estimate that I’ve got closer to 1,500 words to go before the book is actually finished, so I’ll plan to knock those out tomorrow.



Extract: “When next Vahid woke, his eyes gluey and his vision slow to converge, his back and ribs and arms and leg a faraway ache that he vaguely attributed to narcotic numbing, the first sight he expected to encounter was Toph in his cat form, but instead, leaning over him with a mixture of concern and relief was Tara’s familiar face, her skin aglow as if she had just washed it. She beamed at him and said, ‘Well, hey, look who’s awake.'”

Day 21: 1,834 words

“Rage Over Babylon” by Ziv Qual

Project: The Tower novel (title withheld)
New words written: 1,834
Total Write-a-Thon words so far: 28,134

The last two chapters of the Tower novel are dénouement, and the first part of it written today was largely a dream sequence. I’m not sure how advisable it is to have one so close to the end of the book, but I think it’s necessary. It turned out more interesting than I’d originally thought, and was a keen way to skip over some mundane details.

I’m now less than 2,000 words from my Write-a-Thon goal, so it’s looking very good that the money that was pledged on my behalf will be unlocked and donated to the cause. Which of course makes me very happy. Now all I have to do in the next few days is make it happen.


Extract: “Vahid turned and proceeded up the stairs. The dim lighting made it difficult to see what awaited him at the top, and his stomach trembled in anxiety. But what the hell the did he have to be nervous about? This was only a dream, right? With each step, the barely audible buzzing that had been there all along increased in volume, resolving into a low brassy tone that resonated down to his bones. At the top of the staircase, he practically vibrated in consonance with the sound, stepping carefully down the narrow corridor that stretched before him, his shoes making no sound on the carpeted tongue that ran its entire length.”

Rock Bottom (for my protagonist)

Not quite, but at around 58K words into a ~80K story, the bottom isn’t far off. I had an early afternoon appointment today so I figured I would stop early and not do the full word count. Then I thought, “hey, it’s been a while since I wrote this other character’s story” and bang, the words came faster.


The doctor did not respond then, but five minutes later he called, “Boil more water! Get me clean rags!” and I sent the servants off to follow his instructions. I called in again to ask what was wrong, but again he would not answer, save to snap at me to remain outside.

When the servants returned with the water and the rags, the doctor met them at the door. He held out a small form bundled in blankets to me, but his eyes remained half-lidded, his small cat’s ears down, and he looked at the floor and would not meet my eye. “Take them away,” he said to the servants. “They are no use now.”

Day 20: 1,300 words

“Rage Over Babylon” by Ziv Qual

Project: The Tower novel (title withheld)
New words written: 1,300
Total Write-a-Thon words so far: 26,300

A decent writing session today. I’m discovering here at the end that it’s taking me a lot longer than normal to get my words done (3.5 hours as opposed to, previously, only two), and I think that in part it’s a certain reluctance to actually finish, to wrap up this narrative that’s occupied my brain since 2005, to finally say goodbye to these amazing characters.

My background music today was Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for The Dark Knight Rises, which expresses all the grandeur and tragedy that I’m trying to convey in these final chapters. And I’m reminded of something that Christopher Nolan said about the film, that a great story deserves a great ending. It’s something I’m keeping in mind very much right now, although more prosaically I just keep telling myself not to fuck it all up.

One way or another, this week I will finish my novel. I know that I can fix things in revision, but I’m still hoping against hope that I have the ability and the courage to give this book the ending it deserves.


Extract: “From far below, anti-aircraft tanks had gathered at nearby Borstal Square and begun to fire their payloads upwards, but Vahid laughed as he snatched the shells out of the air and then hurled them back down to the sound of distant explosions. More military airships had arrived as reinforcements, but Vahid, now thoroughly in the flow of battle, leapt and charged and fired and absorbed and took care of these vessels as well. Fighter jets screamed overhead, launching their missiles and letting loose their machine guns, and Vahid either deflected their impact or absorbed the kinetic energy from the would-be collisions.”