The Novel Dare


The Rules: Write a novel (60K+ words) in 1 month
Starting date: June 13, 1998
Caveats: This may be very bad timing on my part to do this novel dare, but ... no pain, no gain. I will shoot for 30 days and see what develops. I've never written a sequel before, so this will be different. I have no expectations this time other than to give this attempt my best shot.
Check out Erin Cashier's progress on her new home page!


September 3,1998


    Erin's novel, The Lopsided God, is finished!!! Way to go, Erin!! That's so way cool!! We all knew you could do it!!

August 20,1998


    Erin has already hit the 80k mark!! Go, Erin, go!!

July 24, 1998


    CONGRATULATIONS, ERIN!! Erin just hit the 60K mark!!

July 17, 1998


    Erin's still crankin' on her book! Go, Erin, go!!

July 17, 1998: 11:58 pm -- 4642 words


    WOO-HOO!! Weighing in at just over 74k, this puppy's DONE!!

    Thanks so much for all the encouraging mail! Those messages were a great source of inspiration to me!

    I added two short chapters at the end, so this one is complete with Ch 32. I have a boatload of work to do on this one and have no doubts it'll grow another 10-15k in rewrite. I actually look forward to rewriting it in a couple of weeks. There's a lot of stuff I want to do, things I want to add and sections I want to enhance. The important thing is that I finished it and that I have something to work with now. I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of relief at the completion of this one. It was a massive struggle to finish it. Strangely, I didn't feel lost and numb after I'd typed 'the end.' I think it's because I've got a lot more work I'd like to do here. :) There were so many times during the writing of this novel that I didn't think I'd finish it. There were times when I wanted to pitch the whole thing in the trash and walk away. But my stubbornness wouldn't let me. I started it, so I'd finish it no matter what. In fact, I had to break out the ice packs tonight in order to finish this book. I guess, at this point, it doesn't matter if the story's any good or not. I learned a great deal writing this book. It was an experiment in writing a sequel which was an invaluable experience. I made a lot of mistakes, but I'll correct those in the next draft. This manuscript is the 8th one I've completed in my lifetime. I'll probably do a wrap-up tomorrow. For now, my hands are killing me. G'night.

July 17, 1998: 8:25 pm -- 1075 words


    Just want to congratulate Erin Cashier for hanging in there with this dare despite real life getting in the way! Erin's been away for a few days, but she's really close to the 60k mark. You're doing a terrific job, Erin! Get well and keep plugging! You're almost there! I just passed the 69k mark with the completion of Ch. 28. There are 2 maybe 3 chapters left of this book. I'd like to put down another 3-4k here, which would bring this book to 73k, much closer to the 80k I was hoping for. Stay tuned. I hope to post the final numbers yet tonight. The last chapter of the book will be my payoff. I've wanted to write this chapter since I finished EDP last February. Can't wait!! :)

July 16, 1998: 10:50 pm -- 1918 words


    I've gotten through Ch. 27 and am starting Ch. 28. David and Sting have found Peter and are carrying him to the ruins. Peter is unconscious and has lost a lot of blood, so they head for the reconn camp, unaware how much time is left before the strike force arrives. Diana and Kraver search for them from the air and do their best to stall the attack further. I'm very, very close to the end. I plan to finish this book by midnight Friday. Wish me luck!

July 15, 1998: 10:39 pm -- 2237 words


    I've completed Ch. 25 and am halfway through Ch. 26. Peter has just defeated one of the bad guys, but he's been pretty badly injured. With the strike force barely an hour away, he still hasn't found Sting. And now, he's too injured to make it out of the facility, much less fight his way out to the shuttle. Four chapters left.

July 14, 1998: 10:43 pm -- 1885 words


    I completed Ch. 24 tonight and started Ch. 25. I think this book will be finished with Ch. 30. I think I'm about 8 or 9k from the end (72k). These last chapters are shorter. Wow, can't believe I'm that close. Peter and Sting are so close to sharing the screen again. I can't wait to write that scene! It's still 4 chapters away though. :) G'night...

July 13, 1998: 10:32 pm -- 1210 words


    A modest word count tonight, but David and Sting have just escaped from the facility. Now, they have to get Peter out of there. The strike force is only hours away and Peter has just blown up the lab and is using the Antaran DNA repository as his bargaining chip to get Sting out, not knowing Sting has just escaped. Ruh roh! Big trouble.


July 12, 1998: 8:16 pm -- 4913 words


    Woo-hoo!! I put down another good chunk of words and am now totally wiped. The mighty 60K barrier has fallen as I crested 61,230 words tonight. I feel really good about that. Granted, I should be writing that the novel is done, but ... I'm not. In another week, I should be typing those words, but for now, I feel darn good about reaching 60K in 30 days. The story is coming fast and furious now, all the little threads coming together at last. I may have to majorly rewrite every word, but there's still something intensely satisfying about finishing that first draft. I calculate an ending total of about 75k. I can live with that. Now, off to do all that other stuff I blew off this weekend to hit 60k. Moral of a writer's life -- it never ends. What a relief! :)

July 12, 1998: 1:12 pm -- 2244 words


    Moving at a good clip this morning. Took a break for lunch and am fairly pleased with my progress. I'm 3683 words from the 60K goal. I'm about about 15k from the ending, I suspect (I hope). If I can complete this manuscript in the neighborhood of 75k, I'll be satisfied. More later.

July 11, 1998: 12:02 am -- 3813 words


    Got a late start today (too many errands that had to be run), but I ended up with a pretty solid word count. I had hoped to write about 5k tonight. In order to reach my 60k in 30 days goal, I need to write 5927 words tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed I'll hit it. :)

    Had a few good moments. Peter has escaped only to be captured again. Things are about to get worse for the poor guy (of course, if he'd listened to the author and followed the outline like a good boy, he wouldn't be in this mess ;>). Gotta see if I can get him out of his predicament tomorrow. Got Diana and Kraver out of the way of a horde of drones and safely back aboard the shuttle. They successfully bargained for extra time from the strike force commander, but only about five or six hours. Now, they have to figure out a way to help David and Peter get out of the alien facility in time.

July 10, 1998: 11:31 pm -- 2225 words


    Cool story moment...Private Stingley finally appears on stage after 50K words. David has found him and they plot together a way to get to Peter, who has gotten himself in the worst possible trouble. I hit the 50K-mark too! I was hoping to write more tonight, but I'm too tired. Nevertheless, I'm 9740 words from the required 60K. I can do this. I think it'll take me another week to finish the story though. That's all right. I wasn't quite ready to leave this world yet anyway. ;) This one's gonna need a ton of work afterward. It'll be nice to have something to work with though when I go to rewrite. Gotta like that. G'night... By the way, I have a complaint about Steve Leigh's book, Dark Water's Embrace. It's keeping me awake at night reading it when I should be sleeping. Darned novelists! ;)

July 9, 1998: 10:29 pm -- 2005 words


    Some characters died tonight. And for the first time since Peter set out to find his best friend, Peter catches his first glimpse, but he's quickly captured by the caregivers. I've escalated another subplot, so now Diana has a desperate situation to deal with . . . all with the uncertainty of ever seeing her missing brother and her lover again. Yes, things have gotten worse for everyone but David who is about to have some success. Time is running out with the strike force on its way. David's got to find Peter and Sting and somehow get all three of them out of here. And any time they'd like to enlighten the author of their plan would be just great. Darn characters! ;) I should hit 50K+ tomorrow, leaving me with 2 days and less than 10K to write. It's gonna be close. :)

July 8, 1998: 10:43 pm -- 2600 words


    Good night at the keyboard! I stumbled onto the crumb of an idea and used it to rework my outline. Fourteen more chapters emerged and I couldn't help wondering, "What was I thinking when I did this first outline?" The chapters were long in the original outline, and the ones I just added will be shorter. Still, I am puzzled but pleased with this development. Not a ton of words written tonight, but the story started to flow better through my fingertips. I've just gotten David into deep trouble as he goes into the facility after Peter. And I left Diana, Kraver, and D'Angelo staring down the barrel of a plasma rifle in Ch. 17. Ruh roh! G'night...

July 7, 1998: 10:48 pm -- 1745 words


    More refining in the first few chapters. I finished the new chapter and tweaked an old one, adding scenes as needed. Tomorrow, I think I will start on Chapter 17. I hope to make up some ground this weekend, hitting 60k by Sunday (my goal). A lot of words, but maybe I can do it. This book needs to be 80k. Still hope I have enough story to do that.

July 6, 1998: 10:46 pm -- 1621 words


    Still working on more subplots. I've renumbered my chapters and added a new one up front, so now I'm in Chapter 16. Not sure where everything will go from here, but I'm still making progress. I still think the book will run short, but once I have the whole thing together, I'll be able to see the holes. There is still quite a bit to write though. Peter has caused David to go after him with only 48 hours before the strike force arrives. Peter is still misleading the caregivers, desperately hoping it will lead him to his friend.

July 5, 1998: 10:28 pm -- 1236 words


    A very tired woo-hoo tonight! I *FINALLY* hit the 40k mark! Another 20k and this manuscript is officially a novel. I went back and added a new subplot to the beginning of the novel (Thanks, Sherwood!) for David, who's having trouble adjusting to his post-Ku'Tal duties. David struggles to make sense of the experience. It also sets the stage for D'Angelo's instability. My eyes are crossing from lack of sleep though, so I'm calling it quits for the night. Time to reward myself with some reading time. I have a book on craft by Ursula LeGuin and Stephen Leigh's new book, Dark Water's Embrace, next in my pile of novels. Can't wait! G'night...

July 4, 1998: 4:00 pm -- 972 words


    Small word count, but I was pretty zonked. Managed to make things worse for Peter. :)

July 3, 1998: 12:00 am -- 1274 words


    Again, not a lot of plot movement. More refining and tweaking on chapters 13 and 14.

July 2, 1998: 12:00 am -- 1183 words


    First night of the Kris & Dean show. Boy, did I learn a lot, but that's for another time. Not a lot of words and plot movement, but Peter and David remain in deep debris.

July 1, 1998: 11:50 pm -- 1040 words


    Low word count tonight, but at least I wrote something. Got Peter into even deeper trouble. I'm leaving tomorrow for Indianapolis and the Kris & Dean show, so I hope I'll be able to post a few, feeble word counts over the next four days. My notebook computer is packed. We'll see what happens.

June 30, 1998: 10:46 pm -- 2004 words


    Well, I managed to get all the main characters stuck in major jams tonight. Diana is sick from a drone attack, D'Angelo has called in a strike force to level the planet in 3 days, David is being held at gunpoint by a Recombinant and Peter has gotten himself trapped inside the Antaran DNA repository. Not a bad mess for 2000 words, huh? :) I still feel that all of this should be happening at about 60k, but...such is life. Guess that's what the rewrite is for. Who knows, maybe I'll even have a way to get these people out of their situations? G'night.

June 29, 1998: 10:28 pm -- 2305 words


    Peter has just left camp, bent on infiltrating the Antaran facility. The clock is ticking faster now because D'Angelo has called in a major strike force to devastate the planet. D'Angelo has warned him he will be sent to RDC to be washed out. With nothing to lose, Peter sets out alone with plasma grenades and a sensor grid.

June 28, 1998: 10:22 pm -- 3120 words


    Had a good run after supper. I'm now into Chapter 10 and things are getting bad for Peter et al. D'Angelo has figured out who Peter is, but the lieutenant is quickly losing his grip on sanity. Peter and David have figured out why the Recombinants were taken to Ballese and what disaster that will mean for the "good guys." With 72 hours 'til lift off, Peter has to figure out a way into the facility and find Sting. Diana has just defended the camp from a drone attack and discovered D'Angelo's descent into madness. Things are starting to heat up. I am still afraid that my story will close before I reach 85k. I think I have figured out a few things that were really bothering me about the story though. I am rather stoked that I reached 30k though. :)

June 28, 1998: 6:00 pm -- 1554 words


    Still backtracking, writing more scenes. Taking a dinner break.

June 28, 1998: 2:33 pm -- 1815 words


    I'm backtracking now. I went back to the first few chapters and I'm inserting some new scenes that may help get this novel on track. Peter's guilt over what happened to his best friend causes him great pain. The guilt combined with his growing disillusionment of citizenship (and their two-faced nature) and feelings of not belonging cause him to act on rescuing his best friend. So, I'm adding a few scenes. At the moment, this project feels like a runaway train. More later.

June 27, 1998: 11:49 pm -- 438 words


    Okay, I got Peter out of the middle of the lake and back in his bedroll. He's safe for the moment, but time is running out for his best friend. He's got 48 hours to spring his best friend.

June 27, 1998: 10:47 pm -- 3091 words


    Tough night at the keyboard. I managed to get a little over 3k, but it was difficult. At the moment, I've got Peter in the middle of a lake and probably ought not leave him there for the night. I may write a little more yet tonight, but now, a short break for that scoop of Starbuck's Italian Roast I promised myself if I hit 3k tonight.

June 26, 1998: 11:54 pm -- 3678 words


    Whew! My best word count of this dare. Got everybody together and on their way to Ballese. Never thought I'd get that part in motion. Everything will start heating up from the moment they land. I'm so pleased to have finally hit 20k! I feel like I gained a bit of ground tonight. That's about 1/4 of the way through the book. And that feels pretty good. :)

June 25, 1998: 10:40 pm -- 2804 words


    A little better word count tonight. The story has moved through 7 chapters now and I already know the opening will need heavy revisions. Chapter 8 will take David, Peter, and Diana onto enemy soil and through a reliving of their worst fears. As they struggle to uncover the Antarans' secret, Peter tries to locate his MIA buddy. Things begin to deteriorate when David realizes that D'Angelo has slipped over the edge. I'm hoping that my word count will start to pick up a bit from here. Despite the rocky start from Real Life(tm), the opening of this story was very difficult to write. I don't feel that I have a good handle on how the world has changed from the first "novel" to the second "novel." I spent some time at lunch writing out more on how the world had changed and what the main characters wanted. That was a help. At any rate, the story events are starting to move now and I'm thankful for that.

June 24, 1998: 10:22 pm -- 2151 words


    Meager word count and a little forward movement in the plot. More things pushing the characters toward their goals and fears. Peter knows now that he'll have his chance to reach Ballese. He knows that it might cost him dearly, but he has to try.

June 23, 1998: 10:08 pm -- 2607 words


    Not a lot of words, but a huge deviation from my outline. Actually, a very welcome deviation. An unforseen attack on the training base makes David's return to duty a struggle to survive. Much of what I wrote tonight was in David's POV. Peter is still struggling with his guilt and trying to find a way to rescue his MIA friend. Diana is trying to find a way to ease Peter's transition to citizenship, but very soon, he's going to have to become a soldier again. And risk his hard-won freedom.

June 22, 1998: 10:45 pm -- 350 words


    You might have noticed the big gap...I was out sick for a few days. Well, I'm finally feeling well enough to work again, so I'm back at the keyboard. And yeah, it's a tiny word count, but it's the best I can do for now. I have added 6 days to the end of my dare because I know I can't finish this book by July 12th. Probably not a true dare now, but I'll play what I was dealt.

June 16, 1998: 10:23 pm -- 2021 words


    A much better night at the keyboard. While not a stellar word count, it's pretty good considering the amount of equipment I removed and installed at work today. I'm starting to settle into my characters a bit, too. The nicest surprise of the evening's work was writing in David's POV. I really enjoyed getting into David's head and look forward to more chapters from his POV. I found that once I knew I was in David's head, the words really started flowing. I learned some things about him that I never knew until tonight and that was neat! Every time I shift POV, though, I have to backfill info about them from the first manuscript. I'm learning quite a few things this trip. I don't think this book will be 90K on first pass. More like 85K, but stranger things have happened. Anyway, I'm very pleased with my progress tonight. It felt more like a novel tonight.

June 15, 1998: 10:25 pm -- 1186 words


    Not much to tell. I did some deleting and rewriting, but I finished Chapter 3. Chapter 4 will be from a character's POV that I haven't written in yet. I can't help but remember reading David Feintuch's excellent Hope series and I wonder how he managed to write four gripping books in a single series. I am awed by it. I think writing this book will be a good experience because I've never written a sequel before, but to be honest, I don't think it will be a salable manuscript. And that's fine. I'm new at all of this anyway and I have so much to learn.

    My Dad came home from the hospital today, but he's still weak and his blood pressure is still lower than normal. It's hard seeing him like that, but I hope he will be closer to his old self soon.

June 14, 1998: 9:57 pm -- 1137 words


    I managed to reach Chapter 3 tonight. I did some outline tweaking and then trickled out another thousand words. My concentration is a bit off, I'm afraid, but perhaps my word count will be better next weekend. Erin lives on the west coast, so I won't have her totals until tomorrow. I'm sure she's doing great though.

June 14, 1998: 1:37 pm -- 1063 words


    Dad remains in the hospital. Hopefully, they'll let him come home tomorrow. I've got to go back to the hospital today. I managed to put down a few more words though. Finished chapter 1 today and I've started chapter 2. This may be it for the day. Erin, you're doing great! Keep it up!

June 13, 1998: 10:45 pm -- 708 words


    Just after I took a break for lunch today, I got a phone call telling me that my dad had been taken to the emergency room. I've been at the hospital most of the day and night. My dad's in good condition, though, so I feel tremendous relief. If all goes well, then they'll release him tomorrow. Needless to say, the word count pretty much fizzled for the day. Despite everything that happened today, I'll take the 3k and run with it. The important thing is that Dad's going to be fine. I did manage to kick my word count up another 700 words, but that was pushing it.

    On the fun front, Erin Cashier is going to join me in the novel dare! Good luck to you, Erin!


June 13, 1998: 11:05 am -- 2303 words


    Still working on Chapter 1. I'm making progress. I'm not anticipating any stellar word counts today, but you never know. My wonderful cat, Seville, woke me up at 6:30 this morning (very unlike her). Guess she knew that I needed to get cracking! I didn't drag myself out of bed until about 9 am though. I am seeing just how difficult it is to write a sequel. Every time I bring in something familiar, I have to go back and reintroduce it. That's been slowing me down quite a bit. But I've thought of more cool stuff and I'm getting through most of the reintroductions. Once that's done, I can move more quickly. Boy, sequels are really tough!

June 13, 1998: 1:00 am -- 500 words + 9-page outline


    Slow start as expected. I wrote a TON of stuff into the outline this time, much more than I'd anticipated. Already got some surprises, too. I plan to put down more words later, but for now this will do. I've got Peter on the page. Poor guy has no idea what he's in for. :) More later.