Archives for the month of: November, 2012

Today I managed to finish the chapter I started yesterday (about 1500 more words) and I’m glad of it. I was tempted to rush through it, but I slowed down and wrote what the story deserved.

What with work and my family, and honestly distractions like Facebook, I haven’t even been getting into the flow until 10:30 or 11:00. But that’s making me too tired, so I got started early tonight, which was nice.

I think I should reiterate some of the basic story elements (maybe add a prologue soon?) so people can catch up. Our protagonist, the old man, is fleeing with his grandson, a baby, up the coast of the Republic of Ragusa, in what is today modern Croatia. He had to kill an old friend to escape the city, and then put another in harm’s way, but he is finding aid from people who know him along the way.

Ragusa was a republic in the style of pre-Caesar Rome, with an aristocracy that elected representatives (senators) who then formed smaller bodies, with a monthly rotating rector, or duke. It had a long run on the Adriatic Coast, only disappearing in the early 1800’s when old Boney, Napolean himself decided it was a relic whose time had past.

At this point in the story, the republic was nominally subject to the Hungarians, but really were free to do as they liked. Their primary rivals were the Venetians, a Mediteranean maritime superpower.

The old man is being pursued by a former aide, who also seems to have engineered his downfall.

If you have been reading along, my current work starts about halfway down page 27. If not, read what you like, and please comment. Here is a link to the work.


Venetian galleys represented the height of technological advancement in the control of the sea. They were fast, not dependent on wind for movement, and the Venetian Arsenal could pump them out almost as fast as Ford made Model Ts.


A word of advice: start early if you’re me and you want to participate in NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t given up, but the Marine Corps Ball did take a LOT out of me. And that was on Saturday. It’s taken me that long to write about 1000 words, but oh well, I’ll just keep trying. I have a lot of ideas, and I’m about to change gears and get darker and a little more bloody, so it should be easy writing.

This part starts on page 25 (wow, not bad!) and covers the end of flight of our old friend through Ragusan territory. After this, its back to his native Croatia, which is a much less enlightened place. 

I didn’t finish this chapter, but I’ll get the rest tomorrow, and we’ll see if the old man’s friend makes it through.


Sreser harbor, with the promontory in the foreground. Our protagonist came up that road that enters town from the upper left hand corner.

Okay, the election took something out of me. I was up late, and then the next day I went to bed at 8.

So tonight I finished that last chapter, and it was long. Another 2000+ words. I’m up to 11,900. Good for me!

Tomorrow I’ll shoot for another 2000, with a big chunk on Saturday.

I had a critique from a friend, and I think it was well placed. He said while the characters and the story are sympathetic and engaging, respectively, the world I was building was unclear.

I’m setting my story in the Republic of Ragusa at around 1412 AD. It’s a real place with an amazing, vibrant culture and history. I think I need to convey that a little better, but without slowing down the action. To that end I will do two things:

1) Write a preface, explaining the setting. this will NOT be part of the story, or introduce the characters. I haven’t named the old man, the young Captain, or the baby yet, and I won’t. You will hopefully understand why when I finish this. However, a little historical background is appropriate, and that’s a Saturday thing.

2) Include MAPS! I love maps, and when I read a good piece of non-fiction like Kagan’s Peleponnesian War, or historical fiction, or even fantasy, I constantly refer to the maps as I’m reading. A friend has offered to draw some in support of my NaNoWriMo efforts and I think I will take him up. I’m thinking one stylized map of the setting, and I can carve out chunks as I need them for each chapter. For this chapter I would have a map covering the base of the Peljesac Peninsula to about halfway down the length. It would make it easier to follow the action without being a compromise.

They say write what you know and like, and I like books with maps. 😉


I should be writing my NaNoWriMo project, and I will be, but something else is more important right now.

I want you to think about your day…

Do you commute to work? Cross a bridge? Pay a toll? 

Do you use your cell phone? Enjoy the internet?

Do you like fresh food in your store? A wide selection from which to choose?

Do you like to travel?

Those are pretty basic things, we take for granted. How about some things that aren’t in your face every day, probably.

Do you know that a huge number of children only get nutritious meals at school? Did you know Corporals and Sergeants who are married with children likely qualify for foodstamps? 

Did you know the VA, already overloaded, considers it a win when it only takes 120 days for a vet to get an answer on their claim? Did you know that a vet with 100% disability makes 36K a year give or take? 

Hell, what’s important to you? Think really hard. Even if it’s American Idol, or some other TV show, that reaches you courtesy of an infrastructure that is in part a function of our government.

Now my good friend James from Austin might argue that the government needs to get out of most of the things I mentioned, and probably the other stuff you thought of too, but that’s not likely to happen, so I want you to think REALLY hard, what you value, and how our public institutions enable it’s existence or success. 

On January 1st, not only will our taxes be reset to pre-2001 levels, but every single one of those things I mentioned and you thought about will be negatively impacted by the sequester. EVEN local, county, and state funded programs will be hurt, because when the feds cut funding from one place that’s necessary, governments downstream need to pull resources from other places to make up the gap.

Now, I want to lay out some quotes:

“At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.”

“I so wish — I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”

“In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”

“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.”

“You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together”

The first two are from Mitt Romney’s concession speech. The last are from Barack Obama’s victory speech. 

Now, I want you to follow this link.

This is a list of people who, until Tuesday night, said Mitt Romney was the best man to lead us along the edge of the fiscal cliff.

A lot of my liberal friends developed ill-will for Romney during this campaign, but in truth, he really seems to be a moderate most concerned with fiscal responsibility. He never signed Grover Norquist’s pledge, to my knowledge, but even if he did, it’s about as meaningful to him now as a big bale of Romney/Ryan yard signs. 

I don’t presume to call this an open letter (who am I that people should care) but if now isn’t the time for the president to ask Mitt Romney to help bridge the gap before the things we all love, value, and care for are damaged or destroyed, when would be? Make this picture a reality. 


I’ll close with this; one of my Facebook friends, after they called Ohio for Obama and it was effectively over, asked me if I was through the roof. My reply was “meh”. She said, “Can’t you just celebrate tonight?” 

I have nothing to celebrate until I know that my Marine brothers who have traumatic brain injury, double amputations, paralysis, or even the old dogs with Agent Orange issues will still have the care we owe them on January 1st. For @R%#’s sake, I believe in an absolute separation of church and state but that is a holy obligation. These men and women stepped forward and were blown up, shot, and otherwise wounded halfway around the world for us so now is NOT the damned time to be celebrating, pointing fingers, strategizing for 2016 or doing anything else until we act on the coming sequester.

Semper Fi,


Well I didn’t finish chapter 5, but I did put in 1800 words worth of effort. This chapter will probably run another 1000 words, so I’ll wrap it up in the morning. If only I commuted on a train. sigh.

No picture today, either, as I am sacking out, but I do hope you are still following along.

Here is a link to the story, and good night!

Perhaps not my rather rough writing, but I am glad I have put good work in each day so far. I’m up to around 8000 words, and I don’t think many of them are wasted. The story is developing as I had it in my head, which is rare for me. I often get sidetracked or bogged down by details.

For instance, the last time I tried to write this story I wasted hours researching prevailing winds along the coast of Croatia and whether they would be the same today as they were in 1412. Screw it! I’m just pushing through; I’ll settle up the details later on, once I have the thing in the can.

I found some really neat tools for writing since I’ve started this, and I want to share one with you here. It’s the Medieval Naming Guide for Slavic and Baltic names. Names need to be right, or it can make your story sound foolish. I can’t very well have George be a character when Juraj is the contemporary and geographically appropriate spelling. 

Thanks for your continued attention, and I’ve noticed quite a few hits on the blog from Croatia. I’d love to hear from you, as what’s driving my writing is a love for that region, and the crushing agony I was witness to in the 90s. Drop me a line…

Oh, and here’s a link to the story on Google Drive, newest stuff starts on Page 13. Enjoy.


This is roughly the map and time I’m working with. Such an interesting neck of the woods, no?

I am ten percent of the way through November (I doubt I’ll write much on election day, so I only have 30 days) and I am hitting on all cylinders.

This story is starting to get legs of its own, and unlike after the first day, where the writing was exhausting, or yesterday, where I finished and didn’t know how I was going to proceed, tonight I have to stop myself.

NaNoWriMo is getting addicting! I already have the specifics of the next three chapters already laid out in my mind, and I have the thing in its entirety mapped.

I like what I’ve written tonight, and even though I slip in a few history lessons (get used to it!) I think I do it in such a way that it builds your knowledge of the character and his development.

I DO have to control my urge to edit yesterday’s entry. I have a specific thing I want to go back and change, but I won’t. I’ll follow the rules and keep plugging along.

This installment starts on page 9, and here is a link to the document.It’s another 2000+ words, with about 250 of it being the flash fiction chapter break at the beginning.

If I keep this up, I’ll turn out like my friend Glory, who is among the most prolific and disciplined writers I know. You should check out her site, I’ve linked to it here, particularly if you like flowers. The woman is a veritable encyclopedia of horticultural knowledge.

Good night!


The pretty little beach where our old man and baby land. I am starting to want to visit, and not like in 92, when I was offshore with the Marines.

This is going well. When the writing is easiest, my fingers can’t keep up with my brain, and the words just tumble out onto the page. I did more than 2000 words tonight, finishing a second chapter.

If you read the first part, jump down to page 4. You’ll see something odd, a little flash fiction featuring the old man’s nemesis. I plan on punctuating every chapter this way; it’s an idea inspired by my friend Alistair, who is the flash fiction channel manager over at Here is a link to his work, which is quite vivid.I feel like its important to understand the relationship of the two men as it develops, and to appreciate both sets of thoughts and feelings. Obviously, the old man and the baby are carrying the narrative, but I like the challenge of keeping you up to date on his pursuer in such a small package.

Here is a link to the doc over on Google Drive. Feel free to comment here, Facebook, or on the doc itself. Remember, this is first draft rough writing. I will edit when through so I already know it is well laden with errors. However, I am interested in anachronisms or errors in consistency, as I’ll keep a log of them to correct later.

Good night, all!


Dubrovnik. Saint Margarita’s tower is about halfway down the seaward wall, just before the block shaped Saint Catherine’s convent.

They say the first step of a run can be the hardest, and I agree with them. I have this story fully formed and mapped out, and yet it still sits there as Facebook and the news aggregators beckon, drawing me like a moth to a flame.

But I persisted, even though this first part is traditionally the most difficult part for me. You see, I wrote this part already, and this is a complete re-write. I didn’t care for the intricacies I built into the old man’s escape before; they were good, and well written, but didn’t live up to my mantra to stick to the point of the chapter. 

So I give you chapter one! About 1500 words, and just the right amount to get me to my goal of 50,000 words by December 1st.


St Catherine’s Convent, Dubrovnik

Feel free to comment, ignore, deride or otherwise interact with this thing. 1 day down, 30 to go!

I used to write for a magazine publisher, stories and articles, and I’ve written fiction for my own edification and for contests among friends. When I am writing, almost every other part of my life gets better. When I’m not, I pretty much languish.

I haven’t been writing consistently for a while, so I thought, what better way than to take part in in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Check them out, particularly if you’re a writer.

I’m aiming at a novella, with at least 1000 words a day, and 50,000 total. I know the math doesn’t work out, but I’ll make up the gap somehow. I’ll also be putting my work in progress up on Google Docs as I go, as an accountability method. Here is a link to the document.

The name of this work? For now, it’s Ragusa. No that’s not the made up name for some fantasy novel. I’m setting this story in pre-renaissance Republic of Ragusa on the Adriatic coast, which was essentially Dubrovnik and the surrounding shoreline.

I’ve always liked the place, largely because it was a centuries long blip of republican “freedom” in a sea of despotism and barbarism. If you’re bored, here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry.

The republic isn’t a character in the story; I’ve always liked the place and I thought it would provide a colorful backdrop. Wish me luck!Image