Thursday, November 14, 2013

Truth in advertising

I remember going to the circus as a child. I don't remember which circus it was, but I remember that they advertised a unicorn as one of their exhibits.

I was old enough to be skeptical and hopeful at the same time. Unicorns weren't real, but surely they couldn't advertise that they had one and then not have one. Right?

The big day came and off we went to the civic auditorium. We parked miles away (it seemed) and walked for ages to get there. (In reality, it was probably a few blocks. Tell that to seven-year-old me.)

I actually remember nothing of the circus itself. Clowns, lion tamers, acrobats, I got nothin'.  But the unicorn. Oh, I remember that with perfect clarity. 

They put a pedestal in the middle of the arena. They shone a spotlight down on it.   The center of the pedestal opened and a woman came up on a lift of some kind, along with...

Not this.

A tiny, shaggy creature that stood about waist high on her, with a twisted horn in the rough center of its forehead and a stubby tail. It looked absolutely nothing like the unicorns of my fantasies. It pressed close to her legs as if terrified by the lights and the crowd. 

In retrospect, it probably was. I would be, too, if I was a deformed little one horned goat. 

The thing that I remember the most about that circus was the bitter taste of disappointment in the back of my throat. I sat there, stunned, knowing full well I'd been cheated. I couldn't appreciate anything else that happened. 

My mother thought I was too tired and I didn't have the vocabulary at the time to tell her that wasn't what it was. It was that the circus broke some of my childhood that day. 

I never did get it back. And I never went to the circus again. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Race is On!

NaNoWriMo has begun!

As of today, I have 11,445 words according to NaNo's official tally machine.  (According to OpenOffice, I actually have 11,500, but what's 55 words between friends?)

This one is definitely a hot mess, you guys.  I have jumped headfirst into a whole new genre that I've never worked - or read - in before.


You read that right.  I am writing a fantasy novel with steampunk.  I feel SO COOL right now, okay?  Let's just be honest.  I'm sitting here DYING for a top hat with one of those awesome pairs of goggles.

I did do some research before I started.  TVTropes, my source of many lost hours, has the following to say about steampunk:

Retro-style Speculative Fiction set in periods where steam power is king. Very often this will be in an Alternate Universe where the internal combustion engine never displaced the steam engine, and as a result all manner of cool steam-driven technologies have emerged, ranging from Airships to submarines; the plausible counterpart to Magitek, with a Hollywood Science Hand Wave or The Spark of Genius. Largely, steampunk runs on Rule of Cool. Sometimes combined with the work of Charles Babbage on mechanical computers to produce a kind of retro Cyber Punk set entirely in the Victorian era or a close analogue, with Dickensian exploitation.
 (It actually has quite a lot else to say as well, but that's good for a start.)  I did read the rest of the article, and clicked through to other articles on Punk Punk and such.  I also watched this video which, if you even know what Steampunk is or is actually supposed to be, will give you a chuckle or two.

The long and the short of the above is: I'm jumping into a new pool.  The new novel is turning out to be urban fantasy, based in a city that's a combination of Sharn and Sigil, with both high (spell-based) magic and steampunk technology.


In other news, though, I'm also having real-life issues that nobody probably cares about.  The first cold-possible-flu of the season hit me last night with an evil, evil vengeance, and my comprehensive exams are Friday.  (For those unfamiliar with grad school speak, if I don't pass the comps, I don't get my Master's.)  So things are a bit... crazy... in my life right now, and you may or may not hear from me for awhile.  Wish me luck!