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NaNoWriMo and Self-Publishing

If you’re a writer—or connected in some way to the writer scene—then you’re probably aware that November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). A time where pen-monkeys of all ages and skill levels come out of the woodwork to try and churn out 50,000 words in a single, marathon-month of word-smithery. As you might expect, […]

A Truly Democratic Election

After this week’s unfortunate incident, by which I mean the election of He Whose Hands Must Not Be Mentioned, I’ve had enough of American politics. The war in Eastern Ukraine hasn’t been in the news much in the past couple years. It’s turned into a frozen conflict—a stalemate between two rebel enclaves and a Ukraine that can’t take them back without starting an all-out war with Russia.
Since I’ve done a couple metaphysical interviews with the rebels before, I thought I’d pop over and see how things are going. As you may remember from previous posts, a metaphysical interview is where instead of talking to someone, you speculate about what they might say. This is a legitimate journalistic technique now. Half of what you find in the media was made up too.

I met my old friend Pavel in a café in Donetsk, the capital and largest city of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. The café was in what seemed to be the trendiest district of town, by which I mean only half the block was bombed out or boarded up.

Scenic Donetsk

“So how are things?” I asked Pavel.

“Excellent!” he said. “Granted, our people eke out a grim existence in the face of unceasing war. But the Donetsk People’s Republic is no longer a miserable enclave run by thugs and populated mostly by people too old to flee. We are now a truly democratic country. We just had our first truly democratic election.”

“Pavel,” I said, “I was here the last time you held a vote, and someone could only call that ‘democratic’ if they were lying through their teeth.”

“Not this time.” He grinned. “This time we used truly democratic procedures. We took them from the birthplace of democracy, the United States.”
“Usually people say the birthplace of democracy was Athens. It was, you know, a democracy two thousand years before the US came along.”

Pavel snorted. “Getting people together, debating the issues, and having them vote—that is not true democracy. Let me show you how true democracy works.” He took out an iPad and brought up a map of the enclave overlaid by a grid. “First step was, we divided the Donetsk People’s Republic into squares.”

 “Why would you do that?”

“The United States is divided into states,” said Pavel, “and most of them are square, or pretty close. So we just used squares. It was easiest. Now the first step in the election is the primary race.” He tapped his tablet and an overlay appeared on the map, showing a road that wound through the grid. “The race starts here, at my cousin Iovan’s farm.”

“It starts at one farm.”

“It starts in that square. But there are only a few villages, and everybody but Iovan either fled the war or refused to go to the caucuses—something about the vote being a mockery. So the first step in the primary race ended up being when the candidates try to convince Cousin Iovan to support them. The ones he supports get momentum.”

“This is good because…”

“Momentum propels things forward. That means the candidate can skip some of the later votes. But if they lose momentum, they have to go back and do the previous votes again.”

“Um, Pavel,” I said, “that’s not an election. That’s Snakes and Ladders.”
Pavel frowned. “I thought it seemed familiar. Doesn’t matter. The primaries are only the first stage. The candidates who win them go on to the campaign.”

“Dare I ask what the campaign is like?”

“It is very democratic. The candidates hold rallies and debate each other. Newspapers make endorsements. Vladimir Putin makes an endorsement too, only he doesn’t tell you what it is. He just has hackers steal information about the other candidates and release anything that might be embarrassing. Then after the campaign is election night. We hold a vote in each square, and the candidate who gets the most votes, gets all the votes from that square.”

“That’s kind of weird,” I said.

“It was fun!” said Pavel. “Counting votes is so boring. One candidate gradually gets ahead—yawn. This way, you get to watch squares flip over on election night. There is very complicated strategy too, because there are safe squares and swing squares. The candidates cannot just try to appeal to the voters, but must devise a Path to Victory. Who will win the crucial swing square of Five Villages Near the Don River Plus the Southeastern Corner of Komsomolske? That one was a real nail-biter.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,” I said. “So what was the outcome?”

Pavel looked down at the table. “The outcome was less fun. The winner was Bobov the Angry Clown.”
I coughed.

“Bobov has a popular TV show. He tells racist jokes while scantily-clad women dance around. Many voters thought he was a real man, very virile. Probably because his wig is shaped like a giant pair of testicles.”

“You’re telling me that people voted for a clown.”

“Actually, most of them voted for someone else. But Bobov won the most squares. His voters were more efficiently distributed. See, his opponent won most of her votes in this one square here.”

“That square says ‘City of Donetsk’.”

“That is where the city is, yes,” said Pavel.

“And that’s where most of the people live, right?”


“I think I can guess why she won most of her votes there.”

“But it is only one square,” said Pavel. “Bobov won lots of squares by very narrow margins. So he won the election.”

“That’s crazy,” I said. “How much did he lose the popular vote by? Was it close?”

Pavel shrugged. “We don’t know. We didn’t finish counting. Once it was clear Bobov won, why bother counting the rest of the votes?” I stared at him in shock. He fidgeted with his napkin. “I mean, we’ll get it done eventually. Maybe sometime in December.”

“So you had a truly democratic election where a bunch of votes haven’t even been counted because they don’t matter. That’s what you’re telling me?”

Pavel crossed his arms. “I am deeply offended by your skeptical tone. This was a truly democratic election where every citizen of the People’s Republic could vote. Unless they had been convicted of a crime. Or had unpaid parking tickets. And they registered at least six weeks in advance, and brought two pieces of photo ID, plus a valid credit card. The credit card is for age verification purposes only.”

“If that’s how you ran your election,” I said, “it doesn’t surprise me you ended up electing a clown. Did he even have a platform, or was he running as a joke?”

“His core policy is to build a wall on the border with Moldova. He wants to stop Moldovans from coming in and taking our jobs.”

“Yeah. Pavel, your enclave doesn’t border on Moldova. Moldova’s like five hundred miles west of here.”

“Our voters know that!” said Pavel. “Of course they do. I mean, they know now. Right after the election results were announced, everybody got out their phones and googled ‘Where is Moldova again?’”

I shook my head.

“So the last step in our truly democratic election was,” Pavel said, “we called up Putin and asked him to annul the whole thing. But it turns out he is a big fan of the Bobov Show.” Pavel forced himself to smile. “We are determined to work constructively with our new leader.”

“Good luck with that,” I said. 

Oct Update + Short Story

Hola mi amigos!
Word count: 75438 (9395 more since last post.)
Progression: Posted up to chapter 15 of an estimated 39; working on chapter 16.

It has been too long since I have posted. I am really horrible about keeping a writing journal/blog thingy. Lots of new stuff has been happening. First and foremost, some slightly depressing stuff.

Nadine Hanuska – I love and miss you terribly. I am extremely sorry that I missed out on the last 13+ years of your life. I was a horrible granddaughter in your remaining years, but, at the same time, I am glad I have only happy memories, and not the ones where you were not yourself. You always made sure I had as much mashed potatoes as I could handle – which was entirely too much – and you introduced me to the game called dots (terribly poor taste to keep a young child up till the wee hours of the night playing such an addictive game) and whenever possible, you always broke the wishbone of the turkey with me. I miss you and your tea… sweet and southern.
I miss your face, your laugh, and your ability to keep this rag tag, huge family together. I love you.

There, now that I am all crying and upset, I can try to see through the tears to write the rest of this.

Back to my writing progress. Depending on how I look at things, I am about halfway through! I say depending on how you look at things cause who the heck knows just how far I really am until I am done.

Speaking of which, since the last post I have been able to nail down my chapter outlines along with tentative word count goals. Right now the estimate is 162338 words to end the first book. I know, weird number, but I counted the chapters I have already written. Yeah, yeah, they will be edited so who knows just how much I really have to go here.

I will say it has been amazingly helpful to get the outline redone. I started with some vague ideas a number of years ago, morphed into a general outline about a year ago, and have completely rewritten that because I realized there was just too much I wanted in the first book. Well, unless I wanted to get up to 400k+.

For anyone that really wants to know how I did this, I put together that board I discussed before, which helped me figure out that I had too much slated. Then I decided to put it all together in an excel sheet with a bunch of stuff like word count expectations, summaries, Lenaeu vs Earth time lines (keeping track of the time difference is crazy hard) and a general idea of what will go into the rest of the books.

I still have so much to do… As you know – I think – my magic system is based upon Astrology and Elements, which causes a lot of rigid structure I have to follow. I can’t have someone that is a Water sign magically have crazy amounts of Earth element to play with. If you don’t know the rules, don’t worry, I shall explain.

(Astrologers, close your eyes and skip this to prevent a serious need to attack me for my lack of knowledge)

Each astrological sign has an element that is their “main”. Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Each sign has something called a ‘detriment’ – opposite sign. An example –  Main = Water (Pisces); Detriment = Earth (Virgo). So then if the Main is Air, their detriment is Fire. This means that someone with Water is exceptionally skilled with that element, about half as skilled with Air and Fire, and very, very, very unskilled in Earth (detriment).

All of that I have to remember with each character and assign them a birth sign. For now, the only two that have one are my main characters – Ayli (not yet in the book) and Ama. The rest, I am simply assigning an element to until I feel like nailing down a birthday.

Ah, I did forget, there is one group of people that are a caveat.

I wrote a short story on them and they are called the Overlaps or the Seacht Laethanta – Seven Days in Gaelic. Basically, there are 7 days (October 24th-30th) in which all three of the astrological groups have either an Air, Water or Earth sign. The reason why this is important is that it allows for these people to wield all 4 elements without a detriment. Since Fire is only a detriment to one of them, and not all, it cannot be a ‘full time’ one. (They are my magic rules so whatever)

I could go on but I won’t… for now.

So, that was a very long winded progression discussion. But it does go to show just how many hours worth of work I’ve had to do here. Many different spreadsheets, hundreds of research hours into astrology and many more hours daydreaming of possibilities.

I will say the Seacht are a wonderful find that I was not planning on. This has allowed for one of my characters – Dara – to fit her role more perfectly.

Moving on, it is about that time of the year where I find myself writing more. It is something about the fall – I love it and it loves me. The writing me anyways. I have written a short story that I have posted below, and I have great plans to write a ton of stuff over the next month or so. Hopefully I will be 3/4 to 4/5 of the way through by the end of November.

(This is anywhere from 46K to 56K words – fun stuff)

Anywho… below is my short story, I hope you all enjoy!

PS. I didn’t cuss once in this post! Fuck!

Chandra and Adam

I used to live my life by the cycles surrounding her. The way her once animated, beautiful, and adoring face could give me almost violent shudders of anticipation, was both the cause and the effect of my everything.

One day, we would be blistering in our closeness, our unbridled love, out of control and reckless. The next, she would be cold and distant. Now all I saw was her suspended, hauntingly pale, and lifeless. But I still felt thrills of excitement… some days, at least. For even in death she was the most beautiful thing I have ever beheld.

On rare nights, as I lay gazing at the stars, I would only see her shadow. It was a giant dark hole where my heart once dwelled. Those were the good nights, in a sense. At least they were less painful than the ones where I caught slivers of her face; her pale dead skin gleaming in the harsh light. Yet they held nothing in comparison to the nights when I saw her fully, a poor imitation her once glory. Mercifully, they were short lived.

I could look back to when we first met with fondness; at least that was not taken from me. Although, it is a bitter memory, I could enjoy it. 

I was minding my own business, busy with my normal cyclical routine, but completely bored. Out of the darkness, blinding me with her beauty, I saw her heading my way. I thought nothing of it, assuming she would pass and ignore me like everyone else. 

But she didn’t. 

She wasn’t looking where she was going, typical behavior I came to find, and ran full force into me. I tilted but stayed steady. I reached out to her to save her from falling, being the polite gentleman I am, while her water drenched me. It saturated my muddy colored clothes and instantly cooled me in the summer heat. 

We both laughed after the initial shocks wore off. Her body quivered as she fought her giggles, pleasingly distracting me. Then, her pale blue eyes met my hazel. It was as if the universe stopped and we realized, in this embarrassing encounter surrounded by strangers, that no force could ever be stronger. No one would measure up to this instant bond. No one could ever be anything more than the background to our story. No one could be more perfect.

It seemed as though our gazes never separated afterwards.

Our love was a firestorm for no amount of water would quench our thirst. We blazed across time, ignoring or conquering everything in our way. 

Eventually our relationship cooled, but it did not diminish. Rather, we were symbiotic, matured. 

If I had known how it would have ended, I would have changed nothing. Yet, to be without her for so long, to have lost my best friend, my life, my soul… no torture could be more absolute.
But, after this eternity apart, I had hope. Our children have grown, matured and blossomed. They are fighting for all of our lives.

I had almost given up, and they had nearly destroyed me in their adolescence. But now… they travel to her pale, gaunt face, and I can already see a shimmer, a faint glint of her once endless blue eyes forming.

You see, I made a plan; one that would return her to me. For thousands of years I have cared for, nurtured, and evolved our offspring. Gently I have nudged them, given them guidance, and shown them how to leave me, to go out on their own. But, their first stop would be with her – to breathe life into her lunar husk.
Just as they are restoring her, so too, are they rebuilding my forests, my waters. The water she inadvertently spilt upon me that fateful day.

Soon, I will be able to bask in her presence once more, our worlds forever held in this orbit. The Earth and Moon shall be together again in this sea of stars.

© Copyright 2016 Kristol Hannah

Full Metal Magic

9 NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors 9 original all-new tales of magic, mayhem, mystery, and adventure you can’t get anywhere else. The ULTIMATE Urban Fantasy Boxed Set! Yours for an insanely low price. This Urban Fantasy collection contains 9 EXCLUSIVE stories that will bring you face to face with unique characters, alternate […]

Scrivener Sync Conflicts

I’ve been absent for a couple weeks, thanks to the adventure unfolding beyond the page with my new son Evan. He is doing great and fatherhood is proving a most unexpected delight. What little writing I have managed in the last few weeks (and I actually have strapped on a couple thousand words) has been […]