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NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Days and a Cover

NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Days and a Cover

I’m now two days into writing my NaNoWriMo novel, The Signateur, and I’m over 5,000 words already.
(That’s one day ahead for anyone counting.)

Better yet, I’m learning more about my characters and my story as I write them. It’s always so interesting to me how, though I’m consciously in control of the story, my subconscious is also in charge of some part of this. It can lead to surprises about who I thought a character was and who they end up being.

But what I’m most excited about is sharing my cover for the novel. It was created by a friend of mine who works in the publishing field and made a beautiful image in such a short amount of time.

I present to you my cover.

The Signateur cover

That image is the background of my screen when I’m writing. It’s the image I keep looking at whenever I’m thinking about my novel. It is a great representation of what I’m working for this month. I’m so excited to have it, and it makes me wish I could share my work along with it.

Finally, my constant talking about my novel has led to two friends of mine making the decision to write their own novels. (Well, one of them is actually writing a screenplay, but I’m counting it.) I’m not counting it as a big win until I see that they’ve updated their word count, but I’m still excited for them and their November journeys.

Now to churn out a couple more words. More updates soon.

Why I’m Writing a Novel

Why I’m Writing a Novel

It occurred to me that I’ve written a lot about what I’m writing but very little about why I’m writing. So, on the eve of National Novel Writing Month, let me share why I’m attempting to write a novel this November.

Very few people know that I’ve had several of my poems published in a couple of literary journals. Those people are either related to me or they’ve read the small line at the bottom of my “writer’s résumé.”

I don’t talk about my published poetry because I feel like I’m too young for people to take my poetry seriously. And I’m kind of okay with that. I just keep it quiet.

But it’s my fiction writing is different from my poetry. Just the way I think about the fiction writing process is so different.

All of my fiction writing ideas start with one vision: a complex relationship.

For my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel, Those Who Are Yet to Come, the complex relationship was between two friends who had grown apart over college and were both trying to do good things in different ways.

This year, The Signateur is about a relationship that I’m not able to fully share yet because it would give away the whole novel. That’s probably what I’m so excited about in writing this November—I have a complexity that takes an entire novel to explain.

That excitement still doesn’t explain why I’m writing a novel.

I’m writing a novel in November because I want to reach an achievement I haven’t had before. This is bigger than just crossing off an item on my bucket list. This is about finally feeling accomplished in my writing. It’s about being an author. It’s about securing that piece of my identity that I’ve been claiming for years. Nearly every bio I write for myself starts with “Ian Philpot is a writer.” It’s a part of my identity.

So while my novel is about a complex relationship, it’s also about my validating my identity.

That’s why I’m writing a novel this November.


The text in the header image of this post is from a song called “Reasoned and Roughened” by Twin Forks. It’s becoming my theme for this year’s novel. You can listen to it here.

NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Weeks Out

NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Weeks Out

It’s fall.
The trees are changing color.
Pumpkin spice is everywhere.
It’s novel writing season.

I’ve written about my novel attempts for the last few Novembers (2011, 2012, 2013), so I’m going to skip the full National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) explanation and just jump right into it.

For 2014, I’m writing a novel titled The Signateur. It started as an idea I had shortly after I abandoned my novel last year. When I was looking for story ideas for this year, I found it in my Ideas folder in Evernote. (Score one for technology.) (more…)

An Introduction to LoveBot

The following is a short story introduction to LoveBot. [Read how he was created here.]

You can change his battery. You can change his motherboard. But you can’t change his heart.

LoveBot powers up in a dark hallway. The red heart on his chest slowly lights up from the bottom to the top. When the heart is full, his eyes turn on like the powering on of an old television. Once he is on, his eyes grow dim like he is tired. He lowers one of his arms and removes a plug from an outlet near the ground and it recedes into the back of LoveBot’s left foot.

LoveBot looks around and sees rows of other robots up and down the hallway, all plugged into the wall. He moves forward slowly and walks down the long hall to a doorway. He opens the door and sunlight overtakes him. LoveBot steps outside.

LoveBot walks down a street of large, dark, windowless buildings. They all have signs flashing saying “₡30 a Month” and “Outlets starting at ₡25.” He hears something coming from near one of the signs and walks over to it. Behind the sign is a birds nest and some baby birds are tweeting. He watches them sweetly and his heart starts to glow. Suddenly a mother bird swoops in and it throws LoveBot off balance. He falls onto the ground. The bird flies to the nest with worms in its mouth and gives a glare at LoveBot. He gets up and continues on.

LoveBot comes upon a stairwell leading into the ground and walks down. He joins a large group of other robots waiting for a train. When the train pulls up, it’s just a grated floor with bars for frames. LoveBot walks onto the grated floor and grabs one of the bars. The train moves forward. LoveBot can see the lights from the eyes of other robots illuminating the dark subway tunnel.

When LoveBot reaches his destination, he walks up a tunnel and onto a urban/suburban area. He walks down a sidewalk designated for robots. He can look to the other side of the street and see humans using a different sidewalk. LoveBot walks past a fenced playground where children are playing. He stops to watch them. The heart in his chest starts to glow bright. Another robot on the sidewalk bumps into him and it breaks his concentration. He looks to see who did it, but the sidewalk is too busy. Right as he’s about to turn back, he is hit in the head with a rock. He turns and sees the kids on the playground standing in a group with folded arms, staring at him. He turns and continues walking.

LoveBot arrives at a large black building with a smokestack pushing out steam. He goes in and walks over to a time clock. He opens the door to his body, pulls out a car, and punches it in the time clock. He puts the card back and walks over to an assembly line. A furry, empty pouch appears in front of him on the assembly line. He presses a button and stuffing comes out from above the pouch and fills up what is now clearly a body of a teddy bear (minus the head). He presses another button and the next body appears. He hits the first button and it gets filled. He hits the next button and is goes down the line. Zooming out, you can see the entire factory of robots hitting buttons along a twisty assembly line. At the end, teddy bears end up being piled into a cardboard box. The box is then moved to a spot where it is closed and taped. The box is then put on a truck that drives to a toy store. The box comes off the truck, a person unpacks the box, and they put the teddy bears on a shelf. A mom and daughter walk up to the shelf and the girl pulls the teddy bear off the shelf and gives it a big hug.

LoveBot clocks out of work and begins walking home as the sun is setting. He’s hit in the body with a rock when he’s passing the playground. A small group of kids is picking up more rocks and throwing them, so he has to run a bit to avoid them. When he can finally begin walking again, he looks at a human family walking down the opposite sidewalk. The little girl in the family is holding a teddy bear in one of her arms. They looks so happy to be with each other. LoveBot gets on the subway train and takes it home. When he is walking down the road of apartment buildings, he looks behind the sign to see how the baby birds are doing. The nest is no longer there.

As LoveBot is coming up on his building, a glimmer of light hits his eyes. He turns and looks down a narrow alley between two buildings. Something is shining a light at him from down the alley. He turns sideways and walks slowly so he can fit in the alley. He isn’t as careful as he had hoped, and he scratches a few of the LEDs that make up the heart on his chest. Finally, he comes upon a small teddy bear with one eye—the eye that was catching some light and attracted him into the alley. He reaches into his body and pulls out a needle, some thread, and a machine nut. He sews the machine nut where the other eye of the teddy bear should be. He holds it up to inspect his work. The heart on his chest glows a little brighter. He pulls the teddy bear close to his body and the heart of his chest is so bright that it floods the alley with red light.

LoveBot leaves the alley, but he doesn’t seem to be carrying the teddy bear. He walks into his building and down the hallway that leads to his outlet. He lowers his arm to plug himself into the wall. The light of his eyes dims and turns off, but the red glow from his heart is still bright and it pulses with light. Looking through the door to the robots body, you can see the teddy bear is inside.

So, that’s LoveBot’s first story.

His physical design is still in version 0.3. I’m working on bringing him up to 0.5 by the time I’m able to find an illustrator willing to take on LoveBot’s story.

The Creative Process Behind LoveBot

This is the story of how I went from doing normal things in a normal part of my day to creating a character, a story, and a new writing project.

Last Friday, I was alphabetizing a list for work, and I decided to write it out by hand instead of typing it. While I was putting pen to paper, a quote from an episode of The Office came to mind from a scene where Michael pretends to be a robot. Watch the clip below.

Then I imagined a robot in a field of other robots with a giant, red heart on his chest. And, before I knew it, I drew him—LoveBot 0.1. (more…)

A Cover for My NaNoWriMo Novel

This is going to be brief, but allow me to set the scene…

The world is in chaos and those with power are making absolute decisions. Dissent and revolution are in the air.

You’re approaching the Post Office and notice the brick building has been whitewashed. Some vandals have spray painted the silhouette of a crowd with one person raising their fist in the air. Above the crowd, in all caps, it reads, “JOIN THE MARCH.”

And now, my cover.


November: Writing and Prompts

National Novel Writing Month ParticipantNovember is almost here, and I’ve already told almost everyone I know about my participation in NaNoWriMo. I’ve also shared how important it is for me that I meet the 50,000 word goal, because I will be taking care of a six-month-old next year and may not have the time to participate.

Just like last year, I plan on blogging as I write my novel. I’ve found that to be a huge help with developing my characters and scenes.

So if you’re sick of reading about NaNoWriMo, I’ll see you in December.


RightPromptOn a slightly different—but slightly similar—topic, I’ve been running a writing prompt blog on the side for the last year or so. It started as an attempt to see what all I could automate with IFTTT, so I set up a WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr accounts to update with content from an RSS of a writing prompt subreddit. It worked fairly well, and I was putting no effort in.

The next phase has been cutting off the RSS feed and writing the content on my own. With that increased control over what the content is and when it goes out, I’ve seen followership increase a little. I’m going to run special NaNoWriMo prompts over the month of November, and hopefully that will help.

Here are the links to the different outlets for the writing prompts:

NaNoWriMo 2013 Planning

NaNoWriMo 2013 Planning

It’s October, and that means that it’s time to plan for National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo). The good news is that I’ve got my idea nailed down. The bad news…well, so far, there isn’t bad news.

This year’s novel is going to be familiar, because it’s going to be based off of last year’s novel. As in it’s going to be the exact same novel, except I’m planning on winning with it this year instead of only reaching 8,000 words.

To keep me motivated to write throughout November, I’m going to make a timeline with detailed notes for plot points. I’ve done this before and it’s been very helpful. I’ll be sure to share photos when I’ve got everything laid out.

Here’s the basic rundown of the novel:

Title: Day of Calamity
Genre: Mainstream fiction
One-line: It’s like Occupy Wall Street meets The Walking Dead (minus zombies) meets The Book of Eli.
Short description: The apocalypse has started. The world is ending. But would you know it if you lived it? Tate McLeod and his friends survived the natural disasters, but they soon find themselves in the middle of a war over Chicago. Will they join the side that wishes to maintain the old ways, or will they choose to start society with new rules?