November Silence: Head Down in the Steampunk Novel - Revisited

Well, things are really busy this time of year, and I am doing NaNoWriMo again, albeit without the intention to win because I don't need 50,000 words to finish this project. I'm finishing book three of the Clockwork Cat trilogy (book one of which got me my agent and is making rounds with publishers now). In celebration of that book, which was also a NaNo novel, and because I haven't had time to write something new, I am reposting the November blog from the year I wrote the first Clockwork Cat novel. I've also added a few updates and photos at the end just for fun. Enjoy!

As I mentioned in a prior post, I tried a new approach for NaNoWriMo this year.  I actually started with a full plot already worked out. I am happy to say that it worked out beautifully. Not only did I finish the 50,000 words in 22 days, I came out with a finished first draft of a novel that I am very happy with.  However, I cannot claim all the credit. A lot of it goes to my protagonist and her fabulous crew of support characters.

The idea for this novel was triggered by a few events. When I attended the PNWA writers conference this year, there was a lot of talk about steampunk as a new rising genre. Interestingly, I had been to a steampunk festival only a few weekends prior to this event. On my long drive down to the conference on the second day, I sat in my truck pondering how one would go about writing a steampunk novel. This wasn’t with the intent to write one. I had a ton of ideas waiting on the shelf already and had no desire to add to the backlog. It was just genuine curiosity. Having purchased the music from a great local steampunk band I discovered at the festival (Abney Park if you’re interested), I set that to playing and this is what happened.

While the autopilot (the very primitive portion of my brain that wants me to survive my morning drive because it is easier to type without rigor mortis) took the wheel I went on a walk through the corridors of my mind to see what might be lurking within. I wandered down those hallways deftly avoiding the eyes of all the characters waiting there. If you meet their eyes, they will tell you their stories, whether or not you are ready to hear them. When I turned one corner, I saw a youth standing there in tattered boys pants and dirty boys shirt with one sleeve torn partly off at the shoulder. Intrigued, I raised my eyes. The moment they met hers, I was doomed. She charged in and started to tell me all the gritty details of her steampunk London life.

I will admit, I resisted at first, feeling the deep resentment of the hundreds of characters who have eagerly been awaiting their turn. Then I mentioned the idea to some of my most avid fans and they were deeply enthusiastic in such a way that I found the mood infectious. I started to try writing her story, but found that the temper of my long-suffering other characters kept getting in the way.

Frustration forced me to come up with a new plan. I would indulge another character and run with their story while learning what I could about this new steampunk character and her story with the intent of doing that novel as my NaNoWriMo project. To set me off on the right foot, we even had a steampunk Halloween party and left the decorations up. By the time November arrived, this young woman was ready to run. She seized me by the throat and I wrote the fastest novel I have ever written. The great part is, it looks good and I am eagerly diving into the editing process.


The true master of ceremonies at the steampunk Halloween party.

My novel Torment (need to rename it – that is on my to do list – item 675 I think) recently got a very encouraging rejection from a big name publishing house. I plan to take another look at it and see if I can fix the issue they pointed out after the steampunk novel is through its edit and in the hands of my beta readers. Before long, I hope to have the steampunk novel out making the rounds as well. If nothing else, I will try to drown the writing world with my productivity and someone might take notice.


As I mentioned, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat got me my agent and is searching for a publisher now. Book two is in editing and book three is being finished for NaNoWriMo. I just finished an edit on Torment, now called Dissidents, based on feedback from my agent and am hoping to have it making rounds to publishers before too long. And, lastly, the Steampunk Halloween Party has become something of a tradition since this first year. I've included a few pictures of our costumes from this year's Steampunk Burlesque below.

Happy Writing!!