Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another NaNo-Novel: "The Doomsday Symphony" for NaNoWriMo 2010

While "The Lost Chord" is currently on hiatus, I've been involved with my third plunge into the World of NaNoWriMo.

November is "National Novel Writing Month" when authors and would-be authors around the world sign up for the challenge of writing 50,000 words toward a finished rough-draft of a novel.

If anybody's wondering why I'm not answering e-mails, hanging out on Facebook or blogging, I've been trying to write at least 1,667 words per day and so far doing pretty well: today was the 17th Day and I've already written 41,950 words or 84% toward the total word-goal.

This 'brief' synopsis of The Doomsday Symphony is adapted from the "novel profile" posted on my NaNoWriMo page:

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While I'm usually a very serious guy when it comes to my music or the books I read for enjoyment (I mean, come on: Henry James, Proust, Thomas Mann?) but I've been intrigued by the "mystery/thriller' genre lately, writing two humorous musical parodies of Dan Brown's latest hits, "The DaVinci Code" (which became "The Schoenberg Code") and "The Lost Symbol" (which became "The Lost Chord.")

This time, I decided I'd write an original "Music Appreciation Thriller" that involves a parallel universe called Harmonia-IV where Dead Composers go and continue writing, an evil villain intent on wiping out the masterpieces of four great (if dead) composers through time-traveling, and the theft of a new symphony by Mahler that, if its premiere is scheduled for December, 2012, will help bring about the destruction of the Earth, and an intrepid retired ex-college professor and composer intent on surviving having gotten sucked into this maniacal caper in the first place. Considering the Mahler symphony, I've decided to call this one "The Doomsday Symphony."

The main villain is Forensic Musicologist Dr. Klavdia Klangfarben who, despite having studied with Dr. Fr√łkken Bohr, is unable to find reasonable employment in her field (been there, done that), has obtained a "Femme Fatale for Hire" license via an Internet university. With her side-kick, a Viennese lawyer from the late-19th Century named Abner Kedaver, they undertake a project, "Operation Fate-Knocks-at-the-Door," for SHMRG, an evil corporation intent on controlling the entire music industry, headed by CEO N. Ron Steele where failed composer Man Kaye is the Director of Office Supplies & Classical Division.

The Mahler score is stolen by an ambitious but no longer young mild-mannered assistant conductor named Rogers Kent-Clarke (who studied with the conductor, Louis Lane) who's looking for a vehicle that will make a splash for him and jump-start his already long-delayed career.

And the disappearance of a local man in a small town in the Poconos leads Detective Jenna Sainte-Croix to the site of a mysteriously abandoned old coal town where she finds herself pulled through a Time-Gate that takes her – like the others – into the parallel universe of Harmonia-IV. There, hanging out at Stravinsky's Tavern, she meets her counterpart, Detective Milo Smedley, once a friend of Charles Dickens, who is investigating the theft of Mahler's score on The Other Side, and they fall in love.

In the midst of all this is our hero, Dr. T. Rutherford Cranleigh, who knows an awful lot about very little and about whom there is not much to say.
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Let's leave it at that, for now – I've got to get back to writing...

- Dick Strawser

Monday, November 01, 2010

An Up-Date on "The Lost Chord"

The Lost Chord will be taking an unplanned but short hiatus. There is a complicated graphic I created for this next installment which turns out needs to be redone (turns out its present format, a 'table' created in 'Word Something-or-Other', will not translate into the software needed to post here at Blogspot), so I will need to re-do it. Unfortunately, two things have happened: saving it in 'OpenOffice' removed the table-grid and I now have 144 numbers in no particular order; not sure that I still have it somewhere on the older computer, I will need to reconstruct it and figure out a way of saving it so it can be posted at Blogspot.

Unfortunately, two other things have happened recently (actually, three...):

(1) My current old computer is on the fritz: having recently (and injudiciously) upgraded my Linux operating system to the newest version in order to be able to access one of my regular web-site destinations whose Flashmatazz software required up-grading to their newest version, I discovered that my computer cannot handle certain aspects of Linux's "Lucid Lynx" and have, once it started crashing on me, created instead a Livid Luddite.

(2) My "lifetime guarantee" for a low-price deal from my ISP apparently had been signed by Tony Curtis who died the day I received notice from said ISP that my $15/month deal was being phased out and converted over to a phone/cable/internet package for a mere $99/month. Since I rarely use my phone and I want to watch less television (with my digital antenna), not more, this is really not something I'm interested in, so I now will have to find a new ISP that will fit my needs not to mention my budget. Thank you, Verizon, for that.

(3) On top of that, I began dealing with symptoms that quickly turned into my annual Change-of-Season Cold or Flu on October 9th. While there were occasional days of less flu-ishness (or less severe symptoms), basically I was trying to cope with headaches, body-aches, joint pain, nasal congestion and/or coughing (but not sneezing, lung congestion and other joys-of-the-flu) for twenty-one days, during which I could barely concentrate on anything more than sitting, zombie-like, in my recliner. Needless to say, I didn't feel like going out to shop for a new computer or even do battle with (cough, hack) internet providers on the phone. I also felt I didn't want to be risking infecting innocent bystanders like Typhoid Barry though I noticed that didn't stop other people: on Day 19, I made a quick trip to Borders, amply supplied with cough medicine and cough drops, only to find myself needing to move away from five different people who were coughing or sneezing without covering their mouths, but I digress...

And since the computer frequently crashed while I was trying to post installments of The Lost Chord, it became very frustrating, especially once I realized that I'd put off creating a few important graphics for clues I needed, now, and that I could not figure out how to do them in Linux, though I'm not sure I could've done them in Windows, either: it probably was going to have to be a work-it-out-by-hand-and-then-scan-the-bastard until I realized one of my cats, no doubt the self-styled Director of Wireless Technology, had pretty much turned the old scanner into a nice serving tray.

And, since it's NaNoWriMo time again – National Novel Writing Month – and my plan is to get 50,000 words of a new music appreciation thriller, "The Doomsday Symphony," written by November 30th, this is not really how I wanted to be spending my time, right now.

Once these assorted conundra are resolved, The Lost Chord will resume.

My apologies for the inconvenience to those of you who've been reading it (I thank both of you).

Dick Strawser