The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Saturday, 5 September 2009

20 hours in...

Just a quick update. Things are going very well. Throughout the day I've managed to eat a little healthy food, drink a few non-caffeinated beverages, grab a couple of 2 hour naps and still pound out 46 handwritten pages so far. I even made myself go for a bike ride out to the Shand Dam to clear my head and feel a part of the world around me.

Everyone here has been great. The kids are both so encouraging and have done their best to let me work and my wife...well, you can't say enough good things about the woman who types your chicken scratches for you. (She also replenished my supply of chocolate covered coffee beans!) Man, did I marry up!

Well, back to work...hopefully by midnight we'll get to meet Herne...

A Solid Start

Well, here we are closing in on 4:00am and I've hit the ground running.

Most of the chocolate covered coffee beans are gone (a shame,it is) and half a pot of coffee has cycled through my system. I've just finished fifteen solid pages and have a real sense of direction for the story. I'm liking my main character (his name's Ian, by the way) which is almost always important. I'm thinking about 2 or 3 hours sleep will serve me well, so I'm leaving the story at a point where I can immediately jump in at 6 or 7 am.

The story's title is Herne.

Just so you know.

Friday, 4 September 2009


Heard today that the local ice cream factory burned to the ground.

No time to dwell on that now.

Heading downstairs - wish me luck.

12 hours and counting...

The kids are home again today - after 3 days of school the teachers needed a PD day before the Labour Day Weekend apparently...

I have been preparing for this weekend's ordeal.

Here is where I'll be spending the lion's share of my weekend. For a tiny basement office it is a surprisingly bright space.

Most of the actual writing takes place here:

As you can see by the tools laid out on the chair, I am planning to hand write the novel this weekend.

This is the folder I've used the last two times. Hopefully 3 times is the charm. Last time I ran through 3 rollerball pens and about 135 pieces of lined paper. I should be covered.

Just in case I'm not:

During the 3 days of the contest it is important to keep your energy levels up. Snacks while writing I find are better than meals.

I find a combination of sweet and savoury works best and yes, that bowl in front is filled with chocolate covered coffee beans.

Caffeine is key, but too much coffee leads to gut-rot. Hence my second favourite means of caffeine intake.

And, as a carnivore, one can never underestimate the importance of meat on demand.

Inspiration is even more important than nutrition and sleep, so I keep these close by in the office to remind me that a short novel can be written over the course of a long weekend.

Those are the original handwritten manuscripts of my previous 2 successes. That's The Platinum Ticket on the left (129 hand written pages) and Patriot on the right (119 pages, again, lovingly hand written).

But even with my office, my paper, my pens and various snacks, I realize that there may come a time when I need a little extra something to keep me going. I normally don't approve of such measures and react badly to the stuff (last time I had this it felt like my hair was on fire - and not just the hair on my head) so I consider this my "Break Glass in Case of Emergency" measure.

Until just before midnight I plan to get out and enjoy this amazing day. More later...

Thursday, 3 September 2009

One day and counting...

So, here we are the night before I sequester myself for the Labour Day Weekend for the 3 Day Novel Contest. As in previous years it looks like the first draft will be handwritten. I have speech software that works very well and I might still go down that path, but the last two attempts were handwritten and the results were pretty good. I don't want to mess too much with what's worked in the past.

In previous years at this point I was experiencing a fairly acute case of the butterflies as the hours ticked away to the start time of midnight Friday. This year...not so much. I suppose I might just be more relaxed about the whole process, having done it twice before. I think the reason I'm not anxious has a lot to do with the kids returning to school before Labour Day for the first time ever. I just haven't had time to worry about the contest as I watch the kids settle very nicely into a new school year.

Well, it looks like the wee lad is looking for me to read the next chapter from the second Harry Potter book. I'll probably post again tomorrow night as the start time draws nigh.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Back to School

Wow. The house is quiet. Beyond the tapping of the keyboard keys all I can hear is the dog lapping water from her bowl. There's no "Hey! Giveitback! That's mine!" or "I get the back room computer! Called it!"...not even a whispered "Hey, you know what'll drive dad nuts this morning?"

Today is the first day of school. We saw my daughter off at the bus stop this morning for her new adventures in enrichment and then I walked the wee lad up the hill for his first day of Grade 2. Maybe it has to do with the crummy weather we had this summer, but each and every kid I saw today was excited about back to school. There was not a single long face in the crowd, not a teary eye in sight.

What's on my plate for this first, glorious day of the school year? First of all a coffee as I bask in the silence of an empty house. Then I'm going to make a list of what needs to be done, personally and professionally. One of those list items will be this:

I have signed up for the 3 Day Novel contest which commences Friday at mid-night. I have a clear idea of my story, a few main events to push the plot along and some of the characters. I have the setting all mapped out in my head, right down to the creaky plank on the deck of a cabin in the woods. There are some details that I won't snatch out of the air until Friday night, of course. Like the main character's name. I haven't given that any thought at all. With the 3 Day Novel I find that it flows much better if I make it up on the fly. That's worked for me on my previous 2 attempts. I'll be able to let you know on Monday if it holds true this time.

Last time I did this I threw a few blog posts up over the course weekend and I imagine I'll do it again this time, but any time I spend writing blog posts is time I don't spend on the story. For the most part on Labour Day weekend it'll be: