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It was a weird month, this year, and definitely not a wasted effort, but I think it was also the least fun I’ve ever had doing NaNo in spite of the fact that I got my highest word count yet (51 787 words, a day early, no less!).

I’ll probably do a more comprehensive diagnostic of it later, for my own sake if not for anyone else’s interest, but the brief rundown seems to be that I do my best writing either completely on the fly or with months if not years of groundwork set down ahead of me. One month of preparation was just enough to make me feel like I had rules I had to obey, but not enough to actually give me a leg to stand on trying to follow them. I spent the first 20 thousand words doing roughly what I’d intended, then spiraled into only semi-relevant back-story for the next 22, before ending up in an amusing if totally useless sex scene that I have no intention of ever sharing with another living soul.

One thing I didn’t really anticipate was how different NaNo would feel, coming off of a year of writing for an hour or two five days a week as a matter of course. I have more of an understanding, now, about how established writers can feel like they don’t need NaNo – I think I’ll do it next year, but there was definitely a nagging yearning to get back to writing something ‘real’ that detracted from the experience in a way that I’ve never felt before.

On the whole, though, I’m proud of myself, and I think the basic kernel of an idea has real potential, given a couple of years to round itself out in the back of my head.

In the meanwhile … with NaNo over, that means I’m officially allowed to return to the book I was planning on starting back in September! There’s still some groundwork left to be established, research to do, plot holes to dig and then fill, but first I think it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Let the Unfinished Saga begin!

For all that it was unnerving as hell, the broken moon seemed to have as much effect on the orchards as it did on the rest of the world – which was to say:  none.

They hadn’t started worrying about the trees until three days after the quake. It had been overcast then, a solid week and a half of dull rain that had been murder on her hair as well as preventing anyone from getting a clear look at the sky. They had better things to worry about, anyway, with half of the West Edge shaken up by the tremors, streets sparkling with broken glass and pavement buckled and cracked. It had been better than it might have been in another part of town, the skyscrapers were designed to be able to survive minor quakes, but the water mains had still ruptured in a dozen places, flooding a major chunk of downtown. Add in the number of buildings with cracked foundations, crumbling walls, not to hundreds or thousands of dollars of property damage to a couple of thousand inhabitants …

Well, Siobhan wasn’t a structural engineer any more than she was an insurance agent, but she wasn’t exactly surprised that nobody had bothered looking up, in the beginning.

Three days later, though, the work crews were knitting the earth back together and most people in the West Edge had calmed down and started talking about the quake like it was just one in a line of moderately inconvenient things to happen that year. When the clouds finally parted, there were enough people willing to look up instead of down again, and what they saw when they did was enough to send the entire city into a second round of panic.

The moon, which should have been a pretty fingernail crescent two days past new, had been gone.

Not really gone, astronomers had assured everyone in a hasty press release that evening. Aside from the simple fact that moons didn’t just disappear, they’d checked and all of their readings agreed that it was still exactly where it was supposed to be, orbit unchanged, little Agran flag still flying and everything. It only looked gone, which was not actually a particularly reassuring clarification, though the scientists managed to talk quickly enough around the subject to avoid getting pinned by too many questions about what that meant, how it had happened, or why.

The answer they gave to the few questions that made it through the wall of evasion and misdirection was one everyone already knew anyway.

The moon had stayed gone for two whole eerie nights, and then suddenly it was there again, waxing bright as though nothing had happened. That had been six months ago, but Siobhan was having a hard time getting used to new lunar trend. For eight days – the four before the new moon and the four after – the sky was dark, even the stars seeming dim. For eight days the moon looked full, jumping overnight from waxing gibbous to a mirrored disk, impossibly bright, then abruptly waning as though it hadn’t been trapped in some bizarre stasis for the last week. Between the two poles, it appeared as it always had, growing or shrinking in barely-perceptible increments.

Her grandmother said they’d once called this kind of moon a drinking moon, and the fact that there was a name for it at all was a small comfort. The last time anyone could remember seeing one had been some time back in the late 16th century, though, a time firmly associated with plague, pestillence, and war. Some Korali scholar had thought that the moon was draining the thaumatic essence from the earth like some sort of celestial vampire, and the name had stuck.

Siobhan didn’t think there was any truth to it, no more than her grandmother did, but it made her feel a little bit better about the creeping uneasiness that was now settling routinely at the back of her neck for those eight days when the moon was black.

And yet, as far as anyone could tell, this particular drinking moon was having absolutely no quantifiable effect on the world.