About Mario

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mario Piumetti is a freelance writer of science fiction, horror, screenplays, and nonfiction. He has a bachelor's degree in English from California Lutheran University and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. An avid music lover, his work is heavily influenced by rock, punk, and metal. You can contact him at mario.piumetti.writer@gmail.com.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Update Complete

With all the late nights spent at the computer working on Ain't No Grave, I feel that I owe you readers an update on what's been going on.

First of all, NaNoWriMo is over, and surprisingly, I made it to the end with 50,860 words on my novel.  That came as a bit of a shock to me because I was constantly behind after the setback of the first week.  NaNoWriMo may be over, but Ain't No Grave isn't.  I'm about halfway through the first draft, so there's still another month to go before I really can breathe a sigh of relief.

Another thing I want to mention is the Truby's Plot series that I haven't written since mid-October.  It is still going.  I have not given up on it.  November's just been a really busy month.  I will have another installment of it next week, and then I'm going to try and commit to at least a new post for it each week until I get to the end of it.  Because I really do want to finish it.

That's all I got at the moment.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ain't No Grave: Day 23

It's been a while since I've posted on the blog, and I apologize.  After restarting Ain't No Grave when it fell through the first week of NaNoWriMo, I've been putting in a lot of hours to try and catch up with the word count, and it's only in this last week that I did start hitting the mark.  I don't often hit the mark exactly, maybe I'll be off a few hundred words or so, but that's better than being off by a few thousand words.  Those words that I'm off by, I make up the next day.

As of this writing, Ain't No Grave is just shy of 39,000 words.  Momentum's built up with it, and I'm finding it a lot easier to get the words out.  There are still a few sluggish points here and there each day, but they don't overwhelm me like when I was trying to get six thousand words written each day.

One thing that's kept me going has been visual stimulus.  The NaNoWriMo website allows you to update your word count and see how close or distant you are from your daily goal, and seeing the bar rise little by little drives me onward little by little.  I keep telling myself, "You're almost there, Mario."

But that only goes so far.  My target goal 100,000 words, not 50,000.  No, I'm not trying to get that much done in one month.  I'm not that crazy.  So as far as I'm concerned, NaNoWriMo is a two-month affair.  I'm doubling up and hoping to get another 50,000 words written by the end of the year.

What's been helping me is a word-tracker program that I found on another blog for artist Svenja Liv; the link for this particular post is here.  I stumbled upon it by accident after Googling "NaNoWriMo word trackers".  This is an enormously helpful Excel spreadsheet.  I tweaked with it to fit my two-month time frame, and it only took me an hour, tops, to do.  That's the beauty of it, it's extremely user-friendly.  I sent a copy of it to a writer friend of mine in Idaho named Lee and he responded with, "Dude, this is exceptional!  And it can be adjusted for anything!  Sweet find!"

And speaking of writer friends, that another thing I've noticed from NaNoWriMo: your writer friends seem more vocally supportive around this time, kind of like how people try to be a little more generous during the December holidays.  Lee and I shot emails back and forth recently and he suggested that we swap drafts when we finish to give each other feedback.  On top of that, he said that my premise of a zombie survival story is always a classic.  Now, I consider Lee to be way more talented than I am, so to hear that was a big morale booster.

Whether or not you're participating in NaNoWriMo, what I've learned through this experience is how important it is to keep in touch with your peers.  Writing is a very solitary experience.  It has to be because only you can write the words for your story, and that usually involves finding quiet seclusion to get the work done without distractions.  But that same seclusion can cut you off from people, so it's always important to get up, grab some air, and call up a few folks to see how their doing.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ain't No Grave: Day 10

This week has exhausted me.  After last week's work collapse, I felt like I had to play catch-up in order to keep up with my writing goal for NaNoWriMo.  Not only did I have to put in my six daily pages, I had to write an additional six pages Monday through Thursday in order to make up for the lost pages.

That doesn't sound too bad when you work out the numbers on paper, but actually getting it done in real life is another story.  I hate write first drafts.  Lord, I don't know how many times I've told you guys that.  Sometimes, I can get ten pages out in a flash.  The words flow so naturally.  Other times, I can barely write a paragraph.  It's frustrating.

So imagine my frustration when I had to write thirty pages yesterday and couldn't bring myself to write until late in the evening!  I was so dead tired that I had AC/DC's It's A Long Way To The Top playing on repeat.  Bon Scott's bagpipes solo was like a defibrillator jump-starting me for at least ten minutes.

Finally, this morning, I said to hell with it.  My NaNoWriMo schedule has been dented, and I'm not going to be able to catch up.  That's not to say that I've given up on NaNoWriMo or Ain't No Grave or anything like that.  Rather, I've given up on stressing out over the pages that pile up.  I'm just going to accept the fact that I tripped and won't be able to sprint my way out of this.

The alternative is to constantly deprive myself of sleep, and the result is sloppy, incoherent writing that I'll have to redo anyways.  It's not worth the agony.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ain't No Grave: Day 5


Since the start of NaNoWriMo on Thursday, I got fourteen pages down for Ain't No Grave.  And now, those fourteen pages don't mean shit.  I looked over what ideas I had for the plot and didn't like what I saw.

Ain't No Grave was originally supposed to be the opposite of the zombie road trip we've seen lately.  It was supposed to go back to the idea of survivors barricaded in a single place.  Two things worked against this.  First, the plot had the refuge overrun by marauders from a nearby town, and I felt like it would be kind of a let down.  It didn't seem to have enough oomph even when it popped in my head.

The second reason was that the road trip appeals to me.  It's uncertain, episodic, and more importantly allows the reader to see different parts of the society being portrayed.  By having the story set in a single location, I have to try and force various facets of the apocalyptic world to come to the survivors.  The world doesn't conveniently move for one man.  The answer is to have the survivors move for the world.  Do I feel like a poser?  Yes, a little bit, but at least I'm a logical poser.

Another thing I didn't like was the fact that the survivors were a rather large group - about fifty people - and not all of them were going to be introduced as even minor characters.  They were going to be like those people you see in the background on TV, people with no importance whatsoever, people with less value than red shirts on a Star Trek episode.

If certain characters serve no real purpose, then the writer ought to get rid of them.  And so I've rethought Ain't No Grave to focus on three core characters: Donny Moran, Megan Greer, and Allen Freeman.  Donny begins the story alone a month after the apocalypse until he finds Allen, an abandoned boy.  After their hideout is overrun by zombies, they escape to a local farm where they find a lone survivor, Megan, and convince her that she's not safe and would be better off joining them.

That's really all I've got at the moment.  If it seems rough and hastily put together, well, that's because I jotted notes for it an hour ago.  Without coffee.

Yes, it sucks that I've lost a few days of NaNoWriMo and fourteen pages, but setbacks happen in writing.  They've happened to me.  They'll happen to you.  Deal with it.  Honestly, I never had any delusions that I'd reach the 50,000-word goal for NaNoWriMo, but if I can get to at least 40,000 words, that's still quite a feat to me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Shit's Fucked Up

For a while now, I've been reading Chuck Wendig's novel Double Dead, which is about a vampire trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.  If you haven't read it, get a copy.  Wendig doesn't hold back in his writing.  The vampire, Coburn, is an asshole, comparing his human charges to cattle and calling them his herd.

But the reason I'm talking about Double Dead is because the novel is, I think, the best example of one of Kurt Vonnegut's rules.  "Be a sadist.  No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order to see what they are made of."

Last night, as I put in my six pages for Ain't No Grave, I feared that I was losing interest in the story.  If you've been keeping up with my blog, you know that boredom means the death of any story I work on.  So I need to follow Wendig's example and constantly ask myself how I can make the situation worse for my characters.  After all, they, too, are in the zombie apocalypse (minus the vampire).

I just wanted to make that little observation.  Maybe I'm just thinking out loud.  I leave you now with an excerpt from Double Dead in which Coburn sums up his dilemma quite nicely.

"I've been through some shit over the last several nights," he said, lips twisted sneer, fangs out.  "Woke up.  Ate a deer.  Found myself in the zombie apocalypse.  Fell off a building.  Got chewed up by some zombie bitch in an ugly bathrobe.  Got shot by an old man and then taken in by his sickly daughter.  Got chewed up again by the same bitch-in-a-bathrobe except now said bitch is some kind of undead demon, then got shot by a totally different old man - those old men sure love their rifles - before I got burned up by the sun and had to eat my way out of a morbidly obese cannibal queen.  But you know what, Ginger?  This [being abandoned] hurts worst of all."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ain't No Grave: Day 2

Ah, NaNoWriMo.  National Novel Writing Month.  That magical time of year when a writer either gets a novel off the ground or breaks something in the process.  Regardless of what genre or theme you write, the central rule of NaNoWriMo is to write at least 50,000 words between midnight starting November 1st and midnight ending November 30th.

With Eat the Rich abandoned, I decided to return to zombie fiction with Ain't No Grave, a story that I tried writing earlier this year.  Unlike the earlier version, which was about kids raising themselves in a zombie apocalypse, this one is about survivors trying to fortify and settle in an abandoned town in Southern California.

I picked Ain't No Grave for a few reasons.  Halloween just ended (I hope you all had fun gorging on candy, liquor, and candy-flavored liquor).  Secondly, I've always kept alive the ambition to do a zombie story, even after it didn't work out the first time.  And finally, come on, listen to Johnny Cash sing Ain't No Grave and you can almost imagine zombies shuffling around.  I just had to write a story with that title.

Just as I did with Eat the Rich, I'm chronicling my progress with Ain't No Grave, and I hope I can reach the 50,000-word limit for NaNoWriMo, or at least get pretty damn close to it.