Thursday, December 6, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenges are back! Snow Frosted

Welcome back to our challenges!  I hope to have these weekly again, as I am able, and am excited to see what you have for us!

As a prize, I can offer a copy of one of my published works (can be found, linked, on the left), or if you already have them, editing services for a piece of work, 5 pages or shorter.

OR (while offers last)!!!  You can steal one of my winner prizes from me!  I will GIVE you my coupon code if you prefer, to one of the winner things over on NaNo.

With this in mind, we can pick a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, and allow the first place person to choose first, second second, and so on.  :)  (I only withhold the Dragon Naturally Speaking code.  This one's for my dad, who wants to get back into writing, but cannot always manage the keyboard for long periods of time.)

This week's challenge, Snow Frosted, needs to be to me by the end of the day Thursday, 12-13-2012.  We'll aim for 1500 words this time, anything less than that is okay.  We have been NaNo-ing it up, and 1500 is a good amount to get in a good word count, get in a good story, and not go overboard.

Remember the rules:
  • Edit your work for grammar and spelling as best as you can.  
  • Post it on your own blog and LINK it here in the comments.
  • Stay UNDER the word count for the week
  • Have it to be by Midnight, Mountain Standard Time, on the day listed above.
  • You must use the photo as inspiration for your story, in some way.
  • The work in question needs to be written FOR this challenge.  Otherwise, it is cheating!  And the point of this is to improve our skills, not win.
  • Have FUN!  :)  
See you at the finish line!!!!!!  Good luck!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Peering back 15 years...

Found this old picture of me tonight.  It was from back when I lived in Chicago, had my hair spiky, wore huge jeans that didn't fit me, a chain wallet, and this flannel jacket which I surely stole from someone...  

I moved out there to go to college at Colombia College.  Was all of 17 when they accepted me into the fiction writing program there.  I didn't really know what that meant, at the time.  I didn't end up going, because of transcript issues, but did live there, and spent most of my time writing.

I hated having a roommate, and trying to learn how to navigate a new place.  Being on my own, being truly responsible for the first time ever.  Being distant from all my really good friends, and being alone.  Really alone, for the first time in my young life.  

Yeah, I had a roommate, but we were mostly just living companions, and while I am grateful to have had her, at the time I would have said something different, I'm sure.  We drove each other crazy, fought a lot, and tried to rule each other's lives, all things told.  And when I ended up moving home for various reasons, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Looking back, I wouldn't trade the time for anything.  I miss the city.  I miss walking by the lake at night, even the part where I almost was arrested for being near people I wasn't actually WITH.  I miss the time to just sit and work without interruption.  Riding the EL, even working at Target.  Heck, I saw David Bowie on the street one night, and that was pretty awesome, even though all I could remember of him at the time was his role in Labyrinth.

They were my first months away from home, away from everything close and safe, and I was tossed in the deep end, left to flounder.  Left to find my own way.  And I did.  I made friends and had a blast, ate lots of great vegetarian food, and learned some valuable life lessons.  Like, if you get the power shut off when you don't live there anymore and there was milk in the fridge?  It will stink.  Yep.  Good to know.

But most of all, in my time there in the windy city where my doors were snowed shut once or twice, I learned I can stand on my own two feet.  I can go places by myself.  I don't need someone else's permission to do what feels 'right'.  And I learned I really can sit down and write something.  Every single day.

I still have my old Brother World Processor.  I actually do have plans to copy over the work I did while I lived there.  There was a good story started.  I didn't know where it was going yet, but it has the feel of something real, and these older wiser hands would love to have a crack at it.

Anyway, don't discount your younger years.  Your first years starting out.  Even if, in the moment, you hate it?  You will look back fondly.  I would give anything to go back there and have a second chance.  To go to school at Colombia.  To learn how wonderful it is to write in a group setting.  To stand on my own feet, and drink too much coffee, and get lost on the trains again.

In the end, all the moments we have, the good, the bad, the ugly and terrible...  they are what grow us into the people we are to become.  I'm not saying be happy about it...  but allow yourself to feed from it.  Grow, learn, discover.  And see just what it is you really are capable of.

You might just surprise yourself.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Now that it's all over...

Now that NaNo is all over...  what are you finding to do with your time?  Are you back to your normal old life?  Does that seem strange?  Not writing every day?

Or are you keeping at it?  Using your month of daily writing to help establish good habits, and working on, without the word count ticker?

There are several places you can go, year round, if you miss the ticker, or the challenge. has a fun self-challenge thing.  Worst case, your words will be EATEN BEFORE YOUR EYES if you stop working.  That's just mean!!  But there are nicer levels on there, and it is worth looking into. is very silly, giving you kitten rewards for meeting your word counts.  Awww, another kitteh!!!  SO CUTE!!!!!!

There are various versions of this, now, too.


Are we sensing a theme?  Put whatever word you want in the search area and VOILA!
You can put ANY word in there and it will try to find you motivational images.  Whatever those might be, to float your boat.  *ahem*  Some may only be adult-friendly.  Play with your new toy responsibly, please!

Really, it just takes any search for images and makes the answers random.  It's kinda clever, but is all based on some search engine somewhere.  But, if it motivates you?  Great!

There's always too.  It's a private thing, and can be used to journal, but it tries to make you write at least 750 words per day.  Tracks your moods through the words you choose, kind of cool.

In any case, DO NOT let people suggest you only are allowed to write during November.

If you want to write?  WRITE.  End of story.

So, what are you still sitting here for?  Go!  Get to it!  There are stories that want to be told!

PS:  The weekly-ish flash fiction challenges will begin again this Thursday night.  Check back for details, or look at the Flash Fiction stuff from previous challenges for ideas of how it will look!

<<<<< Over there, word bubble or search feature!  :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Whelp, it's all over, or has it really only just begun!?

So, NaNoWriMo 2012 is over and done with.  Whether you made it or not, you gave is a go, right?  That is huge!  Don't discount that.  Take pride in what you accomplished!  Whatever that happens to be.

The start of something new?  The first full draft on a working novel?  The first draft of a book that belongs in a series?

This, my friends, is more than  you would have done in November, without NaNoWriMo, right?  Right.  So, if you are able, you really should consider donating to the wonderful non-profit organization who helped us all get there.  Even if it's only $10, it goes a long way.  If everyone who participated donated just $10, the organization's yearly budget would be covered.

If you'd rather get something awesome WHILE helping them (buying something counts too!), there's lots of awesome stuff to pick out.  I'm loving my thermos and blue polo!

Anyway!  Let me take the time to tell you, no matter how far you got, WELL DONE!!!!!!!!  I applaud you. It isn't easy to take the time to really work on a project.

But the question is, what now?  Where do you go from here?

Is your first draft complete?  If not, get it there.

If it is complete?  Give it at least one or two reads over, preferably aloud to see how it reads...  then maybe let someone else who loves to read take a look at it.  Having people who enjoy reading and can give you useful feedback is wonderful!  Does this scene evoke emotion?  Should I leave the details in this scene or remove them?  Are there plot holes, things you might know but forgot to add in?  Are the characters relatable?  Likable?  Deliciously terrible?

If this is as far as you want to take it, or you just want to keep this for yourself, consider printing a copy at least just for yourself.  Your local office store should be able to help with printing services.  This is just for you, if for nobody else, and you should have at least one hard copy, even if it's just 11x9" bound with a plastic edger.  :)  You earned that much.

And if not, if you want to take it farther, how does one proceed?  You can consider the self publishing, small indie publisher, and large publishing houses debate widely.  Honestly, what is best for one book will not be best for another.  Some stories just don't fit into one genre well enough to get anywhere in a large house.  You might be better off with a smaller one or self publishing with certain stories.  There is no right answer for this, it really depends on the book itself.  But if you are considering publishing traditionally, I would suggest to start by sending work out to agents who help writers IN YOUR GENRE, and see if you can get someone to help you.  Finding someone who represents your writing and what you want it to be is the hard part, especially if you cross lines and do multiple genres in a single book.

I can't tell you where to go, that is something you need to figure out for yourself.  Google it.  Look for agents who help publish Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult (whatever genre), etc.  Look at what they want you to send to them.  And then send that.  Do NOT send the same thing to everyone.  They will not all want the same thing, and by ignoring their instructions up front, you will probably be brushed off as someone who would be difficult to work with.  Follow instructions, send out what they want, and then sit back and wait.  But please, please, for the love of all that is holy, be sure YOU edit your work yourself at least one or two times, FULLY read through it before you send it to anyone.

This is your baby, and you are proud of it.  Yes, that is GREAT!!!  But most works require a lot of work beyond the first draft.  You need to brush up the dialogue so it is not awkwardly hanging out there.  Make sure you're not missing big parts of the plot.  Be sure you have your grammar and spelling the best you can make it.  Sending work that has never been looked at?  Shame on you!  You should know better.  If you don't, I'm telling you now.

Take PRIDE in your work.  Take it seriously.  And when it's ready, others will too.

Best of luck!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

107,576 Words later, Draft #1 is done.

107,576 words in 30 days.  171 pages, single spaced.  Prologue, 24 chapters, and an Epilogue... 

Start to finish, an original first draft of a new book is born.

*Deep Breaths*  It has a lot of growing up to do, but there you have it.

Proud Mama moment!  :)

Carry on!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

End of the Line

It's the end of the line.  You can see it ahead of you, as can I.  The flashing red lights screaming for you to stop.  The wheels beneath you, complaining of exhaustion.

It's been a long road.  Track.  Whatever.  What are you going to do when you get to the end?  To the place where the tracks just...  stop?

Is your story going to be done?  Are you going to burn it?  Are you going to perfect and send it off for publishing, or perfect and format and self publish?  What is YOUR plan?

And if you met your personal goals, NaNo or no NaNo, how do you plan to reward yourself?  This was hard work.  Don't fool yourself or let anyone else tell you otherwise.  You DESERVE a reward.  For giving it a shot.  For doing your best.  For giving it everything you had to give, and then some.

I say we build on.  Keep on creating.  Put one rail in front of the next and keep on moving.  This may be the end of this draft.  But there's still work to be done.  I certainly am not done, myself!  Are you up for the task?  Are you with me?

Just a few days left until we're there.  Let's get there, and show NaNo we don't have to write ONLY in November.  Let's thank November for its time, and keep right on going.

We are writers.  Let's deafen the world with our roar!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Validation Day!!!

*ahem*  If you have passed your 50,000 word mark on your program (I recommend going over by at least 1-2,000 words, because the NaNo Validator is usually different from your program's word count), you can go to your "Update Novel Information" page.  Under the Update Word Count thing on THAT page, there will be a link to validate your novel.  Click that, copy/paste your work (or your work that has been garbled, if you worry about it being stolen) and validate!

It is not in the most obvious place.  Here's where it is on my screen.  :)

Today is the first day you can get your winner prizes, the first day you can validate.  You get a cool purple bar that says WINNER! instead of your word count ticker, a fun "Congratulations!" video to watch, and good stuff for doing awesome work.

You can get your links to freebies and promotions, though many of the options are available to participants, even if you don't make it.  You just get a different % off, for most of the offers.  Some are winners only, though!

The OFFERS page shows what you can get as a winner.  And the winner shirt will be up soon.  The page link was broken last I checked.  But this is the link, just in case it is working now.

And if you are not yet ready to validate, KEEP GOING!!!  You have 5 whole days left.  You can do it!!!

Good Luck!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Over the hump

We're more than half way there, NaNobots.  Take a deep breath, revel in your word count, and be PROUD of what you have done so far.  I don't really even care if you're nowhere near the word goal for today.  You know why?  Because you did SOMETHING, and that is better than the nothing you would have done before, yes?  That is a good thing.

If you are ahead, or even have passed the 50,000 word mark, what is your goal now?  Are you trying to hit a different count by the end of the month?  Finish your story?  If you did "win" and your story is not done yet, you really should make yourself another goal!  Challenge yourself all month, whatever that means.

For me, I am aiming to write a decent amount every day, finish my story, and I assume it will be at or over 100,000 by the time it's done.  I'm trying to wake up right now, and will spend my day sprinting to try and get ahead.

If you are behind, keep at it!  Every word counts.  Get yourself a good cup of coffee, or tea, or cocoa, and relax.  This is only a competition between you and what you have done before.  Don't let the huge word count club discourage you.  They have been where you are now.  They had to figure out how to press on, too.

Now!  Are you finding yourself a little stuck?  That tends to happen about now.  The beginning is over and the middle slows things down some, and you can't see how to get it to the end, right?  If you know what your end IS, that helps a lot.  What are some basic steps to get you from middle to end?  Or beginning to middle, if you are still getting started?  Think it out.  Take your time, because taking a morning to think it out will save you days of writing funk, later.  And if you still have no idea?  Just keep it going!  You will figure it out as you write.  These stories tell themselves.

We're just along for the ride.  And that, my friends, is the magic of writing.  So sit back, enjoy your hot beverage, and get back to work!  :)  We'll see you in a few thousand words!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I write, therefore I am. Or something.

The other day I was on my way back from a write-in.  I'd been there 12 hours or so, and my husband was a little irritated at how long I'd been gone.  He said, "Well, the good news is, you'll win soon, and then you can stop."

Uh, why would I stop?  Stop what?  Stop writing this book?  It won't be DONE at 50,000 words.  It might be around the halfway mark, but will likely be longer.  Or, stop writing?  Good luck with that one, buddy, you married the wrong girl.

I did, in fact, end up hitting 50,000 last night.  I'm SHOCKED at how fast it came, how easy it was for me this time, and how well I like the story.  It just flows, writes itself, surprising even me at the turns it chooses to take.  My new love interest that I was setting up in my head?  Totally not who the MC went for.  Interesting!

I have a feeling this story will be in the 110,000 range, and that's perfect for it.  I do need to start getting down and dirty with it, make things happen, change the face of the world.  Once I finish my current scene I think I will go that direction.

But yeah, dude, if you want me to stop being so obsessive about it, I get that.  But writing is an element to me.  Like water.  Or oxygen.  Or chocolate.  It won't just go away.  I write, therefore I am.  Or something.

Anyway.  Happy graph time!!  YAY!!

Now!  No whining because you're not this far or never could manage it.  I scraped by my first try.  Second, I failed.  Third, I figured out my plan ahead of time and worked toward it, and did managed to pretty well.  But this year, the story is POURING out of me, demands to be told, and is terribly fun.  :)

My daughter said the other day, "It can't be easy for my characters, because if everything is easy for them, the book will be boring."  That is so true, as well.  I had to make things happen.  Lots of things needed to happen.  So, that's what I do.  I make them happen.  

And you can too.  You can do this.  One word in front of the other, and you will get there.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Write-ins, fun and games, yessir

(not our local group, another NaNo write in group, hard at work)

I've been a little distracted from posting a blog post for the last few days because... well, I discovered my local NaNoWriMo region group and how much fun write-ins can be!!

There is this awesome local bookstore that is also connected to its own publishing house, and they are hosting write ins all month.  Most days between 1 and 6pm, someone will be there, for sure, and people can come write as much as they want.  There is a little snack bar if you get hungry, you can get coffee or tea if that sounds good, and there's almost always another writer in the room working alongside you.  Someone to bounce ideas off if you need to make a choice.  Someone to word war with.

There's a giant blackboard wall to write word counts on as you go, for NaNo, or quotes from things you're reading otherwise, which is fun.  You can see other people's counts even if you can't make it for a day or they aren't there, so you have a little in person way to keep track with the people you're working alongside.

We cheer each other along as we reach our goals, for the day, for the overall goal, for random milestones.  We help the girl who has never been drinking better understand what a hangover feels like, explain the ambiance in a bar, or better yet, drag her down the end of the strip mall to take her inside a little dive bar for a few minutes while one of us (me) has a drink to calm down after killing off a beloved character.

We cry as we write, fight for the best word count, and let the children of the writers play quietly in the other room while we work.  We bring each other's word counts up as we all trudge along, and together, we make each day's goals and then some.

This is just my little local group, and there are others who prefer to meet at Panera and write there.  I would be too distracted.  This is a perfect fit for me.

BUT, the point, I guess, is to get involved in your local group if you're not yet.  Start one if there isn't one.  There's NOTHING better than writing with other writers.  Writers understand.  :)

Now, get back to work!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Past, Present, Future, 1st, 3rd... What's the best? It all depends!

There are long drawn out conversations on the merits of Third Person Past point of view, or First Person Present, First Person Past....  You rarely see future tense unless it's in dialogue, and I have wondered on occasion if there is a reason for that.

I think Third Person, and Past are probably the most common tenses on their own.  But that would be a guess based on what I have read.

First person is more intimate and less common, but it really works for certain stories.

Really, rather than trying to fit a mold, I personally think it is best if you find the voice of the STORY you are telling.  Maybe it needs to be told in past tense with a future person looking back, because it is the story of that character's childhood or something, and you flash forward to their adult life and what they learned "that summer by the lake" or whatever.  Or maybe it's like the Hunger Games, told first person present, so you FEEL her pain and hear her thoughts.  It is a compelling point of view, and I know it affected me deeply, reading her emotional moments, and knowing how she was trying to hide them.

But that isn't for every story either.

There is no "one best" point of view.  If you want to know the most common point of view for the genre you are working on, google is your very best friend.  There are all kinds of studies out there showing what works for that genre and why.

So, don't worry so much.  Just write your story the way it wants to be written.  If you decide you hate it later, you can change it later in editing.  But write it the way it flows the best to YOU.  You are the master and controller of the universe.  Put it under your control!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writer = Crazy. But that's okay.

There are moments, when writing, that make you seem like a completely crazy person.

You find yourself talking about your characters like they are real, and they ARE, at least to you. You grow attached to them, don't want bad things to happen to them, and are sad when their lives are not going well.

You might have your coworkers looking at you like you need to be medicated (Like I was for a while today, myself...). You might have to defend your obsession with word count, or find yourself talking about the book too much. Or lament things you have to do to your characters, like I was doing today.

Why lament?  Well, I have to do a terrible thing today, and most people do not understand. I'm 23,000 words into my current book, and I am struggling with moving from beginning to middle. The character I was trying to push over the edge just wouldn't *break*.

Last night, it hit me. I know what I need to do. But I don't want to. It's horrible. And sad. But I have to do it. The father needs to break, emotionally, and leave his family. Depression isn't doing it. So...

I have to kill his 5 year old girl. She is sweet, and kind, has bad dreams about monsters. She still mispronounces marshmallows, loves snuggling on the couch to read books, and carrying the cat around like a baby. And she has to die, or he will never leave. And the story will not work unless he leaves.

*steels self to head out for a writing gathering (a NaNoWriMo local write in) at a small bookstore, and kill off a lovable character while crying in public*

But it's okay. We writers understand. These feelings are valid, and it's difficult to do these things.

Just remind yourself. If you are this attached to the characters, if you cry while you write the horrible things in their lives, if you bleed on the page, it will come through in the writing. Your readers, later, will thank you for it. Because it will be real. It will make them feel something too. And that, my friends, is the mark of a great book.

Be strong!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I give you permission: STOP WRITING.

US citizens over the age of 18:  STOP WRITING.  For just a moment.  Get out there and vote.

You probably have a couple hours left.  So get out there and do it.

You cannot complain your voice does not matter if you refuse to raise it.

Your voice counts.  Use it.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Writer's Block: The Myth

As Chuck Wendig, my very favorite unconventional, crass, irreverent  but still somehow motivational writing guy has said many times, Writer's Block Does NOT exist.  (Great NaNo blog post here).

You can be blocked. Everybody gets blocked. But it’s not special. It’s not unique to writers. It doesn’t deserve its name or the credit it receives. More importantly, it isn’t a physical thing — it isn’t a gorilla with a croquet mallet who smashes your hand every time you reach for the keyboard. You can get past it. You think past it. You write past it. You kick it in the teeth and step over its twitching body.

I have days when I don't want to work.  Work being the food court where I served up hot dogs, or worked in the coffee bar, or the service desk helping people return stuff.  Or writing.  It doesn't matter...  You don't want to work sometimes.  That's okay.

But it's not an excuse to hide behind.  If you are stuck, that's okay.  Do research, write your way out of it.  Or move to another part of your story and come back to it.  But don't use it as an excuse.

"I can't write, I have writer's block."  Um, no.  You're choosing to let your situation dictate your actions.

YOU are in control of yourself.  If you want to write, you will write.  You might still be stuck at the end of your writing, and that happens sometimes.  Research, ask questions to help figure out your problem, get help if you must.  But if you use being stuck as an excuse to give up?  I have no pity for you.

Sorry, but I don't.  You can do this.  You have the power.  You are allowed to change your mind or change the story and fix your problem so it isn't a problem anymore.

I'm not saying to delete.  No.  Strike through.  Keep that word count, you might need those words later (either for the almighty word count, or for your awesome way of putting the words in a certain order right there).  But work around it.  Find your way out.

Your story might be a maze...  but it's not a box with no exit.  Work for it, damn it!  Prove to yourself you CAN do it.  Because you can.  *nod*

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Writing Music, my gift to you

There are lots of questions going around, what do you write to?  So I'm going to give you my links.  These are soundtracks I put together over on ~  It's a free listening service, you can pay to have no ads if you prefer, but it can be free if you don't want to pay or don't mind the ads.

Anyway.  These are all my different playlists.  Free to listen to, free to share, free to copy to your own playlist.  I love writing to these different lists, and there's something here for every mood you need to set.  I pick something with the right FEEL to it, and play that.  So!  Here you go!  Feel free to use whatever you want!!  :)

And if you have some you love, share!!  We can always use more inspiration!

Happy Writing!

So you work all day. How do you have time to keep up!?

I totally get it.  I work.  I have two kids.  I like to cook a real meal for dinner, keep up on the laundry, and not let the house fall to pieces while I try and write.  So, being busy like that, how do I find time to write!?  This is such a common question, and a BIG problem for many people.

So what DO you do?  I have a few things that really work for me!  :)

Do you have a smart phone?  You could get a memo application for free, and write down your ideas quickly while on break at work, or in lulls during the day/between customers/between phone calls.  You could bring a laptop or a notebook with you to write notes down on during your lunch and/or your breaks.  Get yourself a special notebook that is fun to look at, for inspiration.  (I let my kids pick out their very own notebooks this year too, since they're writing with me!  They thought it was AWESOME!)

If you have that memo application on the phone, you probably also have a voice-to-text option.  You can talk into the phone and it will translate your words to the page, so you can give yourself notes between traffic lights on the driving you have to do.  It might make note taking go faster in any case.

And if there's no memo application, you could likely find a "voice memo" application to use instead.  Like an old fashioned tape recorder!  :)  Heck, I have one of those too, and that would work just fine as well!  A phone is just less bulky and easier to hide at work.

Really what it comes down to...  keep the story moving in your head.  Plan while you cannot write.  Think about where you are going next, so when you DO get home and CAN sit down to write, you know what you want to say.  It will make your writing time much MUCH more productive.

Sitting at home all day with no plan in mind, blank page in front of you and no idea what to say is no more productive than being at work all day.

And if you have not yet, try finding someone to word sprint with!  You set a time to start, set a length of time to write (my favorite is 20 minutes.  Long enough to really get somewhere, but short enough I can usually focus uninterrupted, then go check on kids, etc)...  and write.  You share your word counts from your sprint, and rally each other on.  There are sprinters all the time on the NaNoWriMo Facebook groups.  Join up!  Get moving!  :)  And good luck!!

All Hail! The Daylight Savings Gods have offered up a gift!

Oh, thank you, Daylight Savings Gods.  We praise you for the additional hour, and making us feel awake earlier in the day.  It is a natural advantage while we work toward our goals!

I love this.  I wonder if the NaNo people planned it this way on purpose.  I woke up, on my own, by 7am today.  Heck, I lay in bed thinking about the really crazy dream I'd had (and will probably never use...  but am going to write it down anyway!), not wanting to get up for a while.  Waiting for kids to be done in the bathroom so I could use it.  (yay for one bathroom houses!)

Anyway.  I don't usually get up this early.  But here I am.  Because of the gift of an hour.  Coffee just beeped at me to say it was done...  so off I go!  :)  Hooray!  Extra writing time today!!

Use it well!  ;)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNo Challenge! Magic in the Trees

I used to do those awesome challenges every week, then got really busy and had to stop.  It wasn't fair to participants when I didn't have time to judge everything in a timely fashion.  SO!  This is a similar idea, but mostly to be used for self challenge.  I'm going to give you a photo, and you try to add it into your NaNo book sometime in the next few days.  Then, give us a clip from your story to show how it was used.

You can take the picture and incorporate it into a dreamscape for a character.  It could be a location, something they eat/drink, be a memory...  your choice.  Just see if you can find a way to use it and then share.  :)  Just for fun, to help us move that word count along!

SO!  First photo!  :)  I'm going to call this one...  Magic in the Trees  (click image for larger)

Okay!  So, this is Saturday.  Let's try to use it by end of day Monday?  Go!  Good luck!!

Rise to the challenge

This morning, bright and early (despite it being my day off work) I'm up and moving.  Trying to wake up some and am jumping into the page.  Part of why I'm here, I guess.  Anyway, I popped over to the NaNoWriMo website this morning and found a pep talk.  I know some of you will have read it, and others won't read any of your messages over there unless they're personal.  In any case, today I read it and this was worth noting:

I got up every morning before work (the alarm was set for 4:30) and wrote two pages before I went into the warehouse. And then, when I arrived at work at 7:00 to punch the time clock, I received my daily so-you-want-to-be-a-writer pep talk from a coworker.
Let's call him Bob. (Even though his real name is Gary).
Bob wanted to be a writer, too. But he wasn't writing. Every morning we had the same exchange.
Bob: "How did the writing go?"
Me: "Fine."
Bob: "How many pages did you write?"
Me: "Two."
Bob: "Do you think Dickens wrote two pages a day?"
Me: "I don't know how many pages Dickens wrote a day."
Bob: "Yeah, well let me tell you something, you're no Dickens. So what's Plan B, babe? What's Plan B for when the writing doesn't work out?"
For this question, I had no answer.
I turned my back on Bob, pulse pounding, fists clenched, and climbed the stairs to the third floor and started picking books.
When the alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning, I thought about Bob and that is part of the reason I got out of bed.
It is a truly excellent to have someone to believe in you and your ability to write.
But I think it is just as helpful to have people who don't believe in you, people who mock you, people who doubt you, people who enrage you. Fortunately, there is never a shortage of this type of person in the world.
So as you enter this month of writing, write for yourself. Write for the story. And write, also, for all of the people who doubt you. Write for all of those people who are not brave enough to try to do this grand and wondrous thing themselves. Let them motivate you.
In other words, do it for Bob!
Your friend in writing,  
Kate DiCamillo

You have a Bob in your life.  I know I do.  I have plenty.  People who look at me like I have three heads when I say "this is my day job, I write too."

Now, I'm a little different from Kate, here, because I am not sure I will ever be full time with the writing.  I might try for it in the future if things line up, I suppose, but my day job provides nice steady income, insurance, and distraction with PAID people-watching time.  That is pretty sweet.  And I'm able to keep myself part time, working while my kids are in school.  So that's also pretty sweet.

I have writing time if I get up early, after work before kids get out of school, and in the afternoon/evening while they do homework and after bedtime.  Right now, my goal is to write SOMETHING every day.  Maybe I should set a two page goal.  I know when I set a goal for myself and I don't reach it, I make myself angry.  Because I'm absolutely capable of that goal I set.

NaNo, for example.  This year, like last, I'm not allowing myself to be UNDER the daily goal at all.  I try and write ahead so if a day is busy (like yesterday), I don't have to stress myself out too much to meet it.  I'm close for yesterday's goal, so I will write ahead today.

Anyway, Bob, you suck.  But you also make us strive to do better.  To do more.  So, thank you, Bob.  I like a challenge.  ;)

So!  What spurs you on more?  Positive reinforcement, or a nay-sayers?  Have you grown your thick writer skin yet?  ;)

(Don't really feel all that more awake, and I bet my rambling kinda shows that...  time to set the coffee maker.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

You need the bones.

I told my daughter something last night and thought I'd pass it along.

She commented that she keeps changing tenses.  First of all, the fact she understands tenses and that she shouldn't be changing them is amazing.  The kid is 9.

But anyway, she is concerned because she is doing it and was grabbing an eraser to fix it, since she's hand writing it.  I told her not to worry about it now.  Just write.  She looked at me funny like, how was she supposed to ignore problems like that now!?  It's distracting!

Well, yes, it is, but during NaNo, you don't delete.  You press on.  Fix it later.  Write it now.  Get it out.  Get it on paper.  Fix it later.

She still looked confused so I told her:

You need the bones.  First you need the part that makes the story strong.  Beginning, middle, end.  Get that out.  The rest is just fluff.

The meat is the characters and how strong and real they are, how good the details are and how real you can make the whole thing.

The skin is the spelling, what we often see first, but really it's just window dressing.

What you're worrying about is hair and make up.  You need the bones first.  You can doll it up later.

She chuckled, and continued on, and put that eraser down.  Good girl.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This year, it's a family affair.

I have kiddos starting their NaNo stories just like me.  Tonight we went to the store and bought a batch of brand new pencils, they each chose a special notebook just for NaNo, and my daughter sits beside me at the table pouring over a baby name book.  She is naming her characters.

We discussed plot ideas, the importance of writing our ideas down (Miss Anna, 9, nearly forgot her idea entirely by NOT writing it down!), and that it is okay to write fan fiction if they want.  Mr. Aaron, 8, is going to be writing a Harry Potter fanfic.

But, regular homework must come first.  I'm keeping the boy's Spiderman notebook until he finishes his spelling list, and writes out his reading log.  I might have to confiscate it at the end of each day so we start fresh on these projects each day.

In any case, my kids, 8 and almost 10, are BOTH joining me for the first time ever.  Anna gave it a half-hearted try last year, and gave up all too soon.  She would have met her goal had she continued.

I look forward to seeing their ideas come together and help them tackle their problems within their plotlines!  This is going to be a fun year!

NOW!  If only they'd stop talking aloud about their own ideas so I could think about mine!!  LOL

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You can do this.

Repeat it to yourself if you worry.  If you are staring at the blank screen, waiting to figure out what words come next.  If you can't think of that perfect word you need just now.

If you worry, know you are not alone.  Everyone worries.  That it won't be good enough.  That you won't finish.  That you'll get sick or distracted or stranded on a desert island with nothing more to write with than a stick and the sand.

It will never be good enough if you don't start it.  Or if you just let it go half way through.  You will never be able to make it good enough if you don't finish your first draft and move on to editing.  Here's a little trade secret:  No matter how good you feel your first draft is?  It's crap.  It honestly doesn't matter who you are.  Your first draft is crap.  You make the book in the editing.

You will never know if you can finish in the 1 month time frame if you don't try.  And hey, if you don't finish the first draft in that frame...  you can finish it after!  :)  Also...  if you don't manage to meet the official word count (50,000 words seems really big at first!!), just think of it this way.  You did a lot, in a short amount of time.  And that's something.  :)

If you plan a little in advance to get a few hundred words ahead every day, and you get sick?  You're covered.  If you get distracted, unplug.  Do a word sprint.  Turn on music and don't let yourself stop writing until an entire album is done.  You are in control of this.  You control yourself.  You control your word count.  You don't have to let the words rule YOU.

Now, that desert island thing?  Sucks to be you.  Hope you have flares.  ;)

NaNoWriMo begins at Midnight!!!

Are you ready?  What is your plan for this year?  Are you going to plot or pants it this go round?  Plotting being planning out your story ahead of time, and pantsing being flying by the seat of your pants and just going with it as it comes.

Really both options are valid.  I've won both in NaNo ways.  In some ways, for me, plotting is a better idea. The year I pantsed it (that's totally not a real word and no I don't care!), I wrote the beginning to book 1 of a trilogy.  I need to finish book 1 after NaNo this "year".  Meaning, between NaNos, I want to actively work on that book and finish it, and get the second (and third!) planned out.

But the idea, while the beginning came to me, was slow to mature.  It was difficult to know where it was going.  I had my characters and their reasons for behaving the way they did, but I had no earthly clue where the story was going.  I ended up repeating myself a LOT and upon editing I will have to tear out a lot of stuff.

I thought I was being so clever...  Turns out, being clever is not what you want!  I was trying to tell the story from different points of view.  And then when I read some of the books in the Game of Thrones series (I'm still behind!), I realized the way he did it might work, but the way I was doing it did not.  I was repeating myself, not moving the story forward from one set of eyes, then bouncing back.

I was doing it that way so I could keep the word count up while continuing to have NO idea where it was all going.  When I finally got my hook, it was about half way through the book, and it really picked up from there.  If I had put some thought into it ahead of time, I would have known what the hook was, and been able to write toward it.  It would have made it easier on me, come editing time.

Anyway!  So, pantsing can work, and I know many people who it works very well for!  If you have a general idea, maybe start there, but see if you can think a few steps ahead.  Have an idea for where you are taking it all.  It will probably help you along the way.

And if you are plotting, get it written down NOW!  Today is the day.  After all, I don't count my notes in my word count.  It's not the story.  It's the notes.  So I can do that today.  Unfortunately, this happens to be my very favorite holiday, AND I work all day.  Well, Professor McGonagall works all day for me...

And she will be busy handing out candy all evening.  Alas.  I will have to wait for the trick or treaters to move along before I can really type it all out.  But I have notes in my phone to get me started, and a very basic plot in mind.

Heck, I've told my basic idea to several people, and most of them demand to read it RIGHT NOW.  So, I'm guessing, as long as I don't flub it up too badly, this one will go far.  :)  Just have to get it moving!

If you want to see, or friend me, or whatever, this is me over on NaNo.  And be warned, the website is going to be BOGGED DOWN today.  Keep trying and you'll get through.  :)

Happy Writing!!  Will post tips and such, just like last year.  But if you're impatient, you can search for NaNo in my handy dandy search bar up over there <<< and find last year's notes!  :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I have been away!  But I think of you often!  Just never seem to have the time to sit down and write out all these ideas in my head!

Quickie update!

The novel:  in editing.  I take it with me and highlight the crap out of it when I'm not at home.  There are many markings.  Much to be done.  Making  myself finish the highlight stage before I allow the rewrite.

Work:  Passed my certification exam and can now answer the phone, "X Pharmacy, this is Becca, pharmacy technician, how can I help you?"  This means I got a little raise and my hours are evening out at last.  I should have a lot more "free" time to use for this computer screen machine thing here.  And you.  (heart!)

Kids:  School is off to a BANG!  I have a 2nd and 4th grader this year.  The youngest turns 8 tomorrow.  Oldest will be 10 in 6 weeks.  Gulp.  They're getting older, and that means I am too.  Alas.

Pandas:  WoW is too much fun and sucking away my time.  Trying to not allow it, but it pulls me back in.

And finally, a fun list to fill out.  I stole this from another blog.  You can steal it too.  DO IT!  So here goes:

Current Books: Hunger Games, reading with both kids.  Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone, the boy is reading to me for his school reading time.  Also starting book 4 in the Game of Thrones series, and dabbling with Sookie Stackhouse and Dexter.  That's all for now.  I think.  Maybe.
Current Playlist:  Soundtracks are the best, of course.  And Call me Maybe, which makes me think of this lovely (and offensive if you are uptight) video, which I share with you now.  This man is made of happy.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Coffee.  I have too much coffee.  Also, chocolate.
Current Colors:  Loving the autumnal colors.  This time of year is awesome!
Current Food:  Pumpkin waffles, soup and fresh bread, some warm sweet bread just finished baking...  I love this time of year for food!
Current Drink: Coffee, made in my ever so lovey Cuisinart Grind & Brew, mixed with some fall-ish creamer.  Caramel Macchiato, Pumpkin Spice, Peppermint Mocha, Hazelnut, York Peppermint Patty, or Irish Cream.  Tempted to add some Peppermint Mocha Kaluah or Bailey's in there every now and then, but I usually abstain.  Evening coffee at home before bed, sure, but nothing else.  *puts on halo and adjusts it*
Current Favorite Favorite:  Hot drinks and cold toes with good music and a good book (or game).  Wrap up all snuggly in a blanket and relax.  Teach my daughter to kick my ass at Mancala.
Current Wishlist:  The Harry Potter Wizard Collection Bluray Box Set.  Gosh, why can't I have it?  It's only $350.  Oh god.  No it's not.  That was the original price.  It's up to $599.  Shit.
Current Needs:  I need to get off the computer and go to bed.  And cry myself to sleep because I ruined my chance at the box set I've wanted for 5 years.  
Current Triumph:  I recently passed my Certification test.  So, I am now a Certified Pharmacy Technician.  And have to continue my learning so I can keep it.  Go go continuing education!
Current Bane-of-my-Existence:  Mount Laundry, the unattainable peak one must at least attempt to climb.
Current Indulgence:  Playing a little World of Warcraft.  I can't help myself.  Pandas are too cute!!  
Current Mood:  Bummed.  Stupid box set.  I hate you.
Current #1 Blessing:  Being able to spend more time with my kids and feel like I'm really getting the "mom" thing covered.  Felt like I was working too much for a while there.  And I was.  This is a better balance.
Current Outfit:  Half assed changed into jammies bit.  Hot pink jammie pants, my orange top from today, slippers, and my grey hoodie because it's getting cold out there.
Current Link:  Well, maybe if I cant have the box set, I can get myself the regular BluRay set and get myself something shiny from these lovely people...
Current Quote:  "Damn, it, Bobby!"

Current Photo:  We've been spending our evenings together.  My son reads at least one chapter of Harry Potter to us (to satisfy his reading requirement for school), and my daughter and I play games.  This is from last night.  We're about half way through Sorcerer's Stone.

And with that, I bid you all good night.  And may the snitch be ever in your favor.  Wait, no, that's not right...   ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Plague has ended, the fog has lifted, and I begin to rise again!

Yo.  Been a while.  I've been around, but mostly on my food & fitness blog:  ~  Lots of yoga, lots of juicing.  And then I went and got sick.  Great idea, that.  Highly recommend it.  Hanging out in bed, not being able to breathe, developing bronchitis while the kid gets an ear infection.  It's fun times.

I have slacked on the contest judging this past few weeks, and I'm about to remedy that.  I realized too, I ran out of pre-written contests, so this week we're running without one.  Need to filter through the pictures and get some more set up for Friday and later this month.

I'll post on each contest individually as I choose a winner, but I'll also pop up a this week, that week, etc list on a main post since it's been a while.

Sorry I'm such a slacker!  Well, really, not slacking all over, just easily distracted.  My bad!  :)  I am still around, I promise!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Double Rainbow

Welcome to the fourth weekly flash fiction challenge of Febuary!!  Here are the rules:
  • You have one week to submit if you want to be included.
  • You are up to challenge yourself AND win a copy of either my short story, Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer.  ALSO, If you win so often you run out of choices, I will offer my services in editing something of yours, so there is always incentive!
  • Your word cap this week is 800 words, so it's a little shorter, like last week!  That makes it a bit harder, but I think you can do it!  We'll work our way down shorter each month until we're awesomely churning out quickie stories like pros.  It is a good thing.
  • Your challenge for this week is something I am calling Double Rainbow.  Let the photo above be your inspiration!
  • Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 3-2-12, Mountain Standard Time.  Link us your story in the comment area!  Put it up on your own blog, or on a public note on Facebook or in a Google Document file.  Somewhere so we can all see it.  Make sure you link your story!  Just  to be sure it's not passed over by accident, missed, or not included in the contest!  Thanks!

Anyway!! Let's see what you've got!  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Frosty Path

Welcome to the third weekly flash fiction challenge of Febuary!!  Here are the rules:
  • You have one week to submit if you want to be included.
  • You are up to challenge yourself AND win a copy of either my short story, Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer.  ALSO, If you win so often you run out of choices, I will offer my services in editing something of yours, so there is always incentive!
  • Your word cap this week is 800 words, so it's a little shorter, like last week!  That makes it a bit harder, but I think you can do it!  We'll work our way down shorter each month until we're awesomely churning out quickie stories like pros.  It is a good thing.
  • Your challenge for this week is something I am calling Frosty Path.  Let the photo above be your inspiration!
  • Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 2-24-12, Mountain Standard Time.  Link us your story in the comment area!  Put it up on your own blog, or on a public note on Facebook or in a Google Document file.  Somewhere so we can all see it.  Make sure you link your story!  Just  to be sure it's not passed over by accident, missed, or not included in the contest!  Thanks!

Anyway!! Let's see what you've got!  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Canyon

Welcome to the second weekly flash fiction challenge of Febuary!!  Here are the rules:
  • You have one week to submit if you want to be included.
  • You are up to challenge yourself AND win a copy of either my short story, Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer.  ALSO, If you win so often you run out of choices, I will offer my services in editing something of yours, so there is always incentive!
  • Your word cap this week is 800 words, so it's a little shorter, like last week!  That makes it a bit harder, but I think you can do it!  We'll work our way down shorter each month until we're awesomely churning out quickie stories like pros.  It is a good thing.
  • Your challenge for this week is something I am calling Canyon.  Let the photo above be your inspiration!
  • Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 2-17-12, Mountain Standard Time.  Link us your story in the comment area!  Put it up on your own blog, or on a public note on Facebook or in a Google Document file.  Somewhere so we can all see it.  Make sure you link your story!  Just  to be sure it's not passed over by accident, missed, or not included in the contest!  Thanks!

Anyway!! Let's see what you've got!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Aspiring Novelist? I say NO.

You are not a FLEDGLING author. You are not an ASPIRING writer. If it is what you are made for, what you have always been meant to do, you ARE a writer. You ARE an author.

Embrace it. Don't be scared of it. Don't let people look at you funny when you say it, even at your "regular job".

If this is who you are, run with it. Be it. Show them that you can. Don't let them look down their noses at you. This is more than a mere dream.

Dress for success, online!  Set up your author pages, make your blog, create a web page.  Make a presence for yourself.  Let your name be heard.  Let them hear it and know that it means "writer".  Even if you don't have anything officially published yet, don't let that slow you down.

Search for yourself and click on the right link when you finally find it on the eighty-second page.  Bump it up, slowly but surely.  :)

Don't just sit there and say, "I want to be a writer."  That implies interest, maybe even a little desire.  But it is not enough.

Don't just "want".  DO.  If you want this, grab it by the collar, stare it in the face and DARE it to tell you that you can't.  And if it does, slap it.  Hard.  Tell it to shut it's cake hole, because you know better.  You are writer.

Roar, damn you!

Little plug for the kiddo.

My 9 year old, Anna, is doing Jump Rope for Heart, earning money for the American Heart Association.

Please consider donating what you can to her cause! Thank you! :)