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