Gearing up for NaNoWriMo? Here’s some links to check out…

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

It’s that time of year again, rushing up fast to knock us on our ass.

50,000 words in one month.

Not just any month, but November, with the begining of the end-of-the-year holdiays, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping… yeesh.

So how do you write 50k in one busy month?

Planning. At least that’s the key for me.

How much planning do you need? That depends on if you’re a pantser or a plotter.

I round up some links you might enjoy checking out to gear up in prep for NaNo.

Kristen Lamb has a whole Nano series going on last week, from making sure you have a road map, to getting to know your characters.

Jami Gold discusses Fast Drafting (as created by Candace Havens)

And an interesting post I found discussing NaNo ~vs~ Fast Drafting by Tori MacAllister, written last November.

~ Enjoy and happy planning

Procrastinating in the Writer’s Domain… #writerslife #writerselfie #writerdesks

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Because I’m procrastinating on finishing up my current WIP, as I’m tackling the ending for a THIRD time, I thought I’d share a peek into my cavern of creativity.   Above is a snapshot of my writer’s corner.

Let me break it down for you.

Front and center resides the jewel–my pretty, pretty Apple, keeper of all things.  Pictures, research, secret character facts, they all have their own little spots here.

To your left you will notice quite a few objects.  Mr. Depp keeps a wicked eye on things from his perch.  Below him is my collection of awesomeness from Eerie–my own Voodoo doll, my Mardi Gras Mask, and a card that helped me keep Xander and Warrick in perspective.

Below that treasury is my version of Harry Dresden’s Bob–my skull of knowledge, let’s call her Lulu, sitting on my coveted box of red pens (and purple and green).  Currently she’s supporting the Kyn Bible.

To Lulu’s left, we have posted words of wisdom from the ever so clever pen monkey, Chuck Wendig and the 10 Rules of Writing a First Draft all crowded around a reminder from my BFF, Ang, on why friends are such a great concept.

Now down on the surface of what was the very first kitchen table Knight and I ever bought we have a spread of randomness. There is the treasured Synonym Finder, a thesaurus must have, and a pile of papers. In this lovely pile you would discover the unique requirements for various blog hops in October, a blue notebook containing various story line options (sometimes it’s easier to write out where the story is going vs. typing it out), and a list of my latest Twitter followers to thank at a later date.  Crumpled in front is what happens when you suffer from the dreaded allergies.  There are pens everywhere.

Tucked under the precious Apple are the epitome of stereo surround sound-my headphones, a gift from Knight. Not only does it allow me to immerse myself into my chosen soundtracks, it blocks all those pesky outside noises.  You know the ones, “Mom, when’s dinner?”  “Honey, what happen to/where is/when are we/…” that will suck your creativity into a little black box.

Yep there are two other speakers as well, when I want to share my pulse pounding musical tracks with whoever may be around (or just drown them out).

A coffee mug (filled) and a glass of my preferred other drink (watered down lemonade). Both are essential in refueling both the writer and the muse.  Huddled behind those is the mini Apple,  my tool for traveling or when I must escape this writer corner. 

More papers on that, I think it’s an unpaid bill, another notebook with various information they tell you never to write down, (but who can keep it all straight unless you write it down?), a list of editors and agents for the next query, an a copy of my contract for WRAPPED IN SHADOWS, part of Black Opal’s Winter Anthology coming out in December.

Two mice (mouses?) and a keyboard and tucked behind the screen is my very first iPod (U2 version from like 10 years ago), for some reason I just haven’t given it up yet.

And there you have it, my writing cave, and since I’ve managed to burn through a few minutes, I guess it’s time to stop whining and get to writing.  Two weeks and this piece must be done and out so I can begin prepping for NaNo and SHADOW’S CURSE….

Now, I’ve asked this question of every guest I’ve had, so I’m throwing it out to you guys this time…

What is the strangest thing on your desk?

I Have to Do What?

So, I have hit the quarter mark in my third rewrite of my WIP. Huzzah! I know it’s early but I finally feel like the book is going in the right direction so I’m pretty stoked. I have a self- imposed deadline to finish this sucker by the end of September, because I have a list. Ugh, lists are the devil but they are often necessary. Why, you may ask, is the list necessary? Because finishing the book is only the first step in what I hope will be my grand career. So here goes:

1. Finish novel by the end of September.

2. Edit said novel.

3. Send to critique group.

4. Edit said novel again.

5. Write a kick ass query letter. Send out, and repeat as necessary.

That is only one list in the grand scheme of things. On top of trying to finish and send out this manuscript I also have some plans with Wicked aka Jami Gray. We are going to New Orleans in May for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. My hope is to have a contract by then but we’ll have to see what happens. Now in anticipation for the Convention and hopeful publication I have another list.

1. Start writing on my own personal blog.

2. Create website, which includes bribing my more tech savvy friends to help a girl out. In essence I know what I want for a banner but I need someone who is more skilled than I to make that happen. Also, there’s all that setting crap up, thing.

3. Get headshots for said website. Luckily on that front I know a guy (my dad enjoys photography in his spare time).

4. Get business cards (who knew a writer needed business cards).

5. Work enough to pay for all of the above and still have time to write.

I think all writers know that the yesteryear of writing a book in seclusion and then sending it out to a publisher and moving on to the next one is sadly gone. We need to promote ourselves and build an audience. We all hope that our book will go out and become an instant bestseller. Reality is rarely so kind, recall my previous post about dumb questions “Why don’t you just write the next Twilight/Harry Potter/ 50 Shades?” It is important to look at publishing as a business. I would write even if I didn’t plan hope that it would be my career, though in all honesty I would write less because it would be a hobby without deadlines.

The goal is to work sans pants so everything I am doing right now is to reach that goal. I’m hoping it will be fun along the way but it may be a hot stressful mess. I’m okay with that as long as everything gets done. It will, I am determined.

 

 

 

Problem Between Muse and Keyboard…

What do you do when your plot backs you to the crumbling edge of your story?

Do you throw your hands up and wave them like you just don’t care? (Sorry, the 90’s were visiting this week!)

Do you wrap your rappelling rope of character motivation around your leg and step back, praying it holds?

Do you scream like a little girl and jump?

Or do you push back?

Unfortunately, my storyline took me to task the last couple of weeks.  I’d get a couple chapters ahead, then she’d slap me back a chapter and a half.  I’d dodge around her, when she wasn’t looking, only to find myself face first in the dirt.

How did this happen to me? Well, it’s not because I’m a panster, because I do have a general outline of where my story needs to go, I know my characters and what drives them, and my world is very, very familiar. 

Nope, can’t pin it on any of the normal suspects.

So who was the culprit?

Um that would be the person between the Muse and the keyboard.  Will call her ‘The Operator’.  Seems The Operator decided we needed to do an entire scene of Q&A’s in this Paranormal Suspense. No matter how much the Muse or the characters threatened bodily harm, horrific turns of fate, The Operator determined a long, drawn out Q&A needed to be RIGHT HERE.

So Muse and the characters got together and managed to infect The Operator with a lovely serum of Second Guesses.  Since The Operator refused to listen, they decided to skew her POV. They sent her out on a ‘was’ hunt, because we all know ‘was’ is not a verb

Battered and bloodied, The Operator made it back to the dreaded chapter of contention. Tired, she decided she needed a shower to wash all the gore off.  In the midst of washing the was right out of her hair, a brilliant idea formed. 

Why not skip the Q&A? Why not just recapped it in a paragraph and move on.  Since it’s first person POV, readers could discover the information with the main character.  Besides, most of the characters’ pulses had leveled off, it was time to get their adrenalin pumping and move to the next BIG THING. 

Ecstatic, The Operator, dashed out of the shower, careful to keep a protective hand over her eyes, fumbled for a pen, jotted the idea down and realized the inside of her head had finally fallen silent.

Muse and characters didn’t let her hear their cheers, but they’re ready to proceed now that The Operator stop being a boob!

 

Feel free to share your trembling moments of impending disaster and how you escaped!

-Wicked

Where to Start

I’ve been trudging along, barely editing my book for the past few months.  Life, as always, seems to be getting in the way a lot, and when I finally have a chance to sit down and work on my book, it feels more like a job than it ever has before.  I know that’s what writing is, work, but it is also supposed to be work I enjoy.  Otherwise, why would I do it?  So, I have taken a bit of a break from my novel to play around with some other ideas and to read a little.

Reading is also usually a really pleasant way to pass my time, except that I’ve started reading some books written by an absolutely exceptional author who makes me feel motivated to write more.  The way she creates her world and her people is on a level that is awe-inspiring.  It makes me wonder how she created it all.  Did she spend months and months just mapping out her world and how it worked before ever putting pen to paper?  Or did she start writing a story and the world just came together for her?

The new idea I’ve been working on, that’s supposed to be my fun break from editing, now makes me pause.  I wonder if I should be mapping this world out carefully before writing, or just enjoying writing.

It’s all just a complicated mess where all roads lead right back to me not writing.  But, at least, in talking to my fellow writers, I’m not alone in my struggles to stay focused on my work.

Character or plot?

I’m a plotter, I can admit that fully. I like my little road map laid out before I begin writing, even though I know full well that at the end, the book probably won’t look much like my initial outline.

That’s because as I write, my characters take on their own personalities and decide from there on out where they’re damn well going to go.

But being a plotter, I still need to know quite a bit about my characters before I can start that initial outline.

I recently sat down to plot book 5 in my Heart of a Vampire series. I wrote two pages of outline before my heart sank and I showed it to Wicked.

She laughed.

My characters were wimps and the story was going nowhere.

Which is when I finally realized I didn’t know nearly enough about my characters to even begin plotting.

 

So, my Q4U: Writers – how well do you need to know your characters before you begin to write?

Readers – Are you drawn to books with more action oriented plots, or by great characters (or both)?

DISTRACTIONS DISTRACTIONS DISTRACTIONS

Greetings and Salutations loyal readers of the blog,

Last Friday was the first full moon of the new year and traditionally the Werewolf Monks preview their new wine then.  This years first full moon

FULL WOLF MOON

FULL WOLF MOON

has been called appropriately, the Full Wolf Moon.  As it happens Wicked Dwarf’s birthday fell on the next day so we combined the occasions by heading up to the Monastery for a party and a wine tasting.  The new wine is a dry red with a heady bouquet of cinnamon and cloves combined with the woodsy finish it was more than palatable.  It is titled Shadows Moon and its official release will coincide with the release of Jami Grey’s new novel by the same title.  That date has not been set, but we’re all looking forward to book three of the Kyn Kronicals, and of course  more wine.  I’ll keep you updated on when that is.  The wine was a big hit and many a bottle was emptied.  I had to carry Mischievous Raven home because he was to sauced to fly.  I believe Wicked, The Night In Slightly Muddy Armor, and some others had to spend the night at the monastery to sleep off the effects.

In other news around the Swamp, Anna Conda has returned from filming a new project for the BBC.  I for one am glad to see her gliding through the swamp again.  Anna’s passion is painting and she is planning a one woman/snake show down at The Swamp Shack next month.  I’ll keep you posted on that as well.

Today’s topic if you haven’t already guessed is distractions.

dis-trac-tion |disˈtrakSHən|

nouna thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else: the company found passenger travel a distraction from the main business of moving freight.• a diversion or recreation: there are plenty of distractions such as sailing.extreme agitation of the mind or emotions: he knew she was nervous by her uncharacteristic air of distraction.

Although I started the year with good intentions around focussing on writing I have been distracted.  A lot of my distractions are legitimate ones, such as work, the kind I get paid for and the kind I do around the cave.  This is not a bad thing, it is just a thing.  A thing as it says above, that prevents me from giving full attention to something else.  Writing namely.  This makes me irritable and discontent at times.  Making me a hard person to be around.

I can also be drawn away by any shiny object that rolls across my path.  This is worse than the above distractions because, I should be able to  control those impulses.  However I’m much like the dogs in the movie UP, when someone yells squirrel I’m off and running.  When I finally get back to writing I’m wearing the “cone of shame.”  (another reference from Up.)  The cone of shame itself is another distraction because it’s hard to concentrate with that thing hanging around your head.

All of which brings me to the start of a new month and a renewed commitment to get some writing done. Follow through on my final edits on the last novel and submit it around to publishers.  

Here’s what I am trying to take away from January.  One, when positive distractions occur, buck up, get them done and get back to writing.  When the someone yells squirrel and you lose a day running around looking for it, let that go, pass on the cone of shame and get back to writing.  Life happens to everyone and sometimes your priorities must shift.  Keep your priorities in the right order, then get back to writing.  Because writing is what we do, but it’s not who we are.

Todays quote comes from a gentleman from my home town.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”  Benjamin Franklin

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf

Ripping Apart Your Story…

It’s been a busy holiday here at the Swamp.  I did manage to finish my first draft of Shadow’s Moon, wrangled some interviews with really cool peeps (check out the Guest Post tab), clean out the pits known as the Prankster Duo’s rooms, and took a small breather from the job that pays the bills.  Now  as I wait to finalize guest post dates and prepare for the Bloggers Book Fair in February, I’m reading back through Shadow’s Moon and utilizing my red ink scalpel to finesse my creation before sending it out into the big, bad publishing world.  Currently I’m hiding out in my office of solitude, now graced with a gorgeous shiny 27 inch Apple, while Nerf bullets fly throughout our humble shack.  Knight in Slight Muddy Armor is holed up reveling in the adventures of a high school teacher who chooses to engage in a “questionable” job opportunity.  Even the  Garden Gnomes are hiding in their garden from the heated exchange of foam bullets wielded by five preteen males. Ah, yes, the year is off to a rousing start!

I’ve been asked a few time what my editing process is–the simplest answer: BRUTAL.  It never fails, I finish a story, type END and then feel like a limp dishrag.  I set it aside for a couple of weeks while I recover my strength and confidence.  I’m not sure about every writer out there, but I know that once I finish a story I’m suddenly plagued by insecurities.  Will anyone really like this story? Are my characters deep enough, real enough for readers to connect to? Does my plot resemble a colander, leaking story elements into the ether? Did I add extra arms/legs/body parts where they weren’t needed? The worries are endless and tend to get stuck on a mental loop that make that blindly bright white jacket with buckles look oh so inviting.

When I finally come back to the story, I sit down and read it from beginning to end, armed with my red ink scalpel and begin to answer all of those questions.  Add here. Slash there. Rewrite there because there’s no way in hell that character would EVER say that.  For almost two solid weeks I’ll immerse myself in the story, smoothing the edges, filling the holes until it shines.  Then I send it out.  Once my editor gets ahold of it, she sends it through at least three more brutal rounds in the editing ring.  Bloody and beaten, it will triumph, in the end unbowed but oh so much stronger than when it stepped into the ring.  I honestly don’t think a writer ever feels like a story is ever “perfect”.  Even if it’s out there, being consumed by readers, I know that if I sat down to read Shadow’s Edge or Shadow’s Soul now, I would change things.  Not that they need it, but because writers are constantly honing their skills.  That’s why you shouldn’t go back to what’s out there, but put those skills to work in what’s ahead or currently in front of you.

Snarky shared this awesome post this week with me.  It’s from one of my favorite writers, Chuck Wendig and his Terrible Minds blog.  When you have the time, check it out. It’s worth reading.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote from his post: How Chuck Wendig Edits a Novel:

“Writing is when we make words.  Editing is when we make the words not shitty.”

Until next week!

–Wicked

I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive,

Greetings and Salutations,

Allow me to paraphrase the great James Brown, I’m back and I’m proud.  First let’s get all of  the excuses out of the way.  Of course I was on vacation through the beginning of October, then the let down at coming home and of course jet lag took its toll.  And that was October.  In November I participated in NANOWRIMO, I did not make the goal of 50,000 words, but I did write.  And that my friends is what it’s really all about.   Half-way through November my bipolar disorder’s misshapen form crawled from the ooze it lurks in and I sunk into a depression, that thanks to the Mrs. Eerie, my friends, and my docs I don’t have to experience very often these days.  The effects of that depression are slowly waning and I’m feeling much more my self today.  The strain of the holidays and life and frankly some laziness filled out the rest of December.  And now here I am.

The rest of the Evil Seven carried on in my absence and we’ve even had a prestigious visitor to the Swamp in the form of C.E. Murphy.  Thanks to the hard work of Wicked Dwarf and Red Dwarf.  I must mention here that Mischievous Raven is a big fan of Ms. Murphy and thinks that he somehow inspired her book Raven’s Call.  Be sure to check that out when you’re cashing in your gift cards at bookstores, virtual and real.

Mischievous will be stopping by later to say hi and he will bring you up to date on all the news around the Swamp.  Until then let’s talk about writing.  There was a time when I wrote with a word count goal in mind.  I stopped doing that at some point, telling myself quality over quantity should be my goal.  The problem with that is it allowed me to become undisciplined.  I learned this lesson only after I was coerced, pressured, compelled, threatened, intimidated, dragooned, and railroaded into participating in NANO this year by the Evil Seven (it was mostly Snarky and her glossy Whip).  A writer writes, it is what we do.  If we are making excuses NOT to write then we are (let’s all say it together) NOT writers.  A published author once told me that you can’t fix a blank page.  And yet I allowed myself to drift into the realm of writing so little, I had mostly blank pages.  This year I have several objectives in mind, but the top of the list is to write with a goal.  Not an abstract suggestion, but a real number.  It may come in the form of hours or words I’m not sure yet, but it’s going to be quantitative.  And I’m giving the Evil Seven (I may regret this later) permission to hold me accountable.  Yes, that includes Snarky, and her whip too.

Hey Mischievous good to see say hi to our visitors.

“Greetings everyone.  It’s good to see you all.  Eerie, if I were you I’d wrap this up and get out of here Swamp Thing is looking for you and sheOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA does not look happy.”

How can you tell, she never looks happy.

“Trust me on this you do not want to be here when she arrives unless you have a carload of raw meat you can distract her with.  I’m outta here.”

Well it looks like I’ve got to be going.  Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll be back next Friday and we can talk about the Mayan Calender debacle and the new year.

Until then, as is our custom on Friday, I’ll leave you with a quotation.

“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you land among the stars”  Les Brown

Write On,

Eerie

NaNo Comes to an End, and Life Resumes as Normal

 

NaNo has come to an end.  I wasn’t able to meet my goal of 50,000 words, but there is always next year!  It was, however, a wonderful experience and really reminded me of how much writing I can get done if I prioritize it a little better.  How did you do?

It has been nearly a month without critiquing my fellow writer’s work, and without having my own work critiqued, so I have been very excited to get back to business as usual.  Our first night of critiques went really well.  I had thought, based upon my own writing, that our NaNo work wouldn’t be written at quite the same level it usually is, but everyone had wonderful submissions.

This got me thinking… if my fellow writers, some of whom have taken long breaks from writing, can write this quality of work in a month, what really holds us back as writers?  I think many of us struggle, feeling that our work isn’t good enough or isn’t going the way we want it to, but maybe just pressing forward and actually writing is half the battle.  Maybe when we get out of our heads and just write continuously, our work won’t be perfect, but it will get done, and often will be better than we even imagined.

So, I learned a valuable lesson during my first NaNo: most of the excuses we use to keep ourselves from writing are just that, excuses, and if we truly want to be writers, we need to push them aside and just focus on making writing a constant part of our lives.