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NaNoWriMo & Infidelity

 

peeking

Since I bashed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last week, it’s only fair to write a positive post.

First, a confession. Up until my first NaNoWriMo, I suffered from a crippling affliction that many authors share—story infidelity.

I’m ashamed to admit that my writing process would invariably unfold the same way. Initially, I’d be super excited about a book concept. For weeks, I’d do nothing but worldbuild. Then I’d develop my characters and their backstories to the point that they felt like real people. I’d even have conversations with them (it’s one of many traits shared by writers and the mentally ill).

After all this prep, I’d gleefully skip to my computer, sit down, and write. And write. And write. Until I got to the 40% mark in my book. At that point, I’d slam into a brick wall. Writing stopped being fun… It became work.

My characters would start to annoy me. They were no longer exciting and compelling. I knew exactly where they were going and I didn’t care if they got there any more.

Suddenly, I’d find any excuse not to write. There would be an irresistible need to watch videos of cats falling on toddlers for hours…

Then, a new book concept would come to me. It would be so much sexier than the first idea. It boasted that it was a best-seller and spoke in an thick european accent that sent goosebumps across my skin.

I’d try to resist.

I must finish the first book, I’d tell myself. So what if sitting down to write it is as fun as getting a root canal. How can I be an author if I don’t finish this book?

But the characters from the second book would invade my dreams. They’d whisper their backstories to me while I was working on scenes from my first book. They’d flash me an enticing glimpse of their world. Soon, I’d fantasize about them and their exciting story arcs.

Not too long after that, I’d give into temptation. I’d shelve the first book and start worldbuilding the new story.

Rinse and repeat.

By the time I accepted my first NaNoWriMo challenge, my hard drive was filled with dozens of partially written manuscripts.

NaNoWriMo changed all that.

The rules of NaNoWriMo are simple. You must write 50,000 words in a novel or fail.

So that November, I sat my butt down in the chair and wrote. As anticipated, a brand new story idea started whispering seductively in my ear in mid-November. But this time, I couldn’t afford to be distracted. I refused to answer the phone. I ignored it’s texts. And when it invaded my dreams, I jotted down a few notes, and told it I’d get back to it later. Then I re-focused and kept writing.

Something really strange happened after I did that.

The story I was writing became interesting again. The magic and excitement swung back like a boomerang. And I finished.

Even though that NaNoWriMo novel may never see the light of day (see my earlier post), I finally learned how to write through the temptation. I was able to finished the next book. And the next.

NaNoWriMo cured me of my story infidelity and I’ll be forever grateful.

For a laugh check out Chuck Wendig’s blog for some off color NaNoWriMo tips (staying faithful to the story is number #9 on his list).

If you have time, check out my blog post on my recent interaction with an angsty fox.

 

I ain’t got no time for cupcakes!

I’ve written two books for NaNoWriMo. Both were ‘wins’ in the NaNo World. I hit 50K words during the month of November, but neither will ever see the light of day.

I love NaNoWriMo because it gave me a win. As a new writer, still wondering if writing was something I could even do, I needed a win. I needed to accomplish…something…but I knew that I wasn’t going to write a best-seller on my first go-round, or second or even third. I needed a goal. Something to shoot for. NaNoWriMo gave me that goal.

I went into them knowing fully well they were practice books. Little foothills on the climb up the slope. Try/fail cycles if you will. I needed to tell myself that yes, I can sit down, start a story, and finish it. I can see a character or two through a journey. Yes it will suck and no, my wife can’t read them because I’m too embarrassed, but they accomplished the intended purpose that I had laid out for them.

So what about this NaNoWriMo? Being my fifth book I’m still dubious that it will be publishable, but I can see a vast improvement in my own writing over the last four to five years. This might be the one, or the next one might be the one. I don’t know, and I don’t much care right now. I do know that I don’t need the ‘win’ like I did in years past, but I still like this time because it’s my ‘winning’ time. It’s become somewhat of a tradition. It also helps that this year I planned on writing a 50K word book…coincidence? I also outlined a ton, more than I’ve ever done before…but more on that next week.

Some things I keep in mind while doing NaNoWriMo:

First off, realize that this month of furious writing is really just a fun way for a bunch of people to get together and get their Great American Novel written. That’s it. Don’t read into it too much. It’s fun.

It’s a tool, one of many, to help schedule your time and focus your energy. Talk to your loved ones, explain your goals and that, even though you might be missing a lot during this time, you’ll be back in December and life will get back to…more normal.

Write. This, obviously, is important. You carved out that time, you’re missing your loved ones, do them proud by actually completing the project. No wasting time on the internet, playing games, etc. Write. Turn off the damned WiFi if you have to.

Don’t edit. Bar yourself from fixing misspelled words if you have to. Yes, to that extreme. I see you hitting backspace to fix that word! Don’t do it!

Your goal is to finish the book. Not fix words or ‘tweak’ anything. This is a chance to actually complete a book. So complete it.

You will have to edit, probably edit a bunch, but you will edit in December and January. Embrace that and be okay with the fact that you might actually say “I don’t know what to put here.” Into your text. Seriously, type that over and over so you don’t break your rhythm. I have done that. It’s amazing what your mind comes up with after writing that line four or five times.

But most of all, have fun. Enjoy it. Relish in the lack of sleep for a month as you pound out 1000 words an hour…You are writing a thousand words an hour aren’t you? Alright mister, time to take the backspace key off your keyboard…

NaNoWriMo And Cupcakes

Cupcakes

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is like baking cupcakes. If you don’t have a recipe (outline), or the right ingredients (craft), you can bake yourself fifty thousand of those suckers and they’re all going to taste like crap.

I know this from painful experience. During my first NaNoWriMo, I was swept away. I couldn’t stop the intense writing. The holidays couldn’t derail my passion. I spent every free moment glued to my computer. I kept writing and writing until the beginning of April when I finally wrote those magical words—the end.

I celebrated for a week. The chocolate and wine flowed freely. Then, I took a deep breath and started the editing process. I imagined this would be a bit like decorating cupcakes. Just add a sprinkling of commas and a few descriptive words and I’d be ready to send my gorgeous book baby off to meet the world. Quivering with excitement, I started back on the first prologue (of course my book had several prologues). By the time I got to the end of chapter five, I wanted to puke.

I couldn’t even make it through to the epilogues (of course I had several of those too). Tears prickling in my eyes, I had to face the painful truth that I’d just spend six months of my life writing 300,000 words of pure unadulterated sewage. All those hours of sleep I’d scarified. All that family time I’d missed. All those books I could have been reading. All those TV shows I could have been watching.

And for what? A train wreck of a book that belonged in the bottom of a file drawer for all eternity.

Ouch.

Many writing classes, conferences, workshops, books, and critique groups later I’ve come to the realization that without direction and skill drumming out words on a keyboard is about as productive as having deep conversations with a goldfish.

I don’t want to give NaNoWriMo a bad rap. It can help you learn self-discipline. That’s a critical skill to master for any successful writer. However, it will not teach you how to write well. And quality will always win over quantity (for both books and cupcakes).

So I will bow out of NaNoWriMo this year and focus on improving the quality of my writing. What about you? What has been your experience with NaNoWriMo?

If you have time, check out my blog post on happy endings: http://tararane.com/2014/11/13/happy-endings/

Are you ready for Nano? #AmWriting #NanoWriMo

 

National Novel Writing Month.

November.

Write 50,000 words in one month. Around the holidays.

That’s an average of approximately 1, 667 words per day.

I’ve attempted Nano three times, and succeeded twice. The first time, well, lets just say the results weren’t pretty. What helped me win was preparing before the month began – but then, I’m a plotter, LOL.

What I like best about Nano, though, isn’t whether I hit the word count or not, but diving into the habit of daily writing with specific goals in mind.

This year, I have a small goal. Write every day except for Sundays, and Thanksgiving. I’m not concerned with making the 50k, but I’m going to try for it 😀

With the last few months researching and building a new world and a new series, hopefully I’m prepared!

So, who’s doing Nano this year?

Have you done it before? How do you get ready for the push?

 

And if you’re interested, I’m higleyb on the Nano website if you’d like to add me as a friend

😀

~Amber Kallyn

Cool COVERS-Things That Go Bump For The Holidays–A Paranormal Anthology w/ @JamiGrayAuthor & A Touch Of Winter Anth. #newrelease #BlackOpal

*Jumping up and down with unrivaled excitement*

Guess what? Come on, guess! There’s something special coming for the holidays.

Don’t know, here’s some hints:

It’s coming December 14th, 2013

It’s part of larger gift

The givers are the most awesome group of peeps ever

Give up?

*clapping hands*

The greatest anthology EVER is coming out from Black Opal Books and I HAVE A STORY IN IT!

I’m proud to announce the impending arrival of:

THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS–A Collection of Short Stories

Check out the cover:

3D Paranormal Anthology

Isn’t it beautiful?

And look! I’m right there on the front!

And if that’s not enough to tantalize your taste buds, there’s a second anthology coming, because we couldn’t squeeze all that goodness into one book.

Oh no, we have another anthology: A Touch of Winter to encompass the rest of our great authors!  It’s coming December 14th as well!

photo

So make sure you add these to your TBR piles and lists, you don’t want to miss out!

And checking in for NaNo week 2–currently word count is: 15,893

Crazy=Nano? Not For This Nut Job

Eerie mentioned it before me, it appears to be that time of year that all of our writing friends go off the deep end and commit to the horror/wonder that is Nano. I chose not to participate this year even though I am planning on getting a large word count in November. You may be thinking “why not join Nano when it aligns with your goals?”

I’ll tell you why: I’m neurotic. There are certain things that drive me nuts. Having to write exactly such and such words a day without a day off for thirty day straight makes me want to write about as much an article on the best cupcakes in the world makes me want to diet. I don’t like being held accountable to someone else’s lofty goals. I have seen people go far beyond the 50,000 that most people commit to. Hell, even Snarky texts me giant word counts, often. That is a lot of pressure.

I have admitted on this blog regularly that I will often have a few weeks of productivity followed by periods of zilch. That’s fine. I always want to be better, but having a group of computer friends seeing my word count of lack thereof makes me ostrich. Ostrich is where I bury my head in the sand and ignore it all together. Though it really isn’t different than my texting Wicked and Snarky word counts, there is a certain accountability in those texts but there is also a lot of flexibility and a lack of judgment.

I honestly believe I will have a more successful month if I am not doing Nano. So to those of you that have done your training, strapped on your writing shoes and are racing towards the finish line, know that I am at the finish line holding an awesome homemade sign that says something along the lines of “don’t look back, there are zombies!” So many people walk away from Nano in a great place in their writing. I am hoping that you are one of them. In the meantime this nut job will be busy on her own manuscript.

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

IMG_1108

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?

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.

You Survived NaNo…now what?

So we’ve survived the madness that was NaNo and we actually did it! Consider it a major miracle.  I know the whole point of having this in November is to test your ability to meet your goal under severe duress, but seriously, folks? I think you’ve gone beyond severe, into freakin’ terrifyingly horrendous…but now that we’re done, what happens next?

Well there’s this minor celebration involving an overly decorated tree, hastily wrapped packages (some reappearing from last year), and a never ending stream of family and friends just “popping by” to get through.  If you could find the time to write during the wild halycon days of November, I promise, you can find the time in December.  Now, whether or not your brain is able to focus and make sense, well that’s another story.

I have to credit NaNo with getting me through SHADOW’S MOON’s mid point and well on the speed track of the last handful of chapters.  The goal is to have this first draft done by (what month is it or yeah…) December, get it out the other Evil Ones for dismemberment, then it’s onward to the polishing stage.  By end of January it should be winging it’s way out into the query world.  I will keep you updated.

Apologies ahead of time but my posts this month will be embarassingly short as something has to give and my family has already started to wonder who I am. 

So to keep the conversation going, what all do you guys have planned for this holiday season?   For me and mine, much celebrating with loved ones has the starring role!

Cooking , however, is no where on my list unless it’s a move to invite the local fire department over. 

Until next week…

Wicked

#NANO FINAL WEEK/COUNTDOWN!

YOU’RE ALMOST DONE! DON’T GIVE UP!

The battle is almost won! With only a couple of days left, write! WRITE HARD! I know you can do it!

Get your final numbers in and no matter if you hit the glorious 50K or not, know YOU ARE A WINNER! You’ve survived another year of NaNo, and I, for one, am so very proud of you all!

As a matter of fact I’m so proud that I have a special treat for next week!  Oh yes, I have a great guest post coming from none other than C.E. MURPHY! Yep, you saw it right! C.E. Murphy, the wildly wonderful authoress of such awe-inspiring stories as seen in the Walker Papers, the Negotiator Trilogy and the Inheritor’s Cycle!  So come join next week and let your cramping hands relax as we visit with Catie Murphy!

And for those curious minds, my word count as of 11/29/12 is now….50,870!

See you all next week and rejoice, you are now a NANO VETERAN!

–Wicked

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