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    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

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On writing Fast

Near the end of last week’s blog post, I alluded to the fact that you should be writing 1000 words an hour, and I stand behind that number. In fact, I double it, fold my arms, and stare you down into your side of the room because of my moral superiority.

2000 words an hour? That’s right, and you could technically do more if you put your mind to it. Or don’t put your mind to it, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m a busy man. I work for a living, IT, which frequently involves off-hour work, on-call schedules, patching, and myriad of other things. 60 hour work weeks are pretty normal. I have a wife. I have children, with lots of homework each night. I enjoy playing video games. I have a couple of my favorite shows I can’t miss, you know—normal person stuff. I don’t have a lot of time for writing each day, so I have to make the most of what time I do have.

My daughter, 16, is also doing NaNoWriMo with me this year. On weekends when we finally have some time to write together, she comments that I type quickly.

I asked her how fast she typed. Being of a generation that doesn’t take typing classes in school, she had never figured it out, so I challenged her. We found an online typing test and we took the test at the same time. She was around 60 words a minute, I came in a little higher at 70, but for the sake of this argument, let’s stick with 60 wpm.

I told her 60 wpm means if you typed for a solid hour with no breaks, you could reach 3600 words.

I usually write in 45 minute sprints then take 15 minutes to get a drink, take a short walk, refocus my eyes and what not. (You should be taking breaks from the computer).

60 wpm times 45 minutes is 2700 words per hour. See? 2000 words an hour, easily.

“But Tom!” You say.

And I fold my arms even harder and glare at you.

I know, I know. It’s hard to write at one word per second for a solid hour. I get it. It’s not impossible though.

There are three major things I do to help:

1. Plan ahead. Do some outlining, even if it’s a single paragraph telling you what will happen to the character that chapter. Something so you know where you are going with your story when sit down. I personally outline more than that, usually 3 paragraphs per chapter, and I also read the outline each day before I sit down to write so I know where I’m going today.

2. Re-read what you wrote the day before. This is something new I’ve done recently. It gets you focused on where your immediate story has been, so your mind is in the zone for what you need to write right now.

Advanced tip: take notes on a separate piece of paper, note issues you have or anything you already know you want to change. When you start writing you’ll keep the revised notes in your head and you can write like you had already edited the previous day’s content.

3. Write non-stop. This is the tough part, I know, but it is possible. Remember when I said don’t put your mind to it? That’s one of the tricks here. Fix it all in editing phase. Treat your daily writing sprint like it’s NaNoWriMo. Spew the words down on the page, you can always fix it later.

So does this work all the time?

Of course not. But I can get over 1000 words an hour most days. 2000 a couple times a week. I’ve even hit 3800 one time when I was really ‘in the zone’.

I have days where each word is a struggle too, where I’m lucky to hit 200 words. I will blog about tricks to get yourself writing next week.

The point of all this rambling math was to put words per hour into perspective. We all type much faster than we need to because our brains rarely keep up with our fingers. It’s important to realize that, if you turn off your internal editor and just let your fingers do the typing, it’s quite possible to attain 2000 in an hour.

For now though, I should be writing because *ahem* I’m behind on my NaNoWriMo word count for the month.

Accomplishments

Accomplishments are strange and powerful things. Whether it is a big or a small accomplishment, people tend to feel a great deal of pride when they achieve it. So what if all your accomplishments are long-term? How do you keep yourself motivated? And what if your daily accomplishments can never truly be accomplished?

The dishes are done! Nope, dirty again.

Laundry is finished. Oh, not anymore.

Are you raising happy, healthy children? Talk to me in eighteen years.

It is a strange thing to go from accomplishing things both big and small on a daily basis, to never feeling you’re accomplishing anything at all. I never thought it would bother me before, but I think it’s pretty normal not to consider the possibilities of something you’ve completely taken for granted. For example, other than a toddler, I’ve never seen anyone stand and flip a light switch on and off, just to watch the wonder of electricity. But if it were to be gone tomorrow, I think all of us would feel like fools for not appreciating it more.

This is my accomplishment-less life right now. I’m missing something I never knew I had before. You’d think this would make me even more reluctant to work on my book, since it too is a long-term accomplishment. But the strange thing is, I’m also developing a strange joy in working on things that seem to be somewhat unrewarding. I recently started a garden. I had help, but it was still a slow process. Yet, every day the children and I race outside to see the wonder of a plant having finally pushed free of the soil, and with it comes a strange thrill that as time passes, we will have created a garden of thriving lives. And whether it is the joy of seeing my children’s wonder, or the garden itself, I feel a strange sense of both joy and exhausted that my new accomplishments in life will be few. But very important.

Like my garden. And book. And children.

Unfinished Books

In the past few months, I’ve stopped reading two novels, less than halfway through reading them.  These books were both well-rated on GoodReads and were books I’d heard good things about.  But from the moment I picked them up, I struggled with poor writing quality and boring plots.  This got me wondering whether putting a book down before finishing it is a good thing or not.

Sometimes it’s true that a book or a movie can be amazing, but might start out a little slow, so should we finish every book we start?  Or is there a certain point where we’ve been given all the warnings, and we’re choosing to simply continue wasting our time.

I never used to stop reading books partway through, but since my reading time has become more and more precious, I’ve become far more protective of this time.  If I get past the first five chapters or so, and I’m still not enjoying the book, I feel a strange resentment towards the author for the time I’ve already invested into reading the book, and I put it down.

Now, this isn’t to say that every book I’ve ever put down has been a terrible book.  Not every person is right for every other person, and every book is certainly not right for every person, so I really shouldn’t feel any animosity towards a writer if I didn’t enjoy their book.  And, this also brings me back to the question I’ve been considering, could these books be amazing, and I’ve missed out terribly by putting them down?

What do you think?  Do you ever stop reading a book partway through, and if so, do you ever wonder whether you missed out on something amazing?

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- National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month!  We Evil Dwarves are proud to say we are participating this year (and November is ALMOST here).  I have prepared my blogs ahead of time with a plan, so I can spend November working on the second novel in my new series.  But, I do have some reservations.

First of all, you have to understand my writing process to understand why something like NANO could get me a little stressed, so here it is:

  1. Wake from an intriguing dream.  Write it down.  Mull it over.  Write it down again, with some of the weird that doesn’t make sense when you wake up stuff, gone.
  2. Start writing.  Understand my character and my world.  Adjust how the character changes what I originally thought.
  3. Stop writing.  Create a general outline for the remainder of the book.
  4. Start writing again.  Make it to about the halfway point in the book.
  5. Stop writing again.  Go back and edit/revise the first portion of the book.
  6. Rewrite the outline with more details, adjusting for the changes that have occurred during the writing process.
  7. Start writing again.  Write until the end of the book.
  8. Finally, the hardcore revising begins.

Okay, so I never claimed my writing process was neat and organized.  What is your process like?  Also, this is why I fear NANO so much.  I am expected to go against my obsessive writing behaviors and just write for an entire month.

I don’t know how successful I will be in this process.  Our expectation is to write 50,000 words in one month, BUT it has taken me three months to write the first 50,000 words of my current novel.

So, wish me luck!  I hope I can proudly say, come the end of November, that I accomplished my goal, but if I end up mumbling something less than 50,000 words as my accomplishment, don’t judge me too harshly.

Also, does anyone else plan to participate this year?

Tiiiiiiiiiiiiime Is Not On My Side, No It Isn’t!

 

 

Very few of us have the luxury of writing full time. We have jobs, school, kids (or at least I’m assuming some of you do), and general obligations that make finding time to write difficult if not a pain in the ass. Yet we’re here and we aspire to be that person who no longer works the nine to five or graveyard shift to pay the bills. I hope to one day be that person I also hope to finish my degree so I can set down the textbooks for a while. My goal is to not have to get out of my pajamas to work. I probably will get out of my pajamas but I want the option.

The past week with school back in session I find that I’m very stressed out trying to figure out when I can get it all done. I will admit I am not the best time manager and need to find a way to change my habits. I bought a day planner to try and organize but it is difficult as homework and my job as a server leave me with an erratic schedule at best. Then again many others have had the same if not worse schedules and have gone on to be best-selling authors; so please go ahead and have some cheese to go with my whine (I myself am a fan of goat cheese and gorgonzola.)

Since the stress has led to insomnia I have decided to ostrich a bit and pretend that writing a novel is easy and that the publishing world is all rainbows and ponies, at least for one more night before reality must again rear its evil head. To help me do this and so that you may join me on this magical journey I have for you the lovely and talented Jackson Pearce’s video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ_-TOJhXXk

I hope you all enjoyed that, and do take her advice and watch it while listening to “Do You Believe In Magic.”

So BZZZ Busy…

So looked at my calendar and realized that OMG I NEED TO GET A POST DONE!  So huge apologies for the very brief post this week but man, oh man, has it been busy. Small fires flaring up everywhere, the Prankster Duo turning my hair gray (not like it had far to go), and then just hours ago realizing that the third revision of chapter 2 for book 3 must be re-written.

And here’s why Chapter 2 is up for another rewrite and a small peek into a writer’s brain–

You have a rogue werewolf who’s chasing down his ex-girlfriend who’s dumped him and was out clubbing with friends before hooking up with a new guy.  Furball takes exception to the rival and leaves him in a bloody heap, not breathing.  Then proceeds to corner ex in a club.  There they argue and she turns her back on him and walks away. Now, what’s more believable?

A.  Furball gets mad, Xander confronts him and he proceeds to head to the alley and the rumble between him and Xander ensues.  This means the humans are still in the dark about the existence of shifters.

or

B.  Furball gets mad, Xander confronts him and he proceeds to lose control tearing apart the varied humans around him causing a panic which limits Xander’s ability to reach him.  When she finally does, they rumble admist a screaming storm of body parts and panicking humans.  Now Division gets called in, Warrick the Alpha gets called in and it’s one big cluster.

So which makes more exciting reading?

Yep, I’m with you..so back to the drawing board and we’ll start drafting Version B.

*SIGH*  Even with an outline this book is being a stubborn ass from the get go.  Just when I think I have it all figured out, my characters snicker, slap me across the face and dash away.

I love being a writer…

–Wicked

A day in the (summer) life of a wannabe writer…..

Since summer’s arrival just over a month ago, writing has alluded me like a $10,000,000 jackpot. Yes…spring has passed into a fond memory leaving me holding the reins to a teenage shuttle-you-wherever-you-want vehicle while standing in 113 degree heat. (don’t feel bad for me, I choose to live and sweat here. ) Okay, the kids actually NEED to be places, I get that. They are active and involved in life. So the story goes for another few years, at least. I’m sure when this phase of my life ends, tears will fall and so will my monthly bills.

At the close of business on May 26th, 2011, I turned into a mighty chariot (this image makes me feel better, so just go with it) and clocked in for work. It’s a job I secretly love, but don’t get paid for. It’s a job I show up for every day with little or no appreciation or acknowledgment. In the summer, my downtime is split up into tiny increments that discourage creative flow and hamper one’s ability to connect the dots, let alone to a muse.

An average summer day goes something like this: wake up, pour unhealthy amounts of coffee down throat, maybe eat/maybe not, try to work, drive Kid 1 to sports camp, try to work again, get an unexpected call to pick Kid 2 & a friend up, drive car, get a work call while in car, ask kids to talk quietly while on a phone call, almost drive into the back of a Mercedes because I have no business driving while trying to talk, one kid tells highly inappropriate joke to another and car breaks into hysterical fits of laughter, I hit mute on phone in an attempt to protect any professional image I might have left, finish call, get kids home, attempt to go back to work only to find Kid 4 on computer (doing online school so I can’t really complain), I go in search of my laptop which I find lacking any battery life what-so-ever, decide to have more coffee while charging laptop, Kids announce they are hungry and seem to lack the ability to make a sandwich, I roll my eyes, they decide eating is too difficult for now (since I’m not willing to do the manual labor) and opt for pretzels and cream cheese, I start to explain how that isn’t a meal but give up mid-sentence because I’m just repeating what they have already ignored before, laptop has 10% battery so I try to get back to work, 5 minutes later Kid 4 is leaving for sports camp (if he didn’t have his own car, this scenario would be even worse) and needs $20, I scour the house for $20 and come up with $4.32, Kid 4 is unimpressed but thanks me anyway, I try to get back to work to find Kid 3 has “borrowed” my laptop, well since Kid 4 is done with desktop–I’m in business, but NO wait–desktop is now frozen (due to glitch iTunes) and I’m unable to do anything, I sigh and consider more coffee but choose to stare out the window with my right eye twitching instead, then I think of writing and plan to set aside 1 hour later in the day, Kid 3 announces she needs make-up, conditioner, new jeans, and money for weight training class, my mind remembers buying make-up only days ago and I wonder if the Twilight Zone has taken over the supply-demand cycle in my house because it’s impossibly unbalanced to Walmart’s favor, I also wonder when Kid 3 signed up for weight training, as this is news to me, Kid 2 hears Kid 3 talking about “needs” and begins to write a long list for herself, dollar signs roll through my mind and I wonder if they have any concept of their expenses, I remember I haven’t really worked yet and walk towards my computer, forgetting all about Kid 2 & 3’s grocery “requests”, before I settle in Kid 1 calls to ask if a friend can come over, I say “sure” not realizing until 20 minutes later than he meant 3 friends, there are now 8 teenagers in my house (my own and other random friends), I contemplate getting a real job but decide against it due to possibility of house burning down while I’m gone, I look at the clock–it’s 11:37am. Kid 1 has finally decided to cook something. When he’s done, 10 of my dozen eggs are scrambled and mounded upon a paper plate. I shake my head and consider invoicing him for overuse of eggs. Instead I smile. He’s a teenage boy after all. I check the clock again. It’s 11:45am–time to pick up another kid from camp.

No work accomplished, no writing done, nary a chore has been touched. I long for a soundproof room and a laptop. Instead I steal a few moments to write a quick note about my characters, before running out the door. It’s hardly anything, but if it’s all I accomplish for the day…at least it’s something.

I step out into the hot mid-day sun again, and almost melt into a pile of goo before reaching the car. The day’s only half over, and all I can’t think about is what I “haven’t” accomplished. But then I remind myself of what I have. Amazing, well-adjusted kids are worth any cost. Even if my dreams are slowed down a bit, if they benefit–that’s all that really matters. I will get there. I will reach the top of Mt. Words. I will have my cake and eat it too.

Sunny G

Time

I recently had a couple interviews from other blogs and review sites. One question everyone likes to ask is how long it took to get published.

Now, I’ve been doing this long enough to know the snail the publishing industry is. The first book I seriously started submitting, I went to agents. Sure, there were a few close calls, but nothing panned out.

So, four years into the trek, I started trying E-Publishers with my paranormal romance/erotic romance. I belong to not a few online writers groups. From those, I was able to pitch to different editors. And most times I got a request.

I pitched Dragos: Burned through one of these groups to Changeling Press, got a full request, sent it in, and a month later had my very first contract.

At the time, it seemed like everything big was happening overnight. (Sometimes, it still feels like that).

But, truth is, I’ve been writing my whole life. I decided I wanted to share my stories with the world (which means published) about four years ago.

During that time, I’ve learned a lot, honed the craft, and found this wonderful group that has taught me more than all the online classes I could take in my lifetime.

So, it can happen.

The key, I think, is to always improve, and always persevere. Sure, rejections suck. They can get depressing.

Just before I got my contract from Changeling, I received two full requests from agents who sounded really excited. I thought, maybe, just maybe, here’s my chance.

Then, in the space of 24 hours, they both sent me rejections. One didn’t like my ‘voice’, which I totally get. Bummer. The other, luck let me down. She was a newer agent, actively acquiring authors. Then, one of her fellow agents quick, and she received a desk full of authors. I truly think this played a large part in the rejection, because she really liked my story.

So the saying one needs time, skill, talent AND luck, is completely true.

But look at me now.

One book is out, three more are scheduled. I have two short stories coming out soon.

I’m on my way — because I never gave up.

And you can be too 🙂

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