Monday, October 29, 2012

Ready? Set... NaNoWriMo!

Uh, that means WRITE! For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo means National Novel Writing Month. It's a yearly event in which writers-aspiring and published-try to write EVERY day during November (and yes, you have to write on Thanksgiving Day, or do double duty to make up for it). We try to either write a complete new novel, or finish an novel that's been started. Here's the link if you want to try it:

Yes, it's a bit daunting. But there are things you can do to make it less so, and help guarantee your success (finishing the novel, not getting it published. That's a whole different story and numerous blogs.).

First, let me brag that I've never left a novel unfinished (whether it was good, again, another blog story) so that should give me some street cred to give advice. Additional bragging (hey, I'm entitled, I've worked hard) is that I have two published books, two more coming out, one in revisions with my agent, another book 2/3 finished and ideas for two others.

So, if you think you're just going to sit down and write that opus you're wrong. You'll get stuck at some point. And that's probably why if you're a veteran (lots of unfinished manuscripts in the drawer?), you know this is true. Before heading into that writing jungle, consider what I'm doing to avoid that:

1. Write a synopsis- about a page, no less. It will give you just enough detail to give you a general direction.

2. Do a character list. What do they look like, what are their names, their family histories, their jobs/grades, what's unusual about them, what are their talents, who do they like, etc. You don't have to know everything, and you may change things about them, but remember you're just getting started. The better you know your characters beforehand, the better you'll know how they'll react to whatever you throw at them.

3. Write out synopses for several key scenes or turning points that you know you want in the story; how your two main characters met, how someone was betrayed, a major fight scene. Sometimes it's easier to build around a scene (it's how some writers turn short stories into novels).

4. If you can, do a chapter outline. You aren't chained to it, but you won't get lost or stuck because you don't know where the story's going. Mull it over and if while writing your manuscript during NaNoWriMo you don't like it, or have discovered a different direction that is better, then deviate.

5. Do some research.I'm planning on writing a sci-fi story and need to find a suitable star system that has earth-like planets in the Milky Way. I've got to have information on why/how humans got into space. If you're going to write a western, you'll need to know what guns will be used, clothes worn, where the action takes place. By having information, you can refer back to help move the scenes along and add those very important details that give depth and fine tune your direction.

6. Build your world. My Sci-fi world will have humans, humanoids (look like humans but are not Earth-born), and non-human species. I need to know what they look like, do they trade in metallic money, does everyone have access to spaceships? What is the political system?Where does my story take place? As much detail as you can gather NOW will help you envision your story, and you won't have to stop and figure out the answers.

7. Make plans for when you can't write. Going to Great Aunt Henrietta's for Thanksgiving? Or having 25 people you have to shop/cook/clean for? You can write twice as much the day before or the day after, or on the following weekend. A lot of people fail because they didn't manage their time well and once they fall behind, they give up.

Remember, the purpose of NaNoWriMois to get you to write that book--from title page to The End. It doesn't have to be perfect (and it won't be), it just needs to be started and finished. Perfection will come with revisions (LOTS of revisions), along with more depth, character development and fleshing out.

So a little prep work now and it'll be easier (I swear!) to successfully complete your NaNoWriMo challenge. Good luck and let me know how you do, and if my list was helpful.

P.S. I'm working on my new Ultrabook with Windows 8 and still trying to figure somethings out- like how to shrink this page and access Word so I can put my fancy signature. Maybe next week...


Monday, October 22, 2012

Do I Look Good In This?

Yes, this is my front door. After Sirenz was pubbed, I just had to have it.

But it brings to mind something that's been annoying me a bit lately. Is life really about keeping up appearances, choosing the 'right' accessories/clothes/candidate/cause/friends/whatever?

I don't think so, but yet it seems like life is high school eternal. We judge each other by so many different standards (what brands we buy, who we vote for, which book we read, etc.), it's a wonder any of us talk to anyone. (Notice I used 'we' and not 'you'.) But it is wearying trying to remember and continually maintain the appearance that we either want or (think we) need to have, or are trying to change.

What if we all just said, "What the hell! This is me. Deal, or don't, stay, or go." Isn't that what brought the Great and Terrible Oz down? (Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!) He had to appear something he wasn't.

That kind of makes the Wicked Witch of the West a bit of a heroine, don't you think? She didn't buy into appearances (the dress is a dead giveaway). The only reason she wanted the shoes was for their power, not because they were pretty and sparkly and had cute little heels and... were sexy. With her, what you saw was what you got.

So instead of thinking that the saying "It's all about the shoes" refers to having great/perfect/the 'right' appearance, I'm choosing to think it means it's about achieving our heart's desire (I never said she was nice) and not letting how others perceive us stand in out way.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


It's scary time!

For authors, that can be while you're waiting for an answer to a query, a revision on a proposed contract, the night before a book launch--or the result of a review by Publisher's Weekly or Booklist. (brrrr! gives me the shivers just thinking about it!)

For non-authors, it can be anything else. There are a number of authors and bloggers doing posts about what scares them. Some are funny, some are serious, some are 'Are you kidding me?' Being totally forthright, here's what REALLY scares me:

1. Immense suffering, especially if it's near end of life. Okay, I'm wimping here, but having had a fractured skull and assorted broken bones, an ulcer and numerous surgeries, I know what pain is. I can't imagine being in unrelenting pain for days, months, years...

2. The future of the world for my children. Let's face it, a number of countries, like Iran, Syria, Libya, some of the Baltic states, Venezuela, have leaders or terrorist groups that are probably certifiable. There is the possibility that one of these will 'go nuclear.' They don't care about anything but winning at that moment, and looking down the road to a world food/water/air supply choked with radiation just doesn't  figure into their what-happens-the-day-after plan.

3. Internet security. I'm barely able to maintain this blog and it frightens me when hackers can get into the Defense Department, my credit card, ANYWHERE. People who spend their lives hacking don't do it simply for fun; they do it to show they can, and that they have control. The TV show "Revolution" might not be so far fetched and a hacker could someday shut it all down.

4. My children being drug or alcohol addicts, being diagnosed with a mental disorder that ruins their lives, or having severe health problems. As a parent, the hardest thing in the world is seeing your children suffer. And woe to the person that causes that...

5. Freaky aliens like in "Aliens." Really, that movie scared me so much, it's the biggest fear I have about space exploration. I wonder if Captain Kirk met Alien, or Predator, if he would have survived even with all his technology. I have more faith in Captain Piccard, but still... gruesome way to die, see no. 1 above.

That's my black cat, Mink. Does he scare YOU?


Monday, October 1, 2012

And The Winner Is...

Let the clean out commence!

The first winner (there are two, I'm feeling generous) is Tanya Contois because she's never read anything by JR Ward and that must be remedied. She chose Ward's Dark Lover. Send me the addy and it'll get in the mail!

Second winner is Yvonne Ventresca. Because she's read my manuscripts, offered great advice, driven to events with me, gives me birthday presents, tolerates my rantings about a certain vamp series, keeps me motivated and is just an all-around great gal, I'm giving her I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.

There MIGHT have been a third winner (hey, clears out the clutter faster!) but SOMEONE didn't choose a book!

So next time I host a giveaway, you MUST choose a book. I need a commitment- I like knowing definitive answers. And I don't want to have to make any more decisions than I have to. I will be adding more books to the pile as I read them.

Happy reading!