Monday, November 27, 2017

Staring Down the NaNoWriMo Deadline...

Well, NaNoWriMo is almost over. I have 4 days to write 14,622 words, or 3,656 words a day.

I probably won't make it.

But I'm not going to sweat it. I'm not giving up on my project, and I'll give it a shot. Here's why I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't make my goal:

1- Who the heck picked November for NaNoWriMo? Between Thanksgiving and Christmas and other end-of-year holidays, it was insanity to pick this month. Sometimes I feel it's a bit of an unfair challenge, like only people who 'really' want to finish their novel will succeed. Why didn't they choose March? Nothing going on in March but snowstorms and nasty weather, and everyone hoping for an early spring. That makes much more sense. So, with all the other time requirements I have to fulfill, I can only squeeze in so much more.

2- I'm going to finish this project. Just because I don't finish it in 30 days doesn't mean a thing. I've written a number of novels in 30 days, so I know I can do it. I just don't have to.

3- When a novel is written, that's only half the story. There are plenty of novels sitting in drawers or closets (and I'm guilty of that), that need a complete overhaul. NaNoRevMo (revision month) is in June. JUNE???? When there are graduations, weddings, vacations, yard work? Seriously some people planning this whole thing are calendar-challenged. If NaNoWriMo was in March, the NaNoRevMo would be in October. Perfect. Am I the only person to think of this? Revising in December is also hard, but to finish off my NaNoWriMo novel? I can totally do that, I only have 14,522 words to go.

4- If I choose to finish this novel later, it's because I have several projects in the air and if one of them comes to fruition, it's going to take my time and attention. I'm querying agents, doing blog posts, doing book events. If my one big project comes through, all those listed above will go on a back burner, along with family dinners. So, it's a matter of priorities.

5- There's always next year, if I feel so inclined, but I usually don't wait until NaNoWriMo to write the next book, I'll write it after and before November. I do NaNoWriMo for fun, to challenge myself and cheer on others. I'm not going to let it give me heartburn or sleepless nights.

Next post, I'll let you know how I did. In the meantime, I'm encouraging you not to give up, as I won't. Some will succeed, some won't, but in the end, it all depends on finishing the novel, not how fast you got it done, and polishing the novel, not just sitting back after the writing.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It's Time to Talk Turkey!

I'm a little behind in my NaNoWriMo words (about 3,000 and it only looks to get worse with the holidays coming). I have to clean and cook for family coming both on Thanksgiving Day and the 3 days after. I have meetings and bell practice, then there's the Thanksgiving service at our church on Wednesday night when I'm playing bells (and one piece is a real doozy). Plus I want to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade. Phew!

So I'm going to cheat and just post a cute pic:

I wish you all a day of peace, family, friends, or other loved ones, and bountiful blessings.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Almost Halfway There...

Hey! If you're doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) you're almost halfway there! A little behind? A little ahead?

I'm on course, (unless I don't write anything today, then I'll be behind) but anything can happen. I've had book events on two weekends, so I brought notes and wrote in down times. I have family visits that will take me out of state, so I'll have to plan around that.

Suppose I don't finish....?

So what? I will keep going. I will get there, and that's the point: TO FINISH (even if it takes more than 30 days).

I've wandered away from my outline...

And? Is the story moving forward? Are you writing? Sometimes our mood, the characters, a sudden inspiration changes the course we plotted, kind of like a rogue wave or a sudden wind. If you like the direction (it's okay to be scared, racing through unknown waters scares all of us), stay with it. Isn't life about the journey, and not the destination?

My character is coming out different than what was in my head...

Your character is growing up, becoming their own person. This is a tough 'parenting' call when you have to let your babies go their own way versus where you want to send them. They may falter, even fail, or have terrible things happen to them; it's okay. That's life. If this child has become a stranger, talk to them and watch them, get to know them.

The plot is speeding by! I'm almost to the end of the story with no where else to go and I won't reach 50,000 words...

Whoa, slow down! It's okay to reach the end of your plot. You've got the bones. Now add a little flesh. Is your setting fully mapped out so that a reader will feel like they are on the street where the hit-and-run occurs? Will they feel the chill ill wind when they turn down that dark alley? What about the five (some argue six) senses? Does your character taste the bitter bile as they realize the horror of what they've done? Can they smell the sweet tartness of lemon cookies hot out of the oven at their grandmother's house? Go back to any chapter that seems thin and add some stuffing. No one likes a lean turkey on Thanksgiving, don't give them a skinny story.

I've lost my muse...

Maybe take a step back- spend a half hour, reading the last few chapters you've written, or maybe even the whole thing. Sometimes immersing yourself non-stop in the story helps you pick up the energy, the momentum, that you've lost. It's not easy starting, stopping, starting, stopping; it almost goes against our creativity. Don't despair, don't give up. If reading through doesn't spark some words, write a chapter about a character/setting/scene that won't end up in the story, like a flashback to a childhood incident, a terrible fire that spread through town, a confrontation that should have happened. Spread your wings. At best, it'll jump start you. At worst, maybe you have the seeds for a sequel or completely different story.

Now I must tend to my muse because where my story is headed? Well, I never saw that coming and I'm on the edge of my seat, waiting for my characters to finish their tale...

Keep writing! Keep Dreaming!


Monday, November 6, 2017

5 Pick Ups For Midlist Authors on Book Events

Authors do book events: conferences where they present workshops, book festivals where they sign books and interact with readers, library appearances, etc. Sometimes, they're a lot of fun and very successful.

Other times, not as much.

Here are 5 things I've found that are generally, but not always, true:

1- When you're a midlist author (as most of us are), if famous authors are invited to the same event, you can expect to have much lower sales. People come to see famous people. That's life.

2- While everyone's gushing over the famous people, you will have a lot of empty time, sitting at your table, wishing for a reader to buy your book. Use that time to get to know your tablemate. You make new friends and connections, you share information, and maybe can network and cross promote. 

Table-mate and new friend, young adult author Jennifer Wolf Kam

3- At events like conferences where you give presentations and then have time until the book signing session, use those minutes wisely. This weekend, at nErDcampLI, while my writing colleagues were giving their workshops, and because there wasn't one that I was interested in, I found myself with two empty hours so I used that hour to work on my NaNoWriMo novel. You can bring revisions that need to be finished, outline a new novel, read a book for research or pleasure. I know people that knit when they have some free time. 

Workshops don't fill all your time; have something to do!

4- Your GPS may make a mistake... so print out the directions anyway. Seriously, I was going to Long Island and my GPS wanted me to take the NJ Turnpike South. (No.) On the way home, it wanted me to go from the Long Island Expressway, through Manhattan, one of the tunnels, and then into NJ. (Are you freaking crazy??? Go through MIDTOWN?) Plan a backup route...

5- Always carry a granola bar or something to eat, because there may be food issues- you have to get your own and maybe you're not near an eatery or don't want to drive in unfamiliar towns, or they provide food but you can't eat it because of sensitivity issues or preferences. Usually there is bottled water available, or water fountains, but keep at least one bottle with you.

Till next week!