Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Did you think I disappeared? A writer’s tale…

I’m alive! yeehaw!

I realize you couldn’t tell it from my blog activity (this blog, at least). That’s because life just came along and slammed me in the face. True story. In fact, I’m taking time out from packing up our house to write this post out of guilt for not having written in so long!

So what’s up in the writer’s house? Glad you asked!

First of all, and a huge HALLELUJAH, I got Darian’s War off to the production team yesterday, only a month-plus late. Here’s the cover reveal: TA-DA!!!

Darians War cover 2

Do you love it? I do!! Here are all three covers side by side so you can see the awesome work Glendon at Streetlight Graphics has done:

IXEOS 800 Cover reveal and Promotional Ixeos Rebellion 800 Cover Reveal and Promotional Darians War cover 2

Not only will Darian’s War be released (fingers and toes crossed) next week, we’ll also have a boxed set of all three available for Christmas! So that’s really exciting. (I won’t tell you how stinking hard it was to wrap up a global war… Whose brilliant idea was that anyway?!) Now for marketing and all that stuff, and hopefully some good sales coming up to and just after Christmas.

In other news, we’re moving three hours away in January. I’m pretty excited because I’ve wanted to live there for years, but it’s kind of complicated, since we’re moving to a house we already own and which is already furnished. Plus it’s 1/3 the size. So that’s proving to be a logistical nightmare.

My grandmother will be ONE HUNDRED (yes, 100!) on December 1, and we’re all headed to FL for her big party the following weekend. She still lives alone, walks her dog, makes her meals… All my cousins will be there, so it’ll be chaotic craziness. But we’re driving, which is nine and a half hours, so that’s two full days. Then helping my mom get everything ready. It’ll be a fun but not very productive week.

My husband and I have been doing some national radio hosting. It’s been a blast! We’ll see if it goes anywhere, but, as the guy said last night, “You guys are a great team on the air!” I told him we were a pretty great team off the air, too!

C&J wedding brunch

Then there are the holidays just upon us… How is 2014 almost over??

So that is life at the moment, and I must say, I’m SO glad I’m not trying to do NaNoWriMo, and so glad to have Darian’s War done. I won’t be writing fiction for awhile. Maybe February? Or I might wait and see if the Office of Letters and Light does another April Camp NaNo. The next book will probably be a sequel to Undaunted Love. We’ll see!

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on fundraisers for my nonprofit. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know about our work in Uganda and Andros, Bahamas. The end of the year is coming, and we’d love to have your help with our work. Please check it out, and you can donate on the website or at our GoFundMe.com page. A little goes a long way, especially in Uganda, so thank you for anything you can contribute!

That’s about it. I’m going to try to be more regular here, or at least repost some “best of” blogs. I’m going to be crazy busy until the end of January, so don’t think I disappeared! I wish you all a VERY………

Happy-Thanksgiving

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Greetings from Texas!

Hello all – and a particular hello to those of you who have plunged themselves in the crazy, wonderful world of NaNoWriMo. Can you believe it’s NOVEMBER already?? Cra…zy…

I am in Houston to speak at a fundraiser tonight. It’s not writing related – it’s about hospice in Uganda, which is, really, my real job. I’m in Houston, right across the interstate from the Galleria, but it’s kind of like Idaho – you can’t get there from here! So my excitement for the morning was to walk next door to the Shipley Do-Nut place. Now, I was told that this was Houston’s answer to Krispy Kreme. I’m pretty partial to Krisy Kreme – we have the 2nd ever store about two miles from my house, and the original store is wehre I went to school. So I was skeptical. My verdict? It’s not Krispy Kreme (how can you compete with a hot glazed??), but it was pretty good. And I got two donuts for $1.35… which beats the $15 + tax for the breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

shipley donut

Since the only way to come to Houston today would have been to take a 5:30am flight (okay, not totally true, but the flight I came in on yesterday would have really pushed up against the fundraiser, and I would have been late if the flight was delayed), I came yesterday. I’m really not doing anything except speaking, so that means I’m hanging out in the hotel. Right now, Argo is on – what a great movie! This afternoon I’m hoping to get at least 4,000 words written, practice my speech, and then go have fun with 175 people who are interested in Uganda. So that’s a prety good day!

For those of you waiting for the final book of the IXEOS Trilogy, I’m almost done! It should be released around Thanksgiving. October was a big black hole for me, between surgery and then an illness. Plus there was the problem of how to resolve a global war. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but boy, is it hard to come up with a way to end it, especially when the world’s population is so decimated that there is ample empty space. But I finally had a middle-of-the-night revelation, and now it’s flowing easily. I’ve been doing some editing all along (yes, contrary to my regular method, but editing while on pain killers is a lot easier than writing on them – which is the opposite of Hemingway’s advice:

write-drunk-edit-sober

but I’m never going to be Hemingway, so I went for it!)

The cover is already done:

Ixeos3-3

So I’m really excited! I’m taking a break after Darian’s War is done to work on fundraising for my own nonprofit and to get ready to move to another town in January. I’ll keep up with the blog, and will start work on a sequel to Undaunted Love in the spring, once things have calmed down a bit. I may even do an online auction, and I’d love for you to “attend” to help us help the people of Uganda and Andros, Bahamas, so stay tuned. (And if you’d like to donate anything to that cause, let me know!)

Thanks for reading and being patient with my scanty offerings in October. I’m hoping to be more on the ball this month!

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What you can learn from the NaNo forums

As I work through my post-surgery fun, another post from last year’s NaNoWriMo:

I haven’t procrastinated too much in the forums so far. I did a good bit of forum reading before November 1, and might do more after I’m done, but mid-writing I don’t find it too helpful. Here are some things I’ve noticed, for what it’s worth:

People take themselves way too seriously. I am (at least in my own opinion!) a professional writer. I do NaNo events (all the NaNo events) so that I can get a first draft. My intention is to take that draft to publication. Is that draft ready for publication on December 1? Of course not. But I am serious and intentional about my work.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, and that I don’t try to make NaNo fun. I mean, let’s face it – it’s a crazy thing to do, to write 50,000 (or more) words in a month. Regardless of your plans for the work, the process is nuts! It’s absurd, when you get right down to it. And I celebrate that. I don’t take myself so seriously that I can’t enjoy silly posts or crazy rants or even the occasional whacked-out haiku. It doesn’t offend my “craft” when people have fun writing, and it shouldn’t offend yours either, no matter how seriously you pursue your goals as a writer the rest of the year.

People give up too easily. On day 1 there were countless threads that it was over, done, finished, irretrievable, irreparable. People were calling it quits right and left, before they’d even begun. Come on, grow some backbone! Believe in yourself a little! Will you write the next great classic, destined to be taught in ivy league classrooms? Not bloody likely. Can you crank out something, even if it’s a rambling stream of consciousness involving your sister, zombies, aliens, a smuggling ring and Bigfoot? Sure! If you thought enough of your skills to sign up, think enough of them to at least try, for more than 24 or 48 hours.

People don’t dig deep enough. I don’t mean with a backhoe. I don’t think a lot of people bring a plastic beach shovel. I am not the most disciplined person around. I don’t exercise regularly, diets don’t last more than a couple of days, I hate housework, I have boxes of crap that I don’t want to file. It’s a joke to my kids that people always say, “Oh, I couldn’t homeschool because I’m not organized or patient.” Well, neither am I! Everyone I know will attest to that fact.

But I do know that, for a month, I can set a daily goal and work towards it. There will be days I don’t reach it and days I don’t write at all. There will be days I’d like to scrub the toilet rather than write. Conversely, doing it anyway means that I’ll have days like yesterday, where I had an idea that turned into a small plot point that became a big deal. Where the first 2000 words had felt like pulling teeth, the last 1600 flew off my fingers. If I hadn’t plowed through those first ones, I wouldn’t have gotten to those last ones.

My first boss used to say that the streets were full of people with talent. He didn’t hire people with talent. He hired people with tenacity and stick-to-it-iveness. Tim Tebow basically says the same thing about football: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.  Bottom line is, you have to work hard at things. Some things come easy, and some things don’t, but you don’t get far without the work. You all know what I’m talking about… When you’ve worked hard and achieved something, you’re proud, right? In this case, it’s 50,000 words. Who cares if it’s good? It’s a marathon – crossing the finish line is an accomplishment, even if it takes you 8 hours instead of 3, right?

NaNo wasn’t created for the “serious novelist.” Nowhere in anything does it say it’s for the “serious novelist.” So lighten up. Even if you’re a “serious novelist,” does that mean you never have fun? Maybe you should! Throw in some fairies, some zombies, a line of dancing girls. Eat red hots and cackle over your own genius. Have some wine and chill.

It’s supposed to be fun. Really.

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NaNoWriMo – the one week countdown

Another oldie but goodie!

I will admit up front that, for this NaNoWriMo event, I’m not having to do much preparation. This is because I decided to do the next book in my YA story, which I started for the August Camp NaNo (barely squeaking out a win, with 37 words to spare), rather than the WWII romance I’d originally planned. Because I left a huge cliffhanger, there’s not much work involved in figuring out where to start.

However, since this is my 5th NaNo event in the last year, I do have plenty of experience with the last week and its stresses, excitements, jitters and twitters. (Tweets?)  Last year at this time, my mother had told me my plot was too complicated; my husband had told me there was no way I could finish a novel in a month (he was, strangely, okay with a 50,000 word goal, but not okay with double that); and I was frantically doing research on the Portuguese Spice Route. I was also trying to plan menus, clean the house, talk myself down off the ceiling, and wondering what in the world I would put down as my first few words.

As it turned out, the first few words were, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” thus starting the back story of Solomon’s Throne. I put all the research, plus many more hours of it during November, to good use, and managed to write a cohesive and cogent story out of the “too complicated” plot. (My mom has said every plot but one since was too complicated, but rather than being discouraged, I take it as a challenge!) But the week before I started my first ever NaNo, I had no idea what would happen.

How many hours would it take each day? I figured that, worst case scenario, it would be the equivalent of a full time job, or 40 hours a week. I was aiming at 4,000 words a day because I was estimating 15k words per location of my treasure hunt. I had no idea how long that would take since I’d never written a novel before. As it turned out, I wrote about 2-3 hrs a day on days that had heavy research, and 2 hrs a day on the days that didn’t. On the occasional “walking through cold molasses” day, I spent maybe 4 hours.

Would I have to write every single day for 30 days? I thought the answer to this was a resounding “yes,” because the task of finishing the novel seemed so daunting. What I didn’t count on was how tired being creative every single day would make me, both mentally and physically. Looking at my stickie note word count list from that event, here’s what I find:

  • I had 2 days between the 1st and the 11th where I didn’t meet my word count goal, and 4 where I vastly exceeded it.
  • I crossed 50k on November 12.
  • I took November 18th, 19th, and 24th (Thanksgiving) off completely.
  • I finished the book on November 25 with 88,651 words.

So now I know what to expect – but I had zero idea on October 24 of last year. And what I know now is that I cannot write that amount of creative words every single day without a break. So I just factor that in and enjoy the days off.

Would I become obsessed?  There’s a lot of rumor that, during November, you can talk about nothing other than your novel. For me, the opposite is true; other than catching my family and Facebook friends up on my word count, I found that I actually craved talking about something else, anything else, than my novel. It is very engrossing and all-encompassing while you’re writing, but my brain needs a rest. When I take my mind off of the story, things are still going on at the subconscious level (apparently). The same thing happens on the days off. I need that break for my writing to be coherent the next day.

Would I have time for anything else? This was a worry about things like reading, exercising, cooking. What I found is that a) I don’t like to read in the genre that I’m writing in, but reading other things, especially at bedtime, went on; b) the early darkness in November is more of a hindrance to exercise than NaNo; and c) while I planned my menus to a meal, I didn’t need to. I had plenty of time for cooking. I tend to write in the late morning and early afternoon, so cooking was a good way to “come down” from all that.

Other things I learned as that first NaNo went on:

  • I don’t do well writing at night. It’s hard for me to wind down and not have the story whizzing around in my head when I’m trying to go to sleep.
  • Everybody wants to know your word count. Not everybody wants to know what’s going on in the story. Let them read it when it’s finished and edited.
  • Posting your word count on Facebook is great for motivation – a few people will get invested in what you’re doing, and ask you if you don’t put it up one day. The NaNo site should be updated, but no one there is giving you peer pressure like your Facebook friends will.
  • When you go back and read what you’ve written, you can’t tell the days where the writing was hard from the days the writing was easy. So just write.

How are you spending the last week? Don’t panic – it will be fine! Spend some time enjoying the lovely fall weather. Bake some muffins. Go to the movies. And remember, you can do it!

(We’re now required to put in this disclaimer for anything containing ‘NaNoWriMo’ or ‘National Novel Writing Month’:  “This is not an official NaNoWriMo site, and the content has not been reviewed by National Novel Writing Month. For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit http://www.nanowrimo.org.”)

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Your Inner Editor

One of my most popular posts – the inner editor can ruin your chances of winning NaNoWriMo if you’re not careful! From October, 2012.

I just put “inner editor” into my Bing search bar. This is what I got: 43,600,000 results. Google, not to be outdone, has “about” 84,800,000 results. I find that astonishing! Of course, go to the NaNoWriMo website and forums and you’ll see lots about that most wicked of unwanted visitors. But people are still looking — obviously.  So what to do?
The inner editor is a demon of epic proportions that’s got to be at least as scary as a balrog.

Like a balrog (my own balrog experience being limited to The Lord of the Rings), it’s the bane of writers everywhere. In fact, it’s so scary that many would-be writers never venture forth into writer-land, afraid that the flaming whip is going to come out of the dark recesses of their mind and snatch them right off their feet. Many who start writing aren’t able to stand up to the balrog like Gandalf, uttering my favorite line of the whole book/movie: YOU. SHALL NOT. PASS. Many, if not most, don’t think they have that power.

Let me assure you, friends, that you do. You, too, can stand on that rickety writing bridge, turn to face the demonic inner editor, and throw down the gauntlet. You, too, can look that flaming freakazoid in the fiery eyeballs and refuse to back down. You, too, can claim your territory, can draw a line in the sand, can put a stop to the tyranny by saying “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS!”

Who is this inner editor anyway? Well, like the balrog, he or she lives down in the dark recesses of your mind. Usually, it’s content with scathing remarks when you’re standing in front of the mirror or when you say something you’re not sure if you regret. But get out the pen and paper, or computer, or paintbrush and paint, and its true nature comes swelling into life. It says:

  • How dare you think you have anything to say to the world?
  • How dare you presume to write 50,000 or 100,000 words on paper and expect anyone to read it?
  • Who told you that you could write?
  • Who told you that you could do anything at all unique, interesting or good?
  • Who do you think you are????

If you forge ahead anyway, the inner editor goes from vastly exaggerated statements of your measly self-worth to minutia in an instant.

  • Your grammar sucks.
  • That sentence sucks.
  • Why would you choose that word?
  • This is crap.
  • Those people are one dimensional, unbelievable, and stupid.
  • You are one dimensional, unbelievable and stupid!
  • This whole thing is stupid. Let’s just order pizza and watch a movie.

And if you don’t turn, at some point in this whole process, and say it — say “You shall not pass!” right then and there — you will quit. You will close your laptop or cap your pen, wander off to the tv, and quit. And the balrog… uh, inner editor… will smirk and smile and leave you alone for awhile, so you have peace and forget about that stupid writing thing.

Well. Are you going to give up that easily? I’ve given you tips before for outsmarting the inner editor, and you can read those here. But I was struck by the fact that, really, the inner editor can only be stopped by taking a stand. Sure, you can trick it. You can use my tips and get your 50,000 words for NaNo, and that would be a great accomplishment. But what happens if, like 10-20% of us doing NaNo (totally made up that estimate, to be honest) you really want to try to do something with the book? That will require finishing it, and editing it, and the inner editor will get louder and louder. And you have to shut it up, or your novel will be one of millions in drawers, old hard drives and dusty boxes the world over.

It IS necessary to be honest with ourselves about our writing. It IS necessary to get beta readers who will be honest with us about our writing. It IS necessary to edit and edit and edit, and try to make it the very best it can be. But if you don’t believe in yourself and your writing, if you won’t take a stand for it against the inner editor/balrog, you will be stuck in the two blue squares above. Humility is one thing. False humility is another. Your balrog isn’t a pet… It’s an enemy. One only you can fight. Will you stand up for yourself and your vision and take a stand?

(We’re now required to put in this disclaimer for anything containing ‘NaNoWriMo’ or ‘National Novel Writing Month’:  “This is not an official NaNoWriMo site, and the content has not been reviewed by National Novel Writing Month. For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit http://www.nanowrimo.org.”)

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