Periodically #6 – Surviving November and Planning December

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This is a week late coming out. Sorry. I had things to do… 🙂

Are we all ready for December and Christmas?

If you are not like me, you’ll be giddy with anticipation, unable to contain yourself with Christmas joy. However, if you are like me, you’ll say something like “Christmas is just another day.” “I hate winter!” – because I suffer from SAD and I despise snow (it’s already snowed in Michigan 6 inches!) “It’s too commercial for my tastes.” Or my favorite: “Bah humbug!” Winter is the season where I’m in a constant state of hunkering down. The first week and a half of December, I’ll be “dad sitting.” He’s doing better but needs a monitor. I’m hoping the skies will be bright blue in Colorado while I’m there, as blue skies help my mood immensely.

Great news in the midst of the depression that is winter: My son is coming home for Christmas! He was just here, but he hasn’t come back for Christmas since 2007. With my daughter living here now and my son coming back, we’ll be all together for the first time in ages.

Write News:

My NaNoWriMo efforts this year came in fits and starts. I didn’t do much the first few days, made up some time in the middle, and rushed to get the requisite 50K by the end of November in the last few days. However, Real Life got in the way and I couldn’t get to verifying my word count (51,200) until after I’d arrived in Colorado. Throw in Thanksgiving Day and the Leon and Lulu Artist Market (a smashing success), and you can see why I was up to my armpits in Things to Do.

This year’s effort is not a complete novel (NaNo is not meant for that), but the story line of Waiting on Charity has started to really take shape. I’ve decided for all three women to have a secret. One hasn’t told her daughter she’s adopted; one hasn’t told a family that they are moving to the other side of the country; the teenage girl in the story won’t tell anyone who the father is. I used Michelle Richmond’s Story Starter, which is a great tool. It’s filled with writing exercises. I used each one on each main character to build up an idea of who these women are. I don’t know about you, but when I begin to write, my characters seem shallow and stereotypical. They have very little depth. The more I write, the more I think about why they are the way they are, the more threads I can weave into the story line. My plan for December is to let Waiting on Charity rest a month, while I tackle that dreaded re-write of Virtually Yours Forever.

Interesting Articles:

I’d never thought about writing a memoir (really, who’s life is more blah than my own?), but this is a good article which makes me think about doing so more seriously.

For those of you who were having trouble with NaNoWriMo, there’s this sage advice for those who want to beat themselves up if they don’t make the magic 50K goal.

For those of you who shoot from the hip and blurt out what comes to mind without thinking of the consequences, here’s an article about treading lightly on social media. Once you’ve said it online, you can’t take it away.

Reading This Month:

I finished Meg Donohue’s All the Summer Girls on my plane trip to Colorado. Entertaining women’s fiction. A good beach read.

I’ve started reading Elmore Leonard’s Four Novels of the 1970s. These include Fifty-two Pickup, Swag, Unknown Man No. 89, and Switch.

Musical Notes:

Thanks to one of my high school chums, I found out that Jerry Mathers of Leave it to Beaver fame had a short recording career. If you watch and listen to THIS, you’ll know why. I’ll never look at the Beave the same again.

Quote of the Month:

I have never developed indigestion from eating my words. ~Winston Churchill

Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! or whatever you celebrate or don’t.


 

Here’s the real action: check it out.

Find me on Facebook! I’ll friend anyone. Ask anyone. I even approve the weird guys from another country who IM me to ask about my life but clearly have never read my profile.

I’m a Goodreads author! Honest to God. Ask me a question, I’ll be happy to answer. Even if it’s a *stupid* question. (Or a questionable question. Those are the best kind.)

Follow me on Twitter! I’m not sure I have anything wonderful to say. I will say that I follow some interesting people. I can’t believe I can say this, but a few interesting people follow me, too. Twitter: the cyber cocktail party – alcohol not necessary.

I’m also on Pinterest! Rarely, but I do hit up the boards every now and again.


Periodically!, PO Box 207, Royal Oak, Michigan 48068

 

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Periodically #5 – Hunkering Down for NaNoWriMo

cropped-periodically3.jpgSeptember/October was one of those months where it just seemed I couldn’t complete any of my writing goals. It could be because 1. my adult son was seriously ill and 2. my elderly father was seriously ill. In the span of the last four weeks, I also was a juror on a murder trial for seven days (gruesome is the only adjective to describe the crime), I flew to San Francisco to attend to my son, rented a Budget moving van (16′ – approximately 10′ too much truck), cleaned out my daughter’s storage space, drove the van to Colorado, where I saw my father, and then the rest of the way to Michigan.

So my experiences of the last few weeks are enough fodder for a couple of novels. I just need to find the time to write this stuff down before I forget!

I’ve tried to edit Virtually Yours Forever, which is in sore need of the Paperclip Method, a supply of colored index cards and/or Post-It notes and my favorite mechanical pencils, and a prescription for Valium. It’s like diving into a deep pool full of shards of floating glass. So far, all I’ve been able to attain is a splitting headache.

Write News:

The print version of Virtually Yours is out! Click to purchase on Amazon, or if you would like an autographed copy, send me an email and we’ll work it out.

On October 25, I participated in Leon and Lulu’s Books and Artists event. The store is great, the people are great! While I didn’t sell enough books to quit my day job, I met a lot of nice people, many writers, and lots of local authors. If you’re in southeastern Michigan next October, make sure you stop in. The talent is astounding, and the store is fabulous.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is coming up. Why not spend your November with me and millions of other writers in our attempt to pound out 50K words in 30 days. You might not complete a novel, but if you make the minimum goal, you’ll be well on your way. (This was how Virtually Yours and Virtually Yours Forever were born.)

Interesting Articles:

Here’s one on good writing. Might sound basic, but hey… sometimes you need to be reminded of basic. I know that I get so wound up in turning a witty phrase, I lose track of the building blocks of a good story.

Sydney Scrogham gives some good advice on those of us (all of us?) with day jobs who are trying to write. (Again, seems like simple, common sense, but sometimes we need sense pounded into us.)

Some thoughts on the indie-traditional publishing models. I’m a gal who thinks you have to do what is right for you.

Read this Month:

I finished Elmore Leonard’s The Big Bounce. All I can say is, “wow!” I wasn’t in Michigan in the 1960’s, but this book captures the gritty feel of Detroit. I’m going to have to invest in more Elmore Leonard books. However, my To-Read pile is a mountain range.

Musical Notes:

My son accompanied me from the great move from San Francisco, which was nice. He kept me from falling asleep. Once at home, he began to bang out the Chopin Preludes. I can’t tell you how nice it was to have the house filled with classical music. (My husband plays piano, but his current music of choice is Burt Bacharach and tunes from the 1960s.)

If you’d like to hear all 24 preludes, check out this YouTube video. Amazing.

Quote of the Month:

Don’t worry about what people are going to think about you. Just write what you want to write. ~Jackie Collins

 


 

Here’s the real action: check it out.

Find me on Facebook! I’ll friend anyone. Ask anyone. I even approve the weird guys from another country who IM me to ask about my life but clearly have never read my profile.

I’m a Goodreads author! Honest to God. Ask me a question, I’ll be happy to answer. Even if it’s a *stupid* question. (Or a questionable question. Those are the best kind.)

Follow me on Twitter! I’m not sure I have anything wonderful to say. I will say that I follow some interesting people. I can’t believe I can say this, but a few interesting people follow me, too. Twitter: the cyber cocktail party – alcohol not necessary.

I’m also on Pinterest! Rarely, but I do hit up the boards every now and again.


Periodically!, PO Box 207, Royal Oak, Michigan 48068

Why I Am NOT Participating in NaNoWriMo

Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which starts November 1 and ends November 30. If you’re a procrastinating writer like me, you need every cattle prod or device out there to kick you into the writing mode.

This is not to say I don’t enjoy writing. OF COURSE, I enjoy writing. But having other responsibilities, what ends up being short shrifted is my writing time. This year, there’s been other factors as well. Family members in dire health. Business in flux. An incredibly Bummer Summer which resulted in lots of rain, an extraordinary flash flood, and resulting damage, which of course, takes me away from pleasurable activities and instead has me planning out construction worker schedules.

Here is why I love me the NaNo… It’s an extremely useful tool. Just like jumping on a treadmill exercises your body, jumping head first into the waters of NaNoWriMo exercises your brain. It introduces you to keeping a schedule. It gives you a not unreasonable goal of 50K words in 30 days. There’s a camaraderie of fellow writers, across the internet and across town, that cannot be beat.

I’ve participated in NaNo many times. In fact, because of it, I managed to complete three manuscripts that turned out (with much editing and fine tuning) to be decent novels. (Still in the editing phase on two of them.)

Last year, I tried it for a week, and then decided that editing the work I’d been suffering over since 2007 (Finding Cadence) had to take precedence over any new material. So I put that idea aside. For later. I like the story, I just can’t have three completed novels in various states of disrepair hanging over my head like a black cloud.

This year, my problems are much the same. I’ve been toying with Virtually Yours Forever (completed during NaNo a few years ago) for… well, forever. It’s time to clean up this tale of moms, the internet, and high intrigue and get this story nailed down and move on to the next project.

I can no longer tell myself that I’ll write more when I retire from this business. The sad truth is that I might have to work until I die. But I’m also a writer, and I’m not going to sacrifice my art for outside influences.

Not anymore.

So to all you writers out there who are participating in NaNoWriMo – Bravo! or Brava! Keep pushing on. I’m there with you in spirit, and I hope will have my edit complete by November 30.

 

A Very Quick NaNoWriMo Note

And I mean very quick. I have things to do – lots of things to do.

First of all, it’s Day 2 and I’ve already exceeded my minimum word count per day. Chugging right along! I am thinking there are several reasons why this year’s NaNo seems to be easier in previous years. I’m basically a pantser, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a plan.

If you’re attempting NaNoWriMo and are having difficulties, just keep these things in mind:

1. It helps you you have the characters, at least one or two main characters. You won’t need to know the depth of character yet, but it’s helpful to name them, have a general idea of what they look like, and also have a plan for them. Your plans can always change, but it’s easier to write if you already know their beginning, middle and end.

2. It helps to have a time set aside for writing. And I mean time you use wisely. The last two days, I’ve been out of town and therefore on my East Coast schedule while on the West Coast. I’m up at 3 a.m. as a result, and I’m using my sleeplessness to write.

3. Write as fast as you can. Don’t edit, don’t worry. That comes later, after you finish the challenge. Grammar doesn’t have to be perfect, the plot doesn’t have to thicken, just get down as much as you can as quickly as possible.

4. Always carry a notebook! I lost my hotspot capabilities and my trusty notebook came into play as a back up. You can’t easily count the words, but it’s easy enough to type them in when you’re ready.

5. Most of all, be kind to yourself. If you falter, don’t beat yourself up. Try to do better the next time.

Okay, fellow writers, that’s it for now. I’m going back in.

Happy writing!

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo

Can you believe we’re already into the second week of October? With the current edit, I’ve been neglecting this blog (The original deadline for edit completion was the end of February. Then the end of July. Then the end of September. You know how that goes…) Because I’m armpit deep into rewrites, I  haven’t given much thought to NaNoWriMo this year, even though I plan on participating.

Some of my best work comes out of NaNo. No, really. There’s something about a forced program that really makes one productive. It could be the whips and chains on the wall. And Dr. Wicked running on my laptop helps, too.

NaNoWriMo forced me to complete both Virtually Yours (a love story in thirty days) and Virtually Yours Forever (a wedding in thirty days). Both books were relatively easy for the NaNo challenge. I had characters that I knew intimately (much, much easier for the second book). I had story lines for each character, and an end result in mind.

I’m a pantser, and I detest writing outlines with a passion reserved for my other dislike (squirrels), but it helps to have a plan. While waiting for October to whiz by quickly, why not take a few minutes of time to sketch out your NaNoWriMo strategy. These seem to work for me:

1. Devise your story. This means you must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It doesn’t have to make sense, so don’t worry about that. Just remember this mantra: a person you like wants something very badly and is having a terrible time obtaining the goal.

2. Figure out your basic characters. You don’t need an entire cast, but start out with one or two people. Antagonist? Protagonist? You can fold in other secondary characters later. You’ll want to write down names, ages, what they look like, and a few basic personality traits. BASIC, remember? Save the rest for the real rewrite on December 1.

3. Choose a setting and become familiar with it. My settings tend to be places I’ve been or lived in. Virtually Yours started out as an online venture. If you are writing fantasy, you’ll have a harder job. I personally don’t get how some writers devise elaborate other worlds (I still think the Three Acre Wood was out of the ordinary) but hey, go with your talent.

4. If you have time, work on a schedule. You’ll have to somehow spew forth at least 1,667 words per day during the month of November, and unless you’re a magician or are retired with all the time in the world, finding time is going to be an issue. (It is for me.) Just remember: It can be done!

Once NaNoWriMo begins, just write. Don’t worry about back story, don’t concern yourself with spelling, edits, don’t even think about grammar. Just start writing, and don’t stop. You might want to carry a notebook like I do. Sometimes you can’t get to a computer, but inspiration will hit you where you can write things down for later.

Look to other participants for help, with strategies or just to commiserate. There’s no such thing as having too many writerly friends, and most writers make great cheerleaders.

If you would like to follow me on my NaNo journey, you can find me here.

Post NaNo, Post Problems

This will be a very brief post, because I still have a chapter of Finding Cadence that I’m wrestling with. I really want to finish TODAY. More on that later. When I’m finished. *grin*

I’m happy to announce that I made significant progress on that other WIP (Oaks and Acorns) during NaNoWriMo, in fact, adding 51K words. This year, I decided not to keep a daily tally. I was working from two different documents (each one a point of view of one of the characters) and could see the number of words at the bottom. I’m math-challenged, but I had an inkling of the total.

Between the November chaos, I decided to try to edit Cadence. Not exactly a bad move. My brain was on super ADD mode and I needed the distraction from NaNo. About a week ago, I realized how I was going to end the story! (Most [professional] writers will think I’m insane, but I only had a vague idea of how the story would end, not a concrete finalization of Cadie’s problems.) I only hope my fictionalized ending is legal in most of the fifty states. (Well, at least in Michigan.) Even if it’s not, I have a tidy ending.

And now I am seriously reconsidering my initial decision to publish Virtually Yours as an ebook only. Some reviewers want to look at it – a hard copy of it – which means I have to somehow provide a review copy.

November also saw my dad turning 80, so of course I had to be there for the festivities. Or as he says, remaining vertical. This took away three precious days of writing, but they were replaced by three more precious days with family.01granddad

NaNoWriMo Brief Tip #4 – Carry a Notebook

We’re heading into the final stretch for NaNoWriMo 2012, so if you haven’t made it to the 50K mark yet, you only have a mere 24 hours or so to get cracking. Still, this is a good tip, and if you don’t already do it, think about it for next year.

Always, ALWAYS keep a notebook on your person during the month of November. You might not always be in close proximity to your computer and the wonderful word counting abilities of the NaNo web site or Word. You might find yourself in a place where there is no electricity. In that case, a small notebook (and pen) can be an invaluable tool in the writer’s toolbox.

Back in the day, I used to only write in long hand, as my typing skills were less than prolific. Now everyone knows how to type, including my six year old niece. But there are some places where I can’t take technology. These include the doctor’s office and the symphony floor. However, you might be hit by inspiration in one of those two places and have a few minutes to jot down a hundred words or so. (Hint: I also keep pen and paper near the bed, in case I wake up similarly inspired.)

When staring 50K words in one month in the face, you have to bolster your word count every chance you can get.

I raise my glass to you, fellow writers. Here’s hoping that your NaNoWriMo dreams will come true.