Periodically! #9: The Lost Seasons Edition

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Well, well, well. I’ll bet my followers thought I must have fallen off the edge of the world. (Pretty damned close.) The last Periodically! was released in February. Friends, that was a good five months ago. Let’s just refer to this black hole of nothingness as the Lost Season (as in Lost Weekend…only much, much longer).

In the blur that was the Spring (that wasn’t – we here in Michigan were hosed again with cold and snow until the end of May), several things happened: people died, people sickened, people were institutionalized, people adopted a homeless Detroit chihuahua, people bought a second home (heretofore renamed Money Pit), people bought another home (heretofore renamed Minor Money Pit), people dumped tons of money into the Pits and their adult children, people sprint-planted a vegetable garden, people applied to an art contest, and people readied to enter the Ann Arbor Art Fair while working a full time job (business is b-o-o-m-i-n-g!). Some people actually wrote for a hot minute.

Now this Person will take a break and fly to San Francisco for a long weekend and eat decadent food and search for sea glass. It’s not running away from home, but it’s the next best thing.

Outdoor Updates: The Guerrilla Urban Garden

The wacky spring wreaked havoc on my fruit trees. They blossomed, then we had a frost. This means NO cherries and precious few pears, so if you were expecting a hand-crafted cherry tart or pear preserves, not this year.

The potatoes, on the other hand, are none the worse for wear, but they are underground for the most part, so they managed to survive the snow. My first planting is nearly ready to harvest (that’s what four weeks of hot weather will do for you).

We’ve eaten our first peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, and blueberries. The backyard is a jungle of edibles.

What I most enjoy from vegetable gardening (besides the eats!) is that working the soil bonds you to Nature. There are many analogies to the writing perspective as well. Gardeners take seed; add water, light, and fertilizer; tend by weeding and warding off pests; and finally reap the reward at the end of the season. Writers take a small idea; expound it by adding characters and plot; work the literary landscape until it makes sense; and finally reap the reward at the end of the story.

On Writing

Ever hunker down on your Twitter feed looking for inspiration? Ever buy all the writing reference books Amazon offers during that dry spell when you can’t seem to scratch out your grocery list? Yes, I’ve been there, mining golden nuggets, for inspiration and education. But here is a very good article on looking for and perhaps not taking advice. There is such a thing. It’s called a grain of salt. (I know. Funny coming from me, who is always looking for writing references online. See more below.)

Your brain is a muscle, and if you don’t exercise it, it will get flabby. So in the spirit of mental gymnastics, Book Baby’s article on using your TV and movie time as devices in your own writing make a lot of sense. My husband and I actually did this a lot with our kids, in pointing out the “bad” guy, the struggles of the “good” guy, and what the projected ending might be. (Now that our kids are grown, he just likes to guess the ending sometime within the first ten minutes. He’s usually right, dammit!)

Is it really stylish when YOU do it? Probably not. That’s why reading this (gently) ass-kicking blog post on the rules of writing (which can be broken – sometimes) can serve as a wake-up call for those of us writers that might be a tad full of ourselves.

Read Lately

One thing I do is write scenes in a real notebook. (By hand. In pencil.) I’ve taken classes with Christina Katz and this is a very easy way to commit to prompts on a daily basis. The summer I started doing these prompts, I would write different scenes with the same characters. I’m putting these together in a novel about random strangers who meet in San Francisco in 1978.

I started the sequence of scenes during modern times, but I liked the idea of a lack of modern conveniences like cell phones and online banking for this story. My characters weren’t easily traced, meaning they had time before they could be found out (and therefore, time for the story to be told). In some ways, 1978 wasn’t that long ago, but in others it’s light years in the past. Placing the setting of a story four decades ago makes for some interesting challenges. Most of my reading time in the last few months has been devoted to research, which might sound dry, but is actually quite compelling.

The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge is one such book. Since the Golden Gate Bridge and suicidal souls figure prominently in my story, I thought this should be a fine reference, and it is. Besides providing a wealth of statistical data, John Bateson also interviewed survivors including family members and those who lived.

No foray into Bridge jumpers would be complete without diving (sorry, pun not intended) into Cracked Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt, by Kevin Hines. He miraculously survived his drop from the Golden Gate too.

Ten Years that Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978 by Chris Carlsson helped me to define the mood and tone of City. However, I happened upon the biggest bonanza of paraphernalia through my Twitter feed, when SF Gate posted this breathtaking photo essay.

Movies

I don’t go to them anymore (too expensive, too crowded, I’d rather be comfortable in my own house, thank you), but I do have a Netflix account. Here are a few movies I found to be entertaining. Keep in mind that my mentions might have sustained some terrible reviews along the way, which is why I don’t read reviews until after I’ve seen the movie/read the book/dined at the restaurant/etc.

The Fundamentals of Caring: it’s a Netflix original movie. Honestly, I’m starting to like Netflix originals. They did a kick-ass job with House of Cards, right?

Life is about a Life magazine photojournalist who finagles a way to cover James Dean just before Dean scored his role in East of Eden. Overlook Robert Pattinson as the journalist, because he still looks like a Twilight vampire to me, but Dane Dehaan as James Dean…WOW.

The Do-Over, (another Netflix original) but I’m a sucker for Adam Sandler. Yes, even his terrible movies hold an appeal to me.

Question of the Issue

What is your preferred method of reading? Are you digital only? Or do you like the smell and heft of a bound edition? Mix and match?

I personally love a nice hard-cover, particularly if it’s signed by the author – and if signed by one of my favorites, I’m in heaven – but I admit to reading books on my iPhone. I haven’t picked up a magazine in a doctor’s office in years. For traveling, it’s paperbacks all the way (same entertainment, slightly less poundage), and I’ll leave them in airport waiting areas or at friend’s houses just to share the love.

Quote of the Issue

The idea is to write it so that people hear it & it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart. ~Maya Angelou

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 do have an Instagram. I’ve had it for a long time. Be forewarned, I take a lot of photos of food, either what I’ve made or my restaurant choices. My Instagram is also littered with photos of dogs and cats.

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

With any luck, I will see you next month.


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

 

 

Periodically! #8 – Too Cold to Snow? and In Memoriam

cropped-periodically3.jpgBack when I lived in Minnesota, where one must be brave or crazy to live in the winter, there was a saying there that it if the temperature reached a certain level of cold (like 10 degrees and below), it was too cold to snow. Such bromides must only occur in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Either that, or this saying doesn’t work in Michigan. For I can tell you, after a fairly mild winter (where I admit, I was spoiled with temperate weather and rain instead of buckets of snow), when the polar express heads to Hockeytown, it doesn’t matter how cold it is – it’s going to snow.

I’m reporting this from San Francisco, where the area is experiencing a strange heat wave. *ducking stones*

The last few weeks have been sad ones. We’ve lost great musicians (David Bowie and Glenn Frye – my city, where he grew up, is naming a street near the high school where he graduated after him), great actors (Alan Rickman), and now, a great friend of mine.

Known online as The Little Fluffy Cat, I met Lydia Ondrusek online over ten years in a now defunct website called gather.com. Gather was an up-and-coming social network, which was launched as an outlet for writers and artists. Well, it became much more than that. Unsupervised for the most part, the site was like an unruly high school classroom full of bullies, geeks, and the popular cliques. Despite some troubling aspects to the site, the upside is (besides the fact that I got paid, and handsomely at the end) that I met an incredible group of writers. When the End loomed, we all jumped off the Gather ship and Lydia found a private place (Glitches) for us on Ning.

Then came Facebook (which I was already on) and the rest is history. I met Lydia in person (along with some of the other Glitchers) in Ohio a few years ago. As I find when I meet all my online friends, they are just as wonderful in person as they are online. Instant connection. Like we knew each other for years and years In Real Life.

Lydia was a writer, so adept at flash fiction, which I admired. I have a problem writing, in that I tend to go on and on (and on). Some of her short stories bordered on the supernatural, the out of the ordinary. She also wrote touching poetry, and her haikus were beautiful, concise and full of imagery in so few words.

Lydia was a great cheerleader (and occasional cattle prodder) to a wannabe writer like me. I hated to bother her, but I trusted her instincts, and she would never blow me off, even though I knew she was busy, with writing and with her family. I would send her short stories, most of which were flawed, and she let me know right away what the problems were. She pointed me to resources like books and classes, and urged me to find a writers conference. After she’d cheered me on for the two years I’d been working on my first novel, Finding Cadence, I sent her the first chapter for an edit, as that week I was going to attend my first San Francisco Writers Conference. (She lived in Texas, so almost all our communication was done by email.) She returned it less than five minutes later, full of red lines. I wasn’t finished yet, not by a long shot.

I was full of fear before that conference, especially after the red lines, but Lydia encouraged me.

lydiaThis is Lydia.

She was really into the Internet, and encouraged me to join Twitter. (Actually, she also invited me into WordPress, which lead to six months of headaches for me, but that’s another story. You can scroll backward to the beginning, to see where I started in 2009.) I couldn’t get Twitter for the longest time. I’m still not adept at it, but the great thing about it is that even though I might not add anything to the conversation, I can eavesdrop and gain so much information.

dedicationLydia was the last person I acknowledged in Finding Cadence, along with Sandy, my other online mentor.

Lydia once sent me a draft of a manuscript she’d been working on that I found intriguing. Except for a few chapters in the middle, it was almost finished, and I wondered why she hadn’t finished it. Like all her work, it was good, really good. (I hope she got the chance to finish it. This is my greatest fear, leaving work undone.) Later, I found she had attended HER first writers conference, and was amazed that she had never attended one before.

Lydia also knit (or crocheted) all sorts of wonderful things. I have one of her hats somewhere. In return, I sent her some of my (first attempts at) jewelry. The last thing she sent me was an assortment of amber. I’m going to have to think of something very special to wire it into.

Lydia lost her battle with bad health a few weeks ago. Our online community has been totally crushed with the news. But I will carry on, in her giving spirit, and remember what a beautiful, talented woman she was, and strive to help others in the same way.

lfcRest in Peace, Little Fluffy Cat. We’re going to miss you.

You can learn more about Lydia here.

Write News

Follow this blog! I discovered a ‘new’ writers resource from the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods. If you write, you must follow.

As followers know, I sometimes suffer from writer’s block. Or other excuses. Here’s a post on how to keep going, even the writing isn’t linear in nature. Just write!

I found a very interesting blog called Writing Sideways. Many good links. A writer cannot have too many resources.

This is an EXCELLENT post regarding your characters’ personality traits. Your characters can’t be all good or all evil. Even the evil ones have to have a redeeming quality and even good people have a dark side. Now to get that into the writing…

Interesting Articles

Is it live? Or is it Memorex? Chuck Wendig discusses depression versus writer’s block in this compelling post.

Here’s some good information on marketing for writers. If you read all the way through, there is a link with free PDF on how to build an email list. (I obviously need all of this help, as I am clueless. And slow.)

Totally unrelated to writing, but rather interesting to fierce women, is this article about wearing black.

Reading This Month

On my iPhone, I’m reading Today a Better Way, a self-help book put out by Families Anonymous. Every day, there is a brief passage to read. While intended for friends and family of substance abusers, these short readings are helpful for anyone feeling stress and hopelessness.

This month, on my way to San Francisco, I read two of my dear Internet friend Arthur Wooten’s novels. On Picking Fruit is a bittersweet but humorous journey of one man’s journey to find his perfect soul mate. And Birthday Pie is an equally entertaining look at a man’s (reluctant) return to his Southern hometown to say goodbye to his ailing father. Both novels (well, all of Arthur’s novels) are populated with the most unusual, likable and oddly flawed characters you could ever imagine.

Question of the Month

Writers: This month I’m taking an online class with Michelle Richmond. I’m also attending the San Francisco Writers Conference. I do both to keep learning, to stay motivated, and to nurture my community. My question is, if you write, what do you do to improve your writing?

Readers: Any pet peeves in what you are finding on the shelves these days? Feel free to answer here, or email me.

Quote of the Month

The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they’re up there, throw rocks at them. ~Vladimir Nabokov


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

 

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

 

Periodically! – #4 – Time For Fall

cropped-periodically3.jpgSeptember. Now that was a fast month! One day it’s 90 degrees, the next day you awaken to 50 degree weather and automatically reach for the nearest sweatshirt. Because of the brief thirty days and the nearly overnight change in climate, September whizzes by faster than, let’s say February, when you can’t wait for March’s lion’s roar.

Good God. February.

While I shake off that shivery promise of a future, I’ll update you as to what’s been going on in my world.

Write News:

This month saw my Editor for Life return an edit for Virtually Yours Forever, meaning I really should get off my butt and start editing. With the day job and personal family issues to deal with over the summer, I stood back from making any serious changes. I’m now glad I waited until I saw what he said at the end. This is going to take some major thought. I wish I could say the novel will be ready for prime time by the end of the year, but it could take longer. (Damn it.)

However, I’m in the process of coming out with a print version of Virtually Yours. I plan on using the copies in giveaways for the new book.

Can I share with you my feelings about the whole self-publishing scenario? If you’re an artist like I consider myself to be, the entire technical aspect can be daunting. I’m one of those learners who can’t do it by reading. I have to learn by doing. And yes, I realize that it’s the operator. I don’t understand templates and megapixels and the Internet. Remember, it took me at least eight months to learn WordPress! And I couldn’t figure out Twitter for the longest time. If you don’t make the application stupidly easy, I’m lost.

Oh! I have been invited back to the Leon and Lulu Books and Authors Event, to be held on Sunday, October 25, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you’re in Southeastern Michigan, plan to stop by. Meet local authors, and visit the store, which is an experience in itself.

The Guerrilla Urban Garden:

It’s been all-out war between me and the rodents. The squirrels won the battle of the pear tree. Despite my constant tending, my squirrel prevention measures – including bagging the pears, mothballs, shiny, noisy things in the tree, and a Boston terrier on premise, I ended up with NO pears this year. (I really want to hurt someone over this.) I managed to salvage enough cherries from the tree (first time ever!) to make two tarts. DEE-licious.

The potatoes, however, have been a banner crop this year, probably because we had so much rain early in the season. I also mulched with coconut mulch, and that seemed to repel just about everything. Sweet potatoes – just digging these up now. (I planted them in my flower containers, where they trail nicely.) YUM! You can grow sweet potatoes in Michigan, but they need direct, hot sunlight.

Of course, the Swiss chard and hot peppers have been going crazy! No pomegranates this year, but the fig tree is bearing.

Not bad for a person who doesn’t weed much after June. 🙂

Interesting Articles:

Here’s one in defense of light reads. Personally speaking, I don’t know how people can read the same genre all the time. If I want something deep, I’ll reach for it three out of four times, but sometimes I want something light and fluffy and fun. Likewise, I don’t write in one genre either. Not all writing has to be “literary” – whatever that means. Good writing is good writing and makes for good reading. In that same vein, you can really learn a lot from other genres.

And here’s a good article from RachelintheOC about censoring your writing. If you don’t follow her, you should; she posts a wealth of great info online about writing, relationships, and social media.

I’m not against the use of adverbs (obviously!), but when in doubt, a strong verb works just as well.

Music:

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, my husband and I have been watching reruns of The Wonder Years. This has prompted my husband to drag out his old sheet music from the time. I’ve been listening to him pound out classics like Burt Bacharach, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and of course, the Beatles. I’m probably prejudiced, but I think the best music came out of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, that sacred space between Top 40 bubblegum and disco.

Read this Month:

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold S. Kushner. A friend suggested this book as a possible way for a family member to get through rough times. In reading it, though, I realized this is a gold mine of information for me to use in a novel I’ve been toying with since last summer. As a writer, you have to realize that there are other experiences out there beyond your own. It’s difficult to put yourself into another person’s shoes and write about an alternate experience convincingly. (My problem is all my characters act like me and sound like me.)

Quote of the Month:

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet. ~Anonymous

Have a great month!


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

Regrets and Resolutions: A Writer’s End of Year

I honestly don’t understand how some published authors are so prolific. Especially mind boggling are those who have small children, businesses or day jobs, health problems, and the like. My life (especially the last few months) is at times so chaotic, it’s sweet relief to fall into bed at night. As a result, writing as taken a definite back seat.

Yet I try to squeeze out some writing time on a regular basis. I could be doing other things, like being more productive in my business(es) (totally boring), working out (uber boring), or maintaining my house and yard (not so boring, but time consuming). I could promote my writing more, but I’d feel like a huckster on a street corner peddling apples. Plus I’m too laid back (i.e. lazy) to do real promotion. I’m an artist: you either love my work, or you don’t. No hard feelings.

If I have one writing regret of 2012, it’s that I haven’t written MORE. Unfortunately, life threw me a couple of obstacles this year, and precious time was taken up by other more pressing matters. Maybe I was hoping the Mayans were right and I’d have no qualms about my absenteeism if I didn’t wake up on the 22nd.

Of course, that didn’t happen. The sun came up the next day.

2013 is starting early for me. Like TODAY.  My writing resolutions are as such:

1. Write more. I know. I say this all the time, but I need self-flagellation on a regular basis. Perhaps I should pencil that in on my calendar? While I’m throwing that idea on the fire, perhaps blogging more would be a good idea too.

2. Write more carefully. (Excuse my probably bad sentence.) Use what I’ve learned over the last few years to prevent writing mistakes before they happen. That way I won’t have such a heavy burden when it comes time to…

3. Edit more carefully. I’ve been working on Finding Cadence since 2007. I’m on my sixth edit, and I’m amazed to find errors and awkward phrasing even now. While I’m not exactly pleased as punch with Virtually Yours, the book served a purpose, mainly to remind me that editing never ends.

4. Study more. I love the Savvy Authors web site. So far, I’ve taken two classes and found them to be most helpful. The support and feedback are wonderful.

5. Network more. While I don’t write genre romance (my work does have romantic elements) I belong to the RWA and the Greater Detroit RWA and I’m a terrible member. I need to attend more meetings. I might need to branch out and find a serious critique group.

6. And finally, finish all of the half-baked projects I have hidden on my hard drive. I’ve got excellent ideas and compelling stories, but they won’t finish themselves. Time is short; I am old. I really need to start writing as fast as I can. After all, if someone with children under the age of 5 can do it, I should be able to.

For writers, writing is life. It’s the air we breathe. We have to channel our imagination somewhere, or we turn into tortured souls.

Leaving now to find my source of oxygen.

NaNoWriMo: Brief Tip #2: Forgive Yourself for Falling Off the Wagon.

Day Five of National Novel Writing Month.

After a quick start for Days One and Two, Real Life reared an ugly head and put a temporary kabosh on my NaNoWriMo goals.

All you fledgling writers out there participating in this month’s NaNo knows that you must write approximately 1700 words per day in order to get to 50K by the end of the month. Well, sometimes that happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. It will especially NOT happen if your full time work is NOT writing, or if you’re NOT retired or NOT a lifetime recipient of the MegaMillions jackpot.

In that case, do what I did today: make up for those two days of unproductive looking at your laptop with longing by a marathon writing session when you can afford to do so.

I’ve written 8K words in a day of NaNoWriMo, so I know it can be done. As long as you persevere, you can forgive yourself a day off (or two).

However, despite the reasons why-good, bad, or lame-if you fall off the wagon temporarily, get back up and get on! If you fall off the wagon permanently, forgive yourself and vow to get back on sometime in the future.

Remember, the whole point is to incorporate writing into your daily life. Sure you want to sketch out a novel, and some succeed in doing so. But the competition is not with the thousands of people out there, the competition resides  within. And since you are competing against (or for) yourself, you owe it to yourself to be kind.

Keep writing.

Novel Update: Virtually Yours Forever

Somehow, I have managed to carve out six entire days of writing in the last week.

I’m not exactly sure how this is possible. I’ve spent the last two and a half months running around southeastern Michigan like a headless chicken. But look, today is August 24, and our summer rush’s days are numbered. Pretty soon, we’ll be back in a peaceful, nearly coma-inducing rhythm and we can catch our breath.

As for writing, it helped to have the husband in San Francisco for four of those days. Once I got into a groove, and after he returned, it was fairly simple to keep up the forward momentum. I retired each day for a few hours of diligent editing.

Most of the story is already there. I wrote Virtually Yours Forever during NaNoWriMo last November, after spending a summer devising plot lines for my sequel. I opened the file up for the first time in late July. The first week of August was spent mapping out scenes on color coordinated 3″ x 5″ index cards.

Of course, this meant first having to construct color coordinated 3″ x 5″ cards, because in this modern age, office supply stores are loathe to carry them. While there, I also snagged a pretty notebook – on sale – in order to further map out my plot and characters.

I have to say, it’s kind of a mess. VY4ever is 30 chapters long, and with seven major characters, it’s a gargantuan effort to keep everything straight. When I write during NaNo, I write like a crazy person. I don’t self-edit, I don’t look back. I just want to get the words down and worry about the execution later. As with the first book, I spent each day in November writing from one character’s point of view, which gave me a lot of material until Thanksgiving.

(The bride and groom’s wedding is scheduled for November 29. Between the 22nd and the 28th, the Virtual Mom world begins to unravel.)

Well, such a frenzied pace shows in the writing. It took a week of reading the first draft before I figured out what I wrote. During the excavation, I noted some pretty interesting and twisted dialogue I’d completely forgotten about. This edit is all about weaving the individual stories together. Then it’s off to my Editor for Life, and he can figure out the gaping holes or inconsistencies.

I’m old-school, so looking at two open Word files on the same computer screen drives me crazy. Add to that mess my 3″ x 5″ cards littered all over the living room floor. After three days, I had confetti everywhere, and I’d lost two pens and one fine point Sharpie. I was certifiable and my eyes were permanently crossed. It occurred to me (in the dead of night) to highlight what I’d used in the old draft, after placing it in the new so I wouldn’t get lost.

Yesterday, I made it to Chapter 15, meaning I’m halfway there. Halfway there in six days. I can only hope I can make it the rest of the way in six more, but that would be tempting the fates. It’s best if I tell myself now that it’s not going to happen, and pray that it might.

(I don’t know what I’d do if I had to work under real deadlines. As it is, my ED is a little behind on the last project I sent him, so all in all, we’re probably even. That’s what counts.)

I’d like to be able to tell you that VY4ever will be ready for release next spring, but that, too, would be tempting the fates. But I’m working on it.