30 November 2009

3 winners

We now have 3 NaNoWriMo winners in the household. My son left it until this morning before school to finish, but finish he did! I'll be interested to see if the two of them give it another go next year.

Regardless, I'm very proud of my little novelists!

28 November 2009

The Start of Roller Coaster Rides

Photo: Daveynin

I'm catching up on course work this weekend, stuff I put off until I finished my NaNoWriMo novel. One of the assignments is to write an agent query letter. Sounds easy, looks easy; then why do I hesitate? I'm not a procrastinator by nature, the complete opposite actually. Yet, here I sit writing this post instead of completing my 1st draft of that letter.

Writing the first sentence, which is something I already have from my course work, took twenty minutes to get down; something about needing it to be perfect. I get that written down then I realized I need to give the title of my story. Title, a real title, not just a file name. Another twenty minutes to brainstorm something. (I never realized how hard it is to come up with a title. It's just as well nothing cried out to me, I've heard about other authors' unpleasant experiences with changing titles.) Next comes theme, that was when I went to check my Google Reader and began this post.

Before someone thinks of chiding me for getting to far ahead of myself ... I know my novel is no where near ready to be sent out to anyone except to a few close friends and family members; I did just write my first draft in less than 30 days after all. And I know this assignment is for practice. Yet ...

There is something here that I'm letting myself get stopped by, but I don't know what. It could be any number of things, like fear of rejection or out of practice in formal communication. It's been years since I've produced anything resembling a proposal or had to tout my own accomplishments.

Maybe it's just this assignment brings home to me, like nothing else has, that I'm about to embark on a crazy roller coaster ride of getting a story published.

You know how it is, you stand in line for hours to get on the ride and then your next. A nervous energy has you on edge, and you can't wait for the ride to start. Once strapped in, the car begins that first climb, the longest and biggest of the whole ride; you're giddy with excitement and fear. Then you stop momentarily at the top and look around and see the big drop, the whole park beneath you, and you know there is no turning back. Just as the car inches over the hump, you thrust your hands in the air and hope the strap is on tight.

That's where I am right now with this letter. This letter represents that moment before you begin your drop. I wonder if I'll feel this way again when it comes time to actually send the letter. I hope so. I hope I feel this way each time I get ready to send out a new story.

I'll enjoy the giddy feeling a little longer while I let my brain percolate on Theme. Who knows, maybe something will gel for me and I'll have something cool to write in my letter.

25 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

 However you celebrate the third Thursday of November, be it by baking and/or cooking, watching parades and football, fasting, eating 5000 calories in one meal, resting, working, spending time with family and friends, missing loved ones, reading, writing or just being, I wish you plentiful bounties in your endeavors always.

Photo by Radcliffe_Photos

17 November 2009

A Winner

You might remember that my 6 year old daughter decided to play along side me in NaNoWriMo this year. In the Young Writers Program participants pick their word count goal. My daughter picked 300 words in this month of November as her goal.

I am proud to say she beat that goal!! As it stands now, her story contains 320 words. And her story is not yet complete; she intends to write more!

Congratulations to my little one.

10 November 2009

An Outline that's Working

Friends and family know that I am usually very organized and prepared.

Take my purse for example ... 3 sets of earphones and a splitter for the kids, iPhone charger, band aids, antibacterial medicine, hand sanitizer, moisturizer, nail trimming kit, son's asthma inhaler, hair bands and clips, notebook, 2 pens and a pencil, sunglasses, wallet, keys, a folding brush/mirror combo, Leatherman with scissors and a wine opener ... and this list goes on.

My iPhone holds all my digital data, or least as much as I can cram on there ... contacts, calendar (with 5 different personal calendars), games, movies, music, books (yes, I read on my iPhone), podcasts, productivity apps, etc... this list too goes on.

Anways, I mention this because you'd think that I'd be a plotter, you know one of those that writes everything down in outline, prepared and structured.

Which is what I did last year when I started NaNoWriMo. The first few scenes followed the outline to a T. But then as I continued writing, I deviated from the outline to the point that my novel was completely different from my outline within only a few thousand words.

Imagine my disbelief that I couldn't follow a simple outline. Me, of all people! I had resigned myself to being a panster, writing by the seat of my pants. But maybe this creative thing called writing was much more fluid than I had anticipated and shouldn't be held down to an outline. While it may work for others, and it sorta worked last year, it just didn't feel right to consider myself a pantster.

I should've known: one data point does not make a trend.

Getting ready for this year's NaNoWriMo endeavor, I wrote another outline using the tools and tips from the writing course, HTTS. Using digital notecards, I outlined nearly every scene in the story with POV, setting, conflict, and twist.

I was sure all that pre-work would be for naught. After all, hadn't I already proven that I couldn't follow an outline?

I began my novel and was pleasantly surprised at how easily the words appeared on the screen. Before starting each scene, I'd review what I'd written for it and know exactly where to start. And most of the time, the resulting scene would match what I had planned.

Now, at 43% to my 50,000 words by the end of the month goal, I'm still on course with my outline. I've had to make a few minor teaks as I hadn't thought everything through before hand, and there has been lots of room for creativity within this outline. But, what I find a relief is that it's working.

A great thing for someone like me who likes structure. While this is just one more data point, so not a trend, I can confidently say this this feels right to me. I guess I'll know for sure with a few more novels, when I can hopefully see the trend. (But if you ask me, I'll just tell you I'm a plotter.)

05 November 2009

Evernote - Another tool

I love the cloud computing services: they make life so much simpler.

For instance, I use a service/application called Evernote,  copies are installed on the home Mac, my laptop and my iPhone. Since the data is in the cloud, I can also use their website to access my information if I find myself without my device.

I use it maintain lists: gifts, books, wishlists, writing tips, camera/photography tips, keeping photos for potential hairstyles. (Not grocery/shopping lists, that I do with Zenbe Lists.) When I make a change on any of my devices, it syncs and send changes to my local copy next time I log in. It requires an account, created via their website. Both free and paid versions are available. At the moment, I use the free version: I don't require the extra storage space. Yet.

But it also has additional functionality. Not only can I type my notes or ideas, I can record them. Last night after a painfully slow writing session, I finally crawled into bed ready to fall asleep instantly. Of course that was when story ideas came to mind. Rather than search for a pen and pencil and turn the light back on, I grabbed my iPhone (which I charge at the bedside at night - it's my morning alarm clock) and recorded a slurred message to myself and waited the few seconds it took to sync before shutting down. Then tonight, when I was finally able to get to my WIP, I checked my notes on my laptop and there it was, ready to be incorporated.

Evernote has other features which I've yet to explore, taking pictures (on the iPhone app). I recall seeing something about transcribing recorded notes. That would be cool, but I think you have to be a paid user.

How 'bout you? Do you use the reliable hand written sticky notes or something digital to record your notes? Let me know in  comments.

01 November 2009

First Day of NaNoWriMo

Today was a good day for the NaNoWriMo players/writers in our household.

My 8 year old son, at last count, had nearly 588 words typed into the computer. My 6 year old daughter used the time in the car to and from shopping with her dad to write out her first three chapters with pencil and paper. I'll type it up for her tomorrow and have a count, but I'd guess she's got close to 100 down. Poor thing, when she got home, she had a fever of 102F. Not sure how much more writing she'll get done in the next few days.

Me? I finished my day with 5,382 words, which accounts for the first five scenes of my story. Thanks to the hubby for picking up the slack today which let me get so many words down! A great start for sure. (And a good thing too, with a fever ailing one child, it's sure to affect the others, keeping me busy.)

I'm using techniques I learned in my writing course, How to Think Sideways. And I have to say, writing this novel is soooo much easier than last year's NaNoWriMo novel.  I suspect the pre-work done with the exercises from the course is the biggest contributer to the difference. It could just be that the second novel is easier. Who knows, but it's working.

And a quick note to fellow NaNoWriMo'ers out there: Good luck and keep those words flowing!