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end of the world.

It’s the day before the last day of the world.

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Okay, so the world is not going to end tomorrow night at the stroke of midnight.  This is not a Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, or Stephen King the world is ending thing.  Nor is it the end of the world in real terms.

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end of nanowrimoTomorrow is the last day of November.  The end of National Novel Writing Month, a month of madness where authors, writers, aspiring hopefuls, writer wanabes, and whatever else they choose to call themselves join forces in a mass online campaign to deluge the world with newly and hastily crafted works of literary art from the atrociously bad to brilliant.

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The last few years have shown me how easy hitting that 50,000 word mark can be.  After the initial years of failure, disappointment, and even abandoning all hope (and abandoning writing the NaNo novel) as early as halfway through the month, the past few years were a revelation; perhaps one that made it seem too easy.

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This year has shown me once again how hard it can be to reach the goal.  A mere 1,667 words per day, made easier by the good days that allow you to slack on others, can seem so simple.  And yet, it can be so out of reach that you stare forlornly at your measly 156 words you managed that day, wondering, “What the hell is wrong with me?”

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its not about youIf you are like me this year, and utterly failing at NaNo, I am here to tell you that it is not you.  And it is not about you, not in the sense of whether you achieve that magical number of 50,000 words.

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This year, for the first time in an absolute failure year, I did not give up.  I know I cannot possibly scrape together the necessary words to meet the 50,000 goal, not without cheating and copy and pasting.  (But then, who would I be cheating if I did that?  Only myself.)  I still plug on.  Even if I only manage a sad 76 words right now.  I will still write on my NaNo today, and I will still write on it tomorrow, even if tomorrow will likely give me a whopping twenty minutes to work on it.  I will still post my results and validate my failure.

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keep calm and don't give upWhy don’t I give up?

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Why should I?

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Sometimes life has plans other than yours.  Life can be busy.  This year just happens to be one of those years for me where life takes control of my plans, other priorities come first, and too many priorities leave too little time for each.

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That doesn’t mean you should just give up.

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NaNoWriMo is more than just slapping a bunch of words on a page.  It is about releasing your inner creativity.  It is about allowing yourself to let go of your preconceptions of what a writer is and what they must do.  Release yourself from what holds you back, the fear of somehow doing it wrong.  Gleefully wallow in knowing that what you write does not have to be perfect.  Every word does not have to be carefully plotted, formulated, or follow strict rules and guidelines.  Imagine what the greatest painters in history would have accomplished if they aspired like so many writers do, to follow *the rules* of what other artists before them said was allowable art.  I doubt we would have any greatest painters in history.

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be realIt is about being real with yourself.  Embrace both your strengths and your weaknesses, your doubts, your feelings of writing success.  Embrace your writing limits and push them.

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It is an exercise in writing.  Teaching yourself to conquer the doubts you call “writer’s block” and teaching yourself to write regularly.  The more you retrain yourself to write regularly, the easier it will come.  It is the exploration of your capabilities.  Nothing is done well without practice.  The more you write, the better you get at it.

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Post NaNo brings a new challenge.

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challenges aheadDecember first will bring with it the month of post-NaNo blues or victory celebration valedictory.  Will you continue the novel to its end, or abandon it?  Maybe you already finished it.

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Maybe you will go back now to do that careful plotting you were gnashing your teeth over the need for all month.  Now you can return to the novel, tear it down, and rebuild it if needed.  Edit it until both you and your story cry.

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Months and endless hours from now, when you have finished writing and editing until you simply cannot edit it any more, after you perhaps let it sit and then attack it again with more edits, you might declare it publish-worthy.

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If you thought National Novel Writing Month was a challenge, you are now about to face an even bigger challenge.

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Are you ready for what could be the worst streak of rejection you will ever experience in your life?

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Did you think dating as an awkward teenager was hard?  Did that fear of rejection make you abandon all hope of every finding love (or at least a comfortable semblance of it)?

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You may choose the traditional publishing route.  If you do, the best of luck to you.  The reality is that it will probably take more luck than talent. Unless, of course, you happen to be a celebrity.  But that does not mean it’s impossible.

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Smaller independent publishers will give you better odds.  They don’t have the big corporate name, money, and advertising of the big publishing houses.  And you may not get your book onto the shelf of the major bookstores.  Your odds of having smash success sales are smaller too.  But, are you looking for moderate success, or to be the next J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyers, Stephen King, or Dean Koontz?  Be warned, though, to thoroughly research any independent press you choose to court.  Research them more if they actually offer you a contract.  They are not all equal.  Some are more helpful, some less.  Some you may find yourself locked into a contract that is not worth the paper it is printed on, your book languishing unpublished indefinitely, or as on your own in every sense as if you are self-publishing, except that you are forever waiting for them to reveal whether or not you sold a single copy.  Others will prove to be fantastic publishers and allies.

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You might decide for any one of many reasons to take the self-publishing route.  Here, you are on your own for everything.  No one is vetting your manuscript for salability.  It is up to you to make sure your manuscript is written and edited to the closest to perfection that is possible.  You need to find a book cover that fits the story, and appeals to the readers.  You are your own publisher, editing manager, marketing team, and everything else that goes with it.  Your book will only be as good as you can make it, and that might be mediocre or marvelous.

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welcome to rejection.jpgRejection and obscurity.  Two ugly words.  All three publishing routes are filled with these two words.

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My first published novel, Where the Bodies Are, took what felt like an exceedingly long time to be published after signing a contract with an independent publisher in the U.S.

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In its first year of publication, I made enough in royalties to buy a coffee.  Depending on where I bought it.  The second year was worse.  Now it sits in limbo, waiting to be re-released under a new publisher name, with little hope of improved sales.

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The second book, The McAllister Farm, is in pre-publishing limbo.  The contract is signed, promises are made, and a book that I am told is even better than the first sits unpublished and unread with no end in sight.

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But I do not give up.  I know any publisher is in it ultimately to make money.  Even if they are in it for the love of literary art, they have to pay the costs associated with it.  That puts authors like me, lacking in a history of selling large numbers, on the backburner behind the authors that already make them money.  It isn’t personal, it’s just business.

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My newly released book Garden Grove has already had more success in the fifteen days since it was released than my first book in two years.  That success is not counted in paid sales, unfortunately.  It has “sold” more free coupon copies than the first book did in total sales.  And even those free copies are a very small number.  It is too soon to have sales numbers from most of the retail sites listing it.

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no failSo, why do I call that a success?  Simple.  If nobody ever reads a single thing I wrote, not a short story or book, then how will they know if it’s any good?  People have to experience a thing to love or hate it.

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Millions of writers sit in obscurity, their books not even showing up on a search. If I search either published book title, I get books by others with both similar and not even vaguely close titles.  But not a sign of mine, unless I include my name in the search.

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What hope do you have of anyone reading your work, hating or loving it, if they never know it exists?  Each click, like, rating, view, download, sale, and review up your chances that just one other reader might accidentally hit on your book.  Each person who reads it increases your chances someone somewhere will talk about it.  Word of mouth is your most powerful sales tool.

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The biggest reason I don’t give up?  I don’t do it for fame and fortune.  I’m a realist.  I know that likely will never happen.  I don’t care to make a name for myself.  I write for the love of the art, for the artistic expression.  I publish because art is meant to be shared.  Hate it or love it (and if you don’t have a propensity to be drawn to the dark world of books, you will probably hate it), each person who reads and is moved by a story is a success.

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.where the bodies are


Where the Bodies Are
is still available on Amazon while waiting for the changeover to the new publisher.

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Garden Grove Cover-FinalGarden Grove is available in multiple formats on various online retailers, if you can find it in a search, including these places:

Amazon author page

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

McNally Robinson – watch for Garden Grove to hit the bookshelf in physical form for a limited time (time dependent on sales volume)

 

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the half way point..

The first two weeks of National Novel Writing Month are down, we are half way there, and today we all gear up for the second half.

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.just not feeling it

This was supposed to be a light-hearted post, full of encouragement and humor because that is what NaNoWriMo is about.  But, I’m just not feeling it.

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With the recent terror attacks in Beirut and France, all the blind hatred against so many who are innocent of these crimes and knee-jerk fear it has caused against people for the sole crime of their appearance as someone of middle-Eastern descent (as if that even were some heinous crime), and the daily atrocities being committed across the world by a multitude of terrorist and hate groups, today I find it impossible to feel light-hearted.

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farHate is an ugly thing.   It makes people live in fear, hating people they know nothing about, just because of what they look like, which church they go to, how they dress, what little piece of dirt on this planet their ancestors were born on, how much money they earn, and even whether they were born male or female, among countless other non-reasons.  Hate has touched every single country, every people, every culture, at some time in history.  People make assumptions about people because of how the look.  No one is immune, and it never makes sense.  Haters hate for the sake of hating, it seems.

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Terrorism is even uglier than hate.  It is a power game.  A cry for attention.  No one will ever truly understand why people commit acts of terrorism, why they feel the need to join with others and do horrible things to other people who they don’t even know.  They are the schoolyard bullies of the world, only they seriously up the ante.  We can only cry for the hurt, and pity those who are so broken inside that they cannot live their life without the need to hurt others.

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Okay, now that I got that out, let’s turn the focus on what this blog is about, writing.

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PrintIf you are participating in National Novel Writing Month, at this point you are falling somewhere in the spectrum of the three groups of the half-way NaNo point.

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  • The woot-woot, I totally have this group.
  • The hopefully optimistic group.
  • And the I’m so dead in the water I should just roll over and quit group.

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The woot-woot, I totally have this group are those who are so on track they are smoking.  Maybe you already have the 50,000 words and are just waiting to sail across that finish line at the end of the month with a record-smashing work count.  Maybe you are just at or above par, but you know you have this.  You rock!

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The hopefully optimistic group are in the zone where they may fail or they may triumph.  You are at par, struggling to keep up, but you are still hopefully optimistic because you know that if nothing unforeseen happens you can still do this.  Maybe you are behind a little or a lot, but you still have hope.  Hell, you still have half a month to go!  If you knuckle down now, you can push your way through to make that 50,000 count by the end.

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The I’m so dead in the water I should just roll over and quit group.  Yeah, you know who you are.  You are feeling it.  You are still plugging away at that NaNo novel, even while you wonder, “Why am I even bothering?”  You are so far behind, haven’t the time, and know that you have already lost.  You feel defeated already, without hope, lost.  But you are still plugging away at it, too bloody stubborn to give up even though you keep telling yourself to give it up and just go have a glass of wine and drown your losses.  So why are you even still trying?  Why?  Because you are a writer and that’s what writers do.  They write.  They keep writing when all feels lost, when no one around them understands what they do or why they do it.  They keep writing when people around them think they should just quit, when they themselves think they should quit.  They keep writing when even they don’t know why they bother to keep writing.  Why?  Because they must, it’s who they are, a drive only other writers truly understand.

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This would be the category I fit best in, although I am trying hard to be in the hopefully optimistic group.  I am woefully behind on NaNo.  I’m maybe just not cut out for this, but am too stubborn to give up, no matter how many times I voice out loud that I give up, that I quit.

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I did the stay at home parent thing for years, and have now been back to work for four years (holy crap, has it been that long already?!).  And now, it feels more like I’m still a stay at home parent, with all the things a stay at home parent has to do because that’s all the things every parent has to do, only ten hours a day, five days a week, are sucked out by the need to earn a living and pay bills.  The kids are hitting the age where their bed times are growing later, their activities more numerous, and their demand for attention even greater, as if that were even possible.  And the housework is forever behind.

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So where does that leave writing?  That leaves writing in the world of blind determination.  Sitting in a corner with my laptop while the kids have their taekwondo lesson.  Spending my lunch breaks writing or editing.  Impossibly trying and failing to tune out the chaos of kids surrounding me because I have no quiet place at home, and finally knocking off some real writing after eleven o’clock at night on a weekend night when I don’t have to be up at five-thirty in the morning.  And throwing in whatever words I can manage when and where I can manage in between.

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Writing needs inspiration.  But inspiration does not always come just because you are writing.  Without inspiration, your writing is dry and as lifeless as that soggy sandwich you didn’t eat two days ago when you missed lunch.

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inspiration just aheadNational Novel Writing Month is about committing yourself to trying to knock out those 50,000 words regardless of time and inspiration.  It is about pushing away all your preconceptions about what writing is about, the rules you think you must follow, and just giving yourself the freedom to write without stressing over whether it is good or bad or whether you followed every rule.

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And, if this makes no sense to you, then you might be missing the point.  Writer’s block is yourself not being willing to let that inspiration flow.  It is a self-made crutch.  Do you go to work or school, look around, and say, “I can’t do this today because I’m just not feeling it.”  Do you stare blankly at that unfolded laundry basket, sink full of dishes, or empty stove and decide you just can’t do it?

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These are things you do every day because you must.  You trained yourself to do them, to know automatically how to fold those socks vs. a pair of pants, to take separate things and put them together into a creative work of art called “supper”.  The thought process to do your job comes automatically, whether your job is data entry, flipping patties, or creating something masterful and inspirational.

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NaNoWriMo is a month long exercise in pushing yourself to maybe do something you did not think you can, to write on demand when and where you can, whether you *feel* it or not.

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lets get creativeTo train yourself to bring on that inspiration on demand.

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Now let’s get out there and NaNo!

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week doneThe first week of National Novel Writing Month is done, and if you are participating, at this point you should be starting today at no less than 11,669 words.

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At this point, I am usually still optimistic of being able to do this.  After all, we are only one week in on a month long stretch.  This year, I’m less so.  I’ve been trailing a little further behind every day.  This year has been an especial challenge with my time stretched further than ever before.

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Everything has been a bigger challenge since transitioning from stay at home parent to working parent.  You still have all the same things to do as before, only now you have no less than ten hours a day, five days a week dedicated to earning a paycheck.  But now it is even more so.  The kids have hit that age, tweens that in a few short years will both be in or hitting their early teen years, where their needs seem to be growing faster than a B movie monster.  Between later bedtimes than before, homework, activities, and the need for those parent/child talks to help them navigate the changing world of a tween, they are the biggest time goblins that exist.

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“Me time” is relegated to that drive to and from work, and writing time to the snippets of time after the kids have gone to bed and before I do.  Often on days the spouse is working evenings or nights, because you need to give your partner time too.  Time, that is usually needed to do household chores.

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So, how does one with a busy life find time for writing?  Particularly for the daunting task of pushing out no less than 50,000 words in only thirty days?

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Persistence is the key.  Persistence and determination.

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Don’t discount that five or ten minute chance to pound some words out.  Not at your computer and an idea or sentence or two comes to you?  Note it any way you can.  Notes apps on your phone are great.  No matter how short or long, not that down and you can later copy it over into your NaNo story.

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Eliminate contractions.  Having too many contractions is just being lazy.  Sixty contractions are sixty extra words you are squeezing into that precious word count.  If it feels ungainly later when you return to edit, then you probably should be rewording sentences so that so many contractions do not feel necessary.  While dialogue can feel more natural with more contractions, descriptions are less so.  And even dialogue contraction use depends on each character’s personality.  A more proper character will use more proper language, while a more laid-back one will use more.  Smooth out that dialogue later in editing.

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Use Microsoft Word comment sticky notes at any chance you get.  No, it won’t up your word count, but it will flag those random thoughts and things you need to come back and research when it’s fresh in your mind to come back to after November ends.

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Lighten up.  Don’t be so serious.  There is nothing serious about NaNo. It’s the crazy ass writer’s version of fun.  Get crazy with it.

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Take advantage of those moments when the words flow.  Forget about worrying so much about where the story is going and if it is sticking to the script.  If the words are flowing, let them.  Let them take on that life of their own.  Any writer with experience on the writing end will tell you that even the most carefully plotted out story can change direction in the writing.  Stories take on something of a life of their own.  Just like your kids, your best laid plans for their future may not be the future they are meant to have.

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Overwrite that scene.  It’s okay.  Throw all the passion and feeling you can into it.  Describe it at length.  Feel it.  Describe those feelings at length.  Put every ounce of yourself into it.  You can tighten it up later when you edit, but that passion will still shine through.

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Now roll up those pajamas, pour that coffee with a shot of Baileys or Kahlúa, and let’s get our NaNo on!

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Week two is ON!

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day of the deadOctober 31st.  It is the 304th day of the year and the mid-point of autumn.  And, on this day in 1926, the famous escapologist Harry Houdini died of gangrene and peritonitis from a ruptured appendix.

More important for many of us fans of things that go bump in the night, October 31st is Halloween.  Halloween is believed to be rooted in many different origins, all depending on your beliefs.  Paganism, Christianity, Satanism, and Witchcraft to name just a few of the origins believed to have spawned what we now call Halloween, a celebration of costumes and children wildly roaming their neighborhoods in search of candy handouts.

It is believed to have originated as a celebration to honor the dead, the end of the summer and harvest, and believed by some to be the one day of the year the dead can cross over to the world of the living (please don’t say ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE, although I know you are thinking it).

Halloween also happens to be my favorite holiday, the one holiday where you can just have fun and dress up; there are no major expectations of you.  It really is all about the kids and filling them with the sugar rush of sweet gobs of candy bliss and a night of frolicking in the dark in ghoulish costumes and trying to frighten the neighbours who dutifully pretend to be frightened. (Now when will *they*, the powers that have the power to make these decisions, get with it and make is a *real* holiday with a day off?)

But, for those of us with a lust for putting words to paper in a form that thrills, excites, angers, and saddens those who read them, October 31st has a different meaning.

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October 31st is the last day before the new you, the you who has tackled NaNoWriMo 2015.

NaNoWriMoNational Novel Writing Month, a seemingly senseless annual tradition of writers worldwide.

When dawn breaks over the horizon tomorrow, on the first of November, millions of writers around the world will already be hunched over the glowing screens of their laptops, staring in overwhelmed awe at that lighted screen and willing the words to come.

Tears will flow and coffee will be drank.  Millions of writers worldwide will endeavor to pound out a 50,000 word masterpiece in only 30 days.

Yes, we are a crazy lot.

And so are you if you are even thinking about trying it.

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Why should you try NaNo?

Are you the kind of writer who agonizes over every word, that it is perfect, that they all fit together, and that you are following all the rules of writing?

NaNo is a good lesson in the first rule of writing.  There are no rules in writing.  Writing is an art, and thus subjective.

NaNo is about putting aside all those rules that are holding back your true creativity and just going with it.  Run naked in the rain, eat supper for breakfast, and use split infinitives.  Break free, run free, and just write without giving any though of the rules of writing you think you should be following.

Write without editing.  Editing is the magic fix that will come later.  When you start thinking about those rules you should be following, remind yourself that is why editing exists, to fix that later.

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NaNo can be overwhelming.  How in bloody blazes am I going to do this?  Well, it’s not as impossible at is seems.  And it took me three years of NaNo to figure that out.  Notes are your best friend.  Any time something comes you to, make a note.  I use comments in Word all the time.  Highlight a selection of text, and write your note of whatever thought occurred to you.

Don’t let random thoughts slow down your writing process or be forgotten.  They can add depth to your story later.  Jot them on sticky notes or as a Word comment, whatever works for you.  When something hits that should have happened earlier or should come later, jot it down.  You can go back to those notes when your creative bug wears out or when you return later to edit your story.

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Break down your writing.  Just as I tell my kids when they have an overwhelmingly large homework assignment or chore (like cleaning their rooms), breaking down an insurmountably large task makes it much easier.  50,000 words in only 30 days!  Really?   That’s really only 1,667 words per day.  And good days count as make up days.  If you blast out 2,000 words in one day, that is 20% of your word goal for the next day too.  If you can start strong, keep those word counts up through the first while, when you hit that low midway through the month, you already have a build up of words to get you through the slump.

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So, you don’t think you can do it? What the hell am I going to write?  What if I get stuck?  Outlining is okay.  If you need to outline and plan your story ahead, that is perfectly okay in NaNo.  The only rule is that you are writing something new.  Hell, you can take something from your personal slush pile that you started before and discarded because it was not working and rewrite that.  Just write something from scratch, whether it is totally original or a rewrite.  Outlining ahead can help you get through those slumps when you feel like you don’t know where the story will go.  So will going back on those random thought notes you made.

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NaNo is about writing crap and loving it.  This is where we ring the buzzer of B.S.

Some revel in NaNo being about writing utter crap.  Others disparage it for the very same reason, because they believe that is what it is about and you can only write garbage.

This is NaNo nonsense.  NaNoWriMo is about what you need and want it to be about.  It is freedom from the writing rules, a personal challenge, a coming together or strangers and friends to support each other and your love of writing.  If you want it to be about having fun and writing crap, that is perfectly fine too.  You can also accept that not all writers have to write painstakingly slowly to write well.

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sosSurvival tips for NaNoWriMo:

  1. Put aside all those rules that are holding back your true creativity.
  2. Write with wild abandon, no fear, let it be as good or bad as it will be.
  3. Write without editing.
  4. Notes are your best friend.
  5. Break it down. It’s only 1,667 words per day.
  6. Take writing moments when they come. Every ten minutes of writing adds to the word count.
  7. Outline ahead if you need to.
  8. Remind yourself, nobody ever has to see what you write until you are ready to show them.

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Tomorrow is the first day of March; the month legend has it Mother Nature totally plays us with a game of lions vs. lambs.  If it we enter into March with weather that is calm and quiet like the lamb we can predict the month will end with the weather roaring like a lion, wreaking Nature’s vengeance on us all.

Of course most of us don’t actually believe any of this stuff and year after year Mother Nature has let us down and forgot her game by the end o f the month.

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I do have my own prediction for March and it has little to do with the weather.

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March is three months after NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where writers around the globe pledge to put aside the daily vanities of life and throw themselves heart and soul into trying to write a 50,000 word novel from start to finish in only the thirty days of November.

If you are like me that is three months during which you have completely put that NaNo novel out of your mind to focus on other things.  For myself December is spent stressing over Christmas, worrying over the lack of money to afford what is required of you, and getting little else done.  The other two months I focused on writing and editing other projects, giving no thought at all to The McAllister Farm.

Three months sounds like a good break to me.

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March also happens to be a free month, falling between Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever you celebrate around that time and the busy spring and summer time.

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I predict March is as good a time as any to go back and tackle that first revision of the NaNo novel.  A no holds barred attack in the same spirit of NaNoWriMo.

After three months of pointedly not looking at it or even thinking about it, it’s time to give that NaNo novel its first dose of merciless and aggressive editing.

Don’t stop to think or analyze.  First impressions are everything.

This is not a carefully thought out edit meant to fix grammar and spelling or smooth minor flaws.

MAIM (March Amend & Improve Mayhem) that NaNo novel.  Attack it without care with a big fat red marking pen (or the electronic equivalent).  Cut and slash anything that on first impression is off, weird, doesn’t work, or just seems like extra baggage.

Scribble notes all over it, whatever strikes you as you tackle the beast.  It doesn’t matter if the notes make much sense, impressions can lead to something later.

Anything that comes to mind: observations, ideas, questions, random thoughts, character traits, back story, behind the scenes story, what should have been, things you should link, etc. Anything goes.

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EDIT: edit, deconstruct, improve, and transform that novel like you don’t care how perfect the final outcome is.  This is only a first edit anyway.

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Take one month, March, to completely go over the WIP start to finish and tackle the obvious.  Amend, research, and outright challenge yourself.  “What the hell was I thinking when I wrote THAT?!”

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Starting tomorrow you have thirty-one days to beat that NaNo novel into submission, the iron master pounding a strip of iron into a shape that resembles the finished sword it will become.

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It’s madness, but it’s my madness.

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So tomorrow grab that NaNo WIP, put on your Mad Hatter hat, and pour the tea (wine in my case) and let’s have a writers’ editing party.

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And maybe just for fun, the next time you write/edit using the services of your computer accessed dictionary and thesaurus, try running it in a foreign language.  Oh, the madness just never ends.

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March Madness – I’m Going to Finish this Damned WIP if it Bloody Well Kills Me!

By L. V. Gaudet

Written February 29, 2012

It’s only one more sleep to March, and kind of a cheat day since today isn’t really supposed to happen, at least not 4 out of 5 years it isn’t.

It’s February 29th and leap day!

It’s also been three months since the insanity of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  For those who don’t know, this is a month of madness.  30 days of writing mayhem, where writers such as myself, who are suffering from bouts of derangement try to write an entire 50,000 word novel from start to finish in only 30 days.

This year I decided to make March Special.

I am declaring March to be a new month of madness.  I’ll lovingly call it “I’m Going to Finish this Damned WIP if it Bloody Well Kills Me!” month, or IGFDWBWKM month.  Okay, so the anagram needs work; a lot of work.  So to make it easier I’ll just refer to it as March Madness.

The idea is to take that energy you poured into November’s NaNo challenge, but with what should be a much less daunting (and less insane) task.  Take that one WIP that is driving you really nuts, nagging at you, pecking at you, and just plain annoying the hell out of you because you just want to finish it already.  And, finish it.  Just like that.  You even get an extra day because March has 31 days in it.

Finish outlining ahead if possible (I’ve been hashing out the end of the outline for mine for the last couple of weeks).

There is no word count goal because it doesn’t matter how far along you are, and every story will end up being exactly the length it needs to be.

There is only one goal – finishing that damned WIP if it bloody well kills you.  You win if you can comfortably say you finished that damned WIP without your inner guilt demons laughing at you for lying.  The prize is that feel good feeling of finally getting that thing off your back and being able to say, “Hey, I finally finished the bloody thing!”

With me?

Tomorrow is day one.  Tomorrow I start typing and I’m Going to Finish this Damned WIP if it Bloody Well Kills Me!

It’s madness, yes, but it is March.

I may even tease with a few excerpts of this nasty novel of kidnapping, murder, and assorted mayhem.

 

*** HOLY HANNAH THIS IS MY 100TH POST ON WORDPRESS! ***

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Tomorrow is November 23rd – exactly three-quarters of the way through November and the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge.

With time running down into the last week of four, I am roughly half-way there to the 50,000 word count.

I’d say it’s pretty safe to say that my NaNo challenge is a complete and utter failure.  With at best six writing days before November 30th, including today, I have given up all hope of making the 50,000 words.

This was my only best chance of meeting the challenge.  After all, how can you be a stay at home mom with kids in school and NOT find enough time?

I have realized a few things along the way.

First of all, I did not have nearly as much time for writing as I had imagined.  Let’s start with the number crunching.

One rambunctious attention needy five year old plus one “leave me alone” seven year equals zero chances of concentration.  So let’s take out the weekends and other days the school is closed in November.  That’s twelve days lost to writing the NaNo novel.

Add one complete day lost to going for a single job interview.  Yep, it really did take pretty much a whole day.  Once the kids were off on the bus, showered and spiffed up, and close to a two hour drive each way – because Mother Nature naturally picked that day to wallop us with the first snow of the year and it was a doozy.  By the time I got home it was almost time to meet the school bus.

Now let’s tally up the partial days – days for grocery shopping, appointments, and volunteering.  Including a visit to the walk-in with my little spotted elf to discover she had hives and is allergic to – yes its true – the liquid chemicals inside a glo-stick (curiosity didn’t kill this little kid-cat, but it sure did make her itchy), that’s another five days where my block of writing time was taken up by other demands.

This gives us eighteen lost days.

Out of 30 days, I really had twelve to write 50,000 words.  Twelve days of trying to keep the distractions to a minimum, concentrate on writing, and not let worries about meeting word goals and other things in life steal away my imagination.  That’s about 4167 words a day.  Ok, that’s harder than the 1667 words per day someone who has the full thirty days to write, but it’s still doable right?  After all I AM a stay at home mom still.

And yes, I can hear you over there in the peanut gallery.  I’m a stay at home mom for petes sake, how could I possibly NOT have unlimited time for this?

But this is me you’re talking about.  Being a stay at home mom is not all watching Judge Judy reruns and eating bonbons, and I have been granted what I am convinced is the messiest family in the history of families.  Laundry does not sort, wash, fold, and put itself away, and I’m pretty sure this four body family easily goes through enough laundry to clothe an entire twenty-three kid kindergarten class on a messy day.  As hard as I’ve tried, I just can’t get those toilets to clean themselves.  And I can’t do like Mickey Mouse and summon a spell to make my broom and mop come alive to clean the floors themselves.

The bulk of my day is normally spent on another failed challenge – having a clean house.  Of course, this is an effort that goes largely unnoticed since two hours after the kids get off the bus they have reduced the house to the condition that only a marauding army of crazed baboons could leave it in.  It will take a large part of my next day to clean up the mess in addition to the other household chores.

So the household chores have suffered largely from neglect during my NaNo efforts and I unfortunately have to play catch-up every now and then.

And I have utterly failed in the challenge of writing 50,000 words in thirty days – make that twelve days really.

I can’t help but wonder how the people with jobs or school can do it.  And, even worse, those who have kids on top of jobs or school and take the NaNo challenge.

While I know there is no chance I can meet the challenge now, it did serve as a good reminder just how easy it is to get behind on something, and once behind how daunting and difficult it can become to catch up.

But it’s not a complete loss.  I did get a novel in progress out of it, and one with a decent amount of work done on it.  While I’ve abandoned all hope of making the 50,000 words by November 30th, I won’t be abandoning the novel.  Taste is relative of course, but it doesn’t seem like a bad story to me.  And I might continue to post my word count every now and then.  We’ll see.

Perhaps the saying is true, that there just is never enough time.  Or maybe my problem is having too much time.

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