Five Crazy Things that Happened During NaNoWriMo

December 1, 2014 § 6 Comments

or, Magic happens when you are forced to write a novel quickly, flaws and all.
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December 1, 2014

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I participated in my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year and at 10:53 a.m. Mountain Time Sunday, I finished with 55,178 words. I was a little dazed, a lot euphoric, and, suddenly, really, really hungry. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I have something to look forward to in the new year when I pull out this raw draft and start reworking it. I also experienced some crazy things during this writing process.

Characters stood up for their rights, even though I had no idea who they were yet.

No backstories, no bios, sometimes not even real names — just ridiculous placeholders like “Blondie”—and yet, when my fingers were flying across the keyboard, their personalities revealed themselves in surprising ways. When my villain was supposed to be frightening, he was dark and tragic. When the male lead was supposed to be understanding, he was jealous. When the protagonist was supposed to be conflicted, she was decisive and kick-ass. Which leads to

Scenes didn’t play out how I’d planned them.

Oh, they’d start out exactly how I envisioned. But then the characters took over and the scene would end up someplace completely different and I’d be left wondering what the hell just happened here? On the other hand, when I got bored, and did not know what to do with this miserable scene I had put everyone in, I just made everybody start acting like total jerks. Then things got interesting real quick.

Stream of consciousness = the mf’ing bomb.

I got crazy word count just letting my protagonist ramble on. It was a great way to learn her voice and figure out how her mind works. Plus, it was fun as hell. Too many times I would laugh my head off thinking, “I can’t believe she just said that.” (She said it. She did. Not me.)

I found out that I can just make stuff up as I go along.

Usually, a scene has played out in my head in Technicolor, multiple times, before I write it. I did not have that luxury with NaNoWriMo. I had an hour before work and the minutes were ticking away and I had to get my protagonist through her next test pronto. Bing! Just throw her in a room with this guy she barely knows and have her start talking trash. Next thing I knew, I had 900 words and my next conflict set up. When forced to, when I had no other choice, I just made up random shit. And some of it is probably usable.

I did not know how the story was going to end until ten minutes before I wrote it, when the final line came soaring into my head, while I was in my pajamas, standing over the floor furnace, sipping hot cocoa spiked with Vodka.

I am not making this up.

ReadWriteBliss_NaNoWriMoGear

NaNoWriMo gear: chair pad, laptop, headphones, cookies from Trader Joe’s, hand warmers, and a notebook gift, handmade by the Saturday mornings write-in host.

The (Witching) NaNoWriMo Hour

November 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

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November 3, 2014

A few minutes after midnight I got on my laptop and kicked off NaNoWriMo. I was still up after coming home from a Halloween party. And I had to get the disturbing images out of my head.

Ever since my trip to New Orleans in July, I’d decided I need to check out American Horror Story: Coven. I’d also been warned by more than one person that the show can be a little traumatizing. So I figured what better way to get through it than on Halloween, surrounded by a bunch of other people.

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We made it through the pilot. Then we were like “Okay. I’m done. That’s enough. I’m going to go home now and try not to have nightmares.”

I was really glad I had NaNoWriMo.

A little before one a.m., I hit the daily word count of 1,667. Then I went to bed and slept like a log. No nightmares.

As for the remaining episodes of Coven–I’m making my friends come over to watch with me.

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I went to my first NaNoWriMo write-in on Saturday. Who knew how easy and fun it is to lose yourself in your writing while surrounded by others. Especially after a Mimosa (or two).

I’m Back and I’m Doing NaNoWriMo

October 13, 2014 § 4 Comments

or,
I Know. It’s Way Past Labor Day

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October 13, 2014

I’m back. Not because I finally submitted my manuscript to the agent who requested it at RWA14. No. Because after a month and a half of condensing and cutting, my beloved manuscript is still way over the ideal word count. One of my Hot Tub Readers strongly suggested I take a break from it.

So I’m taking a break from it.

Anxiety is still skating across my chest, my stomach alternates between roiling with nausea and growling with hunger, and I want to cry about every two hours, but I’m working through it.

I have decided, for the first time, to participate in NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. The founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, was the guest speaker at the LERA (Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) meeting on Saturday.

Chris Baty, Founder of NaNoWriMo, at the LERA meeting, October 11, 2014.

Chris Baty, Founder of NaNoWriMo, at the LERA meeting, October 11, 2014.

He is a great speaker. Funny, entertaining, and inspiring. I am inspired to give this NaNoWriMo thing a go. After the past few years of completely devoting myself to a project that has become my love and my obsession, only to hit a brick wall, it will be good for me to try something completely different.

At 1,667 words a day.

Eep!

Like I said, it will be good for me. Right?

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(Hee, hee. Couldn’t resist. I have to crack myself up somehow. Or else I’ll just crack up, period.)

Chris Baty has inspired me to write a flawed novel, really quickly.

Chris Baty has inspired me to write a flawed novel, really quickly.

In the Meantime, Apples

August 27, 2014 § 1 Comment

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August 27, 2014

I’m going to be taking a brief hiatus from blogging in order to get some manuscript changes done to submit to an agent. Eeeep! I know what I’ll be doing over Labor Day weekend.

While munching apples. After years, the dwarf apple tree by my back door, the tree I never water and that has primarily served as a decent screen between me and my neighbor’s bedroom window and a hangout for the birds, has actually yielded a bowl of apples! I felt like a little kid picking these off the branches.

ReadWriteBliss-Apples

Talk to you some time after Labor Day!

It’s a Good Thing I Enjoy This Writing Thing So Much

August 18, 2014 § 6 Comments

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August 18, 2014

Last year I pitched to an agent at RWA and she told me that my word count was too high—like, “heart attack too high”—so I spent last fall and winter splitting the book into two.

That agent rejected my submission.

This year I pitched to another agent at RWA and he likes my premise but does not like the fact that it is split into two—like, “everything was great until you said it was split into two”—and he wants to see a definite ending.

I agree. My love my original ending. My original ending is the reason I wrote the book.

So now I’m back to my original version, the one that is not split in two, and that means I have to cut a hell of a lot of words.

Panic attack has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.

I’m getting through it with a little advice from my friends and other sources.

Stephen King, from On Writing, advice from his newspaper editor:
“When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

On Writing

These words are keeping my head on straight and guiding me through the darkness.

Ryan Winfield, author of Jane’s Melody, when I told him my woes:
“Don’t cut just to cut, but getting the word count down will hopefully make it crisper and make for better writing.”

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

So far, so good. I’ve cut 600 words from the first three scenes and they read much better. Only thing is, 600 doesn’t sound like very many words right now. I will not despair.

Louise Bergin, fellow LERA member and author of historical romance:
“Cut, but keep what you’ve cut off to the side and use it later as extras for promotion.”

Love my LERA gang!

Love my LERA gang!

Great idea. I’ve seen other authors do this, like Cora Carmack at the end of her book Finding It. I’ll probably end up with a year’s worth of blog posts of deleted scenes and original versions.

Dia of the invaluable Hot Tub Readers:
“Whatever you do, don’t cut any of the sex scenes.”

Duly noted.

I Was a Total Fangirl

July 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Read, Write, and Bliss
July 28, 2014

I’m back from the Romance Writers of America conference and what a fabulous time I had. A lot of great things happened at RWA14, not the least of which is . . .

I got my picture taken with Sylvia Day!!!

Did I fangirl all over the place? Yes. Did I gush about how I’ve read her Crossfire series multiple times? Yes. Did my iPhone take forever to finally flash so that you could actually see the picture? Of course.

Throughout it all, Sylvia Day was gracious, down-to-earth, and just an all-around class act.

Me and Sylvia Day at the Romance Writers of America Conference in San Antonio, 2014

Me and Sylvia Day at the Romance Writers of America Conference in San Antonio, 2014

The Road Trip is Happening

July 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

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July 21, 2014

What the cat does while I frantically pack.

What the cat does while I frantically pack.

For some reason, Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” is running through my head.

Oh. Probably because . . .

The road trip to San Antonio, Texas for the Romance Writers of America conference is finally happening.

My friend Martha has our route to San Antonio all planned out, right down to the four 5-minute restroom breaks. This should be an adventure. I just hope she doesn’t leave me in a cloud of dust because I take too long to piss.

I’m packing up my shorts and dresses and flip-flops, and I’m pretty much just planning on having big hair the whole time I’m there.

And although I did find some recipes for homemade coconut oil bug repellant, they look way too complicated and labor intensive for me right now, and I can’t afford to take any chances because I got eaten alive in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, and that was with Family Off. So stinky, supposedly toxic DEET, Deep Woods bug spray it is.

Before I hit the road, I will leave you with this fun little video, courtesy of my local LERA chapter. (I’m in the “choir”.)

Texas has a romance conference.

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