Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wait, what story is that?

Last night, I went to another group meeting for Camp NaNoWriMo. We meet above the local grocery store, and after we finished, I decided to get my sister and her roommates a dozen doughnuts. They just started a new semester this week, and I remember how that feels!

My sister and I started talking about my NaNoWriMo goals, and I told her about one of the stories that had evolved from my character bios.

As normal, I got very excited as I started talking about my story, and my writing, and my sister, having lived with me long enough, knew exactly what I was talking about. Her roommates on the other hand… they were thoroughly confused.

I guess it makes sense, once you start talking about characters in arranged marriages, sick queens and quests, it’s not exactly the normal, everyday conversation. Halfway through, one of her roommates asked, “Wait, what movie is this?”

That’s when I had to explain that it was just a story in my head. Probably my project for this November.

Once I finished explaining, all three of them got excited and told me that it was a story they would be happy to read.

That kind of enthusiasm and encouragement is often what a writer needs, especially when they’ve had a bit of a dry spell. I think changing projects also helped. I have enough character bios to form two or three stories. Now, it’s time to move onto another project. After deciding to switch last night, I was able to rewrite the first chapter of The Stone Mason.

So, as much fun as my first Camp NaNoWriMo project was, it’s time to work on bigger and better.

Wish me luck!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Camp Update

Two weeks ago, I was very positive about my camp goals.  500 word character bios? Easy!

Well, not so much.

Turns out, I get frustrated when I start to connect with a character, and then after 500 words, I have to say goodbye. Not necessarily a farewell forever, but enough that it’s starting to become a roadblock.  I don’t want to write the character bios because I don’t want to have to start all over again. I don’t want to have to stop.

That’s not a good thing. When my goals keep me from writing, I know that I’m not doing this right. I’ve written about eleven bios so far, but last week, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. The characters are starting to jump into one another’s bios.

As of now, I have two separate stories starting to develop, with characters finding common ground, and more importantly, common goals. There’s a few oddball characters that don’t fit, but I’m hoping that at some point, I figure out what their stories are. That way, I have more characters, more stories, and more writing to do!

I’m excited to see how the plots develop, especially since now I have the beginning stages of stories started. Maybe I’ll finish characters this week and start looking at plots.

It’s been an interesting experiment, trying to find ways to increase my productivity, and although I did run into a wall several times this month, I’m starting to see the results. Hopefully now I’ll have a new project for July’s Camp and for NaNoWriMo in November.

How about the rest of you? Any tips on promoting productivity?

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Trip to the Library

About a month ago, I went to the capital of our state for some training for work.  Right now, because of Hubby’s schooling, we’re living in a tiny town without very much to do.  So when I got to the big city, I started researching tourist spots to visit. 

Of all the different options, there was one that drew my attention.  The Public Library.  It’s been years since I’ve been in a library of any real size, and I was excited.

And the library was excited to see me.  If you don’t believe me, here’s a picture.

Exclamation point and everything

I didn’t have a card, so I couldn’t check out any books.  But that’s okay, because I could browse.  I’ve been trying to do better at reading more books over the past two years, and I think that in a year and a half, I’ve read the same number of books that I’ve read in the past six or seven years.  So there’s a lot of new authors that I’ve come to know, and a lot of great books that have become one of my favorites.

So I spent the evening looking for books that I’ve read recently.  There were some that surprised me, which were published in the past year and didn’t seem like they would be in the library yet.  There were others I expected to see and didn’t.  Maybe they were checked out.

I got insanely happy when I found a book by a favorite author in the recommended reads shelves. 

If you haven’t read Alexandra Bracken, you really should.

Then I climbed the stairs.  This library had three stories, and I browsed through each one.  I browsed through the fiction sections of the first level, then made my way up to the nonfiction.  There were quite a few books on writing queries and on writing in general.  I spent about an hour leaned up against the shelves flipping through pages.  Then, on the last floor, I pulled out my laptop and started writing.

Being surrounded by words from other writers inspired me.  I was able to spend another hour working on The Orphans of Jadox. 

So I’d say it was one of the best tourist spots by far.  And when there’s a book, there’s always a great destination.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


When I was younger, I learned a word that has always stuck with me.  I read it in a book from a series I loved.  The main character was talking to his best friend, a guy who was desperately in love with the main character’s sister, but she wouldn’t give him the time of day.  When he asked the main character’s advice, he gave him one word:


What a fantastic word.  Life liked to knock us down.  I know each of us has our own hardships, our own struggles.  What could a little fortitude give us?

It’s not just persistence.  It’s an emotional and physical determination to endure whatever comes, and to keep going.  It’s not stubbornness.  It’s more than that.
Why do I bring it up?

Because this is something that all writers must have.  This should be a prerequisite to writing.  Writing isn’t easy.  There’s the first draft.  Finishing that first draft, especially when you’ve never written a novel before, can be absolutely daunting.  In fact, I know quite a few people who’ve never finished one.  Then there’s the revisions.  Some might say that it’s even harder than the actual writing.  It’s taking away the inspiration and going for the analytical.  Looking at phrasing and syntax and ugly adverbs. 

After that?  Depending on the route you take, it’s querying, getting rejected, revising your query over and over again.  Or it’s self-publishing and fighting to get noticed above everyone else in the throng.

There’s nothing easy about writing. 

There's going to be a lot of curves and bumps in the road

A few weeks ago, I saw a fellow writer get discouraged because of feedback she’d received.  This was her first time, and I know how daunting that can be.  For someone else to look at your baby?  The thing you created from your own sweat and tears?  Yeah.  I definitely cried that first time.  Probably the second time too. 
When I talked to the writer about it later, she told me, “I’m not sure if I’ll be putting much more energy into the project.”

I wanted to grab her and shake her.  This is just the beginning.  She has a story, she has a plot.  The feedback wasn’t to scrap it and start all over again.  It was to do some revising and some fixing.  It was totally doable.  It’s a matter of taking a deep breath, closing her eyes and diving in.  Once you get to the other side, where critiques make you happy – even when they tear your work apart – that’s when things are starting to get good.

It’s too easy to give up.  Don’t do it.  Whether it’s your dream of writing a novel, learning a foreign language or riding a hot air balloon strap on some fortitude.  You’ll get there.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Back From the Busy

I can’t believe how busy March was.  Isn’t March supposed to be the lamb?  Or the lion?  I’m not sure, but 2015 has definitely come into full swing, and it’s already racing toward December.  At least, that’s how it feels for me.

Yet, despite it all, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.  Even though I’m busy, one of the things that keeps me most grounded is writing.  Hopefully getting back into the habit will help balance my life.

Normally, for NaNoWriMo, or even Camp NaNoWriMo, I focus on finishing a book, or a draft, or some other big project.  This month, I’ve decided to do things a little differently. 

The Orphans of Jadox is finished and waiting for a query letter to be perfected.  In February, I finished another major revision of The King’s Councilor, and I want it to sit for a while.  The Stone Mason does need some tweaking, but nothing major enough to warrant Camp NaNoWriMo.  Servant of an Empire is being torn apart by Betas, and I’m trying to figure out a plot hole for Jen’s Story (still unnamed). 

So naturally, it’s time to start a new novel, right?

Except, for some reason, I haven’t had any juice.  There’s no plots pouring into my mind, there’s no characters begging for their stories to be told.

I started to panic at the end of last month because I didn’t have anything to work on! 

But then, inspiration struck. 

This month, I’m not writing a novel.  I’m writing a character introduction.  Every day in April, I’ll create a new character and try and figure out what their story is.  Why do we care about this person?  

To add to the challenge, each bio is no longer than 500 words.  (Okay, 510.) 

So far, the past three days have been an interesting experience.  It’s forcing me to write completely differently.  World building?  Thrown in there, only if necessary.  Other characters?  Meh, sometimes.  But I’m more focused on figuring out who the character is, and what they want.  That’s it.  Usually by the time I have that figured out, I’ve almost maxed out my word count.

I’ll try and keep you updated on how it goes!  So far, I’ve found two characters that have intrigued me somewhat.  (Day 1 was a disaster.)

What are the rest of you working on?