NaNo: Using Tools When You Can!

As I mentioned before, I generally plan nothing when writing. Doing this with a short story is not so bad.  For an entire novel? Kinda difficult for me. It shoved me into lots of corners.  So this time, I decided to try and plan ahead.  I looked around on the internet (because I wanted to hit as many points as possible), and found Annie Neugebauer’s site.  She has lots of great worksheets, which are free!

You can find the worksheet and others here. I found this worksheet rather helpful and I hit lots of good plot points.  My friend came up with a few ideas, we brainstormed, and I kept some of his and some of mine and mashed some of ours together. I still have a few things that are fuzzy towards the end, but they are outlined enough that I can get to them and have a general idea where I am going. Which means I can still write by the seat of my pants a bit. 🙂 Ah the rush.

I went over my plotting worksheet a few minutes ago. I’m really happy with whats there. In case you are curious, my three sister’s are called “Ember, Ash and Blaze.” Their mother is Seraphina, and they have an aunt named Amber. That’s all you get to know for now!

I currently have 10,080 words on the story, on 32 pages in Word.  It makes me happy to see that.  I’m going to start rereading it tomorrow to get my bearings, because it has been a bit since I did much with it. I wrote every day for like 15-20 days straight and then fell off the wagon hard. That’s my normal.

Oh how stressful Nano shall be… I need coffee…

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Prepping for Battle

I’ve done NaNoWriMo technically twice, but last year I did not truly participate due to my mother-in-law passing away on November 2nd. However, last year I did do writing prep in October, and if you are curious about previous blogs, click here for a list of them. I won in 2014, but I wound up completely scrapping my project half way through (20ish thousand words) and starting over.  In the end I wrote over 50k, but I only kept about 30k.  Sad days.

This year, I’m hoping not to do any of that craziness. I’m going to start working on my story now, and it is a project I started earlier this year.  A friend has been helping with some research, I have pinterest board, and for the first time ever, I’ve almost completely plotted out a story.

So when prepping for battle, be aware that nothing goes as planned. Some people may argue that since I scrapped what I had and restarted, I may not have won in 2014. To me, I did. I wrote all of that, even if I went crazy, switched perspectives, added characters, and completely rewrote what I had to the point of adding new scenes and a new narrative. Not at all what I planned.  If you cannot tell, I do not usually plan much.

This year, I hope to change that. The story I wrote in 2014, actually came from a short story I wrote about Dragons, and a dragon ride (the first in centuries).  The short story was great. I pantsed it and went on with the story. I decided instead of third I wanted to do first. I fleshed the story out so much more.  Then after NaNo, when I was trying to finish it, I hit a wall.  A friend read it, and reported to me that I had no real villain. Oops. I had been so focused on the character, and the war, that I did not think about the fact that I needed something more central to focus on. I still love that story, but I’ve put it aside for now. Once again, I’m going to have to rework what I have and I just need a break.

So pantsing may work for some people, but right now I need a story I’ve planned. Enter “We Witches Three.”  I’ve planned and plotted and am researching. I’ve started the beginning of it. I know where I want to go.  I’m going to hash out what I have tonight, and really start reexamaning. I had meant to all this craziness starting in October, and really get used to writing every day again. Starting a new job in August, with this being one of two of my busiest months of the year, made things hectic.  Why can’t Nano be in like July?  There are hardly any kids here in July…

So are you a pantser or a plotter or both? I’d be interested in hearing your tales!

(Side note – I submitted a new book review last night for “The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter.” 2.5/5 – I will link it when it is published.)

 

Anyone there?

*peeps around the corner*

Hello? Anyone there?

*crickets*

Ah well.  I have returned! And I apologize.  I’ve long been absent from my blog.  Starting a new job, and the hubby returning to school has been quite an adventure. A busy adventure that has left me falling asleep before 10 most nights.  Also, I’ve been reading quite a bit and had several reviews in the Bowling Green Daily News.

However, NaNoWriMo is approaching! And I’m determined to win again this year. I just updated my novel, We Witches Three, and I’m fixing to start prepping like crazy to get ready for it. I’m thinking for lunch at work I shall start shutting the door and working for an hour in my office. Wish me luck. I’m going to create a board of inspiration.

By the way, I love my office.I love my job!

Other than that, we’ve been busy bees. I need to super clean.  I’ve painted my living room, kitchen and hallway. For future reference, wallpaper border is the devil.  I have one wall left in my living room and I have to paint the trim (my plan for this weekend).  I have yard sale stuff to post on Facebook and many clothes to go through. I also plan to go through all of Xander’s toys and get rid of some stuff.

So, more on writing in my next post.

Thanks for sticking with me guys!

A Writing Prompt

This is Author Amanda McCormick‘s weekly writing prompt:

Using a photo from Garett Photography, write whatever inspires you.

I’m going to use these two, which are really lovely.

(This is a scene which may go into my new book)

The sun had almost set on the longest day of the year. The garden was bursting with blooms, having soaked in the sun. Ember gathered chamomile, yarrow, thyme and daisies.  She already had lilies, and had made flower crowns for her and her sisters, their aunt, and niece. She wasn’t sure if they would wear them, but she could not resist. It was a fond memory of her mother and her sisters, celebrating the solstice.  With their mother gone, and their training becoming more intense, she just wanted to liven things up for an evening.

She had already picked vegetables and apples.  She had also bought some fruit from the market. Oak was stacked by the firepit with pine needles, ready to burn, and she had her emerald earrings and necklace on. Gathering the rest of what she wanted, she took the bunches to the chairs, winding herbs together, laying a few bunches in the bottom of the pit.  As she finished,  she saw her sisters and niece come out of the kitchen.

“Hey Em. Anything we can do?”

“Bring out the trays in the kitchen and set the table over there.  There should be candles as well.”

Blaze and Ash disappeared through the door. Ella continued walking up to the firepit and looking in. “Why are there herbs and stuff in the bottom?”

“Mostly just because it smells wonderful when it burns. Our mom used to say that these plants held a special significance on the summer solstice however, so she always grew them. It’s tradition to burn them.”

Ella nodded, and Em smiled, as it was if she was carefully committing these thoughts to memory.  The sun had finally set, and the moon slowly began to become visible. Blaze and Ash had set the trays on the table, with Aunt Ember walking behind with the candles, arranging them just so. She waved a hand over them, and they lit.

“Did you make these Ember?” Amber asked.

“Yes. I sell quite a few in the store and online. These particular ones smell of Lavender”

“Wonderful.”

“Can we eat now? I’m famished?” Blaze said as she picked up a slice of watermelon.

“Me too!” piped up Ella.

Laughing Ember told them to eat up.  Getting a plate, she piled it full of salad, with a bowl of fruit.  They sat around the fire and as the night drew over them, and the stars began to appear, they lit the fire.

Ember walked around setting the crowns on each person’s head.  Blaze jumped when hers landed, and then giggled as she saw Ember’s.  “I had forgotten this. I haven’t done this in years.”

“Mom and I did it every year.  Ella, do you like yours?”

“I LOVE IT!” Ember had also made her a wand, using a long stick, ribbons and flowers.  She skipped around the garden, waving it as flowers trailed behind her.

Amber looked at each of them.  “I’m glad to see Sera kept doing this. Your mother did always love the holidays.”

“She respected them too. I want to honor that respect and love. We’ve all been working hard, I thought tonight would be a good night off. What about some stories about you two as children?”

“That was quite a while ago.”

“I’d enjoy a few.  Plus Ella did not know mom well. It would be nice” Ash said.

Ember noticed Amber give her a look, but was unsure what it meant. “Okay.”

Amber started off with a story about Sera lighting the teacher’s trash can on fire when she was mad in school, and from there she made their own antics in school sound like nothing.  Ash seemed to regret asking for the stories as Ella looked fascinated at the ideas.  The moon was now high above them, shining through the dream catchers hung in the garden. Lights flicked across the pavers, and sparkled like the stars above them.

Throwing herbs on the fire with the pine needles, Ember looked around her.  She missed her mother, but she was glad for the night.  Her sisters were together again, and celebrating this day of life and light.

The End

Hope you enjoyed! Join in the prompt, and link back to Amanda! Also, check out Garett’s photography! It is beautiful.

Writing – Keeping up with goals

Hello guys!

I think I was a bit exhausted after the A-Z challenge. I’ve barely blogged this month, so sorry about that. I shall now go back to at least once a week. Also, I should have about five book reviews to post soon.

I’d really like feedback: What would you like to see on here? What would you like to be different? I’m thinking of doing Wednesday Word Prompts.

In other news, and on to the title of this blog post, sometimes in writing it is hard to keep up with goals. I know I talked about this off and on, and in my last post. However, it is very relevant to what is going on with my writing.

Have you ever had a moment where you question whether you can call yourself a writer?  If its been a bit since you’ve written anything, if you cannot seem to finish something, or if you just write in spurts, and then stop, then pick it back up?  When you look at others, people writing thousands of words a day, or people with finished unpublished novels or published novels, it may be hard to look at what you do and think you are the same.

Here’s my logic.  I am a writer.  I write, and whether or not I measure up to some crazy goal (even if I set it myself) does not change that.  I have a couple of friends who write thousands of words a day. But everyone’s life is different, and I think that can be important to note.  I have a toddler, I get migraines, I have a husband, and a house and yard to take care of, cleaning to do, a full time job, and I’m job hunting.  Oh, and I also write book reviews for two newspapers, this blog and do other work such as tutoring. To say I have a busy schedule is sometimes an understatement.

Don’t get me wrong. I have time to write, at least most days.  I have time to write when I choose not to write. I’m trying to change that.  As you know I’m working on a new novel, and its going well. I have not actually written words on the novel in the past few days. I stopped. Why? Because, I stopped.  I made the choice to stop and work on my characters a bit. I felt that I needed to develop them a bit more in my head, so that I could really get their personalities onto paper.  I’m working on character descriptions and things like that.  I hope to be back to writing on the novel, at least a little, tonight. So I’m still working on something, even if I’m not getting two thousand words onto the story a day. Quality is important to me too, not just quantity. I don’t want to force the words onto the paper, if I think taking a make is more beneficial (just like my current long planned break for my other novel).

I think sometimes its important to stop and look at what you need. What do you think your story needs? Are you overstressed? Take a break.  Does the messiness of your house make you so stressed you want to hide in a corner? Clean.  Spend some time with your loved ones. That story inside of you is important.  It is important to your soul to breathe those words onto paper and help it come to live. And of course, we all hope to be the next new author making their debut. But you cannot get there at all without self-care.

So remember you. As I said last time – you know what works for you. Pushing yourself is fine. Burning yourself out is not.

So good luck and fair fortunes, and till next time, happy writing!

Writing: When To Know Yourself

For all of us, word count goals are important.  For writers who have deadlines, they mean something different.  To a struggling writer, trying to get back to writing everyday, they mean quite a lot.  We all have goals we wish to met, whether it be on a blog, writing a novel, or over several different projects.

I’ve heard many different types of advice from successful writers, bloggers, and people working their way to do so.  Hosting panels for SOKY Bookfest, this is often a common question.  Usually the answer is to writer every day.  I support that.

The past few years, I’ve been trying to write more.  It’s been a struggle. I wrote nonstop in high school (and before). It was usually short stories/poems/papers.  In college I was a creative writing major.  I changed my last year to a literature major. Due to certain issues, I was just kind of … burnt out on my writing.

I had a short story I had written for my advanced fiction class that my classmates loved. I still have their reviewed copies. One friend in the class even drew a dragon and other things on it to go along with it. She was a wonderful artist.  I still never was given an A on it, and it kind of upset me.  However, a year out, I decided I really wanted to work on it. I started turning it into a novel. The problem was, I realize now, that to go from short story to novel, you really have to plan. I did not do that. I just started writing all crazy like.

When I came to nano, I worked on the plot a bit. Realized it would sound much better in first person, and rewrote the entire thing, adding in a bit here and there.  I kept trying to write on it, but at this point I had a tiny child, was in grad school full time, and working and dealing with lots of life craziness/sadness.  Writing came to a halt.  Then, going back over the story with my friend Nick, he told me I was missing a real … evil I suppose you could say. I had this looming war but nothing concrete. And it was true. That was my problem. I had no idea where I wanted to go. We worked something out, largely thanks to his idea. However, I really need to go almost back to the start and rework quite a bit of things.

I decided to write only 250 words a day. 1000, a common goal for many, was just often to much for me many nights. Half the time I fall asleep with my toddler at 10.  The goal itself was stressing me out. Amanda suggested the 250. It was a good start.  I also did the alphabet series on my blog, and determined to post once a week on it. I’ve been pretty good about this (and thanks to all you guys reading!).

Back to work count, and the point of all this explanation.  As a writer, you will be bombarded with advice.  Everyone has something different works for them.  For instance, in my last panel the six authors talked about pantsing or plotting.  Some of them did a mixture of both, one did a general outline and went with what came, and one guy literally laid out the entire timeline of several books in a giant timeline on his wall. I mean, a super detailed one. We all started in amazement at him.  Many of us mentioned that we are not capable of that.

You really have to know you, as a writer, and what you are capable of. Set goals for yourself. If they are not working, lower them. If it feels like too much pressure, change them. When you find that you are meeting them consistently, raise them.  This way you are still challenging yourself, but you are not feeling so pressure from the get go that you are sabotaging yourself.

Finally, realize that sometimes you just are not going to meet those goals.  Or that something else may be more important.  Don’t go too long without trying to jump back into it however, because that’s just as bad.

What inspired this is that I started a new novel last Saturday. On time of outlining the entire thing, knowing several characters, and my main story-line/opposition, I wrote 1000 that first night, and the next two. Three nights in a row I wrote 1000 words. I had decided that as my goal every day.  Last night, it didn’t happen. I didn’t feel good. I was exhausted.  I tried to write, and I hated what I was putting on paper. I wrote about 400 words, and called it quits. I needed to work on my characters, I decided before I kept writing, and I did not have the energy left to devote to it then (also I’m directing a play that is this Thursday. It’s zapping a lot from me). I wrote, and that was important. But I didn’t push myself too far past my limits, because that can be just as bad as not writing at all.

We all have to take nights off. Don’t be afraid to admit it.

Good night guys, I’m going to go work on my characters.  Happy writing!

Word Count for the Month of April

Hello everything!

So, I’m hoping April showers will bring May Flowers… but for now, it’s the last day of April, and I’m looking at my writing totals.

I’m ecstatic. I wrote 14,348 words this month. I have no idea when the last time I wrote that much was.  Probably in undergrad with all my papers.

The best part? I’ve started a new novel. One of my goals is still to finish my novel-in-the-works, Fated Destiny. However, I need to sit and study that and possibly rewrite much after finally figuring out some points that had me stuck.  I think I’m saving that for NaNoWriMo.

The other day I had an idea about witches.. and started working on it. I shared it with my friend Nick who is most awesome at helping me plot. He has wonderful ideas. And he ran with it. Gave me super ideas. Then I went and used a plotting worksheet and wrote and wrote. An entire plot. I was so super happy.

Then I pinned all the pins on witchcraft.

And then I started to write. Wrote over 1000 words before collapsing into sleep, and I just wrote over 1000 more tonight.

Wish me all the luck. Maybe if you guys want I’ll share snippets as I go. I also plan to blog weekly on my word count and where I’m at plot point wise.  I plan 1000 words a night. Maybe if I can do this, I can have a whole novel in three months.

Wish me luck!