Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time For Thanksgiving

I've seen my Facebook friends and family doing this little thing this year, where they say what they are thankful for that particular day. My problem is I had my NaNo goggles on and caught on to what they were doing way too late. There was no way I was about to try to fit in all the things I am thankful for in one day to catch up. So, I decided to to a blog instead.

Here are my things I'm thankful for, in no particular order (can't put family in order, they would all be tied for #1).

My daughter at Lake George, NY 2010.
- My 2 wonderful children! My teenage daughter helps me keep my writing real every day. I just have to eavesdrop a little (shhh, don't tell her. lol) And my 2 year old keeps me on my toes, literally. (By the by that's my daughter in the picture over there to the right.)
- My wonderfully supportive parents and sister! I couldn't ask for better. They truly are the best ever! Did I mention that my parents have been known to stand in ridiculously long lines at book signings just to get me signed books by my favorite author? Well, they do. (Wish more authors would come to the Jersey Shore. hint hint)
- My amazing husband! He never complains (okay, rarely) that I write instead of clean the house. He loves that I am writing and reaching for the stars everyday.
- Extended family and friends - They are amazing. I'm glad I have the friends and family I have. :-)
- A house over our heads - It's hard these days and sometimes we all forget just how many people out there are living in shelters or cars.
- My husband's new job - He's had to start a new job recently, and while it's not the best it's still a job and money towards bills and Christmas. He's such a wonderful man, we love him dearly.
- Coffee! I think you know what I mean.
- My laptop - If I had to write by hand I think my hand would have fallen off by now, seriously.
- Toddler sleeping in and taking nice naps - My son refuses to let me work on my computer when he's up. He has to be the center of attention, and that's fine by me. So I can only write when he's sleeping.
- My critique group - They truly have made me a better writer all around. They are amazing and extremely supportive. Love them!
- Twitter - Yes, I said it, Twitter. So what? I have found a lot of great writer friends there. Plus it's a great way to stalk follow agents I want to query.
- Books - I love books! Need I say more? Nope. :-)
- My Kindle - As much as I love real books, the Kindle makes it easy when you have kids. Especially when my son was very little and would try to rip pages out of books.
- Facebook - I know a lot of people hate Facebook, but since I only friend people I personally know and I have made everything on my account private I don't have a problem. It's the best way to keep in touch with family all over the country.
- Snack food - I love to snack while I write. Bad thing, but it's the only time I can eat things with peanuts in them. My son is allergic and he wants whatever I'm eating. So, I snack and type while he sleeps.
- Spell check - I can't forget this one. Man do I make a lot of silly errors as my fingers fly across the keyboard. 

I could keep going, but in the interest of keeping this blog at a reasonable length I'll end it here.

Your Turn -> Tell me something you are thankful for this year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Year Wiser

It wasn't that long ago that I found myself blogging about how much I hated outlines and how I just couldn't work with them. Well, I'm changing my tune. Yup, that's right. I have found out what the problem was. It wasn't that I couldn't work with an outline, or that I didn't like following an outline. No. The real problem was that I didn't know how to properly create a worthy outline. I would write up an outline and find that I veered from it quite often. My characters would surprise me and become something I hadn't expected. A new subplot would pop up. My main plot would suddenly take a life of its own. All sorts of things were happening.

Another year wiser and more writing under my belt and I've decided that outlining isn't so bad, as long as you do it correctly. As I mentioned back in October I started using this great book called First Draft in 30 Days. I think this has really helped with my outlining. I have learned what I like from the book and what I'm not crazy out, so I have actually gotten almost TWO manuscripts completed with the use of outlines now. The first one I rewrote using the outline and the second one is my NaNoWriMo novel that I should hit the 50,000 word count with this week. I'm so excited that I've decided I'm going to go back through last years NaNo novel using this same method and see if I can fix the plot holes that exist in that manuscript.

I also have to be honest its not just the outlining that has helped I've also learned more about the characters I need to have present. I found a blog post last month that told of the Seven Character Types That Build Your Story. This time when I outlined I made sure I knew what purpose each of my characters was there to serve. They weren't just there to be there, they were there to build up that story. And what do you know? I didn't have any character surprises this time around. That helped me stick to my outline.

As suspected, knowing what roles my characters serve and knowing how to outline better have created stronger story lines for me all together. I am now truly looking forward to editing. I'm not sure what I will decide to do with this latest WIP in the editing process, but I am not as worried bout getting through it as I normally am.

Your Turn -> What have you found that has made your writing better?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Overused Words

Yesterday while writing on my NaNoWriMo piece I realized that I was using the word 'though' way too much. I kept typing it in and then having to go back and delete it. I was driving myself mad with the word. It's like it was imbedded in my brain and I couldn't help type it into every possible sentence. I had to laugh at myself at first for the silliness of using the word unnecessarily. Then I started to think about how many times I have used it recently and not fixed it in my writing. That made me cringe. I'm not sure if I've been over using it and just really paid attention to it.

I know I have other words that cause me grief. I tend to use the words 'like' and 'just' an awful lot too. I actually have a check list of things I need to check when I edit and these words are there as a reminder to get rid of them. I know there was another word that I found myself using too much recently, but I forgot to write it down and now I can't remember which word it was. I'm sure I will figure it out when I read through my WIP later, but right now the idea of no knowing is driving me crazy. I will also have to add 'though' to the list as soon as I can before I forget about it.

Your Turn -> Are there any words you tend to use more than you should? What are they?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plot Snags

I had this great outline all set and working nicely for my NaNoWriMo project. It worked wonderful for 32,000 words and then I did the big no-no and veered from my plot. I've been at an almost stand still ever since I got off on this new tangent last Saturday. I wrote nearly 5,000 words that day as I was super excited about this new turn of events.

I've been trying to figure out how this new twist will work with what I was supposed to do after that particular scene. You see my main character was supposed to just be in a tight situation, but I had to go and make it an almost death scene where she barely got out alive. Now she's all beaten up and damaged. I fear this may have been a bad move. Yet, I still have time to go before NaNo is over and now less than 15,000 words to write.

I'm hoping that at some point today I'll have the plot figured out and be back on track to writing my 2,500 words a day again. If I can pull this off then I should hit my 50K by next Wednesday. I know 15K should only take 6 days at that pace, but I'm giving myself a day for today to plot this kink out. And, I'm attending the 12:01am showing of Breaking Dawn Thursday night / Friday morning. I most likely will NOT hit my word count Friday at all. I'll be lucky if I can force myself to sit down and write at all that day. lol

Of course hitting my 50K doesn't mean that I'll be done with my story. I'm planning to reread this story making notes as I go when I'm finished with it. Then it will be shelved until January, when I will revisit it and edit the heck out of it. With luck I'll have it in amazing shape by April. My goal is to have it ready for Beta readers by March. Fingers crossed.

Your Turn -> Have you ever found yourself taking a new route with a manuscript and end up needing to re-plot the entire ending?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quantity vs. Quality

I've been seeing a lot of blogs in the past two weeks that are geared towards the NaNoWriMo crowd. Why? Because there's a debate that goes on every November regarding quantity versus quality. I get both sides. The idea of NaNoWriMo isn't to have the best quality of work on the first go round, but rather have a good start to something great. There are two reasons this debate has taken form. Two separate

1 - Every Writer Writes Different: 
  • OCD Writers - You have the writers who are OCD, like my dear hubby, and have to have their writing perfect on the first go round. For this crowd writing so quickly and not editing at the same time NaNo is near impossible.
  • NaNoers - Then there are those who can write fast and get their work down in one month, or close to. (We will come back to this group, soon.) 
  • Nay Sayers - Of course there are the nay sayers who just plane don't like the idea all together. That's fine, it's their prerogative. 

2 - NaNoWriMO Participants (I told you we would come back to the second group) This is probably the biggest reason the Quantity versus Quality debate even exists. Why? Every December as NaNoWriMo participants reread their newly completed manuscripts different groups emerge.
  • True Editors - This group of NaNoers will edit the heck out of their manuscript. They will shelve it and come back to it numerous times. They will obsess over every detail they wrote during November. They will have their critique partners look it over, send it to Beta readers, and eventually (sometime after March) begin sending them off to agents. This is the group the agents love! 
  • Almost Editors - This group will edit their NaNo projects, but they will either not go far enough with the editing process and shelve their projects for later or they just don't know enough now about the writing process. Their work won't stink as badly, but it won't be as good as the True Editors and when they query it agents will not be as irritated as they are with the next group. 
  • Barely Editors - This group is the group most disliked in all of NaNo. I've heard a lot about this group lately. It seems every year there are those who finish their novel, give it a quick once over to fix spelling and little errors, and then they query agents. Apparently it s a pretty big group. Enough to annoy some agents into hating November. DON'T be in this group. You're WIP is NOT ready in December. I don't care how great you say you are as a writer, it's not ready. I've never read a blog by a traditionally published author where they've said they write, check for little errors, and it's perfect. No, No, NO! 
  • Shelvers - Then finally there are the ones who shelve their project and don't come back to it for a year or more. 

Me and NaNoWriMo: 
  • 2010 - Last year I fell in the Shelvers group. I still haven't pulled it off the shelf, but I have worked out a goals schedule for the first six months of 2012 and it's on there to pull it back off the shelve and start work on it. 
  • 2011 - This year my goal is to fall in that very first category of True Editors. I will not shelve this WIP and I will get it edited to the point it's ready for the query process. I will! 

Your Turn -> Did I miss a group? Where do you fall? Where would you like to fall this year?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Under the Weather

I know I missed blogging on Wednesday and I don't have a post for today. I haven't forgotten about blogging, I've just been under the weather most of the week. Rather than attempting to fight my brain for a blog post I thought I'd give you a peek at a couple of beautiful pictures that adorn my living room.

Each of the pictures I use on my blog are by Al Reich, In Natural Light Photography, or as I like to call him, Dad!

Below are two of my very favorite photographs of his and they are hanging over the couch in my living room. Below them are a couple of links to see other of his photographs.

I hope to be back to feeling better and blogging on Monday. Until then, I hope you enjoy the photography. :-)

In Natural Light on Flickr

In Natural Light Official Gallery

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Progress Report

As you may know this is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo. Last year I decided to join in on the fun almost last minute, on October 30th. This year I started planning in January and I have already seen a huge difference. So what gives?

Good Planning is what has given me a leg up this year. One week in and this morning I logged in my word count, 19,983. A whole 17 words shy of 20,000. I wasn't anywhere near that number last year at this time. I find that since I know exactly where my characters are going it's been a lot easier to write the story. I am following my outline and getting exactly where I want and need to be.

Growth is the other aspect that I seem to have more of this year than I had last year. I was fairly new last year when I entered NaNo, this year I've got more writing under my belt, I've learned more about better outlining and organizing before I write, and I've got the best critique group ever. The story I'm writing now is one of my favorites so far that I've ever written. It's the second manuscript that I've written with this new outlining format and it's working like a charm so far.

I'm hoping that I can keep up this writing streak that I've gotten myself into. Last year I strived for 2,000 words a day, knowing that I would have a problem keeping up at the end of the month. My son's second birthday is coming up this month as well as Thanksgiving. Those two events usually cause me to lose writing time. Not to mention if I decide to actually brave the crowds and go out on Black Friday. That kills that entire day as far as writing goes. Last year I also finished the manuscript early, but didn't quite hit the word count. I knew I had missed things and needed to add new scenes in, but didn't get it done in time for the word count to be considered for the NaNo site. 

This year I have a great outline and I'm shooting for a higher word count per day, around 2,500-3k a day at least. I'm hoping that if I finish the manuscript ahead of schedule and I'm below the 50k words needed I'll be able to work on adding scenes. So far I have been adding scenes that I hadn't planned on being included already. I don't see any way to add in more scenes, but just in case I would like to have the time to consider it.

Your Turn -> If you are doing NaNoWriMo, have you grown from year to year in your writing?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Creating New Worlds With Words

If there's anything I love about writing it's creating a new world. Usually I only create a scenario set in our world, but for NaNoWriMo I came up with an idea that is more dystopian in style than anything else I've ever written. It didn't start out that way either. I've been thinking up this world and story line since January. Seriously, that's insane for me to have been working on it on the side for so long and not writing a single word as far as word count is concerned.

It was originally a sci-fi story, then it transformed into a love story, and now finally it's a love story in the midst of a dystopian society. The characters have changed as have the paths they were supposed to take. In the last month things really started to take shape better and I finally found all of the missing puzzle pieces I had been fighting to piece together. It all just suddenly fell right into place. That, I like.

So, currently I'm creating a whole new world for my characters to discover themselves in. It's fun and exhilarating. I can see the world opening up before me and placing it on the paper. The crazy thing about this being a new world and my NaNoWriMo novel is that I have plenty need to describe the world my characters inhabit. It's a great means to add to my word count.

Now, off to write I must go! The words are calling me, or rather a particular scene is calling to me.

Your Turn -> What do you like most about creating a new story?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reading Reward

This month being NaNoWriMo means that I am creating a new work and when that happens I tend to lay off the reading. I tend to lose my characters voice and get too caught up in whatever book it is that my nose is stuck in. Therefore, there will be no reading for at least the first part of this month. Instead I'm actually cleaning my house.

Yup, I said it. I'm cleaning my house. I see writers all the time on Twitter claiming to be using it as a procrastination tool so they don't have to write. Not me, it's my procrastination tool so that I don't have to clean. When I sit down to write, I write. When I have time to clean, I read, I play on my iPhone, or I surf various social networks.

This month, I am refraining from reading AND procrastination. I have decided to write in the morning and during the toddler's nap time. In between those writing sprints I have decided to do a little cleaning here and there. I'm not going to overload myself cleaning non-stop, so yes I'll be relaxing occasionally. But, there will be no reading. If I read there will be NO cleaning or writing. And that will be bad.

So, since I love to read I have decided to use reading as my reward. When my house is clean, and I've finished NaNoWriMo, I will reward myself with binge reading. 

My two main goals this November:

- I will win NaNoWriMo this year!

- I will get my house cleaned before the holidays!

Your Turn -> Do you find yourself procrastinating on one particular thing?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

That's right, it's time once again for National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, November. If you follow writers on Twitter or Google+ you are sure to be inundated with NaNo updates. If you are participating I welcome you to add me to your buddy list on the NaNo site.

This is my second year participating and I'm so excited. This year, being my second, is entirely different. The big difference is that last year I decided to participate on October 30th, giving me two days to prepare. This year I have been planning and researching since January. I feel good about this story and I'm hoping that I will hit my 50,000 word count. Last year I only reached just over 38,000. And, that was flying by the seat of my pants.

Last year I had never attempted to write a full novel in that amount of time. It was a learning experience. This year I've been practicing. For NaNo 2010 I rewrote a novel that I had been fighting with. It was the third full round on that novel. It was also my first full novel written. Since then I've written three more novels fully. I'm still in the process of editing said novels, but I'm better prepared now than I was last year.

I've grown a lot as a writer since last year, so I'm hoping to take what I have learned and pull it together for a win this time round.

Your Turn -> Are you participating this year? Is it your first? Have you won before? Tell me a little about your experience.