Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

Finding Positives From the Worst November

I’m ready for next year! 😀

This is not the worst November because it was my first NaNoWriMo and I didn’t “win.” On the contrary, NaNo pumped me as a writer. I’m looking forward to finishing my third book in much less than half the time of my previous two.

This has been the worst November because it was parenthesized by the deaths of two beloved grandmothers.

So, positives:

1. My grandmothers were both ready to pass. They died in relative comfort. I’m grateful that neither one is in pain anymore.

2. I’ve proved to myself that it doesn’t have to take a year to write a book. Even one that requires a bunch of research.

3. I had fun posting my blog contest entries and engaging in the comments that were made.

4. I won the blogging contest! And Jessica has been gracious enough to allow me another month to finish my book. I’m looking forward to her critique. 🙂

5. I didn’t get glutened.

6. I got a new computer. 😉

Despite, and in some cases because of, the positives, I’m exhausted. So I’ve decided to take a two-week blogcation. I’d like to focus on family and finishing my book. In that order. 🙂 I hope everyone has fun with their pre-Christmas festivities. See you in two weeks. 😀

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#30 Why Do You Think You Could Benefit From Manuscript Evaluation and Critique?

Pre-polishing. Image attributed to Scotty00 via Wanacommons
Pre-polishing. Image attributed to Scotty00 via Wanacommons

Despite having been a writer since I was 6, I’m still learning. Despite having a degree in English Literature and having taught High School English, I’m still learning. Despite having published a book and having another one under contract, I’m still learning. If I have ten plus books under my belt, I’ll still be learning.

I have grown a pretty thick skin. I need feedback whether good or bad because I know that it means I can learn to get better. That’s why I’ve been pretty disappointed that I’ve only gotten two reviews for Harp Lessons. Sure, I’ve had people come up to me to tell me that they enjoyed it, but I really want to know what they liked about it. I want to know what they didn’t like about it.

Help me be a better writer!

But even better than reviews, is having a professional evaluate my manuscript before it gets sent to my publisher. It’ll be great to have someone tell me which “little darlings” need to bleed out and which spots need to be beefed up.

I’m very curious how this manuscript is going to come out. I’ve never written anything this quickly before. I can only imagine how much editing I’ll need to do when it’s finished. It would be nice to already have a plan in place to adjust the parts of the story that need work before I even get started on the grammatical issues.

A different set of eyes is always helpful. Different people have a different set of experiences to bring to the table. A different editor can catch things that another one may not. Not that the other editor is a bad editor, just one with other experiences. And the other editor may catch things that the first one didn’t.

The bottom line is, I want to be a better writer. The experience of NaNo will be unique for me. I’m hoping it will help, but I’d like to know if by the end of it, do I have a descent book or is it just puked out words?

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: A little more, but not much. Still not quite 26,000, but I didn’t get the chance to count. As stoked as I am that I found out I won this contest, especially for reasons expressed in the above post, I also found out that my Grandma Caroline just passed. She was a great inspiration for my writings. I will miss her tremendously.

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#29 Thoughts On Completing This Contest?

I feel like this contest was my NaNo warm-up. At first, I cranked out the posts and I was way ahead of schedule. But I wasn’t done when I went on vacation. No matter. I could get a few done during the trip, and at the rate I was going, I could easily finish when we got back.

Then Grannie died rather suddenly.

Along with the torrent of emotions and distraction of family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 10 years, I confess I didn’t get any posts written.

Boom!

I lost my “lead” and began to feel like a procrastinating school kid who doesn’t finish their essay till the night before it’s due. As it is, while I write this, it is October 30th, I’ve got the last topic to write plus the “Day in the Life” post which I sort of skipped because for me, it required a bit of background reading. I’ve finished the research on that one, but still need to write it out.

To my credit, we also had computer issues too these last few days. I’ve had to write out most of my final posts from my tablet, hunt and peck style. Ugh. But now, two days before the posts are due, we finally got the computer reimaged so I can add my links and pictures (and type normally).

But you know what? I’m glad I had stresses and distractions that kept me from finishing early (obviously, I really could have done without the sudden loss of a loved one). But I should get done on time, and the stress has boosted my confidence that I can do this NaNo thing.

So thank you Jessica! Whether or not you choose me as the winner, I’ve already “won.” And look at that! Another post finished and two left to go! 😀

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 25,289. We ended up needing a new computer anyway, so I did something I never do. I waited for 2 hours last night at Office Depot for the pre-Black Friday sale. Got a great deal, but I don’t want to do it again. lol

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#28 Do You Plan To Do NaNoWriMo in 2014?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Absolutely! One of the things I recognize in myself as a writer is my utter inability to turn off my inner editor. I need to gag her, bind her and stuff her in a closet along with the cotton that fills my head whenever I accidentally eat gluten. I’m counting on NaNoWriMo to help me with that.

NaNo will be the drill sergeant I never got to have. Because if I really want to be a professional writer, well I’ve got to be my own boss. A physical boss imposes deadlines, doesn’t care if I’m sick for a month because of gluten, and doesn’t tolerate playing computer games on the job.

NaNo will be the Boot Camp I need to get me fit for writing as a professional. “I don’t care if you’re cramping and nauseous! You’re not vomiting, so you can drop and give me 2000 words right now!”

“Yes, drill sergeant!”

I love the way Kristen Lamb uses the analogy of the inner editor in NaNo Boot Camp. If we edit while writing, it’s like cleaning dirt and vomit off our boots while climbing a hill.

“What do you think you’re doing Private Ford? I don’t care what Private Editor told you! Leave the passive voice and head hopping on your boots! Move it! Move it!”

I’d like to think that I’ll keep the Nano momentum for the rest of my life, but I know life will get in the way. So yes, I’ll be looking forward to next year’s contest where I’ll be held accountable for my word count for the month. I’d like to write more than one book every two to three years. Besides, I’ve got ideas in my head that are ready start smashing windows in order to get out. So to avoid the broken glass, I’d like to get them out as quickly and effectively as possible.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 25,289. Happy Thanksgiving! Okay so, yeah, while it looks like Boot Camp has failed me, I’m here to say it has NOT! 😀 External circumstances have kept me from writing as often as I had thought I could. It was like getting a severely sprain ankle on the second day of Boot Camp. Days ago, I set two new goals: get to 25,000 before the end of the month (DONE!), get to 50,000 or finish the book by the end of the year (ON TRACK!). I’m actually pretty stoked since my last two books took a year or more to complete a piece. 😀

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#27 What Do You Like To Blog About The Most?

Neverending silliness!
Never-ending silliness!

Okay, so don’t get me wrong, I love blogging about my boys. They’re funny and always come up with great stuff to entertain. Be on the lookout for a few things on my adorable nephew too, who, due to distance, I don’t get to see nearly enough. But that’s all info I can easily share on facebook.

So I’ll be honest. I blog because I don’t really want to blog. It’s a writing challenge – that’s the purpose. It’s a way for me to improve my skills and build my author platform at the same time.

I’d have to say that I mostly like to blog about anything that pertains to whatever I’m writing. Lately much of it has been about Ireland because that is where The Stone of Kings is set. But I’ve also talked a bit about the evils of bigotry and prejudice because that is also a big theme in the book.

Come December, I may be writing more on the bigotry issue because my NaNo book is a mystery/suspense about the Civil War. I guess that’s why part of me really wants to get back into teaching. Just the four months of seeing the racism evident in the students that I taught…well, it shook me to the core. I had no idea that there were still people out there teaching their children the useless idea of hate.

It made me so sad for them.

That’s why I’ve titled my blog the way I have – Author of Open-Minded Fiction. I may move on to something else that I feel more people ought to be more open-minded about, but for now, it’s urging my readers to influence others to push hatred aside and find commonalities with each other.

When I begin to write my dystopia, I’ll probably start blogging more on making sure that we think for ourselves. Because, is it just me, or does it feel like our society is allowing the media and government to think more and more for us?

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 24,464

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#26 What “Being An Author” Means To You

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Being an author had meant that I’d hang out in coffee shops or bookstores signing my books and maybe reading an excerpt or two. Then, I’d write another book and trust that everyone would respect my need for solitude. When I’d finish the next book, I’d send it immediately to an editor, who would only have to catch my typos because everything I write is golden…

Okay, who was holding the glue under my nose? C’mon, ‘fess up.

A little research, a little Kristen Lamb kicking my rear like Jillian Michaels, and I’ve learned that the way of an author – a successful author – is a lot of hard work. But honestly, how can anyone truly be successful at anything without having worked hard?

So now…

Being an author means writing – everyday. It means reading – any spare moment, fiction and craft books. It means getting the voices in my head down on paper and trying to come up with new ways to connect them to my readers. It means blogging, tweeting (gotta work harder on that), and facebooking. It means breaking out of my comfort zone and trying new things, NaNoWriMo for instance.

But it’s also dreaming.

I dream that I can write the kind of fiction that can touch lives the way other books have touched mine. I dream that if I’m ever a best-selling, popular author, that I won’t ever lose sight of why I started writing books in the first place. I also dream of being a voice of reason to young people. I am by no means a wise sage, but I’ve learned some things from my youth – things that I wish I had learned earlier. As an author, I’m writing to my younger self in hopes that others, young or old can learn what I have. I hope it helps them in some way.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 24,067

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#25 The State of the Union

Image via Wikimedia Commons

*sigh* I really hate politics.

Nevertheless, I still have a plan to write a dystopia inspired by the soybean farmers from Food Inc., the legalization of marijuana in some states, and a documentary I once watched on the amount of meth-heads in our country’s prisons.

Having been a teacher, even for as brief a time as it was, I kind of have the idea that our classrooms are a sort of microcosm, for the state of our country. A lot of what I saw was that most many of the parents expect the teacher to raise their children for them. I had some students who had conscientious parents, and typically, those were the students who did well.

It begins at home people!

Okay, okay, I promise I won’t get on a soapbox about education.

I hope the shutdown helps to wake up Americans. I really think we all need a good strong dose of Dave Ramsey. We need to start living at or below our means instead of way beyond them. We are a government by the people. The fact that our country is in a horrible state of debt reflects who we are as individuals. We have forgotten how to wait. We have forgotten how to appreciate what we have.

Do you see me speaking to myself here too?

If I ever start acting entitled, please do me a favor and pull me away, violently if necessary, from that precipice. The last thing I want is to raise entitled children because our country has too much of that now. It is my experience that entitled people don’t compromise well. How can we thrive as a country if we can’t compromise?

Maybe I was supposed to be more specific with this topic. I’ve given up watching much news because one channel feeds me stuff from “The Left” while another channel gives me stuff from “The Right.” Which is the channel that simply gives me ALL the FACTS and lets me think for myself? So yeah, that’s why I didn’t talk about Obamacare. TOO confused to take any kind of stance on that one.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 23,218

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#24 Chickens

“No one’s gettin’ in my way!”

Hetty gazed at the horizon, a worried look in her eyes. “What if the government shuts down again?”

Chickie rolled her eyes and asked, “What are you talking about now, Hetty?”

“Well, what if I want to go visit the Smoky Mountains or see Old Faithful? Suppose I’d already planned my trip, paid for the airfare, but then they shutdown everything again? What a waste.”

“Um, Hetty, you’re a chicken.”

Hetty fluffed her feathers and flapped her wings determinedly. “You know what? You’re right. I shouldn’t be afraid. I should just do it. I can’t plan for every contingency, right?”

“No, Hetty, seriously. You’re a chicken.”

“Well, I know I’m not the boldest hen in the coop, but I’ve a right to live life to the fullest. Am I right? I shouldn’t let my fear of what the government does get in the way.”

Chickie sighed then strutted in front of Hetty’s face. “Hetty. Look at me. You. Are. A. Chicken.”

“Well, come on. I mean, look at buk, buk, Becky. She wouldn’t even have the courage to plan a trip like that even if we were in a bull market.” She gazed off at the horizon again.

“Hetty, you are an egg laying, yard scratching, ever clucking CHICKEN!”

“Hmm, I wonder if Buford Bull would be willing to take the trip with me. I could use the extra protection.”

“How are you even going to get out of the yard, let alone across the country. We’re fenced in, and we can’t fly.”

Hetty stared at Chickie for a moment, then shook her head and said, “Yeah, I don’t think that Buford can fit in an airline seat either. I wonder if he has a car.”

“Hetty, why don’t you just set here on your nice soft nest, lay a couple of eggs, and think about something else for a bit, huh?”

“Hmm, yeah, you know, thinking is good. I’m thinking, I don’t need Buford’s protection or car. I gotta do this on my own. I’ll start by crossing that road.” Hetty wandered off in the direction of the highway.

“You do that. I’m going to go roost for a while.”

“Chickie, how do I get out of this pen? Chickie?”

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 21,480. My new goal, by the way, is to finish the book by the end of the year. 🙂 Even though I won’t ‘win,’ one thing NaNo’s taught me is that it shouldn’t take me a year to write a book, even long-handed.

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#23 Children, Munchkins, or Little Monsters?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

This depends on the moment (or if there is a full moon).

The Moments That They are Children

They are doing their chores or homework properly. I love when I’m working on reading with William and I can see how rapidly he’s improving. I remember how hard it was when he knew the sounds of each letter, but lost them when it came to using them in words. I love it how I can tell him with complete frankness how proud I am of how well he’s doing. Then he smiles and gives me a big hug and absolutely makes my day.

When they play together nicely and politely, it melts my heart. I also have to remember these particular moments and savor them because they are few and far between.

The Moments That They are Munchkins

I am swept into their world like Dorothy in the tornado. I find out that fymaries exist and are helicopters that turn into houses when it sees a bad guy. All yellow vehicles are related (i.e. cousin, grandma, sister, etc.) to the Transformer, Bumblebee. I’m required to get up and do magic moves every time Tree Fu Tom come on so that we can send him big world magic and help him to save his friends from whatever predicament they are in.

The Moments That They are Little Monsters

They usually transform during the full moon, but can switch from Children or Munchkin mode at a moment’s notice on any day. Seriously. They even howl. These are the times when time outs are used several times a day, I’m almost certain not to get any writing or research done, and I’m counting down the minutes to bedtime. I’ve also determined that the Little Monster mode comes with a time altering field that radiates from my boy’s bodies because the clocks in our house always seem to move slower during these moments.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 20,850

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#22 What Does “Off-Day” Mean to You?

Ha! Well, I guess it could be worse. At least I don’t smoke, drink and have insufficient light. Image attributed to Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons.

Usually an “off-day” lasts a month and is caused by gluten. But that’s a given.

Other than that, “off-day” means Charlie doesn’t nap, yells through “quiet time,” and going to the Y is interrupted by too many of the silver sneakers crowd or a poopy diaper. Fortunately, these “off-days” don’t happen too often. But the implications from them are far greater.

When I can’t get writing in when I was planning to, quiet Jeckyll Mommy is in danger of becoming Hyde Mommy. Writing is my potion to keep Hyde Mommy at bay and sometimes that evil Hyde Mommy comes out unbidden because I wasn’t able to get the scenes in my head out onto my paper. When that happens, I’m reduced to trying to squeeze in words and ideas amid my boys playing in the livingroom. Every ten minutes or less, I’m interrupted because someone took someone else’s toy, or the other won’t stop tickling. I tend to enjoy dual timeouts because it gives me at least three minutes of uninterrupted thoughts (unless Charlie starts kicking the wall during his timeout). I do my best to be The Orange Rhino, and not yell at my boys, but on those “off-days” it’s super difficult. I’m also stricken with guilt that I’m busy trying to write instead of playing with them. Then there’s laundry to do, floors to be swept, toys that need tidying, and a gluten-free dinner to prepare (and hope William actually eats some of it).

By the time the boys are in bed, you’d think I’d use the blissful quiet to finally write the way I want to.

Tee hee. You’re funny.

I’m so exhausted from trying to write all day, that when I can finally do it, I end up vegging out on the couch until I’m ready to go to sleep instead.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 20,083. Unfortunately, now that I’ve got a serious project going, I’ve had more off-days than usual. Murphy’s Law.