Category Archives: nano

This, That, Stuff, and Things

I used to have this social studies teacher who absolutely hated “stuff and things.” Use either of those words in an essay question at your peril. So now I often say them, just to say them, because I’m just ornery like that.

I’m also constantly behind. Everything’s just late, crazy, and overdue.

Take the 1000 Sales Giveaway. I was supposed to draw that on Monday. Just did it now.

It has been such a week. Sales started a random upswing over the weekend and then just exploded. It was all very exciting, finally slowing back down again, but I’ve been so obnoxious this week that I’m lucky I have any friends left at all, and you’re all lucky I forgot to blog.

So I’m not going to bore you with a play by play, but I’ll just record that my highest rank in the Kindle store was #327, and at B&N, where there is less competition right now, I think the highest I got was #140. Don’t know how that happened, and I think I’m pretty much going to have to retire from trying to figure this stuff out because I haven’t got a clue.

Ok, I know, tell us the winner already. I’m just messing with you. The winner of the signed paperback of Hush Money is Marta! Because thought to itself: which number feels like international postage?? Hahaha. That’s awesome, though, and Marta, I am very excited to send this to you.

Speaking of contests, I think Robin and I have settled on a cover concept and images for Heroes ‘Til Curfew. Last night I sent her a bunch of spew, descriptions of Dylan, some recurrent themes and imagery from the new book, that kind of crap. What she came up with is pretty awesome on the first try.

It’s not ready yet. I have to buy the stock images, she has to play with the color and make some adjustments, and I apologize for just teasing you like this with nothing to show. But I’m sure we’ll have it ready for you soon. I already feel so much pressure about this sequel that, to be honest, I’m sort of afraid of the cover reveal. Because I just think Robin’s work is so awesome it’s going to make a mob come to my house and chain me to this machine until I finish the story to go with it.

Which Kait suggested might not be a bad thing.


Anyway, I asked Robin if she was inspired by any of the responses in the Find My Dylan contest, and it seemed that her image selection came mainly from what I told her about the story. We agreed that it’s probably best to go with random selection on that too. So when we’re 100% on everything, and ready to reveal the cover, I’ll announce the winner on that as well. Thanks to everyone who helped look for Dylan.

In other news, my husband and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. I’ve now been married half my life. Whew.

NaNoWriMo is going pretty slowly. November is always a bear for me. Just in this week I had my attention sucked away by the awesome upswing of sales, our anniversary, election day means a day of no school, I should have had my knitting day but got sick, then doll club with my mom today, and tomorrow I have a bazillion errands and a social commitment I should honor. So that’s all interfering a bit with my whole BICHOK program, but most of what interferes with that program is me. I got 1230 words today of what is mainly note-form to be turned into proper prose later (well, as proper as we get in the Talent Chronicles), which brought me up just over 4100, I guess. I forget, but I updated it at the website, so it’s probably in the sidebar. The stats tell me I’m behind. Big surprise.

How is everyone else doing?


Filed under Contests, Heroes 'Til Curfew, Hush Money, love, me me me, nano, NaNoWriMo, progress update, romance, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, word count, writing

Wanna Nano Buddy?

Yeah, I did it. I went and signed up all fresh and new this morning. Here’s my profile, if you think you might like to buddy me. It’s a little slap-dash. I have no idea what years I’ve tried to do Nano before, but I can tell you that I’ve never finished. I think I’ve had two accounts, the second one because I couldn’t get back into the first one for my second year because of all the website problems. This year, though, I’ve put all the past behind me, all the hiding behind a handle, afraid to tell anyone that I write, and I’m there with my real name. So there. [self-directed “so there”]

I’m working on Heroes ‘Til Curfew. I know that, technically, it’s supposed to be something fresh and new. I had hoped to have HTC out in beta and be able to possibly start the rough of the third book for Nano. Well, there’s a dream that’s long behind me as I fall further and further behind. I really feel like I need something to get me going right now. And trust me, I’ve got at least 50, 000 new words left to write in this draft.

I’m not sure how I’ll do with the goal. I’ve never finished. Nano is a difficult concept for me. The idea of waiting to start something until a set date, setting that date around one of the busiest and most stressful parts of the year, and then all that just writing whatever to get words out, the frantic output to be fixed later–that’s not really how I work at all. So I may end up plodding along at my own pace and being behind, but I think it will be nice just to be part of Nano fever, because just the energy that surrounds it is sometimes helpful–if you don’t let it stress you out and drive you mad.

Anyway, if you’re doing Nano this year, feel free to add me.

I’m feeling really reflective today, and I was just thinking about what I said above, about how I had been hiding behind internet handles and how I avoided telling any one in real life that I was a writer. It’s been really interesting, and very nice, to be able to do this with a shiny book in my hands and my name on the cover. People in my life have been very kind, supportive, and downright enthusiastic. But I’m not sure what it would have been like without that shiny book, and I wonder if I ever would have done it.

A lot of Hush Money is about fear. I know I said this in an interview somewhere, that one of the movie lines that repeated in my head while I was writing, and continues to live there when I think about the story, is from Pump Up The Volume. It’s the part at the parent meeting when Paige Woodward, the girl who blew up her kitchen, takes the stage and passionately tells the crowd how she’s just been going through the motions of being perfect. “We are all really scared to be who we really are.”

And didn’t think too much, until I started to out myself as a writer, how much of Joss’s secrecy was actually mine.

I got another bit of fan mail this morning, from someone who hasn’t quite reached the end of the story, but wanted to tell me how much I made her feel like she was there, in school, living this life. (As a writer, I should have better words for what those messages mean to me.) Looking forward to her finishing the book, wondering how she would feel at the end of it, I started thinking about the ending of the book myself, and how I lived it.

Writing that ending was very exciting. There was a sense of Oh my God, this is finally over. That feeling of exhilaration was both Joss’s, having just come through the other side of this battle and solved this big problem that had been hanging over her, as well as mine, having come through it with her, and also having come to the end of a struggle of my own. I felt like I had conquered something too. As I was typing her thoughts, I was thinking, this is starting to sound like the end of an after school special.

And then I decided that was just fine.


Filed under books, characters, Heroes 'Til Curfew, Hush Money, ideas, insecurities, Laws of the Universe, nano, NaNoWriMo, Signs, Talent Chronicles, writing

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Way Cool Writing Tool

In her post today, Kettle talks about all the writing programs we’ve been looking at.  She mentions how I didn’t like PageFour because it wouldn’t let me type in pink.  I’m sorry to tell you that this is essentially true.  (ETA: I have been just been informed that the latest version of PageFour does allow one to write in pink!  Woohoo!)  But also, I’m very comfortable in Word, and while PageFour bills itself as a word-processing program without the corporate frills that creative writers don’t need (and this is true), there were a few things missing that I…missed.  But I LOVED having all those tabs and the list on the side with all my files in their little hierarchy. 

But I figured I’d just stick with Word.  The way I usually work is this: I write one scene at a time.  When I sit down to write, after the procrastination stuff, I open up a blank Word file and save it under WritingStuff/[Name of series if applicable/]/Name of Book/Draft X scenes/Chapter#Scene letter Brief descriptive title.  So imagine when I get to that last folder, I have a list of scenes with descriptive names and they’re ordered by chapter and scene 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 3a….  Make sense?  Well, it works.  I can look in the folder and scan over the files and see at a glance where I am and what’s come before.  Also, within the folder named for the book’s title, I have folders for notes, for reviewed drafts (when I send something to Kettle and she marks it up), and things like that.  And I have files for the drafts.  So after I save my scene, I also copy and paste it into the current draft so that I always have the whole thing running along somewhere.  Anyway, I think if you’ve taken a look at PageFour, you can see its appeal for me.  I, however, probably would need to buy the full version because I’d need a lot of pages.

I tend to lose things.  In life in general, but mostly in my head.  It’s entirely possible that I am “getting to that age”.  The other day I told someone that I had meant to check up on them and see how they were doing.  But it’s like Post-its in my head, only mine are the off-brand ones with the substandard glue and they’re always falling off and slipping under the furniture or sticking to the bottom of someone’s shoe and they never get seen again.  I’m always having stray thoughts about something a character might do or a detail of the world or something, and I don’t have the peace in my life to let it develop into anything huge.  It’s just a scrap.  Even if I do manage to write it down, the scrap tends to get lost.  I’ll write it in an email or chat to Kettle and it will be lost in the incredible flood of communication that passes between us, or it will be just a few lines in one of my many files of copious notes to be forgotten, overlooked, and never developed.

 I’ve been sort of jealous of Kettle’s storyboarding.  Not that I really wanted to write out all those index cards (although I am fond of them).  Maybe I was more jealous of how she could lay them all out on her living room and no child took them and threw them in the air, ran away with them, ate bits off them, and then scribbled all over them with purple crayon.   I then started to imagine having all these cards pinned to some giant corkboard wall on my non-existant fantasy office.  I would always write those little bits down when I thought of them, and then I’d tack them to the wall and be able to see all sort of stuff at a glance and I could make connections and get new ideas by seeing how it all worked and…  In my fantasy office, no one came and took the cards down and left tacks on the floor or thought about putting them in their mouths.  Do I need to tell you, then, that I do pretty much zero work with pen and paper?

Anyway, long story short (too late!) I went looking for virtual index cards, found Text Block Writer.  I spent all yesterday playing with it and had a blast.  You might remember that I had been revising PBW’s Novel Notebook to suit myself.  I got a lot out of having prompts that made me think through things I was possibly too lazy to think through otherwise.  And even things I thought weren’t relevant, sometimes, just thinking about them anyway sparked new ideas.  Anyway, yesterday, I revised my revised Novel Notebook into blocks for TBW.  I have it set up so that I have pages to develop different elements of the story in the brainstorming phase.  I have a pages for Characters, Settings, Action/Suspense Elements, Romance Elements, Timeline, stuff like that.  On some of those pages, I have template blocks for generating and solidifying ideas.  Like in the character pages, I have your basic lists of things one often records for characters like physical attributes, personality traits, backstory and personal history questions, that kind of thing.  I have them broken down into bite size portions so my eyes don’t glaze over.  I have a place to list relationships between characters and talk about how events in the story might change those relationships.  And for anything on the character pages that is also a definite plot point, I just copy that information to another box and stick in on another page (for now I put them on the Action/Suspense page, but I think I might make a Plot Points page).  At some point, I’ll be outlining, moving these bits of idea information into some semblance of order.  I’ll combine them into sections and make up scenes.  I’ll group the scenes onto pages by chapter.  And then, when Nano starts, I should (hopefully) be able to look at the blocks for each scene, know what I’m supposed to cover and why, sit down with Word and write

That’s the plan, anyway.  In the meantime, like I said, great fun.  Yesterday, in addition to making the template, I did a bunch of work on my H/H, and got some plot points covered.  Not a whole lot of progress, but when I was out running errands this morning I had three new ideas, so it seems like I’m finally getting going on this thing.  !!

So go check it out.  If you download TBW and would like to play with my template, let me know in the comments, and be sure to include your email addy.


Filed under ideas, Kettle chat, nano, NaNoWriMo, progress update, tools, writing

The Obligatory End of Sweat Challenge Post

Today I had hoped to have 60K words written since July 12, and a completed novel somewhere between 90K and 100K.  I didn’t get that far.  What I ended up with was 48416 for the Challenge and 84700 overall.

And I’m totally ok with that.

I’d do the Dorothyesque what-I-learned bit, but I just did it at the Sweat website and it feels to redundant right now.

Right now, my plan is to try to finish this in time for the next round which I think will start on 10/15.  For the first few weeks of the next round, I intend to work on planning out the new story rather than reporting actual words, and then hit the writing hard on Nov. 1 when Nano starts to catch up.  I think I’ll be working toward a first draft goal of about 75K overall, so getting 50K done in the first 45 days or so and then 25 in the next 25 days doesn’t seem too bad.

I’m not going to make myself crazy over this.  This Christmas is a big deal for us because it’s the first year my daughter will really get the whole Santa thing.  We’ll also be moving.  We may or may not host a huge family get-together in our new house.  Frankly, I have enough on my plate without being hard on myself over the writing stuff right now.  (Go sell crazy somewhere else; we’re all stocked up here.)

So right now Alex and Matt are on the run, and they’re in they’re getting into the part that’s going to end the Dark Period.  Probably no snippet this week, as I will be deep in my yard sale, won’t be able to read everyone’s, and don’t really have anything in mind anyway.

Next up, unless something else comes to mind, is a reunion story between HS sweethearts.  The heroine’s father convinced the hero to leave town rather than mess up his daughter’s life with the chaos that marked the hero’s.  Years later the hero is assigned to protect the father who, it turns out, has been more of a potential danger to his daughter than the hero ever could have been.  Working title for this story is “All Coming Back” and will be abbreviated ACB.  Set in autumn in Western New York, this story should make me constantly want to put the laptop aside and pick up knitting needles and wool.  (If I had magic, one of the first things I would do is enchant my needles!)


Filed under ACB, ideas, nano, progress update, romance, Sweat 2, word count, wotm, writing