NaNoWriMo and Cafe Press

Lifeisstrangeandsowewrite

Happy Post Thanksgiving/Last Ditch Effort at NaNoWriMo! I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and you’ve already “won” NaNoWriMo.  I enjoyed my Thanksgiving tremendously with both families this year but, as for NaNoWriMo, I’m still running behind. I am still running though. I have come a long way with this novel and I will finish.  I have today off and a write-in planned for tomorrow.  I know I can do it! Good Luck to all.

In other news, I’ve put my first Café Press selection of items together and they’re on sale today! I had posted this thought on Facebook, in the box above, that “Life is Strange, and so we write.” Several friends liked it and one said, “Bumper Sticker!” I thought, hey, I could do that. So I did a search online to make sure someone else wasn’t already using it. Then I went into Microsoft Publisher and made a text box, typed in the text, chose my font, chose the font size, chose the alignment and decided to put a border around the text. I saved it as a .jpeg and uploaded it to Café Press. They chose which items to place it on, including several types of mugs. I hope somebody out there likes it.  The design is labeled Life is Strange – Write.

One good thing about being forced to write a little slower this month – I’m going to “win” but I won’t be finished and that’s okay because I don’t feel burned out on it. I’ll keep going until it is then I’ll do a basic clean up edit and put it away for a month or so while I work on other things. I want to finish this book and try to sell it but I’m not going to rush it. I also have my second novel ready to be written (first five chapters are already written.) And I actually had an idea pop into my head that may become my third novel.

I don’t even remember what I was doing but I began to wonder what our society would be like if we had grown up around a more nature centered culture. Could we have industrialized under those circumstances?  If we did, what would it look like? Yes, it’s more questions than anything else at this point but it’s an intriguing line of thought for me and I think it may turn into something.

Life IS strange, and so I write. That is the great mystery and fun of it all.

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NaNoWriMo and Word Choice in Characterization

HPIM1437

NaNoWriMo and Word Choice in Characterization

As I sit here, we are anticipating some winter weather tonight and I am looking forward to it.  There is nothing like sitting inside on a snowy day with a fire in the wood stove and a warm mug in hand to write.

I must confess that I am well behind in my NaNoWriMo word count. The goal is 50,000 by the end of the month and I am just around 25,000. Yes, I am well behind but there is still a chance I can catch up, though it is a small one.

Basically, I would need 25,000 words in eight days. That works out to over 3,000 words per day. Granted, this is the weekend, so I will intersperse writing with everything I do. However, the 3 year old may have some different ideas of how we should spend the day and Daddy will be off hunting a good bit of the time.

Another confession, I have been going off on some mighty big tangents, working on short stories, and just plunking the thoughts down inside my NaNoWriMo document at the end.  It’s not my novel but it is adding to my word count. With my limited writing time, I just can’t afford to ignore the short stories when they show up.

Anyway, I picked up an interesting book on Southern writers and artists yesterday at the library for inspiration. Of course the thing that caught my attention was a well known picture of Eudora Welty on the cover. I leafed through it then listened to the first part of the CD interviews on the way home.  I’ve always enjoyed southern writing, the characters are so vivid, and I love listening to writers and other creative types talk about their craft and world view.  If you’re interested, the book is The Storied South .

Characterization keeps coming up for me this week. Characterization through word choice was a major topic in writer’s group last night. Afterward, as I was sitting down to work on my novel, I wrote the line “I don’t know, but I kinda doubt it.” for my Professor character. As soon as I was close to done typing it, my brain had already edited to read, “I don’t know, but I rather doubt it.” (Yes, contrary to all admonitions to keep writing, I do edit little things like that as I go.) Just a simple word choice can make such a difference in a character and I think I was aware of what I was doing because of the discussion in group.

Then today, I had a library patron ask me what the most commonly used silent letter in English was. He amended that to be British English. Hmmm. That sent me researching only to find out that there is Received Pronunciation, also known as The Queen’s English, and Estuary Pronunciation, which is all the dialects that change every 20 kilometers and is how most people speak. That really gave me some insight on how hard it is to right proper dialect. Having an ear for that must be very difficult. (It also makes me think of the Car Talk guys on PBS radio who could guess where people were calling from a large percentage of the time after just a sentence or two. )

So, the answer?  I didn’t come up with a definitive one. My best guess was that it was e.  I said they’d have to consult a linguist.

What do you think?  Do you have any tricks for bringing your characters to life?  I could use some tips to keep me thinking.

In a NaNoWriMo Rut, or an Outright Ditch?

ForestDitchSeppVei

Okay, so NaNoWriMo is going a bit rough for me this year. I’m around 12,000 words when I should be around 23,000. Chalk it up to a nasty cold for me and the munchkin that is still lingering on.  It’s left me with little inspiration. So, I’ve been thinking of things to help me get back into the game.

  1. Wikipedia random article – Just hit the link and write whatever you find into your story. First time I got a classic rock station in New Jersey and I happened to have my characters about to get into a car. When the ignition turned on a classic rock song blared out of the speakers and a discussion on music ensued.
  2. Cooking or baking – Made a new recipe yesterday I found on Pinterest, easy one bowl cinnamon scones. (Well, the way I made them used one bowl, and I was out of butter so I used olive oil. Then I put maple cream on them. Yum. Here’s the recipe.)
  3. Anything physically repetitive – rocking, washing dishes – I used to get my best thinking done while mowing the lawn with a push mower.
  4. Tell yourself, or someone else, the story out loud, It can help you think through problems and add to the story. Has always worked for me.
  5. Change of scenery – take your laptop out for dinner, lunch or a latte.
  6. Creative break – Watch a good movie or read a story or a few chapters of a good book. It might spark something for you.
  7. Another creative endeavor – I started a little quilted hot pad as a Christmas present (for I know not who yet.) Picking out the fabric, deciding on the design, cutting the fabric and sewing the pieces together by hand all give my mind a break and make me think in a new way.

Any other methods you use to get yourself writing again when things are slow or you’re feeling low? PLEASE, share them in the comments. Thanks!

Running Behind, But Still in the Running (NaNoWriMo)

Marathon

Well, NaNoWriMo is one week underway and I’m running behind.  I’ve written about 9,300 words at this point, though I’m not done for the day.  Unfortunately, my daughter and I both got a nasty little cold last weekend and the first week it was  rather difficult to write anything much, between being tired with taking care of her at night and getting sick myself.

Thankfully, NaNoWriMo is more of a marathon, a race of endurance, than a sprint, so there’s always time to catch up.  In fact, I don’t recall them offering it before, but I see in my stats on NaNoWriMo.org the breakdown of how many words I would have to write daily in order to finish on time.  It turns out it’s only about 100 words more per day than the original 1,667.  Doesn’t seem so terrible when you think of it like that.

This past week I’ve had a couple discussions with people about what 50,000 words means.  It’s not really a whole book, is it, they would say.  Perhaps not, but it certainly can be.  I listened to Neil Gaiman read The Ocean at the End of the Lane some weeks ago on audio CD and it was brilliant! The other day I received the hard copy so I could write a review and stared at it in shock.  This is a very small book, but it certainly didn’t seem that way when I listened to it. It’s only 178 pages, probably somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 words.

That seemed particularly significant in the midst of NaNoWriMo where those 50,000 words are the goal. I looked at the book and thought, here is an example of something of that length.  It makes me wonder how many words were in the first draft, whether it was longer and edited down or shorter and added to in the rewriting and editing phase. Yes, I’m still getting over my shock.  It does not read like such a small book.  It is very much a big book.
May we all write big books this month.

Let the NaNoWriMo Festivities Begin!

2013NaNoWriMoCalendar

Okay, so I’ve been shocked at how much attention my NaNoWriMo calendar has gotten but I’m glad people are enjoying it. I’ve set it as the background on my own laptop, as one poster said he was going to do with it.

Last night I submitted my entry for the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition.  I wanted to let go of it before I started NaNoWriMo.  To be honest, I was utterly sick of it and ready to be done.  I’ve been editing it and nitpicking for the last two months, but it taught me a lot.  I think one of the failings in my writing has been my lack of follow through in editing to that degree.  I’ve written some good things and I’ve had some good ideas, but to really create something someone is going to want to publish, you have to be willing to go the distance with the editing.  I did that and let the story go. We’ll see how it does in the competition but I’m not going to hold my breath, I’m on to the next thing.

This month is all about creating without editing.  I’m about 2,300 words in and so far it isn’t really flowing, it doesn’t feel inspired.  I have an outline so I’m working with that but trying to remain flexible.  I’m working on a re-imagining of my Biomalware story.  I have two story summaries that are guiding the idea.

“As genetically modified crops take over and biodiversity dwindles, a menacing reality looms.  For half the world’s population these crops aren’t food at all.  They are… Biomalware.”

The other guiding idea is more human centered.

“When Sam’s two-year old daughter, Maddie, becomes sick he must find answers before it’s too late, but can he succeed when the opposition is a huge corporation with the full weight of the U.S. government at it’s disposal?”

Of course, these are just ideas and the story is changing along the way and as I learn more about the topic.  It’s science fiction but also a medical thriller and, of course, there’s a bit of a romance in there too.

And – to kick off NaNoWriMo on the right foot, I received my rejection e-mail from the Sustainable Arts Foundation today.  *sigh* I suppose it doesn’t mean much one way or another – they received over 1,500 applications and only give out half a dozen, with giving concentrated in the San Francisco area.  It was a long shot but I’m glad I did it.  I might try again next time.

Right now I’m licking my wounds and trying to concentrate on NaNoWriMo.  I believe I have a good idea and a good outline if the writing can live up to it.  That comes in time, though.  Right now it’s all about getting the words on the page.

It was definitely heartening to have EIGHT people at the kick-off write-in at my library.  That’s the best turn out I’ve ever had for a write-in.  It was inspiring to look at so many people sitting there just creating.

Happy writing everybody!