Category Archives: nanowrimo

Nanowrimo 2013

The blog has been quiet as I attempted nanowrimo again…I hated everything I wrote and found myself totally uninterested in what happened to the characters. Until the night before the end. I ended with 26682 words.

Weirdly I started in an entirely new direction, changed everything but the names of my characters and found myself writing a story I want to complete.

In the past, nanowrimo has meant the end. I wrote the words, ended up with huge plot holes and stuck in corners with no way out. I would put the pile upon pile of words up on a shelf and never look back.

This time, instead of nanowrimo being an end, I find myself at a beginning, so while I did not “win” in the traditional sense of the word, I won in an entirely new way.

I don’t know that the outcome will be any better but it has renewed my passion for writing and I will see where it takes me…one more time.

It’s the night after nanowrimo and I am still writing.

My name is Lena and I carry the blood of a mage and a witch. I am also part shapeshifter. This makes for a lot of confusion. I don’t belong to a pack because the packs don’t accept my magic blood. I do not belong to the guild because the mages do not accept my shapeshifter blood. I am alone. I like it that way.

 

Several months ago a mage was murdered. The body looked like it had been mauled by a wolf. The pack did their own internal investigation and denied having anything to do with it. The mage guild refused to believe them and they threatened all out war. Innocents would be hurt in the crossfire and a friend in the pack asked me to look into it. He approached the mage council and they agreed.

 

That was the beginning of my problems.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Fini

NaNoWriMo 2011 has been dominated. I hit 50009 words at 10:30 a.m. November 26, 2011.

I did what I set out to do. What I wrote in 2011 is better than what I wrote in 2009. There was an outline, and even though I changed the plot in some major ways, I kept everything in sections, marked revisions, added note sections, and best of all…I still like my characters, I want to spend more time with them. Considering the rewriting and editing that will have to happen before I can call this complete, it is a good thing I don’t want them dead yet.

I learned that for me, sitting down and writing whether I feel like it or not is important. Even if I write utter garbage and bore myself to tears, if I just force myself to keep going, it gets better. It seems very similar to exercise. The whole talking yourself into doing something you really don’t feel like doing. The stiffness at first. The settling into a pace that feels comfortable, and then picking up the pace as you get into the zone and feeling the burn at the end.

The good tired feeling at the end accompanied by the sense of accomplishment.

NaNoWriMo is a race against yourself and the clock but more than that, for me, it is about developing a habit of stepping up to the keyboard and just doing it.

I know this will all need to marinate and I may read my story later and decide that I hate it after all but for now? I will watch the little NaNoWriMo winners video where everyone applauds and congratulates you for “winning”. Basking in the afterglow.

Back to the world.

NaNoWriMo Outtake Jae and Aedan Update

I cruised past the 36000 line this morning. This week will be tough with the holidays, a trip out of town, and family coming home. I plan to do some solid pushing ahead this evening to see if I can’t get ahead.  I have changes and rearranged, plot, point of view, tense and now have a mishmash to wade through after November. I tried to keep it in labeled sections and if they are rewrites, I marked the version. I think I might need to invest in software designed for novel writing. After November I will be researching what is available and see what would be a good fit for me. Something that lets me keep track of characters, places, versions, and lets me reorder pieces that I write out of sequence.If anyone has experience and is comfortable with a particular piece of software (preferable one that doesn’t have a huge complicated learning curve) I would love to hear about it.

Creative copy Challenge 195: fail, trivia, master, dirt, swerve, memory, drive, bed, touch, right

We had been at it for hours. I was exhausted and more than a little pissed right now.  Aedan had my mother’s spell book in his lap. I had tried and tried to commit the words to memory, the actions as habit, and I just couldn’t seem to meld the two. I never had been able to do two things at one time. “You don’t have to drive me so hard. I’m tired. I want to take a shower and go to bed.” I sounded petulant even to myself. That just managed to irritate me more.

“This isn’t some kind of trivia game, Jae. If you don’t learn to control your power you will not be ready when Lucia comes back. You can master a few moves for defense, you have the touch. If you fail, you die. I will be with you all I can, but what if we get separated?” Aedan stood and placed the book on the chair. “Try it on me. Maybe that is the problem. You have no clear vision of where to aim the magic.”

“What? No! What if I hurt you? I have little control.” Now he was just being stupid. I was mad at him but it wasn’t his fault. He was just trying to help. I didn’t want to hurt him.

Aedan snorted. “You haven’t been able to cast enough to give me a pimple! You fade in and out as you shift and as a wolf, you try to swerve and run into a tree. It takes you forever just to shake it off and pick yourself up out of the dirt. From what I read in her book, your mother would be embarrassed. I am not worried. “

“Oh you did not go there!” I felt cold anger take me over.  My mother would be embarrassed? My hands were a blur of motion in the air and words I didn’t know were in my head poured out of me. I saw nothing, not Aedan, not the cabin, just red like blood. I felt it all, pouring through me, out my fingers and then a bright flash and I crumpled. My heart was pounding and my head throbbed. The cold receded and something whispered in my head. Aedan was lying on the floor a few feet from where he had been standing. I tried to make my limbs work and managed to drag myself to him.
“Aedan? Oh my god, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please wake up!” I knew this was a bad idea. Aedan moaned and turned over. Holy shit Jae. You trying to kill me? His words sounded funny, as though he had a bad case of laryngitis.

I started to cry. “You idiot! I thought you were dead! Why did you do that?”  I fell back on the floor next to him, shaking uncontrollably. “Guess I am stronger than I thought.”

Aedan reached for my hand.  “Looks like we found the key to your magic. Remind me never to really piss you off.”

I hate it when he is right.

Wolf Encounter

Creative Copy Challenge 194

1.    Put
2.    Point
3.    Bizarre
4.    Weave
5.    Spiral
6.    Weird
7.    Goofy
8.    Pop
9.    Cult
10.    Fan

Start pleasepleaseplease! Stupid truck. The key rattled in the ignition and finally the motor made a sound that was deafening. They would hear. I put the truck in drive and I stomped the gas pedal hoping this was just some cult. Maybe my coffee was drugged. I couldn’t get the weird vision out of my head. The truck was weaving and rocking on the bumpy road. I rubbed my eyes with my fist thinking the pain might wake me up from whatever this was. I needed to pay attention or I would spiral off a cliff.

There wasn’t much point in getting away from them if I died in a goofy driving accident. Where to? Home? Aedan could show up and…and what? Was I afraid of him now? What was that pop? The truck started limping and rocking on the ridges of the track now. It wasn’t really a road any more. Tires were not meant to go so fast over these rocks. I said a quick prayer that it would make it to Simon’s house. I was not a fan of walking in the dark, especially when I was hallucinating wolves. Simon would know what to do. He was the only friend anywhere near here. I would tell him about this bizarre night and he would have some simple explanation and we would laugh about it.

I pulled the truck up to the edge of the trees. You couldn’t drive all the way to his cabin. I cut the engine off and listened for a moment hearing nothing but the ticking of the engine cooling. The sudden silence was eerie. How many steps up the hill to his porch. I gathered my courage and reached for the door lock when the truck rocked and I felt something heavy land in the bed. The rear view mirror showed glowing eyes getting closer as claws clicked on the metal. So much for hallucinations.

nanowrimo outtake

Wolf Moon Outtake

I crossed the 25000 word line tonight. Half. way. there.

Creative Copy Challenge 193

1.    Gentle
2.    Sweat
3.    Guide
4.    Design
5.    Simple
6.    Full
7.    Borrow
8.    Trace
9.    Technique
10.    Flip

Aedan stopped at the door.

“Go after her. You will have to guide her until she learns.” Simon smiled. “Don’t worry about me. I will clean up here and get some rest.”

Simon had worked magic and skill with herbs and Jae had survived the attack but she had shifted and was a new wolf. It would take a gentle touch to show her simple things that Aedan took for granted. She would need to master the technique of holding her humanity deep inside when in wolf form, while changing her perspective to fit with her new body. The brain could adjust but it was meant to deal with one form, by design.

Aedan took off, running full out, until he caught up with the wolf. He came at her from behind and flipped her onto her back. He stepped back and stood in front of her waiting.

“What did you do that for?” Jae jumped up, shaking herself. A trace of leaves and grass clung to sweat dampened fur. She was angry and confused but her wolf instinctively reacted to the alpha. That seemed to anger her more.

“You have to take it slow until you get used to this body. Your height is different. Your coordination is different. I’m sorry, but I don’t want you to kill yourself by running off a cliff or into a tree.” Aedan watched as she hesitated.

“Wait. How can I hear you?” Jae knew they were not speaking, and yet, she understood Aedan as if he said the words.

“I can hear you too. You will be able to communicate with the entire pack. In fact, you will need to learn to shield your thoughts or they will know everything you think. Not always convenient.”

“Lucia?”

Aedan had been waiting for her to ask. “Simon would not let her in. She tried to talk him into it and then she tried to force her way in. She wants to kill you. I’m not sure if there is anything human left in her.”

Jae bowed her head. “I don’t know if I have the strength to handle this.”

Aedan felt the panic rising in her. “Then you can borrow mine.”

Nanowrimo Week Two

I am on target with word count but need to get myself a little bit ahead this weekend to make up for the times I will not be able to write. I have hit the wall a few times and the voices whisper. The say “there is no way you can do this” or worse, “you can finish the word count but you are boring and terrible. Your level of suckage is not even exciting enough to be terrible – it is just mundane.”

I hate the voices. I want them to be hit by a train. I want to be the engineer of that train and gleefully blow the whistle as I roll over the internal critics and laugh as I hear them gasp their last dying breath….I want to kick some negativity ass so hard that I break my toe and hop around cursing until I am mad enough to write again.

Okay. I am now over 18000 words and I am psyched up enough to write a good fight scene. I hope….Shut up voices. I can do this. I can.

Nanowrimo 2011 Week 1 Ends

At 6200 (and the day is not over) I am a bit behind on word count but I am ahead of where I was my first nano experience.  My outline grows.  I have added sections for characters and build on details as I get to know them.  I have also added sections for details of places in the story to help me place the characters in them. I have a mostly complete map of the general story and beginning to break down the separate scenes.

I made myself a writing playlist in iTunes to stay in the mood and of course I have a supply of chocolate covered coffee beans.

Enough procrastinating!  Jae and Aedan have not technically met as humans yet so I have to get them together. I could use a couple thousand more words tonight!

Danger At The River

Creative Copy Challenge 190

  1. Suck 
  2. Will
  3. Love
  4. Great
  5. Surround
  6. Fluid
  7. Big
  8. Me
  9. Enough
  10. Move

The rock still held some warmth from the sun and I loved to come here to sit and watch the sunset. I couldn’t get enough of it. Even with the noise from the river, I felt a peace like nowhere else. I thought for the thousandth time, how grateful I was to Aunt Kathryn for leaving the cabin to me in her will. The more I learned about her from her journals and from tiny touches around the little house, the more I was sure I would have loved her.

My thoughts were interrupted by motion at the edge of my vision. I turned my head and there stood a wolf on my side of the river. I sucked in my breath and jumped off the rock and the wolf growled, front legs planted apart. It was beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.

Her movements were fluid. Why did I assume the wolf was a female? I was suddenly acutely aware of my surroundings. Nothing but trees, and the roar of the rapids would be loud enough to drown out my voice if I tried to shout for help. I took a slow step back. Her fur was standing up and I was close enough to see the delicate pink of her gums. Her lips were peeled back and the large canines glinted in the remaining light. Remaining light..it would be dark soon. No one would know I was gone until morning when the shop remained closed. Great.

“Look. I don’t mean you any harm.  Nice doggie?”

The wolf growled, deep and menacing. I could swear she was angry.  What a crazy thing to think. She was closer and she was big.  I took another step and she growled again, tracking my movement. I was sweating in the cool air. I felt ridiculously clumsy and slow. Her eyes seemed intelligent and I knew I was in danger.

The almost ebony wolf suddenly jerked her head up. Something was behind me. I slowly turned my head and saw a huge brown wolf. I would be dinner for two.

Instead of both of them attacking me, the brown wolf leaped around me and stood between me and the female. This was the wolf I had seen watching me from the other side of the river. He growled and stepped forward until he was just a few feet from the black wolf, a rumbling sound coming from his throat the whole time. The female held her ground for a moment and then lowered her head. The brown wolf continued to growl until she laid down and exposed her throat. I could do nothing but stare in fascination. He nipped at her and she rolled and rose to her feet and with a look back at me, turned and loped off. My rescuer turned and sat down in front of me. I was frozen in place.

When my heart stopped pounding so hard that I was sure he could hear it, I sunk to the ground. This was crazy. Why wasn’t I running?

I tried to speak and nothing came. I swallowed and tried again.

“Thank you.”

The wolf just stared at me. I lowered my head just like the female wolf did.  He seemed almost to nod, stood and walked away.

I managed to stand and turned toward home, my legs shaking. I made it home with no more trouble, let myself in the door and threw the deadbolt.

I turned on every light in the house. It was going to be a while before I could sleep.

Nanowrimo 2011

The first time I did nanowrimo I was a total “pantser” meaning I just dove in and began writing. I had an idea but not a plan. This year I am working with an ever-evolving outline following “The Hero’s Journey.  I am reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks as I write, trying to wrap my head around everything. I have the word goal in the back of my head but it will not be my main goal this year. My main goal is to have a workable START when I am finished. Something that tells a cohesive story, and follows a sort of map so that I can concentrate on the writing and not figuring out where it is going or how to write myself out of a corner or how do I fix the huge hole in my plot.

This is not to say that things can’t change.  Sometimes characters get a mind of their own and if one decides to go a different direction I am giving myself permission to follow them.

I am self taught so I am looking at the challenge like this:  The first year, I was a freshman.  Annoying but cute – people would pat me on the head and wish me luck with my “novel”.  It was a horrible, wonderful, exciting, terrifying experience and I was proud at the end that I finished period.  I wrote  FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS!  They might have been horrible and stilted and lost in the swamp of a poor plot and wooden characters, and confuse storyline – but I learned a lot and I accomplished something (mostly a big stack of tree-killing paper and a tee-shirt)

This year I enter as a sophomore. I look at the annoying little freshman and smile, remembering when I was one but I am ever so much more mature now…  I will learn more about the process and use a fluid map to make sure I have an idea of where I am going. I give myself permission to NOT have a great novel at the end, but to have something BETTER than I did last time. Even if I do not make the word count. I will do all this while working full time, cooking for Thanksgiving, planning for Christmas, and dealing with all of the daily challenges.

So folks, there you have it. My nanowrimo manifesto.
I have included a general portrayal of The Heroes Journey and how it fits with three act structure. Those of you who already know this stuff can ignore me and roll your eyes.  If you are a junior or senior this is not news to you – if like the rest of us you are a freshman or sophomore you may think you have just discovered your own magic elixir.

ACT ONE
1. The Ordinary World –  hero introduced in their normal setting

2. Call to Adventure – everything is about to change whether the hero knows it or not

3. Refusal of Call/Reluctant Hero – for whatever reason, the hero refuses the call

4. Meeting Wise Mentor – Hero is committed to the quest and a mentor shows up

5. The First Threshold – Hero leaves their normal world into the unknown

ACT TWO
6. Tests, Allies and Enemies – trials, a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that  hero must undergo to begin transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in 3s.

7. Supreme Ordeal – person’s lowest point or darkest moment, chance for major change or “rebirth”

8. Revisiting the Mentor – hero revisits teachings if mentor or maybe learns from a new one, returns to the path

ACT THREE
9. Return with New Knowledge – Wisdom gained on the quest, integrated into hero’s life

10. Seizing the Sword (or Prize) Hero defeats enemies, overcomes issues,

11. Resurrection – old self “dies” (physically, spiritually?)

12. Return with Elixir – achievement of the goal of the quest

 

I am posting this to make my commitment more ahem, public (in other words to shame myself into not finding excuses to NOT do this!)

Nanowrimo Part Deux

I had just about decided to not participate at all this year.  I have been concentrating on writing poetry and just didn’t think I would have the time.  I have started an outline and it just kept whispering to me so I have signed on.

I do not plan to make the push for 50,000 words this year.  If it happens, fine, but I am going to concentrate on working a bit slower and trying to write well instead of just a lot.  Nanowrimo will help me be accountable and my word count will go to the region I am affiliated with so I don’t see a downside.  My word count will show on the meter on my blog page but it will not rule November for me this year.

Nanowrimo and More

Nanowrimo is over. done. fini.

nanowinner

It was a good learning experience for me though there are some problems inherent to the very idea of setting a goal of fifty thousand words in thirty days.  There is little time to change your mind or to camp out in any one spot for long. If you have any kind of life you are going to have times when you simply cannot write and unless you have cranked out a huge amount of words ahead of time you will find your  palms sweating and your knees knocking, worried that you have begun the slow slide into the pit of defeat.  The motivation of being part of a group works for me for quantity and now is the time to edit.  I will give it a few days and then revisit what I wrote.

I learned several things along the way that someone might have told me or I might have read in a textbook, but I never would have really “gotten it”.  Having written nothing but short stories before this, I had no concept of the scope.  I had no concept of the depth necessary for a character to become a person known intimately by the reader.  I also had no clue how much LABOR is involved.  I still have difficulty letting bad things happen to my characters.  I grow to like them and end up with an aversion to hurting them or subjecting them to conflict which makes for a very boring book.

The encouragement from doing this as a part of a group is helpful.  I was a part of a region but not close enough to any group to actually participate in a write in.  The occasional pep talk emails from authors that are sent out to nanowrimo participants are helpful and the forums are interesting to stroll through.  All in all, it was a good experience and I will probably do it again next year.

I am excited about the idea of starting a Young Writers Program at school.  Nanowrimo supports this program and has materials and tee shirts and badges to help.  The computer lab would be ideal for holding a write in so I will be talking to the English teachers hoping to get some interest generated.

nano_09_winner_100x100

Back in the spring I sent a short story to Every Day Fiction.  They contacted me a couple of months later and said that they liked my story but had a few suggestions for revisions.  I made my revisions and re-sent the story.  I received an email this evening saying they have decided to publish my story and will contact me again with the publication date.  There were some nice comments included with the email.

According to their website:

Every Day Fiction is a magazine that specializes in bringing you fine fiction in bite-size doses. Every day, we publish a new short story of 1000 words or fewer that can be read during your lunch hour, on transit, or even over breakfast.

So I will take a little time with my Sunday Scribbling prompt this week and maybe enjoy just a few moments to bask and catch my breath.

Thanks are due.

To Tony for nudging me to write, for suggesting nanowrimo, and for the existence of this site that has become my digital home. For being the Wizard and knowing answers to some of my weird late night technical questions. Congratulations to you and Paige.

Paschal – thank you for the encouragement.  Not just for nanowrimo, but for always.

Dale, my love.  Thank you for looking over my shoulder and telling me to get off Facebook and get back to writing.  Thank you for cooking, for encouraging, for editing, and for not giving me a good smack when my answer to a question was to hold a finger up as I continued to type. (no not THAT finger!)

There are others and you know who you are.  Thank you.

P.S. I have been informed that my story will be published December the third.  I will of course, put a permalink on this blog when it is up.  Hope you will all drop by for a read 🙂

Nanowrimo Happiness

Nanowrimo excerpt

There were some framed photos that must have sat on the mantle at one time.   Moisture had stained and faded them and the frames were broken.  A couch with dry rotted cushions sat in front of the fireplace where a family must have sat and watched the flames and maybe drank hot chocolate.  They left the living room and went down a hall to the kitchen.  Nothing much left here either but there was a door that led down to the cellar.  The wooden stairs were pretty rickety so Snowbie Joe told Boogie Man to wait upstairs for him.  He carefully tested each step making sure it would hold his weight.  He had to pull drapes of cobwebs down and he had a few moments panic as they caught in his hair and beard. Downstairs he found a hank of rope on a shelf and there were jars of jelly that someone had sealed and stored on wooden shelves.  He couldn’t believe they were still here and after brushing the dust off it looked like the jelly might still be good.  He called out to Boogie Man the whole time telling him what he had found.  “Go outside Buddy, to the window and I’ll pass stuff out to you.”

“Okay, Joe! Lands yes.  I can do that.”

Snowbie Joe stacked jars on a table he pushed under the cellar window and when he had as many as he thought they could carry, he climbed up on the table and started handing them out to Boogie Man.  He handed out his pack and heaved himself up and out the window, rather than chance the stairs again.  Boogie Man took his arms as he climbed through, and pulled him the rest of the way and stood him on his feet.
‘Thanks Buddy.”  Man, the guy was strong.
They both stuff jars of jelly in their packs.  “Buddy, maybe we should head back now, before it gets dark.”

They hauled their packs onto their shoulders and walked back through the town to the edge of the woods.  They went in about a hundred yards from where they had left the bike and walked back to the it from within the edge of the woods.  They hadn’t seen anyone but Snowbie Joe still had an eerie sense about the place.  They got to the bike and started working their way through the woods.  It was getting dark by the time they made it back to the cave and they had to wear the night goggles.

They emptied out their packs and cleaned off the jelly jars and stacked them in the corner.  Boogie Man had some cornmeal and he mixed up a  batter and baked it in an iron pan in the fire.  They ate it hot with strawberry jelly.  Snowbie Joe thought he had never tasted anything so fine.  For a few moments, the firelight, the sweet jelly on the warm cornbread, Boogie smiling as he licks gooey fingers.

Snowbie Joe feels something so foreign he can’t identify it.  It hits him. Happiness.  That’s what this was.  He tries to take it apart in his head. Figure out what it is.  Which piece fits where? What part could be taken away and the feeling remain?  Two sorry misfits in a cave with a fire and some strawberry jelly.  The craziness of it made him smile and Boogie man smiled back at him.

“We did good, Joe!”
“Yes, Buddy, we sure did.”