Free Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo – WINNER!

See that title? Yup, you guessed it. I have won Camp NaNoWriMo!

It was kind of odd at first, because Scrivener told me I had 50,112 words. I compiled it all into one Word document to validate on the website and Word told me I was 55 words short of 50k. So I hemmed and hawed and tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to do that, and then got kicked in the bum and told to write 55 more words. So I did.

In the end, Scrivener told me I had 50,203 and Word told me I had 50,011 words. Either way – I broke 50k!

This is all strictly for my novel. Once I broke 50k, I added in all the word sprints and blog entries. All the chapter summaries and blurb rewrites. Basically all writing for the entire month of April short of Twitter and Facebook posts. Once I added that in, it came up to 63,916. Granted, I probably could have counted that all from the get-go, but I wanted to be true to my novel and write 50k for Soul Weaver alone.

 

So how do I feel now that I’ve won?

CampWriMoWinnerCertificate2014I’m slightly disappointed that I can’t say “I finished my novel,” but I’m happy about where my novel has taken me. When I first started WiMo I thought I didn’t have enough story planned out to get 50k words and I would end up finishing my novel prematurely and forced to write short stories to make up the rest of the goal. However, that is far from what happened.

I’m likely around the halfway point of the book. While I wish I could say that I finished a novel during Camp NaNoWriMo, that would be an utter lie. I could probably write another 50k words before I’d even be close to finished. Which is good right? That would make my word count for the completed novel around 100k words. Unfortunately, it means that I’m not ready to take a good long break from it right now (which after this month, I feel like I need one.)

 

What have I learned?

CampWinner2014I will admit that the last week was the toughest to push through. I honestly hadn’t thought I’d make it as far as I did and I didn’t plan certain parts very well. So when I finally got to that point, it was slow going because I had to make it up as I went along. I had to let the characters take it out of my hands and write the story for me, which proved to be very very very slow going. However, it’s worked out pretty well so far. I got to taste the true world of “pantsing” [writing by the seat of your pants – not having plotted it out beforehand]. While I had considered myself a pantser before, I did have the ‘cheat sheet’ (aka I plotted it out a bit.) I wrote with a generalized idea of the whole story and where it would go, how it would end ect. Now I’m finally back on track with my cheat sheet and could probably hammer away another 5-10k on the next few scenes before I’d be forced to pants again.

For my next novel (which will be a sequel to Soul Weaver. Title to be announced later -aka I have to come up with it), I think I may try to plot more and see where that takes me. I may have learned the hard way that pantsing isn’t as easy as it looks.

I’ve also learned that I allow my characters to write themselves. Keeping in mind that this is a first draft, I think I like that. I feel like I’m able to allow themselves to be natural, not forced. If I feel like I’m forcing a character to do something, I try to throw something in the way that I know would naturally make them go in the direction I need them to go that way they don’t seem forced.

However, I’ve also learned that sometimes I really need a character cheat sheet, so I don’t accidentally write them doing something they wouldn’t naturally do. Hubby caught me a few times making some of my characters a little too agreeable for the sake of pushing through the scene. Usually that would happen when I was too stuck in the mindset of one character and not jumping to the mindset of the others.

 

Now what?

2014-Winner-Square-ButtonNow that I’m officially done with Camp NaNoWriMo I think I’m going to take a couple days off. Or at least if I do write, I won’t push myself with a huge word count. I think I’ll try to plot out the rest of the novel as best as I can before I try to push myself like that again. Come November, I will definitely have a well thought out plot to follow.

I would like to be able to finish my first draft in the next 2 months. I think that will be my goal. By the end of June I should be done with the first draft. Maybe I’ll use the July WriMo to edit. Who knows?

 

Will I do a NaNoWriMo again?

Absolutely. I may not do another until November (I know they’ve had June and July WriMo’s before, but I won’t commit to anything at the moment,) but I quite enjoyed writing during Camp NaNoWriMo. I would recommend it to any writer out there. Even ‘aspiring’ writers. If you really put your mind to it, and are serious about writing, give yourself a goal and stick to it. WriMo helps. It really does. And the community is phenomenal. Follow WriMo on Twitter, or join the Facebook group. It’s wonderful to be a part of, and a huge motivator while you’re writing.

Even if you don’t think you have anything to write about. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Write from prompts and keep a blog or a personal journal. If you don’t think you can write 50k, then don’t. You can make your goal any number of words. Go for 5k. You’d be surprised how easily you can do that. Heck, just rambling in this blog post has brought me over 1,100 words.

And if you find yourself stuck, reach out to the writing community. You’d be surprised at how supportive they are. I know I was.

 

In the end, I came, I saw, I had fun, and I plan on buying the t-shirt from the WriMo store.

For those of you who have already won – CONGRATULATIONS!

For those of you still working to reach your goal – YOU CAN DO IT! You’ve still got a few days left! Write your heart out!

2014-Winner-Facebook-Cover

 

 

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Free Writing

NaNoWriMo Day 23 – 41k+

Last night I busted 40k for Camp WriMo. For some reason I don’t seem to be as proud of that as I was of 25k. I now know I won’t be satisfied until I hit 50k. I’m in the homestretch now, though. I’ve done my best to keep above the daily goal. My first weekend have been the only two days so far that I was unable to do so, but only by a few words, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

As I write this novel, I know I’m going to end up with much more than 58,233 words (which is my current goal for WriMo purposes.) While I’m not sure if I’ll get to the 100k mark, I do think I can easily get between 60-80k with what I have left to write.

I’ve also decided to re-work my chapters once again. I’m pushing 40 right now and I think I’ve just hit the halfway point (and slightly beyond.) I could probably get away with halving the current chapter count and still having close to 30+ chapters when it’s all said and done.

I must say, it’s been hard keeping my inner editor at bay while pushing this out for WriMo. While it gets easier with each passing day, any time I need to look back at previous chapters, my inner editor likes to pop out and say hi. Most of the time I beat him back with sweets or hot tea, but I have to make sure I’m not too abusive to him otherwise he may not be so happy to help when I need him. 🙂

 

I must add that this past weekend brought some pretty cool news. I managed to get in touch with an old writing friend of mine who I have not talked to in nearly 10 years. I admit that due to our playing catch up, my writing suffered for it. Not that I’m complaining at all. I was still able to keep above the daily goal, so I think it’s only fair that I allowed myself some “me” time right?

What’s really motivating to me, is seeing that my old writing buddy – Aaron Steinmetz – has managed to go much further with his writing, than I ever dreamed I could with my own. He has 4 novels published already. One of which is a collection of short stories that he wrote around the time I came into his life. It’s been fun reading through them again, and once WriMo is over, I’ll be taking a look at his other novels. I know if they’re anything like what he used to write, I will love them. So be on the lookout for a review on them. In the meantime, if you’re interested, here’s a link to his Amazon. I invite you to take a gander at his works and support a dear good friend and fellow indie publisher by purchasing one of his books. I’ve been told that one of them has been dedicated to yours truly. 😉

 

So with 9 days left before WriMo is over, I have less than 9k words left to go. I have no doubt that I will be able to knock those out within the next couple days and consider myself an early winner. My inner editor has been, for the most part, pretty tame. As an added bonus, now I have another person on my cheering squad to motivate me to finish this thing (even bigger bonus that he’s already been in my shoes so I’ll probably use that to my advantage – Sorry Aaron!) I’m looking forward to doing NaNoWriMo with him in November. He’s managed to win the past 4 years of November WriMos, so I have someone to look up to!

 

My next blog will likely be once WriMo is over. With any luck, the title will be “NaNoWriMo: Winner!” or the like.

Good luck to the rest of you out there also doing Camp WriMo. Push yourself and reach the goal you’ve set for yourself! Dedicate the time to do it, and just put one word after the other. Even if it’s crap. You can always edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page.

snoopy writing

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Guest Blog

NaNoWriMo Isn’t Proper Writing

And that is what all of the Nano writers are doing without any concern for the level of craft they have reached. They are all learning. And they are writing. And that’s a good thing. … They will get better. They will be good. And one day the Aspiring Author, will be an Author.

(Emphasis added)

I love this so much. Sooooo much. 🙂

I feel like she was talking directly to my heart and I love her for that.

stirlingwriter

I’ve heard this many times and often with some venom behind it. Of course it isn’t true. If you write then you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting studiously in a library or running naked in Bermuda, if you write, you are a writer. And please note here, those of you who’ve produced several thousand words so far, if you do it, you are it, no ifs, no buts, and no Aspiring.

But, the mind splurge of Nano produces some truly awful work, you say? Well, yes, yes it does. It produces first drafts, which as Hemingway always reminds us are…horse apples. But some of those pieces of work will be edited and revised and turned into really great work. Some won’t. Some people have the temerity to enjoy the whole experience and miss out on the angst altogether. Some people just aren’t ready to be…

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Free Writing

Frozen Hottie – You noticed it too, don’t lie.

So once again I find myself watching Disney’s Frozen to appease my daughter. While it’s a lovely movie, and I’ve pretty much memorized the lyrics to every song; hubby and I mainly enjoy it for the game we play during Elsa’s “Let it Go” number.

When she runs up the ice stairs she creates, we start counting down to the point where she goes from “kinda cute” to “total hottie”. I’m a woman, and even I noticed it.

I may be a bad person for noticing this. I may have spoiled this movie for others. I may have been ruined by the internet.

But I can’t POSSIBLY be the only person to have noticed this.

Frozen Hottie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our guess is that Disney did this on purpose for all the fathers out there who were dragged along to the theaters with their little girls. You gotta admit, it was a nice “thanks” from Disney to give a little eye candy like that.

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Free Writing

How this writer makes the best tea

I was recently asked by a friend how I make my tea. It hasn’t been the first time I’ve been asked, so I thought I’d make a step-by-step on how to make (what I think is) the best tea ever.

First of all, I only use Red Rose Tea. A box of 100 tea bags costs less than $3 at your local grocer, so it’s cheap enough to include in your monthly grocery budget.

I’ve tried other brands (Lipton, Tetley’s, Luzianne, etc) but they just can’t compare to Red Rose.

Ingredients you will need:

  • 1 gallon pitcher
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Red Rose tea bags
  • Tea kettle (manual or electric – I’ve used both)
  • Water
  • Something to stir with (I use a wooden/plastic spoon)

Step One:

Fill your tea kettle with water and set on the stove to boil.

Teapot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Two:

While your water is boiling, turn your tap water as hot as it will go and fill the pitcher about 1/4th full. This prevents the boiling water from melting your pitcher (yes, it’s happened to me before.)

Pitcherwater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour 1 cup of sugar into the empty pitcher.

cupofsugar

 

 

 

 

 

Stir the sugar until it’s dissolved.

Sugarwater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Three:

One the water is boiling, pour into the pitcher.

fillingthepitcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Four:

Immediately add the 4 bags of Red Rose tea. You can add a bit more hot tap water if it doesn’t fill the pitcher.

teabags

steeping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Five:

Allow to steep for a minimum of 15 min. For a stronger flavor tea, allow to steep for 20-25 min. I prefer the stronger flavor.

pouring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optional Step:

For a twist, add a splash of milk. I suggest using a large 32oz cup so you won’t have to refill as often. Curl up with a good book, or next to your keyboard/notepad as you write and enjoy!

enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

For iced tea, simply put in the fridge until chilled. It helps to give it one more stir, but not always required.

I know I may have a bunch of tea connoisseurs tell me that I’m doing it completely wrong. That I should use different tea, or pay attention to the temperature of the water. That adding hot tap water spoils the steeping process, or that I should use a different amount of bags. I never said this is the perfect way of making it. This is just how I make it.

Typically I make 4 pitchers at a time. Between everyone in my household a full pitcher will be gone before it can get to room temperature. The rest will only last a couple days in the fridge before it’s the next persons turn to make tea. We love this tea. Besides water, and the rare diet-soda, it’s all we ever drink. I know the sugar content is a tad high, but it’s better than a can of non-diet coke. If my math is correct a 12oz can of Coke has 39g of sugar, but a 12oz cup of home made sweet tea is around 20g.

You could always use less sugar, or a sugar substitute to make the sugar count even lower, but I can’t guarantee the taste if you do.

 

Feel free to comment with your own tea recipe!

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Free Writing

Making a mental list: Questions from a new writer

I am now 10 days into Camp NaNoWriMo and I’ve been quite proud of myself for sticking to my writing. I’ve written something every day. Even on the days I didn’t think I could. My current stats stand as thus:

  • Total word count for NaNoWriMo: 18498
  • Total word count for Soul Weaver 26,729 (I had 8,233 already started before WriMo started)
  • My average words per day is 1,849
  • With a target word count of 50,000 words, at my current rate I will finish on April 28th.

I love seeing the stats the website provides. Not to mention the little target image that moves your arrow closer to the center with each updated word count. I’m so close to the 50% mark I can taste it.

I am, however, beginning to pile up a mental stack of questions about my novel.

 

What category is my novel?

I know I’m writing fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. Not just for writing either. Reading (Sword of Truth series anyone?), games (hello fellow D&D, WoW, and Guild Wars players), and role playing (yes, I have dressed up for DragonCon before. Twice. I still have yet to LARP but not because I don’t want to…..). Fantasy is where my heart lies. Thus, that is the genre I am writing.

However, I have no idea if I’m writing a YA novel, or an adult fiction novel. How do I know?

I’ve read that your word count is what determines the category of your novel, but I must disagree. How could a 50,000 word count fantasy fiction novel that includes sex, rape, drugs, murder, etc be considered a YA novel?

My goal is to have at least 65k-85k words. I’ll likely end up having more, considering I’m almost at the halfway point of 50k already and I’m not quite halfway through with the novel itself. I don’t plan on having much of the afore mentioned scenes in my book, but there will be reference to it. If my novel winds up being 60,000 or so words, would it be considered YA? I wouldn’t consider it a bad thing if my novel was classified as YA, but how do I really know? It can’t possibly be all about the word count.

I have a feeling that based off of the MC in my novel, and the way she handles situations in the beginning, that Soul Weaver will be categorized as a YA novel. I think I’m okay with that, but that just means I’ll have to keep in mind that I can’t get too graphic when it comes to the mature content. (Maybe I’ll save that for a romance novel later on down the line.)

 

How long should my chapters be?

My other question is chapter division. When I first started writing, I had a word count goal of 5,000 words per chapter. I’m not sure where I pulled that number from, but that was my goal. For the first 3 chapters I stuck to it. Until I hit the 4th chapter and it wound up barely hitting 1,500 words. I didn’t feel as though I should add more to it just for the sake of word count, so I left it as is.

When I started looking into what the average chapter length is and I found this blog that said

New writers tend to assume that a chapter must be a certain set length in order to maintain the average novel length of around 80,000 – 95,000 words, but in truth, chapters can be as long or as short as you need them to be.  There is no formula.  You don’t have to pick a number like 80,000 and then divide it by 30 chapters to give you 2500 words a chapter (average).

The only thing you need to apply where chapter lengths and novel lengths are concerned, is common sense.

Taking that into account, I went through my novel and found places where I could break up the current chapters I had into nearly 3 separate chapters. Had I kept with my 5k word count goal per chapter I would only wind up with around 10-12 chapters for the entire book. It just didn’t sit right with me. So now, at over 25,000 words I have 20 complete chapters with an average word count of around 1,300. Which when finished, would produce around 50-60 chapters. That seemed a little better. Plus I thought that with shorter chapters, it would make it easier for someone to read a quick chapter before going to bed, on their lunch break, or whatnot. Much like the Sorcerer’s Ring series by Morgan Rice.

 

Self publishing vs traditional publishing?

The last question I’ve been asking myself is “What do I want to do with this novel when I’m done with it?”

Do I want to try to get it published? Or go the route of self publishing?

I don’t have any misconceptions about my writing. It’s not like I think it’s phenomenal, incredibly unique, or that it will wind up being the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. Anyone who has read my old writing can see that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to writing (although I’d like to think that what I’m writing now blows away anything I wrote almost 10 years ago). Plus, I’ve read somewhere on the interwebs that your first novel is almost always going to suck, but you wind up learning from it and have more success with your subsequent novels.

I know I’m nowhere near finishing this book. I have a lot more to write and even more to edit. I have the beta reader phase (which I hadn’t even heard of until recently. I still need to read more on how that works.) There’s more editing and then what? That’s when I either start submitting to publishers or start making my book available on Amazon.com or wherever I plan to market it myself.

 

I know I will continue to add to my list of questions the further along I go. These are just the questions that have been floating around in my mind for the past week. I have a lot more work to do, and a lot more to think about. The nice thing is knowing that I’m not alone. There are tons of other writers out there like me who have the same questions.

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Free Writing

Offering your heart and soul, only to have it given away: A writer’s reflection.

Yesterday I went shopping with my daughter and mother. One of the stops we made was to our local Goodwill. I think most people have a love it or hate it relationship with Goodwill, but this post isn’t about that, so I digress.

As my little girl was going through all of the stuffed animals in the toy section, my attention was drawn to the large selection of books nearby. Three short isles of old, tattered books stared longingly at me. Compelling me to walk over and brush my hands along their spines.

I will admit that for reasons unknown, I felt sad. From children’s books to romance. Sci-fi to self-help. These neglected books were just sitting there. Used, battered, and for some of them – even abused. They called to me, begging to be picked up and held by loving hands. They yearned to have someone’s eyes read through their torn and yellowed pages once again. They craved to give enjoyment to the reader it had been created for.

My thoughts turned to the authors that had created these books. How many countless hours had been spent writing each and every word? How much of this person’s heart and soul had been given to each of these unwanted books that now lie forgotten on these shelves? When they were in the middle of their second draft, or fighting through their tenth rejection did they think about the future of these novels? Did they wonder what would happen when their readers grew tired and bored of the words they painstakingly wrote on each and every numbered page?

How do authors feel walking through their favorite book store, only to see that their masterpiece is the current clearance item simply because the stores just can’t seem to sell them quick enough? Is it a small stab to the heart? Or does the pride that comes with being published make up for the fact that, sometimes, even being published doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the next best-seller?

I’d like to think that all writers do it because they love to write, not because they had dreams of being the next J.K. Rowling; but I can’t imagine that it would make them beam with pride if they were to see their book abandoned in their local Goodwill. Or maybe it does. Having never been published, I wouldn’t know; but I’d like to think that if I were to find my book sitting on these shelves, I’d be happy to know that they at least served a purpose. Even if for a limited time. Now, it has a chance to be discovered by someone else and the enjoyment can begin anew.

What about you? Are you a like-minded aspiring author such as myself? Or have you already been published?

How would you feel if you spotted your own book in here?

Goodwill Books

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