Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNo Wrap-Up

Wow. What a month. Thanks to everyone for cheering me on, for letting me cheer you on, for being the best writing community ever. It has been such a blast, and I'm excited to say that I have won NaNoWriMo! I still have 6,000ish words left in the story, but I made it to 50,000.

This was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo, and my third novel. I have a learned a lot about myself this month. First thing: word count goals are very good for me. Second thing: having other people writing when I'm writing keeps me accountable.

Here's the thing--my first drafts are skeletons. Never, ever, will anyone see this draft. You've seen snippets, sure. But those are the very best parts, and even they can use some work. But, I'm very excited about this story. Once it's finished and I've had several glasses of wine, I plan to sit down, read it, and get to work on revisions--possibly rewriting.

The good news? My story has bones. Some of them are awkward or underdeveloped. Some of them are too big for the rest of the body, but it's a whole skeleton all the same. This story has potential. Even if it didn't, I don't think it would have been a wasted month. Practicing writing is the only way we can grow. And I think 50,000 words are a great way to do that.

To celebrate finishing NaNo last night, I started planning the specifics of my Disney/Universal trip. I'm far too excited. If you don't hear from me next week, it's because I'm too busy vacationing! But I'll be tweeting pictures, I promise.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NaNo Check-in #7

Progress (word count or a general status update): 47,406

Mood: I had a really rough time writing on Saturday and Sunday. I knew where the story was going, the end was in sight, but all of my words were bad. I wrote the same scene 2.5 times and finally got back into the story. I'm pretty excited because I'm almost finished!!

Inspiration: "You can make anything by writing." C.S. Lewis

Goals as of today: To finish! I need 2.5k words to win NaNo, but I think this draft still has about 6k to go. I'd like to knock those out before Saturday if at all possible, because there will be no time to write next week!

Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line: 

Mason woke before the sun. The cold morning air cut through his blankets, his pants, his jacket. He rolled onto his side, and his eyes landed on Danny. She was still asleep. Her short brown hair stuck out around her head, but her face was all peace. He wanted to kick himself for last night. He shouldn’t have said anything. Even if he meant every word.

Non-NaNo News: Disney, Disney, Disney! Oh AND Universal, which means butter beer and wands and wizards and ALL OF THE HARRY POTTER THINGS. What this means for you: lots of Instagram photos and no blog posts next week.

Something Shiny (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.): With NaNo wrapping up, now's the time to decide if the drafts we've spent all month working on are actually worth revising. Here's a great blog post on How to Tell if the First Draft of Your Novel Just Isn't Worth Salvaging (but I hope it is!)

And for those of you who've already won, go take a nap! You earned it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why I Write

I spent most of the morning thinking through the next few scenes for my NaNoWriMo project. I'm over halfway to the goal, though not that far in the story. And it's been hard. Writing isn't easy, and once I finish the draft, I have a long way to go before it will be readable. So I asked myself, "Why do it do it?"

I never thought I'd be able to write fiction. I wanted to, sure. I spent my childhood living from story to story, escaping my world to be in someone else's--for a few minutes, an hour, a day. I wanted to get away whenever and however I could.

And I wrote. Diaries mostly. Poetry. Essays on life and love and God. I needed an outlet. I needed a way to make sense of a life I didn't want to be a part of--divorce, alcoholism, secrets. Lies. I needed a story because mine wasn't the one I wanted.

But it wasn't until college that I embraced my own story. That I let it be a part of me.  I didn't think it mattered. My abuse, my betrayal. It wasn't enough. It wasn't as bad as what a lot of people went through. It wasn't as bad as what my mom went through. That's what she told me anyway.

That sort of thing hurts. It will destroy you if you let it. I took a memoir writing class instead.

It's a funny thing what happens when you own your pain, when you let all your secrets out. They can't hold you anymore.

I've gone way off course from my original question, but I think to get to the answer, I had to look at my own story. I had to stare it in the face and admit that it mattered, that no matter how big or small our pain and struggles, they shape us. But it's what we do with them that makes us who we are.

Those struggles? I faced them as a teen. I chose truth over comfort, over my mother's approval. Over my family name. And it hurt like hell.

I don't think people give teens enough credit for the choices they have to make, for how hard those choices are. Except for you guys. And I know a lot of you write contemporary. So you get it. I don't write contemporary. I write fantasy. I think part of it comes from my desire as a kid and a teen to have some sort magic. Maybe I thought it would help me escape or make things better. But even in the fantasies I've written, it isn't my characters' powers that makes them extraordinary. In the end it's their choices that shape them.

As adults we make choices. Hard ones, life altering ones. But it was the choices I made as a teen that gave me the foundation to make the decisions I make today.

Writing is hard. It tears my heart into pieces, leaving me broken on the floor. Then, I pick those pieces up and try to put them back together into some semblance of a story. Reading always did that to me, too. It still does. The teens in the books I read gave me perspective. They gave me courage. They gave me hope.

When I think about how brave I really was as a teenager--brave enough to stand up for the truth--I think about all those characters who taught me to be that way: Meg Murray, Hermione Granger, Edmund Pevensie. Without them, I don't know what choices I would have made.

That's why I write. But more specifically, that's why I write young adult.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNo Check-in #6

Progress (word count or a general status update): 32,214

Mood: Still feeling good. I got a little stressed because I missed a few days, but the over-writing I've done (based on my word count spreadsheet) tells me I'm ahead of the game. Phew!

Inspiration: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." Ernest Hemingway

Goals as of today: My husband is working this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I am off. I'm hoping to knock out a LOT of words.

Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line: 
All Danny remembered was the star power filling her, the fire coursing through her until she thought she would explode. Then the fires had gone out, and Danny went out with them.

Non-NaNo News: I have a vacation coming up in less than two weeks, and I cannot wait. I'm counting down the days. I'll be sure to share lots of fun Disney and Universal photos. :)

Something Shiny (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.): Today's something shiny is a question. How are you doing with NaNoWriMo? This is my first year, and I'm loving it. Sure, it's been hard, but pounding out a first draft on a deadline fits so well with my writing style. Is this your first time? Are you still going strong? Or have you instead found that this just isn't right for you? I think all of that's okay, but I'd love to know where you are!

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNo Check-in #5

Progress (word count or a general status update): 28,706

Mood: For anyone paying attention to Twitter this afternoon, you know that my mood is high. Elated? Certainly full of exclamation points. I finally figured out what scenes I needed to push through the middle to the next turning point in this story!

Inspiration: Even though I'm beyond thrilled with this story right now, I'm still in the throes of querying my dragon hunters story. While I've had some successes, rejection is always hard, especially when reading REALLY awesome books. That being said, today's inspiration is more for my writing journey than NaNoWriMo. From Francine Prose:

“To be truthful, some writers stop you dead in your tracks by making you see your own work in the most unflattering light. Each of us will meet a different harbinger of personal failure, some innocent genius chosen by us for reasons having to do with what we see as our own inadequacies. The only remedy to this I have found is to read a writer whose work is entirely different from another, though not necessarily more like your own—a difference that will remind you of how many rooms there are in the house of art.” 

Goals as of today: I'm taking a quick break from today's writing (a reward for getting 1/3 of the way through today's goal) to write this update. I'm hoping to finish at 3,000 today--though I may push on to 4,000 because tomorrow's schedule is filling up pretty fast.

Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line: (not revised)
Mason could kiss her. 

He looked down at her. The starlight played across her face. She looked tired and worn, but she was all peace. Her skin was fair and smooth. Her long, dark eyelashes rested against her cheeks.

Mason wanted to kiss her.

Her short hair was matted to her forehead. Mason pressed his hand to her skin. It still burned. He brushed her hair away from her face and sighed.
Mason couldn’t kiss her.

Non-NaNo News: My husband's work just started selling a knock-off of Butter Beer (can you make a knock-off of something fictional?). Guys, it's as good as I always dreamed it would be.

Something Shiney (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.): Here's that butter beer I was talking about.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

RTW: Get Inspired!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: Tons of writers are in the midst of NaNoWriMo, trying to stay inspired as we reach the dreaded middle. Share your most inspiring and/or motivational video, book, or quote on writing!

I love turning to the words of the writers who have come before me and finding in them the same longings I have in myself--to create, to love, to live. It warms my heart to know that while my journey as a writer is uniquely mine, I'm not the first to travel this path, and I won't be the last. And I'm certainly not alone.

In celebration of all the different writers--those doing NaNo, those unofficially doing NaNo, those that despise NaNo--I'm going to share a few quotes from one of my biggest writing inspirations, Madeleine L'Engle.

For those struggling with ideas, needing more creativity:
"Unless we are creators, we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint or clay or words. Creativity is a way of living or life, no matter what our vocation, or how we earn or living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career...Our freedom to be creators is far less limited than some would think."

For those who have had a hard time meeting their word count goals:
"To work on a book is for me very much the same thing as to pray. Both involve discipline. If the artist only works when he feels like it, he's not apt to build up much of a body of work. Inspiration far more often comes during the work than before it, because the largest part of the job of the artist is to listen to the work, to go where it tells him to go. Ultimately, when you are writing, you stop thinking and write what you hear." 

For all of us:
“I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their own validity no matter what.” 

Whether you're participating in NaNo or not, don't give up on your faith in yourself. But if you are, let me know so we can encourage each other for the rest of the month. What is inspiring you right now (whether you're NaNoing or not)?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNo Check-in #4

Progress (word count or a general status update): 21,470 words

Mood: I'm really, really looking forward to revisions. Not sure what mood that is exactly. I love drafting. I love pushing through and writing all of the words. But my inner editor wants to revise. So I'm looking forward to this month ending so I can make this book good. I already have so many ideas and thoughts on what needs to be improved, but it's not the time.

Inspiration: From Anne Lammot (perfect for my mood today) "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it."

Goals as of today: Jumping into the week means a lot of 1,000 word days with the exception of Wednesday and Friday (when the Mister closes at work). I have a half day this Friday because I had more vacation days left than I realized, and none of them roll over. Here's to looking forward to a productive end of the week!

Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line
The uniform hung loose on Danny’s thin body. It was hard for Mason to imagine she was the same girl he’d seen that morning in the rose dress. For a brief second he wondered what she looked like under all that blue but shook the thought away. Danny was his brother now.

Tim turned and stalked toward Danny. “You tricked me,” he said.

“I did no such thing. You simply didn’t take the time to even try to get to know me. You saw me in my brother’s clothes, knew that I was from a secessionist state, and assumed I was a man without principles. I may not know what I believe about this war, but I know how to give a person a chance before passing judgment.” Her words rolled out all in one breath, and the room fell silent for the second time that afternoon. The more time Mason spent with this girl, the more time he wanted to spend with her, secessionist-leaning or not.

“Oh,” Danny said, “I also know how to tell the difference between a man and a woman, something you might want to learn if you ever hope to have children someday.”

Non-NaNo News: I need some help! I'm looking for a second crit partner. My current CP (whom I adore) has a LOT on her plate right now. Plus, I've been wanting to work with another YA writer. Any of you looking for another crit partner or know someone who is? Any suggestions on where to find one?

Something Shiney (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.): Jaime Morrow had a great post on Friday about the little things authors can do to connect to their readers. I received my Taken swag from Erin Bowman the same day, and guys, it really is the little things. Even if it's just writers responding to their fans on Twitter. Even if those writers are writers you Tweeted with before their book deal. You are your brand.

Also, Carly Watters (an agent with P.S. Literacy Agency) has a great post about what to do AFTER NaNoWriMo.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaNo Check-in #3

Progress (word count or a general status update): I've switched to third person, which means a lot of revising later (no big surprise there). I'm now at 11,144 words--crossed over 10,000 yesterday.

Mood: The last 2,000 or so words were rough, so the mood is a little low, but it's ok. I gave myself permission to suck at the beginning of the month, and I think those scenes can be revised into something beautiful.

Inspiration: "A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe." Madeleine L'Engle

Goals as of today: 1,000 words today; 4,500 tomorrow; 1,000 Saturday; 3,000 Sunday. Big weekend.

Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line: As they neared the door, the Star Lines glowed brighter, shifting from the glimmer he'd seen in the streets to a thick, swirling sort of energy. Mason could feel the power in his chest and his head. It was like being around the full unit, only it wasn't coming from Greybar. The glow came from inside the house.

"Did you see that?" Mason asked.

The Captain nodded. "Maybe this won't be a wasted trip after all."

Non-NaNo News: I just realized that I'll be in Disney World in less than a month. This is so exciting!

Something Shiney (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.): There's a song I want to share with you guys. It's long, but I encourage you to listen to the whole thing. There's so much character and so much story in those short six minutes. It's the kind of character building and description I want from each book I write. And my word, this song wrecks me every time I listen to it. It's only been this year that it hasn't brought me to tears every time (only 1 in 3 now).

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNo Check-in #2

Progress (word count or a general status update): I'm 6,758 in, and at this juncture I'm considering a switch from first person to third. 

Mood: So in love. I'm enjoying this new story immensely.

Inspiration: "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." Madeleine L'Engle

Goals as of today: 1,000 words today. I plan to knock them out on my lunch break.

Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line: I reached out for the Star Lines. Their energy pulsed through me, filling me with fire and life. I'd only ever thought of their power as a comfort, a deeper connection to God and the earth. Violence didn't seem possible, but the longer I held onto the lines, the stronger their power drew me in as if it might consume me. I had to let go or unleash it. It was in that moment that I realized the stars could destroy. And if they did, they would destroy completely.

Non-NaNo News: I didn't bake the pumpkin pie because I ended up having to work. I do, however, have all the ingredients and hope to bake it this week. 

Something Shiney (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.): YA Highway Carpool. If you're participating in NaNoWriMo and haven't signed up for these emails, I strongly recommend it. They have some great tips and inspiration. Check it out here.

Also, here's the current inspiration for Mason Longshore, Danielle's love interest.

Picture taken from this site.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNo Check-in #1

Progress (word count or a general status update): 1,223

Mood: Excited, a little nervous. So, nervous excitement.

Inspiration: "Remember, it is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is a common occurrence in all writing, and among the best writers." William Strunk

Goals as of today: 2,000 words for today. So I have about 1700 to go.

Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line: Instead of a line, how about my short synopsis?

Sixteen-year-old Danielle Claiborne didn’t want to have anything to do with the war between the states. But when Nashville is taken by Union soldiers, the war comes to Danielle. It doesn’t take the invaders long to discover Danielle’s secret: She has the Sight, the ability to draw on the power of the stars. And that makes her a weapon, one the Union wants to wield.

When the Union offers her mother and her home protection, Danielle agrees to give up the life she knew to become Danny Clemmons, a Seer for the Federals.

Non-NaNo News: I'm thinking about baking a pumpkin pie this weekend. Should all go as planned, I'll have pictures.

Something Shiney (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.): Marissa Meyer (author of Cinder) is planning to participate in NaNoWriMo. Here's what she's working on.

Music is so helpful to me when I write, so I thought I'd share my favorite writing song as of this morning for this WIP.