Monthly Archives: September 2013

NaNoWriMo Is Coming!

“NaNoWriMo is coming!”

“Nanna Who is coming?”

“Not Nana – NaNo.”

“Nano nano?”

“No.  NaNoWriMo.”

“Okay.  What’s a NaNoWriMo?”

“NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  It’s a month long ascent into madness in which participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.”

“Impossible.”

“Not impossible.  Thousands of people all over the world do it every year in November, including me.”

“Right.”

“It’s true!  And some people work on their novels after November and edit them and send them off and get them published – some even make it to the best sellers list: Night Circus and Water for Elephants both started as NaNoWriMo novels.”

“In one month?”

“No, silly.  You can get a rough draft in one month – polishing it takes a lot longer.”

“I don’t know… 50,000 words in 30 days…”

“That’s only 1667 words per day. And there will be lots of others doing it too, all over the world and probably right in your own local area.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. And there will be write-ins where you can get together with other people in the same boat you’re in, and commiserate, and share inspiration, get to know other writers and just have fun.  Oh, and a Kick Off Party to get everyone rolling and a TGIO party. (Thank Goodness It’s Over… which is immediately followed by:  How Long Until We Can Do This Again?)”

“How do I find out about all this?”

“Well, for starters, go to http://www.nanowrimo.org and register. Don’t worry, it’s free, and there’s no charge for any of the events, either.  When you register, you’ll be asked if you want to choose a home region. Find the one that is closest to you and mark it as your home region.”

“What happens when I do that?”

“Well, one of the things is that at the bottom of the lists of forums you’ll find one for your region.   In the regional forum you’ll find… well, in my region you’ll find a calendar that will list the dates, times, and places of various events, and threads with useful information and links to websites that can help you with your novel, as well as various other discussions.   And once a week or so during November you’ll get a pep talk email from your Municipal Liaison.”

In all seriousness, NaNoWriMo is an insane amount of fun. 

It’s about writing a novel, yes, but it is also about unleashing your creative potential.  Allow yourself to cut loose, lose your inhibitions, and, yes, be silly.  So come on and join the fun! 

Paula ~ 

just one of many friendly neighborhood Municipal Liaisons
(a fancy way of saying that I’m a slightly crazed volunteer)

Still have questions?  Feel free to leave me a message in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

 

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Sunday Excerpt — September 29, 2013

Continuing with the start of Book 4 of the Academy of the Accord series.   Last week Vinadi explained how he and Koppaerna, the Wyverian (non-human) shaman that he is in love with, tried to break off their relationship but couldn’t, and since they couldn’t be together the way they wanted they were together when they could be.  I’m picking up from where I left off.

(Please note, this is still a first draft and hasn’t been edited much.)

 

Blue eyes begged for forgiveness.  “I’m sorry, Marsden.”

“Sorry?” 

“Koppaerna and I… we… we were lovers.  And you and I –what we have…”

Marsden’s chuckle was warm as he pulled his wizard to him, holding him.  “What we have, Vinadi, is not threatened by what you have with Koppaerna.”

Vinadi’s eyes closed as he leaned into his Warder’s embrace, wondering how he ever could have doubted this man, doubted his love.

“So why are you telling me all of this?”

 

Hmmm… Why, indeed, Vinadi?   Find out next week…

 

 

 

Check out Weekend Writing Warriors  and Sunday Snippets for great stuff from other writers.

My other novel, Song and Sword is currently available for Kindle and all other e-readers. 

Song and Sword cover

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for all other e-readers.

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Where Do Ideas Come From?

I was sitting here trying to decide what to write about writing and finally admitted that it wasn’t a matter of making a decision: it was a matter of having no idea.

So, I turned to my standard “inspiration point” and pulled up my Face Book page.  (No, it’s not procrastination – it’s research.  Really!)

Seriously, I have a very diverse FB feed – everything from scripture quotes to Big Foot sightings, from archaeological finds to Pagan images, from recipes to equal rights/anti-discrimination posts – they all live in a kind of divergent yet oddly cohesive blend on my wall, and I can usually find something there to inspire a blog post.

But I got to wondering…

Where do ideas come from?  Whether it is for a novel, a poem, a painting, or clothing design… Where do the ideas come from?

I don’t mean just what prompts something.  Where do ideas come from?  What is imagination? Or inspiration?  And why do some people feel the urge – compulsion, even – to create things while others are content to muddle through life with only what is already there?

And what is it like in their world?

I cannot remember a time when I was not lost in imagination or making up stories in my head.  I remember picking different things out of the yard at my grandmother’s house and making “rabbit stew” – I was pretending to be a rabbit and was most upset when she told me that rabbit stew actually contained rabbit – my rabbit stew was for rabbits to eat, not be eaten in, thank you very much.  (And apparently I also had an invisible horse that my Aunt Susan claims she was always in trouble for letting loose.)

Sure, lots of kids have imaginary friends, but most outgrow them by school age. 

I never quite did. 

And that’s okay, because:

Few adults report having imaginary friends; however, as Eileen Kennedy-Moore points out, “Adult fiction writers often talk about their characters taking on a life of their own, which may be an analogous process to children’s invisible friends.”[3] In addition, Marjorie Taylor and colleagues have found that fiction writers are more likely than average to have had imaginary companions as children.[4]

[3] Kennedy-Moore, Eileen (2013) “Imaginary Friends: Are invisible friends a sign of social problems?” Psychology Today; Growing Friendships blog. 31 January 2013.
[4] Taylor, M., Hodges, S. D., & Kohányi, A. (2002-2003). The Illusion of Independent Agency: Do adult fiction writers experience their characters as having minds of their own? Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 22(4), 361-380.

 (There was also talk of a study that showed that children – and teens – who had imaginary friends did better academically.)

(Quoted text is from Wikipedia.) 

And then there was this article which also had a lot to say about writers and imaginary friends. 

But that diversion still didn’t tell me where ideas come from and was starting to look an awful lot procrastination, so I changed my search to try to focus on the topic at hand.

And I got… nothing.

I got lots of stuff about the habits of creative people and unlocking your creative potential and how to become more creative, but nothing about why some people are more creative than others – why some people live to create, feel alive while creating, and others never even think about doing something creative.

I think maybe no one knows. 

But I also think that it’s an interesting question to explore.

 

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Distractions

It’s fall – my favorite season.  As the temperatures drop and the nights lengthen I get a surge of energy and feel like everything is possible and that I can take on the world single-handedly… and win.

One of my other favorite things is the abundance of festivals, especially the ones that have crafters.  I always get inspired by seeing other people’s creative endeavors – they make me want to go home and do things.

Thus it was that on a damp grey day that never made it out of the 50s I found myself at the last day of the Peanut Butter Festival in my hometown (New Bethlehem).  We were there early, and between that and the weather, there wasn’t exactly a huge crowd, and most of the people that were there were at the car show.  (There was a surprisingly large number of cars there.)

For me, the best parts were the blue heron standing on a sandbar just below the dam, and a flock of ducks further up the creek.  (How can anyone not smile while watching ducks?)

(Please note my amazing show of restraint at not saying that they quacked me up.)

Oh, and maple sugar candy.  Someone was selling maple sugar candy, which is one of my favorite things.

(We will not talk about my lack of restraint there: just focus on my restraint regarding the ducks.)

From the last day of the Peanut Butter Festival we went north to the first day of the Autumn Leaf Festival in Clarion. 

On the way we saw two bear cubs running up a bank, and once there we saw more old cars.  The sun made a brief appearance, but so did rain.  There were no crafters, but I had an elephant ear and all was well.  There were also no autumn leaves – everything is still green here.

The whole day was a distraction – my roommate needed a distraction from school work and I welcomed a distraction from thinking about all the things that I need and want to do but don’t seem to be getting done.

(Of course, as the day drew on my goals started nagging at me and making me feel guilty and want to go home to get to them.)

But something interesting did come from the day…

Many years ago when I was in college at Clarion University, Folk Festival provided me with the opening line to what was probably my first (still unwritten) novel: “There is something incredibly sad about the end of Festival.”

Up until that line wandered into my head, I had never written anything except fan fiction.  I still haven’t written that novel, but I still remember the opening line and the characters, and someday I will come up with a plot for them.

Another still-unwritten novel grew out of an assignment for an English class: we were to sit somewhere for ten or fifteen minutes with our eyes closed and focus on the other senses. Somehow, sitting at an old wooden picnic table on the campus translated into a story set in a space port.  After roughly thirty years I still remember the details of that story and I should probably come up with more of a plot and turn it into the first chapter of a novel.

Someday…

Except that I suddenly want those “somedays” to be “nows.”

At the moment, I’m not sure if these urges to revisit old story ideas are due to nostalgia or my usual autumn “conquer the world” rush, or perhaps a combination of both.

Or maybe they are just distractions trying to keep me from my goal.

But it brings up an interesting question:  does anyone else have ideas that they came up with over half a lifetime ago and never wrote — but that are just as vivid as they were when you first came up with them?

 

 

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Sunday Excerpt — September 22, 2013

Continuing with the start of Book 4 of the Academy of the Accord series.   Last week Vinadi admitted to Marsden that he had fallen in love with a woman of another species, something that is just not done.

Vinadi continues speaking:

“At first I tried to tell myself that what I was feeling was just gratitude:  she saved my life, and the boys’ too, no doubt, but it was – is – more than that.”  He shook his head, his blue eyes begging for understanding as he looked at his Warder.  “I wanted her to come back here with me, but she wouldn’t.  Her people needed her, and given how people felt — still feel — about other races, especially ones that came out of the Wizard Wars, well…”  He shrugged, not needing to say more:  Marsden knew all too well what he meant, had seen first hand the results of that prejudice. 

“You didn’t end it.”

“No.”  Vinadi sighed miserably.  “We can’t.  We’ve tried, knowing how hopeless it is for the two of us to ever be together permanently, but we finally had to admit that we are not going to be able to deny our feelings, we just can’t be together the way we want to be, so we are together when we can be.”

(NOTE: “the boys” are not Vinadi’s sons – they are two other wizards and their Warders.  Marsden and Vinadi practically raised them, and although they are now adults Marsden and Vinadi still refer to them as “the boys.”)

Check out Weekend Writing Warriors  and Sunday Snippets for great stuff from other writers.

My other novel, Song and Sword is currently available for Kindle and all other e-readers. 

Song and Sword cover

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for all other e-readers.

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Gnats

Free to a good home
— or a bad home –
any home but my home!

I have three sets of bookshelves, mostly full.  Okay they are overflowing and I don’t have room in my room for a fourth set.  A lot of the books are ones I read years ago but don’t want to get rid of – they’re like old friends.  (Which wouldn’t be so bad if new friends didn’t keep coming to join them.)

One shelf holds books on writing, all of which I’m going to read someday.  (Oh, don’t even pretend that you don’t have books on writing – or some other subject – that you’re going to read someday!) That set of shelves also holds my fiction collection – the “old friends” I mentioned above. 

The other two sets of shelves hold books on religion and spirituality, most of which I read over 20 years ago and haven’t really looked at since.  Some I have outgrown, some are about subjects that I never really got into, and some I’m not sure why I own and I rather suspect that the other books invited their friends for a sleepover and they never left.

I should also add that there is no rhyme or reason or organization to any of the shelves.  (Seriously? Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols sharing space with books by Thich Nhat Hanh and Ovid’s Metamorphoses – what was I thinking?  Can you imagine the results if these things interbred?)

But what to do with all the ones that I’ve outgrown?  I mean, some of this stuff you can’t just drop at St. Vincent’s, or at the library for their book sale. (I live in a small town, remember?)  And I’m not one to throw away old friends, bound or not. So, I just lived with the sprawling chaos.

But then, out of nowhere, came an answer…

Wednesday night was the monthly Bartering Circle at the weekly Pagan coffee night I’ve started going to, so I packed up two boxes of books, not to trade or barter, but to give away.  

Only one boxful (the smaller of the two) came home with me. It will go back next month along with some others, and this will continue until all that is left is the stuff that really matters to me. 

In essence, I am editing my bookshelves, eliminating the things I don’t need, that don’t work for my story.

Once I have empty shelves I’m going to rearrange the books and attempt to impose some sort of order on them.   And then all those notebooks and journals and composition books and three ring binders and paper and pens and highlighters and post it notes and index cards are going to have a place to live – a place that’s easily accessible – a place where I can see them… and probably still not use them.

(Almost every writer I know loves notebooks and journals – an office supply store is like a candy store to us and we live for the back to school sales so we can stock up on stuff we don’t use.  Because almost every writer I know hates to write in their pretty new journals and notebooks – we don’t want to defile them with our less than perfect notes and thoughts and handwriting.)

And then, if there’s room (you all can stop laughing now) I’ll maybe get some craft supplies put on them too.  Or at least my pen pal stuff — I mean, it’s writing-related, right?

I may be getting ahead of myself, but I have a plan… a course of action… an outline.

And someday I will write “The End” to the clutter.

And in case anyone is wondering about the title of this post, here’s a glimpse into the mind of a writer:

I was looking around for a blog topic, and I was swatting at gnats.   We’re inundated with them this summer.  I don’t know if I bought a plant that was infected, or if they were in some potting soil I bought or in the sphagnum peat moss, or where they came from, but they are here and they are taking over. I was thinking about ways to get rid of them and wondering if I could turn them into a blog post (everything is fair game to a writer) and I thought about comparing them to a swarm of annoying and distracting plot bunnies – but I never want to really get rid of plot bunnies.  Then the “get rid of” connected with “books” and a blog post was born.)

And I still might write about plot gnats… 

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Writing Ill

There’s all kinds of stuff written about “writing well.”  Well, I’m not writing well:  I’m writing ill.  I woke up feeling tired and dragged out and like I’d been hit by a train.  I put it down to maybe just not sleeping right, but then it hit me… No, not the train, a cold.  (I think I would have preferred the train.)

So, I’m ill. 

And I’m writing.

Well, to be totally honest I’ve spent more time looking at stuff on Face Book and staring at an open Word doc than actually typing, but the intent was there. 

I’ve had all the mental focus of a zombie on speed, but I still managed to add a few words to my current novel.  (Well, maybe “words” is too grand of a statement.  I added some letters.)

And I think that that is what this blog post is about: pushing on.

Sure, there are lots of times when it’s easier to just say “I quit” and close the document and maybe even delete it.  (Only to go frantically digging through your computer’s recycle bin until you find it again, brush it off, apologize, and kiss and make up…)

I’ve come close to doing that many times – wondering why I bother writing, if anyone even reads it, and the ever popular: “I totally suck and should burn all pens, papers, and pencils within reach” (which in my case would create quite a bonfire).

But (obviously) I haven’t done that. Why not?

Good question, actually…

Part of the answer is that I write because I enjoy it. (Most of the time.)  I enjoy writing:  I enjoy creating worlds and characters and stories and I want to know how the story ends, and the only way to find out is to keep writing.

And the hard parts?  Well, no one ever said it was going to be easy all the time.  (As Marsden tells Draethlen in one of the books in the Academy of the Accord series, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”   Granted, Marsden was talking about holding to the codes of a warrior, but the sentiment is the same – and sometimes slogging through the hard parts does feel like going into battle.)

And all you can do when you hit those times is press on.  I wrote once before about sticking with a project and how it was like a marriage or other long term committed relationship.

I’ve recently been through the “worse” part of “for better or worse” (*cough*Book 4*cough*) and now I’m in the “sickness” phase of “in sickness and in health.”  (Yeah, yeah, I know: it’s only a cold.  I’d rather have the flu than a cold. You get more sympathy for the flu.  Plus, you get over the flu – a cold lingers for forever.)

Still, I’m writing.  I’m not writing well, but I’m writing. 

I’m almost scared to look at what I’ve written once I have a clear functional brain cell, but I’m writing, and that’s all the matters.

(I’m writing ill — I’ll make it well later.)

(For the record, it has taken me nearly three hours to write the approximately 500 probably horrendously disjointed words you’ve just read.  Now that is lack of focus!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Excerpt — September 15, 2013

Another snippet from  Book 4 of the Academy of the Accord series, picking up from last week’s excerpt.

Recap:
Vinadi is hesitant to tell Marsden what is troubling him, but Marsden has guessed that it has to do with the rumors he’s heard about his wizard.  He asked Vinadi if they were true, and Vinadi confirmed that they were.  Marsden speaks first:

“Want to tell me about it?”

“Yes.”  Tension flowed out of Vinadi in the light of Marsden’s easy matter of fact acceptance.  He took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh, wondering where to start. 

Marsden saved him the trouble.  “It’s Koppaerna,” the warrior said.

Vinadi looked at him startled.  “Koppaerna…”

“You fell in love with her.” Marsden’s tone was calm, matter-of-fact.

“Yes.”  Vinadi’s voice was a whisper, his head bowed, not wanting to see the revulsion in Marsden’s eyes.

(Koppaerna is a Wyverian, a race created during the wizard wars – roughly humanoid but with scales, wings, and a tail.  Interracial relations are… not exactly accepted.)

 

Check out Weekend Writing Warriors  and Sunday Snippets for great stuff from other writers.

Song and Sword is currently available for Kindle and all other e-readers. 

Song and Sword cover

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for all other e-readers.

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Trusting Your Muse

This past week saw Book 4’s rough draft get wrapped up, printed, and consigned to a three ring binder on a book shelf until sometime next year when I buy a large number of red pens and begin trying to edit the Academy of the Accord series.

That means that I am now on Book 5. I had 13 separate files for it, some were duplicates that I was using to cut scenes from to paste into a “final” version (I think there were three “final” versions in the folder),and some were alternate versions of how things happened, and some held things that belong in Books 6 and 7. Everything has been sorted and condensed and I am now reading through what I ended up with for Book 5, just to make sure I’m on the same page as myself.  (I know there is some stuff at the end that is probably going to still need to be moved, but I’l decide on that when I get there.)

But the best thing is that I have a plot.  Book 5 has a direction, a destination.  I have scenes semi-fleshed out in my head and I know roughly where they go. Sounds good, right?

Right.

Except I also have logic fails of epic proportions and plot holes that rival the Bermuda Triangle. I have no rational explanation for why things happen, or how they happen: I just know that they do happen.

Now, please understand: I am not a pantser. (Pantser: one who flies (or writes) by the seat of his or her pants.)  I like to have an outline.  I write better with an outline. At least, I write faster with an outline and I don’t get lost and my characters don’t hijack my plot (as much) when I have an outline.

In short, I love outlines. And the more detailed they are, the better.  

(I have pantsed. It was fairly disastrous,but I have done it: no plot, the characters all safe and sound from the people trying to kill them, and 20,000 words short of winning NaNoWriMo. I considered writing a 20,000 word celebration orgy, but instead I let my muse guide me… and I ended up with a village of zombies.)

So, here I am, with a half completed book that is in total disarray, having been chopped apart and stuck back together with binder’s twine, band aids, and some duct tape, and a plot that looks like moth-eaten lace.

But that’s all right. I’m going to just write, and when I get to those places where a leap of logic lands me in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle I’m going to just close my eyes, turn off my logic center and take a leap of faith, trusting in my muse to provide the answers as I go.

It’s worked before.

I just hope that there’s no village of zombies this time…

Where has your muse taken you?

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Finally!

Yes!  I am back on track!

Well, as long as I keep reminding myself that this is the first draft so clunky sentences and awkward transitions don’t really matter.

(Transitions: the bane of my existence.)

Anyhow, with luck Book 4 will be wrapped up tonight or tomorrow and then on to Book 5 which will hopefully not take as long to sort out and finish so I can get started on Book 6 which is what I’m supposed to be writing this month.  Whew!  

Hey, I’m currently only 9 days behind schedule:  I can totally get caught up to myself! 

*waves at my self-imposed deadline as it goes whooshing by*

Then if I can get Books 6 and 7 both under control next month I’ll be back on track. 

(Um, would someone care to outline my November novel for me for NaNoWriMo?  I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze that in.  For that matter, are there any takers for outlining Books 6 sometime this week?  No? Book 7?  I don’t need its outline until the first of October…  No?  How about Book 10 – it’s started, at least, and I won’t be working on it until December so you have lots of time…  Still no? What kind of friends are you?  LOL)

Yes, I’m being silly and goofy and a little punchy.  I think it’s from the relief of having finally beaten the block and getting back into the groove.  It feels so good. And I feel ridiculously free and happy just because I wrote a few lines (that suck) that are helping me wrap up the story.

Well, except for a major transition that is still looming.  In true first draft fashion, though, I’ll put in some awkward sentences that will “tell” more than “show” and at least half of which will probably be in passive voice.  After all, fixing that is for Round Two.

Meanwhile: Round One goes to me.

Happy dancing and spiking imaginary footballs at the goalposts…

See ya on Friday!

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