Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo 2012

Photo By: Mike Licht via Flickr
As we near the end of NaNoWriMo 2012 (National Novel Writing Month where writers commit to the goal of writing a 50k novel - or writing 50k fresh words into a current WIP), I decided to reflect back on the month of November and draw out the lessons I've learned thus far. (Especially since this year, NaNoWriMo didn't go as smoothly as it did for me last year.)

Lesson #1: Clear Your Calendar (If Possible)

November's a busy month for everyone no matter which way you look at it. The start of the holiday season, a time to start gearing up to shed all the bad from the year and setting goals for the new year, etc.. For writers, when you add in the task of writing 50k words in 30 days, you've just added a whole lotta busy to that calendar of events. For me personally, November's already incredibly busy because it's smack in the middle of the selling season at my dayjob. So when attempting NaNoWriMo, clear the calendar as much as possible. I'm not saying don't spend time with the family or your friends. But what I am saying is that you should value and guard your time like it's the hottest ticket item on Black Friday. While we'd like to believe we're super heroes and can do everything, all that truly comes out of the attempt is a new patch of gray hairs, sleepless nights, and a sparkling cranky attitude.

Lesson #2: Minimize the Writing To Do List

I'd like to think this is a nobrainer, but as I learned this month, it's incredibly difficult to edit one WIP while writing the first draft of another. So while it should be easy to remember, unfortunately it's not. And the main reason why is because, for some of us, when we edit our muse is working in the background on the other WIP, and more than likely it's pulling and expanding on ideas that you're thinking of while in editing mode. Sounds easy, right? Exactly! And it's even more fun when you're editing someone else's work, because their beautifully polished prose, in turn, pushes you to make your WIP better. However...there's a fine line between the editing brain and the creative brain, and if we're not careful, the fence will come crashing down and we'll find ourselves in the middle of West Side Story. So when you face a large writing task, such as writing 50k words in 30 days, the best bet is to only write those words. Nothing else. Any other time of the year you can tackle the edits on one and write the other, but during NaNoWriMo when you've got to burn up the keyboard? Nah, not suggested.

Lesson #3: Don't Lose Focus

I know what you're thinking. "Well, duh! You're trying to write 50k in 30 days. Of course you've gotta keep your focus!" Yea, yea, I know. And even though this is a cliche, keeping focus is so much easier said than done. As I stated earlier, November is a busy, busy month. Between family functions, and however busy you are at the dayjob, trying to get some personal reading time and keeping the creative well full and flowing, the focus ball is a hard one to keep in the air without dropping the others. And there will always be something you can't simply not do. This is where Lessons #1 & 2 come in handy so that you can keep your focus trained on writing those words. Once you've cleared your calendar and minimized your To Do List, now's the time to close the door to the writing cave, insert those ear buds, hang your 'Back in 30 Days' sign, and block the rest of the world out.

Lesson #4: Daily Weekly Word Count

Everyone's who attacked NaNoWriMo knows that in order to write 50k in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words a day, right? One of the main points behind NaNo is to teach us to write each and every day no matter what. Which is good, but what about those days where words just aren't going to hit the page? Creativity well's running dry, you've got too much going on in your personal life, you've gotta work overtime at the dayjob, etc.. All of these drastically affect how much writing we're going to get done on a daily basis. So instead of a daily word count, I prefer to go by a weekly word count (as suggested by James Scott Bell). 11,700 words a week is an easy target. There are no stressors because you didn't write anything on a particular day because you can pick up the slack later in the week. And this was waaaay too true for me this year. Last year, I was able to hit 1,667 words a day (give or take one day here or there), but this year it just wasn't gonna happen for me. So I made it a point get my words in during long spurts of writing. As in 5 hours on Friday night, some time on Saturday, and a little bit on Sunday. Needless to say, my bar graph on the NaNo site didn't have that beautiful steady arc like others. :)

Lesson #5: Have Fun and Don't Stress 

I previously posted about this particular earlier this month. (Along with some fun Southern Sayin's and Chuck Norris jokes.) NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun and real experience. It's supposed to teach us about ourselves, about our writing, and we're supposed to learn how well we can work under pressure - aka: readying us for when we have a multi-book contract. ;)  Anything we do in life can be made so much better if we just add a little fun into the mix, and this is something I think we all need to remind ourselves when we're so far behind on the word count that we can't bring ourselves to think about anything else. So for my final lesson for this year's NaNoWriMo is to keep a 'favorites' file in your internet browser specifically for sites with jokes, witty one-liners, and hilarious comic strips.

Your Turn: What lessons did you learn during NaNoWriMo this year? Have you busted through the 50k finish line yet? If you could change one thing about how you attacked NaNoWriMo this year, what would it be and why?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Be Thankful...

Since this week is Thanksgiving, I'll be taking a holiday break from the blog and returning next Tuesday the 27th.

Until then, here are some thoughts on what we should all be thankful. Not just during the holidays, but all day, every day.

Be thankful for the air in your lungs, the earth beneath your feet, the clouds in the sky.
Be thankful for your family, be it by blood or spirit.
Be thankful for your loved ones who are no longer with you, for at least you knew them, loved them, and have memories to call upon when you're missing them.
Be thankful for those who stand behind you, supporting you in any and every decision you make.
Be thankful for the roof over your head, the food on your table, the warmth in your home.
Be thankful for knowing who you are and where you're going in life.
Be thankful for today. Becuase yesterday's gone and tomorrows are never promised.

Photo from: Teach Me Life

Your turn: What are you thankful for? Write it down, post it in a place where you'll see if every day. Let it serve as a reminder that we should remain positive and thankful each every day. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Week in Favs…

Playing on the Zune: The Kill (Bury Me) by Thirty Seconds to Mars

Social Media and Author Websites
Social Media and the Author by Lynda K. Scott

What Not to Blog About by Rachelle Gardner

What Does Your Online Activity Say About You? by Rachelle Gardner

How do I Balance Marketing and Writing by Chip MacGregor

Blogging – What’s the Point? by Marji Laine

10 Marketing Techniques That Annoy Potential Readers by Nathan Bransford

On the Craft
Writer’s Block – What Is It & How Can You Avoid It by Jim Denney

The Biggest Problem Facing the Beginning Novelist – And 6 Tips for Avoiding It by Anne R. Allen

Stay on Target: When is Subplot Leading You Astray? by Janice Hardy

Want to Be Read 100 Years From Now? Here’s How by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Series vs. Stand-Alone: What Should We Work on Next? by Jami Gold

Five Common First-Chapter Mistakes by Jody Hedlund

Writing Lessons Learned from JUST LISTEN by Julie Musil

Thesaurus Pros and Cons by Carolyn Kaufman

NaNo Check-In: Lessons from the Halfway Point by Jami Gold

Writerly Inspiration
Next Steps: How to ‘Do More’ with Your Writing by Sarah Baughman

9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier by Geoffrey James

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

How to Digitally Format Your Book on Where Writers Win

Love Your Book? Choose a Great Cover by August McLaughlin

ABC’s of Writing – (S)ubmissions Tell Us More than Simply About Your Book by Scott Eagan

Beware the Subtleties by Lynne Price

What to Do When Your Books Aren’t Anything by Jeffe Kennedy

Don’t Shrink from Synopses! by Laura Drake

Write Tip: Advice From the Slushpile – 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Submitting Manuscripts by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Writerly Uses for Microsoft Excel – Part 1 by Jenny Hansen

Other Round-Ups
The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)
This week on the blog:

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writing Resource – Movie Firearms Database

I know I’m not the only person who, after watching a wicked action flick, has said to themselves: “Daaaaamn…. I really want one of those guns!” Truth be told, I find myself saying something along those lines at least three or four times per movie. More if it’s a damn good movie. *grin*

Last month, the hubby and I watched The Expendables 2, and this was one such movie where I didn’t just want to have one of the weapons for myself, but I actually wanted one of the characters in my WIP to have one of those weapons. Especially the assault rifle Chuck Norris’s character uses. *shudders at the mention of Chuck*

Now, because I’m the not best when it comes to the name and type of gun in a movie (I usually refer to them as, “Chuck’s gun, or Liam’s sniper, or the really, really loud one!”), and also because I can’t just bug one of my buddies all the time when I want to change up the weapons being used in my WIP, I set out for a quick search on Google, and I discovered…

I love, love, love this database! I’ve always loved the regular Internet Movie Database, and I wish I had discovered sooner that there was a database specific to movie firearms. And – BONUS! – they don’t just cover firearms you see in movies. *cheers* They also cover firearms in TV, Anime, and Video Games, and you can also simply search by the actor. So if you want to know of every gun Sandra Bullock has ever used in his film career, this site will tell you.

So now that I have discovered this particular database, I now know the following about the gun that Chuck Norris’s character used in the movie:
·         It’s a Heckler & Kosh G36C, an assault rifle, introduced in 2001
·         It weighs 6.2 lbs
·         Its fire mode is Semi-Auto/Full-Auto.
·         I can also say there’s also a G36, a G36K, and a MG36.
·         The G36C has been used in at least 40 films, 30 Video Games, and 14 TV shows.
o   Well-known actors who have used this weapon in film: Gerard Butler (Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life & Gamer), Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys II), Vince Vaughn (Mr. & Mrs. Smith), and Clive Owen (Shoot ‘Em Up)
·         And because I now know the name of the weapon, I can skip on over to YouTube and see how this baby works in real life, especially since there’s no way in hell I’m gonna get to actually use one anytime soon.

There’s no way on earth I could’ve told you that much information on this weapon. No. Way.

But now that I have this resource, my projects and characters will have no shortage whatsoever when it comes to their selection of weaponry.

And of course I had to share with all of you! I mean, right behind thinking of the many, many ways we can kill a character off are the many, many weapons we can incorporate into our story. And if you’re like me, this particular task takes time because you have the find the right weapon for your character. It has to look and feel like something your character would whip out in the middle of a battle.

Your Turn: Do any of your characters use firearms? If so, how were you able to find and choose which firearm was right for them? Do you have another resource you use for weaponry? If so, please share!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This Week in Favs….

Playing on the Zune: You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing by Halestorm

Social Media and Author Websites
How to Use Google+ as an Author Platform on Write to Done

3 Social Media Myths that Can Cripple Our Author Platform by Kristen Lamb

Which is the Best Social Media for Connecting With Readers? by Jody Hedlund

Are Writers Too Insulated from Their Readers? guest post by Mike Duran on Rachelle Gardner’s blog

On the Craft
“When” Are You Telling? The Trouble with When Statements by Janice Hardy

In Storytelling, Emotion Trumps All by S.P. Sipal

Hiding in the Writing Closet: Good or Bad? by Jody Hedlund

Characters We Love to Write (and Read!) by Martina Boone

Who to Write Compelling Antagonists by K.M. Weiland

Three Commons Dialogue Challenges and How to Beat Them by Marcy Kennedy

Guest Author Paul Anthony Shortt: First Steps on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

Writerly Inspiration

Why It’s Not the Critic Who Matters by Shelli Johnson

Life Lessons from the “Epic Road Trip” by Jami Gold

Losing Perspective on Your Writing: Does This Sing or Suck? by Roni Loren

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…
Why I Signed With a Traditional Publisher by Livia Blackburne

Learning to Love the Pitch by Sara Pinneo

Manners Matter: 13 Etiquette Tips by Rachelle Gardner

Writer’s Roadmap – Using Excel to Keep Your Novel Organized by Laura Drake

Most New Authors Sell Fewer than 100 Books – But You Can Sell Much, Much More! on Write to Done

2 Ways Your Brain is Wired to Undermine Your Story – And What To Do About It by Lisa Cron

Write Strong – Is Your Dialogue Doing Double Duty? by Shannon Donnelly

Other Round-Ups
The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog:


Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Key to Surviving NaNoWriMo: Don’t “Should” Yourself, Don’t Stress, Have Fun

Are all my fellow NaNoWriMo-ers out there having fun yet? I know I am…. *grin*

Here’s how much fun I’ve been having:

On day 1 of NaNo: I didn’t get any writing done. I had a personal appointment after work that lasted until the middle of the evening, and between putting food in my belly and getting my weekly mash-up of writing links together, my muse decided it was safer to stay in his corner and drink his Grey Goose.

On Day 2 of NaNo: Again, no writing done. I was on deadline for a 30-page exchange on the WIP I worked on in Colorado at Immersion Master Class, and so I absolutely, without any exceptions, had to have those pages done! While I could’ve skipped out and my partner would’ve understood, my muse decided that if he couldn’t get me to put new words down in the newest WIP, then he’d get something outta my tail with this other one. *sigh*

On Day 3 of NaNo: No. Writing. Whatsoever. AHHHHH! By the time the appointment time for our personal ventures approached in the afternoon, I was “shoulding'” all over myself. I should’ve gotten up earlier. I should’ve stopped reading this awesome book five chapter ago. I should’ve kicked the hubs outta the bed and turned off the TV. I should’ve, I should’ve, etc. And it didn’t stop there. I ended up “shoulding” myself that night – again! *double sigh*

On Day 4 of NaNo: Nope. Nada. Nothing. Stayed up too late doing personal research with the hubs and found my body and brain just simply wanted to relax. That is, at least until another appointment that afternoon. When that was done I got excited – Yay! It’s 4:15 so there’s plenty of time to go home and get some writing done. But then my bestie’s hubby spoke a bit of wisdom: If you haven’t written all weekend, don’t start now. Finish the rest of the weekend away from it, relax, then start back tomorrow. Hmmm…. *nods a ‘yes sir’ in his direction*

On Day 5 of NaNo: Hmmm…. Dinner – check! Editing notes almost complete – check! Blog post almost done – check! Well, it looks like I’ll have just enough time to squeeze in about 2,000 words tonight after all. Huh….

My point with that little break down is this: If you’re like me and haven’t written any words into your brand-spankin’ new WIP, you may be freaking out a little. Am I right? Or you may be “shoulding” yourself for not getting earlier to get some writing done, or for keeping your nose in that delicious book you’re ready. Am I right?

Well, the “shoulding” should stop now! Because the key to NaNoWriMo is not stressing, and not “shoulding” yourself all over the place. These first few days of NaNo are GONE. Unattainable. Finito. Done. So why “should” your pants off? All that’s going to do is stress you out even more. All that stress isn’t good for anyone. Stress kills! That’s something the hubby’s always reminding me of since we lost his mother last May. And since then, I’ve tried to live by the following moto:

So when it comes to NaNo – or anything in life – a lack of stress and “shoulding” is key.


Because like most things in life, when you’re not thinking or stressing over something, somewhere along the way you’ll find your wishes, hopes and dreams will come true. If you learn to take it easy, laugh, smile and have a good time, you’ll find your wishes, hopes and dreams will come true. If that wish, hope or dream just so happens to 50k by the end of November, then guess what? If you don’t stress, then it’ll happen. If you don’t “should” yourself? The words will flow from your fingertips and you’ll find that you’ve conquered NaNo.

And if for whatever reason you find yourself short a couple thousand words on November 30th? So what…who cares…no big deal. At least you had fun, right? *grin*

So while I’m talking about having fun and not stressing, I thought I’d offer a few a things I’ve turned to make me laugh these last few days. Hope you enjoy!


Funny Southun Sayin’s and/or Southun truths:

I’m finer than frog hair split four ways.
Don’t you piss on my leg and tell me it’s rainin’!
He was as mad as a mule chewing on bumblebees.
That was faster than green grass through a goose.
Southerners know everybody’s first name: Honey, Darlin’, Shugah
Southerners know their religions: Bapdiss, Methdiss, Football
Southerners know their elegant gentlmen: Men in uniform, men in tuxedos, Rhett Butler
Southern girls know their prime real estate: The mall, the Country Club, the Beauty Salon
Southerners know the difference between a hissie fit and aconniption fit, and that you don’t “have” them, you “pitch” them. <—This is my fave – and it is SO true!
Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of “yonder.”
In the South, “y’all” is singular, “all y’all” is plural.
Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin'! <—AMEN! Now I want some banana puddin’ *smile*
And last but not least…. Southern girls know men may come and go, but friends are fah-evah!

Because we hardly ever get ' true snow'

Some new Chuck Norris “fact” I discovered online this week – ‘cause I’m a dork *smile*:

Chuck Norris won a hand of blackjack, with one card.
Jalepenos think Chuck Norris is hot.
Chuck Norris can travel through time by running 88 miles per hour.
Avatars were invented when Chuck Norris laid an uppercut to a smurf.
Chuck Norris can light a fire by rubbing 2 ice cubes together.
Chuck Norris is the only man who can set a person on fire…underwater.
Chuck Norris finished the Never Ending Story.
And last but not least…. Jason Bourne is Chuck Norris’s daughter. <—This one had me snorting soda on my keyboard.


YOUR TURN: If you’re participating this year, how’s NaNoWriMo going for you this year? Are you feeling stressed at all, or are you pretty relaxed over your word count? Whether you’re participating or not this year, how do you handle the stress that comes with life and writing? Do you often find yourself needing, craving a good laugh to get through it? Or are you finding that patch of white hair on your head getting larger by the day? 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Week in Favs…

Playing on the Zune: Peace of Mind by Boston

Social Media and Author Websites

Is Blogging Important for Novelists Considering Self-Publishing? by Jody Hedlund

Should All Authors Blog? by Rachelle Gardner

On the Craft

Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Master Your Craft by Rachelle Gardner

Technical Tuesday Writing Tips Presents Outlining: Characters, Creating the Protagonist, Hir or Her Character Sketch and Backstory by Kim Cox

Add a Pinch – or a Pound – of Poetry to Your Prose by Janice Hardy

ABC’s of Writing – (L)ayering Adds Depth by Scott Eagan

9 Tips for Creating a Compelling Novel by Jody Hedlund
Structure Part 8 – Balancing the Scenes that Make Up Your Novel by Kristen Lamb
My Favorite Points of View – Guest Post by Bill Hopkins on Mystery Writing is Murder
When Not to Use Your Antagonist’s POV by K.M. Weiland
Always Write Terrible First Drafts by Carolyn Kaufman
Write Romance? Get Your Beat Sheet Here! by Jami Gold
How to Write Dialogue Unique to Your Characters by Marcy Kennedy

Writerly Inspiration

If You Write What You Know, Where Do You Get Ideas? by Roz Morris
9 Reasons to Quit Writing by Rachelle Gardner
Beginning at the End by Biljana Likic
21 Unexpected Places to Find Your Writer’s Muse on Write to Done

On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

Some Things I Didn’t Know About Self-Publishing by Mhairi Simpson

Getting Your Book Noticed in Today’s Changing Marketplace by Stina Lendenblatt

Field Report From the E-Book Revolution #2 by James Scott Bell

Reason Why Your Non-Writer Friends Think You’re Crazy by Veronica Roth

About Copywriting Ideas and Titles on The Behler Blog
Should Authors Stalk Review Sites? by Jody Hedlund
Adventures in Editing: A Tale of Wonderment by Lydia Sharp
Do Publishers Need to Offer More Value to Authors? by Jane Friedman

Other Round-Ups

The Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday

Stina Lindenblatt’s Cool Links Friday

Roni Loren’s Fill-Me-In Friday

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Twitterific (compilation of all the writing links she’s shared this week – updated on Sundays)

This week on the blog:

Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!

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