NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 19: Possibilities

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 19: Possibilities

“With self-discipline, most anything is possible.” — Theodore Roosevelt

My counter on the NaNo site tells me that if I write 2,010 words every day for the rest of the month, I’ll make 50,000 words. At this moment, due to illness, I’m feeling lucky if I get 700. But I trudge on, working when I can, and since most of this weekend will be spent tucked up in bed, I’m going to try to put a dent in that.

My husband lifted an eyebrow at me (like any good romance hero should) and asked, “Isn’t the idea for you to be resting?”

Well, yes, but one of the ways to rest is to take stress off your plate. One of the ways for me to do that is to stick to the self-discipline of getting my words done as best I can. Here’s the thing, as much as we cheer on the idea of “thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” a big part of getting NaNoWriMo done is having the self-discipline to sit down each day and do those words. There are going to be good days and bad days, but it’s the doing it every day that counts the most. And, if you want this to more than just a one-time or once a year thing, it’s a good idea to cultivate a little self-discipline.

I write commercial fiction. I have three books planned for 2017, one of which is supposed to be released in 2 months, 18 days. The second in 6 months, 24 days. The third in exactly 11 months. In addition to that, I need to plot and start writing future books in this series. It’s…not a light schedule, especially when you factor in the day job, elder care and the usual ups and downs of life. Self-discipline is the only way I’m going to be able to do this. Because I’m self-publishing, I have some leeway and can shift the dates somewhat, though the first book is themed, so it really needs to not slip. But that means self-discipline is all the more important because the only person I’m answering to is me.

Ever tell yourself, “I’m going to do X every day!” — only to find reason not to within a week of starting out? Yeah, I know that feeling. That’s why, sick as I’m feeling — and, yes, I am going in to Urgent Care today — I’m trying to stick to that particular self-discipline as much as I can because this is important to me. 2016 was the year to get myself published. I did that. 2017 is the year to go bigger.

You took this on because this is important to you. Maybe it’s a life goal, maybe it’s a need to get yourself back on track. If you’re struggling, tell yourself that you’re doing good by sitting down in front of that keyboard. You’re building a habit that will see you through this month and beyond. Even if you use the writing as an excuse to avoid doing the exercise you also told yourself you would do regularly (not that I would know anything about that), keep at day in and day out.

Because, yes, most anything is possible is we dream it and breathe life into it with our words.

Word Count Goal: 31,673

nano2016-19

Preparation

Preparation

“Perpetual anticipation is good for the soul but bad for the heart.” —Stephen Sondheim

prodcal-bodyaI spent the weekend planning. Most of it was for NaNoWriMo, which is now only 22 days away. I’m still figuring out the plot for Home and the Heartland, which is this year’s story, and the third book in the Henry’s Mills series, contemporary romances set in a fictional small town in Connecticut. Yes, I like Gilmore Girls.

Except…

The way the planning is going, it’s looking more and more as if this book, the third one I’m writing, is actually going to be the first one chronologically. Just the way the story is working out, and while I’m definitely writing each of the books so they can stand alone, there are certain plot elements that arc throughout. Because of that, the book works better earlier rather than later. But if I want to publish it in June, which is where I had planned to publish Only in My Dreams, the first book I wrote, then I definitely need to plan because that date is eight months and three days away.

If doing Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness did one thing, it taught me that eight months is a heck of a lot shorter time than you think. So this weekend was also spent working on the production calendar, seeing if I could really do this and how it would fall out. Answer is, I can, but I will have to watch the calendar and re-work things if I should fall behind for some reason.

Then there’s my new office, which isn’t actually new but a reworking of space that will let my husband take over our current shared space and set me up what is currently designated as the “living room,” but has only ever been used for guests and holidays ever since my husband and his family moved into the house when he was in middle school. The idea is that it becomes our library, complete with bookshelves along two walls, my desk at one end with a view of the pool (and the small palm tree I’m planning to put in place of the honeysuckle we’ve had removed), and a comfy chair in front of the fireplace. It’s the logistics of not just what goes where, but where we put a few pieces which are already in there, where the books will go while we’re putting up the bookcases and getting those anchored, how we’re dealing with the cords for my computer, etc. Plus, I’ll need to pick out a pouf for the cats to lounge upon. This is high on the list. (Which the cats would swear is is only their due.)

But there’s still the anticipation, the feeling that it’s never going to be done. One thing I have learned this year, though; when you’re working and working and it feels as if the goal line is still forever away, that’s probably when you’re closer than you think. We’re not actually working yet, but it’s coming soon.

Tell me what’s going on in your life that you’re in anticipation for.

Now Available

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Bookstore

Out With the Old, In With the New

Out With the Old, In With the New

“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus

For the past year, I’ve been keeping a Bullet Journal. It’s been tremendously helpful in keeping myself on track, especially since 2016 has not been particularly calm. If you’re looking for a journaling system, I highly recommend giving it a try.

body_copyThe beauty of the Bullet Journal system is that it is flexible to meet your needs, which means I can have my daily tasks and notes, then capture story ideas, revision notes, information that I might need at a future date. Its other beauty is that the only essentials are a pen and a notebook.

I started with a partially-filled notebook but ended up graduating to a nice Moleskine, rediscovering my love of fountain pens and becoming addicted to washi tape. I’ve got colored flags that help me mark pages based on the content. All very efficient, creative and actually quite fun. There’s just one problem: fountain pens and felt pens have a tendency to bleed through the paper. I have one pen I can’t use in my journal for just that reason. It’s a medium nib and it lays too much ink down.

Well, I couldn’t until this week. Turns out that July to September spawned so many notes for future books and editing in progress, I had to buy a new notebook to finish out the year, beginning with October 1. Based on suggestions from folks who do very pretty layouts on Pinterest and Instagram, instead of going for another Moleskine, I moved to a Leuchtturm1917. It’s slightly wider as it’s European sizing rather than the standard 8.5″x5.5″ that we’re used to – and that not only gives me more room to write, the ink doesn’t bleed through the paper unless I lay it down very heavily. It does ghost, as you can see in the photo, but ghosting is something I can live with. It’s much better than have lots of little dots and strokes that interfere with what you’re writing.

These lovely notebooks don’t come cheap. The three notebooks for my “simple” journaling system in 2016 cost what I used to pay for a Franklin Covey system. And yet…

A journal is only as useful as you make use of it. My old planner would often end up with lots of blank pages, or nothing but tasks. While there’s many a day in my Bullet Journal that’s just tasks, between the pages are story idea, important information, the map for fantasy world I created, what needed to be done to get Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness ready for publication, a list of books I read this year. The first six months of the year were a more fallow creative period for me and the one notebook served me six months. The latter half requires two. I hoping that perhaps I can go four months next year, though I suspect I might end up needing one notebook a quarter. But if I go three or four or six months, the system is flexible enough that I’m not locked into “I must change notebooks at this date” unless I decide to. I ended September with less than ten blank pages left in my notebook, so it was definitely time to move to the new one.

Am I going to stay with the Leuchtturm1917? I think I may, but I’ll see how I feel halfway through November. For now, though, the ink is flowing smoothly, not bleeding through, and I just bought several new washi tapes for the fall season. With the start of NaNoWriMo only 27 days away, I’m filling the pages with the notes for this year’s project, along with the outline of a tentative production schedule for 2017. It’s a different way than I was working a year ago, but it’s getting results and that’s the important thing.

So, what type of journal are you using, if you’re using one? What do you love about it? What would you change?

Now Available

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Bookstore

And the Circle Comes Round Again

And the Circle Comes Round Again

“I’m always confident when I sign up for a project that it’s going to be good. That’s why I sign up for it.” – Taraji P. Henson

100316bodyIt’s Monday morning and NaNoWriMo 2016 sign-ups begin today. By the time you read this, I’ll have created my novel page, and uploaded the first version of my cover – which will probably need to be re-sized. I never manage to get it right the first time because the dimensions on the NaNo site are slightly different than what you’d use if you were making an actual book cover. The dimensions for your novel page are 230x300, by the way.

Chatter is picking up on Twitter, especially under the #NaNoWriMo2016 tag as folks debate on whether or not to undertake the leap into madness that is attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ll be doing it this year, drafting the third book for my Henry’s Mills series. Which looks like it will actually be the first full-length book to be published. (Tentative date is next June. Details to follow).

If you are planning on participating, hopefully you’ve already begun your preparations. I spent my weekend deep in my plot threads, trying to do a bit more planning than I usually do. I’ve been reading Lisa Cron’s Story Genius, so this year is going to be a bit of an experiment. I’m something of a pantser by nature, so trying a method that requires me to do more plotting before I start is going to be a stretch.

But that’s what NaNoWriMo is about, stretching your muscles. Last year I did a full first draft, some 72K. That was a record for me, and I’m not necessarily expecting to be able to repeat the performance, especially since I’m approaching this November with a different method. But it’s a mark to shoot for.

Today’s photo is a tribute to NaNos past; “New Books” is from the Borders where I spent many a Friday evening writing while my husband was with his gaming group. “Romance” and “Mystery” are from the Barnes & Noble close to my office, which closed a few years ago, and also provided me with a number of writing hours in their cafe. These hang in my hall, a daily reminder of my writing goals.

November 1 is only 29 days away. What are your goals for this year?

Now Available

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Bookstore

Now Available

Now Available

“Finally!” – Me

It’s Publication Day. There may be a point where all of this becomes a bit old hat – I wouldn’t mind if it became slightly more routine because I’ve done it often enough – but today, I’m jumping up and down excitedly. Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is now available for sale!

:: does happy dance ::

survivor-guide-3bI’ll confess this is not the book I thought I’d be celebrating my fist publication with, but that doesn’t make the excitement any less. It’s been a labor of love and I’m glad that it’s finally released into the world. If you’re a writer and you’re published, you understand the excitement that you can, at last, show your baby off to everyone. You’ll also understand the terror that people will point and say that it is ugly and you’ve dressed it funny.

 To those of you still writing, still waiting, still hoping, still dreaming, let me say that it’s worth chasing. Trust me on this one.

Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a guide to help you through the exhilarating, terrifying, frustrating and exhausting waters of National Novel Writing Month. It’s not designed to give you a blueprint that you can follow to make certain you cross the finish line on November 30 with precisely 50,000 words. Instead, it offers advice and support for each step of the journey, with an essay for each day of November, Thanksgiving, and those moments when things are going well – or they’re going very badly. The book was born in the posts I make each day of November, expanding to include suggestions on preparations, word sprints, and coming back to earth in December. 

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo a long time; this will be my 15th year participating. I find it a terribly useful experience and having that 1,667-word goal each day during the month has helped me increase my drafting speed over the years. But you can also find yourself stressed when things don’t go well and the world seems to conspire against you. I want to offer a helping hand and, when necessary, a bit of a kick in the rear to keep you going and make this year’s NaNo one of your most enjoyable.

You can find it as an ebook at the following retailers:
kindlenook-icon-150x150th_kobo-icon_zpsce9021c3ibooks_logo

If you would like a print copy (and I’ll love you forever if you do), you can find those on Amazon as well.

No, this blog won’t turn into constant promotion. After all, there’s this year’s NaNoWriMo to get ready for. The site will allow us to begin creating our novel pages on Saturday, just two days away. The forums are already heating up, and if you check either the #NaNoWriMo or #NaNoWriMo hashtag on Twitter, you’ll see the excitement in the air. I’ll be doing a new set of quotes and essays in November, and if you’re interested in getting a quote in your inbox each morning to start your writing day off, sign up for my NaNoWriMo Quote list.

I have a book. :: does another happy dance ::


Whither Autumn?

Whither Autumn?

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus

I’d love to see autumn leaves. I adore the crunch under my feet, the rich red and golds spread out on the ground. I have great memories as a child of helping my dad rake the front yard and jumping into the pile.

These days? Don’t get to do that much – and it’s not because I’m too old and creaky.

wed-bodyFirst, we don’t have a tree in our front yard that offers anywhere near enough leaves to make a decent pile for jumping. But second, and more importantly, the temperatures around here have been hitting triple digits, with hot and itchy winds. See the picture to the left? Notice how bright and shiny and hot it looks?

Welcome to September in Los Angeles.

I know, I know. I shouldn’t complain. The mild winters and distinct lack of rain are one of the reasons folks have been flocking here for well over a century. Everyone else is bundled up and huddled in front of the furnace, we can be wearing shorts. I have oranges on the trees along my driveway all year round.

Trust me, I’ve heard from friends who live in colder climes that they have no sympathy for me when I complain about the temps in late summer or how sweltering it can be when you step outside and it feels like you’re braising a roast. They’ll happily trade that heat for not having to put with snow or slush in the winter, and, having grown up with the stuff, I know I’m glad I don’t have to actually deal with it either.

But there are times, especially around the end of September, when I turn on the air-conditioning, run a Thanksgiving episode of Gilmore Girls and sigh over the beautiful red and gold foliage I see on the screen. Doesn’t matter that I know it’s on the Warner Bros. back lot in Burbank and the actors were dealing with the same temperatures I am (and wearing much warmer clothing). It’s just that, sometimes, I miss having that pile of leaves. I’d even be willing to rake it up myself.

What’s your favorite season? Or is there a type of weather you miss where you live?

Coming September 29, 2016

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available for pre-order at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Bookstore

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