Let the Challenge Begin

Welcome   to Day 1, week one of NaNoWriMo. This is the second favorite month of the year for many authors and first time writers who take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words that somehow morph into a novel in thirty days.

This is my second time participating. The last time I participated I came out with the rough draft for Nuka at just over 38,000 words and two years and four drafts later I have a polished version. Unfortunately mostly for personal reasons it will not be published but that’s ok and was my call. For my first novella(which is an okay result for a first attempt at writing a novel in my books) it was the writing process that I savored some days and other days hated the most.

Are you participating? Do you have an idea for a novel? If so are you using an outline or winging it?(If you have no ideas for a plot see the resources I’ve put together for you at the end of this post.)  Have you told anyone if you have accepted the challenge? Have you asked anyone to be your coach – to gently nudge you to write on the days when writing seems like the hardest thing to do? What is your writing routine? How will you accomplish your goal of 50,000 words in 30 days?

Personally, I don’t outline– ever although for kicks I’m going to this time and I’ll likely attend a few write-ins this year ( I hear there’s going to be one ever Tuesday at Oh So Good on  York St. in the market.)  Although to be honest, I’ll likely have my cake and coffee before putting pen to paper. I may write my first draft longhand this round.

I hear there are writers out there who will only allow themselves pleasures like going to a movie or eating their favorite cake at the end of the week if they have met the weekly word quota. Does this sound like you? What was your experience with that method?

Here are a few writing resources to assist you with this challenge.

http://davidseah.com/node/nanowrimo-word-calendar/ to assist you in keeping track of your wc.

https://nanowrimo.org/ (If you haven’t signed up yet or heard of this it’s where the Nanos go.

Looking for a book to assist on your writing challenge? Read, No Plot No Problem by Chris Baty

https://larawillard.com/nanowrimo-resources-for-writers/ for more resources

And, begin!

 

 

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Virtual World Tour

 

So I am a writer of my word. I practised what I preached. I Dared to Suck Dare to Suck and I published my second book, a compilation of my favorite posts from Not My Straitjacket which I only recently realized I hadn’t celebrated the two year anniversary since its creation. If you have read this blog in whole or in part I invite you to rate my book on Amazon.com The official launch date for this book is September 13th, 2017.

Thank you for reading! Time to celebrate and let the virtual world tour begin.

Remember it is said: Sharing is caring.

Success as a Journey

“Success is a journey, not a destination.” Arthur Ashe.

I was writing a blog on goal setting, perseverance and success when in the middle of that flow of words pouring out onto the keyboard the computer crashed, and my file had not yet been saved. Hazards of writing at 4 in the morning, not awake enough to think of important things like backing up files and important things like getting more sleep when the muse has so obviously struck.

I was reminiscing that the last two years I have had my share of falling on my face with attempted success in children’s writers’ market. My first children’s book Loved Like Me is back online as of today and available for purchase. (I pulled it one day frustrated from my lack of sales which in retrospect I realise partly contributes to the fact that I really need to put more time in marketing the book.) I am also writing my second children’s book this fall through independent studies with a local art school which will soon learn that my ability to even draw a pretty stick figure is about a four out of a ten.

(Ctrl S) I really can’t believe it crashed…moving on…

I recently completed the first rewrite of my first feature script Witness. I have several eyes on it now giving me critical feedback as to how to improve important details like plot development, pace, creating more convincing conflict and such. I am hoping to start sending it out to potential producers by January when all the chaos from the impending holidays will have passed.

In my spare time, I have been carving out a makeshift photography studio in my home with a very basic budget, with a lot of do-it-yourself stuff and such. I have found, especially in the past year when I took my photography to a professional level and started freelancing as a photojournalist that the more I took photos, the more visual of a writer I became.

There is a connection between framing a photo and seeing what fits in the picture and what doesn’t, what makes a story and what doesn’t, how the pieces fit together to tell a compelling story, or don’t. I went from being someone who always struggled with being a visual writer as I wrote to being able to “see” what the picture in front of me looked like and what I needed to make that image, that story work. Now, this may not work for everyone, but it helped me so I throw it out there as a suggestion of things to try if you feel the ink well is drying up and you just can’t see the story you want to tell. Imagine it as a series of pictures telling a story from beginning to end.

Not a fan of photography? Tell your story in stick people, I believe you’d get a higher score than I gave myself and, you’d have a story. And now, coffee.

Writing beyond the Grave

 

When waking up at 3 a.m. and having the memories of a very ancient obituary writing assignment on my mind for absolutely no reason at all, I decided to get up and write this blog so as to contemplate how death and dying is represented in different writing forms and the difference in the way it is conveyed in social media and literature.

Obituary writing is not all it’s cut out to be. When I was first assigned to write the obituary of a living person as a learning assignment while studying journalism I think I would have sooner chewed my arm off. I did not want to decide someone’s method of dying when they were still on the planet breathing the God given air we have. I was not worthy or meant for such a fate. By luck, or misfortune, the person to whom I had been assigned learned of the true nature of my assignment by chance.

It turned out that the person to whom I had been assigned was particularly superstitious and by the next day I was forbidden from completing the assignment and given an alternate one in its place. But that didn’t excuse me from learning the ins and outs of what an obituary must include.

In the digital age many readers are thirsty for information, as much of it as can be dished to them as possible and many are fooled by death hoaxes circulating on social media.

Writing about death in its many forms is an industry of its own and it is the elephant in the room that demands to be heard.

While it is unpleasant and no one particularly enjoys discussing it (okay some people do) death has amassed its notoriety for its ability to employ the masses writing obits, doing feature news reports, collecting hits on social media platforms and writing memoirs of famous and fictional people who pass.

Have you ever examined death in literature? Because writing is such a fine art the writing of a character’s passing can be particularly painful for the author and sometimes, just as hard on the reader. Why? Because even though these people are fictional (unless you’re writing a memoir) and often times play smaller roles in the novel, as authors and readers we invest our time and our minds to “getting to know them” and what they represent: their values, hobbies, likes, dislikes, hurts and triumphs, all that life has to offer for a character in a book, especially a good book, leaves us often wishing for more time to “know” the character that was created. Other times readers are glad the S.O.B (whomever it is) has finally kicked the bucket and that means a happily ever after ending they have so painstakingly been hoping for, doesn’t it?

The writing process that goes into killing off a character or revealing a character’s death is different for every author. Sometimes, ‘he died’ is all one needs to write to make the desired impact the author is searching for, other times it is more beneficial to draw out a character’s passing over an entire chapter through other characters’ dialogue, setting up the location to reflect something morose and let the circumstance of the person/character’s death make the impact on the reader.

Does life ever end happily ever after? Is there happiness in dying? Is there a reward in writing about dying? You bet there is. For the life of a writer it is all part of making a living.

 

 

 

Five Unwritten Rules in Writing You Haven’t Heard (from me)

 

  1. Writing query letters to editors and book to proposals to publishers is fun (okay I’ll be honest, it’s really not) but it doesn’t guarantee you will get a reply or a sale. (It also doesn’t mean you won’t). Listening to what editors suggest to you in their feedback just might help you get that contract.
  2. Writing articles on spec is the only excuse you’ll have to take yourself on a date night alone if you have kids. (Maybe even if you don’t but you just want to get away.) #movienight #girlsnight #coffeedate #manicure #facials #finedining #needIgoon
  3. Write a children’s books and you’ll have a break from reality. Write a non-fiction novel and you could live vicariously through those whom succeeded doing the same thing before you and went on to make the bestsellers lists.
  4. Blog for a day you may attract readers. Blog for life and you may gain followers. Blog because you like the writing process and you could make an income if you have both.
  5. Many of the great writers are known for their solid work ethic. How much of your free time are you dedicating to writing these days? Coming soon an interview with one of Ottawa’s classiest Influencers in the business and writing world.

Money for Nothing: Cheques For Free

Mr.Sandman…

I pulled a #StephenKing last night. I awoke shortly after four in the morning and wrote from start to end a very fluid dream that I think has the potential to make a great story. Before actually getting up to write it down I dreamt I was writing it down on anything I could find. In my dream I remember saying to myself, I’m not really writing this down am I? In that moment decided to let myself actually wake up to make sure I didn’t lose this jewel covered in dust.

I am also practising in this moment what Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway which I studied while pursuing Creative Writing in college suggests: Immediately upon waking the first thing you do is go straight to the keyboard and write whatever comes to mind without hesitation and allow no interruptions and as it was this story that came out. (This blog has been heavily edited).

It has been so long since I have woken up to the call of a good story, in fact I have let many story ideas go because at the time my children were quite young but they sleep a little longer these days. When is the last time you woke up to the call of a great story and wrote it down? What was the long term outcome? Was is just a loss of sleep of was it really rewarding in the long term?

 

The Morning after Effect

todolist

So it’s the morning after I sent my manuscript out and let’s be honest, I’m still working on my first cup of coffee so that is the only plan of attack at this moment. It’s been a helluva week though filled with (blank space) still waking up, or as Janet Burroway, author of Writing Fiction, A Guide To Narrative Craft refers to the blank space, it’s the critic, keeping me from moving this blog forward, so I’m going to keep writing and hope this all makes sense when I’m done. (It is only 6:30 a.m. in my defense). I’m re-reading that book again, because every now and then I like to refresh what I know about writing and sharpen writing skills that perhaps I didn’t work as hard on or even missed reading it the last time around.

*8:30 now and I’m awake enough to remember that the week was filled with milestones for my writing career (none of which I will repeat at this time) suffice to say, good morning.

What amazes me as I write this blog, is that the kids are still asleep, which of course only happens when I wake up for no good reason before them. On the bright side, it’s the weekend (for some of us anyhow). I do not include myself in those lucky enough to bask in it though, since I have self-imposed deadlines that need to be met for other writing projects I am finishing.

Speaking of deadlines, I always find it amusing that writers are often not taken as seriously as people whose deadlines are imposed by others. I wonder why that is? I think it’s similar to a person who doesn’t have kids telling one who does that they are tired, the reception is often not something that smooths over as easily. After all how could a person with no children tugging at their ankles all morning, afternoon and evening possibly relate to one that does? The answer, I think, is universal: responsibilities and people to answer to, we are only as accountable as writers (I think) as we hold ourselves to be.

What are my responsibilities as a writer and mother? To balance the life I have created for myself in a way where I don’t find myself in over my head at the end of the day and yet still get stuff done. How do I do that? I create priorities and don’t get side-tracked. (Memo to me after getting the kids breakfast: as a mom of two I often get side-tracked.) The trick, I find, is to be side –tracked while keeping one hand (metaphorically) and when possible, at the keyboard.

 

If I can’t be writing I can generate story ideas. Some better than others.

 

When I get to writing I work on my paid assignments before working on long term projects for myself. Some days I only get fifteen to twenty minutes of writing done. (Okay I admit I’m a social media addict – of sorts) so if I could step away from some of those apps I would be a bit further ahead in the game. But, those fifteen to twenty minutes that come between colouring, crafts, outdoor play and other endeavors add up over time. That was how I wrote my novella, between the chaos and joys of parenting. And that is how today, I begin writing my novel. That, and a little sleep deprived.

A Writer’s Resolutions