Friday, October 23, 2009

NaNoWriMo is Nearly Upon Us!

(Don't know what National Novel Writing Month is? Click on the Web badge to learn more!)

Once again, I teeter on the edge of the cliff. Last year, I entered NaNo with a good story idea and a rudimentary outline (unusual as a SEG starting maneuver). I'd even 'interviewed' two different characters to take the lead role.

It sounded good in theory, but in practice, I wrote a very small amount. I didn't even break 7500 words. I haven't even doubled that in the year since. To say that I was discouraged and disappointed in myself would be an understatement.

Here I am again, though, preparing to try another Nano with this story and these characters. Yes, it's scary. What do I have this year that I didn't have last year, besides more existential angst?

(Yes, this is a rhetorical question. I figure no one else reads this blog but me, so I might as well talk to myself).

Well, at Bouchercon (pics to follow one day), I got some encouragement. I took part in Hallie Ephron's plot-writing workshop, and she said she liked my story concept. No, I am not going to reveal it here, since we have already established that I am talking to myself, and I already know what the idea is.

I've had another year to work on backstory. Unlike my vampires, who cavorted around in my head for years before I began writing about them, I entered NaNo last year with an entirely new cast and story setting. I'm still getting to know these people.

I also got some hints and advice from people at Bouchercon. Liz Zelvin helped me figure out some questions I should be asking about my character, and several of the panels addressed my story concerns. I also had a small epiphany or two, since my subconscious spent some time stewing on the subject.

These are the positives I must remind myself about as November approaches. I will need them to get past the mental blank-out I experience when I open my manuscript.

Good fortune with your writing!

Friday, October 09, 2009

My NaNoWriMo Confession

My tale of woe: I use National Novel Writing Month to 'grow' whatever novel I'm already working on. The frenetic pace, the write-ins, and the 'shut off your inner critic' approach help a lot. Yes, I know that's against the rules, and I never claim 'victory' no matter how many words I've written unless I actually STARTED the book during NaNo.

The latter case only happened once, and I didn't win that year. Hell, I still haven't 'won' with it, and that's part of why I haven't posted here in a long time. I liked my first book, my friends liked it, some of my not-so-close friends liked it. I couldn't sell it to an agent, though. So, I came up with a NEW idea, new characters, new plot. I sat down during NaNo to work on it, and was totally blocked. It's not nearly as much fun as the first book was, and I use that term (fun) very loosely. This was when I identified a very important problem in my nature:

I'm lazy.

I view my time and effort as an investment. It's very, very hard for me to write fiction. It's like pulling teeth - the front ones, where all the nerves are. It seems like no matter how many shots the dentist gives you, you can always feel the pain. I have no problem stringing a couple of sentences together, but creating something out of nothing is a lot harder than typing words on a screen.

Writing and being unable to sell the product is a bad investment, in my -er- book. No matter how interesting and fun the character is to me, I just don't have that much lifetime left. It took me 3 years to complete my first book. I understand, from other authors, that about 7 books need to be published before the process really start paying for itself (unless you hit really big, natch). I must reiterate here that I AM LAZY. This means I'd really like to retire BEFORE I qualify for Medicare.

I could quit, I suppose, and stick with my day job. NOT writing, though, drives me nuts. Sometime in elementary school, I decided that I wanted to be a writer. That hasn't changed. NOT having a story in the works makes me feel useless and fills me with existential angst (Google it if you're that concerned). A palm reader once told me that I had a "finger with an agenda". Writing is that agenda.

If you have a suggestion for resolving this dilemma, go ahead and comment. Sympathy is also welcome (telling me I'm a whiner isn't going to be news). I wasn't expecting people out there to solve the problem for me, but I feel better for explaining it to you.

Write anyway. I plan to.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


I've been away, but not sitting on my hands. Well, okay, SOME of the time I was sitting on my hands.

My new novel with new characters and a new angle: can we say writer's block? I knew you could. It's easier to write a story when you already know the people well. I'm still getting to know this group.

Short stories: I will probably have something in the next anthology coming out from my chapter of Sisters in Crime, but that's a bit down the road. However, I WILL have a story in the first-ever SinC Guppies anthology! My story was chosen out of a large number of submissions, so I feel very flattered. The Gups are looking for a publisher now.

In other news: I have lost nearly 70 pounds. I'm not where I want to be yet, but it's been at least 15 years since I was this slender.

I hear your wheels screeching now. Screw what she's writing, how did she lose that much weight? I did it through a combination of old school and new tech: I ate less, exercised more, and logged it all at