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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo

Pencils at the ready, people!  (Yes, I know, most people write on word processors these days, but it is hardly a picturesque phrase.)  It's nearly November, and you know what that means?  National Novel Writing Month!!

I've been following NaNoWriMo for years, but I haven't actually participated yet.  Once I began writing, I was always mid-novel in November and didn't want to interrupt that process to write 50,000 words that wouldn't help me with the current project.

But this year, I'm feeling it.  There are quite a few ideas that have been percolating for a little while, and I think it's time to get them down on paper--I mean, on the computer.

If you're not familiar with NaNoWriMo, here's how it works:  you commit to write 50,000 words between 12:01 AM on November 1st and 11:59 PM November 30th.  It's supposed to be in the form of a novel.  It doesn't have to be a complete novel, but it does have to be completely original writing--meaning that I can't incorporate the 10,000 words I've already written for book 4 of the King series into the NaNoWriMo project.  The point is to compel you to WRITE--something.  Even if it's not the greatest masterpiece or the most polished thing you've ever written, you write something.  Anything.

For more information and to register, go to http://www.nanowrimo.org/ .

So. . .who's going to join me?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

T-20 Until NYC

I can't believe that we'll be heading north to NYC in less than three weeks.  Yikes!  I'm not sure if I'm more nervous about the flight or the conference.

(Regarding the flight:  I am actually doing some very proactive work to prepare for a calmer trip for me, and your prayers are coveted for all of that.  Thanks!)

I've received some more information about the conference, and I have to admit that I am both excited and a little anxious.  I've been placed in the young adult groups (meaning that I write YA, not that I am a young adult--let's be clear about that!!).  Some sessions will critique query letters, and others will critique a work sample (the first two pages of the MS).  We have to send ahead these items, so I've been polishing both of mine, sending them to trusted friends and writers for their ideas.  I think they are both about ready to be sent to New York.

The format of the workshops will have the writers (that's me--gulp!) reading aloud whatever we're focusing on, either the query letter or the sample.  The agents on the board will listen and stop us when the piece stops 'working for them'.  I have a horror that they will stop me at the first line!

And above and beyond the whole 'am I a good enough writer' anxiety is the worry of being a Floridian in NYC.  I love my adopted home state, but I have to admit that I'm afraid it's sucked out any fashion sense I might have had when I lived in the northeast!  Here we live in shorts, simple tees and flip flops.  I know how to dress, but I don't feel as though I'm in touch with what's the right thing to wear when.  Plus it's New York in mid-November--it's gonna be cold, baby!

The conference organizers suggest business casual wear, so I am trying to put together outfits that fit that criteria.  I don't want to be a fashion diva, mind you, but neither do I want to look like the hick in the city.

So there are all (well, nearly all) of my NYC conference phobias.  I'll keep you posted as we move forward and of course, I'll be posting from the conference as well.  Get ready for a virtual trip to the big city!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Author Idols

Do you have an author idol?  Or maybe even more than one?  I do.  These are the published writers (AKA PWs) who have inspired me in magnificent ways.  At first, these PWs made me want to read more and learn more.  I'm remembering Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott,  Margaret Mitchell, Catherine Marshall and Ayn Rand.  An eclectic group to be sure, but they were all strong and well-written women.

But then, my PWs began to inspire me to do more than just read; I wanted to write, too.  I was never more excited than when I was spinning a story.  Finding out that I could do that was pretty incredible!

What's really cool is that now I can connect with many of my author idols on the internet.  I 'visit' with Karen Kingsbury, Janet Evanovich, Diana Gabaldon and Anne Rice on Facebook; I have a Tweeting relationship with some other PWs.  They share stories, tips and ideas, and their encouragement sometimes keeps me going when I'm feeling that I'll never see my own work in print.

I owe all of these amazing writers a huge debt of gratitude.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And now for a musical interlude. . .

One of my author-idols (more on that in another post) introduced me to something I'd never considered in my writing process:  inspirational music.  Now I should clarify that I'm not referring to religion here; I'm talking about tunes that inspire my writing--muse music, perhaps?

While writing my first book, I put together a rough playlist that I felt reflected the story and the characters.  But as the plot line developed and changed, my musical needs changed too.  By the time the book was finished, I had to create a whole new play list, revised to mirror the new twists and turns.

I was hooked!  Thanks to some writing friends, I found Pandora, a site where I could make my own stations based on my favorite bands.  I discovered so many new songs and groups that my iTunes library has exploded.

Music can lead me out of my writing valleys and more than once, a song has inspired a character's actions or dialogue.  Imagining a song being sung by one of my characters gives me insight into mindset and motive and can actually change my plans for the story arc.  Sometimes I've listened to a song in amazement at how closely the emotion reflects one of my character's feelings.

So when I hit a block or a slump, I go back to the music.  I listen to my playlists, and I immerse myself in the songs that remind me why I like my characters.  It's a gentle way to bring me back to the story and help me remember that writing is not only my passion. . .it's something that feeds my soul.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Writing Slump

I've heard of writer's block, that dreaded affliction that makes it impossible for a writer to--well, write.  I've experienced it rarely, to my great fortune.  But what I do see now and then is writer's slump.

I'm in one of those right now.  Writer's slump is tricky, because sometimes it masquerades as life; going two or three days without doing any serious writing can be blamed on extra chores, visitors or sick children.  And then one day, you realize that a week has passed without any forward motion on your latest work.  That's when you know you're in a slump.

For the last few weeks, my life has been extra full.  There have been some intense school days, field trips, impromptu trips for family members and just the daily craziness that IS my world.  I get on the computer at night and answer email; I might be inspired to update the blogs, but as for my regular work?  Not so much.  I open it up, read the previous few paragraphs and realize that the inspiration isn't flowing. I might write a line. . .maybe two. . .but it's just not happening.

A slump is worse than a block in some ways because it's insidious.  It's easy to explain away the lack of writing.  But the truth is that when things are really flowing, no amount of busy-ness is going to keep me away from my book.  I'll stay up late at night finishing chapters, hide away and write for hours, carry my computer everywhere and write wherever I can.  I'm almost living in two worlds, one foot in the land where my characters dwell and one in the real world.

The slump will end one of these days.  I'll find myself in the mood to write and suddenly the words will come, almost too fast for me to keep up with them.  That's a good day.

Until then, I'll write when I can and try to be patient with myself.  No slump lasts forever!