New Fav TV Series – Time Team

Alright. I know I am four years (or 24 years) behind the times here. But I only recently discovered a marvelous British documentary series called “Time Team”. I’m sure it is marvelous to anyone interested in history, especially British history. The show aired from January of 1994 to September of 2014, but with my recent discovery of it, it has shot up to be my new favorite TV series. Each episode has professional archaeologists who go to various locations on a three-day dig (although some of the sites are on-going digs). The totally fun part of it is that “Baldrick” (from Blackadder, a Brit comedy from the 1980’s; aka actor Tony Robinson) is the narrator.

This week on Episode 51 of “Time Team” I learned for the first time about Doggerland. This was a land mass between Scotland and Denmark and the Netherlands before England-Scotland-Whales became an island. The fertile and populated Doggerland was flooded first by a tsunami about 6,000 BC, followed soon after by rising ocean levels from the last glacial retreat of the Ice Age.

Hearing about Doggerland for the first time made me feel like it was a fantasy world, only it was real. It also made me feel stupid for never having heard of it before. And, oh, but what a lovely diversion I have from NaNoWriMo.

I’m a little behind in my word count (of the 50,000 word goal for the month), but I seriously hope to finish my next War Unicorn novel by then, at least the rough draft of it, at least if I can be disciplined to write and not be glued to “Time Team”!

NaNoWriMo Prep and Promoting Books

This is the last day before NaNoWriMo 2018. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, although it’s gone international now, and encourages adult writers to produce 50,000 words on a new story in the 30 days of November. This will be my 10th year participating.

Personally, November is a horrible month to choose for pounding out 50K raw words (rough draft). There are holidays and family visits and company coming for 1/4 of the time and dear hubby’s birthday and, of course, one less day than half of the months of the year. Yet! What a writing challenge.

I used to cheat to get in my 50K, or about 17,000 words per day, and counted any writing, including letters and journaling pages. I don’t do that now. At least I try to focus on the one and only story I’m working on. O, discipline. It is so hard for me!

For my NaNoWriMo preparation, I have the characters already known to me (from three previous books in the series), but I’ve written out plot scenes on 3″ x 5″ cards and rubberbanded them into three acts. I’m all set to TAM (Type Away Madly). O, discipline. I feel the most prepared this year for NaNoWriMo than I have any previous year.

Besides focusing on NaNoWriMo, I had professional author photos taken for the first time yesterday. After ten books, I thought it was time for this. I normally hate being on “that side” of the camera, but it was so much fun–all outdoors, naturally. And my photographer, Dena Haas, is amazing. I can’t wait to see the results, and to share them.

I also have ongoing book promotion and marketing to keep on top of. SCBWI is featuring kids’ books published in 2018. I’m supposed to promote not only mine, but help others out as well by promoting theirs. It started last week and goes through November. I figured I’d let the wave of enthusiasm flow over me, and then in a week or so, when people fade out of promoting, I’ll get in there to market and promote some, all while writing 1,700 words a day and loving spending time with my family.

You writers: write. You readers: support your authors and buy their books, and review them, too. Come on, November. I’m ready for you.

 

Blabber File – Raw Writing

From mid-November into the first week of January is the hardest time for me to find time to write. (Exception: visiting family or vacations) Why, oh, why does NaNoWriMo fall in this time? But any time is a good time for fellow writers to give each other a push, even busy times.

Yesterday our company left. Today I’m doing a ton of laundry and also setting up Christmas decorations. YET, this morning, I found time to do some precious raw writing – that is, rough draft blabbering –  on my WIP story. It felt incredibly good! Maybe that’s one of the reasons I write. When I’m thinking about the story, or typing madly away on it, knowing that about 3/4 of the stuff I think or write will be deleted, I get so excited about the story and the characters.

I actually look forward in January to looking over this (unfinished) WIP and chopping away pages and pages. Mind you, I don’t feel those deleted words were a waste of effort. Sometimes going off-track frees my brain to be thinking outside my box (story outline), and often very strange and wonderful things happen.

So I hope you are blabbering away, doing your raw writing, knowing that soon the bad will be tossed and the good, kept.

Keep on writing.

Survivalist Skills, Research, NaNoWriMo

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day learning how to skin a rabbit and tan its hide. Yesterday I spent most of the morning learning about saltpeter – mining and leaching and how to turn it into explosives. The paranoid part of me worries that these survivalist skills will be noted by concerned government watchdogs. The winning part of me knows I need to know these skills if I am to write about them. Write what you know.

Now I must admit that I never actually skinned a rabbit, and I never actually mined for potassium nitrate, and I really ought to have been putting more words in my NaNoWriMo project, but I spent hours on the internet doing research – for my WIP (story). My story takes place in a pre-electricity fantasy world. There are cities, of course, and fortresses, and an agrarian culture, but what if I stuck my characters not in the city, nor working on a farm, which I have? The in between wilderness is where they need to survive, so I spend my days with bloodied and charcoaled hands, but not in reality as would be much, much better, but only in research. I do know the ultra-soft feel of rabbit fur and leather against my cheek, and I have walked through a saltpeter mine in Mammoth Cave, so I’m not flying completely blind on what I research or write about.

Writing Tip: Write what you know, but also prepare to spend many more hours in research for even the briefest reference in your book.

Now, back to writing for NaNoWriMo – I’m at a sloppy 15K now. (Whoo-hoo.) Only 35,000 more words to go by November 30th. Keep on writing!

 

Volunteering Your Writing Time

I feel like this old rug has been beat to threads.  But I have volunteered for my entire life, so not doing so just feels wrong. Am I volunteering for free author school visits? No, to that. I ought to be paid for those. Am I volunteering in our public library in November to run a NaNoWriMo Young Writers Workshop for six weeks? The answer to that latter one would be yes, for I will do anything I can to help kids (and adults) to write, and write better.

Okay. You may beat the rug if you like. What are your favorite volunteer activities? (As long as they do not interfere with your own writing, that is.)

Missing Photo Challenge Posts for NaNoWriMo 2015

Yes, I have indeed been pressing the “publish” button for my daily posts for a different photo/day during this month of NaNoWriMo, intended as a visual for a challenge or aid or encouragement for your story, picture book idea, or illustration. And, yes, even today I posted day #21…but it, too has gone into Internet Ether.

As each prewritten post and photo disappear as I press it to be published, the action sucks my writing time. Or is this merely another excuse or procrastination for my writing 1,700 daily words during this month-long challenge? I know I’ve used others excuses. I’m sure you could add your personal ones as well.

So when I’m done here, I’m going to get my jumpdrive plugged in and notes set up and get ready to type my little old heart out before the winter storm today dumps too much wet snow on our tree limbs and takes out our power, photo challenge and/or this post gone to Internet Ether, or not. (Oh. And did you just see that? I used no electricity as yet another excuse for not writing! How easy it is to do. Silly me. I do own paper and pens.)

Now, go write.

NaNoWriMo 2015 is on it’s way to a keyboard near you

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past six years. NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, offered each November. I just signed up once again to do this remarkable-and-stress-filled month-long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s approximately 1,700 words each day of November.

Because I completed the rough draft of two of my books (The Town That Disappeared and War Unicorn) through WriMos of the past, and because I have an awesome and encouraging critique group who are also participating, I dive in once again.

I remember standing on the edge of the deep end of pools, dipping my foot in the water, affirming it was colder than the air temperature, and still taking in a deep breath and diving in. I know if I were to instead, go to the shallow end and walk to chest-deep water before going under, it would take me ten times longer to finally submerge and start to swim.

So it is with writing (for me). I appreciate the writing challenge. It both terrifies me (because I’ve done it before), and pushes me to satisfactory conclusions.

With The Town That Disappeared, I struggled. I’d thought about writing this story for four years before I used NaNoWriMo to force me to pound the words out on a keyboard. That month, I added rambling thoughts about the book, about the characters, about my frustration. I also included some of the writing challenges. I counted all those in the word-count to make it to the 50,000 word goal by November 30. In January of the following year, I deleted all the blabber and cut back the story to the essential. That was 3,000 very good words. Over the next few months, I revised and rewrote and built it back up to 27,000 to be the middle grade historical fiction it is. But I could never have gotten there without the NaNoWriMo push.

So I challenge you, too, to take the plunge, and join NaNoWriMo. When you do, I am “sandycarl.” We can be writing buddies and encourage each other in this writing adventure.

2010 Writing Goals Reviewed

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Each January, I set writing goals before me for the coming year. At the end of December, I look over my goals and reflect on how I have improved and/or moved forward in this bizarre career of writing.

The first goal I listed in January of 2010 was to find work at MacDonald’s, or else to quit writing entirely. I’m very happy to announce that I did neither of those things, although working at a fast food for research purposes had crossed my mind several times during the year.

I only attended one live writers conference (usually it’s more), but I participated in several on-line conferences or workshops in 2010.

I’m disappointed that I only sent out a few submissions to editors or agents. Like winning the lottery, and the fact that you must buy a ticket in order to win, so it is with writing. Write your story, revise it, have it critiqued, revise it a few more times, but then you must submit it if you want to see it published.

However, the good news is that I revised (a few times) my historical MG novel, written during the 2009 NaNoWriMo period, and I wrote and revised (a few times) my tween fantasy, as well as worked on some shorter stories. One polished novel a year isn’t too bad at all. Maybe, though, future goals would be more than one a year.

I also helped clean turtles in a river oil spill near our house. This was not a writing goal for 2010; however, I never find time-investments in new things a waste. I’m sure oil spills or turtles will show themselves in a future story.

How did your 2010 writing goals work out?

NaNoWriMo 2010 Struggle

 Literature Blogs

NaNoWriMo comes in November. So does Thanksgiving and my husband’s birthday. Last year, my first NaNo, I ended up not writing the last six days of the month because of cooking company. (Here is a good sidetrack point about grammar. With a missing comma or word, you may come to the conclusion that I am a cannibal. Not true. I meant that I was doing a lot of cooking, and better than normal cleaning, for company.) Hence, I did not “win” last year. However, I did get a completed novel out of it later, which was, in my opinion, the whole purpose of the NaNoWriMo exercise.

Although I’ve kept up with the daily word count so far this year (1,667 words/day), and have even stashed away some extra words each day, expecting not to be writing around the Thanksgiving period, I found myself sinking into a slump. I was doing well. I am doing well. And yet here I am in a writing depression. What is that about?

And then I open my NaNoWriMo email from my regional leader. She mentioned that Week Two was the hardest week of all. What? Had she come into my house? Into my head? How did she know that? I suppose I should have felt more comforted, knowing other writers were feeling, at this point, the same as I. “No!” I shout. “I am not a groupie. I am an individual writer! I will not be like everyone else. Ha. I’m not depressed any more. There.” And I’m off to write my 1,667+ words.

NaNoWriMo Begins — Permission to Write Drek

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Today is day one of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I participated last year, and will do so this year as well. Although what I produce during NaNoWriMo is not readable at the end of the month, and perhaps not even finished, I get inspired by short-term writing goals, and end up putting down lots of words to work with. I did not make my 50,000 word goal last year, but came close. Most of what I wrote ended up as stream of consciousness, but all related to the story. I ended up deleting about 9/10 of what I wrote. But that 10% was well worth it, and made for a solid foundation of a novel, which I did end up finishing last spring.

NaNoWriMo seems a sloppy way to write, yet is very productive. The end product is trash can material, with a few pages and ideas and scenes rescued. Yet to me, NaNoWriMo is a means to an end. It inspires me to make writing a priority. Deletions (lots) and revisions (tons) follow.

Novel Revision Workshop Teacher, Darcy Pattison, suggests to get a story down first. Then, you can make it readable. (My paraphrase; apologies to Darcy.)

I will get my story down this month – or at least a good chunk of my thinking-writing time will be spent doing this. I actually look forward to the January to spring revisions.

I am reminded of my friend Ross, who told me last summer that he has a splendid story idea, and that if I wanted to write it out, I could have the idea for free. Ideas are easy. Writing is hard. Perhaps I should introduce Ross to NaNoWriMo, even though he doesn’t own a computer and still uses a land-line rotary dial phone. (Who needs to make up fictional characters?)

Good luck to all NaNoWriMo participants, and to all other writers who continue to plug away without this sprint.