Tag Archives: nanowrimo08

Unchartered waters


{photo: Paul Evans}

In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. ~ Andre Gide

Revising the beast of a novel I call “NaNo2008 experiment” has me weaving and bobbing on the sea of doubt.

I found a great article on the 7 steps of revising a novel, along with some helpful tips from my writer friend in Ireland. I implement them as best I can. Must.Try.Harder. I handwrite in a notebook, then merge with my chapter on screen. I print a hard copy, slash through rambling paragraphs, add dialogue, then revise dialogue to fit character’s voice. Then revise again to steer the story in the right direction.

I let the beast sleep. For an hour. A day. I journal about my progress. I wake up thinking about my characters. I run scenes through my head while I shower. I do this for all my writing, though.

What I’m doing differently this time is posting pages for critique on #yalitchat.com. What I like about the virtual discussions of my work is that it is all about the writing. There’s no body language to read like with my local writers group. There is no personal stuff to get in the way. No one has to “soften” their comments because they know my kid was up all night with the flu. E-feedback is about the writing and it is real. And I’m learning a lot so far.

What breakthroughs have you made in your writing by traveling through unchartered waters?


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Filed under Advice, NaNoWriMo, Novels

First step to Clarity: Decide What you WANT

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. Ben Stein

If you ‘ve been following my blog at all since Dec 31, you know that 2010 is The Year of Clarity. What does that mean? For me, it means to get back to my roots of writing and submitting fiction, narrowing my niche to better  build my platform and before deciding to take on any more, put heavy decisions through a “filter” to discern if  new writing or teaching gigs  fit my “ecosystem” for my ultimate writing goal. What I want is to finish and publish my novel and inspire young writers in my community, with the long-term goal of continuing in these areas to eventually replace my full-time job.

Clarity also means to simplify: my goals, my lifestyle, my space and my relationships. Focus on the things that bring me most joy. This weekend, that meant hanging with my sons: window shopping and walking through parks and an old 16th century graveyard, visiting the library, and reflecting on the school year about to come to an end.

I bring “clarity” up again, because Christina Katz is talking about it in this week’s issue of The Prosperous Writer. What clarity means to us as writers. What does it mean to you? Perhaps after journaling about it, you’ll hit an epiphany. As I did on April 28 of this year:

{journal excerpt}


I am so happy today! Excited with the idea that I WILL be writing a book. A novel I scribed in November 2008. It’s been fermenting in my hard drive. Hate the title. I’ll have to think of something catchy, deep and relative to the mood of the book.

Yes. Today I took the next step in finishing my first novel. I printed each of the 15 chapters, along with unconnected scenes, story map, plot outline, setting and each main characters’ description – from the forms I completed on storyright.com.

I was so afraid to look the mss. over after November 30 2008 struck midnight and I uploaded the whole messy beast into NaNo’s official word count thingamajig. I never looked back. Until today. And I like what I see. I like it a lot! : )


Filed under Advice, Believe, Deadlines, Novels

Good News x 2

In reading Christina Katz‘s second great writing resource, Get Known Before the Book Deal, I learned that writers should toot their own horn when they achieve little successes. How else would our readers/followers know what we’re up to?

So, taking Ms. Katz’s advice, I’d like to “toot” about my recent successes in publication and contest entries!

Underwired, a KY based women’s print magazine, just accepted my essay “Cravings” for publication in their upcoming June ’09 issue.  I wrote “Cravings” last September, with a different market in mind. I wrote the essay from my perspective on motherhood and our needs to give in to guilty little pleasures. I wrote, rewrote, sent to my writing buddies for critiques, rewrote again and finally submitted to skirt! magazine, who politely and promptly rejected my essay due to “no space.”

Of course it was a minor blow, equivalent to a small crescent shaped shiner under my right eye, but I went down my list of markets and sent the essay out again, this time to Imperfect Parent.  My essay seemed to fit their tongue-in-cheek humor and bold observations on being a parent without losing your identity. Weeks, then months went by with no reply and an updated message on their website stated they were “backlogged” and no longer accepting submissions.  So, I emailed the editor, again, and professionally stated I’d be pulling my essay from their consideration if I hadn’t heard back by a specific date. No reply and off to the market guidelines I returned.

So, you can imagine my elation when the editor of Underwired replied via email with a “Congratulations! We’ll see you in print…” Not to mention the attached contract that spelled out payment and rights for my publication of “Cravings.”

The lesson in this? Keep moving forward. Don’t lose momentum, don’t lose your faith or your focus. Your essay may be personal to you, but editors have a job to do and though they may appreciate your wit or tone, it may not fit for their publication.

My second “toot” is about another exciting email I received a few days ago, in regards to my fiction entry for the 100 Words or Fewer Writing Contest.  This email said I was at the top of the mountain where the air was thin. My entry “In Father Brannigan’s Room” had made it past two levels of judging and is now in the running for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place! 100 little words, crafted so carefully, rewritten about 20 times, paragraphs cut and pasted in different order to achieve the maximum effect of “wow” in such a small space.  And I deliriously wait,  with little oxygen.

Who thought after writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where every word counts and even contractions are banished to maximize  number of words, I’d be able to cut out prepositions, articles and adverbs to ruthlessly minimize word count and tell a full story with less than 100 words. An achievement in itself. I’m proud to have even accepted the challenge.

And when the winners are announced in mid-June, I’ll be back to “toot” some more (hopefully!)

Keep writing and submitting my friends! And please share your successes here and EVERYWHERE!


Filed under Advice, Believe, contests, Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing

When one door closes…

…another opens (two in my case!)



copyright image at: staytondailyphoto.com/?p=271

New Year’s Day: I open my email to find a polite but disappointing message from the library program coordinator stating that although my monthly young writers’ workshop has been successful, it no longer fits in their long term programming goals. *sigh*

Jan2: I open another email message;  from Verna Dreisbach, author and owner of Dreisbach Literary Management, saying she’d like to speak to me regarding a nonprofit young writers group she just founded in CA.

Jan 3: I speak to Verna on the phone (we have an instant connection in our passion for teaching young writers and silly sense of humor about raising boys) and after describing her short and long term goals for Capitol City Young Writers, Verna asks me to be  a board member!  Not only will I be helping young writers across the US get their start, I will be in contact with many people and organizations in the writing and publishing world!  I will keep you appraised as the events unfold…

Jan 5:  I receive another email : )  This one from another mom and volunteer program coordinator who has worked with me in the past. She arranges events and speakers for HelpingGirlsNavigateAdolescence, Inc., and invited me to be the Key Note speaker on journaling for their March meeting!

So, I ask you: when one door closes, do you stand looking at that closed door, or find another to open?

Happy Year of Zen!


Filed under Advice, Believe, Education, emotion, goals, Inspiration, Perseverance, writers

An Ode to NaNoWriMo Mamas!

An ode to the NaNoWriMo Mamas:
Sleepless nights, we’ve been there
Tantrum toddlers, we don’t fear
Take out dinners, gulping caffeine
Give me a second while I finish this scene!

Untucked child whining from bed;

Unruly characters refuse to be led

We panic, we cry, we procrastinate

Feeling a bit sick from the junk food we ate

Family support, cheering friends

Blast us through fears, give strength to the end

50K words not as tough as it sounds

A NaNo Mama leaps it in one single bound!

(Yeah, right!)

Congratulations to ALL NaNoWriMo participants, winners or not! We are novelists!


Filed under emotion, Fiction, NaNoWriMo, Novels, Uncategorized

NaNoWriMo: I can’t see straight

43,431 and counting. I have 21 hours left, minus sleep…

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Novels, Perseverance

NaNoWriMo: Where are you??

nanobannerlogo_bigger1I’m at 39,721, having written 4,183 words today (broken up with cookie breaks!)

SO, I ask, where are you??? What’s your highest word count written in one day?

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Novels, Perseverance

NaNoWriMo: I dare ya!

nanobannerlogo_bigger1My current word count is 35,538. I ‘m going to reach 50k by sundown on Sunday. Who’s gonna beat me? I need to write 14,462 more words…

Think you can match or beat my upcoming 4-day word count?

Meet you at the bike racks, punk! Game on…


Filed under Believe, emotion, NaNoWriMo, Novels, Perseverance

NaNoWriMo: Final Push to 50k!

 nanobannerlogo_bigger1We are in the final 5 days to reach 50k. I don’t know about you, but I can use all the inspiration I can get!  Found this posted on Wow! (Women on Writing) Blog from Nov 22:

Tip for Screenplay Writers (and NaNoWriMo Writers Too)

“I’ve been doing something that I thought I’d invented myself and then I discovered in a conversation with Jim Cameron and then I read in an interview with George Lucas where he talked about the trick that Francis Ford Coppola taught him and it turns out everybody’s doing the same thing. We never read what we write. I know that sounds preposterous but the point is you don’t edit while you’re writing. We don’t even dare look at what we’re writing until it looks like there’s around a hundred pages. It sounds nuts but when you have a hundred pages and then you finally look at them, you have the aesthetic distance to edit yourself.”

-Steven Souza, screenwriter
So, I ask you:  what do you do to push through to the finish line?




Filed under Advice, Believe, NaNoWriMo, Novels, Perseverance, writing inspiration

NaNoWriMo: Is anyone else writing crap?!

nanobannerlogo_bigger1Wow. I am thoroughly embarrassed by some of the drivel that is coming out of me at such great speed. I’m stuck. Paralyzed. I am at a point where my MC needs to have this deep discussion with her estranged mother and I just want to avoid the whole thing. Maybe because I can’t fully grasp the emotion behind it right now, or I’m uncertain the outcome.

I posted my dilemma on the NaNo forum and had some good responses: just describe the conversation’s highlights as it already took place; it’s what is said in silence that speaks volumes. Maybe since I put this scene off for days and haven’t written a word (for my novel) in two solid days, I need to warm up. Stop being a baby and making excuses and just start typing.

Continue the drivel to the end. At least I’ll be consistent. Geesh! Is this what it is really like to be a writer? A Novelist? No wonder we’re such a moody bunch!

Anyone else having a battle with your characters, plot or procrastination? I’d love to wallow with you!


Filed under characters, emotion, NaNoWriMo, Novels, procrastination