A Word About Plot

My comic book hero for the day, Marvel's Black Widow

Me, as my comic book hero for the day, Marvel’s Black Widow

I don’t know how your day is going, but mine’s been pretty freaky, and it ain’t even Friday. So far, the least stressful thing that’s happened was logging into Facebook and seeing that friends were changing their profile photos for 24 hours to fill Facebook with comic book heroes to support Childhood Cancer Awareness (go to my Facebook page for more info). Well, okay, I’m also getting to go to Chuy’s for lunch and some comfort food, but that’s nothing unusual in my world.

Procrastinating on my NaNoPrep because I can’t wrap my head around a good plot? Well, that’s definitely a new twist.

See, I had this whole other post started, updating you guys on my NaNoPrep progress to date, with multiple bullet lists all leading up to the one thing I was missing. But after like 10 saves and revisions, that thing had gotten really long winded and even I wasn’t sure where I was going with it. So I scrapped it.

So I pose this question: how do you guys flesh out your plots for your novels?

This always seems to be the thing that bogs me down, and yeah, perhaps it’s that whole planner thing working against me. I like having an outline to follow, even if while writing the characters or situations deviate from it. I know that my characters should drive the plot, rather than me contorting them into random or ridiculous situations to fit where I originally intended them to go.

I’ve even been known to keep a plot bunny or two that hopped across my path, but they were very, very tiny bunnies.

My last two NaNo novels have been fantasy novels with a subplot of romance thrown in, which interestingly made them easier to plot. This time around, it’s the romance that’s taking the drivers seat. While I’ve had some pretty decent scenes popping into my head, they’re all over the place. As a result, I haven’t quite been able to figure out how to start getting the plot shaped into a nice cohesive thing I can work with.

I’ve got a worksheet printed out that I found from a web search, and I’m hoping Meagan can find the worksheets we used a couple years ago. Aside from that, I am kind of floundering plot-wise. Granted, I’ve got some time, so I’m not in panic mode quite yet.

In the meantime, I have been successful with a couple of fun things: a) creating my novel’s cover and b) writing up the synopsis. The image in the background is the view from my main character Frankie’s late father’s back door, looking out on Wild Horse Canyon at the edge of the fictional town in which the story is set. To read more, simply click on the image.

Working Title for NNWM 2015 novel: Frankie's Homecoming

Working Title for NNWM 2015 novel: Frankie’s Homecoming

Hopefully my next post will be chock full of plot goodness! *crossing fingers*

Back from the Abyss

Surprise! I bet you guys thought I’d fallen off the face of the earth, considering how quiet this blog has been this year. All I can say is life happens and things don’t always work out the way you plan. Fortunately, sometimes things also turn out better than you expect, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Despite all this inactivity, I did have one event I wanted to share with you guys. Up until this summer, all the writing I’d done was on my NaNoWriMo novels, or short stories and writing prompts with my BFF. Some of them have appeared on this blog–see the menu links above–but most have been only in Scrivener or rattling around in my head. Then M emailed me and said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Hey, will you do the 24 hour short story contest with me? The entry fee is only five dollars.”  I was curious enough that I went and checked it out and said, “Sure, why not?”

So, come July 18th I found myself sitting in the library with M, not-so-patiently waiting for noon to roll around so we could go to the site and find out our prompt and start writing. After a couple of refreshes, there it was.

Aaaand that’s when the trouble began.

While M got her idea almost immediately and started researching and writing within the first hour, I struggled for a good two hours trying to find a way to use a character I’d created for a different short story that I’d wanted to use again. I admit, frustration almost got the best of me until I decided I needed some air and tossed my key chain onto the table.

I looked down at the clunk, and grinned.


Wonder Woman LEGO character from “The LEGO Movie”, aka the one on my key chain and the story’s inspiration.

You see, earlier that day during lunch, M had given me a souvenir gift from her trip to LEGOLand® with her boys. She knew how much I loved Wonder Woman swag (and I have A LOT of it), and she’d found me a key chain sporting my favorite super-heroine. I was so tickled I’d immediately attached it to my car key ring. At that moment, seeing her laying face up and smiling at me, inspiration struck like she’d tossed out her lasso and whacked me in the head.

I could use Wonder Woman as the heroine in my story!

Well, once that thought took hold, I was off to the races. I’d remembered the beginning of the first episode of the 1977 “Wonder Woman” television show had taken place on Themyscira, Diana’s homeland, and so it was easy to picture exactly what the fabulous Lynda Carter looked like as her princess persona. On top of that, since I am quite familiar with Greek myths, I also pulled in one of my favorite small screen bad guys in the form of the character the late Kevin Smith as Ares, God of War from “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

Following a little research into the Amazon legends and myths, I found one that perfectly suited my story idea, and in no time my fingers were flying across the keyboard. A few hours later, I’d written 1136 words, and it was time to cut that down to the limit of 950. After a little reworking, I had a story I was happy with and sent it in.

Waiting the seven weeks to find out the results was maddening, although I’m not sure why I thought I’d win my first time out. I do find it interesting that this was one of the few times I didn’t immediately think “Nah, I won’t win anything, I never do,” but instead thought positively on the outcome. In the end, I was among the hundreds of folks who, for whatever reason, didn’t make the judges’ final cut. It took a day or so for me to be okay with that and just be happy I’d not given up and had sent in a submission. I think that’s why I like NaNoWriMo so much; while you may be in the same competition as your friends, you’re really only competing against yourself and the word count. In fact, I’ve already started prepping for this year’s entry. :)

I hope you like my story of what happens when a former superhero returns home to her paradise island and embraces her old traditions, only to find things aren’t what they seem. It is also posted as its own page, which also includes the prompt from which this story came, under the “About Nik’s Stories/Writing Competitions” menu above for future reading.

Isn’t It A Wonder

Diana, princess to Themyscira (Lynda Carter) from “Wonder Woman”

Diana, princess of Themyscira (Lynda Carter from “Wonder Woman”)

Diana carefully stepped down into the grotto and settled onto one of the underwater benches, sighing as the cool waters soothed her overheated skin. Catching sight of her sibling, she waved, glad she’d been able to attend Drusilla’s twenty-first birthday party despite her condition. Nearly everyone in the commune was also in attendance, laughing and enjoying the sun and surf, not to mention the picnic the queen had arranged.

As if summoned by thought, Queen Hippolyta joined her at the edge of the pool.

“How are you feeling today?”

“I’m fine, Mother. You can stop hovering.”

“I’m allowed to hover,” she argued. “You’re carrying my first grandchild, and she’s going to be the first Themysciran princess born in centuries. The gods may have gifted you with beauty, strength and wisdom, but you’re still a mortal and my daughter.”

“Yes, but even we Amazons slow down a little when it comes to childbirth,” Diana said, reaching for her sister’s hand as Drusilla settled down beside them. “Enough about me. How are you enjoying your party, little one?”

Dru grinned. “I’m great! The gift table is stacked with presents, I’ve snacked on every treat at least twice, and I’ve finally worn Atalanta down. I start my archery lessons next week. I couldn’t have asked for a better day! Thank you.”

“It’s our pleasure,” Hippolyta returned, smiling affectionately at her youngest child. “Now, I’ll leave you to your celebration. I still have work to do and last minute details to finalize.” Rising to her feet in that graceful way all queens seemed to possess, she bent to kiss each daughter’s temple.

Suddenly, a loud, shrill whistle cut through the air. In the silence that followed, the thunder of fast-approaching horses could be heard. A moment later, Hippolyta’s assistant rode up to them with two horses in tow and reined in hard. Ephiny acknowledged the queen with a quick nod.

“Majesty, we appear to have an emergency situation regarding tonight’s shipment.”

“What happened?” the queen asked.

The blonde briefly glanced at Diana, who didn’t like the panic she saw in her normally unflappable friend. “It seems one of our pets has somehow managed to free himself, and… Well, my Queen, we can’t seem to find him.”

Hippolyta wasted no time. “Drusilla, help get your sister onto her horse then return to your party,” the queen ordered, taking a set of reins from her assistant. “Tell anyone that asks we’ve gone to handle the preparations for the rest of the evening’s festivities.”

Ephiny cursed under her breath when the queen kicked her steed into a full gallop and took the path back across the sand. Diana reached for her sister’s hand and climbed out of the pool, then hauled herself onto the unfamiliar sidesaddle, following at the much slower and frustrating pace her condition required.

As she approached the island’s southern edge, she saw her mother, Ephiny and Tania the stable mistress deep in conversation. As Diana did not see any of their pets waiting to be loaded onto the docked ship, she surmised they’d been returned to their stables until the situation could be resolved. Dismounting awkwardly, she joined the discussion.

“Where have you searched for him?” Hippolyta asked. “He can’t have gotten very far.”

“We’ve searched everywhere he might have gone in the time since the midday feeding when he was last seen, Your Majesty,” Tania replied. “The second and third Circles hunt for him still.”

“What of his restraints? How did he break the chains?”

“That’s part of the problem, Majesty,” Ephiny admitted, crouching down to the pile of chain at her feet. Diana watched as her friend pushed aside the ring that Tania must have pried loose from its proper place on the wall and sifted through the thick, heavy links until she held up an undamaged manacle. “He didn’t break the chains, nor did he pull himself free. Even the lock’s still intact. It’s like he simply…slipped free.”

Hippolyta handed back the shackle and frowned. “You still haven’t told me to which pet these belong.”

Ephiny tossed the restraints back to the sand and straightened, her gaze capturing Diana’s. “These are Kairos’s chains.”

At this news, the Queen turned and regarded her daughter, disappointment etched on her face. “Diana, I had hoped that your agreement to participate in this, our oldest of traditions, meant that you’d finally embraced your true heritage once more. Please, daughter, tell me you had nothing to do with the freeing of your pet.”

Ares, God of War (Kevin Smith) from “Xena: Warrior Princess”

Ares, God of War (the late Kevin Smith from “Xena: Warrior Princess”)

“She didn’t.”

The warriors reacted instinctually to both the male voice and the amusement they heard in it. Spinning around to confront the intruder, each woman’s hand rested on the dagger at her hip. All were shocked to find the pet they’d been searching for casually leaning against the gate that led to the family’s private quarters, especially Diana.

“You knew the rules, Kairos.” Diana held her ground when he straightened and advanced, the prey now becoming the predator. “You served your year in the stables and earned your freedom. Why do this now?”

“It’s simple, princess. I want my child. I’m not going to let you kill him when he’s born.”

Her hands flew to her belly, the feminum bracelets she wore on each wrist glinting in the afternoon sun. “My child doesn’t belong to you, Kairos. She belongs to the Amazons.”

“Oh, my dear Diana, how wrong you are,” he drawled, and with a flick of his wrist vanished his disguise. Ares, the God of War, laughed delightedly as the women began to back away from his true identity. “That child isn’t just an Amazon, he’s also a demigod. Isn’t that a wonder?”

Author’s Note: no Greek gods or legendary characters were harmed in the writing of this tale. A few myths may have been slightly bent, however.

Now, anyone see where I put my Wonder Woman television show DVDs…?

A Camp NaNoWriMo-ing I Will Go

girl-writing-letter-homeHello! I know I’ve been horribly, awfully quiet the last couple of months. My writing plan for 2015 hasn’t panned out as well as I’d hoped, so I’m going to chalk it up to “best laid plans of mice and [wo]men often go awry.”

Still, I am not giving up. No sirree. Nope. Nuh-uh.

In fact, I’ve signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this April, and already have at least one supporter in my new wrimo buddy Kate. She’s invited me into her cabin (yay for rooming with someone I actually know), I’ve printed out the pages I’ve written so far on Curse of Camlann (my NaNoWriMo 2014 winning current work in progress) so I can brush up on the story, and I even reset my word count goal back to 50,000.

Now, I don’t know if I’ll finish the novel or not. That’s not what camp is about. It’s about getting back on that writing horse I love so well and reminding myself that this is what I love to do. Maybe, just maybe if I do that, I’ll inspire myself to keep the momentum going.

Worst case scenario? I’ll be back at Camp in June.

So here’s to checking in with my fellow campers daily, for getting and giving inspiration, and for spending some time on something that just makes my silly heart sing.

You can find out more about me and my novel at my Camper Info page.

Nik’s 2015 Resolutions

WritingOkay, I wasn’t originally going to do a resolutions post this year. I am one of those people who creates a resolutions list, because hey I love lists of all kinds, and then ends up falling on her face when it comes to meeting them all. So I was perfectly content to just have my Writing Plan and sit back and see how everything else piled up around it. Then my friend Kate had to go and post her resolutions list along with her hubby’s tradition for it, and suggest I give it a try in addition to being her writing buddy for the year.

At first, I thought, “One resolution for each year I’ve been alive? WOW. That’s a lot of resolutions to write down.” I’ve been around a lot longer than Kate, twice as long in fact, and after futzing with it for a while I realized any kind of list that long would be a bit repetitive or kind of lame just to make the numbers. Then I realized I could do my list my way. It didn’t have to be intimidating or daunting, but rather full of the things I want to do this year anyway, or had enjoyed doing last year. Maybe then it’s possible to have a realistic list that inspires me instead of one that’s impossible to accomplish and makes me feel like a complete dolt.

I think it’s simple but substantial, and it covers those things that are important to me. So here they are!

1. Write, Write, Write!

This is the biggie for this year. I want to finish The Curse of Camlann that I started during NaNo, and not just so I can go to Vegas when it’s done. I really want to see how the story progresses, and not a few friends have said they’d love to read it. My friend’s husband even remarked during lunch yesterday how passionate I was when talking about my writing. There’s no better motivation than that, because he’s absolutely right. Not to mention all the reward ideas that I’ve been adding on Pinterest so I have a nice visual of my Writing Plan goals.

writeblockAlso included here is attending Camp NaNoWriMo with Kate (and whomever else I can con into it) in April and July, with hopes of finishing COC or perhaps another project, say The Great Boyfriend Experiment that’s so close to being finished. Then it’ll be on to last year’s Shifters and whatever else I can work on in the next twelve months. My meetups with my bestie M will also fit here, where we spend Sundays writing at the library.

Lastly for this category will be things like finishing character profiles for other stories, importing miscellany into Scrivener for pending projects, and attending a writer-oriented program or conference or meeting of some kind. That last one will be a first for me, as even though I’ve been a member of the Writers League of Texas since I was in college, I’ve never gone to a meeting. How silly is that?

2. Stay Crafty

This one’s all about the non-writing things I enjoy, like making charm bracelets and other jewelry, completing a cross stitch project, my pottery class at the local community college and those miscellaneous craft projects I’ve been pinning on Pinterest for a while now. They’re fun and interesting and new, and help keep my mind active not to mention my hands. They’re nice little side projects for the days the writing just isn’t flowing or for when I just need a break. The pottery class itself kicks off my Saturdays starting later this month, and I have a ton of ideas already running through my head that I need to get down on paper. I also have quite a few charm bracelets in various stages, and I’m looking forward to seeing how those all turn out.

3. Be More Social

FriendsThis is a little trickier for me, as so many of my friends are not single like I am and therefore don’t have as much free time as little ol’ me. Yet, this doesn’t have to be hard. I’m hoping it will include things like hosting a Girls Night Movie (and/or Game) Night; taking a road trip to my favorite charity Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, TX; taking a tour with a bunch of my girlfriends to new or favorite wineries; and a road trip up to Fort Worth to visit my bestie K and maybe take in a Stars game.

I’ll also still be going to church and hanging with my church and choir peeps, and of course bugging my work friends to go out to lunch. Fortunately, going out to movies at the theater also falls into this category, and I have a few friends and a mom who will take me up on those offers quite often. I might even toss in a trip or two to visit friends out of state while I’m at it, who knows?

4. Get Healthier

Talk about your difficult goals. Eating healthy is hard when it’s just so easy to just grab something on the way home or when you forget what you wanted to bring because you ran late and dashed off without it. I’m hoping that the kitchen remodel I have planned for late spring/early summer will help me prepare more meals á la cuisine. I also HATE exercising and get nothing out of it whatsoever except relief that it’s over, so that makes it that much harder to get moving. But, I could stand to shed some (read: a lot) of the weight gained in 2014 and without eating healthier that’ll never happen. So this one gets a list:

  1. Remodel the kitchen!
  2. Make actual meals for dinner twice a week instead of “grazing” the pantry. This includes crock pot meals on Sunday for the rest of the week.
  3. Try a new recipe from one of my many cookbooks/clippings and save the ones I like and pitch the rest.
  4. Bring a healthy lunch to work at least once a week, and actually consume it. Twice would be better!
  5. Make better choices when eating out (halving portions, grilled vs. fried, etc.).
  6. Walk more, when the weather’s nice.

5. Be Happier

Happy MinionsOh, yeah, file this under tough to do, too. On my worst days, little things can throw me into a tailspin and my impatience meter red-lines. At my best, though, I can sail through the day with a smile and maybe even a song. That being said, it works well to numerate these in black and white. So this one gets a list, too:

  1. Write, because we already know it makes me happy.
  2. Do something crafty at least once a month (without waiting until the end of the month to squeeze it in).
  3. Treat myself to a movie in a theater once a month using my reward gift cards.
  4. Be more positive.
  5. Read at least 50 books in 2015. That’s only five more than 2014, and I’m planning on half of them being new titles not previously read. There will be a Pinterest board to track the titles (like you didn’t guess that already).

Okay, well, I think that about does it for tackling 2015. Stay tuned as I’ll be reporting in on how it’s going, especially with the writing, as that’s why I first created this blog way back when. Here’s to all of us, whether you’ve written an official list of resolutions or not, accomplishing what we’ve set out to do in the new year!

Nominated Again? Jolly good!

tistheseasonWell, my writer friend Kate M. Colby has nominated me for another award, this time it’s the Jolly Blogger Award. I admit, I’ve never heard of this one, so I was curious. It’s a way to spread some holiday cheer around the ‘Net, no matter your religious or secular affiliations, and a way to tell your fellow bloggers that they bring you a little happy. Like the Liebster Award Kate nominated me for earlier this month, it’s all about the rules:

  1. Answer the twelve questions from your nominator
  2. Nominate ten bloggers
  3. Leave twelve questions for your nominees

So away we go!

Answers to Kate’s Questions

What holiday do you celebrate this time of year?

I’m a Christmas girl. It’s my second favorite holiday (see below).

Do you like holiday songs? If so, which is your favorite?

For the more traditional carols, it’s always been the “Carol of the Bells.” However, one of my favorite groups released a Christmas album this year, and I found it via a friend’s post of Facebook. I highly recommend checking out Pentatonix’s YouTube video for “Mary, Did You Know?”; it grabbed me by the throat and I knew I’d be playing that from now on as my favorite.

What is your favorite holiday movie?

It’s a tie between “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “The Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie”.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

The candlelight service on Christmas Eve at whichever church we’re attending. This year, Mom and I will also be singing, so Dad will be stuck in the audience surrounded by strangers. The downfalls of a small family I guess!

If you could change one thing about the holiday season, what would it be?

I wish that retail stores would let us enjoy one holiday at a time instead of forcing us into HallowThanksMas three months early. I know they have a bottom line, but seriously. Christmas in July is fine, but give us a break in the interim, alright?

Do you prefer giving gifts or receiving them?

Giving, definitely. This year I chose three angels from the Angel Tree at church and it made me smile knowing I was helping make the holiday brighter for someone who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to enjoy it. I also brought in to work and gave away almost 50 pieces of pottery from both of my 2014 classes, and it was so much fun to see what people chose and the surprise and delight on their face when they asked how much and I simply told them, “Merry Christmas!”

Do you prefer snowy or sandy Decembers?

Snowy. Definitely.

Besides December holidays, what is your favorite holiday?

Easter is my favorite holiday. I was born on Easter Sunday way back when, and so Easter lilies are my favorite flower, too.

If you could name a reindeer for Santa’s sleigh, what would you name it?

I’d name her Angelica.

What is your favorite holiday-related book?

Does my big coffee table book on “It’s A Wonderful Life” count? Good.

If you were to write a novel that took place around the holidays, what would the main idea behind it be?

Funny you should ask. My first novel (that is still in progress a decade later), The Great Boyfriend Experiment, has a middle that takes place at Thanksgiving and climaxes at Christmas. Check out the synopsis here on my blog to find out more, and also see what made the main characters’ playlists.

Do you want to build a snowman?

Yes, please! Alas, I live in Texas and while it will be chilly today, snow isn’t an option. Good thing I have a snowman on my mantle at home next to the ChrisMoose. :)

My Ten Nominees

Yep, there are repeats here from the Liebster and from Kate’s post, so you’re not seeing things. These are the blogs I read and gain support from or entertain me, so yeah, I’m duplicating. The more the merrier!

  1. Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY
  2. Guilded In Black
  3. The Rolling Writer
  4. Sara C Roethle
  5. Dream Raven
  6. Kristen Lamb’s Blog
  7. Ruth Nestvold
  8. KEL Publishing
  9. Miramar Dichoso
  10. my mumblings

My Questions for my Bloggers

I know many of you may have taken a hiatus for the holidays, so don’t feel obligated to participate. If you do, though, here’s a few questions for ya.

  1. Do you decorate a lot or a little for the holidays?
  2. Do you have any totally off-the-wall family holiday traditions?
  3. Tell about the strangest holiday you’ve ever spent.
  4. What is your favorite holiday song?
  5. What is your favorite holiday beverage?
  6. If you were to dress up as a holiday-related character for a costume party, who would you be?
  7. Have you ever made a snow angel?
  8. If you could spend the holidays anywhere on earth, where would you go?
  9. What do you make for Christmas dinner?
  10. Do you steal gifts during a White Elephant exchange, or do you let them go?
  11. Post a picture of your best Ugly Christmas Sweater. If you don’t own one, search for one and post the one that appeals to you the most.
  12. In my family we made up our own holiday characters, such as The Christmas Phantom (who only brings fun presents like puzzles or games) and Sandy Claws (who gives gifts to the furry kids). Do you have any non-traditional holiday characters who make an appearance?

Alright, that’s it! Have a safe holiday everyone, and I’ll catch up with you next week.

The Reward for Finishing My Novel

So when I posted the details on My Writing Plan last Friday, I had a reader post a comment that completely threw me. Amanda asked, “I assume you get something extra fantastic for finishing the book?” and all I could do was sit there and stare at the computer monitor.

Until that moment, I’d completely forgotten the biggest reward of them all.

Yes, I am working toward something fantastic called The End. Yes, it’s great to have a writing plan to get to The End. But if I’ve gone through all the trouble to write and plan and reward myself, Amanda had a point.

I needed an extra fantastic SOMETHING for making it to The End and Finishing the Book.

Today I figured out what that something is, thanks to two of my besties. I’m going to treat myself to a weekend trip somewhere fun! I’m sure one of them will tag along to keep me from getting into too much trouble. :) So I leave you with this image of the destination for my End Reward while I take a few days off for Christmas break. Don’t forget to come back and check in on my progress for writing in 2015.

Happy holidays, y’all!

Yep, that's right - I'm gonna go to Vegas!

Yep, that’s right, guys and gals. Once I finish the book, I’m going to treat myself to a weekend in Vegas for the first time EVAH!

Introducing “The Writing Plan”

buildaplanHello again! I know I basically fell off the planet now that NaNo’s over, but that seems to happen every year. Whether it’s the holiday crunch, or exhaustion, or needing time for my brain to recharge, I find myself not writing a single word in December. Now, that’s not to say I’m not thinking about my novel, because I am. My friends are also asking how COC is going, and poking and prodding me to keep writing as well.

I have also switched out my NaNoWriMo Wizard band for my writing charm bracelet, although I need to tweak it a little to include a charm that represents my winning 2014 book. Thank goodness for the internet, because a quick search located — are you ready? — an Excalibur sword charm! Technically, my knight doesn’t wield this legendary weapon, but he was of Arthur’s Round Table so yeah, it works. (For a look at said writer bracelet, click here to temporarily zip over to Facebook and check out the photo I posted.)

Fortunately, I’ve already worked out the details for my plan on how to keep writing, which is also Mom-approved by the way. As I still need to put words on the page, that’s where my plan is focused.

The Writing Plan

I am the kind of girl who works very well with a reward system. November was a perfect example: not only did I get the official NaNoWriMo winner swag, but I also earned personal rewards: season 5 of White Collar on DVD that I’d wanted for a while and Nora Roberts’ third book in her latest trilogy that I’d seen one day on my travels through The Bullseye Store. That last one? I’d literally reached out for it to add it to my shopping basket until I quickly pulled my hand back and said to myself, “No, that’ll be an amazing reward to myself for winning NaNoWriMo because I really, really want that.”

That moment came back to mind when thinking about how to get myself in front of the keyboard. Knowing me as I do, if the reward is something I really want — say the movie Guardians of the Galaxy or all seasons of The Walking Dead or the new Magic: the Gathering expansion sets that’re coming out in January and March or the Castle Derrick Storm graphic novels or one of the many books on my wish list, just to name a few completely non-random examples — I’ll work harder to get to that goal.

It’s all about the points


The Writing Plan, as transcribed in my makeshift December agenda, aka a small green composition book.

Whenever I write, I’ll be earning points toward a reward of my choosing. You’ll notice I’ve tweaked things a little since I first wrote out the plan (see the image at right) as I’ve had time to think on it. But here it is:

  • For every day that I write in a given month, no matter how much or how little, I get a point.
  • For every 1,000 words that I write in a given month, I get a point. I must hit the minimum to earn the point. Writing 750 words one day still counts, but I won’t get the point until I’ve written an additional 250 to reach a thousand words.
  • If I write fifteen days in a given month, I get five additional bonus points for each block of fifteen days.
  • If I write 30,000 words or more in a given month, I get five additional bonus points for each multiple of 30,000.

At the beginning of the following month, I’ll add up all my points and each point earns me $1 in reward money. Points are cumulative, and points not spent on rewards do carry over but may only be added to that month’s point total. Example: if I earn 25 points in January and redeem 20 points, the remaining 5 points are not available for redemption until I’ve accumulated points for February. That’s so I keep the momentum going forward instead of racking up huge point totals and slacking off.

Had this plan been in place for November, here’s how it would have added up:

  • Total days written in November: 18 = 18 points
  • Total words written in November: 50,519 = 50 + 5 bonus points
  • Grand total in rewards for November: $73

All Ready to Go

I’m ready to start this plan come January 1, which is a holiday for me so it’s got potential to start off well. I have a spiffy new agenda in which I can track my writing time and my points, along with the rest of my schedule. Each point will be represented by a cute little owl sticker and my 5 point bonuses by Peanuts reward stickers. I also found this perfect Snoopy wall art that I absolutely had to have and it’s waiting for me under the Christmas tree. So far, I think the plan will work. Stay tuned to find out if I’m right!