Hello from Camp NaNoWriMo Day 1

SnoopyWS_campingHi everybody! Today’s been productive, even if I don’t completely feel like it has. I’ve posted both #BohoBerry and #InstaWrimo challenge photos on Instagram, procrastinated by updating some background information on my shapeshifter mythology (got to get those species correct in case I need them), and hit my daily word count goal.

I admit, I was totally ready to say “I’m not feeling this” and give up and go do something else and put it off until tomorrow. Fortunately, I have this best friend who’s not going to let me get away with stuff like that, even when she’s out of town at a baby shower. So, a “rah, rah, go Nikki” text later and I have my words in.

I think it’s always tough to pick up an old story after letting it sit awhile (like since 2014). Even after reading what I’d written before, and having storyboards to tell me what comes next, it wasn’t as easy as picking up with COC had been. In truth, though, that story never really let go of me, and to some extent still hasn’t. That novel was always in the background, saying “write me, write me!” while this one isn’t quite as demanding. Whether that’s due to having way more romance novels on the list than fantasy ones, I can’t say. But I agreed to stick with the fantasy genre for Camp, which is part of the reason I gave myself a decent but not intense daily goal.

This time, though, let’s see if I can’t move the action along a little faster instead of getting bogged down in the descriptives. :) See you tomorrow, campers!

You’re not imagining things, it’s really me!

Hello Writerverse, it’s been a while! A lot has happened in the seven–wow, seven?!–months since I last posted here on my blog. I had no idea it had been that long, and I need to make up for that. So I’ll take this time to get y’all caught up on what’s been going on. Beware, this is gonna be a long one. :)

the endFirst and foremost, the big news: I. Finished. Writing. My. First. Novel! Yes, you read that correctly. Last November 30th at the end of NaNoWriMo, I wrote the words “The End” on the last page of my manuscript for Curse of Camelot! I was with my bestie, and the second after typing those words, I clapped my hands over my mouth to keep from screaming out loud. Meagan, of course, knew instantly what I’d accomplished, and she grinned at me. A moment later, we were boogieing like idiot teenagers.

I took the next four months off until I half-heartedly attempted to participate in April’s Camp NaNoWriMo to edit the rest of COC. I failed miserably, and the manuscript sat another month and a half until Meagan and I went on our second annual Belletristes writing retreat in Fredericksburg. Having already spent nearly three weeks without air conditioning due to a busted compressor, I was more than ready for time away from home and getting back to writing.

Two momentous events happened that week, the first being my second big accomplishment with Camelot: I completed the copy edits of the full manuscript on 7 June. Another boogie session ensued with my bestie, and I celebrated by tossing the original first draft pages into the air for one of my Instagram posts. Then we each plowed through a pint of our favorite ice cream while watching my favorite movie, Ladyhawke. Meagan went to bed early (she was being a good mom and heading back home at the crack of dawn to attend my oldest nephew’s fifth grade graduation) and I stayed up to watch my new favorite dance movie, High Strung, then I too went to bed.

Little did I know my world was about to blow up into smithereens the next day.

I got up Friday morning, smiled at the note Meagan had left, and ate my breakfast bagel before getting down to work at 7:30. I started transcribing my edits into Word, and broke for lunch around noon. My bestie called to say she’d be on her way back shortly, and I got back to transcribing. When my cell rang again, I picked it up and automatically glanced at the caller ID, and stopped breathing.

It was the animal hospital where I was boarding my Molly calling, and I knew  they wouldn’t be contacting me if she was okay. As the conversation continued, my heart ached, the tears I cried (okay, sobbed) made me almost incoherent as I tried to comprehend the details being relayed by the on-call vet. The entire time, I sat in the chair in front of the window staring out of it and waiting for my sister-bestie to get back so I wouldn’t be alone in a rental cottage without transportation 78 miles away.

Molly
Molly Maru (1998-2018)

You see, my kitty had developed fluid in her chest from her heart murmur or her kidney disease or possibly cancer, and it was hard for her to breathe and she would most likely not get better. So I had to make The Decision all pet owners avoid as long as possible, and I had to do it long distance. I knew what was best for her, and to do anything else would have been horribly selfish. Fortunately, my very good friend works a receptionist at WLAH, and loved my kitty almost as much as me. Caryn was with Molly for me as my baby girl left this world to join Tink in Kitty Heaven, and also agreed to keep her until I could see her one last time on Monday.

As you can imagine, my emotions have been on a roller-coaster ride the last three weeks. Some days, I’m the Walking Dead as I shuffle around the house desperately missing my cat. Others, I’m inspired to work on this or that for my novels, and her being gone hurts a little less. Part of why I continued with FMS’s Instagram June Photo A Day challenge was to have something different I could focus on. My July is shaping up to be enormously busy too, what with taking on three challenges simultaneously: 25,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo, Kara’s bullet journal #bohoberrychallenge, and NaNoWriMo’s #InstaWrimo challenge from April.

Here’s to getting back to normal and reconnecting with my shapeshifters. I’ve been away from them too long, and I could use some old friends to talk to instead of a few empty rooms.

Good luck in July, fellow Campers. I’ll be back around the campfire starting Sunday, so see you there!

I’m back… and just in time for NaNo

Yes, it’s true. You’re actually reading a new blog post by little old me. I’m really back! The last time you heard from me back in June, I was preparing for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo and my first-ever homemade writers retreat with my bestie. Well, Camp itself was a bit of a bust, but what did go splendidly well was our retreat.

For me, it was a chance to see what life would be like as a full-time writer instead of an only-in-November one. I had a schedule, and I stuck with it: have some breakfast, write for four hours, have some lunch, then back to writing for another five hours.

It was, quite honestly, amazing.

I really, really liked the feel of those three days. Quite often I wrote past my stop alarm because I was that close to the end of the scene and wanted to get it done. I clocked in a word count of over 18,000 words in three days, but that last Sunday afternoon I struggled to add words to the count. It took me a good hour of only kinda sorta necessary research to figure out I was procrastinating. I also realized I’d reached the three-quarters done mark of my book.

Which meant I was almost done writing the first draft of a novel.

Which meant I was at the same place I’d been with Boyfriend Experiment the last time I stalled out and didn’t finish.

Which means I haven’t written a word since July 23rd.

Fast-forward to this month’s Preptober discussions with my bestie about what we’re going to work on for NaNoWriMo. I know I should pick up COC and finish it. I know this. Maybe it’s the excuse-maker in me, but I’m pretty sure part of why I procrastinated was I have no idea how to end the book. There are too many ways it could go, and I’m not sure which is the right one.

Prep_tober
Is your NaNoWriMo prep complete?

I don’t care what you say, endings are fracking scary.

Thus I took the path of least resistance and decided on traditional romance for November. I’m going back to the basics–no prophecies, no magic and no trying to remember where I put a certain plot point or added an important detail so that I don’t screw up the semi-complex story line. It’s set in my fictional Texas city of Kilcavan, and will include a boy and a girl, horses and a hurricane, and a little jealousy thrown in for kicks.

I’m sure this will be another good NaNoWriMo. I’ve set up numerous writing sessions with work and non-work friends. I’ve got a new bullet journal layout with a nifty grid of milestones to earn toward rewards at the end of each of its six levels that will track my progress along with my usual word count bookcase.

This year I also have Lois Lane of Daily Planet fame watching over me and inspiring me when I’m at home (click here to see my Instagram fangirl geekout over her arrival). When I’m elsewhere, I’ll have my ever-present companion Snoopy along with his new buddy Mars, a small toy statue that looks exactly like Cal’s mustang.

I’m off to binge as many episodes of Smallville as I can between now and November 1 when writing begins, because once NaNoWriMo starts, no more TV until the day’s word count is met. :)

Camp NaNoWriMo Returns in July and I’m Bringing Conflict With Me

Hello again, old friends! It’s been a month or so since I made it back from my first successful trip to Camp NaNoWriMo and came home with a winner’s button. Since then, I’ve been alternating between some casual editing on my unfinished Boyfriend Experiment manuscript (aka going through and just removing the “fluff”) and reading up on the craft of writing. I picked up quite a few reference titles during the Austin Book Store Crawl on Independent Bookstore Day, April 29th, and on a shopping spree over Memorial Day weekend. I cracked the cover on my Writers Digest book Writing Monsters, and I’ll definitely get back to it when I return to my other fantasy novel (there’s a really nasty shapeshifter dragon bad guy in that one). The other WD book I picked up, Elements of Fiction Writing – Conflict and Suspense, basically confirmed my suspicion that my current work-in-progress is going to need a bit more of a rewrite than I originally expected.

According to the book, “the stakes in an emotionally satisfying novel have to be death” and “somebody has to be in danger of dying”. That somebody is your main character and s/he’s in jeopardy either physically, professionally, or psychologically. Now, when your MC happens to be an immortal, that makes thing a bit more tricky. Fortunately, Reese believes the cure to his curse is mortal death, so that’s in line with the psychological aspect. Maybe I’m not as far off the tracks as I thought.

Yet when it comes to conflict, I think I can do better by this manuscript. It needs some work on its pacing at the beginning, in order to get things zooming along to the all important middle. We’re on the countdown to the breaking of the curse, and I’m sure Reese can hear the ticking of the clock in the background. Still, unless I bring back the ex we haven’t seen since Reese scared the crap out of him by coming back from the dead, I’m not sure who my late-novel antagonist will be to add those elements of conflict. Well, external conflict anyway. I’m sure my leads will have many things to argue about between now and the start of the eclipse regarding how each believes the curse will end should all go as planned.

In any case, I will keep you guys up-to-date with letters home from Camp in July like I did in April. I’m also excited for my very first homemade writers retreat, which Meagan and I created for ourselves (we even came up with our very own swag!). It will happen smack in the middle of Camp this month, so stay tuned for additional updates from the Texas Hill Country.

You may also want to check out the Curse of Camlann excerpt page between now and July 1. I’ve updated the page with a scene from last session so you can see where our knight and lady have landed.

Here’s to another winner session, a great retreat, and all the words we’re all going to write!

Camp NaNoWriMo Results

Okay so I realize it’s been over a week since I’ve checked in with you guys, and there’s a perfectly logical explanation for that. You see, after hitting my word count goal of 15,000 at lunch on Friday, April 21st–yay me!–I was all ready to tell you guys about it. But Meagan and I had another writing session scheduled for Tuesday, so I thought I’d wait until then to see what my final final word count would be.

Unfortunately, pain in the form of migraines and back aches had me feeling awful so I had to cancel my meetup with my BFF, and no blogging occurred. Fortunately, I’m feeling a lot better now. In fact, I have officially validated my word count and I am excited to share this with you:

CampWinnerBadge

That is the official winner badge for Camp NaNoWriMo 2017, and I’m very proud of it. Especially since I’ve participated in Camp before but never reached my goal, it’s a nifty little keepsake. I’ll be checking out the store to see what other goodies I can get to celebrate; you know me, gotta have the swag. *grin*

Since it’s still frelling early on Sunday morning (my cat decided I was not about to sleep past 6:55 AM this morning), I’m going to continue to celebrate by binging some more Chuck (I’m on Season 2, disc 4) and just enjoying the rest of my weekend. Stay tuned, however. I’ll be keeping you guys in the know on my upcoming retreat with Meagan and on any further writing adventures between now and then.

Happy writing to you all, and congratulations to everyone who also reached their goals for Camp NaNoWriMo 2017!

Hitting the Home Stretch at Camp NaNo

Snoopy_happycampingHappy Tuesday, my awesome fellow Campers! It’s the second-to-last weekday work session with my BFF, and boy howdy was it a good one. We met in the mess hall as has been our plan these last three weeks, and after a bit of dinner we brought out our laptops and got to work. M was only one page away from her Camp goal of 30 pages written (she’s doing flash fiction, if you remember) and by the end of the night, she’d finished that last lone page and won!

If she wasn’t my honorary sister, I’d totally call her a brat for beating me yet again. Okay, I’ll probably call her a brat for real later on, but I can’t really begrudge her the victory. I myself had a pretty fab writing night! It was one of those days when the words just flowed like mystical waters from my brain to my fingers and onto the Scrivener page. Tonight’s session netted me my largest word count yet (over 2,000 you guys!) and I’m now only 1,657 away from winning myself.

Easy, peasy, y’all.

If you don’t hear from me before next Tuesday’s final work session here at camp, it’s because we’re preempting our usual Saturday work session to spend the weekend back home. You see, I invited myself along to M’s youngest’s birthday party at the bowling lanes, and I plan to have some fun attempting to throw strikes (which will probably ed up being unconverted splits) before getting back to the keyboard for that final sprint to the winner’s circle.

You never know, though… I might get inspired and fit in an extra mini-session at lunch on Friday just to see if I can’t crank out that last little chunk I need. After all, what I’ve go left is less than I usually do in a day during November, so it’s totally doable don’tcha think? I know I sure do!

Camp Stats

Days written: 11
Daily word count/goal: 2,058/500
Word count to date/target: 13,343/15,000

Saturdays at Camp NaNoWriMo Rock

SnoopyWS_campingIt’s April 15th and for most people–including myself–that usually means you’d better have your taxes done or an extension filed. (Thank goodness for tax deadline hitting on the weekend because between you and me, I haven’t located all my documents yet and I need the extra couple of days.) This year though, it more importantly means we’ve hit the halfway point of Camp NaNoWriMo.

In between the usual camp activities this past week, I did find time to write during my lunch break and clocked in at least a day’s worth of word count. With the holiday, we had a free day yesterday for Good Friday, and Mom came to visit me at camp and I took her with me to my extra day of ceramics. If you’re in need of a writing break, you can check out the pics I’ve posted of the finished pieces Mom and I have done during the last three years over on Flickr. You have to promise you’ll get right back to work afterward though; I don’t want to be responsible for you missing your word counts! =]

This past Thursday I hit another milestone–I finished Heroic Journey Step 9 and also the third to last page of my outline. It felt pretty good to hit that minor step, considering I’ve been working on this thing for quite a while now. Every day I’m that much closer to the Big Event that is my book’s climax, and it’s exciting to see if it will go as planned (a.k.a. follow my aforementioned outline) or if something will take the story off on a tangent. I’m hoping my characters will stick to the script, because frankly I need them to tell me if I think how this thing is going to end is how it’s really going to turn out. I have quite a list of possible choices I can choose from, and I have one that’s pulling ahead of the rest of the pack. Still, I think it’s going to take Reese and Rowena to tell me how they want their story to end. Fortunately, I’m 10,000 words closer, all because of Camp.

I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see, huh?

Camp Stats

Days written: 9
Daily word count/goal: 1,542/500
Word count to date/target: 10,667/15,000