A Day for Flashbacks

Memorial for Sarah Good, hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. Unfortunately for our hero, Reese would meet the same fate not long after in Ipswich, and have to claw himself out of his own shallow grave.

Greetings, all. Hope your NaNoWriMo-ing is going along swimmingly. On my end, Sunday was a bit of a bust as I racked up a measly 823 words. Today was a bit better. My lunch write-in buddy was working from home today, and although we did still meet up virtually via email and chat, it just wasn’t the same. I eked out even less than Sunday during that hour, and began to wonder if I would be able to catch up.

Then I reminded myself that it wasn’t about the word count anymore. It was about getting the story written, and meeting the 50,000 goal would just be icing on my tasty vanilla cake.

With that in mind, I finished up my day at work and headed home, mentally revising the plan for what to write next as I crept along the highway in rush hour traffic. How about instead of Reese thinking back on an event, I write the memory itself, adding in my first true flashback to one of Reese’s aliases? Since it worked for me, I went with it. I’d already made a note in the margin of my plot notebook that the crosshatched scars on his back were a result of the Salem Witch Trials, so after a little Googling, I was ready to go. I moved the flashback from the bottom of the scene to the top, added a header of “Ipswich, Mass. – 1692”, and began.

Oh, how the words verily few onto the page.

By the time I was done for the day — or more accurately when my kitty deemed I was done by sitting as close to my left arm as she could get without actually physically standing on me, thereby putting her head right in the way of my laptop screen — I’d cranked out over 2,000 words. Not bad for a Monday.

Today’s Word Count: 2,133

Word Count to Date: 12,456

Writing Time Today: 1 hour at lunch and 2.5 hours post dinner

Current Feeling: Intrigued. I want to see how much I’m actually going to put my hero through in the trials before snapping him out of the nightmare. In addition to the flogging, will he drown? Will he be hanged? Hmmm. *evil finger tapping commences*

Motivation/Inspiration: I admit, part of the inspiration to use the town of Ipswich instead of Salem is due to a movie. It’s called “The Covenant” and it’s about “the boys from Ipswich” who are rumored to be descendants of witches. I won’t ruin the story for you, but it’s got cute boys, magic, an awesome special effect involving a Mustang and a semi, and a reference to Harry Potter, albeit not a kind one. And yes, I’m going to go watch it right now as my reward for finishing the day. =]

Biggest Triumph: Being flexible in the structure of the story.

Biggest Setback: Writing in the office at lunch continues to be a little problematic. Even though I turn the sound off on my PC and turn on my playlist on my iPhone, I still get distracted by emails popping up, people walking by my office and general lunchtime hubbub. It’s so much easier when I stay late instead and I’m one of two people on the floor and it becomes like a ghost town.

Insights: I’m proud of myself for realizing when something wasn’t working and making a change. I haven’t done a lot of that, especially in my personal life, so it’s a good step forward to begin with something small like what to write.


Good Decisions Pay Off

Snoopy Happy Dance
‘Cause I’m happeeeeeeee!

Hello! I sit here writing this post today a happy girl. You see, my decision of yesterday to abandon my initial NaNoWriMo 2015 project turned out to be a good one. In one day alone, I’ve written 2,315 words on Camlann, and it felt good. I liked reconnecting with these characters I’d never really forgotten, and I liked jumping right into the action, picking up where I’d left off. Even more fun was talking out a bit of a scene with Meagan; I’m sure our conversation confused our neighbor at the library, what with the talk of which was worse, a broken wrist flopping around or a knife to the gut. (It was a fight scene, and the gruesome was necessary for the scene but also ended up being foreshadowing that I didn’t realize I’d done until I’d written it.)

All in all, the first session at the library and the second at La Madeleine made for a productive day. I also realized that in all the prior writing sessions I was missing one ingredient: my small stuffed Snoopy who is, at this moment, keeping me company as he sits on the upper left hand corner of my laptop. I won’t say he’s the reason I did so well, but I do think he helped make a difference as a good luck charm.

As I have a bit of laundry still to do tonight that I’d left sitting in the washer all day while I was out and about, I might even bump that word count up a few more notches. Stay tuned!

Today’s Word Count: 2,315

Word Count to Date: 9,382

Writing Time Today: 4.5 hours, give or take

Current Feeling: Pleased and happy…and warm, now that I’ve turned on the heater for the first time this fall.

Motivation/Inspiration: Reconnecting with my characters and caring about the story I’m writing.

Biggest Triumph: Being excited about the story and looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Biggest Setback: The ambient noise both at the library and the restaurant. One can only turn one’s headphones up so far, and when even that doesn’t drown out the noise, it becomes a distraction.

Insights: Even though I’ve been known to abandon one project to work on another over the years, this time it feels good. I’m not worrying so much about winning NaNoWriMo anymore, but rather just writing. If I happen to make the 50k (either including the earlier 7k from Homecoming or on is own), BONUS!

NaNoWriMo Novel Switch

Reese Llywellyn, aka Sir Rhys (Greyston Holt, Clayton Danvers from “Bitten”). I imagine him saying, "It's about time you got back to my story."
Reese Llywellyn, aka Sir Rhys (actor Greyston Holt, aka Clayton Danvers on SYFY’s “Bitten”). I imagine him saying, “It’s about time you got back to my story.”

If you caught my tweet from earlier today, you already know the jist of this post. So far, it’s been an interesting week. I started NaNoWriMo on Sunday writing Frankie’s story in a back booth of my local diner-esque hangout while freezing my fern off and wearing a tiara (and no, there are no photos of this phenomenon). My observant teen waitress discovered I’d left my writing mascot Mars the horse on the top of the napkin dispenser and returned him to me, so I didn’t have to wonder where he’d gone.

Monday introduced a new element, write-in lunch hours with a co-worker who herself is a NaNo veteran. I like this option, as it gets me writing at lunch and also adds the social aspect that is nice with other write-ins I’ve been to. That first day the lunch word count was pretty decent, so I thought I was golden.

Until Thursday came around and I was suddenly over my story.

The word count definitely tells the tale. As the week went by, my word count came in lower and lower each day, although at the time I attributed that to chatting too much. Then, on Thursday I got a lunch invite from my work BFF who will be going on maternity leave next Friday, and I didn’t even blink as I abandoned my write-in lunch to go out for enchiladas. To make matters worse, I’ve got a new obsession in bullet journaling brought on by my Michigan friend (I’ll say more on this later when I’m not supposed to be making word count goals) and I spent Thursday night prepping my new journal instead of flipping open my laptop and racking up the totals.

The fact that I could, at most, give a casual shoulder shrug that I wasn’t writing Frankie’s story told me I should perhaps rethink what I’m working on.

I think I knew last night what I planned on doing, as I’d already stuffed the necessary notebooks for last year’s “Curse of Camlann” into my tote to take with me today. After the car ride in and a chat with Meagan, it was official. Frankie’s on hiatus as I revisit Reese and his curse once again.

Fortunately for me, I’d printed out all chapters to date for an editing session some time ago — boy, are some of those pages RED — so I can read through the pages immediately preceding my pick up point to resume the story. That means I’ll be throwing myself right into the action as my hero, Reese, is about to put the hurt on the ex-husband of his lady. Even though he’s an immortal knight of Camelot and will conduct himself honorably, if the ex starts fighting dirty, it’s gonna be on like Donkey Kong.

Another successful NaNo Day

writeblockEvening, y’all! Day Two of NaNoWriMo 2015 went quite nicely. I had two writing sessions today, and that helped keep me to a sensible timeframe as for the first time, my friend Kelly and I joined together and wrote over our lunch hour. It was energetic and entertaining, and both of us got some good work done. Me, I hit the halfway point of my word count in an hour, checking in with 1,040 on the official site.

One of the “issues,” if you can call it that, is that when I write over a specified time deadline, I often end up having to stop in the middle of a thought or scene or some such. That was one thing that didn’t happen today. I got the new scene started, established the new setting and even managed to introduce another secondary character. When the hour was up, I was at the perfect place in the story to pause until I could pick it up again after work.

All in all, a good day!

Today’s Word Count: 2,091

Word Count to Date: 5,071

Writing Time Today: 3 hours and a little bit

Current Feeling: Relaxed and happy the day went well

Motivation/Inspiration: Starting the new lunch sessions with Kelly

Biggest Triumph: Once again moving past the 1,667 goal for the day to clock in over 2,000 words

Biggest Setback: Well, it was totally not writing related, actually. Silly me had forgotten to turn off the burner I’d used to cook the risotto, and instead had set on that same burner the dish the meatloaf had been cooking in, so by the time I was going back for seconds, boy was that pot a mess! Fortunately, the food was fine and is all packed up for lunch tomorrow.

Insights: I pay much more attention to my writing when I have music or a movie playing in the background. It acts much like white noise, and isn’t distracting at all. Tonight’s choice: Pitch Perfect, and for tomorrow, the pitches will be back for the sequel. *grin*

NaNoWriMo 2015 Has Begun

creativejuicesGood evening, everyone! It’s November once again, and with the cooler temps also comes National Novel Writing Month. On top of that, standard time returns, which gives us fledgling novelists an extra hour in which to crank out the words to meet our daily totals. I might have taken advantage of that very idea had I had the awareness when my beloved cat woke me up crying in my ear at 5:30 this morning (or 6:30 cat time) for a drink of water.

Alas, the only thing I could think was, “Egad, cat, hush up and let Momma sleep!”

Fortunately, as the day wore on, my brain began to function normally. That meant I had high hopes for the planned writing session with my BFF Meagan. Before then, Mom and I did the church thing, the lunch with chopsticks thing, followed up by a stroll through William Sonoma and Trader Joe’s. By the time I got home, I still had time to upgrade iTunes (although I haven’t tested the new install yet) because I’ve got a couple of new CDs that I want to add to my collection so I can also add them to my novel’s playlist.

Not that it needs more music, as it’s currently sitting at 286 tracks. What can I say? My characters have great taste in music; he’s into the 70s rock and roll and she loves her modern country. Hmm. When I first chose those genres for my characters, it totally didn’t register how very Donnie and Marie it was. Oh well.

Unintentional musical clichés aside, it came time to meet Meagan for dinner and our first writing session of the contest. We made quick work of our meals, and then out came the laptops. It took me a little while to get going, but by the end of the session I had 1,147 words written and the prologue done. We parted ways and I headed home to where the A/C wasn’t on full blast as it had been in the restaurant and my furry companion who even as I type is curled up alongside my laptop keeping me company. I even had my first funny typo that I had to share; check my Twitter/Facebook post from earlier if you missed it.

As it stands, I’m almost a full day ahead of the game, having written another full scene and an additional 1,833 words. A promising start on a brand new story I am striving to actually finish by the end of the competition.

Now it’s time for my first NaNo update. I’m going to use the same format I co-opted from my newly published writer friend Kate M. Colby last year. Why fix what ain’t broken, right? :)

Today’s Word Count: 2,980

Word Count to Date: 2,980

Writing Time Today: 4 hours, give or take

Current Feeling: Pleased but so ready for bed

Motivation/Inspiration: Starting the story itself and watching it come to life on the page… once I finally figured out how to start!

Biggest Triumph: Adding a second session and keeping going once I hit today’s required word count.

Biggest Setback: The slightly uncomfortable environment at my neighborhood restaurant. That corner in the back that allowed me to plug in my laptop was pretty freakin’ cold, enough so that it was a little hard to concentrate.

Insights: It’s kind of hard for me to just put words onto a page without also doing minor edits as I go. Everyone tells me to just spit it out, but I always re-write as I go, even with this blog post. Granted, what I write may not be Pulitzer material, but I have to at least like it.

More Words About Plot, and Halloween

typewriterladyHello, world! It’s almost the end of October, and this year I can say I’m looking forward to Halloween for the first time since… well, since I was last able to fit into my Supergirl costume. I received two separate invites from two different friends to attend their parties, and much to the surprise of those friends (and me), I accepted! This Saturday I’ll be learning how to play bunco while wearing an Italian commedia del’arte mask (costumes are optional, and my “zombie meatballs” are a cinch to whip up). On the 30th, I’ll either be decked out in my original planned costume of SSR agent Peggy Carter (provided the exchange for the most important piece of the costume comes in time: her iconic red hat) or my standard backup costume of a toddler with pigtails and teddy bear.

I can pretty much guarantee that no matter which costume I’m sporting, or how many games of pool I win, or how much pizza and beer I will consume, the fact that National Novel Writing Month begins the next morning will never truly be far from my mind. Especially since my hostess of the evening is also doing the competition with me.

Happily, I can report that after a little bit of internet research and a trip to the library, I found some plot advice that is working wonderfully. In fact, it’s so useful that I can use it not only for my two main characters, but also for the lesser characters as well. Then I can put it all on index cards (or post-its or what-have-you), then arrange everything in a timeline. From there, I don’t think I’ll have any trouble filling in the rest of the scenes. Heck, I might even temporarily become a “pantser” and let the whims of the characters dictate the scenes as I’m writing.

It’ll be interesting to see who wins out, the “planner” that is so very me, or the “pantser” that is whispering to give her a chance.

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*