NaNo 2013 ~ Day 11

I don’t know about you, but Week Two is often the toughest. This year, W2 was further complicated by my trip to Denver. First there was the Avalanche hockey game (Colorado won, and it was a blast!) on Friday, then there was the conference and a chance to play Magic for the first time in years (it didn’t take long to remember how to play, that’s for sure) on Saturday. Sunday morning was packing and waiting at the hotel to leave for the airport because I woke up way too early. That was followed by the waiting at the airport, the flight and finally the drive home to collapse in my very own bed.

Tamzyn Aurelius
Tamzyn Aurelius

Needless to say, not a single word got written for three whole days.

Fortunately, with the planning that I’ve done ahead of time (thank you, M!) and my notes in Scrivener, I knew right where to pick up the story and get to work. I wrote one scene and cranked out almost 2,500 words in one sitting. That definitely helped gain some ground on where I should be, so that bodes well for the week I think.

I also got to introduce one of my important secondary characters, the sorceress Tamzyn Aurelius. She’s powerful enough that she’s sent my main character Kaia a vision via telepathy, trying to warn her of impending danger. Of course as is the way with magic sometimes, the message isn’t clear and our characters don’t know what it means or who it’s from. On the plus side, I got to have my hero show my heroine how he feels, and I had no idea it was coming and it got me a little mushy inside.

I love it when that happens.

That little surprise planted by my apparently mischievous and secretly romantic plot bunnies will up the ante later for one of those many complications those same plot bunnies insist upon happening everywhere. What will Fitz do when the stranger they meet makes a move on his woman? What will Kaia do?

Heh. I can’t wait to find out.

BTW, don’t forget to check the sidebar for the running totals so far. By the end of the 12th, I should be at 20,004. Only 5,278 to go…


NaNo 2013 ~ Day 7 (belated)

I love to travel. I don’t do it very much, but I do love to travel. So when I got the chance to tack on a couple extra days to a business trip, I took it. Now, I’ve never been out of town during NaNo before. Still, I’d intended to write on Tuesday night before I left, but a hockey thing with a gal pal and last-minute packing sort of messed with that plan. Then, a little fiasco of a missed turn took me on an unexpected tour of Westminster, CO and I got to my hotel a lot later than I anticipated on Wednesday. Plans foiled.

So much for staying ahead of the word count and getting done — and winning — early.

Wolves from a diarama at the DMNS; aka Fitz and Kaia
Gray wolves at the DMNS; aka Fitz and Kaia

Not to be deterred, I made Plan C. I would spend Thursday enjoying the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a stop at a famous local bookstore called Tattered Cover, and a jaunt down the 16th Street Mall before returning to the hotel and cranking out words. I got to DMNS easily enough, and it was really cool, especially when I saw dioramas containing many of the animals from my story: gray wolf, grizzly bear, golden eagle. Although Kaia isn’t a gray wolf, when I saw the two wolves in the display I immediately thought of Fitx and Kaia (see photo). They were just what I envisioned they look like in their shifter forms, Fitz dark and Kaia mostly white with a little gray. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often get to see my characters leap off the page and show up in my real world to inspire me, especially if part of them is animal.

I snapped a few more photos, goggled at the dinosaurs, then headed out for the bookstore. Found it, loved it, bought a paperback and supported the indy store. It soon became apparent I needed to scrap the last part of the plan due to parking issues, so I opted to head home. Enter yet another navigational mistake — I really hate roads with multiple names so I can’t simply reverse the “to” instructions. Eventually, I got back to the hotel early enough in the afternoon that I managed to crank out a day’s word count in a couple of hours.

Three day missing word margin reduced to two.

I had some dinner, watched a bit of TV and decided to hit the story again. It was a good idea, as I added almost another 1300 to my total and I cracked the 10k mark. Feeling pretty good, I knew I might just be able to make up for lost time eventually. So I’m signing off for today to go to rack up some more words before heading out to watch the Avalanche play the Flames.

What? I love hockey and I’ll be back early enough for another writing session afterward, I swear! :)

NaNo 2013 ~ Day Two Update

Well, it’s November 2, and that means I’ve had 48 hours to get into the swing of NaNoWriMo. So far, things are going pretty great. I’m even trying out some new software that I’ve heard bandied about on the forums and Facebook groups, and that too is working out nicely. I’m able to write a scene a day (so far), and also plan out what’s coming next based on the plot work I did with M a week ago. My word count is nice and high, and over the minimum needed to reach the ultimate goal.

I’d say the creative juices are flowing, and I hope they don’t stop until midnight on December 1st.

I’m not too worried that they will, truth be told. I’ve got a write-in scheduled for tomorrow with M and J (our other writer friend who isn’t officially NaNo-ing but wants to write with us to crank out a first draft of her current project). I should get at least one and maybe two scenes done in that five-hour block, and who knows, maybe a third to finish the chapter. I also have a plan for writing on weeknights, but that plan will be interrupted by a quick vacation-slash-business trip to Denver.

On the plus side, I’ll have a huge, quiet hotel room with WiFi in which I can write beginning as early as I want until as late as I want. *happy dance*

When I return, I’ll be back on my NaNo schedule, squeezing in as many words as possible between work, choir rehearsals and my Saturday ceramics class. I’m not going to kill myself by staying up until midnight or later; if I get my scene done and I make my word count, I’ll be ecstatic. I’m going to need all the sleep I can get this month, otherwise I’m going to be useless by Day 15.

We really don’t want me to be useless. Nuh uh. It ain’t pretty.

So I’m going to go home tonight and relax, toss a slice of pizza in the toaster oven and snuggle with my cat, and maybe even cross stitch for a bit. That’s the best part of this year’s plan: I get to write and have fun doing it, and still have time for ME. Heck, I even get to sleep in tomorrow with that extra hour on the clock. Ah, heaven!

Until next time, my fellow Wrimos and all you other lovely followers of this blog. I shall leave you with this excerpt of Scene 1 that I posted on my official NaNo page. Hope you like it, I do! :)

— EXCERPT FROM “Shifter Days”

Shifter Days…Kaia was about to say more when her horse’s head lifted and he stomped once in the direction of the forest, ears cocked forward. Kaia wrapped a hand around his reins just in case he tried to bolt, and reached for Fitz with the other. They watched the edge of the trees for any sign of his sister, and she didn’t realize she’d been holding her breath until she realized she’d better breathe or she’d pass out.

“Oh, this is ridiculous!” she blurted. “Why are we standing here instead of riding over there?”

“Perhaps because we don’t know for sure it’s her? I don’t know about you, but I’d really prefer not to get mauled by a wild bear on my sister’s birthday if we’re wrong.”

Growling under her breath, Kaia stayed put, although he knew the protective instinct that ran so deep within his friend was pushing at her to search Brenna out, no matter how far she had to go or what she encountered on the way. His reckless side was right there with her, but he didn’t think either his mother or hers would forgive them if they got themselves killed doing something so simple as waiting.

Just as he was about to contradict himself and mount up, mothers be damned, a small flock of birds erupted from the trees. A moment later, they heard the unmistakable sound of a horse running at full speed before it and its rider burst from the forest. At the sight of the long, loose hair flying out behind the rider, they both shouted in triumph.

Brenna had survived.

Fitz impulsively planted a big kiss on Kaia’s mouth, grinning at her. She flung herself onto his shoulders and hugged him hard, then released him to vault into the saddle and take off. As he mounted his own horse, he heard Kaia call his sister’s name, and the wonderful sound of his sister’s voice calling back. With a kick, he followed Kaia and it wasn’t long before his sister spotted him.

He would deny it until the day they crushed his Inheritance ring and hammered it into his headstone, but seeing his baby sister’s happy smile had him swallowing down a surge of pure emotion.

Slowing down, he joined the two women as they reined in their horses hard and nearly fell to the ground in their haste to grab onto one another. It never failed to surprise him how much his best friend loved his sister. At first, he thought it was because Kaia was an only child and she had adopted the three Ballantyne children as a supplemental family, but as the years passed he realized she truly did love them for who they were, faults and all.

“Hey, are you going to sit up there all night, or are you going to welcome me home?”

Gods, he had missed his sister and her ridiculously bubbly personality. “Well, you were rather busy falling off your horse and attempting to strangle my best friend with what I can only imagine was supposed to be a hug of some sort, so I decided I was safer up here.”

“If you don’t get down here, I’m going to grab you by the foot and yank you off.”

He looked down at her. “Didn’t you try that last year and end up in the dirt on your butt?”

Brenna flashed him a cheeky grin, hands on her hips. “Maybe, but that was the old me. This is the new and improved me. I think I might just be able to take you now.”

He gave her a once-over from his higher vantage point, looking somewhat skeptical. “You look the same to me, little sister. But, since Mother would only blame me if I brought you back home dirty for your celebration, so…” Fitz tossed the reins to Kaia and casually dismounted. A second later Brenna plowed into him and they both held on tight. She felt exactly the same as she had five days ago when she’d left; warm and soft and smelling of summer rain he swore lingered in her hair.   

His wolf, however, howled its happiness that his baby sister had made it home alive.

It’s NaNoWriMo Eve

For the majority of the world, today is all about costumes and candy and other things that go bump in the night. I myself have been known to occasionally suit up for Halloween — the year I lost 75 pounds I rocked a Supergirl costume and came in third at the office contest behind the guy in the silver cardboard Iron Man Mark I suit with LED chest plate and the guy dressed as the Will Farrell character from the movie Semi Pro. Most of the time though, on October 31 I’m doing one of two things: a) watching a horror movie marathon and b) waiting until NaNoWriMo officially starts.

So far, I’ve not stayed up to watch the clock tick down the minutes until midnight on November 1 so I can dash into my office, turn on my laptop and begin writing. Now I have on too many occasions stayed up way past my bedtime caught up in a good book, good movie or a television series marathon.  Yet I’ve never considered burning the midnight oil in order to get a jump start on NaNo, even when it started on a weekend. Is this because the time of day when I am most in the mood to write also coincides with my work hours and I am thereby temporary thwarted until the end of the work day to begin?

If I figure it out, you’ll be the second to know.

I’ve also attended a few of the NaNo write-ins hosted by local libraries, and those have been successful, much more so than anything at a restaurant or coffee shop. I met my best friend M at CPL two years ago, even though back then she was usually arriving when I was leaving and we never truly got to write together. At another when it was just me and our area’s ML (Municipal Liaison for those of you not in the know) in attendance, he helped me fix a plot issue that made way more sense than my original outline by posing amazingly simple questions and writing on the room’s enormous white board. So I was looking forward to sitting in a large room with my mascot Snoopy, my caffeinated beverage and others like me, the clicking of our keyboards and the hum of the coffee pot in the corner the only sounds.

Alas, this year M and I must make our own write-ins due to scheduling conflicts and distance issues, and that works just fine for me. I’ve always looked forward to our Sunday afternoon writing sessions at CPL for their creative and social aspects, and I’m so glad her hubby R is supportive and lets her out to meet me. I’m sure the extra DVDs that I give to her to give to him because I’ve replaced hem on Blu-ray has absolutely nothing to do with his decision, but I donate to the cause anyway. *grin*

I like to think we help each other creatively in many ways, and even though our choice of genres are very dissimilar, our writing energy is great even if she often writes a heck of a lot faster than I do. In my defense, on that particular day it was her quick dialog versus my longer narrative paragraphs, but hey it’s not a competition.

Oh, wait! It is, technically.  Fortunately, it’s us and our word counts against the world and not us against each other. Well, okay, maybe a little. She’s won NaNo once and I have yet to, so there’s added incentive for me to hit that 50k mark. To that end, I have a brand-new tale to tell this year, and I’m hoping with all my being that all that plot prep we did means I won’t get stuck halfway through November wondering what happens next.

So, between now and November 30, I’m going to do as the sign says. I’ll keep you posted!


NaNo 2013 ~ Synopsis and More

Don't get it right, get it written.

On this fifth anniversary of “Nikki and the Novel,” I thought it would be a good time to make some updates to my blog pages. A couple things have changed, but much has stayed the same:

Check out the About Nik > Support Staff page to read about my newest writing cohort and rock. If not for Miss Meagan, I would still be sitting around thinking about finishing GBE, wouldn’t have had the “Aha!” moment that solved the block in the story, and I wouldn’t be inspired to go for the 50,000 word win with a new NaNoWriMo story this year (she won two years ago and got a really groovy t-shirt to prove it).

There is a new Nik’s Works in Progress page that is the stepping stone for my current and future novel pages. Click on the cover image to go to the appropriate page for its working title, a brief synopsis and a teaser of where I am in the story since the last update.

Speaking of works in progress, I now have a better idea of what my NNWM 2013 story will be. I spent a couple days on background items like shifter lineages and inheritance rules, mini-bios of my two leads Kaia and Fitz, creating a couple of legends that will work into Kaia’s destiny, and assigning photos to subordinate characters and giving them monikers like “unnamed baddie” and “unnamed good witch”. All of this info I added to Scrivener, the new writing software that my NaNoWriMo friends have mentioned off and on for years I’m trying out during the free trial period. (Another bonus of winning this year – I get the full version of Scrivener for half off! )

The last bit of business that I need to do before the competition begins is to jot down the scenes that I know on Scrivener’s index cards, such as the opening that has been running through my head for days now, and to share with you the current synopsis for “Shifter Days.” You can find it on its new novel page, and you’ll get to meet Kaia’s wolf form as well.

Check back as I’m meeting again for one last prep weekend this Sunday before the fun begins next Friday, November 1st!

NaNo 2013 ~ Shifter Days are Coming

Kaia Kyncaid
Kaia Kyncaid

Well, it’s that time again where I’m going full out with the prep work for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. This year it’s going to be a little different than the last few in that I’m working on something completely new. The goal behind this idea is not to abandon the other work I’ve been chugging forward on for the last *mumble mumble* years (that would be ‘GBE’ for those of you in the know), but instead to win the competition. The plan: create a brand-new story with brand-new characters in a brand-new genre that shall allow me to reach that famous goal of 50,000 words in 30 days time.

So, how does one such as myself prepare for such an undertaking? Let’s take a look…

World-Builder Me is really wanting to draw out the new realm for the story. I am tightly reigning her in on that one. I want to let the world create itself as the story emerges and then build it from there. That means the faraway city to which my main character may travel could end up named after the coffee maker or clock in the corner of whichever write-in room I find myself, but hey, that’s what makes things interesting.

Organized Me created a new board over on Pinterest to hold any and all photos of things I thought would fit in this new fantasy world (click here to see the board). I’ve chosen who I want to be as my as-yet-unnamed heroine and I’ve also decided there will be shape-shifting going on. Thus this board has great scenery, possible characters, a great sword and big cats who will be the clans of shifters. The board also includes the photo of the lass above who is my heroine, pictured here along with her beloved steed, and the white tiger below I believe will be my heroine’s alternate form. I’m still up in the air on that one however, mainly because there are just too many beautiful big cats to choose from and I may end up choosing a different one based on the animal’s traits so I guess we’ll all have to wait and see how that plays out.

Planner Me has purchased a NaNo notebook for keeping track of word counts as well as any other little tidbits such as heroes journey charts, character archetypes, copies of the inspiration board photos with notes as to who they are and how they fit into the story and the heroine’s world. PM also snagged a nifty NaNo 2013 mug sporting the 8-Bit logo NaNoWriMo theme for this year for both myself and my WriMo buddy Meagan that will hold our caffeinated beverages of choice while we make our own write-ins at her local library because the official ones are out of our way and also during work or class hours for me. PM will also be downloading a trial version of a very popular writing software that I will try out during the month, and when I win — notice the word choice there — she can download the full version for 50% off. On Sunday the 20th, PM will start working on the basics of the story, things like my heroine’s name, other pivotal characters she will encounter, stages of her heroic journey and the bare bones of the plot.

Writing Me is working with the other Mes to get everything set up, letting ideas flow through her head to discard or ponder at will, eagerly and a bit anxiously waiting for the evening of November 1st to arrive when she can officially begin writing “Shifting at Midnight.”

Okay, yes, it’s kind of a hit-them-on-the-head title, but like the novel, anything can change at any time and very likely will. After all, it will be a book steeped in magic…