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!

Okay, this Camp thing is kinda fun

Happy MinionsHappy Saturday, my fellow campers! I come to you from another successful writing work session with my BFF. We’ve spent a productive couple of hours in the camp’s cafeteria, and although M finished up her writing before me, I beat her on overall word count. I admit, I’m getting a significant amount of pleasure out of that! On most days, she wallops me on such things, while I am still the Queen of overall project words written.

It’s actually kind of amazing how much I’ve written on this project, and I’m still learning where the story goes. It’s true I’m working from an outline–c’mon folks, I’m a planner extraordinaire–but it always fascinated me to see what ends up on the page from my notes. What might be a sentence fragment in my writer’s notebook often ends up as almost 1,500 words typed into Scrivener. Kind of like tonight.

Anyhoo, I’ll keep this short because a) I’ve got a yummy grilled cheese and fries for dinner that’s calling my name, and b) it’s Saturday night so I think I’ll end the day streaming some Netflix as I relax into my evening.

Happy writing, all!

Camp Stats

Days written: 5
Daily word count/goal: 1,383/500
Word count to date/target: 6,143/15,000

New theme to welcome Camp NaNoWriMo

Hello everyone! How do you like my blog’s new look? After my last post went live, I was looking at my site and realized I’d had the same theme for quite a few years and decided perhaps it was time for something different. So I previewed and played and this style spoke to me. I like the notebook header image (very appropriate), and the colors are great; anything green makes me happy. Even my BFF approved, and we all know how important that is.

Once the new theme was in place, I felt a review of my novel pages was also in order. That task resulted in a makeover for them as well. I renamed a few pages, added Details and Reference sections (some of the word counts are astounding, especially considering the books aren’t finished yet!) and added Frankie’s someday novel to the main page. I’ll work on tweaking the other story pages too so stay tuned.

As for Camp NaNoWriMo itself, I’ve got a few days until it’s time to hightail it to my cabin, say howdy to my bunk mates and start writing. I’ll start Saturday, April 1st with my morning ceramics class — totally an approved camp activity, right? — and then meet M for dinner and a writing work session. By then I’ll need to have finished the last little bits of prep work so I know where I left off in November and where I need to go from there. Thankfully I found my outline, but now the question is: how will I end the novel, should I be fortunate enough to get that far? After reading what I jotted down, there’s a part of me that isn’t sure it’s the best way to go. I know how I’m going to resolve that last big story arc (aka casting the counter-curse) and yes, it’s a given that my two MCs will get together in the end, but what that really means is now a big ol’ question mark.

I guess I’ll keep brainstorming until I come up with an ending I like or the characters have their say and tell me how they think it should end. I should probably listen to them; it’s their story, after all. =]

April Camping I Will Go, NaNo-style

KALOTS
Charlie Hunnam as Arthur in the upcoming movie “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”

Well hello there, old friends! I would love to tell you I’ve been so busy writing that I just haven’t had the time to blog, but alas ’tis not the case. After November, I took a short break as is my norm, and then things went KABOOM. My long-time boss retired, the annual year end processing project seemed to develop quirk after quirk thus driving all of us to the edge of insanity, and to top it off my best friend left the company, leaving a huge hole in my world. Not to mention a hellish allergy season, worrying about my cat (she’s got kidney disease) and a wicked bout of winter blues. So things have been off for a while and I just couldn’t find the motivation to write.

Then I saw the email that NaNoWriMo sends out at the beginning of March announcing Camp once again. My first thought was (and yes, it was John Hurt’s voice I heard in my head from that scene in Spaceballs), “Oh no, not again!” Yet the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. I’ve been thinking a lot about my book–I always do in the off-season–and even more so after seeing the trailer for the new King Arthur movie that’s coming soon. It’s as if the universe is saying, “Hey, Nik – pay attention! There’s a reason they call it a legend. People are still interested. So finish your freaking novel!”

I took the hint.

My current Camp NaNoWriMo bullet journal page (click to enlarge); banner courtesy of NaNoWriMo and bookshelf courtesy of Boho Berry aka Kara Benz.

I pinged my bestie M on Facebook and asked her if we were going to Camp, and she (a little too readily for my waffling heart) agreed. I really like her flash fiction plan, and of course I’m returning to Reese’s world. So between now and April 1, I’ve got lots to do:

  • finish up my bullet journal Camp page(s)–as you see from the snapshot, I’ve already added the official Camp plot bunny banner (so awesome) and Kara’s bookshelf that I’ll use to track my word count (1,000 words/book). I still have a couple of things to add like title banners, additional tasks and the like.
  • review where I left off in the story;
  • find November’s outline so I know where I’m going;
  • make any necessary edits in Scrivener; and
  • celebrate my birthday!

I do hope to keep you guys up to date with letters home from camp this April, which I neglected to do last summer, so stay tuned. I’ve also tweaked the Curse of Camlann synopsis page, and here’s hoping last year’s COC playlist remains inspiring as it has in the past. I thought you might be curious about the story, so I’ve created a new COC excerpt page and shared a scene written at the end of NaNo.

Happy reading and writing, everyone!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 1 Report

coc-book-cover-newGood evening, my fellow wrimos, wherever you are! It’s me, reporting in from Day 1 of National Novel Writing Month 2016. I managed to finish up the previous chapter I was working on last Friday night so I could start clean today with the next chapter in the continuing saga of The Curse of Camlann. That’s the new book cover for this year at right; if you’ve looked me up on the official NaNo site, you’ll see it there as well. All in all, it was a pretty good start!

Today marks the first of many lunchtime write-ins I have scheduled with a fellow co-worker who’s also doing NaNo. We blocked off time in a small conference room, brought in our snacks, and got to work. I admit, I got a little farther along than Kel did, only because I had all my prep work done and she had a bit to do before diving in. Me, I wasn’t completely sure how I was going to start the scene, considering I’d kind of flaked out on the ending of the last scene by having the heroine faint.

I know. I know! But considering she was still in shock from a) finding our hero dead after being killed by her ex-husband at the beginning of the scene, only to have b) our hero come back to life a moment later, having her faint when our hero tells her he’s been alive since 506 AD and fought alongside King Arthur, it seemed like a logical option at the time.

Thankfully, I figured out my opening and my trusty outline helped me get to 1,026 words in an hour, which is mighty fine. I even had an amusing moment when I did a ‘Net search for “expensive whiskey” to find out what my hero might have in his wet bar. That’s probably not the sort of thing one should Google while at work, but in my defense I was on my lunch hour.

It’s now past quitting time and I’ve added to my previous count to meet my daily goal and then some. Hurray! This bodes well for the rest of the month.

My first eight word count books of my first of two word tracker pages in my Bullet Journal are to be colored in as well, this time in blue as that’s the color I associate with NaNo. I am also realizing I need to look at other pages for tracking other milestones, such as “nano update blog post written” and “days written” to name a couple. I’m sure more will occur to me, but that’s the beauty of a bullet journal; you can add them in wherever you think of them and because of your index they’re easy to find. I also have a year of journaling under my belt, whereas last year around this time I had oh a week, so I understand more about how the system works and how to adapt it to my way of tracking tasks.

Speaking of tracking, check out my new widget in my left menu where I’ll keep you up to date on my progress and comment on the overall day. Just expand the menu to see it. Okay, I’m off to go play with my new toy (a spiffy new laptop!) and relax a little. Talk to you soon, wrimos!

NaNoWriMo, Meet My Bullet Journal, Take 2

Click here to see my NaNo profile and read the new excerpt

Good afternoon, wrimos! I bet you’re wondering what’s been going on since my last post waaaaay back in July when I was last talking about Camp NaNoWriMo. Well, from the sheer lack of posts you can probably surmise that I didn’t do well at all. You are not wrong. I got about 3,500 words written out of my projected goal of 15,000 and then I went kaput. I can’t really recall why that happened, just that it did. What I do remember is that my plan to use my bullet journal to track my word count actually was the most successful thing about Camp this year. Fortunately, I have a much bigger support network for the real deal competition that is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Plus, many more friends are participating, so it’ll be much easier to get motivated and stay that way.

As a result, I am in full NaNo prep mode. Here’s a look at what’s been going on:

  • Official site updated. On the first day it was available, I went in and added all the details I could, including a brand-new excerpt from the story that I worked on last month. My BFF likes it, but I’m hoping she’s not just saying that because she’s my BFF. You’ll have to let me know. I also got to check off a bunch of personal achievement badges, including the one for Camp. Nifty!
  • Novel chosen. I’ve decided for the third year in a row to once more work on my story about an immortal knight, The Curse of Camlann. Hopefully I’ll finish the thing, or at least get darn close. It also earns me the NaNo Rebel badge, which is pretty cool.
  • Playlist page added. Since I’ve been listening to the thing for almost a year, I thought it might be fun to post it on the blog like I did the one for The Great Boyfriend Experiment. To see what tunes I’m grooving to while writing, or driving in the car thinking about writing, check out the page under About Nik’s Novels in the menu above, or you can go there directly by clicking here. This too earned me a badge, the Novel Maestro one.
  • Working lunches scheduled. Fellow wrimo and co-worker KellyLindy and I will once again be meeting up during the week to write together, inspire each other and have mini word wars during our lunch hours. We’ve co-opted a conference room with no windows so the only distractions will be those we bring in with us in the form of healthy and not-so-healthy snacks, and caffeine. This one got me the Wrimo Spirit badge. I’m racking ’em up!
  • Pinterest inspiration board updated. Not that long ago, I discovered a little gem of a BBC television show called “Merlin” during one of my summer Netflix binges. I am here to tell you that I have totally and without any remorse whatsoever stolen the Camelot they created and made it the one that Reese was born into back in the 6th century. Heck, the show’s finale two-part episode takes place during the battle in which he gets cursed, so it doesn’t get more perfect than that. To find out more, check out my Curse of Camlann board.
  • Word count pages recycled/created. As I mentioned at the top of this post, the best thing about July’s Camp was the word count chart I’d created. So, I’m going to do that again. In fact, I’m going to also reuse the one from July; it still has 86 books to color in as I’d set it up for a 25,000 word count goal. I’ll just use a different color, perhaps blue to match our NaNonaut, for November’s goals. I think this one definitely counts for the NaNo Prep badge, right?

Whew, that’s a lot to get done so far. According to my bullet journal NaNoWriMo task list, I have only a couple items left to check off. One is definitely optional, and the other is half optional. I need a reliable computer, and thanks to a failed Windows 10 update, I am now tied to my power cord since my battery got all mucked up. Cross your fingers I find a good deal on the laptop I’m looking for; I don’t need a lot, just something that will run a few Office apps and Scrivener. I’ll hopefully check back in before NaNoWriMo officially starts. If not, I will definitely keep you in the loop about how writing’s going once it’s in full swing.

Talk to ya soon, wrimos!

A Day for Flashbacks

Salem-Witch-Trials-Memorial
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.