Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm A Winner!

Because I recognized my chances of adding much more to my NaNoWriMo opus were moot, I went ahead and cashed in my chips. I let their robo-counter tally my winning words and ShaZaam! I'm a Winner!

My NaNoWriMo novel is a fantasy--my spin on Beauty and the Beast, called Beau and the Beast. In my case, Beau is the "beauty" and my heroine, a shapechanger, is the Beast. (I'm still toying with trying to do a contemporary piece that I can title Beau and the Bitch--LOL--I'm officially staking my claim on that title) 

I ended up with 53,682 words. Oh, the story's not finished and it's far from Ready for Prime Time, but it's 53,000+ words strong and that's what mattered for this goal.

It's been great fun competing, er, writing with my friends and sharing all our woes and victories along the way. Online Sprints helped tremendously, but as my husband is quick to point out--None of this would have been possible without my vacation last week.

Good luck to all my NaNoWriMo buddies. May we all end the month with our badges and partying down at the TGIO Party, wherever that may be.

Oh, and my DoNoWriMo friends, I hope I can weasel in on that donut party.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Depart not from the path which fate has you assigned.

SNARKY RESPONSE: Path? Path! I don't see no stinkin' path. I'm treadin' water over here.

Depart not from the path which fate has you assigned.

Is it just me or is there something wrong with the construction of that fortune? I admit the right-hand end of it was torn off (not sure what happened) but I think the last two words are in the wrong order. So, I'm gonna run with it. I'd love to see what you think the Fortune Cookie Guru intended to write.

That said, I feel the snarky response is not far off the mark.

I've never been able to say I've clearly seen a path laid out for me. Probably just be me, but mostly I am playing it by ear here. There are certainly parts of life that seem mapped out (childhood/adolescence/adulthood, elementary/junior high/high school/college), but after a point, I feel that life becomes an interesting mixture of plans and leaps of faith.

I freely admit that sometimes I should have planned more, and other times I should have taken a flying leap, but mostly, I've tried to make the best of what life or "fate" has dumped, er, shafted, uh, assigned me. Just kidding with the negativity. (Mostly)

No, honestly, I've been very fortunate and I expressed my gratitude on my Thanksgiving blog over at Words, Women, Wisdom last week. So I'm not going to recap it here.

But in my humble opinion, today's fortune is more about perseverance than about blind obedience. If you select a goal and you truly invest in that goal, don't let yourself be distracted. But IF you get distracted or suffer a roadblock, cut yourself some slack and then get yourself back on track.

This is especially apropos my NaNo. I was so far behind at the midpoint it wasn't even worth discussing. I had made a formal commitment to my blog sisters in specific and the world in general to get those 50,000 words in 30 days and at the midpoint I was WAY below halfway. Thankfully, I didn't give up and equally thankfully (mostly due to poor planning on my part earlier this year), I had vacation to use or lose. Soooo, I used last week to make a serious dent in my NaNo goal. I put myself in my chair and I didn't get up except for essentials, and I did it. I caught myself up and then I kept at it until, when the dust cleared, I reached 50,000! Yeppers, I did it! And now, because the story isn't done, I'm pushing on to see just how far I can get before this Friday.

Wow, see what happens when I start with a poorly constructed fortune? I end up with a rambling blog post. So, life path clearly defined or not, I intend to persevere, one goal at a time. What about you?

Monday, November 19, 2012


Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

SNARKY RESPONSE: But it's the hit to your bank account that'll make or break you. There's the gear, the airline tickets, the insurance. Hey! Nothing comes for free.

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

As I sit here planning my exit strategy for NaNoWriMo, I found this fortune insightful.


50,000 words in 30 days! It's an impressive amount of production. Not impossible as is proven by thousands of NaNoWriMo winners every year, but hard enough as proven by the countless near misses.

1,667 words a day is a more manageable view, especially if you're doing the work of a professional writer and writing every day. I've managed to do that in a couple of 45 minute sprints, not bragging per se, but just to show I know what's possible.

But the part we should, and most do, appreciate most is the act itself. The adventure of setting your sights on a goal, making a public commitment to that goal, and then pursuing it with all you're worth.

There's nothing so exciting as seeing those words fly up onto the screen or flow out your pen onto the page. The translation of thoughts into concrete words is a feat in itself. Not everyone can do it. How many times have you heard "I've always wanted to write a book." and then nothing? Writing a story is hard. And to do this while giving yourself permission to produce what will be for most, a "shitty" first draft, can get your pulse racing, believe me. Let's face it--while we all strive to produce the best writing possible, NO ONE writes deathless prose on their first draft. Or at least, no one I know. And having that freedom to just get it down, warts and all, without judgement? (In fact, there is a strict rule NO EDITING ALLOWED) That realization can set you free!

So, as I sit here with my less than stellar 2012 performance (to date - see my progress bar beside this post), I'm still excited. The sense of adventure is still there even though I acknowledge reaching my goal is in serious question. Doesn't matter, I'm in it, to win it or go down swinging!

I've still got words to write, a story to tell, and a goal to reach for. That's a truly worthwhile adventure indeed!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Be an optimist. There does not seem too much use being anything else.

SNARKY RESPONSE: And you have a pretty good chance of ticking off a large portion of the population.

Be an optimist. There does not seem too much use in being anything else.

Optimism. A crucial part of being a writer. You have to believe in your ability to tell the story you envision and do the work, even with it gets rough.

Every writer encounters periods when their confidence in their writing  ebbs and flows like the tides. When the words come easy and the characters behave, you ride the crest with confidence. Take hold and hang ten all the way to the shore! Kowabunga!

When your story breaks apart like flotsam on the storm surge, even the most confident writer feels cast adrift. Best you can do is grab a piece of the plot and dog paddle for all you're worth until you can catch that next wave.

There are hundreds of great tips on how to bolster your writing when you're stymied. Some of my personal faves would be:

  • Skip the troublesome scene/chapter and write something farther ahead. I'm a linear thinker so this one gives me a little trouble, but it works. In fact, some writers do all their writing that way, producing piecework prose that they rearrange and stitch together later.
  • Set the troublesome piece aside temporarily and do background writing. Character sketches are great for luring your muse back to the task. As you explore your character and their world (outside the story) you  may find yourself able to approach that chasm from a different angle and voila, there's the bridge you needed.
  • Change POV - switch from third person to first person or vice versa. Taking your narration to a different level might give you a new perspective that would break through. Going deeper or pulling back like a camera lens may reveal something you'd missed.
  • Revisit where you've been so that you can recapture that sense of where you're going. Back tracking will provide opportunities to rediscover things you might have forgotten or at least refresh your memory.
  • A recent discovery (for me) was the concept of writing backward. Kind of like skipping ahead, but this time you take a giant step. Again, this is against the grain for my a-b-c brain, but it makes sense. Knowing your ending, you can backtrack. To get result Z, characters would have to perform actions 3-2-1.

The point is - Don't Give Up! Trust yourself. Be Optimistic about your ability to do this thing that you love--tell a story.

What do you do to keep yourself moving ahead when you hit a road block?

Monday, November 5, 2012


Your smile makes everyone realize that the world is a lovely and beautiful place.

SNARKY RESPONSE: Or at the least, they'll all be wondering what you've been up to! Someone cue up the "The Candy Man" song while the Fortune Cookie Guru indulges in a bit of gratuitous flattery.

Your smile makes everyone realize that the world is a lovely and beautiful place.

So, after Googling the saccharine laced hit I linked above, I also found this CandyMan song I'd never seen before, but it takes a whole different turn on the term--Christina Aguilera's Candyman video. Talk about smiling! I have to admit I'm a sucker for the nostalgia vibe and the boogie-woogie close harmonies of the faux girl trio (Andrew Sisters-style), though Christina's lyrics and dance moves are very "modern."

Returning to the matter at hand, today is Day 5 of NaNoWriMo and all the good NaNo'ers are at or approaching 8,335 words. Sadly, I'm way off that mark, but I intend to try and bring myself up to snuff by some serious word-crunching over the next week.

NaNoWriMo is a wonderful way to get writers to put their money where their mouths are. Instead of just saying they're "going" to write a book, they Do It! 50,000 contiguous words take any opus from the realm of short story/vignette into the category of "book." And managing to do that feat in 30 days takes you from "all talk" to can "walk the walk!"

So, here's to the intrepid Writers of November - keep writing and smiling!