Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNo Days 24 - what day is this?

Want to hear my excuses? They're really good.
  • 1 x blog tour
  • 2 x sick kids
  • 3 x glasses of wine at the company Thanksgiving party
  • 4 x blogs to run
  • And the day job turned suddenly manic

On the plus side - I have been thinking about this story a great deal and realised some amendments need to be made to the basic internal conflict. So not in the spirit of NaNo to go back in the edit but now that I've come to terms that I won't be proudly displaying a winner certificate on my wall for the next year, I'm okay with that. I'd rather have a really great story!

If you haven't already Sally Clements over on my other blog, please do. And don't forget that I'm running a tour contest over there. Finally, I'm blogging today at Minxes of Romance - check out the yummy pictures.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Roses Christmas Blog Tour

My alter ego (Rae Summers) is participating in a blog tour with nine other authors from The Wild Rose Press for the next four Wednesdays. Please visit my other blog and support me on the tour. Today I'm hosting my lovely crit partner, Sally Clements.

The tour is Christmas-themed so you'll be able to get holiday ideas, recipes, as well as pick up some new holiday reads. Each blog is also running a tour contest, which means that you have ten chances to win!

For more information on the participating authors, the prizes they're offering, and who is visiting where and when, click here:

To find out more about the contest I'm running, click here, and to see what I have to say about my TBR pile, drop by PL Parker's blog.

NaNo Days 22-23

Plodding along ...
Day 22: 308 words
Day 23: 1245 words

Monday, November 22, 2010

NaNo Days 19-21 and a Realisation

What a lovely week-end! Warm, sunny weather. Spending the days lazing in the garden with the kids. Reading Mira Lynn Kelly's Wild Fling or Wedding Ring. Getting nine hours sleep a night.

The only thing that didn't happen was writing. Of any kind. My laptop didn't even get switched on until Sunday night. So my word counts are now so drastically behind that the chances of me winning at NaNo are disappearing into the distance. And I'm okay with that.

I've stopped beating myself up over it. I've realised that my circumstances this year are a little different from last year. Last year I hadn't just moved house, my kids weren't as unsettled, I didn't have to deal with the loss of any pets, let alone two (don't ask!) and last year, before I started NaNo, I'd had a delightful holiday in Greece, so I was well-rested and relaxed.

But the biggest realisation I had this week-end came courtesy of the amazing Bob Mayer. Yesterday I re-read the notes I took in his Warrior Writer course. He talks about understanding the WHY of everything you do. Why are you writing this novel?

Last year's WHY was simple: I wanted to finish the novel I'd entered into the Presents 2009 contest in case I got a request for more. I succeeded; I finished a draft. And though that story didn't get a request, the opening chapter (which I'd finessed before NaNo even started) won the interest of an editor. Thank heavens she didn't ask for more because looking back that first draft was truly awful. I might have made the NaNo word count, but a lot of it is unusable.

This year's WHY is a little different. A word count isn't enough. I want to send a partial and synopsis to the editor who requested more of my work. I need to have the draft complete before I send. But it is also far more important to me that this partial be polished to a high sheen, and that the story as a whole works. After a year of indifferent responses, I need a positive response from the editor, so I want this book to grab her attention. And that is not going to happen with the kind of rough writing that I achieve through NaNoWriMo. I'm not saying that Nano's not for me, I'm just saying that NaNo is not for me this year.

I'm not officially giving up. I'm going to keep up the routine I've established this month, but I'm going to spend a little more time crafting what I write. Even though I won't be proudly boasting a NaNo winner's badge this year, I'm hoping that before the year is done I'll have a completed draft that I'm happy with. And my win will be a submission I can hit send on with a smidgeon of hope that it'll achieve what I want.

Jenni Holbrook-Talty has written this on Bob Mayer's Write it Forward blog. Thanks Jenni for putting my feelings into words.

But with every good news thing in writing, there is a bad news thing attached. The good news is, you’ve got a draft. The bad news: Is the writing the ugly raw writing? Or something else? It’s the something else that worries me when a writer is solely focused on word-count. Its tunnel vision. Yes, we have to write through things and get to the end, but we also have to make sure we’re moving toward something. Words for the sake of words doesn’t create a page turning novel. Having written a book during NaNoWriMo I can tell you fixing bad story telling is harder than fixing up the words on the page and making the story and characters stronger.

Some of the best writing I have ever done has come from slowing down, taking a step back, taking a deep breath and looking at where the story has been, where it is now, and where it is going.

In some ways I wish NaNo was every month. I love watching writers post their goals and their progress. I love the energy it creates. I hope everyone who is participating feels good about their successes, even if they didn’t complete the word count. Keep writing. Keep pushing yourself.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNo Day 18 and a Treat

Woohoo - another 1,545 words added to the word count. Not enough to keep up, let alone catch up, so unless someone drops a miracle ten hours in my lap, I will not be winning any NaNo awards. But I think the story is starting to coalesce rather than congeal, which has got to be good. But just in case, like me, you're feeling in need of a pick-me-up, here's a suggestion for how to spend your Friday night:

I wonder how much chocolate is required?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NaNo Day 17

1,500 words. On the dot. The symmetry was so perfect I had to stop right there.
And that's today's post.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaNo Day 16 and Royal Weddings

I'll admit it, I'm a royalist at heart. Other writers have fond memories of reading their grandmothers' Harlequin romance novels. I have fond memories of reading my Omi's German magazines.

Judging from those magazines, the Germans love royalty. I grew up on stories about the princes and princesses of Denmark, Sweden and Spain, and of course their far more famous British counterparts. My pocket money was spent on Royalty and Majesty magazines, which were only available in a couple of specialist shops in Durban in those long distant days before the internet and Amazon. (I still have all those magazines too, though I stopped collecting them at about the same time my parents stopped giving me pocket money!)

So in spite of all their bad press over the last decade or so, and the realisation that royals have feet of clay like the rest of us, news of a royal wedding is enough to put a smile on my face. We've had a few over the last few years, each and every one a fairy tale come true, but the news yesterday that Wills and Kate will be tying the knot really touched me. Because it gave me a reason to smile after a few really difficult days.

The romance writer in me, the eternal optimist who hopes that every single person out there will find their Happy Ever After, hopes that this couple will be blessed with an abundance of joy and a very long and happy marriage. I'll even go so far as to hope they get a little privacy too.

On the NaNo front, I wrote 1,796 words on 16th.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNo Day 15

That's better! Just over 1,400 words before breakfast (and a long day in the office) and I cracked 2,158 words by midnight. Which makes my half way total 19,955, so I'm only 5,045 words behind.
Now if I can just keep this up for another two weeks ...

Thanks so much to everyone who has left comments: to Lacey, Susan (yay on those revisions!), Rachel, Joanne, Elissa, Amy and Wendy (especially for the reminder that my deadline is self-imposed and not as scary as yours!) - and anyone else I may have neglected. Your support and encouragement is very much appreciated.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNo Days 12 - 14

I've completely depressed myself by checking my word counts from last year's NaNo. By the end of Day 13 last year, I had 25,000 words. Same day this year? 16,000.

This weekend has been a rollercoaster. I won't go into details, but personal trauma, burying myself in Gena Showalter's The Darkest Pleasure, and taking the daughters to a matinee of "Mamma Mia", have all interfered with my writing this week-end.

Here's hoping that the coming week sees a massive upswing in those word counts!

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNo Day 11

As you can see from the new little word counter widget on the right of this blog, Patrick and Emily' story is coming along at a pace. Beneath the Ionian Sun has ground to a temporary halt. Let's see what tomorrow brings ...

In other news, if it can be called that, I've still had no news on my NWS manuscript. Is the critique already in the mail winging its way back to me, or does no news mean good news?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNo Day 10

The NaNo police will not be happy with me.

Not only did I take a complete holiday from my WIP last night, putting me even further behind on my word counts, but when I woke this morning I had a whole new hero in my head. How can I write Enzo's story, when Patrick is the one demanding to be heard?

And Patrick's story isn't even a romance. It's a present tense narrative, with paranormal elements, and I have no clue where the story is going. It's not the story I signed up to write for NaNo, but at least it's words on paper. That must count for something, right?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNo Day 9

Only just a third of the way into Nano and I'm flagging. Yesterday I managed only 1200 words (on the dot!)

I'm exhausted and it's taking me three times longer than it should to make my daily word counts. So I'm voting today a holiday. A glass of wine and a full night's sleep tonight and maybe tomorrow I can make a little headway into the ever-increasing back log.

How are the rest of you coping? Are you achieving your Nano word counts and still getting enough sleep? Or are you just working at your normal pace and laughing at us Nano-ers?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNo Days 7 & 8

Sunday (Day 7) was an incredible day for me. Even though I had a lazy day, going out to lunch with my parents and whiling away an afternoon enjoying the summer sunshine and the swimming pool, I still achieved 1,981 words before I crawled into bed.

Day 8 was not so good. I wrote 1,263 words early in the morning, before heading to the day job, but in the evening I fell asleep next to my daughters while trying to get them to sleep (more than an hour after their scheduled bed time. Is it just me who has to fight my kids to get them to sleep?!).
Needless to say, no more got written.

So far I've written nothing today (Day 9) but I'll keep you posted on tonight's progress ...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNo Days 5 & 6

For the last month or so I've only had sporadic internet outside of working hours. It used to be annoying, now it's a blessing since my word counts are finally starting to climb. On Day 6 (Saturday) I finally managed to make a dent in my backlog with 2,364 words. Which brings me to a total of 8096 NaNo words to date. 

Not where I should be, but I have a confession: I'm doing the teensiest bit of re-reading and editing as I go. Since I want to submit the partial quite soon in December, I need this manuscript a little more polished than the typical NaNo novel.

Disconnecting now for Sunday lunch then another long session on the laptop. Have a lovely weekend all, and I'm thinking of you, Maya.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNo Day 4

The day started with my hero and heroine cavorting in the waves on an idyllic Greek Island, and in just over an hour I managed 1,127 words. Tonight is still going to need a marathon writing session to catch up though, since my word counts the last two days have been abysmal.

On a happy note, I spent a little time last night visiting with my brother (who's making a flying visit to Southern Africa between moving from England to India) and I also attended the SYTYCW webinar. And finished my tax return. Woohoo!

To celebrate, here's a little inspiration. This is the beach at Paleokastritsa where Melissa and Enzo are currently cavorting.

And this is where they'll be dining tonight:

Don't you just love doing internet research?!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNo Day 3 and Hero

How are you all doing? Still feeling motivated or are your characters already developing minds of their own and frustrating you? And what are you doing blog surfing here when you should be writing?!

It's tax return season so instead of working on those word counts, I've been buried knee deep in boring financial-type papers - but at least the few words that I've put down feel like they're working now.

For all those non-NaNoers out there, I'd like to introduce you to Hero. She's named for the heroine in Much Ado About Nothing, and she came into our lives last week when one of the moms at the kindergarten my children attend found her wandering lost at the side of the road. As her husband is allergic, I kindly offered a home to this little ball of fluff. The vet assures me she's a girl (and in supremely good health) but I deliberately chose a name that could go either way so we don't have the same re-naming issue we had last time around.

My favourite line in The Sound of Music has always been "Wherever God closes a door, he opens a window". Hero reminds me of these words every time I look at her. Luke is not forgotten, but we are so grateful we now have Hero to love.

PS: Her eyes really are equal size. She just looks odd here because we were trying to hold her still long enough to photograph her!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNo Day 2

Today did not start well. Where yesterday I managed over 1,200 words in just over an hour and a half, in the same time this morning I only just managed 600. And they were a painful 600. Bitty, all over the place, the characters thinking one thing then doing the complete opposite.

Then I got stuck in the mother of all traffic jams on the way to work. The only positive thing about gridlock is that it gives you time to think. And I realised that the reason my scene wasn't working was because my heroine was saying 'yes, I'll go with you' to the hero when she wanted to say 'no'. Why? Because if she doesn't go traipsing around with the hero there's no story. That's me speaking. The author.

Then happily, when I should have been working, I clicked the link from the Harlequin Blog through to the list of critique winners on the eHarl community site and lo and behold - I was one of the chosen five!
A real, live HMB editor read and commented on my opening page. And in a few simple words she caught the essence of my entire opening chapter:  We get the sense that she's a loner, that she longs for human companionship, but that after everything she's been through, she can't handle getting to know people or being around them.

And there's the answer. Melissa just wouldn't say 'yes'. The hero's going to have to work a whole lot harder to win her over. And I'm going to have to work a whole lot harder to get her to the point where she'll say 'yes'.

So guess what I'm doing tonight?

The rest of the editor's crit is here:

Monday, November 1, 2010

More Days Like These

The sun is shining, the work load is light, I wrote 1,250 words before the kids even woke up this morning, and they didn't fight all the way to school. Then I was taken out for lunch by an attractive young man (my little brother, but he still counts!). What more could a girl want?
Just one thing: another 1,000 words before bedtime.


Because it's NaNoWriMo!

Here's a little something for all you writers out there who started the month of madness today. I suspect we'll all be needing it soon enough.