Category Archives: NaNo Project–A Grain of Truth

At Home with December’s Wintry Season and Writing

Heavy Forest Snow 1

It’s snowing here again—at least two inches of fresh whiteness with more on the way has cars slipping and snowplows scraping. How is it where you are?

It’s taken this long to get through the worst of burn-out and back into active writing mode. NaNoWriMo helped with boost me out of my shell. And, thankfully, NaNo is over. The pace can slacken off now.


For those who picked up the NaNo challenge, my congratulations. Those who’ve done it for a few years know the story draft is always horrendous. That’s its purpose. Now you have the kernel from which to grow a great story. Muse gave you the bones of it. All you have to do is flesh it out the way your want.

I have one piece of advice for that revision process. Let the thing lay unattended for a while. Ignore the pulsing drive to go back and really dig into it. If you have a beginning outline for it, great! If you don’t, that’s okay too.

Take an hour or two to review your outline or create a new one. When you go back to the story in a few weeks or more, you’ll have something to hang on to while you read through it again. Your perspective will be clearer. Also, in the interim, Muse will tweak your brain with tiny tidbits of additional business or a subplot twist that helps explain/intensify the backstory or plot subtleties. 001-bonus-things-j

Instead of plunging into something new to offset that continuing push to write, consider going back to something that’s sitting on your hard drive or out in a Cloud somewhere. Pull out something old, do a rewrite and edit and send that puppy out to a market. Use NaNo’s momentum to keep you focused on production. After all, it doesn’t have to be anything more grandiose than a poem submission to an online magazine/journal.

It’s something submitted. The confidence boost will do you good. Think of it as a present to yourself.

You might ask what I wrote for NaNo. Believe it or not, it was a women’s fiction novel. I wasn’t a rebel this year. The story doesn’t fit into any one genre specifically. It has a bit of western, some romance, a texture-1crime mystery, and other bits to keep it interesting. I hope. It’s also resting now. I’ll deal with it sometime in next year.

At the moment I’m finishing a complete revision and edit of Dreamie’s Box, my women’s cozy mystery. That will keep me occupied this month. January has a couple of complete revisions to do on shorter pieces. In fact, that’s my plan for much of next year—revisions and submissions of my backlog fiction.

Plans are to show up here and on my other website every week from now on. I’m through being a victim to unrelenting 004-stock-photo-owriting. Instead, I’m moving toward a balance in my life that includes more non-writing activity. I’ve learned, once and for all, that ambition and aspiration can bring you to your knees or worse. I’m taking lessons in tempered living with mindful focus.

So, there you have it. Much of this year has been a trial, but I came through. Here’s a tidbit for you, if you haven’t experienced it before.

The hardest thing I’ve had to do in the past few months is create a post for this website. Obstacles of guilt and other 010-texture-008unpleasant emotions keep throwing up walls to keep me away. It’s become a habit to carry a sledgehammer with me for use on those walls.

Take care, peeps. Write a little bit each day, even if it’s only a clever shopping list for the holiday. Tell someone you love how you feel and that you appreciate them, and enjoy life while you have it and keep safe.

I’ll be back in a few days, I promise. It’s on my to do list each week now in big RED letters. Later!

At Home in the Cold with a Full Timeline

Snow Trees

Blasts of frigid air out of the Yukon have sunk many of us into arctic conditions. Here in Northeast Montana we’ve taken to wearing three to four layers of clothes when we venture outside. Inside, we have our thermostat set on 65° and we still use afghans and lap robes to keep warm.

We’re not alone, though. Much of the country is facing the same conditions and many aren’t prepared for it. We do have that advantage up here in the Rockies. We’re also used to anticipating such needs months in advance.

Weather and writing?

Some may be wondering what this weather report has to do with writing. It’s this. If you experienced an avalanche of work in the past, you’ve learned how to prepare for another such event. If you understand how other chores, life situations, or projects must shift to accommodate the onslaught of new work, you can make room more easily and survive.

Last month I had several projects on my ‘To Finish List’ for NaNo. I got a few completed and out. I succeeded in that. That left a few projects awaiting further work this month, plus obligatory articles already scheduled for the month. In the middle of that list, add a story for a publication invitation and the Christmas holidays. Enter the avalanche, full-blown.

Handling the To-Be-Done

Can I get everything done before the end of the month? That remains to be seen. The blessing is that I’ve been here before and I can anticipate steps to secure the best outcome for me.

  • If an item has no deadline, give it one based on priority
  • Put all projects on a timeline for scheduling, ranked by deadline dates
  • Be sure to add time for domestic appointment(s) and tasks for holidays and double up where possible
  • Allow for minimal social media participation throughout the month
  • Complete each project quickly and efficiently and send it out before moving on
  • If a project can’t/won’t come together in a timely manner, skip it for later and go to the next in line.
  • Don’t skip more than one project this month

Looks daunting, doesn’t it? It is, but if I don’t prepare this way, I’ll lose too much ground in completing what’s on my desk. My January 2014 Editorial Calendar is set, except for last minute entries like guest posts.

My planning acts as a series of snow fences to break the waves of work into doable chunks. In the next two weeks I’ll be able to get several things done and out. One of the remaining larger pieces—my short story-turned-novella will be ready for final edit by the end of the month. That first week of January is slated for clean-up duties on my calendar.

A quick look at reality vs. planning

I take risks and persevere. I have three articles and two short stories which will definitely go out long before Christmas. A third short story will go out Christmas week and my second How-To Slay a Writer’s Dragon book will be ready for Kindle by the last week of the month. It’s almost ready for final edit and formatting now. I’ll have to see if I can pull off the cookbook that same week. I’m not sure about that one, I admit.

You see, I know what needs done, when it needs to be done, and have a good handle on how much I can complete.  That’s three-quarters of the game right there. And make no mistake—this is all a great board game with rules, playing pieces, and motivated players.

The unshakable rule not be forgotten on this kind of schedule is simple. Butt remains in chair at all times unless scheduled otherwise. Fingers keep flying across keyboard until a project is complete. And attitude must be one of confidence and perseverance.

NOTE: Okay, so butt will move for the unexpected calls of nature, but otherwise, it will go to sleep before rising from the chair seat.

Have a good week, everyone, with your own holiday avalanches. Build those snow fences high and strong. You can do it. I know you can.


At Home with Finishing NaNoWriMo


Five days have elapsed since NaNoWriMo ended. Writers have tallied their word counts and taken away various prizes. For the rebels of NaNo, results, too, are varied.

Poetic Asides November Poetry Chapbook Challenge languished (I’m sure) without my participation. The PiBoIdMo (National Picture Book Idea Month) challenge was another challenge left at the gate by me this year. Several others held contention but no serious interest for me.

Instead, I had five projects to be considered for work during the month. Of those five, I chose three to finish for submission by December first.

Along the way, smaller projects appeared on my horizon—projects that would take little to finish and submit to an editor of an already selected venue. One of these was a piece of flash fiction and the other was a long poem. These were revised and edited to satisfaction and submitted. Chalk one project off the list.

I hoped to get my selected short story expanded to novella length, but didn’t quite make it. I’d been putting the story and its changes through my critique group, and that always lengthens the process. It makes for better copy at the end, though, leaving me with no complaints. It will go out this month, for sure.

My cookbook continues to languish for lack of attention. If I’m very lucky, I can get it out before Christmas. I’m thinking holiday stocking stuffers. The second book in my series of How-To Slay a Writer’s Dragon books still sits on the hard drive, waiting for a full edit and formatting. Another December project to get out this year.

I did manage to get an article accepted by a wonderful writer’s website, Bestseller Labs, and its owner Jonathan Gunson. That was a coup in my book. I like coups.

Wordsmith Studio will have an article from me on Monday, Dec. 11. I have a regular gig on the third of the month for the next year to do a piece on publishing trends. Of course, I got the gig in October, but it was re-enforced by this last article out.

I have all of the research done and sorted for two short articles on eco-oriented subjects for Ether Books this month, as well.

Looking back, I feel accomplishment for the month. Did I succeed? Did I win? In my mind I did.

I took an entire week off from writing to do platform reconfiguration and to up my career game. Life created a tsunami that tried to wash everything away on the heels of that week. Yet, through it all, there was accomplishment and growth.

For me, that’s success for the month of November, challenges and all. I won more than anticipated. Wonderful writers shared war stories during local write-ins. Email addresses were exchanged and plans made for regular semi-monthly write-ins to continue throughout the next year.

At the end of NaNoWriMo, a new sense of purpose and the future had slipped into place and put down roots. More guest post requests are showing up in my inbox. New solutions for completing other projects have made themselves known.

A deep sigh of contentment replaces anticipated panic and uncertainty. I hope everyone who participated in this national craziness had as good an experience as I did this year.


NaNoWriMo—Almost Over


This has been a month of firsts for me. My projects for NaNoWriMo this year don’t include a novel. The three that I chose to complete from neglected beginnings are still at various stages of completion.

The biggest project—taking a science fiction short story and expanding it to novella length is well underway. If I move quickly I can get a good rough draft finished and ready for a quick revision by Turkey Day. It’s gone in directions I hadn’t expected, but I like what it’s become.

My cookbook sits waiting for me. I have all of the content. All I need is three hours to knuckle down the formatting and get it submitted. Of course, that’s all I had left to do when the month started. <> So many distractions, computer glitches, time consumptive add-ons, and a few things that life handed over for review.

The third project is underway for completion before next week. The book of poetry will be revised and ready for submission to a competition on Monday. That’s a real relief. I’ve waited quite a while for that one to go out and find a new home somewhere. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will “stick” at that publishing venue.

Those are my three. Piled in the wings to go onstage are several others that are slated for completion during the first two weeks of December. I have three articles to go out, two short stories—both flash fiction, and a small collection of poetry that I’d like to get finalized for e-book release.

When I look at all of those things I need to get out and all of those ideas I want to begin, a tsunami of trepidation threatens to submerge me. Doubt creeps in on silent feet until they stand next to my mental ear, when they take a deep breath and scream negatives into my ears.

Thankfully, I have good and supportive friends. They have experienced the same phenomenon and who can shake me hard and those negative thoughts tumble from my head. I wish those kinds of friends on every creative person alive.

Truthfully, this has been, for all of its faults, a decent month. I’ve learned more during these past three weeks about subjects ranging from software to crafts, poems to restorationists, language to hypnosis techniques. The caveat is that I haven’t even taken a shovelful of knowledge that’s available. Too few hours to play at being a student.

Tell me. How has your November evolved? Have you zoomed down your highway of exploration and discovery? Have you come to grips with whatever problem you faced at month’s beginning? What measuring stick will you use to evaluate your performance or success for challenge period?

Don’t be shy. Spread the word about your accomplishments over the past three weeks. Leave a comment below. I’ll see you all in a few days with more on what’s happening At Home.


NaNoWriMo Day 4 Progress

Blank Mind Map

Today’s writing proved interesting.

I’ve done the last rewrite on the first ten pages of my short story turned novelette/novella. Btw, the name of that story is “A Grain of Truth.” With those pages done, I have 28 more to complete and approximately 30 to write.

How can I possibly add that many pages of relevant material to an established story? I’m so glad you asked.

It all begins with the “What If” game and moves on from there.

  • What if the heroine puts up a real struggle when she’s scuttled?
  • What if her knowledge of the ship and its workings allows her to set up her own disappearance while on board, leaving her nemesis to explain where she is?
  • What if she’s spaced?
  • What if a hunt ensues and the villain can’t make his rendezvous?
  • What if the Guild Master orders the fleet out to look for her?

You see what I mean? A few of those types of complications are easily worth at least30 pages, if not more. It’s actually more efficient to add the complications now–at least for me. The ending is already clear to me. The characters and their possible responses are also obvious to me as the writer. Above all, this heroine has lived inside me for twenty years now. I’m accustomed to how her mind works.

I love science fiction. So much is possible with the genre. I have the option to make it as complex or as simple as my imagination is capable of producing.

Did I mention that I tend to dream entire sci-fi movies? No? Well, it does happen on a semi-regular basis. (She smiles with embarrassment and blushes.)

Aside from work on these two manuscripts, I’ve done a bit of studying today that will help me at the end of the month when some of my work needs to leave home for new digs. I also placed a potential writing challenge on next month’s editorial calendar. I predict a blast of fun for everyone, especially after NaNo. And I was taken out to lunch.

How good is that?

Tomorrow, I will probably be running behind. I have my writing work, but also a few webinars to deal with, which means a bit less writing time, but productivity still flows. I won’t sweat the small stuff this month. There’s too little spare time for that.

Well, that’s it for now. I have another hour or so to spend in space and get a few of those complications fleshed out and inserted in the text.

Here’s a whoot-whoot for all those who are working on NaNo or any projects today. Stand firm, word soldiers. Your relief will come when the job’s done.

Until I see you all again tomorrow, take care and happy writing.