Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

\ Writers’ Holidays and Year’s End

NaNoWriMo SWinner Badge won_earned

The annual writers’ holidays have begun. Thanksgiving and Black Friday, as always, divided November into days of humming along nicely on NaNoWriMo projects and those days of panicked scrambling to finish a planned novel by the end of the month. Turkey Day sneaks up on writers much of the time, due to the writing frenzy.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-004Once that frenzy ends in success or a learning exercise, eyes and minds look ahead to tree trimming, Christmas carols, egg nog, and gift wrapping. Between those activities are the actual shopping trips, decision-making sessions on when guests are coming to town, where everyone will sleep, and who’s cooking what for the groaning board.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-009Let’s face it. From Thanksgiving past New Year’s Day come a series of weeks that many writers might want to ignore or run from. Others revel in the idea of having the perfect excuse to turn off the creative brain and the computer in favor of diving into festivities that have nothing to do with writing. Regardless of which camp you’ve joined this year, preparations are being made on the editorial calendars of editors and writers everywhere.

The end of the year marks a point of reviewing accomplishments. Questions are asked. Did I get the projects done that I really wanted to? Did I expand my market reach? Could I have submitted more fiction or articles? The list can get really long.


I decided to go through my list here. Otherwise, I probably won’t get to it.

  1. Did I accomplish the fiction projects I wanted to? No. I didn’t get Dreamie’s Box revised and edited. I now must wrangle with it in December. I also didn’t get another chapbook done and published on Kindle or get the cookbook done.
  2. Was I satisfied with what I did accomplish? Yes. I enjoyed my chapbooks that went onto Kindle and I really like the first volume of Wisher’s World.
  3. Are projects going as quickly as I’d anticipated? No, definitely not. I feel like I’m wading in thick mud most of the time, which encourages me to feel like I’m fighting a constant battle.
  4. Did I accomplish all of the article writing and submissions that I’d planned? Yes. I got out all planned articles and continue to contribute three pieces each month to Working Writers Club.
  5. Have I expanded my horizons with either fiction or non-fiction? Yes. I now have several fiction projects to revise and edit in the coming months—novella/novel length, plus short stories for magazine/competition submission. I’ve also gathered a long list of new magazine and journal markets, plus small presses.
  6. Have I developed my 2016 Editorial Calendar properly? No, not yet. I still have to go through the new markets (with their guidelines) and flag those I have material for already and those that require major pitches.
  7. Have I gathered all of the new tools I will need for the next year and begun the learning curve? Yes, I’ve gathered, but I have barely scratched the surface of that learning process.

5b6-052714-akpNow, I can move on to prepping for any holiday activity that needs it and take care of obligations for the month.

I have one assignment done already—I whipped it out during NaNo. I have two planned articles to write before Monday. I have titles and outlines for them. The same goes for all the articles due through April. My calendar will help me fill in the rest for 2016.

Fiction is something else. Again this year, I’ll concentrate on what I already have on the hard drive. That alone will keep me busy for the year. I will also work on more poetry in coming months. I’m planning two revision jobs per month—a long and a short, plus a poetry chapbook every other month. Some will go to Kindle, while others go to publishers. I plan on doing at least one extra article per week as well.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-019We’ll see how that goes. I’ve already decided to plan relaxation time and a fluid enough calendar to allow for spontaneous relaxation, like daytrips. And there you have it.

That’s my current plan. What’s yours? Have you decided how you’re going to work for the next year? Have you looked back at where you’ve been and how you traveled the road from there to where you are now?

Drop a comment below and share with the rest of us. Until next time, have a fantastic rest of the week. I’ll be back.

Ramping Up for NaNoWriMo


Whew. Got Wisher’s World Launched and now it’s time to think NaNoWriMo.

October leaped out of the gate in a whirlwind of editing and formatting the first volume of Wisher’s World, which came out on Cot. 10th. Afterwards, I wrote two articles and  submitted them for columns on Working Writers Club. Wishers World CoverNext, I set up my editorial calendar for the next three months.

Now, I can take a deep breath and begin prepping for NaNoWirMo 2016.

If you’ve never tried NaNo, you might want to challenge yourself to do it this year. Be a rebel if you can’t think of an idea for a novel. What’s a rebel? Well, you’re reading from one of them at the moment. I seldom do a novel. I did one last year for the first time in several years. It’s in revision now.

You see, I’m a rebel. I work NaNo for other purposes than writing a new novel idea. I use the exercise to revise an already-written novel or something else. Trust me. That really does use your time well during the challenge month. I’ve done a book of poetry for the challenge, too.

Book Cover 02This year, though, I’m writing a collection of Flash Fiction stories for the event—one story per day, every day, including Thanksgiving. If you don’t think that’s challenge enough, consider this.

Each day I’ll be plotting, writing, and doing a light revision on a single story. The stories can run from 500 to 1000 words. Each story will be inspired from a single writing prompt. And some of those prompts are normally used for novel ideas.

I won’t be declared a winner at the end of the month. I know that going in. My nimble fingers won’t have churned out 50K words to snag a winner’s badge like I did last year. Instead, I’ll have written a collection of stories that will need little revision or editing for release before the end of the year on Kindle.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerI can pick up my own trophy if, and only if, I put in the back-end work to get the collection ready for a late December release.  That deadline is also a goal. I already have plenty of novels to work on. I don’t need to write another one for a long while.

And there you have it—my personal NaNo challenge. These are the kinds of things that NaNo Rebels do with their time in November and July. It’s not that we’re anti-establishment protesters. It’s that we have other goals and quirks.

I’m fortunate. I have a NaNo group year-round. Our group has expanded and contracted around a core of people for several years now. We write together a couple of times a month, nearly every month of the year. We support each other and even have a critique group of members, which meets regularly. Most of all, we have fun.

004-stock-photo-nRight now, I’m doing prep work to keep me focused on the goals ahead. I’ve chosen my writing prompts for the stories, including a few extra in case one of them doesn’t appeal after all.

I’ve set up my editorial calendar with article deadline dates, topics and titles for my regular column articles for WWC, as well as all the other deadlines that will come between now and the end of the year. Some of those include context deadlines,too.

And this weekend, I’ll put in the time to get my office lined up for the coming frenzy of activity. With more organization, I’ll be better able to make all of my obligations and still have time left over to do those other tasks required for a personal life.

Yep, it’s that time of year when preparation helps keep you sane.

That’s all for now, peeps. I’ll be back again in a few days with something more interesting. I think I may talk about a newsletter idea I’ve been rolling around in my mind. Think about what you might want to see in a regular monthly newsletter and drop your idea in a comment below.

Until then, adios, amigos.


At Home with New Goals


Happy Holidays, All

We’ve managed to make it through to Christmas week without losing ourselves.  Or did we?

NaNo took the last of my writing reserves and wiped the floor with me, leaving me to put myself together again during December. And what have I been doing this month, writing wise?

Well, I’ve revised and combined two chapters on Dreamie’s Box and little else. The next few days will see me doing study duties on a writing course. I did beta testing on new software for writer Holly Lisle’s new course. That was a blast that was.

As part of the testing, I got to read pages of stories, some of which I hadn’t seen before. I’ll read Holly’s stuff anytime I can get my hands on it and now I’m going to have to get the full versions to read the rest of each story. Love it!

004-stock-photo-nAfter the holidays, I’ll work on my 2015 Editorial Calendar. My write-in group will go over goals for the next year at our first official meeting in January. It helps with accountability. It also forces me to implement a pacing program for myself. I don’t want to put myself into the same situation that I had this year. That’s my primary goal for the next year.

004-stock-photo-mIf you’re serious about writing, I strongly suggest putting together a writing group, whether as a critiquing unit or as a write-in cluster. Why? Accountability, feedback, writing energy generator; all of these come into play. If you’ve got dedicated people around you, your writing will improve and be extended.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to work on domestic chores. Like many of you, I have a few gifts still to put together. I make all of my own gifts if I possibly can. I still have a few to go. They may be small, but they’re intricate and tedious by nature.

004-stock-photo-oNow that I’ve got my mind cleared away from all that didn’t get done this autumn, I can concentrate on what I really want to do in the next six/twelve months. I can settle comfortably into a writing routine that includes both of my groups. And above all, I can redefine who I am as a writer. That’s become important to me in this past couple of months.

My philosophy has shifted a bit and I must take a good look at where I want to go and which path serves me best. I have the time now to do that before I lock myself into a calendar of projects for 2015.

I’m hoping to get much more done on both of my websites. I’ve neglected each of them abysmally and I need to correct my course. That’s also high on my list of goals.

008-stock-photo-xComing to these conclusions has caused me difficulty. Why? Because I seriously considered walking away from writing during my time away. I can’t, but I considered it.

Now, I must forge a new relationship with all of you and what I do with this site and my writing in general. Major changes probably won’t appear, but there will be changes on a smaller scale. That’s the nature of moving through time.

Having said that, dedication to including all of you in my weekly struggles will become more pronounced. I hope you won’t mind too much. The transparency will do me good, and hopefully, help others understand that sunny and bright isn’t always the weather of the day. Storms with rain/snow/hail/and high winds come along unexpectedly and must be dealt with.

Along the way will be a lesson or two learned the hard way, which is the only way I know how to learn anything. I’ve got the bruises to prove the hard knocks.

Until I see you all next week, enjoy each day as it comes and forget about what might happen  (or might not happen) sometime in the future. The present is what charts the course to tomorrow, even if tomorrow doesn’t exist. There is only today. That’s where the future begins. It’s 007-stock-photo-b

Have a comforting and blessed holiday. I’ll see you all on the other side. Take care and God bless.



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—Shifting Gears Mid-Stream & A Personal Challenge


We’re moving into the last turn toward the homestretch on the photo challenge and still no photos have come in. It’s sad really. I thought at least one would have shown up, but there’s still time and hope for someone to send a pic in for consideration.

Oh well, on to other things.

You might wonder from the title what gears are shifting.  For one thing, tomorrow begins my class for the Screenwriting Challenge coming in April—otherwise known as Script Frenzy. Each year, one of our resident screenwriter’s offers a 4-6 week class to help move writers through the challenge process. It works like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month,) with the same sense of hurried plotting and harried writing.

I took the Screenwriting class last month.

I’ve not done the Frenzy before, which means that this year I must forego the April Poem-A-Day Challenge over at Poetic Asides. I’ve done the PAD Challenge each year since 2009 and will miss it. Fortunately for me, I’ve learned how better to pace myself in the spring. I won’t do the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month Challenge,) either.

I will probably do the National Picture Book Writing Week in May over at Paula Yoo’s website for that Challenge of creating a picture book project each day for a week. That’s a really fun endeavor.

When I speak about shifting gears, more than subjects and challenges are involved. I’m actively writing on one novella, a few short projects (or at least trying to,) and skewing my mind to take in the fact that most of a script is direction and settings, with less than three thousand words of dialogue in the average 120 page script. Think of that.

I always think in pictures and they’re what I use when I write poetry. Photos of places I’ve visited help jog the memory. How much of that experience must I dredge up to create the script’s set notations? How much of the script’s character can I influence with the setting?

And what about that dialogue?

I’ve done a script before, but a documentary. The dialogue was purely voice-over. This time, the speakers will be in view, as in a novel, but more immediate.

You take my meaning, I’m sure. A different mind-set entirely from that of a novel. The script is far more concerned with setting and action than with characters’ words.

That’s where those photos come into place. I have hundreds to choose from. Yet, here’s the rub. For a script, description is kept to a bare minimum, as concrete as possible and little extra. Colors don’t particularly matter, unless it’s critical to a character’s motivation, etc. No flourishes are necessary.

All that’s necessary is: where are you, who’s there, what bare-bones props are there to flavor the setting, and what time of day is it. From there, the writer deals strictly with action. Motivations are irrelevant in the scene set-up. The reader is given motivations only through dialogue.

Moving from novel writing to a script requires a new method, a new perspective, and a willingness to forego all of those little literary helpers than can prop up a scene.

So you see, I’m taking on a completely different challenge this spring—one the forces me to grow, change, and simplify. I look back on February’s Verb Challenge and see the foundation for my work in April.  I’ll hold onto the images I’ve been pulling together for myself this month, use them for set direction in the next, and pull my practice from February to guide both scene set-up and dialogue.

If all these consideration work as intended, the Frenzy will go smoothly, and I won’t have frantic days and sleepless nights. I find it funny that these last three months came together like they did to help prepare me for April.

Here’s hoping your coming month will keep you growing and moving forward. See you later in the week. And please think about sending in a photo.


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 3 and Projects Begun


Yesterday ushered in NaNoWriMo for me. Our local group of manic word manglers met at a nearby eatery to take charge of November’s writing projects at what’s known as a Write-In. For those who don’t have a local writer’s group, you’re missing out. These weekly get-togethers aim to reinforce the drive to complete the challenge, as well as to lend support to participants.

Most in our group are doing the requisite novel tour de force. Others, like me, have chosen to rebel with other work.

I began the month’s onslaught with an ambitious little project. Many years ago I wrote a science fiction short story. It was finished and it sat at approximately 8000 words—a credible length and interesting story line.

The problem was that it didn’t satisfy me, which is why it continued to occupy space on my hard drive rather than in a magazine somewhere. I’d not yet put more work into it, to improve it in all those years. The time had come to make a choice about its disposition. I chose to go back into it, lengthen it to novelette length, or if possible, create a novella from it.

Beginning yesterday, the rewrite began to emerge. Ten pages of total rewrite later, I stood at the entrance to the road of expansion. It’s now time to add those thwarters of easy solutions and problem solving. Complications, threats, difficult decisions, and other mayhem are poised to lend havoc to my heroine’s dilemma of how to stay alive while getting revenge on the antagonist.

Oh, yes, I have a situation on my hands. I have 28 more pages of completed work to act as the foundation for this reconstruction. They’re solid, with existing good formula in place. Now comes the hard part for me—adding what I need without losing the good that I already have in place.

Pulling this off is a gamble for me, because if I can do it well and place it with the publisher, other previous manuscripts have a new life through the same process. That’s an exciting possibility for me and one I’ll take advantage of. Until this story is sold, the importance of the exercise with this type of revision/rewrite will remain unproven.

After this coming week, I’ll be readying my book of poetry for submission to a competition. I’ve allotted only a few days for that, since little work is required to make it ready to send out.

At that point I’ll worry about what comes next.

The one plus I enjoy more than any other about taking this approach to the month’s writing challenge is the completion of projects long ignored and the satisfaction of getting them finished and out of wait mode.  With so many projects left undone, I may have to indulge myself in such a challenge more often. That prospect, however, is subject to another day.

I salute those taking up this month’s writing challenges and wish you all luck. Take pride in the striving. Leave the success to perception’s whimsy.



NaNoWriMo and Other Projects

NaNoWriMo and Other Projects

November 1st marks the beginning of chaos for many writers along several genres.

Poets are setting rhymes and other verse to rhythms lyrical or pulsating in Poetic Asides’ PAD Chapbook Poetry Challenge.

Fiction writers registered for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) assemble in groups or sit in solitary confinement, pounding keyboards to complete a requisite number of words to get a novel finished in the month’s 30 day duration.

Non-fiction writers have their own version of a November challenge, called National Non-Fiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo.) The goal is the same; only the genre is changed to fit the group of writers assembled.

Those who have just come out of challenges in October have been weighing the pros and cons of continuing to drive toward seemingly impossible goal-tending. As you know, I’ve just finished one on memoirs, even if mine were a bit unconventional.

No matter. I’d decided to forego NaNoWriMo this year and simply work on those projects I knew had waited far too long for my attention. That’s when the rebel re-emerged in me. Last year I took a short story I’d written a few years before and expanded it into a YA novel of the urban fantasy variety. Ergo, I’d taken something I already had in hand and built on it during NaNo.

Why couldn’t I do something similar this year and satisfy two efforts at one time? The key here was to set completion goals and strive to make them without compromise.

Okay. In that case, I’ll go for a doozy. My choice is to take five/six of my projects that were nearing completion and get as many of them out the door to publishers/markets/competitions/etc. as I possibly can by the end of November.

Here is my list of contenders:

  • A book of poetry for competition—needs final edit and formatting before submission. Estimated number of days for completion and submission = four.
  • A short collection of five flash fiction stories (to complete a short writing course) and get it formatted, with book cover, and submitted to Kindle Singles for publication. Estimated number of days for completion = seven.
  • A cookbook that is only 18 months overdue for submission for publication—needs final edit, special formatting for cookbooks (I have to learn that format and duplicate it,) create a book cover, and get it out the door to Kindle Singles/Kindle KDP. Estimated number of days for completion and submission = five.
  • A second writer’s dragon book in my series for Kindle needs complete rewrite and expansion (it’s bare bones at present.) Estimated number of days for completion and submission = six.
  • One science fiction short story needs expansion to novelette/novella length, plus full edit and proofing for submission to Tor Books. Estimated number of days for completion and submission = twelve.
  • Write at least two articles and ready a flash fiction story to fill an editor’s request and have them submitted before the end of the month. Estimated number of days for completion = three.

I know I’ve put more on my proposed calendar than any sane person would consider. My on-going novel work on “Dreamie’s Box” also continues. Where does all this insanity leave me?

My answer is this: I’m left in reality mode. I know that I can’t possibly complete to my satisfaction all of these projects in 30 days. I am rational, after all, albeit a bit of an over-achiever. Ask any of my friends. They’ll corroborate that personal trait of mine.

However, I’m also someone who needs outlandish deadlines for projects to keep me motivated to produce. In this challenge I can’t take the time to putz with a story until the originality of it is beyond resuscitation, or tweak an article until all claims of freshness are denied in court.

This way I am forced to perform, to produce, and to do it on a deadline. Focus becomes the only word in my work vocabulary for the month. And telling everyone here what my intentions are acts as a catalyst that enforces that focus requirement.

Each day I intend to post an update as to what I’m working on and where I am in the process. I need that accountability this time, more than ever before. I need to know that I can do this my way. On the table is my integrity.

I know I’ll not get them all finished. I understand that, but if I can get three of those projects plus those requested by an editor, finished and out the door, I’ll be ecstatic.

I hope you’ll stop by occasionally to see how I’m doing on my quest for personal accountability and perseverance. Until then, have a great month, folks. Do what makes you happy and what gives you satisfaction.