Friday Five

Five random things that helped make this a good week . . .

Jordan DaneAuthor Jordan Dane posted yesterday at The Kill Zone authors blog on five key ways to make your  characters memorable. It came at the perfect time for me (or the girls in the basement, at least) as I struggle with a flat opening to my latest WIP (a revision of last year’s Nanowrimo novel). The comments are just as valuable as her post, and she was kind enough to follow-up with more advice on Twitter. That’s some good author karma there, and you know she just made my TBR pile.

I watched this and laughed my ass off:

I love P!nk and I love you, Mr. Hart. Here’s to another 24 years!

Grooms see their brides for the first time...hanky required. (Photo Album - Imgur)And then I saw this photo album of grooms (thanks to a Twitter-tip from author Barbara O’Neal) at the first moment they see their brides. Awwww. That’s enough to crack even my hard shell. I think I’ll make Mr. Hart something that doesn’t come out of a box tonight in honor of our anniversary two weeks ago.

Reached new levels of cooperation with the wonderful Ms. G who teaches my equally wonderful six-year-old son, who has Asperger’s syndrome. Nice to have an ally in the endless battles with the school bureaucrats and policy-makers who grow further out of touch every day with the needs of kids and those trying to teach them.

One or two . . .  or three . . .  of these are in my near future. Tonight, after the little demons ones are nestled snug in their beds,  it’ll be me in my basement office, marg in hand, spilling ink and having fun. Ah, the zany life of a writer.

TGIF, my friends.


The world outside my window

This is what I’m seeing outside my window today. A shock, although a lovely one, after the balmy weather we’ve been enjoying the last few days. Already, the snow has painted the trees in the ravine next to our house in thick brushstrokes of white.

The dawn viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' for fellow garden geeks) I planted last spring looked like this yesterday.

 I’m enjoying the view, but fretting over the burgeoning life in the garden.

Today it looks like this. Hang in there little shrub!

This has nothing whatsoever to do with writing. But at the very least it proves I am still here, though the blog has been sadly neglected.

December was a write-off, and not in a good way. My output was zero pages. I’m blaming it on being burnt out after a crazy nano, and the rush of holidays, but we all know that’s just an excuse.

I had every intention of revising the nano book once I settled into the new year, but a new story was niggling at me. I decided to get it down on paper and return to the nano book, but I ended up banging out 20,000 or so words, some of which might actually be salvageable.

Then demands with the day job forced me to put everything aside for a couple of weeks. Met my last deadline yesterday, and I’m ready to get back to it.  My DH will be back at work after a few weeks between contracts so I’ll have the house to myself again for a blessed five and a half hours a day.

No more excuses!

Underwear synopsis for NaNoWriMo book done

Last week, I set the goal to finish the “underwear synopsis” (I’ll explain shortly) of my NaNoWriMo book by midnight Sunday. I closed the file this morning at 1:36 am. Not bad.

I’m feeling positive. The structure I’ve sketched looks solid. The support posts seem to be in all the right places. I don’t have a detailed blueprint yet, and there will still be much to unearth during the first, “discovery” draft in November but at least I know where I’m going to break ground.

Finding the balance between the left and right brain, the creator and critic is always the struggle for me. I can’t be a totally fly-into-the-mist pantser because useless meandering frustrates me. But over-planning is a joy-killer, too.

Right now I’m pretty jazzed about bestselling author and ghostwriter Roz Morris’ new book Nail Your Novel: Why writers abandon books and how you can draft, fix and finish with confidence.  

I haven’t finished it yet—a good thing. I couldn’t wait to get back to the keyboard.

The underwear synopsis mentioned above is task 5 in Roz’s plan to nail your novel. Designed for your eyes only it’s not at all like the selling synopsis you’ll write later. You write this one as though you were explaining the story to a friend (so like there’s this part where a lion’s looking at him and he thinks if I ever get out of here alive…).

The synopsis is populated with story events and character notes you come up with through a couple of brainstorming and index card exercises disguised as engaging games.

So far there’s nothing shockingly new in Ms. Morris’s book. You’ll have read much of the advice before. It’s her approach and engaging writing that stand out.

She knocks the whispering doubters and critics off your shoulders and stands behind you with practical, encouraging advice. She demystifies and simplifies the process of developing your story, testing the strength of your idea and flushing out characters. She helps you rekindle the initial excitement you had in your ideas and characters and makes you feel confident about carrying them through to “The End.”

I’ll report more as I work through my first draft. I’m following Morris’s advice to let the underwear synopsis sit for a month. I’ll review for major potholes in the week prior to NaNo.

I know I’ll be madly scribbling notes all month, though. I’m so energized about my book. I feel really connected to it and the girls in the basement are handing up lots of juicy stuff.

How’s your NaNo planning going?

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

I registered for NaNoWriMo today! So I was happy to see one of my favorite bloggers Alexandra Sokoloff  has kicked off her NaNoWriMo Prep series early this year. Last year’s series was great, and I can’t wait to see what tips she’ll have this time ‘round.

Ms. Sokoloff strongly advocates spending at least a few minutes each day in the weeks leading up to NaNo to really think about your characters, the key points in your novel, and where it’s going. (Don’t worry that you’re breaking the rules. NaNo’s FAQ’s encourage prep work.)

Along with watching for Alex’s tips, I’m also working through NAIL YOUR NOVEL by bestselling writer Roz Morris, who runs a blog by the same name. I’m loving this book! It’s aimed at procrastinators and non-finishers like me. Morris has a fresh way of presenting tried-and-true advice that makes you want to hit the keyboard. I’ll blog more about my process working through this book because I’m really excited about it.

My goal is to finish my “underwear synopsis” of my NaNo novel (a post-apocalyptic romantic adventure–no zombies!) by the end of this week so I can let it stew for a month, per Morris’s recommendation. The week before NaNo, I’ll read it with fresh eyes and hopefully identify any major issues with the structure before opening my Chapter One doc on November 1.

Flying by the seat of your pants might be part of what NaNoWriMo’s all about, but for me that doesn’t mean flying blind. When I don’t have my bearings the doubts creep in, along with frustration and false starts.

Have you signed up yet? What’s your flight plan?