Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Four thousand, four hundred and forty-four. That's how many words I did today. Not my best day ever, but damn fine for a gal who wasn't sure she could do that many when she woke up this morning.

And I did it. I completed the requirements for my own personal game of NNWM. I said I would write 50K this month, and by god, I did.

I'm tired as hell, you know. I haven't read a single book this month. And I never did finish that blanket. Now, I'll have time to do all that. Plus, I am sooooo close to finishing Nano, I can taste it. I thought I would close it out this weekend, but I'm not sweating it. Should have the sucker first-drafted by the end of the week, and still have my sanity in tact. (Or as much as it ever was.)

I have a boatload of editing to do. I'm still looking at a swiss-cheese novel. But I did what I set out to do. Yay.

Now, I must collapse and give my hands a well-deserved vacation.


Saturday, November 29, 2008


Umm... Monday is December 1st. Whoda thunk it? Where the hell did November go?

And whose big idea was it to put a holiday weekend at the end of NNWM? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Well, I have no one to blame but myself. I chose to take the last three days off. I could've written Wednesday night - nothing was stopping me. I could've written most of the day Thursday - hubby did all the work. Yesterday? Well, that was just me being lazy. And the result of three days without writing? I'm 8200 words* behind. With two days left before my self-imposed deadline.

Reminds me of college, now that I think about it. I always knew when my tests were, and I always had plenty of time to study. Did I? Nooooo. I waited until the night before, loaded myself up on caffeine and crammed like hell. If it weren't for Mountain Dew I would've flunked out long before my money ran out.

Now I have two days to cram in 8200 words.

Sure, I could just say to hell with it. After all, no one is holding a gun to my head. If I don't get this finished by Monday, no one is going to die. I'm not even going to flunk anything this time around. I'll have just broken a promise to myself. All the contractual deadlines and paid-for classes can't compare to the promise I made myself.

So, I'll be cramming for the next two days. I may not make 50K by Monday, but it won't be from a lack of effort over these 48 hours. If I get tired, I can just kick myself for being lazy, and for a lack of foresight. I mean, I should've known I would take at least some time off for the holiday. Seriously.

Now's the time for coffee - lots of it. Later, the old pal will be brought into the game. Mountain Dew... save me one more time for old times' sake.

What's on the agenda for you this weekend? Are you sweating these last two days of November or are you smart enough to work at your own pace without worrying over NNWM?

*11/30/08 Update: Only 1466 left.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Acting Out of Character

Kristen brought up an interesting point in last night's post. Possums out in the daytime are acting out of character, and that can only mean one thing: Something's wrong with it. The same can be said for raccoons out during the day, or wild animals that seem tame enough for you too approach them. Once, in college, I got within a foot of a fox squirrel. I thought he might be just a little guy who was used to all the people around campus. I would've reached out to pet him, but just then I noticed some kind of nasty festering wound around his neck. Chances are he would've bit me.

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking. The same 'acting out of character' thing can be used when writing or editing. For writing, it can be one way to show that something really is wrong with your character. If she's normally pleasant and then flies off the handle, it would show the reader something is wrong, or at least foreshadow the possibility she isn't quite herself. And we've probably all seen instances where someone we know is bad acts all sweetness and light - usually right before they shove a knife in someone else's back (either figuratively or literally).

One example I can think of to illustrate the whole 'out of character thing' is the personality of Harry Potter in 'Order of the Phoenix'. Angst-ridden teenager didn't seem like him, and I've talked to a lot of people who found it irritating. I found it annoying myself until I read far enough to realize how JK was trying to show that Harry's life was such a mess it was making him behave like a toad. I don't know whether she consciously did that or not, but once I figured out what was happening, it worked perfectly. Once he felt like he was in control of his life again, his personality came back online.

On the other hand, keeping your characters in character is necessary for the flow of the story. You shouldn't really have them act one way for most of the book and then act totally different in other areas without a good reason (like the ones mentioned above). I know I'm guilty of this during my first draft stages. Early on, I'm still getting to know my characters. Hell, I didn't really hear Vic's voice until most of the way through Nano, and now I have to go back. By the time I'm done editing, he'll sound and act the same throughout the book (unless I need to make him otherwise for the story). Like changing a character's name mid-book. You can do it, but you have to make sure you go back and rename him all the way through. I just wish realigning personalities was as easy as Find/Replace.
Have you ever used this? Have you read anything where a writer used this device? Inquiring minds... and all that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mystery Solved

I'm an animal lover. I keep a birdfeeder, and I usually leave a pan of sunflower seeds for the neighborhood squirrels. I also occasionally leave catfood out for the numerous strays we have around here. Anyway, since we moved, the birdfeeder is up, and I set out the seed pan. (I haven't started feeding the cats here yet - I think the landlady would have a problem with it.)

A few weeks ago, I noticed something odd in the seed pan. Some critter was using it as a restroom. (I know... ew, yuck... but it wasn't really nasty scat.) So, being the curious person I am, I researched scat. (Hey, I'm a writer. You never know when you might need a good working knowledge of critter crap.) For a while I thought it was raccoon scat, but it was too... not-nasty... to be a raccoon. Too big to be rabbit or squirrel. Too full of vegetable matter to be fox or coyote (or dog or cat, for that matter).

I gave up trying, and put the seed pan away. Sure, the squirrels were mad. They'd even taking to leaving their own little presents - presumably to tell the intruding animals off - but it had to be done.

Then just now, I was outside having a smoke before bed. As I was standing there, minding my own business and trying to stay out of the snow, I saw movement. Something was creeping out from under my husband's truck. And it was making it's way toward me.

My first thought was that it was one of the neighborhood cats, and it was looking for either company or a free meal. That's when this things stepped out of the shadows and into the light from the corner streetlamp. White and gray, pointy face, ungainly body... long rat-like tail.

About six feet from me was probably the biggest damn opossum I'd seen in my life. (Unless you count the ones sunbathing by the roadside.) Now, in my experience, 'possums are nasty buggers, but they're basically cowards unless you back them into a corner. So I shouted at it.

Nothing. In fact, it waddled forward. Stupid critter.

So, I stamped my foot hard on the pavement and shouted again. That got its attention. (And hurt like hell, btw.) It stopped and stared at me. I took a step forward, and it shot me a dirty look before slowly creeping back under hubby's truck.

For the remainder of my cigarette, it stared at me from between the back tires while I watched to make sure it didn't sneak up on me.

It's probably on its merry way now. I like animals, but I'm not a huge fan of 'possums. I'm happy it's gone, and it's probably just as happy that I'm back inside.

But, hey, at least the mystery of the midnight scat has been solved.

PS. In retrospect, confronting a wild animal probably wasn't the wisest move on my part. Chances are it can run faster than I can, and all I had for a weapon was the snow-shovel I keep by the door. (And I'm not even sure I could've grabbed it before the 'possum grabbed me.) Nasty little things with sharp pointy little teeth. Ugh.

PPS. Umm... is it just me or did that last part remind you of Monty Python and the Holy Grail?


Happy Thanksgiving

You all know the story of Thanksgiving, and what it has traditionally meant for Americans. But it's really so much more than just pilgrims and natives getting together for a meal. It's a celebration of the bounty they produced. America was just a harsh wilderness until men shaped it into this beautiful and bountiful land we call home. They didn't just live off the land and accept whatever they could scrounge from nature. They worked the soil to bring forth food that wouldn't have existed before. Later, they built the machines to work the soil. Each generation added something important to make life here easier, and with each addition, our bounty grew.

Back in the days of the pilgrims, the average lifespan was between 30-40 years. Today, the lifespan of the average American is double that. Most Americans have plenty of food to eat. Most of us have shelter and clothing - that we didn't have to make ourselves, btw. We don't have to worry about cholera or typhus or polio or rickets or a hundred other diseases that crippled and killed our forefathers. And most of us can read, btw. A skill very few of the settlers of this great nation could brag about.

So today, and every day really, I'm thankful for the advances mankind has made. I'm thankful that because so many men worked so very hard for so damn long, I have a warm home, electricity, the internet, a fat turkey waiting for me in the fridge... Hell, I'm thankful for the fridge. (Because salmonella is horrible thing.) I'm thankful for the immunizations, and medications, and surgeries that have helped keep me and mine alive. And I'm thankful to all the men who have made these things possible.

As I sit down to my sumptuous feast, I'll be thinking of those who came before and brought me the possibility to have a feast at all. So, please join me in lifting a glass to these great men. May we live to add our own accomplishments to the sum of them all.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday = Book Friday

Tomorrow is Turkey Day. You know what that means, don't you? A full on cleaning today. Plus some baking, since starting tomorrow morning I won't be allowed in the kitchen other than to refill my coffee cup. (Hubby cooks on Thanksgiving. It's a tradition.)

It also means that day after tomorrow is what some people have come to call Black Friday. (Such a gloomy name for a day devoted to shopping, but I'll let it slide.) I don't shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving. On that day, people seem to be possessed by some particularly nasty demon who forces them to shop against their will whilst sucking all thoughts of courtesy and propriety out of their heads. Needless to say, unless I need groceries, I'm staying home.

Now, as for the looming BIG HOLIDAY for which Black Friday is designed... You've probably heard it all before. Hell, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Buy Books. Get Grandma a nice cozy mystery. Get the nephew an adventure story. Buy Aunt Lucille a cookbook. And if your mom is anything like mine, pick her up a pile of romance novels. (A big pile - Mom reads fast.)

Buy a book. They're still relatively cheap in the scheme of things. Hell, while you're out shopping this week, buy several. Swamp the indy sellers. Take over Borders. Clog the book aisles of Walmart, or K-mart or Meijers. Turn Black Friday into Book Friday.

It's sounds so much more positive that way.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dealing with Self-Doubt

Self-doubt (SD) can be a killer. It stops us from asking that cute guy or girl to dance. It keeps us from applying for jobs. If it hits us at the wrong moment, we could make a horrible decision that could effect us for the rest of our lives. (Like the time my best friend pulled out of an intersection in front of my brother and hit the brake instead of the gas. They both made it out okay, but it could've been so much worse.)

In writing, SD isn't so drastic, but it can be the one thing that keeps a person from finishing a book. Or it could be the thing that makes a book so-so instead of amazing. I know it's a factor in whether we get the words out, or we spend our writing time editing and re-editing.

Should I move the story down this path or that one? Is this premise really working, or do I need to re-write the whole damn thing? Should the MC be gutsy and a little butch - which could turn some people off - or should she be sweetness and light, and as such unable to do the things the story requires?

Every decision we make both on the page and off can be turned in another direction by SD. So how does one deal with it?

Personally, I try to shove it into a box and push the box into the back of my head where it won't bother me. It doesn't always work, and sometimes SD leaks out to poison my ability to write, but most of the time I'm safe with it back there.

Of course, on occasion SD can be your subconscious telling you something. Perhaps the scene really doesn't work in it's current incarnation. Maybe your heroine is too butch, or your hero is too wimpy. Take note of the things it's telling you and move on. Do not let the hint of suspicion rule your writing. Make actual physical notes of its concerns for later editing. If the problem is bad enough, go back and fix it, but don't let it stop you from reaching your goals.

I used to let SD run the show. (With my writing anyway, and it used to play way too big a part in the rest of my life, too.) That's part of the reason Spectacle took me so damn long to write. On the other hand, when I wrote Blink I knew something was wrong with the middle the whole time I was writing it. And after I finished the book, I went back and rewrote like 6 chapters. If I had waited until I knew what the problem was with the middle, Blink probably still wouldn't be finished. If I let SD take the reins, I wouldn't have finished the book, and got the flash of insight on how to fix the middle. I needed to see the end to know where the problem lay.

If you're a plotter, you probably don't experience this problem so much. You have the whole story laid out before you start, and presumably have confidence in the plot lines you've crafted. I guess SD could still come up and slap you while you're plotting. I wouldn't know. (If you're a plotter and SD has caught you mid-plot, tell me about it in the comments.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: If you really want to succeed at this writing thing (and by succeed, I mean complete a book you can be proud of), then you need to stop doubting your abilities. You need to grab some measure of self-confidence and kick your old nemesis to the curb. In the end, that's the only way to really deal with it. At least, that's how I managed to get out from under the clutches of SD.

Does SD factor into your life? What do you do when it's got you? Share some tips and tricks for dealing with SD in the comments.

*Don't worry. I'm not currently in the grips of SD. Yes, I think the majority of my WIP stinks on ice, but I also know it can be fixed, so I'm not letting it stop me.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Ahead by 200. Damn it feels good to get the words out, but I'll be glad when November is over.

Actually I'll be glad when this book is finished, so I can start editing. This thing is heaping pile of compost with more holes than a worm farm. (Okay, maybe compost is too strong a word, but what imagery!) The words are just the beginning. This sucker is going to keep me busy for weeks shaping it into a cohesive unit, complete with sympathetic characters, a gripping plot, and a airtight premise.

Heh. Good luck with all that, right?

And I know you're all getting sick of reading about the continuing adventures of Insane NNWM Writer. Tomorrow I'll try and write a post about something else for a change. (Look on the brightside, though, at least I'm not talking about the economy. It's depressing enough on the news without seeing it here, too.)

Anyhoo, have a wonderful evening... or morning, if you're already in bed. See y'all tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Close Enough

I'm 82 words short, but I'm calling it good. And I'm calling it a day.

Over the past three days, I managed 7100+ words. My left hand is all tingly-feeling, and my ass is flat. I think the last 82 can wait. I'll tack them onto tomorrow.

Earlier I realized that somewhere along the way, I missed the weekend. Yesterday was a blur and today was just as bad. Not that I spent the entire time writing. I managed to get the kitchen cleaned yesterday on a between scene break. I watched parts of the Wolverines losing and the Spartans losing. Today I caught bits of the Dallas game, and made homemade (Jiffy-box mix) pizza.

I wonder how many words I could've written if that's all I did. Of course, they'd probably be crappy words, and my hands would be lumps of meat, but wow. Anyway, I'm happy with my three day total. Now I have to see what this holiday week brings for the totals.

On the holiday note, are you ready for Thanksgiving? We're doing the traditional route for dinner again this year - turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce. The only non-traditional item is I think I'm skipping the pumpkin pie this year and doing cheesecake instead. What's on the menu at your house?

NNWM Update

Ack. I meant to do an update on the 20th. Eh, better late than never.

11/10 - 876 words
11/11 - 0 words
11/12 - 1818 words
11/13 - 1924 words
11/14 - 1258 words
11/15 - 2570 words
11/16 - 2261 words
11/17 - 1876 words
11/18 - 978 words
11/19 - 1363 words
11/20 - 0 words
11/21 - 1043 words
11/22 - 2763 words

I didn't include today - because I'm nowhere near done for the day. Actually, I wasn't really done last night, but my hands both went numb and I figured that was a sign. On the upside, my first thousand words today were leftover from last night, so what I missed yesterday is getting picked up today.

As of this morning I needed 3400 words to get back on track. Now I'm down to 2400. I think I can... I think I can...

Numbs hands be damned. ;o)

How's the writing going for you? Anything stopping you from doing your best (like my friggin hands)?


Friday, November 21, 2008

The Weekend Approacheth

Yup, it's Friday. I'd say TGIF, but the end of the week just means I'll be doing more work over the next three days than I did over the last four. At least on a weekday, I can use the excuse that my daughter was on the computer doing her Physics or her Spanish, or researching for any of the various scholarship essay thingies she'll be submitting. During the weekend, though, this computer is all mine.

Umm... yay?

Anyway, this weekend is also the weekend of the Ohio State/Michigan game. The rivalry to end all rivalries. The epic confrontation wherein someone goes home triumphant and someone else goes home covered in dirt and shame. Sadly, I think this year the dirt and the shame will belong to my own beloved Wolverines. :sigh:

Hey, I'm a fan, but I'm also well acquainted with reality. The reality is the team seriously blows this year. To put a bright spin on the slaughter, maybe I can write instead of sitting glued to the TV. If they have to lose, I really don't want to watch the carnage. Maybe MSU will beat Penn State and my home state will be able to salvage some football glory this weekend.

Meanwhile, if I'm going to get back on track and stay there, I have about 6000 words to write over the next three days. 2K a day doesn't sound so bad. We'll see how it works out and whether I'll be wearing a frowny face on Monday.

What's on tap for you this weekend?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day Off

Yeah yeah... I know I know... this is going to kill my averages, but I took the day off writing. I did some work trying to get my bookstore back to 100%, and watched too much TV.

It'll make more writing work for me over the next ten days, but I needed it. I needed a break from Randi and Jack and Vic and all the rest of the characters who live in my head these days. They'll be better for it, and so will I.

The question of the day is: What do you do when you need to step away?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Damn the Torpedoes

I've taken a hit and she's taking on water, but I think if I can just get her into port, I can fix her.

Which is to say: If I can write THE END on this sucker, I can fix the problems and the book will sail again.

I thought about this on and off throughout the day, made some cogent notes on where the errors were, and I think even with the fresh holes I discovered last night, I can still make this premise work. The real damage is in the sub-plots anyway, so she still floats.

Now, for the 'damn the torpedoes' part. I can't let a few holes stop me. Arr, there's writing to be done*. Let's see how close I can get to shore tonight.

*I probably could've pulled the pirate thing off better when I still had me eye patch. Arr.

Torpedoes off Port

Sailing along quite nicely here. I'm getting some words out - although not as much last night as I'd have liked - and everything seems to be peachy kee...

OMG! What's that?! Plot torpedoes off the port bow! How could I have not seen those? They could blow a hole the size of QEII into my premise, and sink the whole damn book.

Man your battle stations! Evasive maneuvers! Turn, dammit, turn!


Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm still kicking NNWM's hiney, but I'm paying the price. I'm too pooped to post.

Nighters one and all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hah Ha!

Take that NNWM! Thought you could beat me? Well, neener neener boo boo. =op

(This moment of insanity is brought to you by my word count which, as of just a few minutes ago, not only met my word count for today but exceeded it enough to catch me back up.)


And they were even good words today. (Plus, I figured out how to fix yesterday's words and solve a plot hole that's been driving me nuts.)

Time for the Snoopy Dance...

*Image deleted to prevent any potential copyright issues*

Missed it by That Much

Well, yesterday was a pretty productive day all things considered. But in the words of the immortal Maxwell Smart (the original one, not this new incarnation), "I missed it by that much". I'm 350 words short of being back on track again. *shrug*

Considering I got one scene out and at the end of the scene, my fingers left me a present I hadn't planned on, only missing the mark by 350 ain't bad. You see, I got to the end of a necessary scene and before I knew it one little sentence sent the plot zooming off in a different direction. I took my between-scene break and when I sat back down, I couldn't figure out how the hell I was going to resolve that one sentence with what I had planned for the rest of the book. Seriously, everything I plotted for the remainder of the book was toast. So, as much as I liked the sentence and as delicious as it was, I snipped it. Didn't even save it.

Unfortunately, it was probably the best sentence I wrote all day yesterday. Stephen King has a great quote that fits yesterday perfectly for me: "Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position." Except I really don't think I was doing the 'good work' part. I've got the 'shoveling shit from a sitting position' part down pat, though. I'm blaming that one sentence for derailing my train of thought.

Feh. I don't even remember what the sentence is any more.

So, here's hoping today is a better day. I can feel myself getting close to the end. Of course, I'm going to have a lot (A LOT) of editing to do once this is finished, but it's all good. I'm writing again. I'm getting words out.

And that's the most important thing. =o)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NNWM is Good Practice

Yesterday I was being a whiner. I admit it fully. When writing time came, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch TV. (Damn USA network for running a three hour marathon of NCIS every night starting at 6:00 my time.)

When I mentioned... okay whined... to my husband that I had writing to do, he gave me the ol' 'Why?' look. I mean, I don't have a contract and no one is standing behind me tapping their foot as they wait for the words to come out. I don't have to write 50K words this month. I don't have even have to do 50K this year. If I don't write another word in 2008, no one is going to die.


As I told my better half, I'm doing this because it's good practice for the day when I do have a contract and I am under a deadline. It'll happen someday and I'd better be ready for it when it does. A contract is a commitment and if I sign something that says I'll have a book to them by x-date, then by god, I'll honor my commitment. (Barring flood, famine, disaster or grievous bodily injury, of course.)

When I first started writing, I was absolutely sure I wouldn't be able to write to deadlines. I had a meandering way of writing. I waited for inspiration to strike me, and then I'd sit down to let the words pour out of my fingers. It made writing really easy, but it was so unrealistic I could go back in time and pat my former self on the head like I was a misguided child. (Which I was.) If I was never planning on being published, writing when the muse was ready would be fine. Except I plan on being published, and I want to be able to meet the expectations of my publishers.

So here I am. I'm still straining against the convention of sitting my butt down and typing every night, but I'm also kicking myself when I don't. I know I have work to do, and I will do it. By the end of today, I need to have about 3000 words done to be on track for my goal. I know I can do it. I have the next three scenes already plotted out, waiting to be written. (I should've written at least one of them last night.)

I know I can do this. Now I just have to prove it to myself. And when my contract finally comes, I'll be ahead of the game.


Friday, November 14, 2008


My eyes feel like tiny raisins behind my lids. Tiny, dirty raisins. With laser beams directed backwards into my brain.

Ain't November fun?

Make Books A Priority

There's been a lot of buzz around my blogroll lately about the depressing state of publishing, and about ways we can all work to help (or even save) the world we work in.

Things are bad. No amount of sugarcoating can change that. I won't go into how it got that way or why I think some of this is a vicious circle that feeds on itself. I will talk today about things we can do to help the industry, and maybe ourselves, out a bit.

A few ideas I've heard and that I have:

- Buy a book - any book. If each writer bought one book this week, it wouldn't save the industry but it would go a long way toward showing the industry that books aren't dead (and never should be).

- Skimp a little to buy that book if you have to. Around here a standard paperback runs about $8 at the grocery store (sometimes if I'm lucky $7). Bigger paperbacks run around $16. Big hardcovers are about $30. I know that most of you already know what books cost in your own area, but I'm working up to a point here. The point is that most people spend at least $8 on lunch for themselves. If you're into fastfood, it's $8 easy. If you're more into a sit-down experience, you're looking at $16 - after the tax and tip. If you're dining with friends, $30. If you miss one meal, you'll have enough and if you just cut back to tuna, you'll probably be able to make up the cost of one book in two or three days. A little skimping goes a long way.

- Make books and reading a priority, not just for you but for those around you. Try to get other people as excited about a new book as they would be about a new movie. If you've got kids, take the Wii controller out of their hands, and shove a book in. Take a book to grandma and read it to her if you have to.

- Find ways to infuse your own enthusiasm about the industry into other people. Write a blog encouraging people to read a new book. If you know someone whose book is about to release, shout it up. (BTW, Karin Tabke's latest: Have Yourself a Naughty Little Santa just released! Know any women? Sure you do. Buy them a copy. Better yet, show them yours, say 'neener neener neener' and tell them to get their own.) If you've recently read a really great book, chat it up with store clerks and neighbors and strangers in the park. I've sold more books to the cashiers at my grocery store than I can count. I read 'em, I chat 'em up, they go to the rack and buy them.

- Read. No matter how busy you are, approach reading like you do writing. Set aside a certain amount of time to read every day. (I'm guilty of not doing this lately, but I really need to get back to it.) Shut off that sitcom, and spend the half hour reading instead. Put the kids down for a nap and instead of picking up a living room that's just going to be a disaster again when they wake up, read. Brown bag it, and read on your lunch hour. Take a book to your next doctor's appointment instead of thumbing through their ancient magazines. (Which works two-fold. You read, and other people see you reading which might give them the idea to get a book themselves.)

Anyway, no matter what you do, do something. If you want to see new authors on the shelves next year, or the year after, or ever... If you value the printed word... If you're a writer and are worried about ever getting published (or ever getting published again)... DO SOMETHING TO HELP.

Just to put my money where my mouth is, I bought two books yesterday. Night Secrets by Cherry Adair for my daughter and Crossfire by JoAnn Ross for myself. (Cost me about $17 - which means no Pizza Hut tonight. I'll live. In fact, my ever-widening ass will thank me for it later.)

What are you doing to help the industry (and yourself, if you're a writer)? Have you bought any books this week? Help a writer along and leave the titles in the comments.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Playing Catch Up

I knew this would happen. Twelve days in and I'm 1100 words behind on my goal. That's what comes of taking Tuesday off (and not because it was Veterans Day - it snowed like 9 inches, so after shoveling on and off all morning I was wiped out). Of course, taking last Friday off didn't help either. (I don't remember why.)

Yesterday I was talking to my mother, and we were discussing the fact that my sisters told my daughter I NEVER did any chores when we were growing up. True, I wasn't the best little helper as a kid, but never is stretching it. I didn't like chores, and if my two older sisters were around to do them, I guess I wriggled out of it more often than not. What they neglected to remember is that after both of them moved out, I was the go-to gal for all things domestic. (Mom's worked since I was five and is still going strong.) But I digress... as usual. The part of the conversation that pertains here is my admission that I was profoundly lazy back then.

As we all know, old habits are hard to break. I have left the 'profoundly' part behind, but I'm still basically lazy. If I don't break out the whip and make myself sit in this chair to write, it just doesn't get done. Regardless of whatever other reasons I may have had for the days off I took, behind it all is the fact that I just didn't get up off the damn couch and write.

Which means now I'm playing catch-up. (It's not playing with ketchup, but it looks just as gruesome from where I'm sitting.) I have to complete an average of 1730 words a day for the rest of the month if I want to hit my goal of 50K. Not really that much more than the 1667 it would've taken anyway, but it means no more days off. No more excuses, or the catching up will get so much worse. One day missed adds means I'd have to add another 100 words a day to my average. Miss a second day? Add another 120. It's a vicious mathematical vortex. (Was it the Scylla or Charybdis that was the whirlpool? Either way it's not good.)

I know 100 extra words doesn't sound that bad, but when you're fighting the pull of extreme laziness, a hundred words feels like a chapter.

So, this morning I am recommitting myself (hard to type with a straightjacket... LOL) to the endeavor. I will have Nano finished by December 1st, and if that doesn't get me the 50K, I have several other novels waiting for my attention. I can do it.

At least, I think I can.

How are your words coming this month? If you're not doing NNWM, or NaNo, or Sven, did you set yourself a goal?

If you do set goals, do you kick yourself when you fall short? I know I do, which is why I'm not a big goal-setter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Suspense Was Ruined

Last night was the broadcast of the 2008 WSOP (World Series of Poker) final table, and for a while now, I've been studiously avoiding all news about it. I really wanted to wait and watch the action for myself.

Yesterday while I was taking a break from shoveling snow, I sat down to flip around the TV for a few minutes, and what did I see scrolling across the bottom of ESPN? The results of the final table. I closed my eyes, but not fast enough. I didn't catch it all, but what I saw was "...defeats Demidoy to win...".

Dirty bastards.

I spent the whole time watching the tournament knowing there was only one person who could take out the lucky Russian. Thanks ESPN. =op---

How does this relate to writing, you say. Well, I'm the same way about books. I don't want to know what's going to happen in a book before I read the book. I think I actually would've throttled anyone who ruined the last Harry Potter for me. Seriously. If I'd known the end, I still would've read the book, but it wouldn't have been as yummy for me.

But it's even more than that. I don't read book excerpts - not if I want to read the book, that is - and I don't read the little teasers they put at the end of one book to get you to buy the next book. If I liked the first book, I'm going to buy the second without needing to read the first few pages. Hell, I don't even like to read the cover copy on books I already know I'm going to buy. And I only read cover copy on unknown books if I really can't decide.

I can deal with a one-liner. Like the one I created for Manhunter: Dwelling on the past can be murder. Stuff like that makes me want to know more, but it doesn't give away any of the story. I like to discover the story on my own, thank you very much.

Maybe it's that I like the mystery of not knowing what happens. Last season's ender for Criminal Minds had a delicious cliff-hanger. They showed each of the main characters getting into his/her own black SUV, and then they showed a black SUV blowing up. Sure, it was mind-blowingly frustrating to not know who got blown up, but I was a good girl about it. I didn't check online to see if anyone knew, and I didn't try to figure it out any other. Once again, I avoided all talk about the show. I never dreamed CBS - who set the cliff-hanger up in the first place - would out the damn secret in a commercial ONE WEEK before the show was scheduled to air. A whole summer of letting the suspense build, and it was ruined in a thirty second spot. As I said before: "Dirty Bastards".

I liked the summer of wondering. I like the months between book releases. Suspense builds to a fever pitch and when I finally get a hold of the book, I devour it. It's like cooking an awesome meal - the scent of dinner wafts through the house and by the time dinner is ready, you're starving. (Yesterday I cooked a pork roast. Two plus hours of the house smelling awesome seemed to make the eating itself even better.) I don't need no little taste ahead of time. I just want the meal. If I'm that hungry, I'll snack on something else while I'm waiting. (Watch a different program, read someone else's book, etc.)

Maybe that's why I write what I do and they way I do it. So far everything I've written has an element of suspense to it. And since I don't really plot, even I don't know what's going to happen before it does. The not knowing is delicious, and when the plot twists hit me, I'm delighted. (Tickled pink, in fact.)

I know I'm in the minority with regard to book teasers, and I can deal with not reading them. I have my own strategies for keeping myself in the dark. It's just when they sneak them in when I'm not expecting it that really gets my undies in a bunch. To those sneaky, dirty bastards I say:

Knock it off.

How about you? Do you like to know ahead of time or do you get into the wait? Have you ever waited for something only to have it spoiled by someone else (like the damnable ESPN)?

Or is it just me?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

*Image deleted to prevent any potential copyright issues*

Celebrate Veterans Day and honor those men who, throughout the past 232 years, have protected their values by protecting this country. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave could not exist without them.

(Image courtesy of The Department of Veterans Affairs Poster Gallery)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Inspiration Strikes & NNWM Update

Saturday night I was typing along, trying to get some words in before I got too tired to type, and WHAM! Inspiration hit me. Like a freight train. Out of the recesses of my subconscious, I got a great idea for a new twist, and it fits in so perfectly it's almost like I plotted it that way. It even ties up a loose end I wasn't aware of. Hurray. I even told my husband about it, but he just looked at me like I'm nuts. Can't blame him really since he hasn't read this book, and the whole thing would sound weird to someone who hasn't been enveloped by the story. (When he finally reads this, he'll totally get it.)

I wish I could tell you what it was, but it would be a major plot spoiler. =o(

Anyway, I just wanted to squee with you all.

Now for the NNWM update. Since this is the tenth day of NNWM, I thought I would give you my stats as they stand now.

11/1 - 1349 words written
11/2 - 4023 words written
11/3 - 1733 words written
11/4 - 493 words written
11/5 - 2014 words written
11/6 - 1309 words written
11/7 - 0 words written
11/8 - 3560 words written
11/9 - 1723 words written

Which leaves me at 16204 total so far this month, or 32.41% of the way to my goal of writing 50K this month. So far I've only worked on Nano, but if I get this first-drafted before the 50K, I'll start something else. I think the important thing to understand with NNWM is that you may not hit your daily goal every day, but you may be able to make it up another day. I just have to stop myself from shooting only to hit the goal, or to make up the lost words. I need to remember to keep writing until the ideas and/or my hands are used up. And it also means that if I haven't hit my goal, I need to stop watching football and get back to work. Yesterday was almost an 800 word day because my average was above 1665, but I kicked myself in the butt and got another 900 or so out.

Or to borrow a phrase from Dorry the fish: Just keep swimmin'. ;o)

How's your writing going so far this month?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Trying Something Different

Okay, you all know I was having some difficulties a while back. I couldn't get back into Nano. Well, the problem's solved, but the result is that I have no more chapters.

I just started writing. I put in spaces to note scene changes, but I didn't put in any chapters. I really didn't even notice it until the other day when I went to see how long my last chapter was and whether it was probably time to put in a new chapter, and I was like thirty pages in. At that point, I just shrugged and went back to writing. I've never done it before, but if working without putting in chapters is getting the job done, I'm down with it.

LOL, right now chapter fifteen is 56 pages long.


I'm usually pretty good about keeping track of my chapters. I even put in bookmarks for each chapter so I can move around my book more easily when I edit. Right now, it's a cluttered mess. It ought to be driving me nuts, but it's not. (Okay, it is a little.)

The theory here, I guess, is that I have some issues farther back in the book, so I might need to move some scenes around. After I get everything where I want it, I'll put the chapters in. Never worked this way before, but hey, if it works, why mess with it?

How do you handle chapters? Do you put them in while you're doing the first draft or later? Do you move things around in your manuscript? How about bookmarks, ever use 'em or is it just anal retentive writer me?


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Synopsis Help

This morning I woke to find Anne Mini had commented on my post about the latest foray in synopsizing (Here I Go Again) and she was wonderful enough to leave a link to her own most recent posts on the topic. If you're in the middle of writing a synopsis, have written one you don't really like, or are even thinking about the subject, I suggest hopping over and reading what she has to say. Every time I have to go through this (and wouldn't you know, it's not like riding a bike - I have relearn the skill every friggin time), I look to her for guidance. Her thoughts on the subject continue to help me, and this newest batch is even better. Here's hoping they can help you, too.

Thanks, Anne.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Salute to Aspercreme

Today, I'd like to share a little secret with all of you.


Looking back at yesterday's 'reasons for not writing', you'll notice coming in at #2 is 'my hands hurt...' (yes, other things are listed under #2, too, but those are negligible). This morning my hands are friggin' killing me. I'm guessing the weather plus the typing plus the crocheting has gotten to me this week.

Writing/typing with squonky hands sucks.

And I'm the kind of person who can't take even Aleve without getting dopey. Can't write when I'm dopey. (Or drive or teach, and crocheting - with its repetitive motions - just makes me sleepier.) What's a gimp to do?


Back in 1987, I was diagnosed with bursitis in my knees, and thus began my lifelong love affair with this magic potion. Slap some of that stuff on any aching joint, and the ache would either go away or be dulled enough so I could function. As I grew older, more and more things began to go south. Some days I feel like I could take a bath in Aspercreme. But I reserve the stuff for my hands and my back - two things which are absolutely necessary for any writer. (I've heard Hemingway wrote standing up, but then again, his back was the least of his problems.)

I've tried other stuff. Bengay? Too stinky. Ambesol (w/ capsaisin)? Too painful - that stuff might work, but it burns like a mutherfugger. Flexall? Not as stinky as Bengay and not as effective. I've used heating pads and ice packs (holding a hot cup of coffee helps, but it's not practical for a long term solution).

Anyway, the Aspercreme I rubbed on my hands just before I started this post is working like a charm. The first paragraph up there had to be typed one key at a time, and I'm just about back to normal speed now. Yay. Still a little tightness, but Aspercreme doesn't promise to solve the problem, just relieve the pain of it so I can work again.

So, I guess I'm recommending the stuff to any of you out there who, like me, are burdened with hands that have seen better days. It's not stinky, not sticky, and gets me back to work in under fifteen minutes. (Of course, your mileage my vary. Aspercreme doesn't seem to work for everyone. Go figger.)

Your turn. Any product out there that gets you through the aches and pains of writing? Leave your suggestions in the comments (unless it's illegal, of course).


Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Top Ten Reasons for Not Writing

10. The cat was in my way. And sixteen pounds of fur laying between my hands and the keyboard is problematic.

9. I have to cook dinner, do laundry, vacuum, dust, mow the lawn... There are more than enough chores to be done, and I can't do any of them while I'm writing... Not that I was really wanting to do them, but they're still there.

8. It's too noisy. I mean, seriously, how can anyone write with the sound of trains and cars, the hum of the grainery, the tweeting of birds, the thumping of someone else's stereo...

7. NCIS is on. No, really. I can't miss an episode of NCIS, even when it's just a rerun on USA. Especially when it's one I've only seen a couple times.

6. I'm too tired. Especially since I stayed up to watch Election Coverage, and then the House marathon, and then... well, you get the drift.

5. The last rejection depressed me too much to write.

4. I can't write until I organize my desk. After all, a cluttered desk is distracting. Right?

3. I'm right in the middle of this book, and I have ten books piled behind it to be read. (Not to mention all those blogs I've been meaning to catch up on.)

2. My hands hurt from typing, my ass hurts from sitting here, and I have headache from staring at the computer screen.

1. It's football season. The Wolverines, the Packers, the Steelers, the Spartans, the 'Noles, the Colts... I bet there's even a game from the '70s on ESPN Classic. I know I haven't seen all of those yet. And of course, after football season there's baseball, and golf, and if I really stretched it, I could be watching hockey or tennis, and there's always poker on somewhere.

So, there are some of my excuses not to write. You'll notice none of them include total annihilation, or even hospitalization. Therefore (I tell myself)...



What are some of your excuses for not writing? We all have them, so fess up.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Exhibit A

If you ever wonder why I can't get any work done, this is the reason:

Really, I shouldn't blame it all on the cat. I didn't get many words out yesterday and she wasn't laying there all day (in fact, the photo was from this morning). We spent the day watching the election coverage and when it was pretty certain what the outcome would be, I switched over and watched part of the House marathon on USA. By ten I was feeling pretty guilty about not writing any words (see? NNWM does have a purpose) so I sat down and worked out the bones of a new wrinkle in the plot. Thus the small, yet important, word count.

I guess what I'm trying to say is no matter the distractions, and no matter the time, you can always make room to get a few words out. If the motivation is there.

And if the cat isn't sitting between you and your keyboard. (Or you and your coffee.)


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


My cat in all her glory is a sixteen pound bundle of fur and fangs and claws and purrs and snuggly-goodness. She's pretty sure she's not actually a cat. Human maybe. For a while I think she thought she was a dog, since she only spent three weeks with her mother and was fostered in a home full of pooches. She used to fetch, and she regularly barks at the birds. All in all she's a pretty neat person.

But she's also a brat.

You see, Kira is an insanely picky person when it comes to her catfood. For the first few years of her life she would only eat Maxximum Nutrition in dry food, and Special Kitty (tuna flavored only) for the wet. Not a problem except you can only buy either of those foods at Walmart and the closest one is an hour away. One day, a couple years back, she decided she no longer liked the dry food. She tasted it, spit it out and stared at me as if to say 'what's this crap?' After trying a couple other brands - none of which she would even do more than sniff - she finally ate Purina Cat Chow Indoor Formula. "Great," I thought. They carry that stuff locally, and it's cheaper than the other stuff. And since I no longer had to go to Walmart for the dry stuff, I convinced her to try Fancy Feast for the wet stuff. (Of which, she refuses to eat anything that says grilled or flaked, or that has gravy or chunks. If it says 'FEAST', chances are she'll eat it.)

Everything was just swell. Until last week when I opened a new bag of Purina and she wouldn't even try it. One sniff and she turned her nose up. If looks could kill, I would've been her next meal instead of the stuff in her bowl. So much for that. I tried Friskies. No that either.

This is getting expensive, to say the least.

This morning I called Purina, certain they were to blame. I was sure that for some unknown reason they had changed the formula for that particular food. Ummm... Nope. The gentleman on the other end assured me that their indoor formula hasn't changed since January 2007. It's not them. It's just my stupid cat. He did suggest that maybe the bag had been stored next to something that gave off an aroma my cat wasn't keen on, but short of tracking down which store I bought the bag at and ferreting out what it might have been stored next to, the notion didn't help me. (He was a great customer service rep, btw. He's even sending me a coupon for a free bag of food, which I'm sure Kira won't eat, but it was a nice gesture.)

So, this morning, I'm off to the store again to buy a bag of IAMS. If she doesn't like that, I'm well and truly screwed.

I know, I know... Sooner or later, the cat will eat. She has to, right? But here's the thing. This started last Thursday. Since then, she's eaten less than a handful of dry food (plus two cans of Fancy Feast). She usually eats a cup a day (and a can of Fancy Feast once or twice a week). And I know she's large enough that a few days without eating won't kill her, but she's slowly escalating her plan to drive me nuts as we play this game of wills. Every morning is a new adventure in cat-itude. She's been laying in wait, trying to trip me when I'm carrying human food (THAT she's not picky about at all). This morning she woke me up at 5:30 by jumping on the bed and meowing in my face. Then once I was up, she decided that the best thing to do was to sit on my desk between me and the keyboard, purring loudly, and when I put her back on the floor, she proceeded to pat at my arm until I picked her up again. (Like I said, she's a brat, but she's so damn cute and loveable... ) Last night while I was trying to get some words out, she did the same thing.

In this test of wills, I know I will lose. I'd hold firm, but she's so damn insidious with her attacks. The purring, the tilted head and wide eyes, the gentle pats to get my attention, the snuggling up on my chest and rubbing her face against my chin - as if she really does love me. Pure evil. And now she's even got my husband under her spell. "Isn't there something else you can buy for her that she likes?" he says to me before he leaves for work.


Thus, the trip for a wildly expensive bag of IAMS.

She probably won't like that either.

**UPDATE: And the winner is... PURINA ONE! At least, I think she might like it. She didn't eat much, but then again we interrupted one of her frequent naps to show her the new food. In nap vs. food, nap won.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Fat Fingers

No not that kind of fat finger. I literally have swollen fingers this morning. Heh. It's kind of sick how proud I am that my fingers look like little sausages. You see, this happens every time I get a lot of words out. Two thousand words and my hands are a little achy. Four thousand and I wake up with ballpark fingers. My wedding ring is insanely tight (it doesn't help that I'm about twenty pounds heavier than when I got married) and making a fist takes some effort (thank goodness I'm a lover, not a fighter).

And as uncomfortable as it is, I'm happy about it.

It's been a long time since I even hit my goal of writing (or doing something else writerly) for an hour every day. Sure, life's been nuts for the past couple months, but that's no excuse. I'm a writer; I should be writing. Well, thanks to November and the little promise I made myself, I am writing again.

As of yesterday, I passed the 10% mark. I don't know if I'll be able to write that much every day, but it's nice to know I have some words in the bank if I have a squirmy day or if I get busy.

Whether it's NaNo or Sven or forging ahead in your own way, how's it going in your world?


Sunday, November 2, 2008


Yesterday signaled the start of National Novel Writing Month - better known as NaNoWriMo. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm not much of a joiner. I do my own thing. So, I won't be joining in the great gathering of NaNoWriMo. Since I'm mid-book, it doesn't make sense to start a new book just to meet the requirements of the organized NaNo festivities. However, I'm about 50K short of my expected word count for the WIP - which just happens to go by the name Nano (short for Nanotechnology, btw). Seems like kismet to finish this book this month.

Therefore, I am committing myself to writing 50K this month - hopeful that the entirety of those words will be Nano, but allowing myself wiggle room if I get a mental logjam and need to write on another book. Just so I don't add to the confusion of whether I'm part of NaNoWriMo, I'm going to call this venture NNWM.

Heh. Dare to be different. LOL

Anyway, I got started last night and managed to crank out 1349 words on Nano. (And if I'd realized the time was going to change last night, I would stayed up to write more.) That's 318 words short of the expected 1667, but I should be able to make up the difference somewhere along the way.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How about the other big push '70 Days of Sweat'? If both sound too intimidating for you, feel free to NNWM with me. The only rules are to set yourself a writing goal for November, keep track of it, stick to it, and don't worry about whether anyone else is meeting/exceeding their goals. This is an individual event and the only losers are the ones who let themselves down. ;o)

Have a great National Novel Writing Month!