NaNoWriMo 2013: Goodbye Girl

Dear NaNoWriMo,

I am breaking up with you. This isn’t a “he didn’t dump me, I dumped him” situation. I simply feel that we have outgrown each other. I won’t be hitting fifty thousand words in November, and I am more than okay with that.We’ve been going through the motions for a whole month, and that’s long enough.

I appreciate everything you did for me. Because of you, I can say that I have written two complete novels and am near completion on a third. I might never have found the motivation to undertake such a task without you. I learned things about myself and the craft of writing, and I met many new people in the time I spent with you.

You are too young for me NaNo, too young and too fast. You are courting younger writers behind my back, and while I am glad to see them getting opportunities and support, I am not getting what I need from our relationship. I need time to write with the quality and clarity I yearn to achieve. I want to write with other adults, who have life experience and are writing with purpose and direction. I am ready to write more than once a year, and if I don’t break up with you I know I will keep on saving up good ideas to use on you instead of writing them while they are fresh and exciting. I need support, motivation, and encouragement on at least a weekly basis, not one blinding month of tweets and e-mails and write-ins followed by eleven of darkness.

It’s for the best NaNo. You can get what you need, spreading your message far and wide. I will get what I need to write with depth. So long, and thanks for all the memories.


Skeggjold, no longer an ArmchairAuthor


NaNoWriMo 2013: Eye of the Tiger


Over the weekend I prepared to catch up by deep-cleaning my living room (like legit, I-dusted-the-blinds-and-windowsills clean) and having my husband deep clean the malware from my laptop. I did some great shower-thinking and talked out a couple plot concerns with said husband’s help. I even added a few new songs to the playlist to help me write the final scene: “Mad World” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Last night between five and midnight I knocked out just over five-thousand words, putting me at 24k. Six days to go and I have more than half of my word count left.

Why do I feel so optimistic about it?

NaNoWriMo 2013: Two-Thirds Past

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Inklings, I’m gonna be straight with you. I caught up after my sinus infection! Eighteen thousand and some-odd words. Then I didn’t write anything for two weeks. Then my super pregnant writing buddy informed me that I couldn’t give up because she needed to live vicariously through my writing! Then I wrote a new scene, out of sequence, on a steno pad and it was gorgeous and I loved it. Then I lost the steno pad.

Still suffering from a complete and total lack of motivation, despite liking my characters and what I’ve written and knowing the direction things should be headed.

Ten days left and my word count is still at 18k. Thanksgiving break just started, meaning I should not end each day completely wiped out by classroom observations and my own course load. Can I catch up?

Stay tuned.

NaNoWriMo 2013: And They’re Off!

It is the second day of National Novel Writer’s Month 2013 and it has finally occurred to me what I should have done in the run-up to November 1st so that I would be ready to write this tale. Obviously it did not occur to me, but I do have a year’s worth of thinking and two chapters to get me going (I did not count anything written before Nov. 1st in my word count).

Here are the books I should have read in October, but checked out on November 1st:


The one bit of preparation I did manage was putting together a playlist and a Pinterest to help me stay in the right mood:

And then there was the ice cave I visited this summer in Austria, by way of novel research:


Maybe I’m more prepared than I thought.

Not as prepared as I’d like, then? Of course, given my druthers I would be J.R.R. Tolkien levels of prepared. A lifetime worth of study pouring into my novels. Then I’d never write anything! Luckily there is NaNoWriMo to kick my butt into gear.

Seriously though, I was feeling so incredibly unmotivated this year. I am excited about my project and where it’s going, but I felt no drive to write it…or even get ready to write it. Not great considering that I am the Unofficial Co-ML of my region this year. So far I have hosted two write-ins, both with much larger turnouts than last year. That’s encouraging!

I am still raising money for the organization that makes NaNoWriMo possible, along with a classroom writing program for children and teens, in the hopes of making it to the Night of Writing Dangerously. If you would like to help me out, you can donate here

I’ll try to keep checking in throughout the month. How is your noveling going? It’s not too late to start!

Moving Targets

Much like a shark, if I don’t keep moving in my life I sink to the bottom. And maybe die, I dunno, I’ve never let it go that long. It is for this reason that not only will I be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, with the added challenge of being a co-ML, I will also be attempting to make it to the Night of Writing Dangerously.

This shark just looked really excited. About his challenges?

This shark just looked really excited. About his challenges?

The Night of Writing Dangerously is a late-stage event in which NaNo-ers converge on San Francisco for a night of candy, cocktails, and frantic writing. If you finish while you’re there, you get to ring a bell. Which would be sweet. The only way to get into this event is to raise $250 for a worthy cause: The Office of Letters and Light. This nonprofit not only administers NaNoWriMo, NaNoEdMo, Script Frenzy, and Camp NaNo each year; they run writing workshops in public schools across the nation to encourage children to improve their literacy and explore their creativity through writing. A worthy cause, no?

This is where you come in. If every single follower I currently have donated a single dollar, I would be just under halfway to my goal. I am and have always been a terrible fundraiser, wrapping paper and cookie dough order forms languishing under my bed while others marched up to accept brand-new Huffies and boomboxes as reward for their “looking cute and having well-connected parents” acumen. I’m going to try anyway.

I hope you’ll find it in your heart (let’s be honest, wallet) to help me out.

My fundraising page:

Feel free to link or mention this to whoever you please, it can only help.

A Case of the Cowardlies


Which is really just a raging case of perfectionism. I have written a new prologue to Grove, deleting a lot of the old one and absorbing the rest into the new. I have heavily rewritten parts of the first few chapters and made a few major changes to the characters and writing. There’s a good balance of what I had and what I want, and I have the first five pages that I need to submit for this Pitch Wars contest ready to rumble. Two-thirds of the novel needs editing, but it’s finished and I can edit it by the 12th when teams are announced. Entries are due by the 5th, Wednesday. Why am I chickening out now?

Perfectionism. All it really means is that it is not possible for anything to be good enough. Nothing is perfect, and to a perfectionist that doesn’t just mean “could be better”, it means “not ready”. Which means everything, forever will be not ready unless some other non-perfectionist comes along and says “hey, cool!” and grabs the thing we are obsessively fiddling with from our overly judgmental hands. My husband is often my catalyst, my non-perfectionist telling me “It’s good: turn it in, submit it, show it, get it out there. Get paid for it!” Luckily, he’s very honest, so I tend to trust that he won’t tell me something is good just to soothe the frazzled perfectionist in me. Instead, he tells me to eat something or go to bed.

Productive. What a lucky lady I am.

This does not solve the perfectionism problem. I keep telling myself that there is no harm in trying, just write the damn query already and send the three e-mails. The worst case would be that no one picks me for their team and I am back exactly where I am today, which is not so bad. Best case would be selling my novel and having extra money and more people to discuss it with. If you haven’t noticed, I am trying to talk myself out of my cowardly spell with this blog entry.

When I read the team captain’s blogs I feel like I am so ready, and when I read my novel I think it could be so much better. It’s good, and I like it, but it could be more. More exciting, more meaningful, more thrilling, more more more.

You can let those first two go by but I think I’ll swing if it’s all the same to you, Casey.

Then I go read my reviews on Goodreads and think about how I am a lot more harsh on books than most other people are. I think about how I hold myself to that same standard, a tougher one even, because I don’t cut myself any slack the way I try to remind myself to do for others. I think about people out there who might enjoy my book if they had the chance to read it. I think about authors like Maggie Stiefvater and Stephen King, and how their writing has grown and developed greater depth over the course of their careers. I think that I will grow, too.

Which probably means I shouldn’t let every single thing I write languish until the day I have grown “enough”…because I will probably never be able to identify that day.

So that was the wind up, and here comes the pitch.

Hoping to connect.

NaNo 2012: A View from the Top

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That’s me! As of Monday, around eleven-ish. I promised myself if I finished by midnight I would buy myself a winner’s shirt so Merry Christmas to me! I wrote ten thousand, thirteen words in a single day. A personal best, without a doubt.

Now I can clean up my house and give up soda and take up exercise to make up for abusing myself and my surroundings for the past month in the name of fiction. But first!

At the beginning of this month, a fellow WriMo asked me if it was harder to write my first novel or its sequel. I couldn’t really answer that question at the time, but I feel qualified to tackle it now.

Thoughts, Lessons, and Other Stuff from NaNo 2012

1. I finished writing several days earlier this year than I did last year. One might say I had become a better writer or that writing a sequel was easier, however my husband was able to point out from his relatively impartial perspective that I had all year to think about Starsand and plot it out in my head, while Grove was started in a seat-of-the-pants moment late on October 31st (or early Nov. 1st if you want to get technical). All year to sort out plots and playlists and ponder my characters and their motivations.

2. My actual writing was slower with Grove, because I was not particularly practiced and questioned my choices on everything from tense to specific words. Starsand was easier because those choices had been made, and I had a template of tone and world to follow.

3. On the other hand, I spent a lot more time staring at the screen with Starsand, debating with myself over how things would happen given my characters and world. How they would see things. How they would say things. I had parameters and history to contend with, I couldn’t just start fabricating things when the writing got rough without considering how it fit into what I already had.

4. I like Starsand now a lot more than I liked Grove when I finished it. That felt like the seed of something good, this feels like…something good. I am excited about it. I kind of love it. It isn’t quite finished, but it’s close.

5.  With Grove, I skimmed over events that I didn’t know how to write well…or ones whose place in the narrative felt uncertain to me. Sometimes it felt like writing scene-to-scene-to-scene. I wrote Starsand in a much more linear fashion, it flowed like telling a story out loud. I only skipped around when I got good and truly stuck.

6.  Writing Starsand was what I needed to do in order to be ready to edit Grove. It needs some fairly major surgery, but that seed of goodness remains. I just have a much clearer picture of what it’s supposed to grow into, now. I understand what it’s about. I understand all my plots and how they should relate. I am no longer terribly concerned that it will hurt anyone’s feelings or offend anyone or cause Conservative Christians to build book-burning bonfires (it might, I’m just not worried about it).

7. Last year’s NaNo was more exciting, more fun even (maybe), because I didn’t know if I could do it. I had that thrill of daring myself to do something ambitious. This year I started knowing I could, with my work clearly cut out for me. It was a different kind of challenge, and one that often felt like the work it was. A challenge of refinement, rather than one of creating something compelling from whole cloth.

8. I’m thinking I may try to become an ML next year because our region’s turnout has just been sad. I was completely alone at the last write-in!

9. I still do not have a firm grasp on how to punctuate dialogue.

10. I like writing dialogue and setting more than almost anything. Describing physical expressions/postures/actions and emotional states, not so much. A tendency toward the cliché.

Since I am sitting here listening to my Starsand playlist, enjoying how appropriate it ended up being despite the late-night addition of one seriously questionable song by Grizzly Bear,  that’s what I’m going to leave you with. If you don’t have Spotify, you should get it because it’s free and it’s one of the best things.