Doing Nano is Not Like Riding a Bike

I have to admit that being that this is my 4th year doing NaNoWriMo, I came into it with somewhat of a cocky attitude. I’ve done this before. I just published The Road Home, the novel whose first draft I wrote during my first Nano. I’ve always come up with way more than 50k words. I got this. I can do this easy peasy. Not so fast.

Doing NaNoWrimo is not like riding a bike. Just like every day of our lives, the fact that every week has a Monday doesn’t mean that every Monday of our lives will be the same and I learned that lesson real quick this year. October 31st I was sitting on my bed, ready to start right at midnight. I hate the look of a totally blank page so I have to admit that I wrote the title of the novel before midnight, but I don’t think two words will disqualify me from the race. As soon as the clock hit midnight the race for words started and I went to bed around 12:30am with already 2k words. I was on top of the world.

Well, since the week before Nano I had been struggling with a cold, which of course doesn’t cripple my fingers, but it does fog my brain. Now I had to push through going to work, go to all the write-ins that I committed to host and the rest of my life not feeling my best. Also this year was election year and I was glued to the television waiting for the results.

The reality is that although I’m still making good stats and I’m ahead on my word count it has been quite a struggle to do so. My focus and concentration have been divided between responsibilities, life, and writing more than in years before. But also I was not counting with the editor Monster to be part of my journey. For some reason I had been able to just write out my story in years prior. This time the editor voice in my head refuses to shut up. By Day 3 I was ready to push select all then delete. I have to say that thanks to my NaNoLanta Wrimos I held back from doing it and just wrote an alternate Chapter 2 that has allowed me to go on with my story.

You may want to know, which story did I choose. As per your suggestion and my desire I’m writing “The Adulteress” and if I finish it on time I will begin Greetings from Saint Nick, but right now I don’t think that second part is going to happen, because this story has gone way out of the original plan and taken on a life of it’s own. Oh, and I have managed to write almost half of this novel and all my characters are alive. Talk about an accomplishment.

Well, let me go and stop using my blog as another method of procrastination for the struggle: I have to write this novel.

Write Wrimos Write!

WF: Eye of the Tiger + God will make a way

I know it must be weird to you that I chose Eye of the Tiger for this Worship Friday, here’s why? Today is Day 2 of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) The goal is to write a novel of over 50k words in just this month. This makes me feel like Rocky when he was training to defeat the Russian on Rocky IV. Although this is not the training but my actual Russian is here (my word count), I hear this song inside my head as I need to push through my sleep, tiredness and lack of muse to achieve my word count. So enjoy the Eye of the Tiger… (with a few Rocky scenes)

But I would not leave you without a song that brings glory to the real owner of my muse. So here’s a worship song to praise the King of Kings and Lord of Lords that will also energize me through this race. Because even when I have no time or no energy or no ideas, God will will make a way. He always does.

Happy Friday!

WF: Worship Friday

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In Growth Lessons, I was reminded of this beautiful truth: Our walk with the Lord is a process of growing up into the image of Christ. P. Yates

I would recommend this book for anyone who would like some common sense and light added to their life. C. Cunningham

Great for meditations and daily devotions. N. Thames

Its Nano-time!

Recently the stores are not waiting even for October to start putting out Christmas things for us to buy. I started seeing lights, trees and ornaments as early as the summer. I remember when Christmas used to start closer to Thanksgiving, now the preparations are beginning right after the fireworks of the fourth of July.

However, the sights of Christmas decorations don’t make me think of festivities. It does remind to prepare for the celebration of the birth of My Lord and Savior, but that’s on my spiritual side. As a writer it starts to get my juices flowing for the event that I look forward all year around.

I have never been the athletic type. When I was taking journalism courses in college I took some sports journalism classes because I was determined to live vicariously by those with the gift of athletic ability. At that time, my dream was to cover the Olympic Games or the Superbowl as a journalist. But the Word says that you shall ask and you will receive and as a writer now I have a yearly Superbowl of my own… NaNoWriMo!

The coolest thing is that I don’t have to go through eliminations or rigorous exercises or a qualifying process to participate in my “Superbowl” All I have to do is go to www.nanowrimo.org and register for free… what an awesome thing! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s the challenge to write a novel of 50k words or more in the month of November. Talk about an adrenaline rush.

This will be my fourth year. If you want to try it, you still have time. It doesn’t start until tonight at midnight. If you’re like me, you will be at 11:55pm with laptop in hand looking at the watch and the fingers ready to start. However, I have a dilemma that all of you can help me with. I have two stories to choose from to write this year and I can’t make up my mind on which one to write. Remember I have to start writing it tonight so your votes need to be casted ASAP.

oie_925716pIaKN5y6Story 1: The adulteress- Contemporary Christian Fiction

A couple who’s been married for 18 years start struggling with the wife’s sudden desire for freedom and her infidelities. Can this marriage be restored? Can a praying husband bring his wife back to Christ?

Story 2: Greetings from Saint Nick- Murder-Mystery Christian Fiction

This is the sequel of Seasons Greeting from Amelia (Novella coming out December 14th) (Background on the Amelia Novella- Amelia and Daisy are high school friends. Daisy starts finding random letters from Amelia in her house, but Amelia is nowhere to be found. In each letter Amelia confesses to her best friend some of her crimes and leaving clues of the crimes she’s about to commit. Can Amelia be stopped? )

Then in Greetings from Saint Nick, Nicholas is Amelia’s son, now in college. Estelle, Daisy’s daughter, suspects that Nicholas is following in his mother’s footsteps, but nobody believes her. Is it true? Is Estelle just imagining things?

These will not be the covers for the actual books once they come up for publication. I just did these for fun.

I would love your opinion and looking forward to starting my writing “ Superbowl” tonight”

Go Pandas!!

Testing the waters

One of my struggles throughout the year is finding time to write. I have a regular full-time job. I have a lot of ministry responsibilities. I have an elder mother who somewhat depends on me. So when I’m home,sometimes the cleaning, the finally having a chance to sleep or finally having a moment to have dinner with a friend cuts those moments short. I still manage to do it, but some days are more challenging than others.

I think my biggest challenge is that I’m a night person and have the ability to be up and ready early for my regular job I had to be in bed by a certain time. I’m not complaining at all. I’m very grateful for the job that I have, I’m just stating a fact.

This past week I had the opportunity to see what my life as a full-time writer would look like for the first time. In the past when I took a vacation, it was to do a specific errand or travel. This time I took my vacation time to write. As you all know I’m participating in NaNoWrimo and today starts the second day week of the challenge.

I was concerned that I could not be disciplined enough to be home, do what I needed to do and keep up with my writing. I’m proud to say that I proved myself wrong. Since I’m a night person, I woke up early, not by choice but my dog can’t walk herself. I prepared a full breakfast. I have not had one of those in years. I did loads of laundry, worked on my platform for a few hours in social media, read some of my educational blogs, finished the questions for an upcoming interview, by then it was lunch time. I took a quick nap (30 minutes) because I had gone to bed at 3am.  Got up, took a shower and went to my first hosted write-in where I cranked an additional 2k words. As of now I’ve written a total of 30,000 words and it’s just been a week. I know that this is a first draft that requires a lot of revision, but I actually enjoyed the pace of life I had during that week, and I honestly worked harder than my usual weeks.

This gives me hope, that yes, in God’s will and in due time, I can be discipline enough to make my gift, my full-time job and lifestyle.

Wrimos, lets keep on writing!!!

Be blessed.

NaNoWriMo has arrived!

…and we shall surrender to the fire that runs through our veins. We shall abandon it all for the upmost desire, the one that will allow the adrenaline to run, the words to entangle and the body to stop breathing…

Oops! I had not seen you there! I’m just getting ready for tomorrow…well tonight. NaNoWriMo starts right at 12:00am and I’ll be ready. I did my last trip to the store to stock on goodies for the month.

By now, some of you have gone to your kick off parties and have received tons of tips and advise from experienced Wrimos, but just in case let me do for you a virtual Nano Prep-Kit:

Icy Hot is your friend- I discovered that during my second Nano. When you are going to many write-ins and having many word wars your wrist become unhappy, but you need to continue writing to get through that word count. It works like magic…it does smell, but it’ll wake you up to make you write some more.

Fill your pantry with hot pockets and ramen noodles- it’s not because of budget reasons. You don’t have too much cooking time. Save your grocery money for your write-ins and take that opportunity for a good meal, but unless you have someone else cooking at home… you need to do something quick. You have writing to do! Remember to buy frozen meals for your family if you’re the one in charge of meals…it’s against the law to cook in November for Wrimos…I tried to warn you!

Coffee– This is vital, you don’t need sleep. You can sleep in December. November is for writing. We will allow you a quick nap here and there so you don’t hallucinate…although that may help your story.

The rules for Thanksgiving– I use to host Thanksgiving every year at my home. Nano broke me out of that bad habit really quick. Now I allow others the opportunity to cook for three days and have their houses to clean afterwards and I offer to bring dessert; which will be carefully made by a local supermarket. Lessons to be learned.

Treats- buy your favorite treats and reward yourself after different milestones in your word count. Also buy your kids, dog, cat or all of the above new toys and treats so that they have something to do while you’re writing.

SAVE YOUR WORK!-Omg! You have no idea how many times we have lost thousands of words, full pages and some have lost their whole work because someone accidentally clicked on the wrong button, the cat decided to crawl over the keyboard, the baby thought the keys looked appealing, the computer decided to die…the thought alone gives me a panic attack. But do not fret. The other thing I’ve learned is about dropbox.com It’s a free storage place for your documents and pictures. You can access it from any computer as long as you have internet access. You can even access it from your Ipad and IPhone. So if the computer dies your novel doesn’t go to the grave with it…but not even dropbox can save the novel for you. Do not trust auto save…every 15 minutes or so hit the save button, it takes 1 second and it will save you from a heart attack or pulling your hairs out.

I finally want to say that I’m very excited as this year I’ll be hosting some 111030-161919write-ins for NaNoWriMo. YAY! Look in the nanowrimo.org site and go to the forums to find out when there will be a write-in close to you. It’s a great experience. For those Pandas in the Atlanta Area that will be going to the write-ins hosted by ‘therisingmuse” look out for these two cute faces.

Happy Noveling!

It’s beginning to smell like Nano

I can’t believe November is around the corner. It’s finally not a hundred and five degrees. I was able to sit outside without the fear of melting. The stores ahead of the game as always have already all the Christmas things out, but the best thing is that it’s Nanowrimo time!

For those who don’t know what Nanowrimo is, it’s the National Novel Writing Month. It’s where thousands of writers abandon themselves into the crazy challenge of writing a novel of 50,000 words or more in just the month of November. This will be my third year doing Nano, but different that my prior years, I have no clue of what I will be writing about.

Us Wrimos (Nano writers) are doing all sorts of preparations at this time. This is our Super bowl, our All Star Game, the moment we wait for all year long. Wrimos are starting to pre-cook meals for their starving families, taking pictures of themselves as that’s all their families are going to see, blocking their calendars from other social events other than our write-ins (meetings of wrimos to write in public places)and buying extra underwear as there will be no time for laundry during the month of November. We will only stop for two hours on Thanksgiving because we need to be thankful to God for our lives, our muse and the turkey and then back to writing.

Do I have many wrimos out there? Do you have a plan set in place? I would love to hear from you.

Let every word count.

Wrapping up NaNoWriMo

Writing samples: Parker 75
Image by churl via Flickr

As I sit here, thirty minutes to the end of this crazy month, I decided to write a reflection on the lessons that have come out of November 2010. I know that after writing almost 300 pages of fiction, you would think that the last thing that I would want to do is write. On the contrary, that’s one of the things NaNoWriMo does for me, it is the fuel that fills my tank for the next 12 months of future writing.

What were my November lessons?

  • · I need an outline– Last year I had an idea of what I wanted to write. I even wrote the name of the chapters. This year, I knew what story I wanted, had the title ahead, but didn’t know the development of the story which caused many writer’s blocks and moments of frustration.
  • · Write-ins and Nano community are vital for success– I can’t thank enough my Municipal Liaisons for their support. They kept me encouraged, motivated and challenged to go above and beyond my own goals. I also became more involved in the chatroom and not only was very motivated but I will be laughing at some events for the next 12 months.
  • · Who’s who– I did get my chai latte and my smoothies. I am very appreciative to all of you who in one way or another kept checking on me or supporting me throughout this month. I also saw people fell of the face of the earth because I couldn’t be there for them during this month in the same fashion that I usually was. It’s sad when people can’t support your dreams, but I always like when God does house cleaning. He’s the best!
  • · Motivation– As a child writing was my hobby, when I returned to the writing arena I knew it was my passion, now I know it’s also my ministry, it’s what makes me happy, what I was created to do and as long as God allows me to move these fingers, published or not, I will continue writing.
  • · You don’t have to gain weight just because you’re writing– I tend to eat and write and I have to admit that I did it this year as well. What was the difference? My food choices. I ate more fruit, organic cookies and to my shame a lot of diet soda. Water got boring quick, so instead of juices or other things diet soda kept me busy from eating and I actually lost 3lbs during the saga. I also tried to make better choices at the write-ins.

What’s next?

  • · There’s a Christmas surprise for my readers in the works.
  • · Writing and submitting two short stories for an inspirational contest in March.
  • · Editing and submitting one of my books for another inspirational contest in June.
  • · Waiting and letting all of you know of the results of all these submissions.
  • · Continue to inspire all my readers as I get inspired myself through this blog.

 

I thank you all for your patience and support. The glory goes to God, I only show up with my laptop and my fingers.

YAY! November is over!

Third Going on Forth (NaNoWriMo)

NaNoWriMo: the home front

I can’t help but compare my last year Nano experience to this one as they have been totally different. I think probably is because I’m also a different person and I’m in a different place in my life. To be honest, I think I have enjoyed this year way more.

I did get to experience the dread of week two which I had not experienced last year. I do remember thinking many times that I was not going to make it last time. I never remember thinking of quitting. This year I did…oh did I!

Now at least knowing the basics of NaNoWriMo and having taken the time to read their website, I’ve opened myself up closer to the actual experience. I’ve discovered that yes it’s about my plot and my characters and that dingbat word count, but the community part actually came alive for me.

Last year I did attend three write-ins and I know it helped. I got to meet people and have fun. This year I’ve immersed myself in the community. As of today I’ve attended four write-ins, but I’ve also been in the chat room every single night, keeping me connected, that has been the difference. Has that helped my novel, I honestly don’t know. I do know that it has helped me enjoy the process, vent frustrations and truly make new friends to whom I’ve already expressed how much I’m going to miss them after December 1st.

 Week three is now behind me and looking to Week four with mixed emotions. I’m excited about being able to submit the fruit of my labor, but it also means that NaNo would be over.

Reflections from Week 2

nanowrimo, day 16 goal
Image by paloetic (limited internet access) via Flickr

Last year when I did NaNoWriMo… I didn’t have a story to tell. I had somewhat of an outline, but the hardest part for me was to come through with those 50k words. I was excited but I just didn’t think I was going to be able to make it. I think my fear of not making it and definitely God’s help got me through each stage of the month and I don’t remember experiencing all the things that they say happen on week 2. I can’t say the same about this year.

First of all, after not finishing script frenzy back in April, I was really concerned about meeting word count. So I left the gates dashing out and giving it all. I thought this time it would be easier, not only have I been down this road before, but this time I have a story to tell. I was wrong!

Yes, I had a story to tell that was burning inside of me. I didn’t need outlines or chapters; all I needed was to get it all out in that paper. For the first week I wrote and wrote and by the end of week 1 I had over thirty thousand words and most of my story told. I realized that I had made an outline out of my novel. There were things that were not developed. The worst part, I got confident about my word count and I stopped writing for one single day. It has taken forever to get back on track even when I’m writing an average of 2k words a day right now. My story had died.

 By Tuesday of week two I was ready to call it quits. I didn’t tell anyone because I have been blessed with lots of friends who are praying and supporting me through this and I know it was going to let them down. I hated my novel, it totally absolutely royally sucked! Between Tuesday and Wednesday morning I took the time to go back and fill those empty holes that my speed writing had created. I got more word count, but I was still not satisfied with the product. I was so disappointed. Then the magic happened!

 Wednesday was the perfect day to quit. I had lost some of my work, I still don’t understand how. I lost my dinner by stumbling into one of my dog’s bones in the floor and I threw cranberry juice in my cream carpet and I was writing the worse novel ever. I’ve read of some people who hate their novels in week two and they want to delete it and start over. That was not my plan. I was done with the whole thing. I was packing my bags and going home. As I do every night, I went to our Nano chat room and there was something I had never done before, a word war that lasted an hour.  For those not Nano involved or knowledgeable, that means writing without stopping for an hour.  I have done tons of word wars before, but nothing longer than fifteen minutes and trust me your mind and your fingers want to explode. An hour? Are you kidding me? What the heck, I don’t think I have enough to write, but let’s go for it!

That was precisely the breakthrough I needed. My mind was forced to see the scenes from other angles. I found my plot, my novel was coming back to life and the story was getting better than ever. Those sucky parts can be dealt with during editing after the fact; they are not too bad to affect the content. So with new ideas, new discipline and fired up with what I’m writing I’m approaching week three, without the concern of word count as I’m already at 48.5k, this is the time to finish writing a great story!!

Nano update: Dreaded Week 2

A section of DNA; the sequence of the plate-li...
Image via Wikipedia

Like one of our fearless Atlanta ML (Municipal Liaison) would say, this week feels like being in the middle of a traffic jam on 285 during morning rush. After writing 35,000 words, I feel like I’m in the last stages of labor. I can’t sleep, I have a lot to drink, therefore a lot of stops to make, I’m craving weird stuff to eat and pain…oh a lot of pain (from thinking and typing, LOL!). The reality is that they are just Braxton hicks’ contractions, in other words false alarms; this baby is not ready to come out( or in NaNoWriMo lingo, we still have writing to do. The story is not finished yet).

One thing I have learned from this year’s Nano is that you should never stop writing. If your story is not finished, the fact that you have a bazillion words doesn’t mean you can take a break. Somehow your brain thinks that the break implies that you’re done and it takes twice the effort to get yourself in gear. So, if you want to give yourself a mini-break, get on the page at least for five minutes and write a paragraph, a line…whatever it takes to keep you connected to your story. I had to learn it the hard way. I was very confident with my work last week. I wrote a little on Friday and none on Saturday even though I had the time. Then yesterday, going back to my labor analogy, it took pitocin (meaning going to a write-in), a chai latte, three word wars and a good frustration cry to get me back in gear.

My story has taken a life of its own. I had something envisioned and for those who do not write, believe me characters are like your children, they may have your DNA but ultimately they do what they want, and you have to rail them in to do what you know it’s best for them (or your story). I knew I had reached insanity when I spent five paragraphs describing a bathroom and a doll house. They were pretty though. So after a good chat and a couple of laughs I’m ready to get back to business, the discovery of the murder. Who did it? Stay tuned…