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Change Over Complete!

Here’s my new URL:

http://inthewritemind.wordpress.com/

The title of my blog is “Tales from the Writing Front.” You’ll have to change over the link now if you have me on your blogroll. But it’s the same thing–even has the same layout–I just wanted a new URL.

So I got a little bored with my website title and came up with this.  However I will probably change over to a new URL and I may do this in the next day or so, but everything will be transferred over; I’m even keeping the same layout, but I wanted to change the blog url to something more general than the title of my book. So, this is just a heads up to my loyal readers, since you’ll have to change the URL and re-add me to your list. I’ll put the new link up when everything is transferred over.

Writing Goals for 2009

I realize the time for a New Year’s resolution is a few weeks away, but it’s on my mind now so I figured I’d write while it’s on the forefront.

My goal for this year is to get my first draft researched, edited and completed enough that I can start sending out queries by the end of the year.

I’m this close to typing “the end” with the book. I wrote about 700 more words today, bringing me closer to the goal. I’m not sure exactly how much is left–guessing between 7-10 chapters–but I’m not entirely sure on that so I’ll just say that I’ll finish when I finish. :P

Yesterday at my critique group organizational meeting, we made goals and changes for the year to help things move along better.  We used to submit our chapters or sections a week ahead of time, but the majority of the group was having a hard time getting things read and critiqued well in that time span since two people per week were normally critiqued (there are only seven of us). We decided to make submissions due two weeks ahead of our critique date, giving everyone plenty more time to do a thorough reading.

My first session is January 22nd, meaning I need to have something up by the end of the first week in January. So I really need to get this book done, so I can go back and focus on editing the chapter that’s up next–it generally takes me a week to do that :P

We also decided that we should post a running synopsis of our book up to that point so that if we have to skip a week here and there, we aren’t lost. I found this great idea because a good chunk of my book is changing (at least from what they’ve already read) so instead of submitting new or redone chapters that take place a good deal before where they left off, they won’t be confused and I won’t get comments about continuity :P This should be fairly easy to do as I have a running chapter synopsis anyway.

That’s pretty much all we’ve changed for the year, but it should make things easier for all of us.

Anyway, I am wondering (and worrying slightly) about the monumental task of research waiting for me at the end of my first draft. It’s something I try not to dwell on too much now, but it’s hard not to, as it is a mountain I’m going to have to climb at some point. I am hoping that it won’t be as hard as I thought, but with a completely different culture, language and time period, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Not to mention the task of editing…cannot forget that important aspect.

Anyway, the contest I mentioned in the previous post has chosen finalists. The paragraphs were good–not my taste and most of them were too long in my opinion–but well written. I don’t think any of them are books I’d actually pick up and read by the paragraph alone, but it all comes down to a matter of taste.

Of course I hoped I’d be one of the finalists, but out of 1300+ entries, it was slim. Still, the hope was there as well as the slight disappointment that followed. I see it as practice for the mounds of rejection letters I will probably receive in the coming years for my book :P

One good thing about it though is that if mine was chosen and a partial ms was requested, I’d be scrambling around, editing like mad. I may have over 3/4 of the book completed, but a very small portion of that (perhaps like two chapters) are good enough to even be looked at by an agent. So it was for a reason that I didn’t win at this time–but I will eventually succeed in landing an agent and a contract–I am determined to do such, even if the publishing industry becomes more and more selective and difficult to break through. I will not be deterred! :)

And on that note, I’m off to bed. This post was becoming a bit on the long and rambling side anyway.

I’m putting a plug in for literary agent Nathan Bransford’s Ultimate 1st Paragraph Challenge. All the details are on his site, but the gist of it is to submit the first paragraph of your WiP by Thursday, the 11th at 4 p.m. Pacific time. (I’m sure he’ll love even more entries to read, lol). He’ll post the finalists on Friday and then readers will vote on which one they think is the best.

Currently there are almost 1000 comments/entries. I doubt I’ll win or even come close, but it was interesting to at least enter. Can’t say I didn’t try, right?

Here’s what I entered:

The brisk fall breeze blew throughout the small garden, bringing with it the promise of the long, cold, winter.
The winter of my life, young Sophie thought. A tiny cry came from her baby, as if sensing the despair of the moment.
“Hush, my little one,” she said. “No need to cry.” She rocked her daughter, trying to soothe her while wiping the tears from her own eyes.

Not the greatest piece of prose ever written, but I’m rather fond of it at least :)

Anyway, it’s interesting to read some of the entries and see what people are working on. There’s definitely a lot of talent out there!

So this past weekend was a bit on the hectic side–especially Sunday.

Saturday was my husband’s company’s annual Christmas party. There’s over 2000 people that work in his branch, so it was rather crowded–so much so that there really wasn’t a place to sit and eat until the band started playing at 9. Thankfully we’d gotten there around 8:30 so we didn’t have to wait too long–we’ve decided next year we’re coming after 9 :P

It went well; didn’t leave until after 1 in the morning–mainly because we carpooled and the couple that drove with us wasn’t ready to leave yet. We got home around 2 or so and crashed into bed.

Not an hour later I awake to hear my poor hubby puking his guts out :( I felt awful for him…he was up all night running to the bathroom, and I by extension was up with him, as I was worried about him the whole time. So, I didn’t get out of bed until after noon that Sunday. Poor hubby was in bed all day up until 4 then he managed to migrate to the couch and play a little XBox. I made him drink some too because I didn’t want him to dehydrate. I ended up going to church that night, despite my misgivings, because he assured me he’d be fine (which he was).

I’m coming home from church around 7:30 or so and as I’m turning on the green arrow, I literally am missed being hit by a mere few inches. I was too in shock to hit the horn or do anything really–God had certainly prevented that from occuring because had the man who ran the red light hit me, it would have hit at an angle that would have sent me spinning and the car behind me would have hit me. Needless to say, I spent most of the drive home crying and shaking at such a close call.

Thankfully I came home and found Phil asleep again. He woke up shortly after 8 and managed to eat a handful of Wheat Thins. I wish I could say the rest of the evening went smoothly, but talking to my mom, I felt depressed on things. Everyone’s thinking Grandma may depart this life after the holidays; then I discovered my other Grandma–the one I haven’t seen since I was 12 and the one who lives in hilly Tennessee–never knew I was married–even though this happened over a year ago and my father’s family that did come promised they would tell her–and apparently didn’t. So all of those family issues to deal with.

And one other thing, which isn’t really major but really just the cherry on top of a grand Sunday–I discover that my cousin, who’s still in college and now working at Sam’s Club (a superstore in case some readers don’t know what that is) makes nearly $.50 more an hour than I do.

Grrr.

It seems I would do better working in a store or at a fast food place than being a real estate secretary. And makes me wonder yet again if my four years of higher education really were worth it.

One good thing that happened the past few days–my hubby’s cousin had her first baby, a little girl named Madalyn Edith, on Friday night. She’s got the darkest and fullest head of hair I’ve seen on a baby!

Sigh. That was longer than I’d thought :P

I think I need to spend some major time tonight escaping this world and delving into that of my book–1890s Japan here I come!

I must admit, lately it seems I am becoming somewhat of a literary snob. I don’t want to be this way, yet I have the hardest time finishing a book, either due to the actual story not fulfilling up to its glowing reviews or because the actual writing is so poor, I get frustrated with it.

Seriously, it’s been a couple of months since I last finished a book.

Perhaps it’s because of my degree in English (which has yet to prove useful in life, lol) that I find myself more critical of things. Then again, half the books that are considered classics that we were made to read really weren’t, in my opinion, “classic” at all (case in point: anything by Hemingway. I seriously cannot understand how his work has become so lauded in literary circles).

So, I was thinking about it, and I made a bit of a list of what I consider to be the foundations of a good story. It’s pretty simplistic.

  1. There must be a character the reader can identify with. This has been something that I think has been neglected in many popular books and the “classics.” Perhaps that’s why I dislike Hemingway’s stories so much–I cannot identify with his main characters–or any characters really–that he writes about. Example: Frederick Henry in Farewell to Arms. Throughout most of the story I’m pretty disgusted by him and his actions. How then am I supposed to enjoy the story if I’m reading about someone I could care less about?
  2. The story must be compelling. I may really love the character, but if the story isn’t compelling enough for me to keep reading, I won’t finish the book. For me, this is typical of some chick-lit books I’ve read (or attempted to read and just couldn’t get past the halfway point). I’ll love the character, but his/her story just doesn’t catch me enough and the book will seem neverending. This also goes hand-in-hand with #1. If the story is compelling but the characters are distant, it also falls short.
  3. Will I be able to understand the message? Perhaps I’m not a “deep” reader, but some literary fiction (I say some because I’ve read a good number of literary books that don’t fall into this category) makes my head hurt. Questions are good to have throughout a story, as long as they are not drawn out or never answered. This is what I found particularly frustrating when I took a Contemporary Lit class in college. One of the books we read was Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It was so confusing I would literally have headaches after reading it. The only reason I was able to make any sort of sense of the book was because of my lit teacher (and some of the more talented lit majors :P). Perhaps I’m just not cut out for such “deep” prose, but I do not care for books that need a doctorate to understand.
  4. Is the message too blunt? The opposite of #3 but are you being inundated with the message at every page? This is something I know as a writer I need to work on as I’m afraid I may be making things too deep for the reader to catch on to. But you have to give readers credit; they can figure things out if the message isn’t too deeply hidden.
  5. Is the story too cliche? Is it a story you can figure out the ending from the first few pages? I know nearly everything has been done before. However, a story could be the typical boy meets girl type yet be original in how it’s presented. It’s difficult, but not impossible–I’ve read a good many books that manage to present what could be a “cliche” topic yet are still successful in my opinion–at least to the point where I finished the book.

Finally:
Does the story stick with you long after you’ve finished? I believe this is one of the most important aspects of a great story. If it’s a book you’d want to pick up again and again, a story that haunts you hours, days, weeks after you’ve read it–then it’s a great book. Many stories are good but the truly great ones achieve this aspect.

I know as a writer this is everything that I need to live up to as well, at least if I want my book to be moderately successful and not one that people wonder how it was published in the first place :) I think as writers, these are things we should keep in mind.

I realize that all of this probably makes me sound even more like a literary snob/elitist when it comes to reading–and perhaps I am in a way. But as a reader, I’m spending valuable time with an author and their story. It can be incredibly disappointing when the book you had great expectations for turns out to be a dud in the end. Truly good literature can be hard to come by, but when it’s found, it’s equivalent to gold :)

Anyway, any comments? Any suggestions of a good book are welcome too as I am always willing to try anything.

Maintaining Motivation

Now that NaNo is over and the rush to hit 50K has past, I find myself wondering: will I be able to maitain my motivation?

It’s sad really. The first draft of this book should have been completed a year ago…but December came and for some odd reason, I turned away from the book and didn’t work on it.

I have throughout the year submitted some of my written chapters for my weekly critique group, but I only ever worked on those chapters, rather than finishing the book.

Now I’m wondering if the same will happen this year.

I don’t want it to happen again. I need to get this finished…and I’m so much closer to that finish line that was elusive last year. It’s on the horizon–I can see it in the distance. Yet I can feel myself growing tired, desiring to stop and sit on the sidelines once again.

So, I need to keep myself motivated…somehow. I need to focus on that finish line, getting the first draft completed. I need to make every day like NaNo, even if I only get a thousand words written.

I am hoping to get my first draft completed by the end of the month. By midnight come the 31st of December, I want to have those words “the end” written.

It’s going to be difficult for me–more so than it was during NaNo. Perhaps I’m not what some would call a “true writer”; one who would have the discipline enough to keep writing every day. It’s that discipline that I know I am lacking–but something I have to find if I ever have the hopes of being a novelist.

So, I must still keep that inner editor locked away and search for that motivation to keep going–and finally type “the end” on this draft.

So, my question to writers out there: how do you keep yourself focused on the goal?

I Won!

NaNo Winner 2008

NaNo Winner 2008

I won!! I rambled and wrote to my heart’s content today–probably the most I’ve written in a day at around 4,700 words. Of course that was partially done at work and then done the last hour here at home when I had to get about 500 more words done to hit the goal. I wanted to hit it before Thanksgiving and I did it!!

Now to keep moving on towards the end of the novel, which may have another 15K left. I’m not sure though…but it should be in the next 10-12 chapters.

Official word count: 51,233

To Reach 50K Tomorrow…Or Not?

I’m less than 4K away from being an official winner of NaNo.

I am hoping I can reach the 50K mark tomorrow,  but that means it’ll have to be a slow day at work, for I really won’t have time afterward to work on it. We’re going to the in-laws for dinner then off to the church to set up for Thanksgiving the following day. And then I have to come back and make brownies…but that may end up waiting until Thanksgiving morning depending on how late it is (I don’t really want to be making brownies at 10 o’clock at night…)

Apparently I wrote slightly more than 4K today, not realizing it. I hit the part where my MC was kidnapped and the scene got rather violent with people being stabbed through with swords, sliced in the side, and some fingers sliced off. I’ll probably need to expand the scene more since I’m really horrible at writing action scenes, but the basis of it is there.

The next part will be hard to write as my character is being held hostage. She won’t be kept in a hovel or anything–actually she’ll be kept hostage in rather luxurious surroundings–but it will be hard for me to write where she’s living in constant fear and possibly getting smacked around a bit.

Apparently my actual “historical” character, Mitsuru Toyama, is becoming more of a bad guy than I planned for. He’s slowly taking over my initial antagonist’s role…and may be the true bad guy in the story. My antagonist is still there, but I’m thinking he’s going to become more of a character to pity in the long run as he is pretty much selling his soul to be accepted by Mitsuru.

I should probably do my research and see if this Mitsuru Toyama guy is as bad as I’m making him…but considering he was the leader of an ultranationalist group that employed terrorist tactics and blackmail to gain power, I’m thinking I’m not far off base. Not to mention he was involved in nearly killing the prime minister in 1889… Oh and the fact that the guy was pretty much one of the key players in eventually turning the country towards World War II years down the line with his desire to take over the Asian continent.

So things are going well on the writing front and I’m thinking there’s probably another 15 or 20K before I type “The End.” Then comes the long process of editing…and researching. Oh, they profound joy.

Official Word Count: 46,509

I’ve Been Neglecting This

So, life got busy and I haven’t realized that it’s been so long since I last updated. It’s not much of an excuse really…I must admit that my inner “bum” sort of took a hold of me the last week or so. There were a few days I didn’t write at all and just sat around the house watching TV or a movie or old Gilmore Girls episodes instead of being productive.

Anyway, today Phil comes back from his business trip in Seattle, thus ending the ten days that we’ve been apart. Of course his flight doesn’t even come in until 10:30 tonight, but at least I know I don’t have to sleep alone any more :P

On the writing front, I’m slowly but surely coming along with the NaNo novel. I’m still ahead of where we are supposed to be (despite the two days of not writing at all). Unfortunately it seems to be lacking in quality as the days go by. I didn’t think that it could get much worse–but it has :P

Anyway, I’m getting to a major turning point in the novel, where the antagonist finds my MC and kidnaps her. I’m still uncertain if there’s going to be a death in the process (I’m unfortunately leaning towards yes…as much as I love the character that will probably die in defending her…). I suppose I’ll find out fairly soon as it will be in the next two chapters.

That’s pretty much it…I’m doubting the book will actually be finished by the end of the month, but it should be within a few chapters.

Official Word Count: 36,737

NaNo Update for the Last 3 Days

I realize I have temporarily slacked off in my daily word counts.

Anyway, on Monday, I didn’t do any writing, as writing over 4K pretty much zapped any sort of thinking from me, so I took a break.

Yesterday I fully expected to only write my normal 2K…and ended up almost doubling it again :P I didn’t realize I was caught up in the scene until my hands started to hurt and I checked the word count.

So I’m taking another break today; I may write a little more later tonight, but it probably won’t be much more than 1K.

Because of my two 4K days, I pulled ahead of my sister in word count, which has irked her :P However she’s catching up fairly quickly…

Perhaps I should not take that break…

Official word count: 28,170

(BTW, that word count is only the “second half” or so of the novel; I think total my novel would be right around 75K or so, but that’s a rough guess)

I think my eyes are on the verge of falling out from all the typing I’ve done since Thursday.

Since the last entry I’ve written 7,435 words. In two days.

For some writers, that may seem like a small number but to me, who only averages about 2000 or so daily, that is a monumental amount.

I wrote slightly over 4,000 today alone. I don’t know how, but it happened :P And I was nearly all tapped out of creative juices.

I think tomorrow I may take a slight break; I’m going to at least write enough to get me to the 25 K mark, which is somewhere between 700-800 words.

But I think I’ve earned a tiny break :P Of course I believe my hands and my brain are screaming at me from spending too much time typing and staring at small print on a computer screen. So tomorrow will be mostly for recharging and refueling. :P

Official word count: 24,241

I went to a write-in tonight at this cute little cafe where we had an entire conference room to ourselves. Most of the night there were around five of us, with one or two there for an hour or so. I was there from 6 p.m. to nearly 11.

And only managed to get 2,732 written in that time. I should’ve easily hit 3 or 3.5 but of course when you get a bunch of writers together, we tend to talk a lot, and things go off on some wacky, wacky tangents (a good hour of this time was spent talking…probably more like an hour and a half throughout the night).

Still, the comraderie is good and I still managed to get a good chunk written. And of course the best part is I’m now ahead of my sister. MWAHAHA. (Can you tell I’m just the teensiest bit competitive?)

I may go to another write in tomorrow afternoon but I’m unsure because Phil’s leaving on a business trip to Seattle on Sunday afternoon and will be gone 10 days. But he insists I ought to make it to all the write ins I can, so we’ll see. It depends if I feel like driving the 30 plus minutes to get there :P

Ok that’s it; time for the daily word count update:

Word count: 16,806

Ok I’m beginning to run out of creative titles for these posts :P

Anyway, today seemed easier to get the word count out. I managed to get 2,505 more words written, which surpasses my goal of 2K a day. Today I wrote a scene where Kaiyo finds out about her father’s roots (that he too is also illegitmate, just like she is, which of course doesn’t sit well with her). That was an interesting scene, though I need to punch it up a bit later on.

And the first time since I’ve started NaNo, I wrote a chapter from the antagonist’s POV. It ended up flowing even better than the earlier stuff I’d written today, probably partially due to the fact I involved myself in a 30 minute word war with my sister. Anyway, I’m especially excited about the scene because I’m actually using a real person from history to be a part of it. The man Kaemon, my antagonist, goes to see is Mitsuru Toyama, the leader of the Dark Ocean Society or the Genyosha.

What really  makes me excited about it (I know, I’m a history geek) is that everything flows so well! He was known to have involvement with organized crime groups (like what Kaemon and Kanamoto, Kaiyo’s father, are a part of) and was seen as a very influential figure, as he was very ultranationalist. In fact, he was also implicated in the attempted assassination of the foreign minister Okuma Shigenobu in 1889. So of course I’m using that in my novel, as Kaemon’s gang/organization were the ones responsible for carrying it out (no one knows who actually threw the bomb, so this is where I get to really use my artistic license!).

So yeah…I get really pumped and excited when I find little tidbits of history that fall into place exactly where I need them to be :)

Ok that’s it for today!

Official Word Count: 14,074

Ok, so yesterday I just had to vent a bit, but now that Election Day has come and gone (praise the Lord!) I can now completely devote my mental energy to my NaNo novel.

Too bad the mental energy isn’t translating into gripping prose…

I seem to be rather down on my novel quite a bit earlier than I was last NaNo. It took me at least until the second week; it’s five days (almost six) into it and I’m already at that point.

I can’t seem to get the thoughts to flow correctly or add up coherently on the page. I’m fairly certain I repeated myself way too much already.  That and the story direction keeps changing, so it’s morphing into something that’s hard for even me the author to make sense of.

Whenever critique groups start up again, I am tempted to tell them that I’m scrapping the storyline they initially critiqued and starting over, since it’s already changed so much and they’re going to be utterly confused when they get back into it.

Bah. I hate this; I wish I didn’t feel this way so soon into NaNo. Hoping it will go away fairly quickly and that my prose doesn’t sound as stilted, forced and crappy like it does now. Sigh…

Official word count: 11,569

I must admit I’m nervous about the next four years now what with the results. Not too much of an Obama fan; don’t really agree with a thing the man stands for, especially on moral grounds (i.e. abortion, especially late term abortions…).

But what’s done is done. Yes, I’m going to be depressed tomorrow; yes, I’m even going to wear all black to show I’m in mourning :P Sure, it may be silly, but it’s how I cope :P

I’m also comforted by the fact that at least Congress is not overrun by liberals, so not everything he wants to do will (hopefully) not go through. And perhaps…perhaps…things won’t be as bad as I think.

All I can do is hope.

Anyway…back to writing…I managed to hit 9,509 today. Just 491 shy of 10K. I was trying for that today but got too distracted :P Anyway I’ll definitely hit it tomorrow

That’s pretty much it; tomorrow…or sometime soon…I should break out of this election depression.

Day 3 in NaNoLand

Are you getting tired of reading word count updates yet? :P

Anyway, today’s official count: 7,018

Slowly but surely…

I managed 2800 words (exactly) today. Normally I’m only able to write about 2,000 maybe 2,500 max. So 2,800 is quite a feat for me.

Most of the scene I wrote today was between Kaiyo and Ryuji, from Ryuji’s POV and it was the first “realization” that he might be falling in love with her. Of course the poor man is agonzing over this because he’s not supposed to be falling for his boss’ daughter–especially in a society where marriages were still typically arranged  (even though Kaiyo was raised American). Of course I have to  make certain I don’t make it too angsty, which it could become if I’m not careful. Actually, I may just give in to the “angst” thing until NaNo is over; I’m afraid thinking about it too much might make me not write as much.

I’m still up in the air if I’m going to have them officially together at the end or make it more of an open ended thing. I normally hate open ended books,  but I don’t want this to become cliche. So who knows. But the end is still a very long way off…

Anyway, I’m also surprised at my word count because I got some disheartening news tonight about my grandmother, who’s in the ICU now. I was seriously depressed after finding that out, but I figured it would do me no good to wallow about it, so I forged ahead. We’ll see how she improves over the following days…hoping that it’s not too bad and that she comes out of it ok; otherwise I may be making a three hour drive up towards home.

Ok that’s all for this mismatched and rambling entry!

Day 2 of the NaNo Adventure

I crossed the 4K mark today (thanks to a little bit of haiku, which added a few dozen words). I also challenged my little sister to a word war while at my write-in.

Of course, she won. :P 724 versus 901 in 30 minutes. And of course she is past the 6K mark, but she’s been really working ahead since she’s in college and has classes during the week that she has to focus on. Still, I’m very impressed :)

Anyway, official count for today: 4,218. Just shy of 2K by about 18 words. Still, it’s close enough for me.

I must say the write-ins are very beneficial to be a part of–it helps get the creative juices flowing when around other NaNoers.

I’m hoping to go to a few more write-ins this week, but not sure how many. I figure it’s better for me to go to them than to stay home and be tempted by my birthday present–the Wii Fit. I’ve been playing that a lot the past two days…and actually feeling kind of sore from it :P Apparently my balance is awful though; it even asked me if I had trouble tripping over my feet when I walk! (Embarrasingly enough, I do…clumsiness is inherent trait in me, passed down from my father).

Well that’s all for today; my wet hair is drying quick and if I don’t use the hair dryer, it will be a mess tomorrow!

Day One, Part II

I managed to cross my daily goal of 2,000 words today.

Word count for November 1: 2,236

I wrote slightly less than 1k from early this morning, but as I was at my NaNo kickoff party, there was a fair amount of socializing and eating rather than writing. I did manage 900 something words though and most importantly, met that daily word count goal.

It would probably be A LOT more as I am planning on sticking in two haiku poems in this segment, adding a few dozen more words.

I’ve also decided that perhaps somewhere along the way, I will be having a character read a Shakesperean sonnet (or at least part of one) so that will really bring that word count up. I would like to use that in the novel itself but I’m not sure; that may go in the editing process; it depends on how much it adds to the story.

Anyway, I hope those of you who are participating in NaNo managed to have a good writing day! The first few days are easy but come this time next week, it becomes challenging :P

Day One of NaNoWriMo

It’s a quarter after 1 in the morning and I’ve written about as much as I can tonight before I continue onward tomorrow.

Current word count: 1,394.

Most of it is utter crap, haha. Especially as my brain does not function well after midnight or so; I think I was half asleep as I was writing half of that.

Oh well. My daily word count goal is 2,000 so that means I only need just a little over 600 more words tomorrow, er…later today.

Off to bed now, dreaming of my novel….probably.

Awaiting Midnight

Midnight tonight signals the start of NaNo (as well as my 24th birthday)! I’m going to try and begin writing some then, even if I only get a few hundred words. I tend to stay up late on any given night anyway (on average going to bed around midnight or so) and normally I’ll stay up until 1 or 1:30 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Anyway, not sure how much coherency there will be to my late night writing, but it’s fun to actually do so for NaNo.

Before then though, I need to crank out as many chapter summaries as possible; I’ve gotten a few past the point I ended at during last NaNo so I won’t be writing blind :P However, I’m thinking I won’t come anywhere near close to writing the rest of them, so I probably will  just have to follow where the story takes me. Normally it’s difficult for me to write without some sort of basic outline, but it’s not impossible. Besides, most of my summaries end up changing a great deal as I am actually writing. My characters end up doing things I don’t expect, which I know every writer at some point has experienced.

I’m also realizing that I think my novel will be way too long with the course I was following, so I think I’m going to do a number of major changes (such as Kaiyo never discovering her father’s identity and profession until much later on). It’ll take out bigger chunks and hopefully speed the story along, as I think it’s kind of plodding along now.

I’m wondering if I should make her father’s identity a mystery to the reader as well but I’m still on the fence with that one. Part of my thinking is if the reader  knows his identity for most of the book, they’ll get frustrated seeing Kaiyo never discovering it. But then I’m not sure how much the reader will like being kept in the dark for a longer period of time without becoming annoyed as well. I can’t dwell on that now though or else it will take away precious thought space on the edge of NaNo.

Anyway, good luck to all of the rest of you out there embarking on this month long novel adventure!

Excuses, Excuses

I realize it’s been too long since I’ve blogged. Unfortunately work has zapped all strength from me this past week. It’s been non-stop busy and generally I’m too tired at the end of the day to want to do anything that requires thinking (or more time in front of the computer).

However I pushed myself today, realizing such habits would NOT do me well during NaNo. So I continued on with my chapter summaries, hoping that I may actually finish them by Friday at midnight and the start of November. Not sure if I’ll make it, but if I don’t I’ll just do my best to write without them–who knows, that may actually end up being better for me.

Anyway, I still promise to keep the blogging up, if not for a daily update on word count and some story progression–that’s what I planned on doing over a month ago when I devoted myself to being a consistent blogger :) And there will be NO EXCUSES to avoid it :)

I believe one of the reasons I’m so fond of writing is because I was captured by the written word at an early age. I simply cannot remember a time when I didn’t have a book in front of me.

It started very early:

Reading at a young age

And of course, it was my duty as a big sister to teach my little sister how to read:

My earliest memories go back to around 3 or so, and I can remember sitting on the living room floor, reading one of those big Disney books based off the movies (Sleeping Beauty was my favorite) and having my parents point the words out to me as they read the story out loud.

One of my dad’s favorite stories to tell (though I’m not sure how much truth there is to it, haha) is that at age four or five, I’m studying a cereal box and then ask what the word “carbohydrate” means. Of course I don’t really remember this particular story, but I did read the sides of cereal boxes all the time when I was little, so I suppose it’s not out of the question.

Anyway, I remember I started telling stories before I could write; I’d have my mom transcribe them for me. I have a whole huge folder of these stories, now faded by the years. Still it’s interesting to see what kind of story my four-year-old self came up with.

I used to love to watch Reading Rainbow too (anyone remember that show?). I’d always try to rush to the library shortly after to get the books they recommended.

I had a lot of favorite childhood books, I was especially fond of The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein; Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw; and of course the funny Wayside School Stories (Sideways Stories from Wayside School; Wayside School is Falling Down; Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger). And then as I got older I loved the American Girl books; those books were, in fact, what got me started in writing historical fiction (as my first “novel” was written at age 11, all handwritten :P) All of these books (and MANY more) helped shaped me into the writer I am now.

And of course I can’t forget the influence of family. My dad has always been one to weave stories around seemingly insignificant events, but somehow captures everyone’s attention. He doesn’t write any of them down (as they’re all based off his life) but he’s got a way of talking and grabbing your attention. His life has really been one amazing story and perhaps one day I’ll collaborate with my sister and we’ll write it all out.

Then of course my mom was the one who spent most of the time reading to me and helping me along too. I suppose I get the artistic gene from her since she was always good at drawing and art.

And my little sister (no longer “little” anymore). She and I would always come up with stories revolving around our dollhouse people, complete with names and character quirks. We did the same with our stuffed animals; we had complete histories for their little world and everything. And now, I’m happy to say, she’s becoming a writer too :) She’s writes more along the lines of fantasy and sci-fi but that trait has worn off on her too :)

So I’m posing the question to those who read my blog: do you remember what age you started to read? What were some of your favorite books as a child? Were there any children’s books that inspired you?

Let the Madness Consume Me

A little more than a week and the NaNo craziness begins!

Not only that, but November 1st is also my birthday (I’ll be the big 2-4 this year). What can be better than birthday cake, word counts and word wars?

I am hoping to get more of my chapter summaries done; the goal is to finish those but I’m uncertain if that’s going to happen. I am trying, though I’m normally utterly exhausted from work when I get home at 4…and I only work five to five and a half hours a day. It’s hard for me to want to do anything but laze around on the couch during the week. It’s sad; I need to push myself more despite the exhaustion.

Work has been a little on the crazy side, considering now I’m the “official” office admin assitant (the PC term for secretary). This past week there have been times where I seriously had to remind myself to breathe as there was so much to keep up with!

I’m still missing things here and there; if not for the former AA  (who stil technically does a lot of the AA work and helping me transition) I’d be making mistakes left and right. I’m getting things slowly, but there is SO much that I have to remember it’s insane.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who desires to work in the real estate industry :P It’s ever changing and ever frustrating.  Agents can be very demanding, though most have been very understanding that I’m still learning and that it’s not going to happen overnight (in fact it’ll probably be another six months before I feel truly confident). The industry is constantly changing though, especially with the slow economy (even though I wouldn’t think that by the number of closings I am processing on a weekly basis). Still, I shouldn’t complain, as it is a job and I do work with many good people.

So I’m trying to balance myself between the madness of work and the impending insanity of NaNo–though I’m looking forward to the latter :) Cranking out 50K + words in a month could be considered a mark of insanity, too…then again, I’ve not met one writer in life that doesn’t border on the sane/insane line :P It’s what makes us be the wonders that we are :)

So, I did manage to get some of my book worked on. Not any actual writing itself, but considerable work on my chapter summaries. I moved them around, added some, deleted others, etc.

I’m also going to condense them a bit so they aren’t as convuluted as they are now. I started working on the smaller summaries this weekend getting up to about chapter nine or ten.

I know it seems like I’m stalling the actual writing part–which I am because I’m waiting for NaNo. I figure now is the planning and re-organizing stage. There’s lots of little issues I’ve been finding as I go through the older summaries and I’m trying to fix them now. Key word there: trying.

I need more weekends where I’m out in the middle of nowhere with no distractions like TV and internet. That seems to be the only way I ever get anything done. Perhaps I ought to try working on my novel more out at the local bookstore or Panera Bread or something. I may get more done that way!

I’m Going to Try

I’m going to give an honest effort to try and work on some of my novel this weekend. I’m not sure if I’ll work on the chapter summaries for NaNo more or try to edit one of the chapters that may be getting critiqued in the next few weeks.

We’re supposed to be heading up to church camp this weekend for our church’s small campout (about 30 people show up…that’s half of our church :P). Considering there’s really not much to do there, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to work on the computer some (the cabins have electricity and showers otherwise I would NOT be going up there this weekend with the cool fall weather nights). I suppose we’ll see.

Not sure how much time I’ll have Sunday, as we’re going to a cabin that my husband’s aunt and uncle are renting. But I’m hoping that evening I’ll be able to get something done.

Well I have to get going…violin lessons in a half hour!

I know I’ve been wondering whether or not I should have a prologue in my story. I’ve read that a lot of agents don’t like them and many will reject the entire manuscript because it has a prologue. Personally, I think that’s a bit overboard–I’ve read plenty of books that were published and that the prologue added to the story.

I was reading on Writing World that for a book to warrant a prologue, it needs to be one of the four following:

  1. Future protagonist–meaning that the prologue is set after the events of the novel and show why the following story occurs. It also needs to be written in the same POV as the rest of the novel.
  2. Past protagonist–It shows a defining moment that occured and made the protagonist who/what  he/she is and helps the reader further understand the character.
  3.  Different POV–Obviously this is that the prologue is a relevant event seen through the eyes of another character. The relavence HAS to be seen at some point in the book. It helps an author pull of plot twists that would not otherwise be revealed or known to the MC.
  4. Background–Normally these are used in fantasy or sci-fi novels to give a background to the world that the story is set in that the reader would not be able to pick up on in the story. Again, it has to be relavent to the story. This one is the hardest one to master and do successfully.

Currently, my novel is using a mix #2 and #3. It starts off with Kaiyo as an infant, a few months old. Obviously we don’t see in her viewpoint as she is so young, but I have it through her mother’s. In it, I briefly introduce her father–who throughout the story remains obscure to her–and show him parting from Kaiyo and her mother. I don’t go into the reasons behind it, simply to say that it’s safer for them both. I thought by using this, it would show some background to her story and thus is a “defining moment” when her father determines to stay out of their lives.

I’m wondering if it’s really needed or not, though I do like the fact that it’s there. I do have to change some of it. I figure I’ll decide on its necessity as I edit more.

Anyway, if you are writing a novel, do you have a prologue? What’s its significance? Does it use any of the four types of prologues or mix of them? I’m curious to see how many actually use them in their writing.

A Bit of a Writer’s Slump

Not surprising that I’m going through yet another one of these spells of what I like to call “writer’s slump.” Not exactly like writer’s block, just the fact that the motivation is getting hard to find. Hence the name.

Perhaps it’s because the past week has been a bit on the crazy side. First, there was the sudden death of a beloved family pet.

Then came traveling a total of 6 hours to Cleveland and back to Dayton between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon (not something I complain about–it’s nice to see my family).

Of course there was the great celebrating of a first anniversary yesterday.

And I can’t forget the myriad of new and often confusing responsibilities I’ve been given at work.

I must admit through all of this, the creative juices have stagnated :P

It’s hard to keep it flowing when I’m just so busy all the time! I know–it’s not a valid excuse. A true writer would keep going regardless. Perhaps I’m not a true writer in that sense. I find it very hard to keep writing when so much is going on…I try but often with less than stellar results.

Still, what’s the use of complaining about it? It really gets me no where :P I just need to try harder.

I need to make every month like NaNo…it’s just hard for me to get into that mindset.

One Year Ago

One year ago today, I married my wonderful husband.

It’s hard to believe an entire year passed already…it all went by so quickly.

Of course the wedding day went by in a blur. I just remember before it I was seriously nervous (since I hate being the center of attention) and kept having visions of me tripping down the aisle in my gown because of my inate clumsiness, or being so overcome with emotion that I’d be crying and unable to speak the vows clearly.

None of that happened though :) In fact, I didn’t cry at all–I smiled and was on the verge of laughter the entire time :)

We had a small wedding; four bridesmaids and four groomsmen and just under 100 guests (I wanted even less than that, but he’s got a slightly larger family than me).

I remember the nerves I had getting on the plane the following morning to North Carolina. I’d never flown before then so I didn’t know what to expect. I realized I’m not one for flying though–I was getting a bit motion sick on landing. But it was definitely worth it! We went to Emerald Isle, North Carolina and it seemed like we had the entire bed and breakfast to ourselves (we were the only people there at the time). The weather was perfect–about 75 degrees every day with no rain. And I’ve realized that if I ever visit again, it’s going to be in October because there are no tourist crowds, which made it more relaxing.

So much happened in that one year…but it still went by so fast! I wonder what the coming years have in store for us?

Banner for my novel, created by a fellow NaNoWriMo Participant

Banner for my novel, created by a fellow NaNoWriMo Participant

Isn’t that the best? August. over on the NaNo forums is taking requests from people (up to November I think) for a banner.

Here’s the link to the thread:

Taking Banner Requests

Anyway, I think it looks great–they even used the singer who I base my MC’s looks off of :) (I suggested it and they found a good picture).

Anyway, I know some don’t see the value in NaNo–I’ve read some comments about how it’s only for “amateur” novelists and those not serious enough to commit all the way. I know others think it’s too much hype.

Though that’s true for many, I know it’s also a falsehood, since without NaNo, unfortunately I don’t think I would have been able to write nearly as much as I have for my book–and not in a month’s time. I suppose I’m not as dedicated in some aspects as I should be…but NaNo helps fuel the dedication. It’s also helped me connect with others in the area and be a part of a critique group (again, something a great many writers say is unnecessary, though I disagree in many aspects…that’s another post though :P)

Besides, writers of NaNo have been published, and by some pretty notable companies too.

Did you know that Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants was written during NaNo? A book that ended up on the Bestseller’s list nonetheless.

NaNoWriMo may not be for everyone–but it’s definitely something that I encourage others who aspire to write a novel to at least look at. :)

Goodbye, dear Bailey

My parents had to put their dog Bailey (and my dog too…) to sleep :( She was nine years old. I remember getting her as a 6 month old puppy at the pound when I was a freshman in high school.

The last time I saw her was on Labor Day….

Not sure what killed her exactly–she’s been having issues the past few weeks (even when I went up last month) with her left side and coordination. They think it might have been some sort of spinal abscess or tumor.

Mom called crying .She said Bailey was howling…and in the nine years we’ve had her, I never heard her howl. I guess I just feel really horrible for my mom….she’s been through so much the past six months, what with Grandma’s stroke and caring for her and visiting her daily at the nursing home, to Bailey getting sick so suddenly and dying like this….

I can’t lie; I’m pretty much a basket case right now :( I think it’s the combination of never seeing her again and the pain my mom’s going through….and the fact that my sister’s at school four hours away, wishing that she could be at home around family.

Phil and I were going up to see them this weekend; I was so looking forward to seeing Bailey. Now I won’t see her again…:( I really wish I could’ve been there, at least to help my parents…Sorry for such a depressing post but I had to get it out.

)

Bailey at age 7.

Accosted By Characters

It started with my MC Kaiyo. I always thought I understood her–her personality, nuances, motivation, etc. I thought I knew her and what made her tick, so to speak.

I found out I was wrong.

Though I didn’t actually work on any of my writing this weekend (surprise, surprise…), she accosted me. Kaiyo kept shadowing me the entire weekend, being persistent (as she is known for…), telling me more about herself than I’d ever imagined. She’s a lot more complex than I’d originally thought! She practically screamed at me when I was listening to Natalie Grant’s song I Will Not Be Moved  saying this was HER song; this was the cry of her heart. I never understood her completely until I heard it and now there’s a new understanding I have of her and her story.

Now that she’s thoroughly satisfied that I understand her completely, it seems she’s rallied all of the other characters, for now they are coming forward and letting me know that I need to examine them more. :P

I’m especially surprised by Ryuji, who still tends to be on the mysterious side, but since Kaiyo’s little dare, he’s found himself slightly more emboldened to let me know how I’ve characterized him wrong too :P It seems that there’s a slightly darker past that he has that he never let me see before now. I never really knew how much pain he was really in and how brave he was. I’m understanding why he keeps his distance from people now.

And then there’s Iesada, Kaiyo’s estranged father…he too is very secretive and not really certain if I’m to be trusted with his story; however, I’ve discovered an entire backstory of his that he’s let be revealed through other characters…but with his permission of course. He likes to  be difficult with me, but it’s understandable–his rank as oyabun in the yakuza makes him this way.

And I can’t forget the antagonist, Kaemon (as much as I want to!). I know I tend to avoid him, because he’s so intimidating, but I can’t any longer. I’m afraid to see the true depth of his darkness, for I know he enjoys causing others pain and gets some sick joy out of it. I don’t really want to examine his character, but I know that I’m going to have to if I want to tell the story the way it ought to be. (I can hear him already laughing about what I’m going to discover….)

 I’m spending a great deal of time daydreaming and not being quite here in this world as their world and their lives come to the forefront. And of course, as a writer, I am obliged to sit and listen, for it would be a great injustice to ignore them (even though I don’t think I could if I tried!).

I know a great deal of writers are accosted by their characters at odd times and I’m sure that anyone who has characters and stories can understand this :) Even though this entry does make me sound a bit on the crazy side!

Writing Meme

Here’s something I found on Pterodaustro Dreams‘ blog, a survey/meme thing that I found interesting. Feel free to use it for your own blog :) It is a meme :)

Do you write fiction or non-fiction? Or both?
Strictly fiction. I only did non-fiction when I had to do research papers in college.

Do you keep a journal or a writing notebook?
I suppose I have this one, but then I have a little notebook I carry with me should any ideas creep into my head while I’m at work, church, the supermarket, etc.

If you write fiction, do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?
I know the gist of their goals and conflicts before I write but then it often evolves as the characters decide to grow and change and pretty much take lives of their own. I try to keep up with it, but sometimes it just comes out when I’m writing a chapter.

Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?
I think I’m a procrastinator most of the time. I say I’m gonna do it; I dream about doing it; yet the book is still unfinished. Perhaps it’s because I realize the depth of the story that needs to be told and it’s a bit frightening; perhaps it’s also the research factor that I know will consume my soul at some point. Either way I know I need to STOP being the procrastinator and just get with it already, otherwise I’ll just be another writer who longs to have the story told but then never does it.

Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?
Generally it’s short bursts. I have a hard time writing for more than two hours at a time–and most of the time that’s when I’m out at a write-in for NaNo or forcing myself to work on the laptop of mine that doesn’t have Internet access. If I have distractions like Internet, I get sidetracked….perhaps a bit of ADD there. :P

Are you a morning or afternoon writer?
Afternoon/evening. I have work (as most of us probably do) and while there are some slow times I can do things, I generally can’t concentrate enough there, so I do it when I get home.

Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?
I must have some sort of music playing. It’s too hard for me to “get in the mood” of the story without it. And the music generally has to be some sort of movie soundtrack, classical, or on my “novel playlist” meaning it’s a song I think represents a character/theme of the story. During NaNo I often work with others at a cafe for a write-in, but then I need my music to help me along. My thoughts don’t form or flow without it (another reason I have a hard time at work writing if there’s time).

Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)
Computer. I wouldn’t be able to read my handwriting; I can type words faster. Writing longhand would require hours of trying to decipher the scribbles :P I used to write longhand back when I was working on my first novel at the age of twelve or so (before computers really became big) but my handwriting was also neater for some strange reason :P

Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One? Or do you let the story evolve as you write?
I have the gist of the ending but nothing definite. It’s changed and evolved as I’ve added different things. Actually, I’m kind of struggling now with how exactly I’m ending it–the last few chapters are up in the air. I suppose that’s one thing that I’ll see what happens as I get closer to that point.

Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?
Not really. I mean, how many other books are out there involving the yakuza and a half-American/half Japanese young woman? None that I know of :P I only ever write historical pieces too, so if for some reason historical fiction becomes obsolete in the next five years, I suppose I’m at a loss! :P

Editing/Revision – love it or hate it?
Not really sure…sometimes I like it, because it makes the story better, other times I get frustrated by it. But it’s necessary and I know it’s what will make my book marketable, so I’m leaning towards liking it.

Thanks again to Pterodaustro Dreams for posting this!

Outlining Before NaNoWriMo

Throughout the past week, I’ve been revamping and changing my outline for CHRYSANTHEMUM PROMISE.  I’ve added more chapters to the beginning to better identify the close relationship between my MC Kaiyo and her mother; I’ve taken out a few characters and one sidestory that I thought would draw attention away from the main one; and I’ve added another character.

I’m figuring I probably should actually work on outlining what I’m actually writing for NaNo instead of the changes, but that pesky inner editor of mine wasn’t letting me :P So, the goal this weekend and the coming week is to get through most of the outline–at least to Part III.

I know I won’t follow this exactly–I always change something along the way as I’m actually writing–but at least it’s there to give me an idea of what will happen next. While I’m generally not an organized person, when I’m writing I have to be, at least somewhat. I cannot understand how writers can go without outlines–I’d be going all over the place. Perhaps they feel that an outline stifles the creativity. But each has their own style that works for them. Mine is the basic ever-changing outline.

If you’re writing for NaNo–or just writing a book at all–are you outlining it? Or do you work better without one?

I’ve discovered very early on that it’s incredibly challenging researching for a novel that takes place in a culture and in a place completely different from your own.

Since my book in set in Japan in the mid-Meiji era (1890), it’s posing to be a challenge. For one, as an American and “westerner” I’m not experienced in the Eastern culture, so I really have to immerse myself in books, videos and other sorts of research to put myself there and not make any major cultural gaffes.

And then there’s the language barrier…I don’t exactly speak Japanese (although I’m hoping to learn at some point). I know a few words and phrases; I know how people are addressed (-san, -chan, -sama, etc.). Still it’s difficult creating what I would think is semi-accurate dialogue.

And of course, it’s really hard setting my book in a real town that’s basically remained unchanged since that time and can only rely on pictures online and descriptions of it to put it in my book. Unfortunately, with limited income, I can’t really afford a two-week trip to Northern Japan to do the really great research I’m dying to do.

Oh and I can’t forget the whole aspect of involving the yakuza in my book. Finding detailed information on this has been frustrating at best. I’m thinking it has something to do with the fact that it’s still a bit of a taboo talking about this vast and incredibly complex “underworld.” I have found a few books and some information on the Web out there but not enough detail for the time period I’m needing. Most of the information comes from part of the Taisho period (1912-1926) and then a great deal during the Showa period (1926-1989). Mine takes place in 1890…I know it existed then–they’ve been around since the Edo period. And I also know it probably vaguely resembled the modern yakuza. All I can ever find for my time period is a page or two at most of info…

I’m not giving up though. I just have to find another way to go about it. And I will not sacrifice historical and cultural accuracy–books like that make me extremely annoyed as a reader; I do not want to put my readers in the same boat.

I suppose this is part of the fun of being an aspiring novelist!

Theme Songs for My Novel

A couple posts ago, I mentioned how there were certain songs and soundtracks I liked to listen to when working on Chrysanthemum Promise. And then I finally noticed I could actually post music on here :P

Anyway, here’s what I consider the “theme” for my novel. Sort of. It’s called Nara by E.S. Posthumus. I can picture it all in my head like a preview for an upcoming movie. (Perhaps because it’s been used in movie previews…)

It’s YouTube videos with the songs; I couldn’t link to the actual songs anywhere.

The other theme song would be “Rebirthing” by Skillet–for me, all the characters (not counting the antagonist) are looking for some sort of a new life and this song captures that feeling.

Perhaps when I can actually find just the song files, I’ll load the rest of the “soundtrack” :P

I have been asking myself this question since I graduated college: What made me pursue a BA in English?

For starters, it was the closest thing that represented what I was interested in. I tried journalism, but of course the school I went to decided to  make it mostly graphic design focused, and I’m NOT artsy enough for that…and then senior year they changed it. Go figure. I was three years too old. So I majored in English.

History was another consideration of mine, since my passion for it is about as equal as my passion for writing. But I realized that a history degree would only really be useful for teaching or else going and getting a Master’s which wasn’t something I wanted.

Now I’m discovering that pretty much is the same for English.

I can’t seem to find a job relavent to my degree–at least not in Dayton, Ohio…I know, not the greatest area, but I’m kinda stuck here. Hubby has a good job and he’s advancing quickly. Unfortunately this area is pretty much only good for technology related jobs…something I didn’t go to school for and have no interest in.

I went six full months with nothing but temp work…then I was able to fall into a job as an admin assistant (glorified term for secretary) in real estate. While I’m thankful for this job, I’m also finding myself growing increasingly depressed about it. Mainly because it’s not anywhere near related to any thing I’m interested in, and also, it’s a job I could’ve done right out of high school. It makes me feel as if I flushed 80K down the toilet. Don’t get me wrong–I really do like the agents; they’re very nice (most of the time, but that’s like any job) and I have a great boss. But it’s not my passion and it feels like I’m stagnating.

I have been working on my book more and more and I’m hoping that’s my saving grace…because right now there’s really not many options here, unless I were to pursue a Master’s and try for a library science degree (which I feel would probably also lead me no where, and then I’d be stuck with even more college debt).

Sorry for such a downer post; I suppose I’ve had plenty of time to think about it…

Countdown to NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month (aka:NaNo; NaNoWriMo) is about a month away! They’ve reactivated their site and I’ve been busily typing and participating in the forums.

I’ve known about NaNo for years but last year was the first time I participated. I ended up with almost 52K by the end of the month. It may have been closer to 60 if not for my bout with food poisoning the second week, but I managed to come back and meet the goal.

Unfortunately, I haven’t worked on my novel as much as I should have over the past year–I haven’t progressed the storyline at all, though I’ve gone back and edited a few chapters (the ones submitted at critique sessions) and added more, so it’s in all likelihood over the 60K mark now.

I still need to finish it though, and that’s why this year’s NaNo will be devoted to that. Yes, technically that is against the official rules, but it would be unfair of me to sit and start another book with this one unfinished. I’m going to try and meet the goal of 50K again, but I’m hoping to achieve the goal of finishing the book and typing the ever elusive words “The End.” Not sure how long it’s gonna be…I’m thinking between 110-125 K. I know that’s a rather large range but I’m not even halfway at the point I’m at now–I think I may be about three or four chapters short of it. Plus I need to add three or so new chapters to the beginning, to flesh out the relationship a bit more between my MC Kaiyo and her mother, Sophie (alias named: Sarah).

Anyway, I’m still pumped about November. I love attending the local write-ins and gathering with fellow writers in our crazy quest. (If not for these write-ins, I would not have met my wonderful critique group).

So, if you have even a smidgen of an idea for a novel, but have been pushing it off, NaNo is the time to do it! There are thousands of writers around the world that are doing the same! Though the month is often crazy and filled with some late nighters, it’s incredibly fun and worth it in the end.

Any one up for the challenge can get more information here at NaNo’s official site:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/

I find that I’m deeply affected by music when I’m writing. I don’t know about you, but I always see my story play through my brain like a movie–complete with a full orchestral soundtrack. 

Anyway, I have a “soundtrack” of sorts that I listen to when I’m writing. They help me visualize the scenes better. Most of the time, it’s instrumental in nature, though I do have a few songs with lyrics to them.

For example, one of my favorite “songs” for my book is The Chairman’s Waltz from Memoirs of a Geisha. Something about the way the violin plays so beautfully in that song just makes me envision my MC up in the Snow Country of Japan,learning to adapt to a different life. It also displays the budding romance that’s occuring in her life.

Then there’s Nara by E.S. Posthumous. It’s a song that’s normally been used in movie previews. It helps me to envision my book as a whole, as I can see the story progressing much as a preview would. I always listen to this before I start writing.

There are many others; some classical pieces like Schubert’s Ave Maria as well as the Bach/Gounod version of the same song; Pachebel’s Canon in D is another one too. Then there’s about a dozen or so various songs (like Waiting for the World to Fall by Jars of Clay and Stand in the Rain by Superchick) that I feel describe my characters. The list is ever growing!

I know I’m not the only one who does this; my younger sister is in the middle of writing a fantasy and she has certain “theme” songs for her book too. I think music helps to open the mind and stimulate those creative juices.

So, I’m posing a question to all writers/artists/musicians/bloggers–anyone really–and wondering: What gets your creative juices flowing?

It’s a variety of things for me, but I find that I come up with my best stuff while I’m in the shower. I don’t know why–perhaps the hot water opens up the pores or something–but that’s when it normally comes. I’ve worked my way through many countless writer block occurences and come up with many of my short story ideas (in fact, the only one I had published came while I was in the shower at college).

Of course it’s not the ideal place…especially since you can’t really take a pen and paper in there or leave it on the side, for water will still get all over it. That and there are times I may get so caught up in a storyline that I’m seeing in my head that I don’t realize how long I’ve been in there…so that can’t be too good for my water bill :P I’ve debated taking those bath crayons in there but I can’t very well write all over the walls every time–that would be a lot of cleaning to do afterwords and I’d still have to transfer it to something more permanent.

I find that listening to certain music, especially music soundtracks, will also put me in the mood to write. The ideas may not flow as well as they do in the shower, but I’ve done a great deal of writing while listening to my favorite soundtracks.

Anyway, I’m curious–I’d like to know what makes the ideas/words/pictures flow in your head. :) (And Yes, I came up with the idea for this post when I was–you guessed it–in the shower).

Well, needless worrying from me yesterday, as only one other member showed up to my critique session :P We went over my chapter for a little while and then over my story as a whole. I received a great deal of insight and how to progress further. For one, I know for certain that I’m sticking with third person POV. I was told that I convey it very well. So no sense in messing that up by changing to first person.

I also figured that I am going to cut back a bit on the other viewpoints.  It seems like the other characters’ stories are taking over (but it is the rough NaNo draft I’m reading…). There will still be four different viewpoints (My MC Kaiyo, her father, Iesada, the love interest, Ryuji and the villain, Kaemon). The other three will be shown only occassionally as it pertains to the story. It’ll probably take a great deal of adding/removing/changing as the book progresses, but at least I don’t have to worry about too much sidestory.

I’m still going to have to research the yakuza of the time…even though I don’t think they were called that just yet in 1890…and even though I’ve looked all over for books detailing this period, I only ever get a paragraph or a page at best. So that’s still a bit of an issue. BUT I managed to find this really nifty book about traditional Japanese furniture, so now I’m not completely in the dark about that.

So overall, my critique went well–I was told it was the best chapter written so far. So I KNOW I have it in me to write a compelling novel. Sometimes I struggle with the whole confidence thing–always have–but last night’s critique built it up considerably :) I haven’t gotten any of the other critiques back, as they were all absent last night, so I have another week to wait before I see the varying opinions (as some are a lot harsher than others). Still, I know that at least one person likes it (and he tends to be one of the harder reviewers), so there’s something there…:P

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