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Archive for September, 2008

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/

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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.

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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 😛 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).

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Well, needless worrying from me yesterday, as only one other member showed up to my critique session 😛 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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Tonight’s my turn to be critiqued in my writer’s group. As much as I know this is necessary, I still dread it everytime 😛

I always know it’s not a personal criticism of my ability to write…still, it’s always a bit painful to watch as your carefully planned and written chapter is dissected and analyzed to shreds. Of course, I know in the long run it will make it better, more marketable to an agent or publisher, but being the overly emotional person I am, it feels as if my very heart is ripped out each time…

BUT, on the positive side, I always know that each and every reader will see it differently, so what one critiquer might like, the other may hate (which has happened every time in the dozen or so times I’ve been critiqued). No matter how much I may perfect it, no reader will see it the same way and there’s no way that every person will like it.

At times, I think I’m also my own worst critic.

I’ve gotten better over time; once, not so long ago, I wouldn’t even let people read my stuff, so overly critical of it I was. But, I found a Christian writers’ website and started entering their mini writing challenges…and the first one I entered placed and was put in their quarterly anthology (hasn’t happened since then, but a few times have been close). So, I’m not as bad as I once thought.

So, though it’s sometimes painful, I’m very glad that I’ve been able to be a part of these critique sessions…even though that shadow of dread creeps upon me every time 😛

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I am such a horrible procrastinator when it comes to writing my novel. Seriously, it’s never gonna get published at the rate I’m going.

I’m still up in the air about 1 POV or 3 POVs…so I am going to write a sample chapter then the next time I’m up in critique (the end of October) I’ll ask them and see what they think about me changing the POV or leaving it the same. Sometimes I don’t mind third person but then there are times I’m wondering if I could get the story conveyed better by just focusing on the main character.

Anyway, I’ve made myself a goal list

  1. OCTOBER 5th: Have a sample chapter written in first person.
  2. OCTOBER 25TH: Have a rough outline done for both 1st person POV and 3rd person POV possibilites.
  3. NOVEMBER 1ST: Decide once and for all if book will be in third person POV or first person POV.
  4. DECEMBER 1ST–Have completed the first rough draft of my novel.
  5. SUMMER 2009–Send manuscript off to editor
  6. DECEMBER 1ST 2009–Begin sending queries out to literary agents
  7. 2012–Hopefully have the book published…….

In between December and the summer, a BIG focus has to be the research factor. Possibly this will continue until I send it out in December of 2009 to the first agent. Not sure if this is realistic enough or not…I may not be allowing adequate time in between the editor going over it AND getting it back to me in time for me to make the necessary changes. Possibly may have to back this up, but the goal is to at least get queries sent in by the beginning of 2010. Perhaps the book will finally be accepted and then published by 2012…:P

Of course it would be better if all of this could be done sooner but I know how much I procrastinate and I know how much my inner editor tends to take forever on going over things….as well as the massive and intense research I know must come as well.

One of the goals I had was to get to northern Japan where a good part of the book takes place…HOWEVER, I can’t see that happening in this short amount of time, especially since I know it’d require a good 10K to travel there, spend a week to ten days, and then come back. For now online pictures will have to do…

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