Thankful Thursday: critique partner edition

Last night I met with my critique group (Writing Roosters) which always results in renewed energy and inspiration. What was different about last night’s experience is that I came home with a whole new game plan for my work-in-progress. A kinda scary yet exhilerating plan!

Laura Perdew and I were talking before the others arrived and after describing where I was at in my new project (outlining, figuring out stuff, writing VERY VERY slowly), she suggested I do NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month takes place in November and participants set a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve never done it before (although back in the glory days of LiveJournal I used to participate in writer Jo Knowles’s modified JoNoWriMo+1.5 which ran September 15-November 30).

Normally, I’m not a proponent of banging out a whole bunch of words in a short time because I know how easily I can get off track. Fast-drafting can also lead to SLOW revising as I struggle to make sense of the “story” I created. However, I think I can get myself set by November 1 so that I have a strong outline and characterization in place before writing this book. I realize that part of the reason for the SLOW writing on this project thus far is due to me second-guessing every other word. I need to give myself permission to get the story down as outlined and then revise from there.

So. Today I’m grateful for my critique partner’s kick in the butt.

I’m in for NaNoWriMo. Anyone else participating this year?

Writing of a Different Kind

I haven’t been good about updating my progress on my JoNoWriMo goals.  For the record, I am writing.

However, not all writing has been fiction.

Last week I joined other volunteers at Democrats Work in sending out postcards to new voters, urging them to get out and vote.  My hand cramped up and my shoulders got tight, and I quit at 33.  Today, though, I wrote 55 postcards! 

A couple weeks ago I felt guilty for not canvassing but now I’m happy I can be part of the effort without my blood pressure skyrocketing.  Plus, the competitive me enjoys the fact I can get through a list of 30 names faster than the other volunteers. 

It’s the little stuff that keeps me going.


JoNoWriMo+1.5: FINISHED!!!

I’m pleased to announce the completion of draft #2 on a middle-grade novel (working title FRAMED).  The first draft was written and completed during last year’s JoNoWriMo+1.5.  That draft was pretty stinky.  This one has a bit of an odor to it, also, but nothing a little airing out won’t fix.  I mean, we’re not talking rotting cabbage or anything.  I hope.  We shall see in a couple months when I pull it out and read start to finish. 

Thank you, thank you to

 for spearheading this community effort again.  And thanks to my LJ friends who cheered me on along the way.  It’s really so wonderful taking this journey with all of you.

I wish each of you happy writing as you forge ahead with your projects and deadlines.


Mad Dash for THE END

I’ve finished writing the draft of my MG for JoNoWriMo+1.5 and am currently plugging holes in the ms (I use BLANK in the text and then go back later to fill in the character’s last name, or the food item someone was eating, or whatever I hadn’t yet figured out at the time I was writing) before making my official announcement that I finished.

But I wanted to share what I discovered about those 3000 words I cranked out last week in one sitting.  Those words were in the last big scene of the book which I knew pretty well since I’d written lots of notes and could visualize it.   Today as I moved around the document plugging holes, I realized that the last big scene slipped from past tense into present.  It read like an announcer at a horse track calling out the  race.  You know, that neck-in-neck kind of stuff.

Anyway, it made me laugh.


Waste-Not Wednesday tip


That’s what I wanted to post late this afternoon.  It was the only thing I could handle posting because although I had all sorts of ideas for today’s environmental tip, I couldn’t wrangle the words.  I just could not wrangle words into a coherent paragraph.  I felt like the world’s worst writer.

Then I forced myself to leave my family for the evening and head to the library with my laptop.

Guess what?  I wrote about 3k words and am now past my JoNoWriMo+1.5 goal of a 38k-words middle grade novel.  Don’t worry, I realize that exceeding my word count goal is about as meaningful as still having checks in my checkbook when there ain’t no money in the account.  But I’m a helluva lot closer.

I understand I’ve got to keep writing until The End.  I’m just grateful I didn’t waste this Wednesday.


Beating its wings in my face

I’m still working on my JoNoWriMo+1.5 project.  Despite being ahead of schedule, I’m experiencing almost daily bouts of Help, my book has fallen and it can’t get up!

Last night I felt the need to take a break from children’s literature so I started reading Edith Wharton’s THE GLIMPSES OF THE MOON.  The Nick Lansing character is writing his first novel, and Wharton begins her seventh chapter with this:

 Of some new ferment at work in him Nick Lansing himself was equally aware.  He was a better judge of the book he was trying to write than either Susy or Strefford; he knew its weaknesses, its treacheries, its tendency to slip through his fingers just as he thought his grasp tightest; but he knew also that at the very moment when it seemed to have failed him it would suddenly be back, beating its loud wings in his face.

Ain’t that the truth.



I’ve fallen WAY behind on updating my word count but am so pleased with my progress that I just had to share:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
28,014 / 38,000

I think I’ve definitely established a writing habit. I set a goal of 400 words per day but usually write a few more EVERY SINGLE DAY! (Well, I didn’t write one day this week but I did story mapping so I was working. Really. Truly).

How’s everyone else doing with their goals?

Days Fifteen – Nineteen: JoNoWriMo+1.5

It’s been crazy around my household this past week. In spite of the various ups and downs, I kept to my word goal although I won’t vouch for the quality of anything written. This might possibly be the suckiest draft in the history of the world but I’m forging ahead. At this point I’m writing scenes out of order. I never do this. Maybe once or twice in other books I wrote one scene out of order but not the way I’m doing now which is to basically fend off that icky brain-creep paralysis by writing whatever it takes to get me to my word count. So while it might all be dreck, I’m at least establishing a habit by writing each and every day. That part does feel good.

But man oh man, this writing gig can really take it out of a person. Yesterday I realized it’s already October which means I’m nearing the end of yet another year in which I didn’t sell a book and then I think about January 1st and how I’ll soon be staring down that whole hopes and dreams and goals routine for the new year wherein I continue to flail about wondering if I’m incapable of producing anything anyone wants to read, and the whole situation makes me want to curl up in a ball and disappear.

May I just say “Shit on a stick!” and “Crap on a cracker!”? (And feel free to share any of your favorite expressions so I don’t feel too juvenile.)

Anyway, I’m posting my stats here so I can at least remember that I’m honoring my word count goal while I battle the demons in my head:

Day 15: 321 words
Day 16: 511 words
Day 17: 516 words
Day 18: 440 words
Day 19: 739 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20,733 / 38,000

Days Thirteen and Fourteen: JoNoWriMo+1.5

Day Thirteen I eked out 360 words while at the Rockies baseball game. I wasn’t all that surprised to read them today and discover that all but maybe 34 of those words stink. But hey, I was trying to keep with the program.

Day Fourteen went much better and although I was practically in tears at one point, declaring that I hated my book, I kept writing and exceeded my goal. Who knows how many of those are keepers, though. At this point, I don’t care. I stopped at a good point so I’ll have momentum tomorrow and I can only hope that momentum doesn’t steer me right into a slag heap. Or the literary equivalent.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
18,206 / 38,000

Day Ten: JoNoWriMo+1.5

Probably only half these words are any good but I consider them all gold at this point because I’ve fulfilled my promise to myself and this project despite being quite tired from the hours of busting sod today plus the drive to Boulder for a summer camp reunion/potluck for Wildebeest and Zebu plus the knowledge that in about ten hours I’ll be headed back to Boulder for my weekly appointment.

Last week I saw two bald eagles circling just as I hit the Boulder city limits. Maybe they’ll be there to escort me tomorrow, too. A woman can dream.

And that’s what I hope to be doing very soon.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16,324 / 38,000

Day Nine: JoNoWriMo+1.5

Not only did I achieve my word count today but also made great progress on my sod-busting project in my front lawn. I reached the sidewalk! It was dark by the time I got there which helps explain why I didn’t notice where I was stepping. My nose figured it out pretty quickly, though; a little treat left by some dog. Those shoes are spending the night in the garage.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15,970 / 38,000

Day Eight: JoNoWriMo+1.5

I’m happy with today’s words but am a little leery of what’s coming tomorrow since I didn’t leave myself in the best jumping-off position. Maybe the Fairies of Enlightenment will pay me a visit in the nighttime. If you see any fluttering nearby could you please send a few my way?

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15,386 / 38,000

Day Seven: JoNoWriMo+1.5

I’m especially proud of these words today, not because they’re extraordinarily good (although I guess there’s a chance they are) but because my running/honking/walking experience earlier today left me with an enormous headache. The good news is it subsided (all hail the neti pot) and I was able to look at a computer screen long enough to create some new stuff.

Hope all the rest of you are making progress, too.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
14,709 / 38,000

Day Six: JoNoWriMo+1.5

Did it again. Feels good to have six days of work behind me. This disciplined approach works pretty well.

I should send Jo chocolate or maybe coffee. Didn’t she recently join the ranks of the coffee addicts? HA.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
14,188 / 38,000

Day Five: JoNoWriMo+1.5

Another good day! I think today’s key to success was giving myself permission to over-write. I told myself not to worry about final word count and pacing so much as just telling the story now so that when it’s finished (remember, Tracy, the goal isn’t to agonize but to complete this book!) I can go back and slash the extra debris. This approach saved me from that horrible creeping paralysis that sends me into a complete panic each time it comes a callin’.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,744 / 38,000

Day Four: JoNoWriMo+1.5

The work was fine today but not so much in the way I’d anticipated. I ended up adding fewer than my 400-word goal but that’s okay for two reasons: One, my count was more than 400 yesterday and combined with today’s word count I’m still on schedule for my final goal. Two, I figured out all sorts of stuff about the story and wrote three pages of notes.

I finally know the story with G’s mother! She’s not dead! She’s alive, she’s alive!
I understand why Mr. E is such a prickly personality when he’s around T.
I realized which character is the real rat bastard of the story.

Best of all, I found some needed inspiration while reading I’M A LEBOWSKI, YOU’RE A LEBOWSKI: LIFE, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, AND WHAT HAVE YOU (a fan book written for those of us who can’t get enough of the Coen brothers’ movie). It’s not rocket science but it was the perfect time for this particular slap upside my head (plus it came from an interview with the real-life Dude who inspired the character and movie). So what is the Dude’s explanation for the cult success of THE BIG LEBOWSKI? He points out that in all great comedy the situation gets progressively worse for the character(s).


Apparently Joel Coen writes a scene and makes it as difficult as he possibly can for the character. Then Ethan Coen rewrites it, making it worse. And then Joel makes it worse again.

Thanks. That had not occurred to me, Dude.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,113 / 38,000

Day Three: JoNoWriMo+1.5

A pattern is emerging: First day was ugh, second was fine, third was ugh again.

According to my complex analysis, tomorrow should be another fine writing day. That is a relief. I don’t think I could take two days in a row of crying out in a fit of self-loathing as I slam all fingers onto the keyboard, momentarily sending the display into a quivering spasm of random chaos.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12,839 / 38,000

Day Two: JoNoWriMo+1.5

Today was a bit easier. A couple days ago I realized I need to compress this book’s time-line but it stressed me because I wasn’t sure how to do that. And I sure didn’t want to tackle that dilemma today when I’m trying to get in the habit of adding words every day rather than slash a couple thousand in one sitting.

So I pulled a Scarlett O’Hara and told myself I’d worry about that issue tomorrow. And then I just kind of picked a jumping off point and started writing. Those words came pretty easily. In fact, I might go add some more right now.

As of this moment, I have at least 469 more words in my story.

Hope the day was productive for you, too, my writing comrades.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12,277 / 38,000

Day One: JoNoWriMo+1.5

Made my 400-word goal. Just barely. Ugh. Hope the next 74 days aren’t filled with such insecurity and angst. I felt so adrift in the story it was unnerving but I wrote my word count and now hope for an epiphany that will keep me on track for tomorrow.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,808 / 38,000

They say it’s my birthday . . .

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
32,817 / 38,000

It’s my birthday, a day I love, but I still forced myself to get words down on paper. I even exceeded my daily word goal but maybe that’s not such great news. You see, I’m coming to the cold realization that while I will hit my JoNoWriMo+1.5 goal of 38K words by November 30, I probably won’t hit the other half of the goal which was to finish the first draft of my WIP. I don’t think I can wrap up this puppy in the next 5K words. Sigh.

Ah well, I’m off for birthday pie. Pumpkin and whipped cream.