Getting the Ball Rolling Again

I do apologize for being MIA since the holidays. The truth is, I’ve written very little. I did work on refining my book from NaNoWriMo and I actually went for it and had it published. It is imperfect, but I’m okay with that. The mistakes are mine. I whole-heartedly love the story I came up with and if people want to criticize the occasional missed letter or duplicate word, then that is their prerogative. If someone is looking for a new story to enjoy, then mine could be a fine addition to their bookshelf.

I’ve been dealing with a lack of drive lately. I think in part it is due to my pregnancy, I find that most days I barely have the energy to move around the house. The rest, I’m not sure. I’ve always been able to visualize my story, hear my characters’ conversations before I write them, but for a while there was nothing. I would try to imagine a scene, and I wouldn’t be able to do it. My story that I’m currently working on is very important to me, and I have been writing it for years. In February, I finally found the perfect way to write my opening chapters. Chapter 1 and 2 I had no problem with, but 3 was when I lost my vision. I am happy to say that it has finally begun coming back. I see where the characters are meant to go.

I’m not participating in camp NaNoWriMo, although, I wish I would have made that commitment. I did however come up with a new concept for a story. I had a very vivid dream a couple weeks ago, and I knew this would be a new story for me. It is different then what I’ve written in the past, but it will still be centered around a female heroine. I’m excited about where this story could go. Writing a story off a dream isn’t always easy, as I’m sure you’re aware, the moment you wake up you forget much of what you dreamt. The story is full of plot holes and things that were never explained, but I’ve been able to begin developing a story around anyways.

I hope you’ll follow me once again as I continue my journey to becoming a great writer.

 

For those who are interested, my book is available here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the%2050%20deaths%20of%20annabelle%20joy

If you would be so kind to leave a review of my work, I would be happy to do the same in turn for you.

 

- Christina

Post NaNoWriMo – Time to publish?

Hey all,

I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving.

For those of you who were competing in NaNoWriMo 2013, congratulations! According to the email I received there was well over 300,000 participants this year and a mere ~41,000 crossed the 50,000 word finish line. I am congratulating not only the victors, but the participants as well. I think just committing to writing in any fashion is something that you should be proud of. Of course, it is not my opinion that matters, but I’m sure even just doing a little bit of writing reminded you why you like to write in the first place, and I think that is important.

I am personally excited about my NaNo prizes that I will have access to on the 5th. What I’m looking forward to the most is holding one of the two paperback copies of my book that I will receive. I think I’ll even buy a shadow box for it and mount it on my wall, THAT is how proud of myself I am.

I just finished the rough edit of my book. I was surprised that I was actually very happy with how it turned out, storyline-wise. I wrote it intentionally to only be a 50,000 word story and so I thought it flowed quite nicely. So far, those who have read it for me have shared my sentiments… for that reason I did not go back and re-write. I plan to actually start searching for a literary agent with the story as I have it now, and I hope that it will eventually lead me to a publishing deal. I have considered self-publishing… there are many great offers that come with participating in NaNoWriMo… however because I am such a new author, I believe that I would rather have a strong publishing house behind me to promote my book then to attempt to do it myself. 

I didn’t get a cover design for my book, and I’m a little sad about that. I did create one for myself on powerpoint using pictures I got off of Google. I thought the cover looked nice, but according to my Mom it comes off as more “creepy” than romantic. I attempted to create a romantic cover, but layering people in a way they were not originally intended just does not look good. My only other alternative was to rent a Grim Reaper costume and find a beautiful couple to take a picture of for the cover… I must just suck it up and pay the $150 for a professional cover, but we shall see.

Did anyone else compete in NaNoWriMo? How did your journey go?

Victory!

Today I finished my NaNoWriMo book at 51,227 words.

First and foremost, I want to thank my husband for his support and understanding. I quit my full time job back in December so I could focus more on my writing and he had supported me this entire time. Every time I was feeling un-motivated, he was always there to give me the push I needed. Thank you Will for your love and support!

NaNoWriMo still has 9 days left… What will I be doing?
I will be using this time to review my work and making revisions, edits, and corrections. There are many great publishing opportunities to the winners of NaNo and I want to be certain that my work is at its best.

What did I enjoy most about NaNoWrimo 2013?
This was my first Nano. I hit the ground running at midnight on November 1st. I most enjoyed updating my word count each. I found it really helpful to know the pace at which I was writing and my expected date of completion based on that pace.

What would I do differently if I had a chance to go back?
I would definitely plan more. I had more of an outline than some fellow competitors I met, but I also suffered tremendous plot changes. In the future I would prefer to have a better layout of the story before beginning.

What was most surprising about my NaNoWriMo experience?
I was most surprised by what I was able to accomplish in such a short timeframe. Competition really gets me going, I was impressed by myself every step of the way.

Would I recommend NaNoWriMo?
I have been recommending NaNo left and right since I began. It has been and amazing experience for me and I think anyone who has even the slightest interest in writing should give it a shot.

 

If anyone would like to review my rough draft, it can be found here: http://authors.tablo.com.au/nanowrimo/Mzk1MA==

5 Chapters in 3 days…

What is the most you have ever written in a day? How about two? Three?

I have written about 13,000 over the past 3 days. My mind is blown! I don’t say that to brag, I say that because personally… I didn’t know I was capable of something like that. This is what has impressed me the most about my participation in NaNoWriMo. I have been setting the bar too low for myself, and it is going to stop.

Before NaNo, I was proud of myself just for writing over 1,000 words in 2 to about 2.5 hours. I thought I was doing well, it made it easy for me to determine a rough estimate of my completion dates, and I was happy. Since I began NaNo, I consistently write about 2,500 words in under 2 hours. Over the past 2 days, I gave myself 2 separate writing spurts to account for 5,000 words a day.

What has attributed to my sudden ability to write more in the same amount of time? I believe that I am capable of producing more now because of NaNoWriMo’s tight deadline. I have known from the very beginning that my book was due at midnight on November 30th, so I planned accordingly. I wanted to give myself some buffer time and also a chance to edit before the deadline, so my goal became one 2,500 word chapter per day. I thought that I would have to set aside time to write twice per day to achieve this goal, but I was so amped for the challenge that it wasn’t necessary.

My recommendation to you is that if you find yourself not producing as much work as you would like, raise your bar! It’s so easy to keep pushing back the due date, but take a chance, challenge yourself and push up your due date. Sometimes we need a little fire to kick everything back into gear. Make it fun, too. I think for my next book, I’ll set my deadline and I’ll bet a nice dinner (paid for or cooked by me) to my husband if I don’t achieve my goal. 

Today I am just on a high from what I’ve accomplished. I have literally been dancing around my house in celebration. Tomorrow I write the final chapter of my book, and you will hear me shout that I’ve won NaNoWriMo 2013.

Take care everyone, I’m off to go blow everyone’s mind in class with my presentation now.

Powering Through

Sorry, it’s been a while… bit of a busy week.

I will be doubling up my writing time today and tomorrow, because I was unable to complete any chapters over the weekend. The good news is that if I am successful in writing 2 chapters today and another 2 chapters tomorrow… I will be completing my book on Thursday!

I didn’t write over the weekend because I had to work all day Saturday and all dat on Sunday. Usually I have time to write while I am at work, but it just didn’t happen this weekend. I also had to complete my portion of a group project for my college, so that was all of my free time. I have doubled up in the past, and it can be exhausting, but to me, it is well worth it to stay on track.

So, that brings me to today’s topic: Powering Through.

I’ll admit, that I have struggled with the last couple of chapters I have written. When the story was new and exciting, words just seemed to flow through my fingertips… I have finally gotten to that point that I fantasize about this story and its characters, but now I’m having a hard time getting to that finish line. I recently wrote a chapter that took me over 3 hours to write, which is ridiculous when you consider for the purpose of NaNoWriMo, my chapters are only 2500 words. The chapter didn’t take nearly as long, but it certainly felt like work.

When writing begins to feel like work, it is easy to say “just walk away” … “I’ll come back to it”. The truth is, at least for me, when I walk away from my designated writing time…. I am unlikely to go back and finish that later. I write between 9AM and 11AM every day. That is my time. I have had my coffee, eaten my breakfast, and there are no distractions. Once I get past lunch time, the entire atmosphere of the house just seems wrong to write. Suddenly there are things on TV to watch, other things I need to check on, groceries to buy, and list goes on and on. My writing time is my golden time, and I have to use it to its full potential.

I have read many of the Pep Talks for NaNoWriMo and they suggest that when you are stuck, to simply write the scene or chapter that excites you… I do not recommend that, and I’ll tell you why. I used to do that very thing, all the time. I would hear a song on the radio and envision a scene so strong that I could cry… and I would be inspired to write it down immediately. I would re-read it and think “this is perfect! I can’t wait until I get to the point in my story that I can use this scene.” The problem is that when you (.. I..) write a scene that you have not built up to yet, you’re not taking everything into consideration. The characters may go through things that you had not originally intended. I’ll give you en example of my prediction writing for NaNoWriMo:

NaNoWriMo asks for a synopsis of the story and also for an excerpt when you list it on your profile. Looking at my story now, the synopsis is not even entirely accurate. For the excerpt I used immediately, it was obvious that I initially planned to write the story in the 3rd person, but when I began actually writing it, I switched to 1st person. I couldn’t even use most of the excerpt that I used because it didn’t fit my storyline by the time I got to that part. I thought I knew exactly how my story ended, and if I would have spent part of my writing time to write the ending while it was fresh in my mind…. it would have been wasted… ALL OF IT. My ending now, is not even remotely close to the original ending.

I know not everyone’s story goes through so many major changes as my current story has… but I think it is more useful to power through the writing rut and keep the story on track. Yes, you will probably have to go back and edit the scenes that you forced, but at least you have something to work with now. There is no promise that if you skip that scene now…. that you will be any more inspired to write it later. Sometimes scenes that are necessary just aren’t fun to write. 

This is just my two cents, and it is what works for me. I can’t believe that I am going to win my first NaNoWriMo this week! I am beyond excited, and I’m looking forward to starting the editing process and having a publish ready story by the end of the month.

 

Thank you to all of you who read this blog. I feel like you reading this helps me to be accountable to my goals, and if anything that I have written helps you, then that is icing on the cake!

 

Happy Monday, take care!

What makes the perfect ending?

I am an a proponent of the happy ending. No, I’m talking about what comes after the massage, but the ending to the story. I’m the reason why so much of Hollywood is now predictable, we almost always know that no matter what the characters go through, it will all work out in the end.

So, what then makes the perfect ending? We know that endings don’t have to end happy… hello Romeo and Juliet… But is that what most people want? I think what most people want is an ending that is not so predictable. Coming up with an original idea for ending is difficult and I think the surprise for the ending is something you build throughout the story.

I am unintentionally writing an unsuspecting ending to my current story. I say unintentional because the story is no longer ending how it was meant to end when I started writing. Through a couple moments of creative liberty, I accidentally made my ending an impossible one. The ending I was now stuck with was one that did not make me and I did not think it would make the readers happy. I saw my ending as a lose-lose-lose. Not good for me, the readers, or the characters. 

I wanted a new ending, one that wrapped up the storyline to a natural conclusion, and yet continues on ever so slightly becoming a win-win for my main characters.  When I finally figured out what the ending would be, I was astounded that I hadn’t considered it before. 

I think the best way to create a surprising ending is to decide what the expected ending would be and then go away from it. I wouldn’t completely ditch the expected ending, I would expand on it and change it so that it becomes something original. We all know how the boy meets girl story ends… they fall in love and live happily ever after. In Romeo and Juilet the boy and girl do end up together, but the twist is they both die. 

Tell me some of your favorite endings. I love the ending to the movie “Just Like Heaven”. You think that all is lost, and yet it works out. Sure I hoped the entire time that I would, but there was a chance that it wouldn’t and it just made me happy to see them together.

Thanks for reading, and have a good week!

Post NaNoWriMo write-a-thon and Veteran’s Day

First things first. I promised an update about how Saturday’s write-a-thon went. I did not achieve as much as I hoped I would. I really thought in 4 hours I would be able to hit 3 chapters. Unfortunately, since I don’t usually write in a busy coffee shop, I found myself distracted by unimportant things… things I usually don’t worry about. I thought that the chair was uncomfortable, I thought about if I should take my laptop with me if I wanted to order food and a drink. I thought the jazz music was too loud and ultimately had to throw in my earplugs and listen to my IPod… but I normally to write to music. 

Once I finally got settled to begin writing I got 2 sentences in and got stuck. When I had been setting up, I quickly changed my chapter guide because it no longer follow the path I was taking for my book and I didn’t know what to write. I took me a little while to get words on paper but slowly ideas started flowing, page by page, the chapter was finally getting written. I took me over two hours for that first chapter. The second chapter I wrote was a little bit easier, but I took a break to order lunch and then another short break to eat my lunch. I finished the second chapter with about 7 minutes to spare from my 4-hour pledge. So, I completed two chapters and wrote just over 5,500 words. I had hoped to write more, but I am satisfied with what I achieved.

What’s the most you’ve ever written in a single sitting?

I know the point of the write-a-thon was to write continuously for the entire day, but my husband had planned a party at out house beginning in the early afternoon, so after leaving the coffee shop, I was done writing for the day. I did write another full chapter yesterday though… I’m only 2000 words shy of being 1/2 way done and that is very exciting. So far, if I keep writing like I am, it is projected I will finish my novel on November 22. That will leave me over a week to edit and re-write anything. I’m astounded by well my first NaNo is going!

And now: Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who have served and are currently serving.

I am a Veteran as well… I served 6 years active duty in the Navy and deployed twice: once to the Philippines and once to Afghanistan. I know a lot of Veteran’s share my sentiment, so I’ll share that with you now. I have a hard time accepting thanks from people. I go to places like Sea World and on a Carnival cruise and they want the military members past and present to stand up so we can be acknowledged and thanked. Most times I would rather stay seated and clap along with everyone else. To me, I haven’t done anything worthy of being thanked. I was really great at my job, but that is all my service was to me: a job.

When I was 18, my Dad gave me to options. I could go to college or I could join the military, but I wasn’t staying home. I didn’t get into the college I wanted and I had already participated in 4 years of Naval Junior Reserve Office Trains Corps program at my high school, so joining the Navy made sense. I was in Intel, meaning that I was a glorified Google searcher and I made A LOT of powerpoint presentations. It was my job to keep the Commanding Officer and staff updated on every threat to our battalion or give them the specifics of an area we were traveling to. I had a desk job, that is all. I didn’t drive on the roads rigged with explosives and I didn’t shoot at things. Yes, my desk was sometimes in a war zone and sometimes I had to hide out in a bunker while our base was threatened with rockets, but nothing bad happened to me on deployments. My Commanding Officer and staff were always pleased with my work ethic and sometimes they said the safety of our battalion (no casualties) was in part thanks to what I did. But I just can’t see it that way.

Looking at pictures of me with a rifle slung across my back just seems strange. I was definitely not one of those girls that liked to shoot. I am in the Navy Reserves now, but I still consider myself to be a civilian. I am proud of the work I did in the Navy, I just don’t think it is deserving of thanks. If you look through my photos of deployment you would see people having a good time, and that is all I really remember, I don’t dwell on the bad. Here is my Afghanistan: Sundays we played Volleyball and went shopping at the boardwalk, for Christmas I decorated my room and my workspace, one night Carrabas and Outback cooked up restaurant quality food and it was AMAZING! I remember the night it flooded and me and my roommate had to jump over small rivers to get out laundry, but it was too flooded to go get dinner. I remember countless hours of watching TV shows on my laptop and being excited when we got satellite TV in our room. My favorite night was our over the hump party. We had a DJ come and play us music, and we danced and sang on the back of one of the trucks. I had fun in Afghanistan, though I’m sure you never hear those stories…

I don’t mean any disrespect to those that did have a hard deployment and suffer from it’s effects, you are the ones in my mind who deserve all the thanks. I was lucky, and I know that, and again that is why I have a hard time hearing the thanks.

For those of you who still wish to express me thanks, YOU’RE WELCOME, I’m just a girl doing a job to the best of my ability and I appreciate that you appreciate what we (the military) are doing.

 

-Christina