Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Gifts

Morguefile.com
I haven't done a lot of writing over the Christmas holiday. I was too busy cooking, doing laundry, and wrangling a houseful of family. We had a great time but today, four days later, I've crashed with extreme fatigue. 

Despite the Christmas Crush, I did find a few writing related things online during the month to share with my writer friends. I always share these with my Facebook writing group but today, I'm sharing the links here for anyone else who stumbles in.  

I hope you've had a great holiday and that the new year is filled with great writing successes.

From Writer's Helping Writers: 
Writing Tools

From Future of the Ink:
How to Set Up Your Goodreads Author Profile

From Write to Done:
Scene Stealers

Teacher Links:
The Hero's Quest

From Guavabot on Google Play:
Writeometer

From Writing World:
The Writer's Year Datebook

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Plans Gone Awry and Beginnings

Did you ever have one  of those weeks where nothing went as planned? Yeah, one of those. My week has been busy but I haven't really completed one project. I did very little writing and none on the things I planned to write on. In fact, I started a "new" project.

Actually, an old project that I attempted a couple of times. I've had several people suggest I write a book about  grief. The suggestions started coming about two years after my husband died from people who were reading my blog posts. In December 2010, twenty-three months after his death, I made an attempt to pull those post down and sort them out but it was too close. I simply couldn't deal with it. Re-reading my own nightmare was beyond my abilities. I tried again probably another two years later and actually made a start but once again, I could not cope with the issue. 

I've left it alone for the most part, the flitting through my mind like dark winged birds that made me shy away. My opinion was that it would never happen. I'd never be able to revisit those days with any clarity or control. 

This week an urge stronger than I could resist made me think I might be better able now to handle the material. So, I sat down and began to write what I "heard". Fifteen hundred words later, I realized it was still going to be hard, but now I really wanted to write it. 

Here is the opening paragraph to Journey through a Dark Valley

My husband died. Suddenly, on a cold, dark night wrapped in ice, on a dead-end road, in our bed. I thought, before that night, that my life was planned and despite the bumps in the road, the detours, and derailments, it was going according to plan. But you can’t plan for life. There is no road map, no compass, no GPS. You just start walking, telling yourself that where you’re going is just up ahead and all you have to do is keep moving and you’ll get there. It isn’t true.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Ultimate Writing Tool

Image courtesy of basketman
 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As a writer you know you're always trying to make more time to write, keep up with the time you write, and keep a check on your productivity. It is all too easy to get off track. My writing friend, Rae Ford sent a link to our writing group this morning for an app called Writeometer. 

If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can set up all kinds of logs and charts and calendars but most writers don't have that luxury. I've been retired since August 1, 2014 and I've found time is a slippery little bugger. I'm dealing with several health issues that interfere with daily activity, particularly writing. I also gained a roommate. My 8 year old granddaughter came to live with me in September and she is high maintenance. So, setting up logs to track writing time and productivity and monitoring calendars and clocks is... well, counter-productive.

When I saw this app my first thought was, "Oh dear, another app." I love technology but one gets very tired of all the gadgets after a while. However, when I looked a bit closer, I could tell that there were some really great features here. 

You set up your novel with title, word count goal, current word count if it is a work already started, projected daily count, projected deadline, days and times you're going to write. Save it and you're all set. You can put in more than one WIP. Once your projects are set up, when you open the app, you have a screen with a quote from a famous person about writing and a list of your projects. There is a also reminder system, a reward system, and a writing timer. I really like the timer. You determine your writing time. But be warned, exiting before the time is up is costly. 

This is an app that will help you set writing times, keep up with how much you write, how close you are to reaching your deadline, and reward you. I can't wait give it a spin and see how well it all works together. 

If you're interested in the app, and have an android phone, here's where you can download it: Writerometer

Come back and tell us the pros and cons you discover.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Another NaNo Ends

Another year ends at midnight and as always, there are mixed feelings. You would think since I'm retired and have more time that it would have been the easiest year yet. In fact, it was the hardest. 

I did fine on the word count for a while and although I got behind I was getting caught up. But this happened several times over the course of three weeks. I had problems with my RA and there were several days I could not use the computer due to pain in my hands caused by long periods of ... typing trying to catch up. By the holiday, I was 5000 behind again and I knew I was finished. I reached.36,586 words. Not bad but not a win. 

This was also my 4th year as Municipal Liaison for my region. I was thrilled when one of the participants volunteered to be Co-ML. She made a lot of the work easier in both the planning stages and during the month by hosting write-ins and filling in a couple of times when I had to be away. ML's are responsible for herding a bunch of novel writers for a whole month, hosting write-ins, sending out encouragement, moderating their forums, providing guidance, answering questions, and commiserating with those who fall behind. They also have to write their own 50,000 word novel. 

NaNoWriMo has probably been the best thing that ever happened to me. I've made wonderful friends. I've learned so much from the participants and from the process. There are those who don't feel that way. 

You'll find critics everywhere. The reasons they cite are that it fosters bad writing habits, the creation of inferior novels, and it is simply a waste of time. I disagree completely because NaNoWriMo doesn't ever indicate to anyone, anywhere that they will have a good, publishable novel at the end of November. In fact, they point out that you'll have lots of work to do to get it to that level, if you can. They encourage regular writing habits, giving you a word count that is manageable. No one who does NaNo should go in blind. This requires work and consistency. If you can't do NaNo, novel writing probably isn't for you. As to the inferior novels... there's plenty of them published and selling. I'm aiming a bit higher.

Now that NaNo is over I'm anxious to get to work on some novels I was working on before November. I had two with plot problems that had suddenly begin to mesh when I had to pick up my ML hat. I'm also looking forward to the River City Scribes meetings that start back up in January. We've recently obtained a new venue for the meetings that is so much nicer than where we've been meeting over the last year and a half. We'll have plenty of room and be able to bring food and drinks.

So, am I sorry to see another NaNo ending? A bit but not so much. There are some exciting writing things happening here and I'd rather move on to those. Will I be back next year as ML or to write another novel? I don't know. Each year, ML's have to reapply to be an ML. They don't fire you but if you fail to send in your application, someone else will be appointed if they have submitted an application. They could pick someone other than me. Although, I suspect that rarely happens. When I first stated doing NaNo there was no ML in this region.  

I will be writing whether there's NaNo or not. Over the course of this last year I've stopped thinking beyond today. I like to think I will be able to pick up that ML hat next November and do it again. Regardless of what happens, I've had a great run with NaNo. The experience is one I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys writing. Even if you do it once and never again, you'll have a great time.