Weekly Writing Update: October Week 2

I got the interior of “Pithea” formatted for paperback with minor difficulties, and after some real frustrations with the cover, ordered my first proof copy. It’s set to arrive tomorrow!! Once I have it in my hands, I’ll start reading through it with an eye for final details that need changed while also making sure the formatting is good. Visually speaking, I’m more concerned about the cover coming out good, so I’m really anxious to see it for the first time.

After I ordered the proof copy on Tuesday, I tried to turn my attention to prepping for NaNoWriMo. But that was when I realized that I only had a week until my next writers group meeting at my local library. Last month, I volunteered to lead a talk on writer’s block this month, and I hadn’t done any prep for that. So I spent a couple of evenings making notes and preparing a handout. I think I’m basically set for that now.

I have done a little of the prepping I had planned for NaNo, but I need to make sure to focus on that more in the coming weeks. There are just over 2 weeks left of Preptober, and I still need to go over the outline I made 4 months ago for the story I’m writing this year and flesh it out. Also re-read the first draft and new plans for the story that comes before. And read a couple of character interviews I wrote as part of the planning stage for this story. I’ll have to find a way to balance my writing time between “Pithea” and my NaNoNovel (working title: “Ophaela”).

Weekly Writing Update: October Week 1

Last week, I finished making immediate changes to “Pithea” that I already knew needed made. My plan now is to format the updated draft for print, get a proof copy, and read through the book that way (probably reading it out loud), hopefully one last time, making notes for anything else that needs changed. I want to have the final draft as settled as possible before November.

This brings me to NaNoWriMo. October is what many of us call Preptober. I already have a preliminary outline for what I’m planning to write this year, which I wrote 4 months ago. But I need to re-familiarize myself not only with that outline, but also with the story that comes before it. I have a few areas of the outline to flesh out, too. I’ll have time to do this while waiting on my proof copy to arrive, I’m sure.

NaNoWriMo’s Coming!

I used to love the old Coca-Cola Santa Packs commercials. They marked the beginning of the holiday season! Now, right about this time every year, I start to sing, “NaNoWriMo’s comin’!” to the same tune, and I’m just as excited (maybe more so).

First, a quick explanation for those who don’t know what I’m even talking about: NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It is an event that has been around since 1999, becoming more of what it is today in 2005. At its heart, it’s a personal challenge–write 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November. Signing up and participating simply gives you somewhere to track your progress, goodies if you win, and a huge community of like-minded people, cheering each other on.

I am such a NaNo fangirl, seriously. October is widely referred to as “Preptober” by many Wrimos, as those of us who plan ahead for what we’re going to write like to spend the month before it starts prepping. But for me (and still plenty of others), the real season starts in September.

The last few years, I was too busy with work to enjoy the lead-up to NaNoWriMo. A few of those years, I barely managed to participate, then slunk back into my depressing no-time-for-writing life until the next November. Though those times were difficult (writing has long been a huge stress relief for me), I am so incredibly grateful to NaNoWriMo for at least giving me the push, and the vehicle, to do some writing for that one month.

In the coming months, I’ll post more about NaNoWriMo, but I will probably never again post as much as I did in 2015, where I posted an entire series about how to prepare for NaNo, as well as tips for planning a story, and tips for the actual writing in November. All of those posts, including some I’ve added since then, can be found here: Prep for NaNoWriMo

So who else is excited? Are you participating? Thinking about it? Never heard of it before but can’t help but be intrigued? I’d love to hear from you!

On the Eve of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in 4 hours where I am. It has been a hard-fought month of prep for me. For one thing, I was just getting myself back to a place where I could work on my writing regularly again at the beginning of the month. I got back into the swing of posting every day to hold myself accountable to doing some form of writing work each day.

There were 3 main things I wanted to do before November came:
1. Clean my main writing space.
2. Post a synopsis for my novel, along with 2-3 other posts about NaNo, writing in general, and my other novels.
3. Make a solid outline for my NaNoNovel.

Then I got sick. And let’s see how my plans worked out?

1. I did get this done, just today. Initially, my husband and I planned to clean more around my writing space too, but today, he said, “What do you want done, bare minimum?” So now my work desk is cleaned off, so I can put aside work things and focus on writing more easily, and I have even organized various papers, notebooks, and scrapbooking things into a filing cabinet that I’ve had for a while, but was too lazy to do much with.

2. This post is a compromise for me…I had more detail I wanted to share about things I learned during my prep time this month, but some of it has actually sort of been watered down in my mind by snags that came after the exciting moments. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s okay. Once I get past the first few scary days of November, and hopefully past this flu (I’m just guessing it’s the flu, but it tracks), I will still post some of the other things I wanted to share, but there’s one that will probably never be written (titled “Planners are Cheaters,” by the way).

3. And then there’s my NaNoNovel…The novel I’ve planned to write next month will delve into the mind of someone more broken and dark than any characters I’ve written about so far.  It’s not the first time I’ve planned to write something out of my comfort zone. Two years ago, I wrote 2 murder-mystery themed stories, which was a first for me. Last year, I wrote about the time my dad spent in the hospital for 3 weeks in September of that year. Writing like that was very different for me.

However, the shape and form of this novel has changed pretty drastically about 100 times since I started planning it 3 weeks ago. I have been concerned for most of those 3 weeks that I won’t be ready in time. I don’t need a long, detailed outline, sheets on every character, note cards, or any other such degree of planning. But I wasn’t even sure I would have a broad outline, and I can’t stress this enough–I am not a pantser. (I’ve tried.)

Fortunately, just yesterday, I finished a 2-page, handwritten outline. When I say “finished”…well, I got as far as I could without knowing where the writing will take me. I often (not always, but often) will write 2/3 of an outline, and then start writing, because I’m not even sure what is going to happen next, but I have good reason to believe that the actual writing will bring out the rest. This outline covers about half, maybe more, of the story. The other half(ish) of the story has a fairly solid timeline to help me know that broad plot points.

I’ve decided that I can’t post a synopsis for my story though, at least not more than the early one I already did. The story is still too much of a mystery to me, so much that I can’t even say what the true “main story” is going to be until I write it. This one’s going to be a fun one to edit, I think…

Okay, now looking ahead to tonight, and the rest of the month, I have two key things I want to say:
1. I will be starting right at midnight. I do that every year, and whether I write 500 words or 3000 words, anything I get done before going to bed is a huge mental jump start on the month!

2. I will blog every day about my experience doing NaNoWriMo. This will be the third year I’ve done this, since starting my blog (2014 and 2015). There may be those who are curious about how others get through the month (I know I am). I have also found that I really enjoy being able to look back in later years and read about my progress through the month. And since I already post here every day that I got any writing work done, as a way of staying accountable, it’s not much of a stretch.

I have not yet heard for sure whether or not we will have new NaNoToons this year, but if so, I will share those every day. (If not, maybe I’ll go back and share them from an earlier year!) I will also post episodes from the NaNoMusical throughout the month, because I still love it to pieces and can’t not try to get others to love it too!

I wish my fellow Wrimos well, and hope to hear from some of you during the month!

Are you ready for NaNo to begin? Do you plan to do the midnight sprint tonight?

Daily Writing Check-in: October 30, 2017

Words/Time: approx. 45 minutes of NaNoPrep

I did manage to work on my outline for my NaNoNovel some, though I was still sick today. I think I have a decent start on the main storyline, and the “letters” storyline I think is already sort of outlined in the timeline. So I’m getting close. I’m hyper-aware of the fact that at this time tomorrow, I will be preparing to start the midnight sprint, and I still feel lousy.

My husband suggested I take the first few days of the month off, but I can’t quite explain to him why that’s not an option. I don’t expect to rocket ahead like I have in previous years, but I don’t think I can just not write when November 1st comes.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

A Monday Moment: The Kidnapping

When I started doing these Monday Moment posts, I vowed to post something I’d written in the last week, and that if I hadn’t written anything new by Sunday or Monday, well, I’d just have to get to writing.

However, I’ve written a fair bit over the last week…it’s just all too spoiler-filled, or too confusing if you don’t know a lot of backstory. Since I’ve been sick, I had no desire to push myself to write something else. It’s all I can do to keep moving forward on NaNoPrep.

I wrote this about 2 years ago. I did already post it on my blog back then, in a regular daily check-in post, because I liked it. (This was before I started my Monday series.) So I’m sharing it again now as an official Monday Moment. Prompt used is at the bottom.


Why should they get to have such an extravagant life while I have to wait until I’m 21 to see any of their money? I can’t believe they cut me off, just because I lost a little of their money. I mean, what’s $10,000 to people who have millions?

This will show them. I can’t believe how easy this is going to be. I know they’re not happy with me right now, but they still love me. They’ll pay anything we ask to make sure I’m safe.

I didn’t think those guys were really going to hit me. I thought we’d use some kind of make-up or something. Or fake blood like they use in movies. Man, that really hurt. But it’s okay. Once we get the million from my parents, I can get myself fixed up. The pain is so going to be worth it.

Why am I tied up? Why did I agree to this? Who said this was supposed to be uncomfortable? I just wanted to take some pictures and go stay in a motel. That girl they brought in really knows how to convince me to do things. Stupid things. First they beat me up, and then they left me here, tied up. Man, I’m hungry.

I’m starting to think that the guys I hired to fake this with me aren’t faking. Who would have thought that finding some guys in an alley would have led to this? I figured they’d be so happy to make so much money without having to do much, they’d go along with whatever I said. I’m so hungry, I would eat a rat right now. Hey…what’s that moving over in the corner?

I’m pretty sure…I’m going to die here. I haven’t seen anyone since they took the picture they were supposed to use as proof of life. The girl said she’d be back with food and left. I’ve been tied to this chair for two days now. I…I think I’ll just sleep now. Maybe it’ll make the end easier…

…hunh? What’s that bright light? Where am I going? Is this the end? Oh, there’s my mom. She looks mad. Why is she mad at me? I’m the one who was tied to a chair and left to starve to death. Wait, there’s that girl…what’s she doing here? Is she handcuffed? Oh, my wrists are finally free. Now I can get out of this chair and–

Well, moving didn’t really work. I seem to be at the mercy of these people who are lifting me onto a bed. I suppose I’ll have to go to the hospital and be checked out before I can go home. I wonder where my dad is, why he’s not here with Mom. Maybe he was too busy to come. Or he’s even angrier than Mom is. They must know what I did.

Oh, there’s Dad. Wait, why is he in handcuffs? What’s going on?


Prompt used: Staging a fake kidnapping to get money out of your rich parents

Daily Writing Check-in: October 29, 2017

Words/Time: 308 words, and approx. 45 minutes of NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with a prompt, in the hopes of drumming up something for tomorrow’s Monday Moment. It turned out to be a little too cryptic to share, but incredibly interesting to me for a backstory of another character who has always been a bit of a mystery to me (his past has been…not so much his present).

I also started from scratch once again on trying to outline my NaNoNovel. I got through about a page, and then had no idea where to go next. Even though I have made some amazing and insightful strides with part of this story, the other part is still such a blank in my mind. And the part that is shaping up is not nearly enough to be a stand-alone story.

I’m still shaking off some sickness, and need to be back to work tomorrow. My mind has been fuzzy for 3 days, so that most likely has something to do with my difficulty in figuring this story out (at least I hope so). It just seems like every time I think I figure something out, more questions come up. I can’t even say this is the most unprepared for NaNoWriMo I’ve ever felt, but I still don’t like it.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 28, 2017

Words/Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes of NaNoPrep of a sort

I’m still trying to get a handle on what the main plot line for my NaNoNovel is going to be, after realizing that what I thought would be the main plot line is now going to be told in letters, and wouldn’t work as well as the main plot. So a sub-plot that has been in the back of my mind this whole time needs to step up, and it’s being resistant. I worked on sorting that out today for almost 2 hours, but I’m not sure I got anywhere. It’s going to be an interesting next 3 days as we careen towards November 1st, and I feel unprepared. (I’m still trying to convince the main character that he should be the main character!)


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 27, 2017

Words/Time: 188 words of writing practice

I’ve been sick, but that’s only half the reason I only did some writing practice today. My husband and I have been binge-watching Stranger Things season 2, which because of sickness and kids has taken us all day. I have high hopes for a lot of time to work on NaNoPrep tomorrow. (I’m pretty happy I at least did some writing, tbh, even though it wasn’t directly related to my NaNoNovel.)


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

My NaNo Survival Kit

I figured with NaNoWriMo drawing ever closer, I’d share my own list of items that I’m collecting for my November survival kit. Some are ready to go, some I still need to get ready.

1. Laptop – The laptop itself is ready; in fact, I have a new one this year. It’s a work laptop, which comes home with me, and it’s very nice. The keyboard is a little frustrating though. I can’t say exactly why, but when I type my normal speed, I end up skipping letters way more often than I do on my desktop.

My writing space around my laptop is what I still need to work on. It’s piled high with papers and notebooks, related to both work and writing. I have a wooden filing cabinet near my desk that I plan to use to start organizing work papers, and go from there. That’s on my to-do list for the rest of October

2. Outline – I keep starting on this, and keep running into questions. I may need to stop worrying so much about a physical outline, and at least think through all of the broad points (it helps that I do have a timeline with key events listed out) to make sure there aren’t any more huge questions that need answered now, while I have more time. And this is just one plot thread I’ve been trying to outline. There will be another one, that I just realized yesterday might actually be a bigger thread than I thought, that I haven’t even started thinking about yet. So yeah, lots of work left to do on this, and I have how many days left?

3. Timeline
timeline Vin
I may not have an outline yet, but, as I mentioned, I do have a timeline. Because my 2017 NaNoNovel encompasses several other books, with some intertwining characters and plot points, I had to get this timeline set up a long time ago. Events have moved around a lot since then, even a lot just in the last couple of weeks, but I think it’s set now. And if I don’t end up with much of an outline, this will at least be something.

4. Notebook, pencil, & eraser

007

And believe me, I has all the notebooks!

I still love the tactile feeling of writing by hand. I don’t do it much during NaNo, because it’s just…so…slow. But I always have at least one notebook with me when I leave the house during November, in case I have a chance to write, or even just a stray idea to jot down.

4-b. Thinkink Pen
fidget pen
The pen is metal and bendable, and comes with attachments that are either magnetic, or at least metal. It’s a fidget pen. I’ve noticed a tendency to take apart mechanical pencils when I’m in a meeting, or when I’m writing and have to stop to think. I’ve broken more than my share of pencils that way. This thing has been great!

5. Leftover Halloween candy & other snacks – It’s become a tradition for my husband and me to go out on the day after a major candy holiday (mostly Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter) and get a few bags full at half-off. It’s really the only times we buy candy, and then we split it between the 4 of us in our family, and make it last as long as we can. I tend to stress eat when I’m writing. It’s not a good habit, but one I can’t seem to shake during NaNo.

6. Full stock of coffee – For me, this is about more than the caffeine. I enjoy coffee, cappuccino, or hot chocolate when I’m settling in for my writing time simply for the taste. And the warmth, since it tends to be cold here during November.

7. Thumb drive – Somewhere I have a thumb drive with my writing backed up on it. It’s probably 2 years out of date, since there’s no way I was organized enough to back anything up during last year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ll have to dig it out, catch it up, and then use it to store my writing on. I tend to go back and forth between my laptop and desktop, because the laptop is upstairs in my bedroom where it’s quiet, but sometimes it’s nice to be at my desktop–more comfortable, amongst the people (downsides there, of course), and usually warmer.

8. AlphaSmart Neo

I did an entire blog post on this already, so I won’t go into much detail here. This will be my first NaNo with it, and I am really looking forward to it. I’ve already gotten quite a bit of use out of it during prep time. In fact, after using it for 3 days to “interview” one of my main characters as a way to break through some blocks, I had transferred the writing to my computer, and tried to finish it there. But it just wasn’t the same, and I couldn’t quite focus. This thing may transform the way I do NaNoWriMo. Or it may just be a fun toy. (Though if nothing else, it will definitely come in incredibly useful for writing away from the house.) Either way, I’m hooked!

What’s in your NaNoWriMo survival kit? Are you prepared for November 1st?