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I know it’s been a while since I did a writing post on my blog or LJ, but I’ve been having some difficulties there related to health issues that made me less inclined to keep up with things. However, that didn’t stop me from progressing, so here I am, finally updating NaNo.

I went back and read my posts (as sparse as they were on the topic) and realized that any reasonable person would assume the life block surged up and swallowed me again. That is far from the case. (more…)

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My posts have become infrequent enough that I decided to move both blogs into a single one. Then, of course, I forgot to post anything about it here.

My pre-NaNo pondering can be found here:

The obstacles I face in my writing time (humor):

And an update with a snippet.

If you haven't already, do check the Friday's Interesting Links posts as well as they include a large number of links relevant to writers of all stages depending on what I tripped over and thought would be of interest.
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Hi everyone. Wow, I didn't realize I'd neglected this blog so much. Trouble is that my focus has been largely on critting and non-fiction writing, so I didn't have much to say on the fiction writing world.

So, a quick catch-up:

1) I've redone my website so it now is a pure writing focus. (I mentioned this regarding the image at the top, but I've done a bit of polishing.)

2) I sold a short story that's available online so if you've been curious about reading something of mine, just go to the "For Readers" page of my website. Also, while you're there, check the "Latest News" page for additional happenings.

3) I should have been doing a crossover post all along, but I've started a new tradition on my Stray Thoughts blog called Friday's Interesting Links. Since these links have a heavy writing/publishing focus, they should be of interest to anyone here who does not also follow that blog. Check out this week's here:

4) The outlines:

--The Princess in the Tower is the closest to done of all three outlines, but it still needs some work.

--The Farmer Boy is the farthest from being done as I only did the examples necessary for my class and haven't gone back.

--Let Me Tell You All About Myself is probably about halfway done. The concepts are all there, but the threads to pull it all together need fleshing.

5) NaNo - yes, I'm planning to do NaNo this year, the first planned event since my second year doing it back in 2004 (note I've done NaNo every year regardless :p). However, I have yet to settle on a project, so things are still up in the air.

6) This month I'm going to both Muse Online and World Fantasy. Hope to see/meet in person some of you there.

7) And I've finally started working on a fiction project again...Selkie. I'm in the process of re-outlining based on the feedback, after which I plan to retype the whole thing because so many of the edits are a word here, a phrase there, that will change the meaning significantly. I find retyping allows me to integrate them better.

I think that's about it :). Any questions?
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Gak! I have been attacked, sneak attacked at that.

I've been pushing on so many things that my life has come to resemble a tornado, touching down on one project just long enough to leave disaster in its wake before bouncing off to find another victim. To counter this, and give me space to do what I need to teach a class starting August 3rd that'll run for 6 weeks...I declared once I finish Molly, that's it. I'm not starting another novel (meaning writing, not prep work) until NaNo. This is a blessing because it means I won't be scrambling to finish a novel before November 1st, especially since after the class, I'm teaching another at Muse Online (remember registration closes on August 1st) and going down to World Fantasy 2009 in San Jose (meaning I won't even be here for the start of NaNo).

And those are just the big external things. I'm currently critting a novel with another in the queue, I let my Selkie edit fall to the wayside when I got overwhelmed, and I'm supposed to be editing and submitting short stories which means getting and receiving crits...and acting on them.

Do I sound frantic enough? And that's not even considering my computer work, my kids, my hubby, and plans to go on vacation a lot in the remaining days of summer.

The last thing I needed was an article on self-publishing and the concept of having to explain your life's story on a first date to cross my plate.

What do these two things have in common? Well, absolutely nothing to any reasonable person. But when have I ever claimed to be reasonable.

Enter Let Me Tell You All About Myself.

The idea crossed my mind early this morning. I wanted to pass it to a friend because it was funny, but she wasn't around. I figured I'd have forgotten it by the time she got back, and went about my business. Bad move.

That gave the story a hook into my memory because I wanted to tell it to someone. And with that hook, it wiggled its way through the barriers to that swamp I call my idea generator and started shuffling through the mud, stirring up an unholy mess.

No, this isn't an urban fantasy, science fiction, or even a romance. I can't even claim this as a crossover mainstream like Coma Wedding. Let Me Tell is a psychological mainstream novel about expectation and delusion. About building up an image that becomes so real that you start to question whether reality can compete. (Okay, I forgot about the article talking about a man whose girlfriend is a body pillow stamped with an anime character, which might have had a slight hand in this mess too.)

The closest genre to something I've completed before is a romance, but it's certainly not conforming to the genre requirements since we only meet her through her self-published autobiography. However, because of that, I'll need to come up with entries that are sweet, funny, endearing, and positively wonderful (oh and I don't do funny well :p). But mainly it's the story of a guy who finds his perfect mate between the covers of a book, and the struggle between wanting to find the reality and fearing it won't measure up.

And to make matters oh so much better (not :p), because the idea burst in upon me with such weight, it already has an almost complete initial synopsis and a handful of scene suggestions. This makes it worthless as my "work alongside" idea for the August workshop, which is From Ideas to Outline. I still have to find an idea for that...but maybe I shouldn't look too hard until the 1st has come and gone :p.
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Belated update? I did finally finish the last steps of But a Pretty Bauble this week. The second draft ending word count is just shy of 80k at 79,841.

In case you're curious, besides a spell check in which I found some introduced errors as well as a few I just missed going through manually, my list included the following:
Note: These are small enough that they should not constitute spoilers, and it's a glimpse into my process.

1. Clan not Tribe for the dragonkind
2. Hiba's eyes
3. What is the side of power for the king?
4. How far is it to the mine?
5. Hiba needs to call her father the king sometimes
6. Make sure the dragonkind never use the term nomad for themselves.
7. Check the frequency of "then"
8. Verify no contractions in narrative?
9. Check for "was not"
10. Check for "had had"
11. Chairs in Kader's study. Either at the desk or gone from the table.

This list came about because I noticed patterns in my fixes that I may not have been as aware of from the beginning.

Simple ones like 1,2,5,6, and 11 are often items where I started out one way and ended up deciding to make a change. Those I may jot down on the continuity sheet of my world building spreadsheet during writing, or they may be an unconscious change that I notice during the first edit pass. I added this sheet to my process because of my copyediting work as I would have to note down the discontinuities so I could get a preferred value and track whether I'd made the fix. However, that made so much sense and worked so well that I ended up applying it to my work as well.

For word frequency or things like 8, 10, and 11, what I'll do is a search and replace with highlighted word for the offending item. Then I change the page size to 45% or lower...something that allows me to see frequency across a number of pages. When I find a cluster of the highlight marks, I flip back to readable with my cursor on that page and see what I want to do in context. Sometimes the frequency is appropriate after all, and globally changing anything just leads to jerky writing.

The contractions in the narrative decision was a toughie for me. Yes, I LITERALLY searched for a single quote mark through the whole document and wasn't that fun. This was something I had never faced, or at least not in a long while, because I do use contractions in the narrative normally. However, something in this particular book called for a more formal style outside of dialogue. I won't know if that was a good or bad call until I get feedback, but for right now, it's what I went with.

And then the distance to the mine? That was pure idiocy. This idea came on me hard and fast, I rushed through the prep, and jumped into the writing like a thirsty nomad falls onto the sand before an oasis to cup some of the precious liquid between his hands. Some simple things, like recording the distance where I could find it and prevent continuity issues before they were born, got lost in the mad race to have this story take form beneath my flying fingers.

So, there's a glimpse into my editing process. But I'll tell you, the most important part of all is simple: Even after focusing so totally on this draft to get it edited by the deadline I had set, the story still resonates. That spark that drove it into my mind still lingers on the page...for me at least.


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Not too surprising considering my last post, today I put those lovely words on the page: The End.

Coma Wedding is the first novel I have completed since my NaNo almost two years ago on November 30th of 2007. If you've been following for a bit, you'll possibly remember that a medical mystery knocked me silly all of last year and so this is a major win :).

That said, this story is not what I'd consider my normal fare, though elements of it do cross over with other stories. I thought From the Sea was hard to classify (originally Selkie), but Coma Wedding takes it a step further.

This is a romance with no on-screen sex--heck, no sex at all, though a honeymoon has certain implications :). It is a time travel story with no explanation of the event beyond the fates, and the characters don't believe in time travel despite having to admit it happened in this one unique case. Yes, there's a ghost. No, he doesn't haunt, he doesn't scare little children, and he isn't trapped there until some great wrong is undone. He hangs around because something is unfinished, true, but he's so unghostlike that both he and the others often forget his lack of corporeal form until his chill reminds them.

And most importantly, it ends just after the honeymoon...when the Laura gets an offer to return to the industry she loves--in other words, a job.

I haven't reread it yet. It could be the most horrible, mixed-up story ever, but I really don't think so. The characters caught me and wouldn't let go. They dragged me through the chaos of their tale, refusing to settle into any known pattern and refusing to compromise even on something as simple as length. I thought 80k-90k was reasonable...they thought differently.

Whether this story will find a home, I cannot say. Of all my outlier novels, I think this is the furthest out. On the other hand, because it has a (mostly) contemporary setting, because it's about "normal people" despite the strange things that happen to them, it may have an easier time finding a place. After all, the mainstream market tends to be rather egalitarian, even if science fiction and fantasy aren't as welcome. Good thing then, I guess, that the time travel isn't explained :).

And stats:
New Words: 0 words
80 scenes
80 complete - 100% of the novel
0 Scenes remain
0 Remaining word count
107039 Estimated length - with an average of 1338 words per scene.
107039 Current Total
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And the countdown continues. Only two scenes remain in the Coma Wedding outline.


So...I reworked one of the scene blurbs today for a reason that I think merit's mentioning.


When I returned to the United States as a kid, I lived in Virginia and Massachusetts before moving out to California where I stayed until about 3 years ago. I'm still getting used to having seasons again when almost half my life was spent without significant ones.


Coma Wedding is a (largely) contemporary novel. It's set in the southern East Coast, and it begins in March and carries through to early November.


I make a point of mentioning seasons, the turning of the leaves, the snow on the ground, the light turning dimmer, but I haven't quite absorbed them into my psyche. On one side of my outline is a little counter. I say how many days have passed in the book, and it comes up with a date based on adding to the "base date" back in March. This helps me keep track of the big holidays that would have to have some, no matter how minor, impact on the story. Things like Fourth of July doesn't slip by without someone mentioning it, without seeing a flag, or hearing a homegrown fireworks go off. Therefore, I need the calendar to make sure my characters notice costumed folks showing up on October 31st for example.


However, this also tells me what time of year the action is happening. As you might have guessed, two scenes from the end, I'm smack dab in the middle of Virginia.


So two scenes ago, my heroine goes running outside with just an old gardening sweater as a coat. Some people can do that (like my kids) but to everyone else, she would be freezing. And so she is. I got the weather angle perfect there and even made it into a plot point :D.


But when I started into the next scene this morning and read over the blurb, I realized my outline failed to account for such a simple thing like season. I have them going out onto the porch in early evening for NOVEMBER. It's not like they're going to bundle up first.


Since I didn't want to end the book two scenes prematurely by my heroine either dying of pneumonia or slipping on the icy steps and breaking her neck, I fixed it in the actual draft, but the problem in my outline has served as a timely reminder of the importance of tracking the time line closely, and of the myriad of ways weather has an impact on the story.


So what are the ways you handle weather in your stories, whether driven by reality in a contemporary setting or by the climate forces you've put into place?



And stats:

New Words: 1371 words

80 scenes

78 complete - 98% of the novel

2 Scenes remain

2686 Remaining word count

107436 Estimated length - with an average of 1343 words per scene.

104750 Current Total

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Okay, I know it's been a while since I gave a real update for Coma Wedding. But a Pretty Bauble was the higher priority project and I'm lousy at updating. But here's the thing. Coma Wedding is rolling along merrily. At the end of last week, I took some time to update the outline so it's now in pretty much final form (open to change of course as it always is) and now have a reasonable belief that the final length will be around 110k. It's an interesting length, but within limits of the type of book (so crossover it ends up being mainstream ;)).

This has been an odd book from the start. First it comes and grabs me when I wasn't writing anything, then I started NaNo without finishing the outline (and it was in lousy shape for the part I needed then), and when I reached the end of NaNo, I was dead. So I stopped entirely and blamed the book. But it wasn't the book, it was me. So now here I am racing along at frequent 1500 or better writing mornings, something generally unheard of.

I like this book. I like the characters, I like the tangles, and I even like the fact that it's a paranormal, time travel, romance, coming of age novel about finding yourself.

So, the big news in my rambling is that the outline is complete, I'm on target for finishing by March 15th, and maybe even early. I have 7 scenes to go and am completing a scene a day pretty consistently.

And it even has a real title. The title is just as strange as the book, so who might stick: Once Upon a Coma.

And stats:
New Words: 1488 words
80 scenes
73 complete - 91% of the novel
7 Scenes remain
9457 Remaining word count
108084 Estimated length - with an average of 1351 words per scene.
98627 Current Total
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It's been a while since anyone has seen this title cross my posts, but I thought a short, fun fantasy might be just the ticket before I tackle another big one.

I went back to reread my early posts about But a Pretty Bauble, and they make me tremble for what's to come.  That said, at least this time I can feel the shape of the novel, the weight of it pressing against my hands.

So far I have edited the first four chapters.  The main characters have all been introduced, the main conflict and major secondary conflict have floated across the page...umm, make that two secondary conflicts...and I'm certainly not hating it.  I think this is a novel I'll require outside feedback on before I can tell if it works or not.  We'll see.  I may be able to see major issues as I get further in.

At one-seventh of the way, though, I'm tweaking, clarifying, and cleaning up some truly horrendous NaNo prose, but seeing no major changes at all.  Oh, and I am faithfully murdering sentence-level darlings that still resonate, but just don't work with what surrounds them.

Whatever happens, I think it'll be a fun excursion from my normally more complicated texts.

And stats:
Edited Today: 4,644 words
4 Chapters complete - 14% of the novel
46 Chapters remain
64,714 Remaining word count
10,878 Current Total
76,253 Predicted Total

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Hmm, well, it's interesting this...

I completed NaNo on 11/21, a bit late for some years, a bit early for the goal. That's the good part.

The bad part is that I have stopped dead.

I've had some questions about this novel because in some ways it is very much a straight contemporary despite the odd paranormal elements. This would make my third completed contemporary novel...once I complete it...but my belief is that I want to do more fantastical SF or fantasy.

So why is it that these contemporary ideas grab hold and won't let go? The answer must be that a part of me loves these stories. At least that's the answer that I came to.

I thought about how I felt not when thinking about the story from a distance but when I'm writing, when I'm in the characters' heads.

See, my SF and fantasy tends to be hard hitting. I tend to make my characters work for everything and cut the support out from under them at least once. In my contemporary stories, it's more about the positive people parts. It's about how people come together, what pulls them apart and what makes them hold on. All of my contemporaries are happy stories. They might have low points, but nothing like what I put the characters through in my speculative fiction.

So I'm thrilled (?) to discover the cause of my writing drop off is bronchitis. It has nothing at all to do with the story.

The ultimate answer is that both types of stories fill something within me. I like the sappy romantic stories as much as the traumatic, realign-my-world stories. This shouldn't come as any surprise because I read that same spread for the different moods, nor should the pull of a sweet story have startled me considering I was coming off a rough year. That might even be why I couldn't pull off writing Karth's Story earlier this year because that one is a gut-wrencher on many levels.

I guess this post is more about psychology than writing, but there you have it. The good news is that I fully expect as soon as the elephant gets off my chest, words for Coma Wedding will start pouring out.

And stats:
67 scenes
37 complete - 55% of the novel
30 Scenes remain
39,242 Remaining word count
87,640 Estimated length - with an average of 1,308 words per scene.
48,398 Current Total
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The weakest point in my NaNo was the outline, as I've mentioned before.  So this weekend I signed up for a word count marathon on Forward Motion that allows me to count both novel words and world building, unlike NaNo.  I did get a decent jump on my novel, not the 50k I was hoping for, but more than the minimum for sure.

So, Coma Wedding now stands at 44,301 words.  The first act is coming to a close, this piece which sets up the rest of the novel and so is the largest.  It's an odd case because though this is a paranormal, time travel novel, there has been almost nothing to distinguish this from a contemporary...okay, one set in 1977.  Is it working?  I don't know.  But the characters seem likable and their stresses are stressy.  We'll see what it comes out to be in the end, but for the time being, my job is just to write.

The outline has reached almost 17,000 words and takes my characters up to the final step.  I could have written the actual ending today (in the outline at least) but my outline is estimated at 86k already.  The notes I have in the synopsis add a last little twist in that I think is interesting, but at the same time will add word count, though I don't know how much.  I haven't decided whether to leave it in or cut it out, so I didn't put in the final scenes.  I think 86k is enough to get me through NaNo and beyond, so I can make that call when I'm a bit closer to it :).

My current statistics are:

66 scenes
34 complete - 52% of the novel
32 Scenes remain
41695 Remaining word count
85996 Estimated length - with an average of 1303 words per scene.
44301 Current Total

Note that my average words per scene has dropped.  I had a couple scenes come in at 800 rather than 1,400 words.  On the other hand, I still haven't reached the ones I think will run long, so the estimate is a fluid number right now.  Thank goodness for the autocalculator on my spreadsheet :).

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Reason 2002 for completing the outline BEFORE you start to write:

There is nothing more effective against forward progress than the dreaded "something must go here" scene, especially if you're a linear writer who gets bogged if you continue past something that needs to be done in detail. I don't function well with the inline notes saying to [explain X] or [Sally meets Brian here]. It's been a while since I ran across this particular problem because I haven't written with this spare an outline in many years.

Here's my normal process (in sketch):

1) Write a rough synopsis of the whole plot from beginning to end (because synopses always include the end :)).
2) Write a jumble of notes, some of which are scenes, some of which are partial scenes, some of which are multiple scenes.
3) Put them into linear order.
4) Review them for timeline or story tension issues
5) Polish them to make sure the scenes cover what needs to be said in the way it needs to be said.

Okay, that's a very high level take, but mixed in there is "identify all the places where for timeline, pacing, or tension, I need to add transition scenes. Scope out the shape of them."

Sometimes those "scopes" still give me trouble when I get to them, but I can see the scene notes, and if I think around it for a while, I can find an entry point. It helps to know it's coming because I can start nudging around for that entry point while writing the previous scenes.

So imagine my dismay when I glanced ahead this morning and realized that coming off a highly emotional scene, I then jumped some 20 days into the next kicker. Umm, no. I don't care about all the rules that say to "skip the boring parts." You don't hop, skip, and jump your reader through the story. That ends up making them feel like they're on a pogo stick rather than driving a fast car. While both can be thrilling, the first leaves you feeling a little jounced around and dislocated.

So what did I do? I stole from Peter to pay Paul. I took some of the substance out of the next upcoming scene and pushed it into a midstream transition scene that gives (I hope) a sense of how things have been going while also cranking up the tension about what's going to happen next. My heroine is now divided between what she wants and what she thinks she should do, made more complicated by the fact that the situation isn't really in her control anyway.

Or rather that's what I did after I found the entry point. Wasting a whole day trying to figure my way into a scene that I didn't realize was needed until too late was no fun. It makes me even more nervous about the state of my outline, though I've still got a good nine or so scenes before it gets really shaky. What if there are more transition scenes I've missed? What if I'm faced with a point where the entry takes another whole day to discover? And how do I keep from letting the fact that I know some 14k from now I'm going to fall off the end of the Earth (okay the outline) into no man's land result in writer's block, or at least writer's slow as I try not to get there?

The answers are varied:

1) I swear never to do this to myself again (yeah right, but it sounds good and reassuring).
2) I plan to spend a good portion of the weekend strengthening that outline, getting it fleshed out through all the way to the end.
3) Take a deep breath and know that some 10-15 scenes from now, the book will meet the NaNo standards for a win. If I have to stop dead and redo the outline with no forward motion at all, I will still have laid claim to my purple bar. For that, I only need to add one more scene and maintain the current word count per scene average. Since I know some of the scenes coming up are likely to run long--and may actually break into more than one scene--I'm on pretty firm ground where the 50k is concerned.

And yes, I'm watching in the back of my head so I can put together that workshop on initial outlines a handful of FMers, and others, have requested. Maybe it'll give me the opportunity to get ahead so next NaNo I can choose one of my completed outlines to do...assuming the Muse Conference doesn't slam another brand new idea right up to the front line that is :p.

And stats:
35 scenes
25 complete - 71% of the novel
24 Scenes remain
14,183 Remaining word count
49,641 Estimated length - with an average of 1,418 words per scene.
35,458 Current total
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We're almost done with the second week of NaNo, and it has been going very well. My outline has grown hardly at all, now totaling 10,410 with 34 scenes (only two more than a week ago). I've been sitting on my laurels where that's concerned and only the average scene length has improved my estimate which will (assuming scenes meet the average) take me to 49k. Obviously I still have some outline work to do.

Now you'd think I have all the time in the world to work on that outline. After all, it's only the 13th so I've got lots of time to get to 50k. Well, that's true, but it doesn't reflect my current reality. I'm averaging about 2000-2200 a day, and I'm heading into a marathon for the weekend (Forward Motion runs word count marathons every weekend throughout November). My current count is 33,197 words. That means I have 15,877 words left in the scenes in my outline, and I could easily put away that many words between now and Tuesday if things go well.

At least this weekend's marathon is the standard one, so though my outline words don't count for NaNo, I can still get marathon credit to encourage me to flesh out a bit more. It would be nice to have an outline that goes all the way to the end of the book since my progress is such that I might actually make it. I'm not counting on such an explosion however.

The good news is that the second section of the book is one for which I have more scenes (albeit rough ones) already. The third section, however, is hardly scoped at all beyond the very general synopsis.

Regardless, I jumped into NaNo with a fresh idea from about October 18th, a self-imposed edit deadline that had to be met before I could start NaNo so no time to outline, and a year of having written almost nothing. I could so easily have crashed and burned. To be honest, I'm feeling a little draggy as it is, another reason to front load so if I crash halfway, I'll already have my purple bar (it's all about the purple :)). With all that going against me, my progress is phenomenal and I'm happy with it.

That's not to say I haven't had my moments. I've pushed through them so far, and am working under the pressure of pure gumption rather than being drawn to write a lot of the time, but ultimately when I can get myself to focus, the words do come. I've got a very tight knit group of three characters who are recovering, growing, and learning about each other quite nicely. Whether or not this will be some grand opus, whether or not it lingers in my "to edit" pile for much too long, there's no question that I'm producing a novel here :).

Now if only I had a remotely reasonable title :P. If it hadn't been almost the same as a movie, the right title would be While I Was Sleeping, but that's taken so...

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So, the crazy first week of NaNo is complete and I did pretty well, especially considering that I started NaNo with 25 scenes outlined in VERY rough draft, almost all of them involving the second part of a three part book :P.

My word count currently stands at 22,458. I am almost halfway exactly through the first section of the book. It's slow going at times, but overall, the story's coming together.

I just completed my second 48-hour marathon since NaNo began, the first one netting just over 8,000 words and the second just over 7,000 words. On the days in between, I only missed the minimum for NaNo once, and that was by 14 words. Yeah, I know, I should have just tucked something in there, but it was the end of the scene and why put in garbage I'll just have to clean up later.

If I continue at the rate I'm currently maintaining, I should reach 50,000 on November 17th. However, that rate reached a high of 4,046 and is now averaged down to 2,807 and continues to drop. I do have to maintain a bit of padding because I have family coming for Thanksgiving and the weekend before that as well. I may be able to sneak in some writing in the early morning on those days, but I have no way of knowing. It'll help if I'm smart enough to synchronize my laptop, because my study becomes a guest bedroom when people with cat allergies are expected :).

Another interesting outline which was just under 6,000 on November 1st has grown to 10,346. This includes character notes, a map of the ground floor, and other relevant world building on top of the actual outline.

Right now I have a total of 32 scenes outlined (one of which is still rough draft that I hope will flesh out before I get there and am stumped) for an estimated 44,916 words. I'm also hoping to add a few more scenes into the outline before I run out and still have words to add. I do have some 17 additional scenes roughed out, but they're very rough.

Is this my normal NaNo process? Absolutely not. I rarely get to focus 100% on NaNo any more, but usually my NaNo novel is already outlined and clicking in my head all the way through so I can have the pleasure of writing without having to consider all the other aspects. This year has been crazy in many respects, and doesn't seem to be getting any easier. That said, I was facing a year without a single novel written. I might still be in that state because this novel is going to end up significantly longer than 50,000, but I'll be a heck of a lot closer than if I'd given NaNo a pass.

P.S. The book is now titled Coma Wedding. It is still a working title, and one that has little connection to how the story came out, but there you go. That said, it'll still be filed under cm because otherwise I'd have to edit everything :p.
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"Thank you, everyone, for your kind welcome. I've struggled with this fact for several years now, and finally have to admit. I have a NaNo addiction."


"Yes. You're right. It does feel better getting it all out. I can give myself excuses, point to the benefits of getting an extra novel written each year, of practicing writing to a deadline, of darn well having fun, but none of that changes the facts.

Every year, right around this time, whether or not I've committed to doing NaNo--and often when I've adamantly said it's not in the cards--I suddenly drop everything to create or polish my outline. There's no other explanation for it than addiction. Rational thought comes into it only so far as to provide rationalizations. I am an addict."


This year's project is lovingly titled "Coma Marriage," even after I nixed the marriage from the synopsis this morning ;). It was inspired by an exercise one of my Muse Online Conference workshop participants completed. This novel has, in the course of two or three days, sprung into form through providing feedback to the participant, two on-the-edge-of-sleep moments, and discussing the thought with Valerie Comer. And up until yesterday morning, I was still kicking and screaming about actually writing this novel.

Oh, and it will be my first completed entry into the adult paranormal romance category (since Sorcery and the Perfect Dress (last year's NaNo) is a young adult paranormal romance).
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Okay, so I've been doing a lousy job keeping updates coming. This novel came to be too quickly and I didn't have much background to give for it. However, this has been a monumental NaNo for me. Every other time, I leapt in with focus and confidence, blew through the majority of the word count in the first couple weeks if not the first week, and then danced my way to the finish line before Thanksgiving.

This year wasn't like that.

November posed some unusual challenges for me this year. First off, I was still struggling with an off balance summer that had put me behind on practically everything, then set me up for the desperate need to write so I started a novel in September which had to be finished in time to prep something for NaNo. So, I had already decided to go for a NaNo proper and 50k rather than a completed, full-length novel.

I'd also determined that I'd have to keep working on the Seeing Is Believing edit throughout November because I needed to finish it and the Con Shirt edit on top of everything else.

Then Holly Lisle, who I do programming work for, needed a major back end release for her shop to coincide with her new offerings (fun stuff that you should go check out:

Oh, and I managed to catch my second flu of the year (after the shot :p), because I was so drained from all the running around that exhaustion made me vulnerable. However, I do have to add that this is pretty standard. I seem to get a flu or serious exhaustion-based illness pretty much every year with NaNo. The difference this year was that I'd already had a very serious flu back in October :p.

The upshot of it was that there were five days on which I did nothing, a handful more on which I did less than 1k, and I ended up in a bit of a scramble at the end rather than coasting my way to easy victory.

What have I learned beyond the obvious of not over scheduling myself (something I'm sure to ignore ;))? Though many tout writing every day as the only way, the right way, the way to tell a writer from a wannabe, I'm not an every day writer. It is more draining for me to push a little out consistently than it is to do leaps and bounds. If I can devote a whole focused day and blow out 5k-10k, I end up with more energy than if I do 1k-2k every day for five days. March Madness (40k in seven days) is easier on me than NaNo and I have the rest of the month to prep for it and get other things done.

Which is not to say that I can't write every day, or even consistently. It's more that I can't handle being obligated to, and more to the point, obligated to write more than what I can in my morning hour. That one hour can be anything from 200 to 2000 words, though more often in the 1000-1200 range. Doing that as the first thing after breakfast doesn't seem to have any negative impact at all. It's slower than I'm used to producing, but it blends nicely with my other critting, editing, programming, etc. responsibilities.

So does this mean I'll never do NaNo again? Are you kidding? I'm practically an addict ;). But I think I'll plan to bull rush the beginning from now on so that when I start coasting, I'll have my words well in hand :).

Oh, and yes, the release went off beautifully. And no, Seeing is not done. Sigh. But Sorcery is :D.

And my NaNo novel stats:
New Words: 1322 words (Today to tidy off the ending)
51 scenes
51 complete - 100% of the novel
53169 Final Total - with an average of 1043 words per scene.

Oh, and do note that all my stress (which I think I put in a post) about it being too short was irrelevant. It did not end up at the 54k initially predicted, but came pretty darn close :).

...On further review, it looks like I didn't post about it coming in short. Be grateful :). The last thing you needed was to hear me whining about how this novel would be coming in at 36k, leaving me scrambling for something to fill the 14k hole for NaNo.
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Okay, so I completely flubbed the outline marathon on Forward Motion by starting a day early and getting the most scenes on that day, but I now have a workable outline for Sorcery and the Perfect Dress even if it doesn't have that many scenes. The title is less important now because it's not about prom and it's not really about the dress, though the concept is in there. I'm liking the story a lot. Whether it'll work is a whole 'nother question but it'll get written at least :).

As the outline stands now, there are 36 scenes and an estimated length of 54,000 based on an average of 1500 words per scene.

So, I have this grand plan for NaNo...

But first, a funny story.

My husband and I usually take a walk at night to get a smidge of exercise and some quiet time to talk about our days without the boys bouncing around distracting us.

There we are, walking along, and I'm telling him about my grand plan for NaNo. I've had a horrible year and at the same time done a lot of writing, my therapy, so I said I don't really need another book this year.

He jerks to a halt and stares, wild-eyed, at me. I'm like, What? He just waves me to continue and I explain how I plan to do a normal NaNo rather than go for a full book. He sighs with relief. He'd been having visions of me panicking on the 11th, charging out to write 10k+ a day all the way through Thanksgiving (when my parents are coming for a visit) and being stressed and awful the rest of the month.

He failed to realize I'm smarter than that now. There's no point in even pretending I won't do NaNo...otherwise his scenario is all too likely.

But my grand plan is this. First of all, Sorcery is currently predicted to be only 54k. In previous years when something has come in that low, I've started a second book, but I'm not doing that this year. This year, I will get my 1667 a day with the exception of write-ins and then move on to my editing tasks that have been sorely neglected this year. If all goes well, I'll complete NaNo with at least one of my editing projects also in the bag. Even if all I get is progress on the editing, it'll be an improvement on my present state, right?

And the writing note of interest:

Holly Lisle, a favorite author of mine and one who does a lot to help other writers, is offering a teleseminar and a writing newsletter with writing prompts and the like. I'm part of her affiliate program and so she told us about this a little early. Anyway, if you're interested in checking out either the teleseminar or the newsletter, you can use the below links. In the interests of full disclosure :), they are tied into my affiliate program, but they'll get you where you need to be to learn about these new offerings.

The Teleseminar:

The Newsletter:


NaNo 2007

Oct. 22nd, 2007 09:26 pm
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New story -- brand new. And now planned for NaNo because I really am insane. You'd think Con Shirt would have protected me from this, but there you go. I guess this year has been so crazy that I need a LOT of writing to compensate.

The first title was Sorcery and the Perfect Prom Dress. That can't be the title anymore because oddly there's no football with cheerleaders in spring. So not prom. Oh and it was supposed to be funny. Not working out that way so far. Gone from humorous to sweet romance. At least it's still a romance. Oh, and now it's a paranormal, actually it was from the beginning but it took me some 26 scenes to figure out that, hey, demon? That's paranormal.

Sigh. I'm just hoping the story comes together in a tight package in time for NaNo. It's that or I pull out one of my other outlines. I've given up on trying not to do NaNo. Every time that's been the plan, the weekend before I grab an existing outline and run for it.

So this is the plan right now. We'll see what comes of it after this story achieves full outline...and even what type of story it ends up.

And stats:
26 scenes
39,000 Estimated length


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Margaret McGaffey Fisk

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