Head Colds & NaNoWriMo

Usually I write posts on writing on Mondays, but I have a couple things to address so the post on writing will be swapped with personal musings this week.

Onto the things…

No. 1 – My apologies for the random hiatus! I had an ovarian cyst burst followed by a massive head cold/sinus infection thing. No worries! I’m fine. 🙂 Still got a couple sniffles, but I’m feeling good and am excited to return to y’all!

No. 2 – NaNoWriMo Update!

Despite my body not working with me, I still managed to crank out words for the WIP each day. You can thank the meds I was on… insomnia was a side effect. Then yesterday happened.

Yesterday, I sat down at Starbucks for the first time since November 1st and fell into the zone. I came out a few hours later having met 20k words (started the day at 13k). Returned to the MS after dinner and knocked out another few thousand. I guess my brain had stockpiled all the words while I was sick, so when I felt better, it just sling shot them onto the page. *shrug* I am okay with this.

But coming up on the “midpoint” of the NaNo word count goal, I had the horrifying realization that I’ve [barely] dug into the story. Don’t get me wrong I’ve written a lot of scenes that are pivotal to plot and character development, but I’m looking at my outline, seeing everything that has YET to be written along with my notes of additional things that need to happen and I’m feeling like Frankenstein.

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I’VE CREATED A MONSTER!

You see, I’m currently working on book 3 of a 5-book series for this year’s NaNoWriMo. It is the midpoint of the overarching plot, which means there’s a lot of things to tie up as well as groundwork that needs to be laid. Also, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve structured the series similar to the Avengers’ movie franchise. (Book 1 is Ironman, Book 2 is Captain America, etc.) Each book has its own protagonist who goes through her own character development, but pieces from each book advances the overarching plot until the big hoopla in book 5.

For those of you who’ve read the Lunar Chronicles, it’s structured like that, but with singular, first-person POV’s and without the fairy tale retelling bits.

Anyhoo, on top of the challenges of writing the middle book of a series, I’m dealing with a snarky character who can manipulate time and space. In order to properly develop the characters and attend to the plot and story necessities, I had to cut the book into three portions: Part One, Part Two, and The Fall Out.

Part One is all the character development and relationship building fun and games for Meredith. She gets into some serious trouble, but most of it is “real world” problems. Part One ends with worlds colliding and character deaths (Cue maniacal laughter), which paves the way for “fantastical” problems in Part Two. But because I’m introducing a whole new protagonist, certain scenes with her abilities have to take place in Part One in order for y’all to accept her competency in Part Two.

Also, Time and Space manipulation is really difficult to make tangible. Water in book 1 was so much easier because it has a molecular structure to use as a jumping off point. Time and Space? I feel like I’m in limbo between awesome and cliché. All the time. Now I know why The Doctor has the TARDIS.

Tardis

My saving grace is one of my other characters is a descendent of Sif (Nordic Earth God, sometimes depicted as Thor’s wife, all around mythical badass), so many jokes to be had.

For more info on my NaNo WIP, read the intro post here. If you’re doing NaNo, add me as a writing buddy, here.

Happy Writing!

Last Minute Plotting: Because I’m a wimp & can’t pants.

Alright, so I thought I was going to have to pants this year’s NaNoWriMo. My MC had only given me bits and pieces of the story, so when the calendar kindly reminded me that I had less than a week before the challenge started, I began to freak out about the in-between scenes (the stuff between the major plot points).

Here’s the thing, I am a plotter through and through. I like having a plan/map to guide me through a draft because I have an awful habit of writing non-linearly, which is a fancy way of saying I like to jump around. Last year, I wrote all my fight scenes within a week (I had a lot of tension to work out I guess). And the idea of not having that freedom scared me into finishing my beat sheet for my NaNo project.

For information on the beat sheet, you can check out my post on outlines here. And if you’d like to see what fresh hell I’ve cooked up for myself for next month, you can check out my NaNo Q&A here.

I know plotting isn’t for everyone. Some writers can just start writing and come out the other side with a finished, coherent MS. I am not one of those people, so I’ll be taking my beat sheet and expanding it to a heftier outline between now and November 1st. I know, I’m working at the last minute, but characters don’t always like to reveal their secrets. Side-glances at MC

But regardless of my inability to pants a novel (pants: write a story by the seat of your pants without any outline or plan), I’ve learned how incredibly useful having a MS’s blueprint is post-drafting.

In the past year, I wrote what is now book 1 of a [slated] 5-book series, revised it, sent it to beta-readers, demolished it then rebuilt it. During that demolition/rebuilding stage, I was able to look at my previous outline and build over it with something that may [hopefully one day] be worth reading. Having that reference point kept me anchored during the process, so I didn’t go off into crazy, hair-pulling, head:desking la la land.

Basically, this…

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So instead of driving myself to insanity later (basically the equivalent of running away from cannibals), I will be last-minute outlining between now and November 1st, like that habitual little plotter that I am.

What about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, add me as a writing buddy here!

Happy Writing!

Timey-Wimey Snarkitude: My 2015 NaNoWriMo Novel

Okay, so that’s not the actual working title of my NaNo WIP this year, but it is pretty much the gist of the piece.

This post is brought to you by the incredible link-up, Beautiful Books, created by Sky of Further Up, Further In and Cait of Paper Fury. For more information on the link-up, check out the original post, here.

Below are ten Q&A’s about my upcoming NaNoWriMo project. I’m so excited about this project, guys! The story and characters have been lingering in my head for years, but it’s the third book in my series so it had to wait… :,(

BUT NOT ANYMORE! MUAHAHAHAHA (Did I mention I was excited?)

No. 1 – How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
When I was developing the series as a whole a few years ago, I mapped out all the different elements of nature that I wanted to play with for each protagonist. I had physical elements like water, earth, air, and fire, but I also wanted to bring human nature and the encompassing universal elements like time and space in as well.

So book 3’s protagonist Meredith was assigned the ability to manipulate Time & Space, which of course is never as easy as it sounds. I mean even The Doctor has trouble with it sometimes. (Fun fact: I developed this idea before becoming a Whovian… my fangirl game used to be super lame, but that’s since been rectified.)

I also knew that I wanted to write a character with the same brash intelligence and humor as Wesley from the Princess Bride, so Mer inherited that as well. After those two pieces were decided, the story and other characters began filling themselves in. My story-development brain basically works like an avalanche: starts off with one snowball then everything falls off the side of the mountain.

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No. 2 – Why are you excited to write this novel?
Time-Wimey-Wibbly-Wobbly Awesomeness and Snark… What’s not to be excited about?

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But seriously, this story has so many twists and turns and is harboring so much set-up for the last two books in the series that I NEED IT TO BE A DRAFT ALREADY! Plus it’s the first time that one of my protagonists gets to spend any time in a world that isn’t our own. So that’s exciting for me.

No. 3 – What is your novel about, and what is the title?
The working title is Enveloped, and the really shabby synopsis on my NaNo profile is:

Meredith Wilson hasn’t seen her home in four years. Instead she’s been shuffled around from boarding school to boarding school, never staying anywhere for very long, never hearing from her mother, never getting any explanation for her ability to manipulate time.

And so she makes use of it by keeping herself out of trouble. And getting into some.

All she has to do is finish this last semester of school before she can travel where she will, but this latest destination, Duluth, MN, offers love and friendship. And answers.

No. 4 – Sum up your characters in one word each.
Mind you this is at the beginning of the novel. Some of these change as soon as the midpoint… Did I mention this plot is twisty? *cue maniacal laughter*

Meredith – Snark

Wyatt – Badass

Peter – Chivalrous

Lena – Smart

Chuck – Adorable

No. 5 – Which character(s) do you think will be your favorite to write? Tell us about them!
Mer. Definitely. She’s smart and spunky and isn’t afraid to let people know what she thinks of them. Think Veronica Mars, but without the need to solve murders and such.

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No. 6 – What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
Mer wants to be able to find “her place” in the world. Not in the “who am I?” sort of way, but an actual physical place where she can finally lay roots and make friends without the fear of being shipped off to the next boarding school the moment she’s settled in.

This is her final semester before she turns eighteen and no longer has to obey her mom’s orders. Unfortunately, Mer finds out that all that moving around was for a reason: to avoid being abducted by the Council and used to tear open the veil between the magical and human worlds.

Of course it wouldn’t really be a story if her mother’s plan succeeded. Oh no, the Council finds her and Mer’s life – as fragile as it was – is dumped upside down.

No. 7 – Where is your novel set?
DULUTH, MN. It’s gorgeous up there, guys. So green and the air is so clean… it’s also right on Lake Superior, which is also quite lovely. 🙂

No. 8 – What is the most important relationship your character has?
Her relationship with Wyatt. They balance each other out and he’s the first friend that Mer can count on for the long haul.

No. 9 – How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Good question… I mean she lets go of a lot of the anger she had toward her mom. She also finds “her place” in world, even though it doesn’t end up being a specific place, but a close-knit group of friends.

No. 10 – What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
Themes… So I’m bad at this one because I don’t really go into the first draft thinking remotely of what “themes” are supposed to be picked up on. My concern is more about the MC’s journey and what’s needed for the plot to move forward.

As for how I want my readers to feel when the story is over: emotionally exhausted. Like they just went on an epic, nonsensical rollercoaster of heartbreak and feels that they “can’t even.”

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If this series ever does get published and makes it to book 3, I’m looking forward to the responses to a specific scene in the MS where I’m sure more than one reader will chuck the book across the room. Again, *cue maniacal laughter*.

BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
1. Just keep writing.
It doesn’t matter if you get in your 1700 words for that day in description, just make the time to write those words.

2. Don’t worry about the quality. This is a pretty common piece of advice for NaNo, but don’t worry so much on the eloquence of a metaphor, just get down the meaning you’re aiming for then move on. Editing is for later.

3. Don’t be afraid to go off the rails. If you lock yourself in a little box, saying that you’re only going to write in sequential order, you have a higher likelihood to fail. So if one day, you look at your outline and feel like writing a scene a few chapters ahead of your current spot, do it! Enjoy what you do and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding burnout.

What about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Join the link up and tell us about your NaNo project!

5 Reasons To Participate in NaNoWriMo

For those of you who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month is this glorious writing challenge during the month of November where millions of writers strive to write 50k words toward their next novel project. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and one of my favorite months of the year… if only because it gives me an excuse to be a crazy, writing Gollum.

Not everyone is suited for NaNoWriMo, and that’s okay. Everyone’s creative process is different. But let me give you my top five reasons for trying the challenge this year…

1. It’s a fantastic starting point.
Here’s the thing, 50k is not a novel, at least not for YA and adult lit (I haven’t done enough research to be able to say what word counts apply to middle grade and chapter books). So even if you complete the challenge, you won’t have a completed manuscript. This challenge is meant to get you writing. Use it as such.

2. It’s an excuse to really, truly vomit out a draft.
Sometimes when I’m writing (and I know this to be true for other writers as well), I get so caught up in the quality of the words that I hardly get down a sentence. Because you’re so focused on meeting a word goal, you focus more on just spewing the plot out onto the page. But don’t forget to revise in the following months. I’d never recommend handing a NaNo draft to anyone for review.

3. The community is fantastic.
Okay, I know I’m a total fangirl for the writing community, but it’s such a wonderful, supportive thing! Whether you’re connecting with write-ins in person or online, there’s something about the NaNo Hive-mind that makes your fingers move twice as fast. Between word sprints, twitter challenges and the forums, you have a built-in support system of writers who commiserate with you on this epic word campaign.

4. Consistent encouragement to keep you motivated throughout the month.
Piggy-backing on No. 3, NaNoWriMo.org provides motivation through smaller word count challenges, medals for meeting different participation goals, AND motivational letters from published authors.

5. ALL THE GOODIES!
Of course there are other reasons to participate in NaNoWriMo more important than the pot of gold at the end of the grueling rainbow, BUT the winner’s circle doesn’t hurt. 😉 They always offer awesome discounts on writerly software, including but not limited to Scrivener (I would be so lost without this program…). I’m excited to see what sponsors they’ve accumulated this year.

Let me know in the comments below if you’re planning to participate this year! I’d love to know what ya’ll are working on. 🙂

Happy Writing!


If you are participating, find me on NaNoWriMo.org and add me as a writing buddy! My username is Juliet.Pierce. My 2014 Novel is titled Guarded. 2015 is Enveloped.

The Awesomeness of Finding a Writing Buddy.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

A couple of posts back, I ranted about the importance of improving your writing for the sake of the story. In that post, I touched on a few different avenues in which to do so: webinars, classes, critique groups, workshops. But here’s the thing, writing can be an incredibly lonely occupation, which I feel lends itself toward losing confidence, losing excitement and eventually giving up on goals.

The examples I gave above [on ways to improve your writing] are awesome for short-term motivation and learning new ways to harness your craft, but there is one avenue I highly recommend taking on the crazy road to publication: The Writing Buddy.

In the last couple years, I have had the incredible opportunity to meet some wonderful writers and have been blessed enough to form a friendship with these beautiful people that helps keep me [and I hope them!] motivated.

I know I just used a LOT of adjectives, but I can’t tell you how truly lucky I feel having these talented people in my life. Just this past weekend, my friend and critique partner, Chelsea, came with me to an abandoned asylum to scope out the location of my WIP’s big fight scene.

Though we didn’t actually get to go into the asylum 😦 (government property and such), it was still a fun adventure and I got to spend an afternoon just talking about writing and our different projects. If it weren’t for these little snippets of awesomeness, I’m not sure where I would be as a writer.

There are a bunch of opportunities for you to find a writing buddy of your own. Below are just a few of the ways I’ve met mine:

Local Writers Critique Groups
I found Chelsea (and so many other wonderful people) through Meetup.com. Mind you, not all writers groups are on MeetUp, but many are. (You also have to weed through numerous other types of social groups, but it’s totally worth it!)

National Novel Writing Month
I met SO MANY writers during NaNoWriMo this past November and all of them were absolutely fantastic. I keep in touch with a surprising amount given my introverted-ness (pretty sure this isn’t a word), but hurray for social media! Anyhoo, through NaNo, I met the awesome J.L. Gribble, a debut novelist whose first book, Steel Victory, comes out this summer. Check out the cover reveal here and for more information on Gribble and Steel Victory, go here.

Online Critique Sites
This is where things can get a little tricky. There are a LOT of critique sites out there, so you have to do your research and find what’s best for you. BUT you can find some very, very, VERY talented writers to help improve your writing. I found the BEST CP EVER online [actually, she found me, and THANK GOD!].

Just a quick rant about my gorgeous CP Lynanne (you can check out her blog here), there have been moments in my revision process where I look at a chapter and I honestly have no clue of where to go. When I get her notes back, it’s like a light goes off and I yell, “EUREKA!” It helps that she’s also a very talented writer, whose book series is super creative and an absolute joy for me to read (both excerpts and concept notes).

Back on topic . . . Yes, it’s easier to hoard your work and not share it with anyone, and like the African proverb says, you will go fast. But if you want to go far with your work, get a Writing Buddy and Critique Partner.

Happy Writing!