Friday, November 30, 2012

The Final Day of NaNo. PUSH THROUGH!

As of right now, Thursday night, 10:42 pm, I have 3,151 words left to reach 50,000 words for NaNo. It is November 29th, so I have two more days (counting tonight) to finish this up.

Why does it get so much harder when you are so, so close?

Case in point: right now, instead of writing, I'm blogging. And the thing is, I KNOW I should be writing because I need to make tomorrow as easy as possible.

I've been working towards this for an entire month, and now, when I'm only a few thousand words away, I feel like giving in. Hopelessness feeds on itself; the worse I feel, the worse I will feel. I'm experiencing Writer's Lag at one of the worst possible times ever.


I need the motivation to break through the finish line.

I need to tell myself that there are only two more days, two more days, two more writing sessions, and you are DONE. No more sleepless nights (trust me, this month has been bad for my 8 hours). No more panicking over missed days.


This is the home stretch, so this post will be short so I can get back to writing :) COME ON, I CAN DO THIS! WOO!!

I'm my own cheerleader.... The awesome life of being a writer.

This really sounds so stupid as I'm writing it in my bed and cheering inside my head. Trust me. You all will read it later, but I'm kind of writing to myself right now. It sounds really stupid.


Ok, bye! Wish me luck!

ETA: I just finished up writing for the night at 12:09 am, Friday morning (this is actually good, relatively speaking, for me). I have 1,568 words to write tomorrow, and I am DONE. AHH!! SUPER EXCITED!!! Wish me luck (again)!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Being Thankful for Pain

Pain is something almost all writers are intensely familiar with. Not only do writers (creative people in general) have a higher tendency for depression, they throw all their hopes into an industry which sends out rejection letters like Santa does gifts.

Being in pain is nothing new, however, each person feels their pain in a way separate from everyone else. Pain drives us to write (atleast, it drives me to write). Nathan Bransford said that we writers need to have something pushing us to express our thoughts because why else would we write? We need something to get our gut.

Pain is horrible. It is crushing and hard, depressing and hopeless, and also, a cause for gratitude. Without pain, I most likely would have never taken up writing to the extent I did. Without pain, I would not have embarked on one of the best experiences and journies of my life. Pain is a gift.

And so, here is my Thanksgiving post, a little late (due to my Smoky Mountains vacation :D).

I am thankful for all life has to offer me, because without the experiences, I would not be the person I am today -- and I like the person I am today.

I am thankful for the wonderful writers' community for being the best thing that has ever happened to me as a writer.

I am thankful for my friends and family, who gave me the support I needed and the help I wanted, even if they didn't know just how much I appreciated it.

I am thankful for my life and grateful for everything I have -- many people aren't as lucky, and I can't underestimate that.

Pain is a gift if you learn to use it correctly. Pain can inform your writing, but as Bransford also said, writing is not therapy. Therapy is therapy. My point is, don't underestimate the benefits of pain. Everyone experiences it; it's what you do with it that matters.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving guys, and I hope you all had a great time :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

5 Ways to Catch Up with Your NaNo Word Count

WOOO!!! NANO!!! *Cheers* *Throws confetti*

Oh wait.

I'm going to be on vacation from Thanksgiving Day to Sunday night. Holy crap, holy crap. Not so fun now.

Many of us won't be getting much done on Thanksgiving Day due to family, friends, etc. To add on, we might be (or will be) in a hole when it comes to NaNo. Then, we must write frantically the next days to catch up.

Here are the ways to salvage your NaNo Word Count

1. If you know there is no way you will be able to write for a few days, PLAN AHEAD. I'm trying this right now, because I'm going to be hard of writing for three full days during Thanksgiving weekend. The trick is, you must plan ahead for this kind of stuff. The week or so before your planned absence, write 2.5K a day or more (depending on how many days you'll be MIA. I'm panicking for this 3 day absence. Help!).

2. Shoot for 2K a day. Things happen: social life, Thanksgiving, football, sleep.... Maybe you just want a day off. Or maybe one day you lose your laptop, or your power goes off (Superstorm Sandy, anyone?). The thing is, expect the unexpected. If you go for 1,667 words a day and you miss writing on November 29th, you'll have to write over 3,000 words the next day to get 50K. Even an extra 200 words a day accumulates to a 6,000 "safety" zone at the end of the month.

3. Do word sprints. The hardest thing for a writer is to write that first word. I usually surf on the Internet for an hour or so before I even write. Word sprints help. They force you to write on time, and in fact, last Tuesday during a 1k1hr with some other writers, I actually finished my word count BEFORE 1 a.m.! (That's insane for me. It was literally shocking.) I finished at 11.30, and to top it off, I wrote around 3,000 words. I was hesitant to do sprints, but I realize they  help a LOT if you are lagging, especially when you have only a week left to finish NaNo.

4. When you lag... write. I'm not sure how I feel about the "cheating" writing system (such as have your MC say everything with a lisp, or have one character ramble on) in order to up your word count. This is because this does not help your novel; in the end, we want good novels. I do, however, like the "cheating" method if you use it to your advantage.
  • Have one character 'speak' the entire plot outline. I actually used this when I wasn't sure where my character arc was going. This is especially helpful to NaNo novels because most of these novels are pantsed, and we all know this can be troublesome. Just throw in a, 'Ocula said, "___"' where the ___ is your plot outline. This helps your novel by providing it a plan, while raising your word count at the same time.
  • Write a bunch of back story. Have your characters meet in a circle and tell each other about their life stories, or even give a history lesson of your world. The only way for an author to create an illusion of reality is to, well, know what the heck is there. The reader does not need to know the details, but if you do, the reader will be able to tell. Trust me. (Think Tolkien and Rowling.)
  • Have fun! Writing is MUCH easier if you are writing something you enjoy. Please, if you wish, you can "cheat" and raise your word count but try making it (at least) partially beneficial to your story. It helps in the long run and you won't delete every bit of it in December. But all of this doesn't matter. Write unnecessary scenes if you love it. Describe a place in your world, branch into a "What if?" or anything you love. Have fun, and you will write much more -- and more importantly, you will love being a writer.

5. Just write. NaNo is an incentive. Don't lose sight of the fact that the main theme in NaNo is to write. Even if you are so far behind, even if there is no way you will "win" NaNo, keep writing. This month is a GREAT month for writers, so take advantage of all the good feelings going around! What's to be scared of? The fact that you'll write a lot? Don't worry too much about winning or losing. I need to tell myself this too, so don't think you are alone ;)

Have fun guys, and please, wish me luck in my three day absence! (I actually wrote this blog post last Tuesday.) I'm in the Smokies from yesterday through Sunday, and I hope my NaNo won't be too damaged. (I'm bringing some writing stuff, but I don't want to write in front of my cousins... awkward.) I'm going to try getting to everyone's blogs (if there I find Internet), but I apologize in advance if I don't :(

Happy Belated Thanksgiving (....and don't go crazy today with the shopping.....)!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Announcing a Vacation

YAYYYY! I'm going to be in the Smoky Mountains with my lovely from Thursday until Sunday night. I DO have blog posts scheduled for Friday and Monday but unless I get WiFi up in the mountains, I won't be able to go around to everybody's blogs. I'll be doing all by blog-visiting today, and I'll try catching up on Monday. I'm sorry guys :(

Thank you though for understanding (and if you didn't forgive me yet, I'll bring you a leaf or something from the Smokies. Deal?). AND HAVE A FANTASTIC THANKSGIVING! (I have no idea what I'm going to eat, being vegetarian and up in the mountains on Thursday... so wish me luck!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

A New Blog Series! Myth Busting Writerly Quotes

Yay!!!! A new blog series for this blog!!! Woo!!!!! *throws confetti*

I'm obsessed with quotes, and I've been thinking, "Why haven't I been blogging more about them?" So that was the inspiration for this blog series. Nothing too fancy of an inspiration, but a bit of back story for those world building fans out there (I love you).

The premise of the series is this:

There are so many quotes that writers hear, but how on Earth can they all be true? Some say show, some say tell. The reason for this is that no one has (or probably, will) discover the 100%, undeniable 'secret' to writing a best seller. Thus, there is a lot of advice out there, which is more or less an amalgamation of guesses at what could be true.

Show, don't tell.

No back story.

Don't start with a dream.

The way to becoming a writer is to write.

Don't expect masterpieces from first drafts.

Plot or Pants?


Which ones are true? Which ones are false? Which quotes can be twisted to reveal all the nuggets of wisdom they have to offer?

I, ever your humble servant, will try to answer these questions for you in a way that will draw from my own writing experiences, from advice given by industry professionals (agents, editors, published authors, etc.), and from advice from my fellow writers who aspire to be published.

I will either give each quote a status of Busted, Proved, or Mined (like mining for gold, a.k.a. dug deeper into the quote to get more from it. Usually, writers don't dig deep enough to understand all the information they can truly achieve from a quote).

Rest assured, I will be listing my sources and whatnot so you can verify my claim (please, don't take any opinion as fact until you've heard all the viewpoints).

Are you guys excited? I sure am :) These "Myth Busting Quotes" posts will probably happen once or twice a month. I truly hope that both you and I will learn a TON from these posts :)

However, I need your help. What quotes do you want to see analyzed? Give me ones you think are a doozy. I'll try my hardest to handle them, and will write up posts for every one in the coming months. Thank you!

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Defense of Non-Writers

We've all seen it, and only we would understand it. Ever heard of the Twitter hashtag, #thingsnottosaytoawriter? Here are some of the better ones if you missed it.

I dread telling people I'm a writer in real, non-Internet life. The most I ever say is, "Yea, I'd love to be a writer" or "I like to write." I rarely ever, ever tell people that I am actually writing a book because I hate hearing things like, "Oh, can I read it?" or "Ah, it's not published yet? Why don't you just self-publish it?"

Non-writers don't understand how hard being a writer truly is. It's not just putting words to a paper. Ernest Hemingway said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Revealing this side of our lives is like opening ourselves to people who think writing is some magical fantasy when it clearly isn't. It's hard, being told that writing is not the grueling task it is. It's frustrating, and you can't reply because they wouldn't understand unless they actually wrote.

But would they?

I'm starting to feel that I SHOULD tell people that I write books (I probably won't, though. I'll chicken out. But I'll know that I should tell people.)

It's not because I don't hear painful things from people who don't realize what they are saying. I do hear it. I hear it a lot.

It's because all those negative words disappear in a heartbeat when you meet that one person who understands; and that person can come from anywhere.

It happened twice to me.

It came from someone I know, just today. When I told her that I had no current plan to make writing my "legitimate" paying career, she looked at me and asked if I truly liked the 'serious' job. She knew as I knew that my one true ambition is to be a writer. She had read some of my writing before (not my books), and what she had to say about my writing made my day, and probably my year. It couldn't have come at a better time either, right when I was getting so down about my book and getting lost in this NaNo hoopla.

The second time happened a few months ago when my cousin was getting married. First off, my cousin knew I was writing a book; he had seen my Word document and saw through my desperate pleas that the 300-400 page document was "nothing". He hadn't told us until a few weeks before he proposed about his plans, so I was chiding him about not revealing important information. He whispered to me that I hadn't told him about my book, and I sputtered and said that it wasn't anything big. He then replied that writing a book was as important and life-changing as marriage.

I can't tell you how much that meant to me. I never felt that any non-writer would understand until that moment when I realized he understood perfectly (I hope, unless he was just making things up). The first incident that happened just today will replay in my mind over and over, because she had hope in me when I was losing it. Seeing real live people believe in your writing is something unimaginable.

Telling people about your writing is hard. That's why I don't do it. In fact, I doubt that almost anyone outside my core family knows that I'm actually writing a book (other than you guys); even the woman today didn't know, and I chickened out from telling her. Maybe I'll tell her when I actually finish.

Either way, the most encouragement I ever received from non-writers was from these two people (maybe they are writers too, but they just hide it?).

Telling people about your writing can be horrible when you see their reactions and hear what they say. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding things you ever do in regards to your writing. All the ignorant comments of non-writers made famous in #thingsnottosaytoawriter will be wiped away with one sentence from someone who truly understands, if only you reveal yourself.

(Again, I bet I'll chicken out. But these accidental revelations are amazing ;) )

(If you need some writing inspiration, check out this site. If you didn't know, I LOVE quotes.)

How do you feel about this? Do you like revealing your love for writing to non-writers?

(I am so close to the 50 follower point! Just one more, just one more....)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing

(Yes, this is an Emergency Post, because I posted on a Wednesday. Crud.)

The wonderful Debra McKellan tagged me in this, so here I go :) Thank you! Now go visit her blog :)

1- What is the working title of your book?

Pure Sea, Grey Waves for my YA Fantasy (This took FOREVER to come up with.)
Saving Penelope for my Adult Contemporary, but this post will concentrate on the above book :)

2- Where did the idea come from for the book?

Oh gosh, this is a long story, but I'll cut it short for you. First of all, I'm a painter, and a few years ago I painted a scene with a golfer golfing in space. Well, that scene (literally) became the start of my novel, and then, I either had a dream or a daydream (I can't remember) of a big beast floating around in space. The original golfer idea was cut out entirely, but that gave birth to the idea of an underwater world on a different planet.

3- What genre does your book fall under?
YA Fantasy :)

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Well... they are a species of underwater creatures... so, maybe Ariel? Ursula? I'm thinking Jaws, that might be a good one, or maybe Nemo. Any other ideas? (Ignoring the fact that my creatures kind of look like humans, hehe.)

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

AHHH!!! NO! I REFUSE! Fine, here it is (my Twitter pitch. I have NaNo to do, I don't want to go crazy honing a one-sentence full pitch).

In an underwater city where prejudicial law tears Alphi and her only friend apart, she turns her wand against the royal tyrants -- her own family.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully, I will get agented. I don't have the skills to tackle self-publishing (I'm at a loss on how authors do it. I have tons of respect for them).

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two years :) Yup. However, right now, I'm doing a full rewrite on it.

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh gosh, I really don't know. Maybe in terms of character arc, A Tale of Two Cities? (ONLY in terms of character arc. I am nowhere near as good as Dickens.) If you know a story with an underwater world, please tell me, because I need comp titles for my query :)

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

JK Rowling kind of gave me the desire to write for publishing (I had been writing a LOT before I read Harry Potter). However, the actual material in this book is inspired by my inspirations (see Question 2) and my own life experiences. Writing this book was sort of like therapy for me (and still is). However, I might not have chosen magic if not for Harry Potter. I love magic.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I think that one of the biggest compliments I could ever get about this book is that it made someone cry. Pure Sea, Grey Waves is all about redemption, pain, and breaking through it all. It's about hope. If this book lingers in someone's mind at night, I would be very happy.

Oh, and the book is magical. And underwater.

Tagged for next week (Week 24) are other awesome people/writers. Check out their blogs next Wednesday when THEY have to answer these questions.

(I'm a little late to The Next Big Thing, and although I tried to find people who haven't been tagged, I apologize if you've already done this before. Sorry! :D)

Kela McClelland
Brighton Luke
Utsav Mukerjee
E.B. Black
Kendra Conine
Morgan Shamy

Thanks again, Debra, for tagging me in this!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Your Novel's Most Important Quote

I LOVE quotes. I can go for hours just looking up quotes, because I love them so much -- they mean so much to me. As such, I like to think of your novel's most important quote as your novel's thesis, and the way to find it is this:
What quote would you put before in the pages before your book starts?

You've seen this in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; JK Rowling included two poems; one by William Penn, and one by Aeschylus before the first chapter. Odds are, you've seen this in tons of novels (I just can't think of any right now -- call me stupid) and you might put one in yours.

If so, I applaud you. *Clap clap clap*

It doesn't matter if your future agent, editor, beta reader, etc. decides to cut it out in the end. This is much like what writing the query to a work in progress does to your plot; the query gives your plot a guide. As such, the quote gives your novel a theme.

Themes are important. About every single novel has a theme to it which is the book's message, angst, 'truth,' whatever you wish to call it. The theme is what makes the book live on in the readers' minds after they have finished it. The theme is what the reader stays up at night thinking about.

This is why finding a quote to sum up your book is so important; it guides the theme of the novel, and gives your book focus.

Now, probably, you don't have some amazing quote just yet to some up your novel, and if you do, it is truly wonderful (I mean it). But if you are at a lost to find a quote for your theme as I was (and am), I suggest you go to this website, which lists out quotes in terms of topic. Or, as I usually do, just search, "Quotes about love" and you will get links to websites chock-full of quotes for your budding romance novel.

Let me take a gander here and list some quotes for famous books:

A Tale of Two Cities:

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else.”

― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Great Gatsby:

"Love is blindness."
--- Jack White

And so on and so forth. (Don't attack me for the above quotes. I just threw something out there so you can get a picture of what I'm talking about. The quotes sum up the theme of the novel.)

My current manuscript (YA Fantasy) is split into two parts, Part One consisting of the MC going around (more like being forced) to different places and being desperate to find a place she feels... happy. Meanwhile, she's bombarded with insults saying that she is stupid for thinking in the way she does.

My quote for Part One is:

"Not all those who wander are lost."
--- J.R.R. Tolkien (Whoa, really? I never knew he invented this quote! I just Googled to check.)

I still have to find my Part Two quote, and my Part One quote might change. If you want (just as an exercise) you can put a quote for every single chapter (if you are in dire need of a focus for your novel).

That's the beauty of this system. You just go along and you come across the perfect quote, and you feel all happy because you know that's the one -- and it might change when you find another quote.

It's a remarkable feeling to find the quote that completely understands your novel, and that's what you have to find: the quote that understands your novel.

I wish you the best in your search :)

Do you have any quotes you are thinking of for your novel? Do you have an addiction for quotes like I do (I really do)?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Writing Crap

"The first draft of anything is sh*t."
                                                      -- Ernest Hemingway.

Writing crap is important.

It just is. Almost everyone will write crap if they are serious about writing, mainly because as they write, they grow better and better. Their beginning works are crap.

This is especially important during this month due to NaNoWriMo. We have to get 50K, and that means we don't have time to edit, look over things, etc. So what do we do?

We write crap.

We don't edit and we don't look things over when we draft; especially when we draft in November for NaNo. And it hurts. It hurts me, at least.

One of my biggest fears is that my MS will be turn out to be a whopper and I will have a hard time editing it down to a decent word count -- much like the first time I wrote this MS. I don't want that to happen and it's hurting my writing flow; sometimes I'm scared to even write. The solution?

I write crap.

The best magic happens in the editing phase. In drafting, we just need something to work with -- we can't sculpt without the marble. The marble block is our first draft in whatever shape or form it is. We can carve out our masterpieces from these blocks, but we need the block to begin with. It does not matter if the block is enormous, or a bit bumpy -- we can carve the crap away.

It's important especially in the drafting stage, because this stage is all about creativity and flow. Drafting will require all the ideas you have, so why hold back? You can get rid of the crap while editing.

Acknowledging the fact that you can and should write crap is freeing, as is the idea of not taking your first draft seriously. I need this message stamped into my brain, because I keep getting chills at the thought of a Dickens-sized novel on my computer. I need to keep my draft creative and fun, and I can't take myself seriously -- at least when I draft. Wish me luck.

Have you faced this problem?

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo -- DON'T Write a Book in a Month

Yup, you heard me.

Because books are like these:

Don't own this photo.

And these:

I actually do own this. So HA, photo copyright lawsuits!

Unless you are writing for the MG audience or you write novellas, your book will NOT end up in the 50,000 word range that is National Novel Writing Month's goal. They will be like the above books: bigger, thicker, and longer (...).

For me, at least, I like doing all the drafting and creative work in one go. Usually, this means I have +100K novels, but I do edit the life out of them in the next phase (my most prized shortening is 136K to 85Kish).

For most of us, our novels will not end up in the 50K range. If you do decide to get a book done in November, I bet (or suggest) you:
  • are a writer that loves to flesh out the skeleton of a draft; you like adding more than deleting
  • you are doing NaNoWriMo for fun, or as an exercise/study in writing (This would have saved me the wreck of a MS that was my first MS. And my second, to think of it. Sigh....)
  • your genre/category permits you to have a shorter word count
Because if you don't like fleshing out the bones, then your post-NaNo experience will be a nightmare. Don't try squeezing in a healthy 80K novel into 50K words by cutting subplots or adding placeholders ("Main character kills bad guy"). If you do enjoy fleshing out your novel, keep going with NaNo's goal. However, if you are like me and want a relaxing and mindless editing job (relatively speaking), don't squeeze your book. It's book suicide.

Squeezing a manuscript means twice the work: draft twice as much, labor twice as hard -- not pretty.
But I love NaNoWriMo. Even though I'm against its goal for a full novel, I sure as heck need a push to write 50K. Honestly, it's not really "rushing" to write 1,667 words a day. Writing a book in that word count is rushing. I can do 1,667 words, but I need a push. NaNo is that push.

I am recommending NaNo to everyone here. Start right (or write, hehe) now; it doesn't matter if you are late to the game; just get 1,667 words a day. Do it even if you are not drafting; up the word count to 2,500 and edit that much of your novel each day. Heck, do a NaNo in December.

Just do it. That's all NaNo is about, and in November, NaNo gets you with one of the best communities on the Internet. November is a great month for writers.

But don't try suffocating your novel if that's not for you. Try to shoot for 50K this month, not to finish the whole book.

Heck, even Water for Elephants (with a newish movie starring Robert Pattison) was a NaNo novel -- and its published word count was 100,483 words. That's double the NaNo goal.

Don't kill your works of art and future NYT best sellers in the awesomeness that is NaNoWriMo.
(And it truly is awesome. So do it!)

Have fun NaNoing, and find me there as well, under SC_Author :)

Do you have any advice for NaNoers?

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Start of NaNoWriMo -- Add Me!

Officially, yesterday, the "Thirty days and night of literary abandon!" has started. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited. I needed a push to write.

Let me tell you a little story.

Every start of the month, due to a teacher's enlightening knowledge, I try to have "rabbit, rabbit" be the first thing I say when I wake up for good luck during the month. Although I don't believe in luck, I DO believe in placebos. Call me a self-mutilating ignoramus, I don't mind; this works for me.

However, I rarely ever accomplish this "good luck" goal, but yesterday night, I was spazzing because I was thinking, "It's NaNoWriMo, I need some placebos!" So I said "rabbit, rabbit" at midnight (I was still up) but I knew it didn't count. So I went to sleep. What would you know, randomly (or this might have been a dream), I woke up at 3:30 am, said, "rabbit, rabbit" after being a little confusion, and went back to sleep.

NaNoWriMo has permeated my existence for this month. Yesterday, I actually skipped an obligation so I could write! I KNOW! I'm feeling like an actual writer!

I'm getting more writing done and I have more energy when I write; I'm not experiencing the cruel killer that is Writer's Lag. I'm loving it. It helps that I'm not technically drafting, I'm rewriting a MS from scratch, so I know where I am going. (I would suggest outlines for those who wrote themselves in a corner. Just rip off the bandage and do it, especially in the craze that is NaNoWriMo.)

The best thing about this is the positive pressure from the community. How many times have I said the writer's community is one of the best? Not enough. I LOVE YOU GUYS.

SO, please, please, please (dang, that's the first time I used bold in this post! That's like a record.) add me on NaNoWriMo. I'm SC_Author, and I hail from Hogwarts (I shouldn't have told you that. Shoot. Ah, you guys wouldn't believe me anyway. Muggles.... Saving my life every day.)

How is your NaNoWriMo starting? Everything you hoped, or less than your expectations? Share!

I'm on word 1,774 from Day 1 writing (I have 20K from previous). Yay :) My goal is 70K by the end of November.