And So It Begins…

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It’s All Hallow’s Eve, or as we in ChiWriMo like to call it,

The Day Before NaNo!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not actually ready.

Wha?

No, really.

But here’s what I’ve learned from NaNo’s past:

Don’t panic. All words count during NaNo.

What does this mean in my case? I’m a pantser, which means I write “by the seat of my pants.” As much as I’d like to be more of a planner, my personal process doesn’t seem to work that way. Yeah, I can plan. But when the rubber meets the road, I’m a pantser.

NaNo will start whether I’m ready or not.  Which brings me to:

You don’t have to “be ready.” You just have “to write.”

Write is a verb. As a matter of fact, it’s a nice, crunchy, active verb – and if you’ve read how-to articles related to writing, you’ve probably heard exhortations to use active verbs in your writing.

Very well.  I shall to write.

Or something like that.

But see, this leads me to my next point:

Rough drafts are Rough Drafts: equal parts “rough” and “draft.”

What happens when you order a draft beer?  (No, really, stay with me here.) The barkeep pulls the lever, after putting a glass below the spigot of course, and poof.  Beer shows up.

Writing is kind of like that. You put the paper or word processor (the glass) in front of the fingers (the spigot) and pull the lever.  It ain’t gotta be pretty; it’s just gotta be words.

Pretty soon, a rough draft becomes a draft of a novel. But don’t rush it.

It’s just the start of NaNo.  All you gotta do, wrimo, is write 1,667 words tomorrow.  You don’t even gotta write ‘em all in the same sitting.  You could write 500 here, 250 there, a thousand after that… Which, for you math-inclined folks, is actually 1,750.

See how that happens?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Okay, I didn’t say that, a really smart guy named Lao Tzu did.  But it’s true, nevertheless.  And even the longest novel begins with the first word.  And the English language, assuming that’s what you’re writing your novel with, has lots and lots of words.  And a great many of them can be used to begin sentences.

Just start.

To paraphrase the famous Nike ad, “Just do it,” just start writing.

You can DO this, wrimo.

WE can.

Write on.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

What To Do in the Middle

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It’s the second full week of NaNo, and we’re inching up on the halfway point.  For many of us, that means we’re hitting the middle of our manuscript and reality has set in.

What To Do in the Middle

What DO we do in the middle of a manuscript?

Well, that depends.  What makes sense for our story?

And that’s where, sometimes, our brains go spung.

Don’t Trust Boredom: It’s a Block

If we get suddenly bored with our story, that’s likely a creative block and not actual boredom.  Don’t give up!  Don’t turn on the television, or numb out on Facebook, or read a book.  Keep going.  This is the point at which our inner critic has woken up to the fact that no, we really were serious, and yeah, we’re writing this here book thing and holy crap what do you mean you think you can write a novel?  Who do you think you are?

You Are Too a Writer!

Ignore all the voices that say you’re not a writer.  Who are you kidding?  You’re a dilettante!  You never finish anything.  Who wants to read what you have to say?  All the good plots have already been written.  There are too many books out there, don’t bother. IGNORE ALL THAT.   It doesn’t matter where it came from – Mom, Dad, Kids, Uncles, Aunts, Siblings, Teachers, Bosses, the Internet…  KEEP GOING.

A writer is someone who writes.

The definition is in the action.  The action defines the definition.  If you write, you’re a writer.  Ipso facto.  (That’s just Latin fancy talk for “by that very fact or act.”)  (You can use that, if you need to, to defend your nascent writerlyness: “I’m writing, ipso facto, I’m a writer!”)

Keep Going

The only way to get to the end is to keep putting words after one another, occasionally followed by a period.  Or, if you’re me, an overabundance of exclamation points.  (No, I’m not kidding; ask my editors.)  But the story that you’re trying to tell will not reveal itself to you unless you keep writing.  Quite frequently, it will only reveal itself after a bunch of what feels like wrong turns.  You put Bob in a bar, he sees Lucille, but then you realize he’s gay and Lucille’s a black drag queen, but the biker gang from scene two is going to come in and they’re going to want to shoot Lucille and Bob can’t have that and…

Don’t be afraid to take wrong turns.  Don’t be afraid to put a porcupine in your story.  “Bob looked down and froze.  Standing not two feet in front of him was one pissed off porcupine.  What had pissed off the porcupine wasn’t immediately apparent, but Bob was damned sure the porcupine was pissed at him and he didn’t know what to do about.  It’s not like he could pick the thing up, pet it and snuggle it, and apologize.  Of course, he couldn’t really do that with his cat, either, but at least Mister Buckles didn’t stay mad for long… and the porcupine looked like it had a lot of endurance.  Bob walked forward and…”  What next?  “What next?” is your friend.  If you’re stuck in one place, drop back a couple pages and find some action, then take it another direction.  “Bob turned the corner too fast for the porcupine to see.  Good.  He lost the little spiky rodent.  But then…”

Interview your characters.  “So, Bob, it’s me, Noony.  I’m volunteering for NaNoWriMo, and I’m writing this article for Wrimos about what to do when you get stuck in your story.  So tell me, Bob, what’s it like to be a porcupine?”  “To be pointed, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  On the one claw, you’ve got all these quills.  But on the other claw, you can’t really cuddle with your loved ones, now can you?”  “Good point.  So tell me, Bob, where do you think this article should go?”  “Tell them to keep writing.  Just sit down and write what you think your story’s about.  Keep going, and add more stuff.  Write crap.  Don’t worry about grammar.  If you hear a voice in your head say it sucks, let that voice write for a while, until it runs out of things to say, then go back to writing your story.  All words count during NaNo, so put all the words down on the page.”

See?  You heard it here first, wrimos.

Bob the Porcupine Says, “Keep Writing.”

So unless you want a face full of quills, you know what to do.

Keep the faith.  Fifty thousand, we’re coming for you.

Write on!

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings
My links: Blog | Books | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora
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Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Join my Writers Group, The Writer Zen Garden:  Blog | Website | Forum | FB Group | Twitter | Meetup
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How to Write Fast—and Why – Grant Faulkner, at the Chicago Humanities Council

Grant FaulknerNaNoWriMo is starting soon – and with it, ChiWriMo is getting ready to write words, kick butt, and take names.  And to help us do just that, we have a special announcement!

Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, will be in Chicago to give a talk for the Chicago Humanities Council:  “How to Write Fast—and Why” on Friday, November 4, 2016, from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) wants you to write… and write fast. Each November, thousands of names and nobodies churn out 50,000 words over 30 days. Notable results include Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. Started in 1999, NaNoWriMo has become a worldwide phenomenon and a fable of the internet age—creative empowerment without gatekeepers. Writer and NaNoWriMo executive director Grant Faulkner will lead a hands-on exploration of the method behind the madness of fast—and uninhibited—writing.

Friday, 11/04/2016, 6:00 to 7:00 P.M.
Francis W. Parker School, Diane and David B Heller Auditorium
2233 N Clark St | Chicago, IL | 60614
Members: $10
Public: $12
Students and Teachers: $5

And guess what?  We have four tickets to give away!  All you have to do to be entered to win is comment on the blog, and tell us the name of your NaNo project.

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Camp NaNo Is Coming! Camp NaNo Is Coming!

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Never fear, Wrimo, the write-in is here!  Wondering what to do in the off-season?  Getting sad and lonely looks from your manuscript?  Your butt miss its chair?  Just have this need to write?

Then wait no more, and join us in April for Camp NaNoWriMo!  What’s that, you ask?  Well, let’s see, straight from the Camp NaNo site:

Camp NaNoWriMo is a more open-ended version of our original November event.We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 10,000 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers may attempt non-novel projects. Camp is a creative retreat for whatever you’re working on!

We even have a write-in, for you social butterflies.

Sunday, April 10, 2016, from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M.
Geek Bar
1941 W North Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60622

And remember, find us online:

National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Friday Friendships – An Interview with ChiWriMo Member Robyn Bachar

2016-01-08 Robyn_Bachar_photoI got to chat with Robyn about writing, NaNoWriMo, and her book.  Take a peek!

CW: What 1 word best describes your hero and/or heroine? Why?

RB: Badass. (Badass is one word, right?) Andee is an assassin, and not just any assassin. She’s an empath who uses her psychic abilities to find and exploit weaknesses in her targets. I love the image of her on the cover. She’s the muscle in her relationship, ready to do anything to protect her mates. Andee kicks a lot of butt in Sunsinger. She’s much like Carmen in Nightfall and Bryn in Morningstar, who are all very “Give me the gun so I can save you!”

CW: What was your inspiration for this book and the main characters?

RB: I love the epic drama and adventure of space opera. Laser pistols! Space battles! YES. There’s a bit of Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and Mass Effect in the Cy’ren Rising series. Sunsinger is my Return of the Jedi, complete with a final battle of good versus evil that takes place both on the ground and in orbit. Galen is the brains, Andee is the brawn, and Malcolm is their heart. They were a blast to write (this book was my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, and it always helps to have a fun story for NaNo).

CW: Is this story part of a series? Will there be more stories in this series?

RB: Sunsinger is the final book in the Cy’ren Rising trilogy. It’s erotic sci-fi romance, each featuring a ménage. The first two books have a f/f/m romance, and Sunsinger was my first foray into m/m/f romance. I love Galen. As soon as he showed up in the first book I knew I had to tell his story, and as soon as Malcolm showed up in Morningstar I knew they needed to be together. Andee is the icing on their cake—they work perfectly together.

CW: What subgenres do you write in and who are you published with?

RB: I’m published with Samhain Publishing. I write paranormal romance, historical paranormal romance, and erotic sci-fi and paranormal romance. I also self-published a fantasy romance. I love stories with romance, adventure, and swords. I even have swords in space. Four of my published books began as NaNoWriMo novels (fingers crossed that the number will soon be five).

CW: What do you love about writing in your romance sub-genre?

RB: The Cy’ren Rising books cross a lot of sub-genres. They’re sci-fi, specifically space opera, and they’re also erotic romance because they feature ménages. Those ménages include bisexual characters, so they also skew into LGBT territory. The combination allows for spicy romance, epic adventure, and angsty drama, where the characters can find true love and save the galaxy at the same time. I love that.

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Her desire unites them. Her secret could destroy them all.

 

The lord.

 

The sole survivor of the Sunsinger massacre, Lord Degalen Fairren spends his days reading tales of the family he never knew. When a rival house threatens to enslave Cyprena, Galen is forced to pull his nose out of his books and enter into an alliance with House Morningstar, and a dangerous mission to save his world.

 

The assassin.

 

Lady Andelynn Harrow isn’t House Morningstar’s eldest or prettiest daughter, but she is the deadliest. After her father’s murder, Andee must defend her new house and mate—the shy, reluctant Galen—but every battle risks revealing her terrible secret.

 

The slave.

 

Malcolm gets his first taste of freedom when the Cy’ren recruit him to locate the cure to a deadly virus—and feels the burn of desire for Galen, the lord he can never have, and for Andee, who awakens memories of a long-lost first love.

 

The danger they face fuels the heat between them, but with Cyprena’s fate hanging in the balance, the race to find the cure could come with devastating costs.

 

Warning: Contains a blushing, virgin lord, a sexy geek, and an empathic assassin who always brings lube on a mission.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | All Romance eBooks | Samhain Publishing LLC

About Robyn:

Robyn Bachar enjoys writing stories with soul mates, swords, spaceships, vampires, and gratuitous violence against the kitchen sink. Her paranormal romance Bad Witch series, historical paranormal romance series Bad Witch: The Emily Chronicles, and spicy space opera romance trilogy Cy’ren Rising are available from Samhain Publishing. Her books have finaled twice in the PRISM Contest for Published Authors, twice in the Passionate Plume Contest, and twice in the EPIC eBook Awards. Find her on her website.

 

 

Writer Wednesday – Kickin’ It Old School

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An online friend of mine pointed me to the “A Month of Letters” site and I stopped by to give it a look-see.  It looks like a lot of fun!  In February, you commit to sending correspondence by snail mail for every day that the post office sends mail (so, not Sunday or U.S. federal holiday).  Since I love snail mail, I figured I’d point this out to my fellow Wrimos.

Write on!

Twas the First of December, and All Through the House…

NaNo is over.

Right?

WRONG!

Join us this Sunday, December 6th, from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. at Geek Bar for the Thank Goodness It’s Over Afterparty!

Plus, keep your eyes on this site for more content – I’ve got an interview with one of our homegrown Chiwrimos, an interview with the founder of Geek Bar, and some more stuff during the month of December.  I’ll also be posting about what to do in the off-season, and you’ll get emails from NaNo HQ on that very topic, too!

But for now, coffee.  Because, it’s December 1 and I should probably go do some chores and find my family under the mountain of laundry.  And the dog.  Here, Fido!

Sunday Morning Thoughts As Week Two Begins

It’s Week Two.  Reality has started to set in.  We get a look at our schedule and think, was I nuts?  Am I even on the right track?

Keep going.

But I’m not a novelist! I’m not even a NaNoist.  How was I kidding?  This is silly.  I don’t even know where my story is going!

Keep going.

  • But Thanksgiving is coming.
  • I have kids and I can’t concentrate with them underfoot.  I’ll be a bad parent!
  • I’m too busy at work.
  • I’m not a novelist.
  • This is goofy.  Fifty thousand words of what?
  • Is this any good?
  • Will it sell?
  • Who am I kidding?

Keep going.

The secret to NaNo, if there is a secret, is that the way to write a novel is to write a novel.  The only way to do that, is to put words in front of each other until you’re ready to type “the end.”

NaNo teaches us to experiment.

The idea of a rough draft is just that: it’s rough.  It’s not perfect.  It’s not something we will run out and slap up on the internet.  No secret cabal is out to take your baby novel and throw it to the wolves of harsh critique.  This is a draft.  A draft is supposed to be rough.

You can’t edit what you ain’t writ.

In order to get to the final draft, you have to have a draft to edit.  You can’t have a draft to edit unless you write one.  So tell your inner critic you’ll buy them bourbon, or chocolate, or whatever bribe works, but right now, you’re writing.

Keep going.

One thing I hear a lot of around now is, “where are we supposed to be?”  I ask, “What do you mean?” “Number!  How many words am I supposed to have?”

Ignore the number and keep going.

Staring at the number is like trying to lose weight while living on a scale.  It doesn’t work.  It just makes us nuts.  Don’t worry about word count.  Don’t even worry about NaNo.  Just make a play-date with you and your baby novel.  Spend time with it.  Name it.  Sing a lullaby to it.  “Baby, you and me are gonna go places | Oh the places we’ll go | Baby, just you and me and a keyboard makes three | Baby you’re comin’ home with me!” ~la la la~

How do you get to the finish line?

Keep going.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

SEALED BY FIRE, an All Romance eBooks Bestseller!
The Chicagoland Shifters series:
Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT

Book 2 TIGER TIGER, an All Romance eBooks Bestseller!
The Persis Chronicles:
Book 1 EMERALD FIRE
Book 2, EMERALD KEEP
Other Fun Stuff:
My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora
Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook
The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter | Meetup
National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

NaNo – Years I’ve Won, Years I’ve Lost – A Retrospective

I’ve been doing NaNo for a few years now (six) and I’ve won a few times (four).  I don’t consider the two years where I didn’t hit goal to be “losses.”  If I’ve learned anything in this business, it’s to keep writing.  All words count during NaNo.

We learn from the years we win NaNo.

The years where we make it across the finish line teach us that hard work pays off and that we can do it, we can write the first draft of a novel.  We also learn that non-writers don’t understand.  “So, you’ve written fifty thousand words.  Yeah, but are they any good?” is said with a sly kind of smile, as though the questioner thinks they’ve delivered a witty comeback to our, “I won NaNo!”  They haven’t.  The point is, it’s a rough draft.  It’s not supposed to be polished.

We learn from the years we don’t win NaNo.

Sometimes, we learn more from the years we don’t hit the mark than the years we do.  One of the years I didn’t win, it was because I had a huge family gathering to attend over Thanksgiving.  I figured I could bang out the remaining ten thousand words in the two days when I got back, a Monday and a Tuesday.  I had time after work both evenings and even wrote it into my calendar.

Then work happened.

I won’t bore you with the gory details, but I worked for a very toxic boss (for whom I thankfully no longer work) and he made those two days into a walking hell.  By the time I left the office, near tears each evening, I didn’t want to do anything, much less touch my fledgling novel.  Disappointed and discouraged, I watched midnight on the 30th come and go and never got my winner’s badge that year.

An odd thing happened, though.  The next year, I came out of the gate so strong that I would have bowled over anything standing in my way.  I had found a new job, was on my way to becoming a “real” author (meaning I had a publishing contract), and I felt like I finally knew what I was doing.  When I crossed that finish line, it felt differently than before.  This time, I was aware of the struggle it took to get there.

I realized my NaNo “failure” wasn’t a failure at all.

We talk a lot about how NaNo teaches us to write a draft of a novel.  What is less talked-about is the fact that NaNo teaches us how to fit writing into our lives – and I have yet to meet someone whose life isn’t already full of all the things.

Writing is a difficult pursuit because it’s, in essence, solitary.  Humans by nature are social animals, be they extroverts or introverts.  Sure, the appearance of socializing looks different for different people, but we all need human contact.  We need to create support systems around ourselves that sustain and nurture us, and we need to limit toxic inputs in order to sustain our creativity.

So yeah, in a way, NaNo helped me quit that toxic job.  I didn’t do it immediately, and I had some bumps along the road between then and now.  But overall, it made me stronger – and a better writer.

And that’s my “key takeaway” as they say in business.  (And the language crafters among you, Dear Reader, are cringing at my use of jargon.)  Keep writing.  Let writing be a part of your life, and don’t let other things that are lower on the priority list get in its way. Of course family is important, and if you work a job outside the home then you need to continue to do so.  But evaluate the things on which you spend your time, and the people with whom you spend it – do they support you and your goals?

If not, maybe it’s time to reconsider what the priorities are and recommit to getting to fifty thousand.

We can DO this.

Write on!

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

SEALED BY FIRE, an All Romance eBooks Bestseller!
The Chicagoland Shifters series:
Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT

Book 2 TIGER TIGER, an All Romance eBooks Bestseller!
The Persis Chronicles:
Book 1 EMERALD FIRE
Book 2, EMERALD KEEP
Other Fun Stuff:
My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora
Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook
The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter | Meetup
National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

What To Do In the Off-Season

Welcome to the dreaded February, the month when sub-zero temperatures attack and there’s no NaNo to sustain us.  Whatever shall we do?

For those of you playing the home game, WE WRITE! (Seriously, you didn’t see that one coming???)

All kidding aside, the off months are tough because we don’t have the collective sturm und drang of thousands of participants, pounding away at their keyboards with their hats askew, banging out 50,000 words or more of their novel.

Don’t despair, Dear Chiwrimo!  We have resources!

First, there are two mid-year events called Camp NaNo – one in April, and one in July.  We even have write-ins planned for both, one on April 11th, and one on July 18th.  The links jump you to our Facebook event pages.

Which is a nice segue into my next resource, our Facebook group.  (Like how I did that, all transitiony and stuff?)  Our little Facebook group has grown to over 800 members!  (Thank you, you awesome Chiwrimos, you!)  If you haven’t joined yet, what are you waiting for?  Visit today and join the conversation – there’s humor, and impromptu writeins, and ideas, and support – everything a growing writer needs to take on the New York Times Bestseller List!

We also have a Twitter stream, @Chiwrimo.  If you like brief, and you like it in 140 characters or less, then this is your oyster.

And finally, drum roll please – I found the A-Z Blog Challenge last year while poking around on NaNoWriMo.org (you know, world headquarters?) for ideas on what to do next.  It’s a month-long challenge where writers post a blog a day for every day except Sunday, and the only stipulation is you must follow the alphabet theme – so, day 1 is A, day 2 is B, and so on.  If this sounds fun, point your browser over there – 2015 signups are now open.  Be sure to link to your blog in the comments here so we can track our local writers and support each other.

Write on!

 

– 

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

**New** SEALED BY FIRE is an All Romance eBooks Bestseller!
 
The Chicagoland Shifters series:
Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT

Book 2 TIGER TIGER, an All Romance eBooks Bestseller!
**Coming Soon!** Watch for Book 3, CAT’S CRADLE, out Summer 2015!
The Persis Chronicles:
Book 1 EMERALD FIRE
**Coming Soon!** Watch for Book 2, EMERALD KEEP, out April 2015! 
The Keepsake Tour begins March 8th. 
 
Other Fun Stuff:
My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora 
Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook
The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter | Meetup
National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | Facebook | Twitter