And So It Begins…

2017-10-31 Blog Pic 1

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

2016-11-11 Pic 1

 

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
Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Join my Writers Group, The Writer Zen Garden:  Blog | Website | Forum | FB Group | Twitter | Meetup
Join my Readers Group, Nice Girls Writing Naughty:  Blog | Website | FB Group | Twitter
National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | FB Group | Twitter

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Camp NaNo Is Coming! Camp NaNo Is Coming!

12227158_998857820175107_2927128487899707690_n

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.

2016-01-08 Sunsinger72lg

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 6.05.37 PM

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!

A Poem by ChiWriMo Member Felicia R Johnson

Twas the first of December
and all through the land
there were Wrimos still typing
Writing even by hand
Cuz tho the competition was over
and many had won
the writing wasn’t over
so much to be done!
Revisions are needed
type until your fingers are worn
the labor pains aren’t over
until the novel is born.

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!

Guest Post: ChiWriMo Member, Charles Ott

Character Evolution

By Charles Ott

Here’s a quick recap of a couple of million years of human evolution. We started out from a band of apes who left the trees and moved out onto the grassy African savanna. The advantage of this was that it got them, so to speak, out of the high rent district: there was too much competition for resources in the forest, so they moved to where they could eat better.

Once they were in the high grass, they learned to walk on their hind legs. All apes will do this occasionally, but our ancestors learned to do it most of the time (thereby developing our human big butts). Advantage: you can see over the grass. When you’re standing up, your forepaws become useful as arms and hands. Advantage: you can hold sticks, throw rocks or carry food back to your family. They also learned to hunt cooperatively (probably the most important step toward humanity). Advantage: they could bring down game a single hunter can’t tackle.

Once they had hands, their brains began to develop to make better use of them. Advantage: all the things you can do with brains and hands. This is where our ape ancestors really began to differentiate into humans, because they had upright posture, hands, cooperation and bigger brains.

As a writer, here’s the take-aways. First, the apes don’t know that they’re on a path to something. The proto-humans don’t know they’re proto-humans, they get up every morning to take care of important ape business. When you’re in the middle of the process, you don’t know there’s an endpoint.

Second, the only reason the proto-humans took each of those steps is because there was an immediate advantage to them to do it. That is, they did not learn to hunt cooperatively because cooperation would lead to being the top of the food chain everywhere on Earth, they did it to get lunch that day.

All fiction is about a character making a journey. Let’s say you’re writing a novel about a lady vampire who enjoys rambunctious sex with other vampires. She offends one of the guy vampires and has to fight an epic battle to get rid of him. At the end of the book, she has learned that she’d better treat her partners well because she’s going to be encountering her ex-boyfriends for the next couple of millenia. (Yes, you can borrow this plot, and no, I don’t actually think you should write anything so hackneyed.)

The trap you want to avoid in writing this story is to have your character make any step in this process because it will help her reach the understanding she needs at the end of the book. Every step she makes, she must take because there is some immediate advantage to her, even if it’s only to survive until the next day.

Because she has a brain, every rotten thing that happens to her (you’re going to pile it on, right?) teaches her something that contributes to the end of the book. But she must realize these things only because those thoughts have an advantage to her right then. For example, she runs away from her offended ex-lover and seeks shelter with other vampires, but they kick her out because they’re siding with the ex-boyfriend. Your character realizes that cheating on her man offends not only him, but his friends. This is an important step in her progress, but the reason she learns this lesson is that she realizes she’d better stay the hell away from other vampires until she makes sure they’re not friends with her ex.

Your characters must live here-and-now in their world, even though you know what’s going to happen to them in the long run.

 

Check out Charles’ novel, The Floor of the World, available from Amazon.

Guest Post: ChiWriMo Member, Charles Ott

You Know What I Mean?
By Charles Ott

I think we spend too much time worrying about describing things so that a reader will see them clearly. The plain fact is that no reader is ever going to see what you saw in your mind when you wrote that lyrical scene. The reader is going to see what’s in his mind – and that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

My favorite description of a facial expression is from Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Someone has just annoyed Wyoming Knott and she makes a face “like a little girl saving up more spit.” Now, I’ve met a lot of little girls in my family (and, I suppose, have annoyed all of them at one time or another) and I’ve never seen a little girl actually save up more spit. I’d guess you haven’t either. And yet, we both know exactly what that face would look like, don’t we?

It’s really quite magical: you can describe something that you’ve never seen, show it to a reader who’s never seen it either, and yet somehow those words can create a vivid image.

Hemingway was famously terse in his descriptions, and I’ve heard it said that you can’t really understand his books unless you also saw the same photographs in Life magazine that he saw. The days when you could assume that almost every reader saw the same magazines (Life and Saturday Evening Post, for you young folks) are long gone, and yet we still read Hemingway. Our home-made, wrong impressions of his scenes work just as well for us as the more correct impressions of two generations back.

Here’s an example from the lyrics of Paul Simon’s song Late in the Evening:

First thing I remember, I was lying in my bed
Couldn’t’ve been no more than one or two
I remember there’s a radio, comin’ from the room next door
And my mother laughed the way some ladies do

If you look hard at these lyrics, you have to come to the conclusion that there’s no description going on there at all. Everybody has heard the radio, always playing different music, and all ladies have some kind of laugh. All of us have fragmentary, context-free memories from early childhood. With a rigorous reading, we’d have to conclude that there’s no information at all in these lyrics.

But you can just hear that radio and that odd laugh, can’t you? Of course you can, pieced together from your own experience, whatever that has been.

Science fiction faces this problem all the time, because it often requires the writer to describe something that nobody has ever seen. From Edmond Hamilton’s Battle for the Stars: “Cluster N-356-44 … was hellfire made manifest before them. It was a hive of swarming suns, pale-green and violet, white and yellow-gold and smoky red, blazing so fiercely that the eye was robbed of perspective and those stars seemed to crowd and rub and jostle each other … pouring forth the torrents of their life-energy to whirl in cosmic belts and maelstroms of radiation.” Okay, I have a taste for purple prose – so sue me. You still got the picture, didn’t you?

Bottom line: describe your scene so you can picture it, and trust me, they’ll get it.

 

Check out Charles’ novel, The Floor of the World, available from Amazon.