Once Upon a December

Happy December, all and sundry!

I’m wearing a SWEATER today, which makes me happy. It’s in the fifties and cloudy and looks like rain, which equals winter in Phoenix. Might be going up north this weekend to catch some potential snow, which would make me happy. 🙂

In update-ish news, I DID complete my 50K for NaNoWriMo. I finished on the 20th in time to enjoy a visit from my sister and her husband and to eat lots of turkey without writing-related guilt. I did not, however, reach the end of the book. There’s probably 15-20K left to go, and my outline is reaaaaaalllllly sketchy at this point. Not sure where it stands in Writing Project Priority currently. I’ll probably put off finishing it for a while, at least until I figure out the outline. I have reread parts of it already, and there’s some glimmers of good scenes in there, so that’s encouraging.

Also, as per my author bio in the last post, I’m participating in Pitch Wars, which is an awesome writing contest hosted by Brenda Drake, which you can read about here. I think I’m giving myself an ulcer by obsessing over the #PitchWars feed on Twitter…

Oh, and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special was FANTASTIC, as was Catching Fire. Frozen is next on my to-watch list, I keep hearing good things.

So I guess I need to get back to the novel revision I put aside for NaNoWriMo… And after that, I’m thinking about turning my short story idea from earlier into the year into a novel. I think it could be really, really cool.

And that, as they say, is that!

Silver Mines & Treason: NaNo Day 14

Well, November is almost halfway over already—not sure how that happened! You’ll be happy to know that my novel is sitting pretty at 32,774 words, and I’m on track to finish by the 22nd. Hooray!!
The story is progressing pretty well, although I’m afraid I might get to 50K before I reach the end… Currently, two of my characters are attempting to escape from the silver mines, one of my characters just discovered the (partial) truth about her mysterious parentage, and one of my characters is about to commit treason against the king… or maybe warn him instead. 🙂 I’ve been posting tiny excerpts every now and again on my NaNoWriMo profile page, for the morbidly curious.
In other news, saw Thor: The Dark World this weekend and LOVED it. Also went to NASCAR for the first time ever and loved that too, although it was Quite Loud. Coming up on the roster: JJ Heller concert this Saturday, and on November 25th I’m seeing the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special IN THEATERS. Sooooo excited!!! There’s also Catching Fire and Frozen coming out soon. Busy month!
Okay. I did the dishes. I wrote this blog. I really should stop procrastinating and get back to writing!!

Bonus Handsome Cat Picture:

Update: Nano Day 5

Well I’m thoroughly ensconced in NaNoWriMo and having a blast—so glad I decided to go for it! I’ve been languishing in revision purgatory all year and I forgot how much FUN it is to write first drafts!

Day Five Word Count: 14,097!! Trying to stay ahead of the game so I can finish my 50K by the 22nd, when my sister comes into town—so far I’m on track! Huzzah!

Oh and from the FYI department, here is my author page on the NaNoWriMo site.

I guess I should go to sleep now so I can get up and write some more!! Betrayal and war is coming soon to a novel near you…

Ode to October

I so love October!! No lovely autumn trees here, unfortunately, but the days are slooooowly getting cooler and the holidays are just around the corner, and my husband and I are going to Disneyland for our first anniversary next week. Life is good!

The revision is going pretty well… I haven’t actually worked on it yet this week, due to a grisly battle with a horde of ants over our kitchen yesterday, but I’m feeling encouraged and enthusiastic about it. My goal is to finish the first half by the end of the month and I THINK I can do it if I push. And I want to because…

I’m contemplating NaNoWriMo this year!! I’ve been bitten with NaNo fever and I’m not sure I can shake it. 🙂 If I do join, I’ll be continuing the novel I started writing in 2009, and therefore technically be a NaNo rebel! It’s a story that’s been in my head since the early 90s 0_o and I read the first part the other day and I desperately want to finish it because my inner thirteen-year-old self wants to read the end! I haven’t 100% committed yet, but I’m definitely leaning that way.

But at any rate, here’s my last piano student of the day, so I’d better attend to him.

Over and out. 🙂

Linkage!

Still boogie-ing through my revisions. I actually think I’m gonna make it by my self-imposed deadline of Sunday night, which rocks like nobody’s business. I’m feelin’ GOOOOOD about this thing!!

And in other news, I’ve run across a spattering of Awesome Things on ye olde internet this week that I just have to share. So here goes.

First up, the most awesome NaNoWriMo song ever set to the tune of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” from Pirates of Penzance:

Next up, the good ol’ BBC gets some love:

Next up, a special NaNoWriMo preview version of Scrivener 2.0 is being offered for FREE through December 7 (for Mac AND Windows) here. I’ve fallen in love all over again! Trust me, it’s AMAZING. GET IT YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!

Next up, a review of the fantastic Sufjan Stevens concert I had the privilege to go to last Friday. Me and the roommate got to sit ten feet from the stage which was AWESOME, and I tried to take some video but it didn’t work out because I accidentally pointed the camera at the ceiling, which was NOT awesome. But you’ll have that. This gives you a small and rather inadequate taste (we had much better seats than this person!!) of the awesome.

Thoughts on NaNoWriMo 2010

So I have this thing about first drafts.

I LOVE THEM.

I love brainstorming and outlining them. I love writing them. I wish I could write first drafts every single month of the year!!! They’re so SHINY! So INSPIRING! So EXCITING!

The only problem being first drafts aren’t perfect. They need revising. And revising takes a lot of effort, and isn’t as much fun, and is really really HARD.

After a while, those first drafts really start to pile up.

Let’s review.


Summer 2005:
I discover the existence of NaNoWriMo, and am inspired to push through to the end of a floundering draft and actually FINISH my very first full-length novel, On Journeys Bound.

NaNo 2005:
I discover that it is possible to write an entire first draft in a month, and complete my very first fantasy novel, The Rose Queen.

Spring/Summer 2006:
I wrestle with revisions of The Rose Queen, and manage to wring out a second draft. I also start Draft 2 of On Journeys Bound somewhere in there.

NaNo 2006:
I discover that it is possible to write 100k in a month, and complete Draft 1 of The Whale and the Tree.

Spring/Summer 2007:
Third draft of Rose Queen, more work on Journeys, and possibly a bit on Whale. 

NaNo 2007:
I discover that I have Very Big Ideas, and write only half of the 209k tome later to become Draft 1 of The Fire in the Glass.

Summer 2008:
Second draft of Whale.

NaNo 2008:
I don’t really discover anything groundbreaking, but I do write over half of the 190k tome later to become Draft 1 of The Silver Crane.

Summer 2009:
Attempt at revising Fire. More revision on Whale. Queries sent out. A pitiful attempt at another revision of Rose Queen. A bit done on Journeys. First draft of a not-all-that-short-story (18k), Seraphine.

NaNo 2009:
I discover that sometimes my ideas are not as great as I thought, and write 40k of the as-yet-unfinished The Last Garden, and 50k of the as-yet-unfinished The Blind King, which is a sequel to On Journeys Bound.

Spring 2010:
First draft of Seer, completed early March. Revisions commencing a few weeks later. Much procrastination.

Summer/Fall 2010:
Still floundering in revisions for Seer, poking at Journeys ’cause it won’t leave me alone.

Which brings me to some Stats:

Completed first drafts—6
Completed revisions—2, (but they’re not REALLY completed—both Rose Queen and Whale need re-drafting. Again.)
Revisions in progress—2 (though Journeys is more a rewrite than a revision)
Incomplete drafts—2
Unrevised novels—2

All that to say, and the data is pretty clear—I have yet to successfully figure out HOW TO REVISE. Or at least how to FINISH a revision. Kind of frustrating.

Which leads me to my point (I do actually have one):
I don’t think I have any business starting a Brand New Novel for NaNo when I have SO many more projects to work on that I feel are more important to furthering the Hope of being able to hop back on the submission wagon again sometime this century. I know I can write a book in a month—it’s super fun and I adore doing it, but I need to prove to myself that I can FINISH a revision, not just a first draft, which leads me to the conclusion that I should sit out NaNoWriMo this year. 😦 😦 😦 😦

HOWEVER.

If I finish my second draft of Seer by the end of October, I have decided to issue myself the following challenge (reward??) :

To write the second half of On Journeys Bound AND the second half of The Blind King during the month of November, thereby joining the frenzy that is NaNo (albeit as a self-declared rebel), and finishing two projects I’ve been meaning to get to for YEARS.

And those are my long, rambling, and conflicting thoughts on participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

NaNoWriMo 2009: Thoughts

Well, it’s been a strange November.

I started two different novels, writing a combined 91k in the process, and didn’t come anywhere near to my original goal of completing an entire first draft. I sort of feel like, 91k aside, I failed rather miserably. Why? Well, I have no book. I have the beginnings of two different books (both of which, I fear, are quite badly written, though there’s perhaps more hope for the second one than for the first), but nothing, well, substantial. In the previous two years, even though I didn’t actually finish my novels during the month, I wrote hefty chunks of them and at least got halfway through.

I don’t know.

It’s like, it’s like…

I know what it’s like. It’s like my piano recital senior year of college. Specifically, Beethoven. More specifically, Beethoven’s sonata nicknamed The Tempest (for obvious reasons if one happens to play it/listen to it). Now I never had a very good relationship with Beethoven (I much prefer Chopin and Bach, though that’s beside the point), but I practiced that sonata until I was blue in the face, and was as prepared as was possible for my recital. The first six pages of the first movement went marvelously, so marvelously, in fact, that I psyched myself out and managed to totally blank on the last page and a half. Which, in a manner resembling a train wreck or a cascade of perfectly placed dominoes or a really bad horror movie, derailed me on the other two movements. I got through them, but I didn’t play them nearly as well as I was able to, because my mind was still chewing on what exactly had gone wrong with that first movement.

Rambling anecdotes aside, I think that’s partly what bothered me during this year’s NaNoWriMo. After penning an alarmingly awful 41,000 words of a novel I had been planning on writing for almost a whole year, starting completely over was more than a little disconcerting. I had never written such horrific prose before. It was shocking, I tell you! Shocking! Don’t get me wrong, previous NaNo’s have produced some wince-worthy passages, but they were always balanced out by some (in my mind) rather lovely writing.

This year? I found myself writing the same phrases over and over. I didn’t connect emotionally with the characters, the scenes, the settings, the situations. I began wondering if I had somehow cracked and was incapable of writing a nicely-crafted paragraph ever again. I began wondering, in fact, if I had ever written a nicely-crafted paragraph in my life, or if I was deluding myself.

I got depressed, of course. It wasn’t very pleasant, but you’ll have that.

So I started The Blind King, which went a lot better, and had its moments, and got me comfortably to 50k, but still left me feeling restless and lethargic about my writing (and life in general—you know how it is with creative types).  I’m pretty sure TBK could be a super awesome book, but a few of things need to happen before I revisit/restart the draft:

  1. It honestly needs outlining. The beginning is worked out pretty well in my head, and I vaguely know what happens at the end, but the middle is completely nebulous in terms of actual form.
  2. I need to finish the rewrite of On Journeys Bound, the book it’s a sequel to. It only makes sense. Plus then I can make sure I’m properly continuing threads instead of sort of remembering previous events and inadvertently creating loads of inconsistencies.
  3. I need to do some more world building, figure out things like the layout of buildings, roads, towns, and firmly decide what level of technology these people have.

 In other words?

I’m not going to have a shiny new first draft of anything any time soon. Rather disheartening. I feel like I ought to have gleaned some sort of a useful lesson from this. Maybe:

  • Some ideas can’t be forced.

Or:

  • Sometimes not even extensive outlining helps.

Or:

  • This just wasn’t my year.

 Hmmm. This all sounds rather depressing. I am, to ease your minds (is anyone still reading this? I feel like I’ve been rambling on for at least 50,000 words at this point), feeling much more optimistic about things. I’ve decided to dive back into the rewrite of On Journeys Bound while my mind is noodling on ways to rework The Last Garden (which, incidentally, I am still planning to write at some point). I’m also seeing revisions of Seraphine (which, incidentally, I’ve decided I like quite a lot) looming in the near future. **determined eyes**

All that to say, it’s been an odd month, and I’m kind of glad it’s over. But in a good way. Mostly.

Happy December,

Joanna

NaNoWriMo Day 23: Green Bar!!

Wordcount: 50,107
Chapters Completed: 8
Number of Characters Being Badly Treated: all of them, in various ways (heh heh heh)
Sanity of Author: 67%
Overall Quality of Prose: Absolutely Atrocious
Color of Bar: GREEN!!!

Look, everybody! My bar’s GREEN!

*dances wildly round the library, to the disapproving stares of the young woman simultaneously texting and browsing one of the computers, the lady with the patterned red skirt perusing the reference books, and the old man in the green sweater conversing with a lady in coral-colored pants who sounds exactly like Emma Thompson*

Okay so I’m not literally dancing. You know.

Last week I was about ready to give up on this thing entirely, but a much-needed Saturday writing marathon with good company and yummy tea boosted me up to 47k, and also reminded me that, horrible writing aside, I actually do like this novel. 🙂

In non-NaNoWriMo news:

I just finished reading the first book in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy, The Amulet of Samarkand, which I enjoyed heartily. It is narrated in part by a snarky djinni who employs footnotes with spectacular sarcasm. Very much looking forward to book two.

I meant to link to this in my last post; it’s an interview with the fantastic Megan Whalen Turner, author extrodinare of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and the forthcoming A Conspiracy of Kings.

And that about wraps it up!


Loving the color green,

Joanna

NaNoWriMo Day 18

As of last night, I have 40,033 words on Novel No. 2. That’s 1k shy of my word count for Novel No. 1 before I scrapped it, which means I’ve written 80,000 words this month. Yikes. I’m feeling kind of exhausted.

The Blind King is progressing nicely, I think. I’ve been outlining-as-I-go with the handy dandy notecard feature in Scrivener (oh Scrivener, how I love thee), and haven’t run out of scenes yet, so that’s definitely a good thing. I’m currently in the middle of Chapter Seven, and have scenes jotted down on virtual note cards through Chapter Nine, so the outline is progressing at a slightly faster rate than the draft.

I have no idea how long this thing is gonna be. Long, for sure. At this point I’m guesstimating somewhere in the neighborhood of 150k, though it could (and, knowing my track record, probably will) be longer than that. I dunno. We’ll see. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep powering through the rough draft after NaNo is over (it’s quite clear I won’t have finished by then), or shelve it for a while, finish rewriting the book it’s a sequel to, and work on rewrites for a couple of other novels. So many decisions.

But this is the most boring blog post ever (superfluous paranthetical remarks and all). Lemme see if I can remedy that.

Stuff that’s been happening in my novel:

  • Two not-quite-but-almost lovers are reunited after six years, the very day the female character accepts a marriage proposal from a different guy. They spend several thousand words shut up in a room together arguing about this.
  • A rather foolish sixteen-year-old boy gets himself lost in the mountains and captured by enemy soldiers. I’m sorry to say that a stint of enslavement in the silver mines lies in his very imminent future.
  • A princess being blackmailed into espionage has arrived at the palace of a newly-crowned king and (surprise, surprise), is beginning to fall in love with him.
  • An impulsive twelve-year-old girl is about to run away to the capital to try and uncover the secrets of her parentage.

And that’s pretty much that, as far as Novel No. 2 is concerned.

In other news, the Doctor Who special Waters of Mars that aired in the UK (and, er, elsewhere, if one knows where to look… :-)) on Sunday was mind-blowingly awesome. Words cannot describe.

And to top everything off, it’s link time!

  • Gail Carson Levine, author extraordinaire, has a fabulous blog filled with authorly insight and writerly wisdom. Some really awesome advice here.
  • Robin McKinley has a twitter. Robin McKinley has a twitter. Robin McKinley has a twitter!! I cannot emphasize this enough.
  • Duotrope’s Digest is a fantastic free resource listing over 2700 current fiction and poetry markets
  • I’m pretty sure I was going to link you to a couple of other sites, but I forgot what they were. Stay tuned.

Okay, I think maybe I’d better go work on my novel, now.

Onwards to 50k (and lots more paranthetical remarks),

Joanna