Day 1 of Nano and a movie review

The first day of another Nano Wrimo is over! I did not do as much novel prep as I would have liked, but getting a cold 4 days before the beginning of the challenge will do that to you. But I did more planning than I ever have, so I am counting that as a win. I had been struggling with the beginning of my novel, this is fairy typical for me. I struggle with the perfect way to start and so I often will start somewhere in the middle of things and work my way to either end. But as I sat down at the page today it came to me. I knew the most enticing beginning. And then the words started to come. 2,181 words in the bag! Wahoo!

 

Today, I also went to see the Joker movie. I have been planning on seeing it but with a spouse, child, day job, reviewing, reading, and my million other hobbies, I had not gotten around to it yet. All I really can say is, wow. This movie was unlike any other superhero movie I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t really belong in that genre at all. This is a story about a man. A man named Arthur Fleck. A man that society dropped through the cracks and didn’t even notice that they had dropped him. Everyone knows how the story ends, he becomes the Joker and becomes the greatest villain Gotham and Batman ever face. But how did he get there? That’s the story they were endeavoring to tell.

Part of the mystique of Joker is that it’s never completely clear how he became a villain. Every time he’s asked about it he tells a different story. And it’s never clear if that’s because he’s lying or he’s just so delusional that he honestly doesn’t know. I was worried that by telling this story that mystique would be removed but it isn’t. You are told very early on that Arthur has delusions. So, what portion of his history is the truth? As a viewer, I can’t say for sure. I can’t honestly say which parts were his delusion and which were real, and that was part of the point. Arthur is the forgotten man. The one who society knows nothing about but likes to think that they do.

I think this was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It was completely flawless in its storytelling. It was also a profoundly sad movie. I found myself hoping that Arthur would catch a break, finally get ahead, have some shred of hope. And then I would be heartbroken time and again when he was kicked back down. It was a very emotionally heavy movie. It pulls no punches with just how glum Arthur’s life is. I felt emotionally drained when I left the theater, satisfied with the story I saw and sad for the poor character within it. It was an amazing movie, but I am not sure I want to watch it again anytime soon.

Nano tips: Making Time to Write

I am doing something different in the lead up to Nano this year. I used to take a few newbies under my wing and personally give them all my tips, advice, or encouragement. But this year, I think I just want to put my advice out into the ether. (And I worry that I just don’t have the time to dedicate to people individually anymore too and I don’t want to shortchange anyone).

All writers in the history of the written word have opined about never having enough time to write. It comes with the territory. The truth is, there’s never enough time to write. The writing monkeys will always be pawing at the back of your head, telling you to sit down and pound out all the wildest daydreams that you’ve had all day. That is the reality of being a creative type. But you also have to put in some conscious effort to make sure you are using your time wisely if you expect to write anything of length or substance.

  • Keep a time log for at least one week
    • You really do have more time than you think you do, you just haven’t realized it yet.
    • Track EVERYTHING! From sleeping, to eating, to job duties, to chores.
  • Analyze your time log
    • Do you notice any patterns in your behavior?
    • What about that hour and a half that you were browsing YouTube and didn’t want to put on the log…..
    • What about that period of time in the middle of your lunch hour when you’ve finished eating but still have time?
  • Make something your dedicated time to write.
    • It doesn’t matter if it’s 15 minutes or 2 hours of time, it is for writing only. Nothing else can interfere.
    • Put that period into your schedule so you aren’t tempted to do anything else.
  • Write!
    • It doesn’t matter if you put down 5 words in that time or 15,000 words. All of it contributes to the work you are trying to create. Sometimes it will be more, other times it will be less.
    • Minimize your distractions during your writing time. Phone away, television off, snacks and drinks within arms reach.

Personally, I add in two writing periods to my day during Nano. Before going to work, I typically wake up early anyway so I just shorten my morning routine to get some writing accomplished while the rest of the house sleeps. I find that I am most productive early in the day and late in the day. Accordingly, I also have a writing period after my child goes to bed until I go to bed. Every day. No exceptions. And yes, my phone and TV are a big distraction for me too. That’s why I recommend putting those phones and remotes away from your hands.

I never recommend the often suggested “get less sleep”. Being sleep deprived will not help your creativity at all. Now, if you typically get 8-9 hours of a sleep, then cutting back an hour is not a big deal. But if you’re like me and typically get 4-5 hours of sleep, DO NOT CUT BACK ANY MORE! It’s not healthy.

Let me know what your best way to find more writing time is.

Prepping for the Nano storm

National Novel Writing Month is 25 days away. Normally, for me, this means that I have nothing more than a general idea what I will be writing. Sometimes it’s a story that has been sitting with me for months, nagging at my imagination. Other times it hits me suddenly and I just know it’s the right story to tell. This month, I am attempting to not fly by the seat of my pants so much and, gasp shock horror, PLAN a little.

This is a new concept for me. In 13 years of doing Nano, I have never attempted this. Honestly, I feel totally out of my depth. So today, let’s talk a little bit about novel prepping. Or, rather, my pathetic approximation of prepping.

Some typical prep items I already figured out after this long. I know I will write it on my laptop. I know what program I like to use (though admittedly Scrivener needs to be an investment at some point). I have organized my haphazard research before. And I know the importance of backing up my work. Losing 24,543 words back in Nano 2010 taught me that one.

But what about the idea itself? I have never wondered before if an idea is worthy of being written. But, if I am going to spend all this time planning this thing out then I felt I needed to explore this a little bit. My skeleton idea:

From the beginning of time there has been a Light One. A cataclysmic event eons ago led to the creation of their equal opposite, a Dark One. The two have the same goal. One wants to snuff out the light. One wants to snuff out the darkness. Locked in battle for eons, will this dance go on forever?

I think it’s a good idea. But I also recognize that it could be too much project for me. I did that to myself a few years ago and the story was just too broad and it got away from me. So from here, I need to boil this idea down to its base. I have 2 characters. the Light One and the Dark One. This gives me decisions to make. Are they immortal? Have they always been the exact same two people? Is there a way to kill one and have their essence move on to a new host? Obviously, if they are at battle with each other there HAS to be a way for one to be defeated for good, otherwise the entire story is pointless. This has been quite a conundrum for me the past several days. Working out the kinks in a logical way that won’t leave a reader feeling “WTF just happened, that makes no sense!”.

Slowly, the details on my characters are coming together. I can start to imagine them in my head, which is a vital step for my process. I cannot write a character that I can’t imagine. Their dynamic and interactions are starting to come to light. They are becoming people. There is still a long way to go on that one, but we’re making our way.

Now I have to tackle something I hoped to forever avoid, an outline. I’m scared folks. I have never written this way, but I am willing to try. I have much more limited writing time these last few years, I don’t have time to spend days mentally hashing out a problem that presented itself because I didn’t plan! I recognize the value this will have, but I think I need a few more days to reconcile it in my head.

Brain Feeling A Little Mushy?

Somehow I always seem to forget that his blog exists, then I need it for something and suddenly remember.  I had a fantastic Samhain, aka Halloween, and I hope all of you did too.

It is yet another November and we all know what that means, it’s Nano time!  This year I am writing the sequel to Schooling of a Monster, which should be amazing.  In this sequel Micah is on his own and hunting without aid.  But when the police suspect that a monster is kidnapping baby girls in the area, he begins to question his competance.  I am calling it, Rock-A-Bye Baby.  Check out my Nano page for the cover I made today, just search for me with my screenname steffiebaby140.

Speaking of Schooling of a Monster, I still have no finished the rewrite.  But that is my goal for December so that I can send it off to a new potantial publisher early next year.  Humanity is going alright, though I will have to put it aside for awhile.

Update on personal life:  I recently got to actually spend time with my fiance.  It was fantastic and I was devastated to have to send him home.  Wedding date is tentatively planned for next August, that is all I have planned for now.  This wouldn’t be such a pain in the butt if he lived in the US or wasn’t opposed to thwarting the US’s immigration laws.  Why is it that the people who want to do it the right way are punished for doing so? 

That is all for now, off to write my 1,667 words for today.

Stef

What’s in the Works

Somehow every time I decide to pay more attention to this blog, I seem to forget that it exists for a few months.  But what a few months it has been, both work related and personally.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah/etc and that the gift fairies were very good to you.  Before I wander completely off track into a deep discussion of my recent months and all that stuff that I am sure no one needs to hear, on to what I am posting for.  I just wanted to keep everyone up to date on what I am doing in the writing world.  Of course I mean besides Helium and my freelance work.

Schooling of a Monster – Yes, old news I know.  But I am currently working on a complete rewrite and edit of it that I think will make it a lot better.  The old version is still on Authonomy  and I urge you to check it out there and put it on your bookshelf if you have an account there.  I highly recommend it, the books are a lot of fun and I need to focus on that site a lot more.  I will be updating that version as soon as I get the individual chapters rewritten so keep an eye on it even if you have already read it.

Crimson Scream – I still haven’t finished this one, even though it was my Nano novel 2 years ago.  I got stuck on a bunch of plot points at the end and pushed it aside.  But I am still working on it and will be finishing it soon.  Then it can be edited and probably posted on Authonomy as well.

Last Days of a Saint – I finished the Nano part of it in time, but it was a close call.  Halfway through November I decided that I didn’t like who these characters were becoming so I started over and am much happier with it.  It’s nowhere near done and for now has been placed on hold while I work on other projects.

Humanity – I may have mentioned this as a short story that I did, but that is not what I’m referring to now.  This is a brand new novel that I started based on that short story.  I am very excited about it and will share more details with you along the road.  This is in the very early stages right now but it is getting a lot of my attention.  Let’s just say…it’s vampires like you’ve never read them before.

Those are all my official projects right now, but I have so many more ideas that I could just burst.  If you want an update on anything specific feel free to leave a comment and I’ll address it as soon as I can.  Blessed Be my good people!   ~Stef

Wow!

It has been a long time!  I have been so busy.  I am still writing freelance and that has kept me very busy.  I am also Nano’ing again this year. 

My novel this year is about a Mormon woman who becomes disenchanted with her faith.  When she asks questions and receives nothing but criticism and punishment, she decides to seek answers on her own.  Only she doesn’t realize that could mean her demise.

Anyway, I also have a new blog that is totally unrelated to this one, but completely related to my novel this year.  I encourage you to look at it

http://steffiebaby140.wordpress.com/

 

Stef

“What we do is our character.”

I seem to have forgotten about this place it seems.  Little bit of an update,  Nano was successful again for me this year.  I am struggling to finish this novel with everything else I have going on.  I have started a part-time job shadow writing for a few websites.  It’s fun but not what I really am focused on doing.  I have a ton of new articles on Helium, so I will post those links too.  Be sure to read and get me those clicks! 

I am also going to make a renewed effort at getting my first Nano novel published.  But I seem to have hit a huge Catch-22.  Publishers won’t publish you without an agent.  And agents won’t take you without being published.  How in the world is anyone supposed to get anywhere?  So I have decided to look into ebook publishing and try that.  I’ll keep you all up to date on that and provide links to my book if it works out. 

New Helium Links

Reflections: People We Miss

Can Christians ever reclaim Christmas as Holy Day?

How different are Witches and Satanists?

How to survive a long distance relationship

How to successfully use a matchmaker

How low self-esteem affects a relationship

Moving on from a bad breakup

Writing an online dating profile

Whale Parasites

Humpback Whale Songs

Laws Protecting Whales

Is the Megalodon extinct?

What is cryptozoology?

The world’s most dangerous sharks

Personal life:  I am getting ready to go to England and spend two weeks with my amazing boyfriend.  I am so excited.  And I’ll be coming back with a new piece of jewelry (hint hint, wink wink)

Stef

 

And so it begins

Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
All Souls’ Day

Thus we see the official first day of Nano come to an end.  I managed to stay up until midnight and wrote 650 stunningly awful words before I fell asleep at my laptop.  I also sent off my first nanomail to my nano-ites.  I think it went extraordinarily well actually, and I hope to be as good as mentor to them as the one I had last year.

I had a fairly good day for writing, except for losing power for half of it.  It rained horrendously all day.  Imagine buckets of water pouring from the sky and that’s about what my house looked like today.  We always lose power in weather like that as I live in a very old building.  I managed to bust out a total of 2,185 words for the day which is not as good as I hoped, but not nearly as bad as I feared.

My plot seems to be starting out nicely, although I was surprised at what came out in my writing first.  I never imagined the beginning of the story being this way, but I think I like it.  It introduces my main character, Gisele Porter, and gives us enough of her circumstances and background to intrigue, without giving anything away.  We also briefly meet the character that will turn everything around for Gisele.  I won’t say anything more right now, I don’t want to give too much of my plot away, but I was surprised by how well this first chapter turned out.  I just hope I can maintain this pace once I get back to work on Monday.  I remember last year being very frustrated that I could write like crazy all weekend then was struggling for words during the week because I was so tired.

Anyway, I had better run along to bed or I’ll be too tired to do anything tomorrow.  ~Stef

Happy Samhain!

Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Samhain/Halloween

Happy Samhain/Halloween to all!  This is a big day of the year for me, and I could not be more excited.  October 31st has to be my favorite day of the year.  As a pagan, its also the biggest holiday of the year.  I will be busy, busy, busy too.  I work today then I will go to ritual tonight, come home and watch a scary movie or two.  Then I will write my first message to my Nano-ites (that’s what I’m calling the new people I’m mentoring this year), and promptly at midnight start writing.

My novel prep did not go as well as I had hoped it would.  I had hoped that by today I would have character profiles and main plot points all planned out.  I have a total of…..drum roll please……one character profile.  Not the most impressive prep, but I’m sure I’ll manage.  I will try and finish up at least a few character profiles tonight and then get the plot down as I go along.  It will all work out in the end and I am very excited about this plot.

I also got sidetracked with a new story idea as well.  That is why I didn’t get a lot of nano work done, I’ve been busy writing that.  It’s a good one with the main character based heavily on my boyfriend, the infamous Steve.  Its going to be an amazing story and I am almost disappointed that I will have to put it on hold for a month.  Technically I shouldn’t have even started it until after Nano, but oh well.

Oh yes, before I forget.  I did get my Nano novel from last year up on the Authonomy website.  That is the site form Harper Collins I was talking about last time.  I am excited about it, and hopefully this site can help me on the road to getting published.  At the very least I will get a lot of alternate opinions on my work and maybe be able to improve on it.  Anyway, here is the link:  http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=3086

So, stay safe tonight everyone, stay spooky and have a good time!  ~Stef

“Your universe is full, but in my world there is only you” by Bo Bice

Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde

Once again it’s been much too long since I’ve posted here.  But, no more!  Its almost November…meaning its almost Nano time and I will try to post something everyday through the month.  I am mentoring some new participants this year, and that will be very fun.  I have 3 mentorees so far, I can probably take 1-2 more if they come along.  I have been working hard on getting all my tips and advice in order for them.  That is almost out of the way and on to novel prep we go.  I am planning to do character profiles tonight, and basic plot points tomorrow.  I thought of writing the sequel to last year’s Nano novel, but decided against it when I got an idea that I just couldn’t pass up.

I won’t reveal too much of the plot.  But basically it is about a despondent woman who finds herself in the sights of a completely maniacal stalker.  It should be very fun, I am excited to get started.  And in true Nano fashion, from the second I settled on an idea I’ve been coming up with 10-15 new ones daily.  I am writing them all down to examine later.

I am busy on the front of trying to get published as well, so my work on Helium has suffered greatly.  I am working on a query letter for a publisher that I plan on sending next week.  I also am putting my novel up on a site run by Harper Collins.  You can post your work, and other members read it and rank it.  The top 5 ranked submissions every month get sent to the Harper Collins editing desk for an opinion.  Its a pretty huge opportunity if anyone ever gets picked from that pool for publication.  I am working on getting “Schooling of a Monster” on the site, and I will post the link when I do.  Until then, I should get back to the desk job.  ~Stef