November 30 2017

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

I have come a long way as a writer in the last four years. I have finally become a year-round writer. (As of this month I have written over 113,000 words so far this year!) I am not afraid to call myself a writer. I have put in the work and time and, though I may not have a book published yet, I AM a writer. I have 5 NaNo wins under my belt to prove it (to myself if nothing else).

My motivation for the month was a printout of the image below. This is my 2014 NaNoWriMo progress graph, also the first year I attempted to write fiction. As you can see I got off to a super slow start because I had no idea HOW to write fiction and I just plain had NO IDEA for a plot of any sort. I seriously doubted I could ever catch up once I got started and then around the 25k mark, I began to question whether I had a workable plot at all (I really didn’t), so I didn’t write anything for a few days. Seeing this graph and how I beat the odds, no matter how badly they were stacked against me, kept me going this month. My present-self would like to take this opportunity to thank my 2014-self for sticking it out and winning because if I hadn’t done it back then, I’m not sure I would have believed I could do it this year.

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November 25 2017

Familiar (Five Minute Friday)

By now, you are familiar with the fact that on Fridays, or soon thereafter, I participate in this thing called FiveMinuteFriday.com. Each week,  provides a one-word prompt to write about for 5 little minutes. Sometimes they just flow out of me without much thought. Other times, like tonight, nothing comes to mind and I just don’t know what to write. As a writer, this happens sometimes. Some would call it writer’s block. I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. In my case, when I can’t think what to write, it is really a case of idea block. Once I get an idea, I can write about it. Sometimes I can’t find much to write, but other times one little spark ignites an entire bonfire of other ideas and I am off and writing.

Writing my novel this month as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge is getting tougher because I am running out of the scenes I had planned to write. I have been adding scenes in along the way as I think of them or find a hole in the plot that needs to be filled. I don’t want to just write stuff for the sake of word count, so no, I will not be adding a dragon to my novel or an unexplained dead body just to boost the word count only to have to cut it all later when future me gets around to editing this novel. I am familiar with the difficulties of editing and future has begged current and past me never to do that to her.

I was on par one day this month, the 12th, I think. I am familiar with the perils of falling behind in my word count, of starting late or slowly, of getting to the 25,000 words stage and questioning everything I have written so far and thinking there is no point in continuing as it is all terrible and no one will ever want to read it. Despite all of these typical doubts and fears, there are only six days left in the month and I still need to write about 11,000 words. I am trying to keep in mind this year that my story needs to be finished which means it needs a beginning, middle, and end. My characters need to grow and change over the course of the novel. I need to get back to writing the novel, but instead, here I am writing this blog post. Really any excuse will do. I don’t feel too bad because I did write 3,000 words today in my novel and these words don’t count toward my monthly NaNo goal. I am familiar with this thing I am doing right now. It is called PROCRASTINATION. Sometimes it comes in the way of writing blog posts like tonight, or doing laundry and loading the dishwasher like yesterday. I know all about it because it used to happen back in college when there was homework to be done. Hubby would catch me cleaning the house and he knew, he was familiar with my tactics. He would ask me what school work I was avoiding by doing housework. Pretty smart that man of mine. Ok, enough of this procrastinating, let’s end this post so I can get back to the novel I should be writing. Stay tuned next week when November ends and see how I did.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Familiar
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

November 23 2017

Book Review: Life-Changing Miracles

I was very excited to be able to read and review this book. The cover and title grabbed me from the start. I am always a sucker for hearing stories of how God works in other people’s lives.

I didn’t mean to start reading it yet. But somehow I just couldn’t stop myself. Just one story, to see what it’s like. So I opened the book telling myself I wasn’t going to read the stories yet, just the front matter and maybe the introduction. Then as I finished reading the introduction, my eyes quickly glanced at the right-hand page and spotted the title of the first story, Truck Driver Betty by Patti Ann Thompson.

You don’t have time to start reading now, there are other things you need to be doing now I told myself in the stern voice often used to get children to do as they are told without argument. I know that voice, but it doesn’t affect me, it is, after all, my voice. So I flipped through to see how long the first story was because I really wanted to read about the truck driver named Betty. Only 6 pages and the first and last weren’t quite full pages, more like two-thirds pages, it would be a fast read. Just to see what it is like, the cover is so inviting, and it does promise Life-Changing right there in the title. One story wouldn’t hurt.

So I quickly lost myself in the story about the truck driver named Betty. When it ended I realized my eyes we full of unshed tears. It was beautiful. As much as I wanted to read more, I knew I would put it away and get back to the other tasks awaiting my attention all while saying a quick prayer of thanks for that first story being such a good one. I just know that book will get read almost without me knowing I’m reading over the next few days. I appreciate the fact that the stories are short and easy to read in small bites of time. Sometimes small bites are all we can grab to read in, so this book is already a winner to me.

A few hours later, I realized I had accidentally picked up the book and read five more stories. They were all good, but none affected me quite like the first one. There are only 37 stories in the book and somehow on the very day, the book landed in my mailbox I had read 46 of the 235 pages in the book. Now I am wondering if maybe I need to ration the stories to make them last longer because you only get one chance for a first read. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

I hid the book away as I got ready to go on a trip with my husband wanting to save these stories to read on the plane or in the airport. I read several more stories one after the other. They are such quick easy reads that you can’t read just one at a time.

I especially read the one called Taking Away the Desire by Carol Nash Smith with interest. Her story was about alcohol addiction but I wondered as I read if this might help me keep from overeating and thus lose some of the excess weight I seem to always carry with me. As I finished reading this one it was like someone had read my mind. The next story is My Weight Destination by Michelle J. Welcome. As I eagerly read that story, I found myself wishing I too would hear God speak to me as many of the stories talk about.

It didn’t take me long to finish this book after I allowed myself to continue reading it. It was a great book to take along on our trip. Perfect for reading in the airport and on the plane. This book was a very enjoyable read. I especially appreciated the short length of the chapters/stories as this made them very easy to pick up and read one or two at a time. If you are looking for an uplifting book to read, I would highly recommend it.

If you are interested in buying this book, please consider using the affiliate link below. It won’t cost you more and I might make a few cents because you did.

Life-Changing Miracles: Real-Life Stories of Unforgettable Encounters With God

I was sent this book by the publisher to review. I will always give honest reviews on my blog. My opinion cannot be bought.

(This book arrived in my mailbox Saturday, 9/30/17)

November 17 2017

Excuse (Five Minute Friday)

Happy Friday! I know you are all plenty sick and tired of me talking about NaNoWriMo, but it is November and if you know anything about me, you will know this is my 5th year straight writing for the 50,000 word challenge in 30 days, it is what I do and that is my excuse. Hey, it is fun. Really, it is a blast! It is probably the hardest thing I do all year, but the most satisfying too. If you read my most recent blog post, you know all about how I was sick at the beginning of the month and how it took me until day 12 to catch up to where I was supposed to be. You also know I fell behind again right away. I am still behind. I could use any of those things as an excuse to quit. I could also use the fact that I’m not sure if I really have a clue how to plot or plan a fiction novel much less write one as an excuse and it would be a valid one. I could say it is too hard, I don’t know what to write, my story has taken itself in a different direction than I planned, my characters are not behaving themselves, they keep doing things I don’t understand and didn’t expect. Again, all true and all valid excuses. But I am not a quitter. I signed up for the challenge and I will win it. I have started lots of novels but never finished one. This is supposed to be the year I not only “win” the challenge, but also finish the novel during the month of November (I say that every year). I may not get that far, but somehow I WILL manage to write the 50,000 (or more) words before the month ends.

While I make excuses for so many things every day, there is no excuse for me not winning. Yes, I work full-time outside the home at a job during which I cannot write my novel. This month I have been working much longer days than usual and battled being sick for several days. Those excuses won’t cut it. I will spend every free, waking minute writing if I have to, but I will not make excuses for why I failed to get the writing done.

I am here to tell you that if I can win this challenge and write 50,000 words in 30 days while working full time and all those other valid excuses, then YOU can do things you probably don’t really think you can do too. In November 2013, when I “won” my first NaNoWriMo just before Thanksgiving, I felt like a million bucks. I was so proud of myself. I had so much confidence. I felt like I could do anything. I had just written more than I had probably written in my whole life combined. I had put my introverted self out there and gone to strange places I had never been before to write with strange people I had never met before. I found out that other people in my state, my city, my neighborhood are writers, I was not the only one who wanted to write a novel, but I am to only one who can write the novel I am currently writing. I am a winner. I AM a writer. I am not afraid of so many things I used to be afraid of because if I set my mind to it, I CAN DO ANYTHING! Mom always said it, but I never really believed her until November 2013.

So if you can’t find me and it is November, I am somewhere writing like my life depends on it, because the feeling I am supposed to write a book just won’t go away. God put it on my heart for a reason and it is my job to do everything within my power to figure out how to do it, learn everything I can and keep trying until the feeling goes away, I get it done, or I die trying. No excuses!

What could you accomplish if you stopped making excuse and got busy trying to get it done? I believe YOU can do anything if you set your mind to it. If you want to bad enough. If you quit making excuses.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Excuse
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

November 16 2017

NaNoWriMo Progress Report

I started this as a Prep-Tober post, but then got sick near the end of October and into November with a terrible sore throat that turned into a cold. I was working 11 hours or more a day all week too. Not at all the way things were supposed to go, so on top of being sick, I felt bad that I hadn’t gotten as much planning done as I would have liked.

I missed the NaNoWeen celebration and this is always a huge boost to my word count just after midnight, but I was having trouble justifying going to an event that started at 11pm and ended at 3 am on a work night, so maybe it was just as well that I was sick.

I spent most of my reading time in September and October reading books on the craft of writing. I keep a recommended books page in my bullet journal that I can list books on when I hear about them and think I might want to read it later. Then when I am looking for something to read I search the library website and end up requesting a few to be put on hold for me. The problem with that (and it really isn’t a problem) is that often the books come in at the same time. I recently had seven books all about the writing craft come in on hold the same day. Sometimes, I will wait a couple of hours and then renew all of them to see which will be denied the renewal and then this is the book I will read first. It really is difficult to choose and most of the time I will have them on my library shelf until the library demands I bring them back because another patron is waiting to read them. Fair enough.

I tend to read a lot of books about plotting and story structure because that is where I feel the weakest currently.

Here are some of the ones I am working my way through now:

GMC: goal, motivation, and conflict: the building blocks of good fiction by Debra Dixon (The library insisted I return this since I had their only copy and someone else apparently requested it.)

Shut up & write! by Judy Bridges

So how am I doing on NaNoWriMo?

Here are my word counts by day:

Day 1: 0
Day 2: 0
Day 3: 710
Day 4: 1,111 (went to a 3-hour write-in)
Day 5: 1,762
Day 6: 2,174 (finally feeling better, but worked late)
Day 7: 2,219
Day 8: 2,971
Day 9: 2,249
Day 10: 2,070
Day 11: 2,224
Day 12: 2,614 (I finally got caught up!)
Day 13: 1,173 (trouble staying motivated)
Day 14: 1,274 (just plain tired, still behind)
Day 15: 1,686
____________________________________
Total So Far: 24,237 (should have 25,005)
Just 768 words behind where I should be.

I got off to such a slow start and was doing well consistently writing over 2,000 words a day for seven days to finally get to the word count I was supposed to have. Then I hit a slump and went below the goal of 1,667 per day and got myself slightly behind again. Don’t worry I am not giving up, just hitting the saggy middle at 20,000 words. It happens somewhere about then every year. I will get over it and write extra on the weekends if I have to.

How do you get ready for NaNoWriMo? How is your word count?

If you still need some help to stay focused but can’t go to a live write-in near you, try some of these virtual write-ins to help you stay focused. They all contain several timed writing sprints. I find these especially helpful when I keep getting sidetracked by other things instead of writing like I should be. I keep adding more to that playlist, so you may want to save the playlist to watch later by clicking the little clock in the upper right corner of the video screen shown below.

I embedded it below, so feel free to just come back here as often as you need to.

Don’t quit! I know you want to give up, but your future self will be very disappointed in you if you do. But if you stick with it right until the very end and give it your best effort, I promise your future self will be so proud of you and so will I.