Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas! Etc.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy Kwanza! Happy Wassail (for you Princess Sofia fans)! Or whatever you might celebrate this season. Hope it's a good one and that you make lots of happy memories. :)

See you next year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Book Exchange Booth!

Visiting the William Jewell campus for a Christmas concert, I came across this:

I'd seen pictures of ones in New York City, and was thrilled to see the idea had caught on here in a small Midwest town. If I'd had a book on hand, I'd have totally done an exchange. Still it was fun riffling through the offerings: Suzanne Collins, Janet Evanovich, Maria Schriver, John Grisham, and tons of authors I'd never heard of.

Have you ever seen one of these? And what book would you leave in a book exchange booth?

Monday, December 9, 2013

On Overcoming Criticism

So I recorded this video of my 4 y.o.:

She was very proud of it. But when I showed it to her brothers, 7 y.o. burst out laughing. "Oh! That is so embarrassing for her!"

I worried that she would get all self-conscious, but she was like a duck. The comment slid off her back as she grinned at her video on the computer screen, pride glowing from her.

And it was a flash of inspiration for me. There will always be someone out there ready to criticize. Ready to tell us we are silly (or worse) for doing what we did. For trying to write a book. For daring to think it might be good. For trying to get it published. For having published a book on that subject. Whatever.

But we have to be like my Girlie. We have to love our own work so much that it doesn't matter what anyone else says. Let those criticisms slide off our back and move forward.* We need to be confident in ourselves.

Because guess what? When 4 y.o. asked to watch it again, 7 y.o. caught the bug. "So do I get to make one, too?"

What have you done when someone hit you with a criticism-bomb?

*To be clear, I'm not talking about critique partner or beta-reader comments that were requested. I'm talking about those un-requested, hurtful, put-downs that we can all do without.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What I learned from NaNoWriMo

So NaNoWriMo is finished and amazingly, I won! I finished with 50,176 words written by Nov. 29th.
I first heard of this event about six years ago when a critique partner of mine told me about it. I'll admit, I thought the whole thing was nuts! Why would anybody kill themselves to write 50K words in 30 days, in the month of November no less? Thanksgiving alone makes the idea insane (and I also happen to have my anniversary this month, too).

But when I found myself with a novel all outlined and my last WIP scheduled to be to my agent by the end of October, I decided to give it a shot. Worse case scenario, I simply wouldn't win. So why not give it a go?

As it turns out, NaNoWriMo was very educational. I learned all kinds of things, which I'm forcing on sharing with you:

1.      I write better in the morning. I'm sure everyone is different, but when I found the time to do it first thing, it was always easier. The words came faster and better, I wasn't as distracted, and I could enjoy the rest of my day, guilt free.

2.      Having a more detailed outline really helped. I hit this point where I knew I had outlined, but apparently I hadn't written it down, or perhaps I'd written it on some scrap that I couldn't find. Point is, the writing slowed down enough that I stopped for a day to outline. Things went much smoother after that. (Did I ever stray from the outline? Absolutely. But I could just adjust it as needed.)

3.      Leaving myself a note at the end of the manuscript when I finished writing for the day saved SO MUCH time! I'd simply put a note in brackets to remind myself what I planned to have happen next. I didn't have to search my outline to remember where I was. I didn't have to reread everything I'd written the day before. And as a bonus, it plopped me right into the mood of the story. The days I forgot to do this, I really regretted it.

4.      I can write more than I think I can. There were a few days on my schedule that were so packed full of things I needed to do, I was certain that I couldn't do any writing. Amazingly, when I organized my time, scheduled it all—including writing time—it somehow all fit. I had to be diligent. I had to avoid Facebook and Twitter. But it WAS POSSIBLE.

5.      Pushing through the void helped me find my voice. When I started, I just couldn't find the voice. It was awful, the writing was awful, but I knew I couldn't afford to wait for my muse or I wouldn't meet my goal. As it turns out, pushing through helped me find it. Will I have a ton to revise? YES! But I always do. Even when I have the voice from the beginning. Forcing yourself to write ugly words can lead you to the better ones.

Despite my qualms with this whole event, I am now I convert. I learned so much about me and how I write. After 30 days of this boot-camp, I feel like a better writer. Admittedly, I'm not promising to participate next year, BUT . . . I plan to use this writing method to write the first draft of my next book (which I plan to do much sooner than November).

So how about the rest of you? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? If yes, what did you learn? If no, think you'll ever try it?