Monday, November 17, 2014

On Shiny New Ideas and #WIPMadness Check-In!

Well, it happened to me as usual, right on schedule. Just as I reached the halfway mark of #NaNoWriMo and was filled with self-doubt over the project I was writing, a Shiny New Story Idea popped its cute little head up at me in the middle of the night.
Bubbles, Bubble, Water, Macro, Drop, Circle, Liquid
This happens to me every year. Sometimes several times within the month of November. I have all these awesome ideas swarming around my brain, but sadly, I have to keep writing this other book, this book that is fraught with problem areas and plot twists and characters that aren't working.


If you have ever been in a similar situation, even if you're not NaNo-ing, I have found an outlook and a game plan for these times.

1. Know that your Shiny New Ideas are not as awesome as they seem at first glance. All stories are fraught with major problem areas once you get into the depth of actually writing them.

2. Take half an hour and write down everything you can think of concerning the Shiny New Idea. Then you're not missing out on ANYTHING by taking the time to finish your current work in progress. You can always come back to this Shiny New Idea once you have finished the book you have made a commitment to.

3. Imagine yourself dropping your current project, starting on your Shiny New Idea, and then getting caught up on some impossible  barrier after about a week. How horrible would you feel if you had to give up on BOTH projects.

4. Stop trying to compare the two stories in your head. As you know, or have known before the Shiny Idea hit, all stories are like apples and oranges.

Directory, Signposts, Wood, Grain, Board, Shield5. Call the Shiny New Idea exactly what it is: Distraction. It's the part of you that's scared to move forward on your current project trying to self-sabotage. DON'T LET THAT HAPPEN! Your Shiny New Idea could indeed be awesome, but do yourself a favor and finish up your current project before making that decision.

I'm not sure if that helps anyone else, but it's been cathartic for me to get it down and read it over for my own good.

Are you facing any kind of distractions from your current writing project this week? What's getting in your way and how are you dealing with it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Must a Writer Write Every Day…Even in November? A Guest Post by Tamara Girardi for #NaNoWriMo

As many of you know, I'm a huge advocate for NaNoWriMo and fast drafting. But I believe there are many personality types and many different writing processes for making the fast drafting process work for each person. I'm always thrilled to share a different outlook from a guest author on the topic, and so today, I give you over to Tamara Girardi, who gives her thoughts on whether or not you need to write every day!

Must a Writer Write Every DayEven in November?
By Tamara Girardi

Writers write every day.

You know the saying. If you aspire to write great stories, youve probably heard this a time or two. The words might ignite the flame of insecurity inside of you that challenges whether you really are a writer. What if you dont write every day? Will you make it in this business? Will your work ever see print?

A more appropriate saying might be: Writers write every day in the month of November. If that saying speaks to you, you might be a Wrimo. Or a Nano. Or a Wrimer, however you look at it.

Still, November can become like any other month. You start off writing strong, but by November 5 or 8 or 12, youve fallen out of the writers write every day bubble.

If thats happened to you, thats okay. Theres still time!
NaNoWriMo encourages every participant to write 1,667 words per day to reach an ultimate goal of a novel of 50,000 words in a month. Dont get me wrong, 50,000 words in one month is excellent, but according to, literary and commercial womens fiction tends to run 80K-100K.  Mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and fantasy projects target 90K-100K. Science fiction novels might take two NaNoWriMos to complete.

Middle grade, young adult, and romance novels could potentially be complete at 50,000 words, so if youre writing one of those, excellent for you! The takeaway here is although NaNoWriMo is fabulous, and there are many undeniable benefits for participants, the plan you created prior to November 1 might be fuzzy at the moment.

If that describes you, no worries! Just adjust your plan.

Set a challenge for yourself. If youve lost a few days in the month, try to double your word count on the remaining days to reach the 50,000 words. If 50K is nowhere near attainable, then adjust your goal to 40K or 25K.

A goal is a goal, and NaNoWriMo is the time to set goals and strive for them. In November, you have a built-in community lively over Twitter, Facebook, NaNoWriMos web site, and in many face-to-face write-ins around the world.

Let me reiteratearound the world!

Do you really believe every NaNoWriMo participant has written every day this month? Full disclosure: I have not. I started strong, writing roughly 7,000 words in the first weekend, but then the work week hit, and its been busy ever since. I teach college English courses, and my roughly 60 composition students are submitting 15-page persuasive essays for grading. My literature students recently completed an exam that needs grading and are preparing for a literary analysis essay.

When my mental energy is not being spent on their work, Im playing with my three-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. Then, bedtime comes, and Im, well, ready for bed.

And Im not the only Wrimo with a busy work schedule.

So, as my month continues, Im being forced to re-evaluate. Can I still reach 50K by November 30? Im not sure. If I have a few days like I had the first weekend, I could get back to my target without too much trouble. The twenty-minute sprints I love could get me there, but the truth is, any amount of words sitting in my document November 30 signifies an achievement.

They are words I didnt have October 31. They are words I will add to December 1 (or the next writing day I get did I mention I dont write every day?).

I love NaNoWriMo and have no intention of discouraging participants from meeting the 50K in 30 days goal. On the contrary, I hope that any Wrimos reading this feel empowered to change their plans if those plans arent working. Dont stop participating because 50K is suddenly unattainable for you.

Log into the NaNoWriMo web site. Find a friend tweeting under the #nanowrimo tag on Twitter, or better yet, find me! I will cheer you on!

You dont have to write every day to be a writer, whether its November or any time. You need only believe you can write and make progress at it. Whatever shape that progress takes, celebrate it.

And good luck!

An English Instructor for Harrisburg Area Community Colleges Virtual Learning program, Tamara Girardi holds a PhD in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews. Her YA fantasy DREAMSEER won the 2013 PennWriters Novel Beginnings Contest and is on submission with agents. Tamara is a member of Backspace, Sisters in Crime, and PennWriters. Follow her (and challenge her to a writing sprint!) on Twitter @TamaraGirardi.

Monday, November 10, 2014

On Muses, @AvrilLavigne, #NaNoWriMo, and #WIPMadness Check-in

This photo is licensed for use:
If I had a muse, it would be Avril Lavigne. There's something about her Girl Power brand and individualistic lyrics that make me feel like I can do anything and that the world needs my unique words.

I say "if" because the truth is, I don't believe in muses. I used to, before I discovered NaNoWriMo. In 2007, I started taking on the 30-day, 50,000-word challenge, and that changed my thinking. You see, when forcing yourself to write 50,000 words in a month, you don't have time to wait around for inspiration or muses. Most of the thirty days you will not feel like writing at all. At least I don't. But I push myself to meet my goal, and inevitably, words and metaphors and story lines show up on the page that blow me away when I go back to reread. Those nuggets of gold are not the result of my muse, they are simply the result of my dedication.

One of the reasons I'm such a big advocate of NaNoWriMo and fast drafting is because I believe that by pushing ourselves to write, even when we don't feel like it, helps us access our subconscious mind where all of our best ideas are stored. You see, if we take our time and only write when our "muse" strikes, we already think we have the best ideas, so why on earth would our subconscious mind pipe up to tell us any different?

I'm curious if you agree, or if you have some sort of muse that truly helps you get your stories written.

Also, I should mention that if you are fast drafting this month, I'm live-tweeting tips from my nonfiction writing book Fast Fiction, using the hashtag #FastFiction.

Also, NaNoWriMo posted my Top 5 Tips to NaNo Success this week. I hope you'll check it out.

And finally, don't forget to leave your progress on your goals so far this month in the comments. Write on, friends!

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Criticism, #NaNoWriMo, and #WIPMadness Check-in

Whether you're trying to fast-draft a novel in a month, or taking many years to draft a story, chances are good that you have faced or will face criticism that will threaten to halt your progress. Every writer I know hears criticism from even the most unexpected sources (and sometimes the unexpected sources are the most painful!), and those criticisms can feel like the only thing any one has ever said about our writing when we hear them.

But the truth is, there are many readers out there in the world with vastly differing moods and opinions! Because I think it's ridiculous how much criticism can affect our progress as writers, I decided to make a list, all in one place, of things I've personally heard, or seen in reviews of other authors I love in hopes of shining a light on the ridiculousness of spending any time at all thinking about one person's criticism.
  • "There's too little description I couldn't picture it."
  • "There's too much description and it slowed down the pace."
  • "Cardboard characters, lacking detailed description."
  • "Why would I want to know every detail about what this character eats for breakfast?"
  • "Starts off too slow."
  • "I got whiplash from the breakneck pace."
  • "Too languid and boring."
  • "Too quick-paced and choppy."
  • "Unlikable characters. 
  • "Characters are too perfect."
  • "Too short. I like my books at least three hundred pages."
  • "Too long. Went on forever."
  • "Too much sex and cursing."
  • "Felt too clean to be realistic."
  • "Melodramatic."
  • "I wanted to feel more emotional connection."
  • "Strange plot. Unbelievable."
  • "Cliche. Felt like I've read it all before."
  • "Main character is too angst-y."
  • "I wish the characters had more passion."
  • "Not enough conflict."
  • "Too much going on. I wanted a minute just to breathe."
  • "I hate issue-driven books."
  • "I hate character-driven books."
  • "I hate plotty books."
  • "It's too simple."
  • "It has everything in it but the kitchen sink."
That's a long list, but I'll bet there are many more I haven't mentioned. Seeing them all together helps me at least to remember not to put too much weight in any one thing anyone says. Feel free to add to my list in the comments, and let me know if criticism has ever hindered you from something creative. And how did you get over it?

Also, what are your goals for November? Are you joining in on NaNoWriMo, or do you have your own different set of goals for this month?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Four! #Nanowrimo2014 and #WIPMadness Update!

Happy Halloween! It's been a long, long time since I've done a variety-of-what's-going-on-in-my-life post! Here it goes...
1. I've been exceptionally busy, with the launch of Fast Fiction in February, and then promotional opportunities as we're leading up to NaNoWriMo. Plus, add on top of that my young adult novel, Foreign Exchange, that just came out two weeks ago, and blog tours and interviews, etc, that goes along with that. But it's been a great year, seeing these books hit the shelves and hearing testimonies and reviews about how these books are affecting others.

I just had another testimonial come in for Fast Fiction that I'd love to share with you:
Three years ago I set myself the goal of writing a novel because I have always wanted to see if I could do it.  I quickly found myself completely lost and mired in the unique problems such a large project can create. I was so lost I failed to get very far with my novel until I was fortunate enough to hear Denise speak at my local writing group. Impressed by her presentation, I purchased her book "Fast Fiction" that night and found the encouragement, structure, and practical advice on process I needed to begin, and more importantly, finish the first draft of my first ever novel. I have shared her process with my writing group and encourage anyone else who may be wandering lost in the novel writing wilderness to check out her book. It will help! Thank you, Denise Jaden, for "Fast Fiction"!
 - Kirsten Mah
As you can imagine, I'm thrilled by this response! If you're reading Fast Fiction and/or using it for NaNoWriMo this year, I'd love to hear from you too!

2. Speaking of NaNoWriMo, yes, I will be drafting a new novel this November! The title is tentatively Chasing Waterfalls, and will be kind of a companion/follow up to my outdoor survival YA novel, Avalanche (which is still in pre-production - I should have some good news to announce regarding that one soon!). Also, if you've followed the hashtag #WIPMadness at all on Twitter, you know we hold weekly check-in's throughout the year to keep writers on track. I will be hosting each Monday throughout November right here, so whether you're fast drafting or setting some other kind of writing goal, I hope you'll stop in and check in with us here.

And...if you're considering jumping in on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon at the last minute, check out my Story Plan resource, free to my blog readers, to get all of your important story information quickly in one place.

3. I've been doing a little acting in my "spare" time, along with my son. Nothing of mine has aired yet, but my good friend sent this little screen shot of my so on Strange Empire. He loved seeing himself on the screen!

4. I just got back from the Surrey International Writers' Conference (SIWC) where I learn a huge amount each year. This year, among other things, I took some great classes on settings and photo-use for blogging and social media, reviews for authors, and writing with gusto. I came away refreshed and inspired. I spent much of the weekend live-tweeting some tidbits of what I was learning, so if you're interested in my "Cliff Notes," check out my Twitter feed from last weekend.

That's it for me at the moment (or all I can remember in my harried state!) How about you? What's new this fall? Are you planning on writing during NaNoWriMo, and if so, what do you plan to write?

Friday, October 24, 2014

A New Book From Evernight Teen! DORIANNA by Catherine Stine!

Fellow Evernight Teen author, Catherine Stine's new YA paranormal/horror, DORIANNA launches OCT 24! It's a fresh twist on the Oscar Wilde classic, A Picture of Dorian Gray for the Internet generation. If you like dark magic, get a tickle from nasty yet charismatic villains, a sizzling love triangle, if stories set in skeezy yet glitzy beach towns like Coney Island appeal to you, and you favor a breakneck roller-coaster ride in your read, then Dorianna just might be in your wheelhouse. Here's the lowdown:

Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.
Until it transformed into a terrifying 
reality Dorianna couldn’t stop

When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.

Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides. Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of how dire the consequences might be.

Shop for Dorianna at Amazon, B&N, iTunes
Catherine's Author Central page

Catherine is having a Facebook release & Halloween party,
and she'd like to invite you to stop on by.
There will be two guest authors,
games and prizes galore. It takes place on OCT 29,
from 8 to 10 pm (EST), and here's the link. 

About the Author:

Catherine Stine’s novels span the range from science fiction to paranormal to contemporary. Her futuristic thriller, Fireseed One won finalist spots in YA and Sci-Fi in the 2013 USA News International Book Awards and an Indie Reader Approved notable seal. Its companion novel, Ruby’s Fire was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Awards. Her paranormal YA, Dorianna launches with Evernight Teen in October. She also writes new adult fiction as Kitsy Clare. Her new adult Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship. She enjoys all things spooky, exotic and edgy, including travel to unusual locations. She also loves hearing from readers and meeting them at book cons.

Subscribe to her newsletter for the latest books, tours, giveaways, sales!
Find Catherine here: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads
Enter the Rafflecopter for a huge array of great dark fantasy and prizes!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Release from Evernight Teen: MY SUMMER ROOMMATE by Birdie Hall!

mysummerroommateMY SUMMER ROOMMATE 

Chloe needs a place to crash for the summer before college. When Chris offers, she moves in with him. It’s just for two months, no biggie. But soon she realizes she may have made a mistake. He is too perfect; a former snowboarder, laid-back and kind to boot, and he’s smitten with her. But she’s got trust issues and a relationship feels daunting. When he keeps trying to win her over, the temptation becomes overwhelming. Just as she gives in and decides it’s not worth fighting their emotions anymore, Chris reveals he’s made a stupid mistake which might ruin Chloe’s trust in him and tear them apart.  

What readers are saying about MY SUMMER ROOMMATE: "Rejoice, y'all. We have a new author to count on for swoon-worthy Young Adult contemporary romance!"
(Kristen at Pretty Little Pages)

"My Summer Roommate by Bridie Hall was absolutely delicious! What I love about Ms. Hall's YA novels, is that they feel so real to me. The characters are ones that I feel I could easily pass walking down the sidewalk, or bump into at the store. She really fleshes out her characters in great detail and in such a manner, their personalities don't feel forced. It's so hard to find this in YA novels now, but Ms. Hall really kicks it."
(Sasha Hibbs, author of The Vulcan Legacies)

"She really gifts teens with self awareness and gives them tools to deal with heart break. She teaches them about the power of life lessons and pain in growing. She shows them the beauty of forgiveness."
(Catherine on Goodreads)

The book is available from Evernight Teen website and Amazon, and print copies from CreateSpace.