So Much Catching Up…

From the looks of the blog, I’ve been away for a year without updates. A lot has happened in my writerly life in that time, I just haven’t taken the time to come back and update here. So I’ll run down a brief list of what I’ve done…

Last May I attended the DFW Writer’s Convention. It was fantastic and I am going back this year. It was my first chance pitching a story to a literary agent (although I did a consultation rather than a true pitch since my manuscript was unfinished). I took wonderful classes and met some other great writer’s. I highly recommend this conference.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAcVAAAAJGM5OGUyMTQxLTM5NWUtNDliMS1iODI0LWJhMWZmYmE0NTI0Yg

I took the summer off of all things writing related to drown in work. Then came fall where I completed my MA in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. This meant writing a Fiction thesis which was hard, and rewarding, and awesome. I graduated in January with a 4.0.

printlogo

I’m currently in the process of polishing my thesis into something publishable so I can begin the process of querying agents. At DFW Con this year I’ll be pitching it to an agent for real (I guess). I should probably get on that.

In November, on top of writing my Rumpelstiltskin retelling for my thesis, I took on a retelling of Hades and Persephone set in pseudo historical England where Hades is a Necromancer and Persephone can raise the dead with a touch. It was my most challenging NaNoWriMo yet because I had work and school to contend with. I was so burned out by December that I haven’t even opened the Scivener file again. However, I don’t regret doing it at all. I’m glad to know I could take on the challenge and I love the story I created (even if it needs heaps of work).

NaNoWriMo_2016_WebBanner_Winner.png

Post graduation, I decided to take time off to relax without school bearing down on me. I’ve had two months with no writing deadlines and have frankly let myself get rusty. Now it is the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo and…uh…I am admittedly unprepared. I had a story idea percolating and when I sat to outline it I realized there was just no middle. I also had no buzz in me to create one. I decide to set that plot bunny aside until I can feed it and care for it property. That leaves me midway through the first day of Camp changing projects and starting a new outline…

And away we go…

Camp-2017-Participant-Twitter-Header.jpg

Small Incentives

I had the fantastic opportunity to spend this weekend at the RT Convention here in Dallas. RT is hosted by the magazine of the same name (formerly Romantic Times) and brings together writers, readers, and reviewers of the romance community. I won’t go into the full details here, as I am putting together a blog for AAR on the subject, but I wanted to mention something I noticed about myself this weekend:

I love small incentives.

While I was in my first session on Friday, I noticed that some people’s badge had a nifty green ribbon that declares them to be a “Published Author.” And I thought…I want that. Yeah, I want to publish a book because it is a dream of mine, but my mind instantly transfixed on the notion that, next time I’m at RT, I want to have one of those ribbons.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been driven by something like this. For example, in high school I was determined to graduate in the top 10% and as part of the National Honor Society because I would get to wear the cords and a stole. I also graduated Distinguished which meant I got to wear a black robe instead of red. I had other reasons for wanting to be top 10% (in Texas it ensures you automatic acceptance to any state university), but there was no reason to join NHS. Supposedly it looks good on college applications, but I wasn’t even worried about that (see the automatic acceptance thing). I wasn’t even a real NHS member. I never even attended a meeting. I joined the January before graduation, paid my dues, and got my stole. I never did anything else with the organization. But I really wanted that little white stole over my robe.

I graduated with latin honors from college as well and got to wear cords again. In graduate school, I didn’t have any special accoutrements because there weren’t any. Although at graduation another lady was wearing cords from Golden Key. I immediately kicked myself for not joining Golden Key the million times I was invited, even though I’m pretty sure it’s a scam to get your outrageous dues fee.

Just yesterday I was lured by another small incentive. I join the site 750 Words to get myself in the habit of daily writing outside NaNoWriMo. Yesterday when I got home from the day at the conference, dinner, and a movie, I really didn’t feel like writing. I just wanted to read a bit and go to sleep. But I realize that Friday was my 3rd day on 750 words and writing would ensure me the Turkey Badge.

badge.turkey

I wrote.

Its odd how such a small incentive is so tempting to me. I’m hoping the badges will help me keep writing my words each day.

And I hope the lure of that green ribbon will be enough reason to light a fire under me on finishing my manuscript.

Better Late Than Never

I have not been in the writerly way as much in the last few months. I am taking a break from my MFA program since my day job has been so busy. However, I did do one thing…

Camp-Winner-2015-Web-Banner\

I finished the April 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo with a word count of 30,000. While this was not my first Camp, it was my first success. I made an attempt last year but bailed about about 5,000 words because I really had not plotted out my story and was writing blind.

I have learned – I am not a pantser. I need an outline to be successful. Especially when I need to have a high output, like during NaNo.

My historical fiction project is not a little over 80,000 words and it is so not finished. I expect it to be about 100,000-115,000 when finished. Then I plan to trim a fair amount during revisions.

I am still deciding whether to do July’s Camp. I probably will, but I think my word count will need to be on the low side. Summer Reading Club is about to start at work and I am basically the sole person in my library in charge of it. I expect a hectic summer.

On The Brink

I officially have 2,105 words left until I win National Novel Writing Month!

As I am poised on the brink of 50,000 words, I wanted to take a moment to reflect. I thought I would post more updates, but I got carried away in the writing (imagine that) and didn’t come here to post. However, I wanted to take a second and speculate what it will be like to pass 50k.

Firstly, I am bad at committing to tasks. Putting a due date on things is the easiest way to make me not want to do them. For example, I love to knit, but I just abandoned a knit-a-long because something about knitting under a deadline makes it less enjoyable. So I am amazed at myself for sticking to this task for nearly a month. I actually expected to lose interest about a week ago. Granted, I may have tried to finish as quickly as possible to try and finish before that happened…

I am feeling good about approaching the finish line but, what is scary, is that the story is no where near finished. I don’t just mean that it needs mounds of revision (though it does). I mean that there is close to another half that remains to be written. NaNoWriMo encouraged me to churn out 50k words, but I have some concern over what will encourage me to finish the rest of the writing. As I have written, the story is coming to me easier and easier. Yet, there have been plenty of days where I would have avoided writing if not for my NaNo commitment.

So I am almost afraid to finish those last words. Will that drive to write disappear? I have ignored this story idea for most of my life before finally brining it to life this month, so I know I am good at not writing. This month also showed me I can be good at writing. Which of these will stick with me in the months to come?

I think I should use the final week of NaNoWriMo to challenge myself to see how far past 50k I can go, but I already feel the temptation to relax instead.

I suppose there is always Camp NaNo in the spring and summer if I need to recommit. But I hate to think of abandoning my fledgling tale for so long.

Ok, now I am off to finish my writing. I will let you know who I am on the other side of the brink.

NaNoWriMo Numbers Update 1

We are currently on day 4 of National Novel Writing Month. This is my first time honestly trying NaNoWriMo so I was pretty nervous about whether I would be able to make my words for each day, since I need to do about 1,667 to finish on time if I write every day. Here’s the thing, I know I won’t write every day. It just won’t happen. November is normally the only month of the year that I got out of town for a weekend. Add to that the fact that I’ll have three Thanksgiving celebrations and my sisters birthday at the end of the month and I know, for a fact, I am going to miss some days.

So my plan was to get ahead early so I’m not stressed when I have days without writing. So far so good. It is 1:30 pm where I’m at one day 4 and my word count currently sits at 8,592 and I’m not done for the day. Par for today would be 6667. I feel good about my numbers so far and I plan to try and crank out another 1,000 or so words. I think I really need to plan on this initial rush of enthusiasm to get me to goal. My attention span is often short so I know that it will be a challenge for me to stick to this for

I will say, I have a huge advantage in working on NaNoWriMo this year. I do practically nothing at my current job. Today I had about 30 minutes of work and that’s it. It’s why I don’t like working here, but it is good for NaNo. Another advantage is that I’ll be leaving this job at the end of next week and taking two weeks off. I won’t start my new position until after November. So I shouldn’t have any excuses about not finding time to write.

Anyway, time to go start a new scene…

November, Here I Come

I have, in the past, halfheartedly said I would do National Novel Writing Month. I even had one April where I started Camp NaNoWriMo. However, after about 5,000 words I realized that the story I was working on wasn’t clicking and I needed to let it go (at least for the time being).

However, I am hoping this November will be different. I am out of school until January when I start my MFA program at Lindenwood University (Class schedules for the Winter term came out today and I am really excited about the choices). I am still in my current job, in spite of multiple attempts to escape. (I still have my fingers crossed that the job I interviewed for last week will hire me, but even if they did I wouldn’t start until the end of November.) Whatever my feelings toward my current job, the advantage of it is that it would give me time to write at work. So this seems like the perfect chance to participate in NaNoWriMo.

I have been researching my butt off up to now about the Iron Age, Ancient Celts, and Druids. This is, let me tell you, not such an easy task. The Celts didn’t have a writing system so all evidence of them comes from the archaeological record or from Roman and Greek accounts (which are possibly biased). The Druids have been turned into mythical, magical beings that are highly romanticized. The thing is, we know there really was a class of people known as Druids, and that they played an important role in Celtic society, but little is known about what that actually entails. Since my story is set around a real event, the Menai Massacre, I have been trying to get my history down pat. That said, there is a lot of artistic licence that needs to be taken to fill in the gaps. The story idea is one I envisioned when I was about twelve years old and have spent the last dozen years writing on and off, researching on and off, and, overall, developing into a totally different entity than what I originally wrote in notebooks during middle school. Due to the amount of research needed, and, if I’m honest, due to how personally attached I am to the idea and the characters, I have put off actually writing this story for years. When I started at SNHU, I decided it would be my thesis project. Now that I’m transferring to LU, which only requires a novella-length thesis, I’ve decided to stop thinking and start writing.

I am incredibly nervous about taking on writing 50,000 words in a month as well as leery about my own ability to stick to a commitment like that for a whole month (making things a requirement tends to cause me to balk and avoid doing them). However, I’m also totally pumped to start writing. I have already found two NaNoWriMo buddies online that are writing about Iron Age Celts (although in Scotland and Ireland, not Wales like me). So I hope that we can assist each other on this undertaking.

I’m still using the next couple of weeks for more researching and planning. Although, admittedly, I am a terrible planner. Everything is in my head so I get annoyed trying to put it on paper. I wrote one very lazy outline and I have yet to force myself to elaborate. I still need to go through the scenes that I already wrote over the last twelve years (all of which need serious revision) and make sure that they’re accounted for in my plan.

I’ll probably be using this blog to check in as things continue, but for now, November, here I come!

An Acceptance

Yesterday I received the exciting news that, on the merit of my writing sample and personal statement, I have been admitted to the MFA Writing program at Lindenwood University. I am just awaiting the final admissions decision from the admission department, but I’m not concerned about that at all.

I had previously been taking classes in the MA English and Creative Writing – Fiction program at SNHU. However, I found myself somewhat disenchanted with how much emphasis was put on the literature side of things, and not the writing. I’ve been enrolled since January and I’ve only taken two writing classes, one of which I found fairly unhelpful. The program also requires that you take classes on writing pedagogy, literary theory, etc that had zero appeal to me. I went back to school (when I really didn’t need to at all) because I wanted to improve my writing. Not because I wanted to read about the Russian take on literary theory or create lesson plans. I’ve been a teacher before, I’m familiar with lesson plans. That’s not to say that SNHU doesn’t have a good program. For some people, it will be perfect. If you wanted to teach community college composition or English, for example, it is probably the ideal option. Their fiction thesis is probably also well done, as my friend recently completed her YA novel through that class. However, I felt like, even in my writing classes, I wasn’t absorbing much that would improve my craft. I didn’t feel challenged. The most helpful class I took was Contemporary Writers and Publishing. It was taught by a several times published writer who wasn’t afraid to get real with us on how hard it is to make it as a writer. I already knew that being a full-time writer is probably a pipe dream, but I fully appreciated the information we got on self and traditional publishing. That said, after last semester of taking a Victorian Literature class (which was interesting and taught by a fantastic professor, just not what I want to be taking) and a Creative Non-Fiction class (which was…let’s say disappointing), and signing up for classes this semester (Another literature course and pedagogy), I realized that I had ended up down the wrong path. I looked up my degree plan and realized that I had more than half of the program left, and yet, excluding my thesis, I only had one writing class left. One! How was a grand total of three writing classes (all in different genres) supposed to prepare me to write a book-length thesis?

Thankfully, I stumbled across the program at Lindenwood. I think I found it before but ignored it because it was a longer program (48 hours versus 36). However, at this point, I had to ask myself whether I wanted to rush through and get a degree I don’t need where I also learned very little, or take more time and have a richer experience. LU’s program appears to be more writing intensive and, besides the thesis, there aren’t any required classes. You take what you want, in the order you want to take it. After spending a week in Literary Theory being so bored I thought my eyeballs would melt out, that sounds fantastic. Also, there’s the added benefit of the program being an MFA and not MA, so the degree is better (although better doesn’t really summarize that comparison very well).

Transferring programs also had the result that I will get to take a break from school until LU’s new term starts in January (I missed the admissions deadline for the fall term). Yes, this is slowing me down again. However, I spent from June 2012 to August 2013 being a full-time graduate student in my MLS program, and then only had a short respite before I started my MA in January 2014, so a break actually sounds really nice.

So, to make a long post short, starting in January I will be a Lindenwood Lion. (FYI, lion is my favorite animal.)

primary_lindenwood_logo6-450x250