Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hangman is comin' down from the gallows...

I did it! So, in honor of finishing "Renegade:"

Actually, the song has nothing to do with the story, but it's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the title, "Renegade." I do have my MC listening to the song in the opening scene, but not wanting to deal with copyright issues, I didn't actually say that's what he's listening to. So, when you get the chance to read it and see "the rock song blaring out of the radio," you'll know which song it is.

"Renegade" is 116 pages (and change), or I estimate about 24,000 words. I wrote 89 of those pages this month, blowing away any previous record for monthly output. I'm pleased with how it turned out. Now on to typing.

All of you doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Um, Hi. Remember Me?

I feel like I have been away from blogging like forever! Even though it's only been a couple of weeks. Big thanks to K.M. Weiland for the awesome guest post last week. (If you didn't read it, you should.)

Here I am in the home stretch. Last week of the month. I wrote nineteen pages last week--not as good as the previous too, but not too shabby, either. I'll take it. Now it's time to finish this thing. I feel I am within reach of that goal, but I have one little problem.

I don't know how it ends.

I don't recall ever having this problem before. I always know the end. I live to write the ending that I've been daydreaming about all the way through. This time? I got nothin'.Well, not nothing. I do have an idea for an ending (after spending a lot of last week pondering it), but I'm not sure it's a good ending. I don't know if it will be satisfying and resonate with the beginning of the story and tie up all the loose ends and all the things a good ending does. It's kind of weird for me. But, I will not give up! I will proceed with the ending I have come up with and we'll see how it works.

So, wish me luck. Let's see if I can finish this puppy by Saturday! (I really think I can.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Bust Writer's Block: A Guest Post from K.M. Weiland!

Hi, all. I am still writing my little heart out. I managed 24 pages last week! So excited. I miss reading your blogs so much, though. Today I'm pleased to introduce my first ever guest poster--K.M. Weiland.

K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.

Welcome to the Writing Chair, Katie!

How to Bust Writer’s Block With Variation

There you are, sitting at your computer, trying to write the next scene in your novel. So far today, you only have about a paragraph down on the screen in front of you, and you keep deleting and retyping most of that. You’re quite obviously stumped. Between the flicker of the cursor blinking against the blank page and the clock ticking away your writing time, you’re teetering on the brink of exhaustion and exasperation. You have writer’s block.

What to do?

In my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration , I spend an hour discussing ways to create inspiration and kill writer’s block. One of my most successful methods is recognizing the truth in success coach Anthony Robbins’s words: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

So far, staring at the blank page and trying to rewrite that paragraph hasn’t worked very well, right? Working off that knowledge, it’s a pretty safe bet that continuing that approach isn’t likely to give you different results. So let’s try changing things up. Try a completely new angle of attack by utilizing any of the dozens of available story elements. Choose one of the following for your next paragraph and see what happens:

•    Set the tone for the scene by describing the setting.
•    Throw in some dialogue. Get two or more characters talking—or, preferably, arguing.
•    Try a different point of view.
•    Introduce a new character.
•    Let us see what your character is thinking through some internal monologue.
•    Add some action: what is your character doing?
•    Focus on the senses by asking yourself what your character can see/touch/taste/smell/feel?
•    Insert a completely unexpected element. Monsters in the closet? Long-lost Uncle Fitzwilliam? A secret passageway in the cellar?
•    Give your character a new goal. If he’s been reacting throughout this scene, ask him to act out. If he thinks he’s in control, give him something to react to.

Ignore your inner editor and just start writing. Open yourself to the possibilities that these new elements offer. You’ll be surprised at the vibrancy your story suddenly gains. You may not be able to use everything you write as a result of this infusion of variety, but I’ll wager that, at the very least, you’ll be able to wave goodbye to writer’s block and move past that frustrating paragraph.

Thanks for being my guest at the Writing Chair today, Katie, and thanks for the great advice. Be sure to check out Katie's website and her new CD if you need help conquering writing block!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Challenge is On!

I wrote twenty-three pages last week! That's some kind of record for me. I'm hoping to keep up the momentum this week, therefore I am not going to be blogging or reading your blogs (unless I'm really cruisin' and feel like I have time.) I'm already sad just thinking about missing your posts! I'll try to pop in here and there. Anyway, wish me luck!

(I'll be posting my progress on Twitter and Facebook, if you'd care to join me there!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

What I Need To Succeed

I mentioned earlier in the week that I've been doing Tristi's Writing Challenges this year. She holds them quarterly. You choose your own goal and then report on your progress throughout the month. I decided to really stretch myself this month, and set for my challenge:

Finish writing "Renegade."

It's a novella. I started it in August, but hadn't gotten very far. (I took some time off to revise my novel.) So, this is going to be quite a stretch for me. I figure, if it turns out about the same length as my other novellas, I will need to write 100 pages or more by the end of the month, or approximately four pages per day . Now for me, that is a lot of writing. More than I think I've ever written in a month. But I wanted to try and stretch myself.

A week into the challenge, I am happy to report that it is going well. I have hit four pages on all but two days. Yeah! I'm very pleased. I hope I can keep up the momentum. I have noticed some things I need to help me meet this challenge of mine.

Time: Duh. I guess that goes without saying. But I am finding that I don't actually need to make more time to write. I just need to take better advantage of the time that I already have to write. I find I can get the most done from 10-11:30 in the morning and from 10-11:30 in the evening. Also sometimes in the afternoon too. To make the best use of time, I need:

Sleep: I am finding that a good night's sleep gives me better results than staying up late to write a little more.

Planning: I have to know where the story is going. I used to think I was a pantser. That I didn't want or need an outline. I have realized lately, though, that I'm just a lazy plotter. I have to know what scenes to write and more or less how they turn out before I sit down to write. Yes, I still surprise myself sometimes with what the characters do or say, but in order to write so fast (for me), I really need a clear picture in my head. And it is in my head. I don't actually write an outline. I daydream a lot. This week has been a great exercise in deciding more quickly how the scenes should play out.

Support: My husband agreed to help me meet the challenge by encouraging me and not complaining if I put writing ahead of other things. I also appreciate the support I get from being accountable on Tristi's blog. I've been tweeting and facebooking about it too. Cheerleaders are great!

Serenity: I can't write well if I'm not on an even keel, so I've been taking the time to nurture my emotional health every day, too.

Sunflower Seeds: Lots and lots of sunflower seeds. My writing snack of choice.

I know a lot of you do NaNoWriMo. What kind of things do you find you need to help you meet a real writing challenge?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I Learned

This year at the Book Academy, one message came at me over and over again.

Write what you love! If you don't love it, who will?

After all, you are your story's mommy. You gave birth to it, you nurture it, feed it, stay up late at night worrying about it. If you think it's boring, well, what will all those non-mommy readers think?

I heard it in, I think, three different workshops and speeches. Of course, I already believe this with all my heart, but sometimes it's nice to have it reaffirmed. 

Follow your heart!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Making Friends Monday--Some Blogs You Shouldn't Miss

Today I'm making friends and hoping you'll want to make some too.

First off is author Tristi Pinkston.Tristi has been blogging since 2006.  On her main blog,   she covers everything from writing tips and the life of a published author to kid funnies, spiritual thoughts, and embarrassing moments.  She also has a weight loss blog, one for writing challenges, another for her fictional characters … and she lost count of how many others she has.  You can find the links for them on her sidebar.

Tristi is the author of five published novels and a whole kit ‘n caboodle of unpublished novels.  Right now she’s focusing on cozy mysteries, although she has written historical fiction in the past and plans to write more in that genre.  She works as a freelance editor, a writing instructor, and a virtual book tour coordinator.  She loves taking long naps, being charmingly annoying, and watching good movies.  She’s a Mormon, a homeschooler, a Cubmaster, and most of the time, a headless chicken.
 I recently got to meet Tristi in person for the first time at a signing she did in Provo, and lucky me, I won the grand prize basket full of books while I was there! If you're not reading Tristi's blog(s), you really should be! I have also been participating in her quarterly writing challenges, and I'll be blogging about my personal challenge for this month soon.
Next up is the new blog on the block, When Pigs Fly.  Brad Slagowski and I were neighbors for close to eight years, but in all that time I never knew he was a writer (or wanted to be, anyway.) Now he's writing urban fantasy and looking to make his dreams come true. So, go over there and give him a nice welcome into the blogging world. You'll love his creative and funny posts. (His "High Triglyceride" story had me in stitches.)

So go on and make some new friends today!