No Time to Say Hello, Goodbye

I just wanted to quickly write a little NaNo update for my devoted blog readers, who have all probably been dying to know how my novel is coming. Well, as you can see from the sidebar there, it's coming along quite nicely. I've written about 42,000 words so far this month, and I need to somehow tack on another 8,000 by Monday at midnight.

No sweat, right? :o)

The thing is, though, that I know I can do it. I don't just hope I can - I know I can. I might not be able to do the laundry and the dishes and cook a hot meal three times a day while doing it, but I can do it. And laundry and dishes and hot meals will always be there, waiting to be accomplished. They can wait another couple days while I finish my novel.

An Angel on Main Street

I had the opportunity to read Kathi Oram Peterson's newest book, An Angel on Main Street, this past week, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Here's the backliner from the book, because it explains what the book is about better than I could.

"Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened? Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day’s events — or maybe his interest in Micah’s widowed mother will do the trick. The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill. Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town’s holiday decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable — which means baby Jesus is coming, and he can make her better. Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds angels are closer than he ever would have believed."

The story was touching, especially since it was shown through the eyes of a character who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas, but who comes to believe in miracles over the course of the story.

The story was never slow, yet there was enough description to make the town and the character really come to life. And although there are miraculous events that occur in this book, the real magic of the story lies in the love and help the people in the town give to each other. The Christmas spirit is all about the way we can serve as angels to our fellow men.

Without giving away the plot line, I'd like to say to those who may not believe in miracles to give this book a try anyway. After all, if we can suspend our disbelief long enough to enjoy It's a Wonderful Life and The Polar Express, we can enjoy the spirit An Angel on Main Street brings to our Christmas season as well.

I love to look for new Christmas stories every year to add to my library, and this is a book I'd recommend to those who are looking for a good one.

You Can't Tell I Have Writer's Block Today Can You?

NaNoWriMo comic Day 2 - inspiration

I LOVE Inkygirl's comics. She's drawing a new comic for every day of NaNoWriMo - in addition to writing a novel of her own, of course.

Click here to see an archive of all the comics she's done so far.

Here's another one I love:

Glee and NaNoWriMo

Now, stop reading my blog and get back to writing, guys! :-P

More NaNo Stuff

Contests and Offers and Widgets, oh my!

So, here are a few random things that may be of interest to those who might be doing - or even considering doing - NaNo. (sorry for anyone who visits my blog for any reason other than finding information about NaNoWriMo. ;o) It's just all I'm thinking about lately.)

There is an awesome special offer from a company called "CreateSpace" for everyone who wins NaNo and uploads more than 50K words by Nov 30. We'll all get a special, secret code to get a free proof copy of our book! You don't have to get it right away, either. You have time to clean it up over the course of a few months or something. And people who did it last year said shipping was free, too, even internationally.

Go to this website and click on CreateSpace for all the details.

There's also a contest for those who are writing YA novels. It's a competition for the best YA book pitch. The winners get their submissions read by editors at a bunch of awesome publishing houses, and a one-on-one pitch with a literary agent. You submit a title and 250-word beginning of the novel. You have to submit by Nov 30, so you'll have to think about getting this entry ready in the midst of the NaNo craziness.

Here's the web page that has all the info. on the contest.

And last of all, you can get a cool widget for the sidebar of your blog, or other webpages or whatever, that automatically updates your wordcount as soon as you update it on the NaNo site. You can see mine over on the right there, under the "War of the Words" heading. It says jennylou at the top, because that's my screen name on the NaNo site, for anyone who wants to add me as a buddy. :o)

Click here to see all the different widgets they have available and to get the code to embed them on your website. If you're logged into your NaNo account when you view this page, it'll show your personal info in the widget automatically. I thought that was pretty special. And where it says "Participant" - that changes to say "Winner" automatically when you hit 50K! How nifty is that?

So, now that I've thoroughly distracted you from your writing, I'll bid you all adieu. Have a great day and Happy NaNoing!

NaNo Pep Talk by Jasper Fforde

I really loved the Pep Talk that came into my inbox today by Jasper Fforde. I wanted to link to it, but it isn't on NaNo's website yet, so I thought I'd just post it here. It was very inspiring to me, and I hope it helps all of you out as well.

Dear Writer,

I once wrote a novel in 22 days. 31 chapters, 62,000 words. I didn’t do much else—bit of sleeping, eating, bath or two—I just had three weeks to myself and a lot of ideas, an urge to write, a 486 DOS laptop and a quiet room. The book was terrible. 62,000 words and only twenty-seven in the right order. It was ultimately junked but here’s the important thing: It was one of the best 22 days I ever spent. A colossal waste of ink it was, a waste of time it was not.

Because here’s the thing: Writing is not something you can do or you can’t. It’s not something that ‘other people do’ or ‘for smart people only’ or even ‘for people who finished school and went to University’. Nonsense. Anyone can do it. But no-one can do it straight off the bat. Like plastering, brain surgery or assembling truck engines, you have to do a bit of training—get your hands dirty—and make some mistakes. Those 22 days of mine were the start, and only the start, of my training. The next four weeks and 50,000 words will be the start of your training, too.

There’s a lot to learn, and you won’t have figured it all in 50,000 words, but it’ll be enough for you to know that you don’t know it all, and that it will come, given time. You’ll have written enough to see an improvement, and to start to have an idea over what works and what doesn’t. Writing is a subtle art that is reached mostly by self-discovery and experimentation. A manual on knitting can tell you what to do, but you won’t be able to make anything until you get your hands on some wool and some needles and put in some finger time. Writing needs to be practiced; there is a limit to how much can be gleaned from a teacher or a manual. The true essence of writing is out there, in the world, and inside, within yourself. To write, you have to give.

What do you give? Everything. Your reader is human, like you, and human experience in all its richness is something that we all share. Readers are interested in the way a writer sees things; the unique world-view that makes you the person you are, and makes your novel interesting. Ever met an odd person? Sure. Ever had a weird job? Of course. Ever been to a strange place? Definitely. Ever been frightened, sad, happy, or frustrated? You betcha. These are your nuts and bolts, the constructor set of your novel. All you need to learn is how to put it all together. How to wield the spanners.

And this is why 30 days and 50,000 words is so important. Don’t look at this early stage for every sentence to be perfect—that will come. Don’t expect every description to be spot-on. That will come too. This is an opportunity to experiment. It’s your giant blotter. An empty slate, ready to be filled. It’s an opportunity to try out dialogue, to create situations, to describe a summer’s evening. You’ll read it back to yourself and you’ll see what works, you’ll see what doesn’t. But this is a building site, and it’s not meant to be pretty, tidy, or even safe. Building sites rarely are. But every great building began as one.

So where do you start? Again, it doesn’t matter. You might like to sketch a few ideas down on the back of an envelope, spend a week organizing a master-plan or even dive in head first and see where it takes you. All can work, and none is better than any other. The trick about writing is that you do it the way that’s best for you. And during the next 50,000 words, you may start to discover that, too.

But the overriding importance is that the 50,000 words don’t have to be good. They don’t even have to be spelled properly, punctuated or even tabulated neatly on the page. It’s not important. Practice is what’s important here, because, like your granny once told you, practice does indeed make perfect. Concert violinists aren’t born that way, and the Beatles didn’t get to be good by a quirk of fate. They all put in their time. And so will you. And a concerted effort to get words on paper is one of the best ways to do it. The lessons learned over the next thirty days will be lessons that you can’t get from a teacher, or a manual, or attending lectures. The only way to write is to write. Writers write. And when they’ve written, they write some more. And the words get better, and sentences form easier, and dialogue starts to snap. It’s a great feeling when it happens. And it will. Go to it.

-Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde is the best-selling author of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime books. He has been writing for twenty years, but only published for ten. His training took a while. His eighth book, Shades of Grey, will be published in January 2010. He lives and writes in Wales, has a large family and likes to fly aeroplanes.

Here's the archives of previous years' pep talks for your perusing pleasure as well.

And one last tidbit - a video with some tips for Wrimos. Happy writing everyone!