NaNoWriMo Prep: Step One, The Plot
Uncategorized / October 12, 2016

Alright, you’re set for the realities of NaNo. It’s hard. You should be ready. But you still don’t have a story. I’ve known some writers to say that any writer who doesn’t have a plot isn’t a writer, but sometimes they’re just not trained in what they need to know to find plots. Because, you see, the plots are out there. They’re evil little bunnies with vicious teeth and sharp claws, and they… ahem. Sorry. Anyway, you just have to learn to look for the plot bunnies. Because they’re everywhere. Everywhere. Okay, took a few minutes to get out of the hug-me jacket, but I’m back. Let’s get to specifics. You can start with story prompts, but that’s so… generic. So if you want story prompts, you might want to go look at another blog. I’m going to try to teach you how to find plot ideas yourself. Go watch people. Every person has a story.  No, you shouldn’t go up to total strangers and pepper them with questions. You’ll get some interesting responses, but it’s hard to promote your novel from jail. Instead, make up their stories. Who are they? How did they get here? Listen to music. The tune,…

NaNoWriMo Prep: The Importance of Planning, Even for Pantsers
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 11, 2016

Dear Pantsers: I know every instinct is screaming for you to run for the hills. Stick with me. It’s worth it. -Z It is entirely possible to start NaNoWriMo on November 1st (or later) with no preparation. You can win with a late start. It’s also possible to scale Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen. If you’re a professional with the right physiology and a little luck, you can even survive it. That doesn’t make it a good idea if you have any other choice. And you, my little writers, do. But I’m a pantser! I don’t do prep! And you can choose not to. But why not make something that’s already an incredible feat a little bit easier? Today, let’s talk about the bare minimum of what you really should have to write a semi-coherent novel by the end of November: A very basic plot. This doesn’t mean: Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. This means: Boy meets girl at club when he’s with another girl. Boy is intrigued by girl and has a friend get in contact with her. Boy convinces girl to date him. Girl finds out boy is technically…

NaNoWriMo Prep: When Life Throws a Curve Ball in November
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 11, 2016

It invariably happens every single year in November: I see a frantic online post about how something urgent has come up that might interfere with finishing NaNo. First, let’s take a look at the big issue here: NaNoWriMo is a game, a challenge. It is not life. It should not be a substitute for life. Yes, take the challenge seriously. Follow the rules of the game as closely as you’re able and try to score a win. But it’s not life. When actual life things come up, give them precedence. Don’t mourn that you won’t finish NaNo because you had to run your neighbor to the hospital and ended up staying for three days. Rejoice that you were able to help out your neighbor. Priorities, people! Second, be prepared to roll with the punches. I unexpectedly got to leave my place of hiding for a new place of hiding this weekend. Unfortunately, there was nothing resembling internet, even if I’d had time, so I’m now three blog posts behind on my NaNo Prep series. But that’s okay because, as much as I love waxing philosophical about how to have a perfect NaNo, the trip was more important. (Please don’t get…

NaNoWriMo Prep: Prepping for THOSE Days
NaNoWriMo Prep , Uncategorized / October 7, 2016

I don’t feel like adulting today. In fact, I don’t feel like humaning. Maybe cat or dragoning. I could maybe deal with that. Here’s the thing: you will have a day like this during NaNo. Either the weather will be too nice and you’ll want to go out or the weather will be too bad and you’ll want to stay in (but curled up with a book) or the computer won’t work right or you won’t feel right or your characters won’t be talking to you or you’re just having a bad day… Yeah, it happens. One thing I do appreciate about NaNoWriMo is that it teaches you to write when you don’t feel like it. Getting behind on 1,667 words/day is a big deal if you do it a few times. Trust me. I have the 10k makeup days to prove it.  If you have depression, family events (Thanksgiving, anyone?), or other things come up, though, you may have to deal with making up for those days. Prep for them ahead of time and you’ll deal with them better. Know what you’re going to write about. Sometimes it helps to jot a note about where the story is going before you…

NaNoWriMo Prep: Routines
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 6, 2016

I promised you that today we would go over setting up routines (and we will!), but I just wanted to bring up one more thing related to priorities first. I’m a runner. I’ve watched Zombieland; cardio is important if you want to survive the end of the world. I’ve learned almost any healthy person can do a 5k (that’s 3.1 miles for the metrically-challenged). Yeah, you might walk a lot, but even if you walk, that’s, what, at most an hour out of your life? Bump it up to the half-marathon (13.1 miles), though, and you start weeding out the committed from the casual. Go all the way to the marathon (26.2 miles) and you find the true crazy people. Here’s the thing: NaNoWriMo is a marathon with a time limit. It’s one thing to do a marathon if you’ve been running every day. Yeah, it might hurt a bit if you have to do more than you’re used to, but at least you’ve been running. If you do a couch-to-marathon-in-a-month plan, though, you’re likely to follow that up with a marathon-to-hospital-in-a-day plan. The same thing happens with NaNo, and it’s one of those things no one talks about. If you…

It’s Here. Again. NaNoWriMo Prep Time.
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 3, 2016

It’s here. Again. I don’t know why it surprises me when it comes around every year. Supposedly, this is my ninth NaNoWriMo. No, I haven’t contracted some strange disease and I do not have an alien in suspenders hiding out in my home. NaNoWriMo, the brain-child of The Office of Letters and Light, stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. In other translations, it stands for “Naturally, No Writer’s Motivated”. This is that time of year when, for 30 days, all writers, aspiring retires, supposedly-retired writers, and a hoard of eager children try to write 50k (that’s fifty thousand) words. In the same book. In, as closely as possible, novel format. Yes. It’s basically one month of group insanity. However, NaNoWriMo has turned out to be a boon to me. I first started in 2009. I merrily failed every year until 2013. Suddenly something clicked and I barreled through all fifty thousand words just under the wire. Well. That was easy. I can do this again. In 2014, I decided to take it a step further. I hadn’t really written much since 2013, so I committed myself to not only writing the book but, in my wisdom, to publishing it. By…

Cover Reveal: The Wicked Witch of Whatever AND New Contest!
Promotions , Uncategorized / September 20, 2016

Yes, it’s that time. Another cover has reared its not-so-ugly head and is ready to be revealed to the world. I give you The Wicked Witch of Whatever. This YA paranormal/ urban fantasy (still trying to figure out that exact niche) is set at Cawdor High School for the (Magical) Arts. I don’t have a blurb yet. Are you nuts? I’m still rewriting. What if I rewrite something that gives me the perfect blurb? All you need to know is that Macbeth meets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead meets me. And maybe a heavy dose of teen pop culture thrown in for seasoning. The Wicked Witch of Whatever is slated to be released on Halloween, which is my favorite holiday of the year. When else can I get away with dressing like one of my own characters without someone questioning my sanity? In honor of its release, I’m throwing a little picture party. Dress up like your favorite INDIE character for Halloween, snap a photo, and send it to me. Seven lucky winners will win an ebook copy of The Wicked Witch of Whatever. Three lucky winners will get to have a character named after them in an upcoming book….

Where’s Zanzibar? (Tricky Graphic Not Included)
Uncategorized / September 15, 2016

  My dear readers, my deepest apologies for leaving you high and dry without any blog entries for a while. I’ve taken this “become a Real Person” thing to an extreme and have not only been working a regular “day job to pay the bills”, but have also encountered Illness and Surprise Events. While such things are very useful for content of writing, they are less useful for the practice of writing. Or for blogging, Twittering (er, tweeting) or Facebooking. Mea culpa. I have been incredibly busy in the background, though. The Annals of Bobian did well in the Indie Summer Book Awards, although it was edged out at the end by someone who probably has a Real Life already and is better adjusted to it. Alright, it was edged out of the top five. It was still an honor to be nominated and I will be part of an event tomorrow (9/16) for authors who were nominated. Come visit me here at 6pm Pacific Time! Many of you may know that I started out in NaNoWriMo. After all, I was a product of NaNo and my Figments books are, to one degree or another, largely about the NaNo process. I…

My Words Are on Vacation
Uncategorized / August 18, 2016

I have no words. I have a theory that the more real I become, the harder words become to find. How do normal people write? How unreal do you have to be for words to flow like sunshine down the side of an ice floe? I’m not sure, but I think this reality thing is way overrated. I got a day job. It was part of an experiment to see if I could become Real. The day job, however, has now consumed my life and, in effect, become my reality. This is no way to be real. I come home too tired to write and my creativity is sucked down a drain with dirty dishwater. And I have no words. Sometimes I still think clever thoughts. I still have a moment when I ignore the pressing in of the “must do” list and just bask in the warmth of a moment of clarity and vision. Then an alarm beeps or a break ends and the moment runs away, as flighty as a skittish deer in a forest. And it takes my words. How do I set aside a space for this side of me, for the me that is fragile…

Pacemaker Summer Olympics
Uncategorized / August 4, 2016

I’m a speedy writer. When I say that, I’m not bragging. I’m also a writer with a moderate attention span. I prefer to slam through a first draft in 45 days and be done with it than belabor over it for months and months. I have been working on The Wicked Witch of Whatever, off and on, since November. Pacemaker, a project writing website, is having a challenge called the Pacemaker Summer Olympics. In this challenge, writers set a word goal of at least 400 words per day between August 5th and August 21st (the dates of the Summer Olympics). Pacemaker has a “fluctuating” setting, so I won’t be writing the same amount every day, but each day will be at least 400 words. Also, because Zanzibar (the place) is in Tanzania (the country), that’s the country I’m representing. What about you? Want to join me for a little word challenge fun? Go to https://pacemaker.press/challenges/summer-2016-olympics. Set up an account if you don’t have one and make or choose a plan. Then sign up for a country. There’s low participation right now, so you could make some obscure country famous (modestly famous) by winning. I don’t have to have challenges to do…