NaNo Wrap Up!

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NaNo Wrap Up

December already! November flew by, probably because I had my nose to the grind stone, type, type, typing away at my NaNoWriMo goal. It was all worth it too; because for the first time, I won! If you read my post NaNoWriMo 2016 explaining what NaNoWriMo is then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not and you want to know what I’m talking about, click on over to NaNoWriMo 2016. I’ll wait here…

Alright! So, yes, I won! The goal was to write 50,000 words toward a novel between November 1st and 30th. I Won on November 26th, and ended November with 54,703 words. I have almost completed my story. I’m still working on the last 2 chapters and then I’ll have my first draft complete! I’m using a lot of exclamation points because that’s how excited I am! I am so glad I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. It was on my list of goals for the year and it’s now one that I can put a checkmark next to. It will also be going on my list again for next year.

How NaNoWriMo Went for Me

November 1st came and I was ready to get the ball rolling. On the NaNo site they have a word tracking graph and all kinds of achievements and badges you can earn throughout the month. This really speaks to the gamer in me, and when I saw there was a badge for updating your word count every single day in Nov I  knew I had to have it. Therein  meaning I needed to write every day. I had already planned to, but having that in the back of my mind helped me make sure I always got my words in for the day.

Overall,  the stats say I averaged around 1,823 words a day.  I got big chunks of it on the weekends or days I took off from work. I write best in the morning, so on days I had to work after I got home, I could only get a few hundred words before I was falling asleep on my laptop as I wrote nonsensical things. I had to shake myself awake and delete whatever the last silly thing was that accidentally slipped out of my head. To make up for those days, on my days off I would get up at the same time. (4:30-5:00ish) and start writing. Usually I was able to get at least 3,000 words on those days. I think I even had a day I wrote 6,000 words!  

Writing every day is a great habit to be in. What I learned most from it is that sometimes you’re not going to feel creative. You’re not always going to feel like a good writer.  You can’t stop writing just because you don’t feel like it, or aren’t feeling inspired. I mean you could, but you’ll probably never finish anything.

When I was at a stall, I just looked at my outline and looked where the story needed to go. It might not have been pretty but I just wrote what it took to get me to the next part of the story. “Keep moving forward, I’ll fix it later.” became my mantra. Because of that mindset, I have a FIRST DRAFT! Not just an idea, a character, an outline, a chapter, a general sense of where it’s going, but a WHOLE first draft! My first, first draft of a book! That’s crazy talk!

Overall I am 100% glad I participated in National Novel Writing Month and I know that I’ll be doing the same thing next November. Hope you do too!

NaNoWriMo 2016

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Let’s talk about National Novel Writing Month! That’s right November is almost here and that means NaNoWriMo is almost here. During the month of November hundreds of thousands of writers all feverishly work to puke out 50,000 words of a novel. We sign up online, band together, try to encourage each other, and build community. The term “Hermits United” comes to mind.

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Since it started in 1999 with just 21 participants and only 6 “Winners” (winners being anyone that hit 50,000 words) it has grown exponentially. In 2015 351,489 writer's participated and 40,423 Won. That’s a lot of people! That also means only 12% of the participants finished/won. This year I want to be on that 12%. Oh and I got all these numbers off wikipedia so we know they are 100% accurate.

I myself haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo since 2011 and I was not even close to winning. I didn’t know at the time that the story I was writing was an epic odyssey much to grand a tale to try and pump out in one month. That was the first match in the inferno of a Novel I have been working on all year.

For November however I’ll be taking a break from that story (I really should give that this some kind of working title). I’m going to break from that novel, my reading and Fiction Friday to focus as much energy as possible on NaNoWriMo. I know I just got the ball rolling again on Fiction Friday but realistically I can’t be able to keep up with both Fiction Friday and NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got to say I’m more excited than I thought I would be. It helps that I am getting prepared. I have a concept, characters and a general outline that’s taking shape more and more everyday. Plus the fact that this story is about 300 times less complicated than my last NaNoWriMo story concept. It really feels like this is my year! I feel it’s best to go in with hope and big dreams. Big dreams meaning I’m going to hit that word goal and just hope I don’t end up with a steaming pile of garbage I’ll call my first draft.

If you are interested in how I’ve been preparing for NaNoWriMo might I direct you to my last Manuscript Monday post How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.  After those 5 steps I’m feeling vastly more prepared than last time. I’m also trying to get some blog writing done ahead of time, and finish a few extra books.

This is how I’m planning for a successful NaNoWriMo 2016.

  • No reading in November. It sounds silly I know, but I’m a slow reader and that ends up as hours I could be writing.
  • Little to No TV. I’m not going to lie and say No TV but I will say I’m going to cut it way down
  • Less Social Media. This one will be easy right now since I have been avoiding facebook more and more anyway.
  • I’m planning a few days specifically set aside for writing. I get not 1 but 2 holidays in November. Huzzah!  
  • Writing on my breaks at work. This one is more iffy really, I’ll try but it’s hard to get my head in the game in a 15 minute break in which I also need to eat and convince myself not to flip a table.
  • No editing as I go.  
  • Use [Brackets]. Getting hung up somewhere? Through in some brackets with a generally gist of what you need [Insert Science Here] and move on. Come back to it latter.
  • Get with other Writers. This might be the one that’s got me pumped. I have a few friends that are also participating. Having someone to encourage you or keep you accountable can be a great help in finishing.

 

I’m looking forward to November and I hope you are you too. If you’re participation in NaNoWriMo let me know. If you’re not just know I might be a bit MIA.

I’m glad it looks like the end of the year is shaping up to finish strong.

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How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.

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How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.

 

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon I thought now would be a great time to talk about how I come up with a Novel Idea. Get it. ;)  If you were wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo or simply wanting to start writing fiction in general but don’t know where to start I hope this helps! With the disclaimer that what works for me may not work for you. Feel free to take away what you like from my methods.

 

Step 1: Story Concept.

It always starts here for me. It usually comes to me randomly when I’m driving somewhere or while I’m in the shower. You know, doing mindless stuff, like when I’m at work.  It’s the question that drives us. “What if?”  For example: What if your planet was destroyed? What if you found out you were royalty? What if you lost something so valuable you would do anything to get it back?  

From here I start answering the question and other questions that it incites.  Almost like reverse engineering a story. What if your planet was destroyed? Well that tells me you must not have been on that planet. Why weren't you on the plant? (Maybe you’re an astronaut or you were vacationing on Neptune.) How were you not on the planet? (Mission to repair spacey type telescope or Space cruise liner.) Who destroyed the planet? (Natural disaster or pissed alien race.) Why was the planet destroyed? (Maybe those aliens were having a really bad week.) How will you now survive?

Keep the Q and A going. Keep what you like and toss what you don’t. Eventually a story concept will emerge and even a very, very rough outline.

 

Step 2: Characters.

Sometimes my concept and my characters come to me at the same time, sometimes they don’t. After you have your concept you can ask yourself; what kind of person would be in this situation?  How do they handle the situation? Are they funny? Are they serious?

There are hundreds of Character building lists on line. So I’m not going to get too crazy in depth with this section. Basically I flesh out my main Character then ask; who is their support system? Family? Best friend? Significant other? Then I have my secondary characters.  

Then time for what might be the most fun part. Who is making my hero’s life harder? My protagonist! Everyone loves a good bad guy these days.

 

Step 3: Building a Strong Outline.

So the world of writers boils down to two types of writers. Planners and Pantsers. I’m, (if you couldn’t already tell) a planner. Pantsers like to make it up as they go. Don’t get me wrong making it up as you go can be freeing but… every time I have tried this it’s like looking up to find out you're in the middle of a field miles from anything. Where’s my plot? It’s just not for me. So planner that I am, I start working an outline.

The setup: In which I do just that, introduce my character, tell ya a bit about their life. Right before a change it all.

The Trigger: Which is the event that sets the story in motion. (Boom your planet gets destroyed!)

The Midpoint: Now you throw rocks at your character. (Plot point rocks that is) Conflict, conflict, conflict!

Rising acting: Time to start solving some of your small problems and giving your character much bigger ones. All leading up to…..

The Climax: When your story reaches its crescendo. It all gets as bad as it can get and then you figure out how to fix it.

The Resolution: Where this all ends up after the conflict is over.

That’s all crazy overly simplified but that’s how I start simple. From these simple points we can build them into a lot-o-plot!

 

Step 4: Conflict!

After my outline I have to work out what the conflicts will be. I generally like things to be easy so I have to push myself to make life harder for my Characters. Sure the overall conflict of my story is there, but I have to work to figure out what rocks I will throw at my hero.

 

Step 5: Resolution.

The resolution, as I previously mentioned, is where everything ends up when the conflict is over. I’m going to so real and tell you this is my weakness. It’s always the hardest part for me. Nothing like having a story with no idea how you want to end. I usually come up with 3-7 options and stare at them for un undetermined amount of time.

So my advice to you and myself is this. Come up with lots of options. Stare at them for an undetermined amount of time. Then start the process of elimination. Cut the ones you know you don’t like. Cut anything that’s overly cliché. Till you’re left with only the top contenders. If you still don’t know, this is the time having a writer friend can really come in handy. They really don’t have to be a writer but having someone to bounce ideas off of can help you in your decision making process. Who knows, something they say might even inspire you to have a totally different ending than you thought. I’m, of course, not saying take someone else's idea. I’m just saying you don’t have to be alone.

And remember if at the end of your story you blame aliens in a story that had nothing to do with aliens till that point or you end it with a variation of “and then they woke up.” expect your readers to find you and punch you in the throat.

 

After those 5 Steps it’s all about putting in the work. Choosing to work on your story and write instead of watching Netflix or browsing Pinterest. Honestly this is really and truly the hardest part. Coming up with the ideas can but so exciting and invigorating that when the time to write comes it’s a snooze fest. Writing is a rollercoaster. The downs come very suddenly and the ups can be a long arduous climb. But at the end you have an amazing experience to look back on and hopefully a first draft.   

September to Remember!

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September to Remember!

My goodness, she’s still alive and hasn't given up writing?! Ya it was touch and go there for a minute. My apologies for my recent leave of absence. I will now insert reasons/ explanations/excuses here -------> LIFE.

I know best explanation ever. I didn’t want to go into any long winded explanations that really aren't all that interesting. The point is, I wasn't writing or posting and felt that twinge of failure. So now I’m back to right the wrongs and wash away the injustices my former self has done.

At least I can say that before my hiatus I went out on a high note. “The Protector of the Night” received great feedback and my deepest thanks to all that took the time to read and enjoy it. You’re all awesome.

Since this is technically a Manuscript Monday I suppose I should talk about how some of my goals are coming along. Back in April I posted “Goals for 2016” progress report…  My reading goals for the year are going better than I would have originally expected I’m only 2 books shy of being right on schedule. That means I’ve currently read 16 book this year. For me personally that’s nothing to turn your nose up at.

My book’s progress on the other hand... I’ll be totally honest… Right now it’s not looking too good. Still sitting at 37,000 words and might be facing a POV hiccup. Let’s just say that just because you’re a new writer doesn't mean all your first choices are wrong.

November NaNoWriMo is only a month away and I do plan to participate. I have a concept, characters, and have started a brief outline. So keeping my hopes up for November.

 

In closing, I’m working my way back into the swing. Thanks for your continued support and I hope to bring more entertainment with every passing month. Have a good week!

5 Tips for Refocusing Your Scattered Mind

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5 Tips for Refocusing Your Scattered Mind

 

Here are some sad realities of my manuscript’s progress. In fact, they almost feel more like confessions at this point. I have made no real progress on my manuscript in a good solid four weeks. Yikes! (And she hung her head in shame.) I did find a lost section that I was able to integrate in. One of my favorite parts of the story in fact. But as far as new growth, things have been pretty stagnant.

That’s not to say I haven't been writing anything. (Albeit not much) I have still been working on some short stories and things that you will see on Fiction Friday eventually. But in the area of my book it’s been bleak.

Like everything in life, writing has an ebb and flow to it. Sometimes the words can come in crashing waves that can flood cities. Other times it hasn't rained in months and you think you might die before it ever does. So I have hit a bit of a dry patch. I have my excuses all ready and lined up for anyone willing to listen, but I know I’m my own biggest problem.

My time management skills have been lacking in a major way as of late. Then when I do sit down to write I find numerous ways to distract myself. I also have developed a wonderful knack for telling myself I can’t think of anything good. When the truth is I haven’t cleared my head out enough to even try my hardest.

So there they are my truth bombs. Time to move past this rough patch of writing and reignite the fires of creativity. (Too Corny? Oh well. Deal with it.)  Here are my…

 

5 Tips for Refocusing Your Scattered Mind.

 

1) Turn Off Your Phone

(How Dare She!) That’s right I said it. The unspeakable. Cut yourself off from the distractions of social media and Pokémon Go. Whatever it may be. (Hi, my name is Jamie and I’m a Pinterestaholic.)

Really, we live in a time where the concept of not having a phone in our possession at all times is considered weird. Which personally this old lady finds weird. (I weep for every millennial and all who come after.) I’m not saying I don’t usually have my phone, I do. I’m just saying it’s good to take a break. When I have my phone the compulsion to check is always lurking at the next free moment I have. So remove the phone, remove the compulsion, then maybe at my next free moment I’ll have time to possibly have an original thought.

 

2) Read Something that Inspires you.

This could be anything. It doesn't have to be some obviously inspirational autobiography of a person that overcomes adversity and saves the planet. Unless that’s your thing, then more power to ya. Read anything that inspires you to do whatever it is you want. Something that gives you courage and makes you want to take risks.

For me it was an off the wall British sci-fi book. (Better Than Life, Book 2 of The Red Dwarf) When I finished it, it reminded me that a story can be silly, clever, COMPLETELY ridiculous and still totally amazing. Not everything I write needs to be a dramatic epic odyssey. There are hundreds of different stories to tell and most all of them could use a joke.   

Whether it inspires you to be more outlandish, serious, committed, ruthless, romantic, etc., reading is a great way to put things in perspective.

 

3) Get Up Early

This is one of my personal favorites. I’m a morning person, at first out of necessity then I adapted over time. Now if I sleep past eight I feel like I’ve missed my best hours of brain power. Many of my Fiction Friday posts are written Friday morning between the hours of 6am-9am. This might change in the winter months, but all the more reason to take advantage now.

I live in a fairly quiet area, getting up early has a feeling of most of the world still being asleep. Me being an introvert that deeply values my alone time, this is a thought I find quite comforting. Less people making noise the better. I adore getting up having a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise, I have had some of my favorite story ideas in these moments. I would do it every day if it weren't for that stupid thing they call a day job.

 

4) Fall in Love with Your Own Work, Again.

I know I already mentioned reading as one of the tips but this is different. Read something YOU wrote.  Find a section you love. Something that was so good you surprised yourself. A part that makes you love your characters that much more.

Basically remind yourself not everything you write it complete garbage. That’s how I felt. It was all crap! Everything! Till I found a chapter I wrote months ago. Where two of my characters meet for the first time, and it was awesome. (You mean I’m not the worst writer on the planet? Color me shocked.) Momentum is a huge factor in writing. So once you lose a significant amount it’s hard to get that ball rolling again. Sometimes we need a confidence booster so we don’t quit all together.

 

5) Stop Being a Girl.

Ok, before you grab your pitchforks and torches over that comment let me explain.  I’m all about that Lady Boss, Girl Power, Rah Rah stuff. I totally believe women should be encouraging one another not tearing each other down. (If you’re a male reading this don’t skip this one. Maybe you’ll learn something about “The Complex Infrastructure known as the Female Mind”. -Relient K)

So, why stop being a girl? As a woman it is pretty much impossible to think about nothing! Really there is always something going on in there… always. Which makes it difficult to clear our heads and make room for other things. Men on the other hand have this amazing ability to literally think about NOTHING! I’m not making fun. It’s a trait I often envy. The power to shut down my manic brain would come in very handy. The point is to try your best to clear your mind of all the other crap that is going on in your life and the world. I try to channel my inner guy and shut down. If you are a guy, consider me Jelly.

 

Even though it’s still slow going, I am starting to make my way back to the right track. My word count is at 37,221 still under halfway. (eeek) I just have to keep sifting through my cluttered mind and refocusing on what I really want.

May's Marvelous Manuscript Monday

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May Progress Report

 

May is over in just a few days and my current word count is just south of 35,000 words! That means I am almost to my 40,000 word halfway point. When I say it that way I feel kinda like a badass. I’m also FINALLY done with my first person to third person point of view conversion which I should have finished doing around a month ago. So when I say it like that I feel, not so accomplished, but I’m not gonna let it get me down.

I’m also on track with my book reading goals. Man am I crushing it! So far 2016 might end up being my most gratifying year to date, when it comes to personal growth and accomplishment. We still have half the year to go but I’m confident it’s only going to get better. You might have noticed my good mood and that’s probably heavily influenced by the fact I don’t have to go back to my day job for another week. Yippy! The rest of my week will be filled with reading, writing, and the less enjoyable yard work. (It’ll be worth it, I repeat to myself over and over.)  I’m hoping to get another 5,000 words on my manuscript to get me to that 40,000 word halfway point. The only thing that keeps distracting me… my own ideas.

It’s hard to focus on just one story when your brain is constantly coming up with new ones. Other than my current manuscript, which will be the first in a three book series, I have three other unrelated story concept I am itching to put on paper. One post apocalyptic adventure of rescue, one science fiction and fantasy fusion tale and one romance turned grim murder mystery. If only I could write them as fast as I come up with them. My brain is starting to feel a little overheated just thinking about it all.

One goal at a time is what I’ll be sticking to. Finish my current work in progress by November 1st. If I can finish early then I can start working on another story. In fact maybe that will act as more motivation. Or maybe Bilbo said it best and I’ll end up feeling thin, stretched, like butter scraped over to much bread. We shall see, as it stands I’m feeling good about the coming June.

 

Also if you're interested in what I'm reading now or have been reading and how I feel about it, the best way to find out is to check out my Instagram account. @jamie_scifiohmy It's also a good place to see the most beautiful, sweetest, and smartest black lab that ever existed.  You've been warned.

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Keep it Up, Buttercup.

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Keep it Up, Buttercup.

The good news is… I’ve hit 30,000 words on my manuscript! The bad news is I’m convinced a quarter of the thing is gonna need to be deleted and rewritten. I write one chapter and everything feels right. My characters are funny my plot points make sense, then BOOM next chapter everything is awful. Why does that happen? So that’s how the Manuscript is going. I’m a rollercoaster of self-confidence and self-loathing. I’m in a glass case of emotion.

There are things that help me keep on keeping on though. First would be my human support system. Constantly proofreading my posts and gently reminding me that if I don’t write at least 2,000 words a week on my manuscript I’ll never finish by Nov 1st. (Thanks Honey, not sarcasm.)

On the more technical side, one of the things that really helps me to keep pushing through is consistency. If I’m writing at least 3 times a week it helps keep up my momentum. Even when things are looking bleak on the page. As opposed to, let's say, not writing anything three weeks in a row (Oops, I swear I’ll be better.) Really I would rather write something mediocre and change it later than write nothing. So I’m adding to my list of goals, write at least 3 times a week. Preferably it will be on my manuscript but I’m leaving my options open.

Another thing that keeps me both motivated and distracted is reading. This feels like my constant battle, reading takes up time I could be writing, but it inspires me hearing a great stories. Reading more also teaches me the difference between a bad writer, a good writer and a great writer. Over all I think it’s worth some loss of time to keep up my reading. Plus, I’m 2 books behind my yearly reading goal. This writer is a slow reader, go figure.  

The last thing I can think of that really makes me want to keep clacking away at the keyboard is my outline! I have mentioned briefly before that I have my entire plot outlined in color coded index cards on the wall of my office. Complete with 4 different colors of index cards and 4 other colors of post-it notes. It also sports thumb tacks with bits of string going from here to there keeping track of some “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey stuff.”- The Doctor. My husband lovingly refers to it as my serial killer wall. I have the entire story arch of my series on the wall. Anytime I hit a rough patch on a section I’m writing I can look at my outline and remember the awesome things I have planned and tell myself I have to take my character through this, so they can get to that. Oh how I want to skip ahead, but writing time travel is hard enough as it is.

Well that’s how it’s going this Manuscript Monday. I hope you writers out there are getting them words out, be it on paper or through glorious technology. (Always backup your work!) If you have things that motivate you to keep writing when all you really want to do is go binge watch Netflix (like I want to) let me know what they are.

Post Frequency Update!

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Post Frequency Update! I am proud to say that since I started Sci Fi, Oh My in February I have posted every Monday and Friday as promised. Hip Hip Hooray! It’s not always easy but it is rewarding. The only problem is, it’s getting trick to keep up with my goal to finishing the first draft of my book. So I’ll be changing up my scheduled a bit.

For the time being Manuscript Mondays will be a once a month post, (Monthly Manuscript Monday) most likely at the end of the month.  That way I can dedicate more time to the manuscript itself. I also believe it will help me bring better insight and quality to the updates and tips I’m passing on to you.

Fiction Friday will remain the same! It’s my favorite segment. It’s a great way for me to stretch my legs as a writer and try new things. I already feel like it’s helping me grow and become a more entertaining writer.  No changes there, look forward to new and continuing stories every Friday here at Sci Fi, Oh My.

Thanks for coming by and I’ll see you Friday!  

Getting to know a Character

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Getting to Know a Character

Anyone that has even read a book or watched a movie can not deny one thing. We all like characters. We might not all like the same characters but we are all there for the same reason, we are interested in the characters. Whether you’re a villain loving hero hater (i.e. Siths, Death Eaters, Hydra members) or you’re the kind of person that roots for the home team (i.e. Avengers, Jedi Order, Justice League, or any protagonist hero really) .  We all want to know more about characters and how things turn out for them. We can all agree this is true, if you don’t, Well you’re lying mister.

We want to know the characters, then once we do they can often become like old friends to us. It’s the reason we always buy the next book in the series, reread old favorites, re-watch movies and binge watch season after season on netflix, it’s the characters. Getting to know characters is the best, when reading and writing.

If you love a character in a book you are totally invested in them by the end of that book. You get to know them as if they were a living breathing person. In fact sometimes we know them  better that we know real people.  Gasp! Because we have spent the time getting to know them because some awesome author spent the time to make that character.

As a writer knowing your character makes it easier to write in “their voice”.

“Their voice” meaning how or what they might say. It doesn't have to be words it can be just a reaction or a look. Knowing your character means knowing their personality and how they handle situations. Making it easy to believe that they are the ones reacting or speaking, not you as the writer. That’s the goal right? I know it’s my goal.

Loving your character can really help you when you’re writing. I always get excited when I know I’ll be writing a scene where one of them gets to be cheeky, clever or funny. It’s what drives me. The parts of the book that come along and tell you who the character is, these are pretty much the best parts. With every reaction and statement the writer is helping determine who that character is to the reader. That’s a lot of power as a writer. 

This is why short stories are hard for me, because it gives you so little time to get to know everyone. That’s probably why I have yet to write a Fiction Friday that I didn’t plan a continuation to in my head. Sorry it’s just too difficult.

Whether you're writing your hero or your villain make them their own person, everyone reacts differently to different situations. A book that is full of people with the same personality sounds really boring. I love my cast of character and I hope readers will too.

I Hate Plot Holes

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I’m not going to lie. I’m a person that has WAY too many pet peeves. Right at the top of my list of pet peeves is Plot holes! This hatred runs deep. Here is an example. Do you remember the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame? I do, well not the whole movie but here's what I do remember. At the end of the movie there is a big fire and Quasimodo almost falls to his death from the bell tower into the fire. Thankfully he is caught by... the blond guy. (I can’t remember his name, not important for the point I am making) After he is saved our three main characters come down from the bell tower and when they open the doors… the city looks totally fine, it’s a nice sunny day, nothing seems to be burnt, there is basically no damage from the crazy amounts of fire that had just been raging moments before. I remember sitting in the theater thinking, “Wasn't there just a fire? Why is everything fine now?”  That was in 1996. I was 6 years old. Movie mistakes, plot holes and things that just don’t add up in a story have been bugging me since I was 6!

Now, I tell myself it was just a kids movie, don’t worry about the magical non consuming fire, but the example just shows how deep my idiosyncrasies run. Flash forward 20 years from the questioning 6 year old to my current self. The person who decided to write a book heavily based around the most plot hole ridden subject of all time and I mean ALL time. TIME TRAVEL that is!

Plot hole problems slow my writing process way down. Because as much as I try to tell myself to just keep writing, I’ll go back and fix it later, I just end up stuck. I can’t stand to leave the tiniest potential plot hole in my book. I fall into those holes and I don’t get out till I solve them. This can be considered a good thing or a bad thing. Good for people like me that want all things to line up in the end and bad because it puts a heavy block on my creative writing process.

This is were a good outline comes in handy. Thankful I have a pretty good grasp on my story and where the plot holes are that I need to address. But those 3-4 unanswered questions are like giant gaping hole in my head. Things some people could just simply look past and write off as unimportant details. Not me though! Instead I sit and stare at the wall for what seems like hours trying to solve the problem. Don’t worry it’s not a blank wall, I have my entire plot outlined in color coded index cards on the wall I stare at. So not crazy at all.

I just don’t want to do the same thing that is constantly driving me crazy in books, movies and TV.  Don’t even get me started on all the plot holes that have developed in Doctor Who in the last 6 years. But I’ve digressed.

How do you feel about plot holes? Are you the kind of person that gets consumed like me? Or are you one to look past them and enjoy the story? If you are I’m jealous. Tell me your secrets so that I might learn. :D then maybe I’ll stop getting stuck in the hole.  

No NaNoWriMo for me.

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No Camp Nanowrimo for Me

April is Camp Nanowrimo month. If you don’t know what this is, here’s a quick summary. A community of writers band together via the internet and support each other with the goal of each writer finishing an entire writing project start to finish with in the month of April. This is the spring Nanowrimo the sister to the original Nanowrimo that happens in the fall during National Novel Writing Month in November. See what they did there National Novel Writing Month, Nanowrimo, so clever.

I love the whole concept of Nanowrimo. I have even participated in the 2011 November Nanowrimo, and I failed miserably. Not even making it through half of my project. What an embarrassment. But I still think it’s a great idea and the support everyone brings each other is a wonderful help to motivate you through the monumental task of writing an enter book in one month.

However, I will not be participating in this April’s Nanowrimo and here's why. I know I will fail again. That’s not me not having the confidence or dedication, I just know I won’t have the time needed to get it done. I wish I did but with the full time job, my commitment to this blog, oh and of course it’s that time of year when we need to start up the yard work again, so it’s out of the realm of possibilities, the hours just aren't there.

I’m sticking to my plan, finish the first draft of my book by November 1st. That will set me up so I can then participate in the November Nanowrimo, yay! I already have a project in mind for that (Insert maniacal hand wringing here). I like to think this plan will simply help drive me in my goal to finish my first draft.

To all who are participating in this month's Nanowrimo, you’re awesome! You show that book who's boss! If you’ve never heard of Nanowrimo but it sounds like something you would be interested in, you can head over to https://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in to get more information and sign up, it’s not too late.  I mean it’s a little late, but never too late to start living your dreams. Have an awesome April, writers!

Goals for 2016

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Goals for 2016

 

In some of my post you might have noticed me mention some of my goal and things I’m hoping to accomplish. This week I sat down and made myself write them all down and think of how I would achieve these goals. The deadlines for all of them being the end of 2016 or sooner. To help keep me accountable I will now share them with you.  

 

Goal 1: Finish the first draft of my manuscript by Nov 1st.

I’m sure this one sounds familiar to you. I feel like I mention it in just about every other post. That’s because it’s the big one. The one that started it all.

How?: I have broken down the months into word count goals. With the end word count set to at least 80,000 words.

 

Goal 2: Participate in November 2016’s Nanowrimo and finish.

I have tried nanowrimo once before and did not finish my project. This time I will be shooting to finish of course.

How?: Once I reach my first goal that should set me up just great to head into Nanowrimo. I even plan to save up some time and possible take a few days off of work to help give me the extra hours of writing I’ll need to  accomplish this goal.  

 

Goal 3: Read 24 Book.

That’s a lot of books for me! 24 books basically works out to 2 books a month for the year, that doesn't sound too bad. Except for the fact that means I’m already 2 books behind. Oops. That’s ok I still think I can make it. Reading is crazy important of a writer.

How?: So that just means I might have to read an hour instead of watching that extra episode of Chuck on netflix. :(

 

Goal 4: Have at least 2 blog posts a week.

That’s right no missing a Manuscript Monday or Fiction Friday. But I will give myself a days grace period for occasions like holidays, birthdays or vacation. Like my trip to Endor. ;)

How?: Blogging consistently takes planning! That mean at the beginning of the month I sit down and decide what topics or stories will be posted this month. If I know I’ll be taking a trip or have an event that might keep me from posting I need to write it in advance.

 

Goal 5: Learn more about managing my blog.

Funnily enough this is the #1 thing that slows me down on Goal #1. It sometimes takes hours to figure out why something isn't working and how to fix it. But it’s also completely necessary. Boooo!

How?: I’ll be doing more research, watching more youtube tutorials and learning how on earth to use my google analytics.  

  So there we have it. My professional goals for 2016. I have other personal goals that involve fitness, home improvement, and making sure my house isn't a wreck. But those aren't all that interesting. Even though we are already well into the year I’m still excited for what is to come this year. It must be all this spring time weather.  I would love to hear some of your goals even if they aren't directly related to writing. It’s just great to hear about the great things that will be accomplished in 2016.

Writing is the Easy Part?

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Writing is the Easy Part?

I have read a lot of blogs and articles about writing, publishing, what it take to be a writer and all kinds of subjects in this wheel house. When reading about what comes after you’re done writing your book and how to get published something you hear a lot is that the writing was the easy part. Really the writing is the easy part?

I can see what they mean in a way. Of course the writing is the easy part. It’s just you and your story, you write what you want and no one is going to tell you what it do. It’s pretty low pressure, no one breathing down your neck to get it done (Usually). You can be creative and have a free reign over your stories world. You don’t need to rely on anyone but yourself. So yes I can see how the writing is the “Easy” part.

Speaking as a writer in the midst of my first manuscript, hearing that the writing is the easy part is super terrifying! So you’re telling me that this task, that someday’s seems completely impossible and crushingly overwhelming is the easy part? Yikes! I’m spending hours trying to make my story something that people can follow, find interesting, entertaining, and hopefully even suggest to there friends. Sometimes I even get stuck for weeks on a single idea or chapter, this is the easy part?

Sorry to be in such shock, but wow! The thought makes me almost want to turn tail and run. It’s probably just because I’m currently in a funk with the part of my story I’m working on. I know some parts will come easier than others. But it’s an up and down process. So I keep trudging through the “easy part”.

They say (you know “They” the all seeing, all knowing, made up people, that control all information sent in to the world. Yeah them) Well, they say, once you finish your book the hard part starts. Seeking representation, getting a publisher, marketing, promoting, putting yourself and your book out there, that’s the hard part. I believe them, I do. And when the time comes I’ll be ready and willing to do that hard work, but can we all just agree it’s a totally different thing. Can’t we just say “Writing a book is hard.” AND “Getting a book published is hard.” Both are difficult tasks. I’ll eventually be taking on both.

It might feel impossible some days but I’m still the master of my own fate at the moment.  So I’ll try and hold on to that fact as I push myself through the HARD part of writing my book.

When Inspiration Hits

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When Inspiration Hits! I had a stroke of inspiration this last week! Unfortunately (in a way) it was not about my current WIP (Work in Progress). It was a totally different story, that lay itself out before me and said. “Jamie, you better write me down now before I leave you.” So… I did.

I spent more than a few hours of my time plotting and outlining a totally new projects. Which in turn took more than a few hours, away from my current project. I even started writing a chapter of the new project, it ended up feeling like a forward. I’m not a big fan of forwards. So that fact brought me to my senses. Right out of the gate it didn’t have the flow I was looking for. I realized trying to figure out a whole new story style and flow was not what I needed right now.  Plus I was conflicted about taking any time out of my already full writing schedule for something new. I’m already bouncing back and forth between my manuscript and my blog. So the idea of starting another thing sounds like lunacy. I’m not sure how other people manage it.

But I’m happy I took the time to outline the new idea. I firmly believe that one should always write down a good idea the moment they have it. It’s an awful feeling, try to remember something later and only mildly grasping what it was, usually totally forgetting the part that made it great. Inspiration can hit anytime and we should take advantage of it. It helps me feel like it offsets the times I’m sitting in front of my computer drooling not knowing what to write next.

As far as a manuscript update I’m still on track. But the “inspiration” did slow me down. I’m at about 20,000 words, give or take a few hundred. Shooting for 25,000 words by the end of March, so 11 days. (Oh My)  We shall see about that.

Writer Intimidation!

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Writer Intimidation So you just finished reading an amazing book! You never saw that crazy plot twist coming! And once the narrator weaves the intricate detail that now masterfully link the first chapter to the last your mind is blown! Left reeling at the amazing story to behold! If you're an aspiring write such as myself your next thought might be… “HOLY CRAP, I SUCK!”

That’s right I call it “Writer Intimidation” When the sheer genius of other writers causes you to crush your own self worth as a writer. Don’t get me wrong it’s not their fault. It’s just that as humans we can’t help but compare ourselves to others. Most of these writers have years of experience. I suppose it’s not really fair to compare myself to writers like C.S. Lewis, J.K Rowling, and Arthur C. Clarke. I just might be a bit hard on myself.

It’s easy to look at a great book and tell yourself you can’t write something like that. Don’t listen to that b**ch, yes you can! Yes I can! Will it be easy? Probably not. But that doesn't mean it’s impossible. We are all different and our stories are going to come out different. Thank God! But every amazing author was once just someone with an idea. I’m constantly needing to give my inner writer a pep talk. Things like. “It’s ok, you can do this.” , “It doesn't matter if it sucks right now just get the words out!”, ‘It’s only the first draft.”  And “Even if you’re the only one who ever loves your story you still have to write it.”

Reading makes us better writers, so I’m not going to stop reading just because I get intense “writer intimidation”. I’ll just have to push through the self doubt and learn from these great writers!  

The POV Conundrum

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The POV Conundrum

When I started my manuscript it was in a usual First Person Perspective. I found it easy to capture my main character's voice, and the way she perceived situations. My favorite part was how easy it was to show her sense of humor. I have read countless articles and blog posts all about the different kinds of writing perspectives or types of POV which stands for Point of View. There are many different styles but let's really just talk about the major two. First person, (the main character tells you the story) and Third person (an omnipresent narrator tells the story).

A lot of articles said that many writers find the first person POV easiest to write and I can see why. You just pretend you're telling a story that once happened to you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying writing in first person is easy. All writing has its rough patches, I’m just telling you what I’ve experienced. Doesn't mean that it’s always that way or that it won't be different for you.  (Little disclaimer for ya there.) It’s said that a common problem with the first person POV is you might, accidentally, end up writing yourself instead of your character. Although I feel like every character you write will have a bit of yourself in them, I never really felt my character was me. My heroine is much more extroverted, educated and far more clever.

I was loving the first person writing style. Then the dark cloud of reality settled in over my writing desk.  

As my story progressed and I discovered where I was taking my character and her companions things got complicated. It was becoming increasingly more difficult to give the reader all the information I wanted them to have by only telling the tale through my main character's eyes. That's when I started the POV research. After the information had it’s say it was clear to me I needed to change my manuscripts POV. Third person it is! That rain cloud over my desk started to pour!

In fact, I’m almost done with the conversion and I still don’t see that cloud letting up. I’m getting the results I want in some areas and falling short in others. I miss how easy it was to let my character do all my leg work. She who was much funnier and smarter than I, had been doing a fine job and now that I had taken over, it was all feeling a bit forced. I’m sure all writers second guess themselves, but I wish I would stop. I have to force myself to look at my outline and repeat how it would never work in first person, or more accurately, it just won't be as good. I need that omnipresent voice to pull my story to where I need it to go, instead of only where my heroine is going.  I have many moments I think about switching back to first person then I mentally slap myself across the face and say “No Jamie! Don’t you dare!”  Then I whine something like, “How will they know how funny she is if I can’t put in every little thought that runs through her head?” Oh boy. I guess you’ll just have to work for it, Jamie. Work on your dialog. Make her say it out loud, sing for your supper!  And the whiney writer in me says, “Fine!”, puts her head down and goes back to her laptop. Get back to work!

Book, Blog and Balance

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The thing about books is whether you’re reading them or writing them, they suck you in. A good book will consume your world. Which is great, except for the fact that you probably have other stuff to do! My dedication to my book extends to my other new endeavors which include this blog and this crazy stack of books.  

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That’s a lot to take on. I’ll admit, I didn’t write a single word on my book this weekend. I spent all my time getting this new beautiful site up and running. Totally worth it, I hope you agree!

Balancing my blog and my book will be just that, a balancing act. The nice part is right now they are both labors of love. I find both very enjoyable. I’m sure I won’t always feel that way. We always have time when ideas just aren't coming, or redirect links just aren’t working…(argh) Things like this happen. That’s part of the balance.

I sacrificed this weekend to the blog, but usually my weeknights are for blogging and my weekends are for the book. It’s been working pretty well, as long as I also make time for hanging out with my husband. We do super amazing things like watch Netflix, eat Chinese food, and play Frisbee with our dog. Please don’t be jealous of our extravagant life style.   

It can be difficult to do it all. When I start working on my book it sucks me in. Hours pass, things are forgotten, empires rise and fall, before I remember you have to eat for your brain to keep coming up with all those words. It’s happened! I’m at my desk and I say to myself ‘Why does this seem so difficult?’ Oh that’s right it’s 1:40 a.m. and all you ate today was an orange and a granola bar. I’m lucky I’m conscious, much less writing an intricate plot point. I get sucked in.

I spent easily 4-6 hours this weekend reading articles and watching YouTube videos just trying to find out how to redirect my old blog to the new one. AND IT STILL DIDN’T WORK! Thanks a lot internet. Oh, internet, the ultimate time sucker! What I’m getting at here is that I hope I bring you my best. “I try to be my best” (Any Whedonites?) I want to do my best in all areas of my life and I hope that comes through in my writing. I’m not saying every word will be great. In fact, I can guarantee it won't. But I’ll try to keep my balance and give us all a good story. 

 

Tales of Revision

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Happy Monday to all! As if there could be such a thing. (Insert grumpy eye roll here.) I hope your weekends were filled with unicorns and rainbows… and Deadpool. I know mine was. But I also made a lot of progress on my manuscript. By progress I mean I still haven’t moved on to new sections because I’m still hard at work revising the old ones.

Usually one wouldn’t worry about revisions until after their first draft was done. But due to my own lack of foresight and commitment this wasn't an option for me. If you read my post “I have no Idea what I’m doing” You might remember (or not) that I had taken an extra-long break from my story and when I returned all I had to work from was a hard copy of my first 20 pages. Did I also mention that those 20 pages were written in a First person POV (point of view)? A format that I have since changed to a Third person POV.  So… that’s a thing.

My personal and very small amount of experience with revision will be summed up like this...

You're having an argument with two different versions of yourself, in which both versions think that the other is a moron, and in the end they are probably both right. Once things start looking very bleak they will find a minuscule and unimportant thing that they both agree on. Through this stupid detail they find a way to work together to accomplish their goals. Much like a Buddy Cop movie. (Writers, please let me know if this has ever happened to you. Or something like it.)

Despite that summary, I still found things to be thankful for while in the midst of my revision mess. Before I restarted I took a little over a week and a half to just focus on my characters. I wrote an in depth character profile of each of my main and secondary characters.

Where they’re from.

Who their parents are.

What kind of education they received.

How their childhood was.

Where they work.

What they like to do in their spare time.

Skills and Talents.

What they look like.

Their personalities.

Even what kind of foods they like.

The list goes on and on. My principal characters ended up with around 5 pages of notes on each of them. It wasn't the most fun part and I really just wanted to get back to my laptop and start, but I forced myself to finish the profiles. Now that I’m knee deep in revisions I’m so glad I did. Now, when my mind goes blank and I think… Wait. When was that? or Where were they from? It no problem! Just pull out the character profile and the information is right there. Hooray! Second best decision I have ever made! Regarding my manuscript that is. The character profiles have been invaluable to my long, tedious revision process. Oh, and the best decision was getting Scrivener. Which I’ll be talking about in a future post.

The good news is, despite wanting to bang my head against a wall after rewriting the first three chapters, (for the third time!) I’m really starting to like the story again. And I foresee being done with the rewriting portion by the middle of March! I wish it was sooner, but hey I work a full time job too. If that all works out it will put me about 25% of the way through my manuscript. YAY! Woohoo for premature celebratory "yays"! 

It's Ok to go BIG!

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  So since we hadn’t watched it in several years my husband and I decided to watch “The Pirates of the Caribbean” I think we can all agree those movies are an epic journey. While we were watching the third “At World’s End” I thought about my book and the feeling I wanted to evoke in people. My story is not a swashbuckling high seas adventure but the grandiose feeling it has is the same I hope to achieve. And I had a thought pop into my head, “It’s ok to go BIG.”

I’ve felt kinda like I have been tip toeing around my own story, worrying about if something is too outlandish or unbelievable. Yes, these things are important to think about but being too careful about them is slowing me down. It’s just a first draft, and how will I ever pull my readers into my world if I’m constantly worried about making them feel like they are still in the real one? (Screw the real world! That’s not why we read.)

I don’t want you in the real world (Gross!). I want you out here with me in the sticks of a new reality. I want you wishing my world was the real one. Not that lame reality where we all have to work for money then spend it on bills and food. (Where’s the fun in that?) Don’t put your story in a box. Don’t be timid about the world your characters live in. You’ve made it, so make it whatever you want. It’s only a first draft, you can always rein it in later. But just imagine the greatness we could be holding back.

Speaking of going big… I’m hitting some real milestones in my writing career. Just this past week I submitted my first piece for possible publication! (Exciting!)

And speaking of the real world, I was promptly rejected… I might print the letter out, frame it, put it on my wall. The first in what is bound to be a line of rejections. It comes with the territory and now that my first rejection is out of the way I can go back to writing. Don’t let a rejection scare you into a fear of writing. Let it fuel you into being a better writer. Writing more, writing often, and writing big grand stories that inspire!

"I Have No Idea What I'm Doing"

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“I Have No Idea What I’m Doing.” We’ve all felt that way. It’s one thing to have an idea for an interesting character, or even better, an idea for an interesting story. It’s a completely different thing to able to take that idea and make it into something others want to read. That’s all I had, an idea. Along with it a vague idea for a lead character. I was set, right? That's all you need, right? Like the “Pro” that I am, I started writing. That was five years ago.

Got over 8,000 words deep before I looked up from my computer. With what I’m sure must have been a shocked look on my face. I had NO CLUE where my story was going! What was the point? What was my character trying to achieve? At the end of the story where would she be?  I shut my computer and walked away. (Smooth, real smooth.)  I didn’t look at that document again for two years.

I was working the kind of job that is probably important, but mostly just makes you wonder what on earth you're doing with your life. (Much like I felt about my story’s character) So on my breaks I was looking for an escape so I started rereading some of my favorites. Enter “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. All the books in the series are amazing. (Really don’t get me started) The third one in particular ways got my mind turning. Where did my mind go? Yep! Back to my dead in the water story. So pulled up the metaphorical dusty old document and started writing again! Learning basically nothing from the last time. (Like an Idiot) I planned out nothing and got another 2,000 words. Then, because everything in life goes my way all the time, my computer's motherboard decided it was sick of my nonsense, and killed itself. (Perfect) I used the fact that I had no money to replace it as my solid excuse to stop writing again.

THREE YEARS! Work stayed the same except for the part where it got worse. I started listening to audio books. You know, as an alternative to actually talking to people. Once again my favorite authors made me want to create a world of my own. Just like that Tolkien's words awakened the dream again. I got the long awaited replacement for my computer. Since my last computer went down in flames the only thing I had left of my original work was a hard copy of the first twenty pages. Transcribe, Transcribe, Transcribe. I spent a month transcribing and rewriting the 20 pages. I didn’t love my story. I loved parts of it, but it was touch and go, mostly go. I finally opened my eyes. After groping my way in the dark grasping at anything that felt like a plot I wasn't going to take another step till I turn on a light.

Valuable resources, Pinterest! Yes, that is where I turn to for answers. Because I’m a 20some female in 2016, don’t judge me. What do those pins lead to articles and (drum roll……) Blogs! I read about a hundred articles and blog posts on plot development. (I’m using the word hundred loosely here) That’s when my hero arrived. I knew what the 3 Act Structure was but I never looked too hard at it till then. The beautiful concept that could save my story.

Pretty simple Act One: Introduction, inciting incident, rising action and first turning point. (Things get bad) Act Two: Obstacles, more rising action, second turning point (Things get REALLY bad) Act Three: Climax, descending action, and resolution. That’s basically the over simplified version. Isn't it glorious!  I’ll be talking about this more in upcoming posts. For now just know that I have a literary crush on the 3 Act Structure.

I stopped writing, but this time it wasn't just a stop it was a time to regroup. I would get my plot together and really find out what my character was doing with her life. (At least then one of us would know). It took me five years to figure out I’m not the kind of writer that can work without an outline. You don’t have to have an outline to write, but boy does it help. Especially if you're writing science fiction with overlapping time lines.

Basically that’s how the 3 Act Structure became my new  BFF.