Monthly Archives: September 2014

My Journey as a Writer-NaNoWriMo

Image courtesy of jannoon028 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this July and had a blast. I used it as a way to set a deadline to finish the first draft of my YA fantasy novel. I made my goal and was amazed at how hard it was to write 30K words in a month. November starts NaNoWriMo and the goal for all participants is 50K, that works out to roughly 1667 words a day (I think). I want to use this artificial deadline/goal to work on the first draft of the sequel to my book. But I don’t want to go it alone.

In Camp NaNoWriMo, they place you in “tents” (unless you know people) with folks who write in the same genre as you. In theory, it is an awesome way to create a ready-made support group. In my experience, it was a flop. After a few encouraging posts at the beginning of the month, my tent disappeared into the mist, perhaps they were eaten by bears? I don’t want to go through that in November.

So, I joined the regional group for NaNoWriMo and attended my first meeting today. It was wonderful being surrounded by people who have actually won NaNoWriMo (wrote 50K words) multiple times. They were full of great advice and best of all,  there was a session on plotting by Cynthia Cooke, a multi-published author.  Her graphical outline of plotting elements immediately showed me where my first novel is lacking and gave me insight to how I want to approach my second novel.

I encourage you all to look into NaNoWriMo as a way to achieve your writing goals.

http://nanowrimo.org

Write because you want to, write because you must!

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How falling down and getting black eye can be a good thing…really

Happy Friday!

I thought I’d take a break from writing about writing and tell you about my life-long love of elephants. I ab-so-lutely adore them! I thought my obsession began when I lived in Pakistan as a child. I don’t actually recall seeing any elephants during the 3.5 years I lived there-there might have been some in the animal preserves or zoos, but I really don’t remember seeing any in the wild. Which makes it rather odd that we have quite a few carved wooden elephants that we picked up in various bazaars. I do remember the elephants in Thailand. They seemed to be everywhere. Something about their dark, moist eyes calls to me, they are so freaking intelligent…and so vulnerable.

Anyway, I’m thinking about contributing to elephant conservation and ordering genuine trunk-painted elephant art. If you’re interested as well, here’s a link: http://www.elephantartgallery.com/paintings

Researching where to buy a painting from made me ponder the genesis of my love…and then a memory came to me. Picture a tiny curly-haired Rosemary pulling a large pink elephant. The elephant had little marbles on the bottom of its feet and rolled perfectly along on our wooden floors. This memory predates my life in Pakistan by at least four years. So, maybe we went to the zoo? Prospect Park Zoo was still in existence back then or maybe I saw a nature show…I really don’t know.

Which takes me to the photograph included with this post. We were at the Asheboro Zoo in NC several years ago, I turned around and the elephants were SO CLOSE, you could almost touch them.  I whipped my digital camera out and started taking pictures. I was so excited. Did I mention I sort of climbed around bushes to get closer to the elephants. No? Well that’s important. I finished taking the pictures and of course I wanted to share them with my husband and daughter, who had wandered away–they don’t share my undying love of elephants, go fig.  I looked up, called out to them and promptly fell flat on my face. I broke my camera, bashed my lip (I had several loose teeth for a while), scraped up my face and ended up with an impressive black eye.

My husband and daughter came running over to see what had happened, by now a crowd had gathered around me. He pushed through the crowd and helped me to my wobbly feet, the only thing I could say to him as I started to cry is that I broke my camera. Tom immediately dried my tears by telling me the memory card would be all right, whew! The pictures came out great and I have a framed version in my bedroom–in an elephant frame no less. The blood, sweat and tears were worth it. However, when we went to National Zoo and stopped by to see the elephants, my husband kept a firm grip on me.

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My Journey as a Writer-Query Letters

It’s day two of the query letter boot camp and that means we have to write our letter, get the first ten pages of the manuscript in tip-top order and submit to our assigned agent by 11PM tomorrow night. I have the pages formatted and will review again before I send it out and I have the letter basically written. It was synchronicity that caused an order of books to be delivered today. I had ordered a submission bundle from Writer’s Digest and expected it to take days to deliver. Surely only Amazon and Jimmy Johns have lightening fast delivery?

Anyway, when I got home from work this evening, a box was sitting on the porch…and it was heavy. Without my glasses on, I just assumed it was for my husband, a man who is single-handedly keeping e-bay and dare I say the entire American economy afloat. I picked it up and left it on the living room end-table. I then rushed upstairs to take part in the last half hour of the boot camp chat. When the chat was over, I made my way downstairs…with my glasses on.

Yippee, the box was for me and it was loaded with books that are sure to a big help with the submission process. It contained Weekend Proposal, Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, An Insider’s Guide to Publishing, The Author Training Manual, Formatting and Submitting your Manuscript and….Guide to Query Letters.  How amazing is that? Ok, not terribly amazing as I DID order the blasted books. What is amazing is that they arrived in time to be useful for this boot camp!

I know I said yesterday that there is a time to read books about writing and then you need to stop and JUST WRITE. Well, this is different, I know I have a writing book problem, but I don’t or didn’t have any books on prepping your manuscript and submitting. So really, this is completely different and I don’t have a problem…

The cool thing about this boot camp is that your assigned agent will read your materials and critique your query letter. I don’t expect anything further to happen from this exercise, the agent I was assigned to doesn’t represent science fiction/fantasy. What I’m hoping for is good feedback so I can craft an excellent query letter(s) to agents that DO represent my genre.

I’ll get the feedback sometime during the first week of October. I am excited to be on this journey.

Write because you want to, write because you must.

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The last time I saw my mother

The last time I saw my mother.

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My Journey as a Writer-July-August 2014

I took the plunge (financially and emotionally) and registered to attend Writer’s Digest summer conference in NYC. It wasn’t hard to make the financial decision as I was born in Brooklyn and look for any opportunity to visit. I booked the hotel and airfare in May and then sort of put it out of my head.  But emotionally, I still wasn’t taking myself seriously, though. Since I’m not published yet, and I have only seriously started writing since last November, I have trouble feeling worthy or like a real writer. I’m going to call this syndrome the Pinocchio effect.

To prepare myself for the conference (and to give myself a deadline) I participated in Camp Nanowrimo in July. I wanted to use it as a springboard to finish the flipping first draft of Once Upon a Times (working title) since I had approx. 30K words left to go. I met my goal and finished the first draft, which was a significant confidence boost. I’ve never written anything that long before. Even my PhD thesis was shorter, in that it was made up of an introduction plus several published research articles. So technically my dissertation was longer, although in reality it wasn’t one cohesive piece, so the novel wins:)

I’ve read many books on writing, my Kindle is jam-packed with them, plus I have hard copies as well. At some point you have to stop reading about writing…and actually write. One helpful bit of advice I got from several books was, LEAVE YOUR BOOK ALONE for at least a month or up to six weeks before you work on the second draft. I actually used that as encouragement during Camp Nanowrimo to finish the first draft. I’d given up TV, pleasure reading and pretty much talking to my husband in an effort to get the job done. I have a full-time job, so all I have is evenings and weekends…you get the picture.

I loved having my free time back and best of all, I didn’t have to feel guilty. Everyone says, you have to have distance from the novel before you tackle the second draft. I read, caught up with my family and friends and even snuck in a little TV as well:)

This takes me to the WD conference. It was amazing! Even though I didn’t know a soul and am hopelessly shy (unless I know you and then I’ll talk your ear off), I had a wonderful time and am looking forward to next year’s conference.  There were so many excellent sessions to choose from and I connected with authors I have read and met ones I want to read. It was pretty surreal.

I still struggle with believing I’m a real author–I’m attending a WD boot camp this week on query letters since the next step is to try and sell it. I’ll post on my experience with query letter writing next time.

Write because you want to, write because you must!

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