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Monday, December 5, 2022

Maintaining Accountability

While I'd like to eventually start posting some other types of things on this blog, such as fun things about the 1920s (my favorite era), for right now I've decided to keep posting about my writing progress post NaNoWriMo.  I am using this as accountability to ensure that I keep making progress on my draft, and eventually, my goal to publish.

Last night I got some writing done before midnight, actually, but the bulk of it was after midnight, and I deliberately didn't update my word count until after midnight to ensure my word count for the night would be accurate.  (With me doing a lot of my writing after midnight, I'm afraid it is going to cause an issue someday when I don't write after midnight...  I don't want to make it look like I haven't written the following day if I wait until after midnight the next night.  Night owl problems, am I right?)

I've gotten back into some scenes where I'm blending first draft stuff I liked with this draft.  But this is also the point at which the plot turns, based on the decision I made about why the character motivation and the plot weren't working.  Plus I need to flesh out the middle of the book a little more than what I originally had written.

In other words, there will be lots of rewriting from here on out.  I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

On Vampire Writers and Writing at Night

Once again, I got my writing done after midnight last night, writing around 1,200 words for a running total of 42,872.  During NaNoWriMo, I made an effort to write before midnight every night, so that I could update the words on the current day.  It also helped, of course, that I had a lot of write-ins to write at, which always happened earlier in the evening.

Now, left to my own devices, I'm doing a lot of my writing just before or just after midnight.  That's fine with me, of course.  I am a night owl and often feel most motivated at night.  Plus, it enables me to get my other work done during the day, and do my writing work at night.

There's also something that just seems right about writing vampire fiction at night.

The problem with writing at night is, of course, that if I want to keep going, I can't without sacrificing either sleep or my sleep schedule.  That part isn't ideal.  I'd like to be able to get into a scene and keep going if I want to.

Unfortunately, there is a lot else that demands my time, and a lot of it genuinely does make more sense to do during the day, when I have daylight.  Maybe eventually I'll be able to do some of my writing earlier in the day, but for now, I have a repeating calendar event every night at 11pm.

So Long, Farewell... TGIO Party

Today was our region's TGIO party - "Thank Goodness It's Over," meaning NaNoWriMo, of course.  We have a party to celebrate the completion of NaNo every year.  Whether you reach 50k or not, getting through the month is a big thing, and well worthy of celebrating.

One of the things we nearly always do for our TGIO party is to bring books and do a book swap.  The thinking is, of course, to celebrate having time to read again now that the month of frantic writing is over.  I am not actually sure how much reading time I sacrifice in order to write, though, so I suppose that might not apply to me.  But it's a fun tradition for our party.

We had a good turnout this year, which was surprising considering our attendance was a little down elsewise throughout the month.  Usually we only have maybe 7 or 8 people come to the TGIO.  But today we had 17 in attendance, which was probably our second busiest TGIO in years.

I'm a little sad NaNoWriMo is over, as some of these people I won't see again until next November.  But I'm also glad to have a little of my time back.  I'm still planning on working on my novel regularly, but I won't have to be present anymore at 2-3 hour write-ins 5 days a week anymore, plus the commute time back and forth to each.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Day 2 of Writing Post-NaNoWriMo

I thought I would share a little more about my discovery of using the NaNoWriMo site to track writing projects at other times throughout the year.

This is my current graph.  As you can see, I wrote another 1,800 words tonight, which I'm quite pleased about.

I really like that I can see a graph of my progress over time, instead of just the little meter in my sidebar.  It gives me a feel for how I'm doing.  I also really like that it shows me a goal word count for the day, just like it did during NaNoWriMo, and that the daily goal automatically adjusts to what I would need on a daily basis to get to my overall goal by the end date.

I'm writing more than that, as you can see, but I set a fairly generous goal.  I'd actually love to be done with this draft sooner than the end of January.

I did find that I had to create a new project to track it outside of NaNoWriMo.  I was unable to change the parameters of November's goal, and couldn't add a new goal on to the same project.  So I created a totally new project with the 90,000 word count goal, and just added all the current words (minus the extra stuff I wrote for short stories and novellas in November) at once to show where I'm at right now.  Better than doing math every day when I report my word count for the day.

While I like the meter to show my current word count in the sidebar of the blog, I'm really enjoying using the NaNoWriMo site to track progress over time.  Maybe eventually I'll find a way to do everything with the same system, so I don't have to report in two places (and manually insert the code for the sidebar meter).  For now, though, this is working for me.

Friday, December 2, 2022

My First 1,300 Words Post-NaNoWriMo

My biggest fear is that like in other years, my daily writing habit is going to go away now that NaNoWriMo is over.

I have good reasons to believe this year's will be a more lasting habit.  I didn't burn myself out by forcing myself to write thousands of words at the very end to catch up, as I have often done, for example.  (One year I wrote 10,000 words on November 30th!)  I also am feeling fairly motivated to finish this book and get it published, so hopefully that will help me keep going as well.

In any case, I wrote 1,300 words last night, and I am feeling very good about it.  I'm in the middle of a good scene and should be able to pick it up again easily.

I'm hoping I can develop a habit of writing late at night, when (hopefully) the rest of my stuff is done for the day.  I think it'll be the easiest place to squeeze writing in on a regular basis.

Stay tuned as I try to turn National Novel Writing Month into a writing year!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 and Beyond...

I have revised my blog template to reflect my winner status for NaNoWriMo 2022, but more importantly, I updated my word count goal and current word count in the meter I have in my sidebar.  I'm going for a novel of at least 90,000 words, so that's my minimum word count, although I wouldn't mind if it's a little over.

I also stripped out thousands of words I wrote as a short story or backstory during the course of November, leaving me with 38,501 words.  While it looks like I just lost a bunch of words, I had been counting some related writing for NaNoWriMo and now I'm just focusing on only the novel's word count.  It's a much more reassuring word count, though, actually, because 50,000 was too far along in my word count goal for where I'm at in the story arc.

I have also created a new project for continuing Ruby Ransome rewrites on NaNoWriMo's website, which now allows you to track writing projects outside of NaNoWriMo, too.  I'm pretty excited about this possibility, honestly, and interested in seeing how well it works to track my own personal writing projects.  I do wish there was a widget I could add to my blog that would update with my current word count automagically, so I could just update in one place, but alas.  There is not that feature, so I will have to update everything manually.  Forgive me if I get behind on that.

Wish me luck as I continue working on this book.  I wrote out a tentative schedule for myself for publishing next summer, and if that's going to work out, I need to finish the draft by sometime in January!

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 30: WINNER at 50,243 words!

I'm pleased to say that I "won" NaNoWriMo last night while at my final write-in of the year, reaching 50,243 words. 

I'm happy with how the month went, partly because it didn't feel as difficult as it usually does to write every day, and partly because I'm hopeful that this time I've created a daily writing habit that will stick.

I think my graphs are pretty interesting.  This is the overall word count graph, where you can see that I had some big jumps and some small jumps, but overall kept steadily writing all month long.

This graph breaks down my daily progress to show what I accomplished every day, and how individual days stacked up to other days.

NaNoWriMo now also awards you badges throughout the month.  I was going for the daily update badge, but since I didn't write on Thanksgiving, I didn't get that one.  The other one I didn't get was the daily par badge.  It says you would have had to meet par, which for NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words every day, but I don't know if I could have gotten that one by meeting the lowered par each day after some of those big writing days.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my achievements for this year's NaNoWriMo.

Stay tuned for more as I revise my word count goals for the novel, strip away some word count that I counted for NaNoWriMo and don't plan to in the actual novel draft, and make some changes to my blog.

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 29: 49,106 words

***I wrote this post Tuesday night before I stopped writing for the evening and forgot about it.  Since I didn't want to erase everything to write my winner post, I'm posting it and then will add my winner announcement separately.***

I feel like I've been slowly chipping away at my word count in the last week or so, and not writing anywhere near as fast as I know I can.  Part of it is that I've still been reading up on the vampire literature that would have been in print in 1923.  It might ultimately not matter to be this familiar with it, and I may not keep all my descriptions of Ruby's research on vampires, but I wanted to at least start with a fresh familiarity of the three main sources that would have been available at the time (more on that in a later post).

I expect once I'm done with the last one (which I'm reading now), I will go back to writing more quickly.  I have a lot still to do, as I feel like I'm still toward the beginning of the story.  Originally the book was somewhere around 85,000 words, but I think this rewrite is going to be significantly longer (which is good, as that was rather short).

On December 1st, I will edit the word count shown in my sidebar to reflect the actual novel's word count so far, as my NaNo count includes a word count estimate for some time spent on reading and revising, as well as some words written for things like weekly regional emails.  I'll also edit the goal word count to reflect my goal (or estimate) word count for the entire novel, rather than the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000.

Right now, though, I'm sitting pretty at 49,106 for the month.  I know I could have reached 50,000 days sooner, but I'm not sorry I took my time to read the books and write about Ruby's research experiences as I read.  What's important is that I made it to 50,000, and also that I've hopefully developed a habit of daily writing that'll continue into December and beyond!

Watch for a post about Ruby's research sources, coming soon!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 28: 49,044 words

I guess I accidentally missed a day of updating, which makes the jump look more impressive than it is.  On Sunday I wrote just under 1,200 words, and yesterday I wrote just under 300, so I definitely felt like my progress was flagging yesterday.

Several things were going on yesterday that caused my progress to slow.  One, my dad's girlfriend went into the hospital, and isn't expected to make it.  So I spent a lot of my afternoon helping my dad and visiting her in the hospital.

The other thing was that I got some last-minute writing work, and started on that.  I meant to only work on it for a little bit, but I ended up getting caught up in it and worked quite late last night.

So all in all, I really didn't work much on Ruby last night.  But I'm hoping to get some more done today, especially since I am less than a thousand words away from 50k!

Sunday, November 27, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 26: 47,575 words

Yesterday was a bit of a short writing day as I only added about 400 words.  I'm still working on getting through Dracula, but I'm almost done now, and then should be able to make quick work of Carmilla.

I have two goals on my mind right now: Ensuring working on Ruby remains a daily habit, and also ensuring I get to a point where I can publish this next year.  When I think about it, it seems like it would be pretty easy to ensure I continue writing every day.  I can even visualize the progression of getting it to publication.  I need to finish this draft, let it sit a bit so it's not so fresh, and then revise the parts I'm rewriting now.  After that, I'd probably need to do a final revision/polishing of the entire thing (although in my opinion the first couple scenes have already been tightened and polished quite a bit, and may be ready the way they are).  I might consider hiring a freelance editor to do a final edit of the entire thing, and then I'd need to create a cover and do the final formatting.

Easy peasy, right?  Until I think about also trying to make time for all the other projects I'm working on.  If you know me, you know I have a lot I'm trying to juggle.  I've been working on a new scheduling method to see if that'll make it easier to ensure I make time for everything I want to do.

Hopefully I can pull it off.  The big test is whether I'll still be able to keep up the daily noveling habit after NaNoWriMo ends.  Theoretically I should have more time post-November, since I won't be spending time going to write-ins and doing ML things, so hopefully I can put some of that time toward other things and still set aside an hour or two every day to work on my novel.

Fingers crossed, anyway...

Saturday, November 26, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 25: 47,152 words

It's been a busy few days and I'm not going to even try to catch up with daily blog posts.  Instead, we'll just skip to where I was at the end of yesterday, day 25, not having written today yet.

I had a reasonably good day on Wednesday, with about 1,300 words written that day.  We had a write-in at Barnes & Noble and I got more done than I expected, even though (or perhaps because) my husband and I were the only ones there.

Thanksgiving Day was a whirlwind, between barn chores, my mom coming up to visit, and Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws' house, and I didn't get anything written that day.

This is a huge deal for me, because I was gunning for that daily writing/update badge on the NaNoWriMo site.  I was even going to try to write a single sentence so that I could update my word count and claim the badge.  I have the 7 day, 14 day, and 21 day badges, and I was well on my way to getting the 30-day badge, too.

Ultimately, though, I decided (at the end of the day) that writing just a few words to say that I had wasn't really in the spirit of the badge.  The badge is about creating a daily habit, not just writing a few words to keep the daily update record going.  And I do think I've created a solid daily habit.  But Thursday was a holiday, and I shouldn't make myself guilty for not writing on a holiday, especially one where we end up with a lot of plans for the day.

So I'm mostly okay with my decision.  Sometimes I think I probably should have just written a few words anyway, but I don't regret making the decision I did.  I'm still well on track to reach 50,000 words for the month, which is the "winning" part that I've really been going for.  The badges are just treats along the way.

Yesterday we did our annual museum write-in: I rent a conference room at the museum, we tour the museum in the morning, eat lunch, and write in the conference room all afternoon.  It went really well and we all had a good time.  It's one of our more popular write-ins, so we had 18 people at one point.  I also got 2,175 words, so it was a fairly successful day for me, too.

We're at a write-in right now, as I write this.  I'm not going to work on my novel at the moment, though.  I have a bunch of reading still to do, as I haven't had much time for that the last few days.  But I do hope to work on the novel a little bit later this evening.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 22: 43,632 words

Even with my research taking up the majority of my writing time still, I managed to get a little writing done today: a whopping 794 words, for a running total of 43,632.  I finished out one of the scenes I was working on, and have another scene or two to write based on the available vampire literature of the day, and then I will write the rather difficult dinner scene where Ruby gets to ask Victor her questions!

I don't know if all of this material I'm writing right now will make the final cut, as it may be too pedantic and boring to read about someone else reading vampire literature... but I also feel like it's important for my own story and background development, to have a fresh reading of these stories under my belt.

Well, I'm off to read a little more of Dracula before bed!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 21: 42,838 words

Yesterday was another low writing day, but on the flip side, it was also a high reading day.  I'm now more than halfway through Dracula, and after that, Carmilla will be a fast read.

I'm glad I'm rereading these, because I'm picking up on things I wouldn't have remembered from my last time reading them - things that it would make sense to note in my novel.

Yesterday I wrote 790 words, so I kept up with what I need in order to finish my 50,000 by the end of the month, and also accomplished another day in a row of updating my word count.  So it was still a win, even if I didn't write very much.  But I'm looking forward to finishing reading these books and getting back to work on writing.

Monday, November 21, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 20: 42,051 words

I finished out today with 42,051 words, with just 653 written today.  It means I didn't make it to 50,000 this weekend, but of course I knew by Saturday evening that I probably wouldn't.  I decided it was more important to do my research and write everything in the proper order, and ensure I didn't make mistakes that I'd later have to go back and fix.

I'm going to do some reading before I go to bed, and hopefully get through quite a bit of Dracula, so that I can do more actual writing tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 19: 41,461

Well, I won't be getting to 50,000 words this weekend, I'm afraid.  I only got another 991 words written yesterday, for a running total of 41,461.

Part of it is that I have been working on research, as I indicated in the last post.  I read The Vampyre yesterday, and last night I started on Dracula.  I've read it at least twice before, so I was planning on just skimming it, but it's hard not to get caught up in the story.  I feel like I need to have a fresh reading of the book under my belt while I'm writing about Ruby's reactions to the vampire literature of the day and the questions she would have.  I also need to read Carmilla, which I read years ago but also want a fresh reading before I write these next couple scenes.

Wish me fast reading!

Saturday, November 19, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 18: 40,470 words

Yesterday I realized that I am close enough to 50,000 words that I could feasibly make it there this weekend, if I wrote 4,000 words a day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  It seems like a lot, but I've actually had several days where I got that many words a day or more.

Unfortunately, I "only" wrote 2,844 words yesterday, for a running total of 40,470.  So my new goal is to make 5,000 words today and tomorrow, which will still get me to 50,000 this weekend.

The tricky part is that I'm currently at a point where I want to do a little reading research before continuing.  I need to have a familiarity with the vampire literature of the day for the next couple scenes I am writing.  Fortunately, besides the lengthy Dracula, the other two pieces of vampire literature in existence in the 1920s were short pieces: an 84-page novella called The Vampyre by John William Polidori, published in 1819, and of course  the short story Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, published in a magazine and also a book of the author's short stories, all in 1872.

So I think I'm going to break a cardinal rule of NaNoWriMo and do research when I'm supposed to be writing.  (gasp!)  I'm hoping I can finish reading both this afternoon, and get back to writing this evening.  That would still leave plenty of time for me to make my goals for this weekend.

Wish me luck and many words!

Friday, November 18, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 17: 37,623 words

I had another phenomenal writing day, although much of the writing I did was after midnight.  So currently it looks like I wrote 2,444 words yesterday, and 4,778 words today.  But I just kept writing until about 4am last night, so I'm counting all of that as yesterday's words (because it's not tomorrow until you sleep) for a grand total of 7,222 words.

I'm pretty pleased with my progress.  I got really into a scene and just couldn't quit, and then got into the next scene, and the next.  I also totally rejected some client work I needed to do in order to work on the novel, so I'll be catching up on that today, but that's all right.

Today we have a write-in at Panera.  It's historically an unproductive write-in for me, because of the fact that we eat our dinner there too, so that takes away from writing time.  Plus the write-in is with friends so we talk a lot.  But if I can at least get a little done there, I feel pretty confident about the progress I made last night counting for both days.

And then too there's the fact that the whole weekend is ahead of us.  We have at least one write-in tomorrow (possibly two if it gets set up in time), plus I'm babysitting tomorrow evening, which may afford some writing time after the kids go to bed.  And Sunday we have our usual write-in as well.

With any luck, it'll be a productive weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 16: 30,401 words

Yesterday evening we had one of our Barnes & Noble write-ins, which have proven to be one of the best write-ins for me getting stuff done.  I was able to get 1,450 words last night for a running total of 30,401.

I found it a little tough to get started yesterday, because I had finished a particularly compelling scene the day before.  I think it's always tough to get started when you're between scenes, partly because the end of the last scene feels so much like an ending, and also because sometimes you're not sure what's going to happen next.  It was a little of both for me this time, because finishing that scene meant I needed to go back and refresh myself on what I originally had happening next, remind myself why I didn't like it or why that didn't fit with my reimagined plot line, create a new plan, and start writing.

But I did get all that done, so I have a plan for the new scene, which I was in the middle of writing when the write-in ended.  I worked a little more on it on the way home in the car, but I have plenty more to write at tonight's write-in.  More importantly, I have a plan for what is going to happen next, after this scene.

I miss my big writing days, like the phenomenal 8,000-word day at the beginning of the month, but I've had a lot I'm juggling this month.  For instance, I'm still trying to keep up on my freelance work, and although I didn't have much to do at the beginning of the month, my main client sent out assignments early this week.  So I've been juggling that, plus doll repairs for my doll business, plus taking care of my horse and occasionally riding, plus cleaning and organizing my house as I'm also in the middle of a big reorganization project.

Despite all that, I've been moving along on my novel, and I'm quite proud of that.  Even if some days I only write a few hundred words, the point is that I'm writing.  In past years, NaNoWriMo has burnt me out a little, usually due to scrambling to get the 50,000 all at the last minute.  This year though I have a comfortable lead thanks to my early 8,000-word day, and with no feelings of burnout brewing, I'm reasonably confident I should be able to keep the habit up into December and beyond.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 15: 28,189 words

Today I got sucked into a project that took most of my time, so I didn't actually get a big chunk of writing done as I'd hoped.  Nor did I join the virtual write-in on Discord.  I did, however, get myself to write for a 15-minute sprint that turned into 20 or 25 minutes and yielded me 762 words.  I also finished the scene I was working on, which means I need to consider how I want to rewrite the next scene or scenes as I progress in the revised plot line.

It wasn't the day I was hoping I would have, but it also wasn't too bad, so I'm not unhappy with it.  Tomorrow evening we have a three-hour write-in, so hopefully I'll be able to get a good amount of writing done then!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 14: 28,189

So, after I wrote my blog post last night, I actually went back and kept working on my novel.  I would write a few hundred words and update my word count on nanowrimo.org, intending to quit and go to bed, and then I would have another thing that had to be written down immediately so I didn't forget, so I'd go write a few hundred more words.  Before I knew it, I had actually met par for the 14th.  If you count the time after midnight as just part of yesterday, all said and done I wrote over 3,700 words yesterday.

It was definitely the boost I needed.

I wrote a little more on and off throughout the day, ending at 28,189 words for the day.  If you count the additional words written last night as yesterday's words, my word count for today is only around 700 words, but on paper both days are a little over 2,000 words each.  I'm okay with it.  I know not every day can be 8,000 or even 2,000 words, but I'm hoping to be able to maintain the habit of working on my novel every day, even after November is over.

Tomorrow we don't have any in-person write-ins, but I might try to join the virtual Discord write-in and see if the sprints feature can help me get another good chunk of writing done.

Monday, November 14, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 13: 25,890 words

Well, I did say I needed a couple thousand words, didn't I?  With some good focused writing time at tonight's write-in, I definitely got it!  I ended up with 2,149 words for the day, all written at the write-in.  Although I had intended to write some more when I got home, I didn't end up getting a chance, but that's okay.  With more than 2k under my belt for today, I'm feeling better about my progress.

I was worried about tonight's write-in being noisy and talkative, since Zac said that one of the people from the Saturday write-in was there last week, and it was a little noisy.  But there were a few less people there this week, seven of us total instead of last week's 12, so maybe some of the other talkers weren't there.  The one from Saturday's write-in was the only one I think of as particularly noisy, and without anyone else to talk to, he was relatively quiet tonight.

I was pleased, because I was able to focus pretty well nearly the entire time, with a couple of short breaks for minor chatting and eating a sandwich.  I was able to get well into a scene that I was having a hard time getting started.  I have more to write on that scene tomorrow, but I'm in a good place with it now.

I was going to write a little more tonight, but I ended up planning out my week instead (an activity I think I'm going to start doing every Sunday night), and I'm not sorry.  Besides, the scene is at a good place to be resumed easily tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, there isn't a write-in, so when I was planning my week I made sure to mark off time for writing.  I'm pretty sure if I didn't, I wouldn't get any writing time done.  Hopefully marking off a couple of hours in my calendar will help ensure it gets done, as I still want that daily writing badge for the month!

Sunday, November 13, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 12: 23,741

As I mentioned in the last post, I went into this weekend hoping it would provide a chance for a big word count day and some catch-up.  So far it has not provided that, although we'll be leaving for a write-in soon, so who knows.  Maybe tonight will be the night!

I ended yesterday with 23,741 words.  We went to a write-in at a coffee shop in the morning (or early afternoon), but it was the noisy one, and this weekend wasn't much better.  We did sit at a separate table instead of joining the big communal table, so that helped, but they still tried to engage us in conversation, which was frustrating.  We didn't end up staying at that write-in very long, either, as we had a lot to do yesterday.

It was enough to get a few hundred words written, though, and I wrote a tiny bit more later in the evening, too.  I do need a nice extended period of time where I can really hit my stride and pound out a couple thousand words, though.

We'll see if tonight's write-in will give me that.  It's a three-hour write in, so theoretically it should.  However, my husband tells me (as he was there last week when I couldn't make it due to babysitting) that some of the same people go to that one as the Saturday morning coffee shop write-in.  I may need to encourage people to do writing sprints so that people (like me) can actually get some work done.

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 11: 23,154 words

I'm playing a little bit of catchup as I realized I forgot to report my progress Friday night.  I ended the night Friday with 23,154 words.  I didn't really get a lot done at the Friday night write-in.  We always eat at the Panera while we're there, so it means we don't get writing done until after we're done eating.  And since that write-in is with friends, we typically chat a lot there, too.

I got into a groove toward the end of the write-in, though, so when we left, I wrote a little more in the car on the way to see our non-writing friends, with whom we get together every Friday night.  I did wish for a little more writing time that night that I unfortunately didn't get.

I went into this weekend hoping it would be a chance to do some catch-up, although as you'll see in the next post, it hasn't provided that so far.  I haven't been meeting par each day since my huge word count day, and it's been a little disappointing.  I do have a lot else going on, which is part of it, and honestly, it's an improvement over past years that I'm making sure to write as much as I am, even when I don't have a lot of time.  But I'd like to do another big word count day here soon to catch up on some of what I've let slip.

Friday, November 11, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 10: 22,760 words

Yesterday I made it to 22,760 words.  It wasn't as much as I needed for the day to maintain my lead, and I've been slowly losing that lead every day.  I'm hoping to have a big writing day soon, maybe this weekend, to catch up that lead again.

I'm excited because I think 10 days of writing and updating every day - even if it's only a little - might be a record for me, at least in recent history.  I can't remember when the last time I wrote every single day was, although I probably did during my early NaNoWrimos.  But I know that since NaNoWriMo started offering the daily update badge, I've always made it only partway through the month before missing a day.

Right now, though, I don't see many opportunities to fall behind on that particular badge.  Is it possible that this year, 2022, will be my first year getting the badge for updating every day all month long?

I'm really hoping for this.  Aside from the obvious goal of getting this round of revisions done this month (or at least mostly done), it's one of my primary goals for NaNoWriMo 2022, simply because I've never managed to accomplish it before!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 9: 21,861 words

Today was not very prolific.  I met my friend at the barn to ride, for one thing, and I just never seem to get much done on riding days.  I also had some client work to do, so I spent half our evening's write-in working on that.

I'm trying out a new way of managing my calendar and my task list, too, and it's making me realize how much I overextend myself - or my wish list, anyway, since there's no way I'd be able to get it all done.  I'm hoping the new calendar approach will help me to have more manageable expectations of myself.

So, all said and done, I wrote less than 500 words today - more than yesterday, but still less than I would have liked.  Hopefully I'll get more done tomorrow, though, as I'll have a couple hours to kill while I'm babysitting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 8: 21,382

I had a pretty busy day today, and as a result, I barely worked on my novel at all.  And to be perfectly honest, I only wrote what I did so that I could say that I had.  I want the daily update on the NaNoWriMo site, for one thing, but I also just didn't want to let a day go by without writing something, even if it was less than 200 words and ten minutes' work.  Obviously I don't want too many days like that, but also, I feel like one skipped day turns into another, and another, and another.

So I may have only written 169 words today, but on the bright side, I wrote 169 words today.

I do have a substantial cushion on my NaNoWriMo goals, so I'm in no danger of falling behind right now.  Also, starting tomorrow I'll have five days of write-ins in a row, so that should help to keep me on track the rest of the week!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 7: 21,213

Today wasn't as big a word count day, but it was a significant day in that I've started on the sections I need to write or rewrite, instead of revising.  From here on out, it'll be a lot of reading earlier, failed scenes, and then completely rewriting them to suit the new plan I have for the plot.

I wrote a little less today, perhaps unsurprisingly: Not only is reading, absorbing, and rewriting more time consuming work, I also spent less time on my novel than I did, say, yesterday.  It was a busier day and the particular write-in we went to was shorter and made it harder to focus.

This particular scene I'm on right now is a mostly new scene.  I had started on it at one point, but it was added way after the fact, and I didn't get very far into it.  It's an important scene, though, as it fleshes out Ruby's friends and life.  I do want to use the scene to introduce a couple of topics that I need to do some more research on, though, so I may have to sketch out the basics of the scene and leave it unfinished for now.

The next scene will be a little easier to write.  It'll be a rewrite of a scene I had in the original novel, for one thing, so I already know what I like and don't like about the first version I wrote, and I can tweak it accordingly.  Plus, there are no aspects about it that require more research, so I can just immerse myself in the scene and write my way through it.

I'll try to include some of the research for the earlier scene in my reading material, though, so that hopefully I can go back and finish it up soon.

Tomorrow we don't have a write-in to go to, for the first time since NaNoWriMo started.  It's an odd feeling, honestly.  Hopefully I won't have a difficult time working on my novel, even without the incentive of a write-in.

Monday, November 7, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 6: 19,666 words

Today was another really good day, although still not as good as my big day on Thursday.  Today I finished revising not just one, but TWO scenes, which put me at 19,666 words.

I did miss a write-in today, which I'm disappointed about.  I accepted a babysitting job for today a little while back, even though I knew at the time that it would conflict with one of my main write-ins.  It was worth it for a little extra money though, and my husband covered my write-in for me.

And fortunately, it didn't mean I wasn't able to work on my novel.  The kiddo I was watching is actually pretty self-sufficient now, so while she read I worked on my novel a little.  I finished up one scene while I was there, and the second once I got home.

I'm now through the bulk of the early scenes I just wanted to revise.  Tomorrow I'll start on the sections that need to be majorly rewritten.  I'm debating on how to do this stage, but I'm thinking I'll read through my previous iterations of the scene again, determine what I want or need to happen differently, pull any segments I want to keep (if there are any), and then just rewrite without looking at the old material.

Doing this overhaul of Ruby's first book is a new world for me!  I've never before done such an extensive revising and rewriting project.  I am pleased with how it's going so far, though!

Sunday, November 6, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 5: 15,028 words

Compared with my big word count day on Wednesday, the last couple days have been a little dismal, even though I can see big progress being made.  On Wednesday I was writing new material, which comes faster than revisions.

Yesterday I got another scene fully revised, so was able to add that word count, for a grand total of 15,028.  It was slow going, partly because the write-in we went to in the morning was a pretty social one, and I found it difficult to edit language and tone while there was a lot of talking going on.  I was able to finish the scene once we got home and I was able to work where it was quiet for a little while.

Today we would normally have another write-in, but I babysit at the same time, so my husband is covering me for the write-in.  I'm hoping I'll be able to get a little work done today anyway, possibly at babysitting.

Tomorrow would normally be a day off write-ins for us, but I'm going to one after all in order to return a hat that was left at the kick-off.  Tuesday will also be a break from write-ins (and so far there isn't anything yet to change that).  Currently our regular write-ins are just Wednesday through Sunday, assuming we keep going to the social Saturday morning write-in.

I feel like I'm starting to settle into the NaNoWriMo routine, but I still need to find a way to comfortably make time for both NaNoWriMo and all the other things I still have to do.  I have a couple of client articles due tomorrow, for instance, plus I'm overdo on taking some pictures and video for my doll business.

Hopefully this coming week will go smoothly and I'll continue to settle in to the November routine!

Saturday, November 5, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 4: 12,798 words

Today wasn't the fantastically prolific day that yesterday was, but I ended up having much less time to write today.  I woke up late, we had errands to run, and we had two events to go to in the evening.  The first event was a write-in, but a shorter one than the others we've been to, and we ate dinner there too (it was at Panera) so there was less writing overall.  The second event was just meeting up with friends.

But I'm pleased with what I got done.  I revised one scene and got partway into revising another scene.  After this, there are a few more scenes that need to be revised, but a whole lot that need to be fully rewritten to match my new plans for the story line.

But most importantly, I think I got the second scene in the book where I want it.  It only needed a little more tweaking, but it's there now, I think.  And the third scene is well on its way.

At that point, I'll have three polished opening scenes, and a whole lot to rewrite and revise and polish before I get to several pivotal scenes later in the book.  Many of the pivotal scenes just need to be revised, although some of it still needs to be significantly rewritten.

It's all coming together, though, and I'm enjoying the process of seeing it take shape!

Friday, November 4, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 3: 11,682 words

Today we had another Barnes & Noble write-in, another three hours spent in a random corner of the cafe.  Once again, just one other person showed up, for a grand total of three.

I don't know what exactly happened, but I hit my stride with what I've been writing - and in a major way.  In addition to staying up late last night to write, I wrote a whopping 8,666 words today, for a grand total of 11,682.

I remember when I realized I was going to hit 10k tonight.  And then I wrote two more thousand.

A great deal of it was writing some of Ruby's backstory, a story I always wanted to tell but hadn't yet.  I finished that tonight, and need to get back to work on revising and rewriting - something I'm sure will come a lot slower.

I'm excited for this progress!  It might be one of my best starts at NaNoWriMo ever.



Thursday, November 3, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 2: 4,913 words

Yesterday was my first write-in for the year, a quiet three-hour affair at a local Barnes & Noble.  We had one other person show up, for a grand total of three.  It was nice and quiet, though, and I got a lot of work done.

Last night I finished reading through the original novel (well, the original and second draft version) as well as a bunch of other material I had written, such as backstory and short stories.  I added 1,000 words arbitrarily to account for all my work on reading through the novel - since it was, after all, work on the novel.  I used to equate an hour of editing work to 1,000 words, so by all rights I could have added a couple thousand, but I decided 1,000 was good enough too reflect the somewhat easier work of reading through.

I was planning on going to bed at that point, but I decided to stay up a little while longer and do a little writing.  I had been inspired by reading through the backstory and short stories to write some of Ruby's backstory, which apparently I'd never done.  I got started... and next thing I knew, it was 4 o'clock in the morning.

It felt good to end the night with so much writing done.  I'm partway through Ruby's backstory now and unsure how long I'll continue it.  I guess I'll just keep writing until I feel like it's done!  And then I'll get back to the work of revising and rewriting the novel.  In the meantime, I feel like this is a good way to get me back into Ruby's world.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 1: 2,016 words

Yesterday actually felt a little bit like day 2, which it's supposed to: That's the whole point of the kickoff, to create an extra "day" in there by writing right at midnight, going to bed, and then writing again the next day.  But technically it was just day 1.

It was good that I worked on my novel a lot Monday night at the kickoff, actually, because I didn't get a chance to do a lot of work on my novel yesterday.  We slept late, after staying up so late the night before, then ran a bunch of errands and went to an appointment in the afternoon.

With my mom visiting too, I didn't have a chance to sit down and work on my novel until late that night, right before bed.  I did read through a little more of the original draft and made a few notes, but didn't generate any word count.  I'm hoping to get a little word count done today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 Kickoff Party: The Aftermath!

The Denver region NaNoWriMo kickoff party went well!  Final max head count was 32, which is lower than our usual, but we knew participation might be a bit slow this year after the past two years of virtual only.

Even if the final numbers were a bit low, we had a great group last night.  Some new faces, some old ones, and a lot of familiar friends we haven't seen in three years, since the last time we had an in-person NaNoWriMo season.

The way we hold our kickoff parties, we get together at 10pm Halloween night for potluck and socializing, and then right at midnight, we start writing.  The goal is to get a jump start on our word count.  Since "it's not tomorrow until you sleep," it enables us to treat the first like another day when we wake up, and spend another hour or two writing.  The result is often double word count (or more) on the first, which is a good way to kick off the month - which is of course part of why we do it.

I did not finish reading through my novel before midnight, in fact I'm not all that far at all, but I decided that's okay.  I just kept reading through as everyone else was writing.  I still have a ways to go so I'll keep working on that until I'm done, and then I can move on to the rewriting and revising.

As I was reading, I decided the very first scene will be kept as is.  I had obviously already spent some time tightening and polishing that section, and I like the way it is, so I'm not going to rewrite it.  It has a fantastic tone that I actually want to replicate throughout the rest of the novel, so that'll take some rewriting, revision, and tightening too, depending on the section.

To reflect the work that I did so far last night, I am counting the word count for that scene.  I've decided that as I revise and rewrite, I'll just add back the word count for each scene.  There's a quick little checkbox I can check in Scrivener to add a section back to the overall compile and the word count, so that's easy enough.

Hopefully I will be able to keep up the momentum throughout the month and beyond.  I do want to get this novel published next year!

Monday, October 31, 2022

Updates for NaNoWriMo

To reflect that I'm getting back to work on Ruby Ransome for NaNoWriMo 2022, I've made a few updates to my blog template.  You'll see I removed all the icons from past NaNoWriMo years.  I'm cleaning up the clutter and starting fresh with just this year's icon.  I also took down the old progress bars and replaced them with a new one, which I'll try to keep updated (although I have to do it manually, as NaNoWriMo apparently no longer has an API for word count widgets).

I also plan on blogging regularly about my month of getting back together with Ruby, so stay tuned for future updates!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Last-Minute NaNoWriMo Prep

I can't believe our region's kickoff party - and the start of NaNoWriMo 2022 - is tomorrow night!  I am SO NOT READY.  I have not even started reading my novel yet, so I guess that's probably going to be my job for tomorrow.  Doing it all at once will mean better continuity, and it'll all be fresh in my mind, right?

I always feel like I have too much to do, but right now the feeling is rather intensified.  I have to get ready for the kickoff party tomorrow night, which means printing bingo cards, finding my stash of NaNoWriMo stickers and favors, and making sure I have everything all together.  We also probably should grab something at Costco for the potluck tomorrow evening.

In addition to prepping for the kickoff party, I also have a variety of other things to do: website maintenance, photo shoots, and other business-type things.  I still have a cleaning and organization project I've been working on, and need to make some progress on.  And of course, I need to take care of my horse and do barn chores before the kickoff.

So much to do, so little time.

Wish me luck getting it all done in the next 22 hours!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Now Can We Panic???

I came to the realization today that we're only five days out from NaNoWriMo.  Five days, people!  THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

I've been less productive than I would have liked the last few days, so I'm sorry to say that I'm not ready at all.  I should have started reading through my novel a couple days ago, but instead I'm rereading a nonfiction book about the 20s called Flapper.  (I'll post about it later.)  It's a good way to get me into the mood to write about the 1920s, but it also means I have only five days left to get ready to start rewriting my first Ruby novel.

I also have a full library cart of books about the 20s - some fiction, some nonfiction - that I wanted to get to as well.  I really don't know what I was thinking.  Forget "bit off more than I could chew" - "checked out more than I could read" should be a saying, although in this case it's literal.

I know I'm not the only one who isn't ready for NaNoWriMo.  My husband only has an idea for what to write about - no story or characters - and one of my co-MLs said in our chat tonight that she doesn't know what she's going to write about at all!

The closer we get to NaNo, the more tempting it is to say never mind, I'll just work on my blogs, or a project that I'm more ready for... but I'm going to try to stick to the original plan, and work on Ruby!

Monday, October 17, 2022

Exciting New Come Write In Partner!

I'm super excited that Barnes & Noble is partnering with NaNoWriMo this year.  I've been writing in Barnes & Noble cafes for years.  Starting in about 2005, when I was both a full-time technical writer and a freelance writer, I used to go to my local B&N to get some work done when I was tired of working at home.

I love writing in cafes, and a cafe in a bookstore seems like the absolute perfect place to write.  We've held NaNoWriMo write-ins at Starbucks as well as Tattered Cover, a small local chain of bookstores, but an early attempt to hold one at Barnes & Noble didn't go so well (although to be fair I don't know the full situation or whether that write-in had been approved by B&N).

This year it should go much better, since we'll be there as part of a collaboration between NaNoWriMo and Barnes & Noble.  When a business or organization signs up as a Come Write In partner, the region's municipal liaisons coordinate with them to get their events scheduled and on the local calendar.  So Barnes & Noble should be well aware of how write-ins work this time around, since they're dealing with the organizers directly.

I have two Barnes & Noble stores near me, one to the north and one to the south, so I've taken on coordinating directly with both of them to set up write-ins.  One has already gotten back to me and it's looking like we'll be having write-ins there Wednesday evenings in November.  Hopefully the other Barnes & Noble will pick a day other than Wednesday because I'd like to attend both of those write-ins, since I'm coordinating with both stores.

I'm also planning write-ins at a local board game cafe that is incredibly supportive of NaNoWriMo, as they have been hosting these write-ins as well as our kickoff party for years.  Those write-ins will be on Sundays throughout November.  So as you can imagine, between the two B&N write-ins and the board game cafe one every week, my social calendar in November is already pretty full.

Hard to believe November is only two weeks away now!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

To Read or Not to Read

With only two and a half weeks until NaNoWriMo is upon us (!!!), I'm starting to think about my reading materials in the next few weeks and during November.  My plan was to reread some of my 1920s research materials leading up to NaNo - in addition to reading my own novel, of course.  But now I'm a little afraid I won't have enough time before November to read everything I wanted to.

I also have to decide what to read during the writing process.  I remember reading some author's thoughts on the matter once, saying that they read voraciously while they were planning the novel - research materials, other similar books, etc. - right up until they started writing it.  And then, at that point, they read only other stuff, books that wouldn't be similar enough to what they were writing that it would unintentionally influence them.

I wish I could remember who that was.

Anyway, I know a lot of people don't read at all during NaNo.  They think they can't or shouldn't spare the time away from their novel.  But I'm a voracious reader - I'm always reading something, no matter how busy I get.  Even if it's only for five or ten minutes, I have to read at least a little bit every night.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've gone straight to bed without reading, and they've always been because of something extremely out of the ordinary, such as when my horse almost died in the spring.

So my plan is to read a bunch of 20s stuff - both research and fiction, probably - to get me in the mood before November, and then during November I'll try to stick to completely unrelated fiction.

What about you?  Do you read while you're writing a novel, and do you have any rules for yourself about what you read?

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Where Do You Write?

I've been trying to tidy up my house lately, and it occurred to me that if I were to actually clean my desk (ahem), I could try writing there.

It's been so long since I've written at my desk, though.  I used to write primarily at my desk, although sometimes I would work on the couch in the living room.  Since I moved into my condo in 2016, though, I've primarily worked in the kitchen, instead of my office in the second bedroom upstairs.

It's not that I dislike my office.  It's often a mess, although that will hopefully be fixed soon.  But I don't care as much for working upstairs.  I like being in my sunny kitchen, where I can get a drink or a snack at any time.

In my kitchen, I used to sit at the table to work, but for the past few years I've preferred to sit at the counter.  My kitchen has a galley kitchen with a counter that sticks out beyond the cabinets, dividing the kitchen from the eating area like a peninsula and creating a little bar.  My husband and I sit on either side of that counter to eat and work, for the most part.

I would love to get the office and doll room (a shared room) organized again so that we can both use our desks upstairs, but I don't know how much I'll actually work up there.  Thankfully, one of my favorite things about my laptop is that I can work wherever I please, even when this changes from time to time.  Sometimes I write from bed before going to sleep, sometimes I write on the couch, and often I write on the go, schlepping my laptop with me places and writing wherever I happen to be at the time.  Sometimes I even write while my electric car charges at a public charger.

I think being flexible about where you write is a good skill, but also, there are studies that show that the ambient noise of a coffee shop can actually help you focus, oddly enough.  Maybe that's why write-ins are so popular during NaNoWriMo.

What about you?  Where do you prefer to do your writing?

Monday, October 10, 2022

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

I've decided I need to start my read-through of Ruby Ransome and Pandora's Box soon.  As I mentioned quite a few blog posts back, I realized I had some substantial flaws with character motivation and the plot, so I'm having to rewrite much of it.  Many of the main scenes will stay, as they do make sense with the new plot and motivation (more sense, in fact - I was trying to force something that wasn't working).  But much of the small stuff needs to go, so rather than going in and tweaking every single scene and deciding what would stay and what would go, I am going to rewrite instead.

But first, I need to get my head back into Ruby's world of the vampire-ridden 1920s.  I have been out of it for a long time.  I have some reference books about the 1920s that I might reread in preparation for writing during NaNoWriMo, but more importantly, I need to go through the novel itself and mark what's staying and what needs to change.

You may remember me debating how I was going to revise.  Of course, this isn't a standard revision, since it'll be primarily rewriting - I'm just trying to refresh my memory and get back into the atmosphere of the novel.  But it's been the same debate for me anyway.  Do I find my marked-up manuscript and read through it and all the handwritten revisions?  Or do I read through the novel on a screen?

Ultimately, I decided that the best way for me to get it done was by reading on a very specific screen: my Kindle screen.  After all, I want to read through it fairly quickly, hopefully in just a couple of days, and having it on my Kindle is probably the best way to make that happen.  So I used Scrivener to compile it into an ebook, and emailed it to my Kindle.  Now I'll be able to read through it there, and I can actually highlight and take notes about anything I want to remember when I'm rewriting.

Another option is of course to keep a note pad with me and use that to take notes.  It might be a little faster when I want to make note of something, but of course it'll mean I'll have to find that part in the novel later, and then there's the matter of whether I have my notepad with me when I need it...  So I think, even with the fact that typing notes on the e-reader will be slightly cumbersome, I will plan on using the highlight and note-taking features on Kindle.

Now the only question is when I'm going to do this.  I have the ebook loaded on my Kindle now, but I've been working on some other things at the moment, more pressing things from my to-do list.  I do think it'll make the most sense for me to read the novel in the last week or so before NaNoWriMo, so I'm in the mood and ready to write on November 1st.  I also want to skim through some of my old research books that I have about the 1920s, books I pulled a lot of information out of for Ruby's story.

How about you?  How is your NaNoWriMo prep going?  Will you be ready to write in only three weeks?

Friday, October 7, 2022

Finding Time to Write

NaNo Prep Week has me thinking about when I will find time to write during NaNoWriMo, especially since I feel so helplessly busy these days.

Of course, one of the major drains on my time - feeding my horse while he's been sick - will hopefully be out of the picture by November, as he's almost ready to go back into his corral where the barn will feed him for me.  So hopefully I'll be at least a little less busy in November.

But still, the big question is when I'll have the time to squeeze in some writing.

In past years where I've successfully finished NaNoWriMo, I would do all my regular work during the day, and then work on my novel for an hour or two right before bed.  That worked out well for my schedule back then.

For the last few years, I didn't have a set time to work on it, though.  I did a lot of my writing during write-ins, but didn't have a solid plan for when I was going to write during the other days.  Looking back on it, this may be why I wasn't very successful at getting my 50,000 words, especially during the last couple years when we had virtual (and fewer) write-ins.

So this year, I think I need to have a plan for when I am going to carve out this time to write.

I'm not a "get up early and write before everyone else is up" kind of person.  I'm a terrible morning person and since I'm a freelance writer, I let myself do what comes naturally to me.  Therefore, I tend to sleep until later morning and start my day more slowly.  Due to my schedule, and honestly also due to my round-the-clock feeding schedule with my horse, lately I have been working later into the evening and night.

So personally, I'm not sure writing late at night is the way to go this year.  Instead, I'm thinking of using that time early in my day to write.

I tend to like to do something that requires low brain power in order to wake up and "warm up" to working.  Often over the years, that has meant checking email, reading blogs, marketing/searching for writing gigs, and more recently, checking Facebook.  Writing a novel isn't necessarily a low brain power activity, but it's a very different type of brain power than writing for clients, so I'm hoping it'll fit the bill as a first-thing-in-the-morning task.  Then my writing will all be done for the day, too - and anything I write during write-ins will just be bonus words - which is an appealing idea.

Of course, this is getting the cart ahead of the horse, a little bit.  I still need to go through the original novel and see what I'd like to keep or change about the story, and if there are any bits of writing that are worth keeping.  I've been thinking more about how I'm going to do that, so I'll blog more about that later.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Messages from an ML: How to Get Involved with Your Local NaNoWriMo Region

My last post talked quite a bit about NaNoWriMo regions and local events.  I can't tell you how many times I've talked to a newcomer to my events, though, and discovered that they've known about the local events for some time, just never had worked up the courage to come.

I always encourage wrimos to come to the local write-ins if they can.  Staying motivated all by yourself for an entire month can be difficult, but you don't have to do it all alone.  Write-ins help you get your word counts, maintain the daily habit, and maintain your forward momentum.

Writers can be an awkward bunch, though; a single write-in will tell you that much.  When you're an introvert, going to a write-in to write with strangers can be intimidating.

If you feel hesitant to join your local NaNoWriMo community, here are a few tips for breaking the ice and putting yourself out there.

  • Check out the region online first.  Even though you're looking for a local community, that local community has an online presence, too.  Every region at minimum has a regional forum, typically with information from MLs about local events, and threads from other local wrimos about everything from setting up write-ins to various aspects of writing.  Your region may also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Discord.
  • Say hi!  Lurking is great for getting comfortable, but at some point, you just gotta say hi.  Introduce yourself, post any questions you have about how the local stuff works, or reach out and make some new writing buddies.
  • Find a write-in where you can get your feet wet.  Check out the write-ins in your area.  In addition to the forum, which is often used for arranging write-ins, there's a region calendar.  Our write-in likes to specify what kind of event each write-in is: Is it social?  Is it quiet and focused?  Will there be word sprints?  You can also ask any friends you've made in the forum what write-ins they'll be going to, so you can meet them in person (and have the security of knowing someone there).
  • Go to the write-in.  Once you find a write-in you think would be a good fit for your first time, take the leap and go!  It may seem intimidating your first time, but I promise, we're all just like you (awkward writer types) and you'll fit in nicely.
  • Repeat as necessary.  If you have a good experience at your first write-in, why not try another?  Many repeat weekly, so you can go to the same one again next week, or try a different one.  I do find that the atmosphere can vary quite a bit between write-ins, so don't worry if you find that some aren't to your liking.  Hopefully you will have an active region with many to choose from!
  • Create your own!  You knew I was coming to this, right?  If you don't find a write-in that works for you, or you go to a few and don't love them, don't be afraid to start your own!  Check the regional forum for your ML's guidelines on creating a write-in, but for the most part, you just have to specify day, time, place, how long you'll be there, and what kind of a write-in it is (quiet, focused, social, etc.).  It's also a good idea to talk to the business where you want to hold it first to make sure they're okay with it, especially if you anticipate more than a handful of people to show up.
I genuinely hope you'll try it, but at the very least, check your region's local forum and see if there's anything (or anyone) to interest you.  The community part of NaNoWriMo is half the fun of participating!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Messages from an ML: What's All This Local Region Stuff, Anyway?

I've mentioned before that I'm a municipal liaison, an ML, for NaNoWriMo's Denver region.

Since I haven't explained it recently (even though I've been talking about it a lot), NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a self-challenge to write a 50,000-word novel (or 50,000 words of a novel) in the month of November.  There are rules, but that's the basics of it, and some of us (ahem) break some of those rules anyway.

NaNoWriMo is primarily an online thing.  There's a huge website, and discussion forums, and social media presence, especially on Twitter and Discord.  And it's actually international, not just national, so once November starts, there will be writers participating right alongside you (virtually) all over the world.

While the online and international parts of NaNoWriMo are phenomenal, participants are also divided up into regions.  You can join your local region or not; it's up to you.  But if you decide to participate in your region, I highly recommend checking out the local events calendar.  Local events are one of the best things about NaNoWriMo for me.

For instance, I live in the Denver Metro area, and I've been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2006.  Denver is a very active region, so your region may or may not look like this, but in a normal year we have events scheduled for almost every day of November.  Most of the events are what we call "write-ins," which is where wrimos (what we call participants) get together someplace and just write together.  Sometimes it's quiet writing, sometimes social writing, and sometimes it's a mix with timed (and often gently competitive) word sprints.  They're held in coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, libraries, and bookstores all over town, wherever the person setting up the event decides to have it - usually a favorite local haunt.

We also always have a kickoff party.  Other regions may differ, but we hold our kickoff parties on Halloween night, so that everyone can start writing at midnight.  It means that people who have to work the next day tend not to come, but even so, we typically get 60 to 70 people at the kickoff party.  Fortunately we have the generous support of a local coffee shop, Enchanted Grounds, and for the last handful of years or so they have hosted both our kickoff parties and a weekly write-in.

NaNoWriMo also has local Come Write In partners, usually libraries or bookstores that decide they want to host events in November, and they reach out to NaNoWriMo directly about scheduling write-ins (rather than a wrimo setting up the write-ins there).  Some Come Write In partners host other events than write-ins, too, such as workshops, lectures, and author events.

NaNoWriMo has been a little different the last couple years, of course, as the pandemic forced NaNoWriMo to go virtual along with everything else in the world.  But we're looking forward to getting back to in-person events this year, even though we'll likely still be offering a variety of virtual events for those who aren't yet comfortable with the in-person stuff again.

Next time you're on the NaNoWriMo site, check out your local region's page.  There's a lot going on in each region, perhaps more than you realize!  Next I'll talk about how to break the ice and get involved in your region's local events.

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Burning Question: Planner or Pantser?

As NaNoWriMo approaches, there's one question that is important above all:

Are you a planner, or a pantser?  Or maybe a little of both (a plantser)?

Right now you have nearly a month before NaNoWriMo starts, so now is a good time to decide which style you prefer.  If you're a planner, you'll probably want to get start on planning pretty soon so that you're ready to write on November 1st.

Planner: The kind of writer who goes in with everything already figured out.  Worldbuilding, character development, story plot, everything is already done, sometimes in great detail.  If you're the kind of person who plans out each chapter and what's going to happen in it before you ever start writing, you are a hardcore planner.

Pantser: This is a NaNoWriMo term for someone who just totally wings it.  You might go into the month of November with a story idea, but it's admittedly fairly general and you have no idea what's going to happen next 99.99% of the time.  Maybe you know how you want to end it, maybe you don't, but chances are you don't know yet how you'll get there. You let the characters and the story tell you where they're going as you write.

Plantser: No, this is not a plant.  This is a perfect (in my opinion) mix of the two options above.  You plan, but not so much that you lose the creativity that tends to show up out of the blue while you write.  Maybe you have a loose sketch of the events that take place in the novel, but you haven't planned each chapter down to every scene break.  You're not so wedded to your idea that you can't drop it all and follow a side character across Europe for no reason at all except that she stood up and told you that this was actually her story, thank you very much.

As you might have guessed, I usually fall in the general realm of plantser.  I tried pantsing once, and it didn't go terribly well: I petered out way earlier than usual.  I also tried planning everything up the wazoo once, and I didn't get very far out of the gates before all the wind went out of me.  So plantser is definitely where I live.

What about you?  Are you hard at work at planning for NaNoWriMo, or are you just planning to start typing at midnight on November 1st and see what happens?

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Places to Write This November for NaNoWriMo

One of my favorite things about NaNoWriMo is getting out and writing places where I wouldn't usually, with people who are also focused on finishing NaNoWriMo.

I am a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo in my region, the Denver region.  That just means that I help organize the local region's calendar, events, social media, motivational emails, and Come Write In partners.  As such, I've gotten pretty familiar with what places are good (or not so good) for writing.  Here is a quick list of my favorite chains where we often go to write during NaNoWriMo.  You may have indie coffee shops, stores, and cafes in your area that make good places to write, as well.

  • Starbucks - I would remiss if I didn't mention everyone's favorite coffee shop.  Most Starbucks stores have a pretty decent lobby, although some are a little small.  My biggest complaint is that many Starbucks aren't open very late, which makes it difficult for someone with a later schedule, like me.
  • Barnes & Noble - Any B&N store with a cafe is excellent for hanging out and writing.  I like that they have Starbucks drinks but a little more variety of food, and I especially like writing while surrounded by books.  It helps me get into the writing zone sometimes when I'm struggling.
  • Panera - Panera is a surprisingly perfect place for getting some writing done.  They have decent hours, large dining rooms, and ample seating.  Plus, I really like their food and the fireplaces that some Paneras have.
  • IHOP - There's something to be said for these diner-type chains (Denny's and Perkins are often the same way).  They're open late, and often don't care if you come in, order coffee, and sit and write for a while.  Just leave a good tip even if you don't order very much.  The food may be cheap but don't forget, that means the wait staff's wages are rock bottom.
  • Whole Foods - I'm actually sitting at a Whole Foods right now, while I write this.  Because Whole Foods has a food bar where people can get lunch, they often have a nice seating area where you can sit and write, and they usually have free wifi too.  Just be warned, the food is not cheap!
  • Your local library -  Honestly, the library is nearly always a good choice for a place to write.  I find they usually have comfy seating options and quiet areas where you can focus.  Many libraries also have individual study rooms you can reserve.  Libraries are also now typically much less strict about food and drink, so if sipping coffee while you write is your thing, you'll probably be able to (although you should probably check your library's policies before trying it).
There are other places where I enjoy going to write from time to time, namely a couple of indie coffee shops and cafes, but these are my favorites, and where you'll likely find me many an evening in November!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Let's Get Ready to Write with NaNo Prep

NaNoWriMo has always been a stellar organization, but in the last few years they've really stepped up their game.  During the pandemic they developed StayHomeWriMo to help their participants cope with lockdown, even though it wasn't even November at the time.  And in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Headquarters has started requiring that Municipal Liaisons (who see local participants in person) undergo virtual training to improve inclusion.

I didn't realize they had also started offering novel prep help in September and October, but I took the time to read one of their emails the other day, and realized there's an entire program now to help you prepare to write in November.  There are sections on fleshing out a story idea, developing characters and plot, worldbuilding, and of course, scheduling your writing time to give yourself a fighting chance of finishing your novel and "winning" in November.

There's an entire NaNo prep course you can do, and you can even receive a certificate for completing it:

  1. Develop a Story Idea (September 19-25)
  2. Create Complex Characters (September 26-October 2)
  3. Construct a Detailed Plot or Outline (October 3-9)
  4. Build a Strong World (October 10-16)
  5. Organize Your Life for Writing! (October 17-23)
  6. Find and Manage Your Time (October 24-30)

Right now we're right at the end of week two, creating complex characters, if you want to catch up.  An email goes out from HQ every week with different exercises and activities to help you with the week's goal.  You can find the schedule and links to each part of the curriculum at NaNo Prep 101.

I have to admit, I will be most interested to see what they have to say about scheduling writing time, since that's the part I struggle with the most!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Paper or Plastic: How Do You Revise?

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commissions from sales made through these links.

I'm trying to decide how to best go about revising Ruby Ransome, and I am curious: How do you revise?

There are various methods I've read about.  One is what Stephen King recommends in On Writing, which is to print it all out, read through it all in a day or two, and mark the sections you want to revise.

I tried this method when I was working on revisions before... before I decided I needed a total overhaul.  I found it wasn't as easy to do as Stephen King made it sound, because I got sucked into rewriting everything there.  Maybe he doesn't revise as much as I do, though, because he said to just mark your changes.

I rewrote whole pages.  Hand written.  In the margins and on the backs of the pages.

Given that now I'm planning on basically doing almost an entire rewrite, I'm not sure that's the best approach this time around.  I want to read through it legitimately quickly.  I don't want to get bogged down in what to change.

I could still use the original printout, and try to make sense of all my written revisions - more than one round of revisions on some pages, I think.  Another option would be to create a digital file and load it onto my Kindle to read through it there.  That would definitely keep me from getting distracted by the temptation to rewrite sections right then and there, but I would also lose the advantage of being able to see all my many rewrites.

Or I could do a combination of both, and skim through the novel quickly on my Kindle, and then go back and look through the handwritten rewrites on the physical manuscript.

Regardless, I need to stay focused.  The point of this isn't to rewrite as I read.  It's to get my head back into the game, basically.  I need to refresh my memory on Ruby's store and the 1920s, so that I can plan out the rewritten version of the novel.

I'm not sure how I'll choose to revise in the future, but I think the last option - the hybrid approach - might make the most sense for this time around.

What about you?  How do you prefer to revise?

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Who Is Ruby, Anyway?


I've written a lot about the 1920s on this blog, but you may be wondering who this Ruby Ransome is, anyway.  Ruby is a modern young woman with a past who gets sucked into the world of vampires in the 1920s.

Ruby works as a typist at Sears by day, drinking and partying in speakeasies with her friends at night.  She and her roommate Genevieve are pursuing their dreams in 1920s Chicago: Ruby of achieving independence and professionalism through her career, Vee of making it as a nightclub singer.  Ruby has a past, though, one that has influenced her life choices and will come to light over the course of the series.

Unbeknownst to her, 1920s Chicago is a den of vampire activity, with the mob as a front.  Nightclubs allow vampires to feed without suspicion, while to corrupt politicians, even literal blood money is valid currency.  This is the world Ruby becomes aware of, unwillingly at first, and then willingly as she agrees to join forces with an ancient vampire to fight the evil hold on her city.

Ruby's story starts in 1923, which will be exactly 100 years from next year.  I'm hoping to finally get her first book completed and published next year, as telling her story exactly a century later seems like poetic justice.

Monday, September 26, 2022

My Introduction into the Alluring World of Vampires

Please note that the following post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn a small commission on sales made through these links.

I've long been fascinated with the 20s, but I'm also a longtime lover of vampire lit, so it was almost natural that when I came up with a vampire novel, it was set in the 1920s - or perhaps that when I came up with a 1920s novel, it had vampires in it.

I first got into vampire lit when I read Interview with the Vampire as a quiet, geeky, bookworm teen.

One of my best friends in high school had recommended it.  This was shortly before the movie came out, although I don't know if I knew when I read the book that a movie was coming out soon.

What I do remember is being completely seduced by Anne Rice's sultry world of vampires.  Like everyone else, I suppose, I discovered that vampires could be sexy and enigmatic and altogether human, rather than monsters.  The angst in Interview appealed to me as a teen, of course, but I quickly went on to read all of the other vampire novels that Rice had published at the time (I think The Tale of the Body Thief might have been the most recent one) and later read each new one as it was published.

Even though Anne Rice quickly cast him aside in favor of her new favorite protagonist, Lestat, Louis was always my favorite.  His self-doubt spoke to me in a way that Lestat's supreme confidence didn't, at that time in my life.  I wonder if I would feel differently if I read the books for the first time now, when I would relate to Louis's angst much less.  But as a teen, it was incredibly compelling.

I was heartbroken when Anne Rice passed away earlier this year, although of course I'd known for a while that it was coming at some point.  I'd been following her Facebook page for years, and knew she communicated with her fans a whole lot less than she used to.  Most of the time, posts were made by her staff rather than herself, whereas I think she used to post herself, once upon a time.

Her legacy lives on, in the new Interview with the Vampire series that recently launched, but also in the entire vampire fiction genre that Interview launched, decades ago.  There have been so many others - Twilight being one of the more prominent (and one of the most controversial) - that I know Ruby may go unnoticed, but I hope my unique setting will attract both vampire lovers and 1920s aficionados.

Please note that this page includes affiliate links, through which I may earn commissions on purchases.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Women's Work in the 1920s

One of the things I've always been most fascinated with about the 1920s is the increase in the availability of work for women.  Women had been slowly gaining grounds in business jobs such as working as secretaries and typists for a couple of decades, and the 1920s saw a lot of independent young women - which, of course, contributed to the amount of freedom they had to go out partying.

Companies such as Sears - where Ruby works - were huge employers of women typists.  Young women went to typing schools to learn to type, and when they went to work, they would work in a room filled with dozens of women, all typing away at rows of desks.  It was pretty monotonous as far as work goes: rigid work times and breaks, strict rules about talking during work hours, and close supervision under a manager on high.  It was an era when the concepts of Taylorism were taking hold in office work as well as factory settings.

Most young women, when they went to typing school in the 1920s, probably aspired to be secretaries and typists in private offices, where they would perform a variety of tasks and enjoy better pay than what companies like Sears paid them.  The work at Sears had to be repetitive as well, since Taylorism encouraged an assembly line-like approach to all things.  Rather than typing up interesting correspondence for the boss in a private office, for instance, typists at Sears typed up orders at a time when the company was primarily mail order.

But working at Sears was also not a bad job, even if you had to have roommates to get by.  Sears was like modern day "millennial" employers, offering employee culture and benefits as incentive.  The Sears complex was a city unto itself, with cafeterias for the employees, a library on-site with the ability to send out for books from the public library as well, and company picnics and sports teams.  It even had its own station on the L, so that carless young women could get to work from all over town.  Above all, it was a reliable paycheck for young women who wanted a taste of independence before they got married.

Ultimately, not all that much had changed for young women's expected paths.  It was still expected that the young women who worked for places like Sears would eventually get married, and once married, would give up their jobs to be homemakers and mothers, leaving the paycheck for other single young women in need.  Working young women in the 1920s dated a lot, trying to find that special someone, but also because their paychecks typically didn't support the cost of going out, even when they had roommates - dating often fed them and provided entertainment that they wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

It wasn't a perfect setup, but it was progress.  Working and a certain amount of financial independence was becoming more acceptable for single young women.

This is the era where Ruby's story starts.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

How Ruby Ransome Started

I don't remember exactly how the idea came to me, but one evening about 11 years ago and change, I started thinking: Wouldn't speakeasies make the perfect cover for vampires?  And then of course the next idea that followed was, wouldn't the mob make the perfect cover for vampires?

I've always been fond of vampire stories, ever since I discovered Anne Rice in my teens, so it occurred to me that something like the 1920s would be perfect for disguising vampire activity.

I started researching, and the more I learned about the culture and the politics of the 1920s, the more I could envision vampires running everything behind the scenes.

That was earlier in 2011.  I started writing the novel earlier in the year, and I think I had around 30,000 words when I started NaNoWriMo later that year.  I finished the novel off with an additional 50,000 words that November.

I've been thinking about all this again because of my plans of reviving Ruby Ransome this November.  I still need to start reading through the original novel and refreshing my memory on both the story, and all things 20s.  These details used to all live in my brain, and I'm sure they're still there somewhere, but it's going to take some excavation to help me remember it all again!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Will Ruby Make a Reappearance This November?

I wrote the first draft of Ruby Ransome back in 2011, an entire decade ago.  It's hard to believe it was so long ago.  I started the novel earlier in the year and wrote the final two-thirds of it during NaNoWriMo that year.  The following year, I wrote the second novel, even though I still had yet to edit the first one.

I have struggled with revisions of the first novel over the years, and have had some thoughts of what I want to do with the second novel, and whether I want to have a novella set between them.  About five years ago, I shelved revisions of the first novel semi-permanently when I realized that I wanted to rewrite a significant portion of the novel.  Some time later, I had a revelation about why the novel didn't seem to "work" in some parts: I had the main characters' motivation all wrong, and was still trying to force through the events I wanted, and I could tell in rereading the novel.

So I need to rewrite huge portions of the novel, if not all of it.  The main plot points of the novel will largely stay the same, but the character motivation will be entirely changed, in a way that makes the events seem much more believable.

I've been thinking about Ruby a lot lately, as I've been working on some of my other websites, and in doing so, have been looking at this one.  I realized that next year will be 2023 - a hundred years after the year Ruby's first novel takes place.  (I have plans to make the series span the remainder of the decade.)  It would be incredibly fitting to publish the first novel in 2023.

I've always planned on self-publishing Ruby Ransome in order to maintain creative control, so it's not unfeasible to get a novel ready to go sometime between now and next year.  It would, however, take a substantial commitment of time between now and then.

Can I do it?  Probably.  A year is a fair bit of time, and should be plenty long enough to rewrite the novel, revise, and get all the self-publishing things into place.  It'll probably require setting some goals and sticking to a timeline.

With that being said, I am strongly considering starting the rewrite of Ruby during NaNoWriMo this year.  In order to make it work, I will need to be ready to write come November 1st.  That means I have a lot of work to do before then, though, as I will need to read through the existing novel, review my research materials, and reacquaint myself with Ruby's world.  I may need to consider rereading some of the books I read while researching, too.

With any luck, Ruby will be making a reappearance here soon!

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Ruby on hiatus

I know, it's been a long time since I've updated this blog.  But I haven't forgotten about Ruby... just got a little distracted while trying to tell her story.

I'll be changing web hosts here soon, hopefully, so my site will go through some down time.  Hopefully it won't last too long!  I have hopes of getting back to work on Ruby's story later this year.

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