Monday, November 22, 2010

Where does the time go?

I intended to do a post here this morning. It is now 9pm. What happened?

Well, there was a photo shoot with Commander Rippy McWeasel for today's regional email, which I also had to draft, edit and send out. When you're sending email to over 1,000 people, there's this pressure to not have too many typos. During NaNo season. Yeah, I know. Crazy double standard isn't it?

I did finally get around to making reservations for our regional TGIO party today. Yay for that.

An hour and half went to chatting with tech support about my two and half week old office printer that encountered a paper jam two days ago and now sounds like a car with snow chains going down a pothole-covered road on a sunny day. Surprise! They're sending me a replacement printer.

Then there was work, which most of you have, so that really doesn't count as a valid excuse for noveling sloth. Grocieries! Yes, I had to go get mine and the mother-in-laws, drop them off--ok so her's consisted of three twelve packs of coke and a half gallon of whiskey, but still--and put them all away.

Boy Scouts ate up two and half hours of my night. Does taking two hours worth of committee meeting notes count toward my NaNo word goal?

Did I mention my elementary YWP meeting at lunchtime? It's still going. Not strong, but going. I'm down to around fourteen regulars, which is totally workable. However, the early pile of kids thinning so drastically always leaves me depressed and feeling like I should have done something different. Three years of running the program like this and I still succumb to the same motivation slump. You'd think I'd be used to it, wouldn't you? Excuse me as I go stab my remaining optimistic brain cells.

Seriously though, two of my fourteen kids have already met their 5,000 word goal. Several others are nearing half way--which they have to get in order to earn an inviation to my pizza party. Not great winning odds, but I'll take them.

I'm considering tossing the program to the teachers next year and seeing how fast the ball drops. Students really need constant motivation and encouragement to spend those ten to fifteen minutes a day writing. They get two half hour sessions a week with me. It's just not enough. Asking them to write while their friends all go play at recess isn't exactly a great option either, but it's the one time during the day I have access to them.

It just figures that my daughter would finally be participating through school that year and she'll be really unhappy with me if I stop when it's her turn. Hmm, burn myself out or deal with an unhappy little girl. I've done four years of the program for her older brother. Unfair much?

Is there a good choice here?

Friday, November 19, 2010

To write and write again

Rewriting. I won't say I love it, but I do enjoy it.

I enjoy challenge of taking that mental vomit of a first draft, hauling out my cookbook and attempting to create a gourmet meal out of it. This meal, of course, usually ends up bland and undercooked, but after a few tries (or twenty) it becomes something I'd feed to guests. Whether or not they get food poisioning is always up in the air.

As part of my NaNo rebel effort this year, I'm devoting 25k of my writing goal to rewriting my original NaNo Novel from 2006. I love that story and I've always wanted to get back to it. Since part of NaNo is making time for that novel that you've always said you would do but never get around to, this seemed a perfect fit.

Now, when I say rewrite, I mean it. I have the file up there in front of me, but I retype every single word. Yep. Every one.

This might seem like a huge waste of time. The words are already there and surely they can't all suck. True. However, I'm trying to create a Thanksgiving feast from a stale Happy Meal. Not to mention I've learned how to set the table since then and seeing my wayward formatting drives me nuts.

My writing style has changed considerably since writing the original draft, and I'd like to think for the better. Retyping every word helps me to clear the way to rephrase, reword, tighten and embellish. I find it also makes for a smoother and more consistant voice throughout the story, especially when working with older projects. How about you? Do you rewrite rough drafts or do you simply edit what you already have, adding a bit here and there?

Why am I hungry, and where the heck did I leave the paprika?

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 15

Saturday was our all day write-in. Though we had a lower turnout than I'd hoped for, we had a great time during our eleven hour writing frenzy. My writing was interupted by chatting, eating and prize distribution but I still managed to pump out almost 6k in my struggling YA story. As you see, there was a lot of candy involved to fill us all with sugary creative energy. The giant chocolate covered marshmellows helped too.

Commander Rippy McWeasel and I did appear in the newspaper. Though most of his details were miscontstrued, Rippy was happy to see his photo in print and help spread the the word about NaNoWriMo and our event.

After all my writing Saturday, I spent Sunday unpacking all my bags of write-in supplies and eating leftovers. I also started in on rewriting my original NaNo novel from four years ago, a project I've desperately wanted to get back to. I'm hoping that this will go faster than slogging my way through the YA story. I want to get back to the short story, as well, but at this point, I need to build some momentum and I'm jumping ship to where the excitement is. During NaNo, any writing progress is good progress!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freakouts and Suck Dragons

Tomorrow is our never tried before, all day write-in at a local college. I'm both nervous and very excited. I'm busy mentally packing my car so I won't forget anything.

Why the freakout over forgetting something? My days have been so hectic that as I was rushing off to my weekly local NaNo write-in tuesday night, I threw my bag of prizes into the car and got half way there before realizing that I'd forgotten my laptop! Serious head desk moment there. Thankfully, that location less than ten minutes from my house and my wonderful wrimos saved a seat for my late behind.

Saturday's write-in is just under an hour away. Kind of hard to run home a minute and get what I forgot, should that happen. Don't forget anything. Don't forget anything. Don't forget anything.

One of the local papers is advertising the event. I'm waiting anxiously to see the story as it may be featuring Commander Rippy McWeasel. He's been scampering around my feet all morning getting himself worked up about what photo they might choose and if they'll use his good side. Between you and me, he doesn't have a good side. He's a weasel.

I have no idea what kind of turn out to expect, but if attendance follows the trend of everything else this NaNo season, we should have lots of people. However many end up there, I know we'll have fun. We always do.

With two stories I'm happy with completed and one still being munched on by the suck dragon, I'm happy to announce that story four has teetered back from the cliffs of suckiness and is evolving into something I can work with.

My second attempt at something YAish is very rough at this point, but I like where it's going. So far.

It's about a boy recieving his artifical finger interface which allows him to uncover society's secrets and possibly save his friend who as vanished. Unless I decide that the friend is dead. I haven't gotten that far. Either way, he'll try to save someone, even if it's himself. Maybe he'll save everyone! Oh, the choices I must make for this young man. I feel like I should warn you, I'm laughing nefariously.

And now with a deep breath and a packing list in hand, I'm off to write today's 1667 words.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 10

Please send sleep and more time to write.

Life is good here. Mostly. I have two short stories done that I'm pretty happy with. They'll be going up for critique in December. The third story is currently being fed to the suck dragon until it finds a purpose in its wandering chaos of run on sentences and expansive sections of rambling streams of consciousness. Number four is tetering on evolving into something workable. I'm holding my breath.

Also, if you could send oxygen, that would be great.

The Elementary YWP is going fairly well. Attendance has significantly dwindled thanks to the beautiful fall weather enticing kids to play outside rather than write with me. And, of course, there are those who have realized that they have to write outside of our meetings with prizes and don't want to make the effort. Happens every year. I'm used to it. The faithful will go on.

The Middle School YWP is a bust. It just never got off the ground this year, which is a shame. Though, I'm appreciating the open space on my calendar. I am still going in to write with my son during his lunch hour, but one hour instead of three, is fine with me with everything else I have going on.

Regional events with the adults have been wonderful. In person event participation is way up. We're two people away from tripling our number of members in our region this year from last year! 666 people are doing NaNo around me. We had twenty people at our write-in last night! That was a new record.

One of the local papers is doing a story on our event this weekend. I can't wait to see it. I also can't wait for saturday to see how this big event is going to go. It's the first time we've done a huge, all day write-in so who knows how well it will be attended, if we'll have enough space, food, or raffle prizes. At least one thing is for sure. I'll be getting some writing done!

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Solitude" - Out today!

After much waiting, I am thrilled to announce that my short story "Solitude" is now out in the fall issue of Tales of the Talisman.

Trapped alone on a space ship, Zephros, the last wizard, discovers the secret to saving humanity that his kind has hidden from themselves for generations, but is he willing to succeed?

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Thanks to an extra day off school for the end of the marking period, I had to rearrange my schedule and do my elementary Young Writers group on Thursday. Because it wasn't our usual day, less kids came. That was fine by me, I still had a room full.

To conserve my stock of prizes for my huge unanticipated group this year, I decided to consolidate our two shifts of word wars into one. Waiting an extra five minutes got all of the forth graders and the majority of the fifth graders included all in one word writing frenzy.

Last year I'd discovered that the same three kids could write far faster than the rest and won the majority of the prizes so this year I changed my prize tactics. If they write more than a hundred words in ten minutes, they get to enter. Most of them can do it and the rest will if they keep working at it. Out of those, I pick four to win small prizes.

That meant that the first time with two groups, I was out eight prizes already. We meet twice a week. I didn't exactly have sixty-four prizes. Not even close. Half that, I could handle between stickers, funky paperclips, erasers and other misc things I'd picked up throughout the year on sale. Not to mention since my middle school group seems to be a complete bust thanks to the teachers (I'm still fuming about that lack of any effort), I can use their prizes for my abudant elementary group.

We got done with our word race. I picked the winners. They get their prizes. A fifth grader piped up, "Um, what about the fifth grade word race."

"You just did one."

"Yeah, but it was with the forth graders."

"You entered to win a prize with the forth graders. That was the one word race we're going to do. I don't have enough prizes to do each grade seperately each time."

"So get more prizes."

I refrained from glaring and took a deep breath. "I pay for all of these prizes out of my pocket. I can't just keep buying more stuff for all of you. We have a very large group. Normally we'd only do two prizes. I was being generous by giving you four chances at winning something."

"Can't you just go to the dollar store?"

"I did. I buy prizes for you and the middle school. That's around forty dollars of my own money for you guys to win prizes. I don't get anything out of it. You do. We don't have to have prizes at all. It's just for fun."

"Oh." Yet, she seemed far less than impressed.

Some kids, I tell ya....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 3

Sitting at 4224 words so far. Not bad. Not great, but I'll take it considering how busy I am with everything else. At least I'm semi close to being at my daily goal by the end of the day - which I've yet to do this year... in all two previous days.

My first short story is turing out pretty well. Then again, I started with the only one I had a full summary for, so I suppose that helps considerably. Story number one is about a healer who is forced to heal a child. In order to save the child's life, she must die. She's not real happy about that after the fact and does her best to get even.

I thinking it will wrap up just under 5k. Which means I have to start pulling teeth on a less developed idea.

Our first regional write-in last night was quite a sucess. We took over a good portion of the tiny Barnes & Noble cafe and monoplized their single outlet with our powestrips. All your power will be ours! Mwahahaha!

Today was try two at kicking off the middle school YWP. Yesterday's attempt allowed me to write a thousand words while I hung out in the library, but only yielded a single student - one poor girl I cooerced to come over who had participated last year. She wasn't thrilled to be the only one there. I thought more were coming. Honest! Including my own son, who managed to forget about the meeting in the two hours between getting his lunch pass and finishing his lunch. Can you see me rolling my eyes?

Other than my son remembering to show up and the other girl returning, try two was as dismal as try one. I even waited for two hours this time. Though that allowed me to almost catch up on my word count, I was really hoping for more kids.

The problem seems to be a total lack of communication. Either the teachers aren't reading the email about promoting the program to the students or they just aren't promoting it. I know the students aren't getting the message because the ones I have talked to (in trying to lure them in) haven't heard one word about it. Sigh. I feel rather powerless over that situation since I have very little influence in that large school.

Tomorrow we have our second elementary YWP writing meeting. At least I know most of them are gung ho about the program and are having fun with it. That makes me feel a little better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 1

I wish I had a stellar first day word count to report, but alas, I have yet to start. I should have plenty of time later tonight to pound out my 1667 words for the day. Besides, I have my kids to challenge to word wars once they get home from school.

Our first writing meeting of the elementary YWP went splendidly. I still have around 40 kids after our two planning meetings. I'd hoped to have a solid body count, but things were a little hectic with two different grade groups (and large groups at that) coming in at diffferent times. All the kids were very well mannered and polite. Several of them even made trips back in to hand me pencils they'd mistakenly walked out with. I have to remember to compliment their teachers.

Middle School YWP launches tomorrow. I'm concerned that we'll have a less than stellar turn out again, despite having the program open to an entire school. Last year we relied on the teachers to pitch the program to the kids. That didn't work out so well, but it seems that's the method we're left with again this year.

I was up until midnight last night, madly typing up the regional 'get ready to write' email that I thought I'd had finished days before and then had read ten times since, adding and subtracting here and there... only to double the word count in the last two hours before sending it out at 11:57. I'm considering counting my bi-weekly regional emails as part of my 50k. ;) The late night made for a bleary morning where no writing got done, that's for sure.

So now, with a girl scout meeting, a boy scout meeting and an hour or two of work ahead of me, I'm off to squeeze in 1667 words. Best of luck to the rest of you who are participating!