October 2010


In less than 24 hours, it’ll officially be Nov. 1 — and you know what that means: The kickoff of NaNoWriMo.

A frenzied month of writing. A full 50,000 words in 30 days.

Sounds daunting, right? Feeling a need for speed?

Hold on a minute. Put it into perspective: It’s just 1,667 words a day. When I think of it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad. 😉

I’m ready. I’ve been eager to start Kenny and Kristi’s story for weeks now. Finally, in less than 24 hours, I get to do it.

Bring on the coffee and sandwiches! And if anyone wants to send a Starbucks gift card my way, I wouldn’t complain …

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I took a short break from editing Golden Heart entries today to let Bethany and Cody out to play.

Their conversation took a turn (for the better or worse?) to that age-old question that has plagued the males of our species since the debut of “Gilligan’s Island”: Ginger or Mary Ann?

Cody, being the kind of guy he is, says he’d rather have a wholesome girl like Mary Ann. Then he proceeds to tell Beth she’s the best of both — wholesome looking like Mary Ann but with Ginger’s sensual nature (though he thinks to himself he’d get a lot more rest if Beth were less Ginger-esque).

My question for you (should you choose to answer): Would your hero pick Ginger or Mary Ann?

I registered for the Golden Heart the other day … with two manuscripts.

Yes, I think I might be nuts — or at least I’ll be driving myself nuts soon as I to finish editing two GH entries before the NaNoWriMo starts on Nov. 1.

All that and I have my RWA chapter’s newsletter to produce. See me with my hands pressed to my cheeks, mouth open wide in a silent scream? 😉

It won’t be easy. But hey — no one ever said the stuff in life worth having is easy, right? Besides, I’ve already decided I work better when I have a deadline.

Time for me to get crackin’!

One of my heroines boasts to the hero, “I’m good at multitasking.” Of course, it turns out she’s not.

Neither am I. I think that’s the reason I haven’t gotten much accomplished lately.

Earlier in the year, I had focus: I wanted to finish “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” I had to send out queries on “Blind Date Bride.” I focused on expanding and rewriting Cassie & Dustin and Bree & Mike’s stories, bringing them to full category length.

Now, I’m in a sort of free-fall.

I have two Golden Heart entries I’m trying to revise, but I’m at a loss about exactly what needs improving. (I’ve gotten some great feedback from one of my NARWA sisters on Beauty and the Ballplayer, so that revision has been going like gangbusters for the last few days.)

I have about 30K written on Beth & Cody’s story, which puts them exactly where I hate to be: The sagging middle.

I’ve pulled out a couple of old (really old), unfinished stories and am falling in love with those characters — but not the work involved in bringing the MSs up to snuff.

And then there’s the NaNo. I’m champing at the bit to start in on Kenny & Kristi’s tale, but refuse to let myself start early. I’ll need that forward momentum to carry me through my subpar writing days in November.

With all the projects dancing around my cluttered mind, I can’t seem to settle on any one. Last week, I got just 1,500 new words written on Beth & Cody’s story.

It’s time to redirect my focus. First, finish the update on Meg & Matt. Then, a week for Kari & Damien. By the time that’s done, it’ll be NaNo time.

 

I'm ready — are you?

 

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and I’m all in.

In 2009, I participated for the first time. My goal was to finish a novel I’d already started, “Blind Date Bride.” I had about 40K to go. I only got 25K written during NaNo, but finished my first draft before Christmas.

This year, I’m going to go for the whole enchilada: A complete novel, from Word One.

That’s not to say I haven’t done a little prewriting. The idea is actually one I came up with while working on my first MS, Brad & Erin’s story. It’s the tale of Brad’s brother, Kenny. Because he lives in the same city as his mother, poor Kenny bears the brunt of his Ma’s matchmaking efforts … and it’s driving him crazy.

On the day Brad brings Erin home to meet his folks, Kenny also turns up with a woman he says is his fiancee … but she’s really just a friend Kenny has asked to pretend to be his fiancee to get his Ma off his back. But Kenny, always a practical joker, decides to take it to the next level — he has Kristi pretend to be a completely unsuitable fiancee, complete with clothes short and tight enough to give his dad apoplexy.

Of course, since I write romance, Kenny and Kristi have to fall for each other. But by the time they do, his Ma can’t stand the poor girl (who is really very sweet). Kenny, afraid to just come clean about the mother of all deceptions, convinces Kristi to undertake a “Pygmalion” type of transformation. (Hence the cheesy working title I put on my NaNo page, “My Fair Fiancee.”)

Don’t knock it. I told you I suck at titles! For me, they’re like the photo kickers I have to write for work. Once in a while I come up with one that’s a real gem: The picture of a deer in a field, looking straight at the camera comes to mind. I slugged it “You lookin’ at me?” But most of the time, they’re pretty lame. (Think “Fun with science” for Flagstaff’s recent science festival. Yeah. That‘ll bring home the prize for headline writing.) 😉

I did the pre-plotting work a while back, after one of our NARWA meetings went over the “Book in a Month” book. The goal was to do it in 60 days, before the next meeting. I got up to Day 4 or 5 (research) and petered out. Research isn’t my favorite thing, so I try to make my characters at least a little like me. I worked as a DJ for my college radio station (Kenny’s a DJ). But I still need to talk to someone, because I’m sure it’s different now that radio stations are all-digital. (Heck, most of our music was on CDs, but we still had to cue up vinyl from time to time … and that was way back in 1993!)

I’m also going to try to come up with character arcs for both Kenny & Kristi before Nov. 1. I see a cram session with Debra Dixon’s “GMC” in my future. Maybe if I focus on that before I even start, I won’t get the “your book doesn’t have enough conflict” criticism. (I seem to get that a lot … and as much as I wish I could, I can’t discount EVERYONE who’s told me that. I’m a Libra — Libras don’t like conflict … or so I’ve been told. I believe it, too. I’d rather attempt to swim across a flood-swollen Mississippi than have a fight with someone.)

Check out my NaNo page here. I put a few more details in my “novel info” page.

With all the re-reading of my old stuff I’ve been doing, I have way too many characters running around in my head. Suddenly, they’re all jockeying for attention.

As a result, I’m getting a lot of nothing accomplished. Why is it that more ideas does not equal more productivity?

I’m still editing my Golden  Heart entries, and yesterday (my birthday) I got a little new work done on Beth and Cody’s story. It’s probably not the best scene I’ve ever written, but it offers Cody a chance to shine a little.

Next up (on my next payday) is to actually send in my Golden Heart entry fees. The deadline is creeping nearer.

No writer — or reader, for that matter — should let the American Library Association’s Banned Book Week pass without note, so here goes.

Censorship has always angered me. It’s one reason I haven’t followed in the footsteps of my college adviser, who specialized (I believe) in media law and First Amendment issues. I’ve thought about getting a graduate degree media law before, and it was one of my favorite classes … but I think studying censorship all the time would leave me perpetually pissed off — and that’s something my good-natured, romantic-comedy-loving self doesn’t want to be.

It never ceases to amaze me what some people find objectionable, though. Check out the list of 100 frequently challenged classics: “Lord of the Rings”? “1984”? “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”? “Winnie the Pooh”?

Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” was removed from classrooms in Miller, Mo.,  in 1980 because it makes promiscuous sex “look like fun”?

Of the 100 that made the list, I’ve read about 30 — either in middle school, high school or college. There are another four that I definitely want to read … and the rest I know I should read (someday, if I ever find the time).

The list of the top 100 most frequently banned books from 1990-1999 includes some of my childhood favorites: “The Outsiders,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Carrie” and pretty much anything by Judy Blume.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was lucky to have gone to school in rural Indiana. I had some great “radical-thinking” teachers who didn’t shy away from teaching banned classics. In fact, I wrote an article for my high school paper back in 1988 talking about some of their reasons for teaching censored books.

The gist: The lessons such books teach far outweigh any “offensive” language or concepts used. As my senior English and composition teacher, Darwin Sievers, explained: It’s important to be aware of all experiences, not just pleasant ones. “Maybe students can avoid unpleasant firsthand experiences if they can experience them secondhand,” he said.

Besides, who gets to be the final arbiter of what’s truly offensive? I find the words spewing from the mouths of certain politicians offensive (no, I’m not naming names) … but that doesn’t mean I have the right to tell them they can’t say those things. I can turn the channel when they come on TV because I don’t have to listen — but I can’t keep others from hanging on every idiotic word.

Same goes for reading. If you don’t like a book, don’t buy it. Don’t read it. Don’t try to keep others from reading, though. And definitely don’t try to get it banned from your library. (All you’ll do is drum up sales of it. Controversy sells books.)

I need to wrap up this post before I get even more worked up. *Deep breath.*

Since I’m curious, I’ll borrow a question from agent Nathan Bransford: What’s your favorite banned book?

I can’t pick just one. I honestly can’t imagine life without any of them. I’m sure I wouldn’t be who I am today had I never read “Charlotte’s Web,” “Gone with the Wind,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and too many other books to mention.