NaNo Looms

Around this time of year, you see them all over the blogosphere — posts about how blogs will be mostly neglected for about a month. Since there are always so many, I figure one more won’t be amiss.

I’m going to try to keep up a post a week, but I cannot make promises, and I may or may not be somewhat absent from my blog — or at least highly sporadic and unpredictable — during November. Due, of course, to Nanowrimo. Whether I’m around on the blog during the next month will depend on writing and busyness.

This will be my fourth year doing NaNo (plus a couple of Camp NaNo sessions) and I’ve always won so far. Each year has been a very different adventure, and I guess we’ll see what this year holds in store!

(Boring backstory follows — skip if desired.)

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2010 – Year 1:  Twelve Fugitives in the Wild – Fantasy, set in another world during an 18th century type era, complete with muskets, carriages, and tri-cornered hats.

The Wild Ride: I decided to do NaNo the night before it began. I had no plot, hectically (or desperately) came up with it as I went along, fell woefully behind, and spent the entire last day, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., munching chocolate and pounding out 8,000 words to catch up.

The Result: About a half-done story full of a suspicious number of plot-twists near the end. I still have not dared to start trying to tie off all the threads necessary to finish the story. But I was very proud of myself for winning and had a blast during the month.

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2011 – Year 2: Far-mark’s Dream – Medieval Fantasy

The Adventure: This time I plotted for two weeks beforehand and was much more organized, with the story all fitted nicely into chapter-breaks. I stayed up on my personal goals, the story behaved itself (mostly) and was incredibly exciting and fun to write, and I actually wrote “The End” on it — two days before the end of November.

The Result: A complete, though a bit short, very fun novel that I have plans of rewriting sometime. Once it’s rewritten I think it might end up being one of my very favorite stories.

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2012 – Year 3: Grey Betrayal (book 1 of the Chronicles of Starrellia) – Medieval Fantasy

The Chaos: I had been planning for months to write a different story (Underground Rainbow), so I thought I was all set. But just ten days before NaNo began, I switched over to this one and consequently was not as well prepared as I thought. The first week or so was smooth sailing but after that things got rocky. I still hit my 50k though, and on top of that got to meet one of my favorite characters that I didn’t think I would get to meet yet.

The Result: A part-finished start to my fantasy series (which already has parts of the other books written). Very glad to have gotten that far, and now only have to find time to finish the story and fix all the plot holes, and hope that it won’t end up being 200k words long . . .

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2013 – Year 4: Underground Rainbow – Contemporary Fantasy

… ? We’ll see how this session of NaNo turns out when we reach December 1st!

I can’t wait to write this story — I’ve spent October figuring out the plot (or, some of it… still have a ways to go… 3 days left!) and meeting the characters, and I think it’s going to be stupendously fun! Nanowrimo is almost here! I AM BEYOND EXCITED!!! (Ahem. Getting carried away in the spirit of things . . .)

***

November is just around the bend, and our stories are all set (or not, as the case may be… But we’ll not let that daunt us!). It’s time to shut out the world and get settled into the worlds of our own words.

So.

Grab your pens, laptops, coffee, and miscellaneous writing paraphernalia!

Let’s go write some novels, people!

My Precious

NOTE: There was no post last week due to deceased internet.

Also, instead of posting all different days of the week, in the future I’m going to try to always post on Mondays or Tuesdays.

On to the regularly scheduled post.

***

I lurk in my cave, hunched over an object that I move my fingers across, muttering to myself, completely absorbed in it for hours at a time, all alone in the half-darkness. The object is shiny, has amazing power, and I call it “my preciousssss.”

Who am I? You get three guesses.

*whispering* (“One…”)
(“Two…”)
(“Three…”)

If you guessed 1: Gollum, 2: Smeagol, or 3: that-creepy/adorable-creature-in-the-Lord-of-the-Rings-movies-with-the-big-eyes, you are absolutely–!

. . . wrong.

What! How can this be?

…Sorry. You were close, though. (Probably closer than I’d care to admit . . .)

I am a writer, the cave is my writer-cave (also known as my room), and the shiny object I am so often hunched over is my laptop. To be more specific, my lovely Toshiba laptop that I obtained exactly 2 years ago today. This post is to commemorate my laptop’s anniversary/birthday, look back over its the faithful service thus far, and hope for many long years of happy writing together in the future.

It begins . . . Well, it begins how any other story begins.

“Once upon a time . . .”

‘Twas a historic day, October 21st, 2011. I had been planning on buying a laptop for some time, and with my second Nanowrimo looming not far distant on the horizon, I was determined not to spend the entire month of November snatching frantic moments of writing on the family computer. So I was on a quest for a personal writer’s-best-friend, and off I traveled with my life-savings to Best Buy to shop about. A shockingly brief amount of time later, I had found the perfect precious, and with my laptop snugly in its box in my arms (and with my life-savings sitting very tidily in somebody else’s cash-register), I walked out of the store’s door . . . and into history.

(. . . Okay, maybe not that last part.)

On my laptop so far I’ve written the entirety of 2 novels and 6 short stories, and portions of: 10 other novels, a couple novellas, and a few other short stories. How much of that writing would I have gotten done if I did not have my very own laptop in my very own room? Probably not nearly as much.

It has been the most useful tool for my craft of writing that I’ve ever obtained–and really, much more than a tool. To use a term my sister made up, it is my “goochy”; to all you LotR-fans, it is my “precious”; to those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, it is my dearest electronic friend. (And if that conjured up disturbing images of talkative and eccentric robots, I do apologize.)

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It is my preciousssssss . . .

How about you? Grouchy computer? Sleek laptop? Gliding pen or stalwart pencil? Tasty crayons? Charcoal from your campfire? Telepathic brain signals that automatically translate into words in a wordprocesser? (If you’ve found this ability, please tell me how it is done–it would be most helpful.)

What is your writing tool of choice, and why?

Character Interview Attempt

Today I’m going to attempt an interview with one of my characters. I say “attempt” because he is somewhat unsociable (if not downright hostile) and may not appreciate my pestering him with questions.

Background: his name is Bithoa (prounounced bih-THOE-uh), he is a twenty-two year old outlaw, and at the time we meet him he lives in the Land of Darrotai (over the mountains from the Land of Starrellia). He’s from my 8-book fantasy series, The Chronicles of Starrellia, at the moment appearing in books 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (but primarily 2: Out of the Unknown and 5: To Few the Road).

Without further ado, I bring you an attempted interview with Bithoa.

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I am standing in a sunshine-filled forest glade, surrounded by leafy green trees. Before me stands . . . a rather brown figure. A tall young man, dressed in brown leather, with a brown leather vest instead of a shirt, laced up with brown leather laces in the front. His arms are bare and tanned, with more than a couple scars visible on them, and he is holding a transparent double-ended spear made of crystal. His hair is reddish-brown and shaggy, with some of it hanging down partway over one of his deep green eyes, which are staring at me rather dauntingly with mistrust in them. In his face is a wary look and he always seems to be watching out of the corner of his eye, like a hunted animal for the hunters. His eyebrows are drawn together in a frown and his mouth is a thin line as I explain to him that I would like to ask him some questions, as an introduction to some people I know. (I figure a blog might be difficult for him to grasp, since blogs are not exactly medieval . . .)

“Won’t you have a seat?” I ask him, pointing to a stump next to him.

He glances at it but makes no move to sit there, remaining where he stands. I start to sit on the stump opposite, but think better of it. I’m already a whole foot shorter than him, being only 5′ 2” myself, and decide I should not go shorter.

“Tell us about yourself, Bithoa.”

He starts to walk away. “Not interested. Why don’t you annoy David instead? I’m sure he’d love to be interviewed.”

“Get back here! Please,” I add.

He sighs and turns back to me. “Look — I’m sure no one wants to hear about me except my enemies, of which I have far too many already. If you’re so keen on these people learning about me, why don’t you tell them yourself?”

“I want it straight from your mouth. Just . . . tell about your situation. Your life. Anything.”

His eyes harden. “Allow me to say this very clearly: No.”

“Well then I’ll have to go find Calendula and make her ask you nicely. Then you’ll have to,” I threaten.

“What makes you think—?” He breaks off. Rolling his eyes in an expression of “whatever, better get this over with”, he says, “Fine.” Sitting down on the stump, he plunges the spear into the ground next to him, folds his arms, and begins. “Here in this land — which is entirely surrounded by mountains, marsh and desert, and thus inescapable — I’ve been an outlaw for the last ten years. The problem being that there are four different places — Wevion, two kingdoms in Darrotai, and the domain of the Lawdefs, the Law Defiers — and I’m an outlaw in all four.”

I whistle. “An outlaw four times over.”

He glares at me. “Yes. You know that.”

“I . . . was being dramatic,” I say sheepishly.

He looks like he wants to hit me but goes on. “So I’m hunted everywhere I go, with no escape, and now to top it all I’ve got two princes tagging along with me, bringing more danger with them. In short, life is not good right now. And I don’t see it getting any better,” he says with an accusatory glance at me. I cough awkwardly. “Is that enough?” he asks.

“No. Go on.”

He huffs. “Like what?”

“Well . . . how about some more details of your life? Like . . . your past and lineage and what you love and your greatest fears? Would you like to share some of that with us?” I should have known better, knowing what I know about those things. Warning signals go off in my head as his green eyes suddenly blaze with unconcealed anger.

“Oh yes,” he says through his teeth, “I have something I’d really like to share with you.” He stands up, his fingers closing over the shaft of the spear stuck in the ground beside him.

Before I can say or do anything, another voice calls somewhat frantically, “Bithoa!” A boy of sixteen runs up, with light brown hair, dressed in clothes that look like they were once very fine but now look a little the worse for wear, a dark blue cloak billowing behind him as he comes to a halt. A crossbow is slung at his shoulder and he has a long knife on his belt.

OUcover2“Hi, David!” I smile and a wave at the sixteen-year-old main character of Out of the Unknown.

“What is it now?” Bithoa says to David, clearly annoyed.

“Don’t do anything . . .” David starts, with a glance at me.

“Anything? I wasn’t. I was about to do something,” Bithoa interrupts. “And if you don’t leave me alone, I’ll start with you.”

David sighs unhappily. “Why do you have to be so hostile?”

“Me? Hostile?” Bithoa laughs, sarcastic and devoid of humor.

“You can’t hurt David, Bithoa,” I say. “Killing the main character is not allowed. And it’s even more not allowed to kill the author. So why don’t you just sit down again, please?”

“Maybe . . .” David begins.

Bithoa looks at him sharply. “Maybe what? Oh, I know: maybe she should interview you instead.”

“Well, I . . .” David says uncertainly.

Bithoa tugs his double-ended spear from the ground. “I’m off. I’m sure there’s some hunting to be done, or a stick to be whittled, or Donavin to get in a fight with, or some guards to find and have chase me. In short, something more enjoyable than being interviewed.” Though I know he doesn’t enjoy any of those things — except maybe getting in a fight with Donavin. He walks off, while David and I watch helplessly.

“He can be kinda difficult,” David says.

“I heard that,” Bithoa calls back before disappearing among the trees.

David looks at me and shrugs. He sits down on the stump. “Did you have some questions for me? I’d be happy to answer them.”

“Well, at least you’re polite and willing to comply . . .” I think about it, deciding I should try to salvage this interview by getting *someone* to answer some questions. I shrug. “Tell us . . . well, about you.”

David frowns thoughtfully. “Um . . . I’m a prince from Arothin in Darrotai. My older brother Donavin is in line for the throne but . . . there were problems. And now we’re on the run. With Bithoa.”

“What are some things you love or hate or fear?”

“Well, I love my brother if it comes to that. And apples.” He grins. “Hate?” His grin turns to a frown and he shuffles his feet uncomfortably. “Hate is kind of a strong word. I suppose I hate  my uncle and cousin. They killed my father the king, blamed my brother for it, and took over, and now they’ve got all the soldiers out tracking us down. Besides which my cousin Kiya always used to beat me up whenever Donavin wasn’t there to beat him up back for me . . . So I guess I fear him. And I fear for Donavin — he’s, well, a bit reckless and hotheaded, and sometimes I’m afraid he’ll just get himself killed one of these days because of it. Especially the way he and Bithoa rub each other the wrong way . . .” David glances all about and murmurs, “I fear Bithoa sometimes too. He . . . kind of scares me. And there are times when I just want him to leave. Or to throw him in the river . . .”

BithoaSketch“I heard that, too,” Bithoa calls.

David jumps. He clears his throat and squirms on the stump, his eyes appealing to me. “Um . . . could we talk about something else, please?”

The voice of David’s brother Donavin calls from somewhere on the other side of the glade. “You should leave poor David alone and interview me instead. I am the crown prince after all.”

“Oh yes,” Bithoa’s voice says derisively. “Heir to a throne that’s been stolen, and here you are, a fugitive, running from the guards who should be serving you. A lot of good your royalness is doing you.”

“Shut your mouth, outlaw!”

“Don’t call me that,” Bithoa growls.

“Oh, and what shall I call you then?”

“You needn’t call me anything, princeling.”

“Princeling!” Donavin exclaims in rage. I can practically hear him fuming. David and I look at each other, wincing. A few more heated words are exchanged between Donavin and Bithoa before sounds of a scuffle break out.

David sighs and hauls himself off the stump to his feet. “I’d probably better go see to that . . .”

***

And there you have it. It was not supposed to get that long, or that sidetracked. And I guess I introduced more than one character. But it is so hard to get some of my less sociable charries pinned down long enough for an interview . . . Hope you enjoyed! I definitely had a fantastic time writing it.
Do you have any questions to ask them?

“I’m Going On An Adventure!”

(Otherwise entitled: Regarding November–Yes, I’m One of Those Crazy Writers)

“I’m going on an adventure!”

-Bilbo Baggins in the film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

As previously mentioned, fall is in the air . . . and adventure approaches. What adventure, you ask? Well, NaNoWriMo, of course.

Yep, National Novel Writing Month has crept up on us once again. 50,000 words in 30 days. A whole novel in the month of November. Who’s insane enough to try it? Me, for one. Because it makes me write. And it adds a measure of community to an otherwise solitary occupation. And it’s fun. I’d say those are three very good reasons.

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Ah, NaNo . . .

The thrill, the joy, the panic, the excitement.

The frantic brainstorming, the sleepless nights, the overdoses of chocolate and caffeine.

The despair, the exhilarating discoveries, the unexpected plot-twists.

The characters in our brains alternating between pestering us, ignoring us, and locking us up.

The frenzied sound of the tappity-tappity-tap of fingers going crazy on keyboards, and minds going crazy in heads.

We love it, we hate it, we fear it, we revel in it.

It is obvious we writers are crazy.

I have a feeling it will be even crazier for me this year than usual. Not only am I going to try to write 50,000 words, but I’m also going to try to keep up with correspondence (ha), with life (double ha), and to cap it all, this year I’m a co-ML (Municipal Liaison) for my local region, which means I’ll be helping organize events, urging on other writers and answering their questions, and generally being about three times as busy as usual. In short, I’m more excited than ever.

This month I’ll be frantically brainstorming away, trying to gather together a plot for this year’s novel, a contemporary fantasy adventure. (Normally I’m a medieval fantasy person. But this story was too yummy to pass up.)

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Underground Rainbow
Teen photographer Jancsi Foil encounters a world of fantastical creatures living undetected alongside the humans of Earth. Griffins, Gnomes, Mermaids: dwellers in sky, earth and water, with Leprechauns betwixt the three, trying to unite them in friendship—though not averse to some mischievous fun along the way. Jancsi and his friends are swept along in a colorful yet perilous adventure that will endanger everything they hold dear, as they join forces with the creatures and attempt to restore freedom to all—and find that golden friendship at the end of the rainbow.

There’s a colorful (sorry, couldn’t resist) cast of characters in this story that I just can’t wait to “meet”! If I can get the plot figured out I think this will be a spectacularly fun NaNo!

So . . . How about you? Are you willing to take the plunge? Come and join me on this epic writing adventure of fifty-thousand words in thirty days!

Everyone has a story in them. Set aside time to write the one you have to tell.

NaNoWriMo: write a novel in November.

If I can do it, so can you.

http://www.nanowrimo.org

What will you be writing this year? And are you excited yet?