The 777 Challenge

Annie mentioned this challenge that to me that she did on her blog, and so I was curious to see how it might look for me.

How it works: 7th page of current WIP, 7 lines down, 7 lines.

This didn’t work out in as neat of a spot as I hoped, so I bent the rules a little, but it’s close enough.

Also, I’m terrified of doing this.

There is nothing profound in these 7 lines. No extraordinary writing. And despite this, I also have the fear of someone stealing the words anyway.

But my first draft didn’t even contain all these lines. Some of this was written recently as I’m going trough revisions for my NaNoWriMo story Earthbound from last year. At least I’m not revealing a section of my story that I feel is super special. Yet at the same time, these lines do say something that moves the story froward.

I want to become more serious about putting myself out there as an aspiring author, which is why I decided to do this. So without further ado and without context of the story (I’ll tell you one thing: Noa is a girl), here’s my 777:

Dad sighs, and I turn around so I don’t have to see the disappointment on his face. “Noa,” he says steadily before I can walk away, and I look back to him and realize he doesn’t actually look disappointed, just sad.

“I’m sorry. Your mother is right. We never intended to stay up here so long without a visit to Earth. But ultimately, the decision is yours. OK?”

I nod before I turn back and head for my room to wait for Dr. Avett’s arrival and my final sentence.

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New Writing Goals!

As many of you know, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time this past November. It was hard, but such a worthwhile experience. I exceeded the 50,000 word goal and even completed the first draft of a brand new novel ALL IN ONE MONTH. Considering that the first novel I wrote took, uh, years, I was floored I was even capable of that, even if a lot of what I wrote needed to be reworked, revised, rewritten, or flat out deleted. But at only 51K, I knew my story was still a little underdeveloped and I would need to beef it up. I stepped away from my story in December but finally came back to it in January, though I didn’t add much until these past few weeks.

Now this is where I’m at:

end-word-count-earthboundIt feels good to have 10,000 more words that my November goal, and to feel my story has some more of the development it needed. It still needs work, and I am very aware of this. I have decided to spend the rest of March writing and revising as much as I can stand, and deciding who the very first beta readers are going to be that I will send it to, the ones I trust will read through the crap and see the good stuff and tell me where to expound on the good and get rid of the bad.

Then for April I have decided I will reset my sights to something new…

camp-nanoCamp NaNoWriMo is run by the same folks who run the November event, but it’s done in either April or July, and you set your own word count goal ranging from 10,000 – 999,999 (for the record, pretty sure I’ll never be able to do the latter for one story! Especially in one month!). You can’t tell from my profile page here, but I have decided to set a goal of 20,000 words, which after what I did in November is extremely doable, but is also more than I generally do in a month. It averages to 5,000 words a week, which helps break it down into smaller, even more doable goals.

As you can see, the title is “TBD,” meaning I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet. I do know it will be one of my older ideas that I’ve started but not gotten very far with, and I think I know which one I’m leaning towards, but I can also change my mind over the next few weeks.

After April, hopefully my 2-3 beta readers will have suggestions to help me dive back into revising Earthbound (my project from November), and I’ll probably rework that and go through more beta readers again before I get back to what I write in April. But after what NaNoWriMo did for me, I can’t ignore that setting these goals for myself and having the chance to mark these milestones really works for me, much more than when I’m just trying to write willy-nilly, and so I want to do it again to get the ball rolling on another story.

If you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April, let me know! I was thinking about doing the cabin thing but want  to request cabin mates I know! 

November Reflections

November was a unique month for me, so though this is not something I would normally do on the blog,  I wanted to take a post to reflect on the month.

What happened in terms of…

Reading: I didn’t read, at all. It wasn’t weird at first, since I used to not read all the time, but probably about halfway through the month it started to feel weird. Especially when I realized how much everyone in the blogsphere had read in those two weeks that I hadn’t.

TV watching: I haven’t watched as much Fringe thanks to live TV shows and basketball season. So my husband and I are still very slowly making our way through the final season of Fringe, which is short, and have also been keeping up with Castle and Agents of SHIELD. And then I watched Almost Human last week and I think I want to start watching it too. Still need to catch up on the first two episodes of that.

Movie watching: I saw three movies in the theater, which is also unusual: Ender’s Game, Thor 2, and Catching Fire. I reviewed them all on here. I was hoping to watch The Book Thief but it just now came into theaters in my area, so I hope I can catch it before it leaves (especially since next weekend for me is SLAMMED).

Writing: Well, I exceeded my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words! Yay! *Confetti!* I might have technically written some of those words in late October, but they were edited and typed/pasted into a new word document starting November 1. And come on, writing even close to that many words in one month was a super major accomplishment for me. Writing a story from beginning to end (well, mostly, I did skip around just a little) was also quite a feat for me. Is most of it crap? You bet. But I’ll worry about that later. The point is, the words are written down at all, and that’s better than where they were a month ago.

Blogging: It was hard to keep up with blogging as well this month because of my focus on writing, but I did better than I thought I would. I loved doing Sci-Fi Month and am so glad I participated, even if some of my posts didn’t turn out as grandiose as I had originally planned because I didn’t write them far enough ahead of time. I wish I could have read more posts from the event from bloggers I don’t normally follow. As it is, I’m still trying to catch up on posts from bloggers I do follow posted a few days ago…

My personal life: I got some news that was hard to receive. It’s not about an illness or anything like that, it’s just a change in my life that is going to be hard for me to get used to, but I am extremely thankful for God and for people in my life (particularly my husband) who will help me through the change.

My thoughts on the NaNoWriMo experience…

writing-about

Would I do it again? Maybe, if it felt right. It is stressful, and it is hard. For some reason, I wanted to give up on the SECOND TO LAST DAY OF THE MONTH. You would think it’s so close at that point, and that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but for some reason, I was about to crack. Thankfully, my husband encouraged me to push on when I didn’t want to! In addition to his encouragement, I also feel I was able to meet this goal thanks to some holiday time off, my strong intrinsic motivation to meet goals, and all the sweet Internet people who encouraged me along the way! THANK YOU!

It was a good exercise for me to do this year. I needed it as a kick in the pants. I am very glad I did it this time.

What did I learn? Just write something. Don’t worry about perfection. Things can be cleaned up later. It can’t be cleaned up if there’s nothing there at all. And I learned that I am capable of pushing through Act 2, where my story always struggles and I always give up. And of course, it’s way easier said than done! I kept reading and hearing, Push through it. It’s OK to write crap, just write. But sometimes it’s hard to just write when you have no idea what your character wants or needs or what should happen next or you don’t know what day of the week it is (either in the fiction world or the real world) and your brain’s gone to mush. I’m going to let my story sit and cool for the month of December, focus back on reading and get through the holidays, and then in January I’ll come back to it and see if I think it can be redeemed. I think I had some good ideas but I ended up with more cheese and less dynamic scenes than all the feels I was hoping for.  I feel like I have written a lot better, more dynamic scenes before, but I suppose when you’re just trying to grind out content it’s hard to get as good emotional writing as I expect myself to write. Hopefully when I go back, I’ll find I can totally refresh these scenes and make them much, much better. 

Will this novel become more than a NaNoWriMo project? I hope so. When I started, I really wanted this to the book that I would use to query agents, possibly as soon as next year (probably later in the year though). But as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, it’s pretty craptastic right now, so we’ll have to see. I did lose a lot of interest in the story too, but I’m going to attribute that again to the force-able churning out of content I was doing for it. I hope I love it again next year when I read over it with new eyes. And I do think I have good characters.

And it feels good to be a NaNo winner!

nano-winner2-crop

Honestly, for anyone who tried NaNoWriMo this year, even if you didn’t hit the 50,000 word goal, if you kept chugging at it you’re still a winner because you wrote your heart out and attempted something most people never will: novel writing! So congratulations to us all!

My NaNoWriMo Project Playlist

One of  the suggested posts for Writer’s Unite is to create and share a playlist for your novel. I was actually working on developing a playlist before I saw this suggestion, at which point I decided I would have to share it with you all! Some songs I chose for lyrics, some I chose for mood, but most are chosen for both. (BTW, there are repeat artists because I listen to a lot of the same artists over and over again! Also, I included videos for the ones I think do the best with demonstrating what I am going for with both mood and lyrics.) Hope you enjoy!

playlist

1. Paradise, Coldplay

2. How to Save A Life, The Fray

3. Man on the Moon, Phillip Phillips

4. So Easy, Phillip Phillips

5. Misguided Ghosts, Paramore

6. All I Wanted, Paramore

7. When It Rains, Paramore

8. Souvenirs, Switchfoot

9. Thrive, Switchfoot

10. C’mon, C’mon, by Switchfoot

11. The Violet Hour, The Civil Wars

12. This Time, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

13. Crave, For King and Country

14. Let Me Fall For You, David Cook

15. Always Somewhere Close, Lifehouse

16. Time, Hans Zimmer

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, what artists and/or songs are on your playlist and how do they convey what you’re writing? 

Writers Unite Intro Post!

For NaNoWriMo, I’m joining up with some other writers from the blogsphere for a group called Writer’s Unite! If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, be sure to check it out!

I feel like I already explained what I’m doing in my Why I’m Doing NaNoWriMo This Year post earlier, so I’ll try to give you some new insight in this post. I’ve been writing stories since I was in the first grade, but this will be my first time to attempt NaNoWriMo. Why? Because I didn’t get super serious about writing until my last semester of college, and the thought of writing SO MANY WORDS in so little time terrified me! However, over the past four and a half years I feel like I have been honing my skills and feel that if I really commit to do this, I can write down 50,000 words in one month (and maybe only 3/4 of them will be crappy). But it will be a challenge! I work full-time and commute an hour both ways, so there’s 50 hours a week already taken up. Then eating, sleeping, hanging with the hubby are also essentials that take up time. Chores and church take up time too, so let’s just say I don’t have a lot of free time. But I will have three days off work this coming month, and I have one hour  lunch breaks, so hopefully I can find and make some time to make it happen! I just have to convince myself to drag my big laptop up three flights of stairs everyday I go to work! Or at least some days! Other days I can continue to write things out in my notebook, be it scenes or ideas or character info or whatever, as I am doing now.

My goal is straight-forward: to hit the 50k mark. And considering that I write YA and that I tend to not be verbose in my storytelling (at least compared to many novelists), I imagine this could be the entire story. At least until I rewrite, but I won’t worry about that until AFTER November! (Probably after the holiday season, actually.) I feel like just getting a lot of words down would be a huge accomplishment for me, and I suppose as long as I hit 35k and know I did the best I could I won’t beat myself up too badly. 🙂

The title I have selected for this project, assuming it doesn’t change, is Earth Bound. Even though I have dozens of story ideas, most of which I have started but have very little written on, I decided I wanted to work on something new and seemed relevant to me right now. The story centers on Noa Reed, a seventeen year old girl who lives on Delta Space Station. After the loss of a close friend, she becomes addicted to virtual reality, and is sent to Earth to participate in a rehab program.

I have a Pinterest story board for inspiration and you can find me on the NaNoWriMo site under username acps927.

I hope you’ll join us too! Good luck to everyone participating this year!

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Why I’m Doing NaNoWriMo This Year

In November 2011, I decided to use National Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to focus on writing a short story. Which turned into a novella. Which turned into a novel. Which turned into a part of a series. But not all in one month, but over many months, and after changing my ideas so many times for that story itself and for the series, I’ve decided instead of overwhelming myself with big ideas, I was going to go back to focusing on something small again.

5booksatonceAnd by small I mean a full-fledged novel to be written in November (as much as I can, anyway). But just one story, and a stand-alone at that. Hopefully. The other started as a stand-alone short story after all…

However, I have a plan and a plot this time. In 2011, I was going in completely unplanned, discovery writing if you will. Which was kind of fun, and it led to a lot of changes. But this time, I know that to write approximately 50,000 words in one month, I’ll have to be focused. I’ve plotted what I can and written bits and pieces, and the rest will have to find me as I go. I already have the end in mind and I feel the two main characters are well established.

And I have to remember the first draft won’t be a masterpiece. And that’s OK.

I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott right now, which has already been so encouraging for me when it comes to writing. I decided I wanted this to be the last book I read before launching onto this novel writing project, and that in November I might not even read anything. I have spent from February to the present so focused on reading and blogging that writing has taken more of a backseat than I have wanted it to. This is to help re-orient myself back to it. I’ve exceeded my reading goal for the year so it feels easier to move on to writing now. So now I just have to take it sentence by sentence, or as Anne Lamott puts it, bird by bird.

write-a-bookAnyone else participating in NaNoWriMo next month? If you’re a writer, tell me how you stay focused to plug away at your story!