Sunday Scoopful and #ROW80

Can you believe it is already the third Sunday of the Month? Where did the days go? Next week is Thanksgiving.

Being the third weekend of the month means that yesterday was the third Saturday of the month, and it was the day my other writing group meets. The Monadnock Writers’ Group meets every third Saturday of the month from September to June at the Peterborough, New Hampshire town Library, downstairs. For all but two months, we are entertained by a speaker, a guest who shares tidbits about what it means to be a writer. We have had screenplay writers, poets, artists, photographers, and others who have something to share with the art form of writing.

This weekend we were visited by Judson D. Hale, Sr., The current editor-in-chief of The Old Farmer’s Almanac and Yankee magazine and is Chairman of the Board at Yankee Publishing. He shared tidbits of what an editor faces when it comes to submissions. He gave many example of queries he has received over the years and why he told the person no and why he said yes to a story. He said it was all in the blurb or tag line of the story on whether or not he found the story to his appeal. If the story line sounded boring he would say no, and if they gave him a blurb with juice to it, he would say yes. It wasn’t the subject matter that made the difference it was all in the way it was presented.

Judson had some genuinely excellent points, and he shared his witty humor with us along with some of his favorite quotes.

So who is doing NaNo-ing?

*raises hand…

ROW80 Check In:

I’m still NaNo-ing. Yep, that’s right. I haven’t given up hope just yet, even if I missed writing a few days this week.

Remember, my best is writing a first draft in 90 days. So, if I can beat that best, then I win my own personal goal, even if I don’t finish the work in progress in due time to make the NaNo goal.

Today I am happy to report my 5k for today. I might finish the first draft by the end of January.

I did have to go and revamp my plot outline before I could go any further. It is so helpful to have that plot point by plot point all figured out. The characters may not always behave the way you might want them too, but if the goal is there already for them to get to the rest of the character building falls into place.

It does not matter if your character is not as strong as you wanted them to be. They can still be kick ass and sweet and simple too. The most crucial thing is to make your characters likeable. Then you can pick the characters off one at a time if they don’t want to behave.

I must say, I can’t kill off characters as easily as Suzanne Collins did in Hunger Games. As I read her book I was miffed at how easily she was able to kill them, one after the other. In the end, I found myself saying – out loud – huh? Now why did she kill him off, I kind of liked him? He must have been a terribly crummy boy for her to do that to him.

Now I am learning the art of killing off characters (lol). At the 20% point of the work in progress, I have successfully managed to kill off one character. I wonder how many more characters that I can kill off by the end of the story.

Happy NaNo-ing and may your WIP treat you well for your next ROW80 check in.

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Writing to Thrive

Today is the third Saturday of the month which means it is my monthly Monadnock Writers’ Group meeting.

First off, I want everyone to know – I stepped out of my box. That’s right, out of my comfort zone. I did this by being the ten minute speaker this morning. That means I had to stand up in front of the group and read for ten minutes.

It went well.

I read an excerpt from Road Salt, the second chapter, and it was well received. Even though I was feeling shaky about the whole ordeal I did it.

This may have brought my confidence level up one more notch.

We had a speaker too. She has been speaking for the past year and I loved her topic – Thriving Creatively. She hit the nail on the head for every artists I know, even writers.

Her name is Michelle Aldredge, a writer, photographer and creator of Gwarlingo, an arts and culture website.

For more info: http://monadnockwriters.org/programs.html or

GWARLINGO.com

She described Thriving Creatively to be a form of growth, contentment, working deeply, fulfilling our potential.

But many of us struggle with thriving, especially when it comes to writing. We have many barriers in place. If we don’t then we are probably social paths and fear nothing.

She delved into the barriers that keep us from thriving – leading to the excuse of writers block and broke this into two groups.

Practical Obstacles

Physiological Obstacles

Isolation
– being alone as a writer and viewing oneself as an outsider.

Money – challenge of making a living

Career Management
– Marketing and Networking

Skill
– Learning the craft

Technology – Internet as a resource or a distraction

Fear – of doing it wrong, external judgment

Shame – being extremely vulnerable

 

Next she showed the correlation between Thriving and Struggling.

Thrive

Struggle

Play

Rest

Worthiness

Trust

Creative

Acceptance

Intuition

Hopeful

Authenticity

Grateful

Compassion

Courage

Perfection

Numbing

Certainty

Exhaustion

Self sufficient

Being cool

Fitting in

Judgment

Workaholic

Scarcity

Sarcasm

fear

 

Those who thrive as writers exhibit a strong sense of love and belonging. They have a sense of worthiness and the courage to be imperfect and compassion for themselves and others. They have found connections for themselves and others in artist communities like ROW80, RWA, local writing groups or an artist colony like McDowell Art Community.

They have learned that they must be vulnerable to create. If you strive to create the worst you could possible do then the world will open up for you. To Do – that’s why some say – Do it now!

Practical challenges are about money and making a living. Scarcity can teach us to have a different mindset and find gratitude for what we have. Once we are grateful stress seems to fade away.

Isolation can be a tricky one. Learning to risk participating is a good way to start off. Just asking for help is also good. It can come in the form of finding a mentor or taking an online workshop. And never equate acceptance or rejection with self-worth.

Skill = Practice. You only get better at something when you practice it regularly. This does not just go for learning a musical instrument but also when writing or drawing or anything that requires a skill. Don’t give up – stay on the bus.

Technology can help or hinder. Obsessing with technology can be a sign of numbing when you should be creating. Learn to use it mindfully.

When we learn to thrive we learn to survive and create that which we were meant to create.

 

ROW80 Update:

Eh – I was struggling last week. I fell into what I thought was being vulnerable by allowing my first draft to be critiqued. It slowed me down, but it didn’t put a stop t me. Instead it just made me rethink the first chapter and I believe I have made it much better. Now I feel I can go on. I have three weeks left until the next critique group. I have to finish the story before then or I won’t go to the critique. Vulnerably, I am not yet strong enough for that while using a first unfinished draft, even though I do feel stronger now for having done that.

I will take baby steps from now on instead of trying to run across the room before learning how to walk. (LOL)

I know I will be running before long and saying catch me if you can.

So nope, no word count for last week, but the weekend is still young and this is the time period when I do most of my writing anyways.

Are you struggling?

What’s your weakness?

What makes you stop writing?

 

Speaker at the Bow Meeting #ROW80 #RWA

Yesterday I became officially hooked into the Romance Writers World. That’s right, now I am a member of the NH Chapter too. This is a good thing. They are such a great bunch of gals and fun to be around and full of great information. They meet at the Baker Free Library in Bow, NH on the second Saturday of the month.

We had a speaker visit us at the meeting yesterday. This is one of the great benefits of attending a local writing group meeting. Next weekend I will be attending the meeting at the Monadnock Writers’ Group at the Peterborough Library on Saturday. They too will have a speaker.

Our guest was Kristan Higgins and wow what a speaker!

 

She is the author of 9 bestselling – 9 mind you – romances. She is also funny, witty, and full of great information. I see she has a blog too. http://kristanhiggins.com/blog/

So yesterday she left us with some tidbits on writing. These bits would probably work for almost any type of fictional writing and not just Romances.

The title of her presentation was Chapter One – I am born

Kristan explained to us how the first chapter is the most important chapter in any story. It is the chapter that gets the reader to keep coming back for more. It is your hook. So here is a condensed version of some of her tidbits.

  1. “Wicked Awesome First Line”
  2. Tone – Funny, Tragic, Terrifying, Elegant – “Don’t mislead your reader by writing a funny opener and having a tragic ending.”
  3. Theme – “What is your Book about?” – Show what your Character does not know.
  4. Personality – Demonstrate through action – “Beware of the cliché in character development – Create a Character the reader can relate to. “Romances are about the Character.”
  5. Character’s beliefs is somewhere stated
  6. Everyday life & World – where the story takes place and how things work in the character’s world. If the character has emotional scars, give glimpses and let the readers use their own imagination.
  7. Keep the first chapter Lean and only include the key players of the story.
  8. Seeds of the past – Flash backs, but don’t tell the reader EVErything.
  9. Immediate Goal
  10. Character Flaw – “why she doesn’t have what she wants just yet.”
  11. Character in Action – “Don’t have the character just sit there doing nothing. Create some disturbance or conflict, hooking into the emotions of the character so the reader can relate to them.
  12. The Hook – Last line of the chapter and its job.
  13. Call to the Adventure – Why life can’t continue to be the same after what has taken place in the first chapter.
  14. “The last chapter of the story should echo the first chapter.”

Then she gave us a list of NO – No’s

  1. Flash back – sometimes okay if used properly
  2. Dreams
  3. Secondary Plot lines
  4. The next four heroes & heroines in your series – keep them out of the picture as best as you can and don’t let them steal the show.
  5. Overt revelations
  6. Grocery list of descriptions
  7. Prologues can sometimes be allowed if they are very important to the story. But don’t give away the trump card.

 

At our meeting we have a Pro Liaison and she is great at giving us writing challenges to take us through the month. They are more like exercises to help us get out of the way of our muses. This month’s challenge is to write crap for 5 minutes every day to kill your inner critic.

Okay – I found an outlet for my crap writing. I have this manuscript I started in 2010 for NaNo and never finished it because I thought the story line was crap – Maybe something can happen with it and I can shape it after I finish writing the crap in the first draft. Yesterday I did 500 words in the five or so minutes I worked on it. Who know what could happen with this story.

 

ROW80:

This week was a blah week. I was sick and didn’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping. I even missed a day of work from my everyday job. It isn’t like me to call in sick.

I’m feeling better, and yesterday I was able to pick up some motivation from the girls at the Bow meeting. So yeaH! I added another 1k words to Road Salt. The first draft isn’t anywhere near the word count I am seeking but at least the story line is over 2/3rds done. I can see the end of the story off in the distance.

After what I did with the revision on Witch Book I am sure I will be able to make my word count when I go back and add some fluff to the story. I tend to do the opposite of most writers. I write tight and have to force myself to add the stuff our imaginations are made of.

Have a great week and may the ROW be with you… If you have time come check out some other ROWers and cheer them on Linky List.

 

 

Leafing into #ROW80

Autumn… Sigh… Summer has fallen along with the temperatures in New Hampshire. We said, “Ugh,” after lighting the woodstove last night. Many New Hampshire residents are feeling they will surely see snow once again before Halloween.

It is kind of funny how the seasons change so fast here. Just last week the trees had green leaves in them. As of today, most of them have turned and are now carpeting our lawns.

If you are a leaf peeper, now is a great time to take a trip to NH to see some really pretty colors. That is if it manages to stop raining long enough for anyone to enjoy the trip. The colors always look so much more beautiful when the sun shines on them.

Mike took the screen house down yesterday. He almost took the snow blower out but he decided to wait another week.

Last year at this time we had a surprise snow storm that dumped over two feet of snow on us a week or two before Halloween. So when Halloween came around it didn’t feel like Halloween, it felt more like Thanksgiving.

Survived the Book Signing:

 I survived the book signing last Saturday, in fact I had a grand old time. It was a small turn out but that was fine for me. It just made it easier to face the crowd. My friend Linda was a great help. She was able to keep me focused and I don’t remember her ever needing to tell me to breath. Just her being there helped me feel more confident in myself.

I am ready and willing to do an event again, with her help of course.

I was told at work that I should have put a posting about it up on our Cafeteria bulletin board. I really didn’t know I could have done that. It was the lady from human resources who had told me to do this next time. So I say – Hmm.

Have you done a Local Book Signing yet? I would love to hear about your first experience.

Mine was – I showed up early. I had read all over the internet about book signings and they all said show up early. (Don’t show up early – at least not an hour early.) Ten minutes early is alright but not an hour early like I did. One good thing though by doing the hour early thing… I was able to spend some time talking to the store owner and was able to learn a little bit more about the Kobo vs. Google eBooks for Independent Book Sellers. Our store is considering carrying and selling the Kobo eReaders.

Offer to bring copies of your books. I was glad I had brought some copies of Friends of Choice and my Short Story Collection. It gave the guest a good variety of books to choose from.

If you have a co-host for your event, interact with them while they do their thing. This seems to liven things up. I saw how my friend did this for me, I did not step up and do this for her, mostly over the fact that I was still in shock from speaking to the public. It was like I was in some far away land and when it was over I was like dah…why didn’t I help her the way she helped me. I was a bit beside myself for not doing this.

ROW80 Check in:

I missed Sunday’s check in. What’s new right?

Anyways – After the book signing I added a thousand more words on Saturday. Then I did open the file on Sunday but only added a hundred or so words and the same again on Tuesday. Today before writing this blog I added another thousand words to the manuscript. It is going slowly. I have to get my butt into gear – NaNo is right around the corner.

Mind you, I only do NaNo to help get myself motivated. I have never once finished a manuscript on time. That is not my real intentions for doing NaNo. I think I like the forums and finding the motivational blogs. It always help to find a way to get pumped to write, just like is done for ROW80 with the inspirational posts. I look forward to those posts every week from our ROW80 mentors.

Well, I hope you are all finding ways to ROW your manuscript along.

Keep on writing.

Stop by and check out how the other ROWers are doing on the Linkey List.

Weekend Warrior

I guess I am a Weekend Warrior when it comes to writing.

Do you have a particular day where you find that you have the highest success at finding your word count for your work in progress?

I do.

It is Saturdays and Sundays. Those are my two days where I can sit undisturbed all morning long and write like there is no tomorrow. Unless there is a meeting I need to go to that day as was the case last Saturday and this coming Saturday.

From now on, I am going to try to focus more of my writing time around both of these two days, with the exception of this weekend.

This Friday I will be getting my root canal and then on Monday will be the temporary crown. So, I took the whole weekend off.

I think, I hope, that I will be in the mood to write after the root canal and then again on Monday after the crowning. This means that I will try and give myself a word count goal to shoot for over the weekend.

If I can hit 5k words a day during my so called long weekend I should be able to get to the middle of the story and quicken the pace.

When I write, I always fear that the story is dragging on – and on – and on for chapters at a time.

So those are my plans for this weekend, besides going to the first Mondnock Writers’ Group meeting this Saturday morning.

English: Main Street East, Peterborough, New H...
English: Main Street East, Peterborough, New Hampshire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If anyone is interested, we meet at the Peterborough, NH town library in the conference room in the lower portion of the library at 9:45 am. These meetings are open to the public and last until somewhere around 11 am.

At each of these monthly meetings we are visited by a guest speaker to talk about the writing process.

We’ve had many great speakers since I joined in 2010.

If you have never been to a writing group in your area, I want to suggest that you should do so if you are really serious about entering a writing career. You not only get to make some really great friends but you do tend to leave with a few new bits of information you didn’t have before you attended the meeting.

ROW80 Check – in:

Last Sunday I had a really great day for my work in progress. I was able to add 5k words to the story that has been troubling me for the past month.

Maybe I was avoiding it and making excuses not to write. Who knows? But I was real happy with what I did accomplish this past Sunday. That boosted my manuscript to being 27% done.

Now for the rest of the week, the only writing I have done has been my blogging. That’s it.

After writing this blog, I will have my 500 words for the day. Snicker…snicker…

So here’s to a productive long weekend.

Want to meet some of the other ROW’ers? Click on the Linkey List.