Winner! NaNoWriMo 2019

At beginning of this week I figured if I averaged 3300 words a day, I could finish my NaNoWriMo project on Wednesday, leaving the rest of the weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving. That averages to around three hours of intensely focused writing a day with no distractions. Lucky for me, two of those days the kiddos were in school and the third they slept in a few hours.

I’m proud to day that with lots of grit and determination (and an unhealthy amount of leftover Halloween candy) I slammed dunked my way to the finish before lunch on Wednesday. There’s nothing quite like typing the words “The End.”

Wow. While I’ve done the challenge for several years now, this is the first time I’ve finished an entire draft of a project with the intention of publishing it later this year. Just thinking about it is both exhilarating and terrifying. What if the story I came up with is actually really stupid and I haven’t realized it yet? What happens then? Was this entire month of work a waste? I guess I’ll find out soon enough when I read it in a few weeks.

Writing Isben’s story was challenging. I was confined to use and stay faithful to the already existing confines of the Stonebearer universe, including what point he needed to reach at the end of the story. While part of this meant a lot of thoughtful review of how that might limit the possibilities, it also meant I had some guidelines to follow – a perk I’d not had before.

The story starts on the day Isben discovers that he possesses the power of the Khandashii and follows his struggle for survival each day after until he reaches the tower of Amul Dun and safety. One of the characters he meets along the way is now my new favorite character, after Bremin of course. The more he showed himself to me, the more I liked him. Sven the bard has some delightful surprises up his sleeves and in his amazing wagon.

Vision board for Isben’s story

Should everything go to plan, Isben’s story will be coming to Amazon March 2020.

For the next two weeks, I will be taking a small break from the intensity of NaNo and will spend my time reading a few amazing books to recharge my batteries, possibly writing a short story or two, and catching up on the dozens of things that I allowed to slip through the cracks as well as what needs to be done to prepare for the re-release of Stonebearer’s Betrayal in early January.

Stay tuned, there are a lot of awesome things in the works!


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Vision Board for The Path to the Tower

As much as I’d love to write an insightful and deep post about a topic which is dear to my heart, I’d much rather share some of the art and inspiration behind my current work in progress. That, and like I said earlier, posts this month might be short and sweet due to NaNoWriMo (just passed 36,000 words, woot!).

This is my vision board for The Path to the Tower (working title), a novella that center’s around Isben’s journey to reach Amul Dun, the tower of the Stonebearers. He makes the unlikeliest of friends, attracts a powerful enemy, and learns that life sometimes doesn’t go as planned.

Enjoy!

Fellow creatives, do you use any type of vision board to help you organize your thoughts as you work? I’d love to see it! Share links in the comments!


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NaNoWriMo 2019 – Halfway Point

Whoa-oh, we’re half way there … whoa-oh, livin’ on a prayer!

We just passed the halfway point of the challenge and my story ideas are turning into their own little monsters that taunt me at night. I thought I had an okay grasp of what the story needed to do. That is, until I realized that I had no actual villain to defeat. Gasp. I’ve written short stories where there is no villain and it’s worked fine, but I came to realize with a screeching halt that I’ve never done something novel length this way.

Cue the intense character naval gazing. This brings me to problem #2 – I have a set point where Isben needs to end up at the end of all this, and I can’t change it no matter how much the interesting story fairies try to convince me other wise.

This is hard.

In the past, when I’ve been bedazzled by a sparkly plot bunny, I’ve had full permission to follow it to my hearts content. That’s where some of my best ideas come from, chasing bunnies (and watching an unhealthy amount of Netflix, but I digress).

Dearest Isben, stop being so gosh darn internally complicated. I’ve had to psychoanalyze literally everything about you from your childhood upbringing and the expectations of your family, to your bizarrre irresistable urge to leave home, to how your culture has molded you into something that you feel is not right, and all to find a conflict compelling enough to drive you through this story without turning you into furniture.

That would be so much easier. Isben – you’re a couch now. Stop wanting an active role in your life and I’ll drag you to where you need to be without all the trust issues and drama. All I need is a moving truck and a GPS. You’d get there safe and sound with a minimum amount of drama.

Man, that would be dull reading.

Eyeroll. Fine. But I’m warning you, Isben, not only are you not going to be furniture, but you’ll have to struggle through every page until you reach the end. Don’t worry, I gave you a friend, he might quite possibly be the world’s most annoying bard, but he’s got a heart of gold. You’ll make it. I just need to decide in how many pieces…

Here’s to another ten days and the completion of this crazy project! Forget the treats, send a therapist.


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Time Management for People with Better Things to Do

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Time. It’s one of those fluid things everything thinks they can control. Funny thing is, no matter what you do, it keeps sliding by. This morning, I’ve had to sneak down to my evil lair two different times to finish different tasks due today. Normally, my Friday mornings tend to be chaotic as I work to get kiddos out the door on a different schedule. Getting any writing work done is usually not on the table until well after 9:30.

Today ended up being different. I know I’m going to be super busy the rest of the day and therefore needed to get my two small deadlines finished and scheduled before heading out on errands. Yay?

Should I have done those two deadlines yesterday when things weren’t as chaotic and not wait until the last minute? Yeah… but I didn’t. If this whole authoring business was easy or predictable, everyone would do it. Now if the voice of reason would please shush? Thank you.

Instead of enjoying my bonus sleeping time that I normally sneak in on Friday, I got my whiny behind up and marched it down to my office to finish task #1 – a scheduled post on the Strong Moms Facebook group. Every Friday I leave a mom friendly tip helping and encouraging women to go reach their goals and life a fulfilling life. It doesn’t take long, but it does take time.

After my first two headed out to school and my oldest was well on his way to being ready, I ran down stairs again to write this lovely post for my regularly scheduled Friday blog. Yeah, not sure if this one is paying off, but it’s something that’s important to me. Not every post can be wonderful or insightful – but every once in a while, I surprise myself.

My other big writing goal for the day is to knock out more words on my NaNoWriMo project and continue pushing forward on that goal. I’d like to do 2000 so I can stay ahead, just in case there are days later in the month, like Thanksgiving, where it will be that much harder to sneak away and write. Knowing my schedule, I’ll be happy with 500, as long as something gets on the page.

The bottom line is, everyone has different time constraints and scheduling needs. If you’ve got a goal and keep putting it off because you can’t find the time, I urge you to reconsider what that actually means. There are weird pockets of time sitting around waiting for you to grab them. Some of them might be funny looking, some might be inconvenient, but they are there.

Now, go do the thing – and then tell me all about it!


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Book Review: Word Painting Revised Edition the Fine Art of Writing Descriptively, by Rebecca McClanahan

For November, and NaNoWriMo month for many of my fellow writers, I thought it would be appropriate to review a book that covers an important part of writing craft – description. There aren’t many books out there about this topic and indeed it would be a challenge to cover the subject in a way that didn’t sound just a little bit crazy. This book does an admirable job.

About the book:

In ten chapters McClanahan discusses different ways to approach the art of turning mundane descriptions into word paintings that grab the reader’s attention and helps feel part of the world they’re reading about. She explores using the different senses, how descrioption can help the reader understand character and setting, and using figurative language and metaphor. The book is thorough, insightful, and includes plenty of examples to help teach.

My review:

For me, the book was an excellent reminder of how much power lies in the perfect description. An evocative piece of description has the power to transport the reader to another place and time where they feel they are living within the pages and seeing and feeling the story through the eyes of the characters. A poor piece of description can do the opposite, pull the reader out of the story, confuse them, and make it hard to understand what is going on in the story.

Perhaps the most useful advice gleaned from the book is the importance of anchoring description deeply into the point of view of the person experiencing it. If the character is a baker, we want to feel the grit of the flour that has collected on the backs of his hands and reminisce of better times as we smell the comforting aroma of fresh bread.

Another thing that McClanahan does well is find hundreds of different examples to help solidify what she is trying to teach. Some of these are remarkable pieces of description that indeed transported me into the world of the scene. When I read them, it made me want to be able to do the same with my own writing.

Recommendations:

I recommend this to writers who feel they have the basics covered and are looking for a way to improve. This book is wonderful to help see different angles that can be taken in a passage of description and helps break writers out of old familiar patterns. It also shows how description doesn’t have to be long to be powerful.

I would not recommend this to brand new writers. While it’s full of important information, it’s also overwhelming with just how many possibilities there are in any given line of description. The best time to read this would be when a writer feels they have established their voice and are looking for ways to improve and deepen it.

I give this book 3 stars.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to AmazonGoodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

NaNoWriMo 2019

It’s that magical time of year again! No, not the holidays. Oh … wait, those are magical too. I’m talking about NaNoWriMo, the one month novel writing challenge that has grabbed the worldwide writing community by the fingers.

Over the years I’ve participated and succeeded in meeting the 50,000 goal words enough times that I have to think back and count on my fingers. It’s at least four times, if not five. Not super important. Some years I’ve used the challenge to write the second half of books in progress, like the upcoming release of book two in the Stonebearer Saga, Stonebearer’s Apprentice. This year I’m trying something new – writing a novella set in the Stonebearer Universe.

The lovely people running NaNoWriMo create awesome badges and swag for those participating. Aren’t they nice?

Novellas are short books ranging between 20,000 and 50,000 words (~80-150 pages) long and would be about half the length of the books I normally write. Yep, I’m excited.

The story will center around Isben, a young man who plays a critical role in helping the main character, Katira, in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. I will be backing up several years into his past and showing the path he needed to take to become part of the Stonebearer society.

Most years I promise myself I’ll do lots of great pre-planning and figure out all my characters and places and significant story points before the start of November. AAAAND, most years I end up running out of time and end up figuring it out as I go.

Guess who ran out of time again. Yep. This girl. Remember that awesome trip I took with my family? Turns out it’s really hard to work on stuff like this in a car. Some people can do it, I’m not one of them.

That said, normally scheduled blog posts are probably going to be short and snarky this month.

Wish me luck (and send treats!)


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