Saturday, November 6, 2010

On the 5th day of NaNo

National Novel Writing Month is in full swing.  Five full days have passed, and writers around the world have started their novels. As of when I loaded the NaNoWriMo page at 6:50 this morning, there have been 520,228,322 collective words written. That is amazing for 5 days.

But back to day 1. I got home from work Monday morning, sat down to write, and realized something slightly troubling: despite my outlining and planning, I had yet to come up with a name for my MC. It was already 8 hours into NaNoWriMo at that point, so I wasn't exactly behind, but I wanted to get started writing as soon as I could, and since I'm terrible with names, I didn't want to waste the time then trying to come up with one.

So I just sat down and started writing. I can always go in and edit a name in for her later, I figured. Better to get the words down to start with.

The thing is, I still have not come up with a name for her. I broke the 10,000 word line last night, and currently have 10,175 words. But have no name for my MC. Over 10,000 words, during which time the only ways I have referred to my MC is by using 'she' and 'her'. That's a lot of words to do that, which got me thinking, wondering, can I write this entire thing without naming her? I'm fully intending to come up with a name and edit it in when I'm done, but for now, can I finish this without a name?

And let me just say I love working in Scrivener. I am just hoping that I can keep up this pace through the whole month so I get my 50,000 words by the end of November, because then I'll get a 50% off coupon for when Scrivener for Windows is officially released.

I'm not sure if the writing is coming along better this year than it has in past years because I have a better outline this time round, or if it is because of working in Scrivener (though that really is nice and easy to do). It might be both. Either way, my novel isn't quite writing itself, but it is coming along very nicely, nice and quickly. 4600 words written on Thursday quickly. 

To sum up the last five days: Scrivener, loving it! Writing, really good! Well, maybe not  good quality, but really good quantity, despite some unrelated shoulder and wrist pains. And I'm really enjoying writing it.

But as we go into day 6, how are you doing? Have you come up with any personal challenges, or is simply trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days going to be more than enough for you?

Monday, October 25, 2010

NaNo and Scrivener

So NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, next Monday morning at this time, writers in our time zone would have been able to have been working on their novels for 7 hours already. So close, and yet at the same time so far away.

I'm very eager to get started on my novel, to get the first words down on paper (or rather on the screen), but at the same time I know that I don't have my entire 50,000 words plotted out, and I'm kind of worried about that. But at the same time, I do still have a whole week left to finish that planning.

And a week to figure out Scrivener.

Yes, that's right, they are developing a version of Scrivener for Windows, and to make it even better, they are releasing a Beta version in time for people to have a bit of time to figure it out before November 1st.

I've heard some really good things about Scrivener, about how great it is to work with when you're writing novels, and I've looked at the screen shots and the videos. The cork board part of it, in particular, looks amazing to me. I've been using Liquid Story Binder for the past year (got it just before NaNoWriMo last year), and I like it, but from what I've seen, Scrivener looks so much more...user friendly for me.

So who out there is doing NaNo this year? Got your story planned out? I'd love to hear what you're thinking of doing while I'm waiting for them to release the Beta of Scrivener later today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What have I gotten myself into?

I've got a really busy month and a half ahead of me. To start with, I'm planning on taking part in NaNoWriMo, 50,000 words in 30 days. To make it even worse, though, for some reason I decided to take in on myself to become the Bookdriver-in-Chief for the Great NaNoWriMo Book Drive in my city. So not only am I going to be trying my hardest to reach that elusive 50,000 word mark, something I have yet to accomplish, but I'm also going to be working at trying to gather 3000 books for the book drive. At least that's the goal.

So, the last couple days have left me wondering what the hell I've gotten myself into. How did I think I was going to be able to manage all of that? Especially since I work nights.

Another thing that I started wondering just today is whether I've got a good, marketable idea for my NaNo. I mean, of course it's good in that it's got me interested, but I would like to try and sell it, to publish it once I've finished. Problem is, the one that's leading to this uncertainty, is that I've never seen anything like my idea in any books.

It's a vampire story, and there's already a lot of those out there right now. But I'm going to be trying to look at how a person changes when they become a vampire, whether the fact that they become a monster is because of the person they are, because of the nature of the vampiric being, or a combination of the two by looking at a number of different types of vampires. Hopefully it'll draw some attention once it's finished.

I need to push this worry out of my mind, at least until December so I can get through NaNo. Write first, worry about publishing later, I'm going to just have to keep telling myself that. Well, tell myself to stop worrying and simply write.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Branching out

I recently won a copy of The Demon In Me by Michelle Rowen from a contest on Margaret Fisk’s blog, and let me tell you, I’m very glad that I did. Normally, I don’t read paranormal novels, nor books that are classified as actually being romances, though I do tend to favour fantasies that have romantic relationships. Similar, but not the same thing.

Yet, The Demon In Me is classified as a paranormal romance, and while reading it, I realized the truth of something I had heard other writers mention. I really need to branch out in my reading and check out a lot of different genres. Who knows what I might end up learning, or what other amazing books I might find.

Mind you, I haven’t gleaned all that much insight from the book yet, I was mostly just reading it before bed for entertainment this time through, but that doesn’t mean that on a second reading I won’t pick up a few things. In fact, I KNOW that I will, because I remember having at least a couple ‘huh, that’s interesting’ moments while reading. Unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me remember what made me think that now.

The book definitely deserves a second reading, even if it wasn’t for the fact that I need to go back and figure out what those ‘huh’ moments were. Let’s put it this way: instead of finishing up packing and moving stuff last Wednesday morning (we only had our old apartment until Thursday), I spent three hours reading to finish the novel.

This is just one early example. What other out of genre or unusual places have you found that helps your writing? Or, for those who are non-writers, what book have you read outside of your normal realm that has really impressed you?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Setting and reality

How much does setting affect the course of a story, and the characters in it?  Could the setting itself be considered a character?

These are a couple of questions that were recently brought up on Jen's Blog  that have had me thinking the last couple days.  But to add to that, I've been cleaning up a house recently that had been lived in by a couple of rather heavy smokers.  Yeah, really not pleasant, but it added to that thinking about setting today.

As I was wiping down some walls, I noticed that, while at first they didn't seem to be all that dirty, except in a couple places, as I went, WOW there was a big difference in colour.  What had at first appeared to be a light taupe-ish coloured wall was in reality, really a dark cream colour.

I'm sure you can all see the horribleness of this in the present place and time (mainly the living in a place like that, and having to clean it), but what does this have to do with writing, you might be asking.  Well, if that's the result from simply smoking in the house, how clean (or really, no where close to it) should all of the houses and buildings be in the stories we write?  Especially, for those who write in historical and fantasy settings. 

Forget about the cigarettes for the moment and just picture the fires in the kitchens for both cooking and heat.  Imagine all the candles, torches, or gas lamps that would be used in a single household for light.  Even if the chimney for the fire is incredibly efficient, and the lighting (whether candles or lamps) are remarkably clean burning, there's still going to be smoke in the air in the house, still going to be soot that could be smeared around.  How much of that is going to end up on the walls of the house?

Now think about your fictional house: the walls are probably a fairly light colour, or else they're made of wood.  Either way, they probably shouldn't be as light and bright as you'd first imagine unless there is someone there actually cleaning the walls on a regular basis.

What other sorts of things have you found authors to have overlooked in terms of setting?  What details to a setting would help add realism to a story?  Share your thoughts, and maybe the next book you read won't be missing those details.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quick review

I have to say, it is incredibly nice to have a book about vampires it is not 90% about Dracula and Anne Rice.  That's not to say that Dracula and Anne Rice aren't very important in vampire history and legend, but to be honest, if I'm going to the trouble of researching vampires, I would really like to learn about more than simply Dracula and Anne Rice is vampires.

Because of this, Real Vampires, Night Stalkers, and Creatures from the Dark Side by Brad Steiger  was rather refreshing.  Steiger does have an interesting thought on what "real" vampires, though; that they are parasitic spiritual force that will possess humans and give them vampiric tendencies such as drinking blood, or that they are demons, the children of Lilith, who drain people's blood or energy, thereby working at possessing their souls.

Overall the first 200 pages of the book gives some interesting insights, thoughts and ideas about vampires, the kind that are often difficult to get at in other books because of the focus on the "traditional" vampire in literature.  The end of the book becomes more difficult to read.  In places, the writing seems stilted, though it's possible that these stilted sections are accounts from others in their own words; Steiger doesn't always make these sections clear as to who the writer is, sometimes flipping back and forth between reports sent to him and his thoughts on them.  And at the very end of the book was something I really wasn't expecting, a section on extraterrestrial beings.  Sure, I suppose they could fit into the night stalkers or creatures from the dark side, but I was really not expecting to read about aliens in a book titled Real Vampires.

Still, despite these shortcomings in the end of the book, I am still glad I read it as it gave me ideas for my book.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Not mine, but ones I've won.  And one I hope to win.

I'm sharing this, not only because it's awesome that I've won a couple of contests in the last week (even though it most definitely is awesome), but also because the blogs I've won these contests off of are pretty awesome themselves.

The first book I won was The Demon in Me (A Living in Eden Novel) by Michelle Rowen.  Margaret Fisk held the contest on her blog, Tales to Tide You Over.  Definitely a Blog you want to check out, for she posts a lot of different things, from interesting links she's come across each week, to book reviews, and thoughts about writing.  Her blog also links easily to her website, which also has a lot of good links and tools for those with writing interests.  Plus, she says that she might be holding more contests in the future, so well worth repeated visits.

The second book I managed to win is The Body Finder (though she didn't name the author, I believe it is The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting).  This prize comes from a giveaway on The Secret Life of a Bibliophile.  Her blog is mostly reviews and discussions about books she's read, but just going through some of her recent posts, I've found a number of books to add to my to-read list.  Never mind the contests she seems to hold with regularity, it's well worth checking her blog out simply to find something new to read.

And with those two wins, we come to the contest I am currently entered in and hoping to win something.  Wringing out Words, a blog written by soon to be published Shannon Mayer, is holding a contest this week where you can win books or coffee (in the form of Starbucks gift certificates).  I mean, how awesome is that?

I found her, and her blog, via Twitter as she was promoting this contest, and let me tell you, I am very glad I did so far.  She has recently scored herself an agent, who is about to start sending her novel out to publishers.  But by finding her at this time, I've also found an author I'll follow, likely for many years to come, since she writes Urban Fantasy, with a bit of traditional and science fiction.

So check out these women, these blogs.  I'm sure you'll find at least one thing of interest.