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NaNo 2014 Mini-series: Plowing Our Way To 50K: Round One!

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Thanks so much for stopping by to check out my blog 2014 NaNo mini-series. Last week I posted the bio’s of my mini-series participants. Please check out who they are here: http://wp.me/p35Mk4-eO

Nanotoon October 20

Today these brave NaNo-ers reveal a little bit more about their backgrounds, and how they plan to take on the frantic writing month of November.  This is a bit of a lengthy post, but I am seriously impressed with what these writers bring to the NaNo table.  Reading these responses has given me some new angles to approach my own writing with.  Maybe it will for you, too!


Is this your first NaNoWriMo, or are you a NaNo veteran?


diana Diana Pinguicha: Veteran!

Ali pic Ali Carey Billedeaux: I’m a Vet!

Alessa Hinlo profile pic Alessa Hinlo: NaNo veteran in the house.

Margarita polaroid Margarita Montimore: This will be my second NaNoWriMo.

Mary Ann Nicholson Mary Ann Nicholson: This will be my second Nano. My first was last year.

Alexis Larkin Picture Alexis Larkin: I am a NaNo veteran, but I didn’t win last year.

Shawn Pic Shawn Thomas Anderson: I guess you could call me a veteran.

Danielle Doolittle Danielle Doolittle: NaNo veteran.


How did your previous NaNoWriMo experiences work out?


Diana Pinguicha: I tried doing NaNo in 2010, but it didn’t work out because I was doing it by myself. On 2011, I had this novel going on, and I convinced myself I’d use NaNo to finish it. I started going to meets, where we talked more than we wrote, met one of my best friends there, had lots of fun, and came home so pumped I finished that year with 87 000 words. I did it again in 2012 and 2013, and while 2012 wasn’t a very good year (51k), 2012 was great, clocking in at around 78k words. This year I’ll be aiming for 80k—at least!

Ali Carey Billedeaux:  I’ve done it, I think, five times (I keep deleting my account, which makes keeping track rather difficult) and I’ve finished it three of those times.

Alessa Hinlo: This will be my seventh NaNo. I’ve had good runs, and I’ve had bad runs. I’ve failed two NaNos. I’ve succeeded at four, but at least one of those resulted in a half-written book I absolutely hated and haven’t looked at since. It happens.

The book I wrote for last year’s NaNo turned out okay though.

Margarita Montimore: My first NaNo experience was in 2004 and I only managed about 20K words (then life got in the way). However, I revisited the work years later and fleshed it out into a manuscript I completed over the summer. It turned out to be the novel that got me into the Pitch Wars finals. I plan to begin querying it later this fall.

Mary Ann Nicholson: Last year was the only Nano I’ve participated in. I took time off work thinking I’d need entire days to keep up with my goals, but I threw myself into it, and when I’d hit my goals early in the day, I tended to keep going. I hit 50k in about 10 days, and my story wasn’t finished, so I pressed on to see how much I could write. I ended up with a palindrome of 127,721 words. I do not recommend this at all.

Alexis Larkin: Last year, I got to about 25,000 words. My mistake was trying to work on novel revisions, two short stories, and a bunch of other things at the same time. Huge Mistake! This year I am clearing the decks and focusing only on my NaNo novel in November.

Shawn Thomas Anderson: I have one year of NaNoWriMo under my belt. I hit the word goal, completed my YA space-opera thriller (I love a good mash-up) and I’m excited about the story I wrote. So hell yeah, I guess that makes me a veteran!

Danielle Doolittle: I’ve actually participated in three NaNos (yikes!). NaNo is intese but I think most of us creative types work best under the pressure. Seriously, I sold two of my three NaNo manuscripts. The third I’m still writing away on because…well I went and had a baby halfway through NaNo last year. ;)


What prompted you to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo?

Was there a story in your head that was just itching to get out into the world?

Maybe you just love the challenge that is NaNo. Tell us about your motivation to participate this year.


Diana Pinguicha: I love NaNo! It’s so much fun to do it every year that when one NaNo ends, I’m already thinking of the next – well, not really, but the thought of not participating is never in my mind. I’m going to use it this year to re-write Sightless, my 2011 NaNo novel, from the ground up to match the game prototype we made for a college course.

Plus, our Lisbon meets are pretty awesome, and I love all of my NaNo friends—online and offline.

Ali Carey Billedeaux: I try to do NaNo every year, so I wouldn’t say anything in particular inspired my joining again this year. That said, I DO have an extremely tentative idea for this year’s project. I’m a bit notorious for switching things up, though, so I will have to try hard to make it stick!

Alessa Hinlo: I’m a Pitch Wars mentee (with the book I wrote for last year’s NaNo, actually) and I’m shamelessly using NaNoWriMo to distract myself during the agent round. I’m waffling between starting a new novel during November or rebelling by writing a collection of short stories. Maybe I’ll do both.

I love participating in NaNo. There’s just so much energy and excitement and joy. These are all good things to bring to writing, and I love surrounding myself with it.

Margarita Montimore: The timing worked out well, since I recently completed one novel and haven’t been able start a new one with the same ease. Since I’m about to begin the querying process, I know I’ll have a lot of waiting ahead of me, so I need a new creative project to keep me busy. I work best to deadlines and completed 40K words of my last novel in a couple of months setting daily writing goals, so I’m looking forward to challenging myself with a something more ambitious.

I’m also excited about connecting with other writers participating in NaNo, sharing writing tips, encouragement, and general chatter. Having a community helps balance out the isolation that comes with being a writer.

As for the story I have in mind, I had one idea I started sketching out, but once I had 4K words, another idea swept in, demanding to be the object of my obsession. Certainly a good problem for a writer to have, I just hope I’m able to follow one of these far enough to create a fleshed out story.

Mary Ann Nicholson: I did not and do not have for sure plans for Nano. I knew I’d do it again regardless, but as it turns out, I did get an idea for a story I’ve already started on. Unless I finish that one, this year will probably be a rebel year for me, since I don’t want to set that WIP aside until it’s done.

Alexis Larkin: I had so much fun with the 3 Day Novel Contest this year that I decided to give NaNo another go. It was such a freeing experience for a plotter like me to write as much as I could in three days following the mini-outline I wrote ahead of time. Looking back on that novella, I can see a real difference in my writing. It has more energy, its more urgent and full of life, than some first drafts that I’ve agonized over. I hope to harness that same kind of energy during this NaNo! My book will be a romance inspired by that trip my husband and I took driving and climbing in a number of African countries.

Shawn Thomas Anderson: My first manuscript, a MG fantasy, took years. Once it was finally in a state that I wanted to share it, I wanted to prove to myself that I could write something really, really fast. NaNoWriMo was the swift kick I needed to push myself, and my writing, to new limits. And you know what, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be—and I love the story.

Danielle Doolittle: Honestly? NaNo comes around right when I need to get my butt in gear. It always helps to get the creative juices flowing. Even if I don’t finish (which I haven’t) I still come out of the even with at least one manuscript and about five others on the back burner. This year I plan on working on a storyline I’ve been putting off for the sake of other projects (read as: sequels). I’m really excited to see where this story goes!


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

We’d love to know what practices you follow to help plot or pants your NaNo novel.


Diana Pinguicha: I try to plot. A month or two before NaNo, I begin “outlining” — which is to say, I write a bunch of bullet points on the novel I’ll be working on and call that my plot. “Aisling is in the hospital. Notices shadows flickering, follows them. She ends up in Reid’s room, where, for the first time in her life, she can see.”

You know, stuff like that. I more or less follow them if they’re working, and if they’re not, I improvise on the spot. If the improv is crap, I move on and write a scene that takes place later—that’s the good thing about plot points. You know where things go even if you write them out of order.

Ali Carey Billedeaux: Pantser! The only thing I stick to (and I mean the ONLY) is that I keep my characters in November. I might change the story (and the plot and the conflict and the plan) but I almost always keep the characters. They are my fuel. They are always the reason I start writing in the first place.

Alessa Hinlo: So I do plan my novels in advance, but they’re not necessarily by “traditional” methods. I use a combination of Pinterest inspiration boards, scene lists, mindmaps, and Spotify playlists. The playlist is the most important piece of the planning process for me, because I’m very particular about choosing songs that fit the themes, characters, and moods in my novels.

With short stories, I begin with an idea (“I’m going to write about an aswang.”) and just go from there.

Margarita Montimore: Panster at heart, but I’m trying to adopt more plotting habits. For my last novel, I had three different timelines to work with, so I created a wall of color-coded Post-Its (and later, a matching spreadsheet) to arrange the different scenes, which helped me with plotting and pacing. My NaNo novel will have at least two narratives, so I’ll probably do something similar, but I’m hoping to have much of the story outlined before I start, instead of writing a bunch of scenes and then piecing them together like a puzzle (in all honesty, that’s probably what’s going to happen anyway).

Right now I’m still in the collecting phase. I have a Word doc to keep track of all setting/character/plot details that come to me as well as a physical notebook for free-writing. When doing general brainstorming, pen and paper often work better for me than my laptop, because it feels more organic and there’s less of a risk I’ll get distracted by the Internet. I also look at scraps of old writing I’ve done, because I have a ton of random story ideas I started and then abandoned, and you never know what might add fuel to the bigger creative fire. In fact, I just stumbled across 6K words I wrote four years ago, which may serve as the seed of my NaNo novel. Lastly, I’m going collect as much research as I can ahead of time (usually I do this as a write since I’m never sure how the story will evolve). The novel I have in mind involves an industry I don’t have much behind-the-scenes knowledge of, so it’ll be important to gather that ahead of time and keep my NaNo days free for writing.

Mary Ann Nicholson: Definite pantser. I have a kernel of an idea. I don’t know if it can be stretched to a full novel, so I start writing it. My abandoned projects folder shames me. My characters start out sketchy and develop as I go, often changing completely once they start to take shape. Somewhere around 20K in, I realize that I’m in trouble, and although I know what my end goal is, I start to need a roadmap. Around that time, I sketch out some kind of an outline. For my current WIP, I went whole hog and wrote an actual outline. I don’t even recognize myself anymore.

Alexis Larkin: Plotter. PLOTTER! I love outlines. I used them in business writing for years so it was natural for me to continue to outline when I made the switch to creative writing. I find they’re especially important in mystery writing to set up clues, suspects, red herrings, etc., but I’m sure you can find wildly successful mystery writers who pants the day away. For this NaNo, I’m taking a hybrid approach. Instead of outlining scene-by-scene, I’m creating a visual outline by chapter using photographs, artifacts, and minimal notes to sketch out the book’s beats. Just enough to know where I’m going and inspire some creativity, but plenty of room to pants and harness that fast-paced NaNo energy. I think this project is particularly suited to a visual outline given that it focuses on travel, but if it works I hope to use it for future projects as well.

Shawn Thomas Anderson: Honestly, I’m plotanster, a total hybrid. Some days I do elaborate character maps and outlines, and once I’m on track, I stray from them and let the story take me where it wants to go. The character maps become guides and the plotting becomes general checkpoints along the way to keep the project moving forward, but I always leave the ending wide open. I know that if I surprise myself, I will surprise the reader.

Danielle Doolittle: Oh, I’m 110% a pantser. I can’t plot to save my life. I never EVER stick to it when I try. Usually when a story idea hits me, when a character comes screaming into my head demanding I tell their story, I sit down and just start.

Here’s the basics of my process:

  • I let the characters drive the direction the manuscript takes and they always surprise me. Seriously, I had a story go waaaaayyyy out in left field. Turned out to be one of the best I’ve written.
  • I don’t try to control where I think the story should go. Just because a hero does something that pisses me off doesn’t mean I should change it because I don’t like it. If it’s true to the character then it’ll feel natural in the arc, their growth, as the story progresses.
  • Coffee: lots and lots of coffee. Seriously. I’ve had stories wake me at three in the morning and not let me go until I’ve blurrily pounded out a chapter.

Turn off my inner editor. It’s tempting to go back over the pages I’ve written but I try and resist. I’ve found it messes with my flow. I try and get the whole story out before going back and looking for misplaced commas or missing words. That’s pretty much it. Nothing magical or no big tips to share (sorry). I just sit in front of the computer and let the words flow. Sometimes it’ll be total crap and I’ll have to go back and delete whole sections (had to do away with a whole chapter once) but sometimes the method of pantsing allows you to get to know your characters better.


How do you plan to pace yourself during the frantic writing month of November?


Diana Pinguicha: So, I have a reputation to uphold as one of the people who gets the highest wordcounts in Lisbon. Not to mention that, in Portugal, we do North vs South word wars, and of course the South always wins (for bragging rights). I have to do my part for the great Southern nation and help them defeat those Northern infidels – so I’ll be doing at least 2k words a day, more if I can. It will probably mean less sleep, but it’s NaNo and it’s a WAR and the people from the North need to be crushed. Plus, we have a dragon now. We have to win, right?

Ali Carey Billedeaux: Don’t do NaNo the way I do! I never pace myself properly. I end up missing days at a time and make it up by writing 10,000 words in a sitting. I’m a terrible role model. But what can I say? Sometimes the words just come.

Alessa Hinlo: Last year, I wrote over 80,000 words during November. This year, I plan to take it easy by comparison. Or I plan to try, anyway. Sometimes I get over-excited about the drafting process and go on a writing binge that results in 12,000 words in one day. Those don’t happen often though.

In general, I try to write every day during NaNo. 500 words or 5,000 words, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s something. In the past, I write steadily during the work week while banking the larger word counts on the weekends and days off. That works best for me, so it’s what I’ll be adopting this year.

Margarita Montimore: Pacing, schmacing. I’m going to sequester myself in my home office and become utterly immersed in the story. While I’ll set a 2k word daily goal for myself, I’m going to try to exceed it as much as possible (I’m actually hoping to get to 60K words for the month). Because of family holiday obligations, I’ll need to have most of the writing done by Thanksgiving, so I’m preparing myself for a very intense 26 days.

I tend to do most of my writing in the afternoons or late at night, but I might try to adopt more of a morning writing routine and see if that helps me be more productive. I also do much of my writing on a treadmill desk, and the physical activity helps me with creative productivity. Like many, I usually write with music playing in the background. Sometimes it’ll be music that sets the mood of what I’m working on or what I imagine the characters would listen to, other times it’s random. There’s also Focus@Will, music channels developed by neuroscientists to help increase concentration. I find those tremendously effective and imagine I’ll be relying on that site a lot to help me complete NaNo.

Mary Ann Nicholson: I actually have a spreadsheet that is automated. I plug in how many hours I think I’ll have to write on any given day, and it spits out how many words I should be able to hit. I later plug in how many words I did write, and I either get a green for reaching my goal (yay!) or red for failure (boo!). I really hate ruining a perfectly green spreadsheet, so that’s plenty motivating for me.

Alexis Larkin: I am determined to make 50,000 words, but as a new mom, I’m also going to give myself a bit of a break. My goal is 6-8 pages a day, but I plan on writing whenever I can get a few minutes, whether that means jotting down a few lines of dialog on the back of my grocery list or writing in sprints after bedtime. The book may look more like a pile than a file on December 1, but that’s what second drafts are for anyway!

Thank you, Susan, for organizing this fantastic mini-series! And good look to my fellow NaNoWriMos – let’s have some fun next month!

                                Susan Nystoriak: Alexis, this has been an amazing process so far! I know we will all stay   motivated and have a great time writing next month!

Shawn Thomas Anderson: My approach is to hit the ground running, fast and furious right out of the gate. Generate as many words as possible in the first week and a half, so if you miss a daily goal, it’s not an OMG-NOW-I-HAVE-TO-CATCH-UP moment. I also used some online groups as further motivation to work on the project daily. #5amwritersgroup on Twitter and The Grind, an online group where writers must send work to an assigned group of other writers DAILY, were helpful—and you meet some wonderful writers when you are in the trenches.

Danielle Doolittle: I like to aim for a chapter a day. I know there’ll be days where that’s a laughable goal. It’s November for goodness sakes, I’m counting on at least one of my kids coming down with something involving mucus. I’m hoping it’ll balance nicely and I won’t be spending the last week pulling 8000 word days and living life as a zombie out to drink all the coffee.


And that’s it for round one. In a week or so, I will be posting Round Two responses. I hope you’ll stay tuned and check out our progress. We are on Twitter using #NanoMiniSeries.

Also, please share this post and leave a comment below. Happy writing!

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NaNo 2014 Mini-Series Introductions! “Plowing Our Way To 50K”

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Well, here we go, folks!

I know that November 1st isn’t quite here yet, but today I introduce you all to my team of brave 2014 NaNo-ers, so we can get a sneak peek into who’s who and what’s in store for them during that crazy writing month of November. I will be plowing forth toward my own 50K NaNo goal alongside my fellow writers.

On Twitter, I will be using the hashtag #NaNoMiniSeries for information.

 

nanotoons_2013_oct_15

 

Enjoy!

 

diana

I’m Diana (@Pinguicha), and I live in sunny Lisbon, Portugal! (seriously, not kidding, it’s 29ºC atm right now)!

I’m a Computer Engineering student, and I’m currently working on my Master’s Degree in Multimedia Systems, with a specialization in video games. I also work as a consultant and illustrator. I have the two best cats in the world – Sushi and Jubas – and a bearded dragon named Norbert. I love writing (duh) and video games, and I love to marry the two in my projects.

 

 

Ali pic

I’m Ali Carey Billedeaux (@acbilledeaux) and I’m from a very obscure town in an equally obscure state (Michigan)

Although I grew up in middle-of-nowhere Michigan (which I LOVED, don’t get me wrong), I’ve also spent a lot of my childhood traveling. Some combination of the craziness inside my head and the utter extraordinariness of the world around me has also been the inspiration and drive for my writing. Well that, and how much I read. There’s a quote somewhere about people who read living a thousand lives. That’s me. I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh, and I guess I should mention the normal bio things: I went to Western Michigan University. I graduated with a major in History and do hope, one day, to actually use it to write historical fiction. We’ll see. These days, I work at a bookstore and will soon be flying the friendly skies as a flight attendant!

 

 

Alessa Hinlo profile pic

Hi! I’m Alessa Hinlo (@alessahinlo), and I hail from the Washington D.C. area.

I graduated with a degree in biology and work in applied biomedical research for my day job. Although I’ve dabbled in many genres over the years, these days I write thrillers and speculative fiction about dangerous women, found families, and the spaces between. Diversity in fiction is a big interest of mine — not just within the stories told, but also in the voices who tell them. Other than writing, I also practice yoga, garden during the warmer seasons, and like to experiment with new recipes.

 

 

Margarita polaroid

Margarita Montimore (@damiella) – born in the former USSR, grew up in Brooklyn, NY; currently living outside Philadelphia.

I received a Creative Writing degree from Emerson College and have worked in both the agent and publishing side of the industry. I also have an in-depth professional background in social media marketing. I’ve published pieces for XOJane.com, Marvel.com, Google’s blog, and maintain a personal blog, The Diary Project. Most recently, I was a 2014 Pitch Wars finalist.

 

 

Mary Ann Nicholson

My name is Mary Ann Nicholson (@maryannicholson).

I’m from central Virginia, near Charlottesville.I grew up in many states, regions, countries, attended three colleges, and have an almost PhD in the lucrative field of French literature. I gave all that up for the adventurous life of computer programming, and as such I’ve spent the past ten years like a forest elf, attaining near perfectly translucent skin. I gave novel writing a try years and years ago, attempting some high fantasy. Somewhere around day 1 of Nano, when I thought I was about to dive into a Sci-Fi Dystopian, I discovered a shocking revelation: I’m a writer of romance-driven Women’s Fiction. Please don’t tell my co-workers.

 

 

 

Alexis Larkin Picture

I’m Alexis Larkin. I live in the Great Garden State and on twitter @AlexisTLarkin :)

I live with my husband and daughter in northern New Jersey where the sauce is red, the lawns are green, and the spray tans are orange. My first novel—a cozy murder mystery—is set in upstate New York, much like the small town I grew up in. In between, I’ve lived in California, the UK, Missouri (what?!) and spent a few months driving around southern Africa to see as many baby elephants as possible. I’ve had a great time reading and writing short fiction along the way, and I feel like writing short stories, even flash fiction, has really helped focus and streamline my prose. In addition to NaNoWriMo, I love the NYC Midnight contests and the 3 Day Novel Contest.

 

 

Shawn Pic

Hello, my name is Shawn Thomas Anderson (@shawntwrites).  I live in northern Vermont (think, a couple wrong turns and missed exits away from Canada).

I’m a young-adult and middle-grade writer. When I’m not crafting fiction, I work as a copywriter and branding specialist. I have a master’s degree in Communications from Emerson College in Boston, and I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the League of Vermont Writers. I live in a far-flung corner of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom, a magical place where moose, bear, and deer wander through your backyard and everyone rocks flannel.

 

 

 

 

 Danielle Doolittle

Hi! *waves * I’m Danielle Doolittle (@elledoo). I’m from a tiny college town in Northwest Ohio.

I’m a mother of three, wife of one, and writer of love stories ranging from otherworldly YA to steamy contemporary romances. I like to knit and dabble in cover design and I drink far too much coffee (or so they tell me).

And, there we have it.  My 2014 NaNo Mini-Series participants!  Please follow us on Twitter for our progress, and check out the hashtag from time to time.  I hope you enjoy this mini-series, and consider participating in NaNoWriMo this year!

Happy Writing, everyone!

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A NaNoWriMo 2014 Mini Series: Plowing Our Way Through 50K

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NaNoWriMo: That frenzied month of writing a novel is almost upon us, and I couldn’t be more excited! The idea for this blog mini series was hatched out of my desire to connect with a group of people during NaNo, in the hopes that it spurs my own creativity and endurance as I plow my way through 50K. Living where I do, large groups of ANY people are hard to come by, let alone groups that wish to write together.

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I reached out to my writer-ly friends on Twitter scoping out interest, and the response to this series blew me away. The plan is to share a pre-NaNo14 post, a post during the throes of November, and a final wrap-up post where we will all be able to claim victory in reaching the 50K word goal!

Along the way I’ll be introducing my NaNo mini-series participants to you. We’ll learn a little bit about them and what they plan to work on during the month of November. We hope to inspire you to get into the spirit with us, even if you don’t participate as an “official” NaNoWriMo participant. We also hope you’ll want to share your own writing goals for the month on this blog. It’ll be inspiration all around!

So, c’mon!  Won’t you join us on this crazy ride? Leave me a comment and share in the fun!

The introductory post to kick off NaNoWriMo is coming soon!

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Is the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance?

Is the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance?.

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Begin With The End In Mind-Great Writerly Advice

 

As a writer, I like to think of myself as a plotter with pantsing tendencies. I suppose, who isn’t? But I am not the sort of writer who can easily pants my way through writing a section if I don’t know where I’m headed.

Case in point, I spent the better part of a year working on my 2013 NaNo. I was in love with the idea. I had a set of cool characters, and an intriguing story idea that was truly “out there”. Problem was I couldn’t see the end. Not really. I was meandering through the character’s lives creating scenarios for them that didn’t seem to lead to any closure. Conflict was there, sure, but no closure. I still am in love with the story idea. My characters for that one are still close to me. But it just wasn’t happening. It saddened me that these characters were stuck in limbo and couldn’t get out. I have since set that story aside…for now.

Jump ahead a year. I had an idea for a novel floating round in my head, and this idea came to me in the form of scenes. The scenes were in no particular order, simply a couple of common characters, experiencing some funny little things as part of their lives. I loved their personalities, and thought it might be time to organize their story more structurally. Problem was, once again, I couldn’t tell where the character’s would be at the end. Then I remembered: “Begin With The End In Mind”—One of the Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, book, by Stephen R. Covey.

That idea, obviously, is great advice for anyone in almost any situation. I have used the it many times in my life, especially to set goals. As a writer, it’s also true, in a very literal sense. By knowing where the characters will start and finish their journey, it makes it a lot easier to connect those dots to make a believable story (even if it’s crazy fiction).

Back to the dilemma with my new story idea. As many of you know from Twitter, I recently purchased Scrivener. It’s not that I didn’t know about it for years, it’s just that I am a PC user, and for a while Scrivener as only available for Mac. I was happy to learn it was available for me to use at this time!

Anyhow, one of the features, “corkboard”, made it really super easy to not only create plot/scene cards for my for my story idea, but once created, each plot card could be manipulated and moved around easily. In no time, I had a complete plan for my characters, start to finish.

This doesn’t mean that things won’t change as I go along; I am a bit of a pantser after all. But knowing that the overall structure is there if I need it is a big help in avoiding potential writer’s block. When I actually sat down to begin writing, I could focus on certain scenes, either in order or not. The structure for the book is there, keeping my ideas together.

Whether you use Scrivener, or Word, or any other program, if you begin with the end in mind, it can be a powerful tool as a writer. You will be less likely to plot-wander, and in my case, more likely to finish.  And who knows.  I wonder if I go back and plot out my limbo-ed 2013 NaNo using Scrivener’s corkboard, if that story and those character’s might see the light of day.

What strategies do you use to plot out your story ideas? I’d love to hear from you!

And, if you are planning to do NaNoWriMo 2014 this year, chime in! I am working on a blog mini-series I’d love you to take part in.

Happy writing, everyone!

 

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NaNoWriMo 2014 Mini Series: Who’s In???

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NaNo14 is coming and I am looking for people who are committed to the endeavor to take part in my 2014 NaNoWriMo Blog Mini Series!

To celebrate the 2014 season of NaNoWriMo, I am planning on doing a little bit of Q and A with participants, right here on my Writer’s Block!  I envision the mini-series format this way:  I’ll post once during October, once in early November, and the last in late November/early December.

As a motivator to myself, as well as to help others make it through the fast and furious pace of NaNo season, my goal is to have mini-series participants answer a few questions in each post, ranging from goal setting/pantsing, processes they follow during NaNoWriMo, and reflection at the conclusion of the month.  I love chatting with fellow writers, and this is an excellent opportunity to learn from others.

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Whether you are a NaNo Newbie this year, or a seasoned veteran to the process, if you have already decided that NaNoWriMo 2014 is a definite, I’d love to include you in my mini-series!  Please leave me a comment below, or you can send me a DM on Twitter to express your interest.  If we are not already following each other on Twitter, my handle is @smnystoriak.

I look forward to connecting with you!

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What A Wonderful Surprise!

smnystoriak:

I am so glad I had this experience!

Originally posted on S. M. Nystoriak's Writer's Block:

This past weekend, I attended my very first writer’s conference. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you realize just what a nervous wreck I was. It took a lot of convincing for me to sign up and register for the event, and it didn’t hurt that one of my Twitter friends told me he would be there as well.

I am here today to tell you all what a wonderful experience it was. I am from one of the most rural parts of New York State, and I find it very difficult to collaborate in-person with other writers. When the League of Vermont Writer’s posted about their Writer’s Meet Agent’s conference, I took a leap of faith and jumped in!

What a wonderful group of writers! I am told that this was a smaller conference for writer’s, and a really good one to get your feet wet…

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What A Wonderful Surprise!

This past weekend, I attended my very first writer’s conference. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you realize just what a nervous wreck I was. It took a lot of convincing for me to sign up and register for the event, and it didn’t hurt that one of my Twitter friends told me he would be there as well.

I am here today to tell you all what a wonderful experience it was. I am from one of the most rural parts of New York State, and I find it very difficult to collaborate in-person with other writers. When the League of Vermont Writer’s posted about their Writer’s Meet Agent’s conference, I took a leap of faith and jumped in!

What a wonderful group of writers! I am told that this was a smaller conference for writer’s, and a really good one to get your feet wet with. But I will also add, that for a small conference it was incredibly well attended! It looked like more than one hundred participants took their seats next to me at the Hampton Inn, Burlington. It was delightful to listen to wonderful presentations and take part in pitch sessions. The organizers and presenters of the event were top notch, and everything was incredibly professionally run. Also the agents on hand were amazing.

I was able to meet and network with other writers from my general area, and it was great to finally meet some of my Twitter friends. I took so much wonderful information away from the conference, I was more wired than I had been in a long time to revise as well as begin a new work in progress.

I am so glad I attended the Writer’s Meet Agent’s conference, and am thrilled to have joined the League Of Vermont Writers. I look forward to many more opportunities with them in the future!

So long for now. I am off to #amwriting!

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The Biggest Query Letter Mistake

smnystoriak:

This is great info. There is an art to querying, and a specific formula to follow.

Originally posted on Carly Watters, Literary Agent:

pencilsAre you making this critical query mistake? The biggest query mistake: writers submitting a synopsis instead of a pitch.

A synopsis is the play-by-play of your novel. A pitch is a to-the-point email or letter that focuses on the hook, the conflict, and why it matters for the protagonist–and why an agent should read your book!

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Some of you reading might think, “So what? If an agent wants to represent me, won’t they want the synopsis?” The answer is no, not in the query letter.

A query letter is not a synopsis. A query letter’s job is to get an agent to want to read more. A synopsis is to share when the agent is already interested, perhaps already requested your chapters, and needs to know the plot outline.

If you pitch us a synopsis and not a query:

1. It ends up being too long. A query should only be…

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2 Ways To Handle Success as A Writer

smnystoriak:

This wonderful post from Kate Brauning reminds us that success as a writer comes in many forms. Celebrate every win!

Originally posted on The Bookshelf:

Book things are finally rolling for HOW WE FALL, my YA suspense that comes out in November. We’re done with developmental edits, copy edits, and final pass pages. ARCs are out. My author website is in development, I’ve had my author photos taken and should get them soon, and I’ve got postcards and book bag buttons on the way! It’s surreal, and stressful, and fun. I keep yo-yoing between thinking “this is awesome!” and “what if no one likes it? Oh no November that’s less than 5 months away everyone will read this book I wrote what am I going to do?”

My CPs keep reminding me to enjoy it. To not let the stress settle too deeply, to keep my focus on productive things. And there’s a bit of publishing advice that goes like this: when an awesome moment happens, enjoy it, because this is as good as it…

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