Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

I am using NaNoWriMo to build up a backlog of novels for future re-writing/editing.

My goal is to have 100 novels that can be re-written/edited by the time I retire, so I am actually doing NaNo every month, and completing 1 or 2 zero draft novels each month. I currently have 170 horribly written novels in my files, and will have just over 200 when I actually retire.  After I sort through them to remove the hideously horrible OMG why did I write THAT ideas and recovered with copious applications of tea, I will do a second sort to find stories/ideas that are half-assed, incomplete, and incapable of supporting an entire novel, but might be worked into another novel – or combined with other half-assed novel ideas to form a whole one. With luck, the third sort will give me 100 novels to re-write and edit into a shareable/publishable form.

This is how I intend to spend my retirement – re-writing and editing the best of those 100 novels for the first few years, then learning how to format them for publication and picking up modern ideas on marketing.

As an employed person, I don’t have time to both write books (which includes the research, re-writes, edits, proof-readings, beta-readings, and final edits) and to format and market them across several platforms.  I have time to write the zero drafts, then to do research that will elevate them out of zero draft status. I sometimes have time to do a bit of re-writing to incorporate that research. But time for major re-writes and edits and such is delayed until post-retirement.

Once I am retired, I will have plenty of time to devote to the books, the re-writes and edits and all that is involved in making a book readable and to also do the marketing to generate extra retirement income. I may only make enough to pay for travel expenses and meals, but that’s OK. My retirement income from my job and SS will pay my living expenses. I am hoping my books will provide me with entertainment, activity, and the extra money needed to fund those things.

So, that’s why I am doing NaNoWriMo – it’s the one time of year when I know other people are also busy writing zero drafts.


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I didn’t keep up with my cabin or contribute much to the Camp NaNo web site.

I did finish the challenge, just didn’t play well with others.

My bad. I’ll do better at NaNo in November.

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Home and transportation expenses this year reduced the amount of money I could spend on my daughter’s birthday, until a surprise royalty check from a workbook I wrote showed up!

I was able to give her $500 towards new glasses and a visit to a museum she very much wanted to see, plus give her a magnetic knife rack and a box of Little Debbie cakes. I chose the “S’Mores” Cakes in the camping theme, since she is participating in Camp NaNo.

We’re in different cabins – she writes and has been published professionally as a horror writer, and I write non-fic and am attempting genre fiction (mostly SF).

I’m tempted to get her the entire line of Little Debbie camping snack cakes as writing snacks. They have animal track brownies as well as the “S’Mores” rolls, and cabin tent cakes. Now I’m on a quest to find suitable camping snacks to give her.

I love getting royalty checks!

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There’s a writing game I play by myself. I suppose it could be played with others, but I’ve never encountered anyone who wanted to play the game with me. Perhaps that’s because the game has evolved as a solo player game, but I bet if others were to start this game as a group endeavor, it would lend itself well to multiple players.

The game started as an accident, an idle moment sometime in the 80’s, when I was trapped in a hospital with precious little to do but fret. All I had were the contents of my purse with which to occupy myself. In it was a crazy quilt scarf (long worn out), a bag full of stones I’d been collecting because they felt – sentient, a deck of flash cards, a notebook, and pens. In rummaging through it and inventorying what was in there, I spread out the scarf, the bag of stones spilled across it, and the deck of cards was loose and some of the cards landed near the stones in a way that caught my attention.

See, I collected the stones because each one felt sentient to me, as if each contained an entire universe within itself. I’d imagined continents, climates, people, animals, plants, cities, and civilizations for each stone. The deck of cards was a language learning deck of flash cards, so it had people, animals, and objects depicted each by itself on the card.

When it all spilled across my lap on the scarf as it did, it seemed as if I’d created a galaxy. The stones were the places, the scarf was the galactic alliances and barriers, and the cards provided the resources for the stories.

Upon that I built a storytelling game – and any game that creates stories can be used to write stories.

I traded the scarf for a crazy quilt, added new stones to my bag, and ditched the flashcards for a handmade deck of cards more suitable to storytelling.

I made the cards from blank 3×5 index cards. I glued pictures I cut out of magazines on the cards and “laminated” them with packing tape to preserve them. When I couldn’t find magazine pictures of what I wanted (or needed), I drew it myself on the index card and “laminated” it. Over time, I built up a nice deck of different people, animals, things, landscapes, skyscapes, places, and “mood” pieces.

The stones ceased to be stones only, and I added beads, crystals, acorns, marbles, and other small natural objects to be used as stones. Each one was a unique world with its own history. One stone was Teruk, with its warriors and desert peoples, another was Anamee with its lost colony and the natives who preyed upon and befriended the colonists, and so on.

The quilt’s patches formed zones of atmosphere and alliances, and when it landed after being tossed onto a flat surface, the wrinkles and folds added dimension to the “galaxy”.

To make the game, collect the pieces. Buy or make a crazy quilt top or scarf – something thin that will create folds and hills and valleys when tossed randomly and have a random patchwork of topography. Fill a small drawstring bag like hte ones used for party favors or wedding favors with stones, beads, seeds, and tiny tokens.  Make a deck of cards with people, animals, things, landscapes, skyscapes, places, and “mood” pieces – cut out of magazines or hand drawn or printed off the internet, and laminate them for durability – now that laminating devices are common, you don’t have to use packing tape as I once did.

For the actual play:  toss the crazy quilt top/scarf (small will do for portability, a crib sized one for playing at home or with others) onto a flat surface. Don’t smooth it out or straighten any folds.

Reach into your bag of worlds and take up a small handful – no more than 10. Toss them across the quilt. Don’t pick up any stones that land off the quilt.

Pull out your deck of cards, shuffle them until it feels like you’ve shuffled enough. Starting at the most distant corner of the quilt, start laying the cards face up by each stone, working in a spiraling circle towards the center most stone – which is the world in which the story will take place.  That center stone gets 5 cards. Once all the stones on the quilt have a card, put 2 cards by any stones that landed off the quilt.

Now, the story will begin with the center stone.  The other stones can be actual worlds, or locations in the center stone’s world – they are places the main character may visit during the story. The cards are the resources that go into the story – characters, events, motives. The outlying cards are hidden or surprise resources that may or may not come into play, but still shadows what happens in the story. The quilt provides moods, alliances, treacheries, obstacles and assistance.

Study the lay of the quilt and the cards, and start building the story.

Back in the day, before computers were so accessible and before digital cameras, I used to either just do this to pass the time or recorded what I saw on cassette tape to transcribe later and see if it made a real story. Now that digital cameras, computers, cellphones, and tablets exist, I can take a snap of the toss, and then type in assorted stories to suit the toss. This has provided my NaNoWriMo inspiration every year.

I named this game Dream Bones because playing it is sort of like tossing dice (bones) and the cards and quilt make stories (dreams).


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And I haven’t even been here! Things have been so busy, but I have been writing.

It’s truly odd how this year I seem to be writing more background than not. I’ve successfully established a couple of characters, but find that two others are overlapping. They aren’t standing out distinctly and independently. That’s entirely my fault as I have created a character in “modern” (alternate world) times who really would be better 150 years ago. He doesn’t fit and I’m having some trouble getting him to fit so I seem to be wussing him out and blurring him with his partner.

Sad, really, since this character is supposed to be the MMC. I have a handful of MCs, as each scene is from a different POV, but in the end I have this one MC who is mainly in the know about what’s happening in Sylvan Acres. OK, he doesn’t really know what’s happening, he just knows who the residents really are – mostly – so he thinks he knows what’s happening. He gets as taken by surprise as everyone else by events and personality clashes and tech/paranormal clashes and such.

The Mom, who I intended to be mostly a walk on character living her life in her own flash, is having more input than I’d expected, too. That’s because I seem inherently unable to create a selfish mother. This is why I decided my main family would be untraditional but functional. It’s a family that supports one another in spite of the oddness of the family structure. A modern day Addams Family set in a world of computers, space stations, and preternaturals, divided between several households, run as a close held private corporation where everyone has their contribution, including the kids who have voting shares – an increasing number as they grow older.

I think perhaps I need to spend more time developing this family because they are the core around which the entire story revolves. I think I may need to add a couple more adults and possibly a few more children to the mix to make it work as I want. It’s too small to do what I want and I’ve burdened each character with too many superpowers. I need to back off on that and spread them out more, which means a larger family. That ill work.

And then I have to get started on a couple of the preternatural families living in Sylvan Acres. I have already laid the ground work for a pack of weres and hinted at a vampire clan, but I want to get the jinn family in there somehow as they play a major role in assisting the superhero family deal with their newfound powers while at the same time causing a serious breach in the touchy tranquility of Sylvan Acres. And the coven of witches needs to make their appearance soon, too, because while they aren’t major players in this story, they are a thread of continuity and stability throughout the story.

So, I better hop to it. I’m already 12,000 words into the story and I’m so behind in the telling of it.

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I’m doing backgroundy things in the NaNo tab up top here: Filling out characters and background, hunting up resources, figuring out some plots. OK, narrowing down the plots by hunting and caging plot bunnies.

This idea comes with exploding plot bunnies. There are so many little ideas – some suitable only as subplots or even micro-plots that can be used to fill out and add detail to the main story, and then there are Plots. These could take a novella’s worth of words to develop. What I’m looking for, though, is the Plot Mama – the PLOT that the whole story is about.

See, I’ve got this family that’s suddenly populated with superhero abilities, set in an enclosed and gated community of paranormal creatures – each with their own agenda and needs and quirks, and straddling the two is the security force, on which one family member serves. There’s involvement between the family and the gated community. But it’s, so far, mostly mundane – what teachers do with their students, police with their precinct, and the community with the schools and police. It’s blah, blah, blah. I could certainly write an interesting story about blah, blah, blah, after all, isn’t that what literature is about?, but I want to write a STORY, not a story.

So, I’ve been detailing things, setting up personalities and needs, adding in forces and hoping they’ll congeal into STORY.

Otherwise, my NaNo will just be blah.

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NaNo Idea!

Heh. It’s kind of surprising, but I have an idea for NaNo already! Usually, I don’t get one until November 2nd or 3rd.

I’m smashing up 2 TV shows that have good premises but poor execution to generate something different. I am so very, very tired of writers who don’t do their research. I am even more tired of this trend to make all characters juvenile, immature, selfish, stupid, and egotistical. It’s not amusing or interesting. Characters should be conflicted, but they don’t have to lose IQ points over it. Villains should have a reason for being villainous, and “because” just doesn’t cut it.

The 2 shows are in their first season and have only aired 3 or 4 episodes. One is about a dysfunctional family gaining super powers and the other is about a gated community of paranormal people trying to pass as normal people.

What I want to write is a story of a non-traditional but functional family gaining superpowers while living and working with a gated community of paranormals trying to pass as normal. They intersect because one “super” parent is the night chief of their security service, and another parent is a college math professor to the paranormal kids, and the third parent is a pharmaceutical chemist in the surrounding city. the story picks up after the family discovers their superpowers but before they fully understand them.

My characters will be conflicted but not stupid. The paranormals will have their natures to manifest or battle. The superpowers may come into conflict with the paranormal powers. Hopefully my characters will have personality because they certainly have their hands full. Superheroes living among vampires, weres, gargoyles, demons, and mythological creatures has its own issues, as do the vampires, weres, etc with one another. They created the gated community as neutral territory to learn to live together and to learn to live among normals before they try living out and about among normals openly as paranormals.

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