wrist tattoos + writing inspiration

I have always, always wanted a tattoo on my wrist. But I have a very low pain tolerance. And I can never keep my mind made up (which is why my hair color changes all the time). Something permanent, like a tattoo, is not something I should invest in.

But I still love wrist tattoos, so I collect images of them on Pinterest to keep me satisfied. Also, the narrator of the novel-in-progress has a tattoo on each wrist. I collect these images, also, as inspiration for her.

 

 

 

If you couldn’t tell, I am also a very big fan of birds and feathers and the like.

(BEDA: April 13, 2013)
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No NaNo for Me

This year I am not participating in NaNoWriMo.

This is the first November since I became a NaNoer in 2004 that I have not participated in this crazy, tremendous writing event. This is the first November I’m not even bothering to attempt a novel. I didn’t win ever year, but I always put in the effort to start. I always spent October planning, and getting some words down in November. I have always stretched my creative mind in November, even when it’s just a little bit, because I am a writer and that’s what I have to do.

But this year, I am not.

And a large part of me fears that I’m not participating because, for the first time since 2004, I just don’t have anything to write. I don’t have a story to tell. Or, I don’t have a story I want to tell.

I know, I know. I spend a lot of time talking, blogging, and tweeting about that novel-in-progress I have — and, I guess it still is a novel-in-progress. I still believe in and love the story I’m trying to tell. These last few months, though, I haven’t written a word. I haven’t jotted a note. I haven’t doodled an outline.

What have I done?

I’ve opened blank document after blank document. I’ve flipped through blank journal pages. Essentially, I have done nothing.

My word document is blank, and my mind is blank, and something about this scares me. For the first time since I can remember, writing — writing anything — is not just hard. It’s not possible.

In case you’ve been wondering, yes, this has definitely impacted by blogging and tweeting, as well. It’s even impacted my reading. It’s like I’ve disconnected from the written, fictional word entirely.

So here is my odd, spontaneous November confessional. I am in the worst place possible with my writing, and I have no idea how I got here, and I have no idea how to get to a different place.

V.E.D.August 1

It’s August, so I’m making videos every day this week.

Links Mentioned In Video:

Click to see Kenzie’s VEDA video.

Click for more information about Writers’ Hangouts (every Wednesday at 9pm EST) — leave a link to your Google + profile in the comments to be added to the WH circle, and you’ll get the invitation directly from me every Wednesday night.

Click to visit the Camp NaNoWriMo website, and you should sign up. Really, you should. I’m CeruleanNotion on Camp NaNo, if you can figure out how to find me. I can never seem to find other people on the Camp site.

A Tale of Rewriting (and other things)

For a long time I had this picture set as my profile picture across the Internet:

It’s a picture I took one day because I was so incredibly frustrated that I was pulling my hair out. And then I proved it wasn’t hyperbole by snapping this shot. See, I was pulling my hair out!

Well, this picture is incredibly relevant to my life right now and so I thought I’d just put it out here again. For today. Something about it makes me slightly less pulling-my-hair-out crazy. Only slightly.

But today is Monday, and Mondays are for NtS Updates.

Last week wasn’t exactly an unproductive writing week, but it wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, either. I was under the weather at the end of the week and that was a bummer.

I still accomplished my weekly goal of writing 10 pages or more. I wrote 11 pages. I finished revising the second chapter, and altered the ending point. This has put me in a bit of corner with how to begin the next scene, and I think I’ll be opening a craft book on scene / chapter construction late tonight in an effort to sort it out. If you don’t remember, I’m rewriting my beginning scenes / chapters because I added a new beginning to my novel. I realized the story need to start earlier in the time line, and doing that completely unraveled what was once a tangled mess of main plot and subplot and characterization. So it’s great. But I’m the type of writer who must write linearly, so when I backed up my beginning, I created the task of rewriting the 12,000 words I already had. It’s not exactly hard or complicated — as I said, the new beginning unraveled a lot for me — but it’s also not easy or simple. It’s just different, and different still takes time and concentration.

With August and Camp NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I’ve decided to adjust my August goals to be more task-oriented and specific. I write better when I have check lists (I do everything better when I have check lists), and so I’ve decided where I want to be when Camp NaNo begins and I’ve turned everything else into a task on my check list.

When August arrives, I want to be writing new material. What that means is I need to finish revising my beginning content and I need to have an updated novel outline to work from throughout August. To give you an idea of what my rewriting load is like, I had 12,000 words of beginning content before and I’ve rewritten about 5,000 words into 8,500 words. However, the further I get from the beginning, the less I have to adjust; it was mostly the scenes immediately following the new start point that needed heavy overhauling. What this means, I hope, is that I can finish the rewriting this week. As far as outlining is concerned, my new beginning unraveled a lot of the tangles in my story arc. I’ve jotted down scene notes and characterization notes, and I have a rough order of when these scenes or reveals occur, but I haven’t formally updated the outline I’m using to write. I’ve added a subplot to the novel — thereby simplifying the main conflict and adding a layer of depth — but I do need to sit down and sort out the structure of this new line. In my head, the whole novel is much clearer, but on paper it’s still a mess. I want to clean up that mess on paper, and get it all out of my head so I can get new things on my mind.

Now, a little about you; let’s chat in the comments.

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this summer? (If you’re not, you should really check it out!) If you are, please leave your username in the comments so I can stay up-to-date on your progress; I love being a NaNo supporter and I always have extra sporks lying around. (If you don’t get the spork reference, just ask; it’s from a forum a long, long time ago.)  If you’re doing any writing during August, I’m hosting #WritersHangout on Google + during the month with my friend Justine. We’d love to have you join us! Please leave your Twitter handle in the comments so I can contact you directly with the details, if you’re interested.

And finally, whatever you’re writing, how are you doing with it? Are you having great successful or disheartening failures? I’d love to talk about your writing, too. Mondays aren’t just about me rambling into space. Blog updates are a part of NtS not only so we can keep up with each other, but so we can connect more broadly with the online writing community. I love the support you’ve given me all summer, and I’d love the opportunity to return the support.

Oh, and all week I’m over on NA Alley.

Today I featured #nalitchat, a new Twitter chat about all things New Adult that’s launching this Thursday (7.26) at 9PM EST. Just follow @NALitChat and @NAAlleyBlog to stay current on the details, and on Thursday log in and chat using the #nalitchat hashtag. I’m moderating this week along with host EJ Wesley (who runs all things #nalitchat), and you can stay current on topics and read previous chat transcripts on the NALitChat blog.

It’s my host week on NA Alley, which means I will be there all week and running the associated Twitter account, so basically you can find me absolutely everywhere on the Internet this week.

 

 

New schedule and NtS

I did it again. I turned most of my blogging time into writing-the-novel time. 

Which, really, is a great thing to do. But it also totally knocks my blogging schedule off kilter and then I forget to blog… and forget to blog… and then don’t want to blog because it’s been so long. So, I’m setting up a new, smaller blogging schedule to finish out July and then everything changes for August and then it’ll go back to this blogging schedule in September. Ready for it?

Mondays: about writing. Through August, I have to keep updating y’all once a week about my novel and meeting my writing goals (so not happening!) this summer. This’ll happen on Mondays. In September, Mondays will still be about writing but I’ll probably mix it up a little and stop talking about myself so much.

Wednesdays: ask the reader. I still really loved this in May, and I am determined to make this a regular feature on the blog. I like asking you guys writing questions, and I love your answers and the discussions in the comments. It’s super fun.

Special features, as necessary — I know of several coming up, but obviously I’m not going to spoil them. But there are special features to come.

In August, I am doing two things: VEDA and Camp NaNoWriMo.

VEDA, for those that don’t know, is Vlog Every Day in August. I do have a YouTube channel, and last year Kenzie (my little sister) and I did a VED in March, and this year we thought we should do it again, and finally agreed to just do it in an actual VED month, August. So, in August, this blog will be hosting my vlog. I’ll post the daily videos here, and you have a whole month of not reading much of anything here!

Camp NaNoWriMo is just an extension of National Novel Writing Month, held in August and with a special summer camp theme. It’s totally fun, and the same rules apply, but I like using Camp NaNo to be a rebel and break those rules. Sort of. This year, I will be aiming for the 50k word count goal by the end of the month, but I won’t be declaring myself a winner if I break the threshold. Why? Because I’m using Camp NaNo to focus on #thatghoststory and as a last super push this summer to meet some of my writing goals.

But finally, for the Monday post topic — my Noveling through Summer update of the week: 

Last week didn’t suck like the week before last. Two weeks ago, for which I did not post an NtS update, I wrote nothing. I did a whole ton of mental writing, though, and realized pretty early in the week that my first chapter should definitely not be my first chapter. I needed a way to build up my urban paranormal world that wasn’t just exposition and dialogue; I needed action bad, and I needed that action to do a lot of the building for me. I needed to put some trust in any reader right up front, and believe that (a) readers can connect dots because (b) eventually through revision and patience and trust I would write dots that were obviously meant to be connected.

It may seem obvious to you that exposition and dialogue is not the only way of creating an interesting world — but the thing about my narrator is that she wants to over-explain things to people. She’s got some trust issues, and those issues make appearances in her need to explain how her world functions, including to the people in it. Where it might seem like this gives me some freedom to have Vera just explain everything, as she wants to do, it’s not something I can actually let her do most of the time. No one likes to have things explained to them that they already understand — it’s kind of insulting — and so rarely do Vera’s friends and co-workers and acquaintences actually let her talk. Which lead to my revelation of needing action, along with some frequently cut-off expository dialogue, to do most of my world building.

Basically, I learned something important this week: world building sucks.

My story takes place in a city — a real, live city! — and mostly I figured that would help me out a lot when it came to setting. But the thing is, setting is completely different from “world.” In my setting, sure, I know where all the buildings are, and how to get from point A to point B, and how long commutes are, and how far out people will venture depending on where they live in the city. That’s easy. I lived in this city, and I know it well. But in my world, there are ghosts and there are secret agencies and there are protocols and procedures and a hundred other things that operate below the surface of the city. Those are the things I have to build, and it’s tricky to weave a secret underbelly of ghost activity into a place I know so well.

This week, I’m continuing to move forward through the novel. I have a new, completed first chapter that’s infinitely better (my critique partner, L, has assured me of this) and on the right track for development of, well, absolutely everything — world, character, setting, etc. This week, I’m going to rewrite the two chapters I had previously opening my novel so that the events and conversations logically follow from the new beginning. I’m still supposed to be writing 10 – 15 pages a week, and though I didn’t do any writing until Friday, I actually managed 11 pages between Friday and Saturday of last week. And thankfully, this week I should meet that goal, too, because I’m rewriting and restructuring something I know to already be beyond that goal. So a small win for me!

 

 

Would you give me a quick critique?

Last week at NA Alley, there was a 35-word pitch critique. It was an incredible event to be a part of, both as an NA Sister and as a participant. But as much of my attention was focused on giving feedback and critique to our readers, I didn’t really spend a lot of time revising my own 35-word pitch contribution.

Not that I’m anywhere near ready to pitch my novel, but when I find myself in a dark void of writing despair, I also find that refocusing my mind on the novel-at-large helps get me out of the dark void. That’s where I was last week, and where I’ve been for several weeks actually. Writing this 35-word pitch made me wrap my head around the most simplistic concept of my novel. It forced me to stop tugging on all these threads, and find the main thread.

The 35-word it was a requirement of the particular event being held at NA Alley, and I stuck to it. But now I’d really like some focused feedback and critique from you readers, if it’s not too much to ask. The feedback I did get during the session last week helped highlight what readers were understanding or not understanding in my main thread, and in turn, that helped me even more — both with understanding the finicky art of the quick pitch and my most basic plot conception.

Below is my 35-word pitch, revised once of feedback from last week’s event. If it’s not too much to ask of you, my readers, I’d like more thoughts. In exchange, if you’ve got a short little something you’d like a pair of outside eyes on, post it with your comment (and provide some context, please). And if you comment, please come back around to stay a part of the discussion and, I hope, enjoy a little spontaneous writerly help.

The Pitch

Title: #thatghoststory (Untitled WIP)

Genre: Urban Paranormal

Pitch: Vera spends more time with ghosts than living people, helping them find peace in death. When Vera’s friend reappears as a ghost, she learns Lennon’s set on revenge, not peace, and she’s his first victim.

35-word Pitch Critique Today @ NA Alley

Do you know what’s a good exercise? Writing a 35-word pitch for your manuscript or work in progress. Even better than that? Having the opportunity to seek feedback & provide other writers with feedback. It’s a cycle that helps you (the universal you) with writing, thinking, and critiquing. 

I just wanted to leave this post directing you to NA Alley today where we’re hosting a 35-word New Adult pitch critique. Author Lynn Rush is our guest critique-r, and she’s doing a fabulous and diligent job on every critique posted, and us NA ladies are doing our best to keep up with her!

While this is meant to be of particular help to those authors preparing for YAtopia’s pitch contest on July 10, and while I definitely encourage you writers with completed NA manuscripts to participate in YAtopia’s pitch contest on July 10, I don’t think anyone would mind if you just dropped by to share in the big feedback cycle.

We’re all seeking & offering critiques on 35-word pitches, revising frantically, but smartly, and then repeating the process. It’s been a fun day so far, and it will undoubtedly continue to be fun. If you haven’t joined us, you should.

You may also want to read Juliana’s post from yesterday about writing a 35-word pitch. And if you don’t have a completed manuscript today, don’t worry about it. Neither do I, but writing the 35-word pitch for #thatghoststory has helped me simplify my thoughts about the novel and has reminded me that at the heart of every story is a strong, simple idea.