A month of love-liness!

What a start to a year! It seems like life has been nonstop since I last checked in, and here we are, almost to March already! Time flies when you’re having fun I guess. Some BIG NEWS, some fun news, and some life as usual:

BIG NEWS: I know I’ve mentioned writing before (don’t judge me on the quality of the writing here haha). I’ve been kicking around a story since NaNoWriMo 2012 that was “finished” but not revised. No matter what I do, I keep coming back to that story. I normally don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but I decided to just rip the band-aid off. I’m going to get this story actually done this year. I’ve found a local editor that I know and trust and we’re working slowly but surely to get it to a version I can submit. It has been a difficult process to hand over something I’ve lived with for so long and trust that their feedback comes from a positive place. Yes, I kicked my feet at several of her suggestions but ultimately came to the conclusion that she made more sense than I did. I’ve had to let go of a character I’m particularly partial to, but I get to create a whole new one that makes so much more sense for the story I’m trying to tell. While it feels like a major rewrite of practically everything, I’m happy with where it’s going. Fingers crossed!

FUN NEWS: Y’all know how much I read, and I may have mentioned Book Riot a couple hundred times. They provide some cool perks to monthly contributors that range from exclusive newsletters, a new release index, up to a private Slack for the top tier. Due to the Slack population being restricted, I’ve been waiting for the chance to get in for awhile. Lo and behold, I finally got in recently and it is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, depending on whether you want to actually judge the amount of time I’ve spent on there. Y’all. I have never found so many helpful, funny, like-minded people in one place before. Anything ranging from what we’re reading, to interview help, to live chatting our Olympic love, I have fallen in love with this community all over again. I highly recommend supporting your passions and finding others that share your interests. It definitely leads to a more fulfilling day amidst all the crap we can sometimes have to deal with.

LIFE AS USUAL: So far, I’ve hit 27 books on the year so I’m ahead of my Goodreads challenge. I’ll be glad for that later in the year I bet. I’ve read some good ones and some really, really bad ones. Seems to be par for the course. I’ve been pretty good about tracking what kind and where I’m getting books so far and am finding the results interesting already. It’s still the month of love, so a few reads of love-liness lately to keep things light, breezy, and happy:

The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright. This was such a cute story about an American who goes to Oxford to fulfill a posthumous request from her mother to discover her family roots. While there she finds Edmund who turns out to be a prince, and a connection she’s not quite sure she even wants. I am big fan of royal fiction and loved The Royal We. This story reminded me of TRW, and I smiled so much while reading this. There are several instances you need to suspend disbelief (I mean come on, who doesn’t recognize a Prince of England while in England) but overall, I’d recommend this for someone looking for a light or beach read.

The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane. I’ve read 2 other books by Rebekah and this one doesn’t disappoint. I did a longer review over on Goodreads with a bit more detail, but this YA love story is about “Jane” who is the sole survivor of a plane crash in Ireland, but has absolutely no memory of anything when she wakes up. She convinces a stranger to help her escape the hospital in a (misguided?) attempt to regain her memories so she can reclaim her life without all the pressures of being told what that life is. It’s a sweet story of searching for answers and finding more than you bargained for along the way. The characters are fun. The scenery is lovely. Would also recommend for a quick read about falling in love and finding yourself.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. Sophie always delivers fun, quirky characters that make me laugh and this is no exception. Katie works for an advertising firm and has the boss from hell. Well she thinks so anyway. Having her dream of living in London crushed by losing even the menial job she had sends her back home to a father and step-mother who want to start what is essentially a campground. Using what she learned about branding, she helps them get the idea off the ground and success comes quickly. So does her former boss and her former crush. There are misconceptions, clever insights, and a little bit of soul-searching thrown in for good measure. I laughed out loud several times. The story does such an interesting take on how our perceptions are so easily crafted by either/both advertisers and our own experiences, drawing the parallels between product promotion and life outlook before you realize it. If you want a pick me up to blaze through over the weekend, this (or several others of Sophie’s books) is a good place to start.

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Truth, Failure, and knowing the difference

So it’s day 18 of NaNoWriMo and I have waffled many times on whether I would even start, much less finish this marathon. I have had some incredible supporters along the way. When I said the other day that I was considering quitting, there were several people who said don’t, stick it out. I gave me hope that maybe, just maybe I could pull it off. I jumped back in and wrote a couple thousand more words. The truth is, it’s day 18. To be on track I should be about 30,006 words into my story. The reality is, I’m at 22,233. That’s an average of 2181 a day to finish instead of the 1667 where we started. Is it impossible? No. That is reality. Is it likely? No. That is truth. There is a fine line between truth and reality. To win, you have to hit the 50,000 words. If you don’t, then do you by contrast lose? Do you fail? If you don’t win, the reality is you lose, but the truth is you don’t fail. If you have 5 words, you don’t fail. If you mapped it all out in your head and a word never hits the page, you don’t fail. The beauty of creating a story is that you created. You took nothing, and molded it into something. Into something only you can do.

The reality is, I’m not in love with my story. The truth is, I do care about it. I care enough to not completely abandon it. Will I hit 50k words? Nope. BUT in the spirit of NaNoWriMo I will not abandon it until Dec. It’s the same with the draft I completed. Maybe not completed, concluded is more like it. I’m not convinced it will be marketable, but it’s my baby. My first literary love of sorts. I can’t just let it go. Is it good? Probably not. It took 5 years to get it all out and I’ve looked at it over and over until I can’t see it as anything else. I’m sure it’s full of holes and eye rolls. I need to pull the trigger, but why is it so hard to do that? Why is that so scary? Because it is. It’s a part of me, a part of my mind. Letting someone else see that and have the ability to judge that? Terrifying. What if everyone hates it.

What if they don’t?

The reality is, statistics tell me it will most likely go nowhere. The truth is, I only fail if I don’t try.

On track to 50k!

I was out of town this weekend so I didn’t get a chance to pop over here with an update. I flew up to Ohio for a few days and I was worried that I wasn’t going to get even close to the required word count. Let me tell you, plane rides are amazing times to get work done apparently. I got so far ahead that I could take a day off and enjoy the city and have plenty of time. It’s now day 6 and I’m at word 10,043!

Writing in first person is as hard as I thought it would be. I feel like I type “I ask” and “I say” wayyyy too much, but I have to remind myself the point is to get the words out, and the story onto the page for now.

Biggest struggle: I can’t decide on a time period. It doesn’t feel modern day to me so I’ve stayed as far away from tech as I can so far. No cars, phones, etc. until I can pin it down. This is the problem with 100% pantsing it. I feel like I’m just rambling without direction yet. Lots of talking but not much happening if you know what I mean.

 

Happy NaNoWriMo Day!!

Happy NaNoWriMo day!! Welcome to November folks. I have debated for a while about doing NaNoWriMo and thought I had decided to forego this year and focus on writing I’ve already been working on. Laughable, right? We all know me a bit better than that. I mostly gave up because I just couldn’t settle on a story or plot no matter how hard I tried because I wanted something different. Then, enter a few days ago. A friend posted a really cool picture on FB with a caption “there’s a story here, and I wish I knew what it was”. Of course, this occurred at 11pm and my mind immediately screamed “IF THAT’S NOT A STORY PROMPT I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS!”  and couldn’t sleep until I started the bones of one. Here’s the photo:

IMG_2964

There is obviously an orphan sitting next to it who can go invisible, right? The lenses in her glass would give her away so she had to yank them off while she’s hiding, right? Clearly. What I found most amazing is that as I started this story, it was coming out in 1st person. Other than here, I NEVER write in 1st person. Frankly, it scares me a little. The more I thought about that picture’s story, the more I thought to myself “you know what, just go for it. Who cares if you don’t get all 50k because you know you don’t have time to this year but shoot for the moon and all that?” So, here goes! I have a lot going on in November and it is highly doubtful that I can actually finish NaNoWriMo successfully, but now I want to flex my fingers with some 1st person and just see where it goes.

Instead of daily updates like last year, I’ll probably just do a Friday recap with struggles for the week and word counts, etc. That way I have a least a little accountability reporting but it’s not an everyday thing.

Wish me luck, and to my fellow NaNoWriMo crazies out there: YOU GOT THIS!!

No NaNoWriMo and Oct theme reading!

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’ve been debating over and over whether I am going to participate this year. The more I think about it, the more I think I’m not going to.  I need to focus on what I’ve already written and finish it once and for all and get it submitted somewhere. I haven’t figured out where I want to submit yet, but starting something else doesn’t make sense when I already have 1 finished, 1 half way and a 3rd about 3/4 done. I think I’ll use November to really fine tune the finished manuscript and my Christmas present to myself will be hiring an actual editor for the final touches. Stay tuned to see if that actually happens ….

I’ve been a bit under the weather for weeks, so that means reading, reading, and more reading! I have never attempted a theme reading month (surprising, I know!) so I thought I’d give it a shot for October and read only fantasy/mystery themed stories. I started out with a cozy mystery Witch P.I. series by Adele Abbott. It’s a cute story about a woman who was adopted only to finally meet her birth mother on her deathbed. Oh yeah, and birth momma has some news “you’re a witch”. Enter a whole new side of the family and The Dark One that wants her dead. No biggie. Each one only took about 3hrs to read so I polished them off in an evening. I figured with 21 in the series, it would last me a while. I got to book 14 and the time jump and just needed a break so I switched over to A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab . It didn’t grab me enough to finish the series so I went in search of something else.

Again Book Riot filled my TBR list and I searched out Shades and Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. I knew that name sounded familiar and then it finally clicked! She’s one of the cohosts for a favorite podcast of mine: Writing Excuses. It was promoted as “Jane Austen if she wrote fantasy” and that is totally in my wheelhouse. Well, it sounded like it would be. I suppose it had the makings of a Pride and Prejudice retelling but if just fell kind of flat for me.

Finally, I landed on the The Ministry of Curiosities series by C.J. Archer. I knew this format felt familiar only to realize she also wrote the Glass & Steele series that I really liked. It’s a good thing I liked that series because I’m not joking. This format is exactly the same as G&S with different characters. There were several times I laughed out loud during the first 8 books in this series. As a whole, I think I actually like this one better than G&S. Book 9 comes out Dec 5 and I can’t wait!

Speaking of release dates, The Delphi Resistance by Rysa Walker (Book 2) comes out  Tuesday! I loved her Chronos Series and this new Delphi trilogy is good so far. 17yr old Anna Morgan has a unique ability: ghosts like to catch a ride when she’s near. These mental hitchhikers won’t let go until she helps them take care of what they need to finish before they pass on. At least she gets to retain their knowledge and special skills, so there’s that. Happy early Birthday to me!

Last but not least I just finished up A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas. I think Thomas does a good job emulating Sherlock’s investigating skills and there are some interesting choices here how she feminizes Sherlock, but I can’t decide if I like her or not. Charlotte Holmes I mean. I need someone to read this so I can discuss it with them, because I guess the choices make sense for the time period but I can’t put my finger on what irks me about her.

When “harry” met “sally”

So I haven’t finished any books yet to leave you with my brilliant reflection. I am almost done with the book club selection of As You Wish (Inconceivable Tales of the Making of The Princess Bride) by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden. I have always loved The Princess Bride so I am thoroughly enjoying the anecdotes about the actors during filming.

So. To tide you over, I thought I’d give you a bit of writing to nibble on. My brother makes fun of me for being so ADD in my writing because I’m always moving around between projects instead of focusing on one to finish. To be fair I did finish one draft that he is now reading to point out room for improvement that was a 2012 NaNoWriMo contribution. You’ve heard all about the 2016 NaNo project, but I still have a bit from 2015. I didn’t get very far with it at all but I have felt compelled to revisit it lately.  I do like the characters so I thought I’d introduce you to them a little. Here is a scene where our protagonist meets whom she believes to be her antagonist. (Yes, I see the pattern in my characters. You go with what works for you.) Read more

WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER

I start today by saying goodbye to a very dear icon of Elon University, Dr. James Earl Danieley. Former President of the University, beloved professor and instilled in the hearts of all who have passed through Elon for 70 incredible years, Dr. Danieley’s charisma, presence and passion will be missed but will continue to live on. Between violence back home, Dr. Danieley’s passing today, and the raging fires in Gatlinburg, TN (also near home) there has been so much sadness this week alone, much less for all of 2016. At some point there has to be a silver lining. A bright light in all of the darkness. Like we talked about before, sometimes it’s the Little Victories that get us through.

I have an announcement: I did it! I really did it. Don’t believe me?  Take a gander here:

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner_congrats

That my friends is what pops up when you copy in your story and it validates that elusive 50,000 word count (You better believe I am buying that t-shirt). I was so worried I wouldn’t make it with only 2 days left but I put on the new Shawn Mendes album after “Treat you better” got stuck in my head and I hit my stride.

It was hard. It was rough. I didn’t think I’d make it. I still can’t believe I did. It literally took me 4 years to finish the last story I started during NaNoWriMo but I was determined to do it this time. My story is actually far from over but I’m to a really exciting part where I feel like  the story is finally moving somewhere. Now I can really take my time to develop it and make something out of it.

Since you stuck it out with me, I will treat you to part of the story tomorrow. Maybe in association with #1lineWed (the theme is Door so we’ll see what I can work with there).

All I know is I’m grinning so wide, my face hurts and I almost cried in triumph. In fact, I danced a little jig in this computer chair. With that my friends, loyal readers and fellow authors, I am going to bed finally. I don’t know about ya’ll but I’m exhausted.

Your Average Per Day
1,734
Words Written Today
3,373
Target Word Count
50,000
Target Average Words Per Day
1,667
Total Words Written
50,311 WINNER!
Words Remaining
0
Current Day
29
Days Remaining
2
Goal Achieved On
November 29, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
0

 

And then there were 3…

Today has not been an easy day. I found out a very sweet, talented lady from my hometown was killed tragically last night by a senseless act of violence. I only met her once but my heart has broken over and over today seeing all the tributes to her sweet spirit and smile and her three children who must try and make sense of this world without the strength she has provided them. It made me hug my littles even tighter tonight. This whole year has just seen so much tragedy that sometimes it feels hard to put into words that hold any real meaning. That’s one thing I enjoy about NaNoWriMo. It’s a chance to block out all the ‘stuff’ that is going on around us, the hurt and the stress and uncertainty, and create this world full of strong men and women who stand up to and overcome adversity. Who have struggles and fears but who band together and find a way to continue on.

Life happens and I’ll be honest, it’s been a struggle to close this out. After today, there are two days remaining and I’m almost to the 50,000 words goal (you better believe I’m buying that t-shirt). There is so much story left to be told and frankly, a bunch of junk in there that needs to be scrapped, but it’s amazing to me that we’ve all come this far. To my fellow writers, YOU’VE GOT THIS! Power through. We’re almost there. The rest of the world can have you on Thursday, but until then, immerse yourself and get. it. done. And if you need the little extra boost, here ya go!

Your Average Per Day
1,676
Words Written Today
2,815
Total Words Written
46,938
Words Remaining
3,062
Current Day
28
Days Remaining
3
At This Rate You Will Finish On
November 30, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
1,021

War Eagle, Hey! #WDE

Holiday weeks are always tough to get things done. I had to skip one day to fill out birthday invites and then another day on Thanksgiving because an old friend came over and we spent several hours reveling in glorious memories. Lots of laughs and maybe a little Facebook stalking and before I knew it, it was after midnight and I could barely hold my eyes open. I’m close to caught up. Just a couple hundred more words to catch up and then keep going. Easy peasy. Maybe. Mom and I might go dress shopping this morning for a formal dress for a black tie Christmas party I have coming up. Then there’s the Iron Bowl. For you uneducated folks out there, it’s almost bigger than Christmas. Almost. It’s the annual fight to the death (close enough) between Auburn and Alabama. College football glory and it’s going to be ugly. The game where you saw the famous “Kick Six”. Never heard of it? Are you kidding me? Only the greatest play in modern college football history. Alabama gets greedy and demands one second gets put back on the clock so they can kick a field goal and win, but lo and behold he misses! Not only does he miss but Auburn is there to catch the miserably short kick and runs it allllll the way back for a touchdown to win the game in glorious fashion! Don’t believe it? Here’s proof. Just goes to show anything can change in an instant.  If that’s not enough to show you Auburn’s got spunk, it was the same year as the Prayer in Jordan-Hare. (Oh yes, when it’s that crazy good, plays get names and everyone remembers them for years to come). Auburn vs. UGA and we’re down 38-37, less than a minute left in the entire game. It’s 4 and 18 and Nick Marshall drops back and throws a Hail Mary pass, it bounces off a UGA defender and into the arms of the Auburn receiver as he’s running and he keeps running right into the end-zone. This. This folks is why Auburn games are never over until they’re over. This is why Auburn football fans have such high blood pressure every Saturday in the Fall. It’s tradition. So there’s today. Alabama is undefeated.  Auburn is not but they’re showing promise and Sean White is back at QB after a couple rough weekends of a hurt shoulder. Go Big or Go Home boys. War Eagle! (I defy you to find a more awe inspiring tradition than when Nova or Spirit take flight over the crowd before the game and swoop down onto the field)

All that to say, that even though Thea is finally figuring out what she can actually do, and she and Silas finally had a breakthrough in their back and forth, it will be slow going today from 3:30p-8p EST because this is an Auburn family. BEAT BAMA!

As it stands:

Your Average Per Day

1,582
Total Words Written
41,139
Words Remaining
8,861
Current Day
26
Days Remaining
5
At This Rate You Will Finish On
December 2, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
1,773

 

Shut up and dance with me!

It’s day 22 ya’ll and I will admit I wrote 0 words yesterday. Zilch. Nada. None. Ok, I take that back. I typed 0 words for my story. I actually wrote words. A lot of words. On birthday invitations. Yeah, yeah. I know there were easier ways to do invites but these were going in kindergarten backpacks and they were free from the space holding the party so handwritten it is!

Since I  was a bit ahead, I knew I could catch up this week but I threw on some music to jam to and busted. it. out. Yes my friends and avid readers. I am caught up! AND With 45 words to spare. Thea saw some serious time in a practice room getting to know her gifts, Avery (mr. schmarm himself) got put in his place, we finally met my favorite character we’ll all love to hate and started a little intrigue. I don’t know about you but that wore me out! I love that when I finally decided to stop and check the word count a final time, “Shut Up and Dance” was playing. I’m terrible at lyrics so as I read those beautiful numbers that confirmed I had made it for the night, I heard  “This moment is my destiny! Oh, Oh Oh, Shut up and Dance with me”. (I’ve since figured out it says this women is my destiny but equally true. My main character is a girl. So there!)

Power music tonight was some amazing acapella. Started out with some Pentatonix (to which I really wanted to belt along with “If I ever Fall in Love” but alas, two sick kids so I just mimed it in my chair) before finishing out with Straight No Chaser’s “The New Old Fasioned” album. Some really good stuff there and even some laughs from “All About That Bass (No Tenors)” Count down to Friday when I switch to all Christmas, all the time. Hubby loves it. Just ask him.

And on that note I’m off to bed. Family arrives tomorrow for turkey day and loads to do still.

Your Average Per Day
1,669
Words Written Today
2,776
Total Words Written
36,719
Words Remaining
13,281
Current Day
22
Days Remaining
9
At This Rate You Will Finish On
November 30, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
1,476