Writing–November Projects aka NaNoWriMo 2014

nanowrimoNovember means NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo means that I write like a madwoman.

My NaNo this year is similar to last year’s in that I’m going to do two 25,000 word novellas instead of one 50,000 word novel. I am once again breaking rules, baby. But I couldn’t think of a good novel idea and decided NaNo would work just fine to clear two more items off of the To Do List.

This year’s NaNoWriMo project is The Odd Section of Town and Firebugs and Other Insects, the next two Ivy Russell novellas. Possibly the last two, I don’t know. I don’t have any ideas for this character beyond these last two novellas, so I suppose we’ll see. You know me. I’m not good with commitment.

The Odd Section of Town involves our intrepid private investigator Ivy dealing with several cases in  the Odd Section of Buddington, an area of own that seems to be plagued by a rash of bad luck that seemed to start around the same time an old friend came for a visit.

Firebugs and Other Insects finds Ivy looking for a mentally ill man during a rash of fires that are certainly the work of one weird arsonist.

I felt like it was a good idea to get these two written since I already had the ideas and the only thing holding me back was The Timeless Man wasn’t fixed yet. But with that scratched off the To Do List, I actually switched two different novellas out to write these two and finish up the Ivy series, at least for the time being.

I’m already off to a good start and anticipate being done by no later than the 16th (yes, I realize I’ve probably just jinxed the hell out of myself). Which poses an interesting question.

What am I going to do with the rest of the month?

The answer: I don’t know, but nothing heavy. Between Thanksgiving, working Black Friday, and going to my first con in about six years, the end of the month will be no time to start anything serious. I’ll probably end up doing some revisions on projects that will only take me a day or two to accomplish. I’ll figure it out when the time comes.

My brain is kind of crowded right now.

Writing–October Projects

pumpkinsJust because I’m experiencing a writing crisis of sorts doesn’t mean the party stops. While I’m  seeking validation by submitting to agents, I also have a different plan on the board that I’m executing, one that is sort of independent of that whole writer-validation thing that I talked about doing last week. Basically, it’s Operation: Get Some of This Shit Off Your To Do List, Woman!

So, last month involved me doing a round of revisions on the Zak novella (no, it still doesn’t have a title), writing a couple of short stories (“The Seaweed Man” is a lot longer than I thought it’d be and I’ll need another week or so to finish it; I also ended up writing another short story called “People Are Terrible”), and getting the pre-order of Spirited in Spite set up. All of the was done even while I was having my “Why am I here?” troubles.

This month, since it is of course October, I will have NaNo prep, which will basically just be me going over my outlines for the next two Ivy Russell novellas to make sure I know what I’m doing. Yes, I’m doing two novellas again for this NaNo and I will talk more about them in another post.

Speaking of Ivy Russell, to help me get in tune with that world, I’m going to finish the rewrites on The Timeless Man, which means finally figuring out and writing the new ending. It will be smooth sailing on further revisions once that is done.

I also need to do another revision of Hatchets and Hearts. I’m changing the time period. I think that will be the final big change that will really tie the whole thing together. It seems like everything I wrote during a certain few months of last year/this year was nothing but a struggle. It will be a victory when I get that all sorted.

And so there won’t be any dull moments, I’ve got a couple of new short stories I could write if I need to: “The House Down the Road” and “Nadie Has a Dog”.

Slowly, but surely, I’m going to get this To Do List whipped.

Writing–The Grand Writing To Do List

Rainbow paperI’ve mentioned before that I’m working on clearing off the bulk of my Writing To Do List. I thought that maybe some of you would like to see this mythological creature, as I’m frequently mentioning it, but not very good about getting too specific about all of the projects I have going on.

It’s not in any sort of special order and all of it is writing related even if it’s not actual writing.

  • Revise Hatchets and Hearts
  • Polish Hatchets and Hearts
  • Revise “She’s Not Here Anymore”
  • Polish “She’s Not Here Anymore”
  • Revise The Timeless Man
  • Revise The Rainmakers 1
  • Revise The Rainmakers 2
  • Revise (Vampires) Made in America
  • Write Fairliza
  • Write Parlor Tricks
  • Publish A Tale of Two Lady Killers
  • Publish Spirited in Spite

Hatchets and Hearts is, obviously, the novella I’m currently revising. “She’s Not Here Anymore” is a novella that I revised down to a short story. The Timeless Man, as you should know by now, is the next novella in the Ivy Russell series. The Rainmakers 1 and 2 are the two novellas I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. (Vampires) Made in America is a Stanley Ivanov novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo a few years ago. Fairliza (which isn’t a title, but the name of the character) is an idea for either a long short story or a short novella that will more than likely be written this summer. Parlor Tricks is an idea for a what will probably be my NaNo project this year (or one of two projects if it looks like it’ll be a novella).

How the To Do List works: Projects that are/will be getting my attention are on the To Do List. I don’t put polishing any project on the To Do List until it’s had at least one round of revisions/rewrites.

That’s the Writing To Do List.

A living thing.

Writing–Creating a Series

Rainbow paperAt some point after one of the heavy revisions of Cheaters and Chupacabras (long before it was titled, of course, because that didn’t happen until the last minute), I realized that Ivy and her friends could host a series of novellas. I’d even had an idea at the time for what the next novella would be.

But creating a series is new to me. Sure, I’ve read a few, but I’ve never actually given it a try by my own writing hand.

When I was writing The Timeless Man, my idea for Ivy novella number two, I came up against several difficulties in the first draft, one of which was keeping track of the details from the first novella. There needs to be continuity in a series, otherwise people can be moved to lose their interest and/or shit. This is the sort of thing that plagues TV shows. And now I found it plaguing me.

What was Michelle’s married name? What did Candy look like? What was Ivy’s hometown? Did I even name it? Was Art a bachelor or divorced or a widower? Did I say?

Little things like that. While writing The Timeless Man I saw that I need a way to keep track of all of these things. Character names and places and descriptions and relationships –that whole scene. After all, I’ve got ideas for two more novellas after The Timeless Man. I need to get the established stuff straight because I’m only going to be adding to it.

For now everything is scribbles and scratches while I try to figure out the best way to go about organizing these things. I’m going to need to do the first round of revising/rewriting on The Timeless Man soon. I’d like to have my ducks in a row by then.

Or at least all in the same pond where I can see them.

Writing–Sophomore Slump?

Rainbow paperI’ve spent the month working on the next Ivy Russell novella, The Timeless Man. It’s been sort of a slow-go due to a bit of a crazy work schedule. Most days I can only get a page or two done, though I try to get more than that in on the weekends and the days I’m only working one job.

But the day jobs aren’t the only thing slowing me up.

So far I’ve spent the entire first draft (which isn’t yet finished) comparing The Timeless Man to Cheaters and Chupacabras. It’s an unfair comparison because I’m comparing a finished project with a first draft. That’s like comparing a gold medal skier to a guy who just put on skis for the first time. It’s not right.

But I’m doing it anyway.

Every time I pull up the first draft to work on it and start typing, in my head I’m asking myself, “Does it have the same tone as the first one? Is it as much fun? Are the characters consistent? Is it enough like the first one?”

The only valid question is about the characters. They should be consistent at their core from novella to novella, and since I have two more novellas in the idea stage, that’s pretty important. It’s something I should definitely keep in mind for the first draft, but I don’t have to be a nag about it.

The rest of it, I can’t ask those questions now. I’m not even sure if I should ask those questions at all. Since this is going to be a series of novellas, I realize there should be a certain feel to the stories that is similar between novellas, but that’s really something I shouldn’t be thinking about in the first draft stage.

I’m hoping I can file those questions for later. I can look at them again when I get to revising.

Right now, I just need to be writing.

I won’t be able to answer them if I don’t get this first draft done.

Writing–January Projects


Finally, we get around to my first projects post of the new year.

I’ve got most of the heavy lifting rewrites done on “She’s Not Here Anymore” and it’s officially a short story now. I’m going to let it rest for now. It could probably use another round of picky revisions, if not two. But not this month. It can wait.

This month I’m going to start on one of my big year goals and start revising Spirited in Spite, which I thought was still a novel-length manuscript, but it looks like the previous revisions I did cut it down to novella-length. Now I get to decide if I want to expand it back to being a novel or just go with novella, which is kind of becoming my thing. And so my big goal takes on a new dimension.

I think I’m also going to start sketching out the next Ivy Russell novella. I’ve already got the idea for it, but it’s gonna need a little work, some fleshing out and outlining. I may even start writing it if I’m feeling good about it. You never know.

I might also start doing some work on the Hatchets and Hearts novella if I’m feeling productive. It needs some hefty revisions and I’d probably be better off getting them out of the way as soon as possible.

I had an easy time of it in December. Time to get back to work.

Writing–December Projects

Snow Cat

December is always a rough month writing-wise for me. Between the NaNoWriMo hangover (which, I admit, can’t be bad this year since I was done in two weeks) and the holidays and the holiday obligations, writing seems even more of a chore than it should be. In order to combat that, the writing-goals for December get toned waaaaay down.

This month I only have a few goals which shouldn’t tax my brain and my patience too much.

I need to get the cover art done for the Ivy novella, which finally has a name! I’m calling it Cheaters and Chupacabras, which is a crappy name, but it’ll do, pig, it’ll do. And once I get the cover art done, I will be publishing it so you can find out if the novella itself is less-crappy than the title (I think it is).

I also need to get the cover art for my next anthology, Yearly, done. I’d like to have that published in January. And don’t let the title fool you; it’s not a yearly thing. It’s just the way the stories ended up representing months and I decided to capitalize on it.

And finally, I’m revising “She’s Not Here Anymore”. It was originally written as a novella, but after reading it again, I’ve decided to rewrite it as a short story. I’m taking out certain elements of the story because it ended up not being what I wanted and the new way will be better. I’m giving myself the whole month to do it because I’m not exactly enthused about it, but I think it needs to be done. Once I get the rewrites finished, I think I’ll be happier with the story and therefore, a little more inclined to work on it.

So that’s what I’ll be doing in December. Enough to keep me productive, but not too much to make me feel like an utter failure.

Writing–Polishing the Ivy Novella

An open can of shoe polish with a side-mounted...

No, this damn novella still doesn’t have a title, but I can at least call it almost done (my beta reader found a HUGE problem that I have to figure out how to fix, but that’s another post).

When we last left this novella, I was in the process of revising it, specifically focusing on cutting down the word count. And I hated it as a story. That happens sometimes for me when I revise projects. I get to the point where I think it’s shit and I no longer want to even look at it. Some projects I learn to love again; some I never do.

I honestly thought that Ivy was going to fall into the the latter category. I didn’t think it was that great and was really considering not to self-publish it like I had planned (setting up another dilemma of me not keeping my word, which is an issue that’s another post all together). But I was determined to at least see it through to the end. I wanted it to be completely done even if I did decide to shelve it.

And then I started polishing the piece.

For me, polishing means I start at the very last sentence of the work and read the whole thing backwards, one sentence at a time. It’s a trick my honors English teacher taught us. It takes the sentence out of the context of the story so you can find errors more easily (your brain isn’t lulled and reading things the way they’re supposed to be, not the way they are).

It was during this polishing business that I found that I did like the Ivy novella, a lot more than I thought I did. Sure, it still has some issues that need to be cleaned up, but on the whole, it’s a lot more enjoyable for me now than it was before.

I guess reading it backwards helped me shake it loose from the context of my dislike, too.

If only it could have given me a title for it.

Writing–October Projects

A shot of a pumpkin, focused on its stem.

October means one thing: NaNoWriMo prep. Well, it means a lot of other things, too, but when it comes to writing, getting ready for NaNoWriMo is first and foremost. I have a project in mind, but I’m not sure I’ll end up going through with it as it’s not technically a novel and I’m typically very serious business about sticking to the rules (even if the site itself gives you the option to bend them).

But that’s what October is for me. Running ideas up my NaNo flagpole and seeing which one I want to salute and then getting it ready for November.

In case I have a few more hours to fill, I’m going to try to finish the Ivy novella to the very last polish (and finally come up with a damn title!) and finish the other novella I started writing as soon as I was finished writing the first draft of the other novella I started last month that, like the Ivy novella, doesn’t have a title, but I call it Hatchet so I know what I’m talking about when I’m talking to myself and making To Do List notes. The latest novella is called She’s Not Here Anymore because sometimes I CAN come up with a title before the thing has been in existence for months.

I’ve also got ideas for a couple of short stories and I might try to scribble out the first drafts of those before NaNo eats my brain.

I’m feeling very motivated, writing-wise.

What can I say?

Autumn brings out the best in me.