Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

I've been working a lot lately. Going in early, staying late, and busting my you-know-what in between.

Today is, as a matter of fact, only my second day off this month. Seriously. I have been in such a haze that I barely can keep straight what day it is. What week it is. What month it is.

Wait...Is this still November?

Just kidding. I know it's still November because next week is the shopping weekend to end all shopping weekends. Black Friday. Yay.

But in the short time between Veterans Day weekend (the second busiest shopping weekend of all) and Thanksgiving weekend comes the most wonderful time of the year. The time when Management has gone over on payroll because of the first holiday weekend and therefore has to scrimp and save on payroll in order to have it available for the next holiday weekend.

Translation: I HAVE FIVE DAYS OFF. IN A ROW.

As you read this, my phone has been turned off, placed in a box and buried by my dogs somewhere in my back yard. A two mile perimeter has been set around The Store to prevent me from accidentally being caught in a sinister tractor beam wielded by #1 Boss who, no doubt, will look at the shipping report, see the number of boxes expected and try to do everything in her power to get me to come in. I know she'll do this because I looked at the shipping report, saw the number of boxes expected and then high tailed it out of The Store before anyone could realize what a mistake letting me leave was.

Because I am damn tired. And because I'm going to have to work the following seven days in a row, so I'm going to soak up as much non store time as I can.

With this in mind, here's my agenda for the next five wonderful days in which I will NOT go into The Store:

1. Win NaNoWriMo

I'm just over the halfway mark (25k) and with Thanksgiving coming so late in November, and the weekend running right through to the end of NaNoWriMo, it is imperative that, if I'm going to win, that I do so in the next five days because it'll be virtually impossible to do it in the final days of this month. This will require me to write approximately 5,000 words a day for the next five days. Which will be no problem at all considering my current average is about 1,300 words a day. Yep. Got this thing in the bag. (Ha!)

2. Oh, who am I kidding? Did you see #1? Like I'm going to have time for anything else. Sorry raking. Sorry laundry. Sorry eating. Maybe in December.

3. Okay, well, maybe I'm going to see the Catching Fire premiere Thursday night with my sister. It's tradition. We did all the Harry Potter movies at midnight, and now we've moved on to this franchise. Not sure what we'll do once this one is over, but I'm sure we'll find something. 

4. And if I get all of the above done...Sleep. Because I really am damn tired. 

Hope y'all are doing well, and thank you for stopping by today. I'll try to do better the next time!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Splitting Up Is Hard To Do

Today on the woefully neglected My Pet Blog, we are pleased to play host to Misha Gericke and her newly released novel, The Vanished Knight.

Take it away, Misha!


Splitting stories 

I woke up one morning with a contract offer. It thrilled me to bits, but at the same time, I was terrified.

The reason was that I’d submitted my 107k word novel (Doorways) to a publishing company, whose guideline word count is about 65k words for a YA book. Luckily for me, my editor wanted to give me a chance, but that chance came with one ultimatum:

I had to split Doorways in half.

Now, I’d spent years and years working just to get to the contract, and having to divide what I’d written… Just felt impossible. And yet… And yet, I got the feeling it could be done. Technically, I mean. I knew I’d written the thing in ebbs and flows, so in theory, I could turn some major event earlier in the story into a climax of its own. So I said I’d do it.

It took me a week of calming down, rereading and creating a timeline to discover that mercy above mercies, my story actually had two natural halves. And the first half was in fact finished at one chapter short of Doorways’s middle chapter.

So I copy pasted the first half and let my editor know the split had been accomplished.

This was far from the end, though. Everything in Doorways’s first half was written to lead to a climax in the second. Now I had to shift the focus so that everything went towards a much earlier point in the story.

It took some trial and error, but after having some suggestions from my crit partners, I realized I’d lucked out yet again. My series has five main characters and multiple plot-lines. In Doorways, I’d mainly written to follow Callan’s plot, but in the half I’d now split off, Darrion and Gawain’s plot was more complete. So I wrote in more scenes to bring their story to the fore and voila, the the first half became The Vanished Knight.

Anyone else ever need to split a manuscript for a publisher? Thanks for having me over, M.J.!

Blurb

Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.

But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more  threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.



About the Author:

M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects. She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.

If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blog. You can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing With Abandon (An IWSG Post)

The first Wednesday of each month is devoted to The Insecure Writer's Support Group in which writers everywhere can voice whatever worries they have and receive some words of encouragement in return from those who have been there and done that. It was started by the Ninja captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, himself and has done so well that it now has its very own website and Facebook page. Click on the above link for more information and a complete list of participants...

So, like many writers around the world (280,977 according to their site), I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month. If you're unfamiliar with it, the idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That's an average of 1,667 words a day. It can be occasionally insane. Well, at least the way I do it. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Anyway, I do it because despite the (occasional) insanity, it's ultimately fun. It's ultimately exhilarating (especially when you do hit the finish line on time), and at the end of it, I have a brand new story. Sure, the 50,000 words never seem to include an ending. Or a proper beginning. Or the vast majority of the middle (wait...what the hell am I doing with these 50,000 words??), but I still have a story.

And the best part is, I even like it. The story, I mean. You know, in addition to having had written it.

One of the NaNoWriMo taglines is "Write With Abandon" and it's a philosophy I want to carry with me into December and every month after because I'm realizing more and more that it's a good one. A lot of the time I think I get too bogged down with trying to make a first draft a perfect draft, and for whatever reason, I let myself off the hook in November.

Maybe it's because in NaNos past, I've used those thirty days to experiment in genres in which I normally wouldn't write or haven't written. So maybe subconsciously, I feel there's nothing to be lost, so why not go for it?

Or maybe it's because I'm a complicated freak. But that's a post for another time.

This year, I'm a NaNo Rebel and am working not on a brand new novel, but rather striving to add 50,000 new words to my current WIP, Second Nature. And I have found myself itching to hit that delete button and wipe out entire sentences, paragraphs, and even scenes because I don't feel they're good enough. But what I should be thinking is that they're not good enough yet.

The following Nora Roberts quote kind of sums it up perfectly for me:


So even though I'm somehow perpetually 2,000 words behind the daily target, and am missing huge chunks of plot, and actually have a character named "Mercenary Guy" because I haven't gotten around to giving him a proper name or, you know, anything else (though I suspect he may be a mercenary...) yet, I'm having a blast. There is some really horrible prose to be found on these pages, but it's getting easier to accept that and move on. Even with all that moving on, I may fall well short of the 50,000 words in 30 days goal (according to my stats page, I won't be finished until December 12th), but I'm enjoying the journey.

And that's what really matters.

Here's hoping I can keep that going all year round.

Happy writing, all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Everybody Gonna Be Happy

All right, so despite the title of today's post (a song by The Kinks) I'm not particularly happy at the moment. I know you're thinking "Really? What else is new?" But The Store managed to strike again last night, and I'm starting off my work week in an even worse mood than usual.

But I'm trying to avoid that, or at the very least, minimize that, so today's post is devoted to all the things recently making me happy. This would normally be more of a Celebrate The Small Things Friday post, but I'm in need of it today.

And I'm guessing no one will mind not reading another post in which I lose my mind over whatever Management's done this time.

So here are the things on which I am choosing to focus:

1. NaNoWriMo

Sheer luck sees me actually on track and just a tiny bit ahead. (Very tiny bit) And last night I started crafting a scene about which I am very excited. It's one of those big, pivotal scenes that's a real catharsis for one of the main characters (and, strangely, me). The funny thing is (Well, funny to me anyway) that it's also a scene that didn't exist in my original conception for this novel. It came about from the comments given to me by a couple of critiques on Effigy. I've been thinking about it for a good long time now, and just decided to dive in last night (when I was desperate for 500 words) and see what would happen. And you know what...it just feels right. Not exactly sure what that means for domino effect it'll have on the rest of the novel, but the catharsis really has proven to be too damn vital, so I'll make it work.

2. The Red Sox won the World Series

Yep. Still riding that high. And I really am sorry for all those tweets the night of Game Six. Obviously I wasn't sorry enough to stop at the time, but I apologize if I was overly annoying. You know, more than usual.

3. The Patriots beat the Steelers 55-31.

Of course, I missed the second half of the game because of a stupid staff meeting, but I'm thrilled by the final score. And I have to wonder if maybe I should avoid watching more games. Maybe the Pats score more when I'm not witnessing it. Now I'm conflicted. But if you've ever wondered what it's like to watch a game with me, there's this commercial that The Man says portrays it pretty well:



And in case it wasn't clear, I am Ramsey, and the little dog hiding under the couch is my German shepherd, Big. Big does not particularly enjoy game days because his mommy loses his mind.

Sorry, Big.

That's going to do it for me today...I'm headed off to work. Thanks for stopping by. I'll try to do better the next time...


Friday, November 1, 2013

The Plan (NaNoWriMo Edition)

It's November 1st, and that means so many things, but fortunately, they all kind of run together. And they all involve goals. Which normally happens on Monday, but I guess it's a special bonus Friday. Or maybe 'special' and 'bonus' are the wrong words to use here.

Anyway, first up is a review of the goals I set for myself last month:

1. Complete first draft of Part Two of Second Nature.

Yeah. I didn't do this. Again. Still. Maybe it's a bad excuse/reason, but my day job kicked my ass and all my writing efforts were ground to a near halt. It's seriously been two weeks since I last opened my WIP.

2. Finalize Effigy Blurb.

Didn't do this either. I didn't even attempt it. I am neither proud nor happy to admit this, but I was suffering from a pretty severe attack of "It's [publishing] never going to happen, so what's the point?"-itis. I like to think I'm now out of this mindset, though. (However long that lasts...)

3. Walk/run 50 miles.

The only goal I accomplished last month. I logged a total of 88 miles in October. This means that I have officially exceeded my year-long goal of running/walking (and it's all walking, even if I like to pretend otherwise) 500 miles. Yay me.

Next up are my new goals for November. Well, goal. It's just the one goal:

1. Win NaNoWriMo.

My original goal for this month was to write Part Three of Second Nature (hereafter known by its proper name Reckoning). My inability to complete Part Two (hereafter known as Lineage) has made the original goal slightly more difficult. I supposed I could just write Reckoning based on where I project Lineage will end up, but that idea makes my stomach hurt (yeah, it's the idea and not the ten pounds of Halloween candy I ate last night making my stomach hurt), and I don't think I want to do that.

So here's the revised goal: write 50,000 words. In Lineage, in Reckoning, or some combination of the two. I mean, for all I know, I'll need 50,000 words to finish Lineage. But that doesn't matter. What matters is the goal:

50,000 brand spanking new words for Second Nature.

This WIP is currently sitting at a whopping 145,045 words (47,542 of which belong to Lineage). I'm still having a bit of a hard time imagining another 50,000 words, but if all goes well this month, this WIP will be at 195,045 words come December 1st.

Yikes.

That's going to do it for me today. As always, thank you for stopping by, and have a great weekend.