Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sick the Last Week of NaNo

So 10kTuesday was a huge success, even though I didn't get to 10,000. I got around 8,000 words, my personal best for a single day! It was hard, but not as difficult as I thought it would be. I was at a part I had been dying to write, so the words just poured out. It involved the violent death of a major character, and the first major hints at the big twist. It was a blast (y'know, as much of a blast as brutally killing a character can be).

It was looking like I was sure to win NaNoWriMo, and then... THANKSGIVING.

I am allergic to cats and wire-haired dogs, and my in-laws have two cats and one wire-haired dog. Normally I take some allergy meds and then I'm okay, but for some reason this time my body just shut down. Asthma attacks nonstop, allergy medicine not working, and the asthma medicine making me feel wretched. Like yeah, it's nice that I can breathe, but does my heart rate really need to be up at 120bpm for the next hour to make up for it?

And then I took DayQuil in a last-ditch attempt to make myself feel better, and it worked a little but it also tasted like satan's piss and I'm just not sure that the pain was worth it.


Needless to say, my word counts haven't been great these last few days, and I've gotten behind in basically everything. I miss my house, where words came out great and I didn't feel like I was dying all the time.

I'm currently at 40,570 words, so I haven't thrown in the towel yet. I'm so close to 50k, and I know that regular me could finish this, easy. But sick, at-my-in-laws'-until-Sunday me? I'm not so sure. My brain is so fuzzy and writing a single sentence is agonizing.

If I cross this finish line, it will be crawling on my hands and knees, gasping for breath. But it will be glorious, nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NaNoWriMo Week 3 (late) Wrap-Up

NaNo week three was pretty much the epitome of the second-week slump for me, I think in part because my word count was where my week two word count was supposed to be. I always struggle with the early middle (or the beginning of act two, if you look at books in a three-act structure) because it's basically prepping for the prepping for the final countdown. There are important things to be learned and action that happens, but it's not nearly so exciting as the action that happens in the second half of act two, where the main character is actually putting those newly learned things into perspective.

Does that make any sense? It's possible it doesn't because I HAD A 5K MONDAY and words feel like jello between my ears right now.

So for week three I didn't really get more behind... But I definitely didn't get more caught up, either. I'm currently at a little over 30,000 words (for exact numbers, check out my awesome gadget thingy in the sidebar). It feels so good to have crossed 30k. Like, 25k is exciting because it's the halfway point, but at 30k it really feels like the worst is over. The end is near (literally, since I'm pretty sure this book is going to finish up on the short side). Also, I've already kicked 2013 NaNo Meghan's butt! So there's that. Here's a visual representation of me kicking last year me's butt at word counts:

Here's three things I learned about my writing this week:

  1. My night writing is not nearly so productive as my just-rolled-out-of-bed writing. And interestingly enough, it's not as high quality either.
  2. Writing sprints are the best things ever created. I think the WordNerds will agree with me on this one. We started our own writing sprint hashtag (#WNSprint), and ran sprints all day on Tuesday. It was a huge success! It really got me (and my other writing buddies) out of our ruts. It was so successful that we are doing another day of sprints Tuesday (/today? man I need sleep) and Friday. So take a break from prepping Thanksgiving festivities (Tuesday) or lounging around wondering why you ate so many leftovers (Friday), and get some good words in! 
  3. My writing is weird. Every time I start to think I've found a pattern that works, my brain shuts down and decides it wants to do something different. This week my brain has loved writing huge word counts in one sitting, in spite of what I said week one about how my brain just doesn't work that way. The only thing that has remained a constant success is the whole "keeping my screen blacked out while I write" thing. I'm still loving not getting distracted by that word count bar. It feels great to be writing until I've come to a natural stopping point, rather than writing until I've hit 1,000 words so that I can check Facebook.
Goal time. And I know this is crazy, but... I used today as a warm up. I'm hoping to achieve a 10K Tuesday. That way, I'll be just about caught up, and I won't go to my in-laws' house super behind--because nobody likes a daughter-in-law who is all crotchety and refuses to step away from the laptop.

This will be me Tuesday (today). Will it be you, too? Let me know! We can commiserate!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dealing with Jealousy

The tale is always the same.

I log on to my Tumblr, ready for some prime procrastination. I see a few things that make me laugh, maybe one or two things that are funny enough to reblog. Then, inevitably, I stumble upon a picture that's something like this:

OMG just love all my fans so glad I got to have such a great signing/tour/release party! Can't believe all of my books sold out! Did I mention that this is the first manuscript I ever wrote and also did I mention that I'm a few years YOUNGER than Meghan Jashinsky???

Okay, so maybe it isn't worded exactly like that. But that's what I see sometimes. And it's hard to look at pictures like that and not feel really discouraged and--to be honest--pretty jealous. I want that so badly, and I'm just not there yet. I've written a couple of manuscripts that were really, colossally bad. There are things I can maybe salvage from them for another story at another time, when I'm skilled enough to tell those stories effectively.  But man, do I want to be practiced enough to write them all well now.

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. So here's three things I do when I start feeling this jealousy:
  1. Recognize that part of why I'm not there yet is on me. No I am not there yet, and yes I so badly want to be there. But the fact is, I haven't written fast enough or revised my existing manuscripts enough that they are ready to be queried. I can struggle with a different kind of jealousy when I've begun querying and there are actually things going on that are beyond my control.
  2. Tell myself that their success doesn't mean I won't be successful. Because it doesn't. One author doing well doesn't mean that no other author can do well that year. Actually, one author writing a book that kids absolutely love probably increases literacy, thereby upping the chances of my future book being read.
  3. Get off the effing internet. Because those books aren't going to write themselves. It's really easy to be jealous of those authors who's backstories I know very little about, when I haven't done the work they already did to get there. But I can do it (and so can you)!
One day this will be me (and you):

You just gotta belieeeeeeeve! (And then work your butt off.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNo Week Two Wrap-Up

I have a visual representation of how this week went. I came off the high of week one, doing all kinds of awesome things, and then...

Week one went really well. And then I made the mistake of taking a day off from writing my NaNo book, and instead focused on stockpiling a few blog posts and gearing up for querying. I've done five drafts of my query letter, and it's STILL. NOT. OVER.

But the point is, I took a day off from it and have had a crazy hard time getting back into the groove. It's not that I dislike the story (because I really, really love this one). But what I'm writing feels forced, and I can't tell if I feel that way because I had such high hopes for the story, or if something is genuinely wrong that I need to fix. It's possible that only revisions will be able to give me the answer...

Meaning I have to finish it.

Sigh. I'm a little over 14,000 words, which means the best way for me to catch up would be to do some sprints (the bane of my existence). But I don't know! I'm feeling pretty good today. I woke up earlier than usual, and even though I'm super behind on the word count, it still feels like I'm pretty far into the story. I don't foresee the first draft of this one being much longer than 50,000 words (all my drafts tend to run on the shorter side, but this one seems shorter than even those), so there's that.

I haven't lost hope yet! I mean, as strange as it sounds, I'm only like 9,000 words behind. And that really isn't that much. Nothing I can't handle. ;)

And even though it's embarrassing to be far behind, here's my chart:

Also congrats to Erica, who crossed the 50,000 word mark this morning!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Rec: 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher *Spoiler-Free*

I read this book a long time ago, and I still think about it. I've postponed publishing this blog post for a long time because it's something that is close to me, so personal that it's difficult to talk about on such a public place. But guys, this book is important.

It's got some pretty polarized reviews on Goodreads, but I am a firm believer that everyone should read it, and not for the reasons you might immediately think of.

A lot of people think that this is a book about Hannah, the girl who kills herself and leaves behind a tape with 13 of her reasons for doing so. But to me, this book isn't about her at all. I don't relate to her. She makes poor decisions. I got frustrated with her. I felt disgusted, and upset, and confused, and so so sad, and--like many other reviewers pointed out--I felt like she didn't give us a good enough excuse to kill herself.

But that's the point, isn't it?

We are supposed to relate to Clay, and to the other people receiving those tapes. The ones who don't understand everything. Clay understood more than most people, but even he was frustrated. To an outsider, no excuse seems like a good enough reason for suicide. It doesn't matter if she was bullied more, neglected more, had fewer friends--it still wouldn't be good enough to us.

That's what it feels like in real life, too. It's what it felt like when someone close to me committed suicide.

And all those people in the book should have noticed something was wrong, but they didn't. And the people I've known who have killed themselves had plenty of warning signs, too. But no one noticed them. Or if they did, no one said anything.

This book isn't about Hannah. It's about Clay, and me, and you, and all of the other secondary characters in that book. We are the ones who can notice things. We can look closer; we can be kinder; and most of all, when we are worried about someone, we can ask them about it outright. Because suicide is important. This story conveys that, and is another step toward opening the dialogue about it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNo Week 1 Wrap-Up

At the end of today, week one of NaNoWriMo will be officially over! Crazy! Only three more weeks of this to go (plus two days)... So I thought I'd do a little week one wrap-up, and talk about the things that surprised me the most, and why I think those things are (or are not) working. This week there were two big things that took me by surprise:

1. My Character's Voice- I just came off of writing/revising a different fantasy novel, and it had a very choppy, dark voice. Maybe because of this, I expected Devya's voice to also be very edgy and dark (think We Were Liars by E. Lockhart). But I tried so hard to make it work, and it just didn't feel right. In then end, Devya's voice came to me as something much lighter, and a little funny, to be honest. I'm not sure if I like it yet, but I'm going with it, and it's coming shockingly easily. Hopefully whenever I read through it for revisions it will feel like a good decision and not something that I have to completely rewrite.

2. My Word Count Success- This year I've been much more consistent with my word count than I was during my first two NaNos. Please see this visual aid... (You should be able to zoom in even more if you click on it, too!)

Both years before this one, I've missed a day or two in just the first week, and I've had to have pretty big jumps later to make up for lost time. This week so far, there's only been one day that I didn't meet the goal, and I still wrote a decent amount on that day. Here's a few things I've done differently this year (and maybe these simple changes could work for you, too?).
  • Not writing is not an option. Self control is so so important when it comes to writing a lot very quickly, and it sucks because self control isn't something you can just research and suddenly be good at. There will be times when you have to say, No, I will not watch a fourth episode of Gilmore Girls. I will get my butt out of bed, put on my professional pants, and write. But I've been trying harder than ever to make this a thing, because I want to treat writing like a job and not a hobby. And so far it's been working! Even on the one day that I didn't meet the goal, I wrote something, so the next day it was easy to get back into the world and make up for lost time.
  • I don't look at my word count while writing. Normally I pull up my little word counter in Scrivener (pictured above) so that I can watch as the number goes up, and feel a surge of pride at my productivity. This time around, I've taken to completely blacking out everything that isn't my writing (in Scrivener, when you go into full screen mode, you have the option to make your background more or less translucent, as pictured below). So far, it has made it easier to keep my focus on the world that my words are creating, rather than the awesome little chart my high word count will create.
  • I don't do more than my brain can handle. There are many people out there who can hard core sprint, regardless of how motivated they are feeling (ex: Booktuber Kat O'Keefe does a 10k Tuesday the last Tuesday of November). Under normal circumstances I am not one of those people. If I'm close to something I'm SUPER excited for, I can have around a 6k day. Maybe. During my first two years of NaNo, I tried to push myself to have huge word count days (like my awesome NaNo buddies) right off the bat, and it just left me feeling discouraged when I didn't hit it, and so frustrated with the book that I didn't want to look at it for a couple of days at least. This year, I'm cool to just hit the goal. And if I feel like going beyond the requirement, I do, but I don't feel obligated to. And it is AWESOME. I am cruising through, and this has made getting through the less-exciting scenes so much easier.
I'm interested to see if I keep these things up, or if I have to adjust as the month goes on. But so far I'm feeling good! How has your first week of NaNoWriMo gone?

Sunday, November 2, 2014


NaNoWriMo is upon us! I had high hopes for today... Planned on writing all the words (y'know, 50,000 today seemed pretty reasonable), and planned on still getting proper nourishment and maybe seeing my husband once or twice.

Of course, it didn't go quite like that. I've been sick all week and FINALLY thought it was over yesterday, but woke up with the worst sore throat of my life this morning. And then my husband was finishing up his applications for PhD programs, so I had to help him proof all of that. And then (of course) something went terribly wrong there. And the whole time, I still wasn't quite sure what my killer opening line was going to be...

Needless to say, 9pm rolled around and I was feeling pretty disheartened. Because obviously if you botch the first day of NaNo, your whole experience is screwed, right?

But then I watched this commencement speech, given by Neil Gaiman. And OH MAN was I on fire after that! I think this man could read a grocery list and it would move me to tears. You should definitely check it out if you are in need of some inspiration!

I managed to get a little over 2,000 words, and am feeling PUMPED for tomorrow! What about you? (Also, be my NaNo buddy! I add everyone back!)

And FINALLY, thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway! I loved reading about all of your villains! The winner is... *drumroll*
Jehoia Cato!

Congrats! I'll be emailing you to let you know as well, so be on the lookout for that!