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NaNoWriMo Advice

Here we are nearly 1/2 of the way through NaNoWriMo. I’ve given advice in the past and you can read about it here.img_3379

Mostly I just want to cheer you on and say, “Look how awesome you are! You’re writing a book-shaped thing! Keep it up!”

November is an awful month to try and write a book. This month was especially bad. The election was super distracting and for many like myself, it derailed their motivation. I’m currently at 7,411. Ideally we should all be hovering at 15k if we’re writing 1,667 a day. This brings me my first piece of advice:

SIT YOUR ASS DOWN AND WRITE

Words don’t count if they aren’t on the page. The only way you’re going to catch up is to put your butt in the chair and go at it. There’s no magic solution. Just start typing or writing.

What works for me might not work for you. I know this draft will be COMPLETE AND UTTER SHIT and I try my damnedest not to self-edit. Characters change names. I change POV and tense. When I get stuck I write dialogue and make my characters talk it out. Or I write kissing scenes. I open windows and doors whenever I can. My current WIP now features a high school radio station, fake Buzzfeed quizes, some Clueless fan-fic, Settlers of Catan and now Scientology. It’s one giant WTF gif. This draft is a SHITSHOW and I love it.

The only other piece of advice I’ll give (Please note I’m a 5x winner of NaNoWriMo so I’m totally qualified to give such advice):

DON’T COMPARE THIS FIRST DRAFT TO THE LAST BOOK YOU READ

There are many drafts between your NaNoWriMo book and what you see in a bookstore. If you do you will become paralyzed with fear and self-doubt and you will never finish your book. Fun fact: My novel Secret Heart was a NaNoWriMo novel. It took almost four years of drafts to get it right. I completely rewrote it from scratch twice. It went through self-edits, beta readers, my agent, publishers (one had me revise and resubmit), more self-edits, and a copy editor before it was published.

STOP OVERTHINKING AND START WRITING. Don’t forget to have fun. Even if you never look at it again you can say you once wrote a novel. If anything it’ll give you bragging writes at boring dinner party.

But seriously, IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT.

You’re amazeballs. I’m proud of you.

*add me as a NaNoWriMo buddy: nanowrimo.org/participants/drdspice

 

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

I was all set to post another track in the Rejection Playlist but then this happened late last night (10:04 p.m. to be exact)

Image

This means I’ve now kicked NaNoWriMo’s ass for the fifth consecutive year.

The NaNoWriMo novel I wrote this year (The Summer That Nothing Happened) is shitty at best. But I know that at least 10-20% of it is actually fairy dust and from that fairy dust a new novel will reappear. At least that’s what happened with last year’s NaNoWriMo novel Secret Heart (formerly called Prom and Prejudice) which I completely rewrote from scratch February-April of this year after letting the bad draft marinate. Now Secret Heart is sitting in Super Agent Danielle’s hands and will go through it’s revision phase before looking for a new home for it.

This gives me hope that The Summer That Nothing Happened will turn from ugly duckling to swan sometime in 2014.

The end of NaNoWrimo means I can now focus on my actual life and do things like address Christmas cards and eat food that is not ramen noodles in a cup and spend time with my family and pets instead of hiding in The Writing Cave like a hermit. It also means I can play around with a shiny new MG idea and write short stories and decompress at the Naked Korean Spa.

But in the meantime, you can find me doing this:

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NaNoWriMo Tips for 2013

I’ll keep this short because if you’re like me, you’re behind on your NaNoWriMo word count goals and it hasn’t even been a week.  Instead of writing, you’re sitting in front of a space heater, eating an almond “ice cream” sandwich while watching The Wire.

Wait, you’re not? Okay, it’s just me.

Hopefully you’re cruising along in your manuscript, throwing down words like they were gang signs (I need to turn off the The Wire). But if you aren’t, here are a few important things to remember:

1) No one said your book has to be good. All of my previous NaNoWriMo projects were a sh*tstorm of suck. Only  last year’s story rose from the ashes after several rewrites and is now a shiny, pretty thing in the hands of my agent. 

2) WEDD (Write Every Damned Day). Even if it’s 400 words before work, or 500 words on your lunch break, or you 1667 words after your household has fallen asleep. By writing a tiny bit each day, you’ll slowly chip away at that 50k goal without killing yourself.  It’s much easier (for me) to look at what I can do in 15, 30, or 60 minutes and call it a day rather than fret about how I can squeeze out 6k and still do laundry/ buy groceries/ go to hot yoga/ eat food other than leftover Halloween candy.

Besides, by WEDD, you’re cultivating writerly habits that will help you succeed later in life if you choose to be a writer.

 

No one said NaNoWriMo was easy (if they did, they’re lying), but it’s not brain surgery or rocket science. It’s putting words down on a page and walking away. Stop overthinking it.

Get back to work! (or watching The Wire. I won’t judge).

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NaNoWriMo- Are you ready?

In two days NaNoWriMo 2013 will be upon us. Are you ready?

This will be my fifth NaNoWriMo in five years and once again I waited until this week to decide on an idea. So I have an idea, the vaguest of ideas, and I’m ready to jump in.

Need some advice on NaNoWriMo? Try these:

“I think #NaNoWriMo is great for writers because it forces you out of your bad habits. You can’t be precious.” @rainbowrowell

 

Laura has a great post on NaNoWriMo (and first-timers).

 

And of course there’s NaNoWriMo advice from 2012.

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What to do now that NaNoWriMo is over: A 12 Step Program for Writers

First of all congrats to all who finished NaNoWriMo last Friday, or anyone who has recently finished writing their (first) novel.

You’re probably asking yourself, “What do I now that I’ve finished my first novel?” Here is my time-tested post-novel writing survival guide.

NOTE: Do not skip ahead to step 12 until you are absolutely ready. Revision takes time, people!

Step 1: Happy Dance. The worst is over.

My beautiful picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Panic. The worst is still to come.

Step 3: Sleep for 16 hours

My beautiful picture

 

Step 4: Take a shower. Wash that first draft filth from your body.

 

Step 5: Take a walk to help combat “writer’s butt.”

 

Step 6:  Call/ text/ email everyone you’ve been ignoring. As

sure them that no, you aren’t dead but you did just finish a novel.

Step 7:  Once the adrenaline high has worn off (it’ll last anywhere from 1 day to 1 year) think about revising.

Step 8: Freak out over revising that shitty draft.

Step 9: Put your butt in the  chair and revise that shitty draft.

Step 10: Do steps 1-9 until your book looks sparkly. Then send it to a beta reader or critique partner for input.

Step 11: Revise again.

Step 12: Draft a sexy query and send it to your favorite agent (more on this in the future).

 

Ta da! And you’re done.

Did I leave anything out?

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NaNoWriMo Week 4 Check In & 2012 Excerpt

Ack! *Muppet arms*

There’s only two days left of NaNoWriMo and I don’t know about you, but I was in danger of FAILING. Then I chained myself to my chair and pretty much wrote 11k words in three days by mostly doing 15 minute sprints. This year’s story was a real sh*teous work of art and it was like pulling teeth to finish. I kept veering off and coming up with ideas for short stories and new novels.

But I did it anyway. It’s done. It’s craptastic, probably my worst #NaNoWriMo yet. Hopefully, you fared better and are kicking back with some sparkling apple cider or a winter ale and laughing at everyone else who is scrambling to make deadline. Note: Is this how real  professional writers feel?

As promised, this is the raw beginning of this year’s NaNoWriMo novel, another YA piece, though this year I decided to make it harder and write the damn thing in two voices (both 1st person) in present tense. It’s a lesbian love story with an “unprom” as the backdrop and a lot of drama.

It sucks.

CHAPTER 1

APRIL 10th,

AVERY

I can’t escape Madison Shea.

She is everywhere.

Her bubble-letter posters advertising Student Council/Prom Committee meetings adorn every hallway in this godforsaken school. In the entrance to the office there’s a giant picture of her and her blond hair in that swishy ponytail grinning at the camera and holding the soccer team’s state trophy over her head in celebration. Go Lions! The captain of the football team doesn’t even have his photo in that display case and he’s the principal’s stepson.

She is forever leaning against the locker next to mine, in her perfectly worn Levis and oxford shirt and pink flip flops, laughing at her friends. She’s constantly smiling that toothy grin. It;s like her face is frozen that way and she’s all teeth and bright, shiny eyes.

God, those eyes. It’s like looking into the frickin Gulf of Mexico. I goddamn drown every time I catch her gaze. Shit.

I can’t even call her a bitch or hate on her because she’s nice to everyone. Everyone. Even Keesha, this asshole cheerleader who once called me a dyke in front of our entire Spanish II class. It’s not like it’s a secret, but it was pretty fucking awful, especially when Senora Catalana said, “En Espanol, por favor.”

Jesus Christ.

At least Madison didn’t laugh when that happened. She just gave me a sympathetic look and went back to conjugating verbs.

I think that smile killed me more than that dyke comment.

God, Madison.

She’s involved with everything. Everything. I swear her picture will be on every club page in the yearbook, even on the African American Student Union page. I can see it now, her blinding blondness among group, the token white girl, smiling like she belongs there. Like she belongs everywhere.

I about peed my corduroy pants when she came to the inaugural Oak Bluff High Lion Pride meeting last winter.Yeah, it’s a student Gay-Straight Alliance, but I figured she had enough on her plate. She didn’t need this too.

But I guess she felt differently, because right now Madison Shea is sitting across the table from me, talking about smiling as she tells us that the Student Council rejected our idea for a “Purple Prom.”

“I’m really sorry, Avery,” she says to me, all solemn and sweet. “I know how much you guys wanted this, but the prom committee really wants to go with the theme ‘The Time of Your Life.’ They really want to play that old Green Day song.”

“But that song is like a hundred years old,” I argue. “It’s prehistoric. Why can’t we do something from this century?”

She just shrugs and glances down at the take wood table in the middle of the Drama room. I stare over her shoulder at a giant poster of Wicked on the wall as she says, “Look, I tried, but the committee was practically unanimous with their decision. I’m sorry, but it’s a no.”

Madison lifts her head up and I meet her ocean-colored eyes. All I can do is stare at my girlfriend.

My girlfriend.

 

——————

That’s it. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to work my way through a bottle of wine and forget that I even wrote anything for NaNoWriMo.

How did you do?

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Inspiration Playlist Volume 1, Track 4: “Bukowski”

This week’s inspirational song is a wee bit darker than last week’s School House Rock jam.

“Bukowski” is probably my favorite Modest Mouse song. It also doesn’t hurt that back when I lived in Boston, one of my favorite bars was Bukowski Tavern because it offered really cheap burgers and 99 types of beer, which is pretty fitting since Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife” in 1986.

Woke up this morning and it seemed to me,
that every night turns out to be
A little more like Bukowski.
And yeah, I know he’s a pretty good read.
But God who’d wanna be?
God who’d wanna be such an asshole?
God who’d wanna be?
God who’d wanna be such an asshole?

The end of NaNoWriMo is in sight. Raise your glass and give a toast to inspiration.

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NaNoWriMo Week 3 Check In & 2011 Excerpt

Hello Chickens Turkeys!

We’re well over 2/3 done with that NaNoWriMo Beast. Are you still alive? If you need some advice to keep rolling, I’ve got  a few words for you: keep that butt in the chair! It might be sore, but you can do it! Some fools are already done and bragging about it. If they weren’t so amazeballs I’d hate them.

I am. I’ve barely eeked out 33k, but I’m counting on my household to fall into a turkey coma tomorrow so that I can pound out a sh*tload more words.

And since I promised to share the opening of my Year 3 NaNoWriMo story with you (and because I love to humiliate myself), this is my YA project known as “This Doesn’t Deserve a Title Because it is Really Sh*tty and No One in Their Right Mind Will Ever Read This.” Catchy, huh? And those 21 words counted toward last years 50k.

Last year’s novel wasn’t a complete waste. I found a few salvageable bits and it gave me an idea for my current WIP which is a Death Row Road Trip Romance and unlike anything I’ve ever written.

“TDDaTBiiRSaNOiTRMWERT” is a contemporary YA about a teenager who hides her poverty from her rich boyfriend. It’s pretty much a ripoff of Pretty in Pink, only there’s an epileptic dog.

CHAPTER 1

Libby was not technically a thief. Stealing toilet paper from the bathroom in the teacher’s lounge wasn’t a crime if you were so broke you couldn’t afford to shell out two bucks for a four pack of single-ply tissue. The warning bell rang and Libby hurriedly stuffed two rolls of double-ply–the teachers at Orange High School had very high standards for toilet paper—into her worn black backpack. Ordinarily she would have just pilfered the paper from a student bathroom, but Orange High used the jumbo rolls that were locked in cases on the sides of bathroom stalls. It was impossible to steal those- they didn’t fit in a bag. Libby hadn’t even zipped up the bag yet when the door to the faculty bathroom swung open revealing Vice Principal Morris.

“Ms. Carter, is it? What are you doing in the faculty lounge?” The bell rang again and the vice principal continued, “Why aren’t you in 6th period?”

Libby was frozen in fear. What was she supposed to say? She couldn’t tell Morris the truth. The wicker basket on the counter next to the sink gave her an idea. “The girl’s bathroom in C-wing was out of tampons and this was the closest bathroom. I’m sorry, but it was an emergency.” She gestured toward the back of her denim skirt. Period troubles always worked on male teachers. Pulling it on a female administrator was a risk Libby had no choice but to take.

Vice Principal Morris scowled, revealing even more frown lines on her weathered face. She didn’t trust Libby Carter. In her experience, students who transferred mid-year were always trouble, regardless of the reason for transfer. “You could have visited the school nurse. I’m sure she could have given you the feminine products you needed. Instead you trespassed in the teacher’s lounge and as the bell we just heard indicates, you are late to class. Come with me, now, young lady. I’ll give you a late pass to show your teacher as well as your ticket to detention today.”

Libby started to move toward the door but the toe of one of her black army boots connected with the large metal garbage can and Libby lurched forward causing her backpack to fall from her hands. One of the rolls of toilet paper spilled out of the bag and landed in front of Morse’s black patent leather heels.

“Theft, too, Ms. Carter? That’s detention through the week. It would appear that you are starting your school year at Orange High on the wrong foot. Your first day here and already you’ve racked up a detention.”  The vice principal reached down and picked up the roll of paper and tossed it into the trash can and turned to leave. She hadn’t spotted the second roll nestled in with Libby’s Chemistry textbook.

Come back next week to see the start of this year’s craptastic NaNoWriMo work of art! Also, tell me how NaNoWriMo is going for you.

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Inspiration Playlist Volume 1, Track 3 “Conjunction Junction”

Hello fearless writing friends! How goes NaNoWriMo? It took me about four 2500+ word days to catch up, so as of yesterday I was caught up with a sexy 27,000 words. Now I’m stuck again, but that’s okay. I have a new jam to get me out of my writing funk.

While brainstorming songs for my Inspiration Playlist on my commute I started humming a classic that always makes me smile. How many of you remember School House Rock?  My all-time favorite song of theirs was “Conjunction Junction.”

Conjunction Junction

 

You may also want to unpack your adjectives or brush up on your prepositions.

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Inspiration Playlist Volume 1, Track 2 “Everyday I Write the Book”

We’re ten days in to NaNoWriMo and as you chug along (or speed race- maybe you’re lucky) on that great novel of yours, I have found the perfect song to continue to inspire you: Elvis Costello’s 1983 jam “Everyday I Write the Book.” After all, for the next 20 days (0r until your brains explode) you’re writing the book. Your book.

*Note NaNoWriMo says that our word goal for today is 16,670 but I say, “ha!” We have plenty of time to freak out and rush write. That’s what November 28th- 30th is for.

 

And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book

Chapter One we didn’t really get along
Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you
You said you’d stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three
But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six

The way you walk
The way you talk, and try to kiss me, and laugh
In four or five paragraphs
All your compliments and your cutting remarks
Are captured here in my quotation marks

 

Nearly 30 years later and this song is still amazeballs. The video, not so much.

Everyday I Write the Book

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