Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner--Yes, That's Me!

I cannot believe I did it.  I logged in 50,582 words at the NaNoWriMo word count verifier a few minutes ago.  Over 50K words in less than 30 days--yes!  Got my certificate, got the little badge you see here...  And no, didn't get my t-shirt because the site doesn't list Netherlands Antilles as a possibility for billing addresses.  Dang it.

It was a challenge, I admit, but it wasn't nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be.  Writing 50K words in one month *is* possible.  Sure, I'm lucky because I get to write full-time--no kids, no job, a partner that loves the fact that I write.  I had everything going for me this month.  It really would have been an embarrassment not to finish.  As it is, it's probably an embarrassment that I didn't win earlier, that the word count is *only* 50,582 today.  But I'll take my pride where I can :)

The NaNo novel, as yet untitled, is only half-way.  So--yes, I wrote 50K in one month, but I didn't finish a novel.  Does that take away from the sense of achievement?  Yeah, sure it does.  The goal was 50K--that's what you need to win NaNo.  But that's the letter of the law.  The *spirit* is to finish the damn thing.  Of course, a first draft of a novel, in Guiliespeak, is +100K, so perhaps it is unreasonable to demand of myself that I finish one in 30 days.  I do plan to raise my target next year to at least 75K--that should bring me closer to the end.

What do I have now?  I have about half of a novel's first draft.  Sure--there's going to be a lot of editing in my future, eventually, but first...  First, I need to finish the first draft.  That wonderful feeling of writing "the end" at the last page--how I love that.

So...  Even though I have my NaNo winner certificate and my little badge, and even though I earned a t-shirt that I cannot buy, I'm going to keep writing, keep logging in word count at the NaNo site, until tomorrow night.  See how far I get.  I doubt I can finish the first draft by then, but it'll get me farther.  And even after tomorrow I won't stop.  I'll keep on writing.  And I won't go back to the way I wrote before NaNo--writing, revising, editing, writing some more.  No, no.

The most valuable lessons I garnered from this month, these "thirty days and nights of literary abandon", were these:

  • Write.  Just--write.  Don't worry about revising, not before you put the story down first.  Later there's always time to revise and edit and rewrite.  But the main thing: get the story down first.

  • You are your limitations.  And those limitations are all in your head.  Think you can't, and--voila--you can't.  But raise the bar, aim for the impossible, and--taah-daah!  There it is.  Raise the bar for yourself constantly.  Celebrate the achievement, sure, but--don't let it go to your head.  If you did *this*, whatever it was, it means you can do more.  Quality-wise, quantity-wise.  Whatever.  You can do more.  Always.  Never let yourself forget it.

So...  There you go.  That's the end of my NaNo experience, technically.  In reality, it's the beginning--truly--of my life as a writer.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 27)

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I thought of you all last Thursday, you lucky people with big turkey dinners on your tables, surrounded by family and friends, eating pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce...  Oh, yum.  See, down here we don't celebrate Thanksgiving. And, man, I miss it.  So I hope you enjoyed it double--for me.

We're back to Alexia's and Michael's goodbye scene from Chapter 7 of Restoring Experience for another six of Six Sentence Sunday.  I skipped a couple paragraphs between last week's six and this, but I doubt you'll notice.

“Okay, Friend,”  Michael said, “can I get a kiss goodbye?” 
“Of course.” I took a step forward, stood on tiptoe to reach his cheek. 
He pressed his hand to the side of my face, tilting it up towards him, and suddenly his mouth was very close.   
Alexia, slap him, scream!  
But this was happening to someone else, this body wasn’t mine, because I couldn’t move it.

Alexia's in trouble, I think.  Her boyfriend is NOT going to be happy about this.  Hope to see you back next week to find out if Alex will give in or slap him in the best Mexican tradition :)

Remember to visit the other Six Sundayers--there are some fantastic writers in there, and it's well worth the blog hop.  Have a fantastic Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bluebell Books Short Story Slam -- Week 15

And because there is no time--that's why I'm here, he said.

I don't understand, I said.

You don't have to.  It's just about the here and now.

What here?  What now?

He laughed, and my eyes pricked at the sound.  Twenty years since I'd last heard it.  More than half my life.  And it had taken me at least half of that to stop yearning for it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Gratitude

Ah...  All you turkey-lovers, I salute you.  I imagine you sitting around a huge, totally loaded table, surrounded by family and friends, mouth-watering aromas wafting around you and awakening your appetite.  Yeah, diets be damned tonight: tonight is about bounty, about excess, about reveling in life and enjoying it, free of guilt.  At least I hope you're free of guilt.

As a Mexican, I grew up without a Thanksgiving tradition.  My first Thanksgiving was when I lived in New York, must've been around eleven or twelve years old.  I was never much for food, so I can't honestly say I gorged myself (I actually remember being grossed out by sweet potatoes, haha), but I did enjoy it.  And even though I was too young to fully grasp its power, it touched me nonetheless.

Because gratitude is immensely powerful.  Beyond powerful, really.  Gratitude, in my limited experience, equals happiness.  To be grateful, truly--honestly--sincerely grateful, is to know joy of the most spiritual kind.  And this is from someone who doesn't really believe in religion of any kind here.  All right, then--maybe gratitude is my religion.

So this day of giving thanks, this day that celebrates gratitude, is an epiphany.  To give thanks for every little blessing, every little thing--because everything is something, and something always deserves gratitude--that's what lifts us to a higher purpose, a higher state of being.

Remember today.  Remember the feeling of oneness that saying thank you brings to the you inside.  And repeat it every day.  Every single day.  Because every day there is something unutterably beautiful and unique to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Today, and every day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 20)

One more six-sentence snippet from Chapter 7 of the WIP (Restoring Experience), a novel about loss and the search for meaning to give that loss a sense of purpose.

Last week I posted but I forgot to link to Six Sentence Sunday--yeah, where's my head these days?  If you're interested, here's that snippet, and here's the one from the week before.

Just a quick refresher: Alexia and Michael, the two MCs, are in the language school lobby waiting for the bus that will take Michael and the rest of the American students to Acapulco.  Alexia, an English teacher and not involved with this group (they're studying Spanish), isn't going, but Michael has been trying to convince her otherwise.  He's even offered--oh-so-generously--to share his hotel room with her.


He took a step back, but didn’t let go of my hand.  “It’s so strong,” he murmured. 
“What is?” 
“This.  I’m seriously considering not going to Acapulco.”  
His tone was light, but it sounded like it was only half a joke.

Look forward to your feedback (I looooove comments), and to reading the rest of the Six Sundayers.  Thanks for the visit, and happy Sunday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Vagaries of (Verb) Tense Consistency

Another fantastic list from The Writer's Resource, this time on verb tense consistency.  Their post today on Maintaining Verb Consistency In Your Story in your story is a list of six links (including 3 by university publications) on that most complex of the writer's nemesis--the verb tense.  The links take you to both recent and not-so-recent posts, and they range from the basic (what's present tense?) to the more nuanced (when to change tenses, for example).

In the online writers' group I joined earlier this year there's been ongoing discussion on the proper usage of verb tenses, especially the subjunctive (which apparently some people tend to ignore or maul unforgivably) and the past perfect (I'd been in the house for five hours before he arrived).  Sometimes a refresher or a quick reference guide on these comes in handy.

Just for fun, which of these sentences sound "righter" to your ear?

- She asked that she not be disturbed until after the performance.
- She asked not to be disturbed until the performance was finished.

- He'd been in my life for such a long time that I no longer remembered how we'd met.
- He was in my life for such a long time that I no longer remembered how we met.

Hope this resource comes in handy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The NaNo Blog Hop

Somewhere in the backlog of Google Reader posts I'm trying so hard to keep up with, I found a reference to a NaNo blog hop...   And I thought, hey--that's cool.  I'm late arriving, so I couldn't find the source of the blog hop (that's to say, the blogger whose idea it was to start this up), so I'm linking here to the blog where I saw it and where I copied the linky list below from: Natz at Deeply Shallow.  All you unlinked Wrimos out there, here's the chance to sign up and meet new bloggers you hadn't discovered yet, and stay up to date on everyone's NaNo progress during the month.

Happy NaNoing!

NaNoWriMo Update

Whoa...  Broke 30K last night.  Thirty thousand eighty words, according to the NaNo word count verifier. Of course, according to ol' Scrivener, it's more like 30.5K.  But who's counting anyway? ;)

Over the weekend I had a rough day, writing-wise.  I think it was Saturday.  My writing brain went on strike.  "NO," he said.  "I refuse.  I need a break.  I need to gather my thoughts and regroup.  Whaddya think I am, some kind of faucet?"  So I took a break.  I caught up with the 500+ unread items I have on Google Reader (is anyone else getting annoying notifications on Chrome that 'the page contains insecure items'?  Why are they insecure?  Are they just socially challenged, or is it something deeper, nastier?).  And--to my utter amazed befuddlement--the words just got flowing (yes, very much like a faucet) on Sunday.  In two days I got in over 6K words.  Yeah, I'm damn proud.

Sure it's crap, mostly.  Lots and lots of "ly"words (and I hate them, but the faucet produces them).  Lots and lots of repetitions (there's this one sentence that uses "hand" every third or fourth word, and throws me into hysterical convulsions every time I think of it).  And those are just the things I see as I rush to channel the faucet.  I'm sure that when I go back to edit, sometime in December, I'll find all sorts of funky dangling clauses and, yes, probably waaaaay too many passive stuff that will get its snarky little butt kicked right off my MS much like you'd get rid of a cockroach in your bathtub (horrified squealing applies here, too).

But you know what?  I managed to quiet the EIE (evil internal editor--do take a jump over to Rick Bylina's blog and learn about his anti-nano guerilla), and for me, that's a huge triumph.  I'm learning to just go with it, let the story out and not worry about the form too much.  In legalese-speak there's a term, "substance over form"--well, that's exactly what NaNo has been about for me so far.  The substance is what these thirty days of oblivious spewing forth of the faucet will be about.  The form will come later, to shape it into acceptability...  But the substance?  Yeah.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I discovered authonomy

No, it's not a typo.  Authonomy, although HarperCollins spells it without the initial cap.  What is it?  It's a website where authors--published or un-pubbed--can showcase their work, and based on ratings by readers and other site members, can be selected for review by HarperCollins editors.

Sounds good.  Right?  Yippee.  And please forgive my intrinsic suspicious nature, my half-empty attitude, my snickering skepticism...  But doesn't it sound a bit too good?  As in too good to be true?

Well.  Maybe.  But it's been up since Sept 2009 and it seems to be going strong.  Besides, I'm a sucker for design, and the webpage is pretty cool.  Kinda cluttered for some, maybe, but as you can see (look around *this* page), I like clutter.  I took a quick traipse through the literary fiction titles, and some sound really enticing.  The Poet, by Andrew Stevens.  Dämon Ronion, by Brian Hatfield (I knew a Brian Hatfield, back in Cancun...  But he sold timeshare.  I don't think this is him).  There are lots of titles that really caught my attention and which I'd like to read.

So content is not the problem with authonomy.  What is, then?  Well... I don't know.  I find it strange that in this day and age of immediate gratification, of information readily available  e v e r y w h e r e, this is the first time I hear of this site.  But that may be my own shortcoming, my own fault for not following the blogs I should be, for not researching as thoroughly as I thought I had.

And my question to you today is: have YOU heard of authonomy?  What's your gut feeling about a site like this?  How come we're not ALL on there?  Or are we (*ahem* as soon as I register)?  Seriously thinking about posting the almost-ready version of Restoring Experience over there.  Or should I do the normal query runabout dance first, take authonomy as a next-best option?

If you, my dear reader, are not a writer, do take a click-stroll over to the authonomy site and grace these authors with your fine reading skills.  Lots of great books right there--no downloads, so you have to read online, but hey.  It's free.  Authors everywhere will kiss your foot for it.  And you have the incredible opportunity to become a Top Talent Spotter if you spot talent before it's discovered by other people.  Pretty cool, in my opinion.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 13)

Welcome, Six-Sundayers!  Thanks for visiting Quiet Laughter today.  Today's six are the continuation of the conversation between Michael and Alexia from last week.  If you'd like a bit more backstory on this, you can find it here

“Of course,” I said without thinking.  “I mean,” I backtracked, “it would change the circumstances, but….” I trailed off with a shrug that was nothing if not lame.

“It would, huh?”  Michael pushed a flighty strand of hair behind my ear.

“Stop.”  I couldn’t step away, with my back already against the heavy wooden doorway.

Would love to hear what you think of this story so far.  I know most Six-Sundayers are romantic buffs, and this is not strictly a romance.  Still, your feedback is much appreciated :)

Remember to visit the other Six-Sundayers here--last I checked there were no less than 156 entries for this week!  Lots of new talent, probably, as well as the usual favorites.  

Have a wonderful Sunday!

P.S.--Just realized I forgot to link this post to the Six Sunday site... LOL!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More on Revision

I really shouldn't be posting about this now.  I should be focused on NaNo, writing like crazy...  But this post I just found, from Janice Hardy over at The Other Side of the Story, is so great and struck so many chords for me, that I had to share.  And also, this way I'll have it linked here and easily findable when I finally get around to finishing that hardest of the hard revisions for Restoring Experience--the last one.

If you're revising and you haven't seen Janice's post yet (it's from yesterday), please take a jump over now and bookmark it, or print it, or do whatever you do with valuable information on the internet.  I thought it was brilliant--hopefully you will too.

In the immortal words of Rick Bylina (another fantastic blog on writing by a self-published author of uncommon wit and brilliant insight), Write on!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Awards!

Brilliant blogger and darkish author E.R. King of Get Busy Writing passed me the Liebster Blog award, the Versatile Blogger Award and the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award (a month ago... I'm nothing if not a procrastinator, dammit).

This entails, of course, profusely thanking Emily:

Then I need to share seven things about myself--I'll share seven more, since I'd already shared some when Stuart Nager of Tale Spinning passed the Versatile Blogger Award to me in September:

Revision, revision, revision

I found this excellent post on The Writer's Resource (if you write and you're not following that blog boo for you) with links to some outstanding resources for revising.  It's got Nathan Bransford's checklist, a great post on editing by Janice Hardy...  And eight other jewels you MUST have if you're revising.  Which is, if you're like me with several WIPs in several stages of completion, all the time.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 6)

First Six Sentence Sunday of November!  In spite of NaNo (I'm at around 10K there--yay!) I managed to remember to enter the link on time, unlike last week.  

Thank you for visiting Quiet Laughter, and I hope you enjoy this very brief excerpt from Chapter 7 of my WIP, Restoring Experience.  

This excerpt is a continuation of the scene I posted last week (click here if you missed it).

“I know, it’s dumb,” he laughed, “but I know I will.  Alexia, can I ask you something?”
“I don’t know, Michael.  Is it going to make me uncomfortable?”
“Probably.  If you didn’t have a boyfriend, would that change anything?”

Thanks again for your visit!  If you enjoyed this or if you have any ideas on how this could be improved, please leave a comment.  All feedback is most welcome, and I love hearing from you.

Remember to visit the other Six Sunday-ers--some awesome talent there, and a great way to discover follow-worthy bloggers.

Happy Sunday reading!

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