Friday, October 23, 2015

Na-NO-NO-Wri-Mo: Ask me why 50,000 words are right for you!

This article first appeared on Angela Hayes' blog a few days ago. She's had guest authors on to talk about Nanowrimo for several days now. Go check her out and give the writing sprint from Hades a try!

I’ve been doing National Novel Writing Month for about nine years now and “won” all but two of those times. Now I’m a published author. It’s a small press and only my first published novel, but more are on their way. I’m hoping to write the rough draft of Book Four in November, in fact.
I’m not a plotter, I’m a pantser who really needs to think about where she’s heading. I have hybrid pants? My point isn’t to extol one method above the other. Though winning Nano is about planning ahead, adapting to circumstances, and keeping going, how you figure out what to write is up to you.

Your successful speed-writing month:

1)      You MUST write 50,000 words. Accept the deadline. It is a firm number and a firm deadline. Procrastinators like me need that mindset. I sign up on the Nanowrimo,org website. I warn my family to leave me alone. I get all the laundry done. I clear my schedule as much as possible. I figure out a starting point and maybe some plot, definitely a couple of characters.
2)      NO-NO: 50,000 words might NOT be right for you. I used to be a purist (and smug), but have seen too many people dealing with surprise things. A few years ago, I was the one dealing with things. Nano is not the boss of you. If you know you are going to be busy for most of the month, or if your muse doesn’t work under deadline, then don’t promise yourself 50,000 words. You can still sign up and benefit from the Nano pep talks, the forums, the write-ins, the moral support from friends, and everything, even if your goal is something lower.
3)      Find a place to write. In my house, there are people who want stuff from me. People who make sudden, loud noises and watch Minecraft videos. There are chores to be done. There is Wi-Fi and Facebook. I do much better with Starbucks, where though the noise level is higher, the people don’t need me, I don’t have to do chores, and my laptop doesn’t like their Wi-Fi. And people make coffee for me. Bonus!
4)      Find a peer group. The NaNoWriMo website has forums. You can buddy up with friends in real life, by email, or on Facebook. Someone who knows what you are doing—and it’s a huge thing, this book in one month—should be there to feel your pain and joy. Find a group! Post your updates!
5)      Count EVERY word. If you’re a plotter and you didn’t plot before November started, include it in the word count. If you do a character sketch, include it in your count. Count the long descriptions you’ll never need and the pages and pages of back story that you had better not put in Chapter One. Sometimes, I end up typing some rambling rant about how stuck I am. I keep it. We’re pretty flexible. Highlight it in red so you can cut and paste it to a separate document on December 1st. Just keep writing. Make a spreadsheet of your total words, log your count on the Nano website, or download a counter. Watch the number go UP. Make a bar graph of your results. (NO-NO: that’s procrastination.) (YES-YES: make one anyway.)
6)      Write every day…or NOT. 50K words means 1667 words per day. It’s feasible in an hour or two, depending on how the ideas flow and how fast you can type. There are days when I have written 5000 words. There are many more days when I have written ZERO. Life intervenes. For example: November in the USA means Thanksgiving, which means travel, cooking, and family time. If you’re out of town for a whole week—a fourth  of the month—then you have to decide if you’re going to complete your word count before you go, sneak off from the gatherings, or be ready to cram a lot of writing in when you get home.
7)      Set intermediate goals. I’m a procrastinator, so I know the temptation. We’re not required to do this, we’re not getting paid, I can make up the word count another day. If you want to win at Nano, if you want fancy web badges and to wear a winner t-shirt with pride, you really can’t do it all on November 30th  without turning your book into a psychotic, sleepless diatribe called All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. YES, some people come sliding in with 30,000 words over the last few days, combining stream of consciousness, typing skills, and coffee by the bucket. NO, I don’t recommend it.
8)      You have to make writing a priority. Organize your life so if you haven’t made 12,000 words in a week, you WILL catch up over the weekend, on Tuesday when there’s a gap in your schedule, or by adding a couple hundred words to each day’s goal. Or by staying up late or getting up early. Or by writing at lunch. Or instead of watching TV or reading a book. Or by getting out of anything you don’t absolutely have to do. Figure it will take FIFTY HOURS. Plan around it.
9)      Don’t feel guilty. It might be guilt from taking hours away from your family every day to write, or from the house getting dirty, the laundry piling up, and the pizza being ordered. Or maybe it’s guilt that you aren’t keeping up with writing because you attend to all the other things. Guilt is fine if it means you find creative, new ways to get the writing in. NO-NO: NaNo guilt is not fine if it makes you miserable. Most of us have enough stress in our lives. If NaNo is going to put you over the edge, step back and breathe. Up in #2, I mentioned the year that things happened. I wrote about 20K words and had to stop because of a family crisis. Then I had to stop beating myself up. Up until then, I had always “won” at NaNoWriMo. I was a writing machine! But that year, I wasn’t.
10)   Celebrate. Whatever you write in November, if it’s 100 words or 80,000, are words you hadn’t written before. With any luck, you have a good chunk of a rough draft. It’s a lonely celebration to post to Twitter that you did it, put a winner badge as your Facebook profile, and tell your family you’re a WINNER and we’re ordering pizza tonight because Mom’s exhausted. This is where that peer group comes in. These are the people who will say YOU ROCK. Because you do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Blogging about NaNoWriMo

I'm over on Angela Hayes' blog today with advice about NaNoWriMo.

Warm up your keyboards, it's almost time to get writing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

All glam, all the time

It's my "day off" when I don't have any children in my house for a few hours (not even Homeschool Boy!) So I'm catching up on chores and on my mani-pedi. I'm sloppy at doing my nails, so don't get any ideas about my elegance. They're orange. Just orange. I'm fixing where I chipped off the polish. I don't usually even do my fingernails because I chip it off in about 5 minutes.

I'm going to make bread and write a synopsis. I already watched the last episode of the Pride and Prejudice miniseries while I folded laundry. I cleaned out the fish tank, too. Someone needs to clean out the gutters and that usually falls on me (with a splat of disgusting, decaying leaves, no less).

Because the Glamorous Life of an Author is a Thing.

In other news, I got the second version of my cover for Honorable Officer and it is so, so close to perfect! I'd like the heroine to not look like she's wearing maroon lipstick and otherwise, I am 99% happy. And the hero is a hunk. He's wearing clothes, but looks very macho and brooding. Verrrrrry nice.

My editor wrote to say she got the revisions and is going to read through again and let me know if there are further edits other than my lousy use of commas (my words, not hers). And then it's off to line edits, then schedule release date and.... SOON! Very exciting!

And it's only supposed to be 86 here today. Central Valley CA and autumn... well, we have a month of fall, starting around Halloween. Then 1.5 months of sort-of-winter, 1.5 months of spring, then we're back to WAY TOO HOT for 8 months. I've lived here for almost 13 years and am still not used to it. I have to admit that I revel in the "It's 50 degrees and boy is it cold!" when my mom talks about the zero degrees and blizzard in Ohio. I keep saying that when I'm a millionaire, I'll live up in the mountains all summer and only come down here for the winter.

Right, I'm rambling and not writing a synopsis. I hate writing synopses. SIGH.

But bread first.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Barely a week goes by...

It's been a quiet(-ish) week here in the Land of the Lodge.

The book came out last week. This week, I had a blurb promo tour with a couple of nice reviews. I'm settling into a feeling of... well, it's out. Go read it. It's good. (BUY LINKS TO THE RIGHT)

My daughter's school had a teacher in-service day on Monday, so she was home. When she has the day off, I give Homeschool Boy the day off, too. He only had to do his math homework. Tuesday was CRAZY. The rest of the week was pretty easy, because Homeschool Boy's Not-Home-School classes had a teacher in-service day on Thursday. I'm almost sane this week. I didn't even collapse on Friday until almost bedtime!

My giant, adolescent kitten, napping wherever he happens to be.
Unfortunately, I haven't finished my edits (Sorry Nan, my dear editor) on Book 2, The Honorable Officer. I went all the way through twice (once really a skim, removing random incidences of the words I overuse and re-familiarizing myself with the book) and then had a brilliant stroke of insight on an aspect I could layer throughout. It's brilliant! But it means a third pass. Almost all the way through now! Eventually, I have to give this thing back, then Wild Rose's next edits can happen.

I'm eagerly awaiting a new version of the cover. I had a couple of problems with the first one. It was almost perfect, but not quite.

And THEN, they'll start talking about when I'll be scheduled for my next release. Probably early 2016. Nice!

I'm off to edit.

Peace out, girl scout.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Guns guns guns and knives!

I am supposed to be editing, but currently have four teenage boys and a seven year-old girl having a Nerf war in my hallway/living room/into the bedrooms. Two brothers are arguing about who died.

We used to be a gun-free zone. Really. My boys would use finger guns, of course, and make guns out of Legos and such. It was only two or three Christmases ago that I got the tiny Jolt Nerf guns for the kids. Of course, it was all downhill from there. But seriously, Nerf is my limit. Oh, and foam swords.

17th century muskets, Musée des Invalides, Paris. Bonus ghostly reflection of me taking the photo.
But back in the Seventeenth Century, fancy noblemen carried a sword all the time.
 Well, maybe not all of them, all the time. There was a trend of parading around with a staff, too.
But men were pretty much always armed. They learned how to fence from a young age. They still had duels over honor. They were ready to defend themselves and their families against armed bandits.

Even your average peasant had a knife hidden away, if just to cut up his lunch.

Younger sons of nobility were generally required to get a job and the only jobs available were army officer (with a view to winning prizes and/or being promoted to the Musketeers) or priest (with a view to advancing your family's prominence within the nobility and in heaven).
This is a British officer from 1682. Obviously, this guy is rocking the hair, the hat, the sword, the staff, the lace, the ribbons, the fancy socks, and even the red heels on his high-heeled shoes. It's hard to find pictures, but I have to assume that in the field, shooting at each other, he might dress down  and put on a layer of armor. Maybe boots for better horse-riding. You wouldn't want to get stains on your silk breeches, after all.

Jean-Louis de Cantière, the hero of the book I'm editing now, The Honorable Officer (out in the next few months), is the second son of a noble family. He got his first commission because his dad bought it, of course, but he's good at strategy and he cares about his soldiers, even when he has to use them as pawns.

But Jean-Louis got his start in military training not only at home, but along with his brothers (and future brother-in-law, Dominique, the character who has to track down and win back his Indispensable Wife) in the Comte de Bures' château-fort.

In my fictional universe, the former Comte de Bures, Dominique's father, founded a sort of training camp for young men who hoped to be guards or soldiers. They trained with guns, cannons, all types of swords and daggers, horse riding with medieval jousting thrown in, bows and crossbows, anything else that can be shot or swung to do damage, and military strategy.

Though I don't go into details in the books, in my mind, he didn't train boys until his own son, Dominique, got old enough to swing a sword, at which point he invited his best friend, the Baron de la Brosse, to send his sons, too. The boys are tutored in Latin, Greek, rhetoric, arithmetic, and whatever else noble boys needed to know. Crop rotation, maybe? Court etiquette?

There's a touch of the medieval tradition of sending your sons as pages to other nobles. Of course, back then, the boy could also be used as a hostage in case of trouble.

But they didn't necessarily arm the girls. They are sweet, fragile flowers. I'm sure many women had at least a secret competence in defending themselves. Aurore, the Indispensable Wife herself, wanted to learn how to use a sword when she was a girl. Since her husband left her alone in the château-fort so much, she talked someone into teaching her how to shoot a crossbow.

After the events of Chapter One, in which all is lost, Michel (good friend, loyal retainer, almost like a brother to her) teaches her to use a dagger to defend herself. She will never be unarmed again. It's not very fancy for a Comtesse in King Louis XIV's court, but they don't need to know where she has a weapon under her skirts, right?

So anyway, my own daughter is a bit of a master (mistress?) with the ol' Nerf gun, too. PEW! PEW!

Wednesday, October 14th

I know, I know: PROMO AGAIN?

I know most people looking at my blog have already heard of me. In fact, you're probably my mom. HI, MOM!

This Wednesday, in among all the normal life stuff of homeschool and driving youngest to school and karate (or not karate, as oldest has another after school activity which will clash most of the time) and... oh look I have a chiropractor appointment.... let me start over...

This Wednesday, Goddess Fish Promotions has arranged a Book Blast tour (Or Blurb Blast?). If you click on that link or on the image below, you will find a list of 25 blogs that have agreed to host my book blurb. A few even asked for a review copy!

So I'll be swinging from blog to blog, inspiring people to comment (I hope) and to enter a drawing for a bookstore gift card. I think I said $25, but it might have been $20. Amazon or B&N, winner's choice. So please stop by one or more of the blogs and comment. Also click around, see what the blogs have to offer, read their other reviews. We may try to create art, but the job of writing still comes down to promotion.

But one thing: the people at "We Love Kink" are going to be disappointed, as my book has very little sex in it and it's not kinky. I have nothing against kinky books, but my mom reads my books. HI, MOM!

Off to think of witty, fun comments and questions for Wednesday. These things don't write themselves, after all.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book release day!

Big day today! My book baby is in the wild!

All the BUY links are to the right. Over there. Yes, there. Mostly ebook, but you can get paperbacks from Wild Rose and from Amazon. If you want a signed copy, let me know. I got a discount on my promo copies, but between the actual book and shipping from me to you, it's about the same. Or, if you're local, $10. And you'll have my signature!

I've become extremely boring on Twitter and Facebook the last couple of days, what with being busy and only going on the internet to do some promo.

By the way, I was on Abigail Owen's blog yesterday with a guest post about writing and editing.  She writes these great shifter romance books and has a new series coming out now. I haven't read the new ones, but will!

Today we met with the Educational Specialist who checks up on our homeschooling efforts and read about Napoleon (taking a little zig sideways from American Revolution to French as a) my husband is French, and b) the Louisiana Purchase makes more sense if you know why the French were selling all that land).

Then my daughter's charter school had early dismissal, so the Homeschool Boy went to his buddy's house to learn about Walt Whitman's "Oh Captain, My Captain." From whence he has not returned three hours later. Now that's in-depth poetry!

So anyway, with the daughter, I went to the Burger King where they have a playland. Fancy lunch for release day!

When I got home, flowers were on my dining room table from my parents. I'm getting teary glancing at them. So. *ahem*

And all the other days: busy busy. I made the mistake of signing up for the wrong study hall slots at my son's homeschool not-at-home classes and it's a pain in the rear to try to swap with people. So I'm in for some Tuesday hours but if I weren't, I'd have the day off. Next week is my last week for that, because having a day off is HUGE. I'm working my way slowly through Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth one. Dreamy.) I also use those days for wild stuff like sorting the laundry and getting the car serviced. Nothing but party. And Thursdays are my turn to drive and hang around and spend the whole day out of the house. Arg.

I'm editing Book 2 right now, getting it back to my editor. I can't seem to focus right now, mostly because of book launch anxiety. I need to zoom out a bit and figure out if there are places it bogs down that I should slash and burn. BUT I had the draft of the cover and it's *almost* perfect. I'm hoping it can be perfected in close to the current form.

Book 3, I'm giving to my critique partners. When I get done with Book 2, I'll write the synopsis and everything for Book 3 and submit to my editor. So that's in the pipeline.

Then there's Nanowrimo in November! WOOOOT! Not sure what I'm writing for that. Probably writing two novellas. I already started them, but got bogged down in both. They might have to be full-length. We'll see.

And then I'll be revising Book 4 for submission! It's a really rough draft, so will need lots of editing. Lots and lots.

Right. And yet right now, I'm off to take a nap.

Read my book!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Excerpt: Easter, Fever, and crossbow attack

Here's part of Chapter 1 of The Indispensable Wife. It's a bit wild, but everything goes to h*ll in the first chapter.

In spite of the drama, I always imagine the crossbow bolt in Pâques' arm as the arrow in Monty Python's Holy Grail, the one that hits Lancelot's servant, who announces "Message for you, sir" right before he collapses.

"Pâques" is the French word for Easter and/or the whole Passover/Easter season. I don't think I had a deeper meaning for it when I chose it after looking at a list of Seventeenth Century French surnames. But my literary analysis brain, seeking symbolism, is darting all around ideas of sacrifice, sin, forgiveness, etc. Pâques has a really small role, though.

Dominique's other servant in this scene, Le Fèvre, used to have a larger role before some of the edits. He's a guardsman who acts as a field medic/surgeon from time to time. They sometimes refer to him in those cut scenes as "La Fièvre" which means "fever." Etymology geek alert: The word February comes from purify. The online etymology dictionaries don't link fever and February, but it seems like they should to me, the amateur geek.

Chapter One, Scene Three - enter Pâques

Pâques, who traveled with Dom everywhere as the captain of his personal guard, approached, weaving through the crowd. Dom noted that he still had some time to wait before his turn to shoot his arrows in the tournament, so he allowed the man to pull him to the side.

“A rumor, Monsieur le Comte.”

“What sort of rumor?”

Pâques glanced around furtively. “Treason, Monsieur. Assassination.”

Dominique stared in surprise. “If that is so, we will take this straight to the king and his guard. Who is said to be a treasonous assassin?”

Pâques frowned. “You are, Monsieur.”

Dominique staggered a step back in shock. His brain churned through all the people to whom he had ever mentioned his unease with the constant warfare and the elaborate palaces. With the high taxes and pressure on the nobles to stay under the king’s nose at all times. Was his disapproval seen as treason? He wasn’t the only one to criticize the king. He had done his best to be a rational voice within the court since childhood. He would never work against His Highness, no matter how much he tried to guide the king. Surely Louis knew that.

Dom shook his head. “Ridiculous. I will tell the baron that I withdraw from his tournament due to urgent business.”

He had just turned when he felt a hard hit to his left bicep and heard a loud crack. The force spun him around and threw him against Pâques, who fell back, a bolt from a crossbow stuck in his upper arm. Dom struggled to sit as a lady a few feet away swooned and her companion carried her away. Dom dragged himself to his feet, grasping his left shoulder with his right hand and turning in the direction the bolt had come from. He looked down to reach for his court sword and saw the blood running out from under the elbow-length sleeve of his red silk coat, staining the puffed sleeves of his shirt and his lacy cuff, marring his pale gloves. He stared at his hand in a trance as the world around him dimmed. He watched another of his guardsmen, Le Fèvre, who sprinted across the lawn, scattering nobles, most of whom were only starting to notice that something was amiss. Le Fèvre tackled him to the ground. Another bolt flew past their heads and into the small patch of woods behind them.

“Stay down, Monsieur,” Le Fèvre panted. “Stay down. You know better. You taught us all better. A sword against a crossbow? Impossible. Don’t be an idiot.”

“See to Pâques, he has the bolt still in him. I’ve only been nicked,” said Dom.

His head felt rather light for what should have been a minor wound. Le Fèvre took out a knife and cut away his coat and shirt sleeves, and then wrapped the sleeve of the shirt around Dom’s wound.

Pâques moaned beside them. Le Fèvre went to Pâques and started to cut his sleeve off, too. “There’s…the bone is... Merde! Where are the palace guards?” Le Fèvre looked around wildly. “Guards! Bandages!” he roared at some big men who strode across the lawn, which was clearing as the rich and titled fled. “Two litters!”

Dom raised his head to see servants racing from the nearby kitchens and discovered that his head was really too heavy to lift.

Pre-order links in the right sidebar!
Out October 7th!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

So nervous...

October 7th is only a few days away. 

I have a blog blast thingy on October 14th that Goddess Fish Promotion is lining up for me. Several people have even accepted to post my blurb and everything! One says they'll review it!

I'm on Abigail Owen's blog on the 6th with a blog post, blurb, and so on.

I'm still waiting to see if the interest from a reviewer at a fairly major romance blog is going to lead to a review (and if so: to a good review).

I posted a few weeks ago with links and keep updating that, so go HERE to find links to where you can pre-order. The links are also on the top right of this blog page, directly to the right of this post.

I'm annoying people by Tweeting and Facebook-ing about my book.

Essentially, I'm just flailing around.

Please buy my book. It's good. I promise.

Aurore was delighted when a marriage was arranged with the boy she loved, her older brother’s friend Dominique, Comte de Bures. But in a few years the first rush of joy has worn off, and their promising life seems ruined by loss, betrayal, and misunderstanding.

One terrifying morning mercenaries overrun their château and usurpers take Aurore hostage. Miles away at Versailles, where he is required to dance attendance on Louis XIV, Dominique is nearly killed by a crossbow bolt.

Escaping, Aurore travels with a troupe of itinerant musicians, hiding in the open while discovering hidden resources within herself.

Dom sets out to find his wife. He needs his old life back. He needs revenge. But his lands, his title, and his honor mean nothing unless he can win back the love of his indispensable wife