Friday, June 2, 2017

MayNoWriMo Update: Week 3

I did it!!

I "won" MayNoWriMo again this year by finishing my first draft. To be fair, I didn't actually hit my word count--I'd been hoping for 40,000 words for this MG--but I'm fine with it. The more important thing is that I wrote an ending and the SFD is DONE.


My final word tally for the month

A first draft in 3 weeks--not too shabby! :)

Of course, it needs work. A LOT of work. But it's still a great feeling to know that I have an entire other story waiting for me when I'm ready to start. It used to take me so long to write a first draft, and I think that fast drafting is definitely the way to go for me. I'm a little sad it's over already.

Here's my monthly calendar as well. All that maroon is associated with writing. It's almost hard to believe how much I wrote this month. Practically every single day. The rest of the summer will be more challenging now that I have a class to teach, but I hope to keep up this momentum.

Next, I'm off to the Indiana SCBWI conference this weekend. It should be a great way to cap off a very productive writing month!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MayNoWriMo Update: Week 2

Okay, week 2 is complete! Honestly, I can't believe I've only been doing this for two weeks. It feels like much longer...and I'm not sure that's a good thing! ;)

This first draft is definitely a new writing experience for me. I've never written a first draft of a novel without having a pretty good idea about the structure of the novel. This time around, all I have is a few plot points, so mostly I've been "pantsing" this. At times that has been challenging, but it's also exciting.

Right now, the most important thing is that I'm making progress! I hit 25k today (YAY!) and have made it to the turning point in the book. Soon I'll be ramping up toward the climax. Eek!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MayNoWriMo Update: Week 1

I've made it through my first week of MayNoWriMo!

I'm currently trying to write a first draft of a new middle grade fantasy novel and the goal is to hit approximately 40k words this month. I'm hoping to write around 10k words a week for 4 weeks and so far I've stayed on goal!

This first week was hard because 1) Mother's Day, 2) my husband's birthday, 3) writing is hard! Plus, I don't have a clear outline for this book so every time I sit down to write, I have to figure out what's supposed to be happening!

Hopefully I'll be able to keep up this progress next week. This is always a really fun and challenging month!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April Calendar!

Another month, another calendar post! April is always a bit tricky because the semester is ending and there's never-ending email and meetings.

But, having said that, I think I did pretty well. With only two exceptions, I did something every day in April. I met the reading goal I set for myself and made a lot of progress revising my WIP. Soon that'll be off to beta readers and I can turn my attention to one of my favorite times of the year...


More to come on that soon! But for now, here's my April calendar:

*Very similar to NaNoWriMo except it's in May and I'm basically the only one who does it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Art of a Good Retreat

Although I try to make time every day to read and write, it can be hard to focus. There is always something pulling at the edges of my consciousness (I need to fertilize the lawn! Oh boy, the laundry is getting out of control!)

That’s why I was so excited to get away for a writing retreat a few weeks ago. My dear friend Debbi welcomed me into her house where I had five. whole. days. to write.

Wha? That’s almost blasphemous.

That’s the longest stretch of dedicated time I’ve ever had for writing and I made the most of it. In those five days I finished more on my YA revision than I would have in 3 weeks at home.

Since it worked out so wonderfully, I’ve decided to share my requirements for a successful writing retreat:
  • A quiet space to write (in a beautiful location if at all possible)

  • An accountability buddy! (Nothing motivates me like knowing I have to report my progress to someone else when I come out of my writing hole.)

  • Fun treats to look forward to after writing (including chatting with a friend, eating, sharing work, shopping for books, eating (yes, I know I wrote that twice!), and watching TV)
Sift bakery in Mystic:home to some very yummy cookies!

I was in heaven with this fairy house book!
  • TIME! (Long, beautiful swaths of time with nothing to do but write (bonus points if you get snowed in, haha!))
A picture of me in my magical crown for writing inspiration! ;)

My latest trip had all this and more. If you haven’t had a chance to get away lately, I’d highly recommend it. I can’t wait for my next trip!

And, speaking of all this so-called progress I made, here’s my March calendar. I’m liking all those maroon scribbles.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Calendar Update

My monthly accountability update!

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the month. I had a lot of goals and I was surprised how many I accomplished. I revised my WIP, finished reading a few books, blogged, and queried. 

Probably the coolest thing I did in February was give my first talk for SCBWI! It was on social media and counts as my first paid speaking gig. 

Unfortunately, I got sick with strep throat at the end of the month and basically did nothing for the last four days. Eh, what can you do? 

March should be a good month. Spring break is only about a week away and that means I get to fly out East to visit a dear friend and have a dedicated writing retreat with her. Can't wait!! 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An Exercise in Visualization (Note Card Edition)

I’ve been working on a new YA manuscript for the past few months and that's given me the chance to try out some new revision techniques. This draft came together very differently from my previous first draft, which I wrote over the course of a, um, year. 


I wrote this draft in about 30 days during “MayNoWriMo” and I really enjoyed the process. It was so freeing to turn off my inner critic and just get the words down.

But, like everything, fast drafting has its downfalls. And the biggest one for me was trying to remember everything I'd written in that blur of 30 days. It turns out, it's pretty hard to remember every piece of dialogue and description when you're churning out a couple thousand words every day! 

So, before I jumped into revising, I decided to take time to visualize the structure of the novel. With my last novel, I outlined my draft on huge sheets of paper. While that was a fun exercise, and decorated my walls for years, it was pretty unwieldy. Definitely no chance of stashing that in my laptop bag before heading to the library!

This time I decided I’d create a note card for each chapter. On the note card, I wrote 1) a brief description of all the major events in that chapter, 2) location of the scene, and 3) which act it was in. Then I went back through and highlighted different sections depending on the content (for instance, blue highlighter for all scenes between the main character and the love interest).

So many note cards!
Finally, I laid all of the note cards out on the floor and studied whether the various subplots were evenly distributed, if too many scenes were set in the same place, if the plot structure looked funky (that’s a fancy literary term, btw), etc etc.

Organized by act (using a 4 act structure here)
With two inquisitive cats and a VERY inquisitive 4yo, I had to do all my looking in one night and then put the cards away. But I still wanted them available, so I punched a hole in the corner of each card and put them on a ring. That way I could flip through and reread my notes without the fear of 30+ cards getting out of order and/or destroyed.

It was definitely a time-intensive strategy, but I’m glad I did it. If nothing else, just the act of making the cards forced me to think more about the novel. It organized my thoughts and helped my vision before diving back into the novel.

Now I keep the note cards close by while revising and refer back to them whenever I want to check my notes. I might try another technique in the future—possibly Darcy Pattison’s skrunken novel. If I do, I’ll be sure to report back!