November’s End

November sunset
November sunset

It’s the end of November, and I realize that I haven’t posted much. That has mostly been to NaNoWriMo.

But November is over, and it’s time to get back to a normal life. Well as normal as it can be for me which can be a challenge

I am still working on my novel, still writing every day. One of the issues with NaNoWriMo is that most novels aren’t 50,000 words. I think mine will be somewhere around 80,000. I still have about 20 thousand to go.

I spent most of the month trying to forget that the holidays were coming up fast. We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, which is forcing me to think about Christmas. I’ve done some, but now I have to focus on it. I like this season, but I tend to stress myself out. My goal for the next month is not to overwhelm myself.

Since November is coming to a close, I thought I would give you five of my favorite things about November even though this post won’t be on a Friday. I must say this was a difficult thing to do. November is one of those middle months that not much stands out, even so, here is my list:

  1. Pumpkin Pie – November has traditionally been the month for pumpkins. Pumpkin Pie is my favorite method for tasting pumpkin. Other favorites include pumpkin roll and pumpkin bread. For Thanksgiving, I made pies, and they turned out fabulous.
  2. Thanksgiving – As crazy as it sounds, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Though I am a vegetarian and don’t eat turkey, the traditional (for my family at least) sides are some of my favorite foods. For me, the best part of Thanksgiving is when we are all sitting around a table, my brothers adjusting for being lefties and passing all the food around. I don’t get to celebrate this way every year, and I look forward to it when I can.
  3. Cold, wet, rainy weather – Again, this may be a crazy favorite, but I love weekends where it is cold and wet, and I have nothing to do outside my house. Snuggling down with a book or movie in a cozy house is the best day ever.
  4. The Friday After Thanksgiving – I’ve been able to take this day off for the past several years. Black Friday shopping is one of my least favorite things so to have what is essentially a free day is fabulous. This year, unfortunately, I had a bad headache, but the fact that I didn’t need to go anywhere was the best.
  5. NaNoWriMo – It’s no secret that I am a fan of this particular event so it should be no surprise that this made my list. As this is the end of the month and I’ve “won” it is even more my favorite. It helps keep my writing focused.

Well, there you have it, some highlights about November. I am hoping that December will be a better month where I post on my regular schedule. It will also be a month of editing as I have several stories desperately in need of major revising.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. December is arriving, and things will get crazy, but perhaps not too crazy.

That is my goal for December. What’s yours?

A “Win” at NaNoWriMo

NaNo-2015-Winner-BannerFirst of all, a “win” at NaNoWriMo means only that a writer has managed to get through the minefield that is life. That means that a person managed to write amidst piles of laundry and other household chores. It means that they have been able to say no to nights out with friends, social media and coherent conversation with their loved ones. Late nights, early mornings and too much coffee are all part of the struggle during November.

Winning means beating all those things that pull against the dream of writing.

Well, I’ve done it. I made it through all those things and validated the words to my novel over the weekend. Therefore I’ve “won” according to the NaNoWriMo website.

I always have a bit of anxiety before November begins as to whether or not I will be able to achieve this goal. I think that simply may be part of my process.

As far as my novel, it isn’t complete. I’m only about 2/3’s of the way through so I’m still working on it. It’s exciting to see things unfold.

Using Jennifer Blanchard’s story structure planning method, I’ve been able to stay on track. The interesting thing is that, even with planning to this extent, my novel has still managed to surprise me.

My hope is that I will actually be finished with the first draft by the end of the month. I’m not sure if that can happen especially with the holiday coming up. It is still my goal.

As usual, I have learned quite a lot during this month of writing so many words. That, however, is another post. For now, I’m going to continue on to complete this first draft.

I’m sure there are many more lessons to be learned. There always are.

Fall Memories

I realized today that I hadn’t posted any fun fall pictures. I think it’s time.

We were able to have both of the boys for a few days this fall. So much fun and so exhausting. Here are some photo’s from that weekend:


Sometimes he likes to have his picture taken.


Not sure what the face is all about but they both stood still long enough to take the picture.


Boys and their cars.


Abel and Papa checking out the animals.


Look, Memaw, stickers.

Time for dinner.

The budding photographer at work: Caleb commandeered my phone and here are some of the images he took:


  

A boy after my own heart.

It was fun having both of them and we created some great memories. We are also working on traditions they can count on. The pumpkin patch is one of those traditions.

I am looking forward to next year.

What traditions do you have in your family?

Life at Midweek

clock-650753_1280It’s time for another Wednesday post. And it’s a Wednesday in the middle of a normally dreary month.

Except that, this month hasn’t been dreary. We’ve had some fantastic weather, meteor showers – I hope you were able to see them – and it’s Thanksgiving, with mashed potatoes. What could be better? I’m sure you thought I was going to say turkey except that I don’t eat that so it is mashed potatoes for me.

This month has more than just the things I listed above. My mother and my daughter both have birthdays this month. We celebrated with my daughter by going out to dinner and antique shopping. It was fabulous. And, for the first time I didn’t spend the most on antiques. Amazing!

As you know, I have been participating  in National Novel Writing Month. I have been hard at work putting one word in front of the other to the tune of about 43,000 words. The only problem is I’ve just reached the midpoint of my novel. That means my novel will be between 70 and 80 thousand words. So, that’s cool.

I’m heading back to my novel and hoping to catch sight of the meteor showers in between the raindrops.

For those who are with me in this writing thing, may the words flow like a river. For those who are not, I hope you enjoy these balmy days and fabulous sunrises.

The Craziness of the Holidays has Arrived!

November is a busy month made even more so by the attempt to complete a novel in 30 days. Because of everything that has been going on I’ve had to let a few things go.

Unfortunately, my blog has been one of those things. Laundry and dishes have also been on an as needed basis but that is another story.

I did stop tonight to watch the sunset.


The sun sets so early now but is beautiful even with a layer of clouds.

It was only a moment and, oh, so worth it.

Christmas is in How Many Days?

light-690831_1280Earlier this week I saw my first Christmas lights decorating a house. I shouldn’t be surprised since the weather has been so favorable. We should probably expect more decorations this year since our temperatures have been in the 70’s in recent weeks. For Northern Michigan, this has been a wonderful break before the cold weather hits.

I have a rule in my house: the tree doesn’t come out until after Thanksgiving. Which according to the calendar, is in about two weeks. That weekend I will dutifully take my tree out its box (yes I have a fake tree and though I miss having a real tree, wood heat and real pine makes for a problematic holiday season) and decorate it. I will even turn the lights on each night until after the new year.

It’s not that I don’t like to see the lights and decorations. In fact, I truly enjoy them. We’ve been known to drive around after dark searching for fabulously decorated yards.

Just not before Thanksgiving.

I know that I probably land somewhere in the middle of the debate that rages each year as to the best time for decorating. My struggle tends to happen when I am looking at Halloween decorations on one side of the aisle and Christmas on the other.

I put my imaginary blinders on as I peruse the black and orange jack-o-lanterns and black cats.

My daughter once told me that I needed to just deal with the fact that Christmas is coming. I think that year I was even refusing to speak about the holidays before it was necessary.

She is probably right.

However, as much as I enjoy the season, there are things that arent so fun. Some of that comes with the commercialism of Christmas and some comes with all of the things on my to-do list that often includes, cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping etc. It is never ending. This year will even include lessons in how to keep a rambunctious half-grown kitten from treating the tree as if it were her personal toy.

I’m not sure I would have it any other way, regardless of how much I struggle.

Once Thanksgiving has happened and the turkey is a memory, I say, bring on the lights. Bring on the tree, the cookies, and short sprints of shopping.

Oh, and keep them up until after Christmas. Taking down your Christmas tree and decorations at night on Christmas is a bit grinch-like.

That is the best time to keep them on. The cookies are baked and given away, meals eaten, presents wrapped and torn open. It’s time to relax and watch a holiday movie. My personal favorite is White Christmas with Bing Crosby and the gang.

Its one way to enjoy the season and keep the feeling around, even if it is only for one more day.

What are your favorite parts of the Christmas season?

NaNoWriMo Updates

12045447_10153099432277595_9141775052828923733_oWell, we are one week into November and it’s time for an update.

I have to say that things are going well at this moment. I don’t want to be overly optimistic and say that it won’t be a problem to finish this challenge, but things are going well at this moment.

I am nearly halfway to 50,000 words and my story is moving along. There have been some surprises along the way.

One thing I will say is that I couldn’t have done this without planning. I’m just not a pantser. I have to have an idea of where I am going, otherwise things are a mess.

There is a ton of information out there about planning. I’ve seen blog after blog that focused on planning your NaNo novel. There are books, I’ve even got one that I was reading up until November began.

The method I chose to work with this year is from Jennifer Blanchard. She has several products that can help organized your thoughts starting from the idea.

I still keep a notebook handy. New people keep popping up in my stories and I have to write them down so I don’t forget. It has all been so very interesting.

I hope those of you who are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo are having success. Even if you aren’t where you’d like to be, no words are wasted. NaNoWriMo is a great exercise in your writing process if nothing else. It’s one way to learn more about yourself.

I’m off to add words to my word count. Stay tuned for the next update.

Surprising Discoveries

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2Today is the first Wednesday of the month which means it is time for another installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group blog posts.

A couple of weeks ago I had an interesting experience. An opportunity to let someone know I am a writer presented itself. I can’t say I was successful in the telling.

 

Coffee is mandatory for me first thing in the morning and I have a favorite drive-thru coffee shop. Especially on early Saturday mornings when I am up before I truly want to be.

It is one of those places where everyone knows your name and they miss you when you don’t come through.

The conversation went something like this:

Barista: You are here early this morning. (It was still dark.)

Me: I’m on my way to a writing class.

Barista: So this just for a hobby or what?

Me: Hesitates – Well, I have a blog.

Barista: You have a blog?

Me: Yes

coffee-750990_1280The conversation went on from there with me telling both of the girls in the coffee shop about my blog, novel, and flash fiction. It was interesting.

My thoughts as this interaction occurred was – I need to get comfortable with saying I am a writer. That morning I couldn’t get the words out.

I believe I am a writer. I’ve internalized this fact. So, why can’t I say the words when it is important?

This is my goal for the next month: Any time the opportunity arises to speak about my writing I will boldly say that I am a writer. I will even use the business cards that declare that I am a writer.

I believe that with practice this declaration will come easier.

What goal will you set for yourself in the next month?

Simply NaNoWriMo

12045447_10153099432277595_9141775052828923733_oIt’s November 1st and National Novel Writing Month. This is my second year participating and I am amazed at the community that has grown up around this one month.

I have written several times about NaNoWriMo on this blog. Yes, I am a fan. The intensity of writing 50,000 words in 30 days is difficult to describe. And, I’ve looked forward to it all year.

If you do a quick search on Google for NaNoWriMo will yield thousands, if not millions of results. The amount of information and people talking about it is incredible. There is simply so much stuff on how to prepare, how to survive, or how to “win” at NaNoWriMo (the trick to winning is you are only beating yourself). It is overwhelming.

But does it have to be?

The idea is simple:

Write a certain amount of words in a certain amount of time.

Easy, peasy.

Except, the execution of this idea is a bit more difficult.

To complete this challenge, a writer must write at least 1667 words each day. Depending on the writer and the day, this can be easy or difficult.

Much of the information found involves prepping for the month and pushing through (especially that notorious week #2). Now I have thought about and worked toward NaNo for the past couple of months to plan the story I want to write. I am most definitely a “planner” as opposed to a “pantser”. For me, I hope this will make my journey toward a Nano “win” much easier.

There are those out there who are all about the gearing up for NaNo, with emphasis on the gear. Planners or pantsers have one thing in common. There is a need for writing paraphernalia that may or may not be necessary to reach the goal. I must admit I like this idea of having gear, of having a NaNoWriMo survival kit.

I like stuff, especially writing stuff.

These kits include everything from new journals, pens of every color in the rainbow to chocolate, coffee, and the ever important talisman. This talisman is like an athlete with their lucky socks. This belief that having a kit or being surrounded by this stuff will ensure success.

But does it?

Truly the idea of NaNoWriMo is simple. Sit down each day and write. The problem is there is nothing in this world that will make that happen except ourselves.

If having this stuff helps get the butt in the chair then I am all for it. I am not here to tell anyone how to approach NaNoWriMo. Each person must do whatever works for them.

I’m going a different way this year. Simplicity has been my theme for the past several months and I am carrying it over to NaNo. I am truly hoping the less is more thought will be the key to “winning” NaNo.

My kit, if you will, is simple and will consist only of those things I normally use:

  • My MacBook Pro with scrivener software, loaded and ready. I already write most of my words with these two things.
  • My Novel Planning notebook – I’ve used a journal with all of my notes, thoughts, and plans inside. It fits easily into my bag and I carry it everywhere.
  • My favorite fountain pen and purple ink – Though I carry several pens, I come back to this one every time.
  • Coffee and/or water – I need coffee and water, but the truth is I tend to forget about it when the writing is going well. I don’t even have a specific cup that I use though I try to use thermal ones so the coffee doesn’t get cold as fast.
  • An SD card to back up my novel – Always, always back up your work.

My thought is that I can toss everything into my bag and off I go to write.

Again, if making a kit is helpful for you to create a survival kit in order to succeed at NaNo, then go for it. The point is to write something. This is only my second year and I don’t have all the answers. I’m not even certain there is an answer or secret to this writing thing.

Good luck to everyone who is attempting NaNoWriMo, whether it’s your first time or fifth time. Just remember to have some fun with it.

I certainly intend to.