So Close Yet So Far … #Mondayblogs #NaNoWriMo

A very quick post here to record my progress in NaNoWriMo so far:  41,311 words.  Unless I quit now (which I won’t), I should complete 50,000 by end of the month.  And then I will have 50k+ words of pure confusion.  What I’m working on originated as a short story, written in response to a real event in my neighborhood.  It’s the classic “Don’t piss me off or I’ll put you in my story” scenario.

I don’t know if this story really merits being lengthened into a novel, but I did want to use NaNoWriMo to produce backstory for the characters and setting.  Unfortunately, three-quarters of the way into writing, I switched from third-person to first-person, deciding that delving into the mind of my main character would be more fun.  Not.

I simply don’t know what I have here.  This may be my first NaNoWriMo where I can’t wait for it to be over because I’m bored.  I’m a pantser, writing without a plan or an outline or even an end in sight.  The short story had an ending but that’s where I decided to pick up, and so it goes.  If time wasn’t so precious, I’d read over what I’ve written so far.  But that’s too dangerous for me.  Once I start reading, I start editing and that is a huge No-No during NaNoWriMo.  So I’ll plow on through, even though my tank of enthusiasm is running on empty.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving to all you who celebrate it!

Midway: To Hell and Back #NaNoWriMo #Mondayblogs

Hello, dear friends, I’m pausing for a few moments to let you all know that I’m still alive and well (or as one of my yoga friends puts it, “still vertical and sucking air!”).  NaNoWriMo is going well as far as my word count:  reached just over 30,000 words today.  Yay!  Except my fingers now feel frozen in that claw-like pose I use for typing, and my butt has gone completely numb (not comfortably numb, mind you).

Still, cranking out the quantity this weekend buys me a few days.  It simply feels too much to be on the computer all day at work only to come home and turn another one on, so writing during the work week is hit and miss for me.

And then there was the news.  I’ve often joked that Friday the 13th is a lucky day.  I will joke about that no more.  I’m sorry to end this post on a sad note, but my usual “happy face” just feels so false right now.


And It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again!


Yup, here I go again.  Time for NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you who have been living under a rock for the last several years). I signed up again for the insanity of writing 50,000 words in a month.  I’m starting to think that this is truly my preferred method of writing, and that I may never publish.  Just participate in NaNoWriMo once a year and spend the rest of my time knitting.

I’ve tossed about story ideas for this go-round.  Should I be my typical self and just sit down and write whatever?  Or should I try a little planning, maybe use NaNoWriMo to polish one of my many rough drafts?  At this very moment (which will be gone by the time this post is actually published because I’m writing all this on the afternoon of Sunday, November 1), I’m still undecided.  I’ve signed up, but I thought I would rehabilitate a short story that I wrote several years ago.  It needs a lot of work, and I was thinking that turning it into a novel would be one way to do some “world-building,” dig into the details of the landscape and characters more than I did with the original story.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Jane Hilton is a young lawyer and native Floridian working desperately to save what little remains of her family’s once extensive plantation in the Florida Panhandle.  Justus Tanner is also a native Floridian, and his and Jane’s families share a long and adversarial history.  Tanner is Jane’s nemesis, a developer prone to making deals based on threats rather than promises.  He wants that last spit of land that Jane calls her “Green Bubble,” the only legacy she has from her mother.  Jane is determined to keep Tanner from getting it, even if it means one of them must die.

Yes, yes, yes, again someone is likely to die in this novel.  I do have a (bad) habit of killing off characters.  But, you know, therapy.

So, off I go to write, write, write.  And because I’ll be spending so much time writing (a draft of) a Great American Novel, my blog posts for this month will be skimpy and closed for comments.  Priorities, my friends, priorities.

To tide you over, here are some photos from our road trip last month.  Scenes from our hotel room in Staunton, Virginia.

My husband's camera all set up and ready to take a timelapse of the setting sun, in Staunton, Virginia

My husband’s camera all set up and ready to take a timelapse of the setting sun, in Staunton, Virginia

The sun will be setting soon ...

The sun will be setting soon …

Here comes the rosy glow of sunset ...

Here comes the rosy glow of sunset …

My favorite photo!

My favorite photo!

Okay, it's pretty much set now.

Okay, it’s pretty much set now.

The next morning ... for all you golfers out there :)

The next morning … for all you golfers out there 🙂

A Brief “Happy Dance” Break from the Author of Clemency, A Novel in Progress


Enuf said.  Happy Turkey Day or Tofurkey Day, everyone!

I finished at 50,132 words.  Thanks to everyone who hung in there with me!  And thanks to the team at NaNoWriMo!

And, yeah, I’m getting me one of these:




And We Begin … Almost

You remember this, from last year, don’t you?


NaNoWri 2013 mug

It will be my official cup of java starting November 1.  That’s TOMORROW!



Several days ago, I introduced the idea of posting part of a novel on my blog, the parts already written, while I slave away at trying to finish said novel during NaNoWriMo.

Here’s a reminder of what I plan to do.  The title of the novel in progress is Clemency.  The blurb:

Clemency is a story about Misty Daniels, a young girl (~18) in prison for allegedly killing her live-in boyfriend after he beat her up, causing her to miscarry.  Enter Sarah Mansfield, a newly minted attorney who believes in Misty’s innocence and wants to secure her freedom.  But not everyone believes that Misty is innocent.  Not even Misty.  And there are some people in Misty’s poor small town that want to see her stay in prison.  And they will do anything to make sure that happens.  Even if means someone has to die.

Only in her mid-twenties and alone in an unfamiliar southern city, Sarah finds her life on the line and with few people she can trust.  Her boss and mentor, Lucas Danforth, seems to know more than he lets on and brushes off Sarah’s concern for her and Misty’s safety.  Michael Daniels, Misty’s half-brother and a former Marine, is more interested in hindering Sarah’s investigations than helping her.  And the people of Oyster Point, led by Sheriff Cooley, harbor more than a general mistrust of strangers.  They are all hiding something, and Sarah suspects that what they are hiding is the key to Misty’s freedom. 

These posts will are scheduled for 6 AM (US Eastern Time), starting November 1.  I sliced up the chapters into roughly 1000 words or less to make them digestible for those on the go.  But I think that makes for a choppy read, so I’ve added the Recent Posts widget to my blog (top of the sidebar) so you can wait a few days and then start reading your way through, if you prefer.  I always welcome comments, but I also know that it can be harder to comment on fiction than on book reviews or posts about a person’s lousy day at work.  And I know people are busy.  And I know I’ll be very busy.

On the trail at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore Park, California July 2012

A long way off in my own head.

NaNo WIP: Maggie and Her Knitting

Following is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel-in-progress.  Maggie Reynolds, one of the three cousins in The Widows’ Club Book Four (I know, fancy title) is a knitter, like moi.  I’m having her take credit for my knitting so I can take credit for the word count in this post.


Maggie draped the knitted shawl over the dressmaker form.  She wanted to take a few pictures of the shawl for her photo album.  She was trying to keep a log of her knitting, a portfolio of sorts although she had no intention of marketing her skill.  It just seemed like a smart thing to do since she was the proprietor of a knitting shop.  Edna Ridgeway, who had left the shop to Maggie in her will, had spent 30 years growing her business from a tight corner in the local hardware store to its current location in the middle of main street, its storefront nestled between a coffeehouse and a bookstore.  Somehow, Maggie thought, she needed to always be able to prove that she was worthy of Yarns2Dye4.


NaNo WIP: Attack of the Giant Penis

Again, I’m having a bit of fun with my NaNoWriMo work-in-progress.  Here is an excerpt featuring Maggie Reynolds and a story straight out of Irish-Lativan lore.


Maggie found a quiet corner in the cafe and set her tall Skinny Vanilla Latte on the table.  It was one of her little pleasures to have a few minutes of quiet and caffeine before she opened her knitting shop next door.  Another pleasure was to pick up a tabloid for a few minutes of humor.  It had been one of her mother’s pleasures as well.  Maggie’s mother was a college graduate (BA in philosophy and religion) but she occasionally sneaked home a copy of The National Enquirier or News of the World when she went grocery shopping.  She told Maggie and her dad that the stories were sometimes too funny not to want to read beyond the headlines.  And yet, she didn’t want her friends to know that she read such things:  how could she say she read the rags for the stories?  UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS

And Maggie had inherited both her mother’s attraction to the ridiculous and her reticence in admitting it.  The headline that had caught her eye this morning had brought her up short, though.  It was so bizarre that she couldn’t help but wonder if there were any truth in it:  “Young Irish Lass Assaulted by Giant Latvian Penis” was the headline, but the story was relegated to page 13, with a warning that following pictures were graphic.  Maggie almost knocked over her latte when she, rather quickly, opened the paper to page 13.  There in full color was a picture of a woman hugging a giant penis.


Maggie’s mouth fell open and then promptly shut.  The idea of reading about a penis with her mouth hanging open was somehow unsettling.  She glanced around to make sure no one in the cafe had seen her expression and then proceeded to read:

“On the evening of September 19, 20__, a young Irish woman was found on the streets near her apartment slightly bruised and very giggly.  It was quickly ascertained that the woman was intoxicated and had apparently fallen while on her way home from a local pub.  Police say, however, that her bruises were not entirely consistent with a stumble along a cracked sidewalk so they took her to the local hospital for examination.  At hospital, the young woman explained that she taught English to Latvian students which initially confused authorities since the woman is Irish.  They also suspected her of being a Russian spy, but since she could not stop giggling, they eventually disregarded that suspicion.  

“Since the woman may be a victim of assault, this paper will only refer to her as L.  According to L, earlier that evening she had gone to the pub to meet a young Latvian man that she had met online through a dating website.  She produced a picture of the man which the police has released to our paper in the hope that either he will come forward or that someone will know of his whereabouts.  


“L claimed that they had a pleasant conversation peppered with several pints of beer, but that they said goodbye at the pub with no plans to meet again.  L lamented that this was typical of her dates so far with Latvian men.  Our reporter, who is a Latvian woman, noted that L was not wearing the requisite stiletto heels and leopard-print, figure-hugging dress necessary for a first date.  L responded with a few words which we cannot print in a family newspaper.

“When asked how she came to have bruises over her body, L said that while on her way home, she was confronted by a giant penis.  The penis blocked her exit from the side street where the pub was located.  L claimed that at first she thought the penis was just a costume worn by a Latvian with a sense of humor.  She admitted that that was her first mistake.  Her second mistake was in hugging the penis as if it were the “man of my dreams.”  L stated that what happened next was not clear in her mind, but as the memory returned to her, she started giggling again.  “It got p***ed off at me,” she said, obviously relishing the double entrende.  Our reporter demonstrated considerable patience in waiting for L’s giggles to subside so she could wrap up the story.  

“As it turns out, according to L, the penis was in fact offended by L’s “manhandling” of it and proceeded to knock itself against her head and arms in an attempt to get away from her.  By this point, L was practically falling off her chair with laughter, the hospital staff had given up trying to treat her bruises (which in point of fact looked considerably benign), and our reporter was fed up with the whole story.  The only “proof” that a giant penis even exists in Latvia is the picture at the top of this story, which L had been carrying around in her pocket.  

“Since L will not say how she obtained the photo, it is up to our intrepid reporter to track down the giant penis and get its side of the story.  A full update will be provided to our loyal readers once more information has been gained.”

Maggie quietly folded the tabloid.  As she left the cafe with her now tepid latte, she slipped the rag into the newspaper recycle bin.  Perhaps, she thought, she should find something else to read first thing in the morning.


With many thanks to my good friend Linda at

Related post:

The Insanity Has Begun: NaNoWriMo 2013


I will be drinking lots of caffeine.

NaNo Coffee

Although I may need more than just caffeine to meet my daily nutritional requirements.

NaNoWri 2013 mug

Wish me luck 🙂

Related posts:

Pretty much several posts from Kristen Lamb’s blog.  Start with this one:

At least two from Victoria Grefer (hey, it’s not for everyone!) and

Definitely this post from Lauren Sapala on how NaNoWriMo can change your life … for the better:

And last but not least, Charmaine Clancy‘s guide to writing a novel in 30 days:

8 Things You Need To Know About Character Arcs

This is a wonderful post for all of you currently writing fiction and needing advice/suggestions about character arcs. As I was reading Debbie’s post, I realized that I provided different arcs for different characters in my last two NaNoWriMo novels. That’s a good thing, but I hadn’t put much thought into why I was doing that. Debbie’s post actually gives me an understanding of what I’ve done and (hopefully) how to make sure the arcs worked for the characters.


Jaime-Lannister1. Character arcs are not 100% necessary. I’m going to get this out of the way first thing.

This argument is made all the time, and there’s some truth to it. There are some very successful characters that never have a character arc. James Bond is the one most mentioned. While he was retooled somewhat when Daniel Craig took over the role in the movies, the character has never undergone a significant arc. Miss Marple never has an arc, or Hercule Poirot, or Stephanie Plum.

See a pattern here? They’re all characters in a long-running series of stand-alone books. While there are series characters that have arcs (I would argue Indiana Jones is an example) most don’t have them. Mainly because having the characters change would disrupt the series too much.

2. However, not giving your character one can simply be laziness on your part. Just because there are…

View original post 1,041 more words

Writer’s Resources

John Hewitt has an amazing website at Every aspect of writing you can think of and, best of all for NaNoWriMos, a step-by-step approach for getting your jewel of a novel revised and ready for submission. Start here if you want to go directly to John’s novel-revising guide:

Of course, Chris Baty and team wouldn’t leave us aspiring novelists hanging after a grueling month of (almost) nonstop writing. Check out their tips at I Wrote a Novel, Now What?

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