A Very Special Day #theloveofmylife #Mondayblogs #NaNoWriMo

Hello, dear friends.  Today is a very special day.

First:  It’s the last day of National Novel Writing Month and I’m happy to say that I met my goal of 50,000 words on Thanksgiving Day, giving me the weekend to relax and live in the moment.  Yay!

Second and most important: It is the birthday of the man who enabled me to complete NaNoWriMo in record time.

Getting ready for a time lapse of the sunset at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Getting ready for a time lapse of the sunset at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Every day I’m thankful he is in my life.  For his birthday, I dedicate the following song as sung by the late great Etta James.

“How far would I travel to be where you are

How far is the journey from here to a star … “

lyrics by Irving Berlin, ~1932


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.


One Week Down and Who Am I? #MondayBlogs #NaNoWriMo

One of the pleasures of participating in NaNoWriMo is losing myself in my writing.  When I come up for air, I might be a 30-something, petite, blonde who works as a city attorney, wheeling and dealing with developers while trying to keep safe her own parcel of heaven.

Or I might be one of those developers, in particular the guy who looks like he just walked out of the Dukes of Hazard, leather-skinned and chewing tobacco, but astute enough to own practically the whole town.

Or maybe I’m the newly appointed county sheriff, brought down from one of the northern states to try and get this southern backwater law enforcement agency back in shape, without getting killed in the process.

Then again, I could be the former sheriff, the guy who was forced to resign because nobody could stomach the depth of his corruption anymore, especially after the gruesome death of his wife, to which he claimed complete innocence.

I’m sure you can imagine which characters make for a small word count because even I can’t stand be in their presence very long.  And, yet, I must.  Crazy is as crazy does.  And writing is how I get my crazies out.

So I’m still plugging away.  Right now (on a late rainy Sunday afternoon), I’m at 15,051 words.  But tomorrow is Monday and somehow the workday just makes it hard for me to find time to write.  But I have some rewards waiting for me, urging me on to that 50,000 work mark.

First, this wonderful collection of treats from author of Dolls Behaving Badly, Cinthia Ritchie!

Chocolate, chocolate, and flower seeds!

Chocolate, chocolate, flower seeds, stones and shells–all from Alaska!

And while I’m enjoying my Alaska chocolate bars with my hot Alaska chocolate drink, I’ll be reading this:


Kevin Brennan’s latest novel!

And this:

His Revenge front final

John W. Howell’s latest novel!

And possibly at the same time since I have one novel (Kevin’s) in paperback and one (John’s) on my Kindle.  Yup, that’s the other pleasure of NaNoWriMo:  When you’re done amassing 50,000 words, you can put the laptop away, shut down the computer and just READ.

(Comments are closed while I busy myself with writing and visiting your blogs!)

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 🙂

Author’s Note: Post-Clemency

This has been an interesting experiment. I’ve posted poems and short fiction and “formal” essays before on my blog, but never a whole novel. Well, I still haven’t done that.

You see, my plan originally was to just post a couple of the early chapters and then throw myself into NaNoWriMo. Then I got the feeling that it wouldn’t go over well with some readers if I stopped at Chapter 3. So I challenged myself to keep posting. But I didn’t want it to go on for months. NaNoWriMo officially ended on November 30, and I wanted Clemency to finish up about the same time.

So I went ahead and posted every day, but not everything. I’ve left a lot of stuff out. So, no surprise if the pace is erratic, the character development inconsistent, the ending lame.

(Really? “Sara smiled” is how I end this novel? Cue Hall & Oates.)

As a reader, I’d be wondering why Misty didn’t get more attention, why not more of Melody who was pivotal to Misty’s case? But they do, Dear Reader, just not in the parts I decided to post. I had to leave things out in order to keep to a schedule and to not overwhelm you all with tortuously long posts. As it was, some of those posts did get kind of long. But I also got desperate. I didn’t want this to fall over into December, at least not by much.

So. I think I managed to pull this off without too much angst from my dear readers. And how dear you are. A few of you left comments now and then that were like mini-pep talks for me. They did help keep me going.

Others of you let me know you were reading but not commenting, and I appreciated that too. Some days the best I could muster was to “Like” someone’s comment and just move on. I could tell from my stats whether Clemency was being read, and I know some of you read a few posts at a time.

And others let me know you couldn’t keep up with daily posts.  And that was fine, too.  This wasn’t a test of reader loyalty.  This was a test of my own conviction.

You see, in the past, whenever I got any encouragement, I’d run the other way. Other people (i.e., normal people) embrace encouragement, grab it and hold it up as proof that they should continue writing because So-and-So said they should. I don’t know why I would run the other way. But, now at 57, I wonder if I knew I really wasn’t ready, at least not back then.

So now I’m feeling that I’m ready BUT I won’t be in a hurry. I can’t get back the last 20-30 years of self-doubt and plodding along, but that’s no reason to rush into something and make an ass of myself.

First, I’m giving myself a month off.  Clemency will stay up for December, and then all those posts will come down.

I’m not giving up my day job or yoga or watching TV with my husband and the cats after dinner.  Revising and editing will be, as they say in these parts, as slow as molasses in January …

Boston_post-January_16,_1919,Unless you live in Boston.

Many thanks to all of you who have hung in there with me, whether you were reading or not.

And tomorrow I will return to my regular irregular schedule …

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

Because mentally I’m still here.


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:




A Word from the Author of Clemency, A Novel in Progress

Hey, everybody, I feel like I’ve been so deep in NaNoWriMo land and posting the progress of my WIP, Clemency, that you all may have forgotten what I look like.

Photo on 11-23-14 at 1.58 PM

Yes, I now have blue hair as well as pink.  In the right light, my husband says I look patriotic.  It’s just a streak of blue, but it goes well with my favorite bathrobe, don’t you think?  Oh, and this is what my hair looks like when I don’t use a flat iron.  Kind of all over the place.  Amazing how much work I have to put into my appearance just to be able to leave the house.

Okay, enough about my hair (although it is my favorite subject).  The point of this post is to let all my steadfast readers of Clemency–all five of you–know that the last chapter will be posted on December 2.  And, yes, all will be revealed for those of you who keep insisting that Mrs. Whitebread is guilty.  She’s guilty, but …  enough said.

A word of warning:  You may feel like you’ve missed something once you get to the end.  And, yes, indeed, you will have missed quite a bit because I am not posting the whole novel on my blog.  Yup, whole chapters are being left out.  Why?  Here are my excuses reasons:

  • I didn’t want this WIP to go on indefinitely. I have other things I want to write about beside the novel that threatens to go forever.
  • I’ve tried to keep the posts to 1,000 words or less, but obviously (that is, if you’ve been reading), that’s been near to impossible.
  • Even more truthfully, posting these chapters have seriously cut into my writing time, more than I thought it would.

So I went ahead and wrote the ending, put it up on the scheduler and then just filled in with what I think are the most crucial chapters.

So in the remaining chapters, if you are reading along and find yourself exclaiming, “WTF. When did that happen?,” just know that it’s not you, it’s me, it’s the work in progress.  Besides, if I posted the whole novel, would there be any reason for anyone to buy it if and when it gets published?  “But, Marie,” you cry, “you’re giving away the killer’s identity!”  Yeah, so?  Some readers (myself included) don’t mind knowing the end as long as we have fun getting there (especially if your idea of fun is reading about people being tortured and killed).

Also, after Clemency has been raked over the coals by a series of revisions and an editor or two, the writing should be much better and, who knows, the killer’s identity might even change.  It would be just like me to do something like that.

I hope you enjoy the remaining posts on Clemency.  Looking forward to seeing you all on the other side.

P.S.  I’m past the 40,000 mark in NaNoWri as of this moment. Still a ways to go but I can almost taste the sweet finish.

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.

The Plan, From Someone Who Hates Planning

I hate planning because, more often than not, my plans get upended by unforeseen circumstances.  For example, …

I plan to finish a painfully detailed and tedious project at work by week’s end only to find an error in my SQL query which means I will have to fix said error and then redo several days’ worth of work. To add insult to injury, I crash our server in my effort to fix said error and then have to wait until the next day before I resume my work on the project.  As of this post, I am still behind on that project.


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