Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Back from the dead


I’m going to give myself airs and say “You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been.” It’s been seventeen days since I last checked in with ROW80, since I stopped writing my NaNo novel, since I basically was last seen on the face of the planet.

I think I’m not quite ready to come out of my cozy cabin but I’m going to force myself anyway.

I’m still spending a lot of time reading about Autism, watching movies on Autism, taking baby to his appointments, researching things about Autism, modifying out diet to be even stricter with gluten/legume/casein free-ness since that can help Autism. You get the picture. But I have settled down a lot since then. I started reading actual fiction and not feeling guilty that I wasn’t spending my available time reading about something that will not do a thing to help my son. I stopped doing quite so much research.

But let me tell you that it’s hard. I want to do as much as I can for him right now and that takes up a lot of time and nearly all my brain power. Because during that time I also have to home school four other kids, get stuff ready for the holidays, cook, clean, etc. etc. I haven’t been writing. Unless you count all copious forms I fill out for various things. Which I don’t.

I’m looking for new flash fiction challenges to spur me back into writing. I haven’t forgotten about Faylinn but need to go back and read what I’ve written and actually make notes on what’s happening since I’ve basically been pantsing my way though it. And I really do like where my story is going for NaNo so I want to get back into that.

Also, if anyone that wins NaNo this month and gets the 50% off Scrivener coupon but doesn’t want it I’d be more than happy to take it off your hands since my trial is up and every one of my novels is on Scrivener. (doh!)

I hope you all had happy holidays and I’ll be checking in with some of you later today!

Any flash fiction links? Anyone not using the Scrivener coupon that wins NaNo? Any ideas for getting back into the writing groove?


Sun Day


Oh, woe is me! Just getting a little bellyaching out of the way.

I usually like to keep my ROW80 updates kinda upbeat, look at things positively and all that both for me and for you guys reading this. But man, I just had a pretty terrible week. There were some awesome highlights – Like meeting Elizabeth Mitchell in person!and being the one to change her virgin sushi status even if it wasn’t sashimi. It was my first time meeting another writer in person and chatting about stuff and the craft now I want to do it all the time.but overall wow.

And really it all is just my personal inner demons running amok. I thought I was good with losing that 2k last week. I jumped right back on the horse that next day and replaced all those words and made the daily goal but writing that much in two days really wore me out. But last Sunday came around wow, I was really struggling, biting, clawing my way to reach goal, got detoured by creating a money system, got back on track and then boom, Monday hit and I really lost momentum.

I think part of it was the dishwasher breaking, then the fridge, then hubby’s car. Monday’s are always hard because we have Max’s Speech Therapy, Friday’s too because of the same, though she comes here for it, I still have to get the house reasonable and it’s later in the day. I also had to redownload Scrivener, was 80% through a test for my college when FireFox crashed and lost my progress. They only allow 1 sign in for it so I had to spend about an hour trying to get them to reopen the test for me. I’ve also been spending a ton of time on the phone with insurance companies and doctors. I finally got Max an Autism evaluation (a full entire day Tuesday) which I’m stressing over. On one hand he needs to be diagnosed so he can qualify for services, on the other I don’t want him labeled, and on the third what happens if he’s not diagnosed and we can’t get the services he does need? I’m a mess.

So I got behind on NaNoWriMo by about 15oo words, nearly a full day. Yesterday I woke up at a ridiculous time and went to Starbucks for 3 HOURS and wrote 3k before my eyes started to refuse to focus, I was still 1k behind. Each day has been spent making up the ones from the day before and then hacking away a little of the daily goal. But still not making goal which mean those numbers just keep piling up.

It starts to feel like a weight on your shoulders. Each word a pound you carry around with you as you do what’s required of your day. Then you get snippy because damn, that’s a heavy load and all you want to do is sit and get it done because you know that this NaNo story is actually not crap. It might not be Water for Elephants but you know, not crap crap.

And so -if you’re like me- you neglect stuff like showering which makes you feel even crappier. You forsake the sun for writing. You grab hand fulls of something that you can eat without a fork that won’t get crumbs on the keyboard but never really eat a meal. You rarely venture out of yoga and/or sleepwear (and then think, well it doesn’t look like pj’s…  p.s. yes, it does.)

I want to say that I’m not just a writer but a good writer. But when you’re in this hole of darkness feeling the weight of your task pressing down on you, seeing your friends bars fill up with blue while you’re pulling against the tide for each and every word you manage on the paper. Holy Wow.

I’ve written Nineteen Thousand Words since November first. Twelve days of writing and guess what? I’m done.

I’m not done writing or even participating in NaNo, because seriously I love that little bar graph. Honestly, if they need to raise money what they need to do is create a program like an app that is basically the STATS page and make it customizable. I would buy it in a heartbeat. (If the ever do this in the future I’m taking full credit for the idea right now.) But I am done driving myself crazy. I know that’s kinda the nature of NaNo but I didn’t really get into this to win, I got into it because this particular story won’t leave me alone (you writer’s know what I’m talking about when I say a character is literally in my head demanding my time and focus) which is hampering my ability to do any other writing (You Faylinn fans out there I haven’t forgotten about her, just tell yourself she’s learning from the Professor right now, she’ll be back when she stumbles on something vital).

I’m going to start showering again (you’re welcome hubby), and working out, and making meals rather than foraging in the kitchen and if I don’t make my word count for the day I’m not going to sweat it. I’m past the initial point in my writing where I usually flounder (around 12k) and I have a good solid plan for the future of the book something I haven’t had before. I’m excited over this book and do plan to finish it if not by the end of November than soon.

For those of you interested and that suck with my pity party and rambling here’s another excerpt a little longer than the others from Midnight in the Hollows. I tried to really capture the different emotions between the two men in this I hope you like it! (and constructive criticism is always welcomed)

Enjoy and all you NaNo’ers go take a shower!


“Hush now. Do not show your disrespect, not now.” A quiet fell over them as he opened the box. A tiny gilded figure rested at the bottom on a bed of dried flowers and herbs. The scent of the well oiled hinge, the dried bits, the scrub pine of the box wafted up to them. Wes identified the figure immediately. It was the Goddess Mithra, the fabled mother of the world. She stood naked, her long locks covering her ample breasts, her stomach was bulged, fat with a child, thin arms were spread, welcoming those to her embrace. She was beautiful, as she should be. Ryche shut the box and placed the figure on top, around the box turned pedestal he placed little white candle stubs lighting them with a piece of tinder from the hearth’s fire. He moved slowly, reverently as he performed his tasks. The light flickered along the golden features giving the illusion the tiny figure’s features were moving.

Wes understood this ritual. While the mainlanders had either completely denounced the Old Gods or morphed them into some perverse worship service that aided only the kings, those on Ibius still held onto the old ways. He knew these gods, these ancient ones, had sent them prayers and felt their presence in the world around him when he was a boy. He had participated in their rites, bowing to the sea goddess Euri when she gifted them with full hulls of fish, sacrificing the gott lamb to the goddess Ibiurum -of which their island was named for- to keep them safe in the bosom of her caves during harsh winters, sending their dead to voyage with Rakyk to the afterlife in Chegobetum’s embrace. Cheering Lassobu with overflowing cups of mead, asking Luthumalevus for his blessing over the animals and trees and Mithra, the high empress of all the gods, blessing their babies and their marriages and their deaths. Burning her effigy made of rowan and vined with herbs and flowers as they greeted each new spring.

His eyes watered and he wiped the tears away with a smile. For they were not tears of sadness but of joy. His heart squeezed tight in his chest as the memories flooded him and the simple beauty of the Gods filled him up. Here, in this rotting hut, with this damaged man there was a presence that could not be denied. Whatever awaited him on the battlefield he would endure. He felt the hand of the Gods on his shoulder for he was a true believer, he carried them with him wherever he would go and they would see him through his trials. He knew they would not abandon him, they would not let him break his promise.

As he listened to Ryche mutter the sacred prayers, he felt calm and understanding envelope him, as the memories crashed around him he understood the simple meaning wrapped in the words. And there was one part to each memory that he held in his mind and his heart. One that he was certain the God’s had made sure was placed there, beside him, holding his hand in both sorrow and joy, in love. For all the memories he held there was another that held them with him, that stood beside him, that had cried and laughed those same times, and at that moment he understood that since the beginning she had been made for him and he would not break his promise to her.

Ryche prayed for the boy, for his immortal essence, for the girl that waited for him and for his son who’s essence he prayed had found it’s way to find peace in the afterlife. He prayed hard for those that never came home from battle and those that did that were less than whole and for the ones left behind never knowing how their father, brother, son had spent their last moments alone scared and dying for a king that didn’t care. He prayed -not aloud- that the boy might change his mind pleading to the goddess to save this one boy -no, not a boy but man. Save this man from a painful and lonely fate.

He was not Wes’ father and could not order him to stay, he could not say that he was being foolish and stupid, that glory on the battlefield and the riches that were promised with it were fleeting and not worth the price they extract from your essence. That the things you saw and smelled and did would never leave you. That for years and years you would wake up crying, sweating, reaching for a weapon that had long lost it’s purpose. That your insides would change, that the ones you loved before could no longer love you because of it.



NaN-Row and Making Money


Sunday I was just not in the mood to write but I sat and forced myself. There’s a lot going on in my personal life that’s giving me the “much overwhelmed” feeling. Sunday was one of the days I couldn’t keep it at bay. I also fell into the NaNoWriMo forgetting to shower hole of darkness and started offending my own nose. So, that may or may not have played a part in the self-depressive state.

So I’m writing, writing, writing and I claw up to just over 500 words and I realize that my hero needs to buy something but guess what? I have no economic structure in my story. OMG. Just a side note, if you look up something along the lines of “fictional economy creation” you’ll get a whole lotta political stuff regarding our current government here in the US. While I could have used that as a fairly decent model it really wasn’t what I was looking for.

money, money, money, mah-nay

I found this post from FARP (Fantasy Art Resource Project on Ok so first question I decided we’ll have a three part economy using Barter, Medium of Exchange (MoE) and finally Coinage.  On Ibius (the remote island my hero/heroine hail from) they have no need for pieces of metal (coins), they don’t have a way to mine them and they get by just fine with Barter and Medium of Exchange. Plus they’re not beholden to the mainland rule of the kings and don’t need gold to pay taxes. Since they (on the island) have some pretty rare and special items you can’t get elsewhere, the mainlanders are okay with the MoE or barter with these guys.

But then they leave the island and travel to a land where there are warring kings, the greedy kind of kings, that like to measure their wealth in coins and get their taxes in coin. So on the mainland they utilize coins for lots of things but the lower classes still deal in Barter and MoE.

So… I’ve just complicated the heck out of my fantasy world. Sigh.

Which brings me to types of coins. We can’t just have gold because it’s hard to have somethings be just 1 gold, pair of socks, cup of ale, tup in the back alley, etc. and how would we earn just 1 gold piece? If it was that easy to come by we’d have an economic surplus and a country reminiscent of a dollar store and the point of using gold (because it’s rare, not just pretty) would be moot. And then have other things costing 10-25 pieces because well, that’s just a heck load of gold to carry around on a being (hence the introduction of paper money). But we can’t do paper money here because they haven’t come up with that yet, pre/mid industry here. No printing presses, paper mills, yet. Are you still with me?

So I get to play around and I created four distinct types of coins in varying sizes. You know, to keep it simple:

The Dub -smallest coin

The Mark- 25 dubs to a mark

The Spade- 10 marks to a spade

The Haef – 15 spades to a haef

They’re all gold but varying sizes the smallest like a dime and the largest around a half dollar. A Haef is a heck of a lot of money so we’re not going to be carrying a bunch of those around. Those are for buying houses, horses, small villages and the like. Dubs are the easiest to come by, light weight and easy to earn, so our hero is going to be good with these. Maybe even he gets a couple Marks here and there. Spades are like the equivalent of $50 in today’s economy, definitely not pocket change, a bit more substantial but not completely difficult to earn.

Ok for all of you that stayed with me through that process (thanks by the way) you earn a little treat. Here is an excerpt from Chapter Three of Midnight in the Hollows. It’s my favorite so far I think. Feel free to dissect it in the comments. But gently, with some Novocaine.


Ryche was quiet as he closed the chest, then picked up the long iron pike to stoke the fire with calloused hands. His job required him to keep the furnace fire burning hot, always. The light from the flames flickered the long shadow of the boy against the wall. The boy reminded him so much of his lost son, Eron. He, too, had been eager to join the king’s ranks. Ryche pushed through the cold blast of pain in his heart turning his attention back to the heat at hand. “It’s late, boy. I’m tired. Come back tomorrow if you truly want a weapon and we will talk.” He left the boy standing in the forge with the worn sword in his hand and his mouth gaping. He couldn’t deal with this now. The doorway covering flapped shut stirring up a cloud of dust from the dirt floor. It was that rising dust that caused his eye to tear, not the memories stirred up by a boy he couldn’t allow himself to call by name.


How’s everyone else doing this week?

Don’t you dare finish that.



One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever read (and of course can’t remember to  site the source) was if you needed to stop writing for any reason to NOT FINISH THE SCENE. Or if you happen to be at the end of a scene to go on and write whatever is going to happen in the next couple sentences.

I cannot tell you how much this has saved me. Over and over again as I put a WIP down to handle life and then come back to it, I’ve consistently seen that the stories I have stopped in mid thought are easier to pick back up again. For instance, I have a WIP titled The Blood Pits where I very stupidly left off my heroine at the opening of the doors to the arena where is doesn’t know what she will be facing or if she’ll even come out alive.

Yes, there is story there, what will happen to her? What is on the other side of the door? A ton of different things are possible but because I ended that scene where I did, at a conclusion, I haven’t been able to get back into it in nearly 3 months. I even took the time to draw out the scene but again, it feels ended, the momentum has stopped in that story right now.

My current WIP Midnight in the Hollows which I’m writing for NaNoWriMo I’ve been very, very careful to make sure I end off in the middle of scenes, actually, most times in the middle of a sentence. Each time I go back to it, I’m able to pick up the threads and continue weaving. It’s as if, by ending -or not ending- where I do my train of thought is easier to catch back up to. There’s an opening for me to start in.

I can’t explain it or even quote what I’m sure is a more elegant post than this one but if you’re finding yourself having a hard time collecting those threads of thought, getting back into your story and you have the habit of completing a scene or chapter, stop doing it.

Leave it off in the middle of a sentence, a phrase, a word, a description. Don’t even finish writing a full word! Whatever it is, don’t you dare finish and see if next time you come back to it if it’s easier to get into the groove again.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on finishing or not finishing a scene/chapter etc. Do you have a hard time picking the pieces back up when you complete one? Do you already use this method of leaving your story open? Do you know where the heck I read that tip at?

Sunday NaN-Row


How is NaNo going? Well, I’m on task so far. Thursday my pc shut off and I lost an entire 2k chapter. Friday I spent it rewriting and adding in the words I needed to make Friday’s goal. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) I was a wee bit stressed. BUT I’m back on track and plugging away. For a treat I thought I’d put the first chapter of my prologue up and each Row/NaNo update this month will include an excerpt of a particular favorite part of the story. Just because.


Midnight in the Hollows ~ Prologue excerpt


The Captain looked over the deck slick with water and littered with his men and sighed. For a moment he watched them scurry about like ants over a sugared bit. It was a fitting description, for weren’t they all just as small and meaningless as those tiny creatures? Still, it saddened him to see them fighting so hard, the rain pelting their oiled cloaks, the salt from the sea stinging their eyes as the darkness moved ever closer.

Lightening cracked murderous through the night lighting the scene before him. He gripped the rope tighter, the water sluicing between his fingers.

“Cap’n!” He snapped his head toward the sound of his First Mate, Barnaby. The roar of thunder drowned out the young man’s shouted words but he understood. They were taking on too much water. The other ship was gaining.



I’ve finished another chapter + in Nancy Kress’s book, I’ve kept up with my ROW80 peeps and even worked out a time or two. This month my school is on hold for the most part unless I get a good bit head on NaNo but I did do 2 test in 1 class leaving only 8 and ordered my next set of book for the very last class. Everything is set for when I finish NaNo. My goal is finals by the new year.


How is everyone else doing? Any thoughts on my excerpt?

First ROW/NaNo check in

Hand Cramp.

Right in time for NANoWriMo I started a week long class on using the Tarot to help with story outlining and character formation. I’ve had this Universal Waite deck for oh, well over a year and after the initial fold of cards never really picked it up again. Part of that is because the kids think anything with bright pretty colors is for them and wanted to play Go-Fish with it.

After the first lesson I knew this was going to really help me with my writing. I am so glad I signed up for the class!

I have a lot of character writing books and lectures, I’ve written out as much as I can on a lot of the worksheets that accompany them or that I found  online but I always seem to get stuck! There is only just so much that my brain can come up with out of the blue on it’s own. Using the Tarot was just amazing. Each card has an image (which vary depending on what deck you use), that image can help with a lot but once you look into what the proposed means could be well, the ideas just start flowing. And then the cards each have a reverse which is like bonus ideas.

I was able to give in depth characterizations for my 2 main characters, outline the issues and do some cultural outlining before NaNo started. This is farther than I’ve gotten before NaNo started. Monday I needed to outline another 2 main characters, the bad guy and the ultimate good guy (I’m writing fantasy), write a little more outlining on the cities and name a few more places. I didn’t get everything done but I got more done and with fresher ideas than had I tried to sit down with a blank paper and a blank mind. I highly encourage anyone interested to try it out the next time the class comes around.

Since NaNo is here now, I’ve also tried to get a few posts ahead on both blogs. There are times when I won’t be able to write (Thanksgiving comes to mind) and I want to get at least the basics down for post ideas so that when the day comes to write it I’m not sitting with a blank screen and blank mind.

Tuesday, I got over 3200 words written for NaNo. I’m trying to get ahead since I know holidays and such will end up putting me behind. The outlining is really saving me here. I’m trying to get as much done this first week as I can. I still have things to fill in with my notes. And of course, there’s the post-NaNo editing, at one point I was just making up parts of a boat. Ah well, that’s the nature of the NaNo Beast.

I’ve also gotten through another 1+ chapter in Nancy Kress’ Characters book. So far so good!

How is ROW and NaNo meshing going for you guys? How about you non-NaNo Rowers?

Limiting Imagination


I’m steadily working on not being a pantser anymore. Though there are still things I’m pantsing (Faylinn’s Chronicles being one of them) I realize that a lot of my time in writing is being effected by the debilitating process of having to stop mid writing to go back and remember what someone’s name was, research a historical something, make up a religion, tribe of people or whatever. When you’re in that groove (and you writers know what I’m talking about) cutting it off to look up what you called the Main Character’s neighbor’s dog five chapters back is like hitting a speed bump going seventy. It’s jarring, somewhat painful and there’s a good chance you just damaged something.

In this case, you’d have damaged that flow of words, ideas, imaginations. That sweet spot that we writers crave, where everything just kinda comes together in the cosmos and we crank out a thousand words without even blinking, becomes bruised fruit. It limits the imaginative flow. I’m working on this because I don’t like it.

I read an article this week about things you should never do in epic fantasy. Here is where pantsing can get you in trouble. The story I’m writing for NaNoWriMo is a fantasy and some of the things my characters are doing are because of the tips here. My Hero? Well, he’s going to have to work his ass off for that sword he needs so he can sell his skills in the King’s Army because swords are expensive to make. My Heroine? Well, she’s an orphan with no money who gets a position training as a Lady’s maid, except they’re treating her more like a slave and guess what? She doesn’t have the money to send a messenger with a letter to her Uncle to get her out. And if she just left? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish she’s thinking isn’t smelling too good. The Devil you know and all that.

There are real economic issues that need to be addressed, things that can add a lot of flavor to writing when you have planned out and understand them. If we visited a home where they had lush fabrics hanging from every wall, we can deduce from the fact that our Heroine comes from a culture that hand makes each bolt of fabric, that she understands that this is an extremely wealthy person’s home. One that has very little fabric and mends everything is probably fairly poor. If there has been a trend toward certain carvings (read the Meme post for more on using cultural trends in writing) that happened many decades ago and we visit a home that has these types of furnishings kept in pristine condition, we might be able to use that to determine that perhaps this person has been wealthy at one point but isn’t any longer, maybe they just prize well crafted things and are not wasteful. Or maybe the carvings remind our Hero/ine of home and we go into a few paragraphs of longing or reminiscence.

There is a lot of good that can come from figuring this out before hand.

I also researched some map making stuff and stumbled upon this fantastic article regarding map making and world building based on that map. The exercises are quite fantastic. It’s really interesting to delve into the socioeconomic structure of a place you’ve just made up. I have a city (really a small town) called Boe on an secluded mountainous island. It’s named after the animals they famously raise, that’s kinda between a goat and a llama. They also have a thriving ship building business using the hard scrub pines that grow exclusively in their environment and use them to trade for the foods they can’t grow in their soil (which is comprised of sugar sand and holds no mineral/nutrient value).

No one never needs to see the map (but I’ll share mine with you, I tried to clean it up a bit), it can be just for your own use in visualization or you could add it in the front of the book if you choose. Also, a small pronunciation dictionary for your world helps too!


I still need a legend. The / are mountains.


Boe, upper right hand corner, has absolutely no place in the story I have planned. No one comes from there. Yet. My Hero and Heroine come from Fynes (which does trading with Boe). I’m not sure if in chapter 7 when I have our Hero planning to come to a town on the mainland if there won’t be a Boe-raised immigrant and they strike up a conversation about their home island. Having it all planned and written out in advance makes Boe a real place in my head. Keeping with the ideas about epic fantasy mistakes, I’m sure not to hit any of those road bumps during their conversation. And who knows? Maybe this conversation strikes up something in my Hero that makes him want to visit Boe in a later chapter/book. (see how the map lets you visualize the things I’ve said about Boe?)

The point of all this isn’t necessarily to limit your imagination while writing, some of the best things I’ve come up with have been pantsed, but to help you think about things, keep them real in your head and have easy access to their traits, abilities and descriptions as you write so when you get into that groove, that flow, that zone, that you won’t struggle deciding on details. It’s about stretching your imagination, letting it run wild, to create a more solid world in your head before you even write that Prologue. And giving yourself a huge pool of information to drawn on while you’re in that zone can be utterly invaluable. Even if you don’t use it to create fantasy, there really isn’t a genre that wouldn’t benefit from these exercises.

Is it a lot of work? Of course. Even for places, people, names that might not ever come up? Absolutely. Is it worth it for your teeth not to snap together as you fly over a speed bump? Oh hell yes.