Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mental Mahem...Bring It

So the crazy NaNoWrimo2017 race in just a few days! I often wonder on December 1st what the heck I was thinking!?
For those who are unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately called, stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a 30 day writing sprint with the goal of getting 50K words written for a novel you are working on.
Now this sounds insane.  It IS insane. That's 1,666 words a day. EVERY DAY for 30 days. And mind you, your end result is going to be soooo crappy.
Why bother, you ask?
Well, you have to think of it as shoveling sand into a sandbox--knowing you will go back later to build castles.
One of the major complaints I get at workshops or classes I give is that although people have great ideas or have been mulling a story idea over for weeks, months, even years...they haven't actually started writing it.
Well, you can't edit a blank getting out is really a big step. 
Secondly...people get stuck in the first few chapters because they THINK TOO MUCH and never move on.  NaNoWriMo is such a sprint that you just have to keep going. Which is extremely freeing!
You can't go back and rework things, or obsess about a dialogue exchange, or tinker with the wording of a narrative...There's no time. And that is very effective for helping you just get the story out.
There are a lot of fun and encouraging things going on for those participating though...
  • Awesome Forums - everything from subgenre discussions to business tips
  • Regional Groups - you can join a Write-In and meet other NaNo writers at a coffee shop for a group write. Lots of fun.
  • Online Groups - there are online groups to connect with either by location or genre.
  • You can earn badges, buy swag, contribute to the program, etc.
  • Buddy Lists - I've made friends here that extend beyond NaNo that have led to guest posts, ect.
  • Help Desk - need info or research help? These guys are super helpful!
  • Writing Coaches - there are twitter chats, videos, camps to join. You need help and commraderie...they've got it.
I hope to see you guys on the forums and on my buddy list. I am under Raquel Byrnes if you'd like to add me. :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep -- Yay or Nay?

First of all...National Writing Month is not a sprint. Its a month-long marathon of pushing for the coveted 50, 000 words. 

Many have started...few finish...even fewer 'win' with the 50K prize grasped in their sweaty, most likely cramping, fingers. It CAN be done though. You just need to prepare for it.

I know there are a lot of  opinions as to whether it is 'pure' or not to organize your thoughts or even outline a story before the bell, but I'm all for it. Why? Because I think it will help you reach your goal. 

And that is the whole point, right? Jump start a book -- get your first draft started?

So if you do plan on prepping for NaNo, there are a few ways to go.  I'm a huge fan of Randy Ingermanson's Snow Flake Method.  Its very step-by-step and you end up with not only plot blocks, an outline, and a rough draft of your synopsis, but you can work your steps into a very nice proposal.

Another program I've tried with great results is Scrivener. You can get a trial version that is free and lasts for 30 days which is all you need for Nano anyway. But once you start...this program will be one of your go-to organizational tools. We're talking research articles, photos, audio and video, all kinds of stuff!

Something I use now and have found works wonderful for visual people is a simple Index Card app. They have them for Windows, iOS, even phones. You can move scenes around and even import the outline to your computer which is very helpful.

Mindly is a great brainstorming tool. It works like a cluster brainstorm exercise, but you can assign colors and sizes to the difference spheres. You can also choose how to extendor telescope your ideas deeper as well. I use it on my phone, print out the 'mind map' and use it in my writing.  Easy peasy-lemon squeezy!

My pantser (discovery writer) friend makes outlines a la high school. And she weaves incredibly detailed and intricate plots. She's more of a free spirit and loves to just let go and let her characters 'be' but she does do some preparation.

NaNoWriMo may be a great opportunity to get that story that's been scratching in your skull out and on to paper. But as I said before, writing at that pace, without a plan, may result in a meandering mess.

If you have some great organizational ideas, I'd love to hear them. As I get ready for the month of November, I could use all the help I can get.  If you'd like to connect on NaNoWriMo's site...I am under: Raquel Byrnes.  :)

(Portions of the post are from a previous article from 2012.)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Welcome To Disaster

So I've been playing around with gifs and ended up doing this fun collage about my upcoming YA Steampunk, The Tremblers over on my Tumblr. I have to was a lot of work, but such a blast!

I figured out how to add text to gifs so I put some of the quotes from my first book on various scenes that hint at the story...

Trying to capture the danger and awe of a world crumbling into disaster was challenging and really got my creative juices flowing!

What sort of non-writing creative outlets do you turn to when you're seeking that imagination pick-me-up?

Until next time...

Thursday, October 5, 2017


I am a total child when it comes to October. I love it. Like...LOVE it. You see, its the month with no pressure.  No big holiday meals to prepare or houses to clean for guests.  In fact all the guests stay right outside my, so nice.  

It is time when color combinations like orange and purple are not only acceptable, but encouraged.  I love bats and creepy "crystal" goblets and frothy black lace sleeves.  It is the month that brings joy to the Goth girl still hiding inside my head.

I totally ROCKED one of these!
I think is has to do with imagination. October is the month where whimsical and terrible play together. Pretty, pretty princess dresses hang next to the tattered shreds of a mummy suit. And the candy...THE CANDY!  

I love the creativity that comes out during this time of the year. I remember making costumes that were necessarily 'punny' because we could not afford real costumes.  So I was the "Freudian Slip"...aka the girl in the body suit and white dress slip with "Freud" cut out of construction paper.  It think I saw that in a movie and thought it was the height of sophistication...costume wise, anyway. 

ALAS, the night was misty and the black cut-out letters shriveled into dark clumps and people asked me if I was a girl snowman...?  Whatever, people. It was glorious in my living room.

All the good things are in October...
I was the "cactus" which was really a green sweat suit with glued on sponge wedges.  

It was awesome, I tell you.  AWESOME!

The one year I did buy a costume...I chose a bizarre inflatable, hat-like, goblin head. Why? Because it came with BOTH a cape AND face paint!  Whaaaa?!  I was in heaven.

October to me still means creativity and freedom from the expected. This time, however, I don't plan costumes. I plan books.  It is the month leading into NaNoWriMo. 

So I do all my outlining, planning, and preliminary research this month.  Last year it was for my final book in the Blackburn lots of cogs and gears...zombie flesh...and pretty, pretty dresses that happen to have hidden weapons.  I AM still a girl, after all.

This month, I am planning my next book...a creepy fantasy with monsters and daggers and...pretty, pretty magic cloaks!  Wish me luck!

What is your favorite part of the year? Is it the pastel springtime?  The balmy summer?  What about the crisp winter?   What about them makes you smile?

Until next time...