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NaNo Day 5

Well, it’s back to the Evil Day Job today.  No, I don’t feel like I had a four-day weekend, not when I got up at 5:00 three of those days.  But I’m happy with my progress.  It was necessary to get ahead a little, because now, it’s crunch time until my next day of vacation (Tuesday, Wednesday next week).  My schedule for the rest of this week will be NaNo (Return to Shanhasson) dark and early, and squeeze in whatever I can for Revision Xibalba at night.

Today:  Gulp, only 771 words this morning.  Up a bit late, and I signed on for work early to sort through all my e-mails, messages, meetings, etc. that have tumbled into my inbox since last Friday.  That’s why I needed a cushion going into the work week.  Now I’m horrified at exactly how long it took me to figure out how to spell cushion.  Must be tireder than I thought!

I have good news and bad news.  Good:  I got another 1372 words tonight.  The bad news:  I’m sort of stuck.  I need to make myself write down the BIG THEME for this book.  I know the overall story arc and theme for the trilogy, but I’ve tackled it from various angles in the two previous books.  I know the EVENT that drives the conflict for this story, but I need to get the emotional conflict nailed.  I vaguely know it, but this scene suddenly brought it all to the forefront.  Shannari is facing a decision.  Her whole world hangs in the balance.  I know what her choice is, ultimately, but I need her to grow from it naturally to the conclusion of the story, and I don’t know that I pinpointed exactly what that lesson is for this particular book.

This requires my notebook.  I wrote a lot of deep stuff in this scene, but it may not stay.  It may need to move to the END of the book after she suffers awhile.  NaNoWriMo toal:  13002


“Poor Khul.  Perhaps I should bring an extra vial of that oil home with me in order to make it up to you.”

Leather creaking as he leaned down, he stroked his thumb across her lips and whispered, “Do so.  I believe the promise I made to you was perfectly clear.”

She swallowed hard and refused to sneak a quick peek at her Blood she knew stood at her back.  “Are you sure that’s a promise you’re willing to keep?”

“Absolutely.”  He laughed softly, still stroking her lips.  “Sal offered to let you eat him up.  Let’s see if he survives.”

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NaNo Day 4; RX Day 26


Schedule today:

5:30 – monsters get up:  hoping for 2K.  So far, only 1269 words and the monsters are already up.  Why is it that on a SCHOOL day they sleep like the dead, but on a day of vacation, they’re up with the sun? 

I’m writing a steamy (literally) bath scene and expected it to be slow(er) going.  I also had to edit what I started last night a bit to make the scene flow.  Yeah, I know, no editing, but this was one of those things I *had* to do to set the mood appropriately.

Thereafter:  lose my mind.

Kicked the monsters outside to play until lunch (it’s a glorious Indian Summer day).  Much better.  Wrapped the bath scene up for a total of 2839 words this morning.  Whew, tough scene.  I didn’t expect the dragon to show up.  *winks*  Shifting to Revision Xibalba now.

Since the monsters were out of school, Papa from Mexico came by this afternoon for a short visit.  It took me all afternoon and evening, but I can finally report 1958 words revised/polished in the Mayan fantasy.  I’m struggling a bit with details.  I can’t remember if I covered a topic earlier or not, and I don’t want to flip through to find out, but I can’t leave it out either.  Sigh.  So even after this serious “revision,” I’m going to have to print it out and cover it with colored sticky notes for all the little things that need to be picked up or ditched.  NSR is up to 34,017 words.

Snippet:  Rhaekhar has been introduced to Keldari oil.

“I’m going…”  He arched his back, lifting his rump so he could thrust in her hand.  “To pour…that cursed oil…all over you…while I hold you down…and let your Blood…lick it off.”

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NaNo Day 3 Snippet

I have two sections (different POVs) in progress, so I thought I’d do a short snippet from each.

The first is a brand new POV that I hadn’t planned on, but works perfectly.  All caps is the Great Lord of Shadow, who’s speaking to His most faithful servant.


Something like love and devotion poured through him, although it was blackest night and smelled of rotting flesh.  There was no greater praise from the Great Lord.  He’d never hoped to be given this last, most important task of all.  :I will pay any price to taste her sweet blood and drag her into Your Shadow.  What of her barbarian husband?:

Shrieking laughter crashed through his skull like boulders tumbling from the highest mountain.  THE HORSE KING WILL NOT LIVE FOREVER.


Now this one is a bit longer, but you’ll see why. There really wasn’t a good place to break it. And well, I didn’t really want to break it. 

“We’ve never been separated, not since you nearly died in that foul cur’s prison.” 

“I know,” she whispered, fighting tears.  “I’ll follow you as quickly as possible.”

Rhaekhar sighed heavily, and she knew she’d won this kae’don.  Yet she couldn’t be pleased, not at the defeated slant to his shoulders and the worry creasing his brow.  “You must always keep the Blood near you.  I want at least these two touching you at all times.”

“Even at night?”  Sal asked, tossing his hair back over his shoulder. 

That little action never ceased to draw her attention to him, the long fall of silk drawing her eyes like a moth to flame.  Yes, flame was appropriate.  His hair was the color of a fiery sunset, and he wore it longer than ever.  Loose of any braids or ties, his hair fell to mid-thigh, longer, even than the red cloth wrapped about his hips.

“Even at night,” Khul agreed, arching an eyebrow at her opened mouth.  “How many times have assassins tried to sneak into our bedchamber, na’lanna?  What if they begin to lay in wait beneath the bed, or in a closet, or even the bath?”

Dharman snapped his fingers, and two of the lesser Blood immediately trotted about the room, searching every nook and cranny.

“Put one of them before you.  Sal, I think.  You can use his hair as a blanket.” Rhaekhar whispered, letting his voice go husky, his eyes molten gold but not with anger this time.  “Take Dharman behind you to guard your back, as Gregar did.  With two wrapped around you, no one will ever touch you with a blade.  Will they, na’lanna?”

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NaNo Day 3; RX Day 25

This is my tentative schedule and goals for the day.  Let’s see if I can hit them.

Dark & Early 5:30 – 7:00

  • NaNoWriMo project, Return to Shanhasson.
  • Min goal:  1.6K.  Optimal goal:  2K.
  • Actual:  2244 words.  Snippet post coming.

7:00 – 8:00  Get monsters ready for school

8:00 – 8:30  Walk the track at school with monsters (weather permitting–I haven’t been outside yet)  Didn’t walk.  First, I had a hard time getting everyone ready in time, so we were late, and then the walking track was closed because the Coach (who leads the walking club) was gone today.  Sigh.

8:30 – 9:00 Drive to Kaldi’s, get situated.  I’m there!  It’s weird–this is the first time I’ve ever written in public.  It’s fun, but I’m also easily distracted.  Plus, I’m alone, which I hadn’t quite thought the logistics through.  e.g. after slugging three cups of coffee, I needed to use the restroom.  Hello, what about my laptop and stuff I had strewn about?  My cup?  I didn’t want them to clean up my area!  It’s always the little odd things that stymie me.  I had to pack up anyway because the gaming room (where the outlets are) was reserved at 10:00, so I raced to the bathroom with my laptop bag all packed, and my coffee cup was still there.  Whew, disaster averted.

Oh, no!  I made the mistake of getting a cup of Highlander Grog (I think this is my fourth cup.  Dies).  Those of you who love Gregar?  His scent was inspired by this coffee.  Now I really want to be writing Return to Shanhasson (instead of the Mayan) so I can figure out how Gregar’s going to stick his…er…rahke…into things and mess up Shannari’s world all over again.

9:00 – 11:00

  • Revision Xibalba, Night Sun Rising
  • Editing next section in Ruin’s POV  Done, 617 words.  Doesn’t seem like much, but Jaid just shocked the hell out of both me and Ruin.  That certainly wasn’t in the first draft!
  • Begin Quinn’s next section (new)  In progress.  First draft finished at 899 words.  Heading home.
  • Jot notes for his story thread through the intersection.

11:30 – 1:30 Lunch, more exercise, pray all goes well at Evil Day Job and they don’t have to call me.  That Man is home early and threw a wrench in my lunch plans.  However, we did go vote, so that’s taken care of!  Late start for the afternoon…

1:30 – 3:30:  Not sure yet.  See how the morning schedule goes.  Another 945 words in Return to Shanhasson to finish up the current scene.  Smoldering bath scene coming up!  And massage oil.  *winks*  From Keldar, if you know what that means…  NaNo total for the day so far:  3189.

3:30 Pick up monsters from school

Evening hours:  never sure how they’ll go.  Monsters are out of school on Tuesday, so no big rush to finish homework.  Managed only 248 more words, but have a nice start to tomorrow’s bath scene.  3437 on the day.  Not bad. NaNoWriMo total:  8020 words.

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NaNo Day 2

Up early this morning before church to ensure I got a good start before the family (and laundry) intervenes.  I’m still searching for the perfect playlist, but these are the songs currently playing, some old favorites that worked for the first two books in this trilogy; others on a trial basis.

  • Unchained Melody by Heart
  • I Didn’t Want to Need You by Heart
  • Love Hurts by Incubus
  • Sweet Sacrifice by Evanescence
  • Kiss From A Rose by Seal
  • (Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams
  • Haunted by Evanescence
  • Make This Go On Forever by Snow Patrol
  • Making Love Out of Nothing At All by Air Supply

Word count so far:

  • Today: 1802
  • Total:  4599

Snippet (which should be especially meaningful to those who’ve read Road to Shanhasson):

How could he think to protect her with his blood pounding so hard his skull threatened to crack open?  She arched beneath him, and Dharman nearly died at her soft cry of desire.  Tightening his arms around her, he breathed the words against her lips.  “At last.”

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NaNo Day 1

Stayed up until midnight and wrote hard for just over an hour.  2,043 words.  The first day(s) the NaNoWriMo site is usually down or really slow, so I won’t try to update my official word count until later. 

Each day, I’ll include a line or small snippet from my project, Return to Shanhasson.  This is the opening line, subject to at least a dozen revisions.

Blessed Lady above, if these vipers are my allies, then I am already doomed to Shadow.

Final word count for day 1: 2797

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Pre-NaNoWriMo Prep

At 4:30 this afternoon, I turned over my last signoff for the last component of the project I had to finish for the Evil Day Job before I could start my vacation.  I didn’t have a lunch, didn’t go with That Man to pick up the kids, and crammed straight through, but I made it!  Yeehaw!  I’m free for a four-day weekend!

Now I’m spending the evening prepping madly for NaNoWriMo.  My tools so far:

  • A really old hastily written “synopsis” of the entire series that I sent Deena over a year ago.
  • Two brand new “electric” pencils as the monsters call them.  (Mechanical, yellow, cheapos from the Dollar Store)
  • A brand new rainbow pack of my current favorite pens.  (Pilot Precise V5 in 7 colors)
  • A brand new pack of index cards.  I found some new ones at Wal-Mart that have colored bars on the lined side.  The colors are wrong (pastel), but I like the bar effect.
  • A brand new speckled red/black composition book.  The color choice is obvious for those that know the Blood & Shadows world.  This notebook I intend to use for free-writing if (when) I get stuck, and it’s small and sturdy enough to travel with me.
  • A brand new lined “legal” pad — only the normal 8.5X11 size, white, already hole punched.  It has a red binding.  (Yes, I’m anal about the color.)  It doesn’t have a cover, so it won’t travel with me.  I can’t stand for my pages to get wrinkled.  It’s my “jot down ideas for the next scene” notebook, or for questions, notes, etc. that may be slightly messy.  I love the composition notebook, but it’s not easy for me to write on the left-hand page.  This flips from the top and makes for easy and quick access.
  • A pocket folder with brads.  This item I still need to buy.  I have numerous ones in my stash, but none of them are the right color.  I need red!!!  :roll:

So now while That Man zones in front of the TV, I will jot notes on my cards and see how many scenes I can get….  I’m going to try and stay up until midnight and get at least a couple of hundred words down to say I started.

Let the NaNoWriMo mania begin!

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The Plague

I thought Middle Monster was mostly better, but she was up at 4:00 a.m. throwing up again, now joined by Princess Monster and That Man.  Of course, it was one of those nights for me where I simply could not get my brain to shut up, where I wasn’t even sure I ever fell asleep (I know I did, but I was awake every 20-30 minutes).

Needless to say, it was a hot tea morning Dark & Early instead of coffee.  I don’t think the plague is getting to me, rather just a long sleepless night.

I didn’t title this “Revision Xibalba” even though I was up writing, because I didn’t work on the Mayan story.  I finally got a bit of an idea for a short story set in the Beautiful Death Mythomorphoses world.  Well, short story may be stretching the truth a bit.  It’s a “scene” at least.  I have characters and I know their goals.  Whether it makes a satisfying short story, or morphs into something else entirely, I don’t know yet. 

I also began plotting (loosely) the beginning of Return to Shanhasson for NaNoWriMo.  Although I began second guessing myself and wondering if I should try to write Charon’s story instead.  I *know* Return very well, except for the beginning.  I know only a vague beginning to Charon’s story and nothing after.  So Return will definitely be easiest to write fast.  I do need to get the next book done in the other world, though, or Sis is going to hunt me down…  (Charon is her favorite character)

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Need for Speed

I’m going to date myself by admitting that Top Gun was a huge hit when I was in high school.  I had a friend who always quoted the title of this entry as we did the high and low five.

I’m feeling the need for speed.  Aren’t you?

Since NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’m slowly working my way back up to my 1K min in my Dark & Early session, I thought I’d do a quick checklist for myself as much as you on ways to get and keep the word production up.

1. Set clear, attainable, incremental goals.  Something like “I want to write 1K in 1 hour” is good, where “I want to write 5K today” may not be as manageable unless you define a careful strategy to reach that goal.  Can you actually write 5K in a single day?  Do you actually have all day?  Goal setting is a whole nother blog post, so I won’t go into endless detail, but I do feel strongly that setting goals is an important strategy for increasing speed.

Side note:  Don’t let your overachiever out when setting goals.  I’m the worst at setting pie-in-the-sky impossible goals.  (e.g. I want to finish Revision Xibalba in a single month!)  It’s much better to build your ego and confidence with small goals that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you can reach.  Plus, then you earn rewards!  Which leads to:

2. Plan simple rewards for hitting each mini and daily goal.  For example, I have a goal that says I don’t get to read my blog feeds in the morning until I write 1K.  I need my Paperback Writer fix!

3. Plan your schedule to meet your goals.  It doesn’t do any good to say “I want to write 1K today” if you don’t know when or how you’ll actually be able to write. 

  • Do what works for you and schedule the time for yourself. 
  • Do as much as you can to enable yourself. 

For me, that means laying out all my clothes the night before in the bathroom so I don’t wake up That Man.  I also prep my coffee pot and set out my favorite coffee cup.  I have an inspiring playlist (that varies by project) on Napster that I simply bring up and play.  Lastly but the most important for me personally, is a plan to “meet” my accountability partner online.  If I know she’s going to be up and wondering where the heck I am, then that helps me get up when the alarm goes off Dark & Early.

3. Take breaks.  This might seem counter-intuitive, and I sheepishly admit this is one I try to weasle out of if given half the chance.  When I’m in the flow, the last thing I want to do is take a break.  However, my wrists and shoulders certainly thank me, even if I just pause for 5 minutes to refill my cup and do a few stretches.

4. Eliminate distractions.  Don’t bring up your e-mail, because then if it dings or you notice you have an unread message, well, duh, you’ll want to read it.  Work with your family and friends so they know your scheduled writing time is important and sacred.  (That’s why I get up Dark & Early — no one else is up.)

5.  Use a notebook.  This is something I learned from Fast Draft (link below).  A notebook helps me avoid endless time sinks. 

Don’t fall into the trap of Googling something “quick” while writing, because it’s super easy to get sucked into way too much internet time.  Nothing ticks me off more in the morning than making that mistake and looking up to see that it’s time to go to work or get the family up — my writing time has simply disappeared.

  • Write down research notes, questions, things you want to address later. 
  • In your file, make a note to yourself if needed and then move on.  I make [notes to myself] like this all the time.  Or you could do *** note fix this! ***.  Whatever — just make it something you can easily search for later.
  • Prep for the next day’s session.  After your current writing session is over, jot a few notes about what you still need to do or where you should go from here.  This is helpful immediately after your session is over, but you could also jot notes at any time.  e.g. 10 minutes while waiting at school to pick up the monsters or 5 minutes while the coffee brews.

For me personally, the writing by hand is very important.  It frees me from the computer and helps tap into another area of my brain. 

6. Don’t stall yourself.  If a scene isn’t going well, make a note and skip it.  There’s no law of the universe that says you have to get every scene fully perfect first.  Little things can mess up a perfectionist, like struggling to find the right word, the best opening line, the perfect end-of-chapter hook.  Don’t!  Don’t stress out about being “perfect.”  That’s what [notes to yourself] and the notebook are for, like:

  • [word choice]
  • [something pithy here]
  • [stuck, skipping ahead to next scene, try to show…blah blah blah]
  • [what is the character’s motivation?]
  • [where the hell is the CONFLICT???]
  • [what happened to the backpack?]

These are all examples of notes I’ve written to myself and MOVED ON.

You can fix ANYTHING.  Later.  Nobody is going to see this draft unless you choose to send it to them.  If it’s a mess, who cares?  The most important thing is to finish.  Get the story down.  It’s a given assumption that you will have to revise.  However, it does not make sense to revise a story that is not finished.

7. Take care of yourself.  Don’t only drink your favorite caffeinated beverage — make sure you’re getting enough fluids.  Sometimes I want to graze while I write — hello, low fat microwave popcorn instead of chips.  The new thing I’m doing this year is to plan a walk, even if it’s only 20 minutes, every day.  When I’m working the Evil Day Job, I don’t always make it (meetings, urgent issues), but I have 9 vacation days planned in Nov. and there’s no excuse.  I *will* walk those days.

Helpful Links:

Do any of you have recommendations for meeting your need for speed and increasing your writing production?  Please share in comments!

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I’m IN.

My boss at the Evil Day Job reminded me that I have 126 hours of vacation that I must use by the end of the year or I’ll lose it.  (My company has terrific benefits and I’ve been with them 13 years!)  My bank is full, so I can’t roll any more over.  I didn’t have to take a week off for Middle Monster’s recovery like last year after her tonsilectomy, and it’s definitely been a long time since I had to scrimp to save up for maternity leave!

Thrilled, I sat down with my Nov and Dec calendar and planned out family time for the holidays and NINE days of vacation that I plan to use heavily for NaNoWriMo and Revision Xibalba!

Yes, I will be doing BOTH at the same time.  Not sure of “schedule” yet but I’m determined to get NSR revised and out the door.  The project for NaNoWriMo will be Return to Shanhasson, the final book in the trilogy (but far from the end of the story).

Woo-hoo!  Let the insanity begin!