Showing posts with label Nanowrimo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nanowrimo. Show all posts

November Writing Challenges



I love writing challenges. These events, focusing on completing a writing project within a month, take place throughout the year, and usually focus on a specific genre or audience. When you have to complete something in a certain amount of time, there's no overthinking and no procrastinating. Just you and your words.... and forced productivity!  

One of the best things about November is ... you don't have to look very far to find a writing challenge.

Here are four writing challenges to try in November:
 
1. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNoWriMo (established in 1999) is what many people usually think of when you say "writing challenge." You commit to completing a 50,000-word novel in a month (about 1667 words a day), along with a community of like-minds. The website has lots of support, inspiration, and information, as well as a way to track and share your progress. And, while the idea is to write a novel, there are NaNo Rebels who write other works during November. Sign up. 

2. National NonFiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo). Created by writing coach and author Nina Amir, the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge is more informal undertaking. The only rule is you have to commit to starting and finishing a work of nonfiction during the month. Learn more.

3. National Podcast Post Month (NaPodPoMo). Are you more of an audio or video person? Than this November challenge is for you. Jennifer Navarrete created NaPodPoMo in 2007, NaPodPoMo as a month-long audio challenge. The goal is to release and/or record a podcast episode every day. Use any platform, format, or production level. It's an excellent way to kick-start your podcast. Get details.  

4. National Blog Posting Month. This challenge is simple. Write and publish a blog post every day in November. It's a great way to kickstart or re-energize your blog. While there is no longer an official site for #NaBloPoMo, many bloggers participate each year. Just use the hashtag when you post, and search the hashtag to find your kindred spirits.

You have your choices. Now all you have to do is explore your options,  commit, and go for it. 

Remember, you can do it.

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Overwhelmed by the idea of a November challenge? Wondering how to fit it into your schedule? Read my article on Time Swapping. And then join my Write On Online Facebook group for bonus support throughout the month! 

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So, are you taking part in a November challenge? Which one? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of the D*E*B METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChatLive on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

NaNoWriMo Resources Are for Everyone

Even if you don't participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), the NaNoWriMo site has resources and community that you might find useful.

I love the forums, where inspiration is rife and your strange questions may be answered by people all over the world.

You might also like the NaNo Prep 101 Handbook (under Writer's Resources / NaNo Prep), which has information and nice graphics for all fiction writers.

And, of course, if you're planning on writing 50,000 words this November, this website will help keep you sane for 30 days.

Check it out:  https://nanowrimo.org/

November is National Podcast Post Month

NaPodPoMo
Most writers are familiar with NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. But how many of you know about NaPodPoMo? 

Now in it's 11th year, National Podcast Post Month gives people a different kind of challenge. Post 30 podcast in 30 days. They can be long, short, audio, video, both. Use any platform you desire, says NaPodPoMo creator Jennifer Navarrete, from full production studio to iPhone app and just about anything in between. The idea is to create and publish 30 of them during the month of November, and use it as a podcasting bootcamp. And, similar to NaNo, you have eliminate the idea of perfection and just get it done, as you have a massive undertaking in a short amount of time.

That being said, if you plan to participate in NaNoPodMo, now is the time to start planning. This is essential whether you want to launch, rebrand, or revitalize your podcast.

Let's back up. Why podcast? For the same reason you have a blog, a podcast enables you to showcase your personality, as well as your expertise, and really connect with your readers, prospects, and clients on a personal level. Adding the element of audio and/or video really amplifies that connection. 

Whether your goal is to create a series or you just want quick clips to enhance your content, there are easy ways to make a podcast happen.

Audio. Record, edit, and format audio podcasts. Find a podcast hosting platform (such as Libsyn or PodBean) and then syndicate it to sites like iTunes, GooglePlay, and Stitcher. You can even consider creating Alexa Flash Briefings.

Video. Record video podcasts, either in person or via a video platform, like Skype. Use a tool, such as Evaer for PC or Ecamm Call recorder for Mac, to record. You can also pull out the audio to syndicate on the above mentioned platforms. Edit (add captions, call-outs, and calls to action) if you want. And upload to YouTube, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn. Break it into smaller pieces and share on social media platforms.

Live Video. Broadcast live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter/Periscope, and Instagram. Then download, edit (add captions, share, and embed on your blog.

Before you go down the podcasting rabbit hole, run it through the D*E*B Method to start things off on the right foot.
- Define your Mission. Why do you want to start a podcast? This is in addition to any personal or business benefit. How will it help others?
- Explore your Options. What format? And what type of podcast? Interview, solo, tips, instruction, education. Length?
- Brainstorm your Path. Decide what you want for your podcast and figure out how to make it happen. Create a checklist. Be sure to determine name, tag, type, cover art, hosting, length, interviewees, anything and everything.

Once you have ideas in order, you'll be able to jump into November and begin your podcast on the right foot!

For more podcasting tips, read the Podcasting #GoalChat recap. Learn more about NaPodPoMo.

Do you have a podcast? What is it? How is it benefiting your business? Please share your experience and your podcast link in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

NaNoWriMo: It's Not Just for Novels

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

We are almost at the midway point of National Novel Writing Month

November is that time once a year where seasoned and wannabe authors around the world commit to writing an at least 50,000-word novel. NaNoWriMo.org has a place to log word-count, as well as forums and live and virtual events for community and inspiration. It's all about getting the words on the page without overthinking and self-editing throughout the process.

I am all about setting goals, productivity, and community. And I love National Novel Writing Month. Anything that gets people writing, and supporting each other, is fine in my book. But, if you are not a novelist, or even if you are, there are other ways to participate and get to the 50,000 word count. In fact, there's an "other" category for novel genre.

Use NaNo to write:

1. A non-fiction book
2. A screenplay, teleplay, or stageplay
3. Creative non-fiction

A series of
4. Blog Posts
5. Poems
6. Short Stories
7. Articles
8. Essays
9. Interviews
10. Songs

You can do the mix and match approach. A little of everything til you get to 50,000 or even 25,000 words.

The first draft of anything is the most important, yet most difficult, first step. Once you have words on the page, you have something to revise and refine. Then, the real work starts!

It's not too late to sign up for this years NaNoWriMo. And, then, of course, there's always next year.

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What do you think? Are you participating/have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? What kind of project? How does NaNo work for you or how do you use NaNo? Feel free to also share your NaNoWriMo profile link in the comments. And if you want to connect with me, my username is coastbunny.


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Post and report on weekly and monthly goals on the Write On Online Facebook Page. Join the Write On Facebook Group for ongoing community and support.


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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Pacemaker Press--a Word Count Graph

Last month I talked about the motivational power of NaNoWriMo's word count graph, but since it's only live in November, I decided to try another online word count tracker:  Pacemaker.

I don't find Pacemaker as satisfying or user-friendly as NaNoWriMo's site, but it's still a great tool for tracking progress.  I also really like its flexibility.  You can set up different types of goals, including editing/revising plans, and you can count by word, scene, chapter, etc.  I tried to set my December goal by counting scenes and ended up changing it to word count because it was easier to tally.  However, I think the scene idea might work in another situation.    

If you're looking for a progress tracker to help get your New Year's writing goals accomplished, try out Pacemaker and see how you like it.  

NOTE:  If you use Pacemaker, don't forget to click the green "save plan and progress" button after adding your progress, even though you've already clicked the "apply progress" button.  It's a seemingly unnecessary step, but it won't save if you don't.


See my original post:  The Magic of Word-Count Graphs  



Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

The Magic of Word-Count Graphs


I am not generally a particularly fast writer.  But in November, which is National (or International) Novel Writing Month, I can consistently pump out 50,000-60,000 words in 30 days.  This is my sixth year accomplishing this feat, and despite the high word count, it's always been good-quality draft.  I have never been able to write so much in any other month at any other time of my life.  So I got to thinking about why.

Part of it's the togetherness of it, the belonging to a group of people with like goals, the support from the organization and friends who are doing the same thing. 

But another big factor, for me, is one simple thing:  the word-count graph.  On Nanowrimo's website, you can update your word count as often as you want (and I often do it more than once a day).  It shows your progress on a nice little bar graph and calculates how far behind or ahead you are.  It's magic for me, this visual representation of concrete progress on a concrete goal.  So I thought:  why not try to apply the same thing when it's not November? 

I did an internet search and found an application I'm going to try:  pacemaker.press.  It lets you set goals by word count, by scene count, and various other measurements.  You can also set different pace styles:  steady, front-loaded, increasing, random, etc.  You can set it for higher workload on weekends or other days.  It tracks your progress with graphs.  It seems like it might be a great tool for me.

So I'm going to test it this month and report next month.  In Nanowrimo, the goal is words.  I got my words in November:  58,000 of them.  But I didn't quite finish the novel.  I calculate there are about 15 more scenes I need to write.  So I'm going to try pacemaker by scene count, and finish by Christmas.  We'll see how it works. 

If any of you know of similar word count trackers you've used and like, please add them in the comments below.  Happy writing!

Update, 1-3-16:  See my report here:  Pacemaker Press--A Word Count Graph


Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go Nomad, International Living, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

5 Writing Mistakes to Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Participation

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is here again. Every year in November thousands of writers participate. They each buckle down and write a novel within the month of November. That's a pretty impressive task.

Well, last year during NaNoWriMo, Grammarly.com did something unique. They worked with nearly 500 writers from 54 countries to crowdsource a novel. They analyzed the resulting 40,000 or so words and uncovered some writing mistakes that happened time and again, then summarized the top five in a handy infographic:

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic

Attribution for this infographic goes to: https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check

Want more Free tips on editing your work? Check out Editing Books Like a Pro:

What I've Learned from NaNoWriMo


For those of you who don’t know about NaNoWriMo, it’s an event that takes place in November every year.  Hundreds of thousands of dedicated writers all over the world each pledge to write a rough draft of a novel (at least 50,000 words) in one month.  That’s almost 1700 words per day:  a serious commitment and an exhilarating one.  I wrote my first Nano novel in 2009, starting at midnight November 1 in my pension in Znojmo, Czech Republic.  I wrote all the next day on foggy train rides in South Moravia, the perfect mysterious setting for writing my tale.

I now have five Nano novels under my belt.  It’s a great experience and I highly recommend it.  Here are some things I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo that can apply to all writing, not just crazy novel-in-a-month challenges.

1)  Have Concrete Goals and Record Your Progress.  “Write a novel this month” doesn’t work as well as “Write 1700 words today.”  During NaNoWriMo, I update my word count daily on Nano’s cool website so I can get a visual of how well I’m doing.  It’s really motivational.  You can create similar charts on your own, with spreadsheet graphics, other computer applications, or simple paper charts above your desk.  The very act of physically marking off your progress (or realizing you haven’t done the work to allow you this satisfaction) really helps.

2)  Band Together with Other Writers. In Nano, depending on where you live, you can join regional groups that host in-person planning sessions, parties, and write-ins throughout the month.  Even if you don’t have an active regional group, there are virtual write-ins and word wards (where you compete to write the most words in a set time limit).  NaNoWriMo forums are fantastic places to go for inspiration or to do research for your novel.  Ask what arsenic poisoning feels like, or how much beer costs in Germany, and you’ll get answers.  It’s amazing.  In non-NaNoWriMO life, writers’ groups are just as important.  I am and will be eternally gratefully to my writer’s critique groups, who not only help me become a better writer and catch my stupid typos, but who motivate me to write, write, write, so I can submit regularly. 

3)  Lock up your Inner Editor.  When you’re trying to get a story down on paper, try not to re-read and edit as you go.  It slows you down and may kill your inertia once you get going.  I used to edit a lot as I went.  Every time I sat down to write, I’d go back several page sand re-read and edit before I started writing.  Sometimes I’d run out of time or creative energy and never get to the actual writing part.  In Nano, if I wanted to reach 50,000+ words in 30 days, I couldn’t afford this, so I would open up my document, read maybe two paragraphs, and then start writing. And my rough draft wasn’t as rough at the end as I supposed it would be.  Now I try to implement this “just get it down first” style of writing even when I’m not in a time crunch.

4)  Plan Plenty of Time to Revise Later.  My first NaNoWriMo novel is in print and available.  I’m querying my second to agents.  But my third, fourth, and fifth?  They’re in the trunk, not completely finished and mostly unedited.  What I’ve failed to do is commit as much (or more) time to polishing these novels as I did to writing the first drafts.  They say, of course, that writing is 1/3 of the work and revising is 2/3.  So plan for this and don’t let your drafts languish in Rough Draft Land.

So this year I’m not writing a novel during NaNoWriMo.  Instead, I’m rewriting and revising a trunk novel—still in 30 days, still a huge challenge.  And though I’m a little sad not to be writing something new, I’m excited about readying my old work for public eyes. 

It’s not too late for you to start Nanowrimo:

If you want to read my first NaNoWriMo novel (on sale now in honor of Nano), here’s the Amazon link:  Far-Knowing 
Far-Knowing is also available at other major online bookstores.



Melinda Brasher loves visiting alternate worlds through books and exploring this world through travel. Check out her newest article on Go Nomad:  “Hunting Mushrooms in Wallachia.”  For some free short fiction, read “Stalked” on On the Premises or “A Learned Man” on Electric Spec.. Visit her online at melindabrasher.com

It’s almost November and time for PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo!

Registration for Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/ begins October 25.The 2014 website for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) http://nanowrimo.org/ is up and running.Have you checked them out yet?

PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo are fun and challenging.There is no charge to participate.Even if you don’t finish, you will probably learn something from the experience that will help you move forward with your writing.

You can organize your own kick-off party for PiBoIdMo.There is a three page handout to get you started.It’s filled with great ideas from previous PiBoIdMo years, http://taralazar.com/2014/10/09/host-your-own-piboidmo-kick-off-party/.

Some libraries have gotten involved with NaNoWriMo.This library in New Jersey is hosting a program to convince people to participate, http://www.nj.com/messenger-gazette/index.ssf/2014/10/somerset_county_library_system_observes_national_novel_writing_month_in_november.html.

Perhaps groups in your own community are planning events to be held in November. 

Good luck with your writing next month!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

November Challenges Part Two

Last month, I wrote about two November writing challenges that I planned to participate in: PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo. I am currently working on both. For me, PiBoIdMo is going better than NaNoWriMo. Hmmm. Does that mean I will be better at writing picture books than novels? Or perhaps it’s more realistic to plan to do only one of these during the month of November.  J

What I am doing this month seems insignificant compared to the challenges that many in my home state of Illinois are facing. On Sunday, November 17, several tornadoes hit parts of northern, central and southern Illinois. There were several deaths, along with many injured. Tornadoes also struck other Midwestern states – Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

If you wish to help those in Illinois affected by Sunday’s tornadoes, there is a list of businesses and organizations accepting donations at the website below.

I don’t know who is collecting donations in the other states, but I recommend giving to the
American Red Cross or the Salvation Army if you would like to help.

I will be back to my regular monthly blog post in December. Thanks for reading!


Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Reaching Your Writing Goals 15 Minutes at a Time


A number of my writing friends are participating NaNoWriMo this month with a goal of writing a 50,000 word first draft in November.  It’s a challenge designed to push writers forward through extended, dedicated writing time. 

And then, there are those who just can’t find the time for even 1,000 words—50,000 might as well be a million words.


It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that you don’t have the time you would like to dedicate to your writing. Unfortunately, this belief can derail your writing dreams.  So how do you pursue your writing goals when you are short on time?  

Jennifer Lawler, author of the Dojo Wisdom series, discusses how a martial artist trains each day, even when old and disabled.  The martial artist accommodates life around his art.  One of my critique partners is a lawyer with a full time job, two active young children, a wife, soccer games…the list goes on. Yet he still manages to write one to two hours a day.  How does he do it?  He gets up at 5 a.m. each morning.  He puts in the effort to accommodate his life to his art.

So how can you accommodate your days for your writing life?  Commit to 15 minutes of writing a day.  Even 15 minutes a day will begin the process of transformation.  Why?  Through those daily 15 minutes, you are informing your subconscious that you are committed to your goal.  You will be amazed after a week of allotting only 15 minutes a day, how much you can accomplish and how easy it can be.  Build it into your routine (e.g. shower, coffee, 15 minutes of writing).  If you are ready to change your life and pursue your writing goals, you will find the time.

So this week start with a daily routine of even just 15 minutes.  This small action oriented goal will help you create the habit of pursing your writing dreams.  Maybe that finished manuscript will be done sooner than you ever thought possible.



Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life strategist. For more information check out:

http://facebook.com/DoNorth.biz  


November Writing Challenges

Next month, I will be participating in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/ and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) http://nanowrimo.org/.

Registration for PiBoIdMo starts October 24. You can sign up now for NaNoWriMo. Both events are online and start November 1 and end November 30. Winners are eligible for prizes. See each website for details.

PiBoIdMo began in 2008 by children’s author, Tara Lazar. Her book, The Monstore, was released in June of this year by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Chris Baty started NaNoWriMo in 1999. His book, No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, is a recommended read for NaNoWriMo participants. 

This will by my first year for PiBoIdMo. This is my second year for NaNoWriMo. It will be a challenge trying to do both!

Will you join me?

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.


Grammarly and #GrammoWriMo – Join In

Grammarly has a great idea. If you’re not aware of what grammarly.com is, it’s “an automated proofreader and your personal coach.” And, it corrects “up to 10 times more mistakes than popular word processors.”

But, as I mentioned, Grammarly has a great idea and it goes beyond proofreading. Grammarly is introducing a new take on NaNoWriMo with it’s own verson, #GrammoWriMo.

Here’s the gist of it, taken right from the Sign Up page:

If two heads are better than one, imagine what a whole community of writers can do! Let’s find out together. In November 2013, Grammarly will organize the largest group of authors ever to collaborate on a novel—we’re calling the project #GrammoWriMo.

How cool is that!

When Grammarly’s Nick Baron sent me an email asking if I’d help spread the word, I immediately jumped on board. I love the idea.

In NaNoWriMo each author writes his/her own novel. In #GammoWriMo a large group of authors will create one book. Imagine the collective juices flowing, the muses flying!

If you’d like to join in on this unique writing journey, the submissions cutoff date is October 25th.

To learn more and to sign up today, go to: http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2013/nanowrimo/

This is not an affiliate thing, it’s just a unique idea.


~~~~~
P.S. To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars, join us in The Writing World (top right top sidebar).

Karen Cioffi

Prepping for NaNoWriMo


Fall is off to a busy start!

I’m getting ready for November, which is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), http://nanowrimo.org/. I signed up for NaNoWriMo Camp this past July. I didn’t finish but I was able to develop some new ideas for my novel. Several months ago, I purchased Scrivener, a software program for writers. I worked with it during the camp, but wanted to learn more about the program. Currently, I’m taking a class, taught by Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener for Dummies. The book was published in 2012. The class is offered a few times a year. It’s giving me a better understanding of all the things Scrivener can do.You can learn more about the class and the book at Gwen’s website, http://gwenhernandez.com.

Last December, I decided I was going to read one book each week of 2013. For the most part, I have been doing this. I have only missed a few weeks. Two of these books (I’ve read one and am reading the second) concern novel writing. No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days was written by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. Ready, Set, Novel!: A Workbook, by Lindsey Grant, Tavia stewart-Streit, and Chris Baty, will help you plan and plot your novel. I recommend both of these books.

Next month is the annual free online writing conference, The Muse. The conference dates are Oct 7 – 13 and registration ends October 1. There are many workshops, taught by authors, agents and others in the industry. I highly recommend “attending” this event. It’s great for any writer, no matter what the genre. http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com/.

An FYI -- A new website for The Muse went live earlier this month. If you registered prior to the new website going up, I suggest logging in to make sure your account was transferred to the new database. Glitches sometimes happen. I discovered that my account, which I created a few years ago, and my conference registration, had disappeared.You must have an account and register for the conference before the deadline, in order to attend. If you don't register, you won't get access to the conference. My advice is to double check your account and registration if you originally created that account and/or registered for the conference on the old site.

I’m looking forward to The Muse and NaNoWriMo and I hope to see you there!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.



PLANNING YOUR STORY: PART 1


PLANNING YOUR STORY: PART 1

You think you have an idea for a story or book. But it’s nebulous, fuzzy and feels just out of reach. You stare at the blank screen or paper, depending on how you plan or write. Nothing happens.
We’ve all been there.

As I contemplated Nanowrimo this year I sat inside those shoes. This was the third year I’d be working on the same story concept. Each attempt had evolved into a different story. But none were the right one. None had that spark. In fact, I couldn’t even finish any I’d started so far.

So I sought help. I read books and blogs and thought hard.

Then the story began to coalesce into a real plotline with protag and antag and all of the turning points and climax and and and. I got excited. Finally the story was writing itself, almost, but at least all of the necessary elements were there.

Now that I’ve finished my Nanowrimo with over 50,000 words by November 25th, and I’m into the climax of the story, I’m finally pleased and excited to begin editing and polishing. I finally think I got a good thing written that others will enjoy reading.

Isn’t that the reason we’re in this business?

So now you’re asking, “What did you ask yourself to attain such magnificence?”

I’ll give you some questions to ask yourself in the planning stages. These should guide your thinking and start the ball rolling. They did for me.

PREMISE-This gives you a clear idea of what the story is about:
·         What if?
·         What is expected?
·         What’s unexpected?

For me, it meant: What if Rayna didn’t have red hair? (the cause of all her problems); What if she wasn’t a twin? (another serious issue she faces) and so. What is expected? Rayna will hate the restrictions of living in the Gestortium. Her red hair will cause problems. What is unexpected? (this is harder to predict and I didn’t know until I started writing the story)

So what became the PREMISE for my story after all of my thinking? This:
Hidden away from society for her protection, Rayna is forced into her societally expected role under duress and endangered by the very reasons she was hidden while discovering the truth of her birth, who she is and what her future holds.


Next month, determining your BIG PLOT MOMENTS, aka turning or plot points.

Thanks to K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel

Rebecca Ryals Russell, a fourth-generation Floridian, was born in Gainesville, grew up in Ft Lauderdale then lived in Orlando and Jacksonville with her Irish husband and four children. Due to the sudden death of Rebecca's mother, they moved to Wellborn, near Lake City, to care for her father, moving into his Victorian home built in 1909. After teaching Middle Graders for fourteen years she retired and began writing the story idea which had been brewing for thirty years.  Within six months she wrote the first three books of each series, YA Seraphym Wars and MG Stardust Warriors. The world she created has generated numerous other story ideas including two current works in progress, SageBorn Chronicles based on various mythologies of the world and aimed at the lower Middle Grade reader and Saving Innocence, another MG series set on Dracwald and involving dragons and Majikals. She is finishing a YA Dystopian Romance which has been a NaNoWriMo project for three years. She loves reading YA Fantasy, Horror and Sci Fi as well as watching movies.  Read more about Rebecca and her WIPs as well as how to buy books in her various series at http://rryalsrussell.com  You may email her at vigorios7@gmail.com

Learning the Craft of Writing


I was contemplating my NaNoWriMo efforts of the past 3 years and what I have planned this year and it struck me that although I’ve ‘writing’ since childhood, have had things ‘published’ over the years and now make this a full-time endeavor, I still know so little about the craft of writing.


That’s really what writing is all about—learning the craft. And that is what takes so long—because you must practice and read other examples of good writing from which to role model.

I’ve been doing a lot of both lately. I’ve read several really awesome YA books, like The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (amazing writing)  and, of course, any of Cassandra Clare’s books. I’m currently rereading Divergent by Veronica Roth and Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke.

All of this reading slapped me in the face with how these authors handled many of the obvious mistakes my own work contains and why I haven’t been pleased with any of it. But recognizing this fact and fixing it are two different issues.
When I wrote Odessa and several of the others in my two early series, I just sat down and let the story pour out of me then said, “Done.” But as I reread these books I’m disappointed in myself for the lackluster writing and poor flow. Does that mean I could write it any better now? Maybe somewhat better, but not as well as I’d like, yet.

So I went shopping on Amazon and found several books on craft that have made a WORLD of difference in my thought process and organizing the ideas I had but couldn’t get together. These books were: Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland and Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

What does all of this have to do with NaNo? I spent last month plotting and planning, revising characters and plotline for the manuscript I’ve struggled with over for the past 3 NaNos. And I must say, I’m excited to get started writing. I like this plot and character much better and I think I may have nailed it. We’ll see by the end of the month.

I also decided to start over with a brand new manuscript, rather than trying to piece the old with the new like a worn-out quilt.

Here’s the premise for Sunshine Colony:2525

In the year 2525 the world has collapsed and rebuilt itself into linked, self-governed villages called Colonies. 13-year-old Rayna Darwin was born into Seaside Village, Sunshine Colony the usual way--for those times. But her circumstances were far from usual--a red-haired twin was the most taboo birth possible. Her twin sold to Slavers and birth mother exiled, Rayna was rescued and given away to be raised in the Underground Black Market by loving Barren parents who dyed her hair brown and hid her true identity. She played with other kids when their parents came to shop, fell in love with one of them and never knew danger. That is, until a woman so jealous of Rayna's mother's good fortune and loving life she could no longer control herself turned Rayna over to the Peacers. Taken away to live with the other 12-20 year old girls in the government-run population control center called the Gestortium, Rayna's life takes a turn for the dangerous when she is recognized by a sadistic previous playmate who is so jealous of Rayna's loving home and life she formulates a plan to kill her. After all, she's done it before...     
                           
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Since writing this posting I have begun writing and am about 7 chapters into the new story. I read the opening chapter to my college-aged son and his highschool girlfriend—both picky readers…They were impressed and wanted to know the rest of the story. SUCCESS! Now to keep up that level of tension.


Rebecca Ryals Russell, a fourth-generation Floridian, was born in Gainesville, grew up in Ft Lauderdale then lived in Orlando and Jacksonville with her Irish husband and four children. Due to the sudden death of Rebecca's mother, they moved to Wellborn, near Lake City, to care for her father, moving into his Victorian home built in 1909. After teaching Middle Graders for fourteen years she retired and began writing the story idea which had been brewing for thirty years.  Within six months she wrote the first three books of each series, YA Seraphym Wars and MG Stardust Warriors. The world she created has generated numerous other story ideas including two current works in progress, SageBorn Chronicles based on various mythologies of the world and aimed at the lower Middle Grade reader and Saving Innocence, another MG series set on Dracwald and involving dragons and Majikals. She is finishing a YA Dystopian Romance which has been a NaNoWriMo project for three years. She loves reading YA Fantasy, Horror and Sci Fi as well as watching movies.  Read more about Rebecca and her WIPs as well as how to buy books in her various series at http://rryalsrussell.com  You may email her at vigorios7@gmail.com

Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...