Saturday, November 26, 2011

NaNoWriMo Fail....Maybe

Here it is, the 26th of November and I'm nearing the end of my third National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I went into this month excited and all ready to re-write my 2010 NaNo novel.  I was pumped.  I wanted to get through NaNo with a fresh draft, maybe edit it one more time soon after, and then send it out to beta readers.  Then, my goal was to edit and edit and edit some more during the next year, and to send it out to agents by the end of 2012.  It was a lovely, wonderful, sweet plan.

Then it all went to hell.

There were HUGE plot holes in my story.  Things that I couldn't get past.  Things that were integral to my plot - things that were integral to this story becoming two books, maybe even three.  Things that I MAYBE could have figured out as I wrote, but everything else that I wrote relied on me figuring those things out.  Also, there was absolutely no action in my story.  Well, one car wreck scene, but that was it.  The rest was people explaining things to others.  A lot of telling, instead of showing.  Yes, these are things that can be fixed in future edits, but it just wasn't working.  I was bored of my story (although I still like much of the idea), and I felt like nothing was happening.  Nothing was moving forward.

So I changed it.  I made it much more YA.  I made it more supernatural.  Then I decided to read a couple of published novels that were similar to mine.  I know, I know, people say not do to this.  We should steer clear of novels that might resemble what we are currently writing.  But I wanted to read them to make sure that my novel wasn't too much like them.  So with one, I was okay.  My story was different enough that I wasn't worried.  But then I read the other one, and it was like, yeesh.  That's almost exactly what I'm writing.

So I changed it again.  Now, mind you, I haven't been deleting anything, so my NaNo word count still includes what I wrote for the first two stories.  But with this one, I only wrote about 1,000 words and got bored.  Again.

I haven't written a single word on my NaNo novel (novels?) since the 17th.  I'm currently sitting at 14,540 words.  Which is less than I did my first year, where I got around 15,000 words.  Last year I won.  This year, I have to write over 7,000 words a day to reach the 50,000-word goal.  I'm thinking this isn't going to happen.  

For the past few days I've been really discouraged about my writing.  I pretty much decided that this story, this idea that I've been working on and changing and brainstorming about for the past year needs to be set aside.  Maybe someday I'll figure out what to do with it.  But for now, I figured I'd just start a whole new story, keeping my current word count, of course.  But I was at a loss as to what to write.  I looked on the NaNo forums, where they have this great Adoption Society, where you can "adopt" plots or characters or whatever.  But nothing struck my fancy.  I was out of inspiration.  So I got more discouraged.

But today, I read some posts by Maureen Johnson (she's the Agony Aunt this year of NaNo - kind of like a Dear Abby columnist) where she talks about just jumping into your novel, and where she helps writers who have lost that fun relationship with writing.  Maureen Johnson has helped me all throughout this month.  She seems to know exactly what questions to answer at the right time.  I think she might be psychic.  

I also hopped on my Twitter account (I don't do that very often - I only was compelled to go there today because I got an email that someone new was following me) and browsed some tweets by literary agent Holly Root.  She had one on there about an author she represents who wrote a post about her experience finding an agent.  

It's weird.  Things like this open my eyes and light a fire under me and make me wonder why I ever questioned my writing.  I've been writing ever since I can remember.  Before I could physically write myself, I would tell my mom little stories and she would type them up for me.  I have always been a writer.  And I have always wanted to someday be published.  

So what if that original NaNo idea never becomes anything publishable?  I love to write, and stories are always coming to me.  I just need to remember that I don't have to have the next huge hit idea, and that I don't have to even have to have an outline before I start writing.  Actually, it's better, for me, if I don't do too much planning, because otherwise I think that I have to have everything perfectly planned out before I can even begin.  This does not work.  I just need a little spark of an idea.  A character trait, a world, an image - something that will get me started.  And then I just need to let it go from there.

So I may not finish NaNo this year.  I may not get to put a shiny Winner badge on my next blog post.  But right now, after I finish this post, I'm going to go back to that Adoption Society forum and find something - some little glimmer, some quirk or scene or line or name or setting - SOMETHING to get the ball rolling.  I'm in the writing mood today.  And we'll see how far I can get when I have no plan, no plot, and no direction.  This actually will probably be fun.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Off the Shelf" Reading Challenge Complete!

This was the first reading challenge I've participated in, and thankfully, with a month to spare, I've completed it!

I took the Off the Shelf Challenge by Bookish Ardour, who is hosting several challenges next year as well, including the 2012 Off the Shelf Challenge.  Go here to check out those challenges!

So for this challenge, I chose to read 15 books that I owned that had just been sitting there, waiting to be read for months or even years.  I took the challenge quite seriously, and all of the books that I read for this challenge were purchased before 2011.  Which was hard, because I was given LOTS of books this year by a couple of friends who were cleaning up their shelves, and I bought quite a few as well - more than I normally would have because of Borders closing.  But I've read lots of other books this year, not just the 15 for this challenge.

And I prevailed!  Here is a complete list of the 15 books that I read for this challenge, with links to my reviews:

  1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  2. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
  7. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  8. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
  9. Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
  10. Night by Elie Wiesel
  11. Harry Potter Schoolbooks Box Set by J.K. Rowling
  12. Harry Potter:  Film Wizardry by Brian Sibley
  13. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  14. Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
  15. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Book One) by Rick Riordan
Now, a few of those books might seem like really easy reads.  And some of them really were.  But regardless of how long or short, easy or hard, these were all books that have been on my bookshelf for a while, and I've wanted to read them, but never did for one reason or another.  And now, I'm glad to say that I've read them!  Thanks, Bookish Ardour, for hosting a challenge that I really needed and enjoyed!

Next year I won't be participating in this challenge again, but I'll be doing a completely new challenge by my good friend Courtney from Abducted by Books!  She'll be hosting the 15,000 Page Challenge.  The goal is to read 15,000 pages in 2012, and she'll be giving away prizes for the person who reaches the goal by reading the least amount of books (like if someone reads 15 1,000-page books) and also to the person who reaches the goal by reading the most amount of books (like if someone reads 100 150-page books).  I'm going for the latter option, and I've already got tons of books picked out!  That prize is mine!  (Maybe.)

Book 15/15, "Off the Shelf" Challenge

Photo courtesy of
For my 15th and final book to read for this year's Off the Shelf Challenge, I read Book One of the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series:  The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan.

I had been wanting to read this series for a while, but never got around to it, although I had seen the movie adaptation of this novel.  I kind of wished I hadn't seen the movie first, because I knew some of the ending, and I am one of those people who does NOT like to be spoiled.  But I still enjoyed reading the book and I hope to read the rest soon - I'll definitely read the rest of the books before seeing the movies.

There were quite a few differences between the book and the movie (that I can remember), but I knew this going in, because a friend of mine, Tracy, as well as my husband, had read the book and told me about a few of the differences.  I liked the movie, but I enjoyed the book a lot more.  I think that's normally how it goes, though.

There were also a lot of similarities between this book and the Harry Potter series, and I am a total HP nerd.  But I wasn't irritated by the similarities.  I think it's just the nature of the stories.  Both involve quests, both involve boys who realize that they are part of a different world, and both boys are the keys to saving that new world, as well as the rest of the world, from destruction by a power-hungry bad guy.  So yes, there are quite a few similarities.  But these are two different, interesting, adventuresome series in their own right.  I LOVE the Harry Potter series with a passion, and I really enjoyed the first installment of Percy Jackson.  But, who knows?  I may grow to love this series, too, once I've read the other books.  However, I don't know that any book or series will ever surpass my love for Harry Potter.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book 14/15, "Off the Shelf" Challenge

Yea!  I'm almost done with my Off the Shelf Challenge!  Just one more to go!

Photo courtesy of
So for my second-to-last book for this challenge, I decided to go ahead and wrap up the Hitchhiker's Guide series by reading Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams.

I didn't like this book as much as some of the others in the series, but I still enjoyed it.  I really liked the bit that dealt with Elvis, and I liked the end, although I would assume that many fans might not like it so much.  I don't want to go into too much detail for those who haven't yet read the book, but I will say that this installment lacked the pep and humor that is abundant throughout the rest of the series.  Yes, there was humor, along with the seemingly random tangents that Mr. Adams loves to take, but I just didn't feel like there was as much humor in this one as the others.

I really enjoyed this series as a whole, although the first two books, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, were my favorites of the five.

On a side note, I finished reading Mostly Harmless mere minutes before a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook my whole house.  Now, mind you, I live in Oklahoma.  We don't get earthquakes very often here.  Well, at least not the kind you feel.  We got one about a year ago, but it was much smaller.  And apparently I missed one while I was asleep this morning, but it was also smaller.  No damage as far as I can tell, but it was still very unnerving!  And, if you've read Mostly Harmless, you'll understand that reading the last few pages and then being in an earthquake can really creep you out!