Skye Falling

Skye Falling

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Make 2015 your bitch; a pep talk

New Year’s Eve.

A brand new year, fresh from the package, smelling like a new car, is just around the corner. The possibilities are endless. Your future might be so bright you gotta wear shades, like the song goes, or might be so dim that the cheap flashlight you picked up in the clearance bin at the hardware store barely cuts through the murk. (Tip: buy a better flashlight)

So as we kick 2014 to the curb and ring in 2015 whether it be with champagne and streamers or a cup of tea and a good book, let's take a moment to remember the good stuff that happened and the good stuff that will happen.

New Year’s Eve isn’t about regrets and sadness. Hell no. Life is full of that, I know, but not on New Year's Eve. That's New Year's Day, hungover and vomiting, picking glitter from hair, moaning, then vomiting some more. 

No, The Eve is about the breathless promise of what COULD happen. 2015 could be the year that ____________ (fill in your own blank, I’m not a freaking mind reader here).

But. Of course there’s a but. But the secret is that it takes work. Yeah, I know, sucks right? Sitting back pressing the remote doesn’t get your manuscript edited, will not get books read or miles run or weight lost or a new car bought or whatever you put in that blank. You can't just sit back and let 2015 happen to you.

Instead, let’s grab it by the balls and shake it, rattle it, oh what the heck I’ll finish it, roll it, screaming THIS IS WHAT I WANT AND THIS IS HOW I PLAN TO GET IT.



Thank you. Now go out there and have a fantastic New Year's Eve and also begin scheming how to make 2015 your bitch.

Oh, I’ve got plans for you 2015. Watch out. *grabs at it and 2015 runs away shrieking*

Happy New Year's everyone. Stay safe.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

But I don't wanna...

Ugh. Endless days of gray. Horrible shootings on television. Bad moods because everyone around you seems Christmas-happy, the worst kind of happy. 

All of it adding up to a giant, maybe even petulant, whine of I don’t wanna
Pay bills
Christmas shop
Go to parties


Writing is hard. The willpower is ours alone. The work is, too. No one else can make us sit down and bang out 1000 words of beautiful, or really crappy, prose.  The easier path would be to turn on the television and watch judge shows. Yes, I DVR Judge Judy, so sue me. Her meanness appeals to me.

So despite knowing if we hear just one more Christmas song we may or may not stab someone in the eye, despite the gloomy days and long, long nights, despite the horrible news on TV writers must write the funny/happy/sad/ thrilling/introspective/sexy scenes even if all we want to do is lie unshowered on the couch.

(Yeah, it’s gross but it happens. Get over it prissy baby).

We have to fake it 'til we make it. And it works. Not always but often enough to push through. When a bad mood makes coming up with witty banter impossible I like to alliterate swear words to use elsewhere (foamy five-fingered frog f*cker) but I'm a cusser.  Whatever you need to do get the brain lined up where you need it. You do you, writers.

What I DON’T do in the throes of I don’t wanna is permanently cut scenes. I’ll tuck them into a file I named brilliantly "cut scenes" so when my willpower comes back and creativity is sparking again I can read over those cut scenes, sometimes finding a tiny gem, even if it’s just a line or two. Now if I allowed my bad mood to send those passages into the digital dump I’d never feel that flash of “holy cow this is pretty good. I don’t totally suck at this!” Writers need these flashes. We're a needy bunch.

Writers are lucky. It’s the best and worst job in the world. We have absolute power in what happens in our stories. Hate your happy ending? Kill someone, make the reader sob. Hey, it works for John Green. Sick of editing your manuscript? *raises hand* Start something else, like, I don't know, a blog post.

Oh, you don"t wanna? TOO FREAKING BAD JUST DO IT.
Next time you find yourself lying on the couch in your own filth, covered in corn chips, whining I don’t wanna just poke me and I’ll send you my warm, inspiring message.

Whoops. Hold on, is it... yes "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" just came on. Excuse me. *grabs pen*


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winding down from #NaNoWriMo, or 30 days of hell

NaNoWriMo is nearly over.

Hooray if you’ve already won or are soooo close you can taste it! If you are only at 30,000 words right now Ohmygodhurryyouarealmostoutoftimebutyoucandoit! If you are at 10,000, um, well, can't sneeze at 10K, it’s a good start and you are now 10,000 words closer to the end of your novel!

It’s not for everyone, this panic-filled mad rush to 50K. Would you do it again?

I’m unsure at this point. I cracked the magical 50K finish line a little bit ahead of schedule. Hey, who threw that?! I didn’t say it was GOOD. 

There. That's the crux of my issue with NaNoWriMo. What I wrote wasn't good. I don’t think I am especially OCD about my writing - a little, maybe - but I want what I write to be great. Isn't that the point? 

I started out with a general outline. I knew how the story would end, had prepared some scene ideas and character back stories all before November 1stIn case it's not clear, I am a planner, NOT a pantser, a seat of her pants writer.

At around 20,000 I started fizzling out but found my groove by shocking myself and pantsing it all over the effing place (and that sounds way dirtier than it should), ending up with some decent scenes including a biker gang fight that came out of NOWHERE. Then I threw her in jail at 33K. By 39K the fizzle beat the crap out of sizzle. Coffee, junk food, more coffee, lots of staring at the computer screen, lots of dramatic sighs and face palming.

Maybe it happened earlier or later for others. I tried checking #NaNoWriMo and #amwriting for ideas, did a couple word sprints but the sizzle, the fire, the drive, was gone. I got it back at around 45,000 after writing some pretty shitty words (I'm being kind here) by coming up with a better motivating back-story for my main character. But still, those shitty words taunted me, “fix me, I’m terrible” they say. "You're gonna leave me hanging like this all flat and awful?  There's a typo RIGHT NEXT TO ME."

I pushed on. I’m so glad I did. The first half is way better than the second half where my goal became word count not story, meeting the deadline instead of fleshing out the characters. The crazy deadline that is NaNoWriMo leaves no time to select the perfect word or come up with the perfect sentence. You have to put down good-enough-for-now words and eh-f*ck-it-I'll-change-it-later sentences and I found that surprisingly difficult.
BUT, here's the important part, hence the caps, NaNo taught me to follow the characters as they flipped me the bird and marched right off my outline and that the story is (mostly) better for it. Words can be changed, sentences and paragraphs can be improved later.

Today, as I write this, the sky is a canvas of gorgeous deep orange and pink. I hadn’t noticed sunsets all month because…Nano (also November which is typically very gray here in the Midwest). The very day I cracked that magical threshold at 50,716, the heavy pressure eased. Is my novel finished? HAHAHAHAHA. 


But the bones of a pretty good story are there, in JUST 30 DAYS. So maybe, possibly, next November I will go through this again. Until then, I’ll be revising, rewriting, and occasionally watching a beautiful sunset.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

BOOM - First week in the can #NaNoWriMo

Holy crap, the first week of NaNo is in the can.

And I’m still writing.

I'm so not a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal. I WANT to be a pantser but I'm not. I planned, I researched, I outlined, I read, I attended the prep sessions in my region.

By the 30th after changing the idea THREE times I was ready to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

No. That's a big, fat lie. I was scared, giddy, WTF-ing all over the place. But determined.

As a first-timer taking on this challenge it find it has freed me. As I said I’m not a pantser. Honestly, I can't see how this ridiculous deadline can be done by true-blue pantsers but I’ve read that it’s been done. *Cough* bullshit *cough*

I’ve got ideas on where I’m headed, I know how my story should end, but how I get there is surprising me. That’s sort of pantsing, right?

The act of creating the story where ANYTHING can happen has been joyous. For Pete’s sake I massacred a bunch of people in a ballroom and KILLED THE MAYOR OF CHICAGO! (jk, I love ya, Rahm, you mad, bro?)

It’s fiction.

BOOM! That’s the power of Nano. I get it now.

Did you write your MC into a literal corner and are now spending hours staring at the computer trying to figure it out? BOOM have the floor open up or the building explode or the MC flying through the window.

You can't figure out what your MC would do next? BOOM have him/her do the least expected thing possible. MC is honest, upright citizen? Suddenly he runs down grandma in the street. You get the picture.

NaNoWriMo has freed my inner monster (in a good way, mostly, I think)

I’m at just under 20,000 words as of last night.  To be honest I thought I’d be biting my nails, racking my brain, swearing, maybe even crying when I’m stuck after the first week. I'm sure that will happen but then I get to tell myself BOOM anything can happen.

I’m not sure what’s coming up the pike to bite my characters in the ass in Week Two but I’ll figure it out.

BOOM giant lake monster actually bites my character in the ass. Hmmm.


Saturday, November 1, 2014


November  1st - IT’S NANO TIME

Before I get into opining on #NANOWRIMO I should point out that for a long time I was a medical transcriptionist, working out of my house. Yeah, it was awesome.  In medical transcription we use lots of short hand in Word, like sob automatically spits out shortness of breath, MI is myocardial infarction, tpi is The patient is. You get the idea. 

It strikes me today, writing the headline, that nov is nausea or vomiting. Yeah, funny right? Because November 1st, the start of NaNoWriMo, probably elicits some that nov in participants, especially first-timers like myself.

I changed my story idea three times.  THREE! First it was a YA Urban Fantasy.  I had character back stories, scene ideas, plot ideas, research. Then I switched to a contemporary YA about a troubled teen who tries to solve her mother’s murder. More character back stories, scene ideas, plots, not so much research.

Then some of the panic and nausea (sans vomiting, thank goodness) set in;
1 - I’ve never written YA. What am I thinking?
2 - I’ve never written first person POV. What the hell am I thinking?
3 - I’ve never written a novel in 30 days. WTF am I thinking?!?

A day after that I switched back to Urban Fantasy and made it an adult,  tightened the plot, adultified (all right, I made that word up but it FITS, doesn't it?)the characters, etc. And that’s the novel I’m sticking to, swear. Thankfully, I can use the research already done for Idea #1.

So for me, chucking one-third of my panic and nausea – the YA part – calmed me enough to trick myself into thinking maybe okay possibly I could do this. Could I squeeze any more qualifiers in that sentence? I think not.

What also helps in the support of my Twitter buds encouraging me, my new friends on the regional Nano website competing on word counts, the funny writers at @Nanowrimo making me laugh, and the support of my friends and family.


*batman voice* (Bale, not West – I mean, come on, people, Bale clearly has the best batman voice of all the Batmans)  “Day one. Done.”

My word count currently sits at 3602, so I've met my 2000 word goal and then some. I’m going back tonight to wring out some more words.

Now that it’s begun I’m excited but not nauseated. Nervous but not vomiting (again, thank goodness because…gross).  Day one is nearly over and I’m feeling pretty confident.

I’ve read the blogs, attended the local prep sessions at the library, learned a lot.  I plan on attending a write-in tomorrow with some of the people from my local Nano group (they’re a fun group, many who have participated in Nano for years, some wins, some incompletes, a portion of us are first-timers)  Everyone’s warned me about the week two drag and I’m ready for that, too, by banking some words in week one.

I’m ready.
*batman voice* “Bring it, Nano. Day Two.”
*chugs Pepto*