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For anyone else doing NaNo, you can tell it isn’t going super well. Weirdly, I seem to be a little behind on the 43,000 words I am supposed to be at . . .but for how many days I have skipped writing, this actually isn’t that awful. And, I know I should just be laughing at myself right now, but I”m still going to try. . .. I think. 😛

I have had a couple great writing nights. My friend, who is doing this with me, came up with an awesome game that combines Hallmark movies, wine, and writing. A drinking game, if you will, but without doing actual shots so we can still write. She came up with this very impressive list of items that dictate when you get to take a sip of your drink and write words. So, you start that Hallmark movie, and then you watch for the cliches. For instance, every time it snows, you take a sip and write 10 words. Every time someone has a deadline by Christmas, you take a sip and write 25 words. Every time someone goes Christmas tree shopping, you take a sip and write 50 words. Every time someone overhears part of a conversation and misinterprets it, you take as sip and write 100 words. Every time you spot a common overarching theme, such as pretend boy/girlfriends, you take a sip, set a timer and write for 10 minutes. You get the idea. Obviously those aren’t the only criteria. The guidelines are 2 pages long. But, I”m sure you will be shocked to hear that in the course of watching one Hallmark Christmas movie, we generally get a minimum of 1,000 words done. Maybe I should just do that from now until the end of the month . . .

Anyway, I”m mostly checking in here to let anyone struggling with the last pages of their novel know about this awesome way of getting word count in and to let those who are struggling to get past the first HALF of their novel know that they are not alone.

Good luck, NaNoers!

NaNoToons_2019_11_26

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I have gotten little done for NaNo, though I have every intention of catching up at some point. It’s always hard when you have visitors. I once again don’t like what’s happening in my story, but rather than rewrite it, I’ve decided  to make my character a little older and see if that helps fix it – without actually going back and changing the beginning, since the whole point of NaNo is to just write, and if i get caught up re-writing, I’ll never get done.

It’s a beautiful day today. In the 60s, and our first day playing Christmas music. Playing Christmas music, with windows open, while baking, seems rather odd, not going to lie. But also nice. I would positively be enjoying today, if I wasn’t dreading this week so much.

My company is doing an critical infrastructure exercise this week, which means longer hours, and a lot of work that I am not confident I can do well. For those of you who have been following me for awhile, you know that I did exercises for 4 years. So, what’s the big deal? Well, this is the first time I”ll actually be participating in the exercise rather than running it. I mean, our company is running most of it, but my team personally is mostly just participating, so I’m very unhappy about it. I’d rather be in control telling others what to do. Ha – does that sound like an Enneagram One, or what?

Anyway, I just finished making a cake for work tomorrow that did not rise and tastes funny, so Daniel and his mom went to the store to get a couple ingredients for me to try again. So I am taking a few minutes to sit on the porch with a light shawl, take turns writing this, and staring out into the beautiful weather and try to tamp down this feeling of dismay within me that is impacting what should be a great day.

Just to ramble a little more in my effort to figure this out. I think I am dreading this week, yes, but also we have not a single free weekend between now and New Year’s, and we are starting house-hunting next weekend, and I have three more trips (two personal, one business) between now and New Years, and we just found out our car needs like $3,000 worth of repairs (it’s worth $1500), so I am sure all that is also impacting my mood. I suppose it could also be a lack of introvert time.

I’m so glad I went on that cruise, though. Can you imagine if I’d gone directly from work trips and finishing school to regular workdays without a break that involved sunshine, water, and best friends? I’d probably be an emotional wreck instead of just internally frustrated at my calendar.

And now I’m going to stop using this like a journal and just say – good luck to all you Nano-ers! I hope you are further along than me!

NaNoToons_2019_11_11

 

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As you may already know from our Ingleside blog, my friend and I started NaNo off right this year – with a 3-day cruise! That’s right! And, while the first day we wrote all of 500 words, we more than made up for it the second day, and were well on track by the time we went back home.

Of course, then life interferes, and now I am behind again. The fact that my mother-in-law is currently visiting may be impacting that as well. I am at just under 9,000 words so far – which means I am, what, like 2600ish behind if I assume I write everything I need to today (big assumption?). Definitely could be worse!

For the record, I am attempting to write another sappy romance, and it isn’t going super well. I’ve already had to start over once because my brain is so determined these are going to be serious books, despite the setting being a cruise ship. Can someone please have a talk with my characters and tell them to get back in line?

But I am pressing through with my second attempt and seeing if I can restore it to a light-hearted tone (not going well) because I don’t want to start over again. I just need to remember the art of writing-without-thinking. Not an easy task. They should give out awards for that.

NaNoToons_2019_11_07

 

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Would you like to know WHY it has been over a month since I’ve written? Because I have literally spent half (possibly over half) of my nights away from home – mostly work trips, though a couple personal, and in between trying to catch up on schoolwork! However, class is now over (officially ended yesterday and I got my final assignment in about 10 minutes before it was due!), and I have three days – two now – before I leave again! So I thought I’d update you all on my book.

I did indeed finish editing it and submitted it. And about 17 days later, received a sweet and short “this story is not for us” email. Of course I was disappointed – I mean, who wouldn’t be? Despite technically being sure that they wouldn’t accept it, there is still that little tiny thought deep inside that persists in hoping that they will. And then of course there was the perfectionist part of me that was more ashamed than disappointed because I had submitted an inferior product.

I was a little afraid that if I got a rejection, I would give up on writing for awhile, think it wasn’t worth it, and go through lots of thoughts about my worthlessness. Much to my surprise, instead, pushing aside the shame for an inferior book, it just made me want to write more and better. And there was even a little tiny part of me that was relieved because now I have a chance to make the book deeper and better. And there is always the fact that after 24 years of wanting to be a writer, I finally submitted a book.

For now, then, my plan is write another sappy romance for NaNo, and Abby and I have agreed to try to accomplish a total of two books before the next NaNo. Following or in between, however, I intend to begin editing the book and then resubmitting it to actual agents. How’s that for positive steps forward instead of sulking?

P.S. The below cartoon is basically exactly what my rejection slip said too!

publisher-rejection-cartoon-2012-598x420.jpg

 

 

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Remember that sappy romance novel? Yeah, okay, so, two relevant points first:

  1. Apparently Hallmark makes books.
  2. Apparently for approximately one month only (until September 30) they are accepting unsolicited manuscripts.

You all know where this is going, don’t you? Yup. I found out about it around the end of August, and with the encouragement of my husband and best friend, am pursuing this opportunity. I technically officially finished editing the book on Sunday, and sent it to them for review, however, Hallmark has a minimum word count requirement of 75,000 and mine was at like 71,000. I got inspired last night and at like 5:30 AM this morning and wrote a couple more sections, so now I am at like 73,500, and am hoping my two faithful reviewers can tell me what parts seem to have gaps.

The GOAL is to get their edits next week, take the week to implement them, and then submit! In between this, of course, I have to come up with a synopsis, a query letter, write a paper for school, and keep up with readings and forum posts for school. But it’s possible, right? I’m a bit overwhelmed, but also kind of excited for reaching this new level of being a writer, even if it isn’t accepted.

Of course, in an attempt to write my first ever synopsis, I am following this article from Writer’s Digest that walks you through it, and according to them, the first thing you have to do is come up with one sentence that grabs attention and summarizes your book. I’ve written 23 so far, and have yet to find one I like. This does not bode well for the synopsis.

Also, I seem to be experiencing a level of bipolar. Times like yesterday and this morning, when I’m internally like, “I love this book! This is the best sappy romance ever! Look at this sappy sentence!” and then this afternoon when my heart sinks into my stomach and I’m like, “This is the worst book ever. No one would ever read this. I can’t even write a synopsis for it. Why I am trying.”

What a delightful cycle, and one, I suppose, I must get used to if I am to ever get published? Or really, just being a writer.

cycleofwoe

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I thought it might be time for a tiny little excerpt from my book. You know, just to change things up. This is while Josie is working from home Christmas week so she can working on a drawing commissioned by you-know-who.

It was a lovely, quiet existence that almost allowed Josie to forget she now lived in the city until a knock at the door that afternoon. Josie wiped her dough-sodden hands on her equally flour-covered apron as she hurried to answer it, casting a doleful look at the lump that was supposed to be cinnamon rolls. Her sorrows over the baking disaster were forgotten instantly as she pulled open the door and stared into the handsome face of Keith Richardson. Her mouth dropped open and she half wondered for a moment if she was hallucinating.

He smiled at her, politely not noticing the dough stuck on her nose. “Hello, Miss Grant.”

Nope, definitely not a mirage. That smile, smooth voice, and the responding thumping in her chest could not be faked. “Mr. – Mr. Richardson.” She stammered, trying in vain to push stray hairs back into her braid. “What are you doing here?”

“I was out this way for a client, passed a sign for Linhollow, and thought I might as well swing by and see how things were going.”

“It’s not ready yet.” Josie blurted, anxiety creasing her face. “But I’m working on it! I only took a break to make something for my mom, and – you know – to work – but I promise –“

“Whoa!” Keith held up a hand, almost laughing, but catching himself as he realized how in earnest her panic was. “I didn’t mean I was checking to see if you were working, Miss Grant. I seriously just wanted to see how it was going.” He dropped his hand to adjust the checkered scarf that the wind had already broken lose from its hold. “And, I confess, I was curious to see the farm the drawing will be based on.” He added as he looked around at the softly falling snow. “Though, now, that I think about it, I’m guessing winter isn’t the best time to see what a farm looks like?”

Josie actually managed a smile. “That depends on your point of view. Personally, I love it in the winter- but for a picture of summertime? No, probably not. You can still see some of the landscape, though.” She added quickly, as if afraid he would de-commission the painting based on her comment, motioning across the yard with just enough of a flourish that a stubborn piece of dough flew from her hand onto his Dolce and Gabbana coat. Her hand flew to her mouth and Keith looked down, ostensibly to wipe the dough off, but truthfully to school his features before he gave away the fact that her mouth was now also covered in flour.

 

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Okay, so, things that have happened since last I wrote:

  1. My computer broke
  2. Finished my final paper for my class
  3. Spent the weekend in Lancaster with my friend Ashley
  4. Bought a new computer!

In essence the last couple weeks of the month consisted of being stressed, trying to get my paper done, and getting a new computer. But, as partly a stress reliever, I have also discovered book giveaways!

First things first – Daniel and I decided with how much I use my computer, we couldn’t afford to skimp so we bought a nice one – I got the Microsoft Surface Pro, complete with a smart pen that lets me hand-write on it if I want, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! It is tiny and portable and has a detachable keyboard, and can be a tablet, and has a long battery life, and is super fast, and the keyboard is SO easy to type on and, well, I am sorry, old computer – but you have definitely been replaced. I thought it would be hard to get over my old computer, because I loved it so, but new computer (who has yet to be named – maybe Jeeves because it makes my life so easy?) is making the break-up a breeze.

And now that I’ve basically told you all to go buy new computers, let me tell you about these giveaways. So, it all started with my friend Rissa, and was enhanced by that writer’s conference I went to. Rissa told us all about how she enters goodreads giveaways as part of her morning routine (best routine EVER), and so of course we all had to start entering them too. I had entered goodreads giveaways off and on in the past but never kept up with it because, really, how likely is it that you, out of all the thousands entering, are going to be the one to win? Turns out, if you enter a lot, you have a fair chance, since Riss said she had won more than once and, since entering regularly, I even won one! So, start with that, and then add in the writer’s conference.

One of the speakers at the writer’s conference said that, as writers, we had to be on twitter and we had to follow publishers and authors so we could be in the loop with all-things-writing-and-publishing. So, I obeyed. It honestly had not occurred to me before – I thought of twitter as a political/friend thing, not a potential networking opp – but BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE (other than buy this computer). I see all the new books coming out, all the tips, all the contests and, what has turned out to be most helpful, SO MANY BOOK GIVEAWAYS! Now, in full disclosure, I am mostly following just Christian publishers and authors since that is my genre. But did you know there are blogs that host giveaways like, almost daily? Because I love you all, I am going to let you become competition, and post the sites/people below. For the record, I’ve won two books in the last month from these giveaways.

  1. https://justreadtours.com/
    • these people are pretty cool. They post stuff all the time on instagram, twitter, and their website, and their giveaways often come with other stuff along with a free book.
  2. https://www.prismbooktours.com/
    • Great interviews, and, like the previous one, often gives things away in addition to the free book (like gift cards).
  3. https://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/
    • This blogger/author hosts contests on her blog a lot! and because it requires a comment on the blog to entire most of the time, the competition isn’t as stiff as some other places. Plus she always has great descriptions of the book and author to go along with it! Both nonfiction and fiction books!
  4. https://www.instagram.com/suziewaltner/
    • This instagrammer lets you know about all the recent giveaways!

Beyond the giveaways though, seriously, make sure you are following publishers and editors and authors on twitter and instagram – it’s amazing to see how inspirational it is to see constant contact from the community you want to call your own!

Publisher to book writer holding up 'Get on Oprah' sign: 'So that's the extent of your marketing plan?'

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