A Look Back at 2015

I would have preferred to post this before the end of the year, but the last few weeks have been rough for me. Still, it’s not too late to take a quick look at the writing-related highlights of 2015.

PitheaWith the help of 2 of my sisters, I finished draft 4 of “Pithea,” which was the most intensive revision the book should ever need. We met once a week on Skype to work through any issues, and the book definitely came out stronger on the other end. We even worked on general world questions, especially those related to the fantastical elements in the story world. It was also during these meetings that the book went from a working title (“Adventures in Pithea”) to its official one.

cover1I finished the first draft of a third novel this year, titled “Too Many Irons in the Fire.” It’s not one I expect to go forward with, but it was still a complete novel draft, so it’s an accomplishment to be proud of.

I participated in my 6th year of NaNoWriMo, and won with 100,383 words, passing the 50k word mark on the 12th. I wrote 25k on the first day, but I don’t think I’ll try that again. I went to my first write-ins this year and was even in an article in the local newspaper while attending one of them. It was during NaNo that I finished the aforementioned novel draft, and I also wrote most of a second novel.

I also want to share a few gifts I received for Christmas that are writing-related.

My husband went a little overboard, but it’s hard to complain about the amazing gifts he gave me. The first was a blank journal with the motto I made up last year engraved into the clasp.
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The second gift was a desk clock with pen, and he had my name engraved into the front of it. I teared up when I saw the engraving.
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My mom gave me a t-shirt that my sister had designed. The front has a bunch of characters, towns, and other important words from “Pithea.” It also includes things related to the previously mentioned editing group my sisters and I formed for a year to whip the book into shape. The back of the shirt contains various quotes from that editing group–things one of us said while on Skype, or even during an in-person meeting, that we found particularly funny and decided to make a note of. I cried a little when I opened this present too, especially when I looked at the back.058 062

This final gift is much less emotional than the previous ones, but one that I was really excited to get. My parents-in-law found this deck of cards, which contains all sorts of different writing prompts, in varying detail. It’s called Writer Emergency Pack, and it’s billed as a way to help get unstuck if you’re having trouble with your writing. I’d say it would work for any time you wanted a quick start to a short story or writing practice too though. There are some really thought-provoking cards in there, and while I haven’t sat down and written anything with it yet, when the final work on “Pithea” is done, I’m looking forward to cleansing my palate, if you will, with some writing practice before I move on to my next big project.
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Going forward from here, I have a lot of plans. With the final draft of “Pithea” finished, I’m working on a short synopsis to use for submission. The first draft of the synopsis is done, but I’m asking for opinions from others who’ve read the book, and going to go back over it again myself after a day or two, when I have fresh eyes. Though I have a publishing company in mind to start with, of course I’ll start looking elsewhere to submit the novel too. I don’t plan to look for an agent, and in the end, if I haven’t sold the manuscript by the end of the year, I’ll probably self-publish it.

I also want to finish a quick revision of “The Triangle,” a novelette-length story I wrote several years ago. It’s completely unrelated to the world of “Pithea,” is set in the real world, and is the tale of a man struggling to keep his family together when he feels life is moving too fast and he’s losing control. I have a start on a cover design, so after I finish this revision, I plan to self-publish it. Hopefully that will happen in the next few months.

Then I’ll turn my attention to “Pursuit of Power,” a novel that runs mostly parallel to “Pithea.” I wrote it during NaNo in 2014, but have barely touched it since. It will probably be another long project, which I anticipate taking at least a year to revise. There are a lot of notes for big changes I need to make, along with normal editing that it likely needs.

I have tentative plans to write every day, meaning actual writing. For the last few years, I’ve settled for doing any kind of writing work every day, which 95% of the time means revision. I miss the actual writing, though. I usually feel like I don’t have time to write unrelated, pointless pieces when I need to spend all of my free time revising. However, the truth is, because I dislike revising so much, I don’t spend all my free time revising. Most days that I have time to do any revising, I could easily spend 10-15 minutes writing 250-500 words of writing practice before I start revising.

So my plan is to do just that. I’ll set the goal at 250 words per day and see what that looks like. Most of the time, writing from a prompt or such, it ends where my idea ends anyway, whether that’s 200 words or 750 words. My daily revision goal will still be 20 minutes on top of that. I honestly don’t know how well I’ll keep up with this, and I won’t feel like I’ve failed if it drops off. But it’s a plan for now.

To all of my fellow writers out there–whatever, whenever, and however often you write–what were your highlights for this year? What are your proud or disappointed moments from this year? And what are your plans for the coming year?

December 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo is over, but I just have a few more things to say. This year was different than past NaNo experiences for me in multiple ways. It was full of a lot of highs and lows. My first write-ins, my first word crawls, a new writing buddy, and the 25k on day 1 all made this a November to remember. I also wrote a full novel and probably 2/3 of another, which was new for me. One thing I learned is that I’m better not pushing for a huge word count in a single day. If it happens, then I’m probably in the right mood for it, and great! Otherwise, I risk burning out, and I really did teeter on the edge of that during the rest of the first week.

I just have to say a huge thank you to my husband who gave me everything I needed this month–time and encouragement to work, but also a reminder that I don’t have to overachieve if it’s just not feeling right. Oh, and lots of fun and relaxation right when I needed it. And to my sister who came to the write-in with me, even though it was so far from where she lives. It was so much fun doing that, and we were even in the paper!

I keep saying that the community and mutual encouragement of the community is what makes NaNo so amazing, and it really is true! I felt a lot of that when I was having issues this month, from fellow bloggers, people in my region, and just from finding new ways to be inspired on the NaNo forums. I will always love this event and the people who are involved!

One last time for 2015, make sure to check out the final NaNoToons – 2015 December 1st
And since I apparently forgot to post any more episodes of the musical, here is episode 5. There’s one more after it, and I think it’s linked at the end of this one. I wanted to get to episode 5 specifically, because it contains my favorite out of all the songs.

Now onto the non-NaNo part of the post, today’s daily writing check-in:

Words/Time: 25 minutes organizing notes for “Pithea” in anticipation of the next (and probably last for a very long time) marathon meeting of the TCSTB. We’ve left a lot of things to work on later through the 100,000ish words of this novel, so I went through and found all of the issues, questions, or whatever, and made a list of what we needed to work on.

NaNoWriMo Day 30

The Words: 7999 written today. So though I had decided not to push for 100,000 words, once I started writing today, I really started feeling it again and just kept wanting to come back to it. Then I had to stop for a while for normal family life, and started to get antsy to get back to it. I crossed the 100k mark around 11:10 pm! And I finished the climax, and spent some time brainstorming what else should happen. And I think I have a decent idea for the rest of the story, whether I work on that after NaNo or leave it for a long time. The brainstorming being in text, and not just in my mind, will help a lot if I do put it aside for now.

One of the more important things for me, this year, was this:every day
I wanted to make sure that I wrote some words every day of the month, no matter how many or how few. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that during NaNo before.

This weekend my sisters and I are having what we hope will be one final, day-long editing session for “Pithea,” so no matter what I do with the novel I didn’t quite finish for NaNo, I have to work on getting ready for that this week.

For those of you who came to my blog during November, I will continue to post nearly every day. I make it a goal to write or revise a certain amount every day, which I don’t adhere to quite as strictly as I do NaNo, but it still keeps me from falling into huge lazy gaps. This blog was originally started as a place to keep myself accountable for that, and it continues to be such.

The Story: Missy and her husband happen upon Jonathan and his unanticipated nemesis squaring off. A sudden fight breaks out, and who is left on the other side, and how, is completely unexpected. Of course I can’t really say more due to spoilers, but it should be a neat twist! And in my revision someday, I’ll have to make the whole thing much more grand than it turned out.

I think I’ve straightened out my heroes and villains, and even know what’s going to eventually happen between the middle area I last left off at and the climax that I finished today.

Total word count: 100,383

day 30

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 30th And check back tomorrow, because there’s usually one more comic for Dec. 1st!

NaNoWriMo Day 29

The Words: 854 words written today. I realized this evening that I was only writing because I felt like I had to. I had set myself a goal for 100,000 words by the end of the month, and I felt like a failure if I couldn’t reach it. I’m still not thrilled about the idea of letting that goal go, and I may drive myself crazy tomorrow telling myself I should be writing. Maybe I’ll really push for it tomorrow, but I had to make the decision today that I’d only do that if I felt like it, not because I thought I had to. It’s an arbitrary goal, and I’ve already won NaNo whether I make that or not. But it’s been making me feel stressed because things have been more hectic than usual lately with special activities to do, holidays (though that was planned for in advance at least) and a sick kid. So I’m giving myself permission to fall short.

My main goal is to try to get the climax written completely, so I don’t leave that hanging at least (and yes, I jumped to the climax, though I wasn’t actually there in my writing yet).

The Story: Jonathan is confronting the person who is behind everything that’s been going on. He’s starting to realize how much this person has pulled strings for years now. He doesn’t know why yet. (I have no idea how Jonathan got out of jail, but I know he needs to.)

Total word count: 92,385

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 29th

NaNoWriMo Day 28

The Words: 2252 words written today. This was written a few hours after midnight, when my daughter finally went to sleep. I tried to salvage the night’s writing, especially since I knew I’d be busy today. We spent the afternoon decorating the tree, and then went to an escape room this evening. It was one my husband and I had done alone last weekend, but we got others from my family (Mom, Dad, 2 sisters, one sister’s boyfriend, and our own 13-year-old son) to go do the same room. Then the owner let us back into the control room to watch them solve the room! Then afterward, we went out to eat and sat and talked about the room for a while. It was so much fun! Not so good for the last few days of NaNo, but fun! And fun is nice right now.

I have two days left to try to reach my goal of 100,000 words. I will be frustrated if I come this close and fail, but of course it’s not a necessary goal. 4200 each of the next two days will get me there, but we’ll see how they go. My daughter’s still been holding a  low fever today, so she’s a little needy.

The Story: Missy and her husband have been discussing the situation with Jonathan further. Missy gave him a history lesson of how Jonathan and Lark met and fell in love, since he didn’t know all of them at that time. Still more fishing by me, and soon I’m going to have to move on. I may go ahead and dive into the climax tomorrow. I’m just not sure where the players will be at the start of the climax. But I might be able to make it vague enough. Maybe doing that will give me a better idea of where to go next further back in the story.

Total word count: 91,530

day 28

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 28th    This comic… this one is brilliant. However, if you haven’t been keeping up with them, you should maybe read this one first. This is the very spirit of what makes NaNo so amazing.

NaNoWriMo Day 27

The Words: 2009 words written today. I had planned to write a lot between 10 pm and 2 am. But it was not to be. My 5-year-old daughter started feeling unwell around 7 pm, and it escalated throughout the night. I got a couple of 15-minute sprints in before I had to just go lie on the bed with her watching cartoons. It was only ever a fever and headache, which were both mostly gone when she finally went to bed. So she’s okay for now, and we’ll see how she’s doing tomorrow.

Now I go on to get more words in for Saturday, since I have a somewhat busy day ahead, and I don’t actually know what my writing time will look like.

The Story: Continuing on with what I started yesterday, Jonathan has been sitting in his cell thinking through the entire situation. That has turned into some brief recaps of certain storylines from “Pithea.” This is what happens when I start pantsing and don’t know where I’m going.

Total word count: 89,278

day 27

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 27th

NaNoWriMo Day 26

The Words: 45 words written today (well…yesterday, actually, but I’m dating it the 26th because I’m particular enough that I want to see a blog post every day I wrote, not just when I had time to post about it). This is the lowest amount I’ve written all month, but Thanksgiving day (or whatever day my family gets together for Thanksgiving) always is. We always play board games into the night, and I never get home before midnight. Sometimes they’ll play a game that I’d rather not join in on (I often watch instead of play), so I’ll get out my notebook and write at the table while they play. That didn’t happen this time. So at about 11:30, I made sure to at least write something. This is the first year I’ve been so insistent on writing every day during November, even if it’s just 45 words. It might be because of these blog posts (I did this same thing last year, but had very little audience), or it might be because I want the badge for updating every day. Either way, I like that it pushes me to at least think about my writing a little bit on busy days.

The Story: I wrote a paragraph of Jonathan sitting in jail, going over things in his mind. In fact, I’ll just post it right here:
“Jonathan had a lot of time to think during his detainment. The biggest thing on his mind wasn’t the murder he’d been accused of or even the book that was so important to him and had been violated. His mind was constantly on his wife.”

Total word count: 87,269

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 26th (They’re about to start an epic word war!)

NaNoWriMo Day 25

The Words: 3455 words written today. I was distracted for the first hour of my writing time, and I had to really buckle down with sprints to get the words in before midnight. Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and I’ll be gone until probably after midnight. I’ll write in a notebook when I can, but I’ve made sure to have a lead pretty much for this very reason.

The Story: Missy went to talk to Jonathan’s wife Larxis about the things she’d said to the investigators. She mostly got told off by Lark, who said they were never friends, only pushed together because of their shared interest in Lark’s husband. Missy sort of caught Lark in a logic trap, which only angered Lark further, and then she promptly quit their War Games team. It wasn’t pretty. Larxis has a temper, that’s for sure.

Total word count: 87,224

day 25

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 25th

 

NaNoWriMo Day 24

The Words: 4976 words written today. I went to the last write-in at my local library tonight. It was a small turnout, but I did get my normal day’s word count done while I was there. Then I went ahead and did one 1k30min with the Twitter feed, and wrote 1600 words during that.

The Story: Jonathan has been detained for the murder of his apprentice. He and Missy are discussing some concerning issues, like what on earth is going on in general, and why Jonathan’s wife Larxis said that he has a temper and that she thinks Missy is in love with Jonathan. He just keeps telling her to trust the justice system, and not to worry over things she can’t control. He wants her to cooperate fully with the investigation, and he’s certain the truth will come out (whatever that even is). I never knew he was so level-headed and trusting. Even I’m starting to wonder if he’s having a mental break-down.

Total word count: 83,769

day 24

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 24th

And episode 4 of the NaNoMusical! Rick falls down, and there’s a sappy love song!

NaNoWriMo Day 23

The Words: 3984 words written today. I started doing word sprints with the Twitter feed around 10 pm, and didn’t look back. I’m really glad to be back into the writing again.

The Story: Jonathan filled Missy in when he was on his way to confront his apprentice, who wasn’t home. Missy, waiting for some sort of report, decided she couldn’t wait anymore, and went to the apprentice’s home too. There she found a dead apprentice and no Jonathan.

Total word count: 78,793

day 23

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 23rd

Week three is over and we have just one week left (and for Americans, it’s Thanksgiving week). How is everyone out there doing? Ready to finish strong? Limping to the end? Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP!