NaNo2017 – Day 10 – Still no sign of plot

Day 4: 2493

Day 5: 1809

Day 6: 2336

Day 7: 2280

Day 8: 2066

Day 9: 2164

Day 10 (so far): 659

It’s official. I do not like pantsing*.

I’m at 20,000 words of sludge that I’m pretty sure will get mostly thrown out during revision. I’ve done a lot of world building in those 20,000 words, but there’s a decided lack of plot and all my characters are getting along so well.

Where’s the conflict, people!?!?

I’m trying to do some rapid fire plotting in between writing sessions, because I’m quickly running out of plan. I really could have used 2 extra months to build this story before writing it…

I do have some idea of the overarching plot that will drive a 3 book series, which is kind of what I want this to eventually be. Threes are proving pivotal to this world I’ve developed. But I’ll need to do a lot more plotting to figure that out as well. I’ve built myself a 2 day word buffer, but I’d rather have that in store in case I have a day or two where I’m struggling in Redwall Survivor.

Enough procrastinating. Back to the fray!

*Pantsing – a term that means doing something without a plan. Derived from the saying “fly by the seat of your pants”.


Day 3 – NaNo 2017

Day 2:  1725

Day 3: 2870

Total written: 6278

Finally feel like I had a productive day. I got a couple of good writing sessions in this morning, including some sprints with #NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. I love word sprints to encourage me to stuff the Inner Editor deep in a box and just write as fast as I can. It’s a challenging game to me and I love it. My favorites are the #1K30min sprints, which means you have to try to write 1000 words in 30 minutes. It’s a pretty intense challenge, but it’s a great way to beef up the word count.

Take today for instance. I did a few word sprints in the late morning while my twins were watching a movie. I hit about 1700 words and was intending on calling it quits for the day, when they announced next sprint was the #1K30min. Well, since I hadn’t done one of those yet (and I knew there was at least half an hour of movie left for my girls), I decided to jump on board. I think I got 1,130-ish in that half hour.

Overall, a good day!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Day 1

Day 1 Word Count: 1683

I have a world.

I have a magic system.

I’ve got the skeleton of an economics systems.

I’ve got my list of special resources that tie in with the magic.

I have a map.

When the clock ticked over from October 31 to November 1, I had one scene idea and 3 unnamed characters.


I’m doing this completely backwards of how I normally do it!

Even so, I sat down yesterday morning and started to set up my Scrivener document. It couldn’t figure out how to get one of the windows I wanted open and in my desperate clicking around (while crying, “I should be writing!!!”), I accidentally opened a window I didn’t know how to close, then found out it was incredibly useful, so it got to stay open. I used the name generator in Scrivener to come up with a list of names to jump start things, and started writing that one scene I had in mind.

I’m 2600 words in now and still writing that scene.


I don’t usually get that sort of distance out of my scenes. My average seems to be around 1000 to 1500, so I’m pretty pleased with 2600, even though I’m really pantsing it at this point of the story. It think I’ve got a few info dumps in there that will need to be pulled out later, but since I’m so clueless about this story I’m writing, they’re helpful to me for now. Plus, I’ve had a few other scenes come to mind while writing, so I’ve added them to note cards in Scrivener.

Downside to having no plan yesterday and having to spend some time finding names and getting things set up is that I didn’t make my personal goal of 2000 words. I got just above the 1667 word recommendation, but I did make it. This is the first NaNo where I haven’t written over 2000 on Day 1.

Well, it can’t be helped. I do need a buffer, because I’ve still got Redwall Survivor going on as well. I’ve got a draft for a post written for the next round, but I hate it at the moment, so I’ll need some serious revision time before it goes up. 😛 Let the November juggling act commence!

Who else is a part of the literary madness this month? Anyone have any advice for doing NaNo as well as another project?

Celebrating Perseverance in the Writing Community

Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on!


Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication. We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.

But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!

Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past?

If so, we want to hear about it! Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell us about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, join this event by writing a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.


We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!).

Happy writing!

Angela & Becca






Rag Dolls and Glass Balls

My Muse threw a rag doll at me.

Figuratively of course, but my mind can be a funny place sometimes.

There’s been a lot going on over the last few weeks. I’ve really been stretched to my breaking point more often than I’m comfortable with.

I’ve been feeling like the emotional equivalent of a kicked puppy, cowering in a corner.

And it killed my creativity.

I like using the term “Muse” to describe the creative right side of my brain that I have all sorts of fun with. I think any writer out there knows that creative side can take on something of a life of it’s own when you really get in the thick of things. Usually my Muse and I get along pretty well.

But it turns out that high levels of stress chase her about as far away as she could possibly go. Not good when members of the Survivor cast ask me what’s I have planned for the next round…

In a desperate attempt to lure the Muse back, I pulled out my copy of Holly Lisle’s Create A World Clinic. I sat down to do the first little exercise, hoping to generate a few ideas for NaNoWriMo. Last time I did the exercise, I got inspiration for Crafting the Badger’s Head, so my track record here is good.

My Muse opened a door, threw Laura Ingalls’ rag doll at me, then stuck out it’s tongue, blew a raspberry, and slammed the door again.

Somehow, I’m supposed to turn the rag doll into a story?

Actually, I’ve got a couple ideas already.

I did a couple other exercises in the book and got some more interesting elements. A glass ball like a marble, yet, bigger. A canyon of many colors, and a swatch of dark black, thick fur.

Even stranger was an emotion that came with the glass ball. I had a very vivid memory of a visit with my grandmother a year or so ago. She sat on the floor with my girls and she was showing my oldest some marbles. She mentioned the names of some marbles and I got a very strange vision at the time of my grandmother as a school-aged girl, sitting around with her young friends and piles of glassy marbles between them.

Thinking of my grandma being a girl some 80 years ago was a weird sad/happy nostalgic emotion.

Not sure how it’ll fit in to this story that I’m going to do for NaNoWriMo, yet, but at least I have an idea.

Now, time to caffeinated the Muse, who crept back in sometime during the night, bringing an offering of dialogue for the next Redwall Survivor chapter.

The Smell of Paper and Ink

Some of my earliest memories are of being surrounded by paper, ink, and loud noisy printing presses.

I guess you could say that my love of the written word was started very young.

My uncle and my dad owned a print shop for as long as I could remember. It was in a little building on Bozeman’s Main Street when I was no older than my twins, then it moved about a quarter of a block into a bigger building at some point. Still on Main. The front doors looked out onto one of the busiest intersections.

I spent countless evenings in that building, playing among the paper and ink while my mom did Tupperware parties and my dad worked late finishing up printing jobs. That was what my dad did. He ran the presses, the folder, the cutter, and any number of the big dangerous machinery that made up a printing shop in the 80s, 90s and beyond. He let me help push the button on the big giant camera that made the plates for his press. Under very close supervision, I was allowed to help push buttons on the cutter. I stood, mesmerized as the press ran clackity clack, the little suction cups grabbing paper and feeding it through roller after roller until the printed pages came out the other end.

I grew up with an unlimited supply of paper at my fingertips. I knew how to run the copy machines. Paper boxes were turned into all sorts of constructions during those long evenings. When I got older, many weekends were spent with my sisters and cousins, going around and around the big center table in the back, collating booklets for various businesses.

My dad helped me design personalized notepads for my friends for Christmas and printed them out every year. Anytime I needed a manuscript printed out, or copies of pictures, or anything, the ‘shop’ was the place to go.


A couple weeks ago, my dad and uncle announced that they were retiring and had sold the business. In a blink, a cornerstone of my childhood drifted away to memory. I won’t be dropping in to say “Hi” to my dad with the girls in tow. I won’t be grabbing a handful of free scratch paper from the bin by the door. No more sneaking from Anne’s candy stash behind the counter.

And it hit me this afternoon – one of the things that I loved at the shop was the wall above my dad’s desk in the press room. His wall was covered with photos. It had started with just the school pictures from each year, grades labeled by one of my sisters, plus a few others. Over the years, it grew. Christmas pictures. Ballet pictures. New baby pictures. Old family photos that my dad made fresh copies of for someone else in the family. Every so often, a new picture was added. It spilled over from the wall over the desk to the wall on the left, too.

My daughter brought home the school picture envelope for me to fill out. And I suddenly realized that I won’t be giving one to my dad for his ‘wall at the shop’ this year. He’ll get one for home, but there was something dearly precious to me about that press room wall and I don’t think I realized it until today.

I’m happy for my dad and uncle. But I’m a little sad, too. I’ll miss the shop and the smell of the paper and ink and the memories that were there.

Put the Panic on a Slow Simmer…

So, I realized that NaNoWriMo is just a little more than a month away. Usually, I spend the month of October planning for my NaNo novel, except I’m still in Redwall Survivor and it would appear that the contest is going to spill into November.

So, um, my previous experiences with writing two different projects at the same time has not gone well… My brain has a hard time focusing on either project if I’m running more than one at a time.

So now I have to figure out if I’m going to do NaNoWriMo or not.

And what if I decided not to do NaNo, and then I end up voted out of the contest right before NaNo, and suddenly have the time but no plan!?

The horror!

To make matters worse, my Muse has been in Bermuda or something for the last month, and she and I haven’t been on very good speaking terms for most of the year anyway. Which means I have no ideas for NaNo. Don’t have many for my next post in Survivor, too, which is also making things interesting in that department.

October is going to be a very interesting month…