Camp NaNoWriMo

Off to Camp

So in further explanation from the brief mention of Camp NaNo in last week’s post, what exactly is Camp NaNo? It can be summed up in two words:

Fun Challenge!

Camp NaNoWriMo is a spinoff from November’s NaNoWriMo where participants from all over the world strive to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Camp NaNo is a bit looser. Where November’s goal is to write the first draft of a novel, Camp allows the participants to set their own goal in word count, page count, minutes or hours. The “campers” are also given a place to stay with like-minded campers in virtual cabins, making virtual s’mores over virtual campfires, but having real conversation. Cabin mates encourage one another, share their expertise and knowledge, and new writer friendships are developed.

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I’ve participated in November’s NaNoWriMo in the past (in fact, my first published book, The Inheritance, was born from my very first NaNoWriMo experience), I usually participate in the April Camp NaNo, but I never miss a July Camp. I dust off my lantern, prepare the month before by planning my project and reading what I can. When Camp starts I celebrate with a real s’more on day one (No virtual ones for this part) and at set intervals to celebrate accomplishments along the way.

This year I’ll be working on edits and revisions on book four in the Melanie Hogan Mystery Series, Shear Murder. Shear Madness, Shear Deception, and Shear Malice are available here and here. I’ve set my goal at 40 hours, I’ve printed my manuscript and placed it in a 3-ring binder, I’m re-reading the book Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell (one of the best books on editing I’ve ever found), and I’m ready to roll!

One last thing–Each of the Melanie Hogan Mysteries contains a recipe. Shear Madness, book one in the series, actually contains three! I’m searching for hotdish recipes for my new book. Unless you’re from Minnesota, you’re probably wondering what in the world hotdish is. It’s a casserole that typically contains a starch of some sort, meat, and canned or frozen vegetables with canned soup. Minnesotans can get pretty creative, let me tell ya, don’tcha know. Since the Melanie Hogan series is set in northern Minnesota, the chosen recipes are native to Minnesota (like hotdish) or those that were special to me as a child growing up. If you don’t have a hotdish recipe but want to participate, anything native to Minnesota will do. Nothing with Spam though, please. I’ve yet to see anything that makes Spam edible. Ugh!

I’ll be accepting submissions for the next couple of months, and the chosen recipe, along with the winner’s name, will be mentioned in the book. If you’re interested in participating, send your recipe via email to rjblackhurst0611@gmail.com.

And now it’s back off to Camp!

Campfire

 

Camping and Writing

It’s Sunday, April 1st, as I write this. I saw (or at least noticed) my first Robin today.

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Watched a squirrel busily building his home.

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And got all settled into my virtual cabin with my awesome cabin mates at Camp NaNo.

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It’s off to the races. Additional family plans have been added to my calendar at the last minute, and family always comes first, so my Camp NaNo goal has changed from 50,000 words to 40 hours.

If anyone is interested in Camp, it’s not too late to start. Unlike NaNoWriMo in November, you set your own goals for Camp which is in April and again in July. You can set words, hours, minutes, lines, or pages as your goal. It’s a perfect way to get that project out of your head and onto the page. If you want to try, go to Camp NaNo and sign up. If you decide April won’t work for you and you want to try July, let me know if you want to share a virtual cabin. When the time comes I’ll start a cabin and send you an invite.

And I’m off to camp! Hope to see you there.

Camping

Sandcastles

Building Sandcastles

When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I’m only shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.   Shannon Hale

I’ve been struggling with my writing lately. Justifying the time it takes as well as the lure of everything else “out there” that sucks me in. All it took was meeting with my writing bestie, Karen Whalen, today to turn that around.

Women often base their worth on how much they accomplish and how productive they are. Cleaning, cooking, taking care of family, working (for those of us who work outside the home), church obligations, laundry…the list goes on a mile long. And what about saying “no” to a request someone has of you? Gasp!

Sometimes when we get caught in the vicious cycle of doing, doing, doing, all we need is that someone to issue a gentle reminder that it’s okay to be. It’s okay to take some time to do what we love. To nurture the side of ourselves that brings joy. Writing is not wasted time, but treasured time. Not to mention extra income for some.

During our conversation today my passion was re-ignited, writing projects planned, and Camp NaNo next month is one of them. For those who aren’t familiar with Camp NaNo, it’s a spin-off of NaNoWriMo in November but much more flexible. While NaNoWriMo requires writing 50,000 words in a month, Camp NaNoWriMo allows the writer to set their own word count goal, hourly goal, or page goal. Also, where NaNoWriMo means working on a new piece of work, Camp NaNo allows you to choose to work on a novel, short stories, poetry, revisions, etc. It also includes virtual cabins so you can check in with your cabin mates each evening for support and encouragement.

I’m setting a word count goal of 50,000 and beginning a new novel, book two in the Whispering Pines series. If anyone wants to join in and share a cabin, let me know. We can share virtual s’mores, sit around a virtual campfire, and maybe tell a ghost story or two. Too busy? Even if you set your goal at 10,000 words or 10  hours over the course of the month, that’s 10,000 words or 10 hours you didn’t have before. That could be the beginning of your beautiful sandcastle.

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Write on!

 There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

 

 

 

 

Camp NaNo 2016

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Coming into the game late, I still made it! Because of sheer stubbornness, of course. I can’t stand to lose against myself. 🙂 I didn’t decide to participate until April 8th when I decided it would give me the extra encouragement and push I needed to get the revision done on my novel, Finding Abby. Now I have the momentum going to finish by the end of this month and get it to amazing editor Rachel Overton! 🙂

Write on!

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Summing up Publication

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I was walking with a co-worker the other day (one I don’t know well) and at one point the conversation went like this:

Her:  “Didn’t I read somewhere that you’re a published author?”

Me:    “Yes, I am.”

Her:   “How did you go about getting published? My sister-in-law wants to publish a YA book but she heard getting published is really hard.”

Me:     …Nothing. As in crickets.

This co-worker is absolutely the sweetest thing ever! So I tried, I really did, to come up with an answer to satisfy her curiosity, but I had nothin’.  My tongue was tied, but the thought that exploded in my brain was how different writers are from the non-writers of the world. We’re wired differently. Like really different from the non-writers in the world.

I wanted to say that if one is writing just to get published, she’s missing the best part of the journey. Getting to the destination of publication wouldn’t be nearly worth the trip if not for everything that comes before it. Even the rejections and bad reviews.

I wanted to say that wanting to be published and wanting to write are not synonymous with one another. Without the writing, the publication cannot happen. Start with writing, keep on writing, and never stop writing. Then, and only then, will publication even be a possibility.

I wanted to say that there isn’t only one way to get to publication, but for every writer on the planet there is yet another route to get there. If there were one tried and true method, everyone who set out to write a book would  be published.

I wanted to say that publication is where the real insecurities and headaches begin. It’s at that place where a writer is at their most vulnerable and raw state. It’s there where the sleepless nights and gnashing of teeth occur, our brains churning round and round like a squirrel in a cage because our baby is out there for all the world to criticize. And I for one am of the mind that people can say what they want about me, I’ll get over it, but please, oh please, don’t criticize my babies. That slices right through my mama’s heart.

I wanted to say that publication isn’t the be-all end-all. It’s a small part of the joy of writing. It’s a small piece of the whole. And a very small piece at that. But if one writes simply to be published, it’s pretty much a sure thing that the satisfaction will be less than,and shorter lived, than what was expected.

I wanted to simply  say, “Write. And never, ever, ever, no matter what, stop.”

Never give up

I wanted to say that there are so many steps that need to come before the publication that wondering how to get published before doing everything else is like planning for high school graduation day before you have your children. The goal of making sure your kids graduate from high school is a worthy one, but think of all you would miss out on if that were your sole focus.

What I did say, finally, when I was able to untangle the knots from my tongue, was:

“Our mile walk isn’t nearly long enough to give you an answer, but the first thing I would tell her is to join a writer’s group, in person or online. And take it from there.”

Paulo CoelhoLet’s talk. Have you had a non-writer ask you a writing question that reinforced how different writers are from non-writers? What was the question and how did you respond? What would have told the person in my case?

Oh! And don’t forget, NaNoWriMo starts in less than two days. Are you ready? Let me know if you want to be writing buddies during November.  🙂

 

NaNoWriMo 2015

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I’ve participated in, and loved, NaNoWriMo for the past three years. This year, however, I decided not to because I have two WIP’s I really want to focus on editing.

The problem?

I’m not getting it done. I had a writing schedule that I followed faithfully for a while, but that “while” didn’t last very long.

Here’s how it goes more often than not, or some variation of it:

I see it’s time to sit down to write. I really should throw a load of laundry in first. The dishwasher needs to be started. I need to make a quick phone call first. Ok, now I can write. Oh wait! I need a cup of coffee/can of root beer/square of chocolate–you get the idea–first. Whew! That’s done. Okay, now I can write. I sit down at my desk, or usually my floor desk because I love to write sitting on the floor. The door is closed, I’m ready to write until I hear a little scratch on the door–the dog wants in. The dog is in the room laying by my side. NOW I can begin. My phone rings. It’s one of my boys. I have to take this call. Family first. Checking to see if I’m going to be home because he’s stopping by for a visit. Are you kidding me??? I LOVE when my boys come by. That takes priority over everything. Or it might be my other son asking if I can watch my granddaughter. Again, are you kidding me??? I would move mountains to be able to spend time with my precious princess.

Again, family first. I need to get the toys out, especially the playdoh, watercolors, and sidewalk chalk because she’s a budding little artist, child-proof the house, and figure out what I will feed her for lunch/dinner, etc. I may even need to run to the store to get a special snack for her.

So! I’m finally able to sit down to write and remember the laundry needs to be folded, the bathrooms need to be cleaned, I need to make dinner for my husband and perhaps even have a conversation with him…

You get the picture.

While I decided to spend time on my WIP’s rather than create a new project, it wasn’t getting done. And all because of one little word–well, okay, two words. Procrastination and guilt. They’re best friends, in case you didn’t know that. Putting everything else first to make writing time perfect, and feeling guilt over taking time to write when I should be doing something “important.” Oh, yes, that “should” word is a writer’s enemy in case you haven’t figured that out yet.

So NaNoWriMo it is! The fun, support, fun, motivation, fun, and inspiration I get from being part of a tribe of writers, the positive energy that flows through the keyboard knowing I’m part of such a huge mutual goal…WOW! It’s the justification I need to sit my butt down and write. Seat. In. Chair. Or on the floor, in my case. Family still comes first, and it always will, but the rest of what threatens to take control of my time no longer does during November. And who knows? Maybe that will stay with me for a while, however long that “while” may be.

It’s not too late to decide to jump on the NaNoWriMo train. Just hop on over to the website here and create your novel. Ready, set, go! 🙂

 

 

Writing Communities

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For a writer, deciding to belong to a community of other writers will be one of the best choices you make. Writers understand other writers and the struggles we all go through like no one else can. It’s similar, I suppose, to any group of people with like interests.

Cops can understand each other’s black humor and often use it as a healing method, when the rest of society might think they’re crazy and a sandwich short of a picnic.

Alcoholics draw strength and support from one another that they can’t get from anyone else, hence the huge success of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Christians find peace, joy, and acceptance from brothers and sisters in Christ among other Christians, as they come to know there is strength in numbers.

Victims of crime find comfort in the presence of those who have gone through a like experience. Other human beings who understand the pain, the shame, the healing, and the rising from the ashes.

And on and on. You get the picture.

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For writers, the benefits of belonging to a community are endless. There are groups on Goodreads for just about everything writers experience; there are online critique groups as well as in-person critique groups; there are local writers groups as well as online writers groups, some with local chapters; there’s the blogging community to connect with those who have similar interests as you or to broaden your knowledge base; and let’s not forget the magazine community (think Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers, and The Writer.) And these are just a few of the groups out there.

It’s in these groups that you will get ideas on how to manuever through the publishing process, whether you’re aiming for traditional publishing or going the indie route; it’s in these groups that you will get ideas for and help with:

Marketing and Promotion – One of the most difficult aspect of being an author is how to market and promote your book after it’s published. It’s here an author learns that writing the piece was actually the easy part. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. Building from one another’s successes and learning from each other’s failures make the load a whole lot lighter to bear.

Formatting and Editing – For indie authors, formatting a manuscript for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or the old-fashioned paper format, can be a daunting task. Especially for those technologically challenged. Like yours truly. The knowledge from others in the group that are technologically savvy is priceless. And giving back in an area that is your strength is beyond satisfying.

Support and Encouragement – When a writer gets a bad review, isn’t selling any books, is having a serious case of self-doubt or writer’s block, who better to get support from than the very people who have gone through the same exact thing. Over. And over. And over.

Reviews and the Chance to Review – The truth of the matter is, as much as we would like them to, our books don’t sell themselves. Many readers depend on the sum of a book’s reviews to determine if they want to read it. Swapping reviews gives you a chance to get your book reviewed by someone who’s well-read and offers the chance to review another’s, which in turn only strengthens your own writing.

Critiques – What a better way to perfect your writing than by having other writer’s critique your work and having the opportunity to critique theirs. It’s a win-win.

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I have my blogging community where I share, learn, connect and make friends. I belong to local writer’s groups, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Northern Colorado Writers, where I learn by listening to other writers, taking classes and attending writer’s conferences. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, of which we’re starting a local chapter, and Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. I belong to several groups on Goodreads, and participate in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, both of which take writing communities to a whole new level. 🙂 It’s in these communities I find myself improving and growing as an author. And it’s in these places that takes the joy of writing and turns it into a thrilling adventure.

What groups/communities do you belong to? How has it benefitted your growth?