Tag Archives: projects

The Year of Wordsmithing

            Success depends on more than just acknowledging a goal with a glass of champagne in one’s hand at 11:59 p.m. on December 31st.  Resolutions—shed some pounds, kick the cigarettes, drink less caffeine, avoid speeding tickets, go 365 days without being arrested, etc.—are easily made and even easier to cast aside.  One can’t just spit out a resolution; one must also have the ambition and obsession to achieve.

            Let’s define these:


            Resolution:  the act determining upon an action or course of action, often made at the beginning of a new year and abandoned two weeks later.

            Ambition:  an earnest desire for achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment, an element often missing from New Year’s resolutions.

            Obsession:  the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea or desire, the presence of which elevates resolution to ambition and gives one a chance at success.


            Okay, I might have tweaked those definitions but they’re still solid.  2014 is probably not the year I’m going to give up nicotine or caffeine, although I do plan on maintaining my “never been arrested” status and keeping a sharper eye out for radar-running cops than I did during 2013.  I do, however, have plans for myself.

            Not resolutions.  Plans.  Ambition + obsession > resolutions.

            All word-based.  Words require attention, sometimes hyper focus.  Words are beautiful, the love of my life, but they don’t come easily.  One must keep ambition foremost and feed the obsession that leads to success.

            So here are my writing, reading, and word-focused goals for 2014…


1. Read 80 Books.
            GoodReads promotes a yearly reading challenge, where members set their own “I’m going to read [#] of books in 2014” goals.  Setting the bar too high would be doomed to failure—I have the real life, adult world responsibilities like everybody else.  But setting the bar too low would be shameful because books are awesome and I have a massive stack of unread books waiting their turn.  So in 2014 I will read 80 books.


2a. Complete My Work-in-Progress.
            I began writing The O’Shaughnessy Reputation:  Put on Your War Paint as part of National Novel Writing Month.  I finished about half by the end of November and have kept putting fingers to keyboard since then (occasionally for frustrated keyboard-mashing).  When I wrote the first part in this series (You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid), I started in 2011 and didn’t finish until early 2013, and I won’t allow that to happen again:  I will finish this WIP at all costs.


2b. Complete an Edit of My Soon-to-be-Finished WIP.
            I will not only finish this novel, I will do at least a first pass, rough edit on it before November 1st.  I can’t start Kiss the Ring, part three of this series, for NaNoWriMo ‘14 until the events in part two have been smoothed into something resembling a coherent story.


Speaking of NaNoWriMo…

3.  Participate in National Novel Writing Months, including Original Flavor NaNoWriMo (November) and both Camp NaNoWriMo sessions (April & July).
            Providing concrete goals, a fast-approaching deadline, an active community of writers, and a nifty progress graph, NaNoWriMo has been one of the best things to ever happen to my writing life.  It’s a kick in the ass, a kick so hard I’ll put said ass in a chair to avoid the hit.  And half of writing is, after all, simply sitting your ass down to do it.


4.  Begin Work on Charm of the Pavement.
            The idea for this novel has been haunting me, bouncing around in my head for at least six months but doing little more than mocking my attempts to wrangle it into a coherent story.  No more avoiding the pen, you brat; the time has come. 


5.  Increase My Writer Circle
            The most successful writers seem to be those with a solid, expansive community of writers they consider friends.  The interaction acts like an injection of word-adrenaline, promoting creativity and keeping a writer focused.  I know several writers, a couple of whom are quite serious about it, and I’m determined to welcome more into my life.  Because writers are awesome…and other writers are the only ones who share my special brand of ‘not quite right’.


I have my pen.

I have my vices—coffee, booze, cigarettes.

I have my ‘Write Drunk, Edit Sober’ mug.

I’m ready.  Let’s fucking do this.





NaNoWriMo Chronicles: Week Two

Week Two, widely known as the most difficult stretch:  the adrenaline high has worn off, initial bursts of inspiration are spent, and nagging little story issues are making themselves known, like that rattling noise in your car that you can hear quite clearly but can never quite pinpoint where it’s coming from.  This week sees a sharp decline in numbers as participants drop out and word counts lag even as the quota increases; there is a corresponding rise in hair pulling and caffeine consumption.  Things start getting weird right about now as story arcs do very un-arc-like things such as make sharp turns and characters do things like wander off without so much as a ‘by your leave’, chapters start popping up between other chapters where they don’t belong in the outline, and your brain goes a bit squiggly every time you think about 50,000 and how it seems forever and ever away, all the words away.  Yeah.  It’s like that.

A dear friend and fellow WriMo has hit upon an approach that works for him:  the boxed wine and words and more boxed wine system.  It shames me to admit that I lack his hardy constitution and, having no wish to dance on my own table in an inebriated manner (although anyone else’s table is a-okay), I’ve been simply plodding along, puttering and poking at the keyboard and mumbling to myself, occasionally cursing in a way to make sailors blush.  Allow me to present unto you, my dear friends, week two:


I do my research like a good little girl, only to twist it, warp it, and cover it in dirt for story purposes. Facts: I use them to make shit up.


Beware the Writer’s New Groove.


One of Jesse O’Shaughnessy’s Rules to Live By.


Edit reminders: because no one gets it right on the first try, not even someone as awesome as me.


Real life interferes and makes story time difficult. My god awful memory doesn’t help much, either. (But seriously: YAY! No cavities!)


One incident of ‘nearly forgetting the laptop on the way to the write-in’, a free food extravaganza distraction, and a strange, seconds-long interaction with a bum. An interesting evening, all in all.


Unfortunately, some days you really are just too sad (for no apparent reason) to write. Even more unfortunate is when those days happen during NaNoWriMo, when ass in chair writing words every day is the only way to make the Graph of Progress happy.


A little story snippet, because it frames Jesse’s state of mind quite well. (Of note: he was enraged that I had the nerve to shoot him. I pointed out that another character whom he happened to be trying to kill at that time was actually the one to shoot him, but my logic stood no chance against his anger. What a wuss.)


An actual bit of dialogue from the book. Jesse’s vocabulary is not for the faint of heart, easily offended, or those of delicate sensibilities.


Jesse’s line of work lands him in the ER quite a bit, and Polly is the nurse/administrator who oversees his many, many trips. Both are stubborn, both are caustic, and both are now engaged in a decade-long battle of wills. (This is one battle where Jesse’s chances of victory aren’t good.)

And lo, the end of Week Two!  I’m still in the game, word count is exactly where it should be, and although all might not be going amazingly, things are at least going.  Up and running, even.  *goes back to scribbling*

A Side Project, Because NaNoWriMo Isn’t Already Hard Enough

There’s a chill in the air, the leaves have fallen, the smell of exhaust hangs heavy in the morning as people warm their cars to defrost the windows, the unwanted pumpkins have begun to rot in front of the stores, and one can hear the first murmurings of family plans for Thanksgiving.  Here in Indiana we’ve seen our first snowfall.  And God bless it, the Halloween candy has gone on sale, price cuts just in time to stock up.

Yep, it’s definitely the season of NaNoWriMo.

Two days until the start of National Novel Writing Month, a glorious anticipatory period when one is excited to begin, pens at the ready, and has somehow managed to forget the insanity—the painful, hair-pulling, head-banging insanity—brought by the ensuing 30 days.  On the official forums, there are already write-ins scheduled here and there and everywhere, gatherings of like-minded writer folk who huddle in cafes, bookstores, bars, restaurants, and any nooks and crannies they can find in order to type away while maintaining some semblance of a social life.  Right now we all have fresh faces, bright eyes, and wide smiles; our clothes are neat and our hair is brushed.

Check back in two weeks; all that will have changed.  Oh sure, we may still be congregating in public, packs of wild-eyed writers, but we’ll look haunted, not rosy.  Our smiles will have given way to grimaces.  Clothes?  Think pajamas.  And you’ll seriously doubt we’ve ever even heard of hairbrushes, let alone own one.

But that time hasn’t come yet.  No, now is the time of exhilaration when we delight in being writers, when we’re stimulated by the challenge we’re about to undertake.  Some of us have notes and outlines and a plan; others have nothing more than a keyboard and a vague idea and the seat of their pants.  No matter how a participant approaches NaNoWriMo, they all come with the same thrill.

50,000 words in 30 days.  It’s insanity.  Foolish.  Crazypants.  And yet here we are.

I have my story.  Characters, outline, handwritten notes, the whole works.  I’m ready.  I’m eager.

…and I’m doing it a little bit differently this year.

Yes, I’m going full throttle for the usual goals:  write that damn novel (or at least 50,000 words of it) during the month of November.  But I’ve also decided to add an extra element, a little side project, that is in no way necessary and just might prove to be my undoing, the feather that adds just enough weight to send everything crashing down.

Or it will be awesome.  Too early to say.

What’s this addition, you ask?  (Or you don’t ask.  But that’s never stopped me from telling people anyway.)  A log of the experience.  I’ve decided that throughout the month, concurrent with writing my novel and losing my damn mind, I’m going to chronicle the event from my perspective, a record likely to be a mash of anything and everything even remotely NaNo-related:  notes to myself, jubilant scribbling in moments of triumph, despaired scrawling in times of darkness, general thoughts on the process and my fellow Wrimos, word count, state of mind, etc.

I suspect this endeavor will do little more than chronicle a downward spiral into madness, beginning nice and neat, full of promise, and gradually devolving into incoherent, illegible pen marks.  If I manage to keep up with it throughout, if I succeed not only at the NaNoWriMo challenge but also my self-imposed task, then this could be epic.

Or it could crash and burn.  Again, it’s too early to say.

Why this side project, you ask?  (I’m pretending you’re asking.)  Here’s the thing:  I have a bright, shiny new notebook just waiting to be filled.

Every NaNoWriMo session, I try to order at least one thing from the online store and toss in a small donation on top of it, because I very much believe in supporting a good cause that encourages people to get creative.  I wish something like this, on this scale, had been around when I was in high school and just finding my footing as a writer, and because NaNoWriMo is so beneficial to me now—I’ve finished a handful of projects, some good, some salvageable, and some so awful we do not speak of them—I want to give back.

So as this year’s good deed, I donated and ordered an obscenely expensive notebook with the NaNoWriMo typewriter graphic on the front.  (Seriously folks, $14 for a damn notebook, no matter how nifty, is seriously pushing the bounds of good sense and my generosity.)  And now that it has arrived, what to do with it?

Document how NaNo stole my soul, of course!  I’ve even pulled out the highlighters and colored Sharpies for this one.  At the very least, this little venture will prove amusing (to me, if not to everyone else).  If all works out, I’ll be posting the occasional scanned pages here, just to document my ink-stained journey.

Two days until NaNoWriMo officially starts.  One and a half days until I’m at the local NaNoWriMo kick-off party, a NaNoWeen extravaganza to celebrate both the holiday and the first step towards writing madness.  After that it’s 30 days until I (hopefully) stumble across the finish line.

Is anyone willing to be waiting there with a large glass of red wine and a couple carpal tunnel braces?  I’m going to need them.

Bragging Rights

Having finally compiled a list of my major writing projects, I’ve posted it to the Writing Projects page.  In the future I won’t post updates like these here in the blog, but this first time, just because I’m a little in love with seeing all my hard work laid out so nicely, I’m giving the list its own post.  (And no, this is certainly not a comprehensive list of everything I’ve ever written and/or completed.  These are my babies, my pride and joy, the stories that have potential and that I proudly claim as mine.)


Just a list of my writing projects:  completed, in progress, and in planning.  I feel good seeing a list of my accomplishments alongside fresh goals, a visual representation of all those hours, days, weeks, months, and years that I’ve spent wrestling with words.

And yeah, I’ll admit this is also about the bragging rights.  None of these works are published, but they’re mine.  They’re proof that I committed myself and succeeded.  My passion produced results.

Haven Series (Urban Fantasy)


                        The O’Shaughnessy Reputation (Trilogy)

                                                1)  You’re Gonna Go Far, KidCompleted—In Edits

                                                2)  Put on Your War PaintIn Progress

                                                3)  Kiss the RingPlanning Stage

Donovan Boys (Mainstream)


                        Boy, You’re Not Quite Right—Completed—Pending Edits

                                                or, The Donovan Boys’ Epic Tale


                        Don’t Touch the Pumpkin Pie or I Will End You—Completed

                                                or, A Donovan Family Holiday as Narrated by Bailey

                        Casey Runs Like Hell—Awaiting Completion

                                                or, The Youngest Leaves Home and Breaks Ma’s Heart


                        Frankie Continues the Donovan Reign—Completed

                                                or, Frankie’s High School Orientation

                        Sean Becomes a Dad, Learns About Karma the Hard Way—Awaiting Completion

                                                or, Mama Donovan Finally Gets a Baby Girl in the Family

Stand Alone Works


                        The Story of How They Met (Mainstream)—Completed—Pending Edits

                                                A Pre-Love Story

                        Charm of the Pavement (Urban Fantasy)—In Planning

                                                or, The Avenging Angel Will Not Come Wearing a Halo

                        The Merry Tale of the Christmas Wench (Mainstream)—Completed—Retired

                                                or, The Jolly Walk of Shame

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