Posts Tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

It’s been a long time since I took up my figurative blogging pen, but, in my defense, it has been just as long since I have reserved a corner table at the local Starbucks. The two are directly tied together. Thanks to some generous birthday gifts and, with any luck, a more peaceable schedule, I hope to get back to both.

So grab your favorite hot drink and join me for a little catch up…
Where to start? Coffee. I still love coffee. And my niece. She’s full of smiles that warm my heart. Oh yeah. I had a birthday. The best birthday so far.

IMG_0310I went into work one average Monday morning to find a scavenger hunt had been laid out for me. I admit to being a bit thick at the time of day and slightly stuck in a mire that had quenched both creativity and intellect, so it took me far longer than it should have to understand what was coming. As it turned out, my parents had booked a midweek get-a-way to NYC for hot-tubbing, shopping, eating really good food, and–most importantly–The Piano Guys first concert at Carnegie Hall (which also turned out to be a live recording… so cool!). I had dreamed about going to the concert in that savory ‘I’ll-never-do-this-but-it-would-be-once-in-a-lifetime’ way, especially because TPG was flying in artists from all over the world in a special celebration. But that my parents pulled the trip off in the middle of our busy lives and a WORK WEEK… epic.

So the very next day we headed down to New York, where I promptly found that Marvel’s Avenger S.T.A.T.I.O.N. was stillIMG_0362
very much alive in the Discovery Museum just outside Time’s Square. Who could turn down becoming agents or trying on Iron Man’s armor in a virtual sim that allowed for flight and weapon’s testing? And, yes, we had Starbucks in the city on a less-crowded walk before proceeding to Carnegie Hall for what will become one of my favorite memories. Showing my dad–who is definitely not a city guy–the M&M’s store and petting a life-sized Sven at the Disney Store was the whipped cream on my hot chocolate.

The Piano Guys exceeded my expectations and the whole trip had the effect of restoring good spirits and creativity to my seriously depleted stores. The proof is in the pudding: the very next day I had a writing marathon of 13,000 words (to give you some context, the aggressive NaNoWriMo program gets people to write 50,000 in a month).


Flash forward to my actual birthday–one of cake and goofy faces and family–and I had all I could wish for. I could continue to go into great detail about the fun we had and the jokes we shared and the friend that took me to the movies that coming Friday, but I think I have probably used up enough words for the time being. 483 to be exact.

Thanks for joining me in a cup of joe and a good conversation. May your day be full of funny faces and joy. Your friendly neighborhood writer,

Jessie Mae

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For those of you a little more interesting in my personal musings than in my writing advice, I offer you a second post for the day. One that still touches on writing but focuses more on Your’s Truly.

I’m breaking ground on my novel–again. The writing of the Lure of Lemons has been a herky-jerky ride (note: Spell-Checker doesn’t think that herk-jerky is a word. Merriam-Webster would disagree. Feel free to click on the link for the definition and for proof that I don’t blatantly ignore all rules of grammar and spelling.). One minute, I’m tapping away at my keyboard with lightning speed, inserting glorious paragraph after glorious paragraph. The next, I’m at a dead halt for days or weeks. Then I’m up and running again. I will breathe a deep sigh of relief when I finally finish the draft. I feel as if I have been on one of the old, wooden roller coasters and have been jammed and pushed and whipped around until I am nauseous, dizzy, and covered in bruises. Okay. Maybe that’s a stretch. But not much of one.

64, 064 is my word count. It may not sound like much, if you know about writing novels or about the million people it took only one month to complete 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (again, click on the link if you want to know more). Of course, I did that challenge too, but had to scrap most of it and start over. Sometimes experiments fail. And the writing techniques I employed for NaNoWriMo left me wandering around in the dark once I was finished. But its not so much about the specific word count as it is about my process.

Given my experience with four novels (Issym, Asandra, Xsardis, and Mark of Orion), I know that my first draft should only be about 108,000 words, which puts me well past the halfway mark. And once I reach the last quarter of the book, I usually pick up speed–as if I am running downhill. So the good news is: I’m nearly to the home stretch. To quote Einstein as he rode a motorcycle in the adorable movie IQ, “Wahoo!”

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Did you know that family can be quite absorbing? I lost myself in them this week. From the Wednesday of pie making with my sisters to the Thursday of Thanksgiving and pie eating and super hero games to the Friday of Christmas Tree Hunting, this week went up there in my all time favorites list.


Our house was constantly brimming with people. Like on Monday when new friends came over in staggered doses through the day. And on Wednesday when my sister’s buddy from New York arrived by plane to spend the holiday with us.


Of course, the week would not have been complete without not one but two viewings of the new Disney epic: Frozen. You have heard the buzz by now. You do not need another person telling you to stop reading blogs and Facebook statuses and get to the theater, but–just to be on the safe side–I figure I should add my recommendation: go see Frozen. Not later on. Get up. Right now. And go to the theater.


It took some doing after all that family and fun to turn my focus back to writing. A several day break left me with just enough time to finish NaNoWriMo–which I did. But not before attending a book signing at Lamb’s Book & Bible for Mark of Orion. It was a good week. And now I am glad for a day of rest! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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I am at 41,073 words at only twenty-three days into the NaNoWriMo challenge. I am so close to the end that I can taste it. Of course, this is not a particularly high word count for a supposedly-full-time-writer, but considering the equal parts law firm, publishing, and writing life that I have I guess I am doing okay. Nor will 50,000 words be the end of my journey into the Lure of Lemons. No. It feels much more like the beginning. But I am nearly at the blissful end of the challenge.

There is something brilliant about having to challenge yourself to write everyday. Still, I think that perhaps my ability to see ahead and to write with actual talent may be suffering. So while NaNo was fun, I may opt out of the WriMo life next year. We will see. For this year, it was exactly the push I needed to get back into writing after months of editing. Maybe it will be useful again next year.

I am looking forward to the end. To find time to re-read and fix and sharpen what I have written. To gain new perspective on where I have been and where I am going. To enjoy storyboarding and to capture inspiration by reading again. Yes, I anticipate the end of 50,000 words. So why is it so hard to put the remaining 8,927 words on the figurative paper?

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See that little countdown on the side of my homepage? It says there are only six days to my book release. Six days! It was thrilling to hear from several people yesterday. With enthusiasm, they talked about the creative masks they will wear to the gala. I can’t wait to see the characters from my first series come to life

There is a lot to do for this gala. Taking a page from my book, my momager will be helping from out of state. Thursday, my grandmother had a stroke. She is okay, but my mom left this morning (after we had coffee at Dunkin Donuts as a send off) for home (aka Pennsylvania). I wish I could be going with her.

Instead, I stay home. I am feeling rather domestic. Grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, and cooking have already consumed most of the day. And now I sit on my couch trying to dredge up the creativity to work on NaNoWriMo. I am failing at that, by the way. It seems my head is in a fog.

Well, I will try to be faithful for a little longer. And if all else fails, there is always Netflix to distract me.

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I failed at initiating dialogue between my characters yesterday. But–strangely for me–I succeeded at beginning a developmental outline. I’m thinking I will put my focus there for one more day. NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow anyway. I will begin my effort to write three pages a day as I make my way to New York. My mom and Sister Kate will join me on a road trip to see Sister Julie (perhaps) one last time in the big city.

I can’t say my spirits are high for the trip. The reality that my sister is leaving the country brings tears to my eyes at all the most random times. Even though we will see her a few more times as she journeys home for my book release, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I’m afraid this will feel like goodbye.

Despite the bittersweet the first of the month will bring, I like November. Tall boots are completely in fashion. Warm coats are finally acceptable. Big movies start encouraging friends to hang out again. November also brings us dangerously close to Christmas. It allows us to celebrate Thanksgiving, search for holiday decorations on discount, and–gasp–listen to Christmas music. It is a wonderful month. It is good to be brought together as a family, to remember the goodness of God as we stare into the innocent eyes of nephews and remember the beauty of Christmases past and praise the King of kings for coming as an infant to save our souls.

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Hello friends! Despite the fireside and good music, I stare blankly at my computer screen. Since I am feeling completely uninspired, allow me to present you with the first of a series of posts on a topic entitled ‘101 Ways to Avoid Writing a Novel’:

1) Look up NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—coming November) and contemplate how you really shouldn’t start writing the new novel until November 1. (Note: I doubt that causing delay was the intention of this inspirational program.)

2) Check Facebook in the hopes of finding some inspiration or—to really appease your conscience—to market your written or unwritten novel.

3) Check your email.

4) Write out a Christmas list even though it is still October.

5) Calculate how many pages a day you would have to write to complete the NaNOWriMo challenge.

6) Re-read something you’ve written, gag at how bad it is, and check Facebook again.

7) Blog about time wasting strategies.

8) Watch old episodes of Columbo.

Now, as none of these time-wasting strategies have made me anymore creative, I’ve decided to revert to some old-fashioned, kid-like attempts to dredge up the passion to get started. Namely, I am going to initiate a dialogue between my characters until I forget that they’re imaginary. So, best of luck other writers out there—dodging papers and articles and novels and anything remotely resembling the craft we usually love. May we lose ourselves in the depths of creativity again soon.

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