Monday, November 10, 2014

"What's Your Story About?" - A NaNoWriMo Update

Almost two years ago, I moved from my childhood home to my current residence in a town called Webster. I’ve always liked my new home’s name.
 
I mean, really. I’m a writer who lives in a town called Webster. Isn’t that awesome? (I’m currently trying to petition the need to change our motto to something like “find your definition” or “define yourself.”) What’s more, a neighboring town that I visit often has the tagline, “write your story.” It would seem I live in a writer’s paradise.
 
That’s what I’m attempting to do this month, during National Novel Writing Month.
 
I write a weekly column in the local newspaper where I am employed as a journalist and last week I wrote about and explained to my readers what NaNoWriMo is. On the few occasions I have been out of my house since then, people have stopped me to ask how my noveling is going – something that is very encouraging to me.
 
But then comes the question that causes me to cringe inwardly.
 
“What is your story about?”
 
My reply: “Uhhhh...words, and stuff?”
 
You see, because NaNo snuck up on me this year and I didn’t have much time to do my normal thing – outline – instead, I’m doing what WriMos call “pansting,” which is making up the story as you go along. While it’s true that the idea for this particular story has been roving around in my brain for several years, it involves a complex concept and storyline that I haven’t quite figured out yet.
 
Besides that, since my work is a tale of fiction – something my newspaper readers may not readily associate me with – I also usually don’t know how to reply or even begin telling them what my NaNo novel is about. I’m classifying it as a Young Adult Modern Fantasy Fiction. It’s not quite High Fantasy, but there are just enough elements of magic to distance itself from the realm of normal fiction.
 
Upon a brief and hurried attempt at an explanation to a well-meaning church lady who asked that question after services Sunday, she finally said, “Oh, so kind of a ‘Lord of the Rings’ kind of thing?”
 
Close enough, I thought.
 
I’m still working on that description for you guys. I’ll share it when I’m ready, but for now, I’m concentrating on word count alone.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

So It Begins!

It's here, the first day of NaNoWriMo 2014 - welcome to the madness!
 
If you're here at my blog, I'm going to assume that you already know what National Novel Writing Month is and that I need not explain it further to you. If you have never heard of this craziness that is writing a book - 50,000 words - in a single month, bless you. You probably got a full night's sleep last night and will sleep just fine tomorrow and the night after. At the very least, you will not find yourself at a single point this month sleep deprived due to worrying over the lack of words you have put to a page in the pursuit of telling a story on a deadline.


This year will be my third attempt at completing NaNoWriMo. My first year, in 2012, I won. My second year, last year, I was unable to complete the task.

The first year, I knew what story I had planned to write as far back as two months before the start. I spent that time before the first of November plotting, outlining and writing character sketches and background stories. I made plans and told family and friends that I was undertaking the task of writing a book in a month and did my best to catch up on my sleep before the strike of midnight on All Hallows Eve.

The second year, I did none of that. I barely knew what story I wanted to write and intended to make things up as I went along. I failed to make sacred my writing time and allowed other things to take precedence over the telling of tales and before I was half way through the month, I had basically given up.

I hated myself for that. I swore I'd never do that again.

I debated about not even attempting NaNo this year. But the lure of being a WriMo and connecting with the world-wide community was too much and I finally decided near the beginning of 30 days ago that I would do it this year. So I set out with an itinerary of items that HAD to be completed before I began. Each day, I checked those things off so I would find myself in a position of preparedness for the noveling marathon of the year.

October 30th I realized I had a problem though; I still didn't know what story I was going to write.

But that was then, and this is today! I discovered my story idea yesterday afternoon. It's a fictional tale of the struggle between good and evil that I've been mulling over for several years. The entire plot hasn't been figured out yet, but I'm excited to have lit upon this idea as this year's project. I haven't written the synopsis of the story yet, but as soon as I do, I'll post it under my "Works In Progress" page (which, yes, I realize severely needs updated right now - it's on my to-do list). All I know is I'm doing way more research for the first day of November than I should, but looking up Latin phrases is kind of fun...

So yeah. That's where November 1st finds me right now.

Also, on a side note, this is my 100th blog post. That's kind of cool.

Leave me a comment and connect with me on NaNoWriMo.org if you too are doing NaNo this year. You'll find me under my name.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 20 – Happy Birthday To Me

Today’s question: What is the one thing you are most fearful of doing?

Happy birthday to me! I’m a quarter of a century old today and had an amazingly blessed day. There are two flower shops in the small town I live in and I think I alone have kept them in business a bit longer today. I had three bouquets of flowers sent to me at the office – one from my parents, one from my aunt and uncle and one from a lady who just felt like giving me flowers because she thought I’d written a nice story about her in the paper.

All my birthday flowers (plus the just-because flowers). Oh, and chocolates. Someone got me chocolates too.

Yes, I know I am spoiled.

In response to today’s question, the one thing I’m most fearful of doing is not giving my best effort one hundred percent of the time.

While I’m really scared of spiders and creepy bugs, I can always find a shoe or some other object to squish them with and then carry on with my life. But failing at something because you didn’t try hard enough? That’s something that haunts you for the rest of your life, knowing you could have done better.

So what about you? What are you most fearful of? (Note: your birthday present to me could be answering today’s question in the comment section!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 19 – The Young Journalist

Today’s question: What is the highest award you’ve ever won or highest honor you’ve ever had conferred upon you?

The Young Journalist

The highest award I’ve ever received was back in 2009 at the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s annual convention when I was named the Outstanding Young Journalist for all weekly newspapers in the state.

This remains one of my proudest moments.

The Outstanding Young Journalist award is only awarded to two individuals each year, one for weekly newspaper journalists and another for daily papers. The recipient must be under the age of 30 and can only receive the award once in their lifetime.

I was 19 when nominated and had just turned 20 when they announced my name during the formal banquet to which it was my first time attending.

My mind was whirling a million miles a second as I looked around the room in complete shock. People were beginning to stand and applauded. A gentleman to my left heartily slapped my shoulder and a lady across the table leaned forward to say her congratulations. My editor was on my right, beaming, laughing with a huge smile on her face. When I continued to just sit there, she kind of pointed towards the stage and mouthed something like, “go!”

As I walked forward – it felt more like I was floating – random people reached out to shake my hand and those who I then barely knew were greeting me with smiles. I could barely get my brain wrapped around it all.