Posted in books

2021 Reading Challenge

Last year I set a reading challenge for myself to read twenty-four books. That ended up being a wash, in part due to a string of DNF-worthy books that killed my reading mood early on in the year. The other part of that was because I left it a little too broad for myself, which lead me to looking at most of my books through loopholes.

I’m still aiming for twenty-four books this year, but I’ve restructured slightly, adding in monthly themes. In order to qualify as part of my reading challenge, a book needs to meet at least one of the monthly themes. Bonus points are of course, awarded for meeting two or more categories.

Plot: Based off my handy-dandy plot list, to qualify the book in question needs to have a main plot based on the one chosen for the month. I.e. in January my plot of choice is revenge. If the main plot doesn’t feature some of revenge or seeking revenge, it’s won’t qualify. Since I won’t always know what the plot is until I’ve read the book, back cover copy is key here.

Location: Travel is still off the table in real-life, but there’s no reason I can’t pick another location to read about. I’m trying to alternate between general locations like ‘beach’ or ‘woods’ and specifics like Berlin and Seoul.  The story must be predominantly set in the given location in order to qualify.

Word: If it has the word in the title, it qualifies. Variants are allowed but only if they’re a variant of the same word. Fire, for instance, counts under fired, but not under flame.

Image: I know the saying is that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but some covers are simply stunning! Hence, if the image on the cover matches the theme, it can still qualify for the challenge.

Although I’m only aiming for twenty-four books for the year, I went with four categories every month, both to give myself a little room and on the off-chance I get more than two books read.

January Themes

Plot: Revenge

Location: Woods

Word: Door

Image: Fire

What will you be reading in January?

Posted in Exercises, writing

NaNoWriMo Survival Tips

Whether you’ve done NaNoWriMo for years or you’re giving the madness a try for the first time, the challenge of writing fifty-thousand words in thirty days can seem a little daunting. If you’ve heard about it at all beforehand, you’ve might have heard about things like Plotober, meal plans and everything else to make a successful NaNo.

For writers, NaNoWriMo represents a real opportunity and a challenge, but the biggest benefit is getting words down. That being said, there’s a few survival tips that even veterans wrimos can use.

Plan. You don’t need a detailed plan, and you may not even need a story-related plan at all, but you do need a plan. This might just be a plan of when and where you’ll write. If you’re more comfortable with having a plan for the story, this counts too. Don’t get discouraged if you see or hear others talking about having their meals prepped or pages of outlines. What works for them may not work for you.

Be Flexible. In order to win at NaNo, you need to write 1,667 words a day. For some writers, it’s incredibly easy to reach that sixteen-hundred odd words. For others, you might be worried about making even half of that. One of the best ways to hit your goal aside from sitting down and writing is to be flexible. If you get the chance, go passed sixteen hundred odd word goal, or even set up a couple of days early in the month to frontload your word count so when you have a bad writing day, you’re not stressed out and struggling to catch up. If necessary, break that goal down into smaller chunks you can work on throughout the day. Three hundred words is a lot easier to handle at one time than sixteen hundred.

Try New Techniques. The goal is fifty-thousand words. That being said, there’s nothing to say that they have to be handwritten or typed. Try using dictation. Or, give writing sprints and word crawls a try! These can be fun ways to add to your word count. Swapping pages with a buddy can also help for accountability and is a nice way to help support other writers and inspire new ideas.

Remember to Breathe. It’s nice to think about how much you can do if you just write without pause, but realistically it’s the worst thing you can do for both your story and your health. Unless you’re a writing robot, you need to take a little bit of time to recharge. Remember to get up every so often and take five or ten minutes to stretch and get some water. Just as if you were working an eight-hour shift, take a break every couple of hours.

Don’t Stress! Scene not working? Goals not being met? Impossible-to-bridge plot holes? Ignore them. Don’t stress about what’s going wrong, instead focus on what’s going right: You’re making progress on a story. You can fix the problems later, what’s important right now is one word after the other.

Write. Above all else, the only way you’re going to survive NaNoWriMo is if you actually sit down and write. If necessary, block out and schedule time specifically to write.

What’s your favorite NaNo survival tip? Let me know in the comments below! If you want, you can also add me as a NaNoWriMo buddy under WrittenVixen.

Header image courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Posted in General

On NaNo Prep

If you’re feeling like November is breathing down your neck already, you’re not alone. There’s two weeks left before November first arrives, and with it, NaNoWriMo. That’s something I didn’t realize until sitting down to write this post. Time to complete any necessary NaNo Prep is running out.

Much as I like to write without a plan, it’s important to remember that NaNo is a marathon, not a print. Doing it without any sort of plan is possible, but not recommended. Doing it with zero preparation is absolutely inadvisable.

That leaves only a few options.

Option A, rush through and try to get outlines, character arcs and research done in two weeks. While doable, unloading a ton of energy into just preparing may not leave you enough energy to pour into the actual writing. Secondly, a rush job might leave holes later that need closing up, potentially dragging out the editing portion.

Option B is to hodgepodge things together. A vague outline or a couple of free writes might be enough. In the spirt of Rebel Wrimos, this is also a good place to decide once and for all that you’re going to do That project you keep putting off or finish This novel that you’ve been creeping through. It might mean you spend these last days making notes on what’s happened so far, and ideas of what’s coming up. It’s good for those who can flex well or have works-in-progress they want to put fifty-thousand words towards.

Option C is to dive into the story without a plan. That’s not necessarily an easy thing to do, and it will make your NaNo harder. It’s not something I’d recommend if this is a first attempt at NaNo. If however, you know your personal process well enough and if you’re already brimming with ideas, this is more than possible. It means rather than plotting or developing characters, your focus on the next two weeks is in filling your creative well with as many ideas as possible. Building playlists or creating mood boards is a good way to help with that for the hardcore pantsers.

Regardless of how detailed your plan is, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of work over the next thirty days. That includes making sure you have time dedicated to writing. If you haven’t told your family or friends about it, do it now! Today!

This is also a good time to clean out your space if you need to. Having a clean and fresh space to work from can help you focus on the task ahead, rather than getting distracted.

Finally, make sure you are taken care of. If that means setting up a reminder on your phone to get up and get some water, do so. Get a writing buddy that will also challenge you to stand up and stretch every thirty minutes or so.

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo? What’s your plan for November? Let me know in the comments!

 

Posted in Exercises, writing

The WiP Showoff Challenge

One of the hardest parts of being a writer sometimes is willingly sharing our work, especially when it’s not finished. We want it to be good and we want others to enjoy it as much as we enjoy writing it.

Which is why I’d like to invite all of you to follow me in a game. Open your current Work-in-Progress to join in. Then show off your work with the following challenges:

  1. Share the title and any previous working titles.
  2. First paragraph where your MC’s name appears.
  3. Favorite line from the first page.
  4. First line of dialogue from page eleven.
  5. Least favorite line from the most recently written page.
  6. Favorite line from or about your antagonist.

Ready? Go! You can find mine down below. Drop me a link if you take up the game, I’d love to see the highlights of your work in progress!

  1. Share the title and any previous working titles.
    • Rosekeeper. So far that’s the only title.
  2. First paragraph where your MC’s name appears.
    • The rattle of the old carriage as they moved forward grated on her already sensitive nerves. For the third or fourth time, Bella smoothed the front of her dress. She was starting to get tired of hauling her finest clothes out to arguments like this.
  3. Favorite line from the first page.
    1. “One revolutionary thought at a time,” Jims counseled.
  4. First line of dialogue from page eleven.
    • “I’m sorry,” Sola said.
  5. Least favorite line from the most recently written page.
    • “What’s stopping you from hiring them?” Sola asked.
  6. Favorite line from or about your antagonist.
    • There was a monster of the Rose Garden alright, but it turned out the only monster was the one who locked women in prisons and reneged on his agreements.
Posted in blogging, General

April Recap

I think it’s fair to say that April has been a month full of stress and worry. COVID-19 continues to be a very real threat.  I hope you all are safe at home. If you’re one of the essential workers helping to keep everything running: thank you. Thank you to the firefighters, the nurses, the doctors, the police and the sheriffs helping protect and combat this virus directly. Thank you to the delivery drivers, grocery clerks, farmworkers, and sanitation workers helping our families and first responders survive this crisis.

While COVID is affecting daily life heavily, there is still some progress to be noted about the month. Here at least, numbers have begun to plateau. Although it’s likely the situation won’t resolve for months at the least, the fact that there is some positive change is at least a sign that we can and will get a handle on the situation.

Moving onto other news, I’m really pleased with how my personal challenge went this month. I had quite a few rough days where I didn’t get much writing done. If you want a day-by-day breakdown, you can check out the 30 Day Shorts Part I,Part II, Part III and Part IV. Below you’ll find the last few days of the April Challenge.

I actually really enjoyed having a challenge and I wish I had another one to do. I might see about finding another, perhaps for July.

Day 26
Two more flash-pieces done, the first titled ‘Problem Solver’ and the second being ‘Bus Tickets’. I had more ideas but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to start on any of them.

Day 27
Worked on ideas from yesterday. Finished up the selection of pieces with ‘Recruiter’ and ‘Technomancer’. I’ve actually gotten caught up somehow and am sitting on twenty-seven pieces.

Day 28
One more short, this one titled ‘She Came Through’. Ended up using the Day 27 prompts on accident.

Day 29
Ended up scrambling to get laundry done and dried yesterday since my dryer has broken. Nothing short written.

Day 30
Last day of the challenge! I ended up not working on any short stories today, meaning I finished the month out with a total of twenty-eight shorts. All things considered, even though it technically means I didn’t succeed at the challenge, I’m happy with what I ended up with.

How was your April?