Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Making time to make NaNoWriMo your own

The Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1961

Today is my Saturday. That means I can eat sausage rolls, drink coffee, and get things done around the house. It also means that I have time to sit at my computer and get some writing done. (Obviously, I’m not doing it right now because I’m typing this blog post, but whatever.)

As usual for me with NaNoWriMo, I am otherwise engaged with a new job. That means working at a busy library, and a long commute to and from. No, there’s not a lot of time to do anything at home other than hang out with Steve, eat, watch TV, and pass out for the night.

However, I have found that the commute is handy for reading. I really like sitting on the bus with my Kindle for the better part of the journey, letting myself relax with a book first things in the morning. If I can find time to read, surely I can find some time to write.

I know right now that getting 1,667 words per day is going to be too high of a goal, but as I’ve found out the hard way, rushing to get a project done really isn’t always the best way to go about doing something.

So, I’ve made out another handy list of articles devoted to finding time to write. Even if you’re like me who just wants to get something down each day, you can do NaNoWriMo in a way that suits your current situation.

There’s always going to be the debate between plotters and pantsers too. Whatever works for you is fine. Personally, I do better by just writing out notes, then letting the story take shape on its own. Too much planning makes me feel stifled (sometimes, not always).

Bottom line is to enjoy the journey. We’ve all been through the same issues of finding time, or having so much time on our hands that we procrastinate. Just get what you can done because in the end all you have to really do is write.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Libraries, jobs, reading, and writing

Sign in the morning clouds.

I came back from our Florida holiday on 7 October. That night I applied for a rare public library job through an agency. Steve went to an interview locally that Thursday and while I waiting on him in the car, I got a call saying I was to start my library job on Monday. Friday Steve was offered the local job which he eventually took and has already been working at for a week.

We get to stay in Newcastle. Both of us are working. Hooray!

I have a bit of a commute, which works well for reading. So far I’ve been reading The Princess Diaries and Harry Potter because I really don’t want to tackle something heavy like Gone Girl at 7:30AM.

Since I’m not able to have sit down time to myself as much, the writing is going to be sporadic, but I will definitely treasure it more.

This means that, once again, NaNoWriMo is not something I’m going to have time to do. It’s always the way, so I’m not really that gutted about it. I’m working Saturdays as well, but this means my one weekday off gives me the much needed Zen-like state to be alone at my desk, or with my word processor at a Starbucks, getting some words down.

I have too many ideas, notes, and outlines to give up on my writing projects now.

It will leave for a much happier Christmas too, if I have cash of my own so – yay! Things are going well. The blog won’t be updated as often (unless I do short, on-the-go post but, honestly, isn’t that what Twitter is for)?

So with that, I wish you all a very Happy Halloween. Good luck on NaNoWriMo. Make us proud!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

An update for September

IMG_2754

There’s been a lot going on over here at Pick Manor, so I wanted to post a quick update about our crazy goings-on.

Yesterday was our 4th anniversary. This is the first time we’ve spent it at home, so it was nice to take a late night walk through Newcastle. We ate at El Torero for Spanish tapas. It’s been ages since we were there, so it was that much more pleasurable to have a nice dinner for a special event. We even drank a pitcher of sangria. Yum! All in all a very romantic evening to celebrate four years of wedded bliss.

In the spirit of our anniversary, our yearly Florida holiday starts tomorrow! We’ll be doing the regular holiday-type things for the last two weeks of September like visiting with my parents, celebrating my birthday, enjoying the beach (we want to get bikes this time!), hanging out at Disney, and doing the oh-so important American things like drinking Slurpees, driving on wide roads with a distinct lack of roundabouts, and buying DVDs at Target while sipping on a pumpkin spice latte.

I get to swim in a big, outdoor pool again. Hooray!

Jake has the cat/house sitter to keep him company while we’re gone. I always feel bad leaving him, and I do miss him when we’re in bed at the hotel without a fat ginger cat snuggling up between us. At least I know he’s well taken care of at home.

When we get back from holiday, we very well may be planning for a move. Steve was suddenly let go from his new job (after they told him over and over how he didn’t need to worry about his probation and it was perfectly fine.)  He’s applied for lots of jobs that are in other parts of England (not America or Canada yet) so we very well may be exploring the rest of the country for a new place to live.

If we are going to be moving, I’ll have to finish up three sections of my Teaching Assistant course in order to get a Support in Learning at Schools award for getting at least half way through the curriculum. It’s kind of a bummer, but I see this as a big opportunity for me to look for work somewhere else.

As Steve said, we’ve kind of exhausted our job prospects in the North East.

I stopped volunteering up at the Primary School too. I enjoyed working up there last term, but now that school’s started with new students and a new teacher, I was doing more physical work (cutting paper, putting stickers on workbooks, etc.) and no sitting down with a group and helping with assignments. Being on my feet like that was killing my back. We had no extra chairs in that classroom, and even when I’d try to go to the library to work, I’d be kicked out because a class was going to use it. Oh well, we are staying here in October, I can always look for another school to go to – one with a place to sit down.

With the writing – I’ve been submitting and getting rejections, but the rejections are much nicer lately, so that’s a good thing. I wrote a New Adult thriller that I’m trying to get represented.

In the meantime, I’ve started this book project that I fought with a lot last year around this time. I finally just started somewhere and got in a few NaNoWriMo-type sprints. Those 1700 word sprints are such an easy way for me to stay on track, no matter what the month or project. Anyway, I’m just going to run with the silly thing and aim for a higher word count.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on in September. In October, I’ll be working on homework, a possible move, and the new YA light fantasy book so I can aim to get 20k words in before starting NaNo in November.

Right now I have to finish my edits for my CP partner before I get my suitcase packed. I have to charge up my Kindles. I’ve acquired lots of contemporary New Adult romances, just to change it up a little. I love that a lot of them are set in Florida, like all of my books are.

Of course, I always have my Princess Diaries books to keep me entertained. I never get tired of those.

Holiday photos on Instagram will be showing up shortly! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A reading list from a child of the 80s and a teen of the 90s

My husband, Steve, is pretty smart. We had a conversation about my writing and what kind of projects I’d enjoy working on next. He asked, “Well, what kind of books did you want to read when you were a kid? Write one like that.”

It seems silly, but I never really put it into perspective that way. Of course in the 80s and 90s teen books were quite different than they are now. We didn’t need some super flashy action sequence or a hero’s quest in our books. We had nice, slice of life books that made you connect to the characters – at least that’s the kind of books I liked.

So here’s a small list of books that I remember enjoying.

Elementary School:

Middle School:

High School:

Bottom line: no fantasy. Yes, I liked some of the horror and mysteries, and as I was older the dark and emotional, but no dragons, wizards, elves, etc. I liked books that I could connect with, and books that dealt with “creatures” always felt weird and wrong to me. In fact, I remember being grossed out when we watched the cartoon version of The Hobbit, and they talked about the hair on their feet. And the dwarf peeing on the wall of in Labryinth? Grody to the max, man.

If you’d like to dig up your 80s and 90s teen book past, here’s a handy list of paperbacks to browse through. I know I recognize a lot of them from back then. Also, it just occurred to me – Where did we buy our books in the 80s anyway? Barnes and Noble wasn’t in our tiny Midwestern town, that’s for sure.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Moving on from writing rejection

Tyne Bridge getting ready for The Great North Run 2014

I was another writer who did not get chosen for a mentor during PitchWars. I had some great feedback that can really help me in my revisions and future books. It’s a subjective process and one contest shouldn’t make me feel down in the dumps about the work I’d done so far. After all, I entered the contest when my brain told me to not bother because no one would be interested anyway. Now that I know that I’ve not been chosen, I can just pick up where I left off and keep going.

You believing any of this? Nah, didn’t think so.

I was upset. I cried on the phone to my folks in Florida about how no one wanted my work. I didn’t want to do anything. I stayed in bed, I felt sorry for myself, I contemplated why I was writing what I was writing, who it was for, what it was for, and if I should just try something totally different. Seriously, the sadness wasn’t just from not being chosen so much as that it stopped my mojo from flowing. Since Wednesday, I have been so weepy and wallowing in my self pity because I didn’t know if I should keep working on this big series book project I wanted to do, or just set it aside and do something completely different.

I sort of still don’t know.

I know quitting is not an option because, seriously, how would I spend my time if it weren’t working on a book, or writing notes for another book project? (I have too many notes and plans for books to ignore them at this point anyway.)

But, I do think it’s perfectly okay to take a step back and reflect on what you’re doing. I know all the motivational quotes in the world about never giving up and how failure isn’t an option and how rejection is all part of the game. However, it’s hard to be positive all the time, especially when you’re just having a crummy week and the rejection letter sort of solidifies your belief that, yes, things just suck right now.

So, as a help to you and myself, I’ve comprised a little list of articles regarding rejection to help us all get through the painful process.

I hope that everyone who was rejected for PitchWars still participates in PitMad on Monday, Sept 9th. Personally, I’m just going to put some queries out to prove to myself that I’m moving on, getting back on the horse, not letting it get me down, and all that junk.

Here are a couple of resources for helping you write a good Twitter pitch:

And finally, here’s a motivational speech from Sly Stallone: