NaNoWriMo Day #13

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, Day 13! Ooh, Day 13. . . Sounds a bit creepy, doesn't it? It's the weekend. Weekends are meant for rest and fun. So, as you're writing, keep this in mind:
I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like child stringing beads in kindergarten, - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another. ~ Brenda Ueland
May all of us feel like a content kindergartner as we write today's 1667 (or more!) words.

Your random challenge word of the day is: backwards Does your protagonist get carsick if she rides backwards on a train? Does she feel like her life is moving backwards? Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you’re doing! And if you’ve managed to use any challenge words in a sentence, please share! Happy Noveling! :-)

An Interview With Lani Diane Rich

~ Interview By Melina Kantor It's an absolute honor to have Lani Diane Rich (aka Lucy March) as a guest today! In addition to being the author of a bunch of fabulous chick lit and contemporary romance novels, she's a born teacher. Through her podcasts, online classes, and blog, she's been a mentor and an inspiration to countless writers. Until the day I heard Lani talk about NaNoWriMo on an episode of Will Write for Wine, it hadn't ever occurred to me that I'd write a novel. That was in 2007. Now, in 2010, I have  just started my fourth novel. I couldn't be more grateful. Today, Lani's here to share some of her insights on chick lit, NaNoWriMo, and being a writer: Welcome Lani! You were the first previously unpublished author to have a NaNoWriMo book published, right? What a claim to fame! What made you decide to participate in NaNoWriMo?
Yes, I am, and I'm so proud of it. Not necessarily because of the publishing, but because Nano is such an incredible experience, and I think it's valuable for every writer to at least try it, because the opportunity to write and be social comes along so rarely. Well, once a year. :)
Was Time Off For Good Behavior a book you'd been planning to write, or did you just sit down on November 1st and start writing?
It was actually Halloween night when I decided to do it! I'd heard a lot of people in my online writer's group talking about Nano, but I had no idea what it was. Then, on Halloween, a girlfriend had called me and told me about the time she got blown up in a gas explosion, and when she went to testify against the gas company, their lawyers tried to convince the judge that she deliberately blew the building up. She stood up in the courtroom and got in that lawyer's face, and almost got thrown out. I had a sudden strike of inspiration, asked her if she minded my using her story to start a book, and I joined Nano that night. I had no idea what I was going to write; it just came out.
We're especially proud of the fact that your first NaNo book was chick lit. What made you decide to write chick lit? Were you a fan of the genre before you started writing novels?
Well, here's the thing about chick lit, and genre in general - it's a function of marketing, more than the writing. Any first-person story with a spunky heroine was labeled "chick lit" because it was a hot market at the time. I've always been a fan of funny women's fiction, so yes, I loved chick lit. But it wasn't my intention to write to any particular genre; I just wrote the story that came naturally to me.
What's the difference between writing a book during NaNoWriMo and writing under "normal circumstances?"
Nano has the unique party atmosphere to it. During that first Nano, about seven or eight of us would gather every night and do word sprints to get our words down, and it was so much fun! But there's more than that. It's my strong belief that there are two elements to the work of any skilled writer; one is the magic that makes that story uniquely theirs, and the other is the craft that allows that magic to fly. We tend to focus on the craft, on the things we're doing wrong or that we can improve - structure, characterization, dialogue, weeding out adverbs and infodump - because it's something we can put our backs up against. And don't get me wrong; I love craft. Craft is essential to making your book the best it can be. But that kind of inner critic can kill the magic, the ephemeral wonders that just come to you, those qualities of voice and sentence structure and storytelling that are not about anything you can learn, but just who you are as a writer. It's the magic that makes a novel great, and it's also the magic that terrifies the writer, because we can't identify it or control it or point to it and say, "That's it." It is much easier to identify an adverb than it is to know what it is that makes your magic tick. Nano makes you work at such a pace that outrun that inner critic giving you crap about your craft, and you start to just revel in the magic. And let me tell you something - give me a choice between a perfectly crafted book with no magic and a book that's full of magic but is riddled with adverbs and infodump, and I'll choose the latter every day of the week and twice on Sundays. But, give me a book that's full of magic and wonderfully crafted... now that's an author I'll follow to the ends of the earth. I'm sorry - did I answer your question?
What's your revision process like? Does it change from book to book? I've developed a standard process for all three phases of a story - discovery (pre-writing, when the world just comes to you and you indulge whatever flights of fancy you wish), writing (the wild Nano rush where you go so fast you outpace your inner editor) and revision (post-writing, in which I go through the magic I've created and apply my craft so other people can read it without going, "Huh?") Right now, after ten books, I've got it down to a process that really works for me, and it's what I teach in my Storywonk classes. That said, yes, it varies from book to book. Wish You Were Here, I did nine months of discovery while finishing my other book, planned out all my anchor scenes (the big, important ones) and pantsed the rest in 28 days of Nano, and had almost no editing to do on the back end. That was glorious. In contrast, A Little Night Magic, my first Lucy March book, has been on my back for three years. I'm just finishing it now. So, yes, I have a process for every stage of writing, but every book is still different. It demands its own tweaks and adjustments to the standard process, and I give it. In a perfect world, it's six weeks of discovery, six weeks of writing, six weeks of revision, and off to the editor. Someday, I hope to actually achieve that. :) You're doing NaNo again this year, right? How's it coming? Well... I had intended to do Nano. My revisions for A Little Night Magic are taking a tad longer than I'd hoped, but the project I wanted to do for Nano is my part of a collaboration I'm doing withJennifer Crusie and Anne Stuart, and it's only 30k words, give or take. So I'm hoping to be able to jump in for the back half of Nano. I try, whenever possible, to coordinate my writing schedule around Nano; when I can write a book during Nano, with all that energy and enthusiasm coming from everyone, it's the absolute best. What motivates you to keep writing? What gets you to sit down at the computer and give it all you've got?
I'm ashamed to say... what motivates me most of the time is that I've signed a contract, and if I don't write, I'll have to give the money back. But what motivates me to stay in this business instead of getting a job with a reliable schedule and paycheck is that I love telling stories. There are those moments when you fall into the manuscript like Alice down the rabbit hole, and hours go by and it feels like seconds... that's when you know you're doing what you should be doing. It's wonderful, and it's because of that that I keep doing it. That said, getting myself to sit down and just do it can be tough. I've found two programs (sadly, currently only available for Mac, although I'm pretty sure there are analogous programs out there) that have helped a great deal. One is Scrivener by Literature and Latte. This is a fabulous program that allows me to easily write out of sequence so I can write the scene that inspires me that day, rather than slogging through chronologically. I find that the energy I get out of writing the scenes I'm really excited about fuel me through the rest of the book. It's totally not cheating. (I'm not familiar with the program personally, but I'm told that Writer's Cafe is similar to Scrivener; I've heard nothing but great things, but haven't used it myself.) The other is a program called Vitamin-R, made by Publicspace, and it divides your work into little slices of time. So, for instance, I may be completely intimidated by a revision of the whole book, but if I create a slice of time - say, fifteen minutes - in which my goal is to fix just one scene, I can do that. I start with that, program it in, and at the end of the fifteen minutes, I can choose to take a break, or move into the next goal. Setting tiny goals and timing myself gives me that sense of accomplishment that you don't often get with big projects like novels. And by working for 15 minutes at a time, I can slowly scratch my way through a project that seems daunting. Before I know it, I've done a good load of work. It's wonderful. I've personally requested to both of these companies that they make Windows and Linux versions so that my students can buy them; most people are still on Windows, and it's a crime that this fabulous software isn't available to absolutely everyone. So if you're on Windows, and you want this software - write to them! And tell them Lani sent you!
I've heard some rumors that you're shifting genres a bit. I've also heard something about magic waffles, which, by the way, sound delicious. Care to tell us more?
Well, the waffles themselves aren't magic, but... yes, I'm writing a book tentatively titled A Little Night Magic, which I'm writing for St. Martin's Press as Lucy March. It's about a small town waffle waitress who discovers she has rare magical powers. It's been an uphill climb, definitely, but I'm pretty happy with the final product. The first chapter can be found here.
Last but not least: What do you think about the wide spread belief that chick lit is dead? I touched on this a little before, and I know y'all are going to throw things at me, but here's the thing: chick lit isn't chick lit. It's a marketing label slapped on funny, first-person women's fiction. It's just what you call it. You can't call yourself chick lit anymore, because people who don't understand what it means will turn up their noses, but it doesn't matter. Pardon my cynicism, but when you send it to an agent or an editor, just call it something else.There will always be space on the shelf (or, as it's going, in the e-reader) for great stories, and you can write great stories in funny, first person style and find a market for them. So, yes, you can't call it chick lit anymore because the people who market will shy away from that. But funny, smart women's fiction will never be "dead." Great stories will always be relevant, and will always have a place in the market. Write great stories in whatever style you want to write them, and don't ever let anyone tell you that what you're writing is "dead," because anyone who says that about any genre is just wrong. Great stories in any style will always prevail. Naysayers are people who don't understand that in the end, it's always about story. Tell a great one, and you've got no worries. Thanks so much for having me over here! It's been fun!
Thank you Lani! We hope you'll come back and visit us again! :-) Lani Diane Rich is the NYT and USA Today bestselling author of nine novels, including the collaborative novel Dogs and Goddesses with Jennifer Crusie and Anne Stuart. She teaches popular classes in Discovery and Revision over at Storywonk.com, and is currently blogging every day until she turns 40 at LucyMarch.com. Every Friday, she co-hosts Popcorn Dialogues, a romantic comedy podcast, with renowned romance writer Jennifer Crusie. Her next book, tentatively titled A Little Night Magic, will be released from St. Martin's Press in 2011.

NaNoWriMo Day #12

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, Day 12! TGIF! :-) So. Have you told your family and friends that you'll be hiding this weekend, curled up with your WIP? Are they giving you grief about it? Hopefully not, but you may need to look them in the eye and quote Mark Twain:
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. ~ Mark Twain
Your random challenge word of the day is: fruit Does a character send or receive a fruit basket? Any of the fruit poison? Maybe there's a wedding cake decorated with fruit, and then there's a food fight. . .

Sorry. Hard not to get carried away during NaNo. Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you’re doing! And if you’ve managed to use any challenge words in a sentence, please share! Happy Noveling! :-)

NaNoWriMo Day #11

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, Day 11! Happy Thursday! We hope you're rocking those word counts! Today's inspiration:
I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. ~ James Michener

See? Don't worry about the quality of what you're writing this November. Revision is a beautiful thing. So just write on!

Your random challenge word of the day is: inheritance Hmm. Maybe torture your protagonist by having her inherit something she's always wanted and then hating it? Or maybe the inheritance gets stolen? Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you’re doing! And if you’ve managed to use any challenge words in a sentence, please share! Happy Noveling! :-)

‘Tude-torial #6

~ By D.D. Scott For this week’s Chick Lit “It’s all about the attitude” ‘Tude-torial, I’m Harley Jane Kozak-ing it! That’s right...as in “the” Harley Jane Kozak, the fabulous actress whose screen credits include PARENTHOOD (with Steve Martin), THE FAVOR, and ARACHNOPHOBIA, plus the beyond fabulous author whose books include the multiple award-winning DATING DEAD MEN and who also happens to be the amazing woman I’m thrilled to be doing a MUSE THERAPY GOES HOLLYWOOD Live Workshop with in LA next year for RT11. Harley Jane had this to say about our beloved Chick Lit genre:
Chick-lit, for me, is a twenty-first-century marketing term that describes a genre that’s been around for eons.  It’s a story primarily by and about and for women, Everywoman, with Everyday concerns, which is to say relationships, family, work, children, fashion and, especially, romance.  There’s good chick-lit and bad, lightweight and profound, highbrow, lowbrow, funny, poignant...It’s a term I find more flippant than offensive – but then, I’m not easily offended. --- Harley Jane Kozak, THIS IS CHICK-LIT, “The Infidelity Diet”
I luuuvvved Harley’s definition, and her “not easily offended” attitude!  She sooo nailed that Chick-Lit is indeed for Everywoman with Everyday concerns. And it really is that simple in that in order to go for the gusto, and write the genre(s) suited for your natural voice, you’ve got to put away your “easily offended” selves and write what you love. And if people don’t like it, I mean really, go back to this little charmer:

Sexy Sassy Smart Chick Lit & Harley Jane Kozak-ing Away Your “Easily Offended” Selves Wishes  --- D. D. Scott D. D. Scott is a romantic comedy debut author and a Writer’s Go-To-Gal for Muse Therapy, plus the #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of MUSE THERAPY: UNLEASHING YOUR INNER SYBIL.  You can get all the scoop on her, her books and her Muse Therapy Online Classes and Live Workshops at http://www.DDScott.com.

NaNoWriMo Day #10

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, Day 10! Anyone else come to the conclusion that it's time to introduce more caffeine into your daily routine? *sighs* Remember on Day 8 when we highly recommended eavesdropping? To make life easier, Chris has done more listening in for you:
Saturday afternoon at the airport, a man explains to a woman: “You done a lot of time in school, but you ain’t learned all you need to know. What I’m saying is, there’s more than you know what you don’t know.” Not that I could use this carefully recorded conversation verbatim, but there might be a place for a minor character whose way with words leaves the protagonist no more enlightened than she was before. ~ Overheard by Chris Bailey
You may not be able to write when you're on the go, but you never know what gems you'll overhear! Your random challenge word of the day is: cheese Maybe your protagonist is setting a mousetrap? Maybe she's at a fancy wine and cheese soiree? Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you’re doing! And if you’ve managed to use any challenge words in a sentence, please share! Happy Noveling! :-)

NaNoWriMo Day #9

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, Day 9! How's week two coming? :-) Anybody else freezing? Thrown off by the extra hour? You're not alone. Today's inspiration comes from Chris Baty, creator of NaNoWriMo:
"As you write your way through the next seven days, know that Week Two hurts so bad because you're making huge strides in your book, solving a year's worth of plot and character problems in one overcaffeinated week. The answers will come.  Just keep at it, and before you know it, Week Two will be a distant memory.  The sun will be shining again, the way will be clear, and the writing will be fun once more." ~ Chris Baty, from his fabulous book No Plot, No Problem

See? Not alone. . .

Your random challenge word of the day is: bending

;-)

We leave you with a laugh, fellow chick lit fans:

Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you’re doing! And if you’ve managed to use any challenge words in a sentence, please share! Happy Noveling! :-)

Just the Facts, Ma’am

~ By Jeff Salter Fact-checking. In my five completed novel manuscripts, I’ve often marked places with bracketed question marks which indicate:  “Jeff, research this.”  I usually don’t stop the flow of my writing at that point, but I DO come back later. Why?  A real-life example of the importance of fact-checking: When I needed to change the oil in the riding mower we’d just gotten from my wife’s Dad, I found a label inside the engine cowling which conveniently listed pertinent maintenance info, including its oil capacity:  48 ounces. Fast-forward:  it’s time to add the new, clean oil.  Some of you may not realize that quarts of motor oil no longer indicate ounces on the label ... it’s 946 milliliters.  Well, metrics arrived after I graduated, so milliliters are williliters to me. Anyhow, my steel trap mind clearly remembered a quart equals two pints and a pint equals two cups.  Simple.  No need to check.  I passed fourth grade consumer arithmetic with flying colors ... back in 1960. Okay, so this mower needs 48 ounces and there’s 16 ounces to each quart.  That makes, uh, three quarts exactly.  Poured it in.  Cranked up that sucker.  Seemed unusually rough as I mowed --- sputtered and coughed black smoke.  About ten minutes later, it hacked up one final bellow of nasty soot ... and died. At the repair shop, the guy told me I’d overfilled it with oil.  “No way,” I insisted.  “It called for 48 ounces and I put in exactly three quarts.” In the way that wiser men sometimes do with blithering idiots, he just looked at me.  That’s when it cllicked that 16 ounces is not a quart --- that’s a PINT.  I had doubled the dose!  No wonder my ‘patient’ was so ill. Hmm.  Maybe I should have checked those ‘facts’ I was so certain of. So, other than illustrating that men “don’t need no stinkin’ instructions” ... how does this sad tale apply to writing? One huge example (for me) was in my third novel manuscript.  My heroine found herself helping a group of elderly residents stand up against an armed gang determined to rob their entire (isolated) retirement neighborhood.  [Yes, it’s believable in context]. My mind held the archetypal Western scene of a small frontier town with main streets barricaded to keep marauding outlaws from inflicting death and destruction.  So I Googled to find an example of that scene which almost any reader would instantly recognize.  As a former librarian, I’m pretty creative and I expected my combinations of search terms to generate numerous ‘hits’. Nope ... not a single example. So I turned to my former Reference Department colleagues at a large city library.  They searched.  Nope.  They contacted a library with extensive holdings in western literature.  Nope.  They finally located a specialist (in Western films) who indicated that IF ‘my’ scene was ever found it would be antithetical rather than archetype. You can imagine my disappointment.  Not only had I (obviously) misremembered, but the core image of my central scene was now dangling in the breeze.  Could I still ask the reader to ‘accept’ that image?  Certainly not.  There was no basis for anyone to ‘recognize’ such a scene ... as it seemingly did not exist. So where / how / why did MY brain capture that alleged scene?  Still don’t know.  It might be a permutation of the archetypal scene where wagons are circled and hapless ‘amateur’ defenders do their desperate best against ‘professional’ raiders intent on conquering them. Whatever.  I’ve concluded it’s that same part of my brain which ‘remembered’ a quart equals 16 ounces.  Which brings us back to my opening illustration:  no matter how certain you are, CHECK it! For your manuscript, that might be as simple as --- *  your heroine’s vehicle is a convertible such-and-such.  Does that line of cars even manufacture a convertible?  Check on it. *  your heroine’s occupation causes her to travel a lot.  Do most people in that type of employment actually travel?  Check on it. *  your heroine is surviving on a minimum wage job in a large city.  Do the cost-of-living stats for that metropolitan area support such a possibility?  Check on it. When I was a kid, I had conversations with my parents which I tried to end with the expression, “I’m positive”.  My mom would often (though kindly) say, “Only fools are positive.” Fact-checking is sometimes tedious ... but it’s part of your writing arsenal.  Check on it. Jeff Salter has completed five novel manuscripts, two of which he considers chick lit.  He also co-authored two non-fiction books with a royalty publisher, in addition to an encyclopedia article and a signed chapter. Jeff has also published articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems. His writing has won nearly 40 awards, including several in national contests. He's a retired librarian, a decorated Air Force veteran, and a published photo journalist. He's married with two children and five grandchildren.

NaNoWriMo Day #8

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, Day 8! And to the second week of this noveling madness. Week 2 is famous for being a pain. Yeah, yeah, it's Monday, and that doesn't help. But if we stick together, we'll be fine. Pinky swear. Sometimes, inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. For example, check out this example of how a conversation overheard in a coffee shop could work itself into a novel:
Mid-morning in a coffee shop, two baristas and a customer discuss airport security hassles. “Yeah, you can fly with a gun. You just have to pack it in a special case.” Good to know. ~ Overheard by Chris Bailey
Your assignment today: Eavesdrop, and see what gems you can collect for your story. Then, share those gems and success stories here! Your random challenge word of the day is: opposite As in, your hero and heroine have opposite goals. Opposites attract. Your heroine has a dog who always does the opposite of what she wants. Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you’re doing! And if you’ve managed to use any challenge words in a sentence, please share! As a bonus, here's some musical inspiration for this cold Monday. Doesn't the woman in this song make you think of a chick lit protagonist?

Happy Noveling! :-)

NaNoWriMo Day #7

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, Day 7! It's Sunday. Time to rock that word count, people! But first, we highly recommend treating yourself to a leisurely cup of coffee. Today’s inspiration comes from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love:
I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling. I became a writer the way other people become monks or nuns. I made a vow to writing, very young. I became Bride-of-Writing. I was writing’s most devotional handmaiden. I built my entire life around writing. I didn’t know how else to do this. I didn’t know anyone who had ever become a writer. I had no, as they say, connections. I had no clues. I just began.
That's what NaNo is, right? It's the month that teaches us how to find the discipline and drive to be writers. The month we learn that yes, we can and will do this. Here are some more thoughts on writing from Elizabeth Gilbert:

Okay. See? You're not the only writer who feels crazy and / or frightened.

Your random challenge word of the day is: far

So. Time to send your characters far, far away?

Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you’re doing! And if you’ve managed to use any challenge words in a sentence, please share! Happy Noveling! :-)