Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NaNo - Day 25

Bless me readers for I have sinned. It's been many days since my last update . . .

Well after a week of struggling I had an awesome weekend and now I'm back to struggling. I'm still on track, but I'm struggling. I sort of know where the story's going, but at the same time I don't. The bad guys are not going to get what they want, but even if I eliminate them, what's to prevent more from coming after my heroes for the same thing? That's the problem with super secret societies. So I may have to rethink my bad guys, or at the very least their goals. But not right now. Right now I have to push forward to get the story done. :-)

So, in the meantime, I thought I'd post an excerpt. About time, eh? In previous years I always posted excerpts, at least once a week. I have no idea why I didn't think of this sooner.

This doesn't really need much set-up. My FMC, Octavia, and her friend Vanessa have driven into town in search of dinner:

They found a diner right on the main street in the form of Miss Patty’s Place. A chalkboard sign on the sidewalk proclaimed that breakfast was served all day and today’s special was all you can eat clam chowder.

“This place is awesome,” Vanessa exclaimed.

It was like stepping back into the fifties. There were high backed booths covered in red vinyl and the round stools along the counter with the same vinyl on their seats. On the walls were photographs: girls in poodle skirts, boys in leather jackets, several hot rods and an autographed picture of James Dean. There was a juke box in one corner and an old fashioned soda machine behind the counter.

They could only stare at the waitress who came out of the back in answer to the summons of the bell that tinkled when they opened the door. She was dressed in an old-fashioned, pink waitress uniform and her blonde hair was upswept in a beehive hairdo. The name tag pinned to her chest proclaimed her to be Patty.

“What’ll it be ladies?” she asked as they slid onto stools at the counter.

“You’re way too young to be the Miss Patty,” Octavia said.

Patty smiled good naturedly, “Actually, I’m the third Miss Patty. The original was my grandmother. She only comes in about once a week, more to visit with her friends than to check up on me.”

“This is such a great idea for a diner!”

“Actually,” Patty leaned on the counter to talk, “All this stuff is original. My grandma started it back in the fifties and we just never got around to changing anything. People around here seem to like it, even the kids.”

“So,” she asked, pulling a pencil from behind her ear and an order book from her pocket. “Would you like to start with some coffee?”

“I would love a cup of coffee,” Vanessa told her. “And some French toast with bacon to go with it.”

“Sounds good to me,” Octavia seconded. “I’ll have the same.”

“Great! I’ll be right back with your coffee.”

As she bustled away into the back Vanessa twirled around on her stool. “This is great, I feel like a kid again.”

“The fifties were just a little before your time,” Octavia reminded her. “But there is something oddly familiar about this place.”

The bell tinkled over the door and an older, plumper version of Patty entered the diner.

“Well hello there, I don’t think I’ve seen you here before. Are you first timers at Miss Patty’s?” Mystified, they nodded their heads.

She reached into the pocket of her uniform and pulled out a pair of cards. “Here you go, a free fountain treat on your next visit, compliments of Miss Patty. Well, one of them anyway.”

At that precise moment, the first Patty returned, in true waitress fashion carrying their entire order. She slid the plates in front of them and nodded at the older woman.

“I see you’ve met my mother, Miss Patty the second.”

“And there’ll never be a Miss Patty the fourth if you and that husband of your don’t get cracking,” she replied.

Patty rolled her eyes as if this was an old argument.

“We were admiring your diner,” Vanessa said.

“Why thank you,” Patty the elder said. She peered closer at Octavia. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“I don’t think so,” Octavia said. “Although I was just wondering if it’s possible that I’ve been here before myself, maybe as a child. I’ve had an accident with my memory and there are . . . gaps.”

The elder Patty took a seat beside her and looked her over carefully. “You do look familiar . . . You have the look of a Griffin about you.”

“That was my grandfather’s name. Samuel Griffin.”

“Of course, your grandfather used to bring you here when you were a little girl. Are you just visiting or are you back to stay?”

Octavia hesitated. “I’m not sure what my plans are yet. I’ll be staying for awhile, anyway.”

“Well that’s good to hear,” the elder Patty said, getting to her feet. “Now don’t you forget to come back for your free fountain treat.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

NaNo - Day 20

If I was right on track, then today I would be at 33,340 words. I, however, am at 32,751 words, which is 589 words short of the daily goal. That means if I want to get back on track tomorrow, I need to write 2,256 words. Wow! That seems like a lot for a Friday . . .

I spent way too much time researching motorcyles - my MMC and his brother both ride them and of course they can't ride the same kind. So I started researching motorcycles 'cause although I've always liked them, I know next to nothing about them. And then it suddenly occurred to me that this is NaNo, not one of my serials, and I didn't need to waste so much time trying to be so specific.

That's the thing about NaNo, the idea is to write as quickly as possible. It's the quantity of the words, not the quality. Just start writing and don't stop for anything, certainly not petty little things like details.

But herein lies one of the pitfalls when you're a pantser, like me. You know about the two kinds of writers, right? There are plotters, those who follow an outline, and pantsers, those who write by the seat of their pants. Had I been a plotter I would have known ahead of time about the motorcycle and I could have done the research during my pre-NaNo planning.

But I'm a pantser. So I didn't know about the motorcycle until my hero decided to save some time by hopping on one to go meet his brother. And I didn't know about the brother's bike until my hero got to the meeting place and parked beside it.

Boys and their toys.

Can't wait to see what my characters decide to throw at me next. ;-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaNo - Day 17

Here we are on day 17. The goal for the end of the day is 28,339 words and as I type this I'm at 27,593. Which means I'm beginning to catch up. I'm less than a thousand words behind, at least until midnight when I get to tack on the additional 1667 words I need to write each day to break even. :-)

I'm really going to hate myself before I'm done. Why? Because I keep skipping over the parts with the super secret society because I don't want to get bogged down figuring them out while I'm still behind on my regular words. And eventually I'll have to go back and fill in the gaps.

At this point I think there's actually two different sets of bad guys - one set are just bad guys and one set are super bad guys. The super bad guys are willing to work with the regular bad guys as long as they have the same goal, but they're also working behind the scenes with their own agenda.

Anyway, the action's starting to pick up. There's been a couple attempts on my main character's life, but she's got her memory back now so she's ready to dive head first into a relationship with the male main character. After she gets rid of her fiancé of course. ;-)

I've had one friend who was forced to drop out of NaNo, due to circumstances beyond her control, and just heard from another who's decided to give it a shot after all. She figures she only needs to write 5,000 words a day for the next ten days.

No problem at all, right? :-D

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NaNo - Day 15

For those of you keeping track, I've been steadily slowing down all week. Yeah. Big surprise there. :-)

Day 15 of Nano, and I should be at 25,005 words. I am at 19,472 - a difference of 5,533 words. According to the NaNo site, I need to write 1,908 words per day from here on out to finish on time, otherwise I'm on track to finish by December 9.

Am I worried? Not really. My very first NaNo I had fallen far enough behind that it looked like I didn't have a prayer of finishing on time, but on the last day I sat down and started writing and not only caught up the 5,000 words I was behind and win it, but continued with another 5,000 to finish the story.

Yes, that's right. Ten thousand words in a single day. I'm pretty sure it'll never happen again, but the fact that it happened once means I'm capable of far more than I give myself credit for. And it also means I work pretty well under pressure.

And I think therein lies part of my problem this past week. I'm not feeling the pressure. I've got other things I could be/should be doing as well as NaNo, but I'm not feeling any particular pressure to get them done. One of the pitfalls of working from home - there's always tomorrow.

5500 words behind? Pfft! It's only the middle of the month. Plenty of time to make up for lost time.

Meanwhile, I found a vague outline for my NaNo story, tucked away in a file, and I started following it, only to have it stop abruptly. As much as I'd like to believe there's a page two to it . . . there isn't. So really, I'm no further ahead than I was, because I'm still not clear on what happens next. I know the stained glass windows in the stone tower attached to the house on the cliff are important; I know the secret passage into the grotto below the house is important; and I know the Super Secret Society it having problems of its own - its attention is split between two separate issues.

So there's plenty of stuff to figure out this week. I just have to apply the BIC (butt in chair) principle and do it. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NaNo - Day Ten

As of the typing of this I'm starting to fall behind on my words. Day Ten's goal is 16,670 and my total is 15,928, which is 818 words short. I have only myself to blame. I bragged how this year I was keeping on track instead of falling behind, so I guess I was due. :-)

I had an epiphany regarding my NaNo novel today. I may not have mentioned this before, but I'm working from an old idea. I had to delve deep into the old story trunk for this one. It's about ten years old and though I originally started out strong with it, the story kind of petered out because I only had a vague idea where it was going.

But it piqued my attention when I was searching for a NaNo idea. I had a lot of notes and a long prologue. I was good to go. First thing was to scrap the cheesy prologue. It concerned the two main characters saying goodbye as young teens, pledging their undying love to each other. Gag me! I may salvage some of it later as a dream sequence, but that'll be as good as it gets.

Anyway, in the original concept there was only a hint of a Super Secret Society (SSS), so one of the things I'm doing is fleshing this organization out. It's going to be a driving force behind the suspense of the story.

There was also only a hint of what's really going on, and I'm a little more clear on that as well. But my epiphany was the beginning. I finally figured out how to start it. I knew the grandfather had to die, but I didn't know how or under what circumstances. I think in the original concept he just died of a heart attack or something mundane, but I decided if I'm going to start out with his death, it needs to be a good one. So the SSS will have to involved. And it'll happen before he's able to pass on a secret that will become an important plot point.

AND, because this unrevealed secret is so important, there'll have to be clues for my characters to follow, the SSS nipping at their heels.

I love it when a plot comes together! ;-)

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNo - Day 7

You might not have noticed, but I removed the progress bar for my NaNo novel from the sidebar on the right. It seemed a little redundant when I have the official NaNo widget right above it. Besides, I have to generate a new one and go into design mode every time I want to change it, while the NaNo one updates automatically.

Surprisingly enough, I've been staying pretty much right on track this year. The total showing right now (which will change when I update later tonight) is 10,130 words. When you add in the 1,000 words I've written so far today and the 600 or more I plan on writing later, I'll be a couple of words over today's goal of 11,669 before I pack it in tonight.

My normal pattern for NaNo is to start out way behind, catch up, fall way behind again, catch up and get ahead, then fall behind again only to put on an impressive burst of words at the very end. So what's different this year? I'll tell you.

Prior to NaNo this year, I got into the wonderful habit of writing every day. My amazing friend Jamie, has been emailing me on a daily basis to remind me to write. And I not only have to send her my daily word count, I have to include a couple of sentences of what I've written. And they have to be new sentences, I can't cheat and give her something from earlier in my WIP, 'cause she'll know. I don't know how I know she'll know, I just do. :-)

I started out a few hundred words at a time, feeling like it was a good day if I reached 500 words. But as I struggled to get Lucky Dog finished before NaNo, that number crept upwards until a good day was 1,000 words or better. So it was good training for this month.

Can I keep up the pace? Guess only time will tell. :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NaNo - Day 4

So . . . let me tell you a little about my NaNo novel, tentatively titled Guardian of The Sea.

I actually feel like I'm cheating a little. I skipped over the first chapter where I had to come up with a super secret organization of bad guys who are about to kill my main character's grandfather, and went straight to the more ordinary stuff.

My main character is named Octavia Winston, Tavi to her friends. Ten years ago she was in a car accident that left her mother in a wheelchair without the ability to communicate, and Tavi herself with no memory.

Her mother has just died, and while cleaning out her mother's room, Octavia discovers an envelope, with her name on it, taped to the back of a dresser. This leads her (eventually) to a house on a sea cliff that she's been dreaming of for the last ten years. From here things get a little complicated. :-)

She discovers that her father isn't really her father, her grandfather was hiding a secret, and she meets a man she was in love with as a teenager. Oh, yeah, and someone's trying to kill her to gain control of the property she's inherited.

There's going to be some shape-shifting going on, but that's a little further on in the story. :-)

Right now Octavia and her friend Vanessa are exploring her new house, and her mystery man is lurking around in the background. I'm thinking her fiancé isn't about to let her get away that easily, especially since he's one of the ones who wants the property.

As I'm typing this post, I'm about 1500 words behind (on the meters) but once I update I should only be around 500 or so behind. Not bad considering I got a late start.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Once More Into the Breech . . .

So here's the thing. The title/heading of this post is kind of misleading. It implies that there's been posts before this one and while technically that's true, at the same time it isn't.

Once upon a time I had a blog called Writers Write, Right? It was attached to my main blog as a page tab at the top called: Current Projects. It was the place where I could sporadically talk about my writing, post a little poetry, update my progress bars . . . only I didn't.

A couple of months ago I started thinking about it again, trying to figure out where I went wrong and how I could fix it.

Then my buddy Jamie and I started a mutual "email nag" - where we'd nag each other to get something specific done each day (mine was to write). It was, for the most part, successful. What it did was get me writing every day.

Anyway, to start the new ball rolling, the month is November and the name of the game is NaNoWriMo. If you don't know what that is, go HERE. Once upon a time I did a PowerPoint presentation about it and if I had paid better attention in class I'd be able to embed it in a post. But I didn't, so I can't. :-)

So beginning tomorrow, I'm going to start reporting on my NaNo progress. 50,00 words in 30 days. As I write this I'm a little behind. I got off to a slow start because I was determined to finish at least one of the two books I was working on. And I'm happy to say I did. The first draft of Lucky Dog is finished, all that's left is the editing. Which, as everyone knows, is where the real work of writing starts.