ACW Episode 94 – Why November is the WRONG month for NaNoWriMo

Let me just say, November is the wrooooooooong month for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I thought this last year when I was working on PerNoFiMo (Personal Novel Finishing Month), which is my version of NaNoWriMo, only with the purpose of finishing a project I started but never got past the first few thousand words on.

The thing with both NaNoWriMo and PerNoFiMo is that you have to, HAVE TO, write every day, and not just a few hundred words either. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to complete a 50000 word draft of a novel in 30 days. The goal of PerNoFiMo is to come as close to finishing the first draft of that uncompleted project as I can get, and that usually means 30-40K words. That means on average 1000 words a night minimum for PerNoFiMo and 1700 words a night for NaNoWriMo. That’s a lot of words to write. And yes, they do have to be actual words! And of course, everybody is writing during the month leading up to the big holidays, and then there’s Thanksgiving when the kids are home for four days driving their hard working, frantically writing parents crazy. And then how can anyone possibly sit down to write after eating all that turkey?! Seriously, all I wanted to do after Thanksgiving dinner was curl up in a cave and hibernate for the rest of the year.

However, neither NaNoWriMo nor PerNoFiMo require that the novel being written be a perfect final draft. In fact, I think both events are ideal for banging out that very ugly first draft. You know what I’m talking about – the story so ugly only its author could love it, and even he or she might just set fire to it, it’s that bad? But that’s what first drafts are about, and you can’t get to the finished product without bringing that ugly 10 lb. baby first draft into the world.

Anyway, my sympathies and my encouragement to all you NaNoWriMo participants out there, and my congratulations to all you winners (including our dear friend Nobilis Reed!). I’ve reached a point in my PerNoFiMo project, The Little Death, where I’ve at least outlined the whole plot and I can see where I need to start doing massive rewriting. No, I didn’t really write out those final scenes. Probably about the last eighth of the book is only in very rough outline format. But it does have an ending now! Which means December is now PerNoReWriMo, or Personal Novel ReWriting Month.

And let me just say, December is a lousy month to be rewriting a novel…

The Little Death – Inspector Slade

More character notes on “The Little Death.” Agent Robin Helki is the heart and soul of the novel, but without Inspector Michael Slade she’s got no reason to really live. Who is Inspector Slade, and what is his relationship to Robin? How long has he been on the Fifth Precinct police force? What crime is he investigating now? And how does that affect Robin?

In “The Little Death,” there are espers and there are norms. Robin falls into the first category, Slade into the later. OverWatch has decreed that the two classes of citizens shall not interbreed for any reason. It’s simply too dangerous. Will Robin and Slade heed that warning, or take the risk? And does Robin really dare trust Slade as she slowly descends into the madness all espers fall prey to?

For anyone who’s wondering, I’m doing these sketches on cheap art paper with Micron drawing pens and a Pentel brush pen. The painting is done in ArtRage Pro. It’s a quick job, but enough to give me a feel for what Robin’s world is like.

The Little Death – Who is Agent Robin Helki?

It’s PerNoFiMo (Personal Novel Finishing Month) here and I’m currently working on finishing a novel I started 2 years ago. The title is “The Little Death,” and I can best describe it as Blade Runner meets Wuthering Heights. I start podcasting this the first week of January at the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast. It’s a sci-fi noir tale, not exactly erotica, but it does have a great deal of adult content.

By the time the first week of January comes around, I want people to be anxiously waiting for this story. Maybe not a lot of people, but at least a few. And I want those people to be asking two questions when the time comes. Who is Agent Robin Helki, and what is the little death? Here’s a clue to the first question, just to get you guessing.

More clues will be forthcoming over the next two months. I promise.

BTW, this is for Alice Gray and CityDifferent, both of whom have been very supportive of everything I do, including this novel. And also for Matt Fuckin’ Wallace, because he told me to “keep my chin up.” This is how I do that, Matt.

Work-In-Progress Wednesday part 2 – PerNoFiMo 2010

I did this last year and I’m doing it again this year. While everyone else is busy doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’m doing PerNoFiMo (Personal Novel Finishing Month). And unlike last year, this year I plan to finish what I restart.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I made decent progress on last year’s novel. I wrote about 40K words, which was good. But honestly, I needed to write another 40K to finish it. And before I do that, I really need to do some research. I could do that this month, but honestly, I’m not in that big a hurry to write that particular novel. It just doesn’t grab me like another project does.

This year, I’m picking back up on a project I called “The Little Death.” This was a sci-fi noir piece I started for ERWA’s noir theme month back in 2008. Yes, it’s been that long since I’ve messed around with this piece. I got about 14000 words written, blowing way past the original story length I had planned. But I really enjoyed working on this particular tale. It was sort of “Blade Runner” meets “Wuthering Heights,” with psychics and robots and an oppressive, totalitarian government doing its damnedest to regulate the human soul. I’ve always wanted to get back to this piece, so I’m working on it now and next month, with the intention of podcasting it for the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast starting in January 2011.

Right now, I’m working on turning out about 5000 words a week. That’s not nearly the frantic pace of NaNoWriMo, but it would give me about 40000 words by the time January hits, certainly enough for me to be ready to podcast. Here’s a quick excerpt from what I wrote this evening:


“Wait up!” I shout at him. “Asshole…”

Vallard looks back at me and winks, then hits the landing between floors and turns the corner. A moment later, he’s gone, and I’m left standing alone. I contemplate turning back. I don’t need this. If I want to play head games, I’m pretty damn sure all I need to do is go back to my room and wait. OverWatch will send someone over to deal with me eventually. Someone who’s not a doctor interested in my health, but an inquisitor looking for answers I don’t have.

Suddenly, I’ve got the urge to race down the stairs after Vallard.


Just a quick clip. I don’t want to give away too much, but if you intend to listen to the podcast come January, pay attention to the names Vallard and OverWatch. They figure pretty heavily in the story.

That’s it for tonight’s work. I’ll post another snippet next week.

Writing Wednesday – PerNoFiMo wrap up

Thank god it’s over. I finished work on PerNoFiMo – Personal Novel Finishing Month – on Sunday night. By that point, I had hit just over 40K words, doubling the amount I had written in that particular writing project to date. The work-in-progress, Whip It!, is still nowhere near done. I estimate the final story will be around 120K. But for now, I’m letting the story sit while I focus on other projects.

So, what did I learn from PerNoFiMo? Well, let’s see…

  • I can actually turn out 40K words in under 30 days.
  • About half of those words, if not more, are going to be pretty crappy.
  • But crappy writing can be edited, while no writing is still no writing.
  • Evenings after the kids have gone to bed make excellent time for writing. I loved curling up with the laptop in bed every night and just banging out words for two or more hours straight. This is one habit I hope to keep up.
  • I cannot write and handle e-mail in the same time period. I can either write, or check e-mail, but doing one negates the possibility of doing the other. I lost an entire evening of writing to tackling a response to just one e-mail. Yeah, three hours on one message. I was not happy about that.
  • Speaking of e-mail, I get too much of the damn stuff. It’s currently eating up at least 2 hours of my work day, and I still can’t keep up with the shit. Which probably means…
  • I need to cut back on a few things, to cut down on the amount of e-mail, or else free up time to handle it more. Or possibly both.
  • Final lesson – I cannot write a mystery without an outline. I must have the story blocked out first; not so much that I’ll lose all interest in the actual writing of the story, but enough to know what clues need to be set up and how to get from the crime to the solution without wanting to shoot myself along the way.

So, there ya go. PerNoFiMo – 40K words in 30 days, story still unfinished and half of what I wrote is complete donkey dung, but it’s progress none-the-less.

Where to go from here? Like I mentioned above, I intend to let Whip It! sit for a bit, possibly 2-3 months, before I return to it. On my to-do list, I have three stories for three different anthologies to write, and I need to get these done. That means I will once again be curling up in the evenings with the laptop to write for two hours before going to bed. Unlike PerNoFiMo, however, I intend to work at a more comfortable pace. I ended up writing just about every night for 2-3 hours, including weekends, and I started to burn out before the last week. Honestly, I like taking weekends off, and so I plan to not write on Friday and Saturday evenings just so I can curl up with the Hubster instead of the laptop and maybe watch some crappy TV. Or hey, even go out to a movie, or dinner, or have sex! Wouldn’t that be novel (as opposed to being a novel, in progress, every night of the week).

I took Monday and Tuesday nights off, so I plan to sit down again tonight and pull out that first story I need to write. Actually, it’s already written, but I really want to take another whack at it and make sure it’s good. Then I’ll get my other two stories written and go back to Whip It! I promise, I will get this story done.

Next week, I’ll try to post a snippet of what I wrote for PerNoFiMo, but for right now, I’ve got all that damned e-mail waiting for me to take care of it. Ciao, babies!

Move It Mama Monday! Water, water everywhere!

So, water aerobics. You’d have thought a class dominated by senior citizens would have been easy, but no way Jose. I have been getting my patookie kicked in the pool the last few weeks trying to keep up with the grandmas and the grandpas while we jog and lift our little foam weights and in general churn up the chlorinated water like rabid mermaids. At the end of three weeks of this (at two classes a week), I now have more muscle definition than I’ve had in a while, and I definitely look and feel slimmer. But do I weigh less?

Of course not, because I’m now mid-cycle!

Around the middle of my menstrual cycle, I pack on about 3-5 pounds of water weight. There is nothing I can do to prevent it. I’ve tried drinking extra water to flush the excess fluid out of my system. I’ve tried sticking to a mainly veggie diet and cutting back on high fat foods. I’ve tried doing extra excerise around that time, getting more sleep, etc. Basically, none of it has prevented me from packing on the extra weight, so I’ve just learned to live with it. I keep hoping if I drop a couple of pounds that will counter the effect, but I haven’t had much luck losing weight, and at this point, so long as all my clothes fit, I really don’t care.

But Wii Fit Plus cares! Oh does that little sucker care. It never fails that I get to this point in my cycle, or I get to the end of my cycle (the other time I pack on the water weight), and suddenly Wii Fit is calling me “Fattie Fattie Two by Four” and demanding to know why my ass is so big. The damn thing actually gives me a list of reasons to choose from, but do you think hormones and water weight are anywhere on that list? Noooooooooo! Because that would mean Wii Fit is sensative to issues like that, and I’ve learned from experience that one thing Wii Fit is not is sensative.

Is it me, or is anybody else tired of Wii Fit’s snark? It shows up when you miss a day or two of working out, and again when you weigh in and show up a few pounds heavier. Oh, and if you don’t excel on some portion ofI the fitness test there are these little comments like, “Hm, looks like walking upright is not your strong suit!”

Between the snark and the fact that Wii Fit Plus failed to include any updates on its cardio games, I’ve pretty much relegated my workouts with it to one day a week. Oh, I still use it for fit tests, because I simply can’t do without my daily dose of snark and abuse, but otherwise, I’m focussing more on Gold’s Gym Cardio and My Fitness Coach.

And water aerobics. Because in the pool, it doesn’t matter how much water weight my butt is hauling. It’s just one more drop in the bucket 😉

Sunday Contentments – Discontentment

It had to happen sometime. I can’t get through everyday feeling chipper and full of sunshine. The past two weeks have been a pain in the butt, and I’ve gone through both weekends feeling grouchier than a fuzzy green puppet in a trashcan surrounded by annoyingly happy singing kids.

What’s been wrong? Nothing. Everything. You name it. The previous weekend got eaten alive by the dojo we attend, thanks to a local parade they participated in and a tournament they hosted. That meant no time for me to do the things I normally do. Then my schedule got further disrupted by the Thanksgiving holiday and having the kids home from school. Seriously, am I the only one who dreads the holidays because they interfere with my work?

Add to that the fact that I’m eating foods I wouldn’t normally eat, foods high in fat and carbs and sugar, plus my sleep schedule is off as well as my work schedule, and I’m under the added pressure to finish up PerNoFiMo and get ready for an upcoming convention, and the kids tore apart the house while decorating for Christmas and they’re at each other’s throats non-stop and oh, I started a new workout routine so I’m sore all the time.

So yeah, everything’s kind of combined to make me feel out of sorts and grumpy. I was really out of sorts this morning, and all through today, and feeling dead on my feet. I finally got through my workout. Since I hadn’t spent much time with the girls today that didn’t involve yelling at them, I called them in to read to me while I cleaned up. I had a nice hot bath while Princess read Skippy John Jones to Pixie and I, and then I laid in bed while she read some more, and at some point I drifted off to sleep.

And I woke up feeling a lot better.

I still have a lot of work to do, but man, what a difference a nap makes between being discontented and contented.

Writing Wednesday – The home stretch for PerNoFiMo

Only six days left in November and I’m still working hard on PerNoFiMo – Personal Novel Finishing Month. At this point, I’ve written over 31000 words for my work in progress, tentatively titled “Whip It!” That’s well past the minimum goal of 20K words, and nearing the ultimate goal of 40K for the month. I’m doing good, right?

Eh, not so much. I’ve hit a snag at this point, you see. I started writing “Whip It!” almost three years ago. Back then, it was fresh in my mind and I had lots of ideas. Fortunately, I did put many of those ideas down in various documents. Unfortunately, I jumped right into PerNoFiMo without really digging through those notes first. That wasn’t a problem for the first two weeks, but for the last few days, I’ve been struggling to get through the story because I don’t know where to go with it. I’m the kind of person who prefers to have a story roughly mapped out before I begin to write. I don’t have to have every detail firmly in place, but I do need to know a general direction, and I mean I really need to know it. I need to have a good solid feel for a story, and quite frankly, I don’t have that with “Whip It!” right now.

Nor do I have the research I really need to make this work. The main character in “Whip It!” is a chef trying to start her own catering business. I know jack about catering. I spent a good part of last night searching the web for info on health regulations and food service permits and other such stuff. There are things I’m not sure my characters can do. For example, can you have a naked man in a kitchen during a health inspection? And how does one get a permit to run a catering business? Since much of the plot revolves around the heroine proving to her jerk ex-boyfriend that she can indeed stand on her own two feet and start up her own business, I actually need to show her standing on her own feet and starting up her own business. So I’ve got a lot of research I need to do before I can write certain parts of the story.

In fact, I’ve got so much research and outlining I need to do at this point that actual writing has ground to a halt. I just can’t keep plowing through the story until I take care of these matters. So what to do? Is there anyway I can hit my goal of 40K words?

I’m going to say “Yes!” Let’s face it, PerNoFiMo is my game so I get to set the rules. And the rules say that if I can’t write actual novel-type writing with plot, character, dialog, etc., then I can and should go ahead and play the game of “What happens next?” “What happens next?” is the question I always end up asking myself when the story grinds to a halt, like it has now with “Whip It.” For instance…

Lucy Cheeks, chef and would-be caterer, is in the middle of a health inspection which she must pass prior to getting the go-ahead to run her catering business. However, her assistant chef, Eduardo Suave – a deeply spiritual but very odd man who looks like the love child of Antonia Banderas and Freddie Mercury – was in the yard behind her kitchen doing nude yoga and he comes back inside, still naked, much to the surprise of the health inspector. What happens next?

I don’t have to write the story to answer it. I can just write notes to myself to keep the ideas flowing. So my answer might go something like this.

Eduardo and the health inspector, Imelda Blanc, have some history between them that Lucy doesn’t know about. In fact, what Lucy doesn’t know is that Imelda was one time Eduardo’s lover and dominatrix. She knows all about his nude yoga habit, and is not surprised to seem him roaming around nude in the kitchen. However, Eduardo is a very hairy man, and as a health inspector, she is concerned that some of his body hair might fall into any food they make. For this reason, she insists that Eduardo cannot be naked in the kitchen. He protests, and Lucy fears she’s going to lose her permit over this when her great aunt Bernice speaks up and says…

So that’s how “What happens next?” works. I just keep plugging away at the ideas, throwing writerly style to the wind. Basically, I’m outlining right there in the body of the story. In fact, once I hit my final word count, I’ll probably lift the entire “What happens next?” stuff out of the story document and save it as it’s own file, then continue to work on it and get all my plot points settled and all my research handled before I go back to the actual writing.

See? Word count keeps growing and those pesky outline and research problems eventually get solved.

One more week left in PerNoFiMo. To everyone out there plugging away at NaNoWriMo, I wish you all the best during these final days!

Episode 43 – NaNoWriMo!


I know, I’m doing PerNoFiMo (Personal Novel Finishing Month) instead of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but this is about how it feels.

I spent Saturday cranking out 3000 words in the novel I’m working on, tentatively titled Whip It! I was feeling pretty proud of myself because that’s a lot of words to produce in just a few hours, so I posted an announcement to Twitter.  Someone almost immediately came back and said, “That’s great! If they’re the right words…”

If they’re the right words? If they’re the right words?  I said it last week and I will say it again. NaNoWriMo and PerNoFiMo are not about putting the right words down on the page.  These events are about putting words down, period.  A bad first draft can always be re-written, edited, cleaned up, etc.  A blank page?  You got nothing to work with.

I explained this, and the person who made the comment understood immediately, and I’m glad, because there are lots of people out there who would still insist that if I didn’t write the right 3000 words, then I’d just wasted a lot of time.  Well you know what?  Those people most likely aren’t ever going to succeed in writing novels.  So there!

Have a great day! I’ll post my progress on PerNoFiMo tomorrow in my Writing Wednesday post 😉

Don’t forget to visit to find out more about National Novel Writing Month.

Also at Oh Get A Grip this week, we’re talking about what it’s like to live with a writer.  Good stuff. Stop by for a look!

Writing Wednesday – NaNoWriMo?

November is coming up fast, and with it, National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s better known, NaNoWriMo. This is the first year since I’ve been writing seriously that both kids have been in school most of the week, and I always thought that when I reached this point, I’d finally commit and do NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 novel during the month of November. That’s 50K words in 30 days, which works out to about 1700 words a day. It can be a bit of a challenge, unless you embrace the idea behind NaNoWriMo, which is not to write well, but just to write period. In other words, if you slave over every paragraph, every sentence, every word, there’s no way in hell you’re going to write 1700 words a day for 30 days straight. But if you just throw your perfectionism to the winds and churn out the words, then hell yeah, you can get a novel written. And then, once you’ve finished that lousy first draft, you can go back and polish it into a better second, third, fourth or however many drafts it takes to reach the perfect finished state. But you can only get to that point if you write the lousy first draft first.

So anyway, NaNoWriMo is coming, the kids are both in school most of the week, and I’m confronted with the possibility that this is the year I could finally participate in NaNoWriMo. This is the year I could knock out the first draft of a novel in a month, get the second draft done the month after that, and maybe have a finished novel ready to send out by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, or even sooner, depending on how long the rewrite/polishing process takes. And it would be great, really great, for me to do this, except I can’t stop asking myself…

“Could I? Should I?”

I’ve been working since September to clean up my computers and get a new website designed and so far I’ve managed only to clean up the computers (though not redo the laptop from scratch, which was the ultimate goal)  and get the new blog up and running (that’s a far cry from having a complete website done, I tell ya). I’ve still got a few days left in October to finish up that website , and then NaNoWriMo would start. But I’m not sure I want to jump into NaNoWriMo completely cold. I would prefer to have an outline worked out, a little research done… you know, I want the writing pump primed, so I’m ready to bolt once the starting gun goes off.

Then there’s the matter of the three unfinished writing projects still sitting on my computer’s hard drive. One of them is up to 43K long. That’s a lot of words to just leave sitting there unfinished. I know NaNoWriMo is all about starting and finishing a first draft, but I don’t want to start a new project when I’ve got 3 others unfinished and one that far along.

So here’s what I’m thinking of doing – finish up the website by the end of the week. Then the first of November, open up that really long, sadly unfinished project and start reading and getting myself back into the feel of it. By the end of the first week, begin writing again. I think I could do 1000 words a day if I pushed myself. I won’t be writing on weekends, because I just can’t right now. The podcast gets recorded and produced on weekends and that’s about as much as I can do and still have a family and a life of sorts. I reaize this won’t fulfill that 1700 words a day I’d need to do NaNoWriMo, but then I’m not actually doing NaNoWriMo. This is more like PerNoFiMo – Personal Novel Finishing Month.

So that’s the goal. I could get 20K words written this way, and that would bring me closer to finishing the first draft of this novel. Then maybe I can do another 20K in December and actually finish it. Can’t say for certain that 40K total will finish this particular novel, but if not, I’ll do another 20K in January and maybe then we’ll see.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, or some variation of it, let me know. I’d be interested in hearing who’s doing it and what they hope to accomplish in the upcoming month!