Getting Ready for July Camp NaNoWriMo

This week (and probably the next two as well), I am getting ready for the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t already know what this means, it’s a free, online camp version of National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write anywhere from 10,000 words upward in 30 days.

I’m planning to write the rough draft of Time Will Tell, the first novel of a fantasy idea I got from a chance comment during April Camp. The idea started with a world with two suns, which creates a two-day time zone system. Hence the need for a fantasy world, since magic clearly has to be involved here.

Now that I’m committed to this project for July, that gives me 19 days to figure out my outline–a project I’ve been working on since April camp. This is a big project for me. I’ve got to figure out the world I’ve created, how two completely different kinds of magicians work their magic, decide how to fit in all the unique and fun characters I’ve already come up with, and make sure I’ve got enough conflict and plot to carry an entire novel. Fortunately, I’ve got an able brainstorming buddy in my brother, who is also a talented writer. But when it comes to the logical, story structure part, I’m basically on my own.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is just a rough draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good. That’s what revisions are for. I have to shut off that part of my brain that wants to nitpick every little detail, and insists on criticizing everything I do. Writing is supposed to be fun, and this project was meant to be a fun, crazy, whimsical idea. Let’s hope I can survive this.

The Beetle in the Bathtub

Fable for a Monday Morning

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One night a big black beetle fell into a bathtub, trying to reach water. The people who lived in the house watched the beetle attempt the impossible climb up the slick sides of the bathtub. But it was only a beetle, so they watched for a while and went to bed, leaving the beetle to continue its insurmountable task. Even the cat left the beetle alone, for it had learned months earlier that beetles taste nothing like spiders.

In the middle of the night, one of the sleepless people noticed the beetle again. It was still there in the bathtub, still making a valiant attempt to climb out of its prison. It hadn’t given up, wasn’t sitting in the bottom of the bathtub waiting for rescue. Having attained a magnificent height of an inch and a half, the beetle clung to the bathtub wall, waving one foot in an attempt to find the next secure foothold.

Admiring the beetle’s patience, the person finally moved the shower curtain inside the bathtub, thinking the beetle might be able to climb out that way. Then the person went to bed, leaving the beetle to figure things out on its own.

In the morning, the person went back in the bathroom, only to discover the beetle had climbed all the way up the shower curtain and was clinging to the very top. Not wanting to share the shower with a strange beetle, the person flicked the beetle off the shower curtain, and it fell down, down, down, into the very same tub from which it had recently escaped.

As the beetle paused to recover from the long fall, the person felt sorry for it and scooped the beetle up into a red plastic cup. Then the person took the cup outside and turned it upside down, dropping the beetle into the soft dirt of a garden bed. The beetle crawled away and found itself a new home in the garden, before anyone else tried to kill it.

Moral: Never, ever give up. Even if persistence doesn’t get you where you want to be, someone might feel sorry for you and give you a hand…especially if helping you is easier than disposing of your dead body.

 

Starting on Catspaw

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I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed today, but in a good way. I’ve just ordered the proof copy of Persnickety’s Book of Bedtime Stories. And a few minutes before that, I finished reading through the rough draft of Catspaw. For anyone who has finished reading the e-book version of Persnickety, this is the story that Gina was writing in “Giant’s Gold.” I wrote Catspaw as a Camp NaNoWriMo novel in June 2012, and hadn’t looked at it since. I was afraid that I would start reading it and discover a ton of errors that would require a major rewrite.

I was pleasantly surprised. I kept finding forgotten treasures in scenes and bits of dialog I had forgotten. I had to force myself to put the manuscript down and go to bed last night, because I was only half-way through by 10:30. I corrected a few typos, made a couple of minor changes, and gave the manuscript to my first beta-reader. Lacking the funds to pay a content editor, I’m hoping he can help me decide if the story works as well as I hope. I’m now waiting for him to read it and get back to me. And if he doesn’t get on it soon, I’ll have to go into the other room and bug him about it. 🙂 The disadvantages of helping family members….

About Catspaw… In June 2012, I had a ten-month-old kitten named Persnickety, who liked to sleep on my bed. (These days, he prefers cardboard boxes and my easy chair.) One day, I looked over at the cat, and thought, “What if he suddenly turned into a human? Well, he’s a boy, so he’d turn into a man. And if I was sleeping, and woke up to find him in my bed, I’d certainly freak out.” Up to that point, I had only ever finished the rough drafts of two Young Adult fantasy novels, so I planned that type of story again. And the story emerged from there.

Catspaw is about a young prince, who is turned into a kitten to save him from a murderous uncle. He finds a home with the daughter of a woodcutter, who lets him sleep on her bed. That is, until Percy turns eighteen, and turns back into a human, with no memory of anything that came before. As his memory of his human past starts returning, he sets off in search of his past, in company with the son and daughter of the woodcutter. But the more Percy learns about his past, the more he discovers that things are not always as they seem.

While I’m waiting to finish Persnickety for publication in paperback, I will be working on getting Catspaw ready to publish as well. Which means I get to go through all this nit-picky, time-consuming editing, formatting, cover creation, and proofing process all over again. I can’t wait.

Other projects on my to-do list are:

  1. Finish outlining Time Will Tell, so I can write the rough draft. I’m hoping to write that one for July Camp Nano. And maybe I’ll be able to write the sequel to that for November Nano.
  2. Get a store plug-in set up on this site, so I can sell my e-books directly. This will allow me to give my readers unlimited access to their purchases for all their reading devices without having to repurchase the book for the new device.
  3. I’ve also got some new short story ideas that I want to work on. I’ll share more on that later, if it works out.

If you’re interested in being a beta reader or proofreader for Catspaw or my other stories, please send me a message privately.

Progress Update 4/8/15

Today is not going so well for me. I’ve made some progress this year, as far as writing. But it’s certainly not all unicorns and rainbows and fluffy pink bunny rabbits.

Last month, I made the decision to switch webhosting companies. I made the transition to the new service, got my website all set up, then decided to try setting up a second website. At that point, the additional website had problems, which required additional technical support, and caused problems with the entire account, which took this website down as well. After waiting over a week for someone to fix the problem, I still hadn’t had anyone get back to me. So I made the decision yesterday to cancel that webhosting service and switch to this one. Which means that I spent a few hours yesterday and today setting up my website again and adding my book information and blog posts back in. Not that my blogs are all that valuable, but I had saved them in Scrivener, so they were there. So that’s basically done.

I did finally get Persnickety’s Book of Bedtime Stories published as an e-book. I even got both books published to Smashwords, so they can be found on barnesandnoble.com and other sites as well. But I still have to figure out the cover for the print book, and get everything together and formatted. And then of course, the next important task is to get something else written, polished and published.

It’s currently April Camp Nanowrimo, and I’m trying to get something new written. I used the first week of camp to finish writing two short stories. Each of them is meant to be a thank-you gift for readers who review my books and send me a link to the review. So far, most people haven’t even collected their free book copies, let alone requested the free story. I’m starting to wonder if I’m just wasting my time here, if anyone even cares about what I write, or if it’s just more crap in the crap-filled universe of e-book publishing. So please, if you’ve read any of my stories and liked them, I would really love to hear from you. I feel like I’m spitting into the wind today. I know part of that is just the insatiable need we writers have for approval, and part of it is that I’m having a hard time planning my current project, and therefore questioning everything I’ve already done or ever hope to do.

I’m also trying to work through Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways course. April camp was supposed to be my motivation to get the story outline done and start the writing. It hasn’t worked out that way at all. I started off planning to write a clean Christmas romance novella, but I’ve lost interest in that story for the time being. There are a few reasons for this, I think. First, I had those short stories to finish, and that pretty much consumed my every waking thought until I got them done. Then I ended up dealing with website issues. I also got ideas for two fairly large projects.

One of them is a writing project, an idea for an insane fantasy story that involves a world with two suns and a two-day time zone system, a Sand Witch who travels the world looking for Time to ask him a question, a cowboy wizard with a British accent, a magic hat and a pair of bizarre pets, a professional stalker whose only friend is the narrator, mermaids, a revenge-seeking raccoon with a pop-gun, female pirates, and so much more. I’m still working on plotting this story out, to see if I can give it some structure.

The other idea is for a website dedicated to clean romance novels, since it’s difficult to find clean romance novels that are not inspirational fiction. At least, it’s difficult for me, since I read so much and so fast. So I still have a website to put together for that, books to read and review, lists to collect. It’s not directly related to my own writing, since I don’t currently have any romance novels ready for publication, but it still takes time. I’m excited about having a project that has to do with reading rather than writing, but there’s only so much time, and I feel very strongly that I should be writing first. Except that some days, like today, that just isn’t going to happen.