Goodbye September, hello October (and hopefully cooler temperatures if the local weathermen aren’t making it up as they go again). Today was a day of pulling out words by the roots. Sometimes they flow. Sometimes you have to tease them out, and sometimes you have to go in after those suckers with a pickaxe and C-4 and tell yourself that you’ll clean everything up in the edit. Foo.
Started With: 23,021 words
Wrote: 3,043 words
Total word count: 26,064 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cat chores, cleaned up all kinds of cat vomit (what the heck is going on with them, I do not know), did knee PT workout, hit every poster on the Mid Week Tease and left comments on their teases, left answers for comments on my own tease, did promo blog posts for Deep Water in various groups on Facebook cooked lunch for Ramón and myself, made a skull necklace and bracelet, mailed out jewelry purchases and a new check for a bill because I’d forgotten to sign the first one, made dinner for Ramón and myself, and took a shower.
Writing Tips: Give yourself permission to write crap. Not every word that you write in the first draft will be gold. In fact, they’re going to be pretty shitty, with little glittering bits here and there that show promise. Think of it as digging clay out of a riverbank and slapping it into the general form of a person — the second/third/yadda yadda drafts are when you start carving everything into shape, adding stuff here and deleting stuff there. Sometimes deleting a lot of stuff there. Right now you’re not concerned with precision, or the perfect turn of phrase (although if you can manage those little glittering bits, please do so), or a gripping scene. You want shitty words that convey the general plotline of the story, and you want enough of them so that you make your word count. Do whatever you have to do to get them there — write a general outline that you’ll fill in later, skip ahead in the story, write something absolutely ridiculous that you know you’ll have to delete later but amuses you now. This is the time to get mud all over everything and build that castle.
Yep, not a damned word on the book today. No choice, as I had to work on a video project that is due later this week and sucked up the bulk of my day. Seriously, clones are looking better and better all the time.
Started With: 23,021 words
Wrote: 0 words
Total word count: 23,021 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cat chores, knee PT workout, recorded a podcast episode, and participated in the world’s longest video editing session. Seriously, I can’t even feel my butt anymore,
Writing Tips: Don’t beat yourself up if Real Life™ gets in the way and stops you from making your word quota, or from writing whatsoever. It happens sometimes. Just chalk it up to a day that need to be spent on other things and get back to work on your WIP tomorrow. I promise, the Muse won’t hold it against you.
Okay, that’s a little better. As it stands I’m now a little under one thousand words behind, which I should make up fairly easily this week, in between finishing a short story for a waiting anthology and delivering a video project to some friends who are waiting for it. Oh, and I edited a Sherlock Holmes pastiche I did a while ago and sent it off to an online magazine because members of my writer’s group were prodding me to send off non-erotic romance short stories again. Because it’s not like I’m doing anything else at the moment.
I’m starting to think that Ramón is right and I am making rods for my own backs. Have I mentioned how much I’m looking forward to our cruise in November? Like, I’m dreaming about it? Seven days on a ship out in the Bahamas, where I don’t have to clean up after cats, make dinner, or do anything but relax and let other people entertain me.
And work on my NaNoWriMo book, of course. I mean, it’s not as if writing stops just because I’m on vacay. That’s just silly talk.
Huh. I just realized I started this a week ago today and I already have a tad over 23,000 words done. Not bad, not bad at all.
Started With: 19,388 words
Wrote: 3,633 words
Total word count: 23,021 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cat chores, knee PT workout, did laundry, ran errands (mainly to pick up necessary meds), and got slammed by this really heinous sinus headache around 10 PM so I went to bed kinda early.
Writing Tips: There are two things you can do if you start getting sleepy while writing (it happens). One is to get up and do something–go for a walk, work out, do some housework, whatever. Research has shown that getting up every hour or so and getting the blood moving is not only good for your health, it helps your productivity. And whatever helps your productivity is something you should be doing. Unless that means eating a pound bag of peanut M&Ms every day. Don’t do that. Although a couple wouldn’t go amiss. Sorry, I’m in the middle of my Special Lady Time and man, I want chocolate.
The other is to take a nap. Sometimes it’s not that you’re getting sleepy because you’ve been sitting in one place for too long, it’s because you’re just generally sleepy. In which case lying down with your eyes closed for 40 minutes can work wonders.
Falling a tad bit more behind, yes, I know. But today I woke up feeling absolutely splendid after a night free of pain, had a very nice final day at the con, and came home with an urge to sit in our hot tub for a bit and soak my knees. After I got out, I almost fell asleep in my chair, so a nap was necessary before I could get my wits together enough to churn out any wordage. No problem, I can make it up over the next few days.
Started With: 18,170 words
Wrote: 1,218 words
Total word count: 19,388 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Drove to the con hotel, sold a copy of Storm Season and HIS, also sold a set of skull and rose earrings, did a panel and an autographing, drove home, discovered to my delight that our pool/spa heater still worked after three years of non-use, sat my happy ass in some bubbling water, took a delightful nap, and now I’m heading back to bed because it’s 1:39 AM and that’s late enough for me.
Writing Tips: “But Nicola,” I hear you say, “you have 5,000 words to make up, and you’re already supposed to write 3K a day. How in the world can you make up that backlog?”
Simple — I write 500 to 1,000 additional words a day. I tend to go a bit over the 3K mark anyway, so adding on a few more paragraphs usually isn’t that big of a deal. And if I’m stuck on a scene, I can always jump around a little bit in the story and find a scene I do I want to write and add in some wordage there. It may well be edited or even deleted when I get to hooking that scene up to the rest of the story, but at least the words are there. This, by the way, is why it’s useful to have an outline either on paper or in your head. If you’re stuck on one scene, it allows you to jump around and keep working until you can figure out what’s holding you up (or you get in the mood to write a smexy scene).
Due to my knee acting like a complete bitch this morning from messing it up on Wednesday at the gym and hobbling all around the damned hotel yesterday, I missed my reading at the con AND my other morning panel, and was basically miserable until about 2 PM. By the time I got back to the con I was tired, cranky, and ready to be swept up in some fun, so I pretty much took today off (I actually wrote more than 61 words, but I deleted about 270 so, yeah, that happened). Meh, it happens. I’ll play catchup over the next few days.
Also, if you have knees that feel like they’re full of ground glass due to injury, arthritis, whatever, go check out this knee brace (it’s called Kneed-It). My friend Selina saw me hobbling into the hotel, said, “I’m going to lend you my other brace,” and gave it to me. I swear to God, if this brace was human I would marry it and have its babies, I love it so much. NO PAIN. AWESOME.
Started With: 18,109 words
Wrote: 61 words
Total word count: 18,170 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Drank hard cider, ate a lot of candy, discussed the beauty of Michael Fassbender with a large table of people, 75% of whom were straight males, showed off my Sherlock plushies at a fencraft panel, and had a shitload of fun.
Writing Tips: An outline is a good thing, but you do not have to follow it slavishly. It should be a general road map to the story, but you will quite often run into all kinds of interesting detours, side trips, U turns and out and out dead ends that you didn’t expect but wind up informing your story (and often making it better). Frex: Empress has been laid out in three acts — Act I is where Matthias and Danäe start out on the bumpy road of their marriage and find out surprising things about each other and the people around them. Act II is the trip back to Hellas for the second marriage there — I knew I had to have some complications added there as well as a mid-point bump, but didn’t really know what that was going to be. Holding a cheerful two-year-old on my lap while we colored and played with crayons gave me an insight into two people who really need heirs for their kingdoms, and BAM I had my mid-point bump. So be open to things around you and use them as inspiration for your writing — you’d be surprised how helpful it can be.
As you may know (Bob), I also write science fiction and was invited to attend a local SF convention this weekend as a panelist. Deadlines do not stop for cons, however, so in between panels I plunked my butt down in the hotel’s breakfast room (I love how most hotels now have tall tables with outlets and comfy stools for people who have to work on laptops) and chunked out 2K, then added the final 1K when I got home.
Things I learned — writing sex scenes in a public place while people are walking behind me or coming up to give me a hugs is…challenging. Yes, let’s call it challenging. That being said, I wrote over 2,000 words and I didn’t even have a margarita. I RULE.
Started With: 15,102 words
Wrote: 3,019 words
Total word count: 18,109 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: cat chores, attended two panels, limped around a hotel a lot, held an adorable two-year-old on my lap, and stopped off at the drugstore for hair dye.
Writing Tips: Listening to music while writing can be hella useful — it helps you set the emotional tone of the section and can inspire anything from a super hot love scene to a ginormous battle scene straight out of 300 (yes, I put battle scenes in my erotic romance. I’m just that kind of writer). I know writers who can listen to vocal music when they write, but I find it extremely distracting so I tend to listen to soundtracks or other types of instrumental music when I’m working. Some of my favorite writing soundtracks are Sherlock Holmes (from the Downey Jr. movie) and Stage Beauty, and a lot of the fight scenes in the Olympic Cove books were written to the Pacific Rim soundtrack. Right now much of Empress is being written while listening to the soundtrack from Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V because it’s giving me the right temporal feel (I have a separate playlist for sex scenes).
And now, your faithful narrator needs to haul her butt off to bed. I think I’m reading the opening chapter of Empress of Storms tomorrow at my reading. This should be fun.
When you make a mistake in knitting and need to undo stitches until you reach the mistake and can correct it, it’s called frogging. That’s because as you’re tearing back your work you’re usually muttering “rippit, rippit” under your breath.
Well, knitters think it’s funny. Today was another day of tearing back words and writing new ones to take their place. This is fairly common, especially in the early stages of a story, but it’s also a little frustrating because it means that if you’re on a deadline like I am you have to write past your daily word quota to make up for lost wordage.
To make things a little easier I decided to leave the wedding night naughtiness more blocked in than completely finished, and did the same thing to another scene in chapter three. Yes, sometimes I have problems writing sex scenes. I usually have to punch them up on the second or third edit once I have a better feel for what my characters would do during bouncy bouncy fun time. So I skipped ahead to an important scene where we find out Matthias has suffered from bizarre migraines since the death of his first wife and the commander of the Ypresian cavalry baits Danäe into examining the king’s chambers with her mage skills to rule out evil hexes (Bardahlson’s just that kind of guy). Today’s stats:
Started With: 12,279 words
Wrote: 3,823 words
Total word count: 15,102 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: bills paid, new jewelry commissions taken, cat chores done, food (both human and cat) shopping, and some very necessary yoga to unkink
Also, typing with one hand because you have a grey tabby nestled into the crook of your other arm plays merry hell with your shoulder. Just saying.
After spending much of the night staring up at the ceiling and really, really hating that wedding night scene, I realized what I did wrong. I fell back on a commonly used fictional trope to create tension; namely, I have two people who are not communicating properly with each other and thus have the wrong idea about the other. Matthias thinks that Danäe is appalled by the idea of bedding a guy old enough to be her father, and Danäe thinks that if she tells Matthias that she was never in love with his son (but was in love with him) she would look fickle, if not actually whorish.
Ya know what? I reeeeeeeeally don’t like that trope. It’s annoying. And they’re going to have enough shit to deal with later on in the story that they don’t need additional miscommunications on their wedding night. So I’m going to go back and tear all that out, and write what should have happened — Danäe stops Matthias’s deliberately truncated foreplay after he assures her he’ll make it fast, asks what he’s doing, winkles out the real reason, and sets him straight. And then they have still kinda awkward but MUCH hotter sex because Hellenes have rational views on physical intimacy and godsdammit, Danäe wants to get off. Heh.
Started With: 9,285 words
Wrote: 3,012 words
Total word count: 12,279 words (yes, I know this doesn’t add up correctly but I deleted a scene so I was at a deficit when I started).
What else did you do today, Nicola: due to a bad night not nearly as much as I wanted to get done. But I did manage to get the living room vacuumed, checkbook balanced, and cat chores done, plus one hell of a leg session at the gym (oh, Lord, I have to start going more regularly because this business of not going for weeks and then going back hurts like a mother) and a shower.
Oh, I told Ramón about this challenge today. His response: “Because you have a rod for your own back that you haven’t used recently, I assume?” He understands my little foibles so well.
Started With: 6,223 words
Wrote: 3,062 words
Total word count: 9,285 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: performed cat chores, made a necklace for a friend, went for a drive when I got stuck on a plot point, attended my local writer’s critique group, fended off humorous suggestions that I add a God of Chairs and a God of Dysentery to the book, did the food shopping, grunted through my knee PT, and took a shower.
Today the words did not flow easily. I basically bulled through it, going back and tweaking some things in Chapter One, and told myself screw it, I do NOT need a pantheon in this story. It’s not like the gods make an appearance anyway. And may I say that I have just written what may well be the most cheerless wedding night scene in literary history. A couple of kisses, a fondle here and there, and then straight to the main event? Matthias had better get his shit in order or I will have Danäe smack some common sense into him with a paddle handle.
(Or as L.D. Blakeley most cogently quipped, “Bring the Payne!”)
So I’m sure that many of you have heard of a certain kerfluffle regarding an indie author who put up a GoFundMe fund to support herself while she wrote. I actually have no problem with people being patrons of a writer. That’s been a perfectly functional income stream for centuries, and in fact Patreon exists for creators who want to use it.
Unfortunately, this indie writer made it clear that she was in possession of, let us say, a rose-colored worldview on writing, publishing, and all that comes along with the scribbling dodge. Things became more fraught when her call for funding was then picked up by social media, bloggers, and writers (the awesome Jenny Trout did a marvelously fair-handed analysis of the situation). Many people pointed out the worst of her impractical expectations, often in some rather harsh terms. In response Indie Author lashed out, first on her GoFundMe page and then on her FB page.
(By the way, never do this. Never. Just no. Write nasty letters to your critics and then delete the letters, burn the critics in effigy, make voodoo dolls of them, whatever makes you feel better. But do not go on social media to lambaste them with phrases such as “cock-juggling thunder cunts.” Although I did like the use of that line in Blade Trinity. But I digress.)
Now, I’m not going to criticize the lashout — I don’t know the lady, I don’t know what challenges she faces, yadda yadda. But I was particularly intrigued by one comment of hers, to wit:
“I’d like to challenge each and every one of these wonderful women to a writing contest. How about an 80K (that’s 80,000 words people, not dollars!) novel. It needs to be fully edited, proofed and a professional cover designed for it. Oh, and they have only 6 months to do all this. Ok, go.”
*pauses to look at WIP list*
*nods to self*
Challenge accepted. In fact, I’m gonna go one better. I hereby state to the internet at large than I am going to finish an 80K fantasy erotic romance novel and have it fully edited, proofed, and provided with a professional cover in six weeks. And just to make this totally fair, that novel will be Navigator’s Star, since I only have 3K of it done and a vagueish outline so total word count will be 83K.
UPDATE: I’ve renamed the novel to Empress of Storms. You’ll see why.
Official start date is September 21st, release date will be November 1st, and I’ll be posting daily updates on word count, editing process, cover reveal, et al on FB and Twitter with a weekly roundup here. So stay tuned. This should be fun.