REVVING UP FOR NANO-TIME!


October 23, 2015

Two-time NaNo Winner!
Two-time NaNo Winner!

“Hey, kids! What time is it?” a character named Buffalo Bob once shouted.

Sparrow voices from the audience would holler, “It’s Howdy-Doody Time!”

Fast-forward *&%$ years later (ahem!). In a little over a week, NaNoWriMo writers or “Wrimos”, will flex their fingers and yell, “It’s NaNoWriMo time!”

Yes, indeed.  At 12:00 a.m on November 1, writers worldwide,  snacks and coffee beside them, will pound out at least 1,667 words, more or less, every day, stopping only on November 30 at 11:59 p.m.

When it originated, Chris Baty, author of No Plot, No Problem, and his fellow writers, started NaNoWriMo, short for  National Novel Writing Month, in July. According to Baty, the problem with having NaNoWriMo in July was that July was vacation season and the weather is still semi-balmy. So Baty and the bunch moved NaNo to November, when plunging temperatures usher in ice or snow, making our warm homes feel just right for a month-long write-in. Writers love to write at night, anyway. At least, this writer does.

In the past, my NaNo WIPS have been suspense stories. In MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT, an Internet predator calling himself  “The Man”, lurks on the “Man After Midnight” dating site as a drop-dead-gorgeous man to lure the main character’s teen-aged daughter into his web. In order to save her daughter, the protagonist must join the site, herself, and “date” the suspects until she finds the one.

In July, for Camp NaNoWriMo, I wrote THE KILLER MOST LIKELY, in which twin brothers — a convict and a class president attend their high-school  reunion hoping to reunite with the same woman, the convict’s ex-wife.

This time, for the fun of it, I’m trying my hand at fantasy. When I described my NaNo WIP to a student, he summed up CRIMSON FEATHERS as a “slice-of-life fantasy” about a homely and plump professor who meets the man of her dreams —  an Aztec warrior  — in her dreams. It is based on an actual dream I had in the late 1980’s. Now, after figuring thinking the plot over, I’ve decided to go for it.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, even schools are coming up with their own NaNo presentations. Mine will meet in our campus library, every Tuesday night at seven o’clock for presentations and write-ins. Even better, the first one, on November 3, will meet on my birthday.

If you have always wanted to say you wrote a novel — defined by NaNoWriMo as 50,000 words — this is your chance. Prepare your character sketches. Build your “worlds”, and even dash off an outline or two, but the actual work must start no sooner than 12:00 a.m. on November 1.

Have fun making a royal  mess. Change the characters’ names in the middle of the story. Send New Yorkers off on an African safari in Central Park. Above all, jump in with both feet and have yourself a ball.

For inspiration, read Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem. As you learn how to write out numbers and eschew hyphenated words, you’ll giggle over his instructive silliness.

Okay, so who wants to join me in a month-long write-in? On your mark, get set, go!

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WANACon 2013, Day One of A Writer’s Dream


My own munchies
My own munchies

03-02-13

Love the thrill of writing conferences but not the hassles or expense?  Yearn for reclining seats? Would you attend more of those  shindigs if  you could shun Spanx for pajamas?

Well, thanks to Kristen Lamb and Chad Carver,  I did all that and more on February 22-24 at WANACon 2013.

The first-ever of its kind, WANACon 2013 united writers worldwide by offering the best of both experiences: the “feel” of a traditional conference, complete with a “lobby” (chat-room) so real that I  forgot it was virtual. Thanks to “Tech Surgeon”, Jay Donovan, the WANA International website with its BBB (Big Blue Button) rocked with activity! Also, with Jami Gold’s expert moderation, each presentation flowed seamlessly.

A college English professor who teaches night classes, I look forward to sleeping in on Friday. was different. Up at 6:00 a.m., I jumped into  my sweats, fed and walked my dog, and fixed breakfast. I didn’t want to be tardy to the first class, 7:00 a.m. (Texas time). Settled into my recliner with Cuppa number-two,  I logged onto WANACon.  and let the inspiration happen.

Counting one seminar in Digital Room B, reserved for pitches to agents,  all eight presentations were top-shelf. Among them, I’ll focus on five I found especially  helpful on the first day of this all-out write-a-rama:

First, at 7:00 a.m, Jared Kuritz’s “Publishing 101” enlightened me to the costs of  traditional, self, and independent publishing. In fact, the stats about traditional publishing sent me staggering!

At noon, while mainlining peanut-butter from jar to mouth,  I tuned into Joshua Graham’s  “Indie versus Traditional Publishing” seminar.  He must have been a fly on the wall of my brain, knowing that I have flirted  with going Indie. His notes, entailing the pluses and minuses of indie versus traditional, even included a  third option: ‘hybrid” publishing — a mix of traditional and indie.

At 4:00 p.m, Candace Havens, with her exuberant, can-do attitude, exploded onto my big-screen t.v. Her keynote address, “Dream Big.”  After meeting her at DFW Writers Conference, I remembered her “Fast Draft” and “Revision Hell” presentations as “standing-room only”. With her coaching, I will  gag that  old  “English-teacher-prune” and listen to my subconscious brain, instead.

At 6:00-7:30, agent Helen Zimmerman offered her expertise in  “How To Find an Agent”. With a relaxed and approachable manner, she shared advice about pitching to an agent and composing a query.

Topping off the night, Jenny Hansen presented the Cliff’s Notes version of “LinkedIn: Your Professional Identity”.  A LinkedIn member, already, I noted changes to make in my own profile.

After a brief chat in the lobby, I turned in. Friday had been an all-out write-a-rama, I drifted dreaming of the goodies Saturday would bring.

Sound inviting? For more information about Kristen Lamb, WANA International, and WANACon, follow the links in this blog.  So, writers and readers, what would your  dream conference look like?