Coming in for the Finish


NaNoWriMo 2015 Workshop Participant and Winner Certificates

11-24-15

One night, last week, I went  on the NaNoWriMo 2015 site site to enter my word count for the night when I saw the message below:

“Winning Starts on November 20!”

Last year about this time, I was teaching Composition I at one college and Composition  II at another and dog-paddling along on my work-in-progress, Man After Midnight, on NaNoWriMo 2014.Last year, the idea that I could actually finish early was impossible, even unfathomable. Merely allowing myself to think about it would have driven me crazy.

But this year? In spite of teaching  three classes turning in just as four batches of essays before the semester is over, here I am back for more.

Color me fearless.

Pumped about jumping into a whole new work, Crimson Feathers, a paranormal romance with a healthy dose of reality, I could hardly wait for October to get out of the way. With a synopsis, a pitch, and a fistful of character sketches, I was primed to jump into my story and could hardly wait for October to get out of the way.  In the meantime, I had  managed to come down with write-in fever that raged like California wildfire and even spread into the minds of some students after I offered them extra credit for attending the presentations, signing up and posting a novel idea on NaNoWriMo,  to staying the course and pounding out a 50,000 first draft of a novel of their own.

Although jobs and other commitments caused some to fall by the wayside, one has stayed strong since the second night.  Tonight, as she and I  worked on our stories, I almost forgot for that two hours that I was  her professor and she was my student. For tonight, we were mighty writers on fire. She was working on her NaNo WIP. Since I finished and received my Winner Certificate on Friday, November 20, I was writing yet a more expanded synopsis of my work.

It  has been an exciting three weeks with presentations at the Judith Carrier Library at Tarrant County College’s Southeast Campus every Tuesday, from November 3 to tonight’s finale on November 24. Hosted by Liliana Cano, a library employee, and Yvonne Jocks, a creative writing professor, the presentation has been a huge success, at least in this writer’s mind. Even though we had brief presentations on November 10 and 17, we spent most of the evening in a write-in that, for some, could last as long as 10:00 p.m.

On November 10, one of my English colleagues, Emilee Taylor, brought a presentation on revision and editing.

On November 17,  Charles Renthrope, a former TCCD student, talked about the children’s book, Escape From Smoothie Mountain that he and his wife authored.

Tonight was the final presentation and party. People who had been attending received decals, collapsible water bottles, and certificates with their names and titles of their books on them.To come, Writers Cubes, for further inspiration.

Now that I am a two-time winner of NaNoWriMo, I have gained the confidence to help others find their way around the NaNoWriMo site. Tonight, as a reporter from the Collegian, our campus newspaper, interviewed me, one of her questions was this: “What advice would you give an aspiring writer?”

My answer was the same one I continue to tell myself over and over. And over:  “Whatever happens, keep writing.”

 

 

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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!