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I may not be participating in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of some of the things I learned over the years I did participate (I feel pretty ancient after that statement).  Sure, it’s a crazy frenzy of pouring thousands of words straight from your heart to the page (or the screen), but that doesn’t mean it’s all impulse.  Here are a few of the things I learned from NaNo.

1)  Have a plan.  This doesn’t mean you have to have a detailed line-per-scene outline complete with character names, descriptions, and complete family history going back ten generations, but it should probably be more than “Write about apples.”  (Why apples?  I don’t know.  That’s what popped into my head.  Thanks, Muse.  Such a smart-Alec.)  My personal favorite is a brief 2-3 sentence synopsis of the major scenes, plus a mention of anything that pertains to that scene that the Muse might give me (Like, “It would be really funny if the story opened with her tripping and almost falling into the casket in the middle of the funeral.  Flashing the audience would be great, too.”  Again, thanks, Muse.  True story.).

2)  Have goals.  Goals are pretty important in writing, I’ve found.  How else are you going to write 50,000 in 30 days if you don’t know that you need to hit 1,667 words per day?  Word count goals no longer work for me (at least not currently).  Now I go with pages.  My goal may be a paltry 2 pages per week right now, but it’s a goal.  (Don’t judge me.  I have a lot going on, and my days only have 24 hours in them.).

3)  Have friends.  By “friends” I mean “fellow writers you can talk to.”  Trust me, non-writers do not get it.  Just because I’m a writer does not make me a poet.  Or a biographer.  (The two most common “You should write–” suggestions I get.  Why would I want to write about your life?  Yes, you’ve done some stupid things, but it’s really better if we don’t publicize them…).  If you hit the wall while writing, writing friends are a helpful support group, always available for hand-holding, pep talks, and/or moving the bottle out of your reach.

So, there you go.  A few helpful tips   Now, back to your keyboards!  Those 1,667 words aren’t going to write themselves (probably).  I’m off to work on my plan (since the Muse hasn’t seen fit to grace me with one for The Fall yet…).

Sometimes, inspiration is easy to find.  It falls out of the sky like a bolt of lightning.

(I do not own this picture.  Image by Bo Insogna.)

(I do not own this picture. Image by Bo Insogna.)

Other times, it is much more elusive, like chasing a will-o-‘the-wisp

(I do not own this picture.  Photo by Buie.)

(I do not own this picture. Photo by Buie.)

I’ve found inspiration both ways.  (Or, really, it has found me.)  Usually, though, it’s a bit more…mundane.  A random thought, picture, name, or word will settle in my brain and I’ll hear an almost-audible click, and I know the Muse has snatched up whatever tiny piece just arrived and ran off into the darkness with it, giggling.  (My Muse is a bit terrifying at times.)  That little bit will be fitted together with other random bits to form a somewhat-complete idea.  When the Muse is finished with an idea, she’ll give it to me.  Or I’ll have to pry it from her greedy little fingers.  One of the two.

But reading inspires me.  Fiction.  Creative non-fiction.  Classics.  Blog posts.

That being said, here are a few interesting, inspiring links I’ve come across lately:

Letting go vs holding on, by Cristian Mihai.

A year-old post on Writing Inspiration, by Rucy Ban.

Another post on Writing Inspiration, on H. Squires Novels.

Writing Inspiration, on the ramblings of a literature nerd  (Isn’t that the greatest name?  Fellow literature nerds unite!)

On Writing, on Hello Alle.

Go.  Be inspired.  Write.

It’s November.  Not a news flash, I know.  But if you’re a writer, you might know this month better as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo.  If you don’t know, NaNo is all about writing a complete, 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

The first novel I ever completed was my first year doing NaNo.  I’ll never forget the rush, the thrill of knowing I was writing alongside thousands of other writers all over the world.  That alone was inspiration enough, but if my motivation ever flagged or I had questions, the forums were a fantastic place to go find it again or find answers.  I didn’t finish that novel in November, but I finished it just a few weeks later.  Since then, I’ve honestly forgotten how many times I’ve done–and “won”–NaNo, but I think it’s at least four (For the record, at least twice I wrote 100,000 words during NaNo.  Yes, I’m a masochist.  And clearly insane.  I have papers.)  I was even wearing my NaNo shirt when I met Laurell K. Hamilton, and she asked me about it because she’d never heard of it.

I haven’t done NaNo for the last…um, four years, I think.  Because of school mainly.  I can only juggle so much, and what amounts to two full-time jobs keeps me pretty busy.  I haven’t even found time to write a single page in weeks, much less around 1,700 words a day.  (There isn’t enough caffeine in the world to keep me awake for all that.)  But in early October, when I remembered it was almost time for NaNo, I was tempted.  Oh, so very tempted.  Fortunately, common sense prevailed.  I have a little.  And, in the face of working 3 11-16-hour days a week, plus 2 8-or-so-hour days doing homework, and crazy busy weekends filled with half-marathon training…Yeah, common sense sucks, but it was right.

But I’d like to wish everyone doing NaNo lots of luck (and caffeine).  If you are so fortunate, I’d really like to hear about how well it’s going.

Populatti, by Jackie Bardenwerper


Jackie Bardenwerper is a self-published author of young adult fiction. Her first novel, On the Line, is an honorable mention recipient in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. Her second novel is Populatti, and deals with issues faced by young adults every day, including social media struggles and bullying.

At sixteen, Livi Stanley thinks she has it all: a new life free from the traumas of her middle-school-year awkwardness and unpopularity, great grades, good friends, and membership in Populatti, an exclusive website that allows her access to the hottest social scene around. Which includes Brandon Dash, baseball star and Livi’s long-time crush. But along with all the benefits, membership in Populatti has a catch: the other members can vote you out at any time.

When the online rumors start, growing uglier by the second, Livi’s place as a popster is threatened. Her friends don’t really seem to care, so Livi will have to look for help in places she never imagined. With her insider view of the reality behind Populatti, Livi has some questions: Why is everyone voting against her? Are these people really her friends at all? And does she even want to stay in Populatti, no matter what the votes decide?

Populatti is a book dealing with real issues faced by young adults today, in a world colored by the distorted lens of social media. The characters are well-imaged people, not cardboard cutouts, and the trials that Livi goes through are realistic—if also slightly horrific. This fast-paced novel captures the nuances of the high school social scene, and one girl’s realization that there is more to life than popularity and social media.

(Galley provide by JKS Communications)

Populatti Blog Tour


Holly Lisle is looking for readers and writers to build a community that fosters the growth of new writers.  The readers will have the opportunity to help writers they support to grow and learn, the writers will gain support and assistance where they need it.  Holly does wonderful things for other writers, and this is a fantastic new idea of hers that is still in beta development.  If you’re interested, check it out here.

Or where does it find you?

Personally, Pinterest, while undoubtedly an excellent form of time-wasting, is also a wellspring of ideas.  The unending supply of pictures–of everything from colorful people to almost-unearthly places–frequently sets the wheels humming in the back of my mind. I’ll be innocently scrolling through the thread-that-never-ends, and the Muse will say “Hmm.  Hang on a sec.”

Things like this:

(Found here.)

(Found here.)

And this:

(Picture found here.)

(Picture found here.)


Or maybe even this:

(Image found here.)

(Image found here.)


Pictures like that make the Muse happy, make her imagination run wild.  So where do you find inspiration?

(I found these images via Pinterest, and did try to find out who owned them.  If they belong to you, and you want them taken down, please let me know.  I appreciate your beautiful work.)

Writing Inspiration

Sometimes, I just need a little inspiration to get my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keys (Actually, judging from my complete lack of writing lately, I apparently also need to be chained to the chair, but that’s another story.). Reading other writers’ posts that are inspiring, usually snaps me out of whatever funk I’m in. With that in mind, here are three great posts from writers that have me eager to get back to work.

Here’s one from Raymond on Writing in a Dead World:  Deleting the Best Part of You.

One from Shannon A. Thompson:  Writing is Misery.

And one from Christian Milan:  Are Writers Crazy?

Check them out, even if you don’t need writing inspiration.

Kirin Rise:  Cast of Shadows, by Ed Cruz

Kirin Rise: Cast of Shadows, by Ed Cruz

Ed Cruz is a martial artist who was born in the Philippines and raised the U.S. He has a large online following, and had devoted himself to mastering the art of Wing Chin Gung Fu, the only art ever created by a woman. His first novel, the first in a series, is Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows.

Kirin Rise doesn’t look like much: she’s tiny, unassuming, and most of all, female. So when she appears in front of the cameras at Chum Night—the weekly blood bath publicized by the mighty United Federation of Mixed Fighting—the world is sure of her defeat, and her probable death. But with one hit, Kirin shatters all assumptions and catapults herself into a world she never imagined.

America in 2032 is a different place. Gone are family values and helping out your neighbors. In their places are selfishness and corporate greed—led by the Federation and its lust for total control. With the Federation usurping the place of every single competitive sport and dominating the government and the public eye, all eyes are on Kirin Rise, as she opposes the most feared fighters in the world.

But her opponents in the ring aren’t the only ones Kirin has to worry about. The Federation is more powerful than she imagined, and soon everyone she loves is in danger—her family, her friends, her Sifu, and Hunter, the guy she’s known for years. Can Kirin Rise win against the Federation fighters, or will she find defeat as she battles corporate corruption.

Kirin Rise: Cast of Shadows is set in a world very similar to our own, with a familiar culture and way of life. But this world is overshadowed by the Federation, which has spread its tentacles throughout every facet of existence, leading to a dark stain of corruption. The characters, particularly Kirin and Sifu, are larger than life, and not stereotypical martial artist figures of student and master. The characters have distinct personalities, wants, and goals, and they fully inhabit their world, a terrifying rendering of what our world could be like if things stay on the course they are on.

Kirin Rise Blog Tour

Kirin Rise Blog Tour

Well, to be frank, money. It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but people have to pay their bills and buy food in order to survive, so it’s something we all have to have (since we don’t live in a trade/barter society). And as much as I’d like to say, about writing, “I just do it for the art,” that doesn’t pay the bills.

Don’t get me wrong, I do write for the art. Because I love to make up worlds and people, and see what happens to them. But that in and of itself doesn’t pay the bills (or at least, it doesn’t pay mine), so I need to get compensated for what I do. I’m not talking about now. Right now, I’m not actively pursuing publication or trying to make money off my writing. But in the future, I intend to.

With that end in mind, I’m trying to get together a coherent…”business plan,” we’ll call it. I have school left to finish, and a day job that pays my bills (sort of) right now, so it’s a long-term plan, not an I-won-the-lottery-so-I’m-quitting-my-job immediate plan.

But I’m having a little bit of trouble getting ideas into a coherent, plan-like form. The basic formula is the same for a non-writing job ( 1)Do the job. 2) Get paid.), but coming up with a concrete plan is messing with my mind a little bit.

So I’m looking for suggestions. People who have/are writing professionally, people who have thought about it or come up with a plan themselves, people who just have suggestions…I’d appreciate any of your thoughts. Please understand, it doesn’t have to include strictly fiction writing. I’m getting an English degree with a focus on professional writing, so suggestions for how to utilize that (columnist, feature writing, whatever) are very useful, too. I need help, and I’m not afraid to ask for it.

In my Creative Writing class, the reading assignment for next week is about Revision. Revision is not my favorite part of the writing process. It is, quite possibly, my least favorite. (Okay, perhaps tied with writing the first sentence, but that’s a whole other phobia…) Revising is hard work. Sometimes I can see what needs re-worked right away. Sometimes I might as well be trying to read it in Braille or Swahili, for all the sense it makes to me (I speak /read neither, by the way). I know revising is necessary, that it is essentially where the magic happens, but I don’t really enjoy it or anticipate it.

That being said, while I was reading about revising, all I could think about—all the Muse could think about—was the werewolf story. I love the characters in that story, the world, the conflict, everything about it. The writing is done. It’s even been revised (once). But it could use some more work, some fresh eyes. I’m wondering if the Muse is trying to tell me something. Perhaps I should put in a little bit of revision time on this story, as well as drafting The Fall? (And it would only be a little bit of time, because that’s all I have to give.)

I could do it. Maybe only an hour a week, but I could. Then I could start writing the next one…ah. Delusions of grandeur are on the agenda today, I see. Considering my weekly writing goal for The Fall is two measly pages, and I’m doing good to hit that, now I’m mentally gearing up to write something else. I really have to stop trying to do too much.

What do you think? Add a small bit of revision into the mix, or stick with just writing for now?


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