Thursday, May 31, 2012

Camp Nano

It's almost here guys!  All has been quiet on my front because I've been in and out of the revision and planning caves.  Revising Serendipity and planning for Sister Psychic.  It's been an exciting few days and we're looking at an even more exciting month.  I've developed a schedule I'm trying to stick to which incorporates my personal goal of 2k/day, swimming 20 laps in our pool, and revising at least 3k/day on Serendipity.  It's over 75k, but I've already finished the first two chapters.  Of course, chapter 1 always needs more editing, it's the first thing that hooks in your readers.  And it needs at least one beta reader, but that'll all happen after June.  I'm aiming to get at least half the book edited through June, then dive into the edits again after a week of in the beginning of July.

Tomorrow is June 1.  Tomorrow begins Camp Nano.  Tomorrow I start writing Sister Psychic.  I've outlined the whole book, but it's not very in depth.  I keep having ideas for deepening the outline, which will hopefully all wind up in the book.  If not, then they don't.  I'm still not crazy about the way the book ends, so maybe that'll change.  But that'll happen as it happens.

Are you excited yet?  Get excited.

Stay Tuned.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Camp Nano Prep: Research Trips

I recently changed where my story takes place.  Not by much, it was in Herculaneum, a small town near me, and now it's in Crystal City, another small town near me, but one I know a lot better.  I made this decision because of a research trip that I dragged my mom on today.

Normally my research trips are little jaunts to the library to peruse the folklore section.  I pull out books of old fairytales from Ireland, Scotland, and other parts of the world.  I flip through collections of folklore from various parts of the country, and read Norse, Greek, and Roman mythology.  But today's research trip was a bit different.  Today I went to see if the town where I planned to house my story fit the town I pictured.  Granted, I've never been to that town, even though it's ten minutes away from my own.  But I expected it to be more similar to my own town than different.  Well.

Turned out Herky was a good bit smaller than my town and quite different.  We didn't see any businesses, though we only went down a handful of streets.  The high school looked awesome, way nicer than mine was (though mine was in NY not MO) and I love the Blackcats as a mascot.  We started on one street, thought it would turn into another, and wound up back on the highway because, woops, you need to keep left on that fork to hit main street.  Fun fact.  So we went back around the highway and took Herky's main street around.  Then it was closed for a while so we had to turn and go down another street and had a little adventure.  A stranger on a riding mower waved at us.  When we passed the police station my mom, ever graceful under pressure, suggested that if we're lost we go in and ask for directions; she also suggested that telling them I was writing a fantasy novel set in their town and needed to research might result in us being put into a jail cell.  (Can you read the sarcasm when I say my mom is graceful under pressure?  Cause she's really, really, really not the person you want with you in a crisis.)  We found our way back onto the highway, don't worry.  Then I stewed in the car while we drove around our town so my mom could find a novitiate I had seen on a map.  While we were doing that the answer to the perplexing problem of the town not fitting the story became very very simple.

Just move the setting.

The town I had been picturing was in my backyard all along.  I live outside it.  I have a library card there.  The town I'd been picturing was Festus-Crystal City (The Twin Cities), but I'd placed Dee and her family in Herky five years ago before I started picturing Dee's town.  But when I do plot her summer it's right here in my own backyard.

Research trips don't always go as you planned, but sometimes you get something better out of them.  I planned to get a better understanding of Herculaneum.  I got that, but I also figured out where my book was meant to take place.  So now Delia Darko and her family have moved to Crystal City, no U-hauls required.  The library's awesome, there's a cupcakery, and a beautiful bridge.  It's five minutes to walk into Festus and that library's pretty awesome too.  I'll try to get in as much library writing time as I can in Festus and Crystal City because I write best at libraries.  So if you happen to be a neighbor, come find me.  I usually bring cookies.  And I always wave back.

Stay Tuned.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Camp Nano Prep: Storybook

Many authors swear by Scrivener.  I tried the free trial and I hated it.  It doesn't work for me.  I like word, even though everyone else seems to hate it.  Granted, I've only written one book, and an unpublished book at that so my book-writing experience is next to null, but it worked well for me.  What I do like, though, is a supplementary software called Storybook.  While there is the option with Storybook to write your book in the software, that's not what I use it for.  I use it to keep all of the information I need at my fingertips.  I have my outline in Storybook, I have my character profiles, my plot questions.  My world building information, which is vital to a fantasy writer, is kept in Storybook and backed up in Evernote.

Storybook has a feature called Strands.  Each Strand can contain an entire novel, or your notes on anything you want.  I usually keep the Default Strand for keeping information about each chapter, an Outline Strand for my outline and any notes I need to make on it, a Notes Strand for any notes that don't fit anywhere else, a World Strand for the world I'm building, and a Research Strand for noting where each piece of research comes from and what information I plan to use.  If I read a great piece of folklore from Alabama and want to incorporate it, I'll make a new 'scene' in my Research Strand, type in the information I'm keeping, add the source to the notes section, and it's right there.  Any new document within a Strand is a 'scene' though not everything is an actual scene.  What I love about Storybook is that you can also tag each 'scene' with which characters and locations are involved.

The software also keeps track of characters, locations, items, chapters, parts, and tags.  I create each character in the character function, fill in all their details, and tag them in the correct spots.  When I need to, I make notes about them in either their profile's notes section, or in a Strand and tag them.  Same with locations. I have yet to need the items function as there are no objects of such importance in my book.  Tags allow you to focus on the multiple elements in a book, like drama, romance, violence, etc.  You can tag each 'scene' with which element it reflects.

Finally, another feature I love is the Ideas panel.  If you have an idea but don't know where it belongs you can click the lightbulb on the top toolbar and it pops up with a little dialogue box for you to type in your idea.   Then, to view any ideas you've had, go to Charts And Tools, then click Ideas and they're all there.

For more information, check out the Storybook developer website here.

I've been considering trying out writing the book in Storybook for Camp Nano.  I'll keep you updated.

Stay Tuned.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Camp Nano Prep: Meta Documents

First of all, sorry I didn't post anything yesterday.
Second of all, let me explain what a meta document is.  These are documents, usually on a computer but sometimes physical, that hold other information about your characters and world-building that is not included in the manuscript.  Scott Westerfeld created the term here.  I discussed the most well known meta document of all in my last post.  The Outline.  Meta documents are, to quote Scott Westerfeld himself "documents about the main document."  There are many types of meta document, and I highly encourage you to check out the original post over on Scott Westerfeld's blog.

Think about it: novels are at least 50,000 words, and can be three times that length or more. That’s a huge project, and you, dear novelist, are the Project Manager. You need a clipboard with you at all times, or you will start forgetting stuff.
There are so many types of meta document that they can't all be listed.  Each author has their own set of meta documents.  In the original post the Timeline is covered.  I haven't used a timeline for the last book or for this one, especially since this is set in the summer, but I did for my first book.  It needed particularly careful scheduling.
Some other meta documents include:
Character Sheets (all the details about a character and their life story)
World Guides
Notes (for revisions)
Plot Questions/Problems
Summary (writing a summary of the story before I even write an outline really helps me to figure out where a story is going)

Really, you can make any kind of meta documents you think your book will need.  I keep a lot of mine in Evernote (which is the best program for writers, in my opinion, as referenced in this post) and some on index cards hung up on my closet's outside doors.  What methods work for you?  Share below in the comments.

Stay Tuned.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Camp Nano Prep: Outlining

Outlining.  The big scary word that has most writers running scared.  Me included.  Nano 2010 I used an outline for the first time.  It was scary, since I'd never thought that far ahead in a story.  I'd always been a pantser.  I just started and kept going.  But you know what?  Plotting and outlining was the best way to get that story out.  I had a real beginning, not just a cool character.  I had a middle.  I had an ending.  I knew who the murderer was and why the murders happened (yeah, it was one of those books), which had never happened before.  I knew everything about the book.  I wrote it, and I didn't come close to finishing the whole story.  But I knew where it was going and I had made my Nano 50k.
When I started on The Book Without A Name About Faeries And Boyfriends, I just wrote.  Then I stopped myself and wrote an outline.  I outlined in my bedroom, at my kitchen counter while I baked bread, on the pool deck, at the library, in Subway.  It took a week, but I had finally figured out where the story was going.  If it wasn't for that outline, I wouldn't have finished the book at all.  Now of course I'm struggling through edits, but I finished writing the book, and that's the big scary part.  I know everything about that book, so edits may be daunting, but I know that they'll make it better.
Now, I have an outline for my Camp Nano 2012 book.  (Affectionately working titled Sister Psychic, which is not likely to be its real title as it's also the name of my favorite Smash Mouth song from 2001).  I know who my villains are, what their motivations are, what species of Bumper they are.  I know my main character Delia very very well.  I know her history and her family.  I know what's going to happen in my story.  I know where the book is going.  I can complete it.

Does having an outline prevent things from happening that change the whole plot?  Not even close.  Some strange things happened in writing TBWANAFAB (affectionately called Serendipity).  Some strange things are happening even now as I plan for Sister Psychic.  I just changed something major about my villains, but it fits and it makes the book that much better.  I'm getting excited.  I'm getting ready for this.

Do you outline?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Camp Nano Prep: Motivation

Motivating yourself to write a novel in 30 days is tough.  No matter who you are, it's really tough.  So how do you do it?

Here are a few of my favorite strategies:
1) Fantasize about giving author interviews, then remember that you can't do that unless you publish a book.
2) Make a playlist of songs that get you in the mood to write your book.  They should relate to the book, or else you'll wind up writing something totally different.  (Mine includes Sister Psychic by Smash Mouth).
3) Make a fake cover for your book.
4) Put it on your to-do list, don't let it slip off.
5) Make a motivational computer background.  Obviously this isn't exactly viable if you share your computer, but if you use your own then make a background with pictures from your inspiration file.  Chop them up in photoshop, add a background color, and slap on a name.  Then put it up to remind yourself how important this is.

Whatever method you use to get motivated, let's get excited guys because Nano is so close!

Stay Tuned.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Camp Nano Prep: Inspiration

Finding the inspiration for a book is hard.  My first Nano I just dove in and started writing, and the whole thing changed a couple times.  The second one I totally cheated and brought something I had been working on since May that year.  I wrote over 18,000 words in four days and finished it.  Then I stopped doing anything for a few days because I broke my brain.  Camp Nano will be my third Nano challenge.  I've written most of an outline for a story I first got the idea for five years ago.  I changed a lot about the story itself, but my main character stayed mostly the same.  She and her relationship with her stepsister Sam were what really spoke to me and what had made me want to write this book.

To help myself work on the outline and shape the novel in my head, I saved a bunch of pictures to my computer and my Pinterest board.  I searched Tumblr, WeHeartIt, and Pinterest for photos that had to do with my book's plot and subjects.  I found a photo of Emma Watson from the set of her new movie, The Bling Ring, that looked perfect for Delia.  I found wolves, psychics, a tree house that is very important to the story, and a vampire.  I pinned the photos, saved them to my computer, and whenever I'm stuck I go look at them.  I also search other pinners' boards about their novels and writing inspiration for photos that speak to me. It helps when I'm not in the right mental place for the writing to have these things to help me.

Check back tomorrow when I write about the inspirational background I made for my computer to keep myself motivated.

Stay Tuned.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Camp Nano 2012

So I know I haven't been on here in about six months, but I haven't been doing much writing until this month except for school.  It was a tough semester, but I came out of it pretty well.  Good grades, joining Phi Sigma Pi (which means a million new friends), and writing two twelve page stories for my creative writing class.

I'm taking the challenge of Camp Nano 2012 (for June anyway), and writing a book set out here in Missouri.  It's set in Herculaneum (probably, I might change it to be closer, more in my backyard), and about a psychic, Delia Darko, from South Boston.  She moves out here and, basically, shit hits the fan.

If anyone else is doing it, find me.  I'm JeanniGrace and writing in fantasy.  You can also check out my pinboard about Delia's story and the inspirations here.  In the next eleven days I'll be writing Camp Nano prep posts, talking about what I'm doing to get prepped for my third Nano.  If anyone wants to contribute, comment or email me at

Stay Tuned.