Monday, November 28, 2011

The Holocaust Called NaNoWriMo

Last year my NaNo project looked like this:

Monet (Source)

It came together so beautifully and perfectly. All I had to do was clean up some problems with the characters and fix a few minor plot hiccups, and voila! One year later, it's accepted for publication.

This year my NaNo project looks like this:

Pollock (Source)
Complete chaos and disaster. I'm not sure it can be salvaged. I even had the plot outlined better than last year, and all my research done. But, like this painting, it's just not working. Grrr!

I guess I'll just finish it, then tuck it away while I work on something else. Maybe I'll like it better when I've had a chance to let it rest.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNo Happiness Comes In Small Packages

I know I'm probably the last person on the planet to figure this out. But I learned something this year for NaNoWriMo that's helped me a lot.

This is my first year using Scrivener for NaNo, and it has this cool tool called "Project Targets."

I set it for the 50K word goal, and it keeps track of my progress for me. Also, and more importantly, is the session target.

I set the project to calculate exactly how many words I need to write per day (not including Sunday, because that's my writing day off) and it adjusts automatically if I write more or less than the session goal. I have it set so that each day is one session, and the calculator resets everyday at midnight.

The best part is the little bar that changes color as you get closer to your goal. It sounds silly, but it motivates me. I want to see that bar turn green! I can't go to sleep until it does. I pretty much can't focus on anything until that bar is GREEN!

I love it! Why didn't I know about this sooner?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name

Google Search of the Day: Tide tables for Northern Wales.

The big question: Does the title of my book really matter?

Everyone knows that when you publish traditionally, you get little or no say regarding the title of your book. Publishers have marketing specialists lined up to pick a title that will grab readers' attention.

As a writer, my job is to grab the attention of an agent or publisher. The title is my first opportunity to sell it to them. If they see an awesome title in the inbox, they are more likely to take a serious look at the submission.

There are three basic categories of titles (with a lot of overlapping).

1. Character Titles: Romana the Pest; James and the Giant Peach, Keturah and Lord Death; Julie of the Wolves; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Coraline

2. Plot Titles: The Hunger Games; Island of the Blue Dolphins; Princess Academy; The Lightening Thief; Speak

3. Mood or Subgenre titles (very popular now in YA): Paranormalcy; The Dark Divine; The Forest of Hands and Teeth; Daughter of Smoke and Bone; I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You

Some other things to consider while choosing a title:

Be Provocative Provocative titles (especially one word titles) are extremely popular. Just check the Amazon list of best-selling YA books. Choose words that elicit emotion or curiosity and phrases that make book browsers do a double take. The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; To Kill a Mockingbird; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now

Use Resonance Use words that bring to mind something evocative or reminiscent, and phrases that already mean something to the reader. Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Grapes of Wrath; Gone with the Wind

Create a Strong Visual The Color Purple; Where the Wild Things Are; Love in the Time of Cholera; Cry, the Beloved Country

Use Alliteration, Rhyme, or Repetition This makes the title catchy or memorable, like how we can remember a nursery rhyme we learned years ago as a child. Listen to the flow. I Capture the Castle; The Secret Circle; Maniac McGee; The Wind in the Willows; There's a Wocket in My Pocket 

Words that Contradict Beautiful Chaos; The Death Cure; Sacred Sins; Neverwhere

Above all, be true to yourself and your book. Go with what feels right to you. 

What are some of your favorite titles.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Receiving Critical Input

I had to interrupt my regularly scheduled NaNo to post a link to this fantastic article on the StoryFix blog. Every author or writer needs to read this great advice on accepting criticism, and choosing which criticisms to accept.

Do it now.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Ketchup and Catch-up

I spent the weekend (Thursday through Sunday) in lovely San Diego for my step-niece's wedding. Just me and Hubby, we left the kids home. This is the first time we've gotten away together for a few years. It was wonderful.

We ordered room service breakfast on Friday morning, and Hubby's hash browns came with the cutest ketchup bottles I've ever seen. I brought them home.

Then we went to Sea World and saw Shamu.

No trainers were killed during the show, so that was good. And for future reference, those of you considering the dolphin show: be warned! It's not so much a dolphin show as it is a show of men and women wearing fancy wetsuits and sparkly make up spinning on ropes and standing around pointing their toes while mediocre environmentalist music plays and the fountains spurt water. Meh.

(Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of the San Diego trip when I tell the story of how we were trapped on Shutter Island.)

So now, thanks to the California trip and some emergency revisions for a MS under consideration, I'm behind about 7,000 words in NaNo. I don't know if I can catch up. But I'm gonna try.