Are You a NaNoWriMo Newbie?

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is nearly here. Are you ready? If you’re a NaNoWriMo Newbie, chances are very high that your answer is, “No!”

Not to worry. There’s plenty of time. You have seven days.

Your best resource is the NaNoWriMo website. Heed the advice on its NaNo Prep page. It’s there for a reason!

Also this year, published authors have taken over the @NaNoWriMo Twitter handle. Coaches are available right now to provide words of wisdom and support.

This will be my sixth NaNo. I’m not an expert, but I’m no longer a newbie. So I’ll offer up a few bits of my wisdom:

  • Get a buddy (either on NaNo or live). Misery loves company 🙂
  • Write every day.
  • You don’t have to finish the story – the goal is 50k new words, not a finished novel.
  • Keep writing.
  • It doesn’t have to make sense – the goal is 50k new words.
  • Turn off your inner editor.
  • If you hit a wall, turn around and go the other way (i.e., write something else—just get down new words). Word count is key to success!
  • Keep writing!

If you can swing it, consider dictating your novel. Speaking your novel is much faster than typing for most people. I have used Dragon Naturally Speaking Home 13.0.

Last, and most important: When you think you won’t make it, keep writing!

Two Sides of Me

I’ve decided that since there are two sides to me–writer & artist–I will alternate the focus of my posts. On weeks where Saturdays land on an even date, I will blog a writing topic. On weeks were the date is odd, I will blog an art topic.

Now, some might think that there was some intentional, psychological scheme at work here. Odd number because artists are odd. But not at all. Today is the 17th and I wanted to write about art. That’s all there was to it. The fact that artists are odd had nothing to do with it 🙂

Today’s topic: Acquiring inexpensive art. I recently discovered a new art site that has inspired me to create something new nearly every day. The site is Daily Paintworks. There are hundreds of talented artists showcasing their work. The site also runs an auction. Many of the paintings are smaller works, which makes them very affordable. I just acquired “Wondering at Twilight”, a beautiful abstract from Kerri Blackman. It looked great on the screen, but the physical piece is even more vibrant. I love it!

So, I am busily creating small pieces that I hope to offer up for sale soon. The little guy below is not one of them. I created him to test a new set of watercolor pencils. I only spent a few minutes on him just to see how they worked. Pretty well, I think. I’m off to the studio (aka living room) to create something!

5-minute watercolor pencil study

5-minute watercolor pencil study

Book Review: Writing the Paranormal Novel

One of my Blogger Buddies from the WD 2015 October Platform Challenge shared an article by Steven Harper about writing paranormal novels. If you like the article, you might want to check out his book, Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story.

It’s loaded with examples from popular works and filled with exercises to get your juices flowing. I have a dog-eared copy on my own bookshelf as well as the e-book version!

Arts in the Classroom

My earliest ‘art’ memory is from kindergarten. We used a piece of screen, a maple leaf, and yellow paint to ‘print’ a leaf pattern onto a trivet. I was fascinated and the memory stuck with me.  I continued with the usual drawing that kids do throughout elementary school with crayons and such.

In 7th or 8th grade, our church youth director offered drawing classes once a week and I went to those while they were available. And, like many other aspiring artists of the time, I watched Bob Ross whenever I could. The man was amazing and I wanted to paint just like him.

My first experience with a ‘real’ art class didn’t come until 9th grade, where I decided that I wanted to have my own stationery company. I had always been obsessed with greeting cards, note cards, calendars, you name it. If it was a paper product designed to be written on, I wanted it.

I graduated high school in 1979 (no, that’s not a typo; I’m that old) and went to the University of Southern Mississippi as a Graphics Communications major. Unfortunately, I decided that it would be much more fun to major in partying and left school in February 1980. Life went on. I got married in 1981. Got divorced in 1982. Went into the Navy in 1983, where I met a wonderful man who I married after four months of dating and today I still call “Hubby”.

I continued to dabble in art here and there. Spending hundreds of dollars on supplies over the years, but rarely actually using them–not to mention the books! I could start a library of how-to art books alone.

In July 2014, I finally decided to seriously explore my artistic side and signed up for acrylic painting classes at a local Michael’s store. Some of my work is pretty good (if I do say so myself). I’ve even put some of my work on products for sale via Zazzle and CafePress.

You’re probably wondering what the point is to my ramblings. Here it is: If not for that 9th grade art class, I don’t know that I would have found my interest in art on my own–at least not in the same way. It’s true that it has taken years to get back to it, but the dream is still alive. It just needed to be dusted off.

I’ve often thought “If only I had stuck with it when I graduated high school…” But at least I was able to experience it for one year in high school. Most kids today don’t have that opportunity because current budgets don’t support ‘arts’ as part of the regular curriculum.

If you believe that our kids need this vital aspect of development in the classroom, check out Arts Action Fund.

Did art have an impact on your education? Leave a reply to let us know!

Pitching at a Conference

I will be attending the Boston Writing Workshop in November and will be pitching my MG fantasy novel. I found some timely advice from a Writer’s Digest article: 7 Tips for Pitching to an Agent or Editor at a Conference by Chuck Sambuchino. The book isn’t done, so I almost didn’t sign up for the pitch session, but after reading the article, I decided to go for it. I’ll let you know how it goes in November. Of course, that’s right in the middle of NaNoWriMo!

First Entry

I am stepping outside my comfort zone by participating in the Writer’s Digest 2015 October Platform Challenge. This is Day 3. The challenge: to start my own blog and post an entry. This is said blog post. Challenge complete!