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My First Critic

I have fallen behind and I’ve lost track of my word count. Not unexpected with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and my crazy work schedule, but I am stressing out for sure.

Midnight Friday. That’ is the deadline.

Current word count 40,994.

I am over 4,000 words in the whole. And I have to write almost 9,000 by Friday.

The race is on!

Bad news, I work a lot between now and then. And this past weekend, I had to pick up two extra shifts I was not planning on working.

Good news, I did some writing this morning. I have tomorrow off.

I work today, but I have some time to get writing done tonight. Between tonight and tomorrow, if I focus, I feel that I can not only get caught up, I can maybe get a little bit ahead.

Wish me luck!

Just keep writing…

 

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Are you done yet?

I announced a few weeks ago that I am going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year to finish my novel which I have been working on for just over a year. I just wanted to give a quick update as to my progress.

Before NaNoWriMo I had about 74,000 words written and had reached some pretty crucial parts of the story, but just could not focus to really write them. I had a few setbacks, like when my laptop died a week after I bought Scrivener. September and October were busy times at work this year, which kept me very busy. But really, while some of my setbacks were legit, most of them were really just excuses to justify not writing.

I think the idea of finishing this book kind of scares me. I’ve never written anything this big. Or more to the point, finished anything this big. It is a daunting thought to think I’ve written a book. I am friends with a lot of writers who write many, many books. They write articles, short stories, novels, novellas…I could go on. I’ve written short stories and essays. I have blogged. I have started novels. I’ve gotten over 25,000 words into novels and then just stopped writing them. Finishing a novel? I never have.

Novels are big and scary things to write. I said it was a daunting task. It feels like an insurmountable goal. Improbable even that I could write one. An unattainable goal.

But once I had my story firmly in mind and I made some basic notes on it. I slogged away at it several times a week until I had written 74,000 words, suddenly finishing it felt…possible. And that is an exciting feeling.

Over the course of this past year, I have been listening to podcasts about writing. I listen to Grammar Girl, The Writer Files, The Moth, and my current favorite, I Should Be Writing. I have read books about writing and listened to a couple on Audible about writing. My favorite is of course the classic On Writing by Stephen King. And I’ve made attending my writer’s groups a priority. My work schedule makes going to them difficult sometimes, but I change my schedule or do a shift trade so that I can make it more often than I had in the past. I have even joined another writer’s group that meets once a month to discuss long-form writing. That group is really just me and one or two other friends, but it helps keep me motivated.

Basically, I have fully immersed myself into this project by thinking about writing, talking about writing, strategizing about writing, and finally sitting down and doing the actual work of writing.

So, the promised update on my NaNo progress…

We are 11 days in. Just over the 1/3 mark. My current word count is 17,828. I still have a little over 500 words to write today, but I will get that done. I began the first week of November a little bit in the hole. But I wrote my way out of it and caught up. I try to stay a little bit ahead of 1,667 daily word count. I have the day off today, so I am going to try to get a day ahead so that I do not lose my momentum.

By the time I finish the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, I will have written right around 125,000 words. My goal is that the first draft of my novel will be done by then.

Then the fun begins…rewriting!

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Naomi plotting world domination.

I have been working on a novel called Avenging Angels for about a year. In that time, I have written just over 74k words. One would think I am nearly done, but I feel like I am nowhere close.

I need to finish up the first draft of this novel. I know it will still need a lot of work once the first draft is complete, but I need to just finish putting the idea down on paper.

I have had a lot of setbacks including my computer completely dying on me two days after I downloaded Scrivener. My MacBook just died. I thought it was the battery, but when I took it to the Apple Genius, they told me the hard drive was caput. It would cost $475 to fix. I just moved and spent all my money moving and did not really have $500 to throw at fixing my MacBook. Furthermore, the Apple Genius said that since my computer is a 2014, it was probably best just to buy a new laptop. Well, if I don’t have $500 to throw at a laptop…do I really need to finish that thought?

So, I saved up my pennies for a month and cashed in some work bennies to get some gift cards and scraped up enough to fix my laptop. I took it back to Apple, plugged it and bing! It booted up.

WTF, seriously?

I could not get logged in using my password and the system would not let me use my Apple ID to change my password. FFS.

The Apple Genius tried everything to circumvent the password problem, but finally after two hours, we just had to wipe the whole computer and reload it.

AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, after I freaked out inside my head, I calmed down as I had very wisely listened to my brother who had told me a year previous to back-up everything on the cloud, including, thank heavens, my novel.

So, I held my breath and let him wipe my computer. Miraculously, it still works. I do not know how long I have, but a friend of mine has offered to help me replace the SSD card which should give me some more time on this laptop.

See how easy it was for me to get distracted from my novel? I am writing this post to tell you about my novel and Nanowrimo and instead I fell into the laptop hell I experienced.

So, here it is. I am going to use Nano to finish up my first draft. I may not reach the 50K mark on Nano as I am not going to include any of the stuff I have already written. I probably have 25k-30k left to write. But who knows, I may just go ahead and keep on writing and get started on the 2nd installment of the novel just to get me up to 50k. I have already decided the story is going to be a trilogy.

If you are on the Nanowrimo site and participating in National Novel Writing Month, my user name is morgaine84. Add me to your buddy list and follow my progress. I’ll follow you back and maybe we can encourage each other to keep on going through the month.

Good luck and see you in November!

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Hello Blogosphere!  It sure has been a while since I’ve written on this blog.  A couple of quick updates…

  • I have been doing a ton of writing this year.  Several essays, a couple of short stories, and of course, my middle grade novel.  I may not reach my yearly goal of 12 personal essays, but I’m not too far off.
  • I am finish up my children’s novel for Nanowrimothis year and I am almost done!  I will finish Nano successfully for the first time this year.
  • My weight loss blog is doing very well.  I have lost 127 pounds with only 46 more to go.
  • My overall health is great.

Now, onto what I really wanted to write about today…

catching fire

I saw the new Hunger Games movie last night.  I am a huge fan of the books, which I re-read in preparation to see this movie.  Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows that I am definitely an advocate of reading the book before seeing the movie.

That said, let me start my review.

Any time a book is adapted for the screen, there will be changes in how the story is told.  Film is a completely different medium, after all.  Events that can take pages or chapters to describe in a book can be done more effectively with imagery and music in film.  Conversely, a character’s inner dialogue, which can be so revealing in a book, can often be lost in film. Some film makers often use voice-overs to fill that gap, but done poorly, voice-overs can ruin an otherwise good movie.  Francis Lawrence did not use voice-overs, thankfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I thought it was a good adaptation from book to screen.  There were changes, of course, but I thought they were very true to the source material.  I think anyone who is a fan of the books will love it.  Anyone who hasn’t read the books but liked the first movie, I think will like it as well.  But be prepared, this is not your typical feel-good, holiday movie.  This movie is very emotional and has a very mixed ending.  Some good, some bad, a lot of heart-break, and a cliffhanger. Overall, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

*******SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!**********

Some things that I thought were lost in this retelling:

  • Katniss’s inner dialogue and the way she analyzes each situation or thinks through the problem at hand.  Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job, but it’s hard to translate that inner struggle sometimes.
  • A sense of time.  The film sometimes felt a little rushed.  There was no sense of the time that had passed between events.  In the book there were 6 months between the 74th Hunger Games and the victory tour, A couple more months between the tour and the announcement of 75th HG, the Quarter Quell.   Then a few more months until the actual games themselves.  In total, between the 74th HG and the 75th, there was a full year.
  •  We lost the wedding dress montage.  Thankfully.  In the book, a lot of prep goes into Katniss & Peeta’s engagement and wedding.  The citizens of Panem have the chance to vote on her wedding dress and there is an entire episode where she is filmed trying on dress after dress.  Thankfully, unlike the citizens of Panem, we were spared that spectacle.
  • We lost the preparation Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss did before the games.  We also lost learning more about the other tributes through the research Peeta & Katniss did ahead of time.

That said, I do not think any of this distracted from the quality of the movie, particularly if you have not read the books.

What I loved about the movie:

  • Nothing was sugar-coated. Katniss is clearly suffering from PTSD from the last games throughout the movie.
  • The emotional connection she feels towards her family, Gale, Peeta, the other tributes, Cinna, and other people she cares about is palatable.   This keeps the movie from being just an action film.
  • I love the inclusion of showing events from Snow’s p.o.v. and Heavensbee’s p.o.v.  I think that adds a real depth to the film and ratchets up the tension.
  • Conversations with her sister.  They are few and far between in the movie, but when they do happen, you can see the connection they share.  You also know that her sister is quite clearly becoming her own person and does not need Katniss to protect her any more.
  • The friendships she begins to form with the other tributes during the games.  They work together and save each other over and over.  At one point she turns to Peeta and asks, “How are we ever going to be able to kill these people.”
  • The scene in District 11 when Peeta & Katniss speak about Thresh & Rue.  Very emotional.

I really enjoyed the movie.  That said, I was not jazzed with the ending.  I know that it was pretty true to the book, and it was a hook to get you into the 4th movie, whenever that is released, but I still found it unsettling.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy had cliff hanger endings as well, but they always ended on a somewhat hopeful note.  Francis Lawrence could take a page out of Peter Jackson’s playbook and give us a little more to hold onto.  I’m not saying have a happy ending, but this is the start of the revolution.  Ending the Capitol’s stranglehold on the districts, while complicated emotionally, is a good thing.

Yes, the movie ends with Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee being rescued from the arena, while Peeta & Johanna are captured by the Capitol.  District 12 is in ashes.  Thousands are dead.  Everything is in disarray.  But the revolution has begun and there are hints that the citizens of Panem can really hope they are able turn the tide and take control of their own fates. That, at least, is something to hold onto.

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What a horrible blogger I am!  I feel like it has been months since I have written on this blog.  I have spent all of my time writing on my self-absorbed weight loss blog talking about myself and my gastric by-pass surgery.  I have completely neglected this blog and my other writing obligations.  Just a quick note, the surgery went well.  I have lost 71 pounds.  I have been writing quite a bit.

I owe my friend Jeff Miller a review of his book, The Bubble Gum Thief.  I need to post my 2013 writing goals.  I also want to talk about some of the other non-diet-blog writing I have been doing.

In this post, I am going to talk about my 2013 writing goals and about some of my other writing.  You see, my writer’s group asks each of us to create goals for the new year and to be specific.  We cannot just say, “write more,”  we have to set specific goals to show what “writing more” looks like.  The only thing I did not finish last year was to finish my children’s novel.  I am giving myself to Chinese New Year’s though, so I could still make it.  (see what I did there?)

Writing Goals for 2013:

  • Submit writing, short stories, essays, etc to four contests or other publications.
  • Finish children’s novel, which is almost done and hanging in limbo.
  • Write, finish, edit 12 personal essays.
  • Blog on both writing blog and weight loss blog 4 or more times a week.
  • Begin editing children’s novel and submit to my writer’s group for review and revision.
  • Join SCBWI and attend one of their conferences.

Lofty, I know, but I have to set lofty goals to guilt myself into doing something about it.

Current Writing Projects

A couple of the girls in my writer’s group formed a separate group that is dedicated to personal essays and/or creative nonfiction.  I have been attending that group as well.  Because the group is small, about seven of us I think, we are much more demanding about making each other submit their work.  As a result, I have written several personal essays and semi-true short stories.  I also have many more ideas on future personal essays.  I would like to put together a collection of essays.  I am not sure if I will turn it into a book or not, but I first want to get them together and see what I have.

I plan to dedicate my next post to the book review of The Bubble Gum Thief.  I will also post my review on Amazon.

That is pretty much what I have been up to.  I hope to spend more time on this blog and sharing all of my writing ups and downs throughout the year!  Happy writing in 2013!

 

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A member of my writer’s group has a book release today.  The Bubble Gum Thief was released today through Thomas and Mercer.

 

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The Arlington Writer’s Group has been waiting a long time for this book to be published.  Several years ago, Jeff shared a couple of chapters with us.  We have waited patiently for this release as Jeff slogged through the arduous task of finding an agent, editing, re-writing, re-writing again and then finding a publisher.  The release of this book is the result of years of hard work.  We are all so excited for his book release and the obvious success that will follow.

I did receive an ARC from Jeff, which I regret to say, I’m not finished reading.  I should have it finished tonight and a full review up in a day or two.

I will say this, however.  I am loving this book.  Jeff is a fantastic writer and storyteller.  The story is complex and exciting.  There are many twists.

It is a police/FBI thriller.  The story begins with a minor crime and the perpetrator leaves a card that says, “This is my first crime.  My next one will be bigger.”  The crimes escalate in violence in severity until it comes to the attention of the FBI where Agent Dagny Gray becomes involved.

I do not want to say much more than that yet.  I want to save that for my full review.  I do recommend The Bubble Gum Thief.  If you like thrillers, books with interesting characters, good stories, you will love this book.  Buy it.  Read it.  Pass the word on to all your friends!

Happy Reading.

 

 

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A few months ago, I submitted a short story to Glimmer Train for their “Family Issues” contest.  For this contest, I took an actual family event from my own life and I created fictional characters, changed a couple of things, and wrote a short story.  I never heard from Glimmer Train and I apparently did not win.  I was disappointed, of course, but rejection is part of the writing process.

I had my memoir writing group look at the story, but not before I had a chance to submit it to the contest.  They gave me great feedback.  They loved the dialogue, enjoyed the interaction between the two kids in the story, but they thought the emotion at the end of the story needed to have a bigger punch.  There were a couple of other comments, but pretty good feedback overall.

I then submitted it to the Arlington Writer’s Group.  I have been with AWG for a couple of  years now.  AWG is a very large writers group.  Almost 200 members, and we can get 30 people plus at any given meeting.  Receiving feedback can sometimes be overwhelming and the conversations can very easily veer off course.

We have worked very hard over the years too keep the feedback process focused and make sure people give a useful critique.  That can be a daunting task for whomever is leading the group when you have 30 or so people giving their opinions. 

I have to say, I’m very lucky with both of my writers groups.  Wonderfully thoughtful people in both groups.

So, last night I had my story critiqued by AWG.  I don’t want to describe it too much as I want to try to get te story published.  Basically, it is a story about one girl’s broken dreams.

Just like my other writers group, AWGers liked the dialogue, the interaction, between the sisters, and the story overall.  But they did pick out some major holes in my plot and made great suggestions.  I have a lot of work to do, but I think the story will be a lot better once I’m done. Then I can enter it into a couple more contests.

On another note, this is what my day has been like.  Everything I do seems to run into some kind of complication.  It’s really too bad too because I would have enjoyed discovering alternate uses for lederhosen while I wait for train schedules to appear on my screen.

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