“The One I’m Waiting For” (NaNoWriMo Day 7)

7 days in and 25,005 words finished on this year’s NaNoWriMo entry, My Vienna.  And I haven’t a clue where this story is going.  I mean, I do.  The outline is there, the super short version of it is there.  The characters are there.  The plot is laid out.  But I don’t know what answers this story will give.  I’ve been writing it in bits and pieces, instead of linearly, like I usually try to do.  Some of that is because I had ideas for scenes right away and had to write them before I lost them.  Some of that is because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it this year.

And, honestly, I suspect more than half of what I’ve written will get cut in the revision.  Obviously, after I’ve written a lot more of the story.  But right now, what I’ve got is filling the story backward.  It’s almost giving me a God-like perspective Galadriel’s life after this big question comes in.  All the wonders, all the wanders, all the what-ifs.  And I know the answers to those.  If she goes in this one particular direction, then this will happen.  I have not written the other dimension, though–the one in which she chooses her own path, instead of following what she knows is right.  Maybe that will the second 25,000 words?

25,000 words in, Galadriel isn’t any closer to the answer she’s seeking, and neither am I.  But I’m okay with that.  I’m just going to keep writing and praying and reading God’s Word until I get there.  And then, Lord willing, both of our questions will be answered.

This song from Reliant K kind of says it…“The One I’m Waiting For.”

Galadriel, I’m waiting.  For you.  You’re the one.

Reliant K--writing inspiration from music

Reliant K–writing inspiration from music (can’t find copyright info, but found here: http://wallpaper4god.com/wallpapers/relient-k–trees_1403_1024x768.jpg)


“This Will Be Our Year” (NaNoWriMo Day 1)

NaNoWriMo 2015–Day 1

It used to be that when God wanted to teach me a lesson that I just wasn’t getting, He’d have me write a 2000-5000 word allegory. Now, it seems, He is having me write entire novels. Conveniently timed for NaNoWriMo (November) two years in a row now. Last year’s was “A Gargoyle in Evanston,” through which I sought peace and understanding of what the heck has happened in my life to bring me to this place I’m in right now…Chicago, not Australia (oh, land of my heart, how I yearn for thee!). And this year’s…well, I’m not ready to talk about it yet in detail, but I know it’s all about Him and me. A continuation of the theme He set for me on January 1st of this year… “This Will be Our Year.”

Currently, this year’s novel is in the “For the Love of Music” series, with the tentative title of a book I had outlined several years ago.  Not sure, however, if that’s what it will remain.  November will tell.

Words written: 3553

“This Will be Our Year”–the Zombies (writing inspiration)

Count Down Day 6: Project “DDD” Publication

Goals tonight:

Finish last major revisions on chapters 25-29.

Get through chapter 5 in the first read-aloud edit.

We’ll see after that!


6:00–revisions on chapters 25-29!!!  Yay!!!  FINALLY done!!!

6:55–break and dinner

8:20–first read aloud edit, chapters 1-5.  No intense changes, but definitely made several in each chapter.  It’s amazing how things flow better after they’ve been read aloud.

10:20–calling it a night!  If I keep going, I’ll make weird changes and probably make it worse. 😉

Drop Dead Daisy book cover

Drop Dead Daisy book cover

Count Down Day 13: Project “DDD” Publication

Behind on assignments, so, I will attempt to catch up today, at least somewhat.  I have a two hour-ish gap in work schedule today, as well as a few hours before hanging out with a friend this evening after work.  Maybe a few hours after–depends on how much we just chat away.  So, we’ll see how we do.

In order to catch up, I would have to revise chapters 2-10.  I don’t see that realistically happening, so I’m just going to plow ahead and do as much of that as I can.  My meals are already basically prepared for the day, so just turn on the stove, crank out some hot water for tea, light some candles and turn up the music…

Success?  I made some minor changes to Chapter 2 (merging and verifying the correct version is what’s being revised!) before work and during my short break.  Returned home and continued pressing forward and finished chapter 2.  More content than hoped for was needed to be changed.  So, success?  Minor.  Unfortunately, I’m even further behind today.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I’ll sequester myself away for the hours I’m available to write and simply make as much progress as I can.

Frustration in Writing (image by imagerymajestic)

Frustration in Writing (image by imagerymajestic)

Clearing the Clutter

Burning old journals

Burning old journals

As I pack up my entire life, I discover that minimalism is a good thing.  I don’t want to move all that crap with me from Florida to [place undisclosed at this time].  I’m learning to let go of things, which is pretty darn hard for a pack-rat/sentimental romantic like myself.

Old journals?  Burned now.  Hard as it was to toss them, I didn’t want to move all 50+ of them, only to never look at them again while they take up valuable shelf space.  I tore out the pages that contained my most important memories from college and camp counselor summers or poems, allegories, etc. that deserved preserving, and kept my travel journals to Australia, South Africa, Europe and Australia trip #2, but otherwise, they’re all gone.  The scrapbooks and photo albums come with me.  The souvenirs from around the world will grace my living room with an international flair.  But the other junk is going.  Even some of my precious books are finding new homes.  Something like 400 of them.

A trunkload of books I donated last week

A trunk load of books I donated last week

Reflecting on these things, moving forward in my life, saying good-bye to long time dreams and possessions, I recognize the value of this kind of attitude in my writing as well.  I did not keep those old notebooks where my high school writings stained the pages with tears and immaturity.  I didn’t  even look through the old ideas and jottings for books I’m still working on now.  I’m an adult.  Those scribblings no longer fit the maturity of my writing or person.  So, I said “Farewell” and tossed them in the burning pile with my journals.

As I move forward in life, I expect my writing to move forward to.  No longer the fanciful, day-dreaming romantic that hopes for the perfect anything.  I’ve experienced too much of life–too much loss–to still look for that.  And, I think, my writing benefits from that still hopeful, but no longer delusional little self’s passing away.   Too many details bog down the story.  Too much back-story burdens the reader.  Too much clutter spoils the story’s forward movement, just like it ruins mine.

So, good-bye childhood.  Good-bye adolescence.  Good-bye college days.

Hello real world life.  I’m Juanita.  I’m going to write some powerful books about you.  Nice to meet you.

At my first book signing, back in July 2013

My first book signing for “Nobody’s Girl” in July


11 Steps to Trimming the Fat on Your Obese Manuscript

Mystic Prose from "Forever My Song"

Mystic Prose from “Forever My Song”

My latest manuscript, my NaNoWriMo novel, “Forever My Song” was a rough draft outline of 80,000+ words.  With 71 chapters.  That’s a bit much for a non-epic novel.  Sadly.  And I’ve been stuck for weeks on this one…been trying desperately to make some progress, and though “writer’s block” has not been the issue, finding the next place to go with the manuscript has been because of feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of it.  Well, last night, I managed to figure out what my problem was (as you guessed by the number of chapters), I had too much info in this for one book, one story, one set of characters.

“But I can’t cut that!  It’s too important!”  Yeah, yeah.  You’ve heard that in your own head as you’ve edited, too, haven’t you?  “Well, tough toe-nails, Juanita!  Cut it anyway!”  And that’s what I did.  I sat down with the original 71 chapter outline and this is what I did.

  1. I turned off my emotions…and separated myself from my beautiful characters–this step is key, my friends!
  2. I examined which current characters were necessary for the story, and which weren’t (I’m sorry Davy!  I promise you will find a home in some other novel.)
  3. Then I cut the chapters that focused on the no longer existent characters
  4. And merged the info from the chapters still needed from those chapters with other chapters
  5. Then I created 3 different documents containing the outline, each one identical at this stage
  6. Next, I cut the fluffy chapters out of outline #1
  7. After that, I squished several other chapters together in outline #2
  8. And then, I trimmed 2-3 other chapters in outline #3
  9. Then I reviewed what I had done in each outline, and created a fourth outline from these
  10. Then, I cut more fluff by chopping out more chapters that didn’t actually move the plot forward
  11. Then I went back and reviewed the original outline to make sure I hadn’t cut anything actually vital to the story

And I ended up with only 49 chapters of the original 71 (that’s 22 chapters cut!).

Trimming the fat in a manuscript feels a bit like cutting out the chub on your waistline: you sweat a bit, and it hurts, takes dedication and requires some encouragement and lots of time.  This whole process took me about two hours, after making the outline itself took me about four hours.  Of course, as I continue writing, I will have more fat to trim.  But that’s okay.  At least now I can move forward with the writing.  But, if your next book project is morbidly obese like mine was, it’s time to wake up and get to the gym for the first session.  And then the second, and third and fourth and fifth…

More of Mystic Prose from "Forever My Song"

More of Mystic Prose from “Forever My Song”

NaNoWriMo Day 24: Get That Heart Pounding!

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of my favorite scenes in my book, “Nobody’s Girl” is the scene that makes my heart pound every time I read it…and I already know what’s going on and how the book ends.  But the reason I love it is because it does make my heart pound.  I love the moments when what I read takes over my mental/emotional process, and I lose myself in the story.  I have no control over my reactions…I cry, I weep, I blush, I whimper, I cringe, I laugh or even snort.  I can smell, feel, taste, see and hear the sounds and sights and textures of the scenes.  I can feel that hand of the imaginary character wiping the tears from my cheek or see that tanned fist handing me a tissue.  I can dance to the rhythm of Jack’s drums, feel the humming throb of Jamie’s bass guitar, hear the wah-wah pedal of Joey’s guitar whining away while Jeff’s keyboard sings to me.

And you know what?  Those kinds of scenes are my favorites in other people’s books, too.  So it’s not just bias.

If you’re still working away at your NaNoWriMo novel right now, I challenge you to make the next thousand words really count.  Tell your readers every smell, every touch, every sound and sight, every flavor in the scene.  Is that harmonious tinkling of the Bell Miner bird blending with the cries of the Magpies as they swoop down, sending your hair into your face as they attack you because it’s springtime and they’re nuts?  Is that maple syrup on the pancakes in the diner just across the Canadian border as sweet and sticky as she remembers from childhood when her daddy used to take her for breakfast every Saturday for their daddy-daughter date, back before he lost his arm in war and started stinking like a Scottish distillery?  Can your hero really smell the milky spit-up on his shirt and feel the plush red blanket in which his newborn son is wrapped, only two hours after his wife gave birth to him in an elevator when they got trapped by a maniac?  Does your heart stop when your protagonist’s cable car screeches toward a gap in the universe that didn’t exist three hours earlier?

A NaNo draft probably isn’t going to do all that (Kudos to you if yours does!), but you should have an idea for at least a few scenes where you might be able to really add some flavor and life to provoke actual physical reactions (crying, sweating, heart-rate changes, flushing, etc.) from your readers.  Keep your final days of drafting it out interesting by aiming for that!  Besides, going into that much detail will add heaps to your word count anyway.