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Friday, October 31, 2008

I'll Snag the Tag!

Okay, sweet cyber friend, Kelly Polark, put out the challenge for anyone who would like to snag it. What is the catch? Tell seven little known things about yourself. So, here it goes...

1. I was a cheerleading coach.
2. I was a child model and made commercials.
3. I use to pull the tails off of lizards so that I could watch them wiggle without a body. (Okay, I was only four!)
4. I still like to catch lizards when visiting family in Florida. (I don't pull their tails off anymore.)
5. I also like catching green garden snakes.
6. I love to play practical jokes.
7. I didn't meet my biological father until I was 25.

Anyone else game? Just leave a comment letting us know so that we can pop by and visit ya! Thanks, Kelly!

Okay... tomorrow is the BIG day. Those of us who are participating in NANO are gearing up for the great 50K word challenge that starts tomorrow and runs through midnight on November 30th. Good luck to us all!

XOXO CJ

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

KABLAM!!

That was how it seemed to explode in my brain the other night, when the idea for my upcoming WIP rose to the forefront of my mind. I was sorta kinda freaking out about NANO. I was racking my gray matter to come up with something meaningful and hopefully fruitful for me as well. I normally don't have a problem coming up with ideas. I guess it was different this time because I was placing so much pressure on myself to materialize something worthwhile.

Anyhoo, I sprung up out of bed and ran into the family room where my dear hubby was watching late cable news. (I'm amazed I even made it out there as my vertigo had been really bad.) I was so excited! I just couldn't keep it in. I was afraid that I wouldn't sleep at all that night until I had emptied my thoughts out on the coffee table. The cool thing about it was that he was excited as well. We sat and talked about it, allowing more to formulate as we discussed all of the potential this story could have.

So, I guess I'm as ready for NANO as I can be at this point. I'm identifying my MC and fleshing her out. I'm researching, and thinking about the supporting cast. I'm excited, expectant, hopeful, and terrified. How 'bout you? Two days and counting...

NANO virgins... UNITE! (And those going at it, again.)

XOXO CJ

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hello... hello! I'm at a place called vertigo!

Well, I didn't have the flu, or strep. What did I have? A bad infection in both of my ears. So, now I get to hear the annoying sound of bees humming in my clogged ears and fuzzy head. I've been on antibiotics since Friday. But, I've yet to get my equilibrium back. It's not fun to veer sideways when walking in a hurry. Though, I do kinda dig the trippy-dizzy feeling when I get up or turn around too fast. Just kidding. However, I should be feeling stellar in just enough time to get nauseated about NaNoWriMo. Doesn't that just figure?

I think I had a moment of temp insanity when I signed up. November is a CRAZY month for me and my family. I'm the director for our Christmas play at church, and we have quite a lot to do in November to be ready for the play (sets, costuming, drama coaching, memorizing my lines, etc.). I'll also be out of town for the full week of Thanksgiving. (Visiting family in Florida, YAY!) And, my birthday is in November! (Shameless plug. Tee! Hee!) Seriously, don't I get a day of pouting about getting older? I know it's better than the alternative. But, still, it's unnerving and harder to except that I'm getting older. Especially when I feel as though I'm getting younger. It's all so confusing!

I know that I need this... NaNoWriMo, I mean. I'm honestly, very excited. I normally have a goal of 1000 words per day when I'm in full-on "manuscript mode." That is definitely going to have to be increased if I'm going to even come close to making the 50k-word goal.

Sometimes I find that I thrive under pressure. Are any of you like that? I'm good in crisis. I didn't say that I like crisis, but I can function well while in one. (Ooops! I forgot about the Christmas program for my students at the preschool that I direct. I haven't even chosen the songs or skits yet.) Well, there it is... another official crisis. *sigh*

Well, if any of you want to buddy-up for NaNo, I'm "CJRay" over there, just like on the "blue-boards." I'm still trying to figure out how the site works. I need to take some more time and play around with the functions.

Well, six days and counting...

XOXO CJ

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Uggggggh! I'm Totally Distracted By Shiny Objects!

Blame it on "medicine head," (I think I may have the flu. I'm running a temp and I hurt in my bones) or "ADD," (I don't have a diagnosis... I just use it as an excuse) or my attraction to whatever is going on around me today that doesn't have anything remotely to do with actual "writing." I can't seem to settle myself down and plot ANYTHING!

I did however, get into a huge political debate with a "cyber" friend in a particular ladies forum. I normally wouldn't "go there" with regard to politics, but, I just had to... you know how it is. You read all you can stomach until you're distended, and then you end up throwing up.(Please don't ask me where I stand or who I'm voting for. I won't answer that here.) Let's just say that I "posted away" a few hours today. And where has it gotten me? I'm not totally sure. Most likely shunned at worst and at arms-length at best. I hope not, because I dig her and the others. When did it all start? Last night after a glass of red. Uh oh...

Anyhoo, I might also be slowly gearing up for NaNo in my mind. Waiting... watching... the calm before the storm. The rest before the craziness. Whatever it is, these excuses sound really good. They make me feel justified.

I do have ideas though. Not lots, just some. But, I believe good non-the-less. How are your ideas coming along? I'm really going to begin carrying my little notebook around with me again. Do you guys do that? I was amazed at what I would be inspired to write. Things would seem to fly at me begging for voice. Love that!

And, I'm waiting until after NaNo to revise a completed manuscript that I have. One that I've put away for a while. Maybe I can breathe new life into it. I don't know. Maybe I didn't go with my gut instinct enough or write with total abandon. I have a hard time "letting go" and following the flow wherever it takes me. Maybe I'm too much of a control freak. Who knows?!

The passion is there. I just tend to play it way too safe.

10 days...

XOXO

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Am I the Only One Who Misses "Miss Snark?"

Okay, I'll proudly admit that although she was the Simon Cowell of the literary world, this steeled-toe-stiletto-clad bearer of brusque brought a lot of sunshine to my cold and dreary writing days. I miss her! For all of her brutal honesty and her nasty little habit of serving up candor sprinkled with some "sassy" for good measure, I learned a lot from her. Who, pray tell, could ever take her place? No one, I'm afraid. That's great to a point, because who would ever imagine there could be two of Miss Snark? She had a gift, truly. It takes someone special to serve it up the way she did. A perfect blend of nasty and needful.

She wasn't hateful to everyone. That's what was so great! You would read through the comments on her posts just waiting for her to dump on perpetual stupidity. Okay, Okay, Okay, Ooooooooh... thats gotta hurt!

Oh how I wish she would return from time to time. Has any one read anything from her lately? Maybe, one day, we can coax her out of retirement just long enough to make us cry, for joy, of course.

XOXO CJ

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Am Writer, Read My Roar!

Well, I did it! I signed up for NaNoWriMo, and I don't know whether to be fired up or puke from anxiety. I'm totally excited about it, though. I know it will be the best thing for me in order to get "back in the saddle again" after nearly two years of toying with the idea of novel writing once more. I have really missed my previous writing disciplines and schedules. And, my life has changed quite a bit since I've completed my last manuscript. However, there is always opportunity to do what you want to do, if you really want to do it bad enough. So, I guess I'm gonna be writing like a crazed person on a deadline again because, I am. And, I hope that whatever comes of it, I will be more the writer that I knew I could be.

Many of my "Blue-Boarder" friends are signed up. So, it's nice to know that I'm in such good company. It's important to encourage anyone that you know who may be participating in this thing, as it can be quite daunting, at best. If you are one, let me know and we can encourage one another and "buddy-up."

I had the most remarkable thing happen to me the other day. Well, it didn't necessarily "happen" nor was it to "me," per se. But, it was special non-the-less. My youngest daughter, who is ten, began to write her first novel. Seriously! And, it's pretty darn good, too. Seriously! And, I'm not just saying this because I'm her mother. I was really shocked at the depth of her main character and her hook was amazing for such a young person. I'm so happy for her, and must say that I'm more than a bit proud as well. The most surprising thing about it all was that it happened naturally, without any prompting from "mom." She came up with everything on her own, and decided that this was something she wanted to really do, on her own.

She said that she loved to watch me write and always felt like it was something she'd like to do. Wow! I never saw it coming, honestly. But, I'm happy that it did. So, I guess that my temper tantrums followed by brief moments of insanity, whimpering at the sight of "e-jections," yelling at the computer, banging my head on the keyboard, and stalking the mail person like a mad-woman hasn't traumatized her too much.

Phew...that's good to know.

XOXO CJ

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spinning My Wheels

Okay... today I'm simply "spinning my wheels," so to speak. I know what needs to get done in order to get the job done. However, I'm so stretched with "life" that I'm in serious need of getting it all together. If you are at all like me, you would be one who suffers from "tunnel vision." I focus so intently on one task that when I'm faced with multiple obligations and responsibilities, I grow terribly frustrated. I want to get it all done quick and fast, so that I can move on to what I really want to do. I feel as though I'm tripping over myself to get to myself. If that makes any sense at all.

I'm not giving myself the luxury to "hit and miss" anymore with regard to my writing goals. I know that, for me, I have to be reading and writing in order to fuel my creative spirit and tickle my muse. That usually means writing at least 1000 words per day and reading one or more books at a time (one on the craft of writing and one that inspires me or just plain makes me feel good). The reading has not been the problem... it has been the writing.

I've had a real struggle, lately, getting back to "me," and doing the things that I used to do to be productive. I've written zilch, nada, nothing of significance in my mind. I have it in me. I feel it bubbling under the surface. Maybe I'm taking it all too seriously, afraid to make a mistake. I'm waiting for the right idea, when I shouldn't be waiting at all. It was said by an unknown individual once, "The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn't write." So true. I've found myself there. Oh yeah... I'm there.

I've even contributed my own "quote" on this subject, "We can be so afraid of making a mistake that we don't make anything." I guess it is time to practice what I preach. I have to push through, once more (and I'm sure it won't be the last) to the place of productiveness. Write, anything... just keep writing!

With November being the official national novel writing month (NaNoWriMo), I'm feeling like maybe I should  jump on in and just do it! In case you're wondering what NaNoWriMo is, it's when those participating begin November 1st with the goal of writing a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight November 30th. I've wanted to do this for several years now.  I think I'm at a good place now, fresh with no earthly idea what my next work in progress will be. Will you join me? If you're interested, check it out at www.nanowrimo.org.

Let me know if you're game!

XOXO CJ

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Determination Factor

Determination, drive, decidedness, resolve, whatever the word we choose we must have it in substantive spades if we want to succeed at this thing called "writing." I've taken a few days since my last entry to reevaluate my passions and pursuits, not just in writing, but in my overall life. I had to do that in order for me to find where it is that writing fits in my life dynamic.

Being a wife, mother, teacher, preschool director, as well as assisting my husband in kid's ministry, and running my household, there has to be a "fit" for everything needful. Writing is a needful thing for me, as well of course as reading. And that my friends is where the disconnect has been for me as of late. 

Samuel Johnson once said, "The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book."

I found that as I stopped reading, I stopped growing. I stopped visualizing the dream. The "input" factors to my creative function began to run dry. My determination and drive began to fade. It's true. You may not believe that not reading can have such an effect on us in our writing, but it does and will. The passion to write, the resolve to grow and improve and keep on fire with rapture and enthusiasm for our craft is directly related to our input. We can't output without input.

So, I've picked up my old faithful "Writing the Breakout Novel," by Donald Maass as well as those novels that make me feel good and inspire me. Like Dodie Smith's, "I Capture the Castle." One of my all time faves.

Where do I find the time to read? I look for it everywhere. I have to. Instead of TV, I curl up in my bed with a book. While I'm sitting in my car in the parent pick-up line at my daughter's school, I read. Every chance I get. And, it's made all the difference for me. I no longer feel parched. I feel as though I've had a nice long cool drink of water.

It's amazing that we know what we know, but still make the choices that we do. I knew that when I allowed reading to take a back seat, my writing would suffer. It had to. It made it all the easier to walk away. No challenges. Life is always easier when we have no challenges. But, it's the challenges that create the character within us and the drive to succeed.

So, I guess I've said all of this to simply say, if you're struggling in your writing endeavors and you're not reading... READ!

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." - Mark Twain

XOXO CJ


Must Reads

  • "A Long Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott
  • "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
  • "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith
  • "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
  • "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier
  • "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" by M.T. Anderson
  • "The Grace Awakening" by Charles Swindoll