NaNoWriMo and an Awesome Autumn Announcement!

Okay, folks, I survived the first four days of National Novel Writing Month. Got a little cross-eyed on Saturday and my word count dropped, but my word count was above where it needed to be on the days prior to that, so it evened out. I’m on track so far.

Are you part of NaNo this year? How is it going for you?

Anyway, I promised an awesome autumn announcement. Ready for it? You may remember I posted a short while ago about some developments on our farm and an agriculture research project I’m working on. Well, this awesome autumn announcement is along those lines.

To keep it short and sweet, our farm is on its way to being fully launched in 2018. We’ve launched our fundraising campaign. We want to open our farm up as an educational, hands-on, community farm. And you can help us! If you would take just a few minutes to visit this link – https://www.gofundme.com/savethefamilyfarms – and share it with friends and family on social media, we would appreciate it more than we can say. No gift is too small, and simply sharing the project, reaching people we cannot, is a huge gift.

Okay, enough about that. (Although you can also find more info here if you’d like.) A little book update if you missed it last time, I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo with the second draft of my portal fantasy, One Light Shining. So progress is being made on that despite the roadblocks experienced this year.

And since I’ve missed two months of Highlights and Goals, I’ll be getting back to that in January. The new year and all.

And now, I’m off! Be sure to check out the campaign and share it with friends. Meantime, let’s chat – have you ever taken part in NaNoWriMo? Are you involved this year? Are you interested in saving family farms? Such fun this month of Thanksgiving. 🙂

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NaNoWriMo Coming to Town!

Okay, a show of hands, how many of you are getting ready for NaNoWriMo this year? I’ve wanted to enter forever, but was never in the position with a WIP that I could do it. But can you guess the reason for this blog post? I’m finally taking part in National Novel Writing Month! *is thankful I like writing at night* 🙂

And, yep, I’m going for the 50,000-word goal. Hey, if I’m doing this at all, I might as well do the whole thing.

I will be taking part with my current WIP, One Light Shining, a YA portal fantasy of which I penned the “first” draft this year. I kind of tried to forget about it, but, yeah, books just don’t work that way. 🙂 50,000 words should give me about half or so of the second draft.

So it looks like I’ll be staying up late, getting up early, finishing schoolwork as fast as possible . . .  Fun stuff like that. Nibbling chocolate. Drinking apple cider. Petting the cats when my blood pressure skyrockets . . .

Okay, so I thought I’d show you guys the synopsis of my WIP, in part because NaNoWriMo kicks off shortly, and in part because, by the end of November, that synopsis is going to look a little different. With rewriting always comes changes. Here goes:

Ties of blood are easily broken.

The words Cade spoke the night he killed his brother. Or . . . almost killed. Nothing haunts him more than the reality that he failed all those years ago to end the raging conflict between the nations. So, when two strangers come through the mysterious portal in answer to an ancient prophecy, Cade is ready to see his brother pay in full.

Wrenched from their modern world into a land of swords, bloodthirsty brothers and a nonsensical prophecy, Katrina and her long-time neighbor and nemesis, Andrew, grope for some kind of purpose in this strange world . . . but on opposite sides of a dangerous border. Spurred on by embittered contempt for Andrew, Katrina is more than ready to join Cade if he takes up the sword against the country of Mithunda. Until her own lust for revenge reveals a side of herself she never knew existed.

In a sea of secrets in which both are haunted by inner demons, Katrina and Andrew are forced to give the prophetic words a closer look, to search for what they truly mean. But the prophecy is shrouded in mystery, and all around them, people are proving determined enough to go to great lengths to see it negated.

And there you have it. Keep this storyline in mind, because I’m going to publish the revised synopsis at the end of November/beginning of December.

And I must know . . . have you ever done NaNoWriMo before? How did you survive? Tips you can share? Let’s chat!

Final Crossings: Dealing with Character Deaths

Isn’t it true???

J. A. Patterson

He came through the door with a smile and a sarcastic comment that set me laughing. I watched my characters fall in love with him. I watched him change their world.

Less than a week later, he was dead.

I was at my laptop, locked into the intensity of battle, focused on the story’s goal. I never expected him to be a casualty of that goal. He disappeared from the page in a wisp of smoke and ink, dissolved between my fingers like the figment of imagination he was.

Except. . .he was so much more.

He had become part of me, and with everything in me I wanted to bring him back. Sick at heart, I attempted to rewrite the scene, tried to find some way of bringing him back to life, but the scene refused to adjust.

One of the hardest thing about being a writer is —let’s be…

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Writing From an Unexpected Perspective

It may truly help a story.

So, think back to something you might have written from a non-human POV. Was it a tree? A butterfly? A goat? Short stories especially can benefit from placing the POV in the hands – or paws, or talons – of another creature. The whole “if these walls could talk” sort of thing. Even some novels have excelled in their genre using this unique vantage point.

WHAT’S THE BEST UNEXPECTED PERSPECTIVE?

It all depends on your story. Take The Humbling of Rutherford for example. I wrote this little piece for Faithwriter’s a year or so ago, detailing a day in the life of a rooster we used to have. It was penned in third person omniscient, so as to capture the POV of Rutherford, as well as the farm dogs and the other chickens.

Then there was a story my mom wrote several years ago from the perspective of a tree, an abandoned house, and the land on which these two sat. It was the deep, moving writing that made it special, as well as the POVs – you don’t often hear an abandoned house telling its story, or listen to the voice of its only enduring friend, the pine tree.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN TO ENLIST THE UNEXPECTED PERSPECTIVE

Take this picture for example:

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THIS IS A REAL PHOTO, TAKEN OF ONE OF OUR GOATS AND HIS NEW FRIEND!

If I were to write a story based on this photo, would I tell it from Giddy’s (the goat’s) POV or from the butterfly’s? Or both? Personally, I believe I would write it using both their POVs, in order to capture the emerging of this butterfly and the brief wonder and irritation of Giddy. 🙂 However, I could also tell it from a by-standing goat’s perspective, or another creature. I could also tell it from just the butterfly’s perspective. Any of these would likely work to create an effective story.

At any rate, using a non-human POV can really add an endearing quality to a story. Have you had any experience with this? Any moments like the butterfly and the goat you could write a story from? How about a chicken or a songbird? Or an insect or a cat? Let’s chat about our furry friends! They can certainly make their way onto the page without much effort.

How Not to Panic When Your Computer Dies

So, if you’ll gather from the title, I’m not writing this post from our new computer, because we turned it on this morning, and ka-boom! Dead.

Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but it wouldn’t fire up (a.k.a turn on). We panicked. We just sat there sweating. We freaked. 🙂 That’s how not to panic. But what help should arrive? The old faithful laptop. The panic wasn’t necessary after all, until we couldn’t hook up the printer to the laptop – that was fixed after we panicked again – and the microphone didn’t want to work for my French lesson.

But never fear. The laptop will do just fine for now. Part of the reason I panicked was that I had set the deadline to launch my website for today. But hey, I published it anyway! Check it out: stewardshipmaine.weebly.com

So that website is the more important topic of today’s blog post. (And this post was saved as a draft until, miraculously, the computer fixed itself. So we’re back to normal now.) That website is the center of the sustainable agriculture project I’ve embarked on, which I talked about in the last post. I encourage you to check it out, but most importantly, keep on reading here, because there’s lots more coming!

WHAT TO EXPECT HERE

Don’t worry, I’ll continue with some writing posts. But for the time being, you’re going to get a whole lot of goat info. 🙂 Just during the fundraiser, though, which will be launched on GoFundMe on November 1st. Stay tuned. Your support will make this program a reality.

WHAT IS STEWARDSHIP ME?

If you missed the last post, I’ll repeat some of the info. You’ll also find this on the website.

It has become my goal and vision to launch Stewardship with the objective of revolutionizing the way a small farm can raise goats. Through rigorous selective breeding methods, I hope to bring my herd to a place of total sustainability, and then help other farms do the same. Today’s agricultural industry has expunged sustainability on all levels, and we cannot have this. That is why we’re guarding the future by keeping the past alive and resurrecting the sustainable farm.

“Stewardship” is essentially taking care of something considered worth protecting. Think about it. We protect heirloom seeds. We preserve heritage livestock. We save household antiques! We have become stewards of these things. Why? Because we have made the decision that they are worth protecting for today and tomorrow and the next generation. My vision for Stewardship is the same, only rather than preserving a breed of heritage livestock, Stewardship preserves a way of life. A way of raising the animal that returns the entire farm to sustainability. Educating the people, empowering the farmer, restoring the herd . . .

That is stewardship.

And that is a sample of what you’ll hear in the weeks ahead. But I’ll also work in some of the regular writing posts as well.

So thank you for bearing with the last two posts (and the next ones!). I hope I’m not boring you yet. 🙂 Do you have any questions? How about experience? Any wisdom you can offer here? And don’t forget stewardshipmaine.weebly.com.

Until next time, let’s chat!

Writing Non-Fiction (and an exciting update)

So, yes, school has utterly annihilated my blogging schedule. Yep. *sheepish grin* I’m terribly sorry . . . but I have an exciting announcement at the end of this blog post that I believe we’ll all find fortuitous. 🙂 Anyway . . . let’s talk about writing, shall we?

Okay, how many of you have ever read or written non-fiction? Show of hands? Non-fiction is good to read, but can be difficult to write. There’s a balance that should be found in the flow, a readability that comes across easily to a reader. And of course, don’t exaggerate. 🙂 . . . Too much . . .

But suppose you’re doing a more “real-life” sort of non-fiction, like the following piece written prior to a fundraising event for an agriculture program:

“Stewardship” is essentially taking care of something considered worth protecting. Think about it. We protect heirloom seeds. We preserve heritage livestock. We save household antiques! We have become stewards of these things. Why? Because we have made the decision that they are worth protecting for today and tomorrow and the next generation. My vision for Stewardship is the same, only rather than preserving a breed of heritage livestock, Stewardship preserves a way of life. A way of raising the animal that returns the entire farm to sustainability. Educating the people, empowering the farmer, restoring the herd . . . 

That is stewardship.

This piece was intended to capture attention. Did it succeed? Did it draw you in? I’m genuinely asking you these questions,  because . . . I’m the author of that piece up there. 🙂 Yep. That’s the announcement. I’m a hair’s breath from launching an agricultural program from the family farm which will proceed with the vision outlined in that paragraph. That was a snippet from the soon-to-be-published website,  which I will link here by Friday.

In addition, there’s an important reason that I am announcing this. Next month I will be launching a GoFundMe campaign for this project. You can find lots more information and updates here, on my new blog. I will also be adding numerous updates via this blog, so get prepared.

Also, please get prepared to join the movement. Stewardship is a quest to revolutionize the small farm in a way that will feed our families and our communities for generations to come. This GoFundMe campaign is the launching pad for this project. We can’t do it without you, my friend. Let’s make a difference. Together.

Until next time! Tell me what you think. Have any questions? Let’s start the conversation . . . and change the world.

Highlights and Goals – September

So, of course, school has thrown blogging WAAAY off schedule, but I’m back. *sheepish grin* Okay, so let’s just move on and look at August’s highlights:

  • Read James Rubart’s Book of Days. Oh . . . wow . . . just . . . wow . . .
  • Did a ton of tomato canning with my mom. She’s doing the very last batch of canning today so that we’ll have 200 quarts for this winter. 🙂
  • Did some writing. Some . . . not enough. *sheepish grin*

And without further ado – August wasn’t as dull as it sounded, I promise – SEPTEMBER!

  • Write. What else?
  • School. I mean, of course.
  • Read. As in, Michael Vey 7. 7! Already! The series is finished! Anybody as dying as I am to get my hands on that thing?
  • Do research. I’ve got a couple agriculture/livestock things to research this month for future reference.
  • Find out again what serendipity means.
  • Have Lentil the Cat spayed. Since, uh, she’s in heat again, only this time we have a four-month-old male cat in the house. AND she’s escaped, like, six times through the porch. 🙂

Yeah, so September looks like fun. What are your plans? Is reading Michael Vey among them??? Let’s chat!

By the way . . . on my next post I’ll be talking about a valuable tool for writers that is not the laptop/computer. Nor is it the pen and paper. Don’t miss that!

The Many Uses for Secondary Characters

So, no matter what you’re writing, you probably have some characters that aren’t as important as the MC(s), but they’re just kinda there. The awesome thing about these seemingly unimportant characters? They can become important. Remember, you’re the author. You can more or less make them do what you want. However, it does sometimes feel like the story has taken on a life of its own. 🙂

There are numerous uses for a secondary character. One of the best, they’re expendable. If you need a character to get killed off, but you can’t bear to do it to a main character, consider fashioning a secondary one for that purpose alone. *wicked chuckle* Make them likable, too. *wicked chuckle*

Anyway, another great use for your secondary characters is how they can subtly influence the plot to steer it in a desired direction. For instance, I once wrote a draft in which an SC caused the main character to end up in this particular situation, which was the climax. She did this unintentionally – it was her presence and what that brought about in the story.

You can also have one or two SC(s) create a subplot. However, be aware that subplots can be used to “kill some time” and not to move the story along. You pretty much want everything – or close to everything, at least – to move your story along.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD A SECONDARY CHARACTER APPEAR ON SCREEN . . . OR PAPER?

It depends on their level of importance. You may have them start out in the first draft as a secondary character and end up by the last draft as an MC. It happens. 🙂 But how often a strictly SC will appear depends totally on the way you’re using them in the story. Typically, these characters in my stories have very important roles, but remain expendable.

DO I RUN THE RISK OF DISTRACTING FROM THE STORY WITH A SECONDARY CHARACTER?

That’s always possible, but if writing a first draft, don’t worry about it. You can edit later. Just remember if you’re bringing in an SC, it is probably to build on or move forward the story.

And now, LET’S CHAT. How do you use secondary characters in your story? Have I left something out? What is your opinion on subplots? Pour yourself some apple cider – or coffee, if you prefer – and I’ll bring dessert. Healthy dessert, mind you. 🙂 Anybody up for carrot cake?

When the Cats Come Home

So, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about the cats. Mostly we’ve chattered about bookish things, but who doesn’t love cats? My cousin doesn’t.

Here we go. A couple weeks ago, my dear friend Lentil – that’s a cat, not a legume – went outside around lunchtime . . . and just didn’t come back. We searched, searched, searched until dark. I fell asleep to dreams of her that night. It was pretty rough, since she has never, ever disappeared like that.

The next day, nothing. We called her name, we triple-checked all her favorite spots. Nothing. And yet I had the strongest sense that she wasn’t dead. She felt so . . . close. As if I could reach out and stroke her soft, gray-striped fur and feel her lick my finger.

Evening closed in. I was in the kitchen when I heard my dad say her name as though he saw her. Then came what we all longed to hear – Lentil was outside in the flower bed. 🙂

Sure enough, she’d found her way home to us. She came inside, hungry and a little flustered – as well as flabbergasted that Sam, the new stray kitten, was still here. Really?

Lentil’s back to her normal routine. Best we can tell, she either got lost, or was trapped somewhere. But our family – even with the addition of Sam – was disjointed for those roughly thirty hours. Like Mom said as we grinned ear-to-ear after Lentil came back, “Our family’s back together again.”

And just think – my dad used to hate cats!

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Lentil asleep on the windowsill.

Pinterest – Is it Good for Writers?

So, Pinterest is pretty popular now, and you have to admit, fun. But it’s remarkable how many writers actually use this social media outlet to connect with readers. Is it worth the time? I’ve been on Pinterest for quite a while now, and building up a following is a S-L-O-W process. Using this outlet requires a great deal of time. The more pins you save, the more diverse your boards, the more people you’ll reel in.

Plus, readers love to connect with a favorite author any way they can. I know I always love seeing a story through the eyes of its writer, and what they save on Pinterest is a good way to see that.

But that’s the reader’s side of things. How about the writer’s?

We’re writers. We’re people, I think. We’re busy. So, is the time that it takes to build up a foundation on Pinterest actually worth it?

As I’ve yet to publish a novel, I can only speak on this topic from two standpoints – an aspiring writer, and a reader.

AS A READER . . .

I look for an author I like on Pinterest. I devour whatever it is they have to say about their work through what they pin. In addition, when I know somebody has a new book coming out, I’ll look for hints on that story’s Pinterest board. 🙂

AS A WRITER . . .

I love it. Pinterest enables me to organize my ideas, share them with others – or not, as I often start a board as a secret board – and collect bits of inspiration for my WIP. See, I’m weird about my characters. I can’t see them. So Pinterest helps me nail down in my own mind what my characters might look like. That’s a serious plus for me.

THOSE ARE THE PROS, AND THE CONS ARE . . .

It is time-consuming. You don’t have to have a ton of boards, but the ones you have should be filled in so a potential reader can stay a while to explore.

If you’re dedicating a lot of your account to writing, you may want to consider having boards like “Character Inspiration” or “Writing Inspiration” or “For Readers.” Stuff like that, as it could help to bring in more people.

So, basically, I have found Pinterest very helpful and a lot of fun. Please share your opinion and experiences with us! It would be a huge help for us newbies. 🙂

By the way . . . if you’re interested in my new WIP, hop on over to Pinterest. I’ve just published the previously secret storyboard for y’all! Check it out!

Let’s chat. Let me know your experiences with Pinterest. (And don’t forget to drop by the new storyboard.) 🙂