Saturday, November 27, 2010

Endweek NaNoPost

I'm a bit late today thanks to temporary insanity + Black Friday + the most I've laughed in months, which convinced me to ditch my original draft of this post and write up something new.

First, a little backstory: I never leave the house on Black Friday because of the crowds and general madness; there is no sale that could ever tempt me to navigate through this annual mess. My guy also works in retail, and when he crawls home after a very long and arduous eighteen-hour day I like to be here and do what I can to make a nice evening for him.

Unfortunately this year my daughter and her friends wanted to go and see the new Harry Potter movie, and talked me into taking them to a Friday evening show in the city (this is when the temporary insanity kicked in, when I said okay. I couldn't help myself, the kid hardly ever asks me for anything.)

It's been so long since I've been out on a Black Friday that I was rather overwhelmed by the traffic, the crowds and the Herculean task of finding a parking space. Since I'm not much of a Harry Potter fan I decided to skip taking a nap in the theater while they watched the movie and instead dropped off the kids. My two-and-a-half hour wait, I decided, would be spent over at a big chain bookstore's cafe nursing a hot tea and hopefully doing some editing. I figured of all the shops in the mall, the bookstore wouldn't be crowded.

I was right and wrong. The store wasn't too busy, but every table and chair in the cafe was packed with the sale-shocked and exhausted, all of whom appeared to be hunkered down for the duration. Twenty more drooping souls stood waiting in line for counter service, and another ten or so were leaning against the railing waiting for a table to free up. More tired backsides had claimed every one of the benches by the magazine racks, and another dozen kids were sitting on the floor around them. So much for that brilliant idea.

I didn't really mind. I never met a bookstore I didn't like; it's a bit like being at a huge writer's conference where no one talks, touches you or infects you with whatever crud they brought with them (there's a conference I'd attend in a heartbeat: the Silent Germ-free Writers' Fest.) It's also been forever since I had the luxury of time to cruise the shelves for hours, and I had a list in my purse of titles I need for the holidays, so I picked up a pretty tote and went hunting.

The first novel I tracked down was a copy of Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas, which I've never read but my Sanctuary Reads winner Crystal posted as her pick (this is another way I try to expand my horizons; I often pick up what you guys mention in the giveaways and discussions here at the blog.) I also spotted Shiloh Walker's The First Book of Grimm, which went into the tote, along with Liz Carlyle's One Touch of Scandal and Stephanie Tyler's Promises in the Dark. Then I spent a few minutes facing out titles by me and my writer friends because that's another annoying thing writers do when we're in bookstores.

I didn't find anything tempting in the mystery or SF/F aisles, so I moved on to the remainder tables. Not much there but learn-how-to kits, coffee table books and untempting leftover hardcovers. The seasonal tables had a pretty dismal collection of themed titles, mostly buried under toys and other gift-giving junk. But I saw some encouraging things, too: Larissa Ione's Sin Undone prominently displayed among the latest bestsellers (go Larissa!); an endcap with all of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson books artfully arranged (an amazing series), and Bill Peschel's Writers Gone Wild already faced out in Literary Theory (we definitely need some more humor in that section.)

I headed to the back shelves, where all the lovely nonfic shelves were waiting to be browsed. I always try to hit one section in particular, and there I spotted a shiny new title that I hadn't seen before. I picked it up and read the first page, which was rather awful and thus an instant sale-killer. I read a bit further and couldn't believe how badly-written it was, so I looked at the cover again. The byline belonged to the author of that wretched book I tried to read a few weeks ago. It was like finding a rattlesnake in my hands; I shoved it back on the shelf so fast I knocked another book off onto the floor.

As I picked up the book I'd knocked down, I started giggling over the rattlesnake release and my reaction to it, and then I couldn't stop, even when I went outside the store and laughed so loud I scared a couple of exiting patrons. Which only made me laugh at myself even harder. Once I did manage to control my mirth -- took a while -- I went back inside in a wonderful mood, and shopped merrily until it was time to pick up the kids, get everyone home and collapse on my couch. I found my guy there, cuddled up with the pups and snoring away. After I dragged him off to bed, I likewise fell asleep instantly (this never happens) and enjoyed six hours of uninterrupted Zzzzzzs.

My Black Friday bookstore adventure left my feet a little sore, but not a high price to pay for a pretty tote and a nice pile of books for myself and family. It was also a great reminder that as ridiculous and rife with rattlesnakes as this biz can be, it's also the world of great reads, wonderful writers and things to make you laugh at yourself. All you have to do is look for them.

I'm not finished, but I know some of you have been stacking up the stats on your NaNo novel this week. Anyone reach the finish line since my last post? Still slogging away this holiday weekend? Getting close? Let us know in comments.


  1. Aw, what's so bad about Harry Potter? :P Hehe sounds like an interesting adventure at the bookstore!

    Sadly I must admit that I am way behind on NaNo and will not be finishing this year. :( I had a serious lack of motivation as well as too much to do, and I can't blame anybody but myself. I'm thinking about using Christmas break to do a personal competition with myself and get in 20k. :)


  2. *sigh* I'm afraid I'll be slogging away for another two or three months just to hit my 50K. Oh well...there's always next year.

    I'm glad you had a good time out. I never do the Black Friday thing either. When I was young and semi-brainless, I actually loved it. Now, I just don't have the patience to deal with any of it, so I stay home, we order in that evening for dinner and rent a movie. Much more relaxing in my book. And there's always the internet if there's something I absolutely have to have at the perfect price.

    What I don't understand is how so many rattlesnakes manage to get released when the blue racers remain trapped in their nests, waiting for someone to let them loose.

  3. I broke 20K today. I'm not sure I'll finish in time, but I haven't given up yet.

  4. It's wonderful when life offers a moment of humor. After all, laughter is the best medicine and all that. You're a braver soul than I. I do like Harry Potter, and have agreed to go see the movie...once NaNo is over.

    I spent Black Friday in a surprisingly successful attempt to get my NaNo back on track. I had gotten a cushion of 190 words right before Thanksgiving after the flu set me back 7000, but on Thursday I got a measley 200 words, not because I didn't have time but because my brain wasn't working. Winter doldrums hit hard and sucked all the creativity out of me. But Friday, I tried something a little crazy, and have slight hedydration to pay for it, but I'm back on track and even ahead :). Basically, I locked myself in my little study with a space heater. Super heated the room to sauna temperatures, defrosted my brain, and wrote over 3700 words in a day, something I haven't done in who knows how long :).

  5. Ah, that was refreshing. Glad to hear the book's visible (even if in literary theory; I pushed for humor in the proposal, but Penguin knew better).

    One of the nice things about getting published is being able to pay it forward. My wife loved L.J. McDonald's "Battle Sylph" series that I was able -- and this is after she'd read the library copies -- to buy her copies for Christmas. Because, after all, it's paid for by the advance.

  6. I'm at 33k and I'm planning on winning. Every time I write a novel, I get behind on my personal deadline until the last week or so, which is when I write like a maniac. :)

  7. I finished my NaNo this afternoon. Wrote 10,000 words in the last 24 hours and am running on four hours of sleep (and five from the night before due to the only attempt of Black Friday my family will ever try).

    I only hope that when I lay down in ten minutes that my mind will shut off...the characters keep babbling the next chapter at me (I think there's 30K 'til the end of the novel). I've reached that euphoric point in every novel where you leave this earth and are extremely happy yet are unsure if this state can really be physically good for you...

  8. Glad you had a laugh and laughed well; so few people do have damned good chuckle in public these days.

    I'm taking the maternal influencer (mother) to HP later on this week and we're both looking forward to it.

    As for the work, well the last half of the last book sucks like a vacuum. Really bad writing, meandering story with no direction, but I'll be writing the end tomorrow - at least I'm happy about that.

  9. 5500 words left to go. I've been slogging away, giving it the hard-target push for the past few days. My fingers are like sausages, but it'll be worth it when I collapse on Wednesday.

    I'm glad you had an interesting night out. I like HP, but I hate theaters, so I would've been wandering around the store, too.

  10. Um, I finally got enough of a break from the nausea to have hopes of being productive again. This has been a memorable NaNo but not for page count.

  11. Keita Haruka9:41 AM

    Hehe. I also had a nice bookshop experience while I was over in the US last month. It was at a Barnes and Noble store (where incidentally I picked up "Dream Called Time" and "The Grimrose Path"). My partner, knowing me and books, had resigned himself to spending hours in there, bored, while I happily browsed. He never once complained, and even occasionally came to me to show me a book I might like. I may just be the luckiest guy on this planet. I must say though...we have NOTHING like as big a bookstore here in South Africa. No wonder the online stores are so popular here. Compared to over there, our bookstores are almost non-existant. Besides the two already mentioned, I also got "Chimaera" by Rob Thurman, a Wolf calendar, and two books about Native American spirituality. And a serial killer encyclopedia for my partner. And a few CD's. Renee Fleming's "Dark Hope", "Fearless Love" by Melissa Etheridge and a live performance CD/DVD by Loreena McKennitt. ALl in all...a good haul. :D

    As for NANO...I didn't participate this year. I just didn't have the emotional energy after returning back here. I was too busy missing my lover to have the energy left for writing. Of year will be the same thing. :p So...I'll just do it "out of season". :D

  12. This is the first year I've cleared the 50k mark in less than 30 days. The bad news is that my novel is about halfway down and now I don't have a deadline to write for, so it's easier to mosey along to the finish line. But at least I did it!


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