Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wishing You



Happy Thanksgiving from Paperback Writer.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Off to Finale



I'm taking off today to work on finishing up a deadline for my day job -- and I likely won't be back until Wednesday, 11/22. See you then.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Just an FYI

Tomorrow Photobucket should be cancelling my pro account and converting my pics to a free account, which means most or all of the photos on PBW may disappear. I have back ups of all the years with the photos, so they're safe.

I now just have to decide what I want to do with them. One option is to make my backups into e-books and post them on my Google Docs account, or (the insane option) put back 13 years of photos manually using Blogger's photo upload, which will take me a looooong time.

Also, my old Disenchanted & Company blog will be deleted tomorrow, as will my old photoblog, PBWindow. I've also backed them up and I'm making them into e-books, too, but as they're static I've decided to delete them. If you want to copy anything from either blog, you should do that today.

Monday, November 13, 2017

NaNoWriMonday: Roadblocks

The good news: my unexpected house guest is leaving tomorrow morning, and I've finally resolved all the issues caused by the malevolent Windows update. Also, my thanks to Microsoft for again illustrating so blindingly why so many of my friends choose Mac.

The bad news: I'm terribly behind on my quota for my November novel. I'm about to throw out the last chapters I've written because they're just wrong. Also, since the day job has to come first, and I'm taking off on Thanksgiving Day, I'm not sure I'll be able to cross the finish line.

Unexpected roadblocks are a huge part of the writing life. Work, family, friends and life get hungry and devour our writing hours, which drops us in the rickety seat on the emotional rollercoaster. This morning I'm tired, frustrated and not in the mood for any more nonsense. Balancing that is the fact that I had a lovely visit with my unexpected house guest; my work novel is coming together beautifully (yes, I'm writing two books this month) and I'll make my deadline next week. Also, I got the exact size turkey I wanted for Thanksgiving -- on sale, no less -- because I was paying attention instead of locking myself in the office to sulk over my roadblocks.

I don't mind failing. Success usually teaches you little to nothing except how to be a bigger ass than you already are. Besides, I can collide with as many roadblocks as life wants to throw at me and keep going. I've already done it countless times. It's when the tired part of me whines about giving up that I get really angry with myself. I may not be a winner, but a quitter? Nope. I keep going.

I'll post the latest update on Haunted House Style later today. In the meantime, how are you all doing with your NaNonovel? Let us know in comments.

Added: Haunted House Style, 11/14/17

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Still Off



The technical difficulties collided with an unexpected family visitor and my carefully organized day went all to Hades. Just now I recalled that I promised to post something today, too. Please consider this something, even if it is 1:42 am. My sincere apologies, but I will be off dealing with all this until Monday.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Off to Tinker

I'm bailing on you all today to try and fix what the malevolent Windows update wrecked. And try not to slam my head on my desk too many times. And try not to insult the unhelpful help people.

You know, I don't mind the fixit blues when I screw up things, but when others mess with my hardware? Without permission? And then tell me it's my fault when I didn't do anything?

I'm trying to work here, Microsoft.

Anyway. I'll figure it out. I always do.

See you on Friday.

Monday, November 06, 2017

NaNoWriMonday: Week One

The first week of National Novel Writing Month went pretty well for me. I hit my counts almost every day, and doubled up on last Saturday's in order to participate in the official double-up day. I like what I'm getting on the page; Emma is as strong a protagonist as ever. I plan to go to another real-life write-in or two this week.

What I'm struggling with is being so far outside my comfort zone. Writing-wise, I prefer to be alone in my bat cave getting the work done. I'm fighting that desire every day, tooth and nail, as I try to join in with the local writing community, at least for the next month. It's not that I dislike socializing as much as a sense of being on display. People are suddenly paying attention to me when I'm usually invisible. Actually if I were invisible I'd be a lot more social. Anyway, I'm not going to cave into it, but it is a real challenge.

Also, the reason I'm so late posting today: evidently thanks to a malevolent Windows automatic update, I now can't get anything uploaded to my Google Docs account. Once I have time to spend the obligatory eight hours chatting with the help people while they have me do things that don't resolve the problem, I'll try a restore. But in the meantime, updates on Haunted House Style will have to remain in the holding queue until we figure this out.

How is NaNoWriMo going for you? Let us know in comments.

Friday, November 03, 2017

NaNoWriMo Kick-Off

I attended my very first National Novel Writing Month meeting on Wednesday, and met with about a dozen writers who are participating this year. Everyone welcomed me and made me feel right at home while I was there. The ML passed out an interesting packet, some stickers and held three word sprints that were fun. I acquired a new NaNo buddy and a writing dare, and knocked out about a thousand words, so it was a productive exercise, too. I'll be attending more meetings this month when time/life permits.

I'm doing all right on Emma's second book, too; I passed 5K this morning. I'll have to fill in some backstory for new readers, but right now I'm focusing on forging ahead and nailing my daily counts. I love writing in Emma's voice so it hardly feels like work. For those who want to follow my progress, I'll be posting links at the bottom of my NaNo posts, like this:

Haunted House Style 11/3/17

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

NaNoWriMo Begins

Welcome to the first day of National Novel Writing Month. For the next thirty days, writers all over the world will be racing to pen a 50,000 word novel, and I'll be one of them. I'll upload what I write and edit each day on my Google Docs account and post links here so you can follow my progress with Haunted House Style, my sequel to Ghost Writer.

Throughout November I'll be reporting on how I juggle this with my day job, thoughts on how to improve productivity, whine about problems (just a little) and otherwise detail how the experience goes for me. I also plan to paticipate in at least one of the official NaNoWriMo real-world events -- my very first time doing that -- and I'll let you know how that/those go.

If you have an account set up on the official NaNoWriMo site, and would like to be my writing buddy, my user name is Lynn Viehl, and my novel information page is here. I promise to nag you at least once or twice during November, and I'd love to hear how your novel is coming along, too.

I'm really excited about this opportunity to continue Emma's story. If you're also diving in, welcome -- tell us what you'll be writing in comments.

Added: Haunted House Style 11/1/17

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wishing You

Monday, October 30, 2017

NaNoWriMonday: Ask PBW

It's been forever since I used this graphic in a post. Makes me feel nostalgic for the blogging days of yore.

I had family visiting last week, so I didn't have a lot of time to do anything but work and cook (which is also why I like to prep early.) Today I'm going to finish gathering what I need for my NaNoNovel notebook, and tinker on my chapter summaries a bit, but otherwise I'm good to go for Wednesday.

Since we're 48 hours away from the start of National Novel Writing Month, I thought I'd make myself available for any questions you might have today about NaNo-related stuff. If you do, post them in comments before midnight EST, and I'll do my best to offer advice or find you an answer elsewhere.

Graphic credit: © Yellowj | Dreamstime.com

Friday, October 27, 2017

Circa 1853

To feed my love of all things Victorian American I purchased a couple of partial Godey's Lady's Books from Threads and Memories on Etsy; both date back to the mid-nineteenth century. The illustrations (three in color) are marvelous, as are the fashion plates, embroidery patterns and stories. Ladies who read these issues got the latest style trends, from even as far away as Paris, gardening ideas, every day advice and even sheet music and floor plans for a cottage.

All of the content is very polite and proper, of course, which I think makes it even more charming. Have a look:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Timing

This morning I'm going to see how long it takes me to write this blog post plus the scenes I've planned for my morning writing session, by using the Pomodoro timer on Marinanratimer.com. The timer gives me writing sessions of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks, and (if I remember correctly) a 15-minute break after I finish four sessions. I can also pause it if I need to do something that won't wait until my break, like answer the phone or the call of Nature.

Why time myself? It's been a while since I have, and I need to know (on average) how much writing I can do in a day, a week and a month to better plan my work schedule. For example: I wrote a total of 6,159 words of fiction and a 563-word blog post on Monday, and that's a pretty typical writing day for me. But I didn't keep track of my time writing, so I can't tell you exactly how long it took me to write it. Maybe ten hours, maybe twelve -- I'm really not sure. I had some productive sprints, during which I can write up to 1,500 words an hour, but also had more than one draggy sessions where I likely only knocked out 500 words. There was also an hour where I edited everything I'd written.

Right now I'm at the halfway point of my 25 minute session, and I've written 238 words. That's close to twenty words a minute, which puts me at 1,200 words per hour -- a little faster than I usually write, but blog posts are easy -- I just write off the top of my head and add coding for applicable links. Could I write faster? Sure. But it's not really about speed, it's about consistency. I like to get into a productive rhythm with the writing where I feel comfortable + I'm getting work done at an acceptable pace. Once I know how long that takes me, I can forecast the work I'll probably get done and alter my schedule accordingly.

In November I'll be working on two novels, one for NaNoWriMo and one for work. I already know I need to write a minimum of 5K per day. I'll probably do more so I can take off on Thanksgiving. But having timed myself, I'll also know how long I have to block off every day for writing. It's not perfect -- I'll write slower when I feel like crap, and faster when I get into the zone, but those highs and lows tend to balance out for me.

One neat thing about this timer site is that the tab for it shows you the time if you're working in multiple windows. Right now I have three minutes left before my break. I also just deleted a long sentence that made no sense, so I'm not padding my results -- just the opposite. This exercise is not about how much you can do in 25 minutes, but what you'd actually write on any day -- and on any day I do delete about 5% of what I write while I'm writing it.

Thirty seconds: I'm feeling a little more awake now, and a little more focused. Timers do that for me, too. And now I've reached my five minute break (announced by a handy little chime.)

Total: 562 words in twenty-five minutes.

I think I'll use my break to make a cup of tea and get the laundry started. Also, just to note, there are two other timers on the site you can use; one is customizable, and the other is just like a kitchen timer -- set it and forget it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Taking the Day



I'm taking the day off to spend some quality time refilling the creative well. See you on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

NaNoWriMobility

[I moved Monday's National Novel Writing Month post to today because tomorrow I'm going to unplug and do something else.]

I broke a keyboard last week, something I do once or twice a year. I'm heavy-handed and clumsy due to my arthritis, which is why I buy cheap keyboards; the expensive ones break just as easily. Unfortunately this time I killed my Neo2 smart keyboard, which is no longer being manufactured. Since I can store two hundred manuscript pages on the Neo2, run it for weeks on 3 AA batteries, take it anywhere and even drop it occasionally without a problem I decided to get one off eBay.

The replacement I bought was the last new one listed; which means when I burn up this one I need to find another cheap brand of smart keyboard (there are none), go the tablet-with-paper-thin-attachable-keyboard route (which I will probably break in a month), or start using my much more expensive laptop when I want to take my writing on the go (with which I must use a wireless keyboard because otherwise I'd break the keypad portion of the very expensive laptop.)

Being immobilized irks me because I like to take breaks from the desktop and go out on the porch with my Neo2 for an hour or two. I also use the smart keyboard when I'm getting too distracted by the internet, or my eyes hurt from the monitor glare, or I need to go to the library. During the extensive power failure period after Hurricane Irma I used the smart keyboard exclusively to write and save my laptop charge. Anyway, the new Neo2 is on its way, but in the meantime I'm stuck at my desk.

I want to be mobile next month while I'm working on my NaNo novel for a bunch of other reasons. My story is set in a nearby town, which I plan to visit and write on-scene to get a personal look at some of the setting. I plan to attend at least one official NaNoWriMo write-in, meet some of the local participants and write with them. I may also take a weekend trip, and I always like to do a little writing at the hotel at night or early in the morning. Being mobile also allows me to deal with lack of enthusiasm, so if I start to drag during November I can pack up my keyboard and go someplace that inspires me.

You don't have to be on the move during NaNoWriMo, but having the option to take your writing with you may help you get more done. Also, you don't have to take actual gadgets. I always carry a small notepad with me everywhere in case I see or hear something I want to jot down and remember. Writing in longhand in a notebook or on a legal pad will require you to transcribe it later, but it's a great way to shift gears with writing. You can even take a voice recorder with you on the go and dictate your writing to it. If you've never tried writing elsewhere, this is a great time to give it a test-drive -- you may find it changes your process for the better.

Are you a mobile writer? Any ideas on how to get other writers on the go with their work? Let us know in comments.

Friday, October 20, 2017

PSA Time

It's definitely time for a PBW Public Service Announcement.

There is someone publishing author bibliographies on Amazon.com, and yes, they're selling mine for $2.99. I had no idea it was that valuable. Why didn't you guys tell me to publish my bibliography? I could have made tens of dollars!

Okay. If you would like to view my correct bibliography, in reading order, please do not buy it from Amazon.com. I keep it on the blog. As it happens, I've had it on the blog for many, many years. Simply click here to access it.

Oh, and you can send me $2.99 if you want, but unlike this Amazon.com seller I'd rather you not pay me for something that has always been provided for free by the freaking author herself.

That concludes the PSA. Thank you for your attention, and have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Cover Art



My latest cover art from my French publisher J'ai Lu, for their translation of In the Leaves. This is also the first book I sold to a traditional publisher without an agent, so it's a bit of personal history, too.

Monday, October 16, 2017

NaNoWriMondays: Habits

For National Novel Writing Month we always talk about the big issues: productivity, motivation, time management etc. Of course they're important, so they get a lot of attention. But almost every writer develops habits that can often become roadblocks on the way to the finish line. Since we have a particularly difficult road to travel in November, here are:

Ten Writing Habits That Can Wreck Your NaNo Novel
(And what you can do to stop or curb them)

Backtracking: Aka writing a scene or chapter, re-reading it, editing it, re-reading it, editing it, re-reading it, editing it, etc.

Solution: Read and edit what you write for NaNo only one time. If you can't resist the habit, only indulge it for that day. The next day, no matter how much you want to backtrack again, write something new.

Critiquing: Getting feedback from other writers on the work while it's in progress.

Solution: I don't do this, but I know it can be an important part of the process for other writers. Bottom line: You don't have time for critiques. Hold off on all of them until December 1st.

Doubting: Various ways of beating yourself up because you're not worthy, talented, a pro, as good as [insert name of favorite author], you suck, you never finish anything, your ninth grade English teach spit on everything you wrote, or any other reason that shuts down your muse/mojo.

Solution: First, agree with yourself. You're not worthy, or talented, or a pro, or as good as whoever, etc. I often think I suck at this, so you're in good company. Second, write it anyway. Write it for fun. Write it like you're just practicing your typing. Write it for no damn good reason at all.

Excessive Researching: You look for three accurate resources to confirm every fact in your story, and you won't go on until you find them all and add them to your bibliography.

Solution: Do your research and fact-checking in December.

Nesting: In hopes of creating a warm and cozy writing space you constantly do things like make idea boards, collect chachkas, surround yourself with scented candles, hang writing good luck charms over/around/on your computer, and pin motivational messages to yourself on the wall.

Solution: I'm not a nester, but I do respect your right to bury yourself in inspiring junk. The two problems with nesting are 1) being unable to stop long enough to write anything and 2) being distracted from the work by all the inspiring junk you've piled in your writing space. To solve either or both, for the month of November write somewhere else where you are not permitted to nest, like the quiet room at the library.

Over-Editing: There are various forms of this (like backtracking), but they all boil down to spending way more time editing than writing.

Solution: During NaNoWriMo do only a single pass edit of what you write. Save the rest for December.

Perfection Questing: Acts involved with the need to be sure your plot, characters, word choices and anything else involved in the writing is perfect, and the inability to write anything new until they are.

Solution: Like doubting, this habit can be paralyzing. I once sat next to a famous writer dude at a luncheon who admitted to me he spent ten years writing a single book because he had to be sure every word of it was perfect. You don't have ten years, you have thirty days, so write the story first and make it perfect later.

Procrastinating: Finding reasons not to write that include but are not limited to your lousy day job, mental exhaustion, your family problems, the fascinating new season of DWTS and so on.

Solution: This is a tough one, but remember that life is short. So is NaNoWriMo. I suggest that for the month of November you commit to writing an hour every day -- no matter how much your life sucks, or how little you get on the page. You may not cross the finish line, but having actual writing as part of your daily routine for a month may help combat the procrastination blues.

Waffling: You have difficulty or you're unable to make story decisions, which stalls your progress.

Solutions: I've got two for this: if you can't decide between two or more options, flip a coin until you narrow it down to one and use that. If you can't think of any options, place an editing marker like this in the story [name of John's high school] and move on.

Zoning: You can only write in the zone, aka those times when the words come in a huge, thrilling, endless rush that keeps you working tirelessly for hours.

Solution: I would love to write in the zone all the time. Personally I only get there once or twice a week -- if I'm lucky. The rest of the time I just show up for work and do my job. Showing up and doing the job for thirty days is a good way to get out of the zoning-only habit, too, so try it.

Do you have any writing habits that you want to kick? Have any advice for kicking them? Let us know in comments.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Story Jinxes

Since it's Friday the Thirteenth I thought I'd admit to:

Ten of My Writing-related Superstitions

Avoidances: There are some things I avoid writing in a story (and on the blog) because they spook me or I consider them jinxes, like that lettered board people use to talk to the dead. See how I avoided writing the name of it? Ha.

Beginning Rituals: I always meditate for an hour before I start a new story. Mostly I try to empty my brain and make it into a clean slate, but I also give thanks to the universe for any creative energy it's willing to send my way. If I can't do this, I'll put off starting the new story until I can.

Coin-Flip Titles: When I can't decide between two titles I really like for a story, I flip a coin and let the Fates pick it. This is why Evermore is not titled Everlasting.

Color Cursed: Yellow has been my bad luck color for most of my adult life, although I'm trying to get over it now via therapeutic quilting. Until I do, any time you see anything yellow in my work? Definitely not a good sign.

Crazy 8s: The number 8 relates to many weird things in my personal history, and it spooks me, so I try to use it sparingly -- usually only for weird things in a story.

Do No Harm: If I do base a character on a person in the real world, I try not to kill them off in the story, as I think that's tempting Fate in a very bad way. Anything else goes, however.

Easter Eggs: I regularly embed little treasures in my stories (and I'm not going to tell you what or where they are) mainly for fun, and to see if readers are paying attention. Like anagrams (also something I regularly hide in stories) I think they're good luck.

Fabulous 14s: Fourteen is my lucky number, and I do put it somewhere in every story I write as a personal talisman. If I can't fit in the actual number somewhere, I'll use the letters of the word fourteen as a secret acronym or acrostic sentence.

Names Not Used: I try never to name characters after people I dislike, random nouns, or members of my family. I think the first is bad luck, the second is silly, and the third is creepy.

Never me: It gives me the willies when writers Tuckerize themselves to become characters. One of the reasons I stopped reading Stephen King is because he did. Thus you will never see PBW as a character in any of my stories. I will occasionally refer to myself as part of a joke, but always unnamed.

Do you have any writing superstitions? Let us know in comments.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Rats

Just got notified that one of my favorite online shops for writers is closing:

"It is with mixed feelings that we announce we will be closing the Writer’s Bloc online store in November 2017. We are holding a going out of business sale offering deeper discounts on all of our popular items in an effort to clear out our inventory. We want to send out a special thank you to our loyal customers and deeply appreciate all of your support over the years. You’ve introduced us to some fabulous brands that we love and write with on a daily basis such as Clairefontaine, Rodia, LAMY, Noodlers, Pelikan, Pilot, Aston Leather, and so many others. You will certainly be missed!

Thank you for sharing the last 10 years with all of us here at Writer’s Bloc."

Monday, October 09, 2017

NaNoWriMonday: Less than 10%

National Novel Writing Month gets plenty of online attention and participation. We writers talk about it a lot before, during and after November. Since it began NaNoWriMo has evolved into a writing community of its own. Just take a look at the stats from last year: 384,126 participants jumped in and gave it their best shot. Of these (according to their 2017 press release) over 34,000 crossed the finish line with a 50K book that they wrote in 30 days.

A lot of writers join in, but less than ten percent finish (and I'm not on my high horse here; I failed to win one year because one of my pets died and I was horribly depressed.) While it's fun to talk about writing a novel in a month, and even to start one when November 1st rolls around, it's a lot harder to actually produce fifty thousand words in thirty days.

I think there are three big obstacles that almost everyone has to deal with during NaNoWriMo:

No time -- you have only 30 days to do it. No extensions. No time off. No sick days.
Holidays -- In the U.S., Thanksgiving. And if you're a shopper, Black Friday.
Work-- Some writers insist on working at a day job so they can pay their bills. Disclaimer: I'm one of them.

Then there are the more nebulous reasons, such as when the idea fizzles out, or the self-doubt kicks in, or you find yourself wanting to kill off all the characters in the story. Basically the writing stops being fun and becomes work. You find yourself slogging through the pages, and making up excuses not to work on it, and suddenly it's November 29th and you have 40K left to write in order to win. One month goes very fast.

I can't guarantee you'll cross the finish line in November; no one can. But here are some tips that may help you be part of the less than ten percent who probably will:

1. Advance Chapter: Test out your story idea by writing a chapter now, or sometime before NaNoWriMo begins. You don't have to count it as part of your 50K, and it will give you a preview of how the writing will go.

2. Brain Work It: Imagine your story from start to finish in an abbreviated form, like a movie trailer playing it your head, until you can clearly envision the major or dramatic highlights (and this won't work for organic/pantser writers).

3. Make a Mix: This isn't something I can do anymore (hearing loss sucks), but plenty of writers make up soundtracks for their work that they listen to before or during their work sessions. Having the soundtrack seems to help some writers better envision the story.

4. Whiteboard it: Outline your story on a whiteboard. Killzoneblog.com has a neat article on this here with example boards from J.K. Rowling and Norman Mailer.

Look around you and see what changes you can make with your writing time and space. In order to produce 1,667 words per day, you'll probably need to write for at least a couple of hours. I recommend splitting the writing into two sessions. It may also help to work when things are calm and quiet, like early in the morning before everyone gets up, and/or later at night when they're all in bed. Or leave the house and go somewhere quiet, like the library.

For those of you who prefer noise, take a laptop to Starbucks or a mall food court or a busy park. You also don't have to write every day, but if you're planning to take time off during NaNoWriMo, write a little extra on the days you do work to compensate.

Another big time sink that can kill your writing: television/movie watching. Stop it completely for the month of November, and devote that time instead to your novel.

Also, don't try to go it alone. Ask your friends and family to help you during NaNoWriMo however they can to free you up for writing.

Does anyone have any tricks they use to be more productive with their writing time? Let us know in comments.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Oh Cool

Now this is really neat: Hubspot's blog idea generator uses three nouns you input to generate a week's worth of blog post titles. I fed it the words writing/novel/plot and got these:

1. 5 Tools Everyone In The Novel Industry Should Be Using
2. 10 Quick Tips About Writing
3. Why We Love Plot (And You Should, Too!)
4. How To Solve The Biggest Problems With Novel
5. 7 Things About Writing Your Boss Wants To Know


Some of these won't work, but I like the quick tips idea, and the why we love plot. I might use those in future PBW posts.

For the words reader/book/sales I got:

1. 10 Signs You Should Invest In Book
2. What Will Reader Be Like In 100 Years?
3. 14 Common Misconceptions About Sales
4. The History Of Book
5. Think You're Cut Out For Doing Reader? Take This Quiz


Okay, I'm not cut out to be doing readers, but what will readers be like in 100 years? That would be fun to imagine.

Finally I tried love/story/hero, and my results were:

1. 20 Myths About Love
2. 10 Quick Tips About Story
3. The Worst Advice We've Ever Heard About Hero
4. The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Love
5. 14 Common Misconceptions About Story


You can see that the generator starts repeating itself, but there are still some decent ideas here. I'd like to research 20 myths about love, and if you're writing a hero, there are mountains of bad advice out there to avoid. I also like the ultimate cheat sheet on love -- what would a writer's version look like?

If you're looking for fresh ideas for your blog, give this a whirl -- you might find inspiration along with a few chuckles.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Fun Story Outlines

Today we're going to talk about outlining stories. All strictly artistic, spontaneous, organic and/or pantser writers should now leave the blog, lest I poison your well, ruin your process or otherwise mess with your mojo.

It's not that bad. Outlining can be a blast, if you stop with the dread and go for the fun of it. I did that last month with my outline for my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel. I had the general idea of what I wanted to write, so basically I just channeled the protagonist and let her tell me the bare bones of the story in her voice. Since I think Emma is hilarious, it was something I really enjoyed -- and that is the key.

If you don't like writing traditional outlines, why try writing them at all? Instead, why not write what happens in your story like a bullet list:

Soviet missile sub commander defects -- with invisible sub.
CIA drops analyst on US sub.
Subs meet; get cranky.
Analyst and defector become periscope pals.
Second Soviet sub arrives.
Torpedoes fly.
The cook is a saboteur!
Sam Neill character dies.
Soviets think defecting sub sank.
They defect happily ever after.


Okay, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but that is a bullet list-style outline of The Hunt for Red October. I covered all the major plot points in ten lines (and just fifty words) off the top of my head. Took me five minutes because it was fun.

For those of you who are muttering that you're not into list outlining, okay. Why not invent your own method? I did that back in 2015 with story cards, and in 2012 with SCARAB outlining, and in 2008 with my speedy ten point plot outline. So now it's your turn. What can you think up that would make the task easier, faster, or more interesting?

Don't limit yourself to what you can do on the computer, either. You can use index cards, sticky notes, a small notepad, a story journal, a composition book, a cork board collage -- anything that helps you organize your thoughts can also work for outlining a story.

Finally, back in 2015 I reposted my master list of novel outlining links, and most of the links still work, so if you don't want to follow my method, try someone else's. See what feels like fun for you, and you might never again dread outlining.

Monday, October 02, 2017

NaNoWriMondays

From now until November 30th I'm going to devote Mondays on the blog to National Novel Writing Month, in which I plan to participate, and will absolutely nag everyone else who wants to listen. If you do a search of PBW with the NaNoWriMo tag you will also find all the posts I've written in the past with pep talks, helpful links and free or very cheap online resources etc.

We've got almost a month before the madness begins, and I'm sure some of you are still on the fence as to whether or not to join in. Lots of writers wait until the last minute before they sign up, which is fine. Sometimes it's tough to decide. The thought of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days can be intimidating, especially when you have a day job. I'll be writing two books simultaneously for the first couple weeks in November -- one for work + my NaNo novel -- so believe me, I understand.

NaNoWriMo is work. Hard work. Challenging, frustrating, often maddening work -- but it isn't all work. It's allowing your muse to do whatever it wants. For a novelist, it's a month-long chunk of creative freedom. Your novel isn't going to write itself, and it's possible you could end up with a story that lives in a drawer or trunk or on a hard drive forever. Also, at the finish line you don't actually get anything but your story. Well, and bragging rights. And that cool winner badge to post on your blog or web site, and possibly some special free offer thing from NaNoWriMo commercial sponsors. And the satisfaction of knowing that you wrote a book in thirty days.

This November I'll be writing Haunted House Style for all of you. I'll post online every word I write daily so you can see how I handle a first draft. Once I've finished and edited the book, it will be permanently posted on the free reads page. I can't wait, either. This is the most fun I can have while staying dressed. Also, I love that winner badge.

Are you ready to commit? If you have, how are you prepping for NaNoWriMo? Tell us in comments.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Paint Chip Books

All the visits we've been making to the home improvement and big box stores for post-Irma stuff has allowed me to collect some paint chips to use for story palettes. Okay, I admit, I just like looking at the paint chips. There's something mesmerizing about all those colors and pamphlets and decorator photos that makes me want to redo every room in the house (even my office, which is already painted with my favorite shade of sea glass.) I also pay close attention to the color names, as they often use unusual nouns and adjectives for them -- something I can always use when writing Yet Another Blue-eyed Character.

Sure, I know what you're thinking: how hard can it be to describe blue eyes? On average I have at least two blue-eyed characters in every novel I write. Since I like blue eyes, often more than two. Times 67 novels. Try describing blue eyes differently at least one hundred and thirty-four times, then come sneer at my paint chips.

On my last visit to Lowe's I noticed that Olympic and Valspar had put out some chip cards I hadn't before seen. Olympic now pairs some photos with the paint chips on their cards (top middle of the pic here), while Valspar has trio sets of colors with little windows in them (top right.) Wal-Mart also had large sheet-style paint chips that were self-adhesive to stick on the wall and preview what the paint would look like (bottom middle.)

I collected samples of everything I liked (and I am planning to redo the guest bathroom, so I chose colors I'd like to try in that room) and brought them home to have some fun. Since I made some notepads out of paint chips earlier this month I thought I might see what I could make out of this batch. Olympic's photo paint chip cards have lots of lovely, serene images on them so I started with them.



These would be great for easy-to-make bookmarks if you cut off the paint chips and glued the strip of images to scrapbook or heavier-weight craft paper, but I was a bit more ambitious. First I trimmed the cards to separate the images from the paint chips, and then glue-sticked the image strips in four rows on a sheet of old card stock from the paper recycling bin.

Stacking them together in harmonious colors created a collage effect that I liked a lot:



For the first collage page I unearthed an ancient pack of computer stationery and a torn book board from my recycle bin and trimmed them down, punched holes in them and fastened them together with two binder rings. Now I have a bigger notebook for my desk, which I actually needed, with paper that is nice enough to use for correspondence. With the support of the book board backing I can also use it while I'm walking around the house and muttering to myself as I work out a scene.

For the second collage page I cut in half some 140lb. coldpress watercolor paper left over from the kids' school days, and used the same hole punch/binder ring approach to making myself a nice-sized watercolor journal.



For the windowed paint chip cards I settled on making some smash books to store swatches of fabric from my quilt projects. I took the paint squares I trimmed from the Photo cards and glued them over the windows from the back, then cut some old 12 X 12 scrapbook paper into six 4" X 5-1/2" pages. After holepunching everything I used a knotted piece of scrap ribbon as the binding:


While all the materials I used to make these are all recycled the end result turned out like something you'd purchase from that fussy journal section in big book stores. These two pain chip books were also easy and simple enough for kids to make, although I'd recommend adult supervision if they use a paper trimmer, scissors or any other sharp-edged objects.

If you're interested in doing something else with your paint chips, BrokeandHealthy.com has 50 projects here. I like ChicaandJo.com's paint chip mosaic greeting cards -- you could easily do these in holiday colors.

Have you done anything interesting with paint chips? Let us know in comments.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

NaNoWriMo Stuff

The folks to blame for National Novel Writing Month have put up the participant badges for 2017, and they're actually not bad this year. I like the teal, the crossed pens and the simplicity of the design. Also, I can actually read this one without having to ask a younger person to assist; always a bonus. As I am planning to dump Photobucket, my pic hosting site, in the midst of NaNoWriMo I will not be able to offer alternative flair for 2017.



I've also put together a cover for my NaNoWriMo, using my focal image:



I'm excited. How about you all? Anyone else ready to commit to the madness? Let us know in comments.

Image Credits:

NanoWriMo particpant badge: National Novel Writing Month
Ghostly Typist: Solarseven

Monday, September 25, 2017

All You Need

My daughter took these two pictures after returning to college; Hurricane Irma was responsible for the second.





Much to no one's surprise the world didn't end on Saturday. Having lived through about a dozen predicted Apocalypses I wasn't worried. Not like I could have done anything to stop a giant shadow planet from smashing into the Earth anyway.

I can do plenty of other things. Write. Quilt. Last night I brought my kid her favorite grapes and three little pumpkins so she can decorate her tiny apartment for Fall. Today I'm writing, vacumming and mopping the floors, and knocking out the laundry while my guy continues to cut up tree debris and washes the dogs. Tonight I'm making homemade stir fry for dinner. That's all I think about, versus the Apocalypse, I mean. The Apocalypse is not on my to-do list.

The graffiti is right, you know. All you need is love.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Off to Write



Hurricane Irma put me woefully behind on my writing schedule, so I'm taking off today to get some work done. See you on Monday.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NaNo Prep

As promised, here's an update on my NaNoWriMo preparations:

Novel Working Title: Haunted House Style

Cast: Emma Jones, Julian Caine, Carol Kimball, Nerina Whitmore, Martina Ramirez, Dr. Fred (Jeff) Jeffers, Olivia Gray, Paul Gray, Angus McShea, Bridie McShea, Maeve McShea, Colin Boyle, Father Patrick Nolan, Donald (Madman) Madigan.

Focal image: See image with this post.

Outline: I had fun with this by writing it in first person in Emma's voice. It's a one-pager, but it gives me the bare bones to build on when I write the full-length synopsis and chapter summaries. Click here to read it.

Theme: Revenge

Also, my user name on the NaNoWriMo web site is Lynn Viehl for anyone participating who wants to get in touch there.

Image Credit: Solarseven

Monday, September 18, 2017

Holding On -- or Not

Before Irma arrived to mess with us, I got a depressing reality check: according to Photobucket's account renewal date I have until November 16th to switch 13 years of images on PBW from their host service to Blogger in order to preserve all my blog pics before I delete my account with them. Which I might be able to do, if I devote a little time every day to uploading and coding, but I also have two other blogs with Photobucket-hosted images (Disenchanted & Co. and PBWindow) to redo.

Here are the number of published posts on the three blogs:

Paperback Writer: 4407

PBWindow: 1252

Disenchanted & Co.: 201
---------------------------

Total: 5860

Not all of my PBW or Disenchanted & Co. posts have pics, but I've been pretty liberal with images on both. PBWindow was my photo blog so that's 100% pictures.

I've been blogging steadily since I started my very first blog waaaay back on November 3, 2001. Sixteen years on the internet; thirteen of them right here. But with all the headaches involved in forging ahead with blogging until I decide to retire (sometime in 2027, Lord willing) I am thinking about how long I want to (or actually can) hold on to all this. I do have all of my blogs backed up, btw, so I won't lose anything even if my Photobucket account goes poof.

Here are what I see as my options:

1. Close the account, let the pics vanish, and not do anything about them. PBWindow would become a complete void, but the written content would still be there on the others. This doesn't work for me because I'm more of a do-something gal.

2. Hang on for another year with Photobucket to have the time to manually switch everything on all three blogs over to Blogger. What gives me pause about this is that Google (which hosts all the pics on Blogger), could go the way of Photobucket and become insanely difficult to use, or up their annual pricing, or behave like jerks, and all my efforts would all be for nothing. Also, I've been burned by hosting services before, so I don't trust any of them.

3. Turn the archives of all the blogs into PDFs and make them free e-books. Possibly the fastest/easiest/cheapest route.

I'm inclined to go with door#3, so I did a test run with Disenchanted & Co., resizing the pics and making it more readable, and it took me about two hours (I cut and paste every page of the blog into a Word document, and then turned it into a PDF with Adobe.) Then I did a cut and paste of one year of posts from PBWindow and converted them to a PDF, which was quicker (about 20 minutes.)

Since I already have my blogs backed up as Word documents, I can turn them all into PDFs right now, save them on my Google drive, and then go back and edit the e-books at my leisure. I have a bit more to think about, but I'll let you all know what I decide before I do anything drastic.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Made It



Hurricane Irma was no picnic, but we made it through without harm, and only moderate damage to the house and our property. Some roads are still closed and/or flooded, and of course millions are still without power, but we and our neighbors are helping each other however we can. As you might expect gas, bottled water and fresh food are very scarce, but trucks are arriving every day, so I hope soon things will get back to a relatively normal state.

What I'm doing: right now, checking on elderly neighbors, clearing the debris from the yard, and providing meals, bathrooms and laundry for friends and neighbors who are still without power. Simple things like a hot shower and clean clothes really help, so if you're in a situation to do the same, please do.

To be sure your donations get to the people affected by Hurricane Irma, I suggest a donation to the Red Cross. You can find out more by visiting redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. You can also text the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Friday, September 08, 2017

PBW on Hiatus



As of right now it looks like we will be dealing directly with Hurricane Irma starting tomorrow night. The last time we faced a storm this strong we had no power for 21 days afterward, so I may be scarce for a while. We have made all the proper preparations, and have been through many storms like this both here and in South Florida, so we feel confident that we'll make it through again.

Since I won't be around to approve comments or update PBW I'm going to put the blog on hiatus for the duration. I'll check in when I can and let you all know how we made it through. In the meantime, please send good thoughts and prayers for all the people of Florida and the Caribbean. This time we're really going to need them.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Curiosity

Another experiment with uploading to Blogger, this time in bulk, and a little amusement for your Wednesday. For two bucks my daughter bought this chemistry book at a local antique mall:



It's 142 years old, but in beautiful condition:



Inside we found two makeshift book marks: an article outlining the then-radical method of teachers beginning the school day by discussing the latest news with their students:



We also found a folded scrap:



Unfolded to reveal some student's math notes:



I love old books, especially ones that come with treasures hidden inside. What have you found inside an old book lately? Let us know in comments.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Off to Prep



I'm taking off today to get some household things done in the event we get a visit from Hurricane Irma. For those who are likewise watching her, the National Hurricane Center is your best bet for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the storm.