NaNoWriMo 2019!

So I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Woot woot!!!! So excited for it too. I didn’t participate last year because ya know… newborns will do that to you. But back at it again with the lofty writing goals.

  • REAL QUICK If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is… It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Authors from all over the globe attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I’ve already been working on it for several days now.

Last time I did it I FREAKING CRUSHED IT. Finished my whole novel in THREE WEEKS. But I’m kind of a freak when it comes to writing soooo… Do I anticipate to do that again? Abso-freaking-lutely NOT. haha. For some reason (a reasonable reason) adding the second kid really slowed me down when it comes to drafting.

But I DID do 10k in a single day with both kids so… I could just do five of those and then… ugh. That makes me feel so tired I can’t even finish that sentence.

I’m doing a couple of things differently this year and I’m *intrigued* to see how they go.

One of the biggest differences is that I’m not going in sequential order. This is the 4th novel I’ve started and I’ve always strictly gone in order. Chapter One, Two, Three… But yeah, I’ve decided I’m not doing that this year. This time if there is a scene I’m really excited “to get to”, I’m just going to straight-up write it!

I’m also going to dabble in dictation. I’ve used it a little with outlining and blogging but never drafting. I think it would help with speed or situations where I can’t sit down and write, but I dunnnnoooo… my speech to text on both my phone and laptop are hilariously inaccurate. So if I do too much of it, I’m going to be rewriting my whole book in the editing room.

I also am going to vlog a little each day. *Try to* that is, so don’t hold me to it.

If the NaNo site fixed their links, you can see how I’m doing here:

https://nanowrimo.org/participants/val-manwill

 

A Spooky Writing Update

I went to that conference I said I was going to go to. And it was super helpful. Um, not in the way that I thought it would be though.

I had a critique workshop. And oh, boy. You know yours isn’t very good when everyone pauses before their critique and goes, “Okay, yeah… … so this one…”

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*Me, listening to their critiques with my hand on my chin.* Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yep. Okay. Perfect! I know exactly how to fix this.

*scoops entire manuscript off the desk and into the wastebasket underneath*

I’m kind of glad. From the beginning, I knew this had some really messy challenges. It was the first novel that I had ever formally finished and even though the premise is cool, it’s extremely difficult to pin down and write… and have it make any sense.

I spent the first day of the conference mourning the unpublishable mess I had scooped together, and then the next day of the conference pushed me in a really good direction. I realized that through all of the obsession over publishing I had completely abandoned my original dream (I couldn’t think of a less dramatic way to say it haha). That dream is to one day in my lifetime, have an entire bookcase full of my own printed-out manuscripts. I’ll always aspire to be traditionally published, but I have too many book ideas to be married to just one.

The fog lifted. The direction became clear. I NEED to start writing my next book IMMEDIATELY. That has been the obvious take away from both the conference… and also from being aggressively haunted…

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Yeah, so, okay. There are muses. And then there is Lennon. I’ve already mentioned how pushy he is as a muse … it’s no joke. I COMPLETELY understand why there are THOUSANDS of books and movies (and Broadway plays even) that are all about him. Because honestly, once he picks you. You’re done. You’re writing something for him right then and there. Maybe that’s even how he continues to influence music. I mean, probably.

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I tried to read a book. A manuscript for my critique partner. And this imaginary Lennon-presence-thing would have none of it.

 

LENNON: Reading again, ay?

ME: Go away, John, this has nothing to do with you.

LENNON: Hmm, you’re right you know. How about this ol’ bookie that Cyn wrote about me, then?

ME: No, thanks.

LENNON: Let’s have a look…

ME: I already committed to—

LENNON: LET’S HAVE A LOOK THEN, SHALL WE!

 

So, whatever, I ended up switching mid-way through for one of the books that Cynthia Lennon wrote. (“John”) I read it in like a single day, because of this imaginary shotgun to the head. At the end of the book she mentions that John had once told Julian that if anything were to ever happen to him, he would send a white feather. So that anytime Julian saw a white feather he would know that ‘John was there and watching out for him’. Which I thought was a really nice sentiment.

OKAY UNTIL WHITE FEATHERS STARTED SPONTANEOUSLY POPPING UP ALL AROUND ME EVERY FREAKING DAY.

The first time, it was a cool anomaly. I was walking the boys to my neighbor’s house and there it was. A perfect pure white tail feather. I was ecstatic, because wow, what were the odds of finding a pure white feather the day after finishing that book? I took a picture even.

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awkward phone shadow bro

I began seeing white feathers every single day (still do btw). On the sidewalk, on my car, on the playground, even in the pool.

One time, we took the kids outside to play and I told my husband about how weird it was that I was finding these perfectly white feathers all over. He totally laughed at me. He said, “Okay, just because you have a little crush on John Lennon you think he’s trying to give you a sign or something…” I shrugged. Because, yeah, that was probably right. And I went inside the apartment to get the boys a drink of water…

My husband swears that right after our conversation, as soon as I shut the door behind myself, A WHITE FEATHER DROPPED FROM A BIRD AS IT FLEW OVERHEAD, RIGHT WHERE I HAD BEEN. And he got the heebie jeebies … and now he doesn’t make fun of me for it anymore…

But even after that, I was like, wow. Pretty funny coincidence…

Do I need to mention again how pushy this muse is?

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This one day, I’m coming back from lunch with the boys. I get out of my car. Notice the feather. Haha, there’s my feather for the day. Cute. Still happening. I take another step. Another feather. Step. Feather. Step. Feather.

I freaking look up to see -THIS IS NOT A JOKE OR MADE UP STORY OR PRANK PULLED BY MY HUSBAND THIS IS A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED THE OTHER DAY – small white feathers were scattered on both sides of the pavement leading all the way up to my front door.

I slowly walk inside with my children. Turn the deadbolt. And call Ghostbusters.

Anyway, long story short, I started writing a book about John Lennon. So, that’s fun!

 

A Dark and Funny Graphic Novel to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

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Hey! If you haven’t noticed by now, I love to support indie authors. Especially if they have really cool books. And especially ESPECIALLY if those books are spooky and hilarious graphic novels…

I would like to turn your attention to The Plague and Dr. Caim, which is all about a medieval doctor as he attempts to treat people with the bubonic plague.

C. E. Gallas was so kind as to send me a few previews for you to check out. If you are interested in the project, I recommend supporting him in this way: https://unbound.com/books/the-plague-and-doctor-caim/

 

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I feature indie authors often and give shout outs as often as I can. If you have a book you would like featured you can contact me here or follow me on Twitter for other opportunities.

Life Update: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

THE GOOD:

So last time I gave you a full-ish update, I mentioned that Dan had gotten a part-time job and we were still looking. Yo, Pharmacy is not a joke right now. Anyone thinking about going into it should know that getting a job is REALLY DIFFICULT. And not just for an unfinished resident. I mean, IN GENERAL, it’s incredibly competitive.

But something kind of amazing has been happening to us lately…

The job that Dan landed is a PRN job which if you are not familiar with the medical field it basically means “as needed” or like “a substitute pharmacist pretty much”. He was told that it would probably only be one weekend a month. Like ten hours or something like that. So yeah. It was a PANIC. Ten hours a month ain’t a real job. So we were up to our necks trying to find something else.

BUT THEN. Once Dan got all trained up, he started getting a lot of shifts… and then a second site hired him… and then they started giving him remote shifts. Now all of the sudden he’s working full-time.

I kept watching our Google calendar fill up month by month before finally, I realized… this is the job. Dan loves it. It’s the EXACT company that he wanted to work for. And he gets to spend a TON of time with the family. Like… this is it, dude. Why mess with such a good thing?

There are other little details that need to be ironed out since PRN isn’t a traditional job, but I think we can make it work and I finally feel… settled. I spent the last however many months feeling on edge and overly anxious about “THE JOB” when… it was there all along. He had it within the first six weeks.

THE BAD

I always have to mention the writing so here it is.

I re-read my last “Life Update” from May and it made me freaking whimper. EVERYTHING IS STILL THE EXACT SAME. LIKE NOTHING HAS CHANGED ALL SUMMER. Isn’t that dumb!? I work on stuff every day with like so little to show for it. And I know, emotionally, I’ve had a lot on my plate… like honestly a bowling ball on my paper plate. But still! It really sucks. Because through all the hard days the ambition has not gone away. In fact, I would say that the ambition has only gotten bigger and meaner. Like a fat, feral, untamed ambition eating me from the inside out. And all I do now is sulk around the house complaining that I don’t have ten more novels finished since May.

I just want something to happen. Anything. A big gust of wind in my sails. I need to feel like I’m moving forward.

THE UGLY

It’s been a very difficult time for me personally.

Someone very close to me has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. I don’t want to say who it is, to respect their privacy, but just know that it is a relationship that is absolutely irreplaceable. Every day I have to wake up and imagine what my life would be like without that person. And I don’t know what’s going to happen.

If you are the praying sort… or you vibe with vibes… or you’re a really cynical person but you’re good at sending funny memes… just keep me in mind, I guess.

Other than that kids are doing great! They are so sweet. Getting bigger every day! Life overall has been good… which is weird because it’s been the absolute worst year of my life.

Also in retrospect, I should have started with the worst thing and ended with the best thing. Welp. That’s what I get for trying to do some cutsie title. SORRY. Tune in for, hopefully, some cheerier updates down the road.

Celebrating a Friend’s Book Launch: Cleo Under the Surface

Hey guys! I wanted to draw your attention to a great new YA sci-fi set to release tomorrow. The book is available exclusively on Amazon and if you preorder today, it’s only 99 cents!

CT Barnes is a personal friend of mine, she’s been working hard on this project for a while now, so go on over and show her some support!

 

Cleo: Under the Surface

“Cleopatra Travers can’t remember what happens when she’s sleepwalking. Her parents know. They witnessed something they aren’t telling Cleo-and now whatever she did has carved a canyon of space between her entire family. Cleo’s parents are afraid of her, which makes Cleo terrified and unsure of herself.

Not receiving the love and acceptance she longs for at home, Cleo tries to fill the void at school. Now, as her junior year ends, she is finally becoming popular. But her plans become disrupted by the resurfacing of a forgotten crush and new discoveries about her sleepwalking that risk the exposure of her long-kept secret.”

 

 

If you’re an author and have a book coming out or recently published*, I would love to support you by featuring your work on my blog! Contact me  if you are interested. Obligatory free of course, I’m just trying to connect and support the writer community!

*Erotica would probably not be a good fit for my small audience. Thanks.

How Unrealistic is this Romance-Genre Male Character? A Fun Rubric!

It’s no secret that women are often not written very realistically. And it’s easy to tell when the girl main character was created as nothing more than a fantasy trophy.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? Women characters are not exclusive to this. More prevalent and obvious, YES. But exclusive, no. Haven’t you ever noticed how every dude in a romance story has AN OUTRAGEOUS combination of “desirable” traits? It’s like the same formula over and over again.

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“Hey. I’m Liam. Captain of the football team. Want to hang out on my family’s yacht?”

Don’t believe me? Watch yourself a romance or pick up a sappy book and use this rubric as you go. Each trait earns ten points, the more points you get the more ridiculously written that character is.

 

+10 He is good looking. Obviously, this is a good place to start. Granted there is going to be some kind of attraction between characters when there’s a romance. But I’m specifically talking about a character who would be considered classically and universally good looking. Great hair. Nice smile. Chiseled chin. Tall. Modelesque rippling abs and pectorals. I mean, if the body type is even being mentioned, he might as well have “heaving bosoms”.

+10 He is smart. This character always offers witty dialogue and banter. He’s funny. He does well in school or inexplicably gets accepted to ivy league colleges. Maybe this character has a job that would need to require some serious intelligence. When he talks to the love interest he probably “surprises her” by mentioning authors/books that he likes or other smart and high cultured things.

+10 He is rich OR is in a high position of power somehow. Okay, this character either has a lot of money himself or comes from a rich family. This character could also be a boss or some kind of leader. Royalty is always popular for some reason.

+10 He is charming. This character is well liked. Popular. Has a lot of friends. Or fans. Usually, there are multiple girl characters who are obsessed with him. He is most likely confident in himself. Anyone who happens to not like him is probably jealous of him.    

+10 He is athletic. Lol. For some reason mentioning the muscles isn’t enough. This character shows ‘em off somehow. His adventuring and swordplay are effortless. He plays on the school sports team. He is probably mentioned to be “the best” at some type of physical skill.

+10 He is musically or artistically talented somehow. This is a character that sits down and plays the guitar or sings for the leading lady. Maybe he draws or paints her a picture. Maybe he immaculately decorates this outdoor area for her without any help. He might have a career as an artist or maybe his incredible talent is mentioned in passing and then never contributes anything else to the plot.

+10 He is passionate. This is an easy ten points. This is a character who is borderline berserk-o bats he is so in love. This character easily professes his love. He’s more than a little stalkerish, he follows her around everywhere even if she says no. His moods are all over the freaking place. He is sometimes yelling and punching antagonists. He oozes with jealousy, over-protection, kissing her roughly, having like zero control over his feelings. This character is SO unbridled that if she weren’t into him, she would take out a restraining order pretty quick.

+10 He is self-sacrificing. Similar to the passion trait but definitely deserves ten points on its own. This is a character who is willing to throw away anything and everything in his life for the love interest. He might give up his job, his family, his opportunities, his dreams. Maybe he gives up who he is- like he’s dangerous in some way, but gives it up for her. Sometimes he just straight up dies for her. The sacrificing thing is one huge wet dream for a woman.

+10 He’s a hero. I don’t care what context it is. If this guy rescues her from getting physically hurt in any way, shape or form. That is an automatic ten points for me.

+10 Despite having all of these characteristics he goes for an awkward underdog MC for no real reason. Yes, I’m a cynic. But COME ON. Real talk here. Why is this have-it-all-dude going to go for this rinky-dink no-one-has-ever-wanted-me-like-this chick? Right off the bat, he is in deep with her, but we never really get why. I guess because she’s attractive or something? You tell me.

 

And yes, before you call me out, I tried this rubric out with the romantic interest in my own novel and YES, I am in no way clean of this either. He scored fifty points… which is more than murkily cliché but still better than Noah from The Kissing Booth who scores an eye-rolling NINETY POINTS.

So what is the takeaway? The take away is this: As a writer, don’t be afraid to make your main characters less than perfect. We will still like them. IN FACT, we will like them MORE if we relate to their weaknesses. Is it sexy to envision a man sprawled across a worn couch, binging Netflix with Dorito dust all over his shirt? Not really. Do I want him to find love? HECK YES SO MUCH SO INVESTED. But why though? BECAUSE THAT’S MEEEEEEE! We’re the sticky gross humans looking for happiness in all the wrong places! YOUR AUDIENCE. Reach out! Connect! Don’t just give us one real person to cheer on. Give us two! Make me believe that both of them are better off together, not that one person is already swimming in the sweet life and his/her life can’t be upgraded by anyone.

Just an opinion of a half-cynic. Wink wink.