Does Your #NaNoWriMo Novel Need Work?

Now that another NaNoWriMo has come and gone it's time to work on that manuscript. A first draft, especially one written in a hurry, is not ready for submission. I've listed several ideas for working on your novel in I wrote a novel. Now what? (the post is up today on the Pikes Peak Writers blog). But today, I want to let you know of a more social way to work on your book.

It's called PlotWriMo. It stands for International Plot Writing Month, and the project is in its fifth year. It was begun by Martha Alderson, the famed "Plot Whisperer". If you missed her fantastic YouTube videos on plot, read more about them here.

The purpose of PlotWriMo is to re'vision' your story and its plot arc, preparing for a rewrite in the new year. Once that's done, it's in much better shape for submission or publication.

Each day, Alderson takes writers through the process of analyzing their plot in order to iron out wrinkles and fill in holes. She also continues to add to your YouTube video collection. If you're more of a visual or auditory writer, these might be just what you need.

Check out Alderson's daily posts. They're easy to accomplish, and will take your novel to a new level. Also, take a look at her book, The Plot Whisperer.

What does your novel need most right now?

30 Free Resources from Writer's Digest

I don't know how I missed this, but Writer's Digest has been giving away free resources all month, in honor of NaNoWriMo. And it's pretty cool stuff. Most of the free downloads are worksheets and excerpts from some of the fantastic books Writer's Digest puts out.

Among the resources are:
A great excerpt from the book 20 Master Plots, with descriptions of each plot. 
50 writing questions to consider if you're stuck.
Tips on how to write fast.
How to create powerful conflict in your novel, from writing teacher James Scott Bell.
A chart to help you map your novel.
How to pace yourself, from the book Beginnings, Middles, and Ends.
How to maintain energy to write (even when you're working full time). This is a 43-page excerpt of interviews with successful authors who write and work another job, and are willing to share their secrets.
A subplot tracker.
A Q&A from Orson Scott Card's book Character & Viewpoint.
A worksheet to help you write the perfect climax.
From the author of 45 Master Characters, comes a 46th character archetype.
From the Writer's Compass, a fantastic chart to help you map your story.
And many more.

All these resources are available on the Writer's Digest NaNoWriMo page. I don't know how long the links will be live, so you may want to grab the ones you want right away.

A writer can't have too many resources. Which of these appeal to you?

Four Resources (and Cyber Monday for writers)

What a whirlwind week it's been! I've been to New York City, and many points between there and Colorado. And most of that time, internet availability has been non-existent, so I haven't been able to post like usual.

I did get to spend some time in the city, and one of the highlights was a stroll through the New York Public Library (which, surprisingly, when I wrote about what they offer free online, has been my highest-read post). My husband had never been inside, so it was fun to introduce him to the amazing art and architecture.

We tramped from the Empire State Building to Radio City, Rockefeller Center (where we watched workers decorating the huge tree), and Times Square. I really do miss the city, but I love living in a small town now.

So as I'm getting back into the swing of things after a week away, here are some random resources to check out:

Want to promote reading? Help other writers? Check out Mike Duran's post 10 things you can do to promote authors you like. Maybe folks will do the same for you someday.

I'm a big fan of Bob & Jack's Writing Blog. Jack Remick has come up with a fantastic post called  A Short Course in Structure ~ Writing Tips for the Committed Novelist. You'll learn valuable information on 'timed writing' (and why it's a good idea), what's a 'start line' and how it can energize your writing, and how to use the 'cut to' technique in effective ways. Don't miss this post.

Jeff Goins posts a list every year of the online writer's guide to Cyber Monday. Check out some amazing deals on books, courses, software, and more.

And here's a nice, concise post from Susan Dennard on how to write a one-page synopsis. You know, just in case you've finished your NaNoWriMo novel early and have time to kill...

How was your Thanksgiving break (for those of you who celebrated)? Do you participate in Cyber Monday deals?

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I've been traveling the past few days (with no internet!), but I wanted to jump on and wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Today, I'm blogging over at the Pikes Peak Writers blog, Writing from the Peak. I'd love it if you stopped by to say hi! We're talking about different ways to plot a novel.

Book Review: Blogging Made Simple: Powerful Strategies for Blogging Success

Many writers blog. Many writers don't. The decision about whether or not to blog is a complicated one. Maintaining an active blog can help authors establish their platform. But some professionals question whether it's always necessary. Like agent Rachelle Gardner, who asks Should All Authors Blog?

If you do have a blog, you want it to be the best it can be. That means learning your way around the blogging platform you choose, creating great titles and content, and maximizing your search engine visibility. (Thanks to my friend Scoti Domeij for letting me know this book is free right now.)

Blogging Made Simple: Powerful Strategies for Blogging Success is a book that can answer those questions in a concise way. Authors Michael Fleischner and Justin Fried, both well-versed in marketing and social media take a step-by-step approach to help readers make effective use of their blogs.

Chapter one helps potential bloggers with the decision of whether to blog and what to blog about. Topics addressed include: blogging for fun or business, what you should know about blogging, and setting goals.

Chapter two describes three main blogging platforms, and how to choose between them.

Chapter three gives specifics on how to set up your blog on each of the platforms. Choosing a theme, layout, and ways of content management are included.

Chapter four goes into managing your blog. This section covers making strong headlines, creating dynamic posts, using images and videos, and even the consideration of monetizing your blog, among many other topics.

Even though I'm not a new blogger, I definitely learned a few things about the Blogger platform, and some of the ins and outs of search engines that I wasn't clear on before. It's a quick read, but worthwhile.

What's your favorite tip for improving your blog? Mine is remembering the best way to tag photos so they show up on search engines. How about you?
 Update: here's a bonus I just found: a double-sided printable blog post planner. It's a free download.

More Ways for Writers to Help Sandy Victims

Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng
Some of you may have participated in the auction I wrote about last week. The items up for bidding in that event went fast. But it's not too late! The same group is hosting a second auction, beginning today. Check out the KidLit Cares auction items, open for bidding until November 22nd.

But that's not the only game in town. A group of inspirational authors has organized their own auction. Each of the twelve authors will provide a 50 page critique to the winning bidder (who will make a donation in the amount of their bid). Starting bids are $50, but a 50 page critique usually takes about three hours, and with many professionals charging $35 or more per hour, $50 or so it's a great deal. Check out the various authors and links to the bidding. The nice thing about this auction is that some of the authors don't have bids yet. Bidding for this auction ends November 16th.

Like the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, stories are beginning to emerge of extreme deprivation. Many people live in high-rise low-income apartment buildings in some of the hardest hit areas. Folks have endured extremely low temperatures, no heat, no electricity or water. They haul water up countless flights of stairs to flush toilets. A great number of people have serious medical and transportation issues. Let's give them a hand.

I'll be traveling to New York City during the Thanksgiving break, and I know it will be so much more difficult to see the devastation in person. Thoughts and prayers are going out to all readers who live in the affected area. Hopefully, many of us can help out, even if we're not there.

Clearing my mind, creating a scene

So NaNoWiMo is almost one-third of the way done. And my word count is definitely not one-third of the way accomplished. Yesterday, I sat down to write another chapter, but I had a hard time finding my way through the notes I'd written for the scene.

Enter Libby.

Libby is our sweet golden retriever. She's been with us a little over a year, after our first golden passed away from leukemia. She's snuggly, patient, and always ready to chase a ball.

I grabbed her leash (much to her delight), and we set out on a beautiful November day, to stroll through our mountain neighborhood. We saw lots of interesting things: a chainsaw artist carving a dead tree into a face, a mama deer snoozing with her two fawns, and an unknown animal that darted away--it might have been a lynx.

Just being in the fresh air recharged my brain, and I began to think about my scene. I visualized it as a movie, and let it play, making mental notes about how each character might respond to what was going on. Suddenly the scene was coming together.

If I had thought to bring a pad of paper, I would have let Libby sniff a few tree trunks while I jotted notes to myself.

Once we got back and each had a drink of water, I wrote down a quick summary of the scene and started typing. It's so amazing how much better the scene flowed. Instead of sitting there staring at the screen, trying to come up with what happens next, I just spilled out what came next on the list. 

Now, I have to be sure to mention that I also have a plot kitty. Delilah (my daughter's cat) loves to play with my plot board and make sure I haven't missed any important scenes. However, I wouldn't put it past her to snag one she doesn't like and leave it under the sofa.

Do your pets encourage your writing? Does hiking (or folding laundry) or other activities shake loose the creativity waiting in your brain?

A practical way to help Hurricane Sandy victims

photo credit: mine
I spent a little while yesterday scanning through pictures of the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy. Having lived in that area most of my life, it's difficult to view the fallout, but even more heart-breaking to imagine how it will take so long for folks to get back to some semblance of 'normal'.

Cold weather is setting in. The holidays are approaching. And many are without homes, or transportation to work, or gas for their car.

It's enough to make the rest of the country feel helpless.

And remember this: There's no telling how many writers, editors, agents, and other publishing professionals are affected.

Here's one thing we can do as writers. 

An organization called KidLitCares is sponsoring two auctions. The winners of each auction item make a donation to the Red Cross in the amount of their winning bid. All kinds of items are up for auction. Manuscript critiques, query critiques, Skype calls with authors, editors, and agents, gift baskets, and books.

One auction is going on right now with forty-one different things to bid on. This auction will run until Wednesday, November 7th. That's only two more days, so get your bids in while you can.

The other auction will begin on Monday, November 12th. Check Joanne Levy's site to see the items when it opens. And if you'd like to donate something to the second auction, shoot an email to Levy at kidlitcares[at]joannelevy[dot]com. And if you don't want to bid, or don't win your item, head over to the Red Cross to make a donation anyway.

Let's give folks a glimpse of blue sky after the storm. Isn't that what happy endings are all about?

The Therapy of Crisis Writing

Courtesy of A. B. Rutuelo
It's been hard to watch my hometown go through the ravages of Sandy this week. The subway tunnels I used to ride to high school are filled with water. Huge trees that shaded my neighborhood have toppled. And most of all, people have lost lives, livelihoods and homes. After the devastation of the Waldo Canyon fire here last summer, it was heart-wrenching to watch so many homes burn in the New York area.

My heart hurts also for writers affected by the storm. Likely thousands or tens of thousands of writers are trying to find some kind of normal instead of working on their WIP or NaNoWriMo novel.

It's hard to write despite the unexpected. But sometimes, as writers, that's what helps us work through tragedy. I've often found myself backed into a corner, and have been surprised when I was able to write myself out.

So here's to all the writers with basements full of water, no electricity or internet, and fridges full of thawing food. Though it might have to be with paper and pen, I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

Don't forget: today is the final day to link to last Friday's post. Write a post about your work in progress (or tell us about one you've finished) and leave a link. I'd love to read about what you're working on.


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