NaNoWriMo, an update. Day 3. On the path.

Writing this year’s story has been so easy.  The words flow from my fingers and I find myself thinking of the next installment between writing sessions.  I think the problem for me in the past is that I would pick a random idea out of the ether on the morning of November 1.  After a short while (1 hour to 10 days) I would get bored with the concept I’d chosen.  And quit.  I couldn’t make myself push through it.  To be truthful, I didn’t try.  But you get the idea.  I stopped writing.

This year, I started thinking about my NaNoWriMo story ahead of time, in mid-October.  I tossed a few ideas around until the idea I am working with jumped into my head.  It gave me the first line and told me to run with it.  To put it in more graphic terms, the opening line came to me while I was soaking in the tub.  I wasn’t  thinking of NaNoWriMo right at that moment.  My mind was blank except for noticing how lovely the hot, scented water felt on my skin.  Maybe that’s the key: being open and receptive to whatever ideas come, not trying to manipulate thoughts with my Monkey Mind.

This year, I’m loving my story, am enjoying the process of writing it.   Words rush out and I type them.  The occasional roadblock that pops up – I go around it. Pfft, I say.  You can’t stop me!

The content of the story is deeply personal, so much so that I can’t predict that anyone but me will ever read  it. It’s probably why it is flowing so easily.  Just change a couple of names and bang! Fiction!   I may be able to use parts of it in other work; maybe after I’m done, I can do a fine tooth comb edit and let it out into the world.

We’re only three days into the process, my story and me.  It’s a new relationship and we’re in the giddy “Oh, but we have so much in common!” phase.   Later it may degenerate to the point we can barely stand one other, merely tolerating one another’s presence in our respective corners.  For now, though,  we’re off to an exhilarating start.  We’ll enjoy our  honeymoon period while it lasts.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep walking the path and see where it takes us.



What’s Next?

October’s almost over.  Packing for my eventual move and starting up a new volunteer gig with FaerieLand Rescue has filled these late October days. This past weekend, I attended a three-day restorative yoga teacher training.      In every other year of my life, Halloween has been a Big Deal.  I pull out some items from my extensive Halloween collection to decorate the house, buy a few of pumpkins to carve into jack o’lanterns.  This year, it’s only the fake or super easy stuff. Two electrically lit jack o’lanterns, plastic but realistic looking if you don’t touch them, a couple of folk art wooden ghosts at the door.   I don’t need to get anything out that I’m going to have to repack.   No energy, no time.

That said, I am starting something new tomorrow, November 1.  Sit down, if you need to.  I am participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Yes, participating in something.  I’ve come to be something of an expert in avoidance and non-participation.  Earlier this month, though, I went to a full day writer’s conference and stayed for most of it.  This is a change.  Usually, I sign up for things, pay the fees and everything and then don’t attend.  Most of the time, anything involving groups or assemblages of people brings out the claustrophobia monsters. Especially where writing is concerned.  I mean, it’s a solitary activity, right?

NaNoWriMo takes place every November and has done so since 2000.  Writers are encouraged to write a 50,000 word novel (or beginning of a novel, if you are, say, Diana Gabaldon) in the 30 days.  Writing daily, that’s 1666 words a day.  Easily doable.  I’ve done it, just not in November.

There’s a website, Twitter page, Facebook page for it.  There are many ways writers can interact electronically; I suppose there are in-person support groups as well.  I have no intention of that level of participation.  My locus of control resides firmly within myself and cheering on by well-meaning helpers just makes me sad.  Knowing they are trying to be nice, I realize they probably really really really enjoy receiving encouragement from others.  But I just can’t play that way.  Mis-wiring at birth, what can I say?

Anyway.  Back to me and NaNoWriMo.  I have started writing a novel at the beginning of several Novembers.  Once I made it to November 10 before abandoning the story (it’s around here somewhere, still). Three or four times, I had ten excellent pages the first couple of days, then zilch.  A memorable year left me with an Amazing Title and nothing else.  This year, since I have so much else on my mind and plate, I figure that I will use my expert-level work-avoidance techniques to start and finish my novel within the prescribed dates.  Writing is a great way to avoid messy things like packing and sorting your accumulated junk.  Take it from me.

Say, here’s an idea

Pretty much any story idea you come up with will be more compelling than this one.

From The News of the Weird,

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/22/16


The 1,496-page German novel “Bottom’s Dream,” translated into (broken) English and more than twice as long as “War and Peace,” recently reached U.S. bookstores as a 13-pound behemoth, bound with a 14-inch spine that, based on a September Wall Street Journal description, will almost surely go unread. The story follows two translators and their teenage daughter over a single day as they try to interpret the works of Edgar Allan Poe.






My work in print, for reals.

Now you can buy your very own copy of the anthology that contains my story, “Tuesday Night at the Triangle Bar”.

A paltry $14.25 from, the sale supports the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc.  I’m not a member of the Bloc; they were just kind enough to find my story worthy of print.  And, no, I don’t make a dime on the sale.  I just thought you would like to own a copy.

If you buy one and bring it to me, I will autograph it for you.  Now, who would pass up an opportunity such as this?

They liked it

My creative non-fiction story, “Tuesday Night at the Triangle Bar”, was accepted by The Talking Stick.  Publication is sometime this summer.

In the spirit of spring cleaning, this week I am going to sort and organize all the stories I’ve started and left hanging and the ones that are 95% done and just need a little brush up to send off to market.  I will prioritize them, decide which have possibilities and which are dead ends for now.

This week’s work will give me a writing action plan for the rest of the month.  Energized and eager to get started, I’m looking forward to digging into my archives.  There’s gotta be gold somewhere in those messy files.


Taking procrastination to a new level. Then, turning my back on it.

The last time I published to this blog was in November.  I truly meant to pick up where I left off  and report about my evening, well seven minutes or so, reading my entry in the Edina Reads contest.  When I didn’t get to it the next day, or the day after, and pretty soon it was a month later and it was Christmastime and then I took a trip to New York and New Hampshire, came back sick, malingered for a month or so.  Now it’s March 16th.

About the reading at the Edina Senior Center .  I did okay.  Two runners-up read their stories and then it was time for me.  I read my story, trying to remember to read at an understandable, i.e. slower, pace than the one I silently read at.  A couple of times, I lost my place but no one knew what I meant to say, so I guess the whole thing went alright.  They gave me a check.  Best of all, my friends Joni and Cheri came out to support me. That made the evening for me.

You can read my story here.

On March 1, I slipped under the wire and submitted a story to The Talking Stick.  I wrote the story last year and submitted it to a local, high profile magazine but never got a response from them.   So I could have submitted far ahead of Talking Stick’s deadline.  Yes, I could have.  I must like the adrenaline rush of running out of time, though, because I waited and waited and waited.   I can’t remember their scheduling, but I should hear from them in a month or so.   I’ve had work published in their yearly anthology twice, in 2008 & 2009.

And, breaking news.  My good friend Kay suggested that 2014 be my Year of No More Procrastination.  This means breaking a long lifetime of the ‘p’ habit, but I’m ready to do it.  It’s been so easy to let deadlines come and go, to not finish good stories, to not submit the ones that are complete, to not pursue self-publishing avenues, to not, to not, to not.  So easy to drift and wonder and dream.  Well, no more.  The time will pass whether we pursue our dreams or not.  Better to make use of the time we are given and at least try to catch a dream or two and make them reality.


I came in second, and there were at least four entries

From the Minneapolis StarTribune: “Writing contest winners will read their works.”

“In honor of Edina’s 125th anniversary, Edina Reads held a contest for pieces of writing connected to city history, and the winners will read their work on Monday, Nov. 18, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Fireside Room of the Edina Senior Center, below the library.”


I was an Edina kid, so I entered the contest.  And I got the second place prize.  Pretty good for someone who never wins contests, well, because she never enters them.  Maybe I should start entering the lottery…

So anyway, the reading is tonight.  I don’t mind talking in front of a group, but I have never read my work in front of a large group of strangers.  My friend Pat, who teaches writing and also hosts a wonderful writers group once a month, keeps telling me to

s l o w  d o w n

when I read aloud.  I’m a fast reader and I typically race through my oral presentations.  I must keep that as my mantra tonight.  S l o w  d o w n.  S l o w  d o w n.  Make like the turtle and g o  s l o w.

Tomorrow: I recap tonight’s event.






Good Contest News

I entered a writing contest earlier this month.  Edina Reads is a community-sponsored program in the suburb where I spent some of my formative years; the contest was open to residents or former residents.   Today, I got a phone call: I’ve won second prize.

I’m excited about it.  It’s satisfying to have one of my stories chosen by people I don’t know.  Family and friends are always supportive, and their comments and praise are sincere, I’m sure, but in dark moments I think they pretty much have to be nice to me about it.

There’s a public reading on Monday, November 18 at 7 pm at the Edina Library.  Awards will be given and this means (oh happy day!) that I will walk away with a little something for my efforts.   Writing will no longer be my hobby. When I get that check, I will consider myself a pro.  I’ve had a few things published when I’ve gotten around to submitting them, but until now haven’t had a paying gig.  Winning money in a contest isn’t quite in the same category as work submitted and paid for, but that’s a minor detail.  I’m celebrating.


Happy May Day, Writing Projects, and All That

Happy May Day; Happy Beltain to my fellow Celtophiles.  The colorful maypole in my yard is being drenched with snowy-rain this morning, so we’re calling off the pagan festivities.  Meanwhile, I’m hard at work, rather glad for a gray, drizzly day. They’re the best writing days.

I’ve got a few writing projects percolating this month.  The hardest thing for me to do is prioritize sensibly and not work on what is simply the easiest or the most appealing at the moment. Pressing deadlines, pressure from writing partners or a writing class are good motivators, though, so I’m letting them help me get my work done this month.

First, I have a handful of short stories, completed first drafts, that I’ve been avoiding doing further revisions and edits on.  The stories aren’t related, not by character or location or theme, but I’m going to package five of the best ones into an eBook.  Since I know almost nothing about publishing an eBook yet, I’m thinking that figuring the process out will take me not a little time, as will revisions/edits, so this is a new idea that is being pushed back a bit, with a “ready to publish” goal date of September, 2013.   Two of the stories are close to completion, but the others need work, possibly of the major variety.   On the whole, going this route seems a whole lot easier than trying to sell each story individually to magazines, although I don’t preclude that possibility.   Wishy-washy much?

Secondly, I have my novel, The River of Time, that was featured in my Blog Hop blog (see April 29 entry)… and, man, I am glad I’m done with Blog Hop…I am tired of typing those words.  “River” currently exists in a very rough stage with a couple of chapters written and the rest sketched out in random notes, but at this vantage point (after 20+ years) I am thinking I will need to do major rewrites on them and proceed from there.  My goal is to have a completed, usable draft by the end of this year.

Okay, I’ve committed myself.  Now, I need to f follow through because I’ve told you about it.  My capacity for self-delusion about my progress on this book knows no limits, especially when I have kept it all to myself for so long.  No more procrastination on this huge project, not any more.

Thirdly, I am working on what I think will end up being a novella and will fall into the category of Y/A (Young Adult) fiction.  The story emerged from a free writing exercise in a short story class I am taking, the idea one of those unexpected gems that hold a whole world of possibilities.  I know where the story is going, but still have a lot of writing to do.   By the time class ends at the end of May, I should have a pretty decent start, if not a completed first draft.

And finally, I am working on a Super-Duper Top Secret Writing Project that will last the month of May. It’s actually my top priority for the month, so the other three projects will need to fit themselves in where they can.  I’m working on it with a writing partner, so don’t feel completely at liberty to disclose much about it yet, but I can assure you that there will  be leaks from time to time during the Merry Month of May.

With that, I’m off to work.


Ta-da! It’s the Blog Hop.

A word from Blog Hop Central:  If you’re an author, it’s quite common to be asked at a reading, “what’s your next project?”  You always need to be working on somehting, or you might as well hang up your pen!  The question, “What are you writing right now?” inspired this blog hop, where a number of writers from all over the U.S. are writing on “My Next Big Thing”, answering the same ten questions you see here.

I’m happy to have been tagged by Kathi Holmes, author of I STAND WITH COURAGE.

Here goes! It’s my long-awaited and nervously procrastinated entry.

What is the title of your book? It’s been called “The River of Time” since it was conceived a few years ago.  The title was born easily; unfortunately, the book itself has spent many years in the womb, refusing to emerge.

Where did the idea for your book come from?    It came from crazy dreams, an over-charged imagination, and a little bit of real-life experience.

What genre does your book fall under?  Definitely fiction.  The rest would be historical fiction, paranormal fiction.  I haven’t read anything else like it, so perhaps I will have to create my own genre.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? I was afraid of a question like this.  I don’t watch many movies, unless they were made before I was born.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I watch movies from the 1960s and 1970s, too.  At any rate, my answer has to be total fantasy: Gene Tierney and Erroll Flynn for the lead couple.  If someone wanted to buy the movie rights, I would be happy to accept their check and they could cast anyone in it that they wanted.

Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book.  A modern American woman discovers she lived a lifetime in 15th century Wales, the catalyst being a mysterious new man in her life.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  As of today, I’m planning on self-publishing, probably as an e-book to start.  But, I’m open to other avenues.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  By the time I am done, it could well be twenty-five years.  I started this one in 1991, but to be fair to myself, I have to say that I haven’t worked much on it since then.  Okay, haven’t worked on it at all.

What made you decide to pull this story out and work on it after ignoring it all this time?  The damn characters won’t shut up.  They are insisting that I tell their stories.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  The series of books that most influenced me in the sense of making me realize that an author can bend reality tell her story, and do it beautifully, is Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series.  Her characters — some of them, anyway — can time-travel, so her stories take place in the 1940’s to roughly present day, and in 18th century Scotland, and America around the time of the War of Independence.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  The characters plopped themselves into my imagination one day.  A story began to coalesce around them and I thought they deserved more than a quick visit when I was waiting in line at the grocery, or stuck in traffic.  Of course, this was all before the invention of the smart phone.  But, it’s stuck with me all these many years and as I said, they are now demanding that I pull them out of the drawer and start writing about them.

What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?  If you like a good historical romance and are willing to tolerate a little paranormal adventuring — or vice versa — then this is your book.

When you find yourself feeling lazy or ‘blocked’, how do you force yourself to get past it?  I like to write pretty much in order, but if I’m not getting anywhere with the story, I might jump to a later part of the narrative work on that.  Or, I might delve more deeply into a character, what motivates him, where he’s been, where he’s going.  Just feeling free to scribble any old thing tends to get the writing juices going.

What is the most important advice you can give other writers?  Just write, dammit. Things like making sense, editing, selling the story, all that stuff can come later. You’ve got to get your story drafted before you can even worry about the rest.

Are there differences between male and female authors?  People are people, writers are writers.  That said, I’m sure there are notable exceptions and someone will likely  jump all over me for this, but I think women writers tend to focus more on emotions and inner life and male authors tend to be more action-oriented.

Anything else you’d like to say? Technology has opened up so many doors for writers.  I’m really excited about the possibility of self-publishing, whether it is via an e-book or I  go to something like to get actual copies of my work.   I think a lot of writers won’t even bother shipping their babies off to ‘real’ publishers and waiting for the rejection letters any more.  We can create our own cottage publishing industries, all from the comfort of our homes.  There are many exciting opportunities out there.  I love it!