‘Twas the night before NaNoWriMo

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Do you have a novel inside of you? An idea that you’ve thought would make a great story? Do you want to write a novel–pronto? Of course you do! NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to write it!

NaNo, what?

November is NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month (where participants write a 50,000 word novel in the course of a month). I attempted the challenge many times, but last year was the first I completed. 50,000 words equals 1667 words/day. Typically, my daily goal is 1,000 words/day (about 4 pages). So this is…. a lot more.

Pumping out that many words is not easy, but I found it doable if I pushed myself. Errr…I mean if I slept, ate, and drank the story!

Here are a few tips I learned:

  • Write anywhere. I wrote those 1667 words from my desk, the dentist’s office, kitchen table, and even a train into NYC for the theatre. For some of the places without my laptop, I wrote by hand and put into the PC later.
  • Keep track! You can use the NaNoWriMo word tracking tool or simply write in a notebook. I wrote down where I started and my projected word count (after adding the daily 1667) words.  Some days reaching the goal was harder than others, but having a number there inspired me. Once I reached it, I could add more numbers (that I’d apply to the next day) or end for the day! But having that number pushed me to keep going!
  • Find a Buddy. The NaNoWriMo site offers a fun way to add friends! Encourage each other through emails, calls, or write-ins. Send your word count to each other! Or start the timer and do writing sprints with other NaNoWriMo challengers (check out @NaNoWordSprints on twitter).

And the biggest tip of all?

  • Enjoy it! Putting down a story takes courage, commitment, and lots and lots of coffee! At the end of Nov, you’ll look back at all the words and feel proud! I’m rooting you on! You got this!

How to get started

Enter your novel idea at NaNoWriMo, check out all the cool tools and inspiration, and then start NaNo’ing tomorrow, Nov 1! I’ll be keeping track of my progress here and would love to see how you’re doing too!

Want to be buddies? Here’s my NaNoWriMo page.  Send me yours!

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30 Shades of Dead–A new Anthology

30ShadesofDeadCvr-1Exciting news! My story At Thirty Weeks is included in the new anthology 30 Shades of Dead A collection of mysteries to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sisters in Crime.

Every story includes some element of thirty or takes place thirty years ago. If you love a good mystery, you’ll love these stories!

The anthology is available in print and pre-order for ebook (released 10/31, just in time for Halloween!) Read an excerpt below!

 

At Thirty Weeks – Excerpt

The Pall Mall trembled between Agnes’ lips, the crusted tip threatening to topple. She rocked back and forth, staring through the sheer curtains. Morning light crept between the apartment buildings across the street, hesitating to come in, as though not wanting to know the truth.

The skin on her bones hurt.

Blinking even hurt.

“Please sweetie.” Pearl shuffled in, her bony fingers clutching a burnished silver tray. Steamy liquid slosh ed over the porcelain cup’s edges. “Put something in your stomach.” 

Eat?

Act normally?

Agnes shook her head, words paralyzed in her throat like flies in a spider’s web. Stuck. Unable to go forward or backward.

Her mama meant well, but the foreboding in her stomach swelled. Something felt wrong. Terribly wrong.

Inspiration – this guy right here!

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How do you find inspiration? Where does it come from?

When I saw this guy, right here, I stopped in my tracks. And so did he!  I grabbed the picture and tried to understand his expression. Was he as surprised as I was? And then I saw the three babies dart from the bushes.  Ahh–he was in Dad mode and needed to get his kids across the road safely!  I moved further away and watched them flee back into the woods. No time for another picture!

As I went into the house, I thought about his life –how he felt about the world. How would he protect his family? Or get them back into hiding? Would food be scarce with the winter coming?  I tried to create the feelings in my head. A lot of times, that inspires how I create a scene or emotion in one of my stories.

What inspires you?

 

To our Service Members on this Memorial Day

A heartfelt thank you to the members of the armed forces who gave their lives to protect our country and our freedom.

We honor your bravery and service every day!

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The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

Signs of Spring…Signs of Hope

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Happy First Day of Spring! The air is cold but smells of spring….smells of hope.

The snow still covers the ground in some parts of the Northeast, but the tippy top of the yellow bulbs in our yard are emerging through the soil! The small pink buds on the maple trees are bursting too. Even the sun is preparing, shifting higher, as if readying itself for all the summer gardens it must feed.

These new inklings make me want to do the things I love. Reading a book under the tree. Feeling the rush of the wind through the open windows. Watching the late night stars brighten against the sky.

All signs are getting ready for the beauty of spring. Are you?

Book Breakups are hard to do!

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Saying goodbye to a good book is hard. Really hard. Sometimes gut wrenching!

When I become submerged in a good story, I connect to the characters and hop into their life journey. I learn what gives them superpowers, and what scares them in the dark. I want to read at every free moment… over coffee, waiting for doctor appointments, and at bedtime. And sometimes, gulp, even over dinner. This can go on for days, sometimes weeks, and then it comes time to close that last page and say goodbye. At eleven years old, I can still remember finishing the Little House on the Prairie series and wondering how I’d make it through the rest of the summer without my friend Laura Ingalls Wilder. We’d go to Plum Creek together daily!

As an author, I spend countless hours creating characters (or them telling me who they are!). In my latest novel The Dark Path, Parker Stillen’s journey was tough, and this reflected in his not-so-great choices that put him in the middle of a murder. When I typed The End, I immediately missed Parker in my ear. This guy would get himself in a mess, and tell me to get him out of it. Like I could! Time and time again, I had to tell him no. He had to figure it out on his own, so he could grow. Is it wrong to just want him to be happy?

But alas, I’m ready to send him into the world and share his roller coaster with others. I’ll miss him and his journey.

Have you read a character that you’ve missed well after closing the book?

How Do I Love Thee?

Love is in the air today.  This beautiful sonnet “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning was written in 1845 during her courtship with writer Robert Browning. Enjoy and celebrate all the love in your life! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.