‘Twas the night before NaNoWriMo

NaNo-2017-Participant-Badge

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?

 

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?

When your Favorite Book becomes a Meet & Greet

Happy Holidays!

People often ask, what is your favorite book?  Without a beat, many stories come to mind. From classics to more current books. But which would I say is at the top of my list?

Drum roll….

Hands down, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks is my all time, can’t-put-it-down book.  Have you read it? I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s a beautifully written story about a couple’s love for each other and the obstacles they face —a classic girl meets boy from the other side of the tracks.

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What was it about this book for me? It was a captivating, plain and simple. Regular people find themselves in an extraordinary relationship. Allie and Noah fought for each other through tears and a whole lot of spark! Could they make their relationship work? I’ll let you read their journey to find out. Maybe it will move to the top of your holiday list!

The moment you get to tell the Author their book is your Favorite!

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Recently, Nicholas Sparks visited Union Square Barnes and Noble in NYC to sign his newest book Two by Two. I had to go! I planned for two weeks about what I could say to the author of my favorite story. Do I tell him how much The Notebook meant to me? Or that I cried when Allie said goodbye to Noah? Or that I felt the same love for my husband as he described for Noah and Allie?

Or that I had re-read it more than a half dozen times?

I was determined not to gush and spew mindless thoughts. ACK!  But when it came to my turn, I fumbled with the words, and can’t say verbatim what actually came out, but it went something like…

“The Notebook is my favorite book of all time and your writing inspires me.”

I think!

So there you have it—my favorite book! How about yours? What is your favorite story?

Got milk? Have I got a story idea for you!

milk2Where do stories come from? How do you know what to write?

From the time I started writing stories as a teen, I’ve always thought of the story itself as a milk carton. When I start writing for the day, the carton is brimming with characters and scenes. As my ideas leap onto the page, the carton slowly empties. Instinctively, when it feels like there is nothing left in the carton, usually around 4 to 5 pages in, I’m done writing. Anything more than this feels like I’m pulling and pulling on a fishing line, but not knowing the hook is stuck to the bottom of the boat!

But let’s back up for a second. Somehow story ideas have to fill this carton before writing.  It’s different for many writers, but below are a few strategies that work for me—and may help you!

Read, read, read…and people watch!

Most of the time, my ideas evolve from reading news stories or shopping!  Something interests me enough to ask the “What if…” question. From there, I add on questions. What if a corporate executive embezzled money from her own family? What if her husband faked his death ten years earlier?  What if she stole that purse and blamed her daughter?

As each possibility is added, the story builds. I also use Shirley Jump’s Rule of Six technique to explore the WHY behind the characters motivations/goals to add more emotion and conflict. Check out Shirley’s classes at Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy.

Your dreams are stories … use them!

I get many ideas from dreams!  Sounds like Twilight Zone material, right?

For example, about a month ago, a bad dream startled me awake about 3 a.m. It was about a camp in Pennsylvania, the kind of dream that leaves you sweating and unable to leave the bed to get a glass of water. Somehow, I summoned the courage and faced the darkness. When I finally fell back to sleep, the dream continued to a woman being drowned in the lake. And the bad guy was still after me!

How could that be?

In the morning, I was in the twilight area of waking when the dream finally, finally ended. And boom, just like that, something rocketed into my brain. My eyes flew open. It was as if all that night, the story wouldn’t let me go until I knew the ending. It wasn’t about the camp, or the bad guy chasing me, or even the drowning in the lake that was important.

It was about how the dream ended.

The ending would be my next novel.

I couldn’t talk, eat breakfast, or even have coffee (GASP!) until all this was put down in bare bones summary. This story, still untitled, became the novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Ideas can come from anywhere! So, how do you get yours?

Behind the scenes with Author Linda J. Parisi – “The Emperor”

I am thrilled to welcome author Linda J. Parisi to my blog today! I sat down with Linda to learn more about her thrilling new story The Emperor, which is part of the Never Fear – The Tarot: Do you Really Want to Know? anthology. 13 Thirty Books asked twenty-six authors to write stories based on the Tarot, with the cards determining which stories the authors would write. Linda’s card was The Emperor.

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The Emperor

Alan Trembley thought he could survive boarding school by outsmarting the bullies. But then his roommate goes missing and Alan is determined to find out what happened to him. Sometimes being smart isn’t always a substitute for being Wise. And being a friend is the hardest choice of all to make.

 

 

Thank you Linda for joining us! We’re so excited to find out more about your new story The Emperor!

Can you tell us about how you came up with your idea for The Emperor?

I’d listened to a news story about bullying and wanted to write a piece about how that can affect people even as adults. Also, I’d been writing YA and wanted to try my hand at something just a bit younger.

What was your favorite part of The Emperor to write?

First, the ending. I always knew exactly how I wanted the story to end. Then there’s a scene (I don’t want to describe it now or that’ll spoil the fun) that has always scared me to death. And since this is a horror story….

Your characters in The Emperor are so unique and memorable. How do you go about creating characters that stick with the reader?

Easy answer: years of practice. Hard answer: digging way too deep inside and putting myself in there. You see, for a short time, I went to a boarding school too.

 I’m looking forward to reading more! What project are you working on now?

My last completed work, entitled Resistance, is a World War II Historical YA about the choices young people had to make during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Right now I’m working on a sci-fi YA about what happens to people after the world is destroyed by a virus.

What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

I could give you all the platitudes like Never Give Up or Finish the Damn Book but the fact of the matter is, publishing is not an easy business. So the only advice I can give is embrace that. Don’t fight against it. Make everything you do a victory instead of a defeat. There’s still gold to be mined from even the most scathing rejection. And you never know when a window will open.

I’d also like to give a shout out to my publisher, 13 Thirty Books, for taking on a Romance Writer and letting her try her hand at writing horror. I had a lot of fun writing this story.

About Author Linda J. Parisiheadshot-linda-parisi-1

As a research scientist during the day, Linda J. Parisi knows that the perfect formula for making sparks fly is combining conflicted, edgy heroes with heroines who never give up or give in. Awarded the New Jersey Romance Writer’s Golden Leaf Award for Best First Book for her novel, Noble Blood, and winner of the 4th Annual Stroke of Midnight Contest for her novel, The Joining: Bound by Blood, Linda is a long time member of the Romance Writers of America, member of the YA chapter of RWA, current treasurer of Liberty States Fiction Writers, as well as a Craft and Industry Instructor for Literary Powerhouse Consulting. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, John, and a family which includes Audi, a Cocker Spaniel mix who had her at woof!

You can find Linda here:

Website: Linda J. Parisi, Author

Facebook: Linda J. Parisi, Author

Where to buy: Never Fear, The Tarot: Do You Really Want to Know?