Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday's WIP's - The Book Job

Last night my husband and I relaxed in our computer chairs, and started catching up on all the shows on Hulu that we usually watch together but have fallen behind on because of our trip to Phoenix and my obsession with finishing my book. Amusingly, one of the shows in our queue was the Simpsons episode, "The Book Job." The episode is a double parody of the book writing world itself, and the Ocean's Trilogy.

Now, considering I've spent all month desperately writing a book, and I'm a fan of the Ocean's Trilogy, I was dying laughing watching this episode. There are all sorts of references that only make sense to a true bibliophile, and Neil Gaiman even had a considerable role in the episode! 

The best part, however, was watching Lisa sit down and try to write a book and then go off and organize her music collection, play games, attend conferences about writing books, and generally do everything BUT write a book. I kept laughing and saying, "I've done that!" and my husband would shake his head and give me a long suffering, "I know."

The important part, however, is that despite all my distractions, I came to a different ending then Lisa did. She ended up taking the credit for a book that was written by a desperate team in it for the money, having never written anything beyond "Chapter 1" herself. I, on the other hand, have put the first draft of my book to bed!

It was an odd feeling staring at that last page. At the top it says, "Epilogue," and concludes with the incredible words, "The End." I've never actually typed that on a story before. Partially because it always seemed silly on my short stories, but also because this is the first book I've ever completed!

Oh yes, I know I have lots and lots of work ahead of me if I want to publish this thing, but that's not what is important. All that's important today is that I DID IT! I wrote an entire first draft, from page 1 to the Epilogue, of a novel. It's a mess, characters say things that make no sense coming out of their mouths, there are filler bits that are absolute rubbish because I didn't know what else to write, and the grammar and spelling are atrocious. I don't care! I can take care of all of that in January and the months to come.

For today, I'm just excited that this first important step in this journey is over. I am excited to be able to proudly say, "I've written a book." And most of all? I'm ready to sleep. A lot.


Ps. Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? How did your book turn out? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not About Sunshine and Flowers - A Poem

How was everyone’s Thanksgivings? My hubby, his family, and I, traveled to Phoenix this year to celebrate the holiday with his mother’s family. We had a great time, just like we always do, and even spent a morning at the zoo. I got to feed a giraffe!

It’s Monday, and therefore the first week that I share a piece of my writing with the rest of you! Each Monday I’ll feature a poem, short story, a glimpse into one of my novels (so much fun to say that!), or something else equally exciting. Since I am in the middle of the crazy last minute fits of finishing up my NaNoNovel, I am going to share a poem with you that I wrote earlier this year after my husband was picking on me about my poetry. I hope you enjoy it.

Not About Sunshine and Flowers
By Ruthie Stickney
Copy-write 2011

“Write a poem” my hubby said,
“Why are all your poem’s sad?”
He asked, and then said,
“Write a poem that’s happy.”

“I’ll write a poem that’s happy,
A poem about sunshine and flowers,”
I told him, thinking that those,
Those are happy images.

“Don’t write about those,”
He told me, “Not about sunshine,
Not about flowers, not these,
That is not happiness.”

So I’ll write a poem that is happy,
But not about sunshine,
And not about flowers,
Definitely not these.

Sunshine makes me think,
Think of good times,
And warm feelings, but…
This is not about sunshine.

Flowers are symbols,
Symbols of love and joy,
And close relationships,
But this is not about flowers.

Happiness, this is about that,
Not about sunshine and flowers.

Happiness is about much more,
Happiness is waking up,
Curled up in warm blankets,
And knowing that the sun has risen.

Happiness is about many things,
The birds of the air and the bees,
The bees that buzz and fly,
And where they find their nectar.

Happiness is about the simple things,
So yes, happiness is about sunshine,
And happiness is about flowers too,
But this is not a poem about those.

Friday, November 25, 2011

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty - a Book Review

Excerpt from the back of the book “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty:
NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty’s mercilessly pants-kicking guide walks novelists through the process of finding workable story ideas and tweaking busy schedules for maximum noveling bliss before sailing off into a month of literary abandon. The high-velocity handbook also includes week-by-week overviews, exercises, and pep talks, and also features heaps of tips from NaNoWriMo veterans. Great for November, or any month you find yourself needing a creative boost.

Granted, it might have been smarter to at least start reading this book before NaNoWriMo, but that would have been too easy! I do things the hard way. Which is probably why I’m writing a novel in a month. Anyway, I picked this book towards the latter half of the second week, and found it a great reason to avoid writing (yes, I’m good at finding those, aren’t most writers?).

The good thing is that it quickly pushed me back towards writing. I couldn’t help wanting to dive back into my own work as I read through Chris Baty’s adventure in starting NaNoWriMo. The rest of the book was like that as well, I always put it down wanting to write more, and I think that’s the best review I could give for a book like this.

Other than how much it helped me want to write, the two other things that jumped out at me from this book are it’s great suggestions and writing exercises, and that it’s just plain funny! I kept laughing while I read this book, as Baty talked with a straight face about ways to manipulate others into letting you have your writing time, and beating people who talked at Write-Ins instead of WRITING.

If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo before, then next year I both encourage you to join in the fun, and have this handy while you do so. I’d recommend picking it up and reading Chris Baty’s story about how it all started the week before, then reading each week’s chapter full of encouragement as you are actually in that week, and wrapping up the book in December. Mind you, I didn’t follow my own advice, so you don’t have to either.
Overall I give this 5 out of 5 stars. 

Now excuse me while I go back to writing. It is still NaNoWriMo you know!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday's WIP's - In the Home Stretch of NaNoWriMo 2011

It's the last week or so of NaNoWriMo 2011 and I am definitely feeling it! I hit 50k Sunday night, so by the basic standards of NaNoWriMo I'm already considered a winner! That is an incredible feeling! I was walking on sunshine for about 24 hours, and I'm still glowing just a little bit.

I have another goal though. I want to actually finish my book. That's part of the spirit of what's intended with NaNoWriMo after all. You are considered a winner at 50k, but the ultimate goal is to write an entire novel in one month. Sitting down to write Monday morning, after hitting 50k the night before, was both an exhilarating and terrifying moment.

I've had days this month where I doubted even hitting the golden mark, let alone finishing the book, so just thinking of 50k still fills me with endorphins! On the other hand, I sat and looked at where I was at, and realized that I have a lot of work ahead of me if I am I going to finish the book by 11/30 at midnight. I'm guessing that I need a total of 80k to wrap it up, which breaks down to 3k a day, with a holiday trip to Pheonix in the mix, and I had no idea on Monday how to get my characters to the end of the book!

My main problem this week (other than the holiday trip) is that I created a mystery in my fantasy novel, and I've given it all sorts of juicy details, but I myself don't know the answer to the mystery! Yes, that's probably a backwards way to write. Those of you who know me well will not be surprised. So Tuesday morning found me wandering around the house, talking out loud to myself, and then nearly killing myself in the shower when I figured out a piece of the puzzle and got over exuberant.

In exactly one week this entire roller coaster ride will be over. For better or for worse, I will type the words “The End,” even if I have to first write, “then this happens, and that happens, then this happens.” I’m hoping to be able to actually complete the story and not leave it at some short summary of what I want to happen, but I know that no matter where I’m at when I cross that finish line I am a winner! I have worked my hardest. I am sitting at 56K this morning, and that is 18,000 words longer than I’ve ever written before!

To each of my friends, to the other WriMo’s in this wonderfully crazy ride, don’t give up! We can do this, and no matter where you are when we cross that finish line, you are a winner! You’ve written thousands of words, you’ve learned more about yourself, and you’ve participated in something most people never have the guts to try.

So let’s run this home stretch with confidence! I’ll probably drink more coffee this week than is strictly necessary, but I’m in good company, and I know most of you are doing the same thing. May the Force be with you.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Gateway to Dreams - The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey

Great writers are the one’s who write characters that you feel that you know as well as your best friend, create worlds that you can close your eyes and imagine, and put problems in their books that will keep you up until three in the morning because you can’t go to bed until know how everything turns out.

I have always been a dreamer, it’s a large part of why I write, and I am also an insomniac. Consequently, I started telling myself stories to go to sleep at night at a very young age. Sometimes this is counter productive, but more often I would dream of riding the Black Stallion, traveling to Narnia hand in hand with Lucy, or marrying Wesley Crusher (Yes, I am a geek), and slowly but surely my day dreams would lead to real dreams.

One of the my favorite authors of all time is Anna McCaffrey. I spent many hours dreaming that I was Menolly (from the Harper Hall Trilogy), running away after being permanently injured by my family, raising a nest full of fire-lizards, and eventually finding out that I’d still be able to make music. If I wasn’t dreaming I was Menolly, I was dreaming I was with her at Harper Hall, or some other Pern-based series. I devoured her books, both the Dragonriders of Pern, and her many other works that are just as fantastic.

Which is why, when I heard this afternoon that Anne McCaffrey passed away yesterday from a stroke while at home in Ireland, I literally sat at my computer and cried.

Anne McCaffrey was a pioneer among writers. It is because of her ground breaking work that there are so many women writing fantasy and science fiction today. According to she “was the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction, the first woman to win a Nebula Award, and the first author to hit the New York Times bestseller list with a SF title (The White Dragon).

Over the course of her career, Anne McCaffrey wrote literally dozens of books, and from all accounts, has done a lot to encourage the writers of today. She stayed active in the field, even though at 84 she was slowing down. You can read her biography at The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey, and if you want to catch up on the books you missed check Fantastic Fiction. If you’ve never read her work I’d recommend starting with Dragon Song, but I have to admit I’m a little biased since that’s the first one I read.

To Anne McCaffrey, queen among the dragonriders, beloved author to many, you will be missed.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Welcome to Live, Love, Laugh, Write!

Welcome to Live, Love, Laugh, Write! My name is Ruthie. I’m a writer, wife, sister, daughter, friend, jewelry artist, and avid reader, who suffers from a variety of long term health problems and gets distracted very easily….is dinner burning? Oh good, it’s not. Where was I now? Ah yes; I am hoping to bring each and everyone of you along with me on my writing journey, sharing the laughter, frustration, chaos, and thrill of writing!

I've been writing off and on for most of my adult life, but my passion for writing started much younger than that. I have been obsessed with books since I was a little girl, and my poor Mom could barely take me to the library frequently enough! I always wanted to write. I wanted to create my own masterpiece that other kids (and later on I changed that to adults) would read, re-read, dog-ear, drop in the bath, and other wise cherish. For years I thought that wasn't possible. I was too impatient with myself, both as a child and a teenager, and I was convinced that I couldn't write anything worth reading because I couldn't figure out how to get the pictures in my head to sound right when put to paper.

Fortunately I got over that - which is a story for another day - and now I can't stop writing!

I've decided to pursue the dream of being published that I've had since I was a small girl curled up with "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe." I don't know yet if that's going to mean self-publishing, or pursuing a contract with one of the major publishing houses, but I'll get there step by step. Along the way I’ll share what I learn, keep you updated on where I’m at in the process, and share some of my short stories as well as pieces of my longer ones.

The first thing I need, obviously, is a book to sell! I am getting closer day by day to having that. I'm in the midst of the insanity known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I'm having a ton of fun! That book will need a lot of work when this month is over, and I'm not sure if it'll be publishable, but I'll keep you updated as I find out! I also have a half-finished book that's currently titled, "Jemnath." I plan on picking that back up when NaNoWriMo is over. Hopefully by January or February I'll have two books in the editing and revision stage and be that much closer to my dream.

You are invited to join me on my journey! I am still in the planning stages for this blog, and I may not get everything exactly the way I want it until I'm done with NaNoWriMo, but I am bursting with ideas! So subscribe, bookmark, do whatever you need to - but come back frequently to join me on this wild magic carpet ride!