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The End!!!

 

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This is my completed rough draft of SKY, an upper-middle grade novel about a young-teen girl contemplating the burden of living, in a world that is unkind.

Well, it is sort of “the end!” I’ve completed my first novel-length rough draft! Yay! And, high-five, super-duper yay!!! I’ll admit I’ve been smugly smiling to myself the last couple of days with acquired accomplishment bubbling inside. 🙂

It is emphatically wonderful to announce this news, especially since I’d slowed my writing pace toward the end. There was a vague sense of uncertainty plaguing me. Despite knowing the ending and what needed to be written, an unexplainable fear held me from crossing the marathon’s finish line. Thankfully, I pushed past that fogginess and made it to completion.stock-vector-colorful-vector-runner-silhouette-background-with-butterflies-152366162But in reality, I just began another long *marathon. Because now my task will be to transcribe my handwritten draft into computer files. This step will not be nearly as exciting. Let’s just say I hated typing class in high school. A lot! I anticipate many grumpy moments ahead at the laptop. However, I’m equally impatient for the editing and rewriting/revising to begin. I’m not sure if this is a realistic goal or not, but I hope to have all of this accomplished, and a completed 1st draft, by July 1st. I want to rest the files a few months before nitpicking the heck out of them when my kids return to school. Plus, summers are so important to me. I cherish that time with my kids.

 

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*I suppose I should clarify and say a half-marathon, for my book is an upper middle-grade novel of roughly 45-50K words in length.

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Everything is awesome…

Seriously, the new Lego Movie theme song has been continuously looping through my head for the last day. YIKES! So, here I am, riding in on that awesomeness wave of optimism to reconnect with my blog.

 

 

Alas, Lonely Little Blog, I’ve been neglectful for far too long. (Wow, exactly 100 days to be precise!)

I’m happy to report that even though my blog has been void of words, my writing has not. I didn’t finish November as a first-time, National Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo) “winner,” but I did end the month with a solid outline and well over 15,000 words for my current project, SKY. Presently, I’m at 27K in words.

 

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My “Wonder-Mom” Lego keychain figure…

My 2014 writing goal is/was to write every day, and for the most part I’ve followed through, connecting in some tangible way with writing. There are a few poems that I’ve been fiddling around with—all desperately need a lot more thought and time. In January, I submitted two, equally “awesome” flash-fiction pieces. So far, I’ve received one rejection, but no word on the other yet, so I’m hopeful and totally awesomely stoked either way. Why? Because it means two important things:
I’m writing
I’m trying!!!

In the end. that’s all I can do—try and put myself/writing out there. So that’s awesome!

P.S. I used an awful lot of adverbs in this blog post, but really inserting the word “awesome” just seems to require heavy usage of LY-words. 🙂

 

 

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Last-minute NaNoWriMo Participant!

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This project will be written entirely in longhand using notebooks(on purpose). Can you guess my favorite color? 😉

I had no intention to sign up for NANOWRIMO. In the past, I’d considered it briefly with the same intrigue someone might consider eating fried Oreos. Interesting concept, but probably a really bad idea that could lead to unpleasant distress.

November begins the holidays, right? My kids have five scheduled school days off this month. There are several family birthdays and those end-of-season sports parties to plan/attend. And, let’s not forget the twenty-pound turkey that needs cooking with all the fixings. And that Christmas craziness that the stores started pushing before Halloween. Whew! Overwhelming! November is one of the worst months to delve into writing 50,000 words. Or, is it?  http://nanowrimo.org/

Often, I don’t listen to the rational hemisphere of my brain. So, I’m actually looking at this as an auspicious occurrence, that was possibly meant to align despite difficulty. I’m always looking for signs. And there have been a few that watered the NANOWRIMO seed:

  1. A new project that I want to see in rough draft ASAP! https://shermierayne.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/when-the-dogs-bark-listen/
  2. A major age-related milestone is coming up.
  3. A conversation hubby & I had Wednesday afternoon.

Without any doubt, it was that conversation that not only shone brightly on that little growing seed, but soaked it until the roots were spreading quickly. The conversation? Well, it was the basic we-need-more-money lament. But, when hubby finished with, “Why don’t you hurry up and finish that book and make us a million dollars?” I actually felt belief in his words (maybe for the first time). Perhaps it was merely a desperate, temporary dreaming lapse on his part. Yet, I heard in his voice an undercurrent of hope and confidence. I needed that. In that moment, I knew I would push harder, try harder, and struggle more. And not for the possible selling of a book that might someday make a little money, but because I had a believer.

I’ve been treading lightly. Hesitant. My footfalls have barely left an imprint. Now, I’m committing to the long hours of struggle, relenting to its beauty. The unrest to succeed. “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”  Frederick Douglass

There y’all go, that’s my “why” to NANOWRIMO. I don’t plan to blog this month unless something truly remarkable happens (fingers crossed). If you’re curious and want to follow along with my month-long NANOWRIMO journey, please like my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/ShermieRayne?ref=hl . I’ll update my running word count there! @ShermRayneIMG_8786

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I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

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Where does a writing voice come from?

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Can voice be taught? That is the question!

For weeks, I’ve been attempting to help my twelve-year-old son with his assigned middle-school writings. This has not been an easy endeavor. “He lacks voice.” So I’m told. Evidently, there’s a new writing buzzword in our local schools: voice. Students need to have their own unique, vibrant, and creative voice to engage their reader/teacher. This sounds great in concept, but in reality, is this an easy skill to teach? Let alone assess and grade based on a rubric checklist full of conforming standards?

In the past years, my son did an okay job writing, getting by with putting together complete sentences that were error-free. If he had a writing style before, it was (still is) sparse, reticent, and painfully to the point. He’s a quiet person. That’s his voice, too. Maybe to the teacher, the material seems obtuse and nowhere near engaging, but, alas, that is his own, unique writing voice.

In comparison, his slightly younger sister brought home papers exalted in praise of her “excellent voice.” She wrote a short homework assignment on pork last week effortlessly, while my son and I banged our heads together for over an hour trying to add “voice” to his assignment. In just a couple of paragraphs, my daughter had an energized commentary that was both funny and persuasively moving (enough so that I felt a pang of guilt for sneaking bacon into her soup the previous night). But that’s her personality too. It wasn’t taught, but rather, organically filtered into her writing.

So, I’ve been thinking about writing voice lately. Can I even articulate its meaning to my kids? What are the differences that might influence, or enhance voice? Regarding my children, I’ve observed the following:

  1. My daughter loves reading; my son does not.
  2. She does not fear (or care much) what others think of her, whereas my son does.
  3. They have totally different personalities!
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“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.”
― Kurt Cobain

Hmmm, number two intrigues me. Perhaps voice becomes most potent when we let go of the fear of saying something wrong. Speak with an authentic essence of self. But, again, how can that be taught? How can you teach someone to let go and be expressive without fear, especially young writers, and most especially, young writers that don’t really want to write?

I believe writing voice to be a fragile and subjective thing, that can’t quite be described, explained, or forced. My fear in schools objectively grading subjective material, like a student’s writing voice, is that eventually a paradox is created. One where being genuine to self and expressing a unique voice is graded against conforming, standardized criteria. Thoughts!?!

 

Side Notes:

  • My son rewrote his English paper three times, while I baited, hooked, and pulled personable responses out of him. The paper was finally accepted and highly scored—hopefully containing enough voice.
  • Not long after drafting this post, my first-grader brought home her first writing assignment of the year. The graded rubric scored her a 2/4 for writing voice. (Yes, you need voice in kindergarten and first grade nowadays). And that is perfectly okay, because I read it and graded the story with hugs and kisses to the moon and back.
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When the Dogs Bark: Listen!

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Art sculpture is titled “Muddy Dog” and produced by a local artist that I’m rather fond of.

I started a new writing project last night. I know I had promised myself to stick it out with only one big story at a time—and not to hopscotch around, dividing my limited writing time. But, the pot of thoughts began boiling many days ago. I honestly tried to put a lid on it, ignoring the flashing of ideas. Yet before I realized it, my main character had a name and a face and a heart full of pain.

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So, when I sat down to declutter the ever-growing paper mess at my desk, my hand casually retrieved a legal pad from the floor. In an instant, I knew the only question was whether I’d use pencil or pen to start writing. The lid had popped off the pot, releasing the steam.

After I’d finished scribbling out the first entry (epistolary), the paper literally vibrated in my hands—holding me as much as I physically held it. I didn’t want to go to sleep, afraid I’d lose that connection. No worries! In fact, in spite of spending a rushed day running about, including work on a dental crown, the story is still strong. I garnered a nice collection of napkins, receipts, and Post-its scribbled with written material.

So, when the dogs are barking or the pot of water is boiling, pay attention. Listen, don’t suppress! Perhaps everything does have its own season and time. Maybe this is the very right moment in time to write this one particular story. I will listen and write!

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Doubt, Fear, False Alarms & “Giving Birth” To Our Dreams

What encouraging writing words of wisdom to read on such a gloomy Monday !

Kristen Lamb's Blog

If you’re a writer, then you have a dream. You also have a lot of work ahead. I heard an interesting quote this morning from Joyce Meyers. There are dreamers who don’t work and workers who don’t dream. That hit home for me.

After having been around the block a few times, I can say I’ve met both types of writers. Some writers have all these ideas and generally a stack of unfinished work to show for it. They aren’t willing to dig in when it gets hard, when the “fair-weather friends” fall away. On the other side, we have those who write, but are afraid to dream. They’re terrified to dare ask if they could be great.

To be successful we must learn to dream and to be finishers.Starting is easy. There are a lot of people to cheer us on, but watch what happens when the…

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A Poem: “Shame”

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SHAME 

News reports that I’m trafficked,
my heart denotes that it’s racketed.

Street owns me, prostrates.
Bends me to knees,
for money that touches my hand
but never reaches my pocket.

Fettered and tethered in invisible chains,
puts me on display. Never to be seen.
That’s shame.

Wanted to be a teacher,
daydreamed my nights in books.
Now waits for a sandwich from the preacher,
while reading street signs
and the promise on cig’ packs.

Mom hooked on crack and reefer
allowed uncle to become my creeper.
In a haze, turned her gaze.

Easy prey, that’s what I was. Home?
Not enough love to lift me above,
the grip of a pimp.
That’s shame.

Need to escape.
Shooting up liquid heaven,
can’t make the evade.
Arms marked in lines;
My scars of dying to live.

I’m a commodity—an item. A purchase.
Change it! No demand, no supply needed.
But, the Johns drive by.

Buy my time and my pain is your crime.
That’s shame.

 

 

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Today I can have a pumpkin latte . . .

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It’s officially fall. We all know this, except for those that profit from the gratuitous, pre-extension of holidays. For many weeks, commercially, Halloween, fall, and even Christmas, have been pre-emptively pushed down my throat. Stressed by the never-ending list of back-to-school requirements and requests, my mind has mutated this pre-mature “let’s get ready for the holidays” mindset into a beast that waits, ready to insert itself into my busy back-to-school month.

So, I vented my indignation against this unwanted pressure in the only way I could think of: boycotting. Did Starbucks notice that I had sworn off anything pumpkin flavored until true fall? No. And the local department store did not take down their Christmas decorations because I openly gawked in dismay. (It was very early September and I was shopping for back-to-school socks!) And yeah, just days ago, that was me shaking my head, entering the grocery store. Its doors flanked with pumpkins on one side and watermelons on the other. I bought the watermelon out of rebellion. After all, I was still wearing summer flip-flops. My right to enjoy a season or holiday in its proper time frame is being taken away.

Sometimes it feels like I’m running a race and just as I near the end banner, it’s being taken down and replaced for the next race. One that has already started without me. The week before school, and for a couple weeks after, days are packed with deadlines, never-ending packets of paperwork, new schedules/commitments, and a myriad of other changes that need tending to ASAP. I need to be present and focused for that onslaught, not distracted by the next busy race. I mean really, pumpkin spice is in everything food now, starting as early as July.

You might be asking, “What the heck does any of this have to do with a writing blog?”

Because I have been struggling, that’s why. I’m diverting my frustrations toward the poor pumpkins that represent so much hurry. And, I have not worked on my current novel in over a month. There, I said it. I feel a mix of shame and regret to admit that, but it’s true nonetheless. I could produce a long list of things I did complete, or have almost completed, but won’t. Perhaps venting against the commercial industry is merely a self-soothing way to lessen my guilt while allowing my writing to fall victim to a busy month. Eh, but still.

IMG_8282So now, it is officially fall. I can sense a return to “normalcy” in the household (if that even exists). My kids’ schedules & my volunteering days are plotted. Their afterschool events are aligned, the long back-to-school nights have come and gone, and the avalanche of back-to-school paperwork has been completed and returned. Now, I can return to writing. But first, I must tackle the laundry (this is what just a few days of falling behind looks like)!!! Oh, and my writing space—that is another blog posting all together though! IMG_8612

 

 

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My first interview (kinda) . . .

Well, I was interviewed once by a very rural newspaper. I’d won first place in a national recipe contest. That was a cool experience, but my author Q & A interview with WOW! was surprisingly awesome. Feel free to check it out! There are some writing tips included, and perhaps more personal insights than I should’ve divulged. Here!

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The above books I ordered with some of the prize money!

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The naming game . . .

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My writing has hit a wall! One made out of colorful Post-its, carefully pinned to the corkboard above my desk. I’m at that point in the story where it doesn’t feel right to continue calling the characters by generic names. That worked in the beginning for practicality and momentum. Not now.

This became painfully obvious when I introduced my lead character’s sidekick. Dialogue was stifled and lacking. Liveliness missing. He needed to be named, like all things created.

From this fantasy story’s conception, he’s been called simply, “Red Man.” It’s a literal observation. Similarly, other characters had/have temporary names, e.g. Yoda-like dude (short, wise, and speaks his mind). So, I pulled out the baby-naming books and my overflowing “naming” file—full of scraps scribbled with cool-ish names that I’ve come across. I find them everywhere: books, magazines, movies, the shoe boxes at Kohl’s, name tags of service workers, and even the yearly unclaimed money/property register. I do, however, draw the line at searching the obituaries. (That’s actually a story idea in the making, hmmm . . .)

But nada. Again, I’m at a standstill. I need the perfect name and it eludes me. A solid and strong name, perhaps one from long ago that can be resurrected and recycled.

I’d love to hear from other writers! What is your character-naming process? I’m especially curious how fantasy and/or other uncommon world genre writers come up with character names.