I don't know how it happened, but it did.

Since I'm in the middle of a WIP, I fully intended to steer clear of NaNoWriMo (that's National Novel Writing Month, for any non-writers. The goal is to begin and complete a 50,000 word novel within the month of November).

The plan was to finish my 1st draft before November hit so I could work on edits and rewrites all month, polish it up and send it out to agents before they got hit with a slew of NaNoWriMo-created slush.

And yet here we are on the cusp of November, and I'm still only halfway done with my manuscript.

So this November, I'll be participating in NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finishing Month). I'm trying to get my sister to participate for some extra motivation. (She's a fantastic writer but her dedication to it is negligible at best. If only we could combine forces--but that would probably be a disaster. More in a post on that later.) And of course, I'll be posting updates on bloggy to help motivate myself and anybody else out there who could use a kick in the pants.

So, any NaNoWriMo or NaNoFiMo participants out there geared up for the month of November?


7 Reasons Why: What Happens In Vegas...

...kind of reminds me of writing.

Yup, I was in Sin City last week. And like most everything else in my life, I was struck by some of the parallels in my Vegas adventures vs my writing adventures. So, it's time for another 7 Reasons Why!

1. It's a crapshoot.

When gambling, I like to feel like I have some control. Slots can be addictive, mindless fun, but games like blackjack and craps where I actually have to make decisions provide the illusion that I have some say in the matter.

In publishing, there are things you can control, and things you can't. You can practice and improve your craft. Go through rewrites and edits until your eyes bleed. Create the best, most polished manuscript you are capable of. But after that, it comes down to things like timing, luck, and subjective taste (why do I feel like the AA Serenity Prayer would be appropriate here?)

2. There's always that nagging feeling you should quit.

Gambling is like the law of gravity: what goes up must come down. The key is to walk away when you're up and before you go back down. More often than not, that doesn't happen. I enjoy gambling too much to walk away from a table if I've only been there 20 minutes, even if I'm up. So when I feel things starting to downswing before I'm ready, I'm always faced with the difficult decision of walking away or playing on to the bitter end.

I think any writer has wondered at some point if they should just walk away, give up. Cut their losses. It's definitely crossed my mind more than once. But I'm a bitter end kind of gal. That kind of persistence doesn't typically pay off in Vegas. I can only hope it pays off in publishing.

3. There are a lot of impostors.

Walking down the strip one afternoon, I passed a poster for a show called "American Superstars" featuring impersonators of Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, etc. Why anybody would pay to see the fake version is beyond me, but to each his own I guess.

The other day I was reading a book similar to another in the same genre, and I came across a scene that was eerily close to said book. Close enough that it annoyed me. I don't want to pick up a book by a completely different author and feel like I'm re-reading the same book twice. I do understand that coincidences happen, but judging from some agent blogs out there, there are a lot of wannabes out there in the slush who think they are the next fill in the blank.

4. Moderation is key.

I was in Vegas almost exactly 72 hours--3 full days. From my experience, almost a perfect length. I've done a 5-day Vegas trip before. It's exhausting. Overkill, really.

As you may have noted by my word count in the side bar, I haven't been going full steam with my WIP the past month. That doesn't mean I've lost interest in it, or in writing in general. Just needed some time to recharge. My last manuscript (Charm Bracelet) I wrote in a couple months (too fast). When I was querying that, I started immediately on The Revengeful. I didn't want to go and just write another hurried piece of crap. I'm making an effort to be patient and get it done right this time, even if that means letting it marinate a bit. Even if it killsssss me. :)

5. It ain't glamorous.

Did you guys see The Hangover? Yeah, it would be nice if we could all afford villa suites at Caesars and have hilarious, face-to-face encounters with Mike Tyson (actually, I have zero desire to meet Mike Tyson). But there is a seedy side to Las Vegas, where people are broke and homeless because of their gambling addictions, and men line the sidewalk hawking advertisements for call girls.

Similarly, publishing is not all about six-figure advances and country-wide book signings. Most published authors need a day job to sustain a viable income. And it's not about writing in a lofty ivory tower. I generally prefer on the couch, in my PJs, while my dog vies for attention vs the laptop.

6. We're never satisfied.

Winning money is addictive (duh). When I'm playing, I try to set myself a limit, eg, "If I'm up X amount of dollars, I will walk away then." And then I hit X, and I make a new deal with myself...just one more hand...

I remember a few years ago when I told myself I'd be happy just to finish writing a book, even if it didn't get published. Ummmm...allow me to roll on the ground in hysterics for a few minutes. I realize now that will never satisfy me. I won't be satisfied until I'm published. And even then, I probably won't be satisfied until I'm not only published, but making a living off of it. And even then...

7.   We never stop hoping.

No matter how much I lost on my last trip there, on the plane trip to Las Vegas I'm always feeling the same thing. I'm feeling lucky! Similar to the feeling of when we have a new, shiny manuscript and we hit send on that first query. It doesn't matter what happened in the past. This time, good things are going to happen. Right?




HP Power

Saw the new trailer for HP7 the other night. Completely floored. This is going to be the best Harry Potter movie yet, as it should be. But as excited as I am, I'm also a little sad it's all going to come to an end, just as I was when the final book came out.

I imagine all HP fans share this sentiment, but I have a particular soft spot for HP. I was introduced to this amazing series at one of the lowest times in my life. It was the summer before my final year of college, and I was pretty sick (understatement). I had the misfortune of contracting Lyme disease, which probably doesn't mean much if you're not from Connecticut. I'll spare you the details but basically you feel so crappy that everything loses meaning. You don't have enough energy to email your friends and even watching TV is an effort. I couldn't walk or talk properly because my motor skills were all messed up. After I was released from the hospital I mainly laid in bed half-hoping that the next day I'd have enough energy to get out of it, and half-scared that even if I could get up, I still wouldn't be able to walk and it would all be pointless.

And then one night my sister came into my room carrying Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and pressed it into my hand. She thought I'd like it, she said. Now I hadn't been reading middle grade or YA at the time--I was an English Lit major in college so most of my time was spent reading the classics. I'd heard about Harry Potter--they'd already made the first couple of movies at this point--but it never occurred to me that the books would be something I'd like. But I guess there's something about being sick that takes us back to a childlike state, the need to feel like we're going to be taken care of an everything is going to be okay. So I gave it a try.

I didn't think I'd be able to get through more than a few pages at a time, but I did! I totally got sucked into the world of Hogwarts and for a little while forgot about the crap going on in my own world. And at a time when nothing seemed worth exerting the energy for, I managed to get through that first book in a matter of days.

I wasn't the only person going through a terrible time then. Every American and a bunch of people around the world were, too. Because I was so sick, I had to delay going back to school. And that meant I was still in bed that September in 2001, barely able to process what my father was telling me when he called from work that morning to tell us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

I write because I believe in the power of books, their ability to transport us when our own world is falling down around us. Whether it's a blockbuster series that brings together millions of fans, or a singular story that touches us on a personal level. I'll never replicate J.K. Rowling's success, and that's okay. All I hope is that one day I'll have a book out there, and some girl who just broke up with her boyfriend, or lost a tough basketball game, or was bullied at school, will pick it up and for a few hours she'll get sucked into the world I created and her day will be a little bit better for it.

So tell me, are you an HP fan? If not, is there a particular book out there that got you through a rough time?