Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Musings: Did you Nanowrimo? Why/Why Not?


My apologies for the delay, even though I'm trying to backdate this simply because I'm a little crazy that way. Family health demanded attention.

The original question for this posting was: Did you Nanowrimo? Why/Why Not?

Let's get to our musings...and my apologies if I've lost/missed anyone's sharings.

I wrote Relocated, the first in the Novels  of Aleyne series, for 2010 Nano, and I wrote Geek Games for 2011 Nano.

I am a way back sci fi fan, but as of 2010 I'd never written any. In fact, I had a phobia about the world-building aspects. In September of 2010, I decided that I'd do my best to overcome this block by writing a sci fi novel for Nano. I figured I could afford to devote November to the project and see what happened.  Because I was most nervous about creating the context of the novel, I devoted most of the six weeks from the time I decided to the start of November to creating the aliens, the Terran Federation, the government -- or not -- of both, the arts, the politics, the history -- you name it. And because I'd never written anything longer than 15,000 words, I worked on a set of poems (published as Sand in the Desert) to go along with the novel. I had a page or two of plot notes.

Along about December, I learned of a website that was running a six or eight week editing thing, so I signed up for that.  Many edits later, it was a novel.

I never planned it to be a series -- it just happened, mostly because I kept asking myself, "but what about ... ?"  And I didn't start in on Nano with the intent of getting a novel published, either -- I simply wanted to see if I could write a sci fi novel.

I am usually a plotter, for it can take me years to write a book. (Definitely a plotter, then, you say.)

However, for the past seven years during the month of November, I'm most certainly a pantster. I only have a general idea of my plot and story while I pound out 1,700 words per day. The interesting thing I find about being a pantster is that every once in a while a brilliant twist or new character pops up. I usually am a NaNaWriMo winner, but I also usually end up deleting 3/4 of what I wrote. But the actual story is finally well on its way!

 I did not participate in NanoWriMo. I considered it because I want to finish my new Regency Romance, Tuesday's Child, a stand alone novel that is a follow on from my published novel Sunday's Child, and Monday's Child that will be published in spring, 2016, as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, participation would have left me with not time to get on with other writing projects and deal with daily, 'writerly' matters.

I participated in Nanowrimo in 2014. I think I did it mainly to prove to myself that I could. The book I worked on was Family Values. It’s due out this winter. I chose not to participate in 2015. I had nothing left to prove to myself and I wanted to focus on edits for upcoming books as well as writing new things. Because I was already writing at that pace last year, I didn’t find Nano to be stressful. I had a few friends that started Nano and couldn’t deal with the pressure. Will I participate again someday? I don’t know. I’m glad I did the first one.

And, having said all that, I went ahead and signed up for Nano this year anyway. Progress isn’t awesome but I’m plugging along.

I did a Nanowrimo about two years ago and enjoyed it very much. Since then, however, I've avoided it. Hitting 50,000 words a month isn't a challenge for me. Every month I have two or three projects and produce well over that amount in executing them. This is my job. Time is precious and g\etting involved in any social or cooperative venture directed at writing is just a time sink for me.

I did not nanowrimo. After writing the draft of my cozy mystery The Gold Standard (now The Last Bequest, first of the Buried Treasure series) in four days back in 2006 due to a case of misunderstanding between the then-agent and the publisher with a contract, I figured I did that already.

The first time I heard about Nanowrimo, I decided it wasn't for me. I was reluctant to subject myself to the pressure because I didn't believe I could write a novel in a month. But as the years go by, I'm starting to gain a little bit of confidence and to wonder if perhaps...just perhaps... I might be able to do it. Of course, no one will be bothered if I don't succeed except me, but I don't want to feel I've failed. On the other hand, the only people who never fail are those who don't ever attempt anything. Okay, you've convinced me. Next year, I'm going to Nanowrimo!

I did Nanowrimo one year, but I don't participate any longer. I think it's a great idea for people to get a jump-start on their writing and to impose a deadline to get a solid word-count in each day. However, I don't think that this way of writing works for everyone. When I did do Nano a couple years back (when I had more time on my hands to put that much time into writing), I had the whole story planned out ahead of time, but I normally like to work out details in my writing as I go along, which involves more time and thought while writing. It's great to just write and let it flow out, but I find that pausing to think and work things out is also important, which isn't really possible during Nanowrimo. I do like the community that's built up around it though, and I think it would be nice to do again when I have more time to focus on writing during November. Though a Nano in June or July would be ideal for me!

For NA- the novel writing competition, no, I do not. Just never felt like taking part. Besides, I know a writer is supposed to write every day, maybe with a daily word goal in mind, but I rarely do that. I write when the urge to write strikes me, and when it does, I can write 6-9 hours, sleep, then start writing again. Doesn't happen that way very often, but that's me - a fault or strength, depending on your point of view. Anyway, so no, no NA- the novel writing competition.

When I was in the seventh grade, my ELA teacher noticed how I loved to make up stories (I wrote something like twelve pages for our short story assignment when we were supposed to write five and I spent class swiveling in my desk, helping others plan their stories as well) and asked if I'd heard of NaNoWriMo. I never had, and when she explained the goal was to write fifty THOUSAND words in one month, I thought she was insane. I was, what, twelve or thirteen? I also got really excited and tried it out. I think (do not trust my memory here) that was how my first complete novel, a story about a farm boy who gets attacked by a vampire and has to still provide for his mother and little sister while also struggling to learn about this whole crazy war between vampire Masters (if you kill the head/Master of a coven, all the other vampires die with them), got started. That sounds really complicated now that I just wrote that out. It was either that or a story about a half selkie, half witch. Selkies are sort of like mermaids but are a mythical people who are seals but can also slip out of their sealskin and become human and walk on land and stuff. Anyway, I came nowhere near the 50,000 word count and it really tweaked me out because I was a small child trying to arc a whole plot and everything for the first time, but I churned out a huge chunk of story; way more than I'd ever done before. It also made me realize that I could write a novel and not just short stories. It gave me the writing bug. I've never done it since. I've written novels in about two weeks, and I've written them over six months and then edited them for about four years. I don't feel like a good enough story would come out of me panicking and slamming things down in the Word document, honestly. I try to treat my stories more nicely than that. :) It is, I do think, a good practice tool. 

Nope. I didn’t participate this year. Actually I haven’t in many years. A writer friend said the whole point behind NaNoWriMo was to show you can write a novel (50K words) in 30 days. I did it once, just to see if I could. At the end of the month, I had over 500K spread out over nearly 9 stories (#9 was half finished, lol). And yes, that was only for the month of November. I stopped writing as soon as midnight struck on the morning of December 1st. I didn’t stop writing even after the first story was complete, I just kept going. lol However, once they were all cleaned up 4 were still at or over 50K, the others had dipped to around 30-40K or so. I think I calculated removing nearly 150K words all together. Yes, I’m strange like that. I like to keep track of which words I continually use and end up removing (though, I still use those same words again and again and have to take them out, again and again, lol). Going on that one, I succeeded. Since, I have thought about getting involved, but just don’t ever have an idea that lasts through that many words. Lol Maybe next year…which I said last year and the year before. Lol

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Musings: Favourite Family Fall/Thanksgiving Activity


Are you having a great weekend? It's time for Sunday Musings.

If you missed our Saturday Morning Musings, I'll repeat we're visiting family and memories in honour of our USA's Muser Family's Thanksgiving this week.

Today, it's more your favourite family fall/Thanksgiving activity...

My favorite family activity any time of year is being together with family.

My favorite Thanksgiving was when all my kids and grandkids came to our house  for a feast. Last time was 1992 I think.Four grown children and seven grandchildren. The children played in the "fort" their grandpa had built for them.

In my rather large family, my parents did their best to limit such luxuries as sweets and such, so one of the best things about Thanksgiving for me—pies. Mountains and mountains of pies. You see, my mom decided that it was the one time of the year we could indulge in our love of pies until we were so sick of it we’d be good for another 365 days. It worked. In the four day week of Thanksgiving, we managed to create and consume close to thirty-two pies on average. Remember, our family numbered sixteen, six of which were teenagers, three of which were boys. We had pie breakfast, lunch, dinner and any time in-between. And there were tons to choose from: chocolate mousse, lemon meringue, pumpkin, cherry, blueberry, apple, mincemeat (not my fav), banana cream, strawberry, even pineapple if so requested. Deal was, we had to help make them. So we did—pie crust to filling. Generally by bird time, we’re were in sugar comas. Have to wonder if it was part of my parents’ master plan—put us in comas so we couldn’t drive them crazy. Hmmm, maybe….

My favorite Thanksgiving activity now is spending time cooking with my wife. Whether we visit her family or mine on the actual holiday, most of what we eat we have to prepare ourselves, since we are vegan, and are the only vegans in our family. Just because we don't eat animal products, doesn't mean we don't have a great time preparing delicious meals and spending time together in the kitchen- since we both love to cook.

In the "old days", my family (parents, brother, aunt, myself) would gather for a family feast, one of the four big ones during the year, the others being Christmas, New Year, and Easter.  When I moved into my apartment, which was christened The Annex because it was a scant eight doors away from the Main Branch, the family home, I bought an artificial Christmas tree and took advantage of the long weekend to decorate it.  Now, being retired, I start the weekend before Thanksgiving so everything will be done when my brother comes to me for our dinner.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at