Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Finished (Almost)

I topped the 50,000-word goal on the last day of  National Novel Writing Month.

I wrote  50,241 words over the 30-day marathon. It feels good to reach that level. My average was 1,674 words a day.

While I was able to produce more than 50k words, I'm still working on a first draft. This manuscript is probably two-thirds of the way finished, but it's a good start.

There's still a lot of work to be done to fill in holes, develop characters, and stay focused on the overall story.

Then comes the hard part of writing -- the rewrite. It's almost like starting over, except that I'm not working with blank pages. It's the long process to polish sentences, further develop characters, show rather than tell, improve dialogue, and much more.

I'll be posting more about that process after I finish the first draft.

As for the work-in-progress, in case you're wondering, it will fall under the boomer-lit category. More about that later.

But, for the moment, I'm glad that I've reached the NaNoWriMo summit even though I have higher mountains to climb. 

Until the next time...

Friday, November 28, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week Four

We're entering the final two days in the National Novel Writing Month marathon.

I shouldn't have any problem reaching the 50,000-word goal. 

Here are my stats through Nov. 28:

Total words written: 47,303
Average per day: 1,689 (average for person to reach 50k is 1,667)
Words remaining: 2,697

While I'm pleased with my output and effort, I know I'll have to continue at the same pace for several more weeks to turn this opus into a novel. As stated before, it will probably take 80k or so words to tell the story I want to tell.

The story has pretty much stayed on course although I have strayed on occasion. That's typical for me, and probably for many other writers as well, as characters develop and sub-plots emerge and submerge.

More changes will occur during the edits and rewrites. 

I'll post another update in two days on my final word count. I hope other NaNoWriMoers are nearing the 50k goal as well.

Until the next time.... 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Story Songs: Thanksgiving Song

Mary Chapin Carpenter's thoughtful "Thanksgiving Song" reminds us that the holiday is one for showing gratitude for things we often overlook and take for granted in our lives -- family, friends, neighbors, and even the friendless.

The song is from her Christmas album, "Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas," released in 2008.

Carpenter's words paint a picture of people sitting at the dinner table, giving thanks for the simple blessings that make for a fulfilling and satisfying life.

It's one of the busiest times of the year, in terms of travel, when people travel near and far to express their gratitude.

The opening verse:

"Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table
From far and near we travel home
Blessed that we are able."

She expresses thanks for shelter, light through the windows and being able to "come in away from the sorrow."

"Father, mother, daughter, son
Neighbor, friend and friendless; 
All together everyone in the gift of loving kindness."

And then she writes:

"Grateful for what's understood,
And all that is forgiven
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living."

Copyright Russ Harrington
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Carpenter, one of the most insightful songwriters in America, helps us reflect on the true meaning of this wonderful day. Her sensibilities and social consciousness are evident in many of her compositions. She's one of my favorite singer/songwriters.

Needless to say, many people in the United States do not have the means to celebrate the holiday. Here are some facts about hunger in the U.S. to help put a few blessings in perspective.

The History Channel has a videos about the Thanksgiving. 

I've also included an editorial from the Delaware County Daily Times -- We Share Many Blessings This Holiday Week.

"Thanksgiving Song" lyrics

And click here for some Thanksgiving quotes to consider throughout the year. 

Happy Thanksgiving....

Friday, November 21, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week Three

I'm still moving along at a good pace in National Novel Writing Month after three weeks. 

The story is beginning to take shape after several minor twists and turns which may or may not survive the first edit. That's the creative aspect I enjoy about writing -- shaping words, sentences, and paragraphs into a story that others may want to read.

For those not involved in NaNoWriMo, the goal is to produce 50,000 words in the month of November. In the end, you should have the makings of a novel. 

But it's not as easy as it may sounds. You have to stay focused on the goal, try to avoid getting behind in word count, and keep from getting discouraged when you hit those proverbial bumps in the road.

Here are my statistics:

Total words -- 35,212 words
Average words per day -- 1,676 (you need to average 1,667 so I'm slightly ahead.)
Words remaining -- 14,788
Average words to finish on time -- 1,479

As I've noted in previous updates, this is not going to be a 50k manuscript. I'm sure I'll be writing for several weeks into December, or later, before I reach the end of this opus. My guess is it will be in the 80k range. 

While the exercise isn't exactly stream of consciousness, it is letting the words flow from your fingers to the keyboard, knowing that it is only a first draft that will probably have some major revisions and edits before becoming a completed manuscript, and then seeing the light of day as a novel.

Until the next time...

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Relative Beatle -- Louise Harrison

This past weekend I attended the 33rd annual Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort. It's one of my favorite events of the year. 

I've participated as an author on more than 10 occasions, and I've been a patron as many times. This year nearly 200 authors were in attendance, signing and reading from their works as well as taking part in various symposiums.

Louise Harrison at Kentucky Book Fair
The highlight of this year's fair for me was meeting Louise Harrison, the 83-year-old sister of the late Beatle George Harrison. 

She spent an hour talking about her brother, the closeness of her family, and of course, the other Beatles -- John, Paul and Ringo. 

She recalled a time when George came to visit her in Illinois in 1963, several months before Beatlemania swept America. She took him to a dance where there was a live music from a band.

She said that most of the people were dancing or talking, not paying much attention to the band. That changed when George was asked to play a few tunes. Remember, probably 99.9 percent of Americans hadn't heard of the Fab Four in the summer of 1963.

Practically everyone in the audience stopped what they were doing and paid attention to this guitar virtuoso on the stage. When it was over, some folks suggested that the band members ask George to stay in America and be part of the band. 

She offered several other stories, such as the family dealing with World War II and the German bombing of London, helping the band get airplay on U.S. radio stations, George's Concert for Bangladesh, and her final meeting with him in New York two weeks before he died in 2001.

By the way, Louise has written a book titled, "My Kid Brother's Band a.k.a. The Beatles!" I purchased the book and so far it's been a fun read, especially after talking to her. Her voice really comes through on the pages. And she has a perspective on the Beatles that only a loving and caring sister could provide.

Me and Louise Harrison
Louise is going to be promoting her book at other venues in the coming months. Be sure and visit her. You might even get a hug from  this sweet and delightful woman.

Until the next time...

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week Two

As promised, here's my update after two weeks in National Novel Writing Month:

  • 22,491 words
  • Daily average of 1,606
  • 27,509 words remaining to reach 50,000
I've been able to write each day, as much as 1,900 words and a couple days around 1,300. I should be averaging 1,667 so I'm a little behind that goal. I had some things going on that took me away from spending more time writing. 

But I have confidence in reaching 50k words or more. I've picked up my pace the past couple of days as I'm in a pretty good groove. In other words, the story is taking shape and the characters are coming to life. 

Still, there's a lot of writing to be done, but I feel like I'm up to the challenge. I hope others participating in this annual event are making progress as well. 

As a minister I know once told his congregation: "You have to keep on keeping on."

In other words, don't give up. Set your sights on the goals you want to achieve and stay on course until you get there.

Until the next time...

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Day at the Library

This past weekend I attended the third annual Author Faire at the Ridgway Memorial Library, one of the branches of the Bullitt County Public Library system, in Shepherdsville, Ky.

About 35 other authors were in attendance during the six-hour event, talking to readers about their books, reading passages from their works, and spending time chatting with fellow authors.

While we didn't sell many books to library patrons -- it's kinda difficult at a place where there are thousands of free books -- it was a good opportunity to show support for reading and literacy.  

Hey, without readers, there's hardly a reason for books. I believe it's imperative for those involved in the print media to encourage the joy of reading, be it books, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc. 

The library staff was courteous, friendly and gracious, and several told me that this was the one day of the year that they really look forward to -- being able to talk to those folks who help populate their book shelves. I was honored to be invited.

This coming weekend I'll be involved in another literary effort -- the 33rd annual Kentucky Book Fair. Nearly 200 authors will participate in this event and more than 4,000 people be there to purchase books, talk to authors, and attend symposiums and readings.

Proceeds from the KBF benefit school and public libraries and literacy programs across the state -- a win-win for everyone involved.

Until the next time...

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week One

I survived the first week of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

I've written 11,382 words in seven days, an average of 1,626 per day. The target is 1,667 a day, so I'm pretty much on course to reach 50,000 by Nov. 30. 

While I have stayed focused, writing several hours each morning, the work-in-progress should start picking up steam as I'm getting more into a groove with the story.

As noted before, this is a boomer-lit novel, dealing with issues facing older folks (they say to write what you know about). 

The story did drag on days 4 and 5, but I continued to let the words flow, regardless of the direction. That's always something to keep in mind when writing a first draft because you can always go back and rewrite or delete passages, quotes, or anything you heart desires. 

And it's not that painful because you realize that some of the things you're putting on the screen isn't very good. In fact, some of it is awful. 

But by continuing to write through the rough parts, you are knocking down writer's block and other mental obstacles that stand in your way. It's kind of empowering. 

I'll post something again next Friday to let you know how things are going. It will be interesting because I have a book signing tomorrow and a family event on Sunday, but I'll be up bright and early each day to write.

Until the next time...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Get Ready, Get Set, NaNoWriMo!

I was up bright and early this morning to begin National Novel Writing Month -- NaNoWriMo.

After drinking a cup of coffee, feeding the dog, and a quick breakfast of eggs and hash browns, I sat down (with another cup of coffee) and knocked out 1,727 words on the first day of my work in progress.

Morning has been my writing time for many years. It's quiet in the house and easy for me to get focused, especially with coffee providing a mild jolt to my senses.

I've been thinking about the story I want to tell for a long time, so I don't foresee having any major problems in reaching the 50k minimum by the last day of November.

An important key is to avoid distractions, especially on the Internet. I will look at Facebook to see if I have any overnight messages from friends and update a couple of pages I manage, but that only takes a few minutes. I don't even look at email until I've finished writing. 

I'm looking forward to getting back to the novel tomorrow morning, especially since the clock "falls back" tonight to give me an extra hour to sleep on it. 

Until the next time...