November Means?

November is an awesome month. I look forward to it every year, and not because of Turkey day and not because it’s fall. Nope! I look forward to it because as soon as the first comes around I have a perfect excuse to avoid all responsibilities, like feeding children and cleaning house.

November means it’s also National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and gives the chance to complete a novel-length work (50,000 words) in 30 days.  You can join your local region for write-ins and miscellaneous writing support, or even hook up with your writing buddies and have a friendly competition on who can get to the 50,000 word mark first and/or the fastest. The options are endless.

Writers around the world use this time to kick their inner editors to the curb to push out a frantically written, thrown together novel in 30 days or less.  This is the perfect chance to hone those skills and write something that could be the next best-seller, like Night Circus.

But there’s no pressure.

Just sit back, have fun, and let your muse take control. You may want to have some icepacks on the side though, fingers don’t like the abuse!

A caution to be heeded: NaNoWriMo is very addicting. Side effects include, but are not limited to, sleepless nights, sore fingers, euphoric highs, bankrupt coffee industry, disgruntled children and spouse, dirty house and laundry, sense of immense accomplishment, and others.  Participation in this activity is voluntary and upon sign up, you agree to the pros and cons and will not hold anyone other than yourself accountable for undesirable counter measures taken in order for your attention to be gained by anything other than your novel.

Disclaimer: This is a fun, informative, and slightly fictional post. My children are not harmed or neglected during the month of November and are quite convincing when they want attention from me. The fingers, however, are another story…

Welcome to November

Greetings, fellow wordsmiths!

Many of our Board Members are participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so a lot of the posts throughout November will address NaNo.  Our first blog post will be from our Youth Coordinator, Samantha LaFantasie.

We do know that NaNo isn’t for everyone: 50,000 words in a month is a lot, especially if you have family responsibilities and can’t get out of attending (or hosting) Thanksgiving.  Your process may not be adaptable to that schedule, and you may feel backed into a corner rather than inspired.

Whether or not you participate, I would urge you to take advantage of the wealth of information on writing that will be provided during the month.  Many writers are going to address the challenge of writing, and writing on a schedule, during this month.  Ideas on how to plot and outline will be freely offered up: character and setting development will be addressed.

Our November meeting will be an opportunity for you to read your work in front of other members.  We’re also going to try out the “speed-date” reading concept.  For that, we would separate everyone into equally sized groups.  Every member would be given five minutes to read their work, and then ten minutes to hear critiques from the other members of the group.  Please bring about five pages for the speed-date.  For the general reading, you may bring enough additional pages to complete the scene.

Lastly, I do want to thank everyone for their patience as we work on the website – hopefully we can make it into a great “go-to” place for you to find all types of writing information!  Please let us know of anything you’d like to see KWA offer!

Keep the ink flowing!  Lisette

 

Social Media & Upcoming Madness (aka NaNoWriMo)

We’ve all been told how important it is to network and promote.  Saturday’s meeting was informative and inspiring.  Sadly, Sonny wasn’t there so I have no pictures to share.  If you missed the meeting, Carol has kindly posted an overview complete with slides (if the slides malfunction, that’s my fault).

We did spend a fair amount of time talking about Twitter, and I wanted to add a few hashtags that have developed with the writer in mind: #writing, #amwriting, #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List: agents post what they’re looking for) and #RBWL (Reader Blogger Wish List).  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our own K.T.’s #writemotivation hashtag, where writers congregate to cheer each other on in achieving goals.  More information can be found at her blog, The Scribble Muse (kthanna.com).

If you want to interact face-to-face, our next write-in will be this Thursday at McAlister’s Deli on Rock Road from 5-ish to 9-ish.  Write-ins are informal – show up when you can and stay as long as you are able.  You can write, solicit opinions, get help with craft, discuss a sticky plot point – the possibilities are endless.

We borrowed the concept of write-ins from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Many of the Board members are NaNo enthusiasts, and are planning to participate in this year’s adventure (and NaNo is always an adventure).  The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words, the length of a short book.  For most genre writers, that’s a heck of a start.  You can write short stories, poems, essays, or flash fiction if novels are not your thing.  If you’re thinking of joining us, you still have time to sign up at nanowrimo.org.  We are going to create a forum on the website for those KWA writers participating this year (stay tuned for more details).

Keep on writing!  Lisette

Getting the word out

I try to be active on social media (anyone who follows me on Twitter is now laughing hysterically).  Like many, though, I need to get a lot better.

Someone asked me why Twitter and Facebook (etc., etc.) are important – wouldn’t I be better off writing?  True, I do procrastinate a bit more than I should in checking Facebook (I’m sure many of our members can relate), but social media does serve a purpose besides avoiding work.  There’s news and information about contests – and the latest publishing debacle.  The ability to interact with writers all over the world – some unknown and some quite famous.  Moreover, there’s opportunity: Twitter hosts pitch sessions and gives agents a place to list what they’re looking for (#MSWL – for Manuscript Wish List).

To be able to play, though, you have to get in the game.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Blogging. Where to start, and what to do?  For this reason, I’m so looking forward to Saturday’s meeting.  Carol Martin will be talking social media, and she knows a lot.  She had I have had several brief chats to discuss what to cover, and those chats have left me wanting more.  She’ll start out simply (so if you have no idea what a tweet is, you’ll be fine) and let questions from the attendees guide her.

Feel free to bring your laptop or tablet and play along  Rockwell Library does have internet if you’re a Wichita Library patron.  The meeting will start at 1:30, and should wind down around 3:30.  If people are interested, there will be an informal critique session afterwards (bring about 5 pages of your work).

We’re starting to ponder next year’s meetings, so if you have any idea for one of those let one of the Board members know.  What topics would you like covered in a meeting?  In a workshop?  We’ll probably have a social media meeting at least once a year, as the internet is constantly evolving.

I’d be quite remiss if I didn’t mention National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org).   Granted, writing 50,000 words in a month isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you need a kick in the pants it’s a fun experience.  NaNoWriMo starts November 1, so you still have plenty of time to sign up!   We’ve quite a few WriMos on the Board, so you will have company.

We did have our second write-in, which was a blast!  Our next one will be October 24 at McAlister’s Deli on Rock Road.  We totally stole the idea of write-ins from NaNo – it’s a great way to be social and yet get some work done.

Keep the words flowing!

Lisette

 

NaNoWriMo Stars in our Midst

Several of our members are putting up rock-star numbers in the annual writing marathon known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to its fans). The goal is to write 50,000 words of fiction before the clock strikes December.

NaNoWriMoIt’s more than a random number and a personal goal. NaNoWriMo is a community event. You can keep a running log of your progress at www.nanowrimo.org, chat with other writers for support, and generally encourage one another to keep the word count coming. Some might view is as a stunt, others as a lark. But for the vast majority, it works because it sets up a challenge and a deadline that, frankly, most of us need to stay on task.

If you’re participating in this year’s NaNo, post your progress here too so we can cheer you on! Just use the comment section below.

A NaNoWriMo Success Story

Quite by accident, I had the radio on this morning when author Erin Morgenstern came on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR. Erin’s debut novel, The Night Circus, is a sensation that’s drawing comparisons to Harry Potter, but for adults. Here’s what they had to say about it on the radio show’s website:

It’s the story of a life-or-death competition between two young magicians late in the 19th century. The contest takes place at Le Cirque des Reves – The Circus of Dreams. There’s also a dreamlike aspect to how the book itself came about. Erin Morgenstern says she started with a circus and it turned into a story about choices and love, and finding the shades of grey between the black-and-white.

The Night CircusI was only half-listening to the radio from the other room until I heard Morgenstern — who speaks in a girlish, eager voice that fits her fantastical, quirky personality — say that her book owed its genesis to NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

Many KWA members have participated in this annual writing challenge, which lays down the gauntlet to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Morgenstern says she launched a NaNoWriMo project in 2005 that wasn’t going anywhere. She decided she needed to give her characters something to do, so she sent them to the circus. The rest is a publishing success story that inspired me. I’m even still listening to her interview as I write this post. (The fact that we share the same name, and that the host keeps saying it, is lulling me into a fantasy that I am the successful novelist getting national media exposure.)

I won’t recap the whole interview but you can go back and listen to it yourself. And I recommend all aspiring writers do so. She started just like you and me: with an idea, the discipline to write it down and keep at it, and no real publishing connections. She sent loads of queries to loads of agents, and actually had the good fortune to get a lot of requests for the full manuscript. And then, she got back a lot of rejections. But they came with feedback, and she took their advice about what didn’t work. She rewrote and rewrote until her novel landed in front an agent who also said it wasn’t ready–but he offered her a contract, and helped guide her the rest of the way. Now she’s in talks with Hollywood about bringing her book to the screen (which I have to admit I would love to happen to me).

Two lessons here: Persevere, no matter how many times you are rejected or ignored. Rewrite, no matter how perfect you think your story is. Let’s face it, if we want to get published, we have to submit a product that will sell. But in the case of books, our customers are readers, and so are we. And we want to read something good! So listen to your critics, take what you like, and leave the rest.

We’re about 5 weeks from NaNoWriMo 2011. Consider taking a crack at it. Maybe this is the year you unearth a circus of your own.