Terrible Romance Series

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NaNoWriMoRama

Welp. It’s November 2nd, which means that I am once again living the NaNoWriMo life.

Some of you may be saying, “But, M.J.,…I read your last post, and you were being all not overly dramatic about your creativity being dead and buried in the garden. What gives?”

Well, I’ll tell you. Although I’m still pretty sure my creativity has been lost and/or buried at sea or whatever, I am still the ML (municipal liaison) for my region, so participating is part of the deal. But because of the aforementioned creativity outage, I just may be doing more pretending to write with abandon than actually writing. With abandon or anything else.

But look! I get this pretty, pretty badge out of the deal, so that’s pretty sweet.

I’m planning to use the Pot Luck technique I employed last year, where I jump around from one of my many WIPs to the next, chasing any wisp of a story spark I can find. Last year, I ended November with a grand total of 63,596 words spread across five WIPs. I don’t think this year will produce the same results (see: dead muse), but here are the projects on which I will, at the very least, be pretending to work, listed in priority order, from top to bottom:

Terrible Romance Sequel

My goddaughter is still waiting for this book, and I really don’t want to disappoint her any more than I already have so this WIP gets the top spot. I’m still not sure how to execute my vision for this book (or even if I can. I mean, that does remain a distinct possibility) but I recently had a conversation with a writer friend who said something about this story that made me go, “Huh.” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Maybe that’ll lead to some progress? Maybe it won’t. I don’t know, but maybe we’ll find out. Bottom line is, I’d really love to be able to finish the first draft this month.

Adventures In Babysitting

The companion novella for Full Circle. I started writing it last year during NaNoWriMo and haven’t done a whole lot with it since. (You know, except completely blow up the entire premise, but how important is a premise anyway?) This project was bumped up on the priority list a few months ago because I wanted to finish it while Full Circle was still in its WIP phase, just in case story changes needed to be made in one or the other because of how their stories ultimately played out. Then a central character in the novella decided to be a jerk and go do some jerk things and put plot lines from both stories in doubt or peril or something like that. I’d love to resolve those issues this month. If I can.

Full Circle

Yeah. This is back on the list. Well, kind of. I sent the manuscript out to three betas and have heard back from one of them (the other two are either still reading or looking into some kind of beta reader protection program where they start new lives as new people somewhere far away from me so they don’t have to tell me how much they hate(d) the story) and based on that feedback, I think I need to rethink a story arc or two. Which I suspected might be the case when I sent the story out, so it’s not a huge surprise. I do, however, have a strict policy to not make any major changes to the manuscript while betas are doing their thing, so this project’s inclusion on this list is strictly reserved for any brainstorming scenes I might decide to experiment with this month while I try to come up with possible alternatives.

Threnody

This is supposed to be the fourth book of The Coileáin Chronicles. It wasn’t supposed to exist, but it does now and so I need to figure out what to do with it. Unlike the preceding books, I don’t have any sort of plan for it, and I’m not convinced that what I’ve written so far will hold up, so I’m feeling a little (translation: a lot) lost in the weeds here. Maybe that’s a sign that it shouldn’t exist. Dunno. But maybe I’ll figure something out.

The Third One

The third intended title in my Terrible Romance Series. “But, M.J.,” you may be saying, “you haven’t even finished the second intended title in this series. How can you be working on the third one?” And I’ll tell you…I don’t know. Writers just do that sometimes. It’s funny, though. I don’t know how to execute the plan for Terrible Romance Sequel, but thanks to The Third One, I do know where the main characters in Terrible Romance Sequel end up. Or, maybe I should say, where I would like them to end up because what I plan and what takes place ain’t actually ever been similar (Name! That! Reference!)

How Many Angels

My woefully ignored attempt at literary fiction. I like to include it because it’s nice to have an option that’s so very different from anything else on this list. I’m not convinced that this story is anything worthwhile, but…what else is new, right? Also…why not include it on this list? What’s the worst that could happen? I don’t write any words for it?

So yeah. I have a plan (kind of) and projects on which I can work (kind of), but I don’t really think much of anything will come out of it. That won’t be the greatest feeling in the world, but, again, what else is new?

I will, however, be there to support my fellow wrimos as they write all the awesome things. And that is pretty cool.

Here’s to you, awesome writers!

Usually during this month, I post weekly updates as to how things are progressing or, you know, not progressing as the case may be. It’s too early to say whether I will be posting any updates of any kind this year. It’ll all depend upon what happens and how I feel about it at the time.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year/month? What are you writing? (Also, if you’re looking for buddies, I can be found using the very clever username M.J. Fifield…)

Happy November, all. See you next time.

Sender’s Remorse and Other Complications

So, last month, I was one part of one scene away from finishing up my revisions on Full Circle and sending the manuscript to the betas. I thought for sure I would find a way to either not finish that scene and/or find new, exciting ways to procrastinate on sending out the manuscript, but I didn’t. I finished the scene and sent out the manuscript a few days later.

Usually, when I send a manuscript out to the betas, I have a moment where I feel all

because I did this thing. I completed a manuscript. I completed the revisions, and I feel I may have even made the story better. I have this moment (however small) where I feel a sense of accomplishment.

It soon dissolves into to a Great Lake of anxiety because I am, after all, still me, and I am nothing more than a overabundance of anxiety concealed in a trench coat pretending to be a semi-functional human being.

This time, however, I went straight into Lake Anxiety. There was no moment of triumph. No moment of accomplishment. There was no feeling that maybe I had made the story better. It was nothing but

(NOTE: That last gif is not the one I wanted to use. I wanted to use the gif of Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer saying “UNDO IT! UNDO IT!” from the season four episode Pangs, but apparently, no one’s made a gif of that moment, and I sure as hell don’t know how to make one. So if you know that moment from that episode, that’s what you should imagine here.)

My betas have had the story for a little over a month now, and it’ll be a while before I hear back. It’s not surprising—I write big books, and they apparently have lives outside of sitting around and waiting for me to finish writing a book (Dunno, though…sounds kind of fake…) so I am trying not to hit the panic button anymore than I already have (which is, granted, a lot) and refraining from sending them one apology after another for sending them such a shit manuscript to read. I mean, come on. It’s a big book and a big time commitment, and I feel horrible (more so than usual) that I didn’t do my best to send them a better story.

(And yes. This is what me not hitting the panic button (too much) looks like…)

Normally, I fill this time by working on another project. Gotta love distractions, right? My beloved goddaughter, for example, when she heard that Full Circle had finally gone out to betas was all, “Good. Now you can finish the Terrible Romance Sequel.”

Which would have been my plan, but it turns out that I still have no idea how, or even if, I can finish that book. All I’ve managed to do so far on that project is make this face:

Then I thought, “Hey! I’ll work on Adventures In Babysitting!”

This WIP, if you don’t already know, is meant to be a companion novella in the Coileáin Chronicles. It takes places during the events of Full Circle but is basically a few non-POV characters on a side quest, so I didn’t put it directly in Full Circle. I thought working on it would be a good idea, just in case anything shifted and necessitated changes be made in Full Circle because, you know, despite my best efforts and storyboarding tendencies, that happens.

A lot.

Which is totally fine.

Totally.

Doesn’t bother me at all.

Really.

Except…it happened in this WIP. Pretty early on, too. And it went a little something like this:

My villain: Cool storyboard, dude, but what if I did *this* instead?

Me: Hmmm. That does seem like something you would do. Or, you know, exactly what you would do.

Villain: I know, right?

Me: But…

Villain: But what?

Me: But in doing so, you’ve completely killed the ‘adventure’ part of ‘Adventures in Babysitting’.

Villain: Yeah. That sounds like a ‘you’ problem. Byeeee!

So now, here I am, with two possibly dead-in-the-water WIPs and the absolute belief that my betas are hunkered down in secret, closed-door meetings, trying to decide which one of them has to tell me how terrible Full Circle is.

Must be Wednesday.

On that note, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I sincerely hope your writing endeavors (or whatever you may have going on) are progressing well.

Happy Autumn, all.

The One With All The Goals (2022 Edition)

Well, it’s a new year which means I’m kicking things off with a monster post with (as the title would suggest) a shit-ton of goals for 2022.

As per usual, these goals are broken up into three categories: writing, health & fitness, and other. Listed here will be the big, bold goals with a due date of December 31, 2022. Not listed here will be how these big, bold goals will be broken down into monthly, weekly, and even daily goals. So, I guess, just know I’m doing it?

I like setting goals for myself. Even if it seems like I never make much progress on them, I think it helps to have set them in the first place. I shudder to think what my day-to-day life would look like if I didn’t have them. Darkness, chaos and probably some dragons… (Name! That! Reference!)

The Writing Goals

—Edit/Revise Full Circle and send to the beta readers

So, last year I finished the first draft of this project. It’s been sitting in the metaphorical drawer since about September, which means it’s about time to print out this monster project (though at 236k words, it’s not my longest manuscript ever) and rip it to shreds.

January goal: Print this puppy out, find some red pens, and let the shredding commence.

—Complete the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel

Yeah…this is a carryover from last year. Though I did make some progress on it during November’s NaNoWriMo event, I didn’t finish it. So I’m going to try to do it this year.

January goal: Nothing. I need to think about some things, so this project’s on the back burner for now.

—Participate in all three NaNoWriMo sessions (April, July, and November)

I’m still doing the ML thing, so…yeah. It’s on the list. Please note how this goal states ‘participate in’ but not ‘win’…

January goal: Nothing. I won’t have much to do for NaNoWriMo until we get closer to April.

—Attempt to make some attempt at marketing at least once a month

This goal went pretty poorly last year—although there were only two months where I did absolutely nothing (like a CHAMP!), so it definitely could have gone worse. To be honest, I don’t have particularly high hopes for this year magically being better, but if it’s not on the list at all, I definitely won’t try. So here’s to trying!

January goal: Come up with an idea to try and, you know, try it.

Health & Fitness

—Stop drinking so much damn soda and drink more damn water

I tried to do this last year and ended up going in the complete opposite direction (like a CHAMP!). Now I shall attempt to correct that.

—Walk, run, or bike an average of three miles per day

This goal is slightly tweaked from years past. Some days aren’t conducive to walking three miles for whatever reason. Instead, I’m aiming for the average. Three miles a day for an entire year comes out to 1095 miles. So basically that’s the goal. 1095 miles by December 31st.

All The Rest

—Declutter

I think this goal makes the list pretty much every year, and every year I pretty much do the opposite. But this year, the significant other and I have started to bandy around another ‘D’ word…Downsize. If we go through with it, I will definitely need to declutter. But even if we don’t go through with it, I should still probably declutter. I’m not a hoarder or anything (unless you’re talking about books or notebooks or pens or post-it notes or Funko Pop! figurines or…maybe I should be quiet now.) but I’m guessing there’s still a lot with which I can and should part.

January goal: Take that bag of books that’s been sitting in my office for two months to the Free Little Libraries in the area and donate them already.

—Read a damn book at least once a month

I have NOT done well with my reading goals lately. One book a week has been too much to ask, so this year, I am scaling back and going with one book a month. You may be saying “that’s not a challenge” but you should know that I only managed to read eleven books last year. Total.

I hate how long this slump has lasted. It’s just getting sad now.

January goal: Finish reading that Janet Evanovich book I started reading at the end of last year. There’s only, like, fifty pages left to go, so I think even I can finish them by the end of the month.

So, on that note, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you had a great New Years, and that 2022 is kind to you all.

Did you set any goals in 2022?

The Five-Year Engagement

Five years ago, I wrote one of those “where I want to be in five years” posts for my blog. Today, I thought I’d take a look at where I wanted to be versus where I ended up.

WHAT I WANTED TO HAVE DONE IN FIVE YEARS

—Publish Second Nature
—Publish Full Circle
—Publish Retail Rhapsody
—Figure out how to use Scrivener

WHAT I ACTUALLY DID IN FIVE YEARS

Well, if we only look at the above list, then I only accomplished the first item on it. Second Nature was published in 2018. I think. It was somewhere around then anyway. Within the last five years, at least, which is the point.

I only just recently finished Full Circle‘s first draft (like in the last couple of months), and Retail Rhapsody remains a work in progress. I don’t know how or why Scrivener made the list at all, but yeah…it mostly remains a mystery to me and I’m okay with that (Kudos to you, if you’re one of those writers who love it. I will never be one of you).

But I did do one thing that wasn’t on this list—something that wasn’t even on my radar at all back in December 2016. And that was publish Love & Other Lies, probably better known as the Terrible Romance Novel. I didn’t decide to do anything with that project until January 2017 and didn’t set it loose upon the world until 2020.

WHAT I HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS

—Publish Full Circle
—Publish Terrible Romance Sequel
—Finish the first draft of Adventures In Babysitting
—Finish the first draft of Threnody

WHAT’S MY PLAN TO GET IT ALL DONE

Yeah. Like I have a plan. Except for this, maybe…

And hey—there are certainly worst plans in the world. Maybe this one could work for me?

All right, that’s going to do it for me today. And knowing me the way I do, this will likely end up being my last post of the year. Thanks for stopping by, not just today but all year long.

Stay safe and well…and whatever you may celebrate this time of year, I hope you have a very happy holiday.

See you next year, y’all…

The Good, The Okay, and the Final Word (A NaNoWriMo Recap)

When last we met, I was in the midst of a two-pronged NaNoWriMo experiment.

Prong One: The Pot Luck Technique, where I worked on five different projects, following my brain/muse to whatever WIP it was inspired to work on in any given moment.

Prong Two: The Reverse NaNo Technique, where I started off the month with higher-than-average daily word count goals that got increasingly smaller as the month progressed.

Today, I shall talk about the results of this experiment.

First of all, this happened:

So yes, I earned a win. It was my fastest win ever (earned on November 19th), and I think that’s totally due to the aforementioned experiments (details to come). Because I am my region’s ML, I continued to write past the 50k mark (sticking around through the entire month is part of the deal) and ended up with a grand total of 63,596 words.

Which may sound impressive, but you should know that my wrimo buddies were absolutely crushing it this past month. One of them wrote over 235k words. In thirty days. Another had over 130k, and several ended up over the 80k mark. I bow down to their awesomeness.

Even if they made me feel like a slacker.

But seriously, they’re awesome.

Okay, so on with the post. Let’s talk about the techniques and what I thought of them.

POT LUCK TECHNIQUE

I liked this technique. It really allowed me the flexibility to follow my creativity wherever it went (even if it just went to bed). Usually in November, when I’m working on my one WIP, and have tunnel vision or whatever, I get stuck from time to time. I flounder, I stare at a blinking cursor, and basically I do all those things you never want to do when you’re trying to write 50k words in thirty days.

Having the ability to shift from one WIP to another cut down on those less-productive periods. Don’t get me wrong—they still happened, but they didn’t happen as often nor did they last as long. I had five WIPs from which to choose in three different genres, and that really appealed to my particular mindset this past month. I knew I was lacking in focus, so having options (and having so many options) definitely took some of the pressure off.

Here’s where the five WIPs ended up. The first number is the starting word count on November 1st. The second number is the word count as of midnight on November 30th.

Terrible Romance Sequel: 49,380/61,673

Adventures In Babysitting: 0/9,762

Threnody: 0/23,300

How Many Angels: 0/9,740

The Third One: 0/8,622

I think I will definitely make use of this technique again. Overall, the Pot Luck Technique gets two enthusiastic thumbs up.

THE REVERSE NANO TECHNIQUE

This technique was…fine. I was less thrilled with this and probably will not be using it again in the future.

But that is because about two weeks into this thing, I had about 80% of my word count total done because I was writing 3,000–4,000 words every day because I was trying to hit those Reverse NaNo daily goals (the first two weeks of this technique are brutal, word count wise). A fellow wrimo sent me a message pointing out how close I was to winning (a fact I had not actually noticed because I was so hyper focused on the daily word counts and not the cumulative total) and when I realized the truth of that statement, I decided to just keep the pedal to the metal and power through to the end.

Which led, as I’m sure you can imagine, to some exhaustion and maybe a wee bit of burnout. I woke up on November 6th and literally said, “Oh God. It’s only Day Six. How the hell am I going to make it through the rest of the month?!?”

So while it did lead to some not-too-shabby daily word counts, I don’t think this technique was worthwhile for me in the long run. I’m not sorry to have tried it, though. We never know what will work for us until we try it out. But yeah. This technique was a big Meh for me.

THE FINAL WORD

While I hit the 50k goal, I did not achieve my goal of completing the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel. (Honestly, between those two goals, I would have rather finished the draft, but that didn’t work out.) Some progress was made, however, and I may have worked through a major plot problem early on in the story—meaning I at least justified keeping it as is for now…So, not the progress I had been hoping for, but teeny tiny progress (or at least the temporary illusion of it) all the same.

I’m still not convinced that ANY of the five WIPs I worked on in November will ever amount to anything at all (I seriously don’t think I’m smart enough to pull off my concept for TRS), but it was an interesting thought experiment, if nothing else. And my brain offered up an intriguing-as-hell possibility for Threnody. I don’t know nearly enough about that project yet to know if that possibility is at all viable (and if it is, it would likely only be a part of a subplot), but it doesn’t matter right now.

The point of NaNoWriMo (for me, at least) is just to set a big, crazy goal for myself and jump down that rabbit hole of creativity and see where I end up. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sure, I’m way happier when it works out, but there’s always something to be learned from the journey itself.

Or something possibly smart-ish sounding like that. I’m really tired.

Anyway, because I’m obsessed with the show, here’s a nice inspirational Ted Lasso gif with which to end this post:

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo last month? If so, how’d you do?

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and well, all.