Terrible Romance Series

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The Reverse NaNo

First up, my brother’s birthday was yesterday, and as he is the coolest brother—who is and will forever be way smarter and funnier than I am—I wanted to take a moment to say…

Happy Birthday!!

Onto the rest of the post!

So, as you may remember from my last post, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month, as I often do in November.

This year, right before the start of the month, one of the wrimos (someone who participates in NaNoWriMo, in case you are unfamiliar with the term) in my region said she was going to do a reverse NaNo this year. Never having heard of it, I asked if that meant she would attempt to delete 50,000 words in November (which, frankly, sounds like something I could definitely do).

But, no. It turns out that is not what the Reverse NaNo technique is.

The Reverse NaNo—also known in some circles as The Reward System or The Downhill Method, or the Incredible Shrinking Daily Goal—was devised by a participant in 2010 as a way to take advantage of the fact that many wrimos start off the month strong. We’re fresh, we’re full of ideas, and we’re raring to go. Words flow more easily and everything is happy and shiny and bright.

And then comes the rest of November. We get tired. Ideas aren’t flowing as easily as they were before. Our brains stop with the words-putting-into-sentence doing. There are holidays and day jobs and kids and pets and neighbors who insist on putting up giant inflatable snowmen on their lawns even though it’s only November 8th and you live in Florida where there’s no damn snow so it doesn’t make any damn sense that your stupid inflatable snowman is holding a sign saying he’s freezing his ass off because (1) he doesn’t have an ass to freeze off and (2) again, it’s Florida, so if anything, his ass should be melting off, and there are also dogs somewhere (certainly NOT inside my house…) who insist on barking incessantly at the giant inflatable snowman not freezing his ass off on the neighbor’s lawn.

That incredibly generic example aside, the point is, the challenge often gets harder as we go along. For whatever reason.

So the Reverse NaNo looks to take advantage of the strong, fresh start by having higher daily word count goals that grow smaller as the month progresses. Traditionally, the daily word count goal in NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words per day. With the Reverse NaNo, your Day 1 goal is a whopping 3,346 words. But your Day 30 goal is a very manageable 1 word.

As I have lately been one of those wrimos who starts off strong and fades fast, I thought I would give the Reverse NaNo technique a try. It’s going…all right thus far. I admit I am looking forward to those smaller and smaller word count goals because I know I definitely can’t keep up this pace. These first two weeks are…a lot.

And I am just…running low on…all the things. All five WIPs have been started. I had really hoped I wouldn’t need to do that so soon into the month, but we do what we must. It’s some robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul thing or whatever.

I did, however, have an idea pop up yesterday, just out of the blue, for one of those five WIPs that made me go…

Now I’m hoping this shiny, new idea will be good for a decent amount of words, if I can figure out how to get it down on paper (or, you know, in a Word document. Whatever.). I have no idea if it’s a viable idea that will survive outside of November, but that’s December’s problem.

Still, if anyone has any spare plot lying around that they’re not using, feel free to box it on up and send it my way…

NaNo Stats

Word count goal: 50,000

Where the regular WC should be: 16,670

Where the Reverse NaNo WC should be: 28,157

Where my WC actually is: 29,327

WIP(s) getting the most love: How Many Angels and The Third One

Yeah. I don’t get it, either. Especially The Third One. I mean, the second damn book in this series isn’t even finished, but whatever. When has my brain ever done anything that could even remotely count as making sense?

All right, so on that note, I’m going back down into the word mines or at least I’m gonna crawl under my desk and take a nap.

Tune in next Wednesday for another action-packed update on my multi-faceted NaNoWriMo experiment.

Be safe and well, all.

The Plan (NaNoWriMo Edition)

Today’s post would normally be about my goals for the month, but as it’s November, my goal is to participate in and maybe even win NaNoWriMo, as evidenced by my super cool badge here:

So, today I thought I might talk about how I plan to do that. If it can be considered a plan. It doesn’t feel much like a plan, but it is at least a little more than the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I was working with before, so maybe?

Anyway, this month’s theme is Pot Luck.

Meaning I didn’t have an idea for a singular story that could net me 50,000 words, so I decided to call upon my current slate of unfinished/unstarted WIPs in hopes that between all of them I can cobble together those elusive 50,000 words.

This puts me firmly in the NaNo Rebel category, but truth be told, I am a rebel in November more often than I’m not. (And somewhere, the support group of authority figures who had the displeasure of trying to tell me what to do just collectively scoffed and said, “Yeah. It’s not just November, you pain in the ass.”)

So here now, for your reading pleasure, are the WIPs on which I hope to be working this month:

Terrible Romance Sequel

As you may have guessed from the very clever name, this is supposed to be the next installment of the Terrible Romance Series. I started it last November during NaNoWriMo and didn’t finish it and didn’t look at it again until recently when I took it out of the drawer to take stock of its state, for lack of a better word.

Yeah…it turns out there really isn’t a plot. Or a beginning or an end. Or a romance between my main characters, but why is that important in a romance novel?

One of my goals for 2021 was to finish the first draft of this story, so I would like to see if I can maybe do that this month. It will require me to come up with an actual plot, though, (and probably some romance) so we’ll have to see how it goes.

—Adventures In Babysitting

This is the working title for a companion novella idea I had for my fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles. It doesn’t have very much in the way of a plot yet (why do none of my stories have plots?!?), so again, we’ll have to see how it goes.

Threnody

This is the title for the fourth book in The Coileáin Chronicles. You know, the one I really didn’t want to write? Yeah, well, it has a name now, and I’m super thrilled about it. And no, it doesn’t have a plot, but apparently, I just don’t work that way anymore.

At this point, I’m viewing this more as a thought exercise. I’m not sure what will happen, so I’m going to explore what can happen and see where that takes me. Who knows—maybe it’ll lead to a better ending for Full Circle.

—The Third One

This is the third intended installment of the Terrible Romance Series. Because OF COURSE there are three of them. It’s on the list mostly because I have some ideas for it, and it’s possible that working on the Terrible Romance Sequel could lead to additional ideas, and every idea I get down is more words toward that 50k. So it’s on the list.

How Many Angels

This is my attempt at literary fiction. It’s supposed to be a hybrid of Steel Magnolias and William Faulker’s As I Lay Dying but set in Maine. I started writing it back in high school (so, you know, back in the dark ages) and have been ignoring it since college. I’m curious if I can get past all of the extremely cringe-worthy crap I wrote back then (because OMG, it’s terrible) to see if there’s a worthwhile story buried in there somewhere. Because right now, I think the only thing maybe even a little salvageable here is the concept.

I don’t know how this month-long experiment will go. I admit I don’t have high hopes for a win. I just feel too unfocused for that. I don’t mind if I don’t get a win, though. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve lost, and it won’t be the last. Besides, though I admit I do enjoy winning, I don’t do this for the win. I do this thing for the challenge itself. I want to see what will happen…even if all that happens is me spending thirty days staring at a blinking cursor while ingesting an inhuman amount of sugar.

But who knows? Perhaps I shall surprise myself. The good thing about not having high hopes is that it’s a hell of a lot easier to meet and/or exceed those expectations. (And yeah, you’re probably going to look at the word count stats below and be all, “WTF are you talking about, you weirdo? It look like it’s going all right to me.” To which I have to say, “Yes, I am more than a weirdo, and I usually crush the word count in the first week. It doesn’t mean anything.”)

Perhaps one of these projects will catch fire (hopefully not literally, though…) and grab hold and inspire the hell out of me.

It could happen.

NaNoWriMo started on Monday, so I am now three days into the Pot Luck experiment. Here’s where things stand thus far:

CAMP STATS

Word count goal: 50,000

Where the WC should be: 5,001

Where the WC actually is: 7,648

WIP getting the most love: Adventures In Babysitting (7,081 words)

What will happen? Stay tuned to this channel for occasional updates. Unless I forget or go into some kind of sugar coma. If that happens, I’ll see y’all in December.

Stay safe and well, all.

October Goals

It’s a new month, y’all, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of MY MONTHLY GOALS!

But before we get to the main event, let’s take a look at how I did with last month’s goals…

—Complete the first draft of Full Circle

Well…it’s…let’s just say I am done working on it. For now. Maybe forever. Probably not forever, but I don’t know. What I do know is that I wrote the worst ending in the history of endings (Congratulations, Game of Thrones, you’re off the hook!), which doesn’t really matter given that the whole damn book is pretty much held together by scotch tape and chewing gum. I’m not convinced any of it is anything worthwhile, but the manuscript is now sitting in the metaphorical drawer until at least January (maybe longer. We’ll see how it goes) and the storyboard went through the shredder, so…I’m done working on it.

But because I’m so unimpressed with…well, everything, these days, this is not something I’m choosing to celebrate.

—Figure out September’s marketing attempt and, you know, attempt it

I did this. I mean, these attempts all year have been the silliest, smallest things that could possibly be considered ‘marketing’ and ‘attempts’, so it’s not like I’m really achieving a whole hell of a lot here, but I did do a little something.

—Walk at least three miles every day

This, I did. Well, on average, anyway. I was short a couple of days for various reasons, but my daily average was 3.5 miles per day.

Thanks, puppies!

Now for October’s goals…

—Make a plan for NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and I am once again acting as my region’s ML (municipal liaison), so participating in the main event is part of the deal.

I don’t, however, have a solid plan of what I want to work on. Or any plan, really. The original plan from way back in January was to work on a brand new project because, in theory, both Full Circle and Terrible Romance Sequel would be finished and sitting in the drawer come November.

Which…didn’t happen.

So a new plan is in order. Because right now, this is my project:

—Walk at least three miles every day

Because, apparently, it’s good if one doesn’t just become part of one’s couch or one’s desk chair.

So that’s what I have going on this month. What are your goals? Are you also gearing up for NaNoWriMo? (If you’re looking for wrimo buddies, I can be found using the very clever user name of M.J. Fifield…)

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

Book Birthdays & Thank You Notes

One year ago, my Terrible Romance Novel (AKA, Love & Other Lies) made it out into the world.

Of course, me being me, this achievement was not announced for nearly another month when a fellow author outed me on Twitter. My response was literally, “HOW DID SHE FIND OUT?!?!?!?”

(I have issues. I know.)

But its official birthday is today.

I am so very grateful to everyone who helped this little experiment of mine get to this milestone. From the critique partner who very helpfully said of an early draft, “I don’t want these two characters to spend any more time together” (oops…) to my brother whose suggestions helped put this project on a much better path to my beloved goddaughter whose enthusiasm for this story ensured I would one day get it done, and to everyone in between. Me writing a book truly takes a village, and I love you all.

And I also want to give the loudest of shout-outs to the people who have taken the time to read this story. I don’t look at reviews (like, never ever), but I have heard through the grapevine that there are some, so whether you loved the story or hated it or fell somewhere in between, thank you for taking the time and making the effort. It is so very appreciated.

Because of my aforementioned issues, I don’t always (translation: pretty much never) do things in this industry the way people think I should. It’s a honest-to-goodness struggle for me to do things like not physically run away and hide should someone say to me, “hey, I read your book” or even “hey, I know you wrote a book.”

So if you ever do that, or anything like that, and I am weird and awkward in response, just know it’s not you. It’s me. It’s all me.

And, also, in case you missed it, last week was Effigy’s book birthday. It didn’t make it onto the blog because I was busy lamenting a certain struggle with a certain Camp NaNoWriMo project, so I thought I would mention it here and now.

This was my debut novel that came out seven years ago. I’m pretty sure I said after the fact that I would never publish another novel, but that just goes to show what I know.

Who knows what the next seven years may bring. Or even the next year. Certainly not me. (But I do hope it involves an ending for my current WIP…)

Anyway, thank you, everyone, for coming along on this all-too weird and awkward journey with me. I hope, at the very least, it has been entertaining.

Stay safe & well, all.

Decisions, Decisions

I don’t think this could possibly be a secret, but I love to participate in NaNoWriMo. I just really like the challenge of setting myself a big, bold goal and seeing if I can achieve it.

There are three sessions each year (April, July, and November). Normally, I only do one, maybe two, as life allows. Back in January, however, I set a goal to participate in all three sessions and even developed a game plan for each.

April’s session was supposed to be devoted to finishing the first draft of Full Circle. July was supposed to be dedicated to finishing the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel. November was supposed to be an opportunity to experiment with a shiny new idea.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you may already know how April’s session turned out. I set my goal for 25,000 words because I thought that would be enough to get me to the end of Full Circle.

It was not.

In fact, I wrote 27,000 words, and it still wasn’t enough.

Which has thrown a wrench into my careful planning.

(Something for which I really should have planned, but whatever. It’s all good. I’m not irritated at all. Really. And if you believe that, I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you…)

Now the July session of NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, and I am trying to decide (see…the title did have a point!) what I should do. As I see it, I have three options:

  1. Make yet ANOTHER attempt to finish Full Circle

2. Stick to the original plan and attempt to finish Terrible Romance Sequel

3. Run away to join the circus

What’s a writer to do? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each, shall we?

—Make yet ANOTHER attempt to finish Full Circle

Again, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you may already know that I’ve been trying and failing to do this for…well, for a while now. At least a year. Probably more. I thought 2021 might be the year I break through because I thought I was tantalizingly close to reaching the end.

Which I may be. I don’t know. I could be sitting right on top of the damn ending and be just too obtuse or whatever to see it. I don’t know. I can’t stress enough how much I don’t know.

But I desperately want to finish this story. There are three people in my life who want to read this book, and I feel worse and worse every day I can’t make that happen. So, though normally, I would stick this WIP in a drawer and leave it there for a while to give my brain a break, I just can’t bring myself to do that this time.

I want to type THE END on that first draft, if for no other reason than when the manuscript ends up being ignored in a metaphorical drawer, there’s a reason for it besides my failure (If you didn’t know, I let manuscripts rest for at least a month in between drafts).

So once again making Full Circle my project of choice is tempting. It is an undeniable truth that my desire to win NaNoWriMo often helps me power through a story and reach that word count goal. Maybe this session will be the session that allows me to drag myself across the finish line.

But…it is also an undeniable truth that I still don’t seem to know how this damn book is supposed to end. Or how I get the characters from where they are now to whatever that ending ends up being. How would I even decide on my word count goal? This book could need 15,000 more words. or 25,000. Or 50,000. Or more. I don’t know. What if the book is, in fact, unfinishable? (At least in my hands…) What do I do then?

Bottom line: If I make Full Circle my project, am I dooming myself to spend 31 days just staring at a blinking cursor?

—Stick to the original plan and attempt to finish Terrible Romance Sequel

I started this story last November (during NaNoWriMo, of course) and finished with 51,309 words. It didn’t have a beginning or an ending and contained only the smallest amount of plot that could possibly be considered plot.

(You may now be asking yourself, “If there’s no beginning or ending or any real plot, how the hell did you end up with 51,309 words?” And I’ll tell you…I don’t know.)

It’s been sitting in a drawer ever since December 1st. I haven’t looked at it—mostly because of the aforementioned push to finish Full Circle—but also because it doesn’t have a beginning or an ending and only the smallest amount of plot that could possibly be considered plot.

But for all the things I don’t know about this book, the Terrible Romance Sequel does have one thing going for it: It’s not Full Circle. I haven’t been trying and failing to finish it for…well, for a long time now. Maybe a fresh(er) project will produce better results because it will seem far shinier and newer to my dumb brain than its ancient counterpart.

But…the truth remains that I don’t know how to finish this story, either. I honestly don’t know if I can. My dumb brain came up with this concept—which I really do like (or did like, when I looked at it last)—but I am quite fearful that it’s not only unfinishable but also unwritable. (At least in my hands…)

Bottom line: If I make Terrible Romance Sequel my project, am I dooming myself to spend 31 days just staring at a blinking cursor?

—Run away to join the circus

Pro: Doesn’t involve me coming up with endings for any story or possibly ever writing anything ever again.

Con: I don’t actually have any skills that might be useful in a circus setting. Also—and I can’t stress this enough—clowns are f&*k!ng terrifying.

So that’s where I am. I have a decision to make with a deadline of 11:59:59pm on June 30th. I really hope to have it made before then, but as a wise man once said, “What you plan and what takes place ain’t ever exactly been similar.”

We’ll see what happens this time around.

Which option do you think should I take? What do you do when you can’t decide? What do you do when you can’t seem to figure out a story’s ending? Or beginning. Or middle? And, most importantly, what do you think of clowns?