Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

Well, it is almost the end of November. I technically have today, tomorrow and Monday to finish this thing. I should be pretty close to the 50,000 word mark. Am I?

Drum roll, please....

50,154. I am finished. It is after midnight when I am typing this, even though it won't post until 10am. I have a lot of feelings about this, but the words aren't very coherent right now. I said to my husband when I was done that this is probably one of the most ridiculous things I have ever done. But at the same time it is also one of the coolest.

I will compose my thoughts a little more and give a final report on Tuesday. Until then, off to bed and then back to life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

So much to be thankful for today - friends, family, faith, work, home... The list could go on. I hope you enjoy some thankful moments today with people you love. Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday crafts and treats

It is getting to be that time of year and I thought I would share some Christmas things I am finding these days.

I love this wall decoration for Christmas - just beautiful. The small size on the plate is another great idea. I could also see it on a long mirror as a table centerpi
ece. Follow the link to find out where to get it and how to apply it to a wall/plate.

I love these "place cards" for your Thanksgiving table. I saw this posted at U Create, a great little craft blog. Follow the link on her blog to instructions to make these for your own Thanksgiving table. It's a simple craft that could be done very easily.

Now, this isn't exactly a holiday craft, but I think it could be a fun way to spend some time with the kids on the holiday breaks from school. This picture and the "paint chip family word game" is from the great Pink and Green Mama blog. Go here to find out how she uses this game with her kids. She includes links to where she got the information for the game, which includes a great list for what to include on your cards. I could totally see my home-schooled nieces having fun with this one. My son will love it, too. Could be a good educational stocking-stuffer or classroom gift.

Just had to add this Thanksgiving turkey craft, too. Makes a darling t-shirt for the holiday!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

To stay on track with my goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by the end of November, I should be at approximately 37,500 words today.

Drum roll, please....

29,525. I am seriously short. I had two days of subbing this week and one day of household chores (the laundry had really, really piled up!). At least two of those days, I still met my daily goal. That left me two days "to write." On one of those, I knocked out almost 5000 words. On the other, maybe 200. (I had a migraine that drove me from my writing straight back to bed.)

Scheduling excuses aside, my novel has some problems which is making it hard to write.
1) My conflicts aren't big enough. I am trying to write a huge, turning point kind of conflict, but I haven't given myself enough to work with. It is hard to go back and fix that, so I feel stuck.

2) I have wanted to do something unusual - something outrageous to just get the story moving, but I can't come up with anything.

It is tempting to pack up my 29,525 words and go home. I miss my regular life. I don't read, but I have a bag of library books calling to me. I have another bag full of writing club projects from my students at school that I need - and want - to read and assess by the end of the holiday weekend. Last night, I watched a movie with my husband - actually watched it rather than half-watching while I wrote. It was nice.

At the same time, I am not a quitter. I have 10 days to go - that's about 2000 words a day. Completely doable in scope, if I could just come up with some idea of how to move forward. It would be one thing to be 10,000 words behind on the last day. I would call it good and move forward, but I am not willing to just stop here.

If you have any ideas of crazy things I can do in my story, send them to me! I am open to suggestions.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Writing by Hand

I mentioned on Saturday that I am writing my story for NaNoWriMo by hand. I have a one-subject, wide-ruled spiral notebook that I am using, and this last weekend I picked up two more to keep the story going as the first is almost full.

The first Sunday of NaNo, I met with other writers at the local library. One was making notes and outlines in a small notebook. The other three had computers. I planned to start in my notebook just because it was Sunday and my husband had the computer for his Fantasy Football tracking. It is a Sunday tradition. Besides, I prefer to draft by hand. So, I pulled my neon-green notebook out of my purse and one of the other writers said something like, "Oh... you're going to write by hand?"

It made me a little self-conscious, especially since the question was raised by a teen-ager who had a small pile of his first novel sitting next to him. But as the afternoon went on, I scribbled away, happily, in my notebook. And when I did a word count at home, it turned out that I had written more in my notebook while I was there than the computing folks had in the same amount of time.

I have discovered that writing by hand is actually the most convenient method for me. My notebook fits comfortably in my cavernous purse, so I can have it with me wherever I go - a coffee shop to write, school when I have a break while subbing, or in the pick up line while waiting for my son.

Not only is it wonderfully portable, but I love the feel of the pen on paper as I try to record the things I see or hear in my head when I write. I love being able to draw arrows and scribble something out and then decide I want to keep it - and I can! Drafting and editing/revision by hand has always worked well for me.

Anyway, I read recently that writing by hand can be better for the writing process. I found a few sites that talk about it. This one is a short article. This one includes an interview with a writer who has written about creative writing. My favorite part is where the writer talks about student writing samples and the difference between those who draft on paper and those who draft on the computer. Finally, I found this one that talks about one particular student who was struggling with writing. Check it out and find out the difference for this student in the pieces she wrote by hand and the ones she did on the computer.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Sites

You may have noticed that I am doing a lot of posting this month about internet resources. This is because I am working on a novel for National Novel Writing Month. Hope you are finding some good links and things while I am working away at this story!

Here are some of my favorite websites about books for kids/reading:

Boys Rule Boys Read!
I linked to this last week, too. I think linking boys to books is an important task and am happy to link to this site again.

A Year of Reading
This is probably my favorite of the ones I am posting today. This site builds my list of books I want to read faster than any other.

Check out her header on the blog: "The heart of a Mother. The soul of a Reader. The mouth of a smart***." Hilarious! I really enjoy her blog and her comments about the value of books/reading.

Another good resource of books for kids.

The Graphic Classroom
A blog about graphic novels. I enjoy graphic novels - the Lunch Lady series, the Dodgeball Chronicles, Babymouse, and The Secret Science Alliance are some of the ones I follow. Check this site out for more about graphic novels.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

To stay on track with my goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by the end of November, I should be at approximately 25,000 words by the end of today. Wow, that is a lot of words! Let's see how I am doing. Drum roll, please....

As of this morning, I am at 18,914 words.

That is 6,000 words short - a lot of words to write in one day to get to 25,000. Probably not going to make it by the end of today. But here are my thoughts so far about this endeavor.

1) I don't think I have ever written this many words in one creative project before. One unit of curriculum has four or five lessons in it. A four-lesson unit I wrote for 2007 came to almost 11,000 words. Maybe a policy manual that I wrote in my last full time job might have come close, but I don't think so. And 18,000 words of fiction? I am feeling pretty empowered by the effort and my progress so far.

2) I saw an email about a short story contest this week, and for the first time ever, I didn't delete it outright. Why? Because I am actually writing a story. It is no where near ready for submission, but I am 18,000+ words closer than I was 2 weeks ago.

3) The idea of NaNoWriMo is to just write. To save editing and revising and research for December. Even if I have to write three pages describing the room the character is in - or make things up about something I need to research later, just to keep the pen (yes, pen - but that is a topic for another blog entry) moving while my brain catches up is okay, even though I know those pages will never survive a round of editing. I write things and think, "That's lame" or "This is so dull, no publisher would ever want to publish this." But those things aren't the point. The point is the word count. The point is setting a goal and finishing it. The point is to just write and write and write.

And that's what I am doing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Author websites

I was scrolling through my internet bookmarks the other day and noticed that I have a lot of author websites bookmarked, but I can't remember the last time I visited any of them. I find out about new books through Amazon or one of the book-related magazines I read. I rarely go to an author's site to find out about materials unless they are offering something unique (like a giveaway).

But there are a few author sites that I check out regularly:

Mo Willems Doodles
I think Mo Willems is a genius. His blog is simple and funny, which means I can swing by for a minute, chuckle at the latest posting, and move on. I learn about upcoming materials, but I am entertained, too, even if there is nothing "new" coming out.

Guys with Books
Four authors on tour together post pictures of their presentations, themselves in crazy costumes, and other news from the road.

WWdN:In Exile
This is the blog for Wil Wheaton, author and actor, "geek" extraordinaire. This blog has no clear emphasis - some entries are behind the scenes information on shows he is taping or conventions he is attending, some entries are about his family and some are about his books. Sensitive readers should be warned that Wil doesn't hold back about what he thinks about religion or politics, and he uses colorful language to state his opinions. I don't always agree with him, but his transparency and honesty about the writing process, the business of writing, the business of acting, and the business of every day life inspire me.

Joanna Campbell Slan
This is an author who seems to "get" how to use the internet - at least she gets readers like me. Her blog talks not only about her family and her books, but she also talks honestly about writing. As a writer who aspires to publish a book (or two, or twelve) someday, the entries about writing are invaluable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just for the boys

Found some things online recently at my favorite websites that might appeal to the boys in your life. I am always looking for things for my favorite little boy!

Boys Tool Belt
This is a tool belt you can make, if you are so inclined. I think it is pretty cute. Younger boys would definitely love it (6 and under), and so might older boys who want to work with Dad on a project or who like to imagine being a builder.

Argyle Tee
Cute little do-it-yourself idea for adding argyle to a plain tee or onesie. Very cute. Could be fun to do for kids in a family to have matching shirts for portraits.

Boys Rule Boys Read!
I may post this link again when I talk about favorite book sites, but since this one is targeted especially to boys, I thought I would post it here, too. Great book recommendations for the boys in your life! Another site about books for boys is here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

To stay on track with my goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by the end of November, I should be at approximately 12,500 words by the end of today.

Drum roll, please....

As of this morning, I am at 10,384 words.

I can't believe it. I don't think of myself as a fiction writer. Non-fiction comes more naturally to me. But I am enjoying this process. I struggle at times with the idea of not fixing the things I don't like. I keep telling myself "December is for revising and editing. December is for revising and editing." I don't like some of my character names and I realize I am leaving out some details that would round out scenes. I try to just make notes and move forward. I know I am going to hit a wall some time soon and I want to have as many words as possible written before that happens. I may or may not make it to 50,000 by November 30th, but one week in I feel like the effort has been a great learning and growing experience so far!

For today, though, we are visiting with family and I have 2200 words to finish to hit my goal by bed time tonight. I don't think I can top Friday's word count of 4,325 (thanks to the three hours my husband gave me to write at Panera while he did the parenting), but I at least want to get to that 12,500 mark. Here's hoping for a productive writing day for all the NaNos out there!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I am taking the plunge this year. I thought about doing it last year and then determined I was too busy. But this is the year I try National Novel Writing Month. Crazy, huh? The idea is to compose a 50,000 word novel - from start to finish - in the month of November. Over 100,000 people are signed up to give it a try this year, and I am one of them. I started writing on Sunday and plan to put an update here every Saturday to track how it is going. If I am staying on track, I should be at around 12,500 words by Saturday. We shall see....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Make your own Mitts

Found a tutorial here for making your own oven mitts (thanks to U Create for highlighting this one). This is one of those crafts that looks fairly easy... if only I had a sewing machine. I like the design. Rather than a large, bulky mitten, this is like a hot pad with pockets for your fingers and for your thumb. Great idea! Check it out.