Getting Ready for D.C.

Hi friends and family! Some of you may know I am planning to attend the D.C. Women’s March next week. I decided to use this platform to help you follow along.

I’m going to start blogging about our planning and process and micro-blogging our road trip and march experience. It likely will not be eloquent- but I will do my best.

Yesterday my lovely friend Sarah Jane and I were interviewed by a company that owns 30-40 local television news stations around the country- to discuss why we are going to the march and what we hope to gain from going. I’ll post the segment once it airs, our lovely filmaker ask great questions and we talked for about an hour so I hope there are at least 30 seconds where I’ll sound semi intelligent.

For the segment they asked to film us making our signs. We spent almost three hours talking and making signs with our children. He asked the kids some good questions (not sure if that will air) and we had a lot of fun.

I haven’t done a whole lot of planning. We are leaving early Thursday and driving in to D.C.  Sarah Jane has family in town so we will stay there. That is the extent of my planning for now. Oh, and I decided which shoes to wear! It’s supposed to be warm and hopefully not wet-so running shoes will be it! No boots! Yay!

Below are our signs. On the other side of the rainbow (yes I did just say that) is the American Flag. Because that flag belongs to us all. I think I’ll also make something that says Compassionate Laws, Not Walls – or something to represent the Christian Left.

But for now, we’re set!

And I also made this necklace. I think I’m going to make a lot more to give away in D.C.

Goodnight my friends, family (even those of you boiling with anger. I love you-just close your eyes and look the other way)

Writing by the Seat of my Pants

nano-pantserWriting has always been a passion of mine.  I clearly remember the first story I wrote as an elementary student. It was a high drama romance with a hero, heroine and bad guy that had kissing, kidnapping and a happy ending.  It was three pages long and featured some popular kids from my school.

Years later my writing would morph into a spiral bound notebook that was passed between friends.  We were the characters and we lived a life in a way we could only dream of.  As angsty bored teenagers, our writing gave us excitement, adventure, and, duh- romance! They were titled things like Sassiness Anyone? and Two Bumbling Idiots.  Writing these stories are some of my best high-school memories.

Much later, when I decided I wanted to write a novel, I just started writing. I didn’t plan out meticulously what would happen, there was no plot charting or story mountain. I didn’t give each of my characters intensive Myers-Briggs tests so I could know their inner most thoughts. I just wrote by the seat of my pants.  I wrote from instinct and intuition. I wrote without always knowing what would happen next.  It was just how I wrote. I learned this was called Pantsing. It is the Oscar to Felix’s meticulous planning.

When I was goaded into doing my first NaNoWriMo in 2011 I had no choice but to be a panster-even if I wanted to plan I wouldn’t have been able to. This was due to the fact that my friend convinced me to participate on November 1st and told me I had to come up with something completely new. So I tossed my few thousand words of Lodestone aside and began writing Second Chance Key.

Each and every day I had zero idea what I was going to write. I was lucky in that I had a job that afforded me the opportunity to spend hours doing mindless work (photo editing) so my brain was free to think about the action of the day.  I discovered writing by novel days-planning each day of action in the book, helped me to move my story forward.  When I started my story I had a vague beginning and I knew the end was going to be happy, but I had no idea about anything in between.  Breaking it down into days helped me not get overwhelmed.  So each day while at work I would ask myself what would be happening to my characters that day. Sometimes it would come from one of my children, like when they said, “we want Uncle Russ to be in the story” or “I think there should be a dog that lives under a rock.”  Other times I’d run across something odd in the news and find a way to incorporate it.  Regardless of the techniques I used, I got to my 50,000 and ended up writing an interesting story about motherhood, adventure, depression and forgiveness. If I can write a book from nothing, so can you.

If you are new to NaNo and feel overwhelmed at the idea of planning out a novel, here are some tips to help you succeed as a Pantser.

  1. Start with a beginning, middle, setting and end.  Know where your story starts, at least one character, one or two things you think should/could happen in the book and then a general understanding on how you want to end the story.  Then use those as anchors.  Simply write your way to each event/major action.  Sometimes you may not know how to get to your next action, that’s ok.  I’ve been known to skip forward in my timeline to write a scene that I couldn’t get out of my head, then go back and continue writing in my normal timeline.  I also have found myself unsure how to end one scene and begin the next, thinking I needed some major action-this isn’t always true. Sometimes just ending the scene and starting the next chapter actually flows better.  So trying not to overthink things can really help move you foward.
  2. Get to know your main character. If you don’t plan anything else, just spend some time interviewing your character, knowing how they act, what they like, their strengths and weaknesses and what drives them.  This will help you in your writing process because well thought out characters can often carry the story along without you doing very much. It’s odd, I know, but it happens.  Your characters really do take on a life of their own.
  3. If you get stuck, do a quick side writing about how your characters feel about each other.  This will help give the other characters in the story more depth and may trigger a thought to help you move forward.
  4. Use Story Cubes and writing prompts then do whatever it says to do.  You may be surprised, or you may hate it. Regardless, you will get words down and you can always cut the scene in December after NaNo is over.
  5. Finally, understand it is okay to chase the rabbit down the rabbit hole.  Even if something completely crazy, like your entire cast actually turns into rabbits on their second day of action, just go with it.  Again, you can cut the scene in December if you decide you don’t like it.  If you discover you completely hate it- remember, those words still count. Don’t delete them.  Instead highlight them and make a note to cut in December, then try again.  Because, in November, ALL the words count.

If you have some great advice on how to Pants your way through a novel, please leave it here in the comments.

If the idea of Pantsing make you want to throw up in your mouth, here is a buttload of resources to help you start working on your story.  Below you’ll also find a few posts I’m linking to to help you plan out your novel.

Character/Story Development File -lots of good stuff here. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, sketches, word lists and so on.

Blog post about prepping for NaNo-for those in betweeners who want to plan a little bit.

25 ways to plot by Chuck Wendig

If these resources can’t help you plot-maybe you should give up and just throw caution into the wind and pants along with me 🙂

Happy Planning, or, if you’re Pantsing, oooh, shiny!

Story Starters

It’s October and that means it is time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo! If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, check out this post.  This year I’m spending October working with some Middle School students who are going to try their hand at writing a book during NaNo and one of our sessions is Story Starters.  If you don’t have an idea for November yet, if you are stuck and don’t know where to go, here you go!  A gift from me to you.  Some images, words and ideas to help send a muse your way!

Plot fodder:

  1. At birth everyone has the date of their death tattooed on their arm, you were supposed to die yesterday.
  2. While researching your family tree you come across a name that has been blacked out.
  3. Every person is born with a twin. One is evil and one is good. Your twin died at birth; the government isn’t sure which one your are. they make their best guess and send you to one of the territories when you turn 16, they choose wrong, how do you proceed? thanks to Sacha Black for the first three.
  4. A guy is transported through a wormhole to another planet that’s ruled by potatoes.- TCWriMo Suzy
  5. Who are they, what is around them, what motivated them to be there, are they together looking one way or are they separate looking in. Oddly enough it’s the smallest details that make the difference.-TCWriMo James
  6. Four kids in a tent after dark. No adults. A loud, unknown noise occurs. What happens next? -TCWriMo Cari
  7. A person/kid is in a locker room changing when they notice another person in the room has the exact uniquely shaped scar in the exact same place as them. -Jacque

Below are some images to trigger a thought.  Think about the What, Why, When, Where, Who and How. Let your imagination go wild. Click on the photo to see it more closely.

Good luck creating your story!  Stay tuned for some periodic posts about getting prepped for the craziness of November!

Strange Parenting Moment

picjumbo.com_HNCK9178The other day we were having a bit of a growing up issue with my eleven year old. He was wanting more independence and having that “left out feeling”.
This was all brought about by a kindergartner at my school telling him he gets to play Call of Duty (don’t even get me started on that one).  When my 6th grader heard this it made him unhappy. Because we don’t let him play first person shooter games and won’t let him have social media, he feels like we baby him and that he can’t do anything.  He says his friends say we over parent him. I say that the friends who say that are sometimes the friends who I feel aren’t parented at all.  I tell him he can’t compare me to that particular kid.
My son was more than upset about this situation, he was actually in tears.  My husband and I had a long discussion with him about how much he has and how much he gets to experience and how it compared to how we grew up.  But we weren’t quite getting there with him.  He is a kid that tends to lean toward martyr after all, so getting through to him can sometimes be hard. After much talking about where we get happiness from, we had him make a list of things that bring him joy, specific things that are not items but more experiences and a list of things he’d like us to reconsider letting him do.
After he went to bed, Jim and I went over his list and decided where we would wiggle.  Social Media and First Person Shooter is not one, but we will relax a bit on some of the things he watches and other games he plays.  Then, while making his lunch, I sneaked a mini can of Mt. Dew into his lunch (one of his complaints is that I pack his lunch too healthy). I wrote a note that said something like -“happiness doesn’t come from things but from the people that love you” -then said I loved him.
Imagine my surprise when I came home after work today and found that he had cleaned the entire house!  He even loaded the dishwasher and brought in the garbage herbie! I found him in the living room sitting on the couch with a shy smile.  “Because of the Mt. Dew?” I asked.  He giggled and said yes. I gave him a big hug.
So I guess that, on the rare occasion, giving your kid Mt. Dew for school lunch could actually make you a good parent?  Maybe?  I don’t know, but it sort of felt that way. Who would have thought it?