Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

It’s That Time of Year Again…

November 1, 2014—a day writers around the globe wait for with baited breath. We don’t even bother putting away the Halloween candy. Nay, we will need all that sugar in the coming days. Instead, we grab our notepads, our laptops, and our flash drives, and we psych ourselves up for THE Writing Marathon Of The Year.

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Thirty days. Fifty thousand words. A novel in a month.

Let’s do this.

Preparations come first. We gather the tools of our trade, preparing our space for the ultimate exercise in creativity. Coffee mugs are filled. Dictionaries are dusted off. Our favorite pens are located and put somewhere safe. We neaten our work stations, clear our minds and our desks of detritus that will keep us from our goal. This is NaNo prep at its finest.

Nano desk

The idea we’ve been marinating on for weeks, or days—or for some of us, minutes–begins to take form in our brains as we open that blank word document. It’s a clean white slate. Zero words, zero expectations, zero thoughts expressed. The time to start is now.

…But first, a selfie…

Nano selfie Day 1

…not just because you’re having a particularly good hair day, or because you happened to be wearing the same color as the prominent shade in this year’s banner. No. You take that selfie because it is commemorating the start of something great. Something amazing. Something AWESOME.

Plus, it’s probably the last time you’ll look this good for the next four weeks. Let’s be honest, here. By day 2, you’ll probably look like a zombie.

Now we turn back to that waiting word document. The cursor flashes expectantly, and the protagonist of your story surges forth with a tale to tell.

Oh. Wait. You forgot to update your Facebook profile pic. And your Timeline cover. OOH–and Twitter. Twitter is important, too. So you head over to the NaNoWriMo website–your home base for the next thirty days–and download your inspirational photos for your many social media sites. You might as well go ahead and create your novel while you’re there, too. I mean, now’s as good a time as any. You may have to do a little research to figure out your working title—that’s ok, you’ve got time. And your profile needs some updating–this is your FOURTH year, not your third. Oh hey, look—you have new messages in your inbox! YES—-a link to the Blue Book you’ll need for the meetings!!….

You chuckle at yourself because, minutes into your first day, you’ve already found yourself sucked into the time honored tradition of procrastination. Well, no more, writer.

NaNoWriMo 2014

The time is now.

Year End Round Up (Yeehaw!)

Oh, how I miss you, readers. These last few months have kept me so busy that writing a daily blog has been…well, impossible. It’s something I hope to change in the new year.  So today I wanted to wrap up a few loose ends that have been flapping in the winter breeze since November. Here’s what you missed.

Nanowrimo 2013…
Remember how I told you I was launching into a new novel way back in November? And remember how, after that post, I never really updated you on how the whole thing was going?

Well, good news, friends and neighbors. I managed to complete the 50,000 word challenge an entire week before the deadline (thanks to copious amounts of coffee, an annoyance with social media that helped keep me focused instead of scrolling through my Facebook timeline, and a story line that just wouldn’t quit.)

nanowrimo1

I’ve already started editing the chapters I wrote in November and will continue the novel in the new year, so I can add it to my portfolio of “things I want to get published but haven’t yet because I can’t find an agent who will love me and squeeze me and call me George.” I do plan to spend much more time writing and seeking publication in 2014. (Don’t worry, you’ll read all about in my obligatory “Resolutions” post come January 1.)

Anywho, this novel is about a young woman named Robin, who is, by all social standards, a big ol’ nerd. She gets it honest–her father was such a major comic book fan that he named her after his favorite superhero’s side kick. Robin’s childhood was spent learning all about ‘nerdom’–finding an appreciation for comic books, reciting all the many characters from Marvel’s Avengers, and planning a trip with her Dad to San Diego’s famous Comic Con when she graduated from high school. But their dreams were dashed when her father stumbled into a robbery gone wrong, winding up forever paralyzed from a stray bullet. With his health declining, Robin–a news camera operator by day and a budding documentary filmmaker by night–decides to take matters into her own hands. She solicits the help of her best friend, Laney, and together, they head to San Diego to bring Comic Con to Dad, on film.

It’s a story about relationships: father and daughter, lifelong friends, a fan and her obsession, and maybe even a shiny new romance. It’s still a work in progress, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what the title should be. But it’s coming along nicely, and I’m pretty proud of that fact.

Pack My Pontiac Food Drive…
Remember how I told you I was pairing up with my friend, Lynda, to raise money for Crisis Ministries, our local homeless shelter? And that we were going to try and fill the back of my Vibe to the brim with nonperishable foods and supplies for their soup kitchen? And remember how, after that post, I never really updated you on how the whole thing was going?

Well, AMAZING news, friends and neighbors—not only did we exceed our $500 goal, we exceeded it by a LOT!

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Thanks to our friends and family, who were totally enthusiastic about our silent auction, we managed to raise a whopping $800, which went directly to Crisis Ministries. In addition, Lynda and I managed to stuff my little car with cleaning products, paper towels, dried pasta and beans, tons of canned good items, bottled water, diapers, and countless other items that will benefit those in Charleston who need it most.

Such a proud moment.

Such a proud moment.

WE DID IT!

WE DID IT!

We never would have been so successful if not for the generosity of others, so if you placed a bid, shared our page, made a donation, or even just cheered us on from the sidelines—thank you! We are already planning and scheming for next year’s drive. Who knows…maybe we’ll double what we made this year!!

What’s Coming for AbbyGabs in 2014?…
In truth, I have no idea. I can tell you that I plan to keep writing–both here and creatively–as long as my brain keeps working and the ideas keep coming. And I can promise that, whatever happens, it’ll be fun. So–thanks for continuing to support me and reading my blogs, few and far between as they’ve been in the past two months. Here’s hoping 2014 brings health, happiness, and prosperity to us all! (Read: an agent will sign me and publish my books, and we’ll all go to Maui together to celebrate over daiquiris.)

Happy New Year!

So. Freakin’. Busy.

My life has been filled with adventure these last few weeks. Birthday parties and dinner parties and bridal showers and photographing my first ever wedding and redesigning my blog and redecorating my house and spending time with visiting family members…my social calendar has been filled to the brim. Every single second of it has been exhilarating and fun, while simultaneously being exhausting and stressful. When I complete a project or finish an engagement, I get that short-lived feeling of fulfillment as I check another item off of my To-Do list. But mostly, lately, I’ve been feeling a little like this:

Pulled

Cartoon courtesy of Bitstrips.

You would think that after nearly 6 weeks, I’d be ready to kick back in November and take a little break. But nay, dear readers. Why would I do that? Life is so much more fun when you’re an active participant. So here’s a little list of what the month of turkeys and pilgrims and pumpkin pie has in store for me.

NaNoWriMo 2013
This will be the third year running that I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month. In fact, between 2011 and 2013, I managed to actually complete an entire novel (which I’m still in the process of trying to get published.) Here’s the thing: both years that I’ve participated, I had a game plan going in. A story I wanted to tell. Characters that were as clear in my head as living, breathing people.

This year, I’ve got…<insert drum roll here>….

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zippo.

With one month to write 50,000 words looming over me, I’m feeling the pressure to come up with a brilliant idea, stat. I need a sedative, a 12-gallon cup of coffee, and a shot of creativity, please.

Pack My Pontiac Food & Toy Drive
Call me a sucker if you want, but the following video presented by Kid President got me all inspired and stuff.

*Abby wipes away a tear.* Seriously, that kid rocks my socks.

Anywhoo, by the time I saw this video, the month of ‘Soctober’ was already coming quickly to a close. So I decided to do some investigating and take the month of November to find a worthy cause to champion in the name of taking back the internet. And I have.

My friend Lynda and I are running a food drive for our local homeless shelter. It started out as a small idea and has since snowballed–I have a partner, we have a corporate sponsor, and we’re planning on doing some serious fundraising, yo.

Pack My Pontiac

So my days have been filled with sending emails and making phone calls, creating fliers and a FB page, and brainstorming with Lynda in the hopes that we’ll be able to pack the back of my car–and hers!–with a giant pile of items to donate.

It gets me all tingly and excited thinking about the possibilities.

And lastly (and potentially most importantly)…..

Pestering the Poo Out Of My Friends By Posting All The Christmasy Things I Can Find On Pinterest From Now Until New Years

christmas

Seriously. I’ve had to look at so many pictures of spiders in my FB feed for the last 31 days that I’m already my revenge, Rudolph style. (This isn’t really something that will take too much time or effort as I started pinning Christmas stuff in August.)

What’s on your calendar in November?

NaNoWriMo Update, And Things I’m Learning in the Process of Writing My First Novel

Alright, sports fans. For those of you at home keeping score, I hit a major milestone with NaNoWriMo yesterday. I officially hit the halfway point!

All I have to say about that is WOO HOO!

I really don’t want to jinx myself by boasting about how well it’s going (far better than I originally anticipated!!) but, according to my NaNo dashboard, I’m right on schedule.

Keep in mind, I haven’t written anything today, so that date should change by the end of the day. Because once I publish this blog, I plan to really dig in and write until around 4:30. Because I’m an addict, that’s why.

I expected to be exhilarated, and possibly daunted, by this process. I also expected to hit plateaus, and to write some stuff that could only be classified as poo. What I DIDN’T expect was to learn some major lessons about myself, as both a writer and a person. I thought I’d share some of those lessons here with you today.

As a Writer, I Have Learned That:

* Being a blog author only fuels my creativity, and my confidence.  I’ve been writing Abby Gabs now for almost a year. When I sat down and created this blog, I made a promise to myself that I was going to try and post at least 5 times a week. And that on days when I woke up and couldn’t think of something to write, I would put on my thinking cap and come up with something worth writing. Granted, sometimes it’s just plain silliness. Other times, my posts have been completely selfish–100% about me. But, in the midst of daily posts, I feel like I’ve written a few that I can really be proud of–ones that really define who I am as a writer, as a woman, and as a wife. With my creativity sparked on an (almost) daily basis, it becomes less difficult to “get into the groove” when I sit down to write my book each day. And the confidence from having a small, but loyal, readership keeps me motivated.

* Google is an invaluable tool. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to my favorite search engine throughout the first part of this process. Considering the fact that I live in rural South Carolina, consider PayLess Shoesource to be premiere shopping, and am stuck in a career that’s less than illustrious, I need a lot of information to fuel my main character. That’s where Google comes in. What kind of dress would a sophisticated business woman wear to a fancy dinner out? If a high-roller were to show up at a restaurant and order Champagne, what label would he choose? What are the most popular wine bars in Manhattan right now?

Oh Google, you complete me.

I’m using my imagination where it counts, believe me. But some things you just can’t dream up. Thanks to Google, my main character is thriving in a believable environment in New York City–a place I’ve only visited once. Thanks, Google. I’ll include you in my “people to thank” section.

* I can hear my own voice through my character. What I mean is, she’s kooky, witty, sarcastic, self-critical, and less than confidant. She struggles with all the same things I do: image and weight issues, discontentment with her career, always doubting her next move. She thrives when she’s allowed to use her creativity; she shuts down when she feels caged when her creativity isn’t needed, or wanted. She is me. Only younger and single, with better clothes and a small apartment in Manhattan. You know…just small differences.

* I write in a linear fashion. From what I understand, this isn’t the norm. Most people jump around in the story, writing scenes as they pop into their heads. I don’t do that. I started at the beginning, and other than one little blip on the radar, I’ve written the story in chronological order.

Not to say that I haven’t come up with ideas for future scenes, and jotted down a few notes to jog my memory when I actually get there. But I’m writing my story the way I’d want to read it. No shuffling necessary. Which will make December (editing month) that much easier. I hope.

I think the most interesting lesson I’ve learned throughout this process, though, is one I’ve learned as a person. And it is, simply, this:

Apparently, size does matter.

Sixty pages of manuscript. And it’s still growing.

 

Focused Friday

I’ve got so much catching up to do. I’ve been slack with my writing for the past day or two. I’m falling behind, according to my NaNoWriMo Dashboard, and so today, I’m focusing on crossing the 20,000 word line.

Well, except for when I’m focusing on other things. Like writing this blog. Or creating this image in Photoshop:

What can I say? I have to get inspiration from somewhere, right?

“Write on!”

Word count at time of publishing this very brief blog: 18,030.

A Spider Encounter, A NaNoWriMo Update, A Novel Blurb, And Yet Another Poll

Wow, that’s a really long title. But don’t worry, readers. I will deliver on what I have promised.

Last night, after several hours of writing, I decided it was finally time to save, quit, and head to bed. I sauntered into my bathroom to brush my teeth. Halfway through applying the toothpaste to the toothbrush, I got the uncanny sense that someone was watching me. Glancing around, I noticed that the bathroom was still empty of all felines, so I knew that my audience wasn’t furry, or friendly.

Yes, I’m going there.

My spider-sense was tingling.

And not the kind that tells me that there’s an armed gunman holding up a bank teller on Main Street in Gotham.

But the kind that tells me there’s a creepy crawly somewhere within 10 feet of me.

Determined not to be run out of my own bathroom, I continued to brush my teeth while scanning the corners for any lurkers. And that’s when I see it…tucked into a corner on the ceiling.

Those are his “I’m Going To Kill You” eyes.

Now granted, this wasn’t a very big spider. In fact, without my glasses on and while squinting, it was barely bigger than an ant.

However, there are two very distinct reasons why this spider freaked me out beyond reason. Number one: It was on the ceiling. Which means at any given moment, it could drop down on me unawares and land somewhere on my body. Like, in my hair. *shudder* And Number two: I was home alone. As in, sans husband. As in, there was no one at home to rescue me from the arrant arachnid taking up residence in my bathroom.

So I did the only logical thing there was to do. I closed the door and spat my toothpaste into the kitchen sink. I stuffed a towel under the door so the little bugger couldn’t escape. And I left my husband a note to vanquish the evil beastie.

I will not be bested by an eight-legged  insect.

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In other news, my novel writing for NaNoWriMo is going smashingly well. I crossed the 10,000 word mark last night, and I’m just plowing right along. I’m feeling really confident about the quantity of the words I’ve written, and I’ve got to say, I’m feeling pretty good about the quality as well.
Of course, I’m still in the stage of writing the part of the book I’d envisioned all along.
Who knows what will happen when I get beyond that point. Seriously, who knows? Anybody? Would you be interested in cluing me in?
However, I do have a slight problem. I’m having a bit of a novel identity crisis.

There are several genres to choose from when it comes to classifying your novel on the NaNo website, and I’m flip flopping between Chick Lit and Mainstream Fiction. Or possibly Humor.

I originally planned to go with Chick Lit, but when I checked into the forums, a lot of the authors there were describing books that sounded like a cross between romance and erotica. And while my tale may include a bit of flirtation, I don’t forsee a major romance involved in the plot. At least not in the FIRST 50,000 words. (Maybe something sexy will happen later. We’ll see.)
That being said, the mainstream fiction forum is all over the place. There seems to be a bit of everything over there, and it feels a little like I’d get lost in the shuffle.
I’ll figure it out. Eventually.

And So It Begins…

Zero. My word count is at zero.

After today, that is a number I do not wish to see again.

That’s right, folks! It is officially November 1! Which means, NaNoWriMo officially started 10 hours ago! Which means, I’m officially behind in starting my very first novel! (For those who missed this post, NaNoWriMo is an online challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. No, I’m not crazy.) (Only because my straight jacket hasn’t come yet.)

I’m having mixed emotions about this challenge at this particular moment. There’s part of me that is calm, reserved, and ready to work. She looks like this:

I’m so clever, perhaps I’ll write this novel with a PENCIL.

The over-thinking, over-planning, over-emotional part of me is freaking out because I didn’t write much of an outline, I still haven’t chosen a name for my main character, and I have no idea where I’m going to start my story. She looks something like this:

What the FRUIT have I gotten myself into??!?!?!?!??!

I’m banking on 3 very specific things to get me through the next 30 days. 1) Endless creativity. Or at least creativity in some form or fashion. 2) Guaranteed breaks for Castle. And 3) My good luck charm, which comes in the form of a hoody from Threadless.com.

Because we all know my affection for exclamation marks a plenty.

Don’t worry, readers. I will still be posting my usual amount of blogs for your enjoyment for the next 30 days. Just don’t be surprised if, by the end of the month, my blog posts read something like this sounds:

Patty!! Maybe I’ll use Patty as my main character’s name!!!

Anyway, I’m counting on you to keep me as accountable as possible throughout this challenge, so every day, I’ll be posting my word count. Remember, I have to pound out 50,000 words total. So in order to accomplish that goal, I have to write about 1700 words a day. Which works out to be about 6 1/2 pages. That’s not so hard, right?

* SOB *

= 0

The Best Ideas Happen In Bed.

I mentioned last week that I was going to spend my November writing a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo.

I ordered my new straight jacket from eBay that same day. It still hasn’t been delivered yet.

Huh. Looks like it might be a snug fit…

I had a lot of trepidation going into this process. I mean, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 6 (when all I had to do in order to be published was whip out my jumbo box of crayola fun and get crackin’.) There are so many parts of the process that scare the bejesus out of me–enough to have kept me from pursuing my dream for all these years.

One of my biggest hangups was worrying about coming up with a marketable idea. Sure, it’s great fun to spend a year of your life pouring your heart and soul into something. But if that something isn’t sellable, then what’s the point? (That is, if your ultimate goal is to be published. Otherwise, who cares, right?)

For years it has felt like that single hurdle was looming over me, blocking my path. And I have really short legs, so jumping over it was never really an option.

But now, with a deadline breathing down my neck, I’ve been forced to put all that aside. If I’m going to participate in this thing, and I really want to, I have to just suck it up and deal.

Turns out, it’s been the best thing for me, as a writer. I came up with an idea that I thought would be fun to write. Something that would keep me engaged for the 30 days I have to bang out 50,000 (somewhat usable) words. And as it turns out, the more I flesh out the characters, and the story line, the more I think it might just be a marketable idea after all.

Hooray for me!

I’m not going to get into total specifics here on AbbyGabs until I have some decent stuff written. (Unless I get to November 2nd and realize that my straight jacket purchase was actually a pretty smart idea.) But here are a few small hints as to how my novel brainstorm is going.

Source
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Yes, that’s the Twitter bird. And yes, he will play a pivotal role in my little story. Intrigued yet?

Let me just say that a majority of these inspirations came to me while trying to fall asleep. I had that “Holy Crap Balls, what am I going to write about?” moment just as my head hit the pillow, and I lay there thinking about where I wanted my story to go.

In short, there will be hilarity, some soul-searching, a hunky leading man, a dream come true, and possibly a short visit to a tattoo parlor.

Sounds like chick-lit to me!

I Think I Need A Straight Jacket

I did something kinda crazy the other day.

Like, lock me in a rubber room, ‘What the hell was she thinkin?” kinda crazy.

No I didn’t ACTUALLY stalk Donnie Wahlberg, to the tune of a serious restraining order.

But I DID sign up to write a novel in a month.

WHAT did she just say?? (source)

That’s right. I’ve pledged to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. And how did I come by this grandiose idea? I was introduced to a kooky little website called NaNoWriMo by friend and fellow blogger, Stephanie. At first the idea seemed absurd. Who can write 50,000 words in one month, maintain a blog, work a full-time job, and still remember to feed the cats?

In short, I can.

Or at least, I HOPE I can.

There are three simple rules to participating in NaNoWriMo:
1) Write a novel of 50,000 words or more.
2) No, you can’t write the same word 50,000 times.
3) Submit to the NaNoWriMo word counter and if you have, indeed, written that many words then you WIN!

Although I’m a little fuzzy on the prize. I was hoping for a million dollars and a record deal, but I think I may be confusing NaNoWriMo with some reality show I saw once.

In truth, the only thing you win is bragging rights.

But I think the self-confidence involved with banging out that many words in such a short time will be prize enough. That, paired with the knowledge that such a thing is possible, could eventually add up to a Real Life Abby Novel. Like, with a jacket cover and a 50% off sticker in the junk bin of your favorite local book store.

So, I’ve got a little less than 3 weeks to come up with an idea for a book, hash out my characters, maybe get a little outline action going, so that when November 1 rolls around, I can start banging out the next Pulitzer Prize winner my book.

These are the two ideas I’m kicking around right now:

1. A comedy starring a slightly pudgy but mostly adorable woman in her mid-twenties who has no boyfriend, a crappy job, and a dream to quit it all and follow her favorite boy band across the nation. Perhaps she’ll risk it all to follow that dream…and perhaps her new reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

2. A not-so-funny book entailing a couple’s struggle with cancer–what it means for their future, how it affects their desire to be parents, what it feels like to face mortality at such a young age. (The book has to be a novel, so it would be based on real life events.) With this idea I’d want to capture each and every moment from discovery to diagnosis to surgery–from the majorly momentous ones, to the mundane, tiny details that made up our lives in that month long hell.

I guess it all depends on whether I want to be laughing or crying while baking pumpkin pies.

Wait…who cries while baking pumpkin pies? Nobody, that’s who.

Anyway, regardless of the outcome, I’m really excited to try my hand at this whole ‘novel writing’ business. It is, after all, my dream job. So wish me luck, readers!

(Side note: Also, readers, if you notice my blog sucking in the month of November, kick me in the pants and tell me to pay better attention to your needs. I’m nothing if not a giver.)