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As of today, March 10, 2011 my reviews will be appearing on my new website, tracyriva.com I hope to see all of you and remember to look there for all my newest reviews. also please follow me by RSS when you get to the site.

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Like most bloggers I enjoy checking out the sites of other bloggers and those of professional writers – note, I said professional writers. The only difference between professionals and amateurs is professionals get paid for what they do. The rest of us are still out here struggling our way through the fog of obscurity, but I digress.

I like to check out other blogs, one that’s terrific is Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. It’s just a great site. Plenty of information; lots of fun and no BS, which is probably why I like it.

At any rate, Chuck had a really interesting post the other day about “What makes a good story?” Here’s the link to the post. Feel free to come back here and post your thoughts on what makes a good story. We’ll have a great discussion about everything once we get some chatter going. just remember, no flaming. Here’s that link, enjoy Chuck’s site. Check out the rest of it while you’re there. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/01/19/what-makes-for-a-good-story/

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Another wonderful book giveaway from KidLit at Adventures in Children’s Publishing, to enter go to the site and leave a comment. There are four giveaways this week. Tweets are encouraged but not required. Here’s the link http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/2011/01/in-stores-this-week-with-interviews_10.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2Fkidlit+%28Adventures+in+Children%27s+Publishing%29 and good luck.

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NaNoWriMo is over for me, although the actual event continues until 11:59:59 on November 30th. I finished the first 50,117 words of my novel, Raven’s Wings. I’m not done telling the story I wanted to tell so I’ll continue typing away day after day, that’s the nature of writing. When that’s finally done the editing will start. As far as I’m concerned editing is more work than the writing is. When you write you create, when you edit you mercilessly cut out extraneous scenes, even if you loved them because they just don’t work quite right with your story. I won’t be as obsessed with writing as I’ve been during NaNoWriMo. There’s no pressure to turn out 50,000 words a month, thank goodness.  My goal is 15,000 words a month. I should finish the rough draft by the end of January. I’ll post occasional excerpts here. Some of them may not make it into the final draft, but I’ll post them anyway.

NaNoWriMo is an incredible ego booster. You push yourself incredibly hard. I read a post I had written but not published just four days before I finished NaNoWriMo. At that point I had just over ten thousand words to go and it seemed as though I would never finish the 50,000 word goal by November 30th. I had had it. I was ready to give up, throw in the towel and forget the prior 21 days of work. I was sick with a gastrointestinal bug that definitely hadn’t been part of my writing schedule. The holidays were right around the corner. How was I going to finish a book when I was going to lose at least two days, one to the holiday and the other because I was too sick to write.

Then, on the 22nd I hit my stride. I turned out over four thousand words that day alone. I had suddenly gone from needing just over ten thousand words to needing five thousand nine hundred and nine words. It seemed not only manageable, but doable now. I set a goal of 2,500 words for the next two days. Thanksgiving day, after we had returned home from the festivities at my parent’s house I came into my bedroom, which doubles as my office and I typed out the final words to put me over the edge mark at the 50,117.

As I said, 50,000 words didn’t finish my story. I still have work to do, but the majority of the writing is finished. I have a workable schedule for the rest of the book and I hope to edit it and begin submissions before next year’s NaNoWriMo comes around. I will do NaNoWriMo next year and each year thereafter. I can’t work on any existing project, only on new work that doesn’t start until November 1, 2010, but I can plot it out to my little heart’s content and believe me, I will. I winged it too much this year and got lost in the weeds a few times. I have extra garbage I know I have to edit out, but it doesn’t matter I did it.

Hey VISA internet $50, computer $500,  writing and verifying a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days, PRICELESS.

 

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Twenty-five days. 50,117 words. The badge says it all. More to follow after I’ve slept. For now I’m happy, very happy.

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The second week of NaNoWriMo is drawing to close. I haven’t written yet today, but my word count is just about six hundred words short of today’s goal of 20,000 words. By the end of the day I should be almost one thousand words over the daily goal. thank goodness.

Week two has been a bit of a challenge. I was sick one day and didn’t get a single word written, this left me with three thousand three hundred thirty eight words to write the next day. i pushed through and got them done, but it was a challenge. I also discovered that I really liked most of what I wrote. The advantage of being under pressure is you tend to just let the writing flow, which is a terrific thing. It allows your imagination free range, which was terrific. there will still be a lot of material I’ll cut during the revision process, but now my characters are dancing. They’ve surprised me with some of their secrets and their actions, but it’s been a really interesting process.

Week two brings a lot of self-doubt though, why am I writing this?, is it any good?, should I throw it out and start over, am I fooling myself, what even made me think I could write? and a thousand other questions go through your brain. The temptation to go back and edit the raw material you’ve written is strong, but you have to remind yourself the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write without thinking, hence the push for 1,667 words each and every day.

I started off loosely plotting. I knew where i wanted to begin, where I wanted to be in the middle and how I wanted the story to end. Other than I didn’t really plot. What I did do was plot the following day’s scenes based on what I had written and what my characters had done the day before. It’s worked well, although yesterday after being sick the day before I just winged it. A large part of what i wrote I had already laid out in my head. One thing that happened was totally unforeseen, although the cause of the consequence had been laid out in my head since the beginning of the story. I just didn’t plan on my other character reacting the way she did, by leaving him behind. He’s part of the group involved in the quest so I have to figure out a way to bring him back into the story. the funny thing is her reaction was totally natural. I should have seen it coming and planned how to deal with it, but I didn’t. Short sighted on my part, but true nonetheless.

I promised you an excerpt once the characters started to dance so I’m going to follow through with it. Just remember this is raw, unedited writing. It has it’s flaws, it may not flow perfectly upon the page, it may have spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. I’m not editing it for this post. You’ll see it exactly as it’s written. I hope you enjoy it.

“The Owen, that as it drew closer she realized wasn’t really Owen, stopped behind her not saying a word at first. Raven decided to test the waters quickly.

“Darling, you’ve come back. I’ve been warming the blankets waiting for your arrival. Why were you gone so long? Come lie down beside me.” I was something she never would have said to the real Owen, they didn’t have that kind of relationship.

The Owen who wasn’t lowered himself to his knees beside her, but not looking in her direction. That was fine with her. She was relatively sure this wasn’t her Owen, but if it wasn’t then where was he? Would she have to go search the riverbed at night only to find him beaten and broken once again, this time perhaps beyond her help? She grasped a handful of the false Owen’s hair, as if in love play, tipping his face back to expose his neck acting as though she was going to kiss on it even though the bile was already rising in her throat. She reached down and grabbed the knife from near the fire, ignoring the pain as the heat collected in it burned the skin of her palm. She bit down on her lip to keep from gasping. She had held hot knives and pots before when caring for her patients. The pain from this burn was no more and no less than those had been. The difference was the intent, this time she intended to use her knife to harm another human rather than to heal one. The situation made her eyes ache with unshed tears, but she blinked quickly, pushing them away, knowing this was not the time for weakness. Weakness and tears could come later when this was over, now was the time for resolve.

Keeping her eyes focused on this thing’s neck, for that was how she must think of the person in front of her or she wouldn’t be able to do what she had to survive. She leaned in toward its neck and drew her knife across its throat, cutting deeply and quickly severing both the carotid artery and the superior vena cava in one swipe of the blade, her plan to simply harm whatever it was forgotten in the face of two certainties. This thing had come here looking for her, perhaps it had waited until it was sure she was alone to come into camp, but it had come here meaning to take her, kill her or worse, turn her into whatever it was. She watched as in death it’s features grew flaccid and seemed to slid from its face until she wondered how she could have taken him for Owen in the first place.

The tears she had been holding at bay began to fall in earnest as the body fell away from her foul, black blood pumping at intervals from the wide wounds in its neck. The stench was so foul Raven turned her head and began retching as the viscous black fluid clung to her, its smell that of hot acrid vomit. She felt the blood spraying on her and without a thought she flung an arm out shouting “Away.” Without a moments delay the now lifeless body turned falling upon the ground, instead of onto Raven’s lap and body.

Covered in gore, raven rushed around the campsite like a mad woman gathering supplies, leftovers and blankets and throwing them into the two sacks left behind. She quickly kicked dirt over the top of the fire to keep Owen from returning there. Then she threw the sacks and herself onto the mare’s back and headed down to the river to find Owen.”

It’s rough. It’s raw. It needs a lot of editing and you don’t have any backstory to use to put it in perspective, but trust me they’re starting to dance. It’s not a waltz or a ballet, but some day it will be, for now it’s enough that they’re dancing.

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Fellow book blogger Jessica Subject is giving away How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack and the first three books of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series. To enter go to Jessica’s website and fill out the form, then cross your fingers. Winning will be so  much fun, but so is just visiting Jessica’s website.

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