Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNo Winner 2009 - "First Jump"

50,434 words. Novel name is "First Jump" and I like it. I wrote the last words and cheered. It's been an exhilarating twenty nine days - yep, one day early. Whew!

My fingers aren't bleeding, and it seemed proper to finish it on a dark and stormy day. Now what's next?
It needs to simmer and stew a bit. I know I have some timing issues, and maybe hair colors to change. Um, a few confused names and plot lines. But the bones are there for 2010 - rewrite, then rewrite some more. Edit, critique, and re-write even more.
Aim for publishing. Guess I have a New Year's goal. Time to jump!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Documentary Friday and Only 5000 Words to Go

Only 5000 words to go to hit my NaNo goal of 50K. I'm typing furiously, but I also take breaks. Decided it was documentary Friday, and I rented two small films. Both different and yet very much alike as they follow two men with dreams, who see their version of art as a challenge, and both achieve their goals.

Valentino: The Last Emperor is about Valentino the haute couture fashion designer who celebrated his 45th year in the industry. As a boy in Italy he watched Hollywood movies and desired to design dresses for the Ziegfield girls - Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner. He worked hard and ultimately created his own line. Soon Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, and Princess Diana were clients.

Known for using red, for splendid draping, and for elegance, Valentino is synonomous with quality. The movie introduces us to his team of seamstresses and we witness the skill and attention to detail. Everything is handsewn and monitored by Valentino.

The film also follows behind the scenes money issues and unfortunately we see why Valentino retires. Instead of family owned, it becomes a conglomerate and the fashion money is made on accessories, perfumes, and handbags. It's not about the dresses - the true dreams and creations of Valentino.

Another man with a dream, a high flying dream, Phillipe Petit is a high wire walker who planned and executed the most daring walk of all - between the Twin Towers. Sure enough in 1974, he and his team eluded security, hauled equipment in a freight elevator, and 104 floors above New York, Petit walked a wire. He allowed for the wind, the twist of the wire, and the sway of the buildings. Man on Wire is fascinating. Who would do such a thing? And yet, when he talks about his dreams, it makes sense. Why not balance high above the earth between two objects? To him, it was a challenge and a thing of art.

So that's the key between the two men and the two films - dreams, challenges, and art. Creation and execution of art. Truly inspiring.

Now, for me, only 5000 words to go for....dare I call it? Art?? !!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clive Cussler Discussed, But Did Not Cuss

Another great author night at Bass Hall in Fort Worth. Thanks to the Star-Telegram, various Trusts, and UT-Arlington for continuing to sponsor fun free events. (Parking is free too - hooray for Fort Worth).

Internationally renowned author, Clive Cussler, was delightful as he discussed his new book The Wrecker, his many other series, his most famous character Dirk Pitt, and writing in general. He came from an advertising background and decided to try his hand at writing a book. He read avidly and basically studied genres he admired - i.e. action/thriller. He chose one word names for his character (like a James Bond) so it would be easy to type and he was off and running.

He did comment that he and Dirk were both age 36 when he began. Clive's now 78, but Dirk is only 45. Said that wasn't quite fair. I'd say Mr. Cussler is keeping up pretty well. Looking dapper, he's working on approximately four books in various stages; he's pursuing a shipwreck; and he still has over one hundred cars in his collection.

The man has a twinkle in his eye and many a tale to tell. He said he considers himself an entertainer. I'd say he's certainly succeeded.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Graceful Death, Indeed

Proud to announce the release of A Graceful Death by Ann Summerville.

Writing is a solitary venture, and yet there is support in the writing community. I'm proud to have heard her read chapters aloud and witnessed the progression in her story. Characters came alive. The pacing quickened, and I wanted to know what did happen to Aunt Grace.

Set in a tiny fishing village on the Cornish coast, A Graceful Death introduces you to a vibrant cast of characters, a mystery, love lost and gained, and a satisfying ending. Along the way, you'll want to drink a cup of tea as you enjoy this cozy mystery.

Check out or on Amazon see ISBN 160844211X.

Now I'm ready for her sequel. Cheers to published author, Ann Summerville.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Talking Turkey plus NaNo

Sometimes you just have to declare it's Thanksgiving. Work schedules, custody schedules, traveling, in-laws, outlaws, and any other life excuse can get in the way of a family gathering. Thus, Sunday, Nov. 15 we had a feast (see above -Ray's Norman Rockwell turkey) and then visiting and of course, a Cowboys game (oops. They lost). This cut into my NaNo writing schedule, but I crammed out words last night and hit the halfway mark at 25K words. My book takes place in the summer and even I won't declare Thanksgiving when it's in the 90s. I might be writer crazy, but I'm not insane.
Saturday, I was out to the arboretum for a chocolate class (yum). Did make time to view gorgeous colors and be re-inspired since my story begins there.

Again, pumpkins and fall colors will not be a part of the book's descriptive pictures, but the Dallas arboretum is inspirational nonetheless.

Back to Sunday. Observed a 15 month old (Makyla) toddle about and the little arms can reach a mile, the little legs can maneuver pretty well. A little tipsy at times, but recovery time is quick. However, I believe I have the details down for my little protagonist and her foray near (and into) the lily pond. Teaser - Dylan, Jay or Summer, or Allie, Terri, Tom or Brooke.....their stories are building. All good people with foibles and anxieties and maybe a few have a fear of water.
I'm not sure what's going to happen..........but it's getting good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Didn't My Father Write a Book?

"So, who are we seeing tonight as part of the Ft.Worth Star Telegram Author Series?" I asked Ann.
"Jeff Shaara."
"Who?" Well, turns out I did recognize some titles the man has written as a New York Times list author. He wrote Gods and Generals, a prequel to his father's Pulitzer prize winning novel The Killer Angels, a book about Gettysburg. Specializing in military fiction, he went on to write the sequel too. (His father died at age 59 from a heart attack, before success hit - book and movie). Jeff picked up the torch and ran fast. He then hit the American Revolutionary War, the Mexican-American War, World War I, and now finished a trilogy on WWII. (Latest is No Less Than Victory) Actually his trilogy will have four books - three in Europe and one on the Pacific.

Jeff Shaara's key is characters. He loves the history but he seeks out the interesting characters and brings them to life through the common man. His enthusiasm was contagious and it seemed appropriate that his Q&A was on Veteran's Day. Held at UTA, there were ROTC candidates in the audience. When Jeff Guinn, our host for the night, asked for veterans to rise, the room was full of men and women standing. Wow!

From the sound of it (and yes, I plan on reading a Jeff Shaara book or two or...), he's been respectful of our armed forces and heroes and portrayed them well, both on and off the battlefield. Thanks to UTA, Star-Telegram, and the Trust Funds that helped underwrite the night. Interesting and compelling.

Okay, so I was driving to the talk, when my car turned over 100,000 miles on HWY 157. Yikes. The old Pontiac Grand Am GT has worked hard for me. I told Ray I hit 100K and he asked, "Words?" Not quite there on NaNo - I should cross 20K tonight. Maybe someday I'll write a 100K word novel - sounds daunting. I'm aiming for 50K by November 30th and an oil change!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaNo - 13,772 words

It's been a week and I've stayed on task. Actually I'm ahead with 13,772 words to my novel. I've decided the working title is First Jump. I checked Amazon and that exact title did not exist.
I've learned a lot since last year's NaNo Experience. I have less characters to keep on the move. Last year I was afraid to not have enough action or drama for the month and so I had the story stuffed with too much. I lost track of and interest in some of the people. I dragged them along, but they were dead weight.
This year, I have Dylan, a family of four (that includes the "evil" (at least in Allie's mind) stepmother), and a young couple - Jay and Summer. They were all at the arboretum on that fateful August day for Julie Lin, age two. She's currently floating face down in the lily pond.
Back story time - April/May: Poor Dylan can't catch a dating break. He's bumbling about and certainly doesn't seem capable of saving the child. Jay and Summer just broke up in Ft.Worth. What happened and how will they get together again by August to be at the arboretum discussing wedding plans?
And Allie - my artistic Goth teen who keeps rolling her eyes and sighing at Terri, the stepmom. She has spunk. She's feisty. She's popped into Dylan's storyline and also was at the Ft.Worth water gardens when Jay and Summer strolled by.
It's almost time for her April/May story. I've got lots of words to type and character flaws to expose.
Who are you rooting for to save Julie? Who will jump first?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNo - over 7000 words

This picture just gives my readers something to look at. So, day Four of NaNoWriMo and I still like my story. We'll see what happens by day 23 - ha. I'm at 7128 words. The goal for Day 4 is 6668 words, so I'm ahead. It's difficult to cram in 1667 words in a day. I don't set my alarm like some friends and type way early. Ray would kill me.

I type all day at work. Non-stop report documentation. I get home and don't want to sit at the computer. I go for a walk, crunching on acorns and admiring fall foliage. I read a bit (The Defector by Daniel Silva - good thriller) Then I turn on the stereo, crack the knuckles, and buckle down.

So, little Julie Lin is face down in the lily pond. Who, if anybody jumps in to save her? Hmmm.

I'm currently exploring Dylan's life. He's 40, a widower, and trying to get back into the dating pool. He's clutzy, clueless, and hapless. Would he have the guts to jump in and save the child. So far, it certainly doesn't look possible. BUT, Dylan's a good guy. Maybe there's an underlying hero.

We'll find out together.........NaNo is an adventure. I have a tentative outline. One more day of Dylan's April/May backstory. Then we move on to Jay and Summer, our engaged couple. They are lurking - both spoiled brats who want Dylan out of the way.

Typing furiously. So far, so good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vanquish the Fear - NaNoWriMo

November 1st, National Novel Writing Month begins and I'm already procrastinating by using my time to post this blog. But that's the way writing goes sometimes. The goal is 50,000 words in one month. 1667 words per day for thirty days. At the end of November, I should have the bones of a book - some characters, some plot, a story arc, and hopefully an ending. I wrote 50K last year, but never did arrive at a conclusion.

I will tell you this, my novel shall begin at the arboretum, and a toddler falls into a pond like this while trying to reach a water lily. What is her fate? Or is the focus on all the people in that area at that exact moment?

Stay tuned and wish me luck.