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I SLAYED NANOWRIMO!

December 5, 2020 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , ,
Author typing on an old typewriter | Tracy Read | A Slice of Orange

Happy December. I am excited to say I slayed my first NANO this year.

I’ve talked before about attempting to do NANO and my epic fails. This year, I made a decision and stuck with it. I am proud to say, not only did I do NANO, I hit the 50K word mark a few days ahead of schedule.

I kept a journal for the month. It was my way of staying on track. To summarize. My original plan was to take a few days off, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I wrote thirty days straight. There were a few days when I didn’t meet my word goal. Then there were days, when I got off of my writing schedule. I learned for the purpose of NANO, it was best for me to write in the morning. When I wrote in the afternoon or late in the evening, I got tired.

I also, learned some of my writing habits didn’t work during NANO. When I write love scenes, I usually write to music. However, during NANO, the music seemed to slow the love scenes down, but helped with the rest of the story. I think the reason some of my normal habits [music, the occasional glass of wine, writing at night] didn’t work was because I felt pressured to complete the task.

I have to be honest. I wrote fifty words during the month. Actually, it was 51,000+. I could have ended the story at 50K. However, it would have been a major cliffhanger and I promised my readers I wouldn’t give them another cliffy with this series. I think somewhere around the 30K mark, I realized the story wouldn’t be done at the end of the month. I did however know I’d make the 50K word challenge without a problem.

Do I like the story? Yes. I love the story. The only problem I’m having is that if I don’t get a hold of the characters, another book will pop out. I really want to end the series with this book. I never intended for this series to go beyond three books. When I wrote the first novella, I intentionally left it with a cliffhanger. I never expected, the second novella to end with a cliffy, but it did.

When I started writing book three, last year’s NANO attempt, I assumed it would tie up all the loose ends. The joke was on me. When I got to the last couple of chapters, it became obvious another book was on the way.

When I got inspired to do NANO, I knew this was the perfect push I needed to write book four. I also had a few thousand words to start with. I understand the point of NANO is to write a book. I wasn’t sure if it was a new story or complete a story. I asked around and got great feedback. In the end, I basically started from scratch. I think I may have used a couple hundred of the original words I carried over from book three. The rest were all new.

What’s the status of my NANO book? I’m approximately 20K words away from the end. I’m trying hard to end the series with this book, but if I don’t, I look forward to hearing what these characters have to say.

Will I do NANO again? Yes. And to make sure I do, I’m adding it to my production schedule for 2021.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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LET’S NANO

November 5, 2020 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , , ,
Author typing on an old typewriter | Tracy Read | A Slice of Orange

I did it. I officially jumped into the NANO pool.

I don’t know what it is about this year and the desire and excitement to participate in NANO. Maybe it’s the unusualness of 2020 or maybe it was just this was the year I was supposed to do it. I have attempted to participate in NANO in the past, but never followed through. Technically, I can say I did NANO in 2016 when I wrote and published a book a month, but I won’t because that was a different writing schedule. By that I mean, some of those books had been written over a period of months. The ones written in a month were less than fifty thousand words.

I am a proud pantser, but I am also a planner. I spend about an hour on Sunday or Monday planning my weekly schedule. NANO is the perfect opportunity for me to combine the two. I also research things I’m not familiar with or need direction on how to do.

Knowing I was going to do NANO I went to YouTube and a few AuthorTubers. The amount of information out there was overwhelming. I heard everything from stockpile your favorite snacks, stay hydrated, don’t forget the wine and coffee, meal prep, hire a housekeeper if a messy space is a pet peeve, post “do not disturb” or other threatening signs on your office door for annoying family, join a NANO community, exercise, have your favorite music and get plenty of rest. Oh yeah, and make a writing plan.

I thought my head was going to explode. I took a step back and reminded myself of one simple fact. I wrote a novelette in three days with about six hours of sleep, coffee and a couple of meals a day. I’m pretty sure I can handle fifty thousand words in a month.

How did I prep for NANO? I created a plan that was right for me.


Commit to NANO
Don’t just say you want to do it, but tell someone. When you give life to the task becomes a reality.

Join a group for accountability
This is one of the areas where I messed up in my previous NANO attempts. Having an accountability group encourages me to stick to my plan and make attainable goals. Thanks Charmed Writers.

Get snacks
I liked the suggestion to have snacks at the ready. However, prior to NANO, I was diagnosed as being wheat, soy, almond, cow’s milk and egg white sensitive. Some of my favorite snacks include those things. However, I found a couple of things that work, plus I have plenty of water, coffee and red wine.

Keep a journal
I decided to keep a journal of my daily progress. I also use it to keep notes about my book.

Set a daily word count
The other prep tip I liked was setting a realistic daily word count. I knew I wasn’t likely to write on Sundays, Thanksgiving and I needed a little flexibility for BFCM [Black Friday Cyber Monday] sales for my lingerie business. Exceeding my daily writing goal will allow me to skip a couple of days if I want to.

Figure out what to write
When I was toying with the idea of NANO, I had an idea of what I wanted to write…the follow up to my 2019 NANO book.

As I said, I’m a pantser so when it comes to writing, I plop my butt in the chair and let the characters tell their story. Last year I selected a book I wanted to write, but for some reason I never connected with the story. It was like the characters had gone silent. I switched books and the story practically wrote itself. I didn’t complete the book, but I did write fifty thousand words during NANO.

I completed my 2019 NANO book in February of this year and as of this post, it’s with my beta reader and headed to my editor this weekend.

I wanted to release the book earlier, but with the strangeness of 2020, I decided to push it back to February 2021. When I completed the book, I had no intention of continuing the series. But the characters said something different. I deleted the last chapter and made part of it the first chapter of book four, the book I’m writing during NANO. My plan is to release the books back to back next year.

I just completed NANO day four and I feel good about my progress. As of this post, I’m at 9002 words. My daily goal is 2084 words, but I’ve been exceeding it.

Here is the best advice I have for anyone wanting to do NANO…just write. Whether the words make it to the final draft, it doesn’t matter. The goal is write a book with at least fifty thousand words. It doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be completed.

Happy NANO and Thanksgiving.

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To NANO Or Not

October 5, 2020 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , ,

Happy fourth quarter. We are a few weeks away from NANO season. I have received emails, seen blog posts and You Tube videos reminding me about NANO month.


A few years ago, I signed up for a NANO account and never participated. Last year, I reactivated my account and signed up to participate in NANO for the first time. I posted questions in some groups for advice and to make sure I was signed up correctly. I was all set.

I had a book I was working on and figured this would force me to complete it. I thought I was doing well. Unfortunately the words just weren’t coming so I switched books.


I figured the book I switched would be easier to complete. I based that assumption on the other two books in the series which were novellas. As I continued to write, the book grew. Every time I thought I had an ending, the characters kept talking.


When November ended, I hadn’t completed my book. I took a break and continued writing. I completed my book…a few months later. I also have the first couple of chapters for the fourth book. By the way, I never intended to write a fourth book in this series, but when your characters talk, you kind of have to listen. So, not completing NANO it worked out for me.


As I stand on the precipice of another NANO season, I’m faced with a very important decision…do I NANO or not?


I don’t want to make a promise and not follow through. Grant it, the only person I would be disappointing is me. Considering how things worked out for me last year, it might be to my advantage to sign up for NANO.


So what are the pros and cons to doing NANO this year.

PRO:

  • We’re on lock down with little time to do anything else, so why not write a book
  • This would challenge me to complete the fourth book in my series
  • It would get me back on a steady writing schedule

CON:

  • Blocking out time to write


I can’t figure out a valid reason not to do NANO this year. Writing a book in a month isn’t new for me. After all, that’s what I did every month in 2016. I think right now my focus is a little off and participating in NANO this year could possibly help me.


If I do this, does anyone have any tips on how to survive and win at NANO? Clearly my previous plan of sitting down and writing on a whim didn’t work, otherwise I would have finished my original NANO book.


Happy NANO Prep.
See you next month.

~Tracy


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Featuring The Extra Squeeze Team

February 1, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , ,

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

For the whole month of February, the Extra Squeeze Team will be Featured on A Slice of Orange. Check back each week for more writing advice.

Dear Extra Squeeze Team,

I did NanoWriMo and finished. The result—I have a 50,301 word hot mess of manuscript. What the heck do I do now?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Edit. Seriously. Take what’s good, throw out what’s bad, rewrite, smooth out and polish. Viola, you have a book. I would love to have 50,000 words to work with. Good luck.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Do you know what it is meant to become? Is it a series of chapters that form part of a longer book, or a novella? You’ll need to know what the finished product will be and who its audience is before you can begin to shape it. I don’t think there’s a set order to this next bit, but I would say that once you have an idea about final thing, you can start to make it more user-friendly.

Divide it up to make it edible for its future consumers (chapters with titles, paragraphs that don’t repeat the same stuff e.g.). Then start to look at which boxes you’ve ticked: character development, atmosphere, plot twists, no plot holes. Make sure the beginning has the right hook, and the end ties everything up (or doesn’t, if you like cliffhangers).

I’d correct grammar and spelling as I go with each re-read, making sure to change the page size each time (if you’re anything like me, you’ll be blind to certain errors unless the text gets moved around. Something weird and psychological, but it works).

The alternative is to count the 50k words as ‘notes’, and go on to re-write the whole thing in a more structured manner – the nuclear approach. It can produce better results, however.

Once you’re happy, find someone you trust to read through it and ask what they think. I am always surprised at the items that get identified, even when I believe I know my own book inside-out!

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

 

First, take a deep breath. Then sit your calm self down and read that hot mess from a more distanced perspective. Deconstruct. Outline the story. This hot mess came out of your imagination, your creative brain pan. Decide if there is something there to merit a lot more hard work.

What is the premise? Does it hold water? Is the opening compelling and does it carry forward and follow a logical plot? How is it plotted? Who are the characters and do they fill their necessary roles? Are these personalities you’ve peopled the story with interesting enough to carry the plot? Have you set the tale up with some inciting element strong enough to capture a reader in the first two pages and can that moment or situation move the story forward? Does the action rise and culminate and resolve in a natural dramatic arc?

Possibly… probably not. Yet.

There’s got to be some worth in all that effort. It may simply be that you’ve primed the pump and can toss this exercise and go on to a different tale energized by the fact that you know you can get words down on paper. (Sometimes that’s half the battle.) Or it may be that your efforts contain the seed of something that with the proper rewrite and revise, can be great. Only by analyzing it with as critical an eye as you’re able to achieve can you know what you can make of that mad NanoWriMo effort.

If you see the glaring errors of you ways, then get down to the rewrite. If you are overwhelmed by the prospect, get yourself an editor. Most editors, myself included, offer a read and review service for a reasonable fee. That overview from a fresh, professional eye, will help you see your way through trees to the forest. Or is that through the forest to the trees? Either way, you’ll come away with a direction that will help you move your written efforts forward.

Fifty K plus written words is awesome. You can make something of it, learn something from it, or just be pleased as punch that you achieved it.

I recommend you make something of it.

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Loss for Words by @DeniseMColby

November 12, 2017 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

loss for words | denise m. colby | a slice of orange

I’m at a loss for words. 

 

Me.  Someone who can talk incessantly. Who never seems to max out my words each day.

Why is it when I don’t have time to write, ideas and words flow in my mind? When I’m driving, in the shower, at a kids event.  It seems that I have no issue coming up with blog post ideas and story ideas to explore or messages to write.  I’m just not in a position to actually write them.

[tweetshare tweet=”Why is it when I don’t have time to write, ideas and words flow in my mind?” username=”A_SliceofOrange”]

But today?  Nothing.  I even left my house to work specifically on my NaNo work and write my blog post and guess what?  My brain is mush.  I want to curl up and take a nap.

Actually I think it’s because I’m exhausted.  My bandwidth is maxed.  And there’s good reason.

My husband and I are coaching my younger son’s robotics team.  We have our FIRST Lego League tournament this weekend and we’ve been pulling more than double shifts.

We have six 7th graders on our team.  Our robotics table is a large table with Lego missions all over it and our robot is made out of Lego’s.  We program it to accomplish as many missions as possible in 2 1/2 minutes.  Pretty cool.

But wait, there’s more.

Loss for Words | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of OrangeWe have a five minute project presentation as well.  Each year is a different theme and we have to find a real world problem within the theme and innovate a new solution.  This years theme is Hydro Dynamics.  Anything to do with human use of water.

As the kids did their initial research, they stumbled onto how much water is used to make shirts.  The information we found out is fascinating.  Textile mills all over the world use a process called Wet Processing to shape, color and finish clothing.  Not only do they use A LOT of water, the runoff is full of chemicals, so the water is not reused and pollutes the environment.

There are a number of solutions out there but there are over 15,000 mills in China alone.  So getting each and every one to change takes time and money.  And honestly their isn’t enough incentive to change.

Some brands such as Nike, Adidas, Levi and Patagonia are doing something about it and we reached out to several of them.  Eileen Fisher gave us the most detailed information.  We talked with their R&D chemist and learned more than we could ever put into our presentation.  But she gave us the idea we needed for our solution.

See most of us don’t know water is used to make shirts.  So awareness is key.  If you can change people’s buying habits, it just might be the catalyst for real change.  If we ask our favorite brands if they track and measure their water use, they in turn will ask their suppliers.

Loss for Words | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

So the kids created a website to build awareness and tell people what they can do to help.  We tie-dyed our own shirts and learned first-hand how much water is needed to rinse off the dye.  We made word searches and coloring pages, as well as a glossary page of all the terms they learned over the past ten weeks. They showed to it to their friends, teachers and families and asked them to take a survey.  Out of 38 respondents, 61% didn’t know that water was used to make shirts and 68% said they would change how they shop.  We took all this information and put it into a presentation. And the kids created a fun skit to go with it.

They decided to call themselves Fiber Friends (think justice league – Fiber Friends Unite).  Water waster owns a textile plant and wastes water.  Batman, Flash, Blue Lantern, Aquaman and Wonder Woman (we have one girl and 5 boys on the team), capture Water Waster and upgrade the plant to save water.  They do a great job and have lots of fun at the same time.

What I love about it is it’s just another form of storytelling and I’ve been able to help guide them in creating it.  They learn so much with this entire program – research, problem solving, presentation skills, working together as a team.

Loss for Words | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

I’ll have to update you on how we do, but in the meantime if you want to take a look at their website, here’s the link: https://ffunite.wixsite.com/fiberfriendsunite

Hugs & Blessings,

Denise

 


Denise Colby |The Writing Journey

Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.

If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/

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