Saturday, October 29, 2011

Birth of a Novel Blog Chain

Okay, so here's the scoop:

The lovely Charity thought the blog chain was a really cool idea. Enough that we've got some things going. 

We decided that every Tuesday during the month of November, participants in the blog chain will post their updates. You can tell us about your novel, post excerpts, complain that all your characters are already dead and it's only chapter 11, whatever. Go wild. 

Then you can visit other participants by clicking on the list of names at the bottom of every update post, or on the list found in the sidebar. You can use that lovely button up there that Charity made (isn't it gorgeous? *pets button*) on your update post to indicate that you're part of this blog chain.

This was designed to coincide with NaNo, but you don't have to play by NaNo's rules. I encourage everyone who is still in the middle of a rough draft or about to start one to participate. You can set your own goals and play by your own rules. The blog chain is just here for moral support.

If you are interested, simply email me at writer(dot)elizabethpoole(at)gmail(dot)com, or Charity at charity(dot)bradford(at)gmail(dot)com. We'll compile a list of names and send it to all the members to include at the end of each post. We'll also keep a list on the sidebar of the blog for easy reference.

You can update more frequently than once a week, as I may end up doing. That's partially why we have the list of names in the sidebar as well. 

Overall, have fun with your novel!  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Birth of a Novel

So it's almost that time of year again.

In six days thousands of would-be novelists will be sitting down at their desks, their local coffee joint, and or the library to start writing their novel for National Novel Writer's Month, or NaNo for short. 

The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. That's about 1666 words a day.

And yes, it's an arbitrary goal. Yes, 50K is way too short for almost all genres to be considered a novel. Yes, in December agents get flooded with tons of queries for half finished novels. These are all valid criticisms of NaNo. But you know, there's going to be a lot amateurs, for lack of a better word, in any profession. People who don't realize how long a novel should be, or how to write a proper query letter. Heck, I was an amateur not too many years ago myself. I wrote two books in high school, neither of them complete, and stopped around 150K. I had no idea how long a novel should be.

But you live and learn, and I enjoy the camaraderie of NaNo. It's a great community and I enjoy the forums. The first novel I ever finished I wrote for NaNo. It's a good way to kick yourself in the pants and make sure you met daily deadlines, an extremely important skill a professional writer needs to have. I also enjoy egging on my other friends who are participating. I write novels during months other than November and it's generally a very solitary process. November allows me to share the insanity.

So this year I will share the insanity with you. That's right; I am going to live blog my progress. I haven't decided whether or not I am going to blog every single day in November. On one hand, it might get boring. On the other hand, depending on how quickly my sanity unravels, you might want to bring popcorn. So we'll see how it goes. At the very least it will be an interesting social experiment.

Also, I write the novel until it's complete, so the Birth of a Novel will bleed over into December, and maybe even January. I'll post my stats, my thoughts, overall novel progress, and hot chocolate intake (caffeine is out due to being pregnant, aka having a belly ninja, so liquid chocolate shall be my substitute). 

If you are in the process of writing a novel or about to start and want to join in the madness, please feel free. You can post links to your blog in the comments, or contact me via email and I can link to your blog directly in the post. 

This will either be interesting or you're all going to run in fear from me when the insanity of writing a novel starts to leak out.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Odds and Ends

I keep thinking I should blog, but then I don't have a subject long enough for a regular post. 

So today I think this will be a general odds and ends post. :D It's the best of all worlds.


Planning out ZOMBIE ROAD TRIP is coming along really nicely. I am definitely doing NaNoWriMo this year and I am so excited I am quivering in my seat (My user name is Undyne, from back in the days where I was all incognito. Feel free to friend me and I shall reciprocate!). The last two years I did NaNo, the novel fell apart as I was writing it. Trust me folks, it's not a pretty sight when your novel implodes. Both for the novel, and your sanity.

I am shooting for a happy medium where I have a good feel for the conflict and characters, but I am leaving a lot of blanks on purpose, so I can hopefully come up with cool stuff as a write. That's the plan anyway. I might be blogging in a month about how I've shot myself in the foot and ruined everything and WAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

But so far, I am feeling optimistic about it. 


The weight gain thing is going steady. I feel like I wake up every morning to a bigger tummy, but I keep forgetting to buy a scale. So I am not sure how much weight I've gained. Also, eating 60 grams of protein a day it getting...interesting. I normally have no problems with eating meat, but right now I just don't feel like it.

On the other hand, I am eating tons of dairy products. Normally I am very lactose intolerant and can't eat lots of cheese and drink lots of milk without having a very upset stomach. But my heartburn is reaching epic proportions (it doesn't matter what it is--if it's not cheese, milk, or pudding, it gives me wicked bad heartburn), so I think one is counteracting the other.

I have no appetite. I get a little hungry in the morning, and in the evening, but other than that I have to just set food in front of me and snack all day. It has something to do with the fact that my uterus is 1 1/2 inches above my belly button, which is very high for me. My stomach is squashed and I get full very quickly.

By the end of the sixth month my uterus will be 2 1/2 inches above my navel. I have very short waist. There's about an inch or so between the bottom of my rib cage and the top of my hip. As the baby gets bigger, the top of my uterus will keep moving up, and honestly, I am sort of wondering where all the rest of my internal organs are going to go. On vacation?

*Real Life Stuff

I went shopping with my mom yesterday, and my best friend Melissa joined us later on. It's that time of year, when Bath and Body Works puts out their holiday scents. I stocked up on Winter Candy Apple. My goodness, that stuff smells like heaven. You have to buy it really early too, because they sell out quickly. I also got a really cute pair of pink flannel sleep pants, so I am a happy camper. It's amazing how happy you can be from just some new lotion and sleep pants. 

Of course, I might just be easy to please. (Hush, I can hear all of you snickering.) 

So, what about you guys? What's going on in your lives? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Desperation Your Secret Ally

A while ago I read a really interesting essay by Neil Gaiman about where he gets his ideas. He's rather candid about it, and I've thought back fondly of that essay time and again. But today what's made me think of his essay about ideas is when he talked about desperation. He was desperate to figure out a story for the Sandman comics and gradually worked his way through it.

So I come to desperation myself. I've worked on three or four different ideas, and none of them came together. The ideas were there, but the plot hadn't joined up like the big robot in Power Rangers (the original show from the 90s...we don't talk about the Power Rangers in Space Metaton IV on this blog). 

Bored and frustrated, I reread some of my old things. You know those novels. They didn't quite work out the way you thought they would. You abandoned them before you finished. You wrote until you didn't know what else happened and gave up. I read over my zombie novel, still beloved in my heart despite it only being 34K and very, very rough and discovered magic.

I could make this into a full length novel. It actually wasn't that bad. Sure I wrote it before I knew what a scene was, but still. The character's voice was alive and whole and there. Like magic. From my brain.

Desperation can be an ally. Sometimes you're at your wits end. You've had enough worrying over the book and your future as a writer, and you just want to lose yourself in a story. Given the rough state of the half draft, I also think it's going to be easier to just write in the spirit of discovery. To write out an exploratory draft, and write with abandon, instead of feeling like I need to stay on the path of the plot. 

I've worked out some things for the plot, but mostly I plan to wing a lot of the story. I also plan to do NaNo this year, and I am excited for it.

Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel, give up your writerly notions, and just sit down and tell yourself a story. It's so easy to forget that, but so vital to remember it.

What about you? Has anything good come out of a moment of desperation?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Baby and the Bump

Guys, I think there's something growing inside me. 

If it looks like I am tired, that's because I am.

It's pretty much impossible now for random strangers to not know I am pregnant (not entirely true. There's about two dresses I have that just...compress the belly so it just looks like I am really chunky). This week was my 20th week, which is the half way point (tomorrow is the start of my 21st week). It feels weird that I've been pregnant for five months now. It definitely looks like I've shoved a beach ball down my shirt. 

The baby!

Connor Nathanial is 11oz, right on target for growth. He's already sucking his thumb, and while I've felt him flutter around in there for some time, his kicks are starting to have some oomph behind them. Which is adorable when I am sitting here typing, but not so much when I am trying to fall asleep and he is literally kicking my bladder (The baby has a vendetta against my bladder for some reason. He enjoys kicking, laying, and rolling on my bladder as though it was his own personal trampoline. I wish I was exaggerating.)

This last ultrasound was to check the anatomy of the baby. They looked at his heart, kidneys, umbilical cord, spine, arms, legs, head, etc. They also check the level of amniotic fluid and the thickness of my placenta (which can indicate if I am going to carry to term). Everything was normal and fine. It's not a definitive test, but they said if there was something abnormally wrong they would see it. So yay! for piece of mind!

The only "bad" thing was I somehow lost three pounds. When I went from 111 pounds to 108, they started talking to me about making sure I each lots of protein (also, remember I am five foot nothing. I gained between 11 and 8 pounds which doesn't sound like much, but feels HUGE to me). Now, I already feel like I eat nonstop. I'm being really good about eating lots of veggies, and fruits, and grains, and even protein, but I guess it's time to amp it up a bit. So now I get to sneak cheese, eggs, and meat into my meals more often. Some of my kind friends have suggested bacon wrapped in bacon, and I have to agree: that's a lovely source of protein. 

So far I feel great. I am sleeping fitfully, but I still manage to get enough most nights. The only major issue I've had is I've pulled a muscle at work (which I thought was a blood clot and went to the emergency room for chest pain), and a week later I threw my back out. That wasn't pretty. I woke up at 4 in the morning with excruciating back pain and couldn't get comfortable or sleep. Every time I tried to eat or take Tylenol, I threw it up. This last week I've been off of work, resting, so when I go back to work tomorrow I will try to take it extra easy.

The difficult thing is I am a massage therapist. We pretty much use our bodies during the massage. At school we're taught how to use our center of gravity (which is at your hips and pelvis) to provide the pressure we're giving (that's why if you sit on the couch and rub someone's shoulders for five minutes you're exhausted, but I can stand for an hour and be fine). But, the baby has completely thrown off my center of gravity and as a bonus, my ligaments are doing their werewolf impression and stretching really easy. 

So yeah. This pregnancy thing is interesting. It's really weird to think that there's actually a little person inside me. Like...inside me. I don't know how to explain it. It's surreal at times. And other times, I can't wait to have the baby so I can hold him and squeeze him and dress him in cute little baby clothes. Yeah, the hormones are pretty much in full swing, can't you tell?

So there you have it: the bump and the baby causing it.