Nano Invasion

Study Desk

plotting at warp speed
his intergalactic war
invades his space

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Books: 5000 Words Per Hour

5,000 WORDS PER HOUR: Write Faster, Write Smarter
© 2015 by Chris Fox

In preparation for NaNoWriMo I’ve been rereading this short, motivational e-book. The writer gives his system for improving your writing skills to the point you’re whacking out 5000 words per hour. Can you see yourself doing that?

Motivation is a powerful force, he says. And he knows, because he’s motivated himself to lose 100 pounds and write a dozen novels plus half a dozen other books on writing and editing. So he’s not just whistling Dixie. He has developed this system and shares it because it has worked for him.

We start with short writing practices or sprints, typing without pausing to edit in any way, including correcting typos. Here’s where I digress. While I see merit in what he’s saying, I simply must correct my spelling mistakes. (I make one or two for every ten words.) If it slows me down, so be it.

He advocates using the same “sprint” system for editing. Don’t agonize over each word during the first edits. This thought helped me a lot. I tend to want Chapter One perfect before I move on to Chapter Two. I never do get to the last chapter.

Anyway, as you practice every day and chart your progress, he promises you’ll see improvement in both speed and also your ability to plot out your scenes in advance and catch your writing flaws. By the way, this author once a pantser who rarely finished a manuscript, is now a confirmed plotter. You need to be one to crank out this much content without stopping to wonder, “Now what happens next?”

I’d encourage any writer to read his book and see what you think. Some of us older ones are so set in our ways I’m not sure it will make a lot of difference — but they say you can always learn something new.

Even if you don’t get past, say 2000 words an hour, you’re still going to ace NaNoWriMo, where you need to do just over 1670 words a day for a month to get your 50,000 words Winner’s Badge. I did a fifteen-minute sprint and my word count was 650 words, which would give me 1300 words in half an hour — spelled right. 🙂

Practice every day, the author says. That’s the ticket.

When Tales, Like Mice, Scurry Through

HELP!

Can you share a bit of your wisdom and experience with me, dear Readers? ‘Cause I really need some guidance in managing my attention deficit disorder (or whatever it is?) as I prepare for NanoWrimo.

I’ve always had trouble making decisions, nothing new about having six suggestions pop up to fill one morning and not knowing where to start. Since I had chemo-therapy my brain seems fuzzier than ever; some mornings I feel like a dozen worthwhile ideas are scurrying through my mind and I just can’t grab one and hold it still long enough to execute the task.

Kind of like mice in a cheese factory.

Saturday I re-read a book on how to become a faster writer. (Will do a book review in my next post.) Practice, he says. Time yourself. Every day; keep on track. By using this system he’s trained himself to write 5000 WORDS PER HOUR — the title of his book.

When Tales, Like Mice, Scurry Through

So I sat down to do one of the sprints he recommended and … um… what should I write? I can think of a lot of little tales and experiences I could relate. Alas! Here’s where my ADD comes in. I’m giving myself permission to sit at the computer and type straight time for fifteen minutes, and I reach to grab one of those tales I’ve always wanted to tell. Suddenly four others run across my mind, squeaking, “NO! Write ME!”

Now how to catch and nail down one of these speedy little inspiration flashes and actually get something written? Like most writers I’ve stored up a number of short stories I want to write and like mice, they all pop out of the holes in my brain as if someone had yelled, Cheese! Come and get it.”

But when I grab for one, they all dodge. I get hold of one and it evaporates while several others run across my hand. I see one but before I’ve got it by the tail it’s into some dark hole where I can’t reach it. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you solve it?

Annoying as it is, this isn’t such a big thing. Finally I do sit down and write something and it doesn’t much matter what because this is, after all, just a practice.

NaNoWriMo Challenge

My problem is that NaNoWriMo is coming up in November and I really want to do it this year. But I’m in the same predicament. Half a dozen mice are jiving around my brain, wanting to be written. How do you decide, when you can think of at least four books you’ve always wanted to write? Toss the titles in a hat and pull one out?

I did decide on one, but it’s the fuzziest idea in the bunch. Several book are resting in my “Someday Box” as I sit here, waiting to see the light of day. I’ve worked them through in my mind over the years and could just sit down and write. Yet I’ve picked the vaguest one, planning to flesh it out as I go along. Hit by a wave of cold feet now. Will I be able to?

It a challenge, right? At present this story-line is like a skeleton whose larger bones are lying at my feet, but all the small bones are scattered and must be gathered up this week. Bits and pieces are coming to me. But there are so many other stories I could start on. Or some more short tales about Winnie and Raylene. I’ve been wanting to do a short humorous book featuring those two friends. Another mouse joins the party in my mind.

If you’ve ever wondered what living with attention deficit is like, now you know. Any suggestions?

PS:
I did this bit and the book review as my first exercise, managed to write 650 words in 15 minutes, knowing exactly what I wanted to say. I wrote one scene from my upcoming book as the next day’s exercise and did 450 words in 15 minutes. The difference between knowing exactly what I wanted to say and having to plan as I write. I won’t be doing 5000 words per hour next month. 🙂

 

The Last One Out

Apparently some study once showed that nicotine is ten times as addictive as heroin. It’s harder to quit smoking than it is to quit “crack.” Friday Fictioneers must be somewhere in the middle — it’s pretty hard to quit, too.

Every Wednesday, in the wee hours, the Blue Frog express chugs out of the station over at Word-shy Wisoff-Fields’ blog. This Inlinkz engine carries the precious prompt photo to some terrific, but ever-so-terse, writers. One by one they hitch their links to the express and off it goes around the globe collecting tales. To see all the links, go to Rochelle’s blog and click the blue frog under the prompt photo — which, by the way, belongs to Douglas MacIlroy and you may not use it without his permission.

I thought I had nothing to share this time around, and no time, either. But a few days ago I was reading about Compassion International worker Dan Woolley, who had the misfortune to spend three days trapped in his hotel lobby after Haiti was hit by a big earthquake. (The title of his book is UNSHAKEN.) Then yesterday thoughts started coming together, this story emerged, and I felt I should post it. Initially a longer and more detailed account but I managed to pare it down.

(Note: “Wings of a Dove” was a country-gospel song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958.)

Photo prompt Douglas M MacIlroy

The Last One Out

Ashton regained consciousness, remembered the hotel floor shaking, walls cracking. His head throbbed; dust gagged him. He shifted some, found one leg was pinned. He tried calling, only managed a squeak.

The ground trembled again. Aftershocks. Plaster crumbled; he prayed the ceiling a metre above him wouldn’t fall. His throat was a chalkpit.

Hours later he heard rustling. Rats? No. Somebody’s bird!

“M’aidez,” the myna squawked.

He grabbed it. Keep singing, sailor.

“M’aidez! M’aidez!” it screamed.

Two hours later help reached him. “We thought no one here survived. Haitian workers heard you calling.”

“On wings of a dove,” Ashton whispered.

Books by Cindy Bell

Something Old, Something New — Part B

Author Cindy Bell has written a number of cozy mysteries and has several series on the go. I’ve read and liked four of her Dune House Cozy Mystery Series. I’d rate them at about 3.5 stars. She’s up to #11 in The Dune House series and her Sage Gardens series now.

I’ve also read three of her Heavenly Highland Inn Cozy Mystery Series and was rather unimpressed. Drama, but not a lot of logical behavior by the main characters. I see she has put out #7 in this series now. Bekki the Beautician is up to Book #14; there are four books in the Wendy, the Wedding Planner series plus a couple newer series just starting. So whatever else one might say about her, she’s certainly been prolific.

I find her books quite light reading, very simple plots. In the few I’ve read she tends toward stereotype characters rather than developed emotional ones. Behavior isn’t always very logical to human nature. Writing is pretty simple, too. However, she has lots of 4- and 5-Star reviews on Amazon.com.

The book I’m reviewing here, a relatively new one for this writer, I downloaded as a freebie and have given my honest opinion. Someday I may read more in the series just to see if the characters start to behave more like normal people in later books.

Birthdays Can Be Deadly (Sage Gardens Cozy Mystery Book 1)
by Cindy Bell
(Feb 2015)

James, a resident of Sage Gardens retirement community, dies suddenly during his birthday party. The official word is that he died of a heart attack, but three other don’t accept this story and set out to discover the truth.

The story starts out with a lot of narration, the writer telling us about the characters and what they are thinking. IMO the story would be quite improved by showing us, through the use of dialog and sharp action, instead of a lot of flat statements. So much narrative, done in short sentences, makes the book’s opening chapters rather boring. For example:

“Walt always felt at ease around Samantha. She never forced him to do anything, but he always ended up doing anything that she asked. When he had first moved into Sage Gardens she brought him a basket of muffins to welcome him. He appreciated that each was individually wrapped, and there were exactly six. He liked things to be even. She had struck up a conversation and Walt had been surprised that he didn’t mind her company. Instead he found it to be quite enjoyable.”

As the story unfolds the action does speed up and dialogue replaces so much telling, but the characters, especially the retired cop, are unrealistic, overly scowling, self-righteous and yet breaking the law himself. Bullying people into confessing may be standard fare on police dramas, but it isn’t natural or likely in a casual setting where people don’t have to talk.

“Make them mad enough and they’ll spill it all,” is the theory. So the amateur sleuth gets in suspects’ and witnesses’ faces, demanding, insulting, infuriating, and the victim tells everything they know. I sure wouldn’t! Maybe writers do this to save the sleuth some tedious detective work? It definitely shortened this story.

The ending scene seems overly melodramatic and not very well thought out. A reader has to suspend a lot of common sense in order to swallow this scene as written, especially the part about an intelligent man thinking he can dispose of evidence by throwing it out the window.

I’m giving this book three stars. As light, easy reading and as a mystery, it’s average. It could be better written and the characters could be more believable, but if a reader likes touches of melodrama and isn’t too worried about realism or legalities, this story works

Finders Keepers

Wasn’t it the cartoon character Snagglepuss that went around singing this song?
“I was strolling through the park one day
…in the merry, merry month of May
…and I got a strange surprise…”

Back when we lived in Moose Jaw, SK, my husband and I were strolling through Crescent Park, located right near the heart of the city, early one morning. And we did indeed get a strange surprise…

In the center of the park is a cenotaph, a memorial to those soldiers from Moose Jaw who were killed in action in the two world wars. This marble pillar with its bronze plaques was encircled by a flower bed in the shape of a big star. So think five points of the star planted to flowers and between the points lush green grass. This flower “star” was encircled by a sidewalk round-about, with several lanes or paved paths going off to the south, west, and north, leading to other park attractions.

As I said, we took our walk soon after sunrise — and it was early spring, so the bedding flowers hadn’t been planted yet. Thus the points of the star were bare black earth awaiting the bedding plants. Bob and I had come up the south path and were following around the main circle when we stopped, amazed.

There, nicely laid out in one of the star points was a pale blue nylon nightgown.

We stood there eyeing it for awhile, contemplating the possibilities. It obviously hadn’t been just dropped there; rather, it was spread out as if on display. Across the street from the park were several three- to five-storey apartment buildings. Had it blown off someone’s balcony when they’d hung a few things outside to dry?

Or was this simply someone’s idea of a practical joke?

I stepped into the flowerbed and retrieved the nightgown. It had a few dirty spots from its tumble on the dirt, but wasn’t that soiled. I held it up. It was sleeveless and double-layered, the outside being sheer nylon, the inside opaque. Not bad. I took it along home and washed it; the fabric proved to be in good condition with hardly a snag.

There was at the time a small paper put out locally, called “The Shopper” that was full of ads anyone could place for free. We decided to give the owner a chance to claim her lost property by placing an ad in this paper, but Bob suggested giving the ad a humorous twist in case the whole thing was a joke. So we sent in the following:
Found in bed (flower) in Crescent Park: one blue nightgown. Free to the person who can come up with the best explanation of how it got there.

Nobody answered the ad. Seeing as the nightgown fit me just fine…I decided, “Finders keepers.”

Originally posed at Christine’s Reflections — May 2015