Road Maps

Would you start a journey without a road map?  Well, in this day and age you might, because you’d rely on a GPS or the mapping software on your smart phone.  But I’m old enough to remember using road maps to find my way to places, and I still have a bunch of them in one of my cars.  Many of my road maps are tattered and worn.  They got quite a lot of work during the many years I spent traveling to Civil War reenactments.  I hold on to them, partly out of sentiment and partly because paper maps never need recharging or lose signal.

The other week our cabin leader for Camp NaNoWriMo asked everyone to share their synopsis for their story.  Many of my bunk-mates did, and I was really impressed with what they shared!  Then I was really upset, because I don’t have a synopsis for my current project.  I’m sure I had something in mind when I started, some key ideas and some plot points I knew I’d want to hit, but I had nothing in writing.  That’s usually how I operate.  I am a pantser, not a plotter.  But I forget – when you have a road map you are not limited to taking one route to your destination.  A good map shows you multiple routes.  You can figure out your own detour or, if you make a wrong turn, you can find a way to get back on track.  I went into this writing journey with no road map, relying on the GPS of my brain, but it seems like my brain has lost signal.  I’m feeling a bit lost and I really could use that road map right now.

So I’m creating the road map now, even though I’m a bit late.  I’m hoping it will help me get back on course so I can finish this first draft AND complete Camp NaNoWriMo successfully.  And stop being the slacker in my cabin.  So here we go – here’s my synopsis:

After an investigation at a local community theater, ghost-hunters Kate and Alex must work with their team to determine if the threats directed at them have a paranormal source, or if the danger they are facing comes from someone living. 

There we are.  It’s written down now.  And typed on a blog.  Now to see if I can get myself back on course.

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Heading to Camp!

Camp NaNoWriMo that is! That’s right – you don’t have to wait for November to do NaNoWriMo. The great folks at the Office of Letters and Light offer Camp NaNoWriMo as well. This year there are camping sessions in April and July. Camp is a bit different than November’s NaNoWriMo. For one thing, you choose your word-count goal. Want to do 50,000? Go ahead. Want to do less (or more) than that? That’s fine too. You decide! The other thing that’s different is that at camp there are cabins. A cabin is a group of fellow writers. You can create your own cabin or join one with friends, or be randomly assigned to a cabin (or, if cabins aren’t your thing, you can go it alone).

I’m very excited to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April. I’m using the camp to complete my first draft of my current manuscript, tentatively titled Ghostly Witness. I’ve set my word-count goal at 30,000 and I think that’s realistic both to complete in April and complete the first draft. I’m also excited to be part of the Cabin of Creative Misfits, started by Natasha Raulerson. We’ve got different genres and different word-count goals, but that doesn’t matter.  We’re all in this together.  I’m looking forward to getting to know my bunk-mates, cheering folks on, and seeing all of us succeed! I’ve seen some of my bunk-mates descriptions of their novels and I want to read them all! It’s going to be a good Camp!

Ready to Stop Going it Alone

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the introvert-extrovert dynamic lately, and how it applies to me.  If you’d asked me growing up (at a point when I understood the terms) I would have called myself an introvert.  These days I think I’m closer to an ambivert.  I get energized both by being around people and by getting away from them – I hit a saturation point with either activity and need to switch things up.  Keeping things balanced is key – just enough socializing, just enough time to myself.  Finding the right balance is the part that’s challenging.

I used to have a friend to run with.  We’d meet up on Saturday or Sunday to run together.  Our pacing was similar enough that we could run together.  Sometimes I had to push a bit harder to keep up, sometimes she did, and some days we spent a lot more time walking and talking than we’d intended.  It worked.  It was especially nice when she was training for a half-marathon and had some long runs to get in.  I wasn’t training for that distance but I joined her for her first 7-miler, 8-miler, and 9-miler anyway.  Unfortunately, after her half, she quit running and I’ve been on my own for the past year and a half.  That’s been fine – I run at the time that works best for me and I don’t have to worry about pacing with anyone else – but now that I’m training for my own half-marathon and have my long runs looming, I find myself wishing I had someone to run with me.  It’s not a matter of accountability – I manage that part just fine on my own – but company on these long runs would be appreciated.

My writing situation is similar.  For years I wrote fanfiction and was part of a group of supportive writers.  I did my first NaNoWriMo with them and had a blast.  Over the years several of us have drifted away from fanfiction, and a few from writing at all.  That support network isn’t there any longer.  For a while it didn’t bother me but of late I’ve been feeling like I’ve hit my saturation point on writing solo.  I miss having that supportive group, miss having people to be encouraged by and to encourage in turn.  It wasn’t hard to find a supportive group in the fanfiction community, but figuring out how to do that outside of it is a puzzle I haven’t solved.  Yet.

Getting to Know Me

I saw this list of questions on Kathy Palm’s blog and though I’m not officially part of the blog-hop, I like the questions and thought it would be fun to answer them.  So here we go!

1.  What’s your least favorite book?

This is a tough one, because I am inclined favorably toward books.  It takes a lot for me to really dislike one.  But I’d have to say the book I least enjoyed reading from my school days was Crime and Punishment.  I think it was a bit over my head at the time, and it’s Russian and thus generally depressing.  Honorable mentions would go to Agatha Christie’s works, because I find her characters two-dimensional and her “cheats” of having the detective be the killer or not share all of his knowledge even when we’re supposed to be in his head really honk me off.

2.  What’s your favorite book from childhood?

Again, it’s hard to pick just one.  So here are a few that really stand out to me (as in, I can’t think of my childhood without also thinking of these books):

the original Nancy Drew mysteries – this was the first series I binge read.  I remember getting these from my school library and reading them at lunchtime (yeah, I was that kid).  I loved Nancy.  She had her own car and got to go in secret passages and overcome dangers and solve mysteries.  She had a supportive dad and a really nice housekeeper/mother figure, cool best friends and even a boyfriend.  She was awesome.  I wanted to be her.

The Hideaway – two kids run away from home and wind up in a cabin in the woods, taking care of themselves for the summer with no grown-ups, and they do it quite well.  I read and re-read this one.  I loved it.

The Anne of Green Gables series.  How could you not love Anne with an “e”, Gilbert, and all of their children (we will not talk about the last book because the death of a certain character still makes me tear up).

3.  What author(s) inspired you to become a writer?

Strangely, this is the most difficult question to answer.  I don’t know that any one author inspired me to write.  As far back as I can remember I was telling stories.  When I was a kid all my stuffed animals had personalities and my brother and I created elaborate dramas for them.  I think that comes more from my mother than from any author – she is the one who tells the family stories.  She also read to me a lot.  Then, in elementary school we did Young Author’s Conference one year and I got to write my own story.  That’s what really made the connection of story-telling leading to book creation for me, and it’s been something I wanted to do ever since.

4.  How do you feel about ebooks?

I don’t see the love of e-books being something exclusive from the love of books and reading.  We’ve turned our family room into the library in my house and it is full of books.  Between my husband and I there are also multiple Kindles in use in our house and I love them as well.   I can’t understand people who want to bash on e-readers any more than I could understand someone who’d want to bash on books.  What matters is that people read, not what platform they choose to use (and if it takes a gadget to get a kid turned on to the joy of reading, then use the gadget!).

5.  Are you a compulsive reader or do you take your time getting through a story?

I am a compulsive reader.  There are certainly books that I wish would never end, but my compulsive need to know what happens next will override any thoughts of lingering.

6.  Which book(s) have you re-read the most?

The original Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout, and Harry Potter.  There is something so comforting and wonderful about the worlds of those books that I want to revisit them, and something so engaging about the characters that I love to spend time with them even if I already know what’s going to happen next.

7.  If you could live in any world depicted in a book, what would it be?

I’d love to live in the world of Harry Potter.  I also would love to visit (and maybe stay) the steampunk world Kenneth Oppel created for his Matt Cruse series (Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber).

8.  If you could kiss any book character, who would it be?

Ian Rutledge from Charles Todd‘s series, because the poor man needs some TLC!

9.  Do you communicate with your favorite authors on Twitter?

Not on Twitter, but I’m Facebook friends with a few and we do communicate that way.  I’ve been fortunate enough to volunteer with Magna Cum Murder for several years and have had the chance to meet many authors that way.  In some cases those meetings are what led to me reading their work (and in a few cases I’m more fond of them as a person than I am as a writer).

10.  If you could have dinner with four literary characters, who would you choose?

It’s really tough to limit myself to just four choices!

Nero Wolfe (because we’d not only have good conversation but excellent food)
Amelia Peabody (because watching her spar with Wolfe would be funny)
Armand Gamache (because we’d need a peace-maker at the table, and he’s a genuinely lovely man whose company I’d enjoy)
Albert Campion (because maybe with the other three at the table we’d be able to pry loose a few of his secrets)

And there you have it!