Getting Involved

By Natasha R.

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NaNoWriMo is a hectic time of year for those who participate. Everyone is frantic trying to make their word count for the day, let alone the month as a whole. Sometimes people have a massive muse, and sometimes it’s harder to get those words out. That’s why in each region there are events, both physical ones and online. Fort Writerdale events can be found on the NaNo forum here.

Granted we all have responsibilities in life, whether it be school, work, family, or whatever. Debby (our ML, make sure you learn who she is, cause she’s AWESOME) has put together several events all over Broward. Meeting other participants and joining the write-ins creates a positive atmosphere where everyone motivates each other.

NaNoWriMo is more than just sitting in front of a computer and writing. It’s community, and I recently got the chance to hang out with our fearless leader, Debby, one on and one, and see just how much she puts into it. She dedicates her time to making sure everyone has a fun, positive environment. Her dedication is amazing! She not only tries to write her own story in thirty days, but puts so much into making sure everyone else is motivated to do the same. Continue reading »

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Tools of the Trade

By Neliza Drew

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So, you’re pumped for November 1st. You have all the ideas – nay, All The Ideas! – and you’re ready to go. So, you’re going to need a way to write all those words. Below are just some ideas, some suggestions. Tools you can put in your toolbox or leave on the store shelf. You can always write by hand — and I know writers who swear by that, too. Heck, so many paper options, that could be its own post…

But, since it’s easier to count words with tech, let’s start with the tech.

MS Word 

The powerhouse. The go-to word processor for decades. The pricey prince if your computer didn’t come with a copy or you can’t just use it at work. There are other, free – or cheaper – options for writing your NaNoWriMo novel and I’ll talk about several below. That said, if you plan to eventually edit or submit your project for publication, you’re probably going to need Word at some point. While OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and gDocs will all give you a Word .doc or .docx file, they all are limited in their ability to display and interact with the changes and comments functions. If you have it or can afford it, Word is a great tool and if you’re very linear in your thinking or plotting, a blank page like Word is great. Additionally, if you’re willing to spring for the “rental” or subscription Office365 plan, it comes with a terabyte of cloud storage (so you have offsite backup for your new baby).

Pros: Has all the features and is fairly universal for sharing with critique groups or submitting to agents (after much editing – boatloads of editing). At this point, almost everyone has used it at some point.

Cons: Expensive and requires a computer you can download to, though there is a “online” version, but it’s honesty no better than some of the freebies.

Google Docs

How to Geek talks some about the pluses to Docs versus shelling out money for Word, but here are my two or three cents: Google Docs works great for shorter documents. I’ve used it for reviews and reports and short stories. You can convert your gdoc file to a .docx (new Word), a PDF, or a few other options. You can email it. You can print it. It saves automatically – even offline – and syncs to your Google Drive anytime it finds an internet connection. While in it, you can track your word count, copy, paste, change your font, insert tables, and most of the features you’re familiar with. That said, aside from not handling comments well, it gets slow – molasses going uphill in February slow – if your document gets much beyond 10,000 words. Which means, if you use Google Docs for your NaNowriMo project, you may want to split it up (by chapters, by acts, by 10,000 words, by whatever fits your story) into separate files until you’re ready for the big count at the end.

Pros: Totally free, syncs great across devices, and saves constantly.

Cons: Not that Mac friendly, mobile version is hard to edit, and it gets s…l…o…w… beyond 10k words.

Handoff & Continuity

I’ve heard great things about Handoff from Mac people. I’ve also heard terrible things about Yosemite, but I’m not a Mac person, so you’ll have to try it for yourself and let me know what you think. (For the record, I’m sure Mac is wonderful and everyone I know who has one talks about theirs like it’s the Ferrari of computers. I just…drive an ancient Jeep.)

Pros & Cons? You tell me.

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Paper Trade

By Neliza Drew

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Let’s say you’re super-pumped for November 1st. You’re cracking your knuckles and hopping up and down and doing your very best “I’m Ready!” dance…. But, you don’t have a computer of your own or you hate typing on your tablet or you want to write while your kid’s at soccer practice without whipping out a laptop or you’re technology-averse or you spend all day programming and the last thing you want from your muse is more screen time.

At any rate, yes, you can write your NaNoWriMo project by hand. And yes, you can even validate it and win.

Some writers swear by Moleskine or Field Notes. Others are big fans of Arc (and other discbound systems), the neat thing about those being that, like an analog version of Scrivener, you can rearrange the pages and write scenes out of order or include research sections without losing your mind.

Writers are often stationery and office supply fetishists, so if you talk to a bunch of them, you’ll probably find a lot of favorite pens and favorite papers and all sorts of oddball quirks that work for them, but might not work for you.

You don’t have to invest in a fancy paper system. You just have to find something that works for you. Heck, one of my favorite writers fills dozens of plain yellow legal pads before her novels are complete. You can use composition books, three-ring binders and loose-leaf, wire bound notebooks, the backs of grocery receipts (although then you might have to write rather small) or whatever else you find works.

And if you want to go full-on analog, designer David Seah has updated his printable word count tracker for 2014.

Don’t forget to check out the digital Tools of the Trade.

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Kick Off Party Notes

By Debby J.

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Howdy, Fort Writerdale!

Just wanted to make sure I put a post up detailing what you missed out on by not attending the awesome party, part 1. Fortunately, there is a part 2 that you are all welcome to attend and I hope you will RSVP!

We had a wonderful guest speaker present. Barbara Levenson is a published author who writes fiction with a specific interest in mystery. She started by asking everyone their experiences with writing (specifically asking about our experiences with writing, publication, and workshops or critique groups). Here is a quick list of the things she spoke about:

  • “If you want to write, get your butt in the chair, sit and write.”
  • Many people will start to write, but will get stuck and quit and never go back. It is better to put the writing away for a few days when you are stuck and go back to it.
  • The more your write, the better you write.
  • Her experiences started when she was young and she would tell stories and write plays for her friends to act out. Into adulthood, she started writing more technical writing because of her career but after taking a class she realized she also really wanted to write fiction.
  • She said that any experience or course is very beneficial and will get you writing.
  • She encouraged everyone to join a writing group and attend seminars. Seminars are great because you can pitch ideas, but even better you can talk about writing with people who are also writers.
  • She talked about her experiences with publishing and said that no matter what, to make sure you protect your rights. The Author’s Guild has lawyers on retainer who can help with your contracts if you are member.
  • She actually bought back the rights to her novels because she was unhappy with what the publishers were doing (or not doing!).
  • Barbara also said that stories can be character-driven or plot-driven. She said that with NaNoWriMo it is likely the stories we write will be plot-driven since 50k words is not a good amount to really develop the characters.
  • She personally doesn’t outline because generally speaking she knows what major things have to happen (even if the how is vague) and knows the final outcome.
  • She knows these things because she spends a lot of time thinking (mostly when ironing and baking).
  • She said a complete work that is 50k words long is more like a novella than a novel.
  • There are no rules to writing. However, you still need to establish your point of view (POV).
  • Your POV should not change from one paragraph to another or even in the middle of a chapter.
  • She strongly encouraged we avoid the use of adjectives and adverbs.
  • We did a short writing activity. We wrote a paragraph without using adjectives or adverbs. The prompt was “He looked at the river and saw something he couldn’t explain.”
  • My paragraph: Juan looked at the river. A breeze caressed the river; ripples crossed the service as Juan stared. A fish leaped from the water and landed on the river bank. While he watched, another fish floundered out. And another. Juan looked to the sky filled with sunshine and clouds. A comet hung high beside the moon. Today was going to be something special.
  • She spent some time talking about showing and telling. It is better to show and you can use dialogue to show things. If you want to show with a scene, then use action words.
  • Dialogue makes your characters real.

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Wearing Many Hats

By Jamie W.

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Hello, again. 🙂 I promised you all a post before, but another more timely one came in I wanted to get out. That all said, you may have noticed that these Friday posts I do usually come out a bit later in the day than other posts. Basically? It comes down to one thing: A desperate need of organization and feeling a bit overwhelmed at times.

I’m sure you know what I am talking about. As authors, we usually wear a ton of other hats. We’re also editors. Marketers. Some of us are designers as well. Add in jobs (Stephen King pointed out in On Writing only 5% of authors make enough to live solely on their books alone), and it gets even crazier.

That’s where the need to organize and get on a schedule is so critical. Here are some things I am planning to implement and some resources to help.

  • Make a list. While I fell out of the habit for a little while, I love to-do lists. They bring some structure to my day and it feels great to see things getting checked off.  Put the highest priority stuff at the top and work your way down.
  • Be Realistic. This is related to lists, and a trap I’ve fallen into a few times. I’d start jotting down a ton of things that I needed to get done and only get half of the list completed. I was trying to jam too much in one day, which left me feeling disappointed and even more overwhelmed.

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But I Want to Start NOW

By Tina R.

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Those of us who have ventured into the stormy seas of NaNoWriMo before know this familiar feeling. Whether you are a pant-ser or a plotter, with seven days to go you are itching to get started.

You could start writing now, stop reading this post and pull out your notebook or journal, or open up a new word document and begin putting down the words you’re aching to write. Nothing is stopping you. NaNoWriMo works on an honor system and you’re the only one who will ever know that you didn’t follow the rules. Winning though won’t feel quite as sweet, knowing that you reached the finish line because you started early. So what do you do with yourself for the next seven days? How do you avoid temptation? Having done NaNoWriMo for more years than I can count now and having won and lost I have a few suggestions; seven in fact, one for each day until November 1st.
1) Housework. Ugh, I know but if the hamper is empty and all the dishes washed you’ll have more guilt-free time to write and less complaints from those who live with you. So NaNo clean. Trust me your house will fall apart over the next thirty days, so consider this a preemptive strike.

2) Go shopping. Make a list. What do you need to make it through these intensive days of writing? Get yourself a crock pot. Stock up on K-Cups or buy yourself a couple of Starbucks cards. Buy some Halloween candy and make yourself a stash. Look for deals on frozen pizzas or frozen dinners. Do you have enough pens, a flash drive? Stock up now. Don’t forget a new DVD for the kids. Frozen, anyone?

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Being a Multi-Genre Author

By CP Bialois

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Hello everyone!

Being a multi-genre author is a topic that’s been one of the most discussed topics in the writing groups I’m in, so I thought I’d throw my two cents in and share my thoughts.

As many of you know, I’m a multi-genre author. For me, it’s a simple choice since I have an interest in just about everything and anything. I love sci-fi and fantasy, action adventure and horror, so it’s easy for me to have ideas and stories in all of those that I want to explore and share.

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast.

There are many arguments against being multi-genre and some of the most vocalized cons of doing so I’ve heard are: “Your readers won’t know what to expect from you”, “You need to make it easy for your readers to find you”, and “It’s easier to brand your books if they’re in the same genre”.

Now, those are all good arguments to a certain extent. Let’s take the first one about our readers not knowing what to expect.

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Keeping The Excitement

By Natasha R.

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The days leading up to NaNoWriMo are often filled with anticipation, excitement, and the undeniable desire to start typing. You brainstorm, you talk to your NaNo buddies, and may even secretly squee a little bit.

You know you do this.

Then November 1st arrives and you’re a writing machine. 

The muse is strong within you. The words pour from your fingers like syrup onto pancakes. It’s so smooth, sweet, and delectable. At three in the morning you’re loathe to stop, but know in four hours you have to get up for the dreaded day job.

The eloquent words that fall from your lips may be something like: “Stupid day job is stupid.” At three in the morning, who can blame you?

This is the pattern for the first few days. You keep up, or even surpass your word count goal. Everything is going according to the plan–or the pantser is enjoying winging it. Whichever.

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Prep Workshop by Debby Jensen – October 2014

By Debby J.

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I wanted to include some notes from the brainstorming session we did on Sunday, October 18. We had an amazing 15 people who up, both current WriMos as well as people who heard about the event through the library. Hope to see even more next time! Without further ado, here are the notes.

Part 1 – Introduction

  • introduced myself (Debby Jensen)
  • explained what NaNoWriMo is
  • three parts of plot (that we will also cover today in depth)
    • conflict
    • character
    • setting

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Surviving NaNoWriMo

By Jamie W.

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So, it just so happens that “Three Books in Three Months” also includes the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. What’s NaNo, you ask? It stands for “National Novel Writing Month” and participants from all over the world sign up to write 50,000 words in one month. Sound crazy? Possibly! lol. Here are some of the things I think are essential for surviving the month of November for anyone who is new to the challenge…

  • Don’t look at the whole. Writing only 1,667 words a day sound much more manageable, doesn’t it?
  • Go to write-ins. These are amazing chances to connect with local writers and exchange ideas. These write-ins have led to friendships with some awesome people.
  • DO NOT procrastinate on backing up your work. I know we all got taught in school about backing up our work regularly, but let’s be honest here: how many of us do it consistently? Well, now is not the time to take risks with your words. Make sure you move the document to a flash drive, e-mail it to yourself, and/or upload it to services like box or dropbox. A little side note: For one of the camps they do, I had about 3,000 words written. I “saved as” onto my flash drive and went to open it a little later. I got “file is corrupt”. A call to my husband’s computer genius friend showed me the error of my ways. If you save a file directly to a flash drive rather than “sending to” or dragging it on there from your computer, it can corrupt the drive and ruin your document.

Continue Reading…

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