Sunday, October 25, 2009

prepping for minano part deux

What else can we, as authors, do to get ready for a writing challenge? The pre-writing is done--so what else?

*Tell your family and friends. Don't keep the amount of time you'll need for intense writing a secret. You may have to negotiate with those you need to spend time with. Make sure they know that they are important, but your writing is too. Plan a celebration for the end of November. Make a promise for some special time.

*Get your writing area(s) in shape. I share one computer with others and always seem to be shoving their stuff out of the way. Heck, with my personal compute I'm always shoving stuff out of the way. Before Minano I will get both spaces workable so I don't have to face the frustration of a mess. My spaces won't be neat by some standards, but will be what is comfortable for me.

*Speaking of your writing space... if you enjoy writing to music, have the appropriate CDs nearby. Or better yet, create playlists in whatever program you use for music. I love creating 'A long afternoon' playlists. The music plays forever so I don't have to think about it. Hmm, guess I should create a Minano playlist! If a bowl of M&Ms sparks your creativity... you guessed it. Be prepared! Although, I would like to suggest that a healthier writing munchie like fresh veggies and fruit!

*And speaking of food--if you can in this next week, prep and freeze some meals to help get through the month. Plan great crock pot dishes or casseroles that come together quickly so you don't have to waste writing time on cooking. Better yet, let other household members take some of the meal prep responsibility. You may end up with peanut butter and jelly, but when made with love, what does that matter?

*Whatever you think might help you focus on intense writing--do it! There's always life outside of writing. Throughout November there will be a TON of distractions but if we have some plans in our arsenal, the distractions will be kept to a minimum and our wordcount at maximum!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A little motivation Pooh…

winne 2 Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. 

A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Drawing for Autographed Books!

Cheryl St.John is holding a drawing for advance copies of her December book, HER COLORADO MAN at Petticoats and Pistols. CLICK HERE to gallop on over!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Minano--getting ready part one

Whenever facing an extended writing challenge--like NaNoWriMo or our own Minano--good preparation is essential. Here's a few thoughts to get you started.

**Make a daily goal. There's thirty days in November (If I remember the rhyme correctly). However, for numerous reasons, it's difficult for many of us to write every day. So take a good, honest look at the calendar. There are plenty of activites you might be able to put off, but some events demand that portion of your time. If you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner for family, you may not be able to squeeze in words to make your daily goal. So plan around those days.

Now, go to your calendar and X out days you know you won't write. It doesnt' matter the reason. Then count up the days left for writing. Take your goal (for Minano it's 25,000 words) and divide it by the number of available days.

For instance--if you plan on writing 20 days, to reach the goal youll need to write 1,250 words per day. The satisfaction of continually meeting a daily goal will propel you forward, even after the challenge is done!

**Take a hint from Scouting and Be Prepared. NaNoWriMo encourages participants to work on a totally new novel. For Minano, we're simply going for word count--it doesn't matter if your words are on a new project or you're continuing your current work in progress. Either way do all of your normal pre-writing before November one. Know your characters and their inciting incidents. Plotter? Get your charts or notecards filled out. Write by the seat of your pants? There's always some pre-thinking that happens before you start a story--even if you only name your characters or title your story.

The point is--when November one rolls around, all you need to do is sit at the computer and begin.

**Is that all there is to it? Oh, of course not. Come back in a few days for more thoughts on surviving an extended writing challenge. And by all means, if you have tried and true suggestions or survival techniques (like the best chocolate to keep by the computer) please share them here!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Some Heartlandian authors have signed up for Nanowrimo--Thirty days of writing and literary abandon

And some Heartlandians realize that while a writing challenge with a significant word count goal is important, 50,000 words in 30 days is a bit much. To meet that need we've created our own MINANO or mini-NaNo. Each person accepts the challenge to write novella sized--to the tune of 25,000 words in 30 days.

Come back often to check how the Heartlandians are doing... or join us if you dare!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SYTYCW...w...w Challenge 2 Top Competitor

Our guest choreographer, Mama Say Mama Saw, has chosen the scene that best showcased her challenge!

Congratulations to Scene Two and author, Patti L!

Query Letters--what not to do

Here's a great and entertaining post about query letters on Edittorrent. How not to be an amateur. And while you're there, read the sidebar-Pointless FTC disclosure statement. ::snort::
*Warning, some adult language*

Thursday, October 8, 2009

SYTYCW...w...w...Challenge 2 Scene 2

He turned and gave her a piercing stare. "Why didn't you tell me you couldn't ride?"

"You didn’t ask. I thought we were going to Eileen Donan by ship! I didn't know you meant for us to ride there! Why did you expect me to know how to ride? In London I did not need to."

"I am sorry, Kes, my mistake. But unless you want to walk to your uncle's, you’ll have to learn. 'Tis not difficult. I’ll show you." He turned toward the horse and began undoing the leather strap holding the saddle. He pulled it through the leathery mass and it slid to the ground. "You won't need that. I'll send Campbell back for it. Now, gather your skirts between your legs-"

"What? How-"

"Fold them somehow. I am going to teach you the astride way. Before you say it's improper, let me tell you Isobel rode this way all the time at Broadmoor. 'Tis the easiest way, since I'm going to be behind you. Now when I lift you over, grip the horse with your knees.."

"B-but what do I hold on to once I'm up there?" Kestrel interjected, staring at the horses’ broad neck.

"Hold onto his mane 'til I'm there. I won't let you fall, I promise."

Kestrel cast him a doubtful look. “Belike I should have kept on your breeches.”

A slow heat churned in Devon’s eyes and he shook his head. “Nay, my lady. Belike it would be easier, but I’ve seen your legs and I’d get fair tired of challenging every man who gazed at them.”

Heat flooded her face, and she bent to the embarrassing task of splitting her full skirts without letting any ankle show. Luckily, the material was light, and easy to wrap around her legs.

She stood in front of Devon with her left foot cradled in the palm of his hands ready to be hoisted onto a horse for the first time in her life. Cold fear slicked through her. Devon's golden gaze found hers and held. “You’re brave, Kestrel. I have faith in you.”

Her stomach bunched at his words. Determined to prove him right, she balanced herself against one of his strong shoulders.

"Grab the mane with your left hand and fling your right leg over. Remember to grip with your knees."

“Aye.” Kestrel nodded. It happened quickly. One good lift and Kestrel gripped the solid back of the horse as if her life depended on it. She buried her fingers in its coarse hair and held her breath. It seemed time stood still until Devon's steady form slid behind her. He placed an arm around her waist and urged the horse forward. The motion rocked Kestrel and she leaned into Devon as if his presence would keep her from falling.

"Relax, Kes. Look at the scenery." Devon's warm breath caressed her ear and she tried to focus on the beauty around her. They started down the steep incline into town. The grey roofs and weathered cottages sat against a backdrop of royal blue rippling with silver clouds. Far off in the distance, the shadow of Dunollie Castle sat like a silent observer.

Kestrel inhaled a deep breath of heather scented air and sighed, her happiness overshadowed by Devon's physical nearness. His manhood pressed intimately against her lower back reminding her of that night in Westleigh. She closed her eyes remembering its velvety length against her fingers. What would have happened if she'd done what he'd wanted her to? What if she had given in?
"And then you take them in your hand Kes, like this-" His long fingers entwined with hers and the reins. A hot flush crept up her cheeks, and she stared down at their hands in silent mortification. What had he said about the reins?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

SYTYCW...w...w... Challenge 2, Scene 1

The tiny flame flickered and nearly died. Tane blew softly across the dry tinder. The urge to ignite the campfire burned at the base of his throat. Before he fell prey to the urge, the flame caught, crackled then rose to cast shadows and brightness on the figure beside him.

“You don’t have any difficulty making fire, do you?”

Tane blinked at the soft question then sat back on his haunches and wrapped his flint and steel in a soft rag. The ordinary action provided a moment to consider the curious note in her tone before he answered. “Many years of practice have sharpened my skill.”

“Undoubtedly.” Charity twisted the thin cotton of her skirt between her fingers then studied him through long, pale lashes before staring into the clear night sky. “The way the sparks rise, it’s almost like flying.”

“Flying?” The burning settled in his chest.

She smiled at him. “Yes. I’d like to fly, though I don’t see how such a thing would ever be possible for a simple man. God did not form us with His angels’ wings.”

“No, God did not form us so.”

Her gaze did not leave the dark sky but her head turned as though she watched a shooting star. “Perhaps with different wings a man can find the ability to fly.”

“That would take unbelievable change, both for man and for the world around him. Change is not always welcomed, but is hated or feared. Mere battles, and the cruelty of civil wars have split nations, all in the name of change.” Tane angled to face her and shook his head. “Sometimes control is abandoned and the change is too great, a fire spreading across the land. No, some changes should never be.”

Charity’s gaze rested on him and anticipation shivered down his spine. The campfire sparkled in her eyes, reflecting honest determination. “In the past, I feared change. But I have never feared fire.”

His dragon essence roared. He squelched the need to add his voice to possession’s rising call. Mine.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Research Help at Your Fingertips

My Info Quest
Send a question using a cell phone via text messaging and, within 10 minutes, a research librarian will respond via text messaging. The service is staffed by librarians from across the country. Any random question of no particular genre will be answered.

To use the service, send a text message with the code WCC before the question to (309) 222-7740 weekdays from 6am to 8 pm and Saturday from 7am to 3pm.
More details here:

Multnomah County Library's Research Line
Call or email any question, and they get back to you within a day or two.