Monday, December 16, 2013

After NaNoWriMo comes December

 You may have noticed that it has been awhile since I updated anything about my writing progress.  Hmmm.  That may be because there really hasn't been any progress to update about.  After the intensity of meeting a daily word count goal for the month, it was tempting to take a few days off to recover.  Then I got into the December Holidays and putting up a tree and going to concerts and writing was more about writing a Christmas letter and addressing Christmas Cards.
  And I started rereading my old Christmas letters and realized how faded and yellow the pages had become.  Then I started adding those letters to the things I wanted to save in my other blog.  Echo's Voice is less about writing and more just about the random people and places and events and thoughts of the moment.  o this December I have been retyping the letters from the early '90's and revisiting a time before children when travel was a big part of my life.
 At first I felt guilty for letting my novels just sit, but I realize it happens every December. Family and friends get to take center stage and the novels get to sit in the dark and age like a fine cheese.
So I love Christmas.  I am going to enjoy it and hope that you do too.  Merry Christmas!  If you don't Celebrate Christmas, of course just take the wishes that you have joy with loved ones for yourself.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NaNoWriMo by Day 24

 My writing was zipping right along, a bit behind schedule but highly motivated until three days ago, when my dog and I both got sick with the stomach bug that was sending my students home in droves four days before that. Then while I was sick, it got cold and while I know that cold here, isn't what a lot of the country calls cold
 I also know my house here has like zero insulation so when the outside hits freezing, the inside hits 43* even with a fire in my wood stove.  So I was too sick to lift the logs we feed the fire with, and huddled under a mountain of blankets instead. Every time I had to run for the toilet the air in the house felt like I had plunged into an icy river.  Yeah, maybe I had a fever too
 But when I awoke on Saturday, feeling like food was on the agenda
there came a brisk wind that took the temperature from freezing to 80*
 and then everything went still and the grey whale migration came in close to land, so I didn't write the either.

 Instead my husband and I watched whales and chatted with tourists and then went to see "Catching Fire" and out for Chinese food.  Ok the food was a mistake, so I just smiled at the plate for awhile then had it boxed up and had soup instead - but it felt so good to feel good to be alive again.

 and today I am back at the keyboard, better writing than I could have done without the break anyway.

 These are two large rocks but the whales were hanging right beside them, spouting and showing a flipper or tail every now and then
So what have I been writing?

more about two boys 1901 years apart but both in areas with impending volcanic eruptions

here is a brief sample, unedited

"Marcus guided the Fortunatus family out of the boat at Naples. He was grateful to step onto an unmoving surface with the farmer and his wife and children. The farmer and his wife had both been seasick, or simply sick with terror but the children seemed to love the adventure of the nighttime boat crossing. And it had been more adventure than Marcus ever hoped to endure again. The Bay heaved and seemed to try to pushed them away from shore. The Air was clogged with dust and ash and smoke so that even in the dawn it was dark. Back toward vesuvius there was lightning and flames and both white smoke and black ashes blocking everything and roiling through the earth.
Once they were clear of the crowds he sought out directions to the artists home and hoped his Father was still waiting there. Then he gestured to the family to come with him. The older man hesitated again, clearly uncomfortable going uninvited to a stranger's home, but glancing at his children and the crowds of refugees convinced him to set his pride aside. The streets were covered with ash like snow.
It wasn't possible to move quickly through the crowded streets with the children and the few possessions that were meager enough and yet still weighed them down.
The crowds were in disarray, everyone was speaking, shouting questions, and not just in Latin but in Greek and other languages as well. Where people could, they searched the incoming refugees for familiar faces, and sometimes there were shout of joy at a successful reunion, and that gave everyone a more hopeful feeling. Still, many people milled about with no idea where to go now, or any hope left on their faces. The disaster had brought out both the best and worst in people, so some of the locals had come down to the harbor bearing extra blankets and clothing and food. Some had come trying to make a quick profit off of necessities they themselves had paid almost nothing for. There were fishermen and boat owners preparing to go for more survivors and there were thieves stealing from the overburdened and vulnerable crowd, knowing those burdens contained all the earthly treasures those refugees carried.
There were people spreading stories that they had no way of knowing if they were true or not, but the audiences they found believed them. If reality was this bad, of course it was probably even worse. At times the air would almost clear, the daylight could come through, and that seemed even more wrong somehow. The ashes falling and the smokey air seemed to tell the truth that the familiar mountain was now and forever unfamiliar and threatening.
Farmer Fortunatus, without a farm now, and still too close to the loss, to realize how fortunate the Fortunatus family had been, kept turning to look toward his family home, pointing up in the air, beyond the new crest of the mountain, to where he had been so comfortable in his old home and terraced fields. It had to still be there, because it always had been.
Finally Marcus and the family were pushing through the door, greeting Veruses master and then Marcus was grabbed into a strong hug as his father pulled him close and they wept on each other's shoulders.
Oy! Marcus, so glad you are safe, my boy. Your Brother?”
No problem, Father. The boat was full and I had promised to help this family, but Verus and Aemiliana were safe. They were there at the beach with us, and while he insisted I come ahead, they were waiting for the next boat. They will probably have smoother tides and better winds than we did. And they are together. I imagine they are right behind us, maybe already at the dock.”
I went down to the ocean when people began talking about the strange cloud, I wanted to find Verus but I had told him to go and I did not know where he had gone exactly, only why. He was going for medicine, he must have heard of the eruption and caught one of the boats as soon as it happened, but I wish that he had come back for me. He probably thought I'd be too old to help. No, I'm sure he only thought of getting to the girl.” Father began to tell his story, much relieved to know that his family was safe."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Today is the Middle Of NaNoWriMo, or 25,000 Words

Just My Books and I
Candles from my Dad and Grandma to guide my way

 Writing has changed from when I first began thinking seriously that I could write a book. Well, no, I'd been thinking I could do it since I was a toddler, but getting started, Now That was a different matter.

     I began with a blank notebook and a stack of note cards and a trip to the library to dig into the multi-volumed encyclopedia set of course. This was how I had begun writing all those required papers back in Jr. High, and High School, and at College.

    Now I sit at my computer or tap on my hand ha
eld device and when I need to answer a question I don't have to drive to the library, or even walk across the room to get a stack of notecards, and when I need to know how to describe Mr. Vesuvius in detail, I can read other people's descriptions, or see their paintings, pictures and video.

     When I started my Nano Novel I was already knowing it would be a conversation between two boys, one living in the days leading up to the 79 AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius at Pompeii, and one living in the months before the 1980 eruption of Mr. St. Helens. But I am a Nano "Pantster" meaning I don't outline ahead of time, but take my characters and a faint idea and we jump off the Nov. 1st cliff and fly by the seat of our pants toward the goal.

     So I have spent some time writing, alternating with time on Google earth seeing street view and satellite views of the volcanoes. I have watched you-tube video of kids snowshoeing on Mt St Helens and of a determined old man who died because he wouldn't be evacuated since he was a Mile and a huge forest say from the volcano and his mountain wouldn't hurt him.

     Then I have taken every day at work, and grabbed a scratch piece of paper and on every break and lunch time, written or sketched in my novel. So some editing happens there, when I type from a pencilled written piece first, but editing is not supposed to slow down the passionate rush of story this month.  Oh, and neither is blogging.  Oooooopsy daisy.

My sons loved the same picture book I did
Look Out for Pirates
So I made them a poster with their faces

My life has been filled with books, and it started with these, the kids picture books that were always abundant in our house even when we were low on money for almost everything else. On the wall is the quilt from my crib that my grandmother made for me.

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be
I had a Mother who read to me.
  --Strickland GillianOr 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Talking about the Writing Process with Peers

On October 28th I posted this on my facebook page

Why are peers so much more terrifying than anyone else? I've talked about my books to classes many times, talked at writers conferences, art fairs and libraries but tonight I'm going to talk to a book club of my friends and coworkers and I'm feeling so nervous I might as well be back in Jr. high facing the dreaded ninth grade speech and presentation. People were so intimidated by that someone called in a bomb threat. Of course that was back when bombs in school were pretty much guaranteed to be a false alarm.
and the next morning this was my report to the site where I chat with friends

Last night I was really shaking in my shoes, too nervous to eat, feeling like I had in 9th grade with a huge class project on erosion to present to the whole 9th grade.  I've talked up my books at lots of places, but this time 11 woman teachers had bought and read the Oregon trail one, and asked me to talk to their book club.  The whole peer thing was way harder than talking in a class of kids or among other writers.

They loved it, and had a lot of questions about the research and kept asking me to write a sequel when the girls had grown up a few more hers, and saying, it would make a great movie, you need to write a script.

So, relieved.

So I am going to share some of the things I showed them, that I also talked about with the classes I have visited as an author.  In fact a couple of them have now had me booked to come talk to their classes.
I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and when I go to give a talk about being an author, I share the first books I wrote, including one in pencil and crayon from when I was a ten year old. It is called "The Police Twins on Death Island" and includes lots of death and drama and is bound up with yellow yarn through the holes meant for the binder.
and I showed them the first, small font, cramped, and scribbled on manuscript that I printed out an read to some of my family after doing 50,000 words on it in my first NaNoWriMo,  (National Novel Writing Month) and putting it away until I was no longer sick of it, a year later, and then adding another 38,000 words
And then I explained that back in those olden days it cost me $109 to print out four copies of my finished manuscript an then began the expensive and lengthy and ultimately depressing process of mailing out copies to agents and editor who were already swamped with mountains of unasked for manuscripts.

but fortunately times change and it is easier now to attach a document in pdf form to email and get it where it is going cheaply and that same day.  Not any more likely to be a happy result, but quicker and cheaper.  Now that I am 50 and willing to take a chance as an Independent author, and now that it is easier and friendlier to be your own book publisher and marketer I have found that I delight in the experience.  I love designing a book and writing and editing it and sharing it with people around the world.
I love doodling and outlining and watching those simple beginnings grow into a finished book and then head out into the world.  I find it a lot like raising my children.  Once they leave my home, who they interact with and how they are received may reflect back on me at times, but much of it I will never know about, and the reactions that do find there way to me are surprising. The things I love may be overlooked while things I barely noticed are loved.  It is a discovery and an adventure every moment.

That is OK because the books I have loved and that have shaped me, were only faintly binding me to their authors but more about connecting me to the world as one filled with many people with different stories but all capable of being loved and hurt and worthy of compassion.
So now it is November, and another NaNoWriMo finds me digging into the history of two Volcanoes. The next Double Time book is growing this month, while the third Duffy Barkley takes a rest and waits for me to return with fresh eyes, and a rainbow book of colors is starting to take shape as my first picture book.
I am delighted that the students I met through a teacher in the bookclub are participating in a program called being a writer and are hoping I will guide them through the steps to publishing a class collection in the spring.  Life is filled with surprises and the next generation is discovering that as things change, there is still value in books

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A NaNo-ing We Go

 I used to hate the fact that National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo happens in a Month theat is busy with holidays and travel. But now the fact that it has Thanksgiving in the same month seems very appropriate, as there are few on-line places which i am as Thankful for as NaNo

Shows the fruition of the books which had sent down roots in my mind for years but may never have pushed through the darkness into the sun without the daily deadlines and encouragement of NaNo and the forums there 

 i also find the change in seasons here to be conducive to writing. The storm and bluster adds to my imagined drama as it also keeps me indoors and with less distracting me from the goal.

 Just like the giving tree that never stops having the right gift, November's NaNoWriMo never stops giving me affirmation of one of my favorite parts of myself.  I am a good storyteller and now I can say I am a writer too.
 If you are going to join the exhausted writers this month, stop by and become one of my writing buddies. I'm echopandora there.  I am writing about two boys helping each other escape giant volcanic eruptions 1901 years apart. Tell me about your story too.