Friday, November 30, 2012

40 More Twitter Hashtags for Writers

In a previous post, I offered you a list of 30 Twitter Hashtags for Writers.

This week, I'm going to give you no less than 40 MORE Twitter hashtags--and they're all especially for writers! Hold on to your bell-bottoms!

Each hashtag in the list is a hyperlink to the Twitter search page. I've checked each and every one, and they are all active. Just click on your hashtag of interest to see what people are saying now.

Tip: once you have the hashtag in your Twitter search box, and if you like what you see, save the search. That way, you'll get a drop-down menu of all your saved searches each time you click on the search box.

Help and promotion: indie authors

#authorRT – Have other writers retweet your posts (don’t forget to return the favor!).

Fun and inspiration

#1k1h also #1k1hr – Used to show you’re going to attempt to write one thousand words in one hour.
#fridayflash – Used to share flash fiction on Friday
#vss – Very short story
#asmsg – Stands for “Authors’ Social Media Support Group”

Express your genre

#yalit also #ya –Young adult literature
#crime – Mainly about novels, although you might get a surprise every now and then.
#mglit – Middle grade literature

Oh, and here's an extra one, #writeclub, hosted by @FriNightWrites. CherylAnne shared this one on my previous hashtag post. She says: "We do 30 min writing sprints every Friday night starting around 8 pm ET. It's a fun way to meet other writers and boost your word count at the same time!"

So with this freebie hashtag we now have 41! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Epic Music Inspires!

Although I don't listen to music when writing, I do enjoy a good song while brainstorming.

Zack Hemsey is a formidable musician. Get ready to enjoy some great songs!

Your hero's comrade stumbles into temptation and struggles not to fall. 
The darkest part of his soul emerges, grows stronger, and slowly takes over him. The man who was once a confidant and a shoulder to lean on has now become an enemy.

Cue See What I've Become:

Your hero is wandering the land, exhausted and with crumbling hopes. He is about to encounter that which will make him wish he had never been born. A great song for a moment of reflection, and of revelation.

Cue The Way:

The dying cry out in anguish until, little by little, the battlefield falls into silence. Your hero trudges through the mud. His boots stick with every step he takes. His clothes cling to his cold body. Blood and rainwater seep through his pants and make goose bumps rise on his skin. The battle is over. Your hero is victorious... but was the killing worth it?

Cue End Of An Era:

I hope you enjoyed this selection!

What music inspires you to write? Share your songs in the comments section below.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #4

After a bad breakup with Natalie, Argo has trouble concentrating at work. His boss forces him to take a week off, but now Argo has nothing to take his mind off the heartbreak.

Argo wandered down the streets. His legs were tired and heavy, but he was still not ready to return to that empty apartment.

As the colony sky darkened, bars opened for business under bright signs, buskers hollered--and couples held hands, whispering into each others' ears and giggling as they slapped their happiness across Argo's face.

A crumpled can sat in the middle of his path. He pulled back his foot, ready to kick it, and stopped short. 

The can trembled, and eight spindly silver legs unraveled from it and clicked against the ground.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

30 Twitter Hashtags for Writers

I'd heard about the wonders of twitter from magazines, radio programs and television, but up until recently I never had the time to bother signing up. Twitter's just like another Facebook, right? Wrong. It's much, much better.

Near the end of August, I opened a Twitter account... and since I had no idea what I was doing, I did very little. I used it to post my thoughts, and to post links to whatever I had recently published on my blog. For about two months, I hovered between 16 and 18 followers. Nobody cared about what I had to say. Even I didn't care, and I was very close to abandoning Twitter and forgetting about the whole thing.

Fortunately, instead of giving up I decided to seek advice on how to revamp my Twitter account. Here's a link to a cross-blog guest post by Richard Stephenson: Indie Author's Guide to Twitter. I strongly recommend everyone who is just starting out with Twitter to read the article and follow the advice. It worked for me! I applied these tricks in November, and my followers rocketed from 16 to over 300. I'm currently receiving between 5 and 10 new followers each day.

How? The main thing is to show interest in others. Building relationships is the funnest, most rewarding and probably most difficult part of Twitter. To build relationships with other writers, first you have to find them. And how do we do that?

With hashtags.

A hashtag is a word or string of words without any spaces or punctuation, preceded by the pound sign (#), sometimes also called a "hash". They are links you can click on to see all the recent tweets posted under that tag.

Hashtags classify tweets by topic. Jumping from one hashtag to another is like wandering from one chatroom to another. You can use several hashtags in your tweets, but try not to overdo them: using more than three can be considered spam.

My personal favorites are #amwriting and, this month, #NaNoWriMo. As I mentioned above, you can use hashtags to hover from one topic thread to another. I've found lots of support and made several acquaintances thanks to these two hashtags.

Below you'll see a list of 30 popular hashtags for writers. You'll find hashtags to connect with other authors and readers, to share and ask for advice, to find inspiration and to promote your work. Each hashtag in the list is a hyperlink to the Twitter search page. Just click on your hashtag of interest to see what people are saying now.

Tip: once you have the hashtag in your Twitter search box, and if you like what you see, save the search. That way, you'll get a drop-down menu of all your saved searches each time you click on the search box. This is very useful for forgetful people like me!
#book also #books
#CampNaNoWriMo Active during June and August.
#NaNoWriMo Active during November.
#FollowFriday also #FF Promote interesting Twitter users.

Are there any other hashtags you use to connect with other writers? Share your comments below! Oh, and don't forget to follow me @NadineDucca!

Update: don't forget to check my new post with 40 more Twitter hashtags for writers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Serving Time Artwork: Robert Harwood

I'm very pleased to present my character art by Luis Vergara. The first character up is Demon Master Robert Harwood.

So, what type of guy do you think he is? I'm looking forward to reading your comments at the bottom!

He had achieved his goal, and now time stretched out ahead of him as endless as all of creation. He would observe humanity’s plight for the better part of a million years. He would watch it rise and expand, and he would watch it fall if he had to.
    Oh, he expected to enjoy every moment of it.

To get to know Robert better, check out Cloverpuff's character interview at Devil's Playground (well, she did the best she could).

Coming soon: interplanetary pilot Tristan Cross.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaNoWriMo Feature: Robert D. Marion

NaNoWriMo feaatures are drawing to a close. Today's feature is yet another NaNoWriMo veteran, Robert D. Marion!
On to you, Robert!

Name or nickname
Robert D Marion. The name is a pen-name. It's an amalgam of my grandparents' names.
Blog and/or Twitter handle
I'm online at, and you can find me on Twitter @RobertDMarion

How do you feel about tackling NaNoWriMo yet again this year?
Nanowrimo means different things to different writers.
The first nanowrimo, authors will struggle to just make writing a habit. That is where nanowrimo is invaluable for new writers. There's simply no way to complete the 50k a month without establishing writing as a habit. It forces new writers to write every day and to write without letting their inner editor take command.
For established writers, it's a challenge. Pure creative abandon. It's a month of the year that I can usually rely on to complete something new. Typically it's a month that I try to challenge myself. Write outside my genre. Last year, I wrote a love story. The year before, a globe-trotting historical thriller. It's a way to push and expand myself as a writer and not have to worry about making it "marketable".
What is your project about?
The elevator pitch for this year is as follows: "Scientists discover a massive door at the bottom of the pacific, and are horrified to discover what waits inside when it opens". The story, at its heart, is an action-thriller with some elements of horror and religious iconography mixed in. It's loosely based off the true story of the Deepsea Challenger and it's pilot, film director James Cameron.
Only it asks the question - "What if?"
How are you approaching Nano?
I'm a little more meticulous than my earlier suggestion of "creative abandon" might imply. November is for writing, but October is for outlining. I typically outline the entire plot as completely as I can, foregoing characters. Those I develop on the fly. But usually, I have the events for nearly every chapter mapped out.
And, typically, by 20 thousand words, my outline is useless. It's pretty rare that my characters do what I expect them to do.
Have you learned anything from this experience so far? Is there any advice you would like to share with other NanoWrimoers?
My first piece of advice, especially for new writers, is don't be obsessed over the finished product. If you're only focused on the end novel, then you're robbing yourself of what Nanowrimo is really good for - making habits. Learn how to write every day. Learn how to master the craft. Don't worry about making your first great novel. The first novel is never great. It's a learning experience, and the second one will be better.
Here is an excerpt from Robert's "Deepwater Atlantis" (Working title).
Chapter 2
The two dull-green United States Navy Seahawk helicopters arched their flight path to cross above the deck of the Oceanic Jewel. The lead chopper cut its forward momentum with a flare of its main rotor. The second roared past, entering into a low orbit around the sea-bound vessel, its weapons aimed out and manned and brimming in nervous preparation.
Ropes fell out from either side of the hovering Seahawk. The long coils snaked out to the deck of the ship. Marines flushed out either side and fast-roped down. Boots clomped on the aft deck of the Jewel. Weapons came up.
The unarmed crew of the utility ship – adorned in nothing but their bright-yellow vests and blue jumpsuits – stood absolutely still with their arms held high.
The Seahawk – its contingent of Marines dispatched – tiled forward with a heavy wash from the rotors. The aircraft roared onward, snipers leaning out to either side. The shipboard Marines ignored it. Sensing no resistance, the lead soldier waved his men forward.
They moved out, eyes leveled with the sights of their weapons, ignoring the four-squared white-blue-and-red flag flying above the ship.
Crew members backed away as the soldiers approached. They said nothing. They stormed across the crane deck and up the white metal stairs leading to the midship forecastle deck. One man stepped in front of them. Started cursing and raging in Spanish. He pointed a finger at the face of the lead Marine, ignoring the weapon in the soldier's grip.
A boot lashed out. Connected with the deck-hand's knee. He wailed in pain and collapsed to his good knee. The lead soldier reversed his rifle. Smashed the butt of the hilt into the man's forehead. He flailed back and sprawled out across the deck and stopped moving.
Nonlethal. Yet harsh.
The guns came up again. Nobody moved. Still, the Marines said nothing. A silent order went out, little more than a wave of the lead Marine's hand. The soldiers started moving again.
But this time, no one dared to impede their siege of the Oceanic Jewel's bridge.
Marines surged into the screen-filled bridge of the Oceanic Jewel with a wash of noise and a spit of profanity from the radio operator. Captain James Stuart waved the man down. He saw the look of frustration on his face. The young officer had tried for almost an hour to raise someone. Anyone.
But aside from the acoustic deep-sea communications coming from Logan seven miles underwater inside the Deepwater Atlantis, nothing. Dead silence over the wire. Even the satellite uplink had died.
Which meant one thing. The Americans were jamming the Oceanic Jewel's communications.
“Captain Stuart,” one of the Marines snapped. His gaze settled directly on James, even in the cramped, crowded space of the bridge. “I've been authorized to inform you that your vessel is now under the command of the United States Navy.”
James felt the back of his jaw grind together. He noticed his chief officer, a forty-something small-town Brit that recently determined he had spent more of his life at sea than on land, had balled his fists. A pointless gesture, really. There was nothing they could do against a contingent of American Marines. Though he did appreciate the sentiment.
The captain of the Jewel stepped forward and forced himself to breathe before his frustrations consumed him.
“This ship sails under the flag of Panama, soldier,” the Scotsman said, his words evenly and slowly spoken despite his thick accent. “Mind telling me what the hell you think you're doing on my ship?”
The truth was that he already knew. Why else would the Americans risk violating international maritime law? Why else would they dare to put armed soldiers on the bridge of a ship sailing under the flag of another nation? There could only be one answer to that question. They had monitored the communications coming from below. The acoustic communications system could be easily gleaned. Easily listened in on.
The Navy heard what was transmitted from below.
They knew the secret that laid at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, seven miles beneath the surface.

Thank you for participating, Robert! Have a great NaNo!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo feature: Abdullah Kurashi

Hello everybody! Today's feature NaNoWriMoer is a first-time participant! Let's give this brave soul a round of applause!

Abdullah is all the way from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia! Together with several of his friends, he recorded a podcast about NaNoWriMo, which you can access here.

Let's see what he has to say about this year's challenge.

Name: Abdullah "Squeek" Kurashi

Twitter: @squeeko639

What made you take the plunge?

This is my first time participating. My friend actually found out about NNWM on the 2nd of November, told me about it and after a few hours of checking the website I told her "we're only a day late. Let's do this and never look back!" and now we have no social life :-/

What's your project about?

I'm actually not entirely sure what my story is about yet. It started off with me describing where I was in the first paragraph, then my imagination took over. I'm trying to keep it very organic, and hope to have an exciting story before this is over. What I can say is that it is leaning towards mystery/horror and has a noir feel to it.

How are you approaching NaNo? Are you in the midst of a writing frenzy, or do you have a carefully thought-out plan?

My approach, as previously mentioned, IMHO is very organic and I've only just thought of a couple of ways to make the story more interesting. I want to be ridiculous but not too unbelievable with the story. I'm also trying my best to write about "boring" things in the most interesting way possible. I'm trying to practice having an open mind and paying attention to details.

Have you learned anything from this experience so far? Is there any advice you would like to share with other NaNoWriMoers?

I've learned so much and I'm sure there's a lot more to learn. I don't know if I should give advice since I'm a newbie, but there's one thing I said to myself when I started, and it's so hard to stick to my own advice but I do believe in it, and that is:

"No more skipping over the fillers and descriptions. Every part of the story should have an equal amount of attention. Describing a dull support character can be just as interesting as a paragraph that describes a fight to the death with the main character if you use the right words."

Here is an excerpt from Abdullah's current NaNoWriMo project, with a special message from him.

I'd love to have any feedback you have to offer and it's cool if you want to be brutally honest! I never realized how much fun it is to write until I locked up the monster within me (aka the editor) and let the monkeys on type writers take over. Take care and keep on writing!


Smoke is thick in the air as I listen to a tune that sounds like the piano had a bit too much to drink. I feel like I'm choking in this smoggy atmosphere, yet I light another cigarette. Probably not the best way to take advantage of the weekend, here in a dank cafe, depressing music and strangers who all have the same "I've had a long day" facial expression. I got no where else to go though. I can probably sit at home and read a nice book or download a low budget series by a talented director who never knew how to market himself in Hollywood, but I like to surround myself with strangers, friends, acquaintances. Four walls and intoxication gets old after a while. 

"Move over" this is usually the kind of greeting I get from Nyla, an associate of mine who has a tendency to be casually crude. I scoot to the other side of the couch as she drops her purse on the table and sits next to me. "how's work" I ask without looking away from the dusty tv across the room. She probably gives me a look that I imagine a mob boss would share with a goon who just asked for a raise. She earns money by telling insecure small business owners how to not scare away their customers or clients. I think she works a whopping 4 and a half days a month. I make money by taking the gigs she doesn't feel like getting involved in. I do most of the research and leg work to keep the operation going. She basically knows I despise her very existence because she makes about ten times more money than I do and reprimands me every now and then because we haven't made it to the Forbes 500 yet. 

"What are we doing tonight?" she asks while fishing in her bag for something. 

"I got a date" this takes her back for about two seconds before she figures I'm lying and drops a file on my lap. 

"This is the bakery I was telling you about, the one that's probably cooking meth in the basement. You're going to meet the owner in an hour. Buy him dinner and wear something pretty if you want to get lucky tonight. I need to make an investment before the end of the quarter."

She gives me her best poker face - which would cost her a fortune in any game - while I contemplate whether the investment involves buying a new bear rug or any number of ridiculous items she really doesn't need. I wouldn't mind a new bed that doesn't constantly look forward to sending me to a chiropractor, but hey, it's either this, or farming. Actually, farming doesn't sound too..

"I hope you're thinking of the many ways to seduce Garner into paying you handsomely for our services"


"The file. Read it."

I could be home stuffing my face with left over pizza and watching Old foreign films, but no. I had to sit down at the exact place Nyla knows I keep coming back to everyday for the past 3 years. it's not like there isn't anywhere better to go, but.. This place is a black hole. The service is crap and I suspect they wash and reuse the coffee filters to give that special soapy taste, but like an old pair of comfy sneakers, there are places that you just can't find a replacement for.

I open the file and see a mug shot of the guy I'm supposed to meet, details of the venue; when it was established, address, capital, etc. I suppress a yawn before I realize who this is. "this guy was on the news a few days ago" she had to smile at my sudden realization.

"Meet Ray Garner, our friendly neighborhood baker and murderer of at least 13 hookers in the past 6 years (allegedly).


The baker murder victims - or "The bakers dozen" as some of the smartass kids and so-called "journalists" call them - are 13 college girls who supposedly work for their educational fund in.. Places that conservatives usually frown upon but probably visit from time to time. Garner has been a victim of public scrutiny since a recent list of suspects was leaked from the local police department. Out of more than a handful of suspects - Garner being at the bottom of the "people of interest" list - he got most of the flak, with his bald head, scruffy beard and demonic tattoos running down both his arms. I've actually been to his shop before, he's got a thick voice and he looks like a biker more than a baker and the fact that "Wake and bake" was written on his apron helped the pie purchase I made more memorable. The "Bakers dozen" memes circulating online isn't really helping his case at the moment.

"Getting a bit desperate aren't we Nyla?"

"A business owner is about to hit rock bottom and what is it that we do again? We help hopeless cases like him get back in the game. He threatened to deep fry a kids face the other day because the moron asked for an autograph"
"The guy needs to own a bar not a bakery. He's not exactly a misunderstood or lovable guy who's been framed. He's a suspect in a HUGE case and he's got a short temper. You realize we can easily jeopardize our own business if we so much as breathe a word of trying to help him?"

"Have you no ambition? That's a rhetorical question, shut up. An oppurtunity like this doesn't come up everyday. You save this guy from shutting down his business and we'll have people begging us for a consultation and we'll be unstoppable"

"Or people recognize us as the deadbeats who can only take on clients who literally have nothing left to lose" that comment typically earns me an inappropriate hand gesture "AND we already have two clients who are knee deep in trouble, plus 3 others that need at least 6 hours a week of our attention, each. This guy will take up too much of our time if not all of it"

"He will have your full undivided attention because I cancelled on the 2 knee-deep-in-shit clients and I'm taking the burner project off your hands"

"That's not funny.."

"it's not supposed to be. Your meeting is in 20 minutes, chop chop, love you, bye!"

And just like that, she's out the door and all I can think is, ’I wonder how much I can get for selling one of my kidneys...’

So you know what to do! What did you think about this piece? I hope to see your comments!

Thank you for participating, Abdullah! And good luck with NaNoWriMo.

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo Guest Post: Carmen Amato

Today's feature NaNoWriMoer is Carmen Amato.

You can visit her site here Author Carmen Amato.

Twitter handle: @CarmenConnects

Is this your first time participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what made you take the plunge? If you're a vet, how do you feel about tackling it yet again this year?

This is my third NaNoWriMo. Each time I've written a draft of a mystery novel featuring Emilia Cruz, the first and only female detective on the Acapulco police force. The first Emilia cruz story, MADE IN ACAPULCO, is available now on Amazon (Amazon author page here) and the first full-length Emilia Cruz novel, CLIFF DIVER, will be out in early 2013. You can check out the Emilia Cruz page on my website:

I always start with an outline, usually written on sticky notes and stuck on the wall above my desk. This year I got more sophisticated and typed up the outline! I'll stick to the outline until I'm about halfway through, at which point I'll have had better ideas. It takes me 30 days to do a marginal 50k word draft and about a year to edit the manuscript into a real book because I always have more than one writing project going at a time.

What's your project about? 

This year's NaNoWriMo draft is the 3rd Emilia Cruz book, entitled SUN GOD.  A teen-aged assassin leads Emilia and her reluctant partner to a cult devoted to Santa Muerte, regarded in Mexico as the patron saint of death. The cult is the focus of a widening drug war in Acapulco between rival Mexican drug cartels and Emilia goes undercover to try and stop the violence. She doesn't believe in curses, but when the investigation grows more dangerous and her personal life starts to unravel, Emilia will find herself at Santa Muerte's mercy.

How are you approaching NaNo? Are you in the midst of a writing frenzy, or do you have a carefully thought-out plan?

Slow and steady gets the job done for me. I try to write 1500-2000 words a day. On Thursdays I have a morning write-in at a coffee shop with a friend who is also a NaNoWriMo participant and we over-caffeinate and cheer each other on!

Have you learned anything from this experience so far? Is there any advice you would like to share with other NaNoWriMoers?

Write an outline! Don't stop to edit! 

Here is an excerpt from Carmen's current NaNoWriMo project.

Silvio jerked his chin at Emilia in the direction of the door. She got out of her chair and followed him out of the squadroom. He didn’t speak as he led her down the hall past the holding cells. It was late and most of the uniforms were gone. The handful that remained were just starting the night shift and there was the usual joking and coffee drinking going on.

Silvio pushed open the door to the impound parking lot. Emilia folded her arms when he stopped by the side of the building. “We gotta have the same story when they start asking questions,” he said.

Emilia shrugged. “He was wasted. Prade’s probably going to find enough drugs in his body to kill an elephant.”

“He didn’t have a scratch on him,” Silvio said. “Never bled. Nothing.”

“So what do you want me to say?”

“Maybe I’m just checking to make sure you aren’t going to throw me under the bus.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“People do that around here,” Silvio said.

Emilia drew herself up. “That’s the kind of shit you’d pull on me, isn’t it?” she demanded. “You’d love it if the situation was reversed and you could get me in some sort of trouble. We might have to be partners for a while--.” Silvio opened his mouth to say something but Emilia barreled on. “But you still can’t stomach the idea of a woman detective. The squadroom’s just for the boys.”

“Are you with me on this today or not, Cruz?”

“So today you need me,” Emilia was almost so mad she couldn’t speak. “Treat me like dirt every other day but now I’m useful. Well, too bad. You should have thought about that before you decided to be a pendejo.”

She swung around to leave and Silvio caught her by the arm.

“Let go,” Emilia said. “Or I’ll take you on just like I did with Castro and Gomez.” She’d had violent run-ins with both of the two most raucous detectives and had come out bloody but victorious both times. Silvio was bigger and smarter than either Castro or Gomez, however.

“Don’t put me in the same category with either of those two.” Silvio dropped her arm.

“Don’t give me a reason to,” Emilia flashed back.

They glared at each other, both breathing heavily.

“I didn’t kill that kid” Silvio said finally.

“I never said you did.” Emilia folded her arms again and shivered. The sun was just starting to go down on the other side of the wall surrounding the impound yard, sending streaks of faint pink light over the rows of parked cars. The nicer vehicles almost certainly had been linked to the drug trade and were unlikely to ever be claimed by their owners. Emilia drove a white Suburban that had been seized that way. The owners had been a couple of money launderers named Hudson from Arizona. She probably wasn’t ever going to have to worry about giving the car back.

“So what are you going to say when they ask you?”

“The kid was on a drug high and fighting hard,” Emilia said. “Hit his head while resisting arrest. Never denied he killed the junkie either, but was walking around with a pack full of evidence linking him to the murder.”


It wasn’t an outright lie, Emilia reflected as she went back inside. It just wasn’t a detailed explanation.

Thanks for participating, Carmen!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMoer Guest Post: Zachary Tringali

Today's NaNoWriMo post features Zachary Tringali.

Zachary writes a blog called The Journey Book He's published two blog posts about NaNoWriMo this year, you can read them here and here.

Twitter handle: @Trinza

Is this your first time participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what made you take the plunge? If you're a vet, how do you feel about tackling it yet again this year?

This is my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo. I feel excited about taking part again this year. The enthusiasm from the community is infectious and, while I'm not a really competitive writer (as far as word count goes), I love the drive I get to push ahead when I see everyone's numbers going up and up.

What's your project about?

Tentatively titled "The Masks of Valdune," I'm writing a fantasy novel that I like to think of as Sherlock Holmes in Fantasy Land. It's about a thief-turned-detective who has to solve the murder of his lover, and it's every bit as fun to write as it sounds. The idea for the novel came from a short story I wrote called The Right Game, which was published in the Autumn issue of The Colored Lens. After writing the short story, I just knew I had to return to the characters for a full-length project.

How are you approaching NaNo? Are you in the midst of a writing frenzy, or do you have a carefully thought-out plan?

I always plan as I go. I have a vague idea of where I want things to end, but I'm sort of writing in a mad dash now, leaping from point to point and scribbling a bunch of notes down as I go.

Have you learned anything from this experience so far? Is there any advice you would like to share with other NaNoWriMoers?

My advice--and I think the whole lesson behind NaNo--is to keep writing. Write even if you only have five minutes, write if you don't feel like it, just keep going. Don't look back. There's so much time to look back when you're done and you'll have so much more fun once you learn to just let go and write. Whenever, wherever, and about whatever. That was the first lesson NaNo ever taught me and, without fail, it's one I learn again and again every year.

Here is a short excerpt from Zachary's current project:

Crumbs of flaked wax scattered across the table, broken from the seals of letters, joining a scattering of coins: a golden dram here and there and a handful more of silver groats, gathered in haphazard piles. Avery sat before the fire, a bottle in one hand and the latest parchment in the other, the quiet murmur of conversation in the tavern joining the crackling of the flames.

Dear Mr. Avery Croft,
I and several of my staff have tried to make contact with you in person on several occasions, though I fear my message must not have been made salient to you.
For the sum of more than fifty golden drams, I humbly request your attention to an issue most pressing. A matter of a very grave and personal issue has arisen that requires the expertise of one such as yourself.
Please find enclosed a token of my gratitude for your attention.
I look forward to seeing you presently.
A.L. Lamon
Turning the letter over, Avery admired the back of the parchment through the light of the fire, noting the watermark dyed onto the page. Waving the paper below his mouth, he inhaled, strongly: soot. He rubbed his thumb across the parchment and, having smudged the word sincerely, set the paper down again. Picking up the envelope instead, he shook out the three copper pennies, letting them roll across the table and fall onto the ground.

Avery threw the letter into the fire.
“I thought I might find you here,” Davis said, stepping before the fire to peer down at Avery’s table. His hair had grown long since last Avery had seen him, and he kept it combed neatly back and tied behind his head, only a single golden strand falling before his face. “Worried I would, even…” He eyed the bottle of brandy Avery held.
“Did you know that Alabaster Lamon is going broke?” Avery asked, sitting back in his chair and filling his glass with brandy again. The bottle was half empty. He set it back in his lap, legs folded over to make a nest for it.
“Alabaster Lamon the merchant? No, I didn’t, but he just—” Davis paused, passing a hand across his face. “Damn it, what does that matter?”
“I imagine it matters a great deal to him. He wrote me a letter promising me fifty gold pieces.”
“He doesn’t sound very broke to me,” Davis said tightly, frustration mounting in his eyes.
“He wrote the letter using ink made of soot, if I don’t get my guess. Gall ink must be getting too expensive and he doesn’t want his friends to know the predicament he’s in yet. The fifty gold pieces don’t exist, I have no doubt. Did you hear his wife was recently murdered? One might start to think she was the one making all of his smart business decisions. I think he wants to hire me,” Avery said, staring into the flames where the parchment was curling, blackening. “Probably only wants the murderer caught so he can take him to court and claim a blood price to shore up what’s left of his ships.”
“Yes, your deductions are very impressive.” Davis waved off the thought with a flick of his hand. “You weren’t at the funeral today, Avery. Caelie is dead and you—”
“Yes, I know that,” Avery said quickly, filling his glass again as quickly as he drank it. “Caelie is dead. My not going to the funeral is probably the last favor I’ll ever be able to give her.”
“A favor?” Davis bellowed, loudly enough that the rest of the room stifled—even the fire nearly stifled for the madness in his eyes.
“Tell me, how would it have been were I there? Excuse me, King Charles, I’ve just come to pay my respects,” Avery began in a very proper, tight voice, a hand pressed to his chest for sincerity, “You’re a wretched man, but your queen was lovely, oh and by the way I was sleeping with her.”
“Shut up!” Davis said sharply, having the sense to be quiet this time as he leaned across the table to grip Avery by the arms, upsetting his glass and spilling brandy down the front of his vest. Davis eyed the rest of the room, waiting until they returned to their quiet mutterings.
“And I’ll bet her mother had her hair all pinned back, the way she used to make Caelie do when she was a child? She always hated that. I’m certain they put her in a dress! And you would have me sit there and frown and act the perfect little respectable, sad man? Screw off, Davis. I’ve no need to go to your little masquerade and act like anyone there really knew or cared for her.”
“I did,” Davis spat the words, pushing himself back from the chair and folding his arms across his chest. “And the king did, and you did. If you were even half a man you would have gone. Did you mourn her at all?”
“I’m mourning her right now,” Avery said, lifting his bottle of brandy and moving to pout from it. Pausing, he drank directly from the bottle instead, letting it burn his cheeks and fill his chest with fire.
“With brandy?” Davis asked, his lips twitching as if he might laugh at the incredulity.
“Not just any brandy! It’s very expensive,” Avery said, saying the words slowly so as to not slur them when he pulled the bottle away from his lips. He raised it above his head and peered around the chair, back towards the bar. “Isn’t that right, Edward?”
“Five drams a bottle,” Edward the bartender said from behind the counter, hardly looking up from his task of drying wine glasses with a white cloth. “That’s his second bottle,” he added with a sigh.
“And I’ve already paid for three more,” Avery said cheerfully.
“You’re an ass,” Davis said.
“Speaking of which, I thought we weren’t on speaking terms?” Avery settled back into his chair, topping off his glass with the last of the bottle and setting it down. From the table he fumbled with what was left of his letters—more of the same, more pleading bleeding heart cases—and fed them all to the fire. “Something about my being an ass.”
“We’re not speaking,” Davis said as if speaking to a slow child.
“Hm,” Avery said, eyeing his glass and then shutting one eye to squint up at Davis, outlined by the fire so that his grey eyes seemed to nearly glow in his tan face. He raised his glass and took a sip. “Must be powerful stuff.”
“I came here for Caelie,” Davis said, snatching the glass from Avery’s hand and drowning what was left of it. He threw the glass then into the flames, and the sound of its shattering quieted the room again. Smoke hissed out from the hearth as what was left of the brandy sizzled away, filling the room with a sweet, acrid scent. “She’s not around to call you out when you’re being an ass anymore; I know she’d want someone to. I thought I could, but I’m done. Enjoy your life, Avery.”
“You make it very hard to, you know that?” Avery leaned over the back of his chair, calling after Davis as he walked towards the door. “Now what am I supposed to drink from?”
It took harassing—and a silver groat—before Edward came over with the next bottle.
Avery lounged across the chair, his head turned back into the armrest, watching the papers burn in the fire as he nursed the bottle. The people in the tavern returned to their senseless chatter, Davis had finally left him alone, and he had no more letters to tend to. For all of that, for all that his mind should have returned to the senseless fog of mindless noise and drink, he couldn’t find any peace, only a sour feeling in his stomach. The brandy tasted bitter on his tongue, and it made sweat bead around his brow as if he were drinking from a torch.
Caelie was dead.

Well, thanks for participating, Zachary! I wish you all the best on completing this project. My oh my, that Avery sure is an intriguing character.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo Out Of My Mind-o!

I did it!

I did it!

Toss the confetti! Preheat the oven and pop in some brownies!

I completed 50.000 words!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Making Time, my first ever NaNoWriMo project.

That image sums it up pretty well--it's a NaNoWriMo mess.

On a side note, can anyone guess who the main characters are? *giggle, giggle, snort*

Now that I reached the target word count and can stumble away to bed without a care in the world, I'd like to briefly reflect on what these two weeks have meant to me.

For one, I discovered a side of me I didn't know existed: the reckless writer. Doing NaNoWriMo forced me to stop going back and obsessing over what I'd already written.

One of the best pieces of advice is, without a doubt, don't look back. Okay, let's clarify what that means: look back on what you already wrote if you need a reminder or a little kick in the brain to jumpstart your writing--but don't for the love of holy Saint Google start editing and worrying over the quality of your work! You'll have time for that later during the official Christmas cringe-fest!

Another thing I learned is to keep going despite the adversities. A scene got you down? Don't throw it out! Just write another version of it and pump up your word count! Plot getting too out of hand or come to a halt? Take a deep breath and switch your tactic. In my case, I always resort to pen and paper when I need to outline a plot section. Just the simple change from a computer screen to a blank sheet of paper and a fine ballpoint pen calms me down and gets the ideas flowing again. Plus, we usually go slower when writing longhand, thus giving ourselves more time to think.

Finally, I'd like to make a toast for all the wonderful people participating in NaNoWriMo this year! This goes to you, peeps of the Critique Circle Progress Report thread! And of course to all of you on the Twitter NaNoWriMo hashtag!

What's in store for me now? SLEEP. The editing and the fleshing out and the writing of the missing scenes can wait a day or two. ;-)

Good luck, everybody! How are you holding up? Has anyone else reached their goal? Any advice or experiences you'd like to share?
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