Inspiration at the Con

Last weekend, my roommate and best friend, Patti and I went to the Wizard World Comic Con, the first one held in Reno.  For those who may not have looked at their web site, it was enough of a success that they’ve scheduled one for 2015 already.  If you missed it this year, it will be back next year.

Friday was a great day to attend because there weren’t as many people there and it made it a snap to get checked in and get our wristbands for the weekend.  There weren’t too many panels scheduled on Friday afternoon that were what I was hoping for and of course, there were a couple that were opposite each other.  That’s a given in these situations.  If they were offering four panels I wanted to see in a collection of twelve panels, at least one of them would be on at the same time as one of the other three.  Murphy’s Law in action.  (Or is there another specific law that governs this situation?

Inspiration in the Universe

One of the panels that turned out to be really interesting and stimulating to a creative mind was the “NASA Conquers the Universe” panel, presented by Mary Louise Davie who is not only an author, but must work for NASA in some capacity because she had some great information on what was in the works and the status of their funding.  They are fully funded now for future space exploration and partly because of their partnerships with private companies.  So, hoorah for NASA’s future.

Where the space program is going is fascinating.  Mars is not the only planet on the radar for future exploration.  Moons are not left out and there are possibilities of outposts on moons other than ours.  Some of the projections on how to build habitats on unfriendly worlds were fascinating and also stimulated that little creative spot that suggest possibilities to writers.  It also makes you think that almost anything you can imagine might be possible at some point.  So long as you don’t totally violate the laws of the Universe, whatever they might be.  With so much being discovered and changing, is anything really exactly what we believe it to be?

Inspiration Around Town

Paranormal Reno was another interesting panel, although not as informative as the NASA one.  Two local paranormal researchers discussed the haunted and other paranormal aspects of Reno and the surrounding areas with the audience.  At some point, it became more like a case of the folks in the audience trying to stump the researchers with stories of paranormal sightings that they may not have investigated or heard about.  But it was interesting and dipped into a little of the history of the Reno area.

Inspiration from People

A couple of the many great costumes worn by young and old as Hall Costumes.

Saturday was the main day for programming and attendees. We heard there might have been around 30,000 people at the Convention Center that day.  It was packed!  Getting through the exhibitors room was a major effort and I mostly plowed my way though looking for Patti.   There were many great Hall Costumes and the ingenuity of the fans in creating these is always fun to see.    Then, I made my way to the largest exhibitor room and claimed a seat on the sixth row, which was where I spent the next six hours.

First up was William Shatner who  is an absolute delight.  Some people may not realize that he is as intelligent as he is, but he it well-read and up on many recent scientific discoveries . He is an excellent speaker with a wonderful sense of humor.  The format for all the panels was “Question and Answer” sessions, so there were many diverse questions.

“Walking Dead” panel

Next up was a “Walking Dead” panel with three of the series stars, Scott Wilson, Jon Bernthal and Andrew J. West.  Very amusing and interesting panel.  This continued on with Michael Rooker’s panel and more talk about “Dead” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”.  Great humor and he was joined at the end by Karen Gillan who popped out to greet him.  Karen’s panel was the next after they cleared out the VIP rows so that fans who’d purchased the VIP seats could claim them.  She was a delight, funny and very gracious, not to mention cute as a button!  There was a lot of love for Amy Pond.

Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan

The last panel, although it really wasn’t one, was Bruce Campbell.  Along with Ted Raimi, Bruce came out with a “film-a-movie” approach that involved the audience and proved to be very funny.  Basically, they found a writer, two actors and a director from the audience and Bruce, who was the producer, set them up to do a scene based on a story idea the writer pitched to the audience.  There were three pitches and the audience voted on the one to use.  Then the writer went to work writing a one-page scene while Bruce and Ted hunted for the actors.  They found two with experience and “hired” those then looked for a director.  A quick rehearsal, then they filmed the scene and showed it on the big screen for everyone to see – and laugh about. It was not your usual panel.

Bruce Campbell with the writer and Ted Raimi, The writer is actually a published Reno author, but I didn’t catch her name.

We did not stay for the Costume Contest, usually a favorite thing I like to do, but by this point, I was hungry and I needed to move around some.  And there was this NaNoWriMo thing in the back of my mind.  Even though I’d already won and completed my novel, I still wanted to add some words to my new WIP before the end of the day.

All in all, Comic Con was fun and it was worth the three-day pass even though we didn’t go all three days.  For inspiration, it was great.  From the intriguing panels to the amazing art, it’s one of those things that opens your mind to many possibilities.

Winner! And Moving On…


It’s official.  I can now say that I am a NaNoWriMo winner and that feels awesome!   Being able to write over 65,000 words in less than a month is an eye-opening experience for a writer who’s done it for the first time.  What it tells me, as a writer, is that I can get those words out there so that the first draft is complete and editing can begin.

The next phase of NaNo is to edit the words in December with an eye to publishing in the spring.  There’s still a lot of work to be done though.  Just writing the first draft isn’t enough to have a novel ready to go.  It needs to be rewritten in places, polished, some more research done, but I feel pretty confident about the book I’ve just completed.

 New Project

The Alcazar at Grenada, Spain. Isn’t this a beautiful backdrop for a romantically suspenseful novel?

At any rate, I am moving on and stepping away a little from both the October and NaNo novels to begin work on another two novels.  The first is one I outlined years ago after a trip to Spain and I wanted to incorporate the beautiful Spanish setting as well as the trips to Morocco and Portugal into the story.  It’s a suspense romance novel along the lines of the type that Mary Stewart wrote.  I loved her books. If I am going to write romance, then I want it to be in the paranormal suspense romance or just plain suspense romance genres.  So far, I don’t have a title, working or otherwise, for this novel so it is the Spanish story for now.

The second one is the one I first started to write about March of this year and didn’t get very far before the sci-fi fantasy one took over.  So that story, which is the one that is moving forward right now, is a young adult urban fantasy called “Dew Dropping Hour” and is set in Ireland.  Parts of the British Isles have always had a magical feel for me and the mythology of the islands have such enchantment that this is another planned series of books that really excites me.  I believe, at this time, that the series will be three books, but it could go to four.  It just depends on how it actually plays out while I’m writing it.  The overall series is called “The Isles of Magic”.


For some reason, I have a really hard time coming up with titles for my books.  I had a working title for the novel I am currently typing in from the hard copy that I had of it, but I don’t like it.  It doesn’t really serve the book well, so I am hoping to get an inspiration somewhere along the line as I’m writing it.

Sometimes I find the title in song lyrics or poetry and sometimes they just pop up when I’m writing.  For instance, the title of the YA, “Dew Dropping Hour” is from a poem by William Butler Yeats. But if something doesn’t present itself, it becomes a real struggle to find something that ties in, but doesn’t sound milquetoast.

Do you encounter a problem with coming up with good, enticing titles for your books or stories?  Let me know.

Log Lines and Half-Way Through NaNo

Cover for my 2014 NaNo novel. Cover Design: Claimyourself


“A freaky ability causes a young singer to question her sanity, her faith and her willingness to embrace a new dimension to her talent.”

My potential log line for “Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle”

 Log Lines and Elevator Pitches

 Log lines are something that have carried over from screenwriting to novel writing.  It’s the one or two line tease that attempts to summarize what the heart of the story is and tempt the reader or movie-goer to learn more.

In writing, it’s called the elevator pitch.  You have a few seconds on an elevator to tell a potential publisher, agent or reader something about your story that might entice them before they get off the elevator.  So you hope that you can say something that will pique their interest and persuade them to want to know more about your story.

They aren’t that easy to write but they do force you, as a writer, to think about the essence of your story.  What is it you are really exploring in the book and what is the conflict or potential growth for your main character?

So, I ask, would that log line intrigue you enough to want to know more?

 Mid-Way on NaNo And Almost A Win

 Here we are at mid-November and I have experienced the pure rush of NaNaWriMo and almost won.  I say almost because all that remains now is to validate my word count, which I can’t do until November 20 when the official web site makes the counter available.  Unofficially, I reached my goal on November 10 and I completed the first draft of my novel on November 14 at 57,003 words.

Oddly, there’s been a sense of let-down the first couple of days after the novel was completed.  I feel I should still be writing and I know there are places where additional scenes are needed, secondary characters need to be brought in more and more tension built in the book.  In short, I have the basic story down, but the part that makes it an entertaining read still needs to be fleshed out, so I know there’s a lot to be done in the first edit.  I’ve never written a book this way until the last novel I did just before NaNo and this one.

The one I did in October was one-third of the way written, from when I started in April, and had been in my mind for over three years, so I had a really strong sense of that novel.  Going into NaNo with a new novel that I had outlined at the end of October and had only loosely conceived in the past year meant that I hadn’t had as much time to think about the characters or the plot.

One of the reasons I tend to write much slower normally is that I am still thinking a lot about the characters, who they are and how they react and that can be time consuming.  So, the first draft has forced some of the characters to come out without as much definition as I think they need.  Or I am just being critical of a project that I haven’t really had time to step away from before critiquing what I’ve done.

 Please keep following my blog to see how this all plays out and what I think later on after I’ve had time away from this project and go back in for the first edit.  Also, please feel free to comment, either here on my blog or on my Facebook page.

Gaining Confidence and Words

NaNoWriMo week 1 stats. I am upwardly mobile.

Friday, November 7 marked the end of the first week of the National Novel Writing Month challenge for 2014 and it has been exhilarating for me.  I did post a few updates on my Facebook page, but don’t want to bore you with too much about it.  I will say that the Reno team is great.  Our fearless leader amazes me with the amount of time and energy she has been putting into getting the write-ins, both in person and on-line, organized and done.  Plus she has written her whole 50,000 words already and is now going beyond!  Great work, Alexandria King.  The encouragement really keeps you focused and pounding away on the keyboard.

What I have learned so far is that I can write close to 5,000 words a day without stalling too much and if I push a little, I can write through the stalls.  I have my techniques that work for me and it seems to be working.  The writing is not perfect and there are cringe-worthy parts that I will rewrite in the editing process.  The key now is to get the story written with the plot mostly working.  Any flaws, plot holes and inconsistencies can be addressed in the editing.

Why is this such a big deal for me?  It means that I finally have managed to turn off the internal editor to the point that it doesn’t slow down the creative part of novel-writing.  It allows me to write without losing the flow of the book and the characters.  It allows the characters to really come into the story and for me to begin to hear their separate voices and really “see” them.  Your logical brain is the editor and that’s not where your creative center is, so being able to turn that part off while writing frees up the creative brain.  And I suspect that while you’re relaxing and sleeping, the logical brain is busy trying to patch in the fixes to the weak parts of your plot because those definitely seem to get sorted out before it’s time to write them.

Another thing that does work for me is the pre-planning.  I started NaNo with a story synopsis that I wrote last month that pretty much outlined the whole novel.  I built the outline in Scrivener, which is writing software that I just learned about and bought in September.  I wish I had gotten this sooner. So, I set the novel up in chapters and scenes in Scrivener and it looks like this:

My novel in Scrivener with the cork board open showing the chapters.

When I started writing, I had a pretty clear idea of the start of the novel while from the middle section on was kind of hazy.  One of the really nice things about Scrivener is that it allows you to write in scenes that you can move around if you need to do without the hassle of cutting and pasting that you have to do in WORD. It’s a simple drag and drop with the corkboard open.  Another great thing is having all your character bios available without having to go to another program or another document to open them.  Same thing for locations and any research that you’ve done or need to do while you’re writing.  You can update these bits of information on the fly and refer to them quickly and easily.

So I can easily say that using this tool has made an improvement on my writing when it comes to organizing and adding to speed while writing.  It’s not for everyone.  For as many people in the writers’ group who love it, there’s just as many more who dislike or feel it’s not useful at all.  It’s one of those tools that if you take a little time to learn it, it can make your job much easier, but if you’re confused by the programming or just don’t see the value, then it’s worthless on your computer.

For me, it’s been great and I’m a huge fan.  This is not an advertisement and I’m not being paid to evaluate this product.  I’m just sharing something that has worked for me and I’m really enthused about.  I finished my sci-fi fantasy novel in October using Scrivener and to prove to myself that I could write at least 1700 words a day.  Even with the learning process of the software, I found it so easy to see right where I was in the book and to take those scenes in little bites, that I had my average daily word count around 2500!  With the extra incentive of NaNo and the write-ins, I am closing in on my 50,000 words already and averaging over 5,000 words a day!  It’s not the end of the novel I’m writing, as I expect it will be between 65,000 and 70,000 words in the first draft.  But I also expect to finish it by the end of November.

Stay with me to see if I make it.  And then I’ll begin the editing process in December.  Hint:  I won’t be editing the book I’m writing this month, but one of the other two I have written and ready to be edited.

Please leave me any comments or ask any questions you might have about this adventure in speed writing.

Blazing Fingers


How fast can you type?  I think when I’m really on a roll and I have cooperation from my fingers, I clock in around 70 words per minute, but there’s usually a few typos in there.  On average, I am about 60 wpm.

So when you sit down to write a novel, you’d think you could really pound those words out, wouldn’t you?  Nope, I did 1,325 words in the first hour of the morning on November 1, the first hour of NaNoWriMo.  That’s about 28 words a minute, which shows how much of my time is spent thinking about what I’m writing.

Some people are already over half-way to the 50,000 word goal on the first day and I’ve heard that one person actually does the full 50,000 in a 24 hour stretch on the first day.  I’m not sure how they do it, but they are truly amazing writers.

I wrote over 5,000 words total on the first day and I am proud of that because I’ve never written that many words in one day.  But at the end of the day, my brain was tired, literally.  More than the extreme typing trick to write even 24,000 words in one day is the strain on a brain that isn’t used to continuously tying words and plots together to keep that kind of momentum going.

Of course, there is the “just write” mentality behind the writing that’s going on and some people just throw down words and ideas and keep going, which is fine in this situation.  The objective is to get 50,000 words towards your new novel, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be the best words or even words that will ultimately end up in the novel.

My own objective is to have the first draft be the base for a novel that will be revised a few times, polished and published later.  So even though I’m writing as fast as I can, I want to feel that the story is following my outline, somewhat, and will be something I can work with later to get a publishable book.  I am already cringing at some of the phrasing and word choices as I write them, but I know they will be changed later.  The essence of the scene is down and it will be refined with the next draft.

So, I’ll try not to babble about this project too much over the next few weeks, but it is consuming my thoughts at the moment.  I will put up a chart, because I like to do them, next week of my week’s word count, but I will talk more about either the novel I am writing or the one I just finished the first draft on last week.

To anyone reading, thanks for following along with me and please feel free to subscribe and comment about my posts or ask questions.