Sunday, October 31, 2010

So many words to write, so little time.

I’m here to explain why I won’t be blogging much for the month of November. As all you writers know, this is National Novel Writing Month, the time for NaNoWriMo and I’ve signed up. Yep, I’m committed to writing a minimum of a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, or at least 1,667 words a day.

At first I thought, wow! That sounds like a Herculean task. Then I stopped to consider how many words a month I generally write. Between novels and articles, my monthly out-put must be twice that… Well maybe not, but more than that, at any rate
So, on a whim, an impulse if you want, I said, “WTF, go for it.” And I did.

You see, I’ve had a novel on the backburner since a least last October that I haven’t had the opportunity to get down and bang out the dreadful first draft. Not that I’m that much of a procrastinator – I’m not. Just, other things kept getting in the way, or shone with greater allure at the moment.

NaNoWriMo seemed the perfect opportunity to get down to it. The rules are perfect:
  •  Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people's works).
  •  Write a novel, a novel being defined as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you're writing a novel, we consider it a novel too! 
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.
That’s it. Not too many. Quantity, not quality. Kill the editor that lives between the ears, that mean-mouthed, disparaging, sharp tongued harridan. Just write – bash it out and get it down. I can do that. Sounds like a vacation.

So what am I writing on this marathon venture you wonder. I’m going to tell you. I’m writing the third in a series of novels starring my favorite character, Bria Connelly. Can’t tell you much more than that without spoiling the story for you, and I won’t. I won’t and you can’t make me.

Looking back on the past twenty months, I’ve gone through a real productive period and written three novels and a hundred (give or take) articles (many of which you can read by clicking on my hubpages widget to the left up there).  In fact, I’ve astonished myself. Could this be that fabled post-menopausal zest I’ve been reading about?

Or is it the blessed freedom I’m enjoying, having divested ourselves of the big house, the kennels, the ten acres, the business --  How did I ever do all that? – And turned our one-time vacation house (a little two bedroom that’s a snap to keep up) into our full-time home.

Whatever the secret, it’s been great for my writing. True. I spent the afternoon ruminating on the novels of the past twenty months.

It all started with my beloved novel, This Bird Flew Away, a story that lived so long between my ears, all I had to do was sit down and let it pour out. This was a transcendental experience. In four months of isolation, all alone in the Florida house while poor hubby, Jim, slaved away up there in the ice and snow of a Canadian winter, I lived, breathed, dreamed and wrote This Bird, as I affectionately dub the work. It pained me to be away from it. No one wanted to see me, because all I talked about was the story, and the characters became more real to me than anyone of flesh and bone in my life. All too soon, it was over and off to my wonderful editor, Kathryn Lynn Davis.

While she had it, I worked on the pitch. You know what I mean.

Genre: Literary fiction
The one liner:
 A funeral, a crime, secrets and the friendship between a girl and a man.
Then the “back cover pitch”:
What is real love?
The whole world wants to know.
They should ask Bria Jean, because she has it all figured out. Opinionated, stubborn and full of woe, Bria would tell you real love is having one person you can always count on through thick and thin. For her, that’s Jack. And it doesn’t matter to her that she’s nine and he’s twenty-three -- not one bit.
When, at the age of twelve, Bria disappears, he and his Aunt Mary search for her, and when she surfaces, injured, abused and traumatized, Jack fights to become her guardian with no idea of the trials ahead of him. By then, Bria is thirteen going on thirty, full of her own ideas on how her life should run and with some very fixed notions about who is in charge.
And now, come January 27, this labor of love will rest in my hands as a printed book, exactly twenty-four months from when I first began.

No sooner was it done, and even before the editing and revision process, I went to work on the sequel, Fly High, Fly Blind. This one too was effortless, a delight. But being back in Canada, I wrote it around work and business demands. Even so, in four months I had a 150,000 word first draft. (Yes I know; trimming is big come the revision
And I worked on that pitch too.
Child advocate and lawyer, Bria Connelly, sits at her desk one May morning in 1989, tying up loose ends for one client, preparing to plea in court on a motion for sentence reduction for another, has yet to read an important report for one more, can't see her desk for the files strewn about and she is already late in her appointment with a new client waiting outside, another battered woman, another abused child -- a normal day in her chosen line of work.
The phone rings.  Little does she suspect when she picks up the phone, this call will set in motion a whirlwind of events that will change her life forever. She'll find herself flying high and blind in a murder trial that will take her from her practice in Calgary to the criminal courts of New York City.
 Well out of her element, there is only one person she knows who can help save her client: Jack -- once her guardian, once her best friend but now estranged. Six years have passed since she last spoke to him, seven since she saw him, but for the sake of her client, she calls him.
 Once again he does not let her down. In fact, he seems eager to renew their complicated relationship. The girl from this Bird Flew Away is back, grown up and carrying another secret, a secret that will shatter Jack's world.
 Against the back drop of a controversial defense strategy, one child in trouble, another child  a key witness in a public trial and  a scandal mongering press, she finds herself  and her future and finally puts the past to rest
Like it? This one is currently in edit and revision and coming along nicely. If all goes well, it should see daylight late next year or early the following.

Then, as I was about to start on the third – untitled then, another project came up and this one was pushed to the dark recesses of the storage cupboard in my head.

I was approached by an editing client, Dallas Thompson, to help put together a novel based on an interesting idea of his, and we co-authored a novel. He provided the premise, the technical information and the main ideas. I drew up the plot, the character sketches and wrote the first draft, emailing each day's installments back and forth with Dallas. In four months, we had an interesting and powerful political sci-fi thriller in reasonable draft form but I’ll leave the story of The Agent of Change for another blog.

This one is now with Kathryn, editor supreme, and will return for rewrite and revision in a few more weeks.
But, fulfilling as writing the departure from my normal genre was, the third in the Bria Connelly series ate at my brain, demanding to be let out. But by now, I was up to my ears in article commitments, student writer coaching and editing, and poor Number Three languished. 

Then, along came NaNoWriMo, and the perfect excuse to clear my desk, tell everyone to leave me alone for thirty days, and limber up my fingers, ready to go. I won’t cheat. I won’t write a word of it till 12:01 AM tomorrow. 

But I did come up with a title, Finding Emily – and a cover. I always start out with a cover; makes the book seem real and motivates my writing. Here’s what I plan to get out in a 50,000 word skeletal form in the next 30 days.
The inspiration for this tale came to me following a news clip on the CNN streamer that never  made it as a news story and I often wonder why. It related to a crackdown on "child prostitutes" though a better, more appropriate term is child sex slaves. 52 children were recovered from a life of hell, and sixty pimps and several hundred other people were arrested -- yet it didn't make it to the TV screen. I wrote an article about this phenomenon, linked here.
I researched and dug around and got as much information on this crackdown as I could, and thought, what if law enforcement decided to cooperate yet again and this time concentrated on I95, running along the east coast of the U.S. (For those that don't know these parts.)
Then I went further:  Bria, now in her fifties is a renowned child protection professional, and she lives in Florida for the winters (who wouldn't) and finds herself involved with one of the recovered children.
 Then I  came up with this idea: A friend of hers from Alberta has brought her three children to Orlando for a vacation (Disneyworld and Universal and all those places.) They've come down in a group of families and each has rented a house. Well, through a series of unfortunate events, the 12 year old daughter disappears. Bria involves herself for her friend's sake, but in spite of law enforcement's best efforts, and though Bria and Mom work hard to try and keep the story alive, two years go by with no word. Then this "Operation I95" takes place and the girl is recovered.
What state would a girl be in after two years of forced sex slavery? Can you imagine?
 Will Bria's skills be adequate to the task?
Don’t you love the cover photo? See this obviously adolescent faceless girl, back against the wall, trapped, dressed for ‘the trade’…  Yes, the photo was great inspiration. Once I have a cover, the story’s half done.

So, that’s why this is likely to be the last blog you’ll see for a few weeks, though I might come in and tell you how it’s going. Can’t promise – once I get going there is nothing else in life. 

See you in thirty days with the rough first draft of a new novel under my belt.

Sincerely Yours,


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