NaNoWriMo: Ahead of Pace

November 12, 2012

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I am at the half way point of my NaNoWriMo effort. I got to 25,000 words over the weekend, which is the best I have ever done it the four years I have been participating. But this is where the hard part begins. I have captured most of the ideas that I have had swimming around my head before November started, so now I have to come up with the next part of the story.

I hope that each of you is writing and having some success. The point of this competition is to get your story captured, or at least started. You are actually only competing against yourself and the calendar. I have to be brief so that I can continue on my novel. Like most of you, I do not get much time to write. I have mostly been grabbing the hour to two after my wife goes to bed which results in a very tired Martin at work. This weekend, once chores were done, I had the luxury of several hours to write. I hope to have more success next weekend and Thanksgiving weekend. I will be taking vacation from work the week of Thanksgiving, but that will not necessarily result in additional hours to write. We have people coming into town and we have to prepare for the holiday.

My first NaNoWriMo effort is available on Amazon: A Changed Man. It will be available for free download later this month, we will post it here. So good luck and good writing.

On college football, I must say it even though it is difficult (being a University of Texas graduate), but way to go Aggies. First loss for Alabama in how many years? Good work.

On professional football, to all of my Atlanta Falcon friends, good run. You had to expect to lose eventually, too bad it was to the Saints. Here’s hoping that you do not see another loss until you meet my Steelers in the Super Bowl.

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NaNoWriMo – Jump In, The Water’s Fine

November 2, 2012

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For a few years now, Martin Kelly has been participating in NaNoWriMo.  This year, I’m also taking the plunge.

What are the odds of me hitting the 50,000 word goal by the end of the month?  Not good.  Not good at all.  However, I’m hoping that the exercise will allow me to find small pockets of writing time and take advantage of them, so that I can continue the good habits after November is over.  I have several book ideas at the moment, but have struggled to find time to write.

If you want to buddy me on the site, go ahead.  Here’s my profile.

My book is tentatively titled “Shuffle”.  My main idea behind the book is that the main character’s life has been shuffled like a deck of cards and he’s going to live the time out of sequence.  This is likely triggered by an event in his 20s, to avoid having his youth messed up to much.  In a nutshell, one day he’ll be 42.  The next day he’ll be 25.  A few weeks later, he’ll be 70.  The idea came from the combination of several things – Quantum Leap, Memento, 11/22/63, and more importantly, the “random” button on XKCD.

The one thing missing at the moment is a plot.  I came up with this idea on the spur of the moment a few days ago.  Is the main character the protagonist or the antagonist?  If the story is going to be interesting, there really should be some sort of conflict.  But what sort of conflict?  Romantic troubles, or someone trying to kill the character.  (On second thought, those two ideas really aren’t mutually exclusive).  Heck, I’m not even settled on the gender of the character, much less the name (although I could always just go with Pat).

OK, need to finish this up and get back to my writing.  My word count at 11:30 on the first day of NaNoWriMo?  7.

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NaNoWriMo Wrapup

December 1, 2009

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Guest writer Martin Kelly races toward the NaNoWriMo deadline – will he get to 50,000 words by November 30?

This is the third NaNoWriMo writing diary from Martin.  You may also want to read part 1 and part 2.

11/20 – Chapter 23 and 24. I was flying home today. Writing on an airplane is difficult. The guy in front of me was reclined, and I am kind of heavy, so the laptop screen was not at a good angle. I spent most of my hour on the ground in Chicago correcting typing errors from three hours on the air.

In the story, the main character has learned to do something that is very hard for men, he is asking for help. We will have to see how well he accepts the help. At this point, the idea of having him watch like a little kid actually seems quite natural. His mother in law is being nice, on orders from her daughter and husband. The main character is doing his best to be nice to her as well. He of course does not know she is his Nemesis. They are having Thanksgiving. He is complimenting her cooking at every opportunity, and he honestly means it. This is her weak spot, and it is having an effect. She can’t help but enjoy being told how good of a cook she is. His wife also tells her mother that he seems ok with having kids now, that is just one more step to making her like him.

The day following Thanksgiving, black Friday, all of the female characters head off to the city to shop, in this case it is Saint Louis. The main character meets up with his childhood friend. This is a development chapter where you get to learn more about how he grew up. Several of the truths about him, his father and his mother are debunked. He breaks down and empties is heart to his friend; all of his fears, his concerns and what has happened to him. The friend does not believe at first but their common background pulls them together.

11/21 – Chapters 25 and 26. I hit 40,000 words today. It is good to be home, but I had to plan my writing time. Both chapters are rather short. More development and a return of the religious men. I am attempting to get the people who are trying to help the main character all working together. With the men it is easy, mostly because I am a man, and with men, good food and a little mutual razzing results in cooperation. I do not know how I am going to incorporate the women. His wife is going to be supportive separate from the men. She understands more than he does that a marriage is a partnership. I have developed her into the smartest person in the book.

11/22 – Chapter 27. Writing on Sunday again, just to keep going. I am so close to the NaNoWriMo goal that I don’t want to stop. I also think I can actually finish this book, with a conclusion! I dreamed up a final scene, now I just have to get there. Right now, the women have returned and the best friends are expecting their first child. This is a good nudge for the main character towards the responsibility of fatherhood. Now he just has to show his wife that he has ‘changed’ enough to take it on. Another short chapter. I may have to reorganize the chapters to make them flow better, but that can wait. I still haven’t had anyone else review it yet, I am kind of nervous about that. My wife will be the first with Kosmo having the second look, then it should be ready for the Casually Observing community.

11/23 – Chapter 28. Lots going on at home to get in the way of writing. The eldest son is back from college for the break and in laws are coming in for the holiday as well. This is my family, not the story. Matching up the time line to real life has helped but can be confusing in a blog. Back to the story. The main character and his wife have a day alone. Some more revelations about their childhood. The main character has always had a learning disability, specifically reading. In school, even though she was younger than him, she had been assigned as his ready buddy, to help him out.

I included a touching scene where she gets to reenact helping him as he tries to share her love of reading. He tries to get her to restart her dream of going to college, more than the community college effort that she is in. Currently she is trying to get basic office skills to have a part time job, her dream had been to become a veterinarian. She is reluctant, mostly because of cost and because he is putting forth too many things for her to hold on to at one time. He has suggested in the last couple of chapters that they get her a new car, that they have children and that she go back to college for her dream. She promises to think about it, then she talks him into taking a course at the community college. It is a farm management course that will be good for him, but he is uncertain, he is not exactly college material.

11/24 – Chapter 29. The main character has to have his checkups scheduled back in chapter 4. He heads into town with his wife. They do some things at the community college before he sees the dentist. His teeth are fine now. I ended the chapter with them at lunch, before he sees his family doctor. His wife is working all of the things she has promised to do, looking into college for the vet degree and checking on the feasibility of getting a new car, or at least a car that is new to them. I allude to her car being on its last legs several times in this chapter. I don’t know what I am going to do in the next chapter yet. He has to see his family doctor and go over his injuries and the affects. His memory problem will have to be discussed eventually and this may be the right place. Oh well, I will see tomorrow.

11/25 – Chapters 30 and 31. My step mother in law is in town. We don’t get along very well so I have been retreating to my room, leaving my kids to deal with her. On the bright side, I did get a lot of writing done. In chapter 30, all is good for the main character. I used the family doctor to fill in a lot of his family history both for him and the reader. His dad wasn’t really a drunk, he had stress and medical issues that drove him away from his wife out of shame. I have tried to temper the character of his mother as well. She isn’t as mean as I portrayed her at the beginning, she had a rough time and her youngest son was disappointing her.

Chapter 31 everything goes down hill for the hero. His old drinking buddies show up and take him into town. He ends up at the same bar that he always goes too. The bar maid is helpful, but assures him that they had not fooled around. She lets him know that he is (was) a jerk and should go back to his wife. Without explaining why, he asks for her help escaping from the guys. The only person he knows to call is his father in law. Although the father in law does come to get him, thing do not go well. The hero is seriously worried about getting his ass kicked by this man. To avoid both a beating and his wife he asks to be turned over to the sheriff, expecting to spend at least the night in jail for going to a bar after being found responsible in a drunk driving accident.

11/26 – Chapters 32 and 33. The relatives are still in town, so more writing. I have passed the 50,000 word mark. NaNoWriMo has declared me a winner. You get icons to put on your email, facebook and myspace. You also get a nice certificate to download. I am going to try to figure out how to include that certificate in my final publication.

In the story, the sheriff’s deputy, who just happens to know the hero, and the father in law figure out how to keep the ‘friends’ away. The hero is an idiot, but that can be overcome. He fesses up to his father in law about not knowing who these friends were, then spills his guts on the whole memory thing. The father in law believes him and takes him home, but makes a side trip to get grain for the animals as an excuse for running into town and the late return to their respective farms

11/27 – Chapters 34 and 35. More good writing. After spending a guilt filled night lying next to his wife, our hero starts confessing to her. His doctor told him back in chapter 30 that the best way to recover was to include his wife and not have secrets. He finally breaks down and follows that advice. He also confesses to the sheriff’s deputy, but he doesn’t come completely clean. He does not admit to his wife, or anyone else, that he doesn’t remember her.

Chapter 35 is a confrontation with the worst of the drinking buddies. An almost fight occurs that is broken up by the resourceful, and armed wife. She insists on taking him to the hospital, just in case he had another head injury. This involves her brother, since he has to come over to take care of the farm. More confessions to include the mother in law and another confrontation with the bad friend, this time in court. Trusting his wife is the best thing our hero has done so far. I told you in an earlier blog, he is an idiot, but that can be helped.

11/28 – Chapters 36 and 37. Some of my relatives are leaving, so this might be my last double chapter night for a while. The story is building up to Christmas. The hero gets his wife a puppy, and convinces her to chase her dream of becoming a vet. Just because I really didn’t like the character, I had the bad friend get hurt in a bar fight. Probably not necessary for the story, but felt good.

11/29 – Chapter 38. All my visitors are gone. Lots of cleaning, not much writing. Got several pep talk emails from NaNoWriMo. I really haven’t used them very much, I just participated in the word count challenge and got the reward. I think it was me not doing much, not them. They seem like really nice people who want to help. The write ins could be a lot of fun if I had the time.

In the story, one of the other drinking buddies tries to straighten out his life. He is heading out of town to pursue his dreams and tells the hero, thanking him for standing up to the bully that they use to drink with. The hero also decides to try to better himself by taking an extension class at the community college, to be a better farmer. For the first time, significant time passes, well a couple of months, instead of a day by day account.

11/30 – NaNoWriMo is officially over. I already made the word count several days ago, to the finish is sort of an anti climax for me. I added to chapter 38 and started chapter 39. I wanted to show a growth in the two main characters’ love lives as well as growth on a personal level. The main character has regained his strength and his wife notices his physique. He also uses his new knowledge to actually work his own farm, not well of course, but still his own sweat and effort. I think I have a good ending planned. I want to finish this book before Christmas. It is a goal that is within reach. Probably six more chapters to get there, then lots of editing. If Kosmo will let me, I will post the book as a Christmas present to the Casually Observing community.

Writer’s Diary (NaNoWriMo)

November 23, 2009

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We pick up where we left off last week, as guest writer Martin Kelly continues in his quest to meet the NaNoWrioMo goal of 50,000 words in a single month!

11/13 – Chapter 15, my main character learned how to milk a cow.  Almost everything in this chapter came from listening to my father in law talk to my kids about growing up on a farm.  I was actually using the story to encourage them to go to college.  He escaped and didn’t want them to have to work that hard.  I am trying to be as faithful to the stories I have heard as possible.  On word count, I have passed 23k.  This is good, since I continue to re-edit earlier work, mostly with deletions.  I have found lots of spelling/typing errors and just can’t help myself, I have to fix them

11/14 – I’m at the half way point!!  More than 25,000 words.  Chapters 16 and 17, my main character is left alone in his house for the first time.  He snoops around.  Mostly he finds embarrassing things.  His wife has a lot of lingerie, some of it pretty slutty.  This is stuff he got for her before his ‘change’.  He also finds his box of adult videos.  He starts lifting weights to get back his strength.  Since he is only recently out of the hospital, he gets worn down and fall asleep at the end of chapter 16.

When he wakes up at the beginning of chapter 17, the weather has turned bad.  He has to move quickly to take care of the animals.  By the time he is done, his wife is home.  He is starting to do the little things to make her believe he has actually changed.  He is performing the farm chores, he is setting and clearing the table for every meal.  He hasn’t become a perfect husband, but he is trying and she is noticing.

11/15 – Chapter 18 Okay, this was the big sex scene.  I like the way it turned out.  Not too sophomoric and not to pornographic.  I gave enough details to leave no doubts as to what went on.  I tried to think about scenes from movies and books I have read and seen with out plagiarizing.  I tried to avoid anything that would reflect on my real life experiences, to avoid embarrassing my wife.  When I am done, I will make the whole novel available to Kosmo and the rest of the casually observing community.  You can judge my success or failure.

11/16 – Chapter 19, the morning after.  The main character and his wife are still in the glow of the previous evening.  They are preparing for a day at her parents house.  They have another romp before doing all the things that have to be done around a farm.  I have included a lot of homey details to make the characters more full.  This was a short chapter, but I am close to 30,000 words.  Being on travel has given me a lot of idle time to write.  No kids, chores or anything else to distract me.  I am on the west coast, so even the television shows that I watch are over early.  Hopefully I can keep this pace up.  If I do, I might hit 60,000 words before the end of November.  I am not really aiming for a specific word count, I want to get to a good ending point for the story.  I think I have come up with a good stopping point, now I just have to get there.

11/17 – Chapter 20 The main character spends the day with his in-laws.  I must be lonely for home, I spent a lot of time describing the food.  There is also another sex scene.  I may really have to tone this down before publication.  I avoided the intimate scenes for days, now three in a row.  Another short chapter, but I passed the 30,000 word count mark  I am still ahead of plan for NaNoWriMo.  I actually have a lot of time for writing when I get to the hotel each night.  Tonight I had dinner with several co-workers, so less time and fewer words.  The key is writing every night, even if it is stuff you will have to delete later.


What did you miss over the weekend?

Diary of a Writer

November 16, 2009

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Guest writer Martin Kelly is participating in National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo pushes writers to write a fully contained 50,000 word novel (this equates to about 175 pages) in the course of just a month.  This is quite an aggressive goal – a bit too aggressive for Kosmo!  Martin shares his writing diary with us:

11/1 – calculated the word count that I will have to achieve 50,000 words by 11/30: 1667 words a day if I work every day, 1352 on weekdays and 4054 on Saturdays if I take Sundays off. Today is Sunday, and I’m taking it off.

11/2 – signed up for NaNoWriMo. Easy enough to sign up. You have to declare a genre. I chose general fiction. I may have to change to Romance later, but I am trying to stay away from that. Got to work on first chapter. I want to complete a chapter each night, about 2.5 pages in MS Word at 11pt Calibri. 1313 words by MS Word (-39 words for the day), 1316 by the web site counter. You can copy your text into a box on the web site and it will calculate your word count so far. It is considered “beta” until the end when the official counts are made. I’m going to stick with the MS Word tool for now. Introduced the main character and his wife, a couple of nurses and a doctor. Dialog is hard, description is easy, I will have to work on that. Having just been in the hospital recently helped the descriptions. Having a doctor and several nurses in the family helps too (all on my wife’s side).

11/3 – Chapter 2 was 1407 words, so I caught up from yesterday (+55 today, +16 over all). We will have to see if I can keep this pace up. Started the interaction of the main character and his wife. Since he is still in the hospital and weak, I was able to avoid dialog for a while longer. I have to stop reading what I have already written and editing. I can clean it up after 11/30. My wife is worried that I am staying up too late working on this. There are lots of support options on the web page, but I haven’t figured out how to use them yet. I am more concerned about writing right now. If I hit a block, I will probably spend some time diving into the site to get help. Everyone else who is trying, KEEP WRITING!

11/4 – Chapter 3 was 1723 words, anther good day (+329 today, +355 over all). Tried dialog today, Mother-Daughter. I will ask my wife to read it over to make sure it is realistic. I reread the first two chapters again and probably deleted more than I added. Introduced the wife’s mother and father. Started the conflict of the main character and his mother in law. It is all one sided for now, until I build up the main character. A lot of this book is going to include farming commentary. I will be depending on my father in law to make sure I do it right. He grew up on a farm in western Iowa. I am a townee.

11/5 – Chapter 4 was only 1310 words (-42 today, +313 over all). My overall count over/under count is not accurate any more as I continue to edit the earlier chapters. I think I have stopped deleting more than I am adding, but I am spending too much time editing instead of composing. I added in two more characters today and I think I am doing better with dialog. Two older men (like myself) so a little easier to think of what they would say and how they would react. Tried to capture some future chapter stuff at the suggestion of Kosmo, but can’t do it. I can revise stuff I have already written, but writing ahead poses the challenge of merging. I am writing almost like a soap opera. It all flows nicely, but I do not know where it is going.

11/6 – Chapters 5 and 6 are in the bag. I started an Excel sheet to keep track of just my totals. I was right about hosing up the count earlier in the week. My total is now 8447 words or just 100 words ahead of schedule. I really developed the characters of the main character’s minister (Methodist) and his wife’s priest (Roman Catholic). I really like both of them. That probably sound strange as I created them. I added a list of characters at the front to help me remember who everyone is, I will not include that in my word count. I brought in the news reporter who covered the accident for the local TV station. I don’t know if I will use her again, but she could be useful.

11/7 – Chapters 7 and 8 are good. I am falling behind on the word count. I got the main character out of the hospital. He is meeting his wife’s family, father in law first. Before he got out, the priest and minister set up a video of him in high school. He had been a football starter, so they had gotten footage from the TV reporter. It is all part of their effort to help him heal. I realized that in this blog, I haven’t given a summary of the story plot, so here it goes.

The basic story is that a young man (about 22 years old) is in a major accident. He was drunk and the other driver died. When he wakes up in the hospital he cannot remember anything. He spends the first few days awake listening to everyone to try to piece together what happened. His wife visits every day, that helps him a lot but also presents a problem, he doesn’t remember her. He had been a pretty lousy husband up to this point, drinking and carousing with his friends instead of taking care of their farm which he inherited from his grandfather. Her mother asks her priest and his minister to help them with their marriage. The young man confesses his problem to his minister. The minister and priest are good friends and decide to try to help the young couple together, including trying to help the young man recover his memories. The video in these chapters is supposed to give him some positive commentary on his life to this point, since he has only learned about the bad parts so far.

The plot goal is to get him to overcome his memory loss, not recover it. Finally admit to his wife what has happened. Reform his life in general, and face down the bad influences he has been hanging out with. The romance part of this story is the two main characters restarting their love life together.

11/8 – I had to keep working to stay on schedule even though it is Sunday. Chapter 9 introduced the main character’s brother in law. I needed someone to teach him what to do on his farm. Basically, his brother in law is a guide both for the main character and the reader. He tours the farm, the house, the chores and introduces some more characters for later. I am getting close to having the main character and his wife in bed. I don’t know why, but I am nervous about that.

11/9 – I was on an airplane all day traveling for business. This turned out to be a good thing. I got most of chapters 10 and 11 done. I am well ahead in word count now, about 2000 words ahead. I was uncomfortable writing a sex scene sitting next so a stranger on an airplane, so I had my characters avoid it to. I will be in a hotel room the next 11 nights so I should get a lot of writing done. I joined a writing group on NaNoWriMo today. They have “write-ins” where local groups get together at coffee shops and such to sit, talk and write. I don’t know if I will join it, but it seems friendly. There are also dedicated people in each group who have completed the event in the past who are on call to help. Help could mean explanation of the rules or help on plot. They also have a tracking graph to let you see if you are on schedule. I will have to copy my effort in every day. There is a distinct plateau and jump up on my graph.

11/10 – Chapter 12 was all description. Also started the main character taking on responsibility. I explained why only his in laws are part of the story. Dad is dead, mother move off to be with one of his older brothers. He came from a very cold family, but the farm house suggests that his mother came from a very warm and loving home. She was an only child but our character had lots of brothers and sisters. Again I don’t know what I am going to do with that, but it is an interesting branch if I need it.

11/11 – Chapter 13 the main character finds out that he was kind of a pervert. He had a rather tall stack of adult magazines that his bother in law stumbles across causing great embarrassment. Then the minister drops by to check on him. He confesses that he feels like a creep because he want to have sex with his wife, but he doesn’t know her. That is just me avoiding the sex chapter again. I am getting more comfortable with dialog. Others will have to decide if I am actually good at it. This was a short chapter so I have lost some of my advantage in words. I am right at 20,000 words now, which is still good. I have to have at least 25000 words by Sunday.

11/12 – Chapter 14 and a lot of editing of the earlier stuff. I had the time passage all messed up. I am about 3000 words ahead of my plan, which is great. In the story, the main character’s wife is having problems believing that he has changed his ways. It is hard to believe that a drunk can change quickly, even if the drying out is forced by a hospital stay. He still hasn’t told her that he has lost his memory. He is worried that he is doing everything wrong, what just about every man in the world worries about when his woman is upset.