The children’s writing community is pretty cool. There are a lot of good people here. WIFYR has helped me socialize. (Yup. I’m not very good at that.) And I can’t believe it’s been 18 years. My youngest was two. And still nursing. The reason I’m telling you this because I want to tell you about somebody who stepped up a few years ago when my assistant at WIFYR had to cancel because of health issues. Stephanie Moore took over my class for that assistant. She organized, emailed, contacted me, contacted the class, checked in, asked how she could help. And it may have been her very first year at the conference.
Stephanie very quickly became my right hand gal. That hasn’t changed. She’s an amazing woman. The two of us work very differently (and that means sometimes there is a butting of heads) (but that also means that there is an amazing product at the end). Together, we’re sort of a whole person. I love and adore Stephanie. (Just an FYI, she won second place in the Utah Arts Original Writing Competition with her YA. Woot woot!) She has an incredible laugh. She shares my awkward sense of humor. She is a dedicated writer, a dedicated friend, and a dedicated Mom.
Day before yesterday, Stephanie’s daughter died. It was unexpected and, as you can imagine, horrifying to anyone who knew Rory and anyone who loves Stephanie. I’ve been crying since I found out. I don’t know why terrible, crummy, crappy things happen to good people but I will tell you this: the dedication Stephanie showed in helping me run an amazing conference is nothing like the dedication she has for her children and her husband. She is a perfectionist at many things. This includes sharing her love.
I cannot imagine how she must be suffering. And I wish I could take that pain away. There are no words I can offer my friend. But I can ask this incredible writing community to please pray for Stephanie and Lance and their three boys. Their lives will never be the same again. And the only chance for peace for them now will have to come from our God.
PS Dear Becca Birkin reminded me there is a gofundme for Rory’s funeral expenses.
A few weeks ago my youngest and I transplanted my lemon tree into a new pot. Every year we get one HUGE lemon from this tree and I was excited that the one lemon I had-pollinated, still clung to the branch.
Low and behold, when Carolina and I moved our tree, it rejoiced and burst out in blossoms all over!
Yahoo! More hand-pollination for me to do! The promise of more lemons!
But this growth got me to thinking. I take very good care of my southern plants. I have two orange trees, a clementine, a lime and two lemons. I have a couple of hibiscus and I’m even growing ginger (three pots full). Still, my lemon needed more love than I had given it. It needed room to breathe and stretch. And when I gave the tree what it needed, I was rewarded with blossoms.
This is sorta like our stories. Here we are, writing with our heads down, trying to get a specific number of words each day. This is exactly what we should do during NaNoWriMo. And at this point, we should be in the just-after-the-beginning of the middle of our novels. That horrible awful icky yucky-ducky place that I slog through every time I write a book. We might be feeling a little stuck. Or root-bound.
Why not shake things up a little? Loosen the roots of your book. Allow your story to blossom. How? By asking yourself a few questions. Here are a few that may shake things up for you.
- Am I allowing my character to move the plot or an I forcing the story to go the way I want it to?
- Am I adding far too many characters? Too many subplots? Too many useless words just to make word count?
- Am I feeling a forward movement in the story or have I gotten stuck because of wrong moves made in previous pages?
- Do I trust myself, my story idea, my creativity, my characters to move the story toward the climax of the novel?
- Do I know where I am headed? (By now, I think you should know what the climax of the story will be.)
- For the sake of numbers, am I adding useless bits and pieces that may throw me off course during revision?
Hopefully these questions will give you an idea of how to grow a bit more during this exciting month of NaNoWriMo. And I mean that. This month should be a growing month, an exciting month, a frustrating-but-I-did-it, fun month!
What is the promise of your novel?
Are you writing forward with that promise in mind?
As you go along, if an idea comes to you about something that should have showed up in earlier pages, write yourself a note–right then and there–describing what should happen. Highlight it. Then keep moving forward. You’ll easily find what you’re looking for later.
Another hint- If you are reading the previous chapter to get you into your novel (which I think is a good idea, because it helps you settle back into this novel’s specific voice) don’t count that time as your hour. Your hour begins when you start new words.
I’ve lost my phone.
This worries me as I have an appointment with two friends. What if I’m late?
I fought against getting this phone. But year before last when people were messaging all over Waterford trying to find me, and the last time my agent had to listen to Carolina’s weird answering machine, I realized it was time to get a phone of my own.
Where is that darn thing?
What has your main character lost?
How important is it to her?
Does this loss play a necessary part in your story?
Look through your novel. IF this loss is important, in needs to be present. It can’t be forgotten.
When Rick Walton was ill, he was always on my mind. Always. He’s still on my mind quite a lot.
Loss can be anything. Anyone. Keep it age-appropriate, and remember loss for a young child is as important as for an older person, even if the object isn’t as huge as a lost cell phone. 😉
Write the perfect birthday party for your main character.
Write the worst birthday party for your main character.
Now, do this exercise for the antagonist and one other character of your choice.
I can’t sleep.
If I don’t sleep, my dog, well, he’s parked next to me. Wherever I am.
This is a good ol’ dog. I lucked out when he came into my life.
How about you?
Do you have an important animal in your life?
The girls got me a turkey and four chickens for Easter. They’re kinda cool, too.
We can’t forget about great award-winning books for kids with animals in them.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
The One and Only Ivan
Mr. Wuffles! and The Three Pigs
My Friend Rabbit
Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan
Babe and Ace and The Cuckoo Child
I could keep going, but I won’t. Instead, let’s think of
Give your main character a companion that is an animal.
Don’t spend more than ten minutes writing about this pet.
Give a good description, including loyalty traits and then answer this: what would your MC character do without this sidekick?
You spend 24 hours with your main character.
What do you do?
What do you talk about?
What do you notice as quirks?
How does she make you cry?
What stories about her past does she tell you?
You go shopping. What does she buy?
What does she eat?
Can she cook?
Name three nice things she does for you.
What does she want you to do for her?
What does she read?
How does she surprise you?
How does she sleep? On her back? Curled up? Does she toss and turn? Snore? Talk in her sleep?
Does she want breakfast?
At the end of the day together, does she thank you for telling her story or curse you?