Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Pixies Don’t Have Wings

Phote removed by author

Clipart that I swiped off the Net. 
I know it has wings, but it's just so pretty:)

I am sitting cross-legged on my parents couch watching 12 Men of Christmas on Lifetime with my mom.  It’s the second time I’ve seen this movie this season.  I realized that it’s pathetic, but I like my cheesy Christmas romantic movies.  Go ahead and judge me.  I don’t care.  I’m also in my favorite pair of yoga pants and I’ve been in them all day.  Christmas dinner did not defeat me though the pie did try its hardest!

I wanted to jot down a message to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and to thank all of you that take time to read my blog posts the last few months.  I enjoy writing them and I’m grateful that some of you enjoy reading them.  I’m still shocked anyone does.

As Christmas comes to a close, I hope everyone was where they wanted to be and with those they wanted to be with.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pillywiggins, Flower Faeries and a Writing Sample

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Pillywiggins as they appear in Peter Dubois’ Great Encyclopedia of Faeries
Illustration by Claudine & Rowland Sabatier

Among the faerie books in my library, one of my most prized books is the one listed above.  The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries is a book that you could get lost in.  I have before, for hours and hours.  This volume along with Peter Dubois’ The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins and Other Little Creatures are a must for anyone who loves faerie lore.  I’m almost tempted to give family members copies for Christmas, but no one in the Armstrong clan digs Faeries like I do.  Their loss.

Today’s Faerie Friday post is about, you guessed it, Pillywiggins.  Pillywiggins can be spelled a couple different ways.  This is the way I will spell it for this post.  I think in “Darkness Peering” I spell it a different way.  That is something that I will have to be mindful of during the editing process.

Pillywiggin is a fun name to say.  Say it with me.  Pillywiggin.  Pillywiggin.  Pillywiggin. 

Pillywiggins are teeny, tiny little faeries that live among the flowers and often take on the color of the plants that they eat and live among. They have interbred with butterflies and dragonflies so they have wings and antennae. They wear acorn tops and flower petals for hats and flower petals as clothing.  If the picture above is any indication, sometimes they don’t wear much at all.

Pillywiggins look after the flowers.  They frolic.  They make love.  They aren’t a particularly dangerous though they can be tough on those that don’t respect and destroy plants.

I’d like to say that there was more to these creatures, but there isn’t.  For next week, I was going to write about Flower Faeries, but they are even less interesting.  Flower Faeries are basically literary inventions assigned to a particular flower.  You know, the pretty one’s you see on calendars and fantasy websites.  Big yawn.  So I guess you can consider this Faerie Friday post as a two-for.  You’re welcome.

I’ll close with a writing sample.  I had intended this for the opening chapter of “Darkness Peering” but I’m sure this is the only time it will see the light of day.  The scene is too passive.  My heroine is just watching it unfold with cold detachment.  Not to mention that nothing actually happens in this scene.  And there is too much back story.

So here it goes:

Greer Monach heard the combined wail of hundreds of piskies from four blocks away.

The eerie disharmonic sound was hard to ignore even her sleep deprived state.  She had been up all night hunting for the elusive mumpoker Scary Mary had sworn was haunting the children’s park along the river.  Not only had she not found the mumpoker and lost three rhinestone broaches and a pretty little pair of faux pearl earrings as payment, she had been chased out by a beat cop that was patrolling the area.  The nine o’clock close of the park was a long established rule and the last thing she needed was another trespassing charge.

She had passed out fully dressed sans shoes on the ancient loveseat upon arrival to her studio apartment shortly after six am.  She had been gently snoozing when the noise startled her awake.  It took a few moments for her to realize that it wasn’t a fire truck she was hearing but something far more interesting.  She shot off from the couch and routed around on the floor for a pair of slip on shoes.  She tripped over the coffee table as she reached over to grab her keys from her kitchen counter.  She swore loudly and limped towards the door, slamming it and quickly locking it behind her.

She stepped out onto the street and sprinted up Wit Street toward the rising sun and turned right down Front Street.  She stopped in front of Martha Boyle’s front garden and her mouth opened, aghast.

The piskies were at war with the pilliwiggins.

The piskies attacked in pairs.  They grabbed the offending pilliwiggin on each side, tearing at their wings, pulling so hard that they ripped them right off their tiny bodies leaving the pilliwiggin to die of blood loss, the green blood that made their bodies shine like peridot pooling on the ground beneath their tiny little bodies.  Their complexions turned ashen right before her eyes.

The pilliwiggins tried to use their speed and flying ability to their advantage, but the piskies could hop quite far and quite high.  They swarmed the piskies in packs of six or seven, biting, stabbing, and kicking.  Their small stature was their greatest disadvantage. 

The piskies overwhelmed them.

The fight had taken no more than ten minutes from the moment she first heard the piskies battle cry to mass carnage.    She watched as every pilliwiggin was overtaken and she stood by as she watched them fight for their lives.  She listened to their wail for their dead.  The piskies had been savage and cruel.  They killed every male and every female they could and they made no allowances for the young.

She guessed she should have found it a little sad to see some many dead little pilliwiggins.  But they were nasty little beasts and Martha’s front garden was just infested with them.  Horrible woman with horrible little beasties in her front garden.  Fitting.  Greer could only imagine what lived in her basement.

She was four years old when she spotted her first pilliwiggin on a walk with her nanny.  The pilliwiggins looked just like fairy princes and princesses.  She had climbed over the back fence when no one was watching and ran down the street to get into Martha’s yard to catch one.  She was drawn to their brightly colored rainbow wings and their round little bodies.  Each pilliwiggins had long, silky hair with every color of the rainbow represented in psychedelic splendor.  She thought it would make a great pet.  Like keeping fireflies in a jar. She almost caught one and then the little blued haired bastard opened his tiny mouth and clamped down on her finger.  Martha had caught the screaming Greer by the back of her shirt and dragged her down the street.  The woman always hated children, Greer in particular.

Her mother was beyond caring what she did.  A four year old with never ending energy and an appetite to match had exhausted her.  Her dad looked at the little puncture wound in her arm and sent her back out to play with a warning of staying away from Martha’s yard. 

Greer pulled a pen and notebook from the back pocket of her jeans.  She hadn’t even bothered to remove it before crawling onto the couch to sleep.  She always carried a notebook with her to record such an occurrence. This one had a tiger kitten on the front over.  It had been on sale.

She pulled the cap off the pen with her teeth and jotted down her observations and speculations.

The piskies and pilliwiggins had lived in oblivion of each other for as long as she could remember.  The piskies mainly stayed to their territory along bank of the Mohawk River and she had never seen one venture near Martha’s garden before

There were too many casualties to count.  Most of the corpses were pilliwiggins but they had managed to take down a handful of piskies.  This didn’t surprise her.  Piskies were about ten times the size of the pilliwiggins.  It hadn’t been a fair fight.

The piskies were short, about six to eight inches high and dressed all in green and brown with elongated hands and feet and upturned noses.  They would be charming if they weren’t so brutal.  It was impossible to tell the difference between the men and women—they all looked male to her.  It was possible she had never seen a female piskies in her twenty-five years living among them but there must be females.  If there weren’t any females, how did they make more piskies?   It was just another one of the great fae mysteries she probably never would understand.

I just wanted to give you a glimpse at the world I’m writing about.  There is no evidence that pixies (or piskies in this case) would ever attack Pillywiggins.  I came up with this scene after thinking about how a Faerie creature might react to each other especially if one group wanted the territory the other had.  Animals behave this way.  We know humans behave this way.  Would Faeries?

There won’t be a Faerie Friday post next week.  I’m finally going to try to finish The Dark King’s Lover to pitch to Entangled Publishing on Jami Gold’s website next month. They are looking for short fiction 10k to 60k long.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, please do so. Maybe you have something they are looking for.  The link is as follows:

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Book Releases

2012 is fast approaching whether we like it or not.  I usually hate this time of year.  Not only do I have to deal with the Christmas nonsense, my office is super busy.  Before I know it, New Years is here and have no desire to go out shake my thing.  Last year I think I was in bed before midnight.  The year before that the same though I was sick and had a legitimate excuse.  I know.  I’m a big fat loser.

This year is no different except we have like four different invites and I want to do one thing and my husband another.  His has something with goat on a spit.  Mine involves attending my sister’s annual New Year’s party and a two day hangover.   We’ll have to duke it out sooner or later, but right now I’m focusing on all the other crap I have to do.

The one thing I’m looking forward to in 2012 is all of the new books. It’s not as bad as it was last year when I was not-so-patiently waiting for Karen Marie Moning’s Shadowfever to arrive.  I think I reread the first four books on the series twice a month before the book came out.  I even got up at 4:00 am on the day the book released and downloaded it on my Nook.  I wanted to get a few hours of reading in before I had to go into work.  There was a huge snowstorm that morning.  I stood in the snow and waited for the bus, my Nook in a zip lock bag so that it didn’t get wet.  All and all, it was quite a pathetic display.

So here is the list of the 2012 books that I can’t wait for.

Debut writers:

Crash Into You by Roni Loren

I found out about this book reading Roni’s Fiction Groupie Blog.  Here is the blurb:

Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat-a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her, Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn's past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he's all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate-and so does the danger. Their hearts aren't the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.

Sounds hot, right?

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

I really enjoy Suzanne’s Preturnatura blog.  This book looks like great fun. Can’t wait until April

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

Firelight by Kristen Callihan

I first heard about this book from Kristen’s agent, Kristen Nelson’s blog, Pub Rants.  What can I say I am a sucker for the Beauty and the Beast type story.

Once the flames are ignited . . .
Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

Now for the Established Writers (in no particular order):

Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Lothaire by Kresley Cole  (Finally!)

Lover Reborn by JR Ward

Oracle's Moon by Thea Harrison

The Darkes Seduction by Gena Showalter

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

When Maidens Mourn by CS Harris

Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter

Are you an author with a book coming out in 2012?  Leave a comment and tell me all about it.

What are you looking forward to reading?  I am dying to know.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Truth About Pixies

Phote removed by author

A British Postage Stamp.  You can see the Queen in left corner. 
Must be an old stamp.  Liz looks less like an old bat.

I was reading a YA novel about a half-fae/half-human girl in the late summer.  I almost threw the damned thing across the room.  The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had switched over from reading physical books (with everything but reference materials) to digital.  I love my Nook more than I love most people.  I wasn’t about to damage it no matter how irritated I was with an author.

This particular writer presented a mishmash of Faerie creatures (and mythological) all residing primarily in “Faerie.”  I find this prevalent in most books about Faeries.  My “world” has a mishmash of Faeries as well, but I’ve given a reason for it.  Whether it’s a good reason remains to be seen.  I’ve never understood that if a Faerie creature is supposed to be dinning on small children in England or haunting the Scottish Highlands, then what are they doing just chilling in “Faerie?”  It makes no sense to me.  Can anyone please explain it to me?

Anyway, what set me off in regards to this particular novel was the description of a pixie flying around with its pretty wings. I think that was the moment that I decided to heed to my friend Nina’s advice and start a blog on Faeries.  I wanted everyone to know that PIXIES DON’T HAVE WINGS.  I don’t know what this bothers me so much, but it does.  I know it’s supposed to be fiction and you can pretty much do with it what you will, but it pissed me off.  If you want to have a pretty little flying creature in your book, why don’t you call them Glitter Bats or Sparkle Flies?  Or maybe something that they might actually be, i.e. Pillywiggins or Flower Faeries.  Dear authors, why must you insist on calling them pixies?

As a matter of fact, most faeries don’t have wings.  Most faeries aren’t very pretty either.  Sure there are some creatures that are quite attractive, but pretty is usually coupled with some weird abnormality like a cow tail, a hollow back or duck feet.  And in some extreme cases, pretty also comes with a propensity for blood lust and/or hatred directed towards all members of the human race.

I know.  I am getting off topic here.  This is supposed to be Faerie Friday.

So for today’s Faerie Friday post I am going to discuss pixies.  Next week I’ll discuss Pilliwiggins, and the week after that Flower Faeries.  This way we will all know the difference between the three.

In case you still don’t realize, Pixies (English West Country) or Piskies (Cornish Variation) don’t have wings.  They are tiny English nature spirits who live along the banks of streams and rivers and by standing stones. 

They are short, somewhere between six inches and a foot tall, though stories vary.  They wear lots of green and brown and some even have bells on their feet.  They often have red hair and petite upturned noses.  Some people believe they are the souls of prehistoric peoples that have been shrinking with time and someday they will disappear all together. I don’t know about you folks, but I think that’s kinda sad.

If you are lucky, you can get a pixie to complete domestic chores for you, but usually they are known for their mischief and leading travelers astray with their faerie lights.  The term “pixie-led” means being led on a wild goose chase.  Sometimes hundreds of them come together and if they happen upon a lonely traveler, they force the traveler to dance with them until the traveler passes out (or kicks it) from sheer exhaustion.  Oh, and they also like tie knots in the tail of your horse.  Oh, the horror.

There is a Cornish saying: “Laugh like a pixie.”  Their laughter often gives them away.  They are wonderfully silly creatures (if you cut out the dancing-until-you-die thing and possibly leading people to their death thing.)  Every folklore tradition needs one!

P.S.  That book I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I did finish it.  I went on to read the next two books in the series and I’ve purchased the fourth.  So the joke is on me I guess!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Of Faerie Cats

Our neighbor stopped by last night to pick up a book, or rather my old Nook. She was looking to read Dickens’ Christmas Carol to her son and none of our neighbors could find a print copy.  I had it, however, in digital format.  I almost always download free classics.  You never know when they will come in handy. 

As we were lamenting our lack of a print copy and what that said about us as Writers/English Majors/English Teachers, Agatha Christie Kat, a/k/a The Poops, Poops McGee, The Wee Nitwit, Le Petit Poopie (as she is known in France), jumped up on the back of the sofa to see who was at the door.  Our neighbor, the same neighbor who checks in on our cats when we are out of town, told us that she was her favorite of our four cats. (Yes, I have four cats.  What’s it to ya?)  

“She looks like a Faerie Cat, almost magical,” she told us. 

A Faerie Cat?  I never thought of Agatha as being anything more than a foolish little creature that still chases her tail at six years old, hates her brother Tommy (a/k/a Thomas Jefferson Kat, Stumpy Tom, Capitan Tommy, The Toms) and who will always remain the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.  She is a Siamese mix with crossed eyes, tortoiseshell points and a ringed tail.  See the picture below. 

As my husband says, “Everyone loves The Poops.”  And everyone does.  I spotted her from about thirty feet away at our local PetSmart.  She was sleeping in a cage and she called to me.  That may sound foolish, but I swear she did even though she was asleep.  I left him in line balancing the cat food and cat litter and went over to look at the little ball of white fur.  The woman who was manning the adoption station saw one look at how I was looking at the kitten and told me to go around back to pet her.  Yes, she knew a sucker when she saw one.  Agatha woke up and instantly starting purring when I petted her.  I was completely smitten.  My husband (who was just my live-in boyfriend at the time) told me I could have her if I wanted her.  We had two cats at home and didn’t really need a third.  He assumed I would come to my senses and say no.  He assumed incorrectly.  We went home with the kitten and had our first real fight.  He stalked off to go watch football and I was left with this fearless kitten that, we learned in the weeks to come, had more energy than both of other cat put together, hogged cat toys with ferocious determination and liked to bat at our eyelashes while we slept.  She was a two pound demon and almost went back to PetSmart that first week.  My husband now contends that bringing her home was one of the best things I did that year. 

On a side note, all of our cats were adopted from an organization that fosters cats until they can find them a new home.  Two came to us as kittens and two as adults.  In fact, we were Tommy’s third home.  We love our Fuzzy People.

I find that people either love or hate cats.  I don’t get the latter.  I have a cousin who tries to hit cats with her car.  I mean, who does that?  Someone should try to run her over with a car.  The fear or dislike of cats probably stems from old stories and prejudices.  Cats have been both revered and hated throughout history.

Faerie lore and folklore are filled with feline beasties. In this post, I’ll be talking about a few of them. 

If anyone is familiar with Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey books, you know Grimalkin, the Cait Sith.  He’s probably the most interesting character in the entire series and in my estimation is somewhere between an actual Cait Sith (or Cat Sith) and the Cheshire Cat sans the stupid smile.   Just so that you know, Grimalkin is a term used for an old or evil looking female cat.  Scottish folklore describes the Grimalkin as a Scottish Faerie cat who lives in the Highlands.  I was always under the impression that Kagawa’s Grimalkin was a male cat.  Well, they are her books.  She can do with them what she wants.

The Cat Sith is a nasty cat in Scottish Gaelic folklore.  He is huge, about the size of a dog, and is covered in shaggy fur with a white patch on its breast.  The Cat Sith has an arched back.  I picture something akin to cats in traditional Halloween decorations. Highlanders believed that the Cat Sith wasn’t actually a faerie but rather a witch in disguise.

 Another creature which may or may not be related to the Cat Sith is Big Ears.  Sometimes Big Ears is looked at as the King of the Cat Sith.   Either way, Big Ears is demonic cat of the Scottish Highlands.  He’s huge and (surprise, surprise) has big ears.  He also has scary yellow eyes to go with those disproportionately large ears.  Big Ears was summoned in an old ceremony called Taghairm, a barbaric ritual in which cats were roasted alive for four days. At the end of the four days, Big Ears would arrive and grant a wish or boon to the cat slaughters.  If I were Big Ears, I would have murdered those involved, but that’s just me.

In the folklore for the Lapp people of Scandinavia, there is a demon cat called the Smiera-Gatto, or Butter Cat.  This Butter Cat does what its name implies; it steals butter for its masters from their neighbors.  Good for those who have the Smiera-Gatto, bad for the neighbors.  We have something akin to the Smiera-Gatto.  The only difference Agatha steals butter for herself.  We can’t leave butter or imitation butter lying around.  Invariably when we come back to it, there are Agatha tongue prints in it.

There are countless other cat faeries.  Maybe someday I’ll do a Part Two of this post, but this one is getting a little long.

My husband and I honeymooned in Turkey.  I know, it’s an odd place to honeymoon, but the whole trip was amazing. We found in Istanbul (and the rest of Turkey) an interesting cat culture.  In the US, if you see a stray cat, you usually stay away from it.  In Istanbul, they feed and take care of the stray cats.  Those visiting the Blue Mosque often bring cat food for the mosque’s resident felines.  There is some sort of connection with Islam and cats though I’m not exactly sure what it is.  Anyway, here is a few of the Turkish Cats we took pictures of. 

Such a handsome cat!

We dubbed these two the Twins of Ephesus.

We called this one Mary. She hung out with us one day by the pool at our hotel.

A cat we found at the Book Bazaar snoozing in a pile of old money.

Taking a nap in a bowl.

Two cats hanging out with a merchant on a street in Istanbul.

A cat getting a drink in the broken down fountain in front of our hotel.

The special Van Cat.  It has one blue and one green eye. They are a Turkish breed and very rare.

She was treated like a princess by the merchants on the street she lived.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Of Snow and Birds and Memories

English Sand Martin

I’ve spent the entire week too tired to accomplish much or in this quasi-insane/manic mood from which I cannot fall asleep.  You see, I haven’t been writing much and my mind is attacking itself. 

No, really.  It’s attacking itself. 

I stay up at night thinking about what I should be writing instead of writing.  I wake up tired and groggy and I load up on caffeine which makes me cranky and unapologetically impatient. I get home and I don’t feel like doing anything.  So I do nothing.  I try to go to bed early and the caffeine kicks in (apparently, I drink a slow release coffee.) I can’t stop thinking about what I should be working on, but I’m too tried to actually work on it.  This pattern repeated itself all freaking week. 

So this weekend, I will finish my project if it kills me.  If it doesn’t, lack of sleep will.

While I was trying to sleep this week, “1000 Ships” by Rachel Platten also kept creeping into my consciousness.  I love this song.  It makes me all happy and warm.  It makes me think of epic devotion and Helen of Troy and the silliness and sheer joy of love.  When I saw the video the other night, I was drawn to the image of the snow and the bird in the first few frames.  It reminded me of my Gramma and how she would feed birds in the winter.  She had a large bird feeder that she watched out the big picture window in her kitchen.  She got such pleasure from her birds.

I knew then what I was going to write this week for Faerie Friday -- Hyter Sprites.

I know, I am queen of the smooth segue. 

Hyter Sprites are a very localized faerie creature.  They can only be found in East Anglia in England.  Don’t worry.  I didn’t know exactly where East Anglia was either.  It’s Eastern England.  You know, that knob of land that juts out into the North Sea.  The area with fun city names like Ipswich, Chelmsford and Bury St. Edmunds.

Hyter Sprites are small faeries, no more than five inches tall.  When they are in their humanoid state, they have sandy colored skin, long sandy colored hair and bright green eyes.  When they are in their other form, they appear as simple sand martins.  (See picture above.)

Hyter Sprites are shy and have a tendency to stay away from humans.  However, they are known to admonish bad human behavior and lead those who exhibit such behavior astray in the woods.  According to Andrew L. Paciorek in his book, “Strange Lands: A Field Guide to the Celtic Otherworld,” Hyter Sprites will vandalize homes that have the audacity to keep up their Christmas decorations past Twelfth Night (January 6th.)  I have a few neighbors they could visit should they should decided to holiday in Upstate New York.

What they are most known for is searching and bringing lost children home.

I can remember looking out my grandmother’s picture window and watching pretty little birds pecking at seeds in the snow.   Could any of them been more than what they seemed?

For your viewing pleasure, please check out “1000 Ships.”  It’ll get stuck in your head. Consider yourself warned.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Month of Literary Abandon: I’m a Winner!!!!!

NaNoWriMo came to an end for me on Tuesday night (well actually I believe it was Wednesday morning) with 50,096 words. Woot! Woot! 

I decided to participate late.  I had been toying with the idea for a few months.  I’d never done NaNoWriMo before and if I were really honest with myself, I was pretty sure that I’d fail miserably if I tried.  That was until my husband joined the craze and I was in direct competition with the man who pounds on his laptop at my dining room table. (Seriously, he types so loudly.) I could not, would not fail.  It was a matter of pride.  It was a matter of honor.  Besides I would have never heard of the end of it if he had won and I hadn’t.  I manage to get my words done twenty hours before he did. 

So this is me sticking my tongue out at you, honey!!  :-P

On October 31st I put together a spreadsheet so that I could keep track of my words.  I had a schedule.  I had a plan.  Incidentally, I think that was the last time I actually looked at that spreadsheet.

Everything fell apart the first week.  I couldn’t write and my husband was kicking my ass every single day.  At first I equated it to my lack of planning.  I had two main characters – an emotionally constipated college professor and a man who kidnaps and maims humans for a wicked Faerie Queen.  How on earth was I going to make those two people fall in love?  I had a setting.  It was the same city and world I had been working on for a year so most of the world building was done in advance.  So I had two people, a place and world for everything to happen in, but very little else.

After the first four days I was ready to call it a day and after the second week, I was sure I’d never finish in time.  And then I got an idea and then another and before I knew it, Carrig and Al (Alicia) were alive in my head.

You see the second most valuable thing that I learned from NaNoWriMo is:

The more I write, the more I get caught up in the story.  The more I get caught up in the story, the more I write.

Well, duh!!!  I don’t know why it took so long for me to see it. 

The most valuable thing I learned is:

You have to get the words out.  You can make excuses until you're blue in the face about why you can’t, but those excuses are just bullshit.  Freaking write the book already.

For the month of November I managed to read six novels and one novella, we celebrated my husband’s birthday twice, we had people over for dinner, we went away for Thanksgiving, I watched all thirty-some-odd episodes of Pretty Little Liars, and I worked a full time job (which consisted of a few hours of at home continuing education.)  I did all of this and wrote 50,000 words.  There is no reason that I can’t write 1000 – 2000 words a day.  I shouldn’t need a gimmick to write.  I just need to do it!

Next year if I do NaNoWriMo again I’ll be sure to pace myself better.  The disaster that is my home really got out of hand towards the end.  Dishes and unopened mail piled up.  The recycling bin didn’t get emptied so I resorted to placing empty seltzer bottles on the floor next to the recycling bin.  Giant piles of laundry started to form in the corners of our bedroom, piles that you could lose a small child in or a cat with a large noggin.    It would have been a shame to misplace Tommy.  It got so bad that I went out and bought a package of new socks before we left for Thanksgiving so that I didn’t have to pair up the clean ones I have left.  There you have it, my quiet shame.  I don’t pair up socks.  I just cram them into my sock drawer and hope for the best.

So now I have 50,000 words done in my “Zero Draft.”    The middle of the book is a bit of a mess.  I still have about 10,000 to 15,000 more words to write before I can say the end.  And when that’s done, I have a shocking amount of editing and rewriting to do.  I’ve got to work on characterization, tone, theme, and voice.  Basically everything.

So for me, as it is for a lot of folks, winning NaNoWriMo is just the beginning.  But I’ve got a plan!

So what did you learn from NaNoWriMo?  Did you win?  Are you going to scrap the project or keep writing?


To up the stakes, I’ve signed up for a three hour workshop with Nina Alvarez, who is not only my friend but an excellent freelance editor, titled Editing Toward Publication - Individualized Workshop.  I have a lot to learn and Nina is going to help me get there.    I’ve scheduled it for the first part of January.  I have to finish at least the first draft before then.  I hope it’ll keep me accountable.

Check out Editing Toward Publication – Individualized Workshop:

She’s also conducting a one hour webinar called Secrets of a Fiction Editor on January 21st.  I suggest you check it out.