NaNoWriMo – one day left.

11:58p, Thursday, November 29th, 46,889.

I’m done for the night. I wrote just over 7,000 words today. I have 3,000 left to go to hit 50,000, and I have until midnight Friday to do it. I’m not worried. I will dance a victory dance and marvel at the fact that I’ve done something that I thought was impossible, at least for me.

my writing space

Just look how close that bar is to the line.



I did it!

I did it!


But that’s not really the end of it, obviously. I mean, no one thinks they have a viable manuscript – as is – upon reaching the magic number. (Some folks, however, do seem alarming inclined to think they are close to finished though. I don’t want to be one of those people.)

After all my years of dissecting novels and studying the craft, I know different. I know that a salable novel in my chosen genre is somewhere between 80,000 – 120,000 words long. For this project I settled on a goal of 90,000 – 94,000 for the finished version. In a manuscript of that length, there should be roughly 72 distinct “sections,” divided between the viewpoints of 4 major characters, and including at least one separate but related subplot. (A section is pretty much what you think of when someone says “scene,” but there are few more guidelines that apply.)

Did you know that the books you read had such equations hidden within them? They do. I’ve checked. Even when the author doesn’t know the math, he or she ends up mirroring this classic structure. Apparently it’s as old as literature. Even avant-garde lit works both within and against these particular rules.

I started this project, on November 1st, knowing only the math. (isn’t THAT ironic?) … Well, To be truthful, I knew that, and the fact that it was going to be set in the hotel where I work.

Because I came in pretty much cold, I’ve been working up a section map, otherwise known as an outline, as I go. (The current word count on that, by the way, is 3,200 words.) Thanks to a couple of hours of intense figuring and brainstorming early on, I realized I could devote about 800 words to any given section before I had to move on, so that I’d get somewhere near the end of the story by the time the deadline came.

This is a my version of a quick and dirty section map. The stuff in red will need to be added or changed (I think) in the next draft.

This is a my version of a quick and dirty section map.
The stuff in red will need to be added or changed (I think) in the next draft.


Of course that means I’m merely making a sketch of what will be included in the final section, but the process does three important things:

  1. gets the cliches out of the way
  2. builds the bones for the story
  3. occasionally results in a startlingly good shred of flesh to wrap around those bones.

I will hit the 50,000 mark somewhere within the 62nd section. The ending will be in motion, but I’ll still have 10 more sections to go before I can type ‘THE END (of draft one).’

So. Right now I’m trying to decide if I should push for that tomorrow, or if I should just enjoy the accomplishment of committing 50,000 words in 30 days to (virtual) paper.

I’m thrilled and proud that I know I’m going to do this thing, but I’m also sobered. This is what writing is. And, sometimes, I don’t know why I do it.

Do you have any idea how viciously I’m kicking myself for not doing this when I wasn’t working a full-time job?

I just realized I hadn't posted a shot of my "new" writing space. It's a little more cramped than the one I had at the house, but it works.

I just realized I hadn’t posted a shot of my “new” writing space. It’s a little more cramped than the one I had at the house, but it works.


A decidedly non-epic but hopeful update.

I’ve been trying to stay on top of my blog reading, even though I haven’t been commenting much this month. Yesterday I was over at Jonathan Janz’s blog and came across this: Every Post Doesn’t Have to Be Epic. (If you’re going to pop over there, though, you really ought to read this one: Born in Halloween, which is epic. It made me fall in love with his writing.)

Anyway, this is about me, not him, right? ;D

I realized I’ve been quiet on the blogging front for too long, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be anything substantial going up in the next few days, so an update seems in order.

Most important news:
My husband got a job offer!! It’s a good job too – one that he’s excited about doing AND one that comes with a good salary and benefits. Of course, like any good pessimist, I won’t be able to really believe in this almost-Christmas miracle until he starts going to work in the mornings. Check back with me in mid-December.

Granted, my husband’s charm, experience and persistence have something to do with this development, but I have to give some credit to Mark Petruska over at Mark My Words too. He recently wrote a post (Cashing in on Karma) in which he revealed the secret to obtaining a job offer after an interview: dine at Buffalo Wild Wings. Because my Beloved had just interviewed for a couple of positions, I dragged him out and forced him to eat wings. Three days later? Voila!

I’ve done far better than I thought I would with this project. The writing itself is terrible, but I’ve never plotted a book so fast in my life and it has good bones. I think the process is teaching me that most of my past approach to writing was just dead wrong. I’m starting to think hot, hurried and horrible-if-necessary is the way to go for a first draft. I’ll guess we’ll see when I go back to flesh it out.

I’m behind on word count, but not so far that I don’t think I can catch up. It will be close, but I think I can do this thing! I’m at my job right now, stealing a few minutes to get this composed and posted. I’ll get as many words as possible tomorrow in the early afternoon, then I’ll be back here at the hotel until 1am. The situation absolutely guarantees that I’ll be doing the stereotypical wild-eyed, sleep-deprived, coffee-swilling, nano-writer thing come Thursday and Friday … because I have both days off. I believe this will both amuse and terrify my loved ones.

Expressions of encouragement would be much appreciated, even though I’m not likely to respond until I either win or lose at 12:01a on the 1st.

Now I need a wee bit of epic … how about this:

Human Writes Performance Art via US Mission Geneva

Click the pic to go check out the fascinating photostream which documents this art. From the stream: “«Human Writes» is a performative installation that reflects the history of human rights and the continuing obstacles to their full implementation.”

Consider yourself drunk dialed. (Updates on every little thing.)

Hi gang! I’ve had a day that came off the rails. I thought I’d be spending this Monday catching up on NaNoWriMo but, instead, I ended up helping my son register for too many credits at the community college, then going to work, even though it was supposed to be a day off. It wasn’t a bad day … just not what I expected. Consequently – and somewhat surprisingly – I’m now drinking my third beer, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little squirrely. That’s your warning that I’m feeling informal and chatty. Stay or go as you desire.

First, let me share a couple of personal pictures. (Because I just posted them on my real-life FB, and they are cute.)

Mr. Paranormalist.

This is my husband. In the last 18 months or so, he’s lost a LOT of weight (because he decided it was time to do so.) Now he looks pretty much the way he did when I married him. I sometimes wonder if he’s not secretly some kind of immortal. Otherwise, how could he still look so young? I haven’t yet decided if he’s vampire or were.


Mr. Paranormalist, the younger.

This is my son, who let me make him up as a version of my hypnotist clown for Halloween. He’s REALLY didn’t like me messing with his eyes – and he was kinda squirmy in general – so I couldn’t get the clean lines I wanted, but it didn’t turn out too bad.




There. With that out of the way, I can settle in and share the bits ‘o news I have.

WriMoProg / NaNoWriMo

A couple of nights ago, I updated my home-grown writing challenge / tracker page (WriMoProg) with this month’s goals which – for this one month only – pretty much equate to NaNoWriMo. I detailed my plans there, but the gist is that I’m joining in on the insanity for the first time. I’m behind at the moment, but I have 3000 words done. The intention is to catch up tomorrow (now that I’ve thrown my hands up for this one evening and commenced to screwing around.)


We had a pretty good holiday, though not nearly enough trick or treaters came to our elaborately decorated apartment door.

Welcome to our treat station.

Do you see those brown paper boxes stacked up behind the treat-filled book? Those were filled with a set of construction cards that my son had outgrown. Our intention was to give this special prize to the first witch or wizard who came to the door. My boy was pretty excited about the whole handing out treats thing … he had never had the chance to do it before, because we lived so far out in the country.

We got a basketball player, a firefly, a girl in an orange shirt, a generic super-hero, an Arabian princess and a bug. Then there were no more.

Once we thought the festivities were over, my son and I decided to tour the building to see if anyone else had gone all out. (Nope.) When we were returning to the apartment, however, we were delighted to hear “I can’t believe I got the special prize!” We rounded the corner and saw a 12-13 year old girl, in full Hogwart’s regalia, showing the boxes to  her mom. My beloved had awarded her the cards. She was thrilled. And so were we.

On his Facebook page, my son later posted, “Getting trick or treaters might be the best thing ever.”

By 10p, we had disassembled all of our decorations and packed them away. I carved two more Jack-o-lanterns, just because I could.

I carved them mostly so I could roast the seeds. I finished at 11:57p on Halloween night.

 Then Halloween was over.

Except, it’s never really over, is it?

I don’t know if I’m really going to do this as the year progresses, but it amuses me tonight.


The must-see horror movie list

I’ve been making some progress on my required viewing. Thanks to a tip from Hunter, I settled in with The Cabin in the Woods a few nights ago. It will absolutely go onto a list of the best, I just haven’t yet figured out which one. I’ve also seen The Mist (which was pretty good, then pretty awful, then mind-blowingly amazing) and Repulsion (which was a challenging but rewarding slog, and destined to go onto the psychosexual horror list that I STILL don’t have enough entries for.) I’ll be puttering and updating the lists when I’m done here.

The hotel

Sometimes I think I should make a whole new blog just for detailing the goings on at the hotel. Right now I’ll settle for one quick update, for those who are following along. Remember the guy that told me cleaning elevators wasn’t my strong suit? Yeah. He completely lost it. Within a couple of days of my post (on October 17th) he had alienated every resident and staff member at the hotel. He checked out. Then he came back and claimed that he’d left valuables in his room: a pair of shoes and a box full of winning scratch off tickets – hundreds of dollars worth of scratch off tickets. He was convinced the housekeeping staff had rejoiced at their good fortune and absconded with his property. Then he made some racial slurs to back up his theory. He wanted to call the police into the situation.

It came to a head on a day I didn’t work. My boss acquiesced and phoned the cops. The officer, I was told, attempted to make peace by suggesting that the guest (Joe) be given one free night’s lodging, in exchange for refraining from haranguing hotel staff while other guests waited. After that, we thought it was over.

Except, it wasn’t.

He showed up a few night’s later, while I was working. He seemed to be back to his old self. Calm. Competent. Sane. He rented a room for just one night, at full price, with no argument. I should have known that wasn’t a good sign.

Several hours later, I was approached by a set of three parents who wanted me to help find their underage children, whom them knew were in the hotel somewhere. They were sure there was drinking, and possible drug use, going on. While they were talking to me, one young boy made the mistake of visiting the snack machine. He was recognized by the parents and questioned about the room in which the party was taking place. He lied repeatedly, offering up a variety of random room numbers (which did not actually exist in the hotel.) When he’d rattle off a room number, I would subtly shake my head, and the questioning would continue. When he said they were in the room Joe had rented earlier, I shook my head again. Tired, worn down, he insisted that was really the correct room. The father in the group of parents went up with him as the boy proved his claim.

Even after the father returned, it didn’t work in my head. I had to go up there myself. Four girls – by appearance, none of them older than 15 – were still in the room. I gently questioned them about the adult that had rented the room for them. They described Joe to the smallest detail. Apparently, they had approached an “old man who was hanging out in the parking lot.” He’d agreed to rent the room for them.

Well, shit.

Epilogue: Two days later – when I was working again – Joe strolled into the lobby, bold as brass. He came to the desk, greeted me, then asked, “Is it true that I’m no longer allowed to rent a room here?”

With some satisfaction – because I don’t like to be told I am not good at cleaning anything – I said, “Yes. That’s true. I’m not to rent to you again.”

He was outraged. He wanted to know why we had harassed his guests.

I looked at him for a few seconds, then said, ” Because they were underage maybe?”

He insisted I call the police. Which I did, happily. He sat in the lobby for about ten minutes. Eventually he stood up and exclaimed, “I don’t have time to wait around for the useless cops to show up. I’ll be back. With my lawyer.”

I haven’t seen him since.

Plans for the blog

Now that I’m dedicating most of my time to generating fiction, I expect to update here a couple of times a week. Currently, I’m drafting the telling of what I saw in room 217 of the old hotel, and its companion ghost story movie list.

And that’s it, a long, rambling post on a Monday night. Please forgive me and try to remember that this is about as close to a weekend as I get.