Monday, October 22, 2012

To NaNo or Not to NaNo....

I've taken part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)several times in the past few years.  NaNoWriMo involves writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November; the fun part is that NaNoWriMo is a global effort; participants do the challenge with over 300,000 other writers around the world. One can have Writing Buddies, and participants also receive encouraging e-mails from some fairly impressive authors; participants may update their progress daily. NaNoWriMo provides some fun bells & whistles that allow progress to be posted on blogs or websites.

With a bunch of my online friends, I joined up in 2008 and managed to write half of a highly-autobiographical novel called The Pilgrim Pathway that I doubt I'll go back to edit; it was a decent first attempt at writing fiction, but it isn't really interesting or publishable. In 2009 I completed the second half of  The Pilgrim Pathway. I took a break in 2010, participating in a poem-a-day challenge on the Writer's Market website, hosted by the editor of Poet's Market. I don't think writing a poem a day was much of a "break"; it was actually more taxing than writing the 1,667 words daily to complete NaNoWriMo.

In 2011 I returned to NaNoWriMo, challenging the students in my homeschool co-op expository writing class to join me for extra credit. Between teaching two co-op classes and an online course through Brave Writer, plus homeschooling the boys, it wasn't easy to find time to write 1,667 words per day...which I rounded to 2,000 words/day to keep it easier to track plus allowed me to take off Thanksgiving and a few other days (such as teaching days). But I still ended up posting 14,000 words on November 30, verifying the completion of 50,000 words with eight minutes to spare. Whew!

So, with only one co-op class to teach (but with more students than last year) and the same Brave Writer online class going, plus the three boys to teach, should I attempt NaNoWriMo this year or not?

Last year I completed one of the novels I was publishing online in weekly installments, and I managed to get several chapters ahead on another novel I was also publishing online. If I attempt NaNoWriMo 2012, I will be completing the second online novel and then either starting a new novel or completing several unfinished short stories. I would love to be that productive!!

However, the problem I ran into last year was that as I post a new chapter online each week, I have to go back and edit that chapter for publication. Yikes! That's a lot of extra writing!!

I am offering the same extra credit incentive to my co-op writing class as I did last year, so I will need to participate somewhat so that I can track their progress. Plus, at least one member of our small town's writing group is participating, and we meet once a week during NaNoWriMo to write together in the library.

In addition, a lot of writers in the online communities where I post my fiction are doing NaNoWriMo, and I've made two NaNoWriMo accounts, one under my real name for my students' benefit, and one under my pen name for chatting with my fellow fiction writers.

So, should I participate in NaNoWriMo or not? I'm hoping to, but I suppose we'll see if it's realistic to actually finish. So I suppose at this point that I will TRY, but know that I may not finish this year. 

If anyone is doing NaNoWriMo and would like to become a Writing Buddy, you can find me under the user name of Cassandra Lowery--I love having writing buddies!! :)

Writing with you,

Cassandra :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Florence + the Machine Concert

On October 4, my daughter Elizabeth and I attended the Florence + the Machine concert at Cricket Amphitheater in Chula Vista. The outdoor concert was wonderful, and our seating was amazing. The handicapped seats were right behind the mosh pit, so we were really close to the stage. 

And the concert truly was incredible--Florence is one of the few singers whose voice is better in concert than on CDs. Her enthusiasm and love for her fans was inspirational, plus it's lovely to attend a concert in which the singer is dressed modestly.    

And the art-deco screen behind Florence was incredible; sometimes it was lit softly, other times in bright solid colors, and at other times in full Tiffany stained glass images. The concert was truly a feast for our eyes as well as for our ears. 

And what other concert could we attend with harp solos??? The music truly was incredible, and this concert was well-worth the time, money, and energy we expended. 

So, I'll get back to work and writing now so that I might get the next chapter of Pinned but Fluttering up by Monday at the latest. (The next chapter is an outtake in Edward's POV of Chapter 44 and 45.) 

Cassandra :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Milestones, Writing, and Reading

Late last month I reached a major milestone: Pinned but Fluttering reached 1 MILLION READS on Wattpad!! It's absolutely crazy and wonderful and stunning and un-fricking-believable. Pinned but Fluttering does well enough on where it's at 99,000 hits and 997 reviews (almost ready to break some records there as well!!), but over a million reads on Wattpad is I am still wrapping my head around it. And the numbers keep on going--in the two weeks since passing the million mark, it's garnered another 80,000+ reads!! Wow. 

I just wish that I could enter Pinned but Fluttering in the Watty Awards, but I started it at the wrong time. All stories must have been written over the past year: between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012, and I started it in August 2011. Plus I seriously doubt I could complete it by October 31. Well, I COULD, but it wouldn't be easy. 

I think I'll enter a couple of poems in the Atty Awards contest, judged by Margaret Atwood. Having Atwood involved at Wattpad is a huge feather in their cap; she's one of the premier literary authors and poets of our time, and she's simply marvelous. Somewhat recently I attended a lecture on Atwood's work at University of San Diego (where I earned my Master's in English) and discovered that she had been acquainted with one of my former USD professors while at Harvard; they worked on their doctorates together. But having Atwood associated with Wattpad brings the site a whole new level of authenticity and respectability. Very cool! :) 

And although it's been complete for nearly a year, Evening Star continues to scrape up more reads as well; it's over 720,000 reads but never really caught on at FFN. I am constantly asked for a sequel on Wattpad, so perhaps that may be my next major fic. I have ideas for lots of EPOV one-shots, too. We'll see.

I know I've neglected this blog horribly, but all of my writing time has been devoted to new chapters for Pinned, plus I spent September up to my eyebrows in teaching an online discussion class of Jane Eyre for homeschoolers. I have been teaching online courses for over ten years, and now I'm helping to write curriculum as well, so when I'm not actively teaching, I have quite the to-do list. :) But that's where I disappeared to in September and why I spent two weeks posting each chapter of Pinned.

I've also read some great fics lately; scroll down my sidebar to "Fics I Have Read in 2012" and you'll see quite the list. A current fic I'm reading is "Letters from Corporal Masen" which is set during World War II, specifically the D-Day invasion of Normandy. The author, solostintwilight, is the author of one of my favorite stories of all time, "Our Yellow House" (which I happen to be re-reading on my Kindle right now). Anyway, solostintwilight listed some other war-based stories, and I've been making my way through them. And are they ever heartwrenching!! Last night I finished reading "Finding Home" (and outtakes "Finding Liberty") by jennde, and I don't think I've ever cried so much while reading a fan fic story (unless it was for "Our Yellow House" or SillyBella's "Peonies"). The story starts a couple of days before Pearl Harbor and goes through the war from there. A couple of other amazing war-based stories are "A Soldier's Homecoming" by morsus mihi (set during Vietnam) and  "The Wallflower and the Flyboy" by A Cullen Wannabe. All of these stories are incredible, and I eagerly await each update of solostintwilight's "Letters to Corporal Masen" (which has an incredible Facebook page with WWII photos; plus, her Bella is the lovely Gene Tierney) as we find out how Edward is faring after parachuting into the French countryside in advance of D-Day. 

So what have the rest of you been reading? I love recommendations, even though I have pages and pages of recs written down in my writing notebook. 

Well, I'm off to see Florence + the Machine tonight with my daughter, and I have a sizable pile of work to complete first, so off I go. 

Thanks for reading this blog and my stories!! I appreciate each and every one of you!! :) 

Take care!!

Cassandra :)