#NaNoWarmUp #NaNoPrep updates

As you may have noticed, I didn’t write for NaNoWarmUp the past two days. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to keep going with it as planned. Life kind of landed in a tough way, and while I’m pretty happy with my progress so far, I’m not sure if I need to continue to 25,000 words if I’m not even working on the real text of my novel.

I LOVE what I wrote in the first half of this month. I have a much better sense of so many characters, and the novel will be better for the little back-stories and side-stories that I have created for my novel-universe. But I feel that what I really need to do in the remaining two weeks of October is to work on an overview of the story. The first draft, skeletal ending and all, has some big issues that I have to work out. I need to solidify my plot ideas, what I am keeping and what I am losing or changing, so that when November 1st comes along I am prepared to start writing.

One big step I have started, which is a huge undertaking, is to convert over 70 hand-written pages of research and noveling notes into a (private) WordPress blog. The task is fairly monumental not because it means a LOT of typing, but because I feel that it is important to cite my sources, which I actually wasn’t worried about four years ago when I started working on Cursed. Sure, it’s easy to figure out what sections were taken from Wikipedia, and I have posted both the current, October 2013 version of the pages on Cassandra and Apollo AND the October 2009 version that were my initial sources. It’s harder to place research that I copied down from books in the library where I work – books that may have gone missing in the past four years, or may be checked out right now.

So what I’m doing is this: I am first searching for things on the internet using quotation marks to try to find exactly what I wrote down. If I can find it, I copy and paste from the source and then put a link to the original web page. I am copy and pasting because if the site goes down (like some have), I will still have the information I need. Since the blog is private so the only person who can see it is me, and only if I’m logged into WordPress, I’m not concerned about plagiarism – especially since I am citing sources where I can in case I ever decide to make the blog public.

Second, I have found book sources for some of my notes. For these, I transcribe my handwritten notes and add the source in MLA Works Cited page format.

Third, I am making one “random notes” blog entry for each topic. For example, “Random notes – Apollo.” For these entries, I am transcribing my handwritten notes, separating using bulleted lists or spacing each part that I think came from a different source. At the bottom of the page I am listing the references as “Source: lost.” This way I am clearly showing that I copied that info from somewhere, I’m just not sure where.

I am putting all of my research notes in that blog, and any noveling notes will be re-written by hand into a new (or probably the same, now only containing blank pages) notebook, where they will be easier to read (I won’t have to weed through research to find them). This will also help me work out the plot and such for next month – some of my previous noveling notes will be irrelevant now, and re-writing them will help me decide what notes to keep and what to discard.

So yes, a lot of work. It will be MUCH faster to have my research online because 1) I can refer to it using the WordPress app on my phone, making it far more portable than a notebook I’m liable to forget at home or at work, and 2) I can use the search widget to find information a lot faster than flipping through the pages. PLUS, 3) I can add new research a lot faster by not having to write everything down in my notebook.

As far as NaNoWarmUp, for now I’m done. I may come back to it after I’ve gotten a better idea of my plot. I should do a character sketch of Lainie (Helen), and possibly other characters, but I won’t really know who they are until I know where my story lies. Of course, everything I am doing with my research and plotting is NaNoPrep, it’s just not writing fiction. But I’ve won NaNo four times, and I am not worried about this year. I don’t feel like I necessarily need the WarmUp to practice daily writing. What I need is a different kind of preparation, so that’s where I am at right now.

#NaNoWarmUp October 14, 2013: Athena

I don’t just sit up here in my tower all day, I have things to do. But it has been a little boring in the not so distant past. What’s a goddess of war to do when there’s no war to oversee? I mean, yes, I am goddess of other things too, like wisdom, and courage, and inspiration, and law, and math, and strength, and the arts… Really? Math? There’s not much to do there. But I do love helping people to do art. I like invisibly visiting people who are at museums to draw their own representations of famous pieces. Sometimes people call on me for wisdom to ace a test, or courage to ask someone out. Things like that are silly, but it amuses me when people ask and usually I acquiesce.

Generally I prefer to provide wisdom and strategy in war-like situations, but of course it’s far better when humans are at peace with each other. I don’t often appear to anyone, and I almost never speak with them. Cassandra is rare indeed. She came to my statue one day to speak to me about Apollo. He had given her the gift of prophecy several years before, and now she said that he had cursed her gift because she refused to marry him. She said that she had a prophecy that New Jersey will soon declare war on New York City, a fact that I admit intrigues me, and that New York will meet with a very tragic end. She was calling on me to beg for help, but I assured her there was nothing that I could do.

I did give her a little secret tip, however. While there is nothing I can do to help her – I will not interfere with her regarding Apollo – I did have an interesting fact that I thought might… inspire her. I told her that the reason Apollo cursed her is that a god cannot take away a gift once given. However, it might benefit her to know that there is a twist to every prophecy.

For example, a long, long time ago there were two giants, brothers. It was prophesied that they could not be killed by man nor god. However, Artemis turned herself into a deer and ran between them, and when they tried to fell their prey by firing at her, their arrows crossed in midair, and the giants ended up killing each other. You see? The key is to think strategically about the wording of the prophecy, and to figure out a way to outsmart it.

I don’t know exactly what she can do to prevent the war, or at least to bring it to an end that does not spell the destruction of her home. However, I hope that she remembers my words and thinks it over herself. She’s a smart girl, I can tell. She made sure nobody else could enter the room within the laurel crown of my statue, by setting a friend outside the only door as guard, before she called on me. That’s some good strategy right there! The odds of getting a god or goddess to come to you are certainly much higher if you are alone.

I don’t know the circumstances of this alleged war, or which side I will feel is the correct side for me to choose. But Cassandra is now on my radar, and I think in this time before the war begins I will be taking a great interest in her. I have already started to have my owl follow her around now and then, invisibly of course, and report back to me on what it observes. If she calls on me again, I want to be prepared with an answer.

As for Apollo, my half-brother, I can’t meddle in his affairs. What happens between himself and Cassandra is really not my business. However, I might have a talk with him about her. He’s quite full of pride, and I’m sure I can strategically convince him to talk about Cassandra and think it was all his idea. Not that I would weigh in on the matter, but I would like to hear the story from his perspective. I would not be surprised if it’s quite different from what Cassandra had to say. I’d also like to ask him if he has had any prophecies of his own about this alleged war, and if so, what the outcome will be, and what, if anything he wants to do about it.

This is an exercise written as part of NaNoWarmUp, a personal writing challenge in October to write 25,000 words as preparation for writing 50,000 words in November. This year I’m using the daily writing goal of 800 words to write ABOUT my Cassandra story from the point of view of other characters. In November, I hope to be prepared to start writing a new first draft of Cursed from Cassandra’s point of view, a more complete story after figuring out how other characters perceive Cassandra, her prophecies, and the Trojan War.

#NaNoWarmUp October 13, 2013: Johnny

Sure, I’d love to answer a few questions for the school paper.

Well, I’m actually the newest member of the band. Jake and Milo are cousins, and they’ve known Hay for years. I just met them through a message board posting online. It’s a board for our favorite band, and I’ve been talking to Hay for a couple months now. At first he said it was cool that I was also in Manhattan, and then he mentioned that he and his friends were looking for a bass player. I mentioned that I play and we decided to meet up. I hoped he was flirting but he wasn’t, but I still wanted to play for the guys because they all seemed cool and I think being in a band will look good on college apps. That was about a month ago, they had me come down to Milo’s dad’s pizza shop with my bass. First I played a little bit, then the guys joined in one by one. It was kind of dramatic, like a movie. I love movies, especially rom coms. Jake said he liked my look, but he doesn’t want me to think of myself as the “token black guy.” Whatever – when you’ve got a good afro, you get used to comments like that. Besides, Jake is not the kind of guy that makes offensive comments. He’s just a really sweet, honest guy, and if it takes being the token black guy to be in a band with him, that’s fine with me.

Ha ha ha, yes, you heard that right. I am out and proud, and if any of your readers are interested and look like Josh Hutcherson, tell them to give me a call. I would eat nightlock for that boy any day… You know, what every girl in New York is looking for — hot, good heart, funny, charming… and not hiding in the closet. I have spent enough time in there myself, and I am ready to hit the scene with someone who isn’t ashamed to be himself.

Honey, I am all fashion all the way. I want to be a stylist to the stars, and I won’t stop until I get there. If I have to start out as a costume designer I will, as long as it means getting my foot in the door in Hollywood… especially if said foot is wearing Christian Louboutin. I am beginning my career as a stylist to the high school prom queen wannabes, and while it doesn’t pay I am counting this towards the dues I must pay for my dream career. I do get to take digital photos of the girls I dress for prom, and I am already working on my portfolio for Parsons.

I know, right? It seems like such a bizarre mix, fashion and rock music, but name me one legendary band whose image isn’t critical to their success. Do you think Kiss would have been as big a sensation if it wasn’t for the makeup? I don’t think so. Jake, Milo, and Hay called the band Computer Anarchy — a name like that needs a great look. I’m making it my job to help them create that look. Those photos will go in my portfolio too.

What do I think of the guys? Well, I already gave you my opinion on Jake. Milo is a lot smarter than he acts. I think if he actually tried at school he could be a rocket scientist, but for some reason he just gets by. Maybe he thinks the other guys would tease him? He knows more about technology than Bill Gates, I’m sure of that. Hay is a jokester. I know you’re expecting me to say that it’s just a front, and that he’s really damaged inside, but I don’t think he is. He’s another good guy, they all are.

Ha ha, the scoop. That’s funny. Actually, none of us are dating at the moment. Although, with any luck, Computer Anarchy could be the ticket to our schedules filling up. I mean, maybe not the rest of us, but Jake Weiland will be off the market in less than six months, I promise you that. Probably a lot less. Lead singer and guitar player in his own band, son of a Senator? If he wasn’t straight I would be all over him. Ha ha ha, no really.

Me? I’m exactly what you see. Two parts sweet, one part sass, and a huge serving of style. Maybe I don’t see myself going the distance in this band, but I don’t mind if they replace me when I’m off to fashion school. Lots of bands didn’t get famous by keeping all of their original band members, and some changed members when they were famous without anyone noticing. Eric Stefani ring a bell? No? Nobody remembers him, but we love the hell out of his sister Gwen.

This is an exercise written as part of NaNoWarmUp, a personal writing challenge in October to write 25,000 words as preparation for writing 50,000 words in November. This year I’m using the daily writing goal of 800 words to write ABOUT my Cassandra story from the point of view of other characters. In November, I hope to be prepared to start writing a new first draft of Cursed from Cassandra’s point of view, a more complete story after figuring out how other characters perceive Cassandra, her prophecies, and the Trojan War.