Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On Your Marks... Get set ...

While my husband is answering the door for Trick or Treaters, I'm making last minute preparations for the NaNoWriMo ordeal. This year, it's about putting a gag in the mouth of my internal editor. He's tormented me for much too long. I've put aside revisions to book #3 and am writing draft material on a new book, so far without even a working title.

So far I have a character and a bit of her background, and I know what she wants. I also know who doesn't want her to get it, and why. Well, a few someones, anyway. That's what I consider as the basis of any book. That ensures the conflict.

Now I have to figure out what happens next and who these characters become.

Ahhh. Here comes the fun part.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Kind of Insanity?

In case you didn't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. A challenge. Call it a dare if you like, plenty do. This is the month when tens of thousands of ordinarily sane writers around the world challenge themselves or one another to a ridiculous feat of endurance: Write a 50,000 book in a month. You get thirty-one 24 hour days, and not one word is allowed before November 1 or after November 30. Prewriting and plotting are great, the planning of characters and conflict are fine, too. But not one word of the book.

If we reach that coveted 50,000 word mark, we win... what? An icon much like the ones above, only it says WINNER! You get the satisfaction of having done it. The words don't have to sing or even yodel. They just have to be.

How many people long to write a book, to be published, to communicate... something. They yearn for the time when their children are older, more independent. They wait for the time when they can devote themselves full time to the task. Many promise themselves they'll do it after they retire. They never do it, sadly.

The thing about this challenge that brings me joy is knowing that so many people are actually doing it. It's just for a month, you know. They can write every day for a month. Some will enjoy the exercise, then put their manuscripts away and never look at them again. That's great. But some will continue even after November. They'll go back to those words they wrote in such a hurry and they'll revised and rework them. They'll strengthen their characters, cut out the deadwood and prune their dialogue. Some will polish their books and send them out, only to have them come back in what seems to be return mail. Or, they'll hear nothing at all for months.

Eventually, some of those books will get published. Yes, it has happened.

Either way, I applaud them. Oh, there are those that take offense How dare these people call themselves writers! Just the mention of NaNoWriMo Director Chris Baty's book "No Plot, No Problem" makes them crazy. A novel needs a plot!! Often, they resent someone who spent a month typing 50,000 thousand words of unintelligible drivel calling themselves a writer, or worse, an author.

In a way, I understand where they're coming from. They've worked long and hard, many for decades sweating blood over each book, each word. They've struggled to understand and learn this business. After rejections and despair they get "the call". They're published. Then, one day at the gym someone announces that they've just completed their first book and wants to know the name of their agent. They want fast action because they worked on it for a whole month!

My response: You can't fix a blank page, only one with words on it.

I still support this program. In 2005 they had over 59,000 participants. Almost 10,000 people world-wide wrote their 50,000 words.

In addition, in 2004 and 2005 the NaNoWriMo organization contributed over $20,000 to Room to Read to build libraries for kids in Cambodia. Those libraries are up and running now.

Check out their web site: http://www.nanowrimo.org

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Spiritually-Minded Puppies

I've been told that the difference between man and animals is that though animals have a mind, will and emotions, they do not have an everlasting spirit that communes with God. The gentleman that explained this to me said that the thing that proved this to him was that he'd never returned home to find his beloved Yorki--Teddy, by name--sprawled out on the floor communing with God.

After a search of the scriptures, I had to wonder. The book of Revelation speaks of Christ returning to earth on a white horse. In the Old Testament, the Lord used a donkey to rebuke a disobedient prophet.

Not only does God use our pets in our every day life to bring us joy and comfort, to amuse and inspire us, he uses them and all His creation to demonstrate His glory and majesty.

This little cocker spaniel is Misty. Two years ago God healed her of a particularly nasty anemia. Her red blood cells had broken down, flooding her kidneys and liver with bilirubin beyond their capacity to process. Beneath her black fur, her skin turned a fluorescent crayon-box yellow. She had to have transfusions and around the clock care. She was critically ill for six days.

One morning after picking her up at the after hours emergency care vet, I headed to the church. One dear gentleman, a food ministry volunteer, got down on his knees in the parking lot in thirty degree weather to pray for my dog.

Misty is still with us, as cunning and mischievous as ever. To God be the glory. I have no doubt He touched her.

The scripture says that God knows when every sparrow falls to the ground. So, will my cockers live in heaven with me? Perhaps my friend is right. Perhaps not. Still, I couldn't resist the image his words created.