Get the word out. . . and down on paper!


National Novel Writing Month


My 2010 New Year’s resolution is in jeopardy.

Yes, I still want to write a book in 2010. But the book about Cortez, the domination of Mexico and the role of his interpreter/spy Malinali is still in the early research phase. It turns out, my high school world history class, and one semester of college level history is a woefully inadequate foundation for a serious work of historical fiction.  (Who Knew?)

Fortunately I have 3 things working for me.

1.   Next month affords me several stretches of potentially good writing time. First week, I am taking a business trip which leaves me  stretches of time in a lonely hotel. The second week, I have a vacation in New Orleans, where great writers like Anne Rice, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and others have written amazing things. The third week, I have Thanksgiving which gives me a few extra days off. Now, all I have to do is leverage all that time for writing.

2.   November is National Novel Writing Month. That wild and exciting time where writers creep out of their solitary dens to intermingle and beat one another into a wild, frenzied word orgy of prose proliferation.

If you’ve never heard of it. The purpose of National Novel Writing Month is to reach anyone who has a story to tell and encourage them to pledge the month of November to the telling of it. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. (actually, in literary terms, that makes the work a “novella” not a “novel.” Still, you can add a sub-plot and some back story in the revision phase and easily get that up to the full 80,000 word minimum to turn it into an honest-to-goodness novel in the re-write.) National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is also taught as part of the Young Writer’s Program in high schools and colleges across the country to encourage both the consumption and creation of literature. It’s also just plain FUN!

3.   The last thing I have going for me is: Zombies. You heard me right, zombies, rotting, staggering, moaning victims of Voodoo-gumbo-ya-ya, ZOMBIES!

Throw a zombie in a story and you have the perfect excuse for wild writing abandon! Crazy plot twists and verbose scenes of wordy mayhem, what else does a writer need to bash out 50,000 words in 30 days?  Except lots of coffee, of course.

Want to learn more about NaNoWriMo? Want to read my plot synopsis and monitor my progress? Better yet, want to join us with your own story? Click on my novel’s title banner below. It will take you to my profile page at:

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 2:37 am  Leave a Comment  

For “Sail” : 1001 tales of adventure and discovery

     Scheherazade was an Arabian queen brought to her husband on her wedding night. Now this Sultan was easily bored. In fact he had his queen killed every day just to get a new one every night. (Sucks to be queen.) But Scheherazade had an active imagination and a plan. Every night she told the Sultan stories. Every day he wanted to hear what happened next so he stayed her execution day after day so she could tell him stories night after night. The stories she told are known as “1001 Arabian Nights.” She came to be known as “The lady of a thousand tales.” 

     That is why my father’s sailboat is called Scheherazade. Often, when coming back from a sail and tying up at the dock, dad will say, tongue in cheek, “we cheated death yet again!” To which I respond “with another tale to tell.”

      We have thousands of stories thanks to Scheherazade and like her royal namesake, she is well designed to playfully get out of dangerous situations.

     Dad is putting Scheherazade on the market this summer. She’ll have a new owner and teach new captains how to sail her. I’ll miss her, but she is happiest mothering along new sailors and giving them stories to tell.  So when she’s sailed on to new adventures without me, I’ll just visit the water and crew for my friends until the time comes to own my own sloop.  But until she changes hands, I’ll be on Scheherazade under an orange and yellow flag.

     She draws a full 4 feet at only 26ft long. This makes her unusually stable in the water. She is also narrow in the beam like a little dolphin. This makes her unusually responsive and maneuverable giving every opportunity to correct any little mistakes a new sailor might make before it comes to trouble. If you do get into sailing conditions over your skill level, just let go the tiller and she’ll stop, turn into the wind and let you bring the sails down safely and start the motor. Not like those tipsy, fat boats that give you lots of room inside but catch every wave and current bouncing you around the lake like a clumsy walrus.

     I like sailing best when it’s a bit of work, when the waves are choppy and the wind a little too strong.  Otherwise Scheherazade will sail herself and I don’t get to “feel” how good a sailor I have become.

     Dad taught me to sail the way mom taught me how to swim; by playing on the water until I was doing it without realizing it. It’s so much easier and more natural than riding a bike. I don’t remember the first time I swam or sailed. It’s just like you don’t remember your first step when learning how to walk. It just happens and it feels like you were born to do it and have done it forever.

     My mother spent the summers of her young womanhood as a lifeguard and is a powerful swimmer and diver. She is at home in the water. She watched over me while I learned to swim so I never felt any fear or danger and Scheherazade watched over me learning to sail so I never felt any fear or danger. She’s a boat I trust like my mother. Just as strong and capable in her love and protection.

     The last several years, I have taken Scheherazade out to play without Dad. I’ve been using my husband, children and friends when I need some crew and even started an annual “chic sail” where I introduce a few girlfriends to sailing.

     Maybe it’s silly, but when I’m on Scheherazade without Dad, I have a little orange and yellow flag I run up. When you see it, you’ll know it’s me at the helm. Stop on over and say “ahoy.” I’m always looking for crew and want to get out on the lake as much as I can. This might be my last summer on a sloop. It makes each sail a precious joy.

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Visualization? Premonition? Fate? Chance?

     When I was in fifth grade, my Science teacher was having trouble getting my class to settle down just before Christmas vacation.  Instead of fighting for order, she gave in to the excitement and instructed us each to come up with a design idea for a new toy. The idea was that we were Santa’s elves, working in the tech department of the toy factory and were trying to come up with ideas for toys of the future. I will never forget my toy idea. . .

     As an avid reader (I was the four-eyed nerd sitting cross-legged on the playground reading a book with no pictures.) my toy idea was, of course, a book. But this book was special. This was a book that looked like a blank journal when you picked it up. But once in your hands, the book came alive with whatever you wanted to read.

     Shakespeare? Done! This year’s Newbery award winner? You got it! (and yes, even at age 10, I was a discerning reader looking for the Newbery medal on the cover of new fiction.) Best of all, if you wanted to read books of a “delicate” nature, like “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.” Your magic book would never reveal it by displaying explicit cover art. Your mother will just think you are reading more Newbery award winners while you ponder mysteries like, “when will I get my period?” and “can exercises really make my breasts grow?”

     Best of all, if you wanted to know something, or learn about something, you could research it right from your magic book and find books, magazine articles or even current events. Once you found it, the pages you wanted would be called to your book for reading at your leisure. What a treasure! Such a thing would have been worth whole libraries, whole worlds of knowledge that could be held in the small hands of a 10 year old girl!

     My teacher gently advised me that this was science class not English. She intended for us to write about something technical not imaginary. My peers none too gently made fun of me for desiring imaginary books over magnetized and animated toys. But it looks like I got the last laugh.

     Now it actually exists! Now I actually have one of these magic books! Holding it in my hands for the first time, over thirty years later, brought tears to my nearsighted, but visionary eyes. Science has come through for me at last.

Was it the Law of Attraction? Visualization? Premonition? Fate? Chance? Does it matter? My Husband gave me a nook last week and, to me, it is my magic book come to life. My nook is more than just an e-reader. It is a link to my 10 year old self.

     (Here you go sweet-heart. You may be too old for Judy Blume now, but it works just as well with Anais Nin. Go play!)

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm  Comments (2)