Category Archives: Writing Challenges

NaNoWriMo 2018: Week One

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I fully intended to write this post on Thursday so it could be posted on Friday, telling you all about how I’d triumphed over my deadlines and gotten so many words written. unfortunately, what actually happened was me being nervous about my race on Saturday and relieved about finishing my drafts and revisions that I sort of just passed out. Then on Saturday I went straight from work to Dallas for the races, and from there I didn’t get home until about 10, at which point I promptly crashed out and slept for about twelve hours. Hey, I ran 16 miles. But we’ll talk more about that later this week.

Yesterday I picked up my computer to try and get some words in, and discovered that I didn’t like how I began the story, how I had the main character acting, and the tone in general so I trashed it. Of course, then I started to panic because I was basically back to zero.

I remedied this by writing 4,000 words yesterday, which doesn’t put me near close enough to be caught up, but it’s a good start.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: NaNostalgia

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It was cold, most likely because we lived closer to the mountains than Denver. I don’t remember if there was snow on the ground, but I do remember that we were tearing down the haunted house my clinic had put up to raise money for charity. I was tired because I’d stayed up for hours after the haunted house the night before doing the thing I loved the most. Writing.

That’s how my first NaNoWriMo started, at the stroke of midnight on November 1, 2002.

Memory is a weird thing for me. I’ll forget something I did five minutes ago but can remember the scent of the air in Louisville when I was walking through the Flatiron Crossing Christmas village to get to the theatre to watch the second Harry Potter movie again. I remember how much I loved school, I loved my clinic, I loved my husband. And at that time, I also loved NaNoWriMo.

The decision to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days was daunting, to say the least. The majority of what I’d written was fanfiction, and lots of it. My one attempt at a novel was fun but clumsy, but I’d grown since then and figured that even if it was terrible it would be something original.

Now, 16 years later, I have done NaNo plenty of times. I’ve won more often than not and I am confident I can write a novel in a month. I’ve published 3, about to be 4, books, I’ve had novellas in box sets, and I’ve had a book signing. I attribute this directly to NaNoWriMo, because without my very first novel I wouldn’t have known I could write one.

November 2018: let’s do this.

The Ghost

When I was in high school and college, I was obsessed with Phantom of the Opera. We’re talking getting our hands on Susan Kay’s retelling, scouring the original book for details, and because Young Becca was a budding writer, I wrote fanfiction. You probably won’t be surprised that it was a romance, and a continuation where the musical left off.

It proved to be very popular. I had phans writing to me to tell me they printed the whole thing out and kept it in a binder. Having hissy fits when chapters were late. Following it as it bounced through THREE separate sites.

So when the prompt for the YeahWrite Super Challenge gave the option of writing a famous fictional character that was in the public domain, my inner Phantom nerd was screaming to be released. For once, I decided to let her free and as a result I am moving to Round Two of the Super Challenge.

As a side note, I wrote this entire story while sitting in a hot tub and eating cookies. Enjoy.


The Ghost

The boy looked nothing like him, and for that Erik was grateful. For one thing it meant that he had a happy life, and his rosy cheeks and shiny black hair belied that he was happy, privileged, and loved. Even so, the boy who wasn’t really a boy anymore had come the moment he’d received Erik’s letter and now stood hundreds of feet below the Paris Opera surveying his brother’s work. The cool air breathed the scent of roses with the barest hint of damp beneath it, but it wasn’t unpleasant.

“I can hardly believe it,” he said, awe rounding his words in a way Erik had scarcely heard before. “To think you were able to build all this with no one the wiser.”

“It’s not so difficult when you’re invisible as far as the world is concerned. Now, Adrian, what do you think about the piano?”

“It’s beautiful to be sure,” Adrian said. “Or at least it was in its day. I’m not certain it will see that beauty again.” He went to the piano and ran a hand over it slowly, savoring its smoothness as would a lover. It only cemented Erik’s certainty that he had been right to let his brother into his new home.

“If you can’t repair it, I fear its voice is lost forever,” he said. “You’re the finest craftsman Paris has seen.” Adrian looked at his brother, not with the curiosity he had when he was a child but with a brother’s exasperation.

“It’s unlike you to flatter anyone,” he said.

“Flattery perhaps,” Erik said, “but the truth at heart.” It was the truth. The musical talent in their bloodline hadn’t stopped with Erik. Though he’d been forbidden to have contact with his brother as a child, the monster who lived in the cellar stole up whenever their mother was away and gave his brother lessons on the piano. He’d been a quick study and as a result, Adrian could play just as beautifully as his brother. Moreover, he was able to repair pianos and violins, becoming one of the most sought-after craftsmen in Paris. Erik didn’t believe him when he said he’d moved there to be closer to his older brother but he was glad of his presence. If all went as planned, Adrian would be the only person who knew he was alive.

“All right, all right, I’ll see what I can do,” Adrian said, unable to hide his smile as he opened the top of the piano to inspect the damage. He looked inside for a long time, then reached in and plucked one of the strings. Then he touched the felt-covered hammers, squeezed them one by one until some of the rotting fibers came off in his fingers. “The damp’s gotten to them. You’ll need to take special care once they’re replaced to keep them from getting wet again if you’re determined to live down here.”

“Then you can fix it?”

“She’ll sing again,” Adrian said with a nod. “I’ll need to get materials from my shop and it will take time, but I won’t let her die so poorly. Even if it’s a lost cause I can’t bear to let her sit in this state any longer.” 

“You have my thanks,” Erik said, watching his younger brother go to the toolbox he’d brought along. He opened it, then looked up at Erik.

“Take off that damn mask, won’t you? I feel as though I’m talking to a phantom.” Erik hesitated and Adrian sighed. “There’s no one down here but the two of us, unless you’re hiding someone in your wardrobe.”

“I’ve grown accustomed to it,” Erik said, making no move to remove the mask. Adrian’s light blue eyes, so much like his own, locked on Erik’s and for a moment he wondered if he might have looked like the boy were his face whole. Neither spoke until the younger of the two men finally broke eye contact with a shake of his head.Suit yourself. Come on then,” Adrian said waving him over. “You’ll need to know how to repair this yourself.”

“Yes, of course.” Erik joined his brother at the piano and took the proffered wrench from him. Under Adrian’s guidance he began the task of removing the rotted felt from the hammers, and when they spoke to one another it was in the easy way that any brothers might have. 

The candles that lit the underground apartment burned to stubs as they worked, and for the first time since he’d arrived in Paris with his deformed face hidden by themask his mother had put on him as a child, Erik was able to believe that he would come to a good end.

Camp NaNoWriMo, Week 4

It’s the final countdown (80’s synth sounds go here)!

I crushed it last weekend with a 5K day and a 3K day to put me over the top and into winner land. Unfortunately, since then I’ve kind of let the story languish. I really need to finish it, though. I have a book to edit, an entirely different book to write before November (!!!) and I really need to re-edit my Spring 2019 book.

I had a great weekend last weekend and while I won’t hit 40K, I still did the thing. I’ll write a debriefing on August 1st and hopefully have some fun news this week!

Camp NaNoWriMo Victory 2018

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Yesterday around 5:30 PM, I officially won the Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 session. Cue the confetti and party hats, because I earned another year’s worth of winner’s flair. After my epic failure in April, I’m quite glad that this turned out well.

Even though I’ve officially won, I plan to keep going until my story is finished and updating my word count along the way until the end of the month. There’s no way I’ll make it to 50K in 8 days and I probably couldn’t stretch the story that far anyway – it’s looking more like a novella – but I might be able to get it to 40K with a little coaxing.

I’ll update with my now-customary Friday post at the end of the week, then a sort of debriefing on August 1st. Then, I’ll be in NaNo hibernation until November 1st at 12:00 AM. I can’t wait for the next big thing…NaNo Prep Season! Woo!

Camp NaNoWriMo, Week 3

Once upon a time I had an idea for a project. It didn’t pan out. Then I started writing a novella-thing, and it’s taken on a life of its own. That’s the way a NaNo month goes, and certainly the way mine has gone. Big surprise, my work never quite wants to go as planned. It’s obnoxious that way.

This week has been epic. I’m not only caught up, I’m way ahead of schedule. There have been a couple of days where I haven’t gotten much written, but I have made up for it on other days. And! I had a 5K day! 5034 Sunday, which was nothing short of a miracle. I’m hoping to get another 5K day this weekend, and I only have 9K left before I make my goal! I’m so excited!

My story won’t be complete at 30K, it seems. I’m obviously going to keep writing until the end of the month even after I win and see exactly how much I can do before I have to slide under the pile of edits again and work on a different project, and work on major plotting for yet another project. It’s too much for one woman to deal with at one time when I’m also running, working, and trying to watch every bad horror movie known to man. Netflix has a lot of them. I’m going to have to really work at it.

Camp NaNoWrimo, Week Two

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This week was so much better. Now that I’ve started writing Absence instead of forcing myself to edit, I’m flying through the words. Last night I hit 10K words and I’m planning on spending the weekend getting back on track. It’s such a relief, especially after not completing the April session of Camp, and I’m really enjoying writing it.

My very first NaNoWriMo was that was from the start. I loved the characters, partially because one of them was a character from my journal, and even though the story was terrible I had fun and showed myself that I could really write a whole novel in a month. I have every confidence that I’ll be able to finish in November. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.

I also started putting Absence on Wattpad and, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t gotten many reads. I don’t think I was really expecting anything else, as the majority of people who hang out on Wattpad are teens, but it’s there.

Now, back to Emily and Hunter!