Tomorrow the madness begins! Are you ready?
I’ve written a lot of books, novellas, and novelettes (I’ve actually kind of lost count of my total publishing credits), and they all begin with one thing: that thing that fascinates you. All you need is a serious level of passion for one thing to fuel the story. Passion for the Viking Age led to The Gripping Beast. Werewolves produced a whole series of novels and novelettes. Fascination with Nephilim, plus Jehovah’s Witness and Barry Manilow jokes? Wicked Hot.
Whatever grabs your imagination, that’s the thing to let your imagination loose on, and there is no better opportunity than NaNoWriMo to just let it rip. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be publishable or even readable. If you’re a new writer or one who has been around the block so many times the street has a foot-deep groove, NaNo is a great way to give in to passion and dive in to process without worrying about whether it’s a good use of time. It’s a month out of your life. If the results are lousy, so what? It’s a month you didn’t spend watching reality TV, and you will have learned something from the process.
I’m using NaNo to break from “real work” and take a risk. My project may well be totally unpublishable. I couldn’t care less. I know that to reach my career goals I have to devote time and energy to taking risks, which is why NaNo is perfect for me. Yes, I have “real work” to do, but for NaNo I’m setting it aside. It will still be there Dec. 1, and I will probably be in a better frame of mind to tackle it. If nothing else, I will have spent a month writing with wild abandon about a topic that’s obsessed me all my life and that I’ve never written about. In the genre I’ve always loved above all others.
I have planned to take time off for the holiday weekend, having learned from experience that working when kids are off and expecting attention is bound to create unhappiness all around. Besides, I need to enjoy holidays myself. So my daily NaNo goal is 2,000 words to compensate.
Pick your passion. Plan your month. Set your daily target. And prepare to write like a motherfucker as an early holiday gift to yourself.
ROPED, AKA Christmas Cowboy, is in the editing stage! Most of which consists of me approving of commas added or removed, but this is my chance to add those final touches to bring out arcs, etc., so I’m listening to the playlist while I go through it.
Playlist: Pink, Trouble/Cuz I Can, Taylor Swift, White Horse/Love Story, Desperado/Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Mariah Carey/All I Want for Christmas is You
Here’s a sneak peek:
“If I hear
Blue Christmas one more time, I’m going postal,” Regan Morris said. She was too
used to talking in court, so she sounded clear and firm and rational when she
said it, instead of sounding the way she felt.
She felt like
a toddler on the verge of a meltdown, overstimulated by holiday hype and
holiday expectations. A small child who lost it at Christmas got a hug.
Attorneys were supposed to act like grownups. And she was trying, but inside
was a five year old who really wanted a hug and no more reminders of how many
other people felt blue, too.
misery loved company,” Nancy said. She kept cutting out gingerbread men,
unconcerned by Regan’s postal potential.
doesn’t want miserable company,” Regan said, not having to work to match her
feelings to her definite tone this time. “Misery would rather be on the other
side of the window, where all the happy, pretty people are, instead of stuck
out in the cold with the miserable crowd.”
And pretty,” Nancy said. Her serene assurance wasn’t misplaced. Nancy was
gorgeous, even in an old pair of Wranglers that had long since frayed at the
bottom. The jeans were topped by a stretchy red velvet holiday sweater with
fuzzy white trim that should have looked ridiculous but instead made her look
like an elf imported from France to give the North Pole some sophistication.
Wisps of dark hair had escaped form her sleek updo, but on Nancy, it looked
sexy and deliberate instead of messy.
“Of course you
are,” Regan said, contrite. “Sorry. That’s not what I meant.”
“I know what
you meant.” Nancy straightened and set down her cookie cutter. “I know what the
problem is. You want to be Cinderella. You want to go to the ball. And instead,
you’re stuck here with me in the kitchen. It’s wrong. You should go to the
“Was there a
lot of rum in the rum balls?” Regan asked.
“Yes, but that
isn’t the point.” Nancy was focused on something other than pastry now, and
from long experience Regan knew that didn’t bode well. Whatever Nancy focused
on got done. “You’re blue because you’re single and it’s the holidays, and
staying with me and my husband and our two-point-five kids isn’t helping. So
your fairy godmother is going to send you to the ball.”
fairly sure even Nancy couldn’t produce a formal dance in the wilds
of Wyoming, so she helped herself to another rum ball. “I’m testing these for
quality assurance,” she announced. And also for possible anesthetic properties.
that your last.” Nancy finished the tray of gingerbread men with speed and
precision, popped them into the oven, and set the timer. “I can get you dressed
and lend you a coach, but you’ll have to drive yourself.”
There’s a big party at one of the neighboring ranches. I’ll tell them you’re
coming. One more guest won’t be a problem. There are never enough single women
out here. You can take the Caddy; I never use it.”
was a gas-guzzling monster. It was also not built for navigating gravel roads,
let alone icy, snow-covered gravel roads. “I’m starting to think you’re serious
“I am. I
remember when you didn’t go to the senior prom? You were too busy studying and
working at your part-time job, saving for college. I didn’t know how to be a
fairy godmother then, so I’m making up for it now.”
dropped. “The prom? You think my adult life was in any way affected by not
going to the prom?”
“Maybe. I went—you
didn’t. We had different priorities. Your priorities aren’t making you very
happy right now, so why not change them?” Nancy dragged her into the walk-in
master closet and started rummaging in a section filled with garment bags. “No.
No. Maybe. No…oh, yes.”
at the chosen dress through the clear plastic cover. “No.”
Nancy freed the dress and shook it out. About a million miles of green taffeta
filled the space between them. “It’s one of those dresses that you have to see
on to get the effect.”
“It looks like
a prom dress,” Regan pointed out.
You couldn’t afford this for prom.”
afford it now.” Regan took the dress gingerly. “I have law school debt on top of
college debt. Plus a mortgage. I don’t buy Dior gowns.”
“Which is why
you need a fairy godmother. Look, matching shoes!” Nancy fished one out of the
bottom of the garment bag and waved it in triumph.
“I will never
be able to walk in those shoes,” Regan said.
for walking. They’re for dancing. Let some hot cowboy help you balance, and
you’ll be fine. Come on, get changed.”
later, Regan decided Nancy’s plan had merit. The shoes were going to cripple
her if she didn’t get them off by midnight, but the cowboy two-stepping her
cheerfully toward the mistletoe was happy to keep her upright. And since he was
used to wrestling steers, a too-thin, overworked attorney wasn’t going to
strain his muscles.
“My turn,” a
low voice said in her ear as a hand reached from behind her to tap her partner.
The voice was
familiar. Regan went still and stayed frozen as a man stepped into
view. A man forever burned into her memory, and one she hadn’t expected to see
here, now. He was older, harder, with a mouth that looked like it had forgotten
how to smile, a face framed by black hair in need of a trim and dominated by
eyes that resembled a winter sky with a storm approaching.
Travis or Tate
or whatever his name was surrendered her with the same cheer he would’ve seduced
her with and moved on to the next possibility. The man who replaced him wasn’t
going to go away nearly as easily.
The acknowledgement ended the brief
conversation, which was a relief, because Regan had no idea what to say. It
took all her concentration not to lose an ankle to the shoes while the man who
was damn well not Prince Charming held her close and led her around the room
with practiced ease.
So a couple of years ago I wanted to do something totally different. But I couldn’t quite get a handle on what. Now? I’ve got a handle, and I’ve either derailed or finally found the right track. Either way, I’m going with it.
I love this stage of surrendering to a story, researching details to bring it alive, building a playlist.
The music of my crazy train:
Runs in the Family/Amanda Palmer
Art of Almost/Wilco
Dog Days are Over/Florence & The Machine
Smells Like Teen Spirit/Nirvana
Guitar Hero/Amanda Palmer
Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)/Foster the People
Pumped Up Kicks/Foster the People
I Would Do Anything For You/Foster the People