Posts Tagged ‘National Novel Writing Month’

It’s the day after National Novel Writing Month; do you know where YOUR characters are?

I haven’t seen mine since last night when we celebrated our 2011 NaNoWriMo win. We shared hot wings and margaritas, reminisced, slapped some high fives. Then suddenly, there was this awkward silence, followed by some lame excuses about being tired and wanting some “alone time”.  Next thing I know, my characters just sort of drifted out the door and left me sitting there. Alone. With no one to talk to.

When you spend the better part of the 30 days hath November chasing that elusive 50,000 word goal, you eat, sleep and breathe your characters. You put thoughts in their heads, words in their mouths, make them do things they should or shouldn’t. It’s a huge responsibility, a major commitment, and a serious source of withdrawal when it’s over. After I’ve typed “The End” and put the manuscript away to marinate for a month, I can’t help but wonder – how will those crazy characters get along without me?

I worry most about you, Lorraine. Nineteen-year-old with a newborn, baby daddy in the Pacific for God knows how long, future mother-in-law hovering, watching your every move. And how is your penniless, alcoholic father going to make it back to Nebraska?

Hester, I hope you’re not still pining for Jack because he’s going to be in Leavenworth for a good 20 years and really, do you want to spend half your life waiting for a cheating husband who kills for a hooker? You can do better; I know a good attorney.

Ah, Louise. What a tough time it’s been for you. Family destroyed, stranger in a strange land, and now a boyfriend who may never walk again. I should have written you in a vacation somewhere.

And Muriel, I say this to you with love: Get. Some. Therapy. Please. What kind of woman follows a man to a prison camp because she can’t bear to be alone? A crazy woman, that’s who. You’ll never have a decent relationship until you work out those self-esteem issues.

I miss you, my “Iron Maidens”. Oh, it’s not like I won’t ever see you again. We’ve got that editing/rewrite thing coming up after Christmas and we’ll do plenty of talking then. But in the meantime, if you just want to hang out or grab a coffee or something, call me. I’ll be waiting.



The first time I emceed a big awards ceremony, I was given a script and clear instructions: announce award, nominees, winner, present it, shake hands, pose for picture, next award. Simple, right? So I take the stage in front of about 400 people. Following my handy script, I present the first award to a narcissist named Cross. He accepts it, we do the picture thing, and instead of going back to his seat, he sits on the edge of the stage and waits. Because he figures he has more of those babies coming (which he does). I look to the event coordinator for direction and see her impersonating Munch’s “Scream” offstage so I decide to wing it.

“Could be a long wait, are you comfortable over there?” I ask.

“Fine,” says Mr. Cross who is now spotlighted (how did he wrangle THAT?).

“Get you a pillow? Maybe some water?” I’m an accommodating host.

“I could use a drink.” He waves to his fans (i.e. the unfortunate crew that works for him).

“Couldn’t we all? When the waitress comes by, order me a little something, too, could you? Heck, just get a round for everybody. Thanks. “

The crowd roars. I go on to emcee that same ceremony for four years in four different cities and they never give me a script again. Because when it comes to recognizing others for the amazing things they do, I like to wing it. So here goes. Some weeks ago I was thrilled to be nominated for the Most Versatile Blogger Award. Many thanks to Lynnette Dobberpuhl of “Wordtabulous” for the honor. To fulfill the nomination, the nominee must:

  1. Give credit to the person who nominated you and create a link to their blog in your post (coming up so watch for it!).
  2. Create a list of 15 blogs that you enjoy most and link to those as well. You must then tell those bloggers you have nominated them for the award. If you don’t have 15, you can’t do this step. If you can’t do this step, you can’t claim the award.
  3. Finally, you must create and post a list of seven things about yourself.

I know this looks suspiciously like a script and instructions and we’ve already established that I’m an off-the-cuff kind of girl but there are some fantastic blogs out there you could be reading and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about them. Here are my “Fave 15” in no particular order:

The Surfing Pizza

A slice of pop culture with extra cheese! Pizza riffs on everything from 1980’s vending machine toys to taking dance lessons before his recent wedding. It’s the kind of crazy every day stuff that anyone can relate to. Delivery is free.

Ramblin’ Christian Gypsy

In addition to being a talented actress, Kiersten Warren is also an amazing writer and photographer. Funny, sentimental, quirky, thought-provoking…you never know what she’s got hiding in that closet of hers but it’s worth opening the door to find out.

I’m On the Bandwagon

“Spinal Tap” meets “Still Crazy” (a 1998 Bill Nighy/Billy Connolly comedy about a 1970’s rock band). Bandwagon follows the hilarious conversations of an unnamed British band and Jowett, who is chronicling them on the road. Be you roadie or groupie, don’t miss the tour.

Jeff Goins, Writer

When I’m looking for writing inspiration, how-to tips, or validation that even on my worst day of writing, every word counts, Jeff Goins is my go-to guy. Great guest posts, too.

Renee Weatherbee and Meaningful Mementos

I “met” Renee in an online Starving Artists Club organized by a mutual friend, but when it comes to talent, her plate is more than full. She’s a skilled photographer, poet and observer of life.

Pithy Pants

I’ll admit it was the blog name that drew me in but it’s the sharp witty writing that keeps me coming back. A quick, fun read.

So Then SHE Said

A moment of shameless self-promotion: She Said is a joint blog between myself and my BFF which celebrates those conversations you can only have with your chick circle. We’re just growing the blog so stop in and see us (dudes are welcome, too).


Imagery is a huge part of writing and halfcnote celebrates the special connection between what you see and what you think. I love the Weekly Photo Challenge!

What I Wore

When it comes to fashion, if they made Garanimals for grown-ups, I would totally buy them. Jessica Quirk would not because she doesn’t need to. Her blog features the daily outfits she’s worn for the past four years. The girl’s got sass and style!

Terrible Minds

We all have that one nasty “oh, no he didn’t” blog that you don’t want to admit to reading. This one’s mine. Self-proclaimed “pen monkey” Chuck Wendig can be irreverent, razor-sharp and funny as hell.


Things I like about this 20-something Londoner: she doesn’t take herself too seriously, she’s got a great cast of supporting characters, and her light, witty writing style is just fun to read.

Misadventures with Andi

This is a new blog find for me but if you’re a traveler, you’ll appreciate this one. Fantastic photos, travel musings, awesome guest posts – the virtual vacation you’ve been looking for.

Jacob Murphy’s Photoblog

Jacob hasn’t posted in awhile but I hope he gets back to it because the kid’s got a good eye for subjects and a great gut for what makes a compelling picture. His street portraits are especially good. Jacob, where are you?

The Office of Letters and Light

Those crazy people who bring you National Novel Writing Month (which is actually what I SHOULD be working on right now because my word count is dismal) and Script Frenzy (I’m still waiting for the SyFy Channel to call me on my amazing offering for that).

And last but not least…


This personal blog is written by Lynnette Dobberpuhl, my BFF of 26 years and the supportive amigo who nominated me for this award. From humorous to spiritual, her posts will just make you feel BETTER.

Alright, gang, those are my 15 blogs. Now, for my…

Seven Things About Me

  1. I’ve been playing the banjo since I was 13.
  2. As a 23-year-old editor for United Press International, I reviewed Stephen King’s “Four Past Midnight” for Time magazine. Like an idiot, I lost the galley proof right after reading it.
  3. I have a self-designed “angel on my shoulder” tattoo.
  4. I’ve been on the air at the same radio station for nearly 23 years.
  5. My culinary specialty is breakfast.
  6. My first motorcycle was a 550cc hardtail chopper with a six-foot front end.
  7. Most humble writer moment: meeting the family of a deceased Army nurse who served in Vietnam whose story I included in a commemorative publication I wrote for the dedication of a Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.

There. Obligations met, new badge posted. And to the “Fave 15”? Your turn, kids!

It’s over. I should have seen it coming. We’d first met a couple of weeks ago, just sort of bumped into each other while I was out walking one morning. There was a little harmless flirting, then the casual “getting to know you” thing, and then early in the morning of November 1, when this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge ( kicked off, my novel and I officially became a couple.

Its name was “Damn Happy Place’ and in the beginning we were SO happy. Like skipping around singing Disney tunes, having your favorite ice cream for every meal, winning the Powerball jackpot happy. Well, I thought we were. Then two days in to our perfect relationship, Damn Happy dumped me.

It happened about 2:00 a.m. on Thursday. We’d been on my laptop for hours and hey, I’ll admit there’d been some moments when the conversation was lagging but then out of nowhere, Damn Happy says to me:

“Look, this isn’t working out.”


“I don’t want to hurt you. You’re a great girl and everything, really, but I think you should write other novels.” 

“But, but…we’re happy! Aren’t we? Is it me? What am I doing wrong? Just tell me, and I’ll fix it.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you. I’m just in kind of a weird place right now and I need a little time to sort some things out.”

“Maybe I can help. We could try author-novel counseling.  Maybe take a trip? A change of location might be just what our story needs. Ooh, I could kill off a main character or something. That would spice things up a bit. Or I could…”

“Just stop already, O.K.? THAT’S the problem. You’re too controlling, you’re smothering me. Always telling me what to say, what to do, who to be.  I’m tired of being manipulated! We both knew this was probably only going to be a short term fling anyway.”

“But we had some good times, didn’t we? I mean, come on. That scene in the tree house? Pretty hot stuff.”

“I was faking it.”

“What? The WHOLE time? No way.”

“Well, maybe not the first couple of pages but…yeah, pretty much the whole time. So listen, I’m going to go now. I think it’s just better for both of us. I’m not ready for this kind of commitment right now. You’ll find another novel to write, I know you will. Oh, and one more thing: I’m keeping the title.”

“The hell you are. I GAVE you that title. If you’re breaking up with me, I want it back. I might even use it on another story, what do you think of that?”

“Fine, whatever. Don’t call me.”

And that was it. I was sitting at my writing desk, 48 hours in to a 30-day, 50,000 word novel writing challenge with no novel. Despondent, I shut things down and went to bed but I couldn’t sleep. I lay in the darkness, alone, contemplating my newly single status.  Suddenly I recalled another novel idea I’d met last spring. It was a little more serious, a bit more involved, but there’d been a connection, a spark there, that if I had to admit it, hadn’t really existed between Damn and I.

So at 3:00 a.m. I got out of bed, turned on the laptop and called it up. Its name is “Iron Maidens” and turns out, Iron had been hanging out waiting for me to call this whole time. We’ve been inseparable ever since. I know what you’re thinking – these rebound relationships never work out. But we’re going the distance, Iron and me, at least until November 30 and I think maybe longer than that. Because We. Are. In. Love. Really. Oh, and Damn Happy? I was faking it, too.

Some of the best stories I’ve ever read were less than 500 words long and appeared in a place people seldom read unless they have to: the obituary page.

I didn’t randomly decide to start reading the life stories of the deceased. It began the usual way; someone I knew died and I read their obituary to find out when the funeral service was. He was a man I had known for quite some time and thought I knew pretty well until I saw his obit.

I had some knowledge that he’d served in World War II but never known that he’d been awarded two Purple Hearts. I was friends with his only son but had no clue that there had been another son before him who died as an infant. I had complimented him often on his beautifully landscaped yard but didn’t realize that those skills were the result of a degree in horticulture. It’s amazing the things you don’t know about the people you know until you read the whole story.

That’s what obituaries are – a person’s whole story. Where they grew up, their family life, their military service, education, hobbies, who they married, who they divorced, the children they had, the children they lost, what they believed in, what they stood up for, who they leave behind.

As a writer, I’ve found obituaries to be a source of inspiration as well as information. They provide insight on periods in history (“After graduation, she, like many other women at that time, did her part to support the war effort by working in a factory”); reveal the hardships people overcome (“His parents died when he and his siblings were very young. The children were divided up to live with uncles and aunts”); and celebrate the things that make each of us unique (“He loved baseball, stamp collecting, jigsaw puzzles and a good joke”). Actually, something I read in an obituary is the inspiration for the World War II novel I’ll be writing this November for National Novel Writing Month.

Scores of biographies are commercially published, make the bestseller list, are even made into movies. But consider this: we all have our biographies published. Most of the time, we’re just not still here to see them in print.