Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NANO Prep Tips Lola-Style



Hello Friends,


So, today I thought I'd share how I prepare for NANOWRIMO.



Even if you aren't participating in Nano, some of these tips may still be helpful for you in carving out the sacred daily writing time we all need more of, especially when we have busy families and jobs and such.


I won't talk outlining-type prep work (because, HAHAHA! *wipes eyes*), but if you do want info on how-to-plot-for-Nano may I suggest the blog of the lovely Alexandra Sokoloff. In fact, she's been doing a series specifically on nano-prep-outining, but her entire blog is filled with plotting and structure tips. 




My tips are also useful for when you are on deadline.


Before I commence with my tips, the most important thing to Nano-success, to ALL writing success, is COMMITMENT.





Okay, let's get on with it. Gird yourself...



Lola's Nano Preparation Tips:

 1. Do a HUGE grocery shop this weekend. STOCK UP! 
(3 dozen eggs, check. 5 loaves of bread in freezer, check. 10,088 frozen pizzas, check!) Stock up and utilize your freezer. If you are in charge of feeding a family, find some super easy crock pot recipes and stock up on those ingredient. Buy the veggies pre-cleaned and pre-cut, or do so yourself NOW. 

While you are at it...
        
 2. Stock up on your writing beverage of choice (coffee, soda, tea...whatever, AND the sugar and creamer you may need). Buy WAY more than a month's supply. Ditto for your favorite writing snack.  


3. Have the local pizza (etc.) delivery on speed dial. 

4. Get spouse/family/friends on board. You will need their support. (My husband will often bring home take-out dinner or take our daughter out for dinner and bring me home a meal...a meal which he quietly shoves under my writing cave door.) 
If you're married with children, get your spouse to bring home dinners and help extra with the kids. (if you have little ones home with you, buy some new little toys, movies, books, crayons, etc. NOW, and whip them out when you need some quiet time. Consider hiring a teen/senior helper.)



Friends and family need to know that unless their hair is on fire, to please cheer you on SILENTLY from a distance (aka leave you alone!); chatty visits, phone calls/texts etc. will have to wait until December 1st. You will be sequestered, MIA. Hold them (and yourself) to it. (make sure you make it up to them later, by spending time with them and thanking them for their support.)


        
5. Spouses/significant others/roommates should be pre-warned that it is possible (probable!) that your personal hygiene and grooming will decline substantially during the month of November. (all the more reason they should LEAVE YOU ALONE with your computer ;)



(*sniff* do I reek? Yes? *rubs on more deodorant, shrugs, goes back to typing*) (where's that scrunchy that isn't all stretched out??) 


(remember that shopping trip where you stocked up on supplies? Yeah, make sure you bought extra toothpaste, deodorant... and some cleansing wipes.) 

 
6. Get your nails done and hair cut/colored NOW, pre-Nov., or be prepared to wait until Dec. 1st. 


7. Preemptively CLEAN YOUR HOUSE and do ALL LAUNDRY like a mad person. START NOW. 
Then every few days during Nov. try to zip through and whirl-wind clean the hot spots (kitchen, toilets, quick vacuum). If you live with someone, try to enlist their help to do more than their share and you'll make it up to them another month.

DO NOT HAVE/ALLOW ANYONE OVER in November. You won't have time to entertain them and likely the house will not be up to company standards. 
Which leads me to... 

8. DO NOT host THANKSGIVING  (for those living in the States) at your house this year!! Go to your parents/in-laws/siblings/friends/restaurant. The amount of time it takes to clean for company, plan your menu, shop for the menu, cook, entertain, and then clean afterwards is death to your goal... not an option.


It's a wonderful day to spend with your family and friends you've been neglecting, so spend the day relaxing with them. 
(And then get RIGHT BACK on track the next day! Make sure you family understands that Thanksgiving was a one-day hiatus and now you still have to finish out your month of hardcore writing. They can have lots of time with you in December.) 



9. I make it my goal to write 2,000 words/day 6 days/week. The 7th day is for errands, chores and spending time with loved ones...preferably outside, in the fresh air and sunlight.

If I know I won't be making my goal (like Thanksgiving day, for instance), I 'bank' extra word count AHEAD of time. I will do 2,500-3,000/day for a few days before the day off.
I also try to do this (banking extra word count) a few times early in the month to have some 'savings in the bank' for a 'rainy day emergency', in case I get sick or something unexpected comes up. 

(I mean, if I get a last minute invite to a front row at Incubus/Kings of Leon/etc. concert,, I'm not gonna say no. Duh. I'm gonna ditch that ms like 4 day old stanky fish.) (So bank as many extra words each day as you can!) 

10. And this may be the most important tip: BACK UP YOUR WORK EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! Have a plan NOW of how  you will accomplish this. And have extra flash drives/hard drives ready now.

For those doing Nano this year, I know the Nano-site doesn't have the buddy list functioning yet (grrrrr!), but when they do, you can buddy me at: 
the-sharp-pen

What are YOUR plans for November? If you are doing Nano, what are YOU doing to prepare? 

Love,
Lola 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Interview With Hilary Wagner & Signed ARC Giveaway



Hello Friends,




Behold...TWO posts in two days! (the devil must be ice skating) 
I know, it's a Festivus Miracle. 


Because today I bring you my interview with the lovely and delightful Hilary Wagner, author of the NIGHTSHADE CHRONICLES. 




Last week the second book in the series, THE WHITE ASSASSIN was released.


THE WHITE ASSASSIN




About the THE WHITE ASSASSIN:
Book II in the Nightshade Chronicles begins three years after Juniper and his rebel band of rats liberate the Catacombs and defeat their oppressors.
A sense of peace has settled over Nightshade City, but it is a false one. Billycan, the white assassin, has been found. Deep in the southern swamps, he now rules a primitive horde of savage swamp rats eager to overrun Nightshade City and claim it for their king. With the help of an ancient colony of bats and an uneasy alliance with the swamp snakes, Juniper and his Council set out to thwart Billycan’s plans. When an old secret is revealed—one so shocking it shakes both Billycan and Juniper to the core—the fate of Nightshade City and the life of Juniper’s only son depend on Juniper’s decision: should he help his mortal enemy? The past resurfaces with devastating impact in this exciting sequel to Nightshade City, a dark tale of intrigue, deception, and betrayal.
Nightshade City, Book I of the Nightshade Chronicles is a CBC Best Book of 2011 and a Crystal Kite finalist.

Okay, let's have a little chat with Hilary, shall we? 

Hi Hilary, it's lovely to have you here. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lola, thanks so much for having me! Hmmm...about myself, where do I begin? Here is the nutshell version: I was born in raised in Chicago. I love big cities, spending time with my husband and little ones, and I'm a bit of a reality TV junkie. I prefer museums to long walks on the beach, and I'm terrible with directions of any kind! My favorite foods are sushi, risotto, baked goods, and junk food galore. I freelance for National Geographic School Publishing and in my spare time I sleep! ;)


Oh, you know I'm happy to have you, love. (also, now I'm craving sushi) How did you come up with the idea for this series?
The Nightshade Chronicles was not an idea I had bouncing around in my head. It forced itself upon me and had to be written! Nightshade City (Book I) actually started as a picture book, but after writing the first page I realized it was far too creepy to be a picture book, so it instantly became a middle-grade novel and grew organically from there, one scene at a time. 

Can you tell us about your journey to getting published?

Here is the short version. I received roughly 175 rejections on Nightshade City over the course of about 14 months (as you can imagine, it was a painful process), two offers of representation (I received one offer after I already signed with Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt). Marietta sold the book in about 7 weeks. It was very exciting that the sale moved so quickly after I was signed. It took me so long to find an agent. I was terrified when I went on submission that it was going to be the same long agonizing wait. And for those of you still on the agent hunt, never write off an agent you initially don't hear back from. From when I queried the Nancy Gallt agency, to when I got the offer, it took a good 8-9 months. It was a very long process, but a very rewarding one, so stay at it and keep querying!  

An excellent example of hanging in there and NOT GIVING UP, Hilary.  
Outline or Wing/Pants It?  (If you do outline/plan, please share with us your outline/planning process.)
What is this strange and exotic word you speak of...outline


What is your writing process like? Do you have a ritual? Do you listen to music while you write? 
I have no ritual other than keeping the TV on in the background very, very low--just a murmur of voices. Dead silence makes me nuts! Sometimes I do like music, as long as it's instrumental and dark and stormy in nature. In other words, I would never be able to write to Justin Beiber! I'll write anywhere I can have my laptop out, from up in bed late at night, to my son's karate lessons! Have laptop, will travel--and write! 

(Dude, that is the first time the name Justin Beiber has been mentioned on this blog.) 
How do you balance writing with a full-time job and a busy family?
Actually, it sort of balances me! What's the expression, 'if you want something done ask a busy person to do it'? That really describes my life. It's very chaotic sometimes and I write when I can, usually very early or very late, but I manage to get it done. It's something I'm driven to do, and when you're that driven by something, you'll find the time. I mean really, who needs more than four hours of sleep a night anyway? ;)

I always say "we can sleep when we're dead". (it's 1:04am right now, as I write this post) 
Tell us, what have you learned with regard to revisions?
That they are painful! No, just kidding...sort of! Nightshade City edits were relatively straightforward, and then came The White Assassin, which was anything but straightforward. Despite how tough the edits were, it was a valuable experience, which made me grow as a writer. Several scenes were cut, because my editor and I decided they'd be better in Book III, and several scenes were rewritten completely for that reason. Characters were added, taken away, and the plot was totally switched at one point. I'd say over half the book was rewritten in order to make it the very best it could be, and I would have rewritten the whole thing ten times over if necessary. Editing is tricky work, especially with a second book in a series, because it needs to be individually great, not just a nice continuance of Book I. My editor, Julie Amper, told me that and no matter how many books I write, I will never forget it. I've read second books that paled in comparison to the first, and I didn't want The White Assassin to fall into the "so-so" category. That was my biggest concern throughout the process.

What can we expect from you next?
I'll soon be starting edits with my editor on Goblin Shark Rising (Fall 2012). It's an undersea adventure that takes place in modern day Tokyo. As I'm sure you've guessed from the title the book involves goblin sharks (among others)! I'm thrilled about this novel. Not only will kids get to meet a lot of sharks and other mysterious sea creatures, but they'll get to discover Tokyo and learn about the Yōkai, a group of Japanese demons, ghosts, and monsters--very electrifying stuff! This book required loads of research, but so worth it!

Okay, that was fun, right? 

Wanna have MORE FUN? 
Perhaps you'd like to win a signed and doodled (by Hilary) copy of THE WHITE ASSASSIN! Because I'm giving one away. (International) Contest ends 10/27.


1) All you have to do to enter is follow my blog (can I see you happy avatar on my sidebar widget?) and leave a comment on this post. It's that simple. 

2) Want extra entries? Also simple:

    Go visit Hilary's blog and follow her-1
    Tweet about this giveaway (@LolaSharp)-1
    Follow me on Twitter-1
    Follow Hilary on Twitter-1
    Blog about it-2
    Follow me on GoodReads-1
    Follow Hilary on GoodReads-1

(please tally your points in my comments section and leave any links)

Good luck!

Love,
Lola 
Monday, October 17, 2011

Busy Bees





Hello Friends,

Happy Monday. How are you? 








1) I've been a very busy bee, bumbling and buzzing, 


doing critiques for fellow writer friends, planning my next novel...


...getting ready for NANOWRIMO...



(FYI: I'll be doing a big post on Nano-ing on Friday...but even if you are not doing Nano this year, the post will talk a lot about carving sacred writing time out of our busy schedules.)


... taking care of my family (including PSATs and Homecoming, etc.), you know, LIFE.


2) Tomorrow (Tues. the 18th) I'll be giving away some ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies) and doing an author interview with the lovely Hilary Wagner on her writing process, to celebrate her sophomore book release.


3) I love Spotify .♪♫•*¨*•.♬ I love creating playlists for writing and life.


4) Last night season 2 of THIS came back! 





5) Because, really, who doesn't love some good old fashioned zombie apocalypse fun?! 
nom


6) I love this:







7) I 



















YOU.




8) Talk to me. How are you? How is your writing going? Are you MAKING time to write?





Love,
Lola 

May your pen be mighty

May your pen be mighty

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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