Camp NaNo Update


Wedding Party Table

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 28
Despite the constant interruptions of LIFE (You’re hilarious, LIFE — quit it!), I’ve made it to the midpoint of my goal right at the middle of the month. That never happens. This is an unedited excerpt of Calla, my Camp Nano project.

Time for her speech and toast.

Standing and walking over to Gibson, Calla pulled a face at the good-natured comments from the wedding guests.

“It’s your turn, Calla!”

“Girl, you’re the last one!”

“Marry me, Calla!”

Her poker face grew into a wide, warm grin. She looked around the room, seeing people who’d known her for a lifetime, knowing they only wanted her to be happy.

When Calla raised the mic to speak, Gibson, who was still at her side, pulled the mic in his direction.

“Don’t worry, Reedsville fam, I have plans for Miss Calla.”

Catcalls and whistles rose in the room again, with a noted deep growl from Birdy Ellison, the man who’d shouted, “Marry me, Calla” only moments before.

With a smile of pure innocence, Calla pulled the mic back to her mouth. “Don’t you have enough ex-wives, Gibby?”

Flinching, Gibson grabbed his chest, feigned a stumble and laughed all the way back to his seat as the crowd applauded Calla’s witty response.

Calla tried to control her own laughter as she raised her hands to quiet the room.

“I can’t remember a time in my life which didn’t include Tena Evers. We played with dolls together as little girls. When we got tired of the dolls, we forced the boys to let us play cowboys and Indians with them. We watched all the dance shows and practiced the latest steps. Once our moves were flawless, we’d go to the dances and make the boys dance with us.”

Peers yelled out in agreement. Members of older and younger generations nodded and commented on how nothing ever changes.

“Something happened in high school. Those same boys we’d bossed around as kids, we were now afraid to even speak to. But we would look. Oh, my lord, we would look. What I didn’t know at first was Tena was only looking at one boy we didn’t know well. She confessed to me after she and the boy met at their fathers’ company picnic.”

Calla turned to her best friend.

“That fall, we went to our school’s first football game. We bought programs like we always did, but could never find by the end of the game. Not this time. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Tena never rolled or folded her program. A few weeks later during a sleepover at Tena’s, of course, the conversation turned to boys. I teased her about Ronnie Calvert following her around all the time.”

Seated at a far table, Ronnie Calvert laughed out loud only to be smacked on the arm by his wife, Pam, a large, sober-faced woman with no sense of humor.

“Tena laughed and shook her head. She walked over to her dresser, took something out and turned around.”

Calla looked at the crowd and smiled.

“It was the program from the football game, without a wrinkle or tear. She held it with near reverence as she returned to sit on the bed. Opening it, she turned past all the ads and team photos, stopping at the individual player headshots. Handing me the open program, she said, ‘Ronnie’s a nice guy, but I’m going to marry him.’”

Calla looked back to the newlyweds.

“I took the program, and I was staring down into the face of Reedsville High’s star wide receiver, Lloyd Taylor.”

Thunderous applause erupted as wedding guests took to their feet in approval.

Lloyd caressed his new wife’s cheek, lost in her eyes.

Calla held up her hand once again to quiet the crowd.

“Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, you know when you’ve met the love of your life and two hearts bond. It’s a bond time and distance and other people cannot break. It’s the bond Tena and Lloyd share and which has brought them to this day.”

Calla raised her glass, joined by the wedding guests.

“To Mr. And Mrs. Taylor!”

Calla winked at Tena, grinned mischievously and said, “And they lived happily ever after!”

Tena roared with laughter. She should have known her best friend would go through with the dare.

Lloyd looked between Tena and Calla, puzzled.

Calla smirked and sipped her champagne.

Before Lloyd could question his bride, Neeri appeared to rush them to the center of the room for their first dance as man and wife.

While all eyes watched the happy couple dance and sing along to “Spend My Life with You” by Eric Benet and Tamia, Calla settled into her chair, grateful to be off her still aching feet.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

Camp NaNo – Week 1


NaNoWriMo Banner


As the end of the first week of July Camp NaNoWriMo nears, I am perplexed. I’m not sure if I should be…

Cautiously optimistic,

Over-the-moon ecstatic, planning a party and inviting everyone I’ve ever met, or

Terrified,

… because I have not encountered one problem… yet.

Words flow each time I open the WIP.

Characters are cooperating and not staging coups of silence.

My word count surpassed 12K this morning.

Looks around, confused.

What is going on?

It’s not that I want problems but every writer expects them. I know a couple who even add meltdown to their publishing timeline.

No matter how excited, geeked, amped, psyched, or pumped a writer gets about their latest project, the negative stalkers are unavoidable.

The icy fingers of You Can’t Do This tickle the back of your neck.

The dark cloud of No One Wants to Read Anything You Write looms above you… just out of reach, but always close.

Taunts from You’re Not a Writer, Is This a Joke?, and Don’t Quit Your Day Job are lobbed your way each time you complete a paragraph.

Even if you manage to avoid the relentless stalkers previously named, once your MS has been edited and revised, then edited and revised, then edited and revised one more time and sent off to the editor, the Bucket of Sarcasm plans its attack and drenches you to the bone with ice-cold You Suck.

And you haven’t published a word.

I have a lunch date with the mister and a mani-pedi date with the baby girl, and when I return, I shall write some more.

Looking over my shoulder.

 

Calla


Calla Lily

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 26
Evidently I don’t have enough to do — or I’m a glutton for punishment, because I’m adding July Camp NaNoWriMo to my never-ending (or ever-growing) to-do list. Calla, a romantic comedy, is my 30-day project.

Synopsis

Calla Barrett is a modern-day Cinderella.

Okay – not really.

She’s an accomplished RN and head of nursing at Montford Jones Rehabilitation Center. Calla is attractive, intelligent, respected, and well-liked.

She’s also thirty-four, single with no prospects… and she lives with her eccentric mother, Rose, who may or may not have a mild case of dementia.

Motivated by a close friend’s wedding and the bold heroines of her favorite novels, Calla sets a new course for herself and plans to escape the tiny farm town of Reedsville, Missouri.

No one wants Calla to leave—especially sisters Daisy, Iris, and Violet. If Calla moves away, they will have to take care of their mother. Wealthy sportsman, Birdy Ellison is determined to marry Calla… and teach her to skin a deer.

Calla Barrett’s first steps to a new life give her hope, but a newcomer’s temporary stay in Reedsville tests Calla’s determination… and her heart.

When family and friends butt in, chaos ensues, and Calla will have to pull out all the stops to get her happily-ever-after… and not skin any deer.

 

Tiny Possible-Snippet

Determined to kill the annoying fly, Rose raced around the room swatting in its general direction, overturning her iced tea and breaking a vase in the process. The fly flew through the doorway into the kitchen with Rose in hot pursuit.

“Look at her, Cal. How could you leave her? She needs you here.” Older sister, Daisy Barrett-Newman, was close to tears.

Sitting in the corner nursing a tumbler of gin, Violet Barrett raises her glass. “She’s right, Calla.”

“And what about Vi, Cal? You know she hasn’t been herself since,” Daisy leaned towards Calla, whispering, “you know…”

Giggling, Violet sets her glass down, pops off her prosthetic leg and waves it in the air.

“The accident, Daisy, the accident. Say it with me, “Since Violet lost a leg in a car accident!””

Rolling her eyes, Daisy glared at Calla as if to say, “See?”

“It’s my turn, Daisy. I missed out on moving away for college. I had to turn down a marriage proposal-”

“Oh, he wasn’t the man for you-”

“But that was my decision to make, not my family’s. I’ve lived my entire life in this house. I want out of it and Reedsville. I want to see the world… or some of it. I want to experience new things and meet new people. I want a life. I want to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I want to take photos at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I want to walk into a New York pizzeria and order a slice!”

Violet pointed her fake leg at her older sister. “She’s right, Daisy.”

Daisy waved them both off. “Now you’re just sounding like one of those broads in those crazy bodice rippers you always have your head buried in.”

“Way to date yourself, sis. They haven’t been called bodice rippers in a generation.”

“Then what are they called, Miss Well-Read?”

“For your information, they’re called historical romances, and they’re just one of the literary genres I enjoy reading.”

Calla smirked, a maniacal gleam in her eyes.

“I also enjoy psychological thrillers. The kind where the ever-put-upon, loving sister snaps, has a mental break, murders her entire family, then rides off into the night… laughing.”

Daisy takes a step backward, horrified.

Rose Gentry Barrett re-enters the room carrying a white bone china dessert plate… with the dead fly lying in the center.

“Told you I’d get him.” Sitting the plate next to the spilled iced tea, Rose grabs the remote and turns on the large, flat-screen television.

The sisters watch her in silence while Rose turns to her favorite station… The Weather Channel.

“Gonna rain in Topeka!”

Lowering her voice, Daisy continues her pleading. “Cal, be reasonable.”

Defiant, Calla crosses her arms across her ample chest.

“Snaps, Daisy. Murder.”

Emptying the gin bottle into her glass, Violet continues her giggling. “I don’t want to read that book. I want to see the movie!”

It’s NaNoWriMo Time… Again


NaNoWriMo Banner


Are you planning, plotting, and strategizing for NaNoWriMo? No, not for November… for July, NaNoWriMo’s second yearly camp.

Yes, I know we’re only two months out from the last camp in April. I participated in that one too. I’ve just completed my book Bible setup for July,  and I have a project on the boards for November.

Do you see a pattern here?

My mister insists I’m addicted to NaNoWriMo. While we don’t generally agree on anything—because that’s how marriage works—he might be on to something. Although I don’t believe it’s NaNo itself which draws me in. There are plenty of writing challenges, write-ins, and contests monthly to take part in. But, I have yet to find one which offers the structure, discipline, and challenge of NaNoWriMo.

Beginning with the premise of writing a fifty-thousand-word novel in thirty days, NaNoWriMo has become much more than a simple writing challenge. It fosters creativity, ingenuity, and confidence while crossing ethnic and gender lines and international borders. NaNoWriMo opens up the literary world for children allowing them to write unhindered by judgment. It shuns the perfection of writing in favor of the creation of unique stories.

NaNo does all this and more by trying to put… and keep the needed processes and people in place to support writers. Participants can also learn from each other as well. It was a NaNoWriMo buddy whose outlining process I copied and still use, and another who first told me about Scrivener and explained some of its features.

Everyone succeeds in an event which puts so much time and effort into their success, right?

Wrong.

With the exception of those who experience the unexpected (but ever-present) interruptions of LIFE, most participants who are not successful in completing the challenge had no structure; they didn’t think it through… there was no plan.

Pantsers everywhere scream out in horror.

As a reformed pantser, I cannot stress enough the benefit and necessity of some type of outline or planning for a NaNoWriMo project. Lack of planning is what caused my brain to seize up in 2013 and 2014… because obviously, I didn’t learn from my mistakes the first time.

With twenty days left until NaNoWriMo begins, there’s more than enough time to get a writing project together. The beauty… and fun of April and July NaNo camps is you determine the project and its parameters! A Novella of twenty-thousand words? Fifteen scenes for a screenplay? Twenty-five pages of research for an upcoming project? Camp NaNoWriMo is whatever you want it to be.

As an aside, the NaNoWriMo organization is currently fundraising to design a new site that will help people go further with their writing—with new and improved tools to support NaNoWriMo’s inspiration and community year-round.

That’s a win-win situation for writers! Donate today!

CampNaNoWriMo! #MondayBlog


Writing Paper


It’s NaNoWriMo time!

No, you haven’t pulled a Rip Van Winkle and slept through most of 2017! It’s CAMPNaNoWriMo, held during the month of April.

What? You’re not ready to tackle another fifty thousand word project? Good! Because that’s not what CampNaNoWriMo is for…unless you want it to be.

At Camp, you can:

  • Tackle any writing project, novel or not. Are you revising your next draft? Preparing to write the next great musical, a la Lin-Manuel Miranda? Penning a collection of poems? Camp is fertile ground.
  • Set your own writing goal. Warm up for 50K by setting a word-count goal of 25,000. Or track hours, lines, or pages… whatever works for you.
  • Find your own, personal writing group. At Camp NaNoWriMo, you can be sorted into a public cabin with writers according to your preferences, or create a private cabin for you and your already-established writing buddies.

I won’t say it’s necessarily ‘easy’, but it is that simple.

I’ve signed up and will be working on my November 2016 project, For Worse. My protagonist, Quinn Landon, seems to have developed a personality disorder. I need her to quit with the Sybil-theatrics, pick an identity and stick to it. Geeze…

For Worse generic cover

Calm down! This is NOT the cover! I repeat this is NOT the cover!

Since this is camp, there are CABINS! You can choose to be assigned to one, start your own, or just fly free.

I have yet to choose a cabin. I elected to be assigned to a cabin last year, clearly specifying my preferences.

That didn’t work out so well. The only thing I had in common with my cabin-mates was the fact most of us were breathing. I say most because a few never uttered a word during the entire month.

Not going there again.

While we do stress out at times, battle muses and deal with writers’ block, I believe writers sometimes forget that writing is supposed to be something we love to do; something we’re driven to do; something we enjoy!

If you’re not having fun with it, and don’t find yourself smiling your way through scenes and situations – why are you doing it?

If you want to have some fun writing during April, look me up. I’ll be the one arguing with myself and trolling cabins!