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Hello, my name is Melissa and I’m a procrastinator.

Yes, it’s that dreaded nightmare that holds people back from continuing their plans (or even getting started on something). I admit that I can be a really bad procrastinator. Back in school, if I could put something off, I would usually do it. I always liked to think I just got distracted really easily (which I do, trust me), but I can’t put all of the blame on that.  Sometimes, it’s not distractions that hold me back. It’s not having the drive to do it or putting it off to the side so I can “Finish it later.” We all know that never really happens.

Have I been procrastinating finishing my book? Yes. Have I been doing anything about that? No.

A part of it is definitely fear. Fear of what’s next after that last word is written. After the editing is completed and the book is ready to find a publishing home.  Self-publishing or not? If I do go self-pub, how am I going to do it? How in the hell am I going to afford it? Those questions race through my mind and makes the procrastination monster rear it’s ugly head.

Tomorrow, I’m making an effort to try and write more. It’s important to get this finished even when I don’t know what I’m doing afterwards. I have to worry about that after I’m finished. Not right now.

I also plan on blogging on here more. I’ve been so busy trying to make jewelry and hair accessories to put in my etsy shop so I can save up money to actually publish my book.  I’m still not seeing much success, but I guess it’s all about patience, right?  If you want to read all about my jewelry and hair accessory making, you should check out my new blog which talks all about that. 🙂  I also have one that I started on blogspot for all of you on that site to follow. I’m probably going to make the switch to that one soon.

I’ll leave you with this flower headband I just made that’s in my etsy shop.

Cute, yeah?

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about my views on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. Stay tuned!

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First off, I’d like to apologize for my absence these past couple of weeks. After NaNoWriMo started last Tuesday, I’ve been so focused on getting a good lead that at the end of the day, I couldn’t even imagine writing blog posts haha.  So how am I doing so far with my word count? Well, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter (but why aren’t you? Hmm?), here’s my progress report:

As of November 12th, I have written over 50,026 words. Yes, that’s right. I’m already finished with NaNoWriMo.  If you remember my failed attempt at doing this last year, you’ll realize how much of an accomplishment that is to me. To finish this major writing even in a little over a week and a half is mind-blowing to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how I managed to complete NaNo so quickly this year, but for today, I just wanted to say hi and let you all know that I did it. I showed the ones who doubted me that they were wrong about me and for those who did believe in me, well, I did it. 🙂  Before I did NaNo this year, I’m not sure if I would have suggested any other writer to do it, but now I think everyone should experience it.  I learned a lot about who I am as a writer and that it is possible to write 50,000 words so soon. It is possible to get that far with enough determination and support.

For my NaNoWriMo buddies (you know who you are), I’d just like to thank you all for the awesome support and encouragement that you have given me. There were times when I would hit a small wall and want to give up because it seemed like such a huge task, but you never let me. You all picked me up and told me to keep going. I’m not sure I would have done this without all of the support I have received. So thank you for that. For those who are still working on getting to that 50k finish line, just know that I’ll be there cheering you on! You can do it.

It is awfully nice at the finish line.  Very comfy and relaxing haha. Although I wish there some cookies or something….

If you’re still working on NaNoWriMo, comment below with how you’re doing.  If you need any encouragement, well, I’m  here haha.

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Well, here I am again. I’m still dealing with some internet issues but at least I have it. Can’t complain too much….

I would love to be able to say that I’m completely finished with my book, but I can’t. Unfortunately, I’m still working on it. I am pretty darn close to the end though.  I just don’t want to rush through it just to finish it.  Some writers see that finish line ahead of them and start sprinting towards it. Personally, I like to keep up my steady pace instead of rushing through it.  If I keep up that pace, I should finish by next week. We’ll see. 🙂

Speaking of next week, a couple other events will be happening. On Monday, my Halloween short story blog fest will start. If you haven’t signed up, you still can. All you have to do is find a spooky photo and write a spooky short story based on the photo. Post it on your blog with a link coming back to this blog and you’re all set! The story can be as long or as short as you want it. No length requirements for this one.

Also, NaNoWriMo starts the day after my blog fest. I still have some researching and planning to do but I think I’m ready this year. I’m going to go in and try my hardest to make it to that 50,000 word count. I guess you can say that I’m feeling more confident about being able to write at least 2,000 words a day in order to “win”.

I hope everyone has had a productive week. 🙂 Now, I’m off to continue to plug away at this novel so I can hopefully have it most of the way finished before NaNo starts haha.

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Today, we welcome Christopher who is here to talk about his experiences with writing American History novels. Tomorrow, we have another guest post about writing blogs and I’ll also be posting something of my own. For now, let’s welcome Christopher and hear what he has to say!

Four Peas Needed To Cook Up an Authentic American History Novel

I wish to thank Melissa for Inviting me to guest post. I look forward to having her guest post on The Night Beatsoon. As soon as she put out the call, I immediately thought about an appropriate topic. The first thing that sprung to mind was an article about the process to create an Alternative History Novel. History has always been a passion of mine. In high school I never got lower than a B- when it came to world history, and when American History came around, my worst wound up being only an A-. Needless to say, If you have any love for the subject, and possibly if you are of a certain mindset, you will come to a time when you will read some historical account and then “What if X happened instead” will pop into your head.

It was probably during some boring class like English (I know, how can it be boring if you’re a writer. I know enough to write, but don’t ask me to diagram a sentence to save my life) that one such What if popped into my head. “What if we never learned the lessons of The Civil War, and a mere ten years later it happened again, this time in the American West.” Thus the seeds of an Alternative History (Alt-Hi) were born, and to one degree or another, I have continued to refine the story from then on. So when Melissa put out the call for guest bloggers, my mind went to this subject, and I thought of the title Four Peas (P’s) to Create The Perfect Alt-Hi. The Peas, in brief, are Premise, Probability, Possibilities, and Preparation.
P#1: Premise
I have already told you the premise of the story I have been refining over the years. What separates the Alt-Hi from Sci-Fi, is that, while both genre’s begin with the What if question, The Alternative History is limited to the inventions and conditions of the timeline they are reconstructing. (For example, Let’s say Lincoln doesn’t get assassinated. We can’t have him saved by being teleported out of the theatre just before Booth fires. We could have him blocked by another patron until the moment is unfavorable.) There are an unlimited number of premises. Will Your Premise make it into a story? Not unless it makes it through another Pea.
P#2: Probability
If The Premise is the “What If?” question, then the Probability of your Alt-Hi is best defined by the “Who Cares?” question. Simply put, while any decision in history could have had another possible outcome, unless that outcome can grab even the authors interest, certainly your reader wont come along for the ride. Now the Sci-Fi writer doesn’t have to worry about probability. In some cases, the more fanciful the premise, the better. With an Alt-Hi, one of the cornerstones of the genre is HISTORY, as in “Could this actually have happened?”. In the case of my original premise, you have to ask, at any time in “the Old West”, did conditions arise that would have created a “Spark” that lit the fuse of civil war like happened at Fort Sumter. In my researching of the premise, I found a number of conditions that would make my premise probable.
  • At the outbreak of the Civil War, many frontier posts were either abandoned or had their troop numbers severely downgraded and the troops sent South to assist the War, leaving the settlers to face the Natives on their own. Approximately 10 years later, with “Reconstruction” coming to an end, those same troops returned, in true Mighty Mouse style (“Here I come to save the day…”), hoping that the settlers would be grateful for their “protection”.
  • By virtue of the Treaty of Purchase in 1867, the People of Alaska (native Russians and Aleut) were entitled to “The enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and immunities of Citizens of The United States” if they remained there THREE YEARS (1870). In fact, Alaska had not even the most basic of Civil Law and was a true example of the Wild, Wild, West until 1884.
  • The Western States of Arkansas, Louisiana Texas and Missouri had all been participants in the Civil War, and the first three were subjected to the punishment called “reconstruction” which was instituted in response to Lincoln’s assassination and birthed the Klan. These states were chafing under the military yoke and could have been spoiling for another fight.
P#3: Possibilities
We could also call this, how many links are in your chain of events (or chain reaction). Unless you are interested in writing a very short story, you should try to have your premise create as many new possibilities as possible. Among the possibilities opened up by this premise.
  • The Elections of 1952, 1956, 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1996 are completely invalidated due to both candidates being born in the Republic and not in the United States. The Elections of 2008, 1992, 1984, and 1948 Had an Ineligible Democratic Candidate (Sorry, Obama was born in Hawaii). The Elections of 1996, 1976, 1960, 1936, 1932 and 1928 had an ineligible Republican Candidate. For brevity, I have excluded anyone born West of the Mississippi River after 1875. Some of the other elections may have different outcomes once Popular and Electoral Votes are re tabulated. One surety, the “Stolen” Election of 1876 was swung firmly from Hayes to Tilden by the Secession of the West. Talk about Operation Chaos!
  • The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor would have been on a U.S. Leased Naval Base on Republican soil (Hawaii would be part of the Republic of Ansdale). You would get two nations into the war for one attack.
  • The Battle of Little Big Horn (aka Custer’s Last Stand) would have been an elaborately drawn trap by R.O.A. Troops to Split U.S. Forces with a Two Front War, comprised of both Native American and the Republican Army.
  • The Assassination of JFK in Dallas, TX by Lee Harvey Oswald (a known Soviet Sympathizer who had defected to the U.S.S.R.) would have been an attempt by the Soviet Union to create a North American war which would have made both nations ineffective against a Communist expansion into Western Europe and Asia.
I think you get the idea. One decision creates almost unlimited possibilities. If you have passed through step three without your original premise being reduced to ashes, congratulations. If you haven’t, go over it again until you find a premise that can stand the test. Once you do, you are ready for the “final” step.
P#4: Preparation
I can hear you scream, “what was I doing during the previous three steps?” That was preparing your premise to make a story. Now comes the fun part (at least for me) researching your characters. I have created little who’s who bios for just about every fictional character I have created. I know when they were born, where, where they were educated, who they married, how many children they have, who were their classmates, etc. Now this part could be a post in itself, as could the other peas. While this may seem an exercise in absolute tedium, there is a point. Without doing this step your Alt-Hi will become Sci-Fi. Not in the sense of the typical definition of the genre, but because your character will seem an outside “alien” observer to the events you describe instead of being able to seamlessly interact with their surroundings. You are changing the outcome of one premise, but your character must still be believable within the “correct” timeline. In the case of my story, the key character, John Lee Anderson, is the brother of Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter, went to West Point at the Same time as Grant, served with him in the Mexican War, and during post war assignments in the South, married a distant cousin of Jefferson Davis and retired from active service, and is the father of three sons and one daughter, all of whom have followed their father into military service, to the great disappointment of their mother. Called back into service and assigned to the “Northern reaches of the Nebraska Territory” by President Pierce, he sees his responsibility to the people of the Western States and Territories as outweighing his duty to Washington. I have skipped dates for brevity and tedium’s sake, but I think you can see that, by creating a “life” for your character, you have also created a purpose for his existence in your story (other than a story needs a character). If you do all these steps, you are now in possession of a premise that will survive not only one story, but even being turned into a multi-novel series. You can now begin to write.

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Before we get into the guest post, I just wanted to remind everyone that if you have a guest post you want to share here on this blog, please e-mail it to me at thestoryinme@gmail.com. Keep in mind that the posts should be either writing or literature related. Check my previous post on more guest post guidelines.   This guest post is kicking off my NaNoWriMo preparation posts for all of you. The other day I decided to participate again this year (hopefully I’ll be more successful than last year..) so keep checking back for those posts. Now, onto Panda’s guest post (btw, she’s one of my NaNoWriMo writing buddies lol)

The Power of Speech

This year I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. I’d heard of it many times in the past before, but was always under the impression that writing a novel just wasn’t my gig – I always found myself much more drawn towards poetry (I was rather successful on allpoetry.com in years gone by!)

However, as I’ve grown up (probably not actually, just in terms of years) I’ve found myself wanting to… well… get my ideas out there. I want to get into the open the thoughts and opinions that float around my mind on a daily basis. This is virtually impossible through poetry, there’s so much restrictions and rules, and I’m not one for “writing my thoughts in a poetic manner” – there’s just too much floating about in there to put into poetic terms.

So that’s how I ended up here, guest posting on a blog, writing about NaNoWriMo 2011 and why I’m participating.

But that’s not what I actually want to talk to you about. No, what I want to talk about is the power of speech within a novel.

I mentioned above that poetry has a lot of restrictions. If you think about it, so do novels. There’s definitely a “way” to put across a narrative to someone. A narrative can’t possibly be your own exact words, thoughts and opinions, because there’s no personification. No, where your ideas come into it is through the art of speech.

Speech, in a novel, is key to subliminally getting across to the reader what you, the author, are thinking about whilst writing the novel. You can personalize speech to make it fit your character, who could, in turn, be based on you, and thus compelling the reader to indulge in YOUR thoughts and ideas, and not that of the character alone.

For example, when it comes to narrative, you generally have to write using proper English. This is standard across the board really, after all, it needs to be easily understood. However, with speech, you can bring in accents, dialect, made up words, “in-joke” words, whatever you want really.

As a narrative, “She held on to the street light for dear life as the tank rolled through the quiet town” sounds quite, well, boring really, doesn’t it?

However, if you transfer that to speech, you can put it across whichever way you fancy. Whichever way suits you, as well as the character.

“Well I was walkin’ ‘cross the street an’ this bloody massive tank was thunderin’ towards me! So I held ont’ the street light and, lordy lordy, I could feel the ground ‘neath my feet shakin’!”

It just makes it more… personal, more interesting to read. Some would say that the former is better because you can add imagery to it. Flickering street lights and quivering pavements are fantastic, but when I personally read the two together, the first-person spoken description is much more visually pleasing when you imagine the scene in your mind.

NEVER underestimate the power of speech in your novel. A novel with too much speech is destined for disaster, this is true. But likewise, a novel with far too much narrative will bore your reader into a mid-afternoon nap if you’re not careful.

Finding the right balance is key to creating an enthralling novel. But try not to convey all of your imagery through narrative. Speech can be one of the most powerful visualising tools available to an author, so use it wisely!

If you’d like to read my blog, you can do so here -> http://procrastinauthor.blogspot.com/ J

And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck!

Panda

xxx

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I know I already posted today but there’s something that I wanted to mention real quick.  I’ve had quite a few guest bloggers in the past, so I’m opening my blog back up to anyone who wants to do a guest post on here. The rules are fairly simple:

  • Posts must be about either writing, writing advice, or maybe a book that inspired you. You are also allowed to do a book review if you wish.
  • If you have a book that just came out, you can blog about it here. I’ll allow that haha
  • Please keep your content PG (or PG 13).

Basically, you can talk about anything writing or literature related. This is a blog for writers so that’s how I like to keep things. It can be funny or serious. That’s up to you.  If you’re interested, please e-mail me at thestoryinme@gmail.com and we’ll set up a date!  Oh, and I’ll return the favor and write up a guest post for your blog if you want. I love doing guest posts. 🙂

Doing guest posts here is a great way to meet new bloggers and promote your own work and blog. I’m willing to work with anyone if scheduling is a conflict.

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I’ve been writing stories since I was five years old. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Of course, when I was a kid, those stories were always pretty innocent. I wrote about family, animals, etc. One time, I even wrote a story about dinosaurs taking over my school and my friend, Monica, had to save the day.  When I got into high school, that’s when my stories became a bit more dark. I wrote about troubled teens and family issues.

Basically, my stories involved people. I liked to focus my stories on the inner struggles of people and society… maybe a part of society some may not understand.  They involved people struggling with addiction, mental illness, dark secrets they couldn’t tell anyone. I felt that where I needed to be in the literary world.

Until last year, when I realized I had another story to tell……. and it didn’t fit where I thought I was needed.

I had to write a story about zombies.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile (or on twitter..) you already know about my love for the zombie culture.  I’m a huge fan of zombie flicks and novels. So, of course, when I thought of my current zombie apocalyptic novel, I had to stop what I was doing and start working on it.  And you know what? I think I really found my genre.

I never really thought I’d feel comfortable writing horror/paranormal literature. I loved to read it but I wasn’t sure I could write it. But, since working on my book, I feel like that’s my place. I feel more comfortable there amongst the creepy stuff and the zombies feasting on people (morbid? Probably..) . It’s almost like I was meant to be there.

Of course my book deals with the struggles of my main characters as they make choices and keep secrets. It’s not all about annihilating zombies. That’s just the fun part haha.

You should always write what you want to even if you think people you know maybe won’t like it. I live in a very conservative area who believe zombies are crap and they don’t want to read about it. They think I’m weird for what I want to write because it’s not what they like. Who cares? For every person who doesn’t want to read your book, there will be another one who does.

If you have a story that keeps invading your head, you should write it. Even if it’s out of what you think your genre is, write it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because you never know the story you could come up with.

I mean, look at me. I went from writing about my favorite pet when I was five years old to now writing about a zombie apocalypse. I bet my family didn’t see that one coming…. 🙂  I’m full of surprises.

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