Monday, October 25, 2010

What to expect when it is your first day in TPR chat...

Imagine you have just participated in The Practice Room unpluggage hour. You found the schedule through that door on the right. You have shown up at the appointed time to post your goals for the hour in Post 1's comments. Post 2  announced the hour as the host sent you off to work in the above mentioned comments. You have spent the hour ignoring your children and emails and given your WIP undivided attention. You were more productive than you usually are, than you ever expected. You are thrilled and then scared as Post 3 appears complete with a live chatbox. This is the most daunting, where you will jump in and join the fun. Comparing notes and getting encouragement.

This is how it will go:

There will be a place to sign in to Chatroll. That is the site that hosts our chats. You can either choose to sign up as a guest (this has been done by many first time users of TPR) or you can pick a user name and password. Either way we will hail you when your name shows up on the side window. "Hi, guest4651!"

Then get ready, because the questions ensue:
How did your time go?
What are you working on?
What genre do you write?
Read any good books lately?
Do you have a blog?
And then we all share URLs.
Finally, if you visit this week, you will be asked: Are you planning to do NaNo (That is NaNoWriMo. See past posts about it here and here.)

Come ad try it out! As usual, you can find the TPR Schedule through the door to the right.

Special Event Notification: We will hold a NaNo Kickoff Chat Party on Sunday night October 31st at 11 pm eastern. Come and hang out with other folks planning to write their little hearts out during the month of November. This will be your chance to feel the calm before the storm. The tumult will begin at midnight the 1st of November!

Also, COMING SOON: A whole new look, both here and at TPR. The makeover is thanks to the great Jon Arntson and his eye for internet fashion - look at his pretty blog here.

Friday, October 22, 2010


 I have recently finished in no particular order...

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff - Read this book for voice! And the prose is beautiful. I love what the reader learns in the end of the book about the beginning(and also about the end).

The Dead-Tossed Waves - Liked this one better than the first in the trilogy.

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick- this is a YA romance page turner, with the flavor of a mystery.

Looking for Alibrandi - The first of Melina Marchetta's books. Good characters. Good romance. Didn't love it as much as her others. I LOOOVED the others.

Everlasting by Angie Frazier -an adventure romance.

Before I fall  by Lauren Oliver - I was so impressed with how she made all characters likable, even mean girls. This book stuck with me.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine - on the short list for the National Book Awards and I totally see why. Told in first person and even as the narrator does not understand, we feel the pain of everyone around her. Well done.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Structure and Discipline: The Beauty of NaNo and TPR

In my other life I am a homemaker. Or is that the other way around, that this life - my writing life - is the other? Regardless of which life you look at, typical structure is lacking. There is not start time or end time, no job descriptions or evaluations, very little in terms of work incentives. The flexibility that comes with that is very attractive; reading time, writing time, kid time, bon bons available at any moment. I love all that. But on a day to day basis I find this lack of structure painful. What's stopping me from getting bon bons at any moment? Better question, what is making me start writing, or clean the house, or force my child do his homework? Although I would never say I hate doing any of those things(I may hate the homework), my brain screams resistance. It would be a heck of a lot easier to just stay in my pajamas and read novels and let my kids do the same. What does any of it matter anyway?

Well, scratch that. The kids matter and so does the husband so I am obliged to do the laundry, and cook the dinner and all the rest. The home work? Well, I have to teach my son discipline, because if I have learned one thing from the lack of structure in my life, it that discipline is the only thing I got going for me as a writer. And it matters that I keep working on this writing thing because I want to get better and eventually succeed at it.

It was from all that pain that TPR has sprung. Not only does it structure my unstructured day into workable amounts of time but at the end of those time periods, I have a cohort with similar goals. We understand each other and know what it takes to get better at this writing thing.

And if you look at it that way, that is also the beauty of NaNo (I spoke of what NaNo is last week. Or go to the horse's mouth to learn about it). I read a post by Michael Stearns at Upstart Crow yesterday suggesting that 1000 words of writing per day is optimal and not NaNo's inflated 1,666 words per day - that is IF I write all 30 of them (but with Thanksgiving in there and my spirit wear volunteer job that is not likely, so I'm aiming for something like 2,500 words per day and taking weekends off). ALTHOUGH I totally agree with him, I WOULD write better if I didn't push so hard.

But here it is NaNo is an extended TPR. As a finite period of time, I can focus entirely(I don't really mean that, life must go on - which incidentally often happens during TPR too) on writing during the month. But before then everything else must get done.

There's the structure that I need. A DEADLINE! We have until November 1st! I will finish that resume, clean a couple closets, write a couple queries, do a little blog re-haul, and make sure those characters are prepared for the deluge soon to come at them. When November comes, I will be writing those words hour by hour in TPR and hoping that you are there to share my discomfort (or triumph! as the case may be). Click through the door on the right to find this week's schedule.

And after November? I guess I will just have to deal with the mess I make when December comes.

What do you need to get done in the next 2 weeks?

Monday, October 11, 2010

In Preparation for Nano: TPR talk

NaNo has been the talk of TPR (The Practice Room) chats of late. NaNoWriMo that is. You know the obscene sounding writer's crusade where people think they can write a whole novel in one month, keeping track of word counts and WINNING when they get to 50,000. And yes, everybody wins when they get to 50,000(I didn't know that). If you want to know more read NaNo in a nutshell page. So it seems a number of us practice roomers are poised for the word counts of November. And today we are just three weeks shy of of the starting gun. 

One of the more satisfying part of my recent revision was when I kept a running tally of words deleted from my manuscript. Each day I watched and thrilled as my word count decreased (odd but true). And, in theory deleting words is easier that writing them, so I am a little stressed about the prospect of all that typing. Thankfully, in the meantime I don't have to type at all, I get to daydream in preparation for the starting gun. I can rake leaves and clean bathrooms while listening to my novel-to-be's playlist. I could collage and find some sort of visual representation that I'd like to capture in words. Or even fill out fun worksheets like this one about plot, and this great new one about characters, or if the spirit seriously moves me snowflake the whole thing.

So do you have NaNo plans? And what do you do to get ready?

And just in case you want to do a few practice sprints during an unplug hour or join us for a chat, find the schedule through the door along the right sidebar!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Do you want to do good AND learn some too?

What - I'm posting again so soon after the last post??! I just have so much information to spread.


SWATI AVASTHI has a blog tour that has ALREADY STARTED. This tour is in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness month. All the days of October she has posts featuring different aspects of her debut novel SPLIT (read my recommendation here). And each comment will earn money towards Family Violence Prevention Fund. I know from personal experience that Swati is a terrific educator and I have already learned reading the first few posts of her tour. Follow her tour, each of your comments earn a dollar towards the cause. In conjunction to the blog tour, there is an AUCTION full of the things a writer loves and wants, all proceeds benefiting the Family Violence Prevention Fund. Know that money raised will go towards ending violence to women and children around the world AND the purchase towards the betterment of your manuscript! ...Reading the things Swati has to say about character and voice cant hurt either!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ignoring Kidlit Bloggers Conference 2010 Does You No Good

It is in my neck of the woods, do you hear? I have been seeing the words brandied about and in past years I have paid a bit of attention feeling jealous as other people go and get to meet their blogger friends in the flesh. But this year I turned a blind eye at blog posts and what not about the event, figuring I don't want to make myself feel bad not being able to travel long distances and all (for expense and time reasons mostly). This year it will take place 5.9 miles from my house at The Loft Literary Center - love that place. And I will submit my check today (a mere $45 pittance in comparison to other conference prices).

Read about the conference here. You can see the list of attendees down the blogs sidebar and find a posting about the schedule (Maggie Stiefvater as keynote) and links to other bloggers' plugs for why you should attend. Just so you know, Minneapolis is beautiful in October! If you go, maybe we could carpool?