This Week: What I’m Reading and What I’m NOT Writing

Inspired by the New Hampshire Writer’s Network Live to Write – Write to Live blog, I’ve decided to start my own regular posts about what I’m currently reading in books, audiobooks and blogs, and what I’m working on in my writing. I hope to make this a regular (weekly or biweekly) feature on the blog.

I hope you’ll share what interesting things you’re reading and writing in the comments, and please feel free to link back to your own blog!

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What I’m ReadingThe Mermaid Collector

I went to the library this week without anything in particular in mind, and come across “The Mermaid Collector” by Erika Marks. I was drawn in by the premise of the book about the legend of the Mermaid Mutiny in 1888, when a lighthouse keeper left his wife and waded into the ocean with three other men to reunite with their mermaid lovers. I’ve hardly been able to put it down, I’m nearly finished with it!


What I’m NOT Writing

You read that right. I sent off the short story I’ve been working on the past two months or so to my first reader, who is a longtime friend and fellow writer. So although I’m taking a break from that story while it is read and critiqued, my mind isn’t taking a break from it. I’m still thinking about my main character, her life, her story. Which brings me to my favorite quote of the week:

My Favorite Quote of the Week

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”
– Eugene Ionesco

I love that, as writers, our creative minds are always at work, even when we don’t realize it. I don’t need to be at my keyboard with my WIP in front of me to be “working” on it in some way.

Blogs I’m Reading

Drive, Don’t Chase
From the Writer Unboxed blog, Jael McHenry writes about the temptation to chase book trends, and why its important not to simply write something because we think it will sell.

A Life Lesson from my 10 Year Old
I enjoyed this post from Gwen Stephens, the 4a.m. Writer, on remembering why we write.

What about you, what are you reading this week? What are you writing?

This Week: What I’m Reading, What I’m Writing

Inspired by the New Hampshire Writer’s Network Live to Write – Write to Live blog, I’ve decided to start my own regular posts about what I’m currently reading in books, audiobooks and blogs, and what I’m working on in my writing. I hope to make this a regular (weekly or biweekly) feature on the blog.

I hope you’ll share what interesting things you’re reading and writing in the comments, and please feel free to link back to your own blog!

_______________________________________________________________________________
What I’m ReadingThe Namesake

I just started reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. I’ve heard so many positive things about Jhumpa Lahiri since her collection Interpreter of Maladies won her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, among many other awards and honors including the New Yorker Debut of the Year award, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. It earned the highest critical praise for its grace, and compassion in detailing lives transported from India to America. I can’t wait to see what’s in store from this writer.


What I’m Writing

I finished a short story I’ve been working on the past two months or so, about a young newlywed about to have her first child, who is haunted by strange dreams throughout her pregnancy. I spent much of my Sunday working on the third draft, then rushed home from work to finish it Monday night. I’m giving it one last edit and read through before sending it off to my first reader, who is a longtime friend and fellow writer.

My Favorite Quote of the Week

“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”
– Raymond Chandler

Blogs and findings around the Interwebs

Writing and Creating Magic – When Less is MORE
From Kristen Lamb’s blog – one of the most helpful and interesting writing blogs I know.

10 Words You’ve Probably Been Misusing
For the Word Nerd in all of us.

Just for fun, here are 25 Signs You’re Addicted to Books
Book lovers, you’ll be able to relate to this.

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I’ll leave you with this inspiring post shared by Cheryl Strayed, from writer Nancy Peacock on how to get the work done :

I see a lot of books that promise to show you how to write a novel in a weekend, or a week, or a month. You can try it if you want to, but I don’t advise it. Instead, I suggest you relax, recognize that writing a novel is slow food and takes time. I wrote LIFE WITHOUT WATER, my first novel over a period of two years – first draft in a year, and second and third in another year. I recognized the reality of my life and created a schedule around it. I knew if I did not get any writing done before going to work, I wasn’t going to get any done at all. I was simply too tired after a day of house cleaning (my day job at the time) to write coherently. So I scheduled myself to write for one hour every morning before going to work. Just one hour. I also decided – quite randomly – that my novel was going to be 12 chapters long, and that I would complete one chapter a month. For a whole month I could futz with a chapter, edit, revise, and so on – but at the end of the month I had to move on, even if I didn’t feel 100% about it. I gave myself weekends off and five “sick days” a year, meaning if I really was sick, or hungover, or just didn’t feel like it, I could skip it – but only five days in a year. I kept track of it. And it worked out. I still work this way. For me it’s important to do a little editing as I go along, rather than forbid myself to change anything before the end of the first draft. But it’s also important to keep it moving, and not mire down in the swamp of perfection. Above all, be real about your schedule and your time. You will only be disappointed in yourself if you set unrealistic goals. You might think you’re not a writer because you can’t write a novel in a weekend, or a week, or a month. But maybe you just need to get real about it all. It takes time, and there is nothing wrong with doing something that takes time. Go easy on yourself. Be gentle but steady. The rewards of this life are more abundant than you know.

What about you? Did you read anything interesting this week? What are you working on in your writing?

Pittsford Little League: Celebrating 60 Years

Spring is finally in the air and that means baseball season is upon us. Here in Rochester, Little League in Pittsford celebrated its 60th year.

In writing a feature story on the 60th anniversary of Pittsford Little League for Messenger Post Papers, I learned that Little League isn’t just for elementary kids anymore.

I had no idea how many options Little League offers for kids 12 and older. I talked to a senior at Mendon High School who started playing with the league when he was seven years old and continues to play as well as work with the league. Pittsford Little League offers several clinics and camps that not only give kids a chance to play in the off season, but allows the older kids to help the younger players.

In Pittsford, Little League is truly a community effort, from the coaches, parents and volunteers who give their time, to the local businesses who sponsor teams.

My favorite discovery, is that the league strives to be inclusive of regardless of ability and offers the Challenger Division for kids with cognitive and learning disabilities. These are players may have physical limitations and have “buddies,” typically community volunteers or older kids, who help them on the field.

Wherever your home team may be, go out to game, get a hot dog and watch a ball game!

You can read the full article at brightonpittsfordpost.com

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Still swinging after 60 years
As printed in the Brighton-Pittsford Post

You Need My Guy: Bringing Word-of-Mouth to the Web

A few weeks ago, I met Joe Cassara, founder and CEO of a new website YouNeedMyGuy.com.

For my first assignment for Messenger Post Papers, I sat down to talk to Joe about his idea of a website for finding service providers that is more informative than searching directories, or reading unreliable online reviews. You Need My Guy allows users to see who their friends are hiring by linking their social networks. Users simply create an account that links to at least one of their social networks. Then they list the people they love doing business with, using a phone number or email address of their “guy” and write a review. Other users searching the site can see which people within their networks already do business with these vendors and vendors can show prospective clients how they’re connected socially.

You Need My Guy isn’t just for finding contractors. User can search for service providers ranging from plumbers to photographers, from accountants to graphic designers.

Joe told me about quitting his corporate job, taking up consulting work and starting up this website all while raising three kids under the age of four.

Read the full article as printed by Messenger Post Media  here .

Webster native's new website helps find right guy for the jobMessenger Post Media

Webster native’s new website helps find right guy for the job
Messenger Post Media

NaNoWriMo : Not a Win, but not a Failure

I had hoped to start a winning streak. After experiencing the joy, the relief, and the satisfaction of winning NaNoWriMo last year, I was hopeful I could do it two years in a row. But I didn’t even come close.

I started out strong the first week. I was committed to making time for multiple writing sessions to write 1,667 (and often more) words each day. I started to struggle around the 18,000 word mark. I got through the excitement of the first few chapter and found myself unable to determine what happened next. I had a rough idea, I had an overall outline but it wasn’t enough. I had hoped the plot would come to me as I wrote, that I’d be able to write my way through the mushy middle of the story. But I was stuck.

I felt my trouble was that I didn’t know my characters well enough yet. How could I know where the story was going without truly knowing who my characters were at their core? So I started on a blank page and started writing journal-style from the points of view of my different characters. I got a few thousand more words out of that and got to know them a bit better in the process. But I still didn’t know how my characters were getting to where  I saw the story ending. And that’s when I knew I wasn’t going to reach 50,000 words this year. Instead, I made it about halfway to the goal.

Looking back at last year’s Nano, where I broke the rules by writing a work-in-progress rather than starting a new story from scratch, it was much easier to get to those 50,000 words because I was so familiar with my characters and their stories. Those characters have been with me for years, from their humble beginnings in a short story I wrote in a writing workshop years ago. My characters for this year’s Nano are still new to me. They are like new friends I am still getting to know. I haven’t given up on them, or their story. I just need to spend some time with them, and get to know them a little better before I can tell the story.

Participant-180x180-2Though I didn’t “win” NanoWriMo this year, I don’t consider it a failure. NaNo provided the push I needed to experiment with this story that’s been floating around in my imagination for a while.

And it has given me the motivation to treat every month as if it is National Novel Writing Month. While I often find 1,667 words a difficult daily goal to maintain, I will set a more achievable daily word goal for myself. Let the spirit of NaNoWriMo live on!

Congratulations to those who crossed the 50,000 word finish line, and good luck to you in your editing endeavors in December for National Novel Editing Month!

NaNoWriMo Day 18

I’d love to share my successes and how great NaNoWriMo is going but the truth is, I’ve fallen way behind. I’m at the point where I’ve written the first several chapters and now I’m not certain where to go next. I’m running out of steam and seem to only be able to write a few hundred words at a time. I’ve started writing the story out of chronological order for the sake of moving forward.  I’m not even to the halfway point and feeling a bit discouraged at my slow progress.

I’m also struggling with tendonitis and some pretty serious pain in my wrist. I’m trying to rest it and take frequent breaks, but that isn’t helping my word count!

Even though I’m now several thousand words behind the goal and not sure I will catch up by November 30th, I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep pushing though and hope for a second wind.

I’m going to sit down and write every day because after all, that’s what NaNo is really all about. While the goal of NaNo is to reach 50,000 words, the real reward comes in the habit of daily writing and making the time to write when there seems to be none. And why stop after November 30th? It’s my goal to continue writing every day – no excuses.

Words Written Today: 1,748
Total Words Written: 22,520
Words to Go: 27,480
Percent Complete: 45%

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Wrap up

We’re one week in to NaNoWriMo, and it has already had its ups and downs.

I got off to a good start with solid word counts the first few days. When the weekend rolled around, I was determined to use those days to get ahead, and I did, writing nearly 5,000 words over the weekend, bringing me ahead of schedule.

But then, my muse took a day or two off. Blame it on gloomy weather or the lack of daylight after daylight saving time, but I found myself apathetic and unmotivated. I had some pretty dismal word counts for a few days and I went from being ahead to being behind.

After a few lousy days, I think I’m back into the writing groove and got back on track today.

Word count aside, it’s important to keep in mind what we’ve all accomplished so far this month. I have sat down to write every single day for the past week, multiple times a day in fact, even though some of those days I wrote less than 1,100 words which isn’t much by NaNo standards. I’ve been waking up early each morning to write before work, plugging in earphones and tuning out the word to write on my lunchbreak, setting aside time each day to write. And because of that, I have a quarter of a novel written in just one week’s time.

Words Written Today: 2,004
Total Words Written: 13,554
Words to Go: 36,446
Percent Complete: 27%