One of my favorite kids’ NaNoWriMo outline—she created it out of post it notes. (If a child can do it, you can too!)
An excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic. Because those ideas aren’t going to come to life on their own. Partner up!
November first is around the corner, and you know what that means: NaNoWriMo!!!!!
Long time readers of this blog know I love NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) with the heat of a thousand blazing suns. Even if you don’t wanna be a novelist, it’s worth doing NaNoWriMo at least once because it teaches the oh-so-important lesson of going forth to do crazy creative things that seem impossible. If you can pull a 50,000 word novel draft out of your gut in a month, you can do anything.
Though I’ve been hunkered down in Chez Art and Words for the past three weeks recovering from foot surgery, and even more hunkered down with book deadlines (more on these below), I’d be remiss to let NaNoWriMo commence without giving it a serious shout out. Here are some previous blog posts regarding NaNoWriMo:
In regards to foot surgery and book deadlines, though it’s never fun to have two bones cut and repositioned in one’s foot, the surgery went extremely well. After three weeks of hobbling in a surgical cast, I am now down to one crutch, and able to walk a few steps here and there. (I am extremely grateful to my family and friends for all their help these past weeks.) Yet, in a weird way, the timing couldn’t have been better, though it sucks majorly to be immobile. This enforced hermitude (is that even a word?) enabled me to get a lot of work done revising the Next Novel, for which my agent has set a deadline. In addition, it seems a long-aborning Secret Project will be coming to fruition, though it’s too soon to share anything more.
In the meantime, I’ll be using the month of November in a manner unintended by NaNoWriMo: to revise the Next Novel, which is currently a 100,000 word draft in need of serious editing, and still missing a few scenes. Hey, I’ll take the creative energy wherever I can find it.
See the three little screws? That’s where my bones were moved. Yikes!
Photographed in Brooklyn on the last official day of Proteus Gowanus. Much wonderful art was made there, as well as many wonderful memories.
And the living is … busy.
As you can probably tell from the silence here, there’s been much going on at Chez Art and Words. Quick rundown:
1. I’ve been traveling with my family a fair amount. (Exhibit A, above photo.) Next up: a trip to Italy. I’m excited to reveal to Thea the beauties of Venice for her first time.
2. I also traveled to Denver for this year’s Historical Novel Society conference. It was wonderful, as always. My only disappointment: Between my packed schedule and the hotel location, I didn’t get to explore Denver very much. The last day I ended up climbing to the top of a parking garage to view the Rockies before my departure (Exhibit B, photo below). Ah well!
3. In between packings and unpackings of suitcases and sundries, I finally finished revising the first section of the Next Novel, which is now in my literary agent’s able hands. I am very pleased with how it came together.
4. If that’s not enough busy-ness, I also revised a long aborning Top Sekret nonfiction book proposal, which is also now off my desk and into the world.
5. Plus gardening! Summer is prime time for the Blue House garden, which is small but densely packed with much vegetation and flowers. This year I managed to harvest poppies for the first time. (Exhibit C below. Aren’t they pretty?) No water lilies this year though. Perhaps next year, when I have more energy to battle the raccoons of Brooklyn.
6. I played tourist in my home town. I visited the Hunger Games exhibition in Times Square and Leighton’s Flaming June at the Frick Collection. (Thea and I are big fans of Katniss and Crew, and are counting the days until Mockingjay Part 2 releases.) While at the Frick with my comrade-in-words Heather Webb, I made certain to say hello to the Holbein portraits of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. Both men played important roles during the reign of Henry VIII, and lost their heads during this same reign. Thanks to the wonders of paint and museums, the two Thomases have been restored to glare at each other from across the gallery.
7. Last but decidedly not least, THE LOVER’S PATH has been decidedly launched into the digital world. I am delighted by the reviews, which have been universally glowing. (Don’t have your copy yet? Learn more here.)
So, what’s ahead for me on this warm, breezy day in August? Right now, I’m focused on my upcoming trip to Italy: Italian lessons, household preparation, travel itineraries. Come September, real life will begin anew: back to school for Thea, and back to a regular studio schedule for me. I suspect by then I will be ready for it.
And how about you, dear Reader? How’s your summer going? I hope it is filled with all good things!
As I mentioned Friday, my guest for today’s Creativity Friday post is author Lynn Carthage, author of HAUNTED, a young adult gothic historical novel. My daughter Thea is currently reading it, and thoroughly enjoying it.*
More about HAUNTED:
Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Irving has traded life in San Francisco for her stepfather’s ancestral mansion in rural England. It’s supposed to be the new start her family needs. But from the moment she crosses the threshold into the ancient estate, Phoebe senses something ominous. Then again, she’s a little sensitive lately—not surprising when her parents are oblivious to her, her old life is six thousand miles away, and the only guy around is completely gorgeous but giving her mixed messages.
But at least Miles doesn’t laugh at Phoebe’s growing fears. And she can trust him…maybe. The locals whisper about the manor’s infamous original owner, Madame Arnaud, and tell grim stories of missing children and vengeful spirits. Phoebe is determined to protect her loved ones—especially her little sister, Tabby. But even amidst the manor’s dark shadows, the deepest mysteries may involve Phoebe herself.
As for Lynn, she has a secret—and it’s a good one. Under her real name, Erika Mailman, she’s published two highly praised historical novels for adults; HAUNTED is her first YA novel. I first met Erika at the Historical Novel Society conference in 2013. We instantly hit it off, and have stayed in regular contact since. (The real reason I go to HNS: to meet lovely writers who share my obsessions with women’s history and the gothic. ) When I learned Erika had decided to write for young adults under a nom de plume, I was eager to learn more about the why and how.
Without further ado, here’s Erika’s guest post about her alter ego Lynn, and the differences between writing for the YA and adult historical market. I hope you enjoy it!
Kris, thanks for hosting me today. You invited me to talk about my alter ego, and the difference of writing young adult historical fiction versus adult.
Under my real name, Erika Mailman, I’ve published two historical novels. The first, Woman of Ill Fame (Heyday Books 2007), is a historical thriller featuring an unapologetic Gold Rush prostitute narrator. You can right away see why I had to choose another name for publishing young adult fiction; I didn’t want teens to read HAUNTED, google me, and find that book.
Call me innocent, but I think kids grow up so fast these days…they have a lifetime of being sexual, so I wanted to provide a firm line between my adult fiction and my young adult fiction.
My second novel, Witch’s Trinity (Crown, 2007), is probably appropriate for a teen audience, but I can’t send readers there without them also seeing the “shameless hussy” book LOL. It’s about a medieval woman accused of witchcraft by her own daughter-in-law, at a time when women faced burning at the stake.
Which brings me back to HAUNTED, the young adult novel that came out from Kensington in February. I love historical fiction, and although the book features a contemporary setting in England, the mansion where the story takes place has a foreboding history and a connection to the palace of Versailles.
In fact, Book 2 of the series, which hits in February 2016, is set almost entirely in Paris and Versailles, and features timeslipping back to days when there was still a monarchy in place.
It’s been fun to merge historical with contemporary, with my heroine Phoebe Irving wandering the halls of the 1700s Arnaud Manor in England and over time learning tidbits about its history. I know a lot of readers enjoy historical fiction, but this sort of tactic may be more accessible. Phoebe has a modern perspective and can be an effective filter for the events of the past.
As to the differences in writing for teens versus adults: yes, I’ve had to take some language out of HAUNTED. For instance, a character named Miles exclaims, “No shit!” and I was encouraged to take that out. I did, because some big-box stores won’t carry books with that language, and to maximize my potential to someday have the book be carried there, I elected to listen to my editor’s sage advice.
I’m also keeping the romance between Miles and Phoebe lingering and drawn out … half the fun is in the suspense, right? And of course we have to have some complications that keep them swinging back and forth, towards and away from each other.
Finally, for those who are older, there’s been all kinds of data suggesting older people read YA fiction, with middle-aged women showing up as a high population readership. And I’ve had men email me praise for HAUNTED; will it help that Book 2 is narrated by Miles, a male?
If you enjoy a good ghost story, a dark and forbidding English manor setting, and characters who valiantly fight to protect their siblings, you might want to give HAUNTED a try.
Thanks for hosting me today, Kris!
My pleasure, Lynn-Erika—and thanks for a wonderful post! You can learn more, read an excerpt, or purchase HAUNTED here.
* Review coming soon!