JulNoWriMo on the Road!

I have to start off by saying that I met my JulNoWriMo revised goal to get my historical romance up to 50k words.

How I got there is a convoluted comedy of errors.

The hubs and I just got home yesterday from a week and a half long vacation around New England, and since I anticipated having a nine-hour drive on the first travel day, I figured I’d get a lot of writing done. I’d managed to get myself up to about 42k words by Tuesday evening, and figured that with all that “captive audience” time, I’d have my work done before we ever reached Bar Harbor, Maine, and I could spend the rest of vacation enjoying the fact that a) I was on vacation, and b) I had met my goal.

This was not meant to be, however. My husband had an A/C inverter that was about ten years old. (Side note for those of you who don’t know what an inverter is, it’s this little gizmo that you plug into the charging outlet in your car (or cigarette lighter if your vehicle is that old), and the D/C power from your car’s battery is inverted into A/C power for any electronic gadget you wish to plug in). We’d used it before, but admittedly it’d been a while. I started off trying to work off my netbook’s batter, but because of the power save features the screen was too dim to see thanks to the glare of sunlight. So I set up the inverter, got my A/C power and brighter screen going, and went to town.

Only to discover in short order that, for whatever reason, the inverter was toast. It shorted out the fuse for that outlet. We tried it on another, wondering if it was just that outlet and we knew the other one worked. Shorted that one out too. So we had to make an unscheduled stop at the Walmart in Montpelier, Vermont, to buy new fuses.

Which turned out to be the wrong size. So we had to go to Autozone, and thankfully they had the right fuses, and my husband had to become a contortionist in order to get the fuses changed. Because I drive a Honda, and Honda doesn’t make anything like this easy.  He also bought a new inverter, which did not short anything out, and I was able to get myself within 4k of my goal before it was my turn to drive.

We camped in Maine, so there wasn’t much opportunity to do any writing. Plus, you know, there was all the hiking and whale watching and eating lobster. (Excuse me. Lobstah. Gotta say it right to sound like a “Bah Hah-bah” native.) However, we had a five hour drive or so to Newport, Rhode Island on Monday, so I hammered out about 3300 words. Only 700 to the finish line! But again, no time for writing in Newport. Too busy sight seeing and checking out Gilded Age mansions and carousing the length of the Cliff Walk.

Our last official stop on the trip was New Haven, Connecticut, and I told the hubs I HAD to get those last 700 words done. So once we got back to the hotel after dinner, he putzed around on the first “real” internet connection we’d had in almost a week while I went to town. And I blew that word count out of the water.

So I’m left with about 30k to finish before the end of the summer, and then I’ll let the inner editor out of her box. In the meantime…

JulNoWriMo goal met!

success baby

Revamping My JulNoWriMo Goal

I set the bar rather high for myself this year when it came to planning for JulNoWriMo. Last summer’s attempt spawned about a third of my chick lit romance, and that was without any prior thought or outlining. Not so this year. Not only did I already have about 15k words on the historical romance (HR) I wanted to tackle, but I sat down and wrote a whopping 15 page extended synopsis so I knew (in a general way) precisely what would happen in the story.

My goal was to complete the HR in around 80,000 words, give or take 5k or so. I felt very ready to begin. I had the kernels of the story ready to go, I had about three chapters already done – though they needed some heavy editing before moving on. I even had the confidence that I’d be able to finish early.

Joke’s on me.

I’ve been plugging along pretty steadily, but as often happens, life keeps encroaching on my writing time. I had started to panic, but decided instead to just modify my goals. After all, it’s not like the world will end if I don’t finish the whole MS by July 31st. The whole point of JulNoWriMo and other such writing challenges is to make you sit your butt in the chair and write.

Right now I’m sitting on about 34k words. Not too shabby, really. Not as impressive considering that I started with a little less than half of that. But I’ve written almost 20k in three weeks. Mostly during the week and not utilizing the weekends much at all (I do still want to have a life). I’m not going to magically pull another 46,000 words out of thin air by the end of the month unless something rather drastic happens. Which could, but I’m not counting on it.

So here’s my new plan. I’m going to do my best to get to 50k. If I surpass it, great. If not, at least I have about 2/3 of the MS done. Shabbily in places, in desperate need of revision. But on paper. Or silicon or whatever my hard drive is made of. I had originally planned to finish the HR by the end of August, so I think modifying what I do for JulNoWriMo will put me in a more than adequate position to finish by then.

I can hear some of you right now, see you shaking your fingers at me. “But you set a goal for July! You should be pulling all nighters to meet it!”

Well, I’m not in college anymore, and my energy tanks by about 9:30 at night. Nobody’s keeping score.  I’m still keeping my inner editor locked in a box. And honestly, easing up on the pressure is probably better for me and the MS in the end anyway.

Adventures in Historic Sewing – Embarkation!

You may recall that at the end of my post about the War of 1812/Jane Austen Weekend at the Genesee Country Village Museum, I said that I was rather tempted to get into historical sewing. Or something to that effect.

Well…

Historical Sewing Patterns

Historic Patterns Ahoy!

I know what some of you are thinking. Aren’t you supposed to be writing? The answer is, yes, and I am writing. I’m about a third of the way through my historical romance (hush hush on the details of that for now!). Unfortunately, it’s slow going at present; I’m hoping to have some major breakthroughs over the next week in which I hammer out 5k+ words a day in order to reach my deadline. I’m not into the work count deficit too deeply – yet. And so far I’ve been able to keep my inner editor locked in a box and away from my first draft.

So, I admit it – the last thing I need is to take on another project of any kind. Between my JulNoWriMo goals, managing general stuff around the house, prepping for a move to a new grade level, and ten thousand other things I should be doing… Yeah, getting into historical sewing seems an odd choice.

I’m still doing it.

The final bit of motivation comes from the fact that I’m starting to volunteer at Fort Ontario, which, at various points, holds events for the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the standard, day to day depiction of the Fort as it was in 1868 (specifically). It would be awesome to have outfits for each era to wear for special events (or to be the most awesome, interactive tour guide ever.)

Of course, the trick is that I have to teach myself how to sew first. Hence the handy little blue book, The Lady’s Guide to Plain Sewing I from Kannik’s Korner, which has lots of nicely illustrated explanations for how to do proper basic hand stitches and so on. I bought a fabric quarter at Joann Fabrics, which I plan to use with light colored thread to practice (so I can see what I’m doing).

Beyond that, once I have the basic stitching down, I plan to make a couple Regency/Federal era items: a shift, corded stays, and a gown. I figure Regency is a good time period to begin with, since it’s a lot of straight lines and, compared to other fashion eras, doesn’t call for tons of fancy embellishment. And, since it’s a fashion era that predates machine sewing, the fact that I neither own nor have ready access to a sewing machine (not that I remember my 7th grade home-ec lessons on how to use one) is sort of a bonus. Since you all know how I am about historical accuracy and all…

The shift (I’ll be using Kannik’s Korner Woman’s Shift 1790-1820) is going to be my first project. Best to start from the inside out, right? Plus, it’s basically a lot of rectangles and is really simple.

From there I’ll move on to a set of corded stays, using Past Patterns #001. I realize that these particular corded stays are dated a bit outside the Regency era, but I’ve found several sources (and historic fashion bloggers) that site these as period appropriate. I expect this to be the most complicated of the three projects I’m undertaking, just because of the amount of cording. And I’ll either have to find appropriately sized busk and back stays to purchase, or use the included directions to make them myself (or beg the hubs to make them for me, pretty please with sugar on top).

Last, I’ll make a gown using this basic Sense & Sensibility 1804-1812 pattern. I haven’t done any real planning on this at all, other than the idea of using detachable sleeves to make the gown more versatile. We’ll see what happens.

So that’s it in a nutshell! The historical sewing ship is ready to sail – anchors away!

July National Novel Writing Month

Happy July!  I am currently thrilled for the following reasons:

  1. I am officially done with everything school related until August 16th (other than going in to check my mail and water my plants). 
  2. A friend of mine from high school has asked me to make pies and Italian cookies for her wedding in August, which is going to keep me rather busy (but I have a plan!).
  3. Last night I finished revising and editing the first half of my manuscript, thus completing a draft of what must be the first book (of two).  More on that another time.
  4. At the end of the month, the hubs and I will be heading to Gettysburg to do some serious feeding of my inner history geek.
  5. Did I mention I’m on summer vacation?
Well, turns out I have another reason to be excited, especially now that I’ve finished that huge chunk of R&E and can take a smallish break from my “darling”.
You’ve all heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), right?  You should have – I posted about it in November.  You know, it’s the month when you go crazy and try to hammer out a 50k novel in 30 days?  Yeah, that’s NaNoWriMo.
Well, did you know there’s a July version of it?  JulNoWriMo!
Yes, July Novel Writing Month is upon us.  The “contest” identifies itself as being “just like NaNoWriMo – only hotter.”  Because it’s July.  And in the northern hemisphere at least, that’s summer.  Which is usually hotter than November.
Unless you live in the tropics.
There are a few small differences.  First of all, you get 31 days to write instead of only 30.  Hey, that one day could make or break someone’s word count!  Second, the website is little more than its forums.  There are some resource pages, but overall, it’s a community website, and other than the spot in your profile to update your word count (and you’re on the honor system, by the way) and story summary, there isn’t a place to “share” anything about your book (at least not that I’ve seen yet).  For NaNo, you can give a lot more info about your book, including an excerpt, and the whole website is, well, more than its forums.
The biggest difference is that NaNoWriMo (the November WriMo) specifically states in its “rules” that you cannot write one word of narrative before November 1st.  You can outline, you can plot, you can draw pictures of your characters screaming in terror at the prospect of literary mayhem without your inner editor to hold the reins.  But for the July WriMo, the rules are a little relaxed on that score.  I quote from the “About” page:
Does [my novel] have to be a new novel, or can I continue my other novel? – As far as we’re concerned, this shouldn’t matter. If you want to finish a novel you’re already working on, great! Just write 50,000 more words.”
Now I personally think it would still be cheating if you pulled out a novel-in-progress that’s already at the 45k word mark and declare after a week, “I’m done!”  That defeats the purpose.  But if you have, say, only 2k words written, I guess you could theoretically start with that and not be breaking the rules.  Especially if you do some revising of that first two thousand words.
As with NaNo, JulNoWriMo has no prizes for completing your novel, other than the self-satisfaction of, well completing your novel.  But here’s why I’m particularly excited about this.
See, I’ve had this story idea brewing since, oh, 2005, and other than a hastily scribbled chapter in a notebook, done on vacation that summer, I’ve never done anything with it.  A couple weeks ago, I resurrected the chapter and played around a bit.  Since this little work in progress is still nascent, I could be persuaded that I am breaking no rules by using this story.
Here’s my plan, people.
I’m going to use JulNoWriMo to hammer out this new little darling.  Thanks to my handy-dandy writing software, which allows me to project a desired word count and then figures daily averages and whatnot, I need to write approximately 1500 words a day to finish by July 31st.  Then – watch out, novel contests and agents and small publishers!  I might just send that baby your way!
Can I do it?  No idea.  But it will give me a break from my “big baby” for a while.