Nanowrimo time and suggestions for success

Ever want to write a novel? Next month is an excellent chance to give it a try. November is Novel Writing Month, better known to one and all as nanowrimo. The great thing about nanowrimo is that you won’t be alone. Thousands will be doing it. And for the experienced, there something extra. Nanowrimo gives you have permission to write in a genre you don’t normally write, So why not join in? Here’s the link where you can sign up.

And now that you have signed up, I have some suggestions to make your experience a successful one. You see, I’ve participated six times. Twice I managed to end up with a story from each of two of the novels: Baseball and “The Funeral“. And one of them still needs editing before it can be published. So here are my suggestions:

1.Preparing in October. Let your loved ones know you won’t be available during your novel-writing time. Find a convenient spot where you can write during November. Figure what tools you will need: pens, pencils, computer, software, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. Then have them available November 1. Come up with an idea of what you want to write. Who the characters might be. What situations they are in. You don’t have to plot out your story but have enough to hit the ground running on November 1.

2.Remember the novel you are writing is a first draft. All first drafts are crap. Don’t spend any time trying to pretty up this one until December.

3.Don’t use software you are unfamiliar with. You’ll either end up learning software-ology during your writing time. Or you’ll give up frustrated. Not because your novel isn’t going well but because the software is out to get you.

4.Don’t wait till your writing time to figure out what you’re going to write about for the day. Spend a few minutes the night before, deciding that, or when you finish your day’s writing. Then you can hit the ground running instead of loosing some of your writing time planning.

5.Your writing time is for writing, not research. Mark where you need to research, then move on. You can either do the research later that day or after the novel is completed.

6.Treat yourself along the way. When you have reached your first week’s word goal, do something nice for yourself. You’ve done good and you deserve a pat on the back.

So let’s raise a glass to all those who go on the journey. It’s going to be one heck of an adventure.


haiku for the day: parents

Life can be confusing when we’re growing up. You go to your father and ask if you can do something. Your dad says, “Go ask your mother.” You go see Mom and ask for her approval. She throws a curve back at you. “Go ask your father.” After three or four rounds of this back and forth, we come up totally confused. And that’s the whole purpose of the exercise. Neither parent has the courage to tell you no. So their solution is to refer you back to the other when you ask. Now you would think that they are doing this little drill spontaneously. But not really. As they used to say in the movies, “It’s a communist plot.” Since Day-One of your little life, they have this drill planned. In fact, they practiced it while you were still in the womb. 

a mother says look
a father says go, so we
go without looking

The Wednesday Afternoon Club

The four women met once a month on the first Wednesday for ten years. They sat in a circle on the wooden floor in a little shack by a lake. It was quiet outside, only the lapping of the water. A few birds sang their hearts out, celebrating spring. They were talking about their husbands. Or at least one husband. Dora’s.

“Let’s just get it over with,” Alice said.

“Now hold on,” Dora came back. “We don’t want to rush this. We have to be careful not to make a mistake.”

Each of the four women wore black. Black shoes, black pants, black blouse. And no jewelry.

“I hate this,” Maxi said.

“We all hate this,” Carol said.

“Yes,” Alice said. “We all hate this. But we have to do it. It’s what we do. So let’s get on with it.”

The others agreed. Each time the four met, they picked a husband to do a murder on. It was a game that ran all the way back to the first time they met. It would be more fun than just gossiping.

They never actually did the murder. Something always came up. Maxi might say, “It was Tuesday, and you know how Tuesdays are.” The others would shake their heads in agreement.

Or Carol might say, “I planned it for Friday and he brought me a dozen roses. How could I kill him on a day he brought me roses?”

The excuses were just as infinite as were the methods used for the crime.

“Are we sure Dora will do it this time?” Maxi was the oldest. Her hair was gray, almost white. She looked over at Alice.

“I was there when the police came,” Dora said, affirming what the other three already knew.

“Yes,” Maxi offered. “I saw them take Mrs. Sullivan away in the police car.”

“But it really wasn’t her fault,” Dora continued. “Her husband drove her to it.”

“Good riddance, I say,” Carol pointed out the obvious.

“The only question is how do we do it.” Maxi straightened her pants. “We know who. We just don’t know how.”

Usually the who was obvious. It was always the what. They had to do it without getting caught. Sometimes that was hard. Very hard.

Late in the afternoon, Dora walked through her front door. There was Jack with his head buried in the newspaper.

“Hello, Dear,” he said without looking up.

Dora leaned over and kissed the top of Jack’s head.

“Did you have a good time?” he mumbled, absent-mindedly reading his paper.

“Yes, Dear.” Dora sat down across from her husband. She slipped off her shoes. “We did. We discussed how I was going to murder you. We decided poison would be best.”

“That’s nice. What’s for supper?”

Uncle Bardie’s Tips to a Blogging Affair

This is my 299th post here at Uncle Bardie’s Stories & Such. I have been at this blogging gig for over two years. I have now gathered almost, but not quite, 500 email and WordPress followers. With this in mind, I thought I would do something a little different. A once-in-a-blog kind of thing. Something I don’t usually do. Give out some blogging tips as to what I believe works for moi. I certainly am no ‘pert in the blogging universe but maybe they will be helpful to newbies. So away we go.

1. SCHEDULING. Recently I was down and out with the flu. I could barely crawl out of the old bedsky. It was a comfort to know that I had my posts covered. The WordPress software provides a scheduling tool I have used from the beginning. I am usually three or four weeks ahead with my posts.

This sounds like my posts might grow stale. But they don’t. At least, I hope they don’t. I re-read each a night or two before it goes live. If I am not happy with the post, I can pull it and substitute another.

2.CONSISTENCY. From the beginning of this blog, I made a commitment to post at the same times on the same days each week. From time to time, I re-evaluate this, asking myself if I am doing too many posts or not enough.

Before I do a Follow, I check the consistency of the posts. If the postings are erratic, I usually don’t Follow, even though I might like her blog a lot.

3.VARIETY. I try to give my Readers some variety. If I post a musician for my Friday’s Creator Corner, it will be a while before I post another. If I have post a piece of satire one Sunday, it may be several weeks before another satire appears. This brings an element of surprise to my Readers. And sends the message that you might not like this one but just you wait.

4.THE ABOUT PAGE. I love the Elwood line in “The Blues Brothers”: “We’re on a mission from God.” Uncle Bardie may not be on a mission from God. (Then again, he may be.) But he does have a mission statement for his blog. That can be found on his ABOUT page. Too often bloggers, especially newbies, ignore this most important tool, the About page.

Ideally an About page will have a picture of the blogger or an avatar. This lets the reader know there is a human being posting. In 500 words or less, The About page will state the theme of the blog. It should also include credentials if the blogger offers expert advice.

5.PLANNING. Before I began posting, I gave some thought to the nature of this blog. I thought a lot about the who, what, where, why, when and how of blogging. During that time, I came up with a pretty good definition of what a blog is. My blog is my letter to the universe. Each time I have added a new feature, such as the Monday “Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week”, I ask, “Is this something that I can get excited about> Is this something my Readers will enjoy?” If I get a yes on both, then it’s a thumbs up.

6.FOLLOWERS. I treasure my followers. I read every comment and acknowledge each comment. When a fellow blogger first follows, I check out their WordPress blog if they have one. If there is an About page, I thank them for the trouble they have gone to.

There is one exception to this. Marketing networks or those trying to build a marketing network. I do not care much for your follow. I don’t use my followers and I don’t appreciate being used. If this is your mission, stay away. I don’t need you.

7.COMMUNITY. Not everybody gets Uncle Bardie nor appreciates his awesomeness. That’s okay. A lot of blogs out there are not my cup of tea either.

I do enjoy the tit-for-tatting back-and-forthness I have with my Readers and with those I follow. I love the comments and the praise. Constructive criticism is welcome. Unlike his Donaldness, Uncle Bardie is humble, always striving to get better but not perfect. Perfectionism is a self-defeating proposition.

Most weeks I spend three of four hours reading the posts of others. And I find there are so many great blogs out there. Time only makes me limit those I follow.

I have found that blogging, and reading the blogs of others, is the best of all social media. Bloggers are a real community. Unlike Facebook, they are not posting the latest meme or repeating the same thing for the 3,013th time how much they love what they love. They are creating content that is very personal. You don’t spend hour after hour thinking about your next blog and not care. And also take risks and be just a little bit vulnerable. In a post, the real you, and me, are revealed. Unlike Twitter, we get enough words to have a real conversation. For me, that’s the best.

8.DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY. In other words, don’t worry about growing followers. Plant your garden. Weed it. Water it and nourish it. Provide good content. As they say in the movies, “If you build it, they will come.” If they come, they come. If they don’t, they don’t. It’s outside our control like the weather. But if you make your establishment a hospitable place, I am sure they will come.

I hope these handy/dandy tips have been helpful. Good luck and happy blogging.

Any special tips you have for blogging?