Category Archives: Writing

Another NaNoWriMo Triumph!

This just in from M. D.: she’s completed the NaNoWriMo challenge for another year! I’m very proud of her. She tells me that her work-in-progress, tentatively entitled Noth’Nor, can be loosely called a space western, simply because the story happens on a ranch on another planet. After some doubts about whether she would continue playing with it after November, she told me that she probably will for the simple reason that she hates leaving stuff lying around, half alive…

However, when she started telling me about the story, I decided I had my doubts about whether this is an appropriate branching of her writing.

Well, first of all, it’s not really a space western. Sure, it happens on a ranch, but you’re talking sabotage and attempted murder rather than an oater, and there’s a sprinkling of romance thrown it (oh, pulease …). Not really her style, she says, and I agree. I think she should stick to my case files, at least that stuff really happened, hard as is it to believe. Bad enough she got wrapped up in those cloning stories. That first one, Synergy, maybe could happen; it’s a hundred years in the future. But that other one, the one coming out next year? Clone farms. Huh.

M. D. looks pretty determined to try to finish Noth’Nor, so I’ve decided to keep my trap shut for a while. It’s bad enough Christmas is coming. I don’t want to fight about writing genres on top of it. Too depressing. I’ll just shake her hand and say well done on that NaNo thing and jump her after the new year.

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Destiny’s delayed

Wouldn’t you love being able to say that? Well, unfortunately, I’m not talking of the world’s destiny but of the publication of Meter Destiny, the latest installment in my case files. It just happened that M. D. was talking about it with her publisher Zumaya Otherworlds, and they’ve decided to delay at least 6 months. She says she’s not all that upset since she hasn’t had time to think of promoting the book at all, what with her trip to Rome and NaNoWriMo.

I’m not that upset about it either. It’ll give me more time to sort out my notes on the Kayzar case that I solved last year.

Okay, I had some help from Aldus, Claire, and Fred. But who ended up with the kids in the first place? Yours truly.

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NaNoWriMo — How it’s going

I’ve just had a chat with M. D. about her experience with NaNoWriMo this year. She told me she completed, even exceeded the 50K goal last year and expects to do the same this year. There are some differences, however.

Last year was frenetic, with huge numbers of word every day. She missed only one day of writing, which proved productive but mentally and physically exhausting.

This year, with last year under her belt, she’s more relaxed. You only have to look at her statistics on this blog to see that. The grey parts are the number of words she should have written to meet the daily goal, the green ones what she actually wrote, the red ones the parts she’s missed. So obviously she hasn’t been writing every day.

On the other hand she tells me that she’s having a lot more fun. She now sees the month as a time to completely ignore her internal editor, to try new stories, a new style, a new tone. If turns out she doesn’t do anything with the 50K? She doesn’t care. She’ll have learned a lot in that month. Here are some of the things she says she learned:

  1. For a first draft, turn off the internal editor (IE); that means use as many of the things you’re not supposed to use such as adjectives, adverbs, flowery or melodramatic expressions and, horror of horrors, clichés.
  2. Try something stylish. In this case, she’s dumping her two favorite punctuation marks: the comma and the dash. She noticed that she uses them heavily and this time is trying to write without them as much as possible. It completely changes the style of the writing.
  3. Think outside your own box. M. D. has been working on my Case Files, of course, and has also written a more serious novel, Synergy, but this time she’s writing a story about farming on another planet, with murder, sabotage, and romance sprinkled in. Since she’s turned off her IE, she doesn’t tell herself she’s not good at it. She just writes, chuckles, and moves on.
  4. You can’t go back. She’s had to resist going back to read the story. Sure, she’s taking notes on what happened so she can jog her own memory, but she’s not reading what she wrote. If she did that, that damn IE would sprout again (it only takes a few drops of revising to do so). Can’t do that. Once the story is done, it’ll be time to reminisce and correct the past.

There were other things I wanted to ask but M. D. was in a rush to go back to her writing so I let her go. Besides, I have a new client coming in and I’m looking forward to telling him to get lost.

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NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of the year and my collaborator, M. D. Benoit, is doing National Novel Writing Month. To succeed, she must write a 50,000 word novel in one month. So what? I told her. Okay, she says. Think about writing a 200 page novel in one month. And think that less than 10% finish in that month. Ha.

Last year she finished, and went on to complete the novel. Of course, it was easy for her since she used one of my case files, the one where I get stuck with a child. At least I thought it was a child.

This year I told her “you’re on your own, kid” so she’s writing some kind of space western that involves land-grab, murder, and a genetically enhanced kid. Where did she get that, I ask you?

Anyway, just to show I’m a nice guy, I said I’d post her progress on my blog, and maybe an excerpt or two. I don’t have much time, since I’m hard at work solving a crime, but hey, anything to help a poor writer.

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On writing Horror AND Children’s tales

Author Mayra Calvani is launching two very different books this Fall: Dark Lullaby, a Horror story about merging reality and illusion and an unborn child, and The Magic Violin, a children’s story about self-esteem and magic.

Huh, you’ll say. Horror and children’s stories. How can they be compatible? In this guest spot, a new feature of this blog I’ve decided to start, Mayra Calvani gives us her take on writing both… and not confusing them together. Here’s what Mayra had to say:

A lot of people ask me how I can write chilling horror and sweet children’s picture books at the same time. Somehow they cannot imagine a writer doing that, switching from two absolutely different modes and wandering in such dissimilar imaginary worlds at the touch of a mouse. That question flatters me to some extend, but it also makes me wonder… am I weird? Is there something wrong with me? Do I have split personalities? I hope not!

Nah, I’m just a multi-genre, multi-faceted person who is inspired by many things and who feels the need to bring those ideas to life. I don’t think I could ever write in only one genre, as many authors are able to. For me, it would feel claustrophobic! I simply write what I love and I love paranormal, suspense, satire, mystery, modern fantasy, literary, romantic comedy, picture books, tween and young adult fiction, and even nonfiction. Each genre transports me into a marvelous, different dreamland where everything is possible and where I set the rules—except, of course, when my characters take over, as sometimes they seem to think they have control over me.

darklullaby.jpgI can write a scary story in the morning, have lunch, then work on a sweet picture book in the afternoon. It’s like switching modes and happens pretty much automatically, though my mood changes as well. Of course, although the actual writing process is the same for all fiction (after all, it doesn’t matter what you write, it all must contain a good plot and flow, compelling characters, sparkling dialogue, etc.), the actual ‘atmospheric’ aids I use for writing change. For instance, I like to listen to haunting, mysterious music when I write horror and paranormal suspense. tmvcvr-3×100.jpgDuring the writing of latest horror novel, Dark Lullaby, I spent months listening to the music score of the movie The Village. On occasions I even lit candelabra on my desk. It goes without saying that I would never do this while writing a picture book! During the writing and editing of The Doll Violinist and The Magic Violin, both children’s picture books, I selected soul-filling, sublime violin music.

In the end, there is that absolute need to put those thoughts to paper, to convert those ideas to the ‘reality’ of my fictional world, yes, to bring those dreams to life until they become so real, I find myself thinking about the story and conversing with the characters day and night—no matter the genre. This is the way creativity works.

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. For her horror and paranormal suspense novels, visit www.MayraCalvani.com. For her children’s books, visit www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com.

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