A NaNoWriMo no-no

The novel I’d planned to write during National Novel Writing Month turned out to be farther along than I’d remembered. I thought I’d only written a few chapters of Learning Curves. I’d planned to abandon what I’d written and start over, writing from distant memory, but I’d actually done about 30,000 words, and that’s too much to ditch. Using previously written text is against the rules.

So instead, I’m working on an idea for which I have a few characters, a vague idea of how it starts and a couple of scenes along the way. In The Accidental Love Song, Broadway star Sara Summers finds herself blacklisted after she breaks off a romance with a powerful producer. In desperation, she flees to Los Angeles to start over. Rock guitarist Jesse Quick must rebuild his band after the lead singer quits. The band barely survived the death of Jesse’s older brother, whom he’d always considered a better guitarist. Sara shows up at a dance audition, only to discover it’s Jesse’s for a rock singer. Jesse goads her into singing and she nails it. The attraction is immediate, but she’d vowed to never mix business with pleasure again. He thinks she’s hot, but his emotions are still bottled up since his brother’s death a decade ago.

My inspiration comes from All That Jazz and A Star is Born (the Kris Kristofferson version). I’d hoped the recently departed Smash might be the TV version of All That Jazz, but I think most of the characters were too nice. Of course, this was network TV, and it has many restraints. Books have much more freedom, especially e-books.

So come November 1, I’ll be starting with a fresh Word template, a fully charged laptop and leftover Halloween candy. Only a few more days to wait.

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I’m joining the party

I have decided to join the National Novel Writing Month this November.

To “win,” a writer must complete at least 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. I’ve had a book I’ve wanted to write for years but never had the time. Now I’m going to MAKE the time.

For this event, I need to turn off the inner editor — difficult, since bad grammar and spelling are like fingernails on a chalkboard. I need to tell myself that the writing doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get done. As many author friends have pointed out, you can’t revise what you haven’t written.

So I plan to blog more frequently to keep the momentum going. I’m shocked that my last post on this blog was in September 2011!

My NaNoWriMo title is Learning Curves. Gaby Milano is a laid-off newspaper writer who now does computer research and office work for a Newport Beach private eye. The PI specializes in sending women undercover to see if a suspected cheating husband will, in fact, cheat. Michael Petersen is a young, successful bank vice president whose handsome face hides a troubled past. When he discovers insider crimes at the bank, he’s forced to flee from security agents and Gaby gets caught in the chase. She’s curvy in a size-0 world, and he has to learn the proper way to treat a lady.

The idea for this story came from an advice-column letter I read several years ago.  I’ll blog about that in the future.

It’s NaNoWriMo minus six days. My fingers are getting itchy.

Try, try again

I have some writing muscles I’m aching to flex. I’m revising my manuscript Tagg, You’re It to enter RWA’s Golden Heart contest. I think I entered the manuscript a few years ago, but the version I enter this year will be much different.

Entering contests is a great way to get a manuscript critiqued. I’ve gotten great advice from published authors. If you make it to the finals of the Golden Heart competition, the judges are New York editors, and many will buy what they read.

I’ve been rewriting the beginning, my weakest part—which as we all know should be the strongest. You’ve got a very short time to snag a reader. My first opening was way too long. The action didn’t really start until page 4, after lots of exposition, and lost the reader. Judge after judge in various contests told me to start the story on page 4. Then I rewrote it to have the action start in the first paragraph. But other judges thought that made my heroine too bitchy and unprofessional. So now I’m changing the premise of the opening. I hope to post it here soon, as my site has been promising for months.

I judge the Golden Heart myself, but in a category far removed from the one I’ll enter. I’ve read some really dreadful manuscripts the past few years, so I’m getting a good idea of what not to do.

The winners of the Golden Heart and the Rita, for published authors, will be announced next summer at RWA’s national convention. The convention will be in Anaheim, so it would be really sweet to win before a hometown crowd.

I can dream.