HS English FAIL: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 18

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 2,011

Today’s blog count: 19

Total words written: 31,534

Total blog posts: 19

 

I recently volunteered to be a judge for a high school essay contest. The test was for high school juniors and involved an imaginary gift of hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent on the world crisis the writer deemed fit. The writer basically had to explain what he or she would spend the money on, how they would spend it, and why spend it on their choice. Entrants were graded on a scale of 1-5 (1 being the worst) in five areas, including  ability to address the topic, grammar, and clarity of thought.

Of the twelve essays I was assigned to review, I only deemed two worthy enough to pass to the final round.

Two.

While reading the essays, I felt like I was served a healthy portion of “Who taught you?”, with side orders of “WTF” and “do better”. Since when did the basic components of writing an essay fall by the wayside, especially given that people are still being funneled into college as a post-graduate goal? Not only were there grammatical errors, but there was a distinct lack of ability in forming coherent thoughts and putting them down on paper. Not to mention, a seeming dearth of following directions (some wrote the essay the way they wanted to, and not how the contest requested it be written). Mind you, I’m all for freedom of expression and creativity but when you’re trying to win a contest, it’s usually best to do as instructed.

I understand that what I learned in my AP English classes almost 25 years ago was vastly different from what schools are teaching today. But come on, now; a few of the essays were written in the same structural style, which indicated to me that their ineptitude was more of a teaching problem.  Which means that these kids are being turned out into the world without a clue of how to really succeed in the fundamentals of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic (does anyone even know what “arithmetic” means anymore?)

I weep for the future.

Sometimes, I think that perhaps I should go back to teaching a creative writing course. But I don’t know if I have the patience to undo the hot messes that are being created in the United States public educational system.  Reading those essays confirmed that I was correct in choosing not to teach high school English. Or maybe I should have braved the hazards of public schools and tried to make a difference, like my beloved high school English teacher did for me (she’s retired now, but we still keep in touch!). What she drilled into my head is why I always got compliments on my writing, even just regular papers and essays. It’s why I landed gigs as a highly regarded book reviewer and contributor to three nonfiction anthologies, and why I now have two solo published books to my credit.

Today’s kids don’t have that. And I pity them.

Everyone, enjoy your writing because it is a privilege to be able to do it, and do it well. Don’t take it for granted.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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The Price/Royalty Struggle: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 17

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,093

Today’s blog count: 18

Total words written: 29,523

Total blog posts: 18

I’m interrupting my normal NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo rants (you can check my stats above–I’m still writing, but I have to get this blog entry in before midnight) to talk about something that had been on my mind today: The price of e-books versus author royalties.

I was checking on a newly released book (ironically, published on Hachette) to see how much the price had increased since it’s pre-sale discount of $6.49 USD (on Google Books). The price had doubled (and yes, I am kicking myself for not purchasing it at the pre-sale price).  Then I found out that an author who wrote one of my favorite series has revisited the protagonist of that series for the first time in over twenty years. He did so by writing a short story, which will be released next week. The price of the short story? $2.69. Mind you, these are all for the e-book versions…NOT the actual, paper book.

:/

Now, I’m all about authors making that paper. I am an author myself, and I stalk my royalty reports like they contained the Lost Scrolls. LOL  But the purpose of an e-book is that it will cost less than the physical book, since the items that go into making a physical book (dust jacket, pretty foil/raised lettering on paperback covers, cost of printing, etc) are not needed.  I find it hard to reach into my pocket to pay almost the same amount for the e-book, as I would for the paper book.

I know that this was one of the main issues in the Amazon/Hachette battle (e-book price fixing), and I get that authors want to get as much as possible. But I don’t agree with the pricing structure. Perhaps I’m too spoiled by Amazon, but it’s also a matter of principle. Indeed, I find it hard to price MY e-books over a certain price point. Not because I don’t think my work is worth it, because it is, but because I know how I would treat such book pricing as a consumer: I’d either wait a year for the price to come down, or buy the used paperback for much less.

My point is this: in the effort to maximize royalties, one runs the risk of alienating your consumer base by overpricing. Especially in this day and age, where there is ALWAYS a lower price to be found on the internet. Not to mention. public libraries are still in vogue. Any business school 101 class will tell you that multiple price points (high, low, and in-between) are most attractive to consumers, because it gives them a choice. And when consumers have a choice, they are more apt to spend money.

Anyway, I see no real solutions to this conundrum. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to say.

Keep chugging along on your books and blogs.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Aside

Moving Right Along: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo Day 16

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 3,176

Today’s blog count: 17

Total words written: 28, 430

Total blog posts: 17

 

Whee! Went on a nice writing tear to push myself a lot closer to the 30,000-word mark. I’m back on target!

It was a nice achievement on an otherwise lazy day. I wrote until I ran out of steam, and now I have to figure out where I want the story to go next. I’m torn between a totally outlandish plot development and a more conservative one. I’ll probably end up going for broke, and going all the way “out there”.

While I categorize the book as a thriller/suspense novel, it does contain some elements of speculative fiction. It’s kind of fun to sit and think of things I’d like to see happen as technology becomes more advanced and more integrated into our society, and write them into existence. Perhaps one day, life will imitate art (but only for some parts of the novel!); for all I know, some of the things I create in this novel are being worked on, as we speak, in some underground, tricked-out laboratory bunker somewhere.

Anyway, time to relax on this rainy evening with a nice ebook, while I keep an eye on some basketball games (gotta get NBA League Pass next season!).  Keep plugging on your books, blogs, or both.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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Still Chillin’: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 14

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 0

Today’s blog count: 15

Total words written: 22,198

Total blog posts: 15

Yep, you guessed it: I’m still on a mini-writing hiatus. I will probably kick myself later on, but right now I’m just enjoying myself.

Plus, NCAA college basketball season started tonight in the United States, so… 🙂

Perhaps it’s best that I am taking this little break. I was approaching a point in my NaNoWriMo novel where I had no idea where I wanted the story to go. These past two days have allowed me to let that conundrum marinate in my head and allow an organic solution, versus one borne of the pressure of reaching my daily word count.

Although I must say, I miss seeing the little graph spikes on my word count tracker inch up every day. 🙂

There are still two weeks left, and I’m almost at 25K, so there is still time for redemption. I’ll get there.

Thanks for stopping by.

Aside

Back in the Saddle: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo Day 15

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 3,056

Today’s blog count: 16

Total words written: 25,254

Total blog posts: 16

 

I got back to the keyboard today for NaNoWriMo, after a two-day hiatus. And I wrote over 3,000 words to reach the 25K-word mark, which means I’m halfway to the 50,000-word goal.  #winning

That rest did me good; I didn’t feel stressed or blocked, and the words just flowed. They flowed so well that now I have a couple of other alternatives for the story, which I hadn’t though of before. Things are about to get even more interesting in my book.

Other than that, I’ve had a fairly peaceful day, full of basketball (my alma mater, Georgetown University, won it’s first game of the season, which was a preseason game against St. Francis in New York. We’ll see how the Hoyas progress during regular conference play.), wine, dissecting characters on the show How To Get Away With Murder and reading. Which reminds me: I need to keep you good people apprised of what I’m reading. I will rectify that anon.  🙂

I hope you all are enjoying your weekends and making progress on your books, or blogs, or both.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Still on E: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 13

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 0

Today’s blog count: 14

Total words written: 22,198

Total blog posts: 14

 

It’s 11:34 p.m. ET and guess what? I have not written one single, solitary word today. And I’m cool with that.

I didn’t even realize it until I looked at the clock. Which is telling, in and of itself.

I guess my mind realized that it needed to rest. After taking my grandmother to her doctor’s appointment, I haven’t done anything significant other than making a large wok full of homemade chicken fried rice (it is GOOD),  reading (Thieves’ Paradise by Eric Jerome Dickey), watching NBA basketball (YEAH, BULLS!), Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. And playing Bejeweled Blitz and Mahjong. And checking the Bleacher Report app. And drinking wine.

And I have enjoyed every minute of it.

I’ll get back on the good foot this weekend but for now, I’m feeling a lot better, mentally. I hope that you all are still persevering with your writing (novel, blog, or both). See you in the hunt.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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Out of Gas: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 12

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,032

Today’s blog count: 13

Total words written: 22,198

Total blog posts: 13

 

I ran out of gas today. I started rather late today after a looooong day of errands and exercise (and NBA basketball!), and didn’t start writing till around 9 pm EST. I started writing during halftime of the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers game, and picked it up during time-outs and the Houston Rockets-Minnesota Timberwolves game (which is being played in Mexico). I wrote more dialogue and more speculative fiction stuff; in fact, this novel is shaping up to overlap between genres. Which will be interesting when it comes time to publish it; I’ll be checking lots of boxes when categorizing it.

Anyway, I only managed 1,032 words today, and I wanted to write my blog post before midnight (in accordance with NaBloPoMo). But, on a positive note, this is my 100th post on this blog. YEAH!

I have to be up early tomorrow, so I’m signing off. I hope all are doing well on their books, or blogs, or both.

Thanks for stopping by.

Aside

Love The One You’re With: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 11

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,819

Today’s blog count: 12

Total words written: 21,166

Total blog posts: 12

I inched closer to the 25K mark with today’s NaNoWriMo entry. YAY! I also had fun letting the story take me in a different place: namely, two of my secondary characters, Robert and Douglas.

Robert and Douglas are a gay married couple who want children. They’ve explored surrogate mothers and adoption, and have issues with both for various personal reasons. Their involvement in the plot stems from these choices (or lack thereof), and their encounter with the physician responsible for so much havoc wreaked was fun to write.

I also enjoyed writing their interaction as they were discussing the alternative that the physician put forth to them. They bantered, discussed, argued, and were affectionate and loving. I have gay, married couples (male and female) among my friends, so I had plenty of experiences from which to draw. Robert and Douglas are somewhat opposites (Robert is an attorney, and is very logical and mindful of the law; while Douglas is a bit more laissez-faire. I haven’t yet figured out what I want his profession to be; something just as white collar as the law, but in a different sector. Perhaps an architect?). They are not polar opposites, but their differences are enough to complement each other, rather than eventually tear them apart. These differences are going to play into the plot later on: can the ethical Robert be swayed to do something unethical? Will Douglas, who is not that fond of rules, find himself adhering to stricter ones than he ever thought possible? Will either of them sacrifice his personal code to please the other?

Stay tuned. 🙂 And thanks for stopping by.

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One wall, coming up: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 10

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,769

Today’s blog count: 11

Total words written: 19,347

Total blog posts: 11

 

I am exhausted.

I just released my second book, Blizzard, today. Normally, I don’t write anything for at least a month (or, at the bare minimum, two weeks) after I finish a book. I use that time to mentally recharge, and I do everything but write: read, watch movies, catch up on TV shows, play video games. I admit to thinking about my next book, and I may take notes for future reference (on a note application on my smartphone, NOT my laptop), but that’s usually as far as it goes.

Now, due to my commitment to NaNoWriMo, I’m still writing in what would normally be my mental vacation. I didn’t realize how much of a toll it was taking until I had to literally push myself to reach my word quota for today. As in, writing and checking my word count every few hundred words, and pep-talking myself into finishing. “You can do it…good, you’ve gotten started…ou’re halfway through today’s quota…only six hundred more words…only 350 more words…only 200 more words…”

I’ve written a bit over my daily word count since I started NaNoWriMo this y ear, and it has been so tempting to just blow off today’s writing. But I know that if I do that, I’ll be tempted to blow off tomorrow…and maybe the next day…and then my vacation mindset will creep in and take over, and I won’t finish this year’s NaNoWriMo. Last year was the first time in seven years that I’d finished and “won” NaNoWriMo, and I’d like to continue that trend this year. So I’ll try to keep pushing myself to write, and hopefully I’ll drag myself across the finish line…with 50K words.

Also, this is my second post today for NaBloPoMo (the first was earlier today, about my book release).  Can I get extra credit?

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Aside

Under The Wire: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 9

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,745

Today’s blog count: 9

Total words written: 17,578

Total blog posts: 9

I squeaked my word count under the wire today, as I spent most of my day preparing for tomorrow’s release of my new novel, Blizzard. I spun off a character from my previous book, The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille, and gave him his own story. I hope audiences enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Today’s writing on Fertile Ground (for NaNoWriMo) included more dialogue, where the two main characters were trying to sort through the puzzle pieces of their situation in order to figure out what was going on. I’m trying to figure out where I want them to go next: the plot will logically flow into the discovery portion, where the characters do some digging to either bolster their theories, or debunk them. I have to figure out how to get that done.

I’m not thinking of anything right now except going to bed; my mind is tired.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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