What’s your point of view?

NaNoWriMo winner's certificate
My certificate for writing 50,000 words of a novel in November for the writing challenge called NaNoWriMo.

I’ve been thinking about the project I began for my first NaNoWriMo writing challenge. After the New Year, I plan to dive in and rewrite it. Currently, the story is told in first person of the protagonist who is loosely based on me. I’ve been musing about how I need to make the plot more exciting — but then I began thinking about point of view. I think that’s where I need to start.

The premise is three women and their young children who are peacefully enjoying their quiet lives when the antagonist, an eccentric, larger-than-life character, whirls into their lives creating drama and upheaval. I think telling the entire tale from one character’s perspective is monotonous. It limits the story, because you only know what one person sees and how they interpret people and events.

I dusted off Liane Moriarity’s “Big Little Lies” which I read years ago and discovered that the chapters are told from the POV of Madeline, Jane and Celeste — in third person. It isn’t told from one woman’s point of view at all. If you haven’t read it or watched the TV show, it’s also a story of friendships of mothers of young children.

When I first began writing years ago, my writing mentor Gerry Petievich who wrote “To Live and Die in L.A.” held writer’s conferences. He said to pick out a book as a pattern book when you begin to write a novel. He said you don’t copy it. What I took away from him is that you analyze different things that work in that book such as plot structure, voice and characters. I realized that “Big Little Lies” can fill that role for my project.

Gerry Petievich "To Live and Die in L.A."

I think by alternating the POV to each of the main characters, it will add depth. I’ll need to give each character their own voice and I’ll have to flesh out their lives much deeper than they are now — which currently are only snippets of their lives seen by the protagonist. I’m not sure if I should alternate first person voice or use third person omniscient point of view like “Big Little Lies.” I tend to favor writing in first person.

When you are reading or writing, what point of view do you prefer? First or third person? What is your opinion of books that alternate points of views of characters each chapter? Do you find switching POV is confusing or do you think it adds to the story?

Have you read “Big Little Lies” or “To Live and Die in L.A.?” Have you seen the TV show or movie?.

Big Little Lies book by Liane Moriarty.
Cover of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

I did it!

My first attempt at NaNoWriMo and I finished a day early — Nov. 29th. Woohoo! It’s a good feeling to meet my goal. I almost gave up this week with all the raw emotions running through our home because we lost a close friend.

I channeled that emotion and it powered me through the final words of my 50,000-word novel. It felt good to lock myself in an empty room and write.

The secret to NaNoWriMo is to not critique or edit, but just write. I know my plot needs work and perhaps a complete overhaul. There are few good bits to my novel including the characters and the settings. I’m planning on facing the editing process in 2022 after taking a break and getting distance from my work.

How do you feel when you reach your goals? What makes you give up when you decide not to follow through?

What a week!

I hit the halfway point of my writing challenge at the start of the week.

Actually, not much happened out of the ordinary. But compared to most of my weeks during the past year and a half COVID days, a lot did happen.

Here’s a quick rundown:

I hit my goals for NaNoWriMo this week.

I managed to fit in posting blogs and reading other bloggers worked around my novel writing.

I played lots of ping pong and I sense some improvement.

I went to the Podiatrist and found an In-N-Out only 30 minutes from our house.

I had my first meeting as the official newsletter editor for our HOA. I met three new people who will be working with me to get the newsletter written and produced.

I took Olive the cat to the vet for shots. I had to find a new vet, since she hasn’t been to one in Arizona. I am not a person who regularly takes the cat to the vet. First of all, Olive hates it. She cries incessantly in the car and then she shudders and shakes. She doesn’t need to go to the vet if she’s not sick. But I called the place we boarded her in August to make a reservation for a trip planned in December. They told me one of her shots had expired. We both survived the trip to the vet, barely.

I talked to several of my old friends on long phone conversations after reading the article I posted on the importance of friendships. You can read that HERE if you missed it.

I went to my first NFL game in person.

Today I’m headed to our farmer’s market to get treats for Thanksgiving-week guests and my dad.

cat on a patch of grass in the house
Olive cat on her patch of grass next to pots of cat grass.

Happy Friday!

Have you noticed your weeks getting busier? Is it because we’re leaving COVID behind us? What makes your weeks busier? Or did I just have a one-off week?

Looking back to DAY ONE of Shelter in Place

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Views from my old neighborhood park.

Yesterday I went to my first NFL football game. Since I’ve learned you cannot bring a purse into a game unless it’s clear plastic, I decided to wear leggings with deep pockets for what I believed were my essentials: my cell phone with the digital ticket, my driver’s license, my vaccination card, a debit card and an N-95 mask.

I was surprised to find out that I didn’t need anything but the digital ticket. I saw only two people wearing masks in our section. Maybe in other areas of the stadium it was different? Walking in from the parking lot, I saw nobody wearing a mask. I ended up using my mask as a napkin, because my husband bought us hot dogs and fries and of course forgot napkins.

It was exciting to watch live football, but it was also overwhelming to be in a crowd. I haven’t been in one since it seems a lifetime — but in reality it was pre COVID. I was exhausted by the time we got home — but also thrilled to have the experience. What a contrast to March 2020 — plus the stark difference between Arizona and California, where I lived in 2020. I decided to look back on what I was feeling when we first found out about COVID and sheltered in place to flatten the curve.

Cardinals vs. Panthers football game.
View from my seat at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Here’s a look back on my post about DAY ONE of the three-week shut-down to flatten the curve:

I was pretty shaken up yesterday, but I’m pleased to report that I’m doing better today. I got my full walk around the park and neighborhood before the rain started. I saw a favorite neighbor and we chatted while standing six feet apart. He said, “We’ll get through this.”

I was assigned a couple magazine stories by an editor and I think that helped me the most. I have a tight deadline and had to get busy. That kept me from turning on the news, watching the DOW, and reading all the headlines on the web rather than writing.

Life is pretty much the same for me as it is most days. I walk and then work from home. It’s nice to know my daughter is in the guest room working from home, too, right down the hall. My son is in the Bay Area and he’s under the same orders to shelter in place but they started before us. He’s calling everyday to let me know he’s okay. I really appreciate that.

We will get through this. We have so many uncertainties ahead of us. That’s what gets me anxious. I try to think through all the possibilities of what COULD happen and it gets me scared. It’s much better to stay busy at home while we are “sheltering in place.”

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This cutie pie came home with my daughter. He and the cat are practicing social distancing.

What are your memories about the first day of shelter in place? How did you prepare, who were you with and did you think it would go on longer than three weeks?

Random Thoughts on NaNoWriMo

Brilliant sunrise in Arizona
Sunrise yesterday morning. It felt like it was going to be a good day.

When I woke up Tuesday morning to this sunrise — I felt pure joy. How could I not? This is the view from our master bedroom and backyard. I grabbed my husband’s iphone — because he has a better camera on his — and began snapping away. Once I captured the moment, I stood quietly in the backyard as the colors enveloped me.

I’m on my second week of NaNaWriMo and if I were to describe the experience? A pain in the neck.

My neck really hurts. My shoulders hurt too as they hunch up to comfort and hang out with my sore neck. I complained about this last week, and boy howdy! It’s only gotten worse with each passing day.

I took one bit of advice from blogger extraordinaire LA. She said she has a lavender neck wrap that heats up in the microwave. I jumped on Amazon and voila! I now have one and it does help.

I was talking to my daughter on the phone and I complained about my neck.

“Your neck always hurts,” she said.

“But not like it does now. It’s the NaNo challenge that’s making it worse. I’m hunched down over my laptop for hours every day.”

“I know what you need,” she said.

“I already got the lavender neck wrap,” I answered.

“That too, but it’s not what I was going to suggest.”

This was her suggestion:

lap top stand and a work area with a view.
A laptop stand so I’m now working with my screen at eye level. This is my view from where I work in the casita.

I hope it helps. It should. You can now find me wearing a lavender neck wrap working on my raised laptop. I’m impressed with Amazon to get me these items within 24 hours. As much as I don’t like Amazon, I’m also thankful for their convenience and speed.

I took a break and sat in the backyard watching the quail fly onto the patio roof.

My other random thoughts about NaNoWriMo:

I don’t regret the challenge and I’m enjoying starting something new. It was just the thing to get me going on a new project. The words poured out faster than I could type the first week. I’ve slowed down on week two. I’m following my 9-point plot map. But I’ll get through all nine points in 25,000 words which means I need to add more to hit 50,000 words. I think I need more conflict between my characters and more depth in my characters.

What are your thoughts about Amazon? Are you a fan or a foe? Did you use it more during the COVID shutdowns? What are your easiest parts of writing whether it’s blogging or writing a novel? What do you find to be the most difficult?

Views from my week

sun setting in the desert
Almost sunset the other night in the neighborhood.

Besides sitting down writing this week for NaNoWriMo, I went for walks, enjoyed sunrises and sunsets and was entertained by Olive the cat and our friendly quail. FYI, I’m almost 10,000 words into my 50,000-word challenge. My husband took off to help our son move so I’m alone and will have lots of quiet time to write. I’m stressed because he didn’t leave himself enough time. He may be on his way back home in an hour. It’s out of my control, but it’s the type of thing that makes me anxious.

My son is moving from his apartment of five years into a house with more space. My son needs help because he isn’t supposed to lift anything due to his August shoulder surgery. My daughter said, “Only my brother would plan a move when he wouldn’t be able to pack or lift anything.”

She’s looking to move as well, so my husband might be moving her if she finds a place this weekend. She looking at apartments this very minute. Funny, the house my son is moving into is 700 feet from the house my daughter gave notice to leave. It wasn’t planned and I’m sure they’d like the close proximity, but it just worked out that way. My son is moving for more space and the black mold they discovered doesn’t agree with him. My daughter is moving because she’s in a co-op with a total of eight people and she’d like to try living alone. She said she’s tired of other people’s messes. Just wait until she has kids someday!

cat peering through cat grass looking out a window.
Olive hides behind her cat grass waiting for the quail to appear on the patio.
Quail out the window where I sit and write.
A bunny hangs out with the quail.
Sunset in Arizona
Sunset.

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Anybody have more exciting plans than mine of sitting and writing? What are your plans? How much time do you give yourself at the airport when you travel?

Two Choices: Quit or Stick with It

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My kids learned perseverance and to never give up from swimming.

While I’m in the heady first week of NaNoWriMo, where I attempt to write a novel in November, I looked back at my last attempt at a novel. It’s a mid-grade manuscript based on my kids’ swim team life. It explores the struggles with friendships amid jealousy and competitive spirits. Sections of it were published in the Los Angeles Times when they had the Kids’ Reading Room and published children’s fiction in their Sunday comic pages. I hired an editor for a big picture and line- by-line edit. I edited and rewrote it. I created a storyboard based on the book Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. At some point, I gave up. I think it’s when I took a zoom class which included a critique by the editor giving the lecture. The critique landed in my email box and the editor said he couldn’t imagine reading any more of my manuscript because he couldn’t stand my protagonist — who by the way was based on my daughter when she was nine years old. I was out.

I ran across this blog post I wrote several years ago while I was actively working on that project. I wrote this before the above critique that hurt:

I got an unfortunate email yesterday. It was from an agent, who was reviewing my mid-grade novel I’ve been working on for years. Long story short, it was a no.

This is a big goal of mine, to get this book published. Finding an agent is one step along the way, and I had glimmers of hope when a couple agents were truly interested and one in particular, wanted eight weeks to take a deep dive.

When my husband consoled me I said, “I have two choices. I can quit or keep going.”

Four times since that email, I ran into messages like someone was placing a big neon sign in front of me with specific directions.

One  

Dad shared that he spent almost three hours fishing yesterday. He was ready to give up, but decided to cast one more time in the last few minutes before he was due to return the boat. Yes, he caught a fish!

Two

I was looking at FB and a writer friend posted how lucky she was to find several four-leaf clovers yesterday after hours of looking. She said to never give up. Never!

Three

On Twitter, I saw from bestselling author Brad Thor a book recommendation for #Grit, a book about passion and perseverance. Yes, I’ll order it from Amazon today.

tweet from Brad Thor about Angela Duckworth and Grit.

Four

On SwimSwam.com, an article jumped before my eyes: “6 TIPS TO KEEP YOU CHASING YOUR SWIMMING GOALS WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE GIVING UP,” by Olivier Poirier-Leroy, who writes really good stuff for swimmers, that can be used in all aspects of life.

Here was part of his advice to get in touch with your feelings when you started on the journey:

“What are the reasons that I want to achieve this goal? List 2-3 reasons for why this goal is important to you. This is the simplest way to get in touch with your original set of motivations.

How will you feel when you push past the resistance you are feeling now? Think back to the last time you kicked down the wall of resistance that was in front of you. Yeah, that time. How did you feel afterwards? Proud? Like a certified O.G.?

Will you regret giving up a year from now? Imagine yourself a year from now. A year smarter, a year older, and hopefully a year further along. Is “Future You” going to be pumped about you having quit today?”

I got the message loud and clear. I’m not giving up on my goals or dreams. This is all part of the process, and yes there will be some ups and downs. It’s so cliched, but it’s also true.

In  masters swimming we have a new slogan and shirts. After a hard set that I was convinced I couldn’t finish, I blurted, “Hey, it’s not that bad!”

Me and my Masters swim friends.
Showing off new shirts at Piranha Swim Team’s Masters. “Hey, it’s not that bad.”

Yes, getting a rejection letter is not great, but how much better is it than quitting on a dream? Honestly, it’s not that bad.

How do you handle disappointment? Do you believe there are more choices than giving up or to keep trying and what are they? I gave up on that manuscript, but I’m off and running on a new one.

FYI, I read “Grit” and highly recommend it.