Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Welcome to Americana Month

Americana MonthJ

Welcome to Americana month at Rita Bay’s Blog. November is for Thanksgiving and NaNoWriMo. Everyone knows about Thanksgiving but NaNoWriMo is the month that authors and would-be authors across the world commit to writing 50,000 words in thirty days. This will be my 5th year, but I’ve only met the goal once. Not sad, though. I’ve finished a novel each November, then cleaned it up in December.

That kind of writing is really intense, so a lot of things get done early or fall by the wayside. House will be cleaned, food will be cooked, and Rita Bay’s Blog for November will be written and scheduled in October. Americana looks at Thanksgiving through the writings of famous Americans in history and vintage postcards. There’ll also be some recipes from American history and my family’s personal papers. Finally, I’ll be sharing pics of my packrat family’s stuff from the last century or two, especially tools specific for men and women’s work. One tool I’m not really sure what it is or how it was used. So join me throughout this month’s journey through the past. Enjoy!

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An Author’s Desk: L.T. Getty

Today’s guest at An Author’s Desk is Leia Getty who writes historical fantasy as L.T. Getty. Leia’s debut novel, Tower of Obsidian was released this month by BURST Books, the SciFi/Fantasy imprint of Champagne Book Group. Leia used her knowledge as a paramedic and her training in kendo to create realistic battle scenes for Tower of Obsidian which was her 2010 NaNoWriMo project which she’ll explain later. Leia’s peripatetic desk that wanders with her at will is after my own heart. The treats beside it from The Daily Grind are full of love and sparkles.

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My writing area is a reflection of who I am – basically, I pick up and go and write anywhere! I’ve never had a ton of support with my writing, so basically I write when people are moving around me, I stop and do chores, and I adapt to any environment.

WritersDeskAs for my process of ‘when I write’ – once again, it’s reflective of my pick up and go lifestyle. The only time I had a set amount of writing time was before I graduated High School – I had to watch my younger sisters and make dinner, so I usually wrote for an hour and a half after school until I got a job that took place after school, so then it was when I could fit it in – I wrote on the family computer and I wasn’t usually able to use it whenever I wanted. When University changed things, I was using floppy disks (remember those, kids? Didn’t think so) until I bought my first laptop – an old military unit my dad got me at a deal from his base (I can’t remember how much I paid – I just remember paying more for a battery the following year) which I used until it died. I much prefer the new laptop – even though once my fellow students were making fun of how big the screen was, the teacher included – things get corrupted, but I remember the absolute horror of a disc crashing and losing everything. (And using the family computer without a backup asks for trouble!) I now work as a Paramedic, so now I’m on a pager for four days – there is no ‘I need to get this down, then I’ll come save you’; when the pager goes, we go. We get a lot of down time in the office to chill out and relax, so that’s usually when I’m researching or editing via pen and paper, but when it’s go time we might be gone for an entire day, so while I can jot down an idea or something on a piece of paper, there is no set time for writing. I do it when I can, and down time always comes after I restock the ambulance, any station duties, do my paperwork, and harass my colleagues a little. (Just kidding – I can edit and delight with my terrible puns at the same time).

As for my process of how I write a given manuscript, it depends on how I start – usually I have an idea for a plot or an image, but sometimes, I just sit down and start describing a scene and I let the world build until I know where I am and why it’s different then our here and now (my here and now last week was -43 C with the windchill, if you’re interested). How long it takes me to draft a story depends on how much time I have and how long it is – Tower of Obsidian took me less than four months to draft, but out of 115,000 words, 52,000 were written in the month of November for 2010’s NANOWRIMO, and the only reason I kicked it into high gear was that I was aware that book publishers were going to be coming to a conference in May, so I basically was finishing and editing with no time to spare.

SparklesUsually while I’m drafting, that’s when I do my research, but my trump card for Tower of Obsidian was that I’d gotten flack for a previous novel that wasn’t ‘historically accurate’ so I’d done my research on medieval customs and history, and was quite familiar with Norse and Celtic Mythology so I had enough information to start me off. My trick for getting that NANO while I was a student/working was that I always had a pen and paper for ideas – a notepad in my apron, another notebook just ‘for stories’ when everyone else was out smoking during break. I was roughing out different endings of scenes during lunch break or doing character sketches or hashing out background information. I tend to write the scenes I see most vividly in my head first, and then I piece them together. Usually, I’m co-writing two sequences at once, so if I get writer’s block and I’m stuck as to what happens next, I’ll go back and work on a scene for the events leading up to it – at some point, I’ll have the plot in my mind down pretty solid, so I’ll hash out a loose synopsis (which, usually still surprises me while I’m writing it) just to give me focus, and then I’ll write out linear (for the most part – I find that, when I write, I usually have to write the beginning after I’m more or less done the novel because I like action and I need to lead up to it – in my mind, at least, I think I end stories stronger than how I start them). This approach is great for learning about your world – but I’ve also written scenes that don’t make sense later or needed to be scrapped and rewritten.

Usually when I’m about 15,000 words into a novel, I give the first chunk, print if I have the time (email if I don’t!) to my beta reader, R.J. Hore – basically we got paired up via the Writer’s Collective because we were the only sci-fi/fantasy writers, and we just switch work back and forth. When I was a student, I went to various writing circles and groups for feedback, but Hore and I kind of like the same stories and have different strengths and weaknesses so the editing is more focused than if I’m trying to make a table of people happy. We swap whatever amounts we want –usually an entire short story or, if it’s a manuscript we go in order, between 20-100 pages a month, but I’ve given him a short story in the middle of a novel with a ‘the contest is due in two months’ kind of deadline.
After Hore looks at the story – if I don’t have to send it anywhere quickly (I didn’t write it for an anthology or whatever) I like to let the entire story sit for at least a month, and start working on something else from a writing perspective – I draw and paint, but I find that writing is a special beast that requires distance. If at all possible, I like to read a story as a reader, and then I start to go through the manuscript. Usually around this phase, I write out a synopsis. I usually draft three separate versions of a synopsis, and see which one I like the best. If this is for a contest, I usually revisit the publisher page and try to cater the story more towards them if it’s appropriate. After I go through the pages as an edit, I leave it alone for a while, and then try to come back to it with fresh eyes for what I consider a whole, unifying edit – and I use the synopsis to make the manuscript come into focus.

Usually around this point I start looking for publishers – I keep Excel sheets on what story is out where, and some relevant (and sometimes irrelevant) data as well – how long of a response, what kind of response (generic vs. personalized), and I keep track of the comments as a whole – but I don’t agonize over individual rejections unless they specify ‘Add some X and send it back’ or whatever, so long as I feel that I’d still be true to the story, then I usually edit the way they request and send it back.
So basically at this point I let my little manuscript into the world, with only a tracking of Excel to tell me it’s out. I kind of forget about it at that point, because, as said above, I’m already working on the next project and that’s usually the one I’m the most excited about at the time.
That’s pretty much from me – thanks for having me, Rita! As of February 4th, I was officially an author!

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CLICK TO READ EXCERPT OR BUYWhen Kale mac Tadhg is betrayed by his Lord’s men, he is sent on an impossible quest: slay a witch in a tower, and end a people’s curse. Both Kale’s best friend and brother-in-arms Aaron Smithson and former betrothed Aoife of Westgate set out to rescue him, but their journey takes them into the uncharted waters and Northwestern Nordic colonies, to a land cursed and all but forgotten. They begin to realize that there is some truth to old legends.  Kale’s rescue comes at a price—for by the time Aaron and Aoife know where to search, like so many before him, Kale is bound to the ancient tower’s fate.
Thank you so much for visiting Leia. Click on the cover of Tower of Obsidian to read an excerpt or buy. Visit Leia at her [WEBPAGE] (where you can read about growling deer) or email her at leiagetty@shaw.ca
Tomorrow, A Celebration of President’s Day Rita Bay

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A Pirate’s Tale

A little known fact is that for three centuries Muslim pirates from North Africa raided European territory and shipping to capture and enslave tens if not hundreds of thousands of European (and later American) men, women and children. Those who were wealthy might be ransomed but most of the captives were doomed to a short life of forced labor or the worse fate of galley slaves who rowed the pirates’ ships until they died.  European nations, however, were able to pay off the North African leaders. When the Americans were captured and enslaved, the Americans attacked the pirate stronghold twice. Stephen Decatur was famous leading these assaults. The pirates learned the hard way not to attack Americans.  Please check out the story about brave Americans who wouldn’t stand for oppression and pass it on.  (ps I’m surviving Nano – barely.) Rita Bay

USS Philadelphia

NEARLY a hundred years have passed since the ship “Philadelphia” was burned. But the brave sailors who did it will never be forgotten. The people of Tripoli in Africa were pirates. They took the ships of other nations at sea. They made slaves of their prisoners. The friends of these slaves sometimes sent money to buy their freedom. Some countries paid money to these pirates to let their ships go safe.

Our country had trouble with the pirates. This trouble brought on a war. Our ships were sent to fight against Tripoli. One of the ships fighting against the pirates was called the “Philadelphia.” One day she was chasing a ship of Tripoli. The “Philadelphia” ran on the rocks. The sailors could not get her off. The pirates came and fought her as she lay on the rocks. They took her men prisoners. Then they went to work to get her off. After a long time they got her into deep water. They took her to Tripoli. Our ships could not go there after her, because there were so many great cannons on the shore near the ship.

Stephen Decatur

The pirates got the “Philadelphia” ready to go to sea. They loaded her cannons. They meant to slip out past our ships of war. Then they would take a great many smaller American ships. But the Americans laid a plan to burn the “Philadelphia.” It was a very dangerous thing to try to do. The pirates had ships of war near the “Philadelphia.” They had great guns on the shore. There was no way to do it in the day-time. It could only be done by stealing into the Bay of Tripoli at night.

The Americans had taken a little vessel from the pirates. She was of the kind that is called a ketch. She had sails. She also had long oars. When there was no wind to sail with, the sailors could row her with the oars. This little ketch was sent one night to burn the “Philadelphia.” The captain of this boat was Stephen Decatur. He was a young man, and very brave.Decaturmade his men lie down, so that the pirates would not know how many men he had on his ketch. Only about ten men were in sight. The rest were lying hidden on the boat.

Battle with Pirates

They came near to the “Philadelphia.” It was about ten o’clock at night. The pirates called to them. The pilot of the ketch told them that he was from Malta. He told them that he had come to sell things to the people of Tripoli. He said that the ketch had lost her anchor. He asked them to let him tie her to the big ship till morning. The pirates sent out a rope to them. But when the ketch came nearer, the pirates saw that they had been fooled. They cried out,” Americans, Americans !

Then the Americans lying down took hold of the rope and pulled with all their might, and drew the ketch close to the ship. They were so close, that the ship’s cannons were over their heads. The pirates could not fire at them.

The men who had been lying still now rose up. There were eighty of them. In a minute they were scrambling up the sides of the big ship. Some went in one way, some another. They did not shoot. They fought with swords and pikes, or short spears. Soon they drove the pirates to one side of the ship. Then they could hear the pirates jumping over into the water. In a few minutes the pirates had all gone.

But the Americans could not stay long. They must burn the ship before the pirates on the shore should find out what they were doing. They had brought a lot of kindling on the ketch. They built fires in all parts of the ship. The fire ran so fast, that some of the men had trouble to get off the ship. When the Americans got back on the ketch, they could not untie the rope that held the ketch to the ship. The big ship was bursting into flames. The ketch would soon take fire.They took swords and hacked the big rope in two. Then they pushed hard to get away from  the fire. The ketch began to move. The sailors took the large oars and rowed. They were soon safe from the fire. All this they had done without any noise. But, now that they had got away, they looked back. The fire was shooting up toward the sky. The men stopped rowing, and they gave three cheers. They were so glad, that they could not help it.

By this time the pirates on shore had waked up. They began to fire great cannon balls at the little ketch. One of the balls went through her sails. Ah! how the sailors rowed. The whole sky was now lighted up by the fire. The pirates’ cannons were thundering. The can­non balls were splashing the water all round the ketch. But the Americans got away. At last they were safe in their own ships. 

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Don’t Give Up the Ship  Rita Bay

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How Ben Franklin Discovered Things for Himself

Exceeded my writing goal  of 1,700 words today with NaNoWriMo.  Today, another Benjamin Franklin story on scientific inquiry from a century-old student’s reader.  I hope you enjoy the read and pass it on.  RB

Benjamin Franklin thought that ants knew how to tell things to one another. He thought that they talked by some kind of signs. When an ant has found a dead fly too big for him to drag away, he will run off and get some other ants to help him.

Franklin thought that ants have some way of telling other ants that there is work to do. One day he found some ants eating molasses out of a little jar in a closet. He shook them out. Then he tied a string to the jar, and hung it on a nail in the ceiling. But he had not got all the ants out of the jar. One little ant liked sweet things so well that he stayed in the jar, and kept on eating like a greedy boy.

At last when this greedy ant had eaten all that he could, he started to go home. Franklin saw him climb over the rim of the jar. Then the ant ran down the outside of the jar. But when he got to the bottom, he did not find any shelf there. He went all round the jar. There was no way to get down to the floor. The ant ran this way and that way, but he could not get down. At last the greedy ant thought he would see if he could go up. He climbed up the string to the ceiling. Then he went down the wall. He came to his own hole at last, no doubt. Half an hour later, after he got hungry again Franklin saw a swarm down the string. in a line, one after another, and into the jar. Do you think that the greedy ant told the other ants about the jar? Did he tell them by speaking, or by signs that he made with his feelers ? Perhaps, if you watch two ants when they meet, you will see that they touch their feelers to¬gether, as if they said “Good-morning!”

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans   By Samuel Eggleston American Book Co  1893  Digitized by Google   Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Franklin Asks the Sunshine Something   Rita Bay

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