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A Summary of NaNoWarmUp, and news about Nameless

As announced in late September, this month I’ve been co-running NaNoWarmUp with Kat Zhang. The experience has been invigorating, and I’m pleased to say I’ve added more than 25k to Nameless!

Because I still get emails, comments, and sometimes FB messages from folks asking about Nameless, I added a comprehensive timeline to the Nameless page, so you can check that out if you’re curious.

Below are my personal charts for NaNoWarmUp!

I learned something really valuable through the experience, which is causing me to skip NaNoWriMo this year: writing to a time limit, such as a sprint, makes me write crap instead of valuable stuff. The past few years I’ve used NaNoWriMo to work on Nameless, and it was always crap. This October the pressure was lighter, and now I have 25k more words, every one of which I can keep.

Kat asked me to join her in aiming for 35k in November instead of the full 50k of NaNoWriMo, but I want to take part of this month to edit through what I have, do some brainstorming, and continue to move forward. My goal is to be done with the first draft by the end of December.

In other news, I went as Joan Holloway for Halloween. My hairdresser wouldn’t let me dye my hair red, so there’s that, and my hair is so thick and glossy it just wouldn’t stay put in a french twist, but other than that I have this outfit down. You guys may not know this about me, but… I’m kind of Christina Hendricks shaped.

Earlier in the month I went to the Southern Festival of Books and got to see Kat Zhang again, albeit briefly. We attended a session about MG Fantasy, and I recognized one of the writers as the person who was the handler for Sharon Creech last year. You remember last year, when I accidentally waited for Sharon Creech to emerge from the bathroom, then awkwardly hovered for a good long while without actually getting the chance to introduce myself?

Yeahhh… So I wanted to go up and explain to this woman what had happened, except… I just sort of… ended up awkwardly hanging around YET AGAIN because she was setting up for her session and I didn’t want to go on the stage to talk to her, and so eventually I just sat back down, clouded in a shame of my own social failure.

Can’t wait to try again next year!

<3, Savannah

PS: I’m putting together a list of gifts for writers so you can flesh out your Christmas lists, so check back soon!

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Southern Festival of Books recap: Zombies, Writers, Sushi Nazi, and Shakespeare

On Saturday Chris and I drove up to attend the Southern Festival of Books. My primary goal was to meet Sharon Creech and hang out with Kat Zhang, but lots of other awesome stuff happened, too. Like this:

Zombie Walk!

Then someone offered Chris fake blood, so this happened:

And thereafter when we took ‘nice’ pictures, Chris had blood on his face:

That was us in this weird modern park, btw. On astroturf. Personally I think it was a critique on how by overprotecting our children we offer them a sterile, false reality, but I digress.

Kat Zhang and I were also on a windy bridge together, which resulted in pictures like this:

So to everyone who says I should be a model just because I’m tall… no. Here’s your reason why. Kat’s ‘Supermodel’ pics turned out great, btw.

I did see Sharon Creech talk, but never ‘met’ her or got my picture with her. I did hover awkwardly with her handlers outside a public bathroom waiting for her to come out, until I realized where I was and where they were, and thankfully she ignored me when she emerged. How do you explain that one? Umm, yeah I didn’t notice you were in the bathroom… Can I have a picture?

So yeah. Sharon Creech. Amazing woman and writer.

Then we had dinner at Sam’s Sushi, which is this little hole-in-the-wall place probably about as large as my living room. There are 2 tables and 3 additional chairs, and if Sam doesn’t like you he moves you out of his restaurant. He is the Sushi Nazi, like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. He also makes the most delicious, huge sushi rolls for $4, so we go and meekly wait to be served our deliciousness. I don’t have any pictures from this because I didn’t dare.

After, Kat took me as her +1 to an author’s reception for the writers attending the Festival. It took place in the inside parking lot of a snobby art gallery, a fact we did not realize until they started disassembling the area. Then it was like, ‘OMG there are cars behind that curtain! And cement underneath that rug you just rolled up! And where are you going with those lights?!’

Kat and I met some awesome people, among them A. J. Hartley, who was super nice and cool and funny, even if he did name-drop like a publicist’s roladex thrown out the window on a windy day ;-) I’m just teasing. The poor man can’t help it if his career as a writer and Shakespearean professor has led him to have such personal contacts as R. L. Stine, Patrick Stewart, and J. K. Rowling. Also Carrie Ryan and a number of other people I admire very much. But don’t worry; we razzed him about it all night so I’m sure he feels good and admonished for being so awesome.

Other points of interest: I ate deep-fried Oreos for the first time. They didn’t taste so much like Oreos as donuts, but I have no complaints.

~

Tomorrow I am off work and planning to write all day in an effort to finish the sleeping beauty rewrite. I’ll post if I finish, so wish me luck!

I am planning an article on being an introvert yet attending events like these, and the mental toll it takes.

Talk to you all soon!

<3, Savannah

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Moonlight & Magnolias and Southern Festival of Books

Last weekend I went to my first writer’s conference, where not only did I hang out with three new writer friends, but I test-drove my Halloween costume and did all sorts of other fun things.

The conference attended was Moonlight & Magnolias, which is put on by the Georgia chapter of Romance Writers of America. RWA, you ask? But you’re not a romance writer!

Correct, reader, I am not. But my agency sister Madeline Martin is, along with her two friends which became my friends, Hillary Raymer and Ava Milone. Since leaving Pub Crawl I’ve been sadly lacking in writer friends or companionship, and Madeline and I quickly bonded over… well… actually I’m not sure what we bonded over in the beginning. The mutual knowledge that we would definitely be friends? Plus Madeline writes an AWESOME blog about historical tidbits, including ancient dental hygine, what condoms used to be made of (you know you’re curious), and the history of merkins. Yes, her blog is as awesome and funny as it sounds.

Here’s Madeline, me, and Hillary at Fancy Dinner. Ava was gracious enough to take the picture:

Quick brag: that outfit I’m wearing? It’s one of my ‘writer’ outfits, and with my healthy eating and exercising I’m so proud of how I look in it. Okay, moving on.

The conference itself was focused on the Romance genre, but the classes were generalized so that I did get a lot out of them. There was one class about layering and subplots, and halfway through — even though I knew it was rude — I had to pull open my notebook and start scribbling furiously because I had so many awesome ideas. It’s okay, Madeline told me later half of the class was doing it, too. That 2-hour class should have been an hour of lecture and an hour of freewrite, seriously.

There were social events at night, but mostly we visited each other’s hotel rooms and did Plotting, where everyone would focus on one person’s story and help them work through their plot points, for the whole thing! Some of the girls brought ideas and left with entire plotlines. It was so amazing to see and participate in the creativity, and so fun!

Explaining the sleeping beauty story to 3 virgin readers was an interesting experience, though. I was hoping for plot help with my outline of Book 2, but it turns out there’s not really such a thing as a ‘quick recap’ of Book 1. I thought I did pretty good with my MC, the journey, and the resolution, but as we waded into Book 2 I had to go back and explain all the subplots and secondary characters.

It made me realize how detailed this project has gotten. When I first started writing it, I didn’t know the rules or the world. The first draft was as intense as I could make it, but it didn’t have the depth of this draft. I have a full world here. A history, universal laws, an economy, people, social evolution, etc. I’m proud of myself, yet also humbled in the face of all the work it took, and the process that led me here. I have wondered before how I will possibly replicate detail like this, but then I participated in the Plotting sessions and realized I didn’t have to go it alone.

Now the girls are planning a writer’s retreat devoted exclusively to Plotting, and though it won’t happen until next year I am. so. excited. 4 creative minds working together, figuring out Black Moments and Subplots and Relationship Black Moments and Fatal Flaws… guys, I’m so impressed with my friends and how willing/able they are to help each other out.

Anyway, speaking of sleeping beauty… I only have 3.5 scenes left. The half will be super fun to rewrite, one will be super difficult, and the other two are just filling in details.

I’m excited, yet intimidated (again). I used to receive reviews all the time, but now it’s been about a year since I’ve gotten criticism. Passing off this baby to someone is kind of scaring me a bit. I’m so proud and excited, yet at the same time what if all this work has been for nought? I try to console myself by remembering that this is a /rewrite/, not a first draft. I’m just building on what existed, so it can’t have gone terribly wrong :-)

And yes, on Saturday we dressed and attended the Costume Ball. We went in Greek theme, and I specifically was Persephone, Bride of the Underworld:

I think Hillary (in pink!) took some better pics of me but I don’t have them yet. Remember how I said I photograph oddly? Well I was rocking this beast, veil included.

Of course later dancing got too hot so I changed:

This weekend I’m going to be at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, to once again hang out with Kat Zhang and eat at the best sushi restaurant ever, whose owner is best described as The Sushi Nazi.

BUT!

I also get to meet SHARON CREECH AND RL STINE!!!! Sharon is the author of a ton of great books, including Bloomability, which created the foundation of one of my two life goals, which is to live in Italy. The other goal is to be a published author, so, you know, halfway to life fulfillment!

I’m incredibly excited. If you’re going to be in the area let me know and maybe I’ll tell you where this awesome sushi restaurant is. Maybe ;-)