My Ivory Tower

My name is Karin Huxman and I write romance for New Concepts Publishing. You can find my author page at I write a mix of time travel, contemporary, paranormal, and sf/fantasy and love every minute of it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My NaNo Month

I finished my NaNoWriMo novel yesterday, it came in well over the 50k minimum. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But don't ask me what it's about. All I'll be able to tell you is that it is a meandering tale of love and murder set in Colorado. You'd think after writing the thing I'd have a better handle on the story, would be able to be a little more concise, or at least coherent, about it. However it really and truly is the roughest draft I've ever written. It is a skeleton of a story waiting to be fleshed out in every way. However, it is written. Yeah me!

Those of you who know me or follow my blog also know that I've been pretty well blocked for a couple of years. It got to the point where I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish a novel length work. After all, I had three nicely formed ideas on paper for novels but just couldn't seem to settle down and work on one. And to tell the truth, I've always avoided these contests, motivational things. Why? Because I didn't think a real writer should need this kind of external motivation to sit down and do what she wanted to do. So you have to understand that my frustration level, even panic level, must have been pretty high to actually take on NaNo.

But it has been a blessing. Every morning since the first of November I've gotten up an hour earlier than I had to or wanted to. I've enjoyed the sunrise and written words upon words on a story that had been kind of fermenting, waiting for me to give it life. So the life I gave it is a bit unformed and creaky, but hey, that's what revising is for.

I learned a few things over the past thirty days.

- I can finish a novel again. Sure I'm multi-published but haven't released anything recently, see that blocked comment above.

- Getting up early to write only works if you have the right motivation. NaNoWriNo worked for me.

- Writing with the sunrise can be a very meditative experience.

- I can compile all my little Facebook one liners on the sunrise and see if I can find a poem in them.

- Coffee tastes better at 5:30 am.

- Morning is my most productive writing time, but not writing in the a.m. is no reason not to write later in the day. I found I could do that too.

- Excuses not to write are for wimps. Okay, that's a little harsh but I'm feeling pumped. These words will no doubt come back to bite me in the butt.

- Next year if I do NaNo, I'll do some character and plot prep work.

- Now that I'm writing again, I can justify some new tech toys. Must make my list.

- On the other hand, all you really need is a pen and paper.

- Getting back into the habit of writing every day is a blessing. Knowing I was going to write this blog today is helping a little with the let down feeling I always get after finishing a first draft.

So where do I go from here? Revising this work, naturally. But I'm going to let it sit for a while, gel if you will. I have several biographical profiles to work on, thanks Mur, and tomorrow is the first day of December. Jay actually brought the boxes of Christmas decorations home from the storage shed yesterday. Since last year I was still recuperating from that darned broken ankle, I'm looking forward to doing more decorating, baking, shopping, and just plain celebrating than I was able to last year. Oh, and this house could definitely use some dusting. Really.

I'll be writing, too. It's my passion. If I don't do it daily I feel less whole. It's a good thing to know about yourself.

The link to NaNoWriMo is for those of you interested. They also do a script writing month, called Script Frenzy, in the spring.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Contemplating Murder and Scrubbing Toilets

So I've been doing NaNoWriMo this month, just sitting down every single day and pounding out words for this novel I had in mind. It's been great, liberating, that I've been given this permission to just write and not edit. And the midpoint, time wise, passed yesterday, though I reached my midpoint, word count wise, a day early. Mid point through a novel. Something about that realization made me pause. Even worse, it made my fingers pause on the keyboard.

Oh no!

It made me think about my characters and plot and whether or not I'm writing anything good at all. And of course this happens at a critical juncture. My heroine is about to stumble onto another murdered co-worker. She's sitting in this beautiful summer glade, her horse munching grass, the dog gambolling (I've always wanted to use that word in a sentence) in the nearby creek, and a murderer in the forest. All of a sudden all I can think about is I have to clean a toilet before my daughter-in-law and her mother stop by later today.


The scene is crystal clear in my head and for the life of me I could not get my fingers to translate it into words. I stared at the screen, I sipped at my coffee, I tapped my fingers. This was not what I signed up for. Total stoppage of wordage. Shoot.

I reminded myself of what I've often told other writers, to whit (I've always wanted to use that phrase), be kind to yourself, take a step back, breath. But could I take my own advice? I can be pretty arrogant where my writing is concerned, when I'm not sure that it's all a bunch of crap. This is the schizophrenia of a writer.

The cat launched herself from the floor to the back of my chair to the printer. I took it as a sign. I saved my work, only three piddly pages, and hied myself (another delightfully underused phrase) off to the shower. I dressed and ate breakfast. I DID NOT scrub the toilet.

Sometimes food helps. I sat back down at the computer and forced myself to put the scene on paper. There is absolutely nothing pretty about it except that it's there and it got my daily word count where it needs to be.

I'm hoping that this little roadblock is the last one I face as I hit the downhill track on NaNoWriMo. But I do have a life away from my computer. It keeps me busy with family and work and doctor appointments, and Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and Christmas less than a month after that! I could really procrastinate myself into scrubbing, cleaning, and not murder at all.

The thing is, even when I'm not writing it, the story is with me. At odd minutes of the day I'll get an idea for a scene, or a witty piece of dialogue. I'm waiting for my muse to tell me who the murderer is because I'm going to have to rewrite this puppy at some point and lay in some clues and red herrings, but that's for next month. This month I'm getting the bones down and hoping to stay on track.

Now, where is that scrub brush? And let's not even think about the kitchen!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Whining no more!

Whining can be a habit, don't you think? You get into a down kind of mind set and really talk yourself into believing that all is not right with the world. It's a pretty pathetic way to live, if you ask me.

I've been whining about being blocked for over a year now. It's been pretty comfortable to whine rather than to write, even though stories and ideas have been so stuffed in my head it's amazing no one has seen them run out of my ears in big globs. Ew! That wasn't a pretty picture. And neither was the whining pleasant on the ears.

So I've done something I really had no interest in doing before. I've joined NaNoWrMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. This is a self challenge to write a complete first draft of a novel of not less than 50,000 words during the month of November. No editing, not much pondering, just writing. Oh, and no whining. You can read all of the information on this at It is international in scope but also small town because you can align yourself with a home "region" of writers that live near you. They even host local "write ins" around the region where in the writers get together and simply...write. Refreshing. I'm sure a lot of coffee drinking and chit chat goes on, too. I'll be attending my first write in on Thursday so I'm not really sure of the protocol.

So what new, dare I say novel, idea for a story am I working on? Hmm... I always hate to talk to much about an idea before I have it fleshed out, and this one is barely skeletal. Let's just say remote lab... and murder most foul! Yep, can you tell I'm having fun with this already? I haven't felt this excited about writing a story in a while. It has become fun again. I guess I just needed the right motivation. And to decide to stop whining! I'll keep you posted.

PS - For those of you wondering about my ankle situation. If you recall, I broke it rather violently last fall and spent a year recuperating and getting stronger. Last month I went under the knife again and had seven of the nine screws removed, two are in for the long haul, and the metal plate came out, too. I'm 4 weeks post op and can walk the dog around the block with my trusty cane - as long as there is no ice!