a slight hiccup

I’m pretty smart and am usually fairly understanding, but today I’m a bit baffled and a lot displeased.

For the NaNo kick-off, the organizers did a spectacular job of finding a venue. The Old Spaghetti Factory in New West is central amongst the participants, large and we’d been assured there would be no set menu. This was important because the attendees ranged from high school students to gainfully employed professionals to starving authors. The venue was booked from 1-4 to avoid the restaurant’s peak time.

The initial reservationwas for 45 people made a month in advance. Almost two weeks out, the organizers increased the reservation to 60 and again confirmed there would be no group menu. On Thursday, 2 days prior to the event the organizer onfirmed the numbers.

Last night, less than 24 hours before the event, the organizer received a voicemail from the restaurant that there would be a set menu… and worse, it would be the dinner menu even though the event took place at 1pm.

Now, I’m familiar with the restaurant industry, worked closely with it for over 11 years. I understand all about the need for set menus for large groups. What I don’t understand is the last minute change to force a set menu  on a group that’s more organized than most. Not to mention foisting a more expensive dinner menu at mid-day. Seriously not cool.

I’ll go to the kick-off, wearing my special event Witches hat. Order food that I really can’t afford (I fall into the starving author category) and have a spectcular time.

I’m not so sure you’ll see me at the Old Spaghetti Factory again.

Update & Correction:

The Old Spaghetti Factory didn’t force the dinner menu on us, but the other menu was spaghetti, spaghetti or spaghetti, so really there was no choice.

I have to say, the wait staff were fantastic. There were 70 people in our group when I counted heads. It was a wonderful afternoon. Major props to Jennerosity and Mysterious Æges for a job well done.

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Can you feel the excitement?

We’re approaching one of my favourite times of the year times two!

Sunday is the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) AND half price chocolate day.

What a great boon to all those NaNoers who will need that extra boost of sugar in their systems to get a jump on their word count. Having said that I’m pretty sure with all the socializing, I’ll fall behind over the first few days.

The kickoff is Saturday afternoon which flows into Hallowe’en – which technically won’t interfere with writing time unless you count the sugar rush and hangovers that could result from all the festivities. I’m sure my hands will be shaky and my knees will be weak on Sunday Morning as I attempt to include the Sunday Brunch Writing Prompts at www.Toasted-Cheese.com in my latest NaNo  novel.

Then it’s off to make a quick stop at Waves in New West to hang out with some of the writing folks in this end of the burbs on my way dowtown to hang with the Sunday NaNo social crew. Then it’s off to a friends for dinner and a movie then back home to write (assuming I’m still somewhat awake and coherent). I’m tired just thinking about it.

Good thing there’s all that half price chocolate and candy available.

For those about to write we salute you. Gird your loins, loosen your belts (damn all that half price junk food) perk your coffee, ditch your inner editor and pen, pen that novel.

2 days to NaNoWriMo

ready, set, panic!

Are you a planner or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser. I am definitely a pantser. I did a complete outline once. When I had it finished I no longer wanted to write the novel because I knew how it ended.

If you’re like me we’re in good company. At the Surrey International Writers’ Conference I attended a seminar conducted by Hallie Ephron. When asked how she writes she admitted that she was on 260 of her new book and still had no idea who-dun-it. It was a 300 page book, she was begining to feel a bit uneasy. But, she hasn’t failed yet, so I take heart in knowing I’m not completely insane by writing the way I do.

I’ve done more planning this year than usual. This story idea came to me last spring while digging in my garden. I’ve been mulling over it during spare moments and think I have a good idea for the set-up. I still have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m sure the characters will let me know.

Last year I started out with 4 names and knew one of them was an alien hiding out on earth. That’s it, That’s all.

Ready or not, NaNo starts Sunday morning at 12:01am. This year I might even take an evening nap, make a cup of coffee and start writing at the sound of the gun. At least that’s my plan. What about you?

Oh and added bonus the clocks go back an hour on November 1st – whee!

How’d it get to be Wednesday already?

They say time flies when you’re having fun and I totally believe it.

I’ve always been a writer. I know that might sound a bit pretentious but it’s true. I’ve always told stories. I still have notebooks from creative writing classes back in elementary school and realize I was pretty darn good. Mom was right 🙂

Yesterday I was in a bit of a funk. I wanted to write but the business side of writing was rearing it’s ugly head and had to be dealt with. Some days that stuff isn’t my favourite, but it get’s me to where I have to go so I do it, even though I’d much rather be writing.

Today, everything is in line and I’m blasting through my to do list. My reward? Nano starts on Sunday. If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo.org here’s the deets.

We start November 1st and write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. It works out to 1666.67 words per day which is totally doable.

My first year doing NaNo I was completely behind. We’re talking by 12,000 words. I’d barely started my story and it was the morning of November 11th. I decided to shun housework, errands and my roommate (he’s my youngest brother, so that was easy enough) and write. After lunch I decided his tiptoeing around me was more distracting than helpful, I packed up my laptop and headed out to one of the coffee shops down the street.

By end of day, I’d written 9,000 words. I was back in the race.

Leson learned though. The next day I was completely brain-dead (yes, more than usual) so I’ve resolved never to let that happen to me again.

NaNoWriMo.org has expanded a lot even in the three years I’ve been participating. It’s not just about writing in November. Many of us have stuck together throughout the year, writing (although not at that crazy pace) and encouraging each other. If you love to write, I say Do IT. Even if you don’t make the 50,000 words the process is a true learning experience and chances are, you’ll exceed your own expectations.

Speaking of wwriting, it’s time to go back and do some more of the not as fun writing. Business processes and editing – whee!!

Here We Go!

It’s the morning after and a fitting place to begin the first entry to this blog. I feel a bit hung-over but not from booze, it’s the after effect of an amazing weekend of information overload at the annual Surrey International Writers’ Conference (www.siwc.ca).

If you write, I can’t recommend this conference enough. I rubbed shoulders with world class authors, powerful editors & agents and oodles of soon-to-be-famous writers and filled my head (and notebook) with great advice and vital knowledge.

Times might be bleak, but the outlook is positive for those of us who want to write for a living. In one of the sessions I attended (wearing my managing editor hat for www.PaperBoxBooks.com), Donald Maass was intrigued by my identification of a widening gap in the market. He commented that we might be on to something with our e-publishing company’s plan to give first time authors exposure and sales and an introduction to the business side of publishing.

The timing is spectacular as next weekend marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org), the insane adventure of writing a 50,000 words novel in thirty days. This will be my third year participating. Not only is the deadline a great get-off-your-butt-and-write incentive, but the community that has developed around the challenge is extraordinary.

Here in Vancouver, we’ve extended the event all year. We don’t keep up the frantic pace, but we still get together every week and write, cheerlead, help and encourage each other. Kick-off party is Saturday, October 31st and there will be several events during the month to get to know your fellow writers–added bonus, weekly emails of encouragement from famous writers like Neil Gaimen.

Whether you live in Vancouver or not, check out the NaNo website for details on your local region. If you’re not interested in participating in the challenge, don’t ignore the website. It has lively discussion boards to answer writing and genre questions.

Now it’s time to organize my notes from the conference so I don’t feel so overwhelmed then buckle down to edit submitted material before I’m allowed to change gears again and outline my plan for this year’s NaNo.