‘Tis The Season (No, not THAT season…)!

2013-Winner-Facebook-ProfileI’ve purchased all the presents and had them wrapped for more than a week. The house is fully decorated, my kids’ teachers have all received presents, and I’ve even begun the cleaning process before we entertain two different sets of company. All in all, I’m ahead!

I have no idea how this happened. I definitely wasn’t expecting it, since I’m still attempting to recover from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November) and from entering the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest.

I’d signed up for NaNo one time previously, back around 2010, when I first announced to myself and the world (O.K., a few select friends) that I was finally going to write those romance novels I’d always said I wanted to write. Signing up was as far as I got, though – I don’t think I wrote one word that November. This time, however, I was determined. All year I’d been futzing around with my first novel, the one I’d finished a complete draft of last December. I’d been tinkering with revisions and edits, but had managed to start a bit of my second book last spring. I dropped it, though, when feelings of “I should finish the first one first” overtook all else.

What better time to pick it back up than NaNo?. And I did. I wrote just over 50,000 words on the sucker in November. I’m not saying it’s coherent, or that when I go back and re-read it in a month or so that I’ll find much worth salvaging. My characters ran off on unexpected paths (really hard for an outliner like me to accept, but I essentially ended up pantsing a lot of the story by the middle of the month). I forgot subplots, forgot key ideas, introduced notions I’m not sure should be there. Whatever. I did it. I hit the goal of 50,000 words and I “won” NaNoWriMo! Hooray for me! But I kind of wish NaNo happened in January, when all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations and excitement were already over. I get that November fits better alliteratively with the whole NaNo title, but gee whiz, it’s exhausting to try to write while also keeping up with school activities and holiday prep and all that. And did I mention I took off to London for the first week of November, too?

So I expected to use December just to detox. I NEEDED December to detox. But then I stumbled across a blog mentioning the RWA’s Golden Heart awards. I’d heard of the Golden Hearts, of course, and knew they were given out to the best unpublished romance manuscripts submitted. That’s about all I knew, but I discovered the contest was open and that novel submissions were being accepted until December 13th.

I’d put off sending A Man of Character anywhere, even though I’d said OUT LOUD I was going to submit it before the end of the calendar year. Of course by that I meant submit it via the traditional querying-an-agent route, and while a contest is, of course, quite different, it was time to put my money where my mouth is, and give the contest a shot. Which meant I had to whip the manuscript into shape, or at least into as decent shape as I could get it. I added some scenes. I cut down others. I reworded sentences. I wondered if the whole thing sucked rocks, even as I rejoiced at scenes that still made me smile. And in the end, I paid the entrance fee, uploaded the book, and sent it off.

I’m proud of myself. While I hope the story does well, I know it’s highly unlikely I will win; the contest accepts about 1200 manuscripts, and I’m still a newbie to this fiction writing thing in so many ways. Still, a girl can dream, right?

All this to say, I’m tired this month. I’m not writing. I’m not editing. I’m not revising. I’m not doing anything except eating absurd amounts of chocolate and enjoying the feeling of not. I’ll pick it back up in January. That second book needs an ending before the revisions and edits begin. There’s always more to do, to learn, to write. But for now, I’m turning from the season of frantic writerly activity to the season of…frantic holiday activity, interspersed with moments of peace in remembering what the holiday is all about.

Blessings to all of you. And please forgive me if this blog post is not particularly well-written. Hopefully it’s half-coherent, but if not, well, it’s an example of the state of my brain right now.

And hey, could you cross your fingers for me? A little extra good luck can’t hurt, right?

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