Thursday, October 27, 2011

NaNo Gauntlet Throw Down

All right, after walking around with a NaNoWriMo gauntlet in my hand, fingering its tanned texture, putting it to my nose and inhaling its organic, rawhide perfume, and examining the crease points down its palm, I'm throwing it down.  It's no matter that my last NaNo experience produced a 50k+ (though incomplete) manuscript that I was never able to finish.  No matter that I have family flying in from out-of-state to enjoy Thanksgiving at my house.  No matter that I'm training for my second half-marathon.  I'm going for it.  I'm doing NaNo this year!

But won't it be too much for you, silly girl?

Why no, it won't.  Here's my reasoning:

So what that the first NaNo novel was a disaster in word vomit?  I wasn't prepared, last time.  I had an idea for my main plot and for the protag and the antag.  This time, I have a well-organized project with complete character sketches for all the major cast members, a plot (with actual plot points!), that has been broken down into three chunks representing the beginning of the book, the middle, and the end, and 38 scene cards  -- each index card bears a scene goal and notes -- to guide my draft.  At least this time, my word vomit will be organized and revision-able.  (<-- pretty sure that's not a word.  See? I'm embracing the spirit of NaNo all ready!)

So what if I have family coming in for a whole week in November?  Last time I did NaNo, I hit the 50K mark in the third week of the month -- well before Thanksgiving.

So what if I'm running five days a week?  The half-marathon is in March 2012.  I have plenty of wiggle room before my training becomes uber-intense.  P-l-e-n-t-y of time!

So, what about you?  You in?  Or are you still arguing with yourself about whether NaNo 2011 is for you?  Talk to me about your concerns or planning/lack thereof in the comments.  I will be sending return emails this week.  Everyone needs NaNo support!

Also, they're still working to get the Buddies tab back up and running at  Once it's operational, let's be buddies! I'm Nicole Ducleroir, over there too :))  (I'm getting my profile together and it'll be filled out and pretty by the day's end.)

Hope to hear from you! :D

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Goals, and a GREAT article on lit. mags

Two writer goals I set for myself in January 2011 were:  Publish a short story in a literary magazine; and, Sell a short story.  I'm working toward other goals too, but this afternoon I want to focus on the two above.

To accomplish the goal of publishing in a literary magazine, I organized myself in a couple areas.  First, I created an account at  For those who aren't familiar, Duotrope is "an award-winning, free writers' resource listing over 3550 current Fiction and Poetry publications." (Text borrowed from website.)  This is my Submission Central, where I learn of markets open for query and where I track my submissions.

Using Duotrope's tools, I determined what literary magazines represent my A-List Markets -- in other words, where I'd most like to see my work accepted.  I won't lie; the magazines and reviews on this list are all ranked by Duotrope as the "Most Challenging Fiction Markets," with an average acceptance rate of only 0.51%.  Hey, what can I say?  I aim high.

I also have a B-List and a C-List of literary markets I'm interested in.  I first submit a story to a batch of A-List markets.  As I receive rejections, I submit to markets in the next tier down.  Finding the right market, for the right story, at the right time is an exercise in patience and perseverance.

The second goal ups the stakes for me.  I want to be a paid author.  I'm not interested in making a living on my writing.  But there is, for me personally, a level of prestige that comes along with an editor viewing my fiction as a product that he or she is willing to purchase in order to best achieve his or her marketing objectives.  Selling a story is on my bucket list and this is the year I've decided to cross it off.

Today I came across an excellent article written by literary magazine editor Lynne Barrett, which I found extremely helpful.  I wanted to pass the link on to anyone who, like me, is submitting their work to literary markets.  In fact, I think the advice is pertinent to any writer submitting work of any length, because it covers the importance of following submission guidelines, how to handle rejections of various types and lengths, and the proper protocol when responding to an acceptance.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Thanks for stopping by~ 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Newsworthy Tid-bits!

Is it Friday already??  I hope you've had as productive a week as I have.  Here are a couple headlines I'd like to share, that made my week a fab one:

«  Yesterday I listened to a live stream of Jessica Bell being interviewed on a  Greek radio station.  (Technology rocks!)  The interviewer asked questions in Greek and translated the answers Jessica provided in English.  (Her voice is so lovely!)  In addition, between questions the station played songs from the soundtrack that was born from String Bridge, Jessica's debut novel which drops on Nov. 1st.  (Jessica wrote the lyrics and sings all the songs.)

If you missed it, don't despair!  Here's a link to the archive:

«  Speaking of String Bridge, I am participating in the upcoming launch and blog book tour.  Please come back and visit me on Nov. 2nd when I will review String Bridge, and again on Nov. 8th when I will interview Jessica.  I've prepared some very interesting questions and frankly, I can't wait to find out how Jessica answers them!

«  I've met another rising star in the blogosphere to introduce to those who don't know her yet.  Melanie McCullough's debut YA novel Breathe will launch on Nov. 11th, 2011.  As part of her 100+ blog followers celebration, she's hosting a give-away.  Check out her blog and join the fun by clicking here: A New Kind of Ordinary

«  In personal news, I averted elimination three times now and have advanced to the final round of the speculative fiction writing contest I'm competing in at  The prompt for the final round is a series of photos, each with eerie and cryptic captions.  Drawing inspiration from at least one photo and text, I have to write a short story in any genre and of any length.  I have one week to submit.  Wish me luck!

«  Also, I am up to 11 miles on my long training runs.  The Athens Half Marathon is just around the corner (Oct. 23rd) and I'm getting more excited with each passing day.

«  Lastly, tomorrow I'm walking with my family in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's annual Walk For A Cure.  We are part of a team called William's Warriors.  William is a boy who lives across the street, who fell ill a couple winters ago with a nasty virus that triggered the onset of juvenile diabetes in his body.  The outbreak of the virus in the schools led to a sharp and disturbing rise in the number of new juvenile diabetes cases in our community.  It could have been my kids.  So scary.  So we walk every year to show our support and raise money for the research that will, one day, eradicate this heinous disease.

If you are in the Atlanta, GA area this weekend and would like to walk with us, contact me!  [NicoleDucleroir(at)gmail(dot)com]  And, if you'd just like to make a small donation, won't you follow the link below?

Thank you so much!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Believe You CAN

When I take an honest look at my life, I realize every failed attempt at a goal could be attributed to one simple fact: I didn't believe I could achieve it. And the greatest failure of my adult life has been attempting to write a full-length novel.

During NaNoWriMo 2009, I wrote twenty-four chapters of Overcome, my first-ever novel work-in-progress. It was over 50,000 words and so a success, by NaNo standards. But in the course of 2010, I tried with increasing levels of desperation to write that story through to the end. I couldn't do it. I tried everything, including scrapping the partially written first draft and returning to the plotting stage. When my creative steam fizzled out nineteen chapters into the second first draft, I faced an ugly truth: I couldn't write the novel. And that truth was a fertile bed for fear. I was afraid I'd never write a novel.

You hear the phrases all the time: The Power of Positive Thinking; Self-fulfilling Prophesy; Positive Mindset. Rhonda Byrne sparked a phenomenon in her book The Secret, which is, in itself, a metaphor for believing a dream into reality. Byrne says, "Your current thoughts are creating your future life. What you think about the most or focus on the most will appear as your life.1

Though writing is still on my front burner, there's another goal brewing in a pot next to it. You see, a couple months ago I took on a new goal, one that has me face-to-face with those principles of self-belief. The lessons I'm (re)learning have filtered through my new experiences and trickled down to my writing.

My new goal: On October 23rd, I will run my first half marathon. A 13.1-mile race is a lofty goal for someone who has never been a runner. I mean, jogging on a dreadmill at the gym a couple times a week, hardly qualified me as a runner. When a girlfriend recently shared her passion for long distance races, I told her it sounded wonderful...but wasn't for me. After all, I said, I'm not a runner.

But you know how it goes: a conversation stays with you, quietly tapping the shoulder of your mind until you finally turn and cry, "What? What do you want from me?" And at the time I was feeling blue, bored with life's regular chug-along. Two days later the weather was gorgeous. It was the first day to signal the end of summer with a bright blue, haze-free sky and low humidity. I decided to forego my gym workout and try an outdoors run.

It was ridiculously hard. My ankles and hip flexors ached, and my thigh muscles burned. I had to keep slowing to a walk to catch my breath. My lungs felt two sizes too small. I don't think I lasted even three miles. But something happened to me out there, sweating in the fresh air. Being outside, free from the stale, recycled air of the gym, unlocked a reserve of resolve I didn't know I had. And, I enjoyed the challenge of trying something new. That day, I decided I was going to be a runner.

decided I was going to be a runner. When I told this to friends who are runners, they shared lots of suggestions for my success, including tips on training schedules, ideas for diet plans, and pointers on hydration and electrolyte replacement. But the overwhelming piece of advice offered to me was this: Believe you can do it.

Six weeks of training later, I've learned to what extent running is a mental activity. During the difficult legs of a course, particularly up the inclines or through the final miles of a long run, your mind must cheer your body on. Yes you can keep going! You've been up steeper hills than this! You're strong, you CAN make it!

Now, I run up hills without breaking stride or stressing my cardio-vascular system, because even though it's tough, I know I can make it. Twice now I've completed ten-mile training runs. Ten miles! With three weeks of training still ahead of me, I know I can finish a half marathon by race day. I believe it, because I am a runner.

"See the things that you want as already yours. Know that they will come to you at need. Then let them come. Don't fret and worry about them. Don't think about your lack of them. Think of them as yours, as belonging to you, as already in your possession." -- Robert Collier (1885-1950) 2

Not at all coincidentally, work on Piper Crow, (the working title of my second attempt at a novel) has been exciting and productive. This time, I will not let fear sniggle its way into my heart. I can write a novel because I believe I can do it.

After all, I am a novelist. 

[The above article was written by me and originally appeared today in the Drama Newsletter at]       

Thanks for reading!