November 21, 2017

Traditions In Your Family and Story

Courtesy of Kaz @ Pixabay
Whether you live in the US and celebrate Thanksgiving or not, traditions are part of your life and part of the lives of characters in books. Have you created traditions in your story? Have you broken the traditions to see how your characters might react? This is a great way to keep those NaNoWriMo words flowing.


Thanksgiving abounds with traditions, each one unique to each family. Add new members, and your traditions might clash with theirs. Or maybe you've found a way to incorporate a little of both. No matter how you put it, traditions affect us in remarkable ways.

In my family, my mom's sweet potato pudding was mandatory. It wasn't Thanksgiving (or Christmas) without it. Of course, we included the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and all of the other dishes. They are part of the tradition.

Two stories about changing traditions stick in my mind. One, my mother thankfully avoided. The other, well...

One year, my mother invited our neighbors to dinner. We loved this couple. Although childless, they made us feel special. They wanted to contribute to the meal, and after much thought, suggested sweet potato pie. Mom jumped in with another suggestion before that idea went too far. We loved mom's sweet potato pudding (yes pudding, not pie or casserole although it's close to the casserole many people have, just better). Thanks to mom's quick thinking, she avoided a revolt. Think I'm kidding? Nope. I'm afraid to say we might would have forgotten our manners if she allowed someone else to mess with that tradition.

Now for the less successful story:

When I was pregnant with my first child, I looked forward to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' home because I missed my mom's cooking. I had eaten what my mother-in-law considered stuffing, a very dry cornbread crumbled up, and learned they didn't do sweet potatoes. Oh no!

For some reason, that year my mom tried a new stuffing recipe. When I saw it, I fought back the tears. The stuffing had things in it. Things I didn't like. Things she'd never added before. Why this year? Count it up to hormones or anticipation or whatever you like, but I ran from the table crying.

Mom never changed the stuffing recipe after that.

Traditions stick with us. We grow up and form new families and adapt our traditions to fit everyone. I'm the one who still makes mom's sweet potato pudding. I've gotten pretty good at it. I just wish I could get her stuffing recipe right. I'm close but not there.

What traditions do you look forward to? Do you have a story where someone broke the tradition? What happened?

November 13, 2017

The Peculiarities of Writing

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is in full swing, and I'm behind on my word count. Don't feel bad for me. I expected to be at this point.

I celebrated my birthday over the weekend. Add that to major family gatherings over Thanksgiving, and you'll see why I usually don't sign up for NaNoWriMo. I lose too many writing days to family events that I'm not about to pass up.

That said, I'm still plugging on, writing towards my 50,000 word count goal for the month.

Since I need to get back to writing, I thought I'd share a quick post about one of the weird issues writers deal with: getting our facts straight.

This past week, I googled the following question:

Can a heat sensor pick up the presence of a bomb at a distance?

Add this to other odd questions I've googled about drugs, slang for large amounts of cash, guns, and poisons, and I'm probably on someone's watch list by now.

What links did Google give me?

Adds for thermal cameras. Not much help.

Then, I searched YouTube for info on thermal cameras and found this video which was good for laughs and sort of answered my question.

What strange questions have you googled in the pursuit of your writing?

November 6, 2017

Do You NaNoWriMo?

November is NaNoWriMo month for many writers. What's NaNoWriMo you ask? National Novel Writing Month.

In the month of November, writers commit to trying to write 50,000 words of a novel. Most people commit to writing every day. It's been several years since I've done it, but I'm doing it this year.

Normally I shy away from NaNoWriMo because it's November, a month when my calendar fills up, making it hard to achieve the 50K word goal. This year, I do have quite a bit on my schedule, but, barring unforeseen circumstances, I believe I can write most days. There will be some days when it's not possible, so I'll have to work hard on the other days to up my creativity.

For those of you unfamiliar with the effort it takes to write 50,000 words, let me put this in perspective for you. Most novels run 70,000-100,000 words. My genre tends to run 90,000-100,000 words. Writing 50K gets you to 50-70% completion of a first draft. Not a finished manuscript. A first draft tends to be messy and needs lots of revisions before it's ready for submission or publication.

My posts this month will be short and focused on NaNoWriMo. That way, I can focus on the bigger goal of 50K words.

If you're participating this year, please feel free to comment on this post and add me as a writing buddy. I'm listed as vbabbie which is also my Twitter handle.