A 9mm Stored In My Underwear Drawer

FOR THE LOVE OF RESEARCH…

OK, to better learn about my characters for my novel- being that my main character is a former Marine & now Police Officer, I’ve done the following:

Interviewed (2) Marine and know another

Visited a recruitment office

Read a crap load of materials on them

Studied countless Marine videos ( Discovery Channel stuff, personal blogs & journals)

Watched Marine themed movies including ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and I HATE war movies !!!

Facebooked I “Liked” the United States Marine Corp on Facebook including their Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego (Where my fictional character will be trained at)

Shooting I’m even going to go rifle and pistol shooting in the upcoming months

Spoken with Family Even though he isn’t a Marine I sat down with my father and spoke to him about his experience in the Army and why he joined. When I asked him why the Army and not the Marines he said “I didn’t  join the military to go fight and kill someone!” CRACKED ME UP!! But it says a lot about the roll and perception of the Marines in our armed forces.

I’m about as liberal as they come. I used to be afraid of guns and I didn’t know or think about the difference between each of the armed forces. Outside of knowing why my own family, friends and community members join the military (ie. A way out of bad neighborhoods, career/school opportunities or a need for strong support and guidance) I never really understood why anyone would put themselves in harms way for our own government that has demonstrated time and time again how they ALWAYS need to be reminded to give back when our soldiers return from war and are in need.

With that in mind, my ongoing process of learning and listening to the experiences of others I’ve come to respect and admire the strength, courage and stamina found in each of these Marine men and women, truly amazing. For that I am grateful to everyone I have spoken to and what I have learned.

However, in the process of researching I think I’ve come to learn way too much about hair cut regulations, rankings, The Crucible, and even BCGs…… that would be ‘Birth Control Glasses’ (military issued glasses).  And now my friend (The Marine I interviewed) was so excited that I was writing a story about a Marine he went out and bought me a T-shirt, coffee mug and my favorite, a Marine fatigued mouse pad!

Now if I can only get all my NYC Police family members and friends to get me stuff. I will be well on my way to become a card carrying NRA member with a 9mm stored in my underwear drawer and shotgun in my imaginary pick-up!! 😛

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My Soundtrack To Falling In Love

Another late night writing session…Pandora is on and this song comes in my queue.

When I first heard this album ‘ComeFromHeaven‘ I was falling in love with the person I would then go on to be with for the next 13 years.  Alpha, Fiona Apple and a few others provided the soundtrack to  some of the best moments in my life. I hope you enjoy.

‘Sometime Later’ By- Alpha

I’m Not Quite a Loser

WHAT 38,344 WORDS LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE……

November 30, 2011- I didn’t even leave my desk at work because the ½ hour commute home meant I would lose more than 1,000 words in my writing. But by this point I knew I wouldn’t make the full 50,000, and honestly, it didn’t matter. What mattered was finishing and trying my best to the very end. I did just that.

Corny as it may sound….. I feel like a winner, kind of. I won’t lie as my phone alarm went off 11:59 November 30th I did feel like a loser- a big one.

But just as a fellow NaNoWriMo writing buddy said “Get as many words in as you can, especially in the beginning because life happens”. She wasn’t kidding. My ‘Life’ happening came in the form loosing a close family member 1 week before the Thanksgiving holiday. My 1,699 word per day goal was the last thing on my mind; my small world was temporarily turned upside down.

Breaking through the loss, I returned a few days before 30th determined to write until my fingers dropped. In the end I achieved something that may be small in some eyes but great in mine. I flexed a muscle I didn’t realize I had.

  • I didn’t go back to edit, edit again and re-edit the sentence I just wrote, thus wasting time and getting side tracked.
  • I didn’t stop and spend an entire day looking up a name for a character because it needed meaning in that very moment.
  • I didn’t spend hours and days researching the police radio codes for dispatching an officer to a crime scene.
  • I wrote even when I didn’t want to write.
  • I wrote when the small voice inside me said my story will never be seen or heard…I wrote.

In the end I pushed through. I made due with the temporary names, the fake dispatching codes. I made due and in return I have a story.

I’ve read countless blogs on winning and losing to National Novel Writing Month. Each an inspirational tale of late nights, blue computer screens, constant word count updates, music playlists, outlining gone wrong, story lines changed or chucked all together. I even ran into a site that blasted National Novel Writing Month. Calling it out as a dangerous community of ‘Charlie Nobodies” calling themselves authors.

For me it was one of the best things I’ve done for my novel. As I said it wasn’t a loss at all. I learned, I met great people along the way and above all I wrote. Now I need to continue….

THE BEST OF MY NANO EXPERIENCE

Some of the Best Writing buddies

@JayrodPG
@so_she_writes
@KateSpencer2go
@lumos_nox_
@raineerose
@MiykieQ
@ParentheticaLex

Best Online Writing Tool (Kicks your ass to just write)
Write or Die: http://writeordie.com/#Web+App

Best Post NaNoWriMo Blog
http://blog.deannaknippling.com/?p=3687#.TtVF_9Vksn8.twitter

Best Post NaNoWriMo Image
From @JasonRunnels http://pic.twitter.com/gWwJjNi7

Money & Fellowships: Creative Writing

Hi Fellow Artists, Writers and Creators!

As I mentioned before, I’ve been trying to transfer my skills as a 8 year grant writer and non-profit fundraising veteran to help myself obtain grants and find unique learning opportunities as I continue my path in becoming a professional writer.

Well, it hasn’t been easy. Give me 2 hours and a computer I can find a $500,000 grant for a youth program, domestic violence support services and even find donors for a community arts program; I could write the entire proposal, draw up logic models, breakdown process/ outcome objectives and create a full budget – but finding grants in the arts for individual people, well… it’s a B*#&%

In any case I found some great fellowships for Creative & Screen Writing. Why should I keep this information only to myself but share with others and save you some time? Just because they don’t work for me, they may help you.

I’m only posting updated and more comprehensive programs/ grants that I would want for myself and others. Submission dates may have passed but ALL the websites are active and grants are still being awarded. I went through each and tried to summarise to save you time.

CHECK OUT:

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS: Although I am not an expert creative writer I am however, rather good with grants and soliciting for funds, so leave a comment or send email, I will try my best to help. OR if you have info to share GREAT!!!!

I WILL BE UPDATING THIS EACH MONTH SO COME BACK !

Killing Off My Main Character…..

I guess this is a spoiler alert.  However, by the time I edit this crazy draft, find & get an agent, then  with some luck have it published you would have forgotten any of this. Why? Because I’m very sure it will be many years from now that any of this will happen  LOL!!!

During a recent NaNoWriMo write-in I met a fellow writer who asked me why was I going to kill my main character. In so many words she asked  if I was killing him because he was a ‘bad’ person.

I smiled inside because it couldn’t be further from the truth.  He is a ‘good’ person, a man deserving love and a happy life, but in this case not an ending one would expect or want in a story for their main character.  Sometimes things are too broken to be fixed.

Life and the choices we make as individuals often leads us down a path to the inevitable, in this case death.  My character’s hurt has corrupted their ability make the change needed to do more than survive—to truly live. Allowing the pain to be the only thing that defines them. It may sound harsh, perhaps it is, but it is the one truth I know in the story’s outcome I created.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life meeting all types of people from all walks- off the beaten path so to say.  As a psych major, I choose a field of study that would help give me the tools needed to empower individuals enough to help them make the choices that would improve their own lives. This lead to a 12 year chosen career path as a counselor to teens, parents, alcoholics, heroin addicts, and HIV/AIDS patients. In that time, even as I looked at my own life, I began to understand there comes a point in a person’s life where the window for change becomes narrower and narrower.

Once a person passes that “Fork in the Road” and neglected to make the proverbial correct turn,

  • not taking that Leap of Faith and trusting even when others had shown them otherwise,
  • not embracing the love they found in a place they weren’t expecting,
  • not leaving the job that has caused them more misery than the security it provided,
  • not leaving that relationship,
  • saying No instead of Yes,
  • saying Yes instead of always No.

If we didn’t step into the unknown rather than settle for the familiar, it can become too late, as in the instance of my character’s story arc.

We are creatures of habit and within that there is a layer of fear of the unfamiliar and unknown.  I believe this fear leaves us in the soppy mess that we often find ourselves in. A dirty, unhappy but very comfortable place. Why?  Because this is what we know, what we are familiar with—it therefore becomes the only truth we believe in, because anything else, anything better, is not possible or to be lived by others.

By no means am I trying to simplify our lives and say that we are filled with a multitude of  choices by which we always turn a blind eye to.  What I do believe is that there is always a moment in our lives, however small or large that we do have an opportunity to choose; a decision that can either let the door crack open just enough to let the breeze in or simply see and experience something different.

I am not an blind optimist but I am always hopeful. Innately, I have always been a person that listened and cared when others don’t. I’ve often been let down or consumed with the pain of others—of individuals when they themselves don’t seem to be aware of or want to think about what they actually might be facing. Even with this, I remain ever hopeful.

Within the story I’ve created, it is my hope through witnessing my protagonist’s death the ones closest to him will value life and learn the lessons that needed to be learned. I see the main character of my story as the visionary—the poet and the one that needs to die.

I think it was said best by Michael Cunningham in his book The Hours

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast”  – Virgina Wolf

Novel Research: Women’s Police Locker Room

RESEARCH: I couldn’t wait to share it.. Its a mini clip of me in a women’s Police Precinct locker room.  (Although I took this video last winter- I just edited it for posting) Note: its a tiny piece. I had to edit it down for obvious reasons (women were changing into their uniforms! Ha!)

MY OBSERVATIONS:

  • Dirty
  • Unmaintained by cleaning staff (lack there of)
  • Peeling paint
  • Mold
  • A foul smell I couldn’t tell and didn’t want to know where it was coming from.
  • (1) Shower and (1) toilet for over 40 women (That work 8-12 hour shifts….or more at a time)
  • A report that there were bed bugs (Thus why most of the women kept their uniforms in plastic bags)
  • Bullet proof vests that looked way too small and too uncomfortable for most of the women there.
  • Their Lockers: Pictures of their children.. husbands..wives..boyfriends and girlfriends taped up.
  • A feeling of comradery despite the circumstance they worked in….Absolutely yes.

I Wonder What People Think About When They Write

44,683  Words Left

Watching the tweets come in one after another.
600 words,10,000 and even 20 thousand words!
I check on my NaNoWriMo buddies ….the same.

The speed of which everyone is writing….so fast. From afar it seems like each 1,000 word threshold is  filled with a secure plot and eloquent language to follow.  Watching the counts come in, I’m not wondering what the story is about but what is going through the mind of the author as he/she types.  Besides the obvious… your story. What are you thinking about as you go through your process of writing?

For me it is a combination  of a few things:

Self doubt like: “Boy that was a bad sentance….What am I six years old?”  to  “He would never say that, its not part of his character”

But mostly its a stream of consciousness, one of thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions.  All in the mind of my character, my main character- the hero embarking on his journey.  I feel like I’m just along for the ride.

Now I have to pull back from the police station he works in, stop thinking about the weight of his vest on his chest as he sits waiting for role call.  I stop listening to the jokes he cracks with his fellow Police Officers.

I stop to look at the word count below my screen.  1,800 down another 44,683 to go…assuming that’s where my story ends.

I’m beyond new at writing …creative writing that is.  I’ve written for years as a grant writer but this is very different. As a first time writer with no real “Schooling” I know the 1800 words I just spewed out …..you know, the same ones that are now staring blankly at me, lifeless- SUCK…..bad.

I joined National Novel Writing Month to help me get through a first full draft of my novel.  Knowing the daily word count goal would force me to stop going back and correcting and rewording my sentences. Stop me from picking up thesaurus to find a better word for ‘stubborn’.  Frankly I did it so I wouldn’t  re-read my paragraphs 10 times and more fixing and mending my language.

Well it’s helping, but it is also creating a new  level of stress for me. It is leaving me to wonder what my ‘final’ page will look like. Gibberish perhaps? Will I have to rewrite it again? Most likely.

In the end I don’t care. I care more about my story, the lives I’m watching within the novel. I have to care more about the prospect that I just may have a few sentences out of many that maybe good enough to stay…..

                      Here’s to a Shitty First Draft!  Rock on NaNoWriMo!!