November Madness Redux

It's been almost a year to the day since my first post on this blog about, you guessed it, NaNoWriMo. I had come home from a writer's meeting on November 1, all ready to jump into my first day of National Novel Writing Month -- and I remembered I hadn't signed up to participate.

Didn't make that mistake this year. I'm all signed up to write my 50,000 word novel in a month, tentatively titled Haven of Ruin (or, alternately, Shelter of Perfidy or Refuge of Havoc). It's about the destructive effects of America's cultural decline on a particular family. It's mainstream fiction and, like nearly everything I write, it's politically incorrect (i.e., the leading man is virtuous, strong and loving).

So they tell me I gotta turn off my "inner editor" and just write. Write 1,666 words a day. I think I can churn out the words, but that inner editor business -- we'll hafta see. I'm a plotter, not a pantser. From where I sit, no-editing-as-you-go looks ... daunting.

For the Sweetest Romance Authors Scavenger Hunt

Welcome, scavenger hunters! Those of you who are owned by a cat may be able to relate to this.

This is my cat, Slick Man Buddy-ro. Yes, he really is this crotchety, except when he's being a sweet boy. But regardless of his mood, I have never seen an animal with such determination to get between me and my keyboard. He likes to lounge on my desk and use my arm for a pillow.

I love the little guy, but he does this at the most inopportune times. So I'm working on a scene from my next romance, Storm Surge. It's a tough one that's been evading me for some time. And just as it starts to come together, to gel enough for words, Buddy-ro jumps up on my desk for the sixteenth time today.

"Move! Go on, get down!"

He ignores me and stretches out in front of my keyboard and begins to purr. I resolutely pick him up and deposit him on the floor, return my fingers to the home keys and ... the scene is gone. Completely gone.


But at least the scavenger hunt's not gone! To continue, follow this link:

Written Outtakes Festival

out⋅take  /ˈaʊtˌteɪk/ –noun 1. a segment of film or videotape edited out of the final version....

I think most writers have scenes they've cut from stories, novels or screenplays -- the equivalent of piles of film lying in coils on the editing room floor. Scenes get cut for various reasons. Some were never intended to be in the final version, anyway, but were exercises used by a writer to get to know characters better. Others get the ax because a story is too long, or it just doesn't read right.

In Southern Man, the protagonist, Troy Stevenson and his wife, Patty, have a "storybook" marriage. The reader finds that Patty's adoration of her husband is "near idolatrous" and that Troy is "crazy about his wife."

But even in near-perfect marriages, couples experience those less-than-perfect moments that let them know they're still in the real world, as the following scene illustrates. (BTW, I never intended for this scene to be in the novel, as it doesn't advance the story; but it did help me get to know my characters better.)

Do you have outtakes from your stories or novels you'd like to share? If they're short, please share them in the comments. A bit longer? Email them to me at and we'll see about making them a future blog post. Or, post them to your own blog or site and send us the link!

Let's have an Written Outtake Festival!

Outtake from Southern Man

Patty steered the LeSabre down Benton Street to the intersection with busy Forsythe Avenue. She braked the vehicle to a halt and looked left and right. It was rush hour and traffic appeared to be nonstop in both directions.

Troy sat in the passenger's seat. They had just dropped off his vehicle at Abbott's for servicing tomorrow. Now he also looked left and right at the traffic and discerned breaks in both lanes that would reach the intersection at the same time.

"Go after that red Toyota," he said.

Patty studied the red vehicle's speed, looked in the other direction. She appeared to be getting ready to pull out when Troy suggested but the vehicle passed and the LeSaber didn't move.

"Go!" Troy said, but the window of opportunity was gone. "Why didn't you go?"

"Cars were moving too fast. The break in traffic wasn't big enough."

Troy groaned softly and began monitoring the traffic for another break. More seconds passed. "Okay...go! Now!"

Still, the LeSabre sat at the intersection, its turn signal ticking monotonously.

"What was wrong that time?"

Patty sighed. "I didn't know if that car in the outside lane might change lanes and hit us if I pulled out."

Troy nodded slightly, clamped his lips together and resumed looking for breaks in traffic.

Well aware of his exasperation, Patty said, "Do you want to drive?"

"I may have to if we want to get home toni--Go! Punch it!"

Patty punched it. The station wagon scooted across the intersection and turned left with a slight squealing of tires.