PUG: The Making of a NaNoWriMo Horror Novel
November is almost upon us, which means crazy meatheads like me are stretching our fingers in preparation to cram 50K of words into a month from out of thin air. Since I haven’t been interviewed in a while and my two zodiac signs (Leo & Rooster) are growling and strutting for attention, I figure I’d introduce you to my November project, PUG, by asking myself a few questions. In the process maybe you’ll understand what inspires me, why people get the crazy idea to let their mind & fingers spazz out for a month, and possibly – hopefully – I will make you want to either follow my progress or even better, join me on this fun-freakin-tastic journey.
– I first heard about NaNoWriMo, a challenge for writers (amateurs and professionals alike) to write 50,000 words in one month, from my friend, Jodi Lee, back in 2007. You can find out more info about the challenge and the non-profit organization at http://www.nanowrimo.org . My first two novels took me forever to write and I thought I could use the extra motivation and a deadline for a real word count would put the pressure on me I needed to write my third book. I won that first year and the one after that. Those two books are the still as yet unpublished Sin in Skin and A Walk Amongst the Dead. I’ve worked on a few other novels between then and now, and a whole slew of short stories (some of those have been published, lol). Mostly, I’ve been editing those two NaNo books, because they are awesome. I mentioned in a previous post how I got a little help from one of the writers I most admire, Ray Garton (read his books and you’ll understand why I think he’s totally fucking cool). After his read-through, I was humbled and encouraged by his advice. I then turned into a hermit with his head buried in draft after draft of his novel.
*BTW I’m finally getting up the guts to send AWAtD out to one of two publishers I most want to find a home for my book with. The problem is, they are both holding open submissions and I can’t decide which to send it to. A little advice on that front would be a great help everyone. So share your two cents in the comments section, please.
What is PUG about? Give the people a synopsis, why don’t you?
Okay, here’s the official NaNo synopsis:
Bob Ballard and his wife, Linda both grew up with a family dog and they want their newborn daughter to enjoy the same experience. They bundle up baby Alexandra and make a trip to the local animal shelter. There Linda falls in love with a pug. They adopt her and decide to name her, Sugar (“because she’s so sweet”), but baby Alex doesn’t seem to trust the new family pet. Her parents think their little girl will grow to love her new puppy.
But they don’t know Sugar. And they didn’t bother to ask where the shelter found the dog.
Soon neighborhood cats will go missing and the crazy cat lady next door will accuse Sugar of being behind the disappearances. Bob begins to suspect he should have trusted his daughter.
Will he convince Linda their dog is evil before it’s too late? Or will she have to see the danger herself before she will listen?
What inspired the idea to make the monster an evil Pug dog?
A couple of years ago my wife adopted a pug from a local shelter. She named her, Cupcake. Cupcake was a rescue from a puppy mill, was only a year old and had already given birth to a litter of pups, and had spent most of her so far short life kept in a kennel. If you’ve ever met a puppy mill dog you know they are either aggressive or nervous. Both of our dogs (we also have a Boston Terrier – my puppy – named, Mickey) are puppy mill rescue dogs. But whereas Mickey is obsessively clean and rarely makes a mess outside of the area of his dog pad, Cupcake is not. She eats her poo. I tell everyone she does. It annoys the hell out of me. She’ll poop and pee on her pad or in the vicinity of her pad and then will eat her poo to spread the mess around. She mushes it into the floor, smearing it all over. We’ve researched the behavior. We’ve tried dozens of solutions. None work. I understand why she does it. But it still drives me nuts. Sometimes, I think she does it to be a little evil. That’s ridiculous though. She’s too cute to be evil. Or is she?
You’re taking a whole month, putting everything else aside, and writing a short novel/novella. What challenges might stand in your way? How will you keep yourself motivated?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, and ha! It’s going to be a challenge for sure. My wife just broke her foot. She’s the one who keeps our home running. She’s amazing at it. If I’m the home security, she would be considered the home manager. I have Crohn’s disease and as a result of all the bleeding, I’m severely anemic and fatigued, which means I can’t keep up with the day-to-day around here at the speed she does. One of my other duties around the house is taxi driver for everyone (including extended family) and that means when someone needs to go somewhere I’ll need to put down the writing to get in the driver’s seat. I’ll also be spending half of my day doing the final polish on that other manuscript I was taking about and preparing a submission package. I have a five-year old and a twelve-year old (who’s Asperger’s Autistic).
To deal with all this and get those words desperately down on electronic/real paper I plan on stealing any second I can to sit and write. I’ll be seeking the help of my pain medication, smokes, and a crap ton of movies. I’ll also make sure my inspirational books like, On Writing by Stephen King, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, and The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass are close by. I will be dragging my laptop into the bathroom with me – not in the shower, of course.
And I will be learning to say, “Leave me alone. I’m writing.” To everybody.
I also plan on writing an update on my progress once a week and posting it to my blog to keep me honest. I’ll be looking for your help with this, my readers. Your encouragement is much appreciated. In my next posting I’ll be asking you to send me pics of your evil looking dogs so I can post them on the blog for all to see. Get your cameras ready. The winners of most evil dogs will be in for some canine-related prizes.
Any advice to others who are considering taking the November NaNo plunge?
Yeah, don’t stress about it. This is suppose to be challenging, but it’s also meant to be fun. I had more fun then stress by the time I was done – both years I won. I remember the astonished sense of pride I felt when I managed in the final push to write 9K of words in a 3 ½ hour coffee shop bonanza. I bragged to all of my friends I’d done it. None of them had ever attempted such a feat. They thought it was pretty amazing.
Now, what if I didn’t finish in those two years, how would I feel? I’d have been proud of myself for trying and I would have kept on trying. Those books I started working on wouldn’t sit on a shelf gathering dust because (like what actually happened both times) I would have taken a month off and went right back to writing them. Even at 50K the book is rarely done. Your first draft will most often be only half-finished and then there are the drafts that come after as you edit. Think of it like a trip into outer space. You have your rockets strapped on and you thrust out of the atmosphere, that’s NaNoWriMo work, the thrust for adjustment and the coasting that comes after isn’t so hard, but it will take longer. Finishing the book just becomes your way of maintaining orbit. Either way, you’re out of this world until you are completely done and the book is off to publishers. Then you’ll be so excited because it’s time to blast off again.
Good luck to all of you getting your NaNo groove on this year. And to the others… I hope to hear the clicking of your keyboard during NaNoWriMo 2014.
Now a message from our sponsor.
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