Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I have more to write about than is appropriate for this blog. Thus, trying to focus on the writing-oriented topics is tough.

First, let's talk about my students, which have been a focus this month. I'm so very proud of them. (Yeah, I've said this, but they keep giving me more to be proud of!)

6th period, holding steady in second place most of the month, surged forward and not only passed 8th period by percentage and word count, but hit their own goal last Tuesday! (Round of Woot for 6th period!) Then, since that wasn't good enough, they kept writing and passed 8th period's goal, too! They currently have 64,020; their goal was set at 58k.

8th period made a good effort, but weren't able to meet the class goal this week; they are 58.8k out of 62k. Not much left, and I think they'll hit it. Many of them are already done, so most of the strongest writers are no longer adding to the collective word count.

1st period isn't done either, but wow did they put up a fight this last week! They were further behind than anyone, and needing about 14,000 words on Friday to even catch up. They didn't make it, but in that 90 minutes of class time on Friday, they churned out over 10,000 words! They now stand at 49,272 words. A mere 2,728 words from their class goal! I was amazed that they brought that much gain in only one class period!

They don't have class at all this week, being off for Thanksgiving break, but I sure hope they write like I encouraged them to. The game is over next week with only one class each.

Now, as for my own contributions and efforts for NaNoWriMo: I have completed two out of the three class anthology pieces. I'm working on the third class piece now, and then to tackle the afterschool one, which is significantly bigger than the three for class.

Susan's Book Club, which is for the Nanite Chaser series, is complete at 4,297 words. There's a little of the tech fun for those that really enjoy that aspect, but mostly, this one is for the romance and plot fanatics! It's too short to spill any beans, but let's just say Susan plays a much bigger role in this one than usual. Watch for this, and other, Nanite Chaser stories on DavidJace.com

The other Nanite story, Shocking Rescue, currently has 1,308 words, but at least I can tell you a little more about that one! Derek gets an assignment to rescue workers from a major fire: in a power plant! So, let's see, in one big building, we have technicians to rescue, lots of fire, lots of water, and lots of electricity. Derek and the nanites are in for quite the challenge this time!

The last class story is from the world of On Common Ground. This one I hesitate to tell too much about, because it takes place after On Common Ground so has some spoilers built in. However, I will tell you that there's a big fight in a demon trial and the pretty little angel in the picture there was in it! (Notice the wing.) [Image by Boris Vallejo]

The last project for NaNoWriMo is Slave Princess. This one is a new piece, and most likely a stand alone story. The general idea? Kingdom is attacked by goblins. Royal Family is murdered, except for the young children, who are rescued by a knight and caretaker. Unfortunately, little Princess Gemma is captured by the goblins, her knight brought down before her eyes. She becomes a slave in the goblin camp, and grows up in that camp. Her brother may or may not have made it out alive.

After many years, a prisoner is brought in to the goblin camp that recognizes the slave girl. So begins the adventure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

From Whiners to Writers

Is it bad when your "slothful" students are kicking your literary butt?

Friday night was the first Write-In for our school. We advertised it as "YWP Hosts DFW NaNoWriMos." As far as I know, it is the first time in the history of the Young Writers Program that the two groups have mingled. I count it as a success, though I was a little disappointed by the grown-up attendance. (I think the weather threats kept many away.) Our wonderful DFW Municipal Liason was in attendance, however, and was kind enough to bring goody bags for all of my kids (nearly 20 sacrificed their Friday Night for writing, fun, food, and extra credit). The biggest hit of the goody bags were the little googly-eyed "fuzzies". One of my students bartered and begged and acquired a small army of fuzzies with which she will no doubt take over the world.

We had a couple of word wars, and lots of fun and laughter. Overheard throughout the night, however, were conversations like this:

"How many words do you have so far?"
"Two thousand, but I'm still only in the Rising Action!"

I am so proud of these kids. So many of them, only six weeks ago, tried everything they could do to escape the writing class they had been shoved into and hated to write. Now they groan in defeat when their class count is only 39-thousand words and they missed beating the other class by 1.5 percent! Hearing 7th and 8th graders use words like Rising Action, Protagonist, Conflict, and Subplot in casual conversation just warms my heart.

Not every NaNoNovel is a success story, unfortunately. I do have some that are not only behind, but not gaining much ground. Curiously, it isn't that they don't care, they just don't care enough to put in the extra effort, I guess. One girl lied when charting word counts. She claimed to have 200 words, but only had 190. I called her on it, and she pounded the desk. "I want that little green bar!"

Now if only I can catch up to some of my little super-stars! For those following my work, I'm writing 4 total stories: two Nanite Chasers, a supplemental scene based in the world of On Common Ground, and a new short story called Slave Princess. In the Nanite stories, Derek has once again met up with Taryn, but only briefly before off to "serve and protect." Let's hope he hasn't bitten off more than he (and the nanites) can chew! In the other story, we're getting to see a whole new side of Susan. Those watching and guessing on that story arc are going to LOVE it! The Common Ground bonus story centers on Rayne. I don't want to spill many beans on that, but let's just say he hasn't gotten any less arrogant, but has become a much bigger danger! Slave Princess has only penned the exposition thus far, but little Gemma knows how to make quite the entrance! If I don't miss my bet, she'll grab your heart and squeeze out a tear before you've even hit the real story!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Full Pages!

Wow, I am so impressed with my students. They have really rocked the house and brought it to the game this first week of NaNoWriMo. To recap in case you didn't read the last couple of weeks' blog posts: I have three Creative Writing classes of 25-30 inner city 7th-graders. The class happened at the last minute, so none of them got to choose to be in there, they were just put in there because they needed electives. I am doing NaNoWriMo with all three classes, each class creating a themed anthology of stories equal to 2,000 words for every student. (I am also writing a 2k story for each class to help encourage them and be a part of it.) I'm also running the afterschool NaNoWriMo, whose kids are writing 10-15 thousand words each, and is voluntary particpation.

Well, alot of the kids in these classes don't want to be in the class, but this week, you'd never have known it.

My 1st period class, which met twice this week (Tues & Thurs), is writing a work titled "Won't Back Down" along the theme of "Evil vs Good." They logged 15,602 words this week.

My 6th period class got to meet three times, (Mon, Wed, & Fri) and their theme is "Never betray a friend." They are calling their novel BFNFL: Best Friend NOT For Life. This class turned out an amazing 27,239 words this week!

Finally, my 8th period class, which also met three times, chose "Don't pick a fight you can't win" as their theme and "Fighting with Demons" as their title. These students brought 28,427 words to the table this week! Outstanding!

I am so proud of all of them! Some on Friday had even hit their goal of 2,000 words! We gave them a big round of applause. Then I asked each of them one question: Are you done yet? *grin* Nope! They've still got pages of story to write!

In comparison, these are the same classes wherein earlier this year I asked them to write 500 words and they acted as though I had shot them and took two weeks to get it turned in. Now, they churn out 500 words in a class period without blinking twice, and go home promising to double their word count. I can't wait for Monday.

My afterschooler NaNoWriMos have also been hard at work, but many of them didn't get their word counts updated this week, so I don't have a total count for them. There are about 25 of them, though, and several have logged over 2-3 thousand words each.

This coming Friday night, November 12th is going to be really exciting, though. My students will be hosting a Write-In for the adult NaNoWriMo program here in Dallas-Ft. Worth. If you are in the area and doing NaNoWriMo, you're invited! If you haven't seen the information out there yet, send me a message and I'll get you what you need to know. There's going to be games, prizes, food, and drink. Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blank Pages

It's here, that magical time of year that fills so many with such joy, and such dread. Yes, I'm talking about NaNoWriMo. One of my students last Friday told me she was scared of Midnight Sunday night, when NaNoWriMo starts. She's going to love it.

Well, in my last post (which was much too long ago; I'm falling down on the job), I talked about how my classroom students are writing anthologies to be part of NaNoWriMo. We discussed and voted and here are the results:

  • 1st period is writing about "Evil vs Good" and are calling their anthology Won't Back Down.
  • 6th period's theme is "Never betray a friend" and they are calling their anthology BFNFL (Best Friends NOT for Life).
  • 8th period chose "Don't pick a fight you can't win" and is calling their anthology Fighting with Demons.

I'm so excited to see what all they come up with. They've shown some real promise and growth all the way around. This 2,000-word assignment/challenge for NaNoWriMo will be their longest work yet (for most of them).

As for myself, yes, I am contributing to each of their anthologies and writing with my afterschool WriMos. For the afterschool bunch, I committed to 12,000 words. That puts my total word count for NaNoWriMo this year at 18,000. It's a great defense against student complaints about writing a mere 2k. My 12k work will be called Slave Princess and is an idea sprung from chatting with a Facebook friend. Bit of a fairytale style story, but it should be fun. As for what I will be writing for the anthologies, I'm not sure yet! I've been so busy getting them prepared and ready I forgot to prewrite my own! So, I need to come up with short story ideas for each of the above classes. I am planning to borrow some characters from the world of On Common Ground for one of them, but that could fit in two out of the three.

So, I need to figure out what to write for the other two. Any suggestions?