Writer Wednesday: It’s Time To Talk About NaNoWriMo #writerwednesday #amwriting #NaNoWriMo

Here we are on the last day of August, with summer winding down and the kids returning to school. Right now I’m looking ahead to November, specifically NaNoWriMo.


I’ve written about NaNo before, but here’s a description in a nutshell: You write a first draft of a novel (50,000 words, which breaks down to 1,667 words per day) in 30 days, during the month of November. Hence, National Novel Writing Month = NaNoWriMo. Sounds daunting, right? Actually, it’s totally doable, and I should know. I’ve been participating in NaNo for years, and I always make my word count. My personal best is 66k in 19 days, but there were a few extenuating circumstances there: I didn’t pay my cable bill, and I had no internet for half the month. It was a wonder Facebook survived without me.

Lesson the first: reducing/eliminating distractions has a positive effect on word count.

The other tip I can’t stress enough is getting all of your pre-work out of the way before November 1. What is pre-work? Well, your outline, for one. Also, if your story concept needs any sort of research–be it places, dates, obscure languages–do it now. when November 1 hits you want to hit the ground running, not get bogged down reading semi-factual Wikipedia pages.

Lesson the second: research now, write like the dickens later.

Something else I do to keep me on track is engage a NaNo buddy. Your buddy can help you by critiquing plot points, helping you out when the story hits a rough patch, or just by commiserating and sheering you on. My NaNo buddy this year is Barry *waves* and we’ve already had a few chat sessions to talk about our projects. He’s working on a horror novel with a fricken’ AWESOME concept, and I’m going to cobble together a retelling of Medusa and other Greek myths. Which means that our projects will never, ever be in competition for the same venue. Side benefit!

Lesson the third: get a support group/person/houseplant. There’s no need to go it alone!

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is tough, but any serious writer can make this goal. If you feel like you need a challenge to get yourself back on track, or just want to revel in writing something new, I say give NaNo a go. You might surprise yourself.

afe12-frontOh, and that 66k I wrote in 19 days? It’s a real book – Changing Teams! Check it out here!


See that, if I can win NaNo, and get the resulting project published, you can too 🙂


Are you planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Tell me in the comments!




#NaNoWriMo : You Never Know What Can Happen

As NaNoWriMo 2015 gears up for its final push, I remember last year’s project and all the things that have happened since. To say that NaNo 2014 was unprecedented is a definite understatement.

Like many writers around the world, I look forward to participating in NaNo every November. (Don’t know what NaNoWriMo is? Learn more here.) In the past I’ve banged out full-length epic fantasies and short stories featuring everything from zombies to homicidal horses in the 30 day time frame. I didn’t do anything like that for NaNo 2014.

I wrote a series.

Okay, so I didn’t finish the entire series by November 30. But I did finish book one, Changing Teams, in 19 days. In the remaining eleven I outlined the next three books and wrote a tie-in short story. Yeah, this series was happening in a big way.

I plunged ahead into book two, but when I was halfway in I decided it should be book three. Then I switched the protagonists for books two and four and added some backstory to book three, which meant that I needed to make some changes to book one. In essence, I was writing the entire series at once.

This was uncharted territory for me. I’ve written three series in the past—one epic fantasy, two urban fantasies—and I’ve always followed the same formula:

  1. Write book one (meaning the whole process including beta reading, editing, etc.)
  2. Check out the market, determine which agents and publishers are buying works similar to mine
  3. Write query letters, synopses, and submit away
  4. Commence nail biting
  5. If book one is picked up, consider series potential

This time around, instead of waiting for an agent or publisher to express interest in book one, I had the entire series in my back pocket. When I queried Limitless Publishing–who ultimately signed the series–they asked if there were sequels to Changing Teams. My response? “Yes, and they’re all ready to go.”

Is writing an entire series simultaneously hard? You bet it is. But it’s also a relatively simple trick from which I’m already reaping awards. And none of this would have come about without my participation in NaNoWriMo. My take-aways from this are as follows:

  1. NaNoWriMo forces you to think–and write–outside the box
  2. If an idea grabs you, go with it, at least for a little while
  3. Don’t be afraid to do things differently.

As for this year’s NaNo, i’m on track to finish the sequel to a previously unpublished urban fantasy. does this mean I’ll finish another series before I query it? Maybe.

What are your NaNoWriMo success stories? Share in the comments!

Now available

Changing Teams – available now http://amzn.to/1MAlCuE