NaNoWriMo Success and the Path Forward

 

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NaNoWriMo 2019 was a huge success! I get so amped-up every year–like already in September–and then on the first day I get this “Oh, no!” feeling come over me. Once the first few pages are written, it’s the “I’ve got this” feeling. After week two and into the beginning of week three, it’s the “What in the heck did I ever commit to this for?” feeling. And after week three and into week four, it’s a flurry of flying fingers trying to get it done. Crossing the 50K mark is sheer exhilaration! So many emotions in one month!

The project I worked on is the first draft of book 7–and the final book–of the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Misfortune. Fifty thousand words doesn’t mean it’s complete yet, so I’ll continue writing daily until it’s done, but crossing that 50K mark was huge. The first draft of book 6, Shear Fear, is ready to be revised. And revised. And revised again. And the Christmas novella is also in the works.

But first–after completing the first draft of Shear Misfortune–is finalizing the revisions in book two of the Whispering Pines duology, Abby’s Retribution. The anticipated release is this spring. If all goes according to plan and, God willing, of course, 2020 should be a grand year in the writing life!

Happy Writing and Happy December!

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Sliding Into Home Base with NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo is in the middle of the 4th and final week. When they say slow and steady wins the race, there’s truth in that. I haven’t “won” yet, but I see it on the horizon. And I’m making it there. While some of my NaNo friends passed me days ago—as in several days ago for one of them (Rachel Carrera 🙂 I’m closing that gap to 50,000 words.

My takeaways that I’ve learned from this month are:

  • A community of people cheering each other on, engaging in friendly competition to keep each other going strong, is beneficial to a well-rounded successful month.
  • One doesn’t have to give up everything to accomplish this huge task of writing 50,000 words in a month. I was still able to live a fairly full life. I said “no” to many things, but still said “yes” to many as well. I still had fun with grandkids, cooked a few meals for my husband (fewer than normal, but yet I did), was part of a Holiday Craft Fair, attended a writing class out of town, had coffee with a friend, even watched a little TV (a lot less than usual, but I certainly wasn’t deprived.) My point is, it’s all about prioritizing. The month of November teaches me how to do that better than anything else can. Now if I can just keep it going for the other 11 months. Not 50,000 words each of those 11 months, mind you, but the prioritization part.
  • Slow and steady really does win the race. The number of words per day to win NaNoWriMo is 1,667. Some days all I was able to accomplish was 500 words. One day was only 492. I made up the rest on other days so I could reach my goal. Some nights I was dog-tired. But if I told myself to just write 300 more words before calling it a day, it was a much more achievable goal. And I was 300 words further along. Getting into the habit of writing every day, even if it’s only 300 words—heck, even if it’s only 100 words—you’ll be so much further along than you would have had you decided you just “didn’t feel like it” that day.

I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.    ― William Faulkner

  • Persistence is key. There were days that I hated the story I was writing. There were times I wanted to scrap the whole thing and start over. There were moments when I thought, “What the heck am I doing and why am I doing it?” But as I’ve said before, I’m nothing if not stubborn and persistent. I persevered. I refused to quit. And now that I’m nearing the end of week four, I’m elated. The plot is really coming together, my characters and I are friends again, they know the direction in which they’re going, and the clues are all playing out beautifully.

Winners never quit, and quitters never win. ―Vince Lombardi

  • By pushing toward my goal, keeping my eyes on the prize, whether I “felt like it” or not, on November 30th I will have 50,000 words of a first draft, a huge accomplishment, instead of hours of mindless TV, Internet surfing, or social media. I have something to show for my effort—the first draft of the final book in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Misfortune.

Here’s to another successful month of NaNoWriMo!

Cheers

Week 3 of NaNoWriMo

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” —Richard Bach

We’re now well into the third week of NaNoWriMo and I’m still hanging on by a thread. Life took some twists and turns the past week and I was barely squeaking in my word count. But what’s most important is I am hanging in there. I’m nothing if not stubborn and determined. Haha!

I even managed to squeeze in some outside fun with a 3-hour writing class with Northern Colorado Writers where I met some other NaNoWriMo participants. We’re in a Facebook group, but meeting them in person was fantastic and motivating! I left the class feeling energized and ready to roll for another week. I also had a table set up at a local holiday craft fair. Over 80 vendors, Christmas lights and music, high spirits, and a coffee bar on the premises. It certainly doesn’t get any better than that! It was a huge success!

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And now it’s off to get in some more words on my work-in-progress. Next week we NaNo-ers will be sliding into the finishing streak. Wishing you all a beautiful week!

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.                  —Anonymous

 

NaNoWriMo Week Two is Well Underway

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NaNoWri is well underway and I’m keeping up. Barely, but I am. Typically I like to get ahead during the first week so I have some fudge room. Not so this month. In fact I got behind and took the weekend to catch up. I set aside a day at our place in the mountains, by myself, no husband and no dogs, and just got down to business. I also scheduled two 2-hour writing sessions on Monday since it was a holiday where I work my day job.

This NaNo stuff isn’t for the weak of heart. It’s hard stuff. But it’s also some of the most satisfying and rewarding times as well. There’s something about setting a goal and striving to reach it, no matter what, that is so inspiring.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

So onward. I have words to write, a goal to meet, and a journey that matters. Until next week…

Write on.

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.  –Toni Morrison

NaNo No-No’s

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NaNo No-No’s–try say that fast three times!

Last week I listed some must-have’s for NaNoWriMo participants. This week I’m sharing a couple of things you’d do well to steer clear of and a couple of tips.

Stop your inner critic and editor. They seem to be persistent little buggers during NaNoWriMo, and they’re exactly what will stop you from getting your word count in. Stop them as soon as they start, before they have a chance to gain momentum. There will be plenty of time in the “Now What” months of January and February for letting your inner editor take charge when NaNo supports the revision and publishing process. It might not be a bad idea to keep the inner critic away much longer though. Unless s/he can be gentle.

Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Accept your process. Don’t compare your process, what works for you, with anyone else’s. We are all individual, and writing isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Each person’s process is as unique as the person is. Don’t try to conform to be anyone else. There’s only one you and only you can tell your story. Your way. Do it proudly and with confidence.

Schedule writing time. It’s all too easy to come up with a list of things that just have to be done. And getting those things done becomes the focus, telling yourself that you will get the writing done as soon as your list is complete. But there’s always going to be dishes to do, laundry to be done, toys to pick up, phones and emails to answer, dogs to walk, garbage to take, refrigerators to clean…Make appointments with yourself by scheduling your writing time–in ink so it can’t be erased–in your planner. And stick to it. If you make an appointment with someone, you wouldn’t cancel it because you didn’t think it was important enough to keep. An appointment with yourself is no different. You’re worth it.

Make a playlist. I love to write to music. And matching the genre to the scene I’m writing not only makes me more productive, but it adds depth to that scene. I love using Pandora because I can choose any station at any time. It’s quick, easy, and affordable. (Free, if you don’t mind listening to commercials.)

Reward yourself. When your dog accomplishes a trick, s/he likely gets a treat. Or when your child masters something, you more than likely reward him or her. Reward yourself. Set small goals for yourself throughout the month. Decide ahead of time what the goals will be and what the reward will be when you meet said goals. It will give you just that little extra push to git ‘er done. I’ll pretty much do anything if I can have dark chocolate. Or any kind of chocolate, for that matter. NaNo is no small feat. Looking at it as 50,000 words can be overwhelming if you don’t have smaller goals tucked within.

Absolutely no one loses! If you make it to 50,000 words, good for you! You’re a winner! Your dedication and persistence paid off. But guess what? If you don’t make it to 50,000 words, you’re still a winner! Every word you write is more than you had before the month of November. And every word is one more closer to writing the story that only you can tell. And the world needs your story.

The scariest moment is always just before you start.
—Stephen King

That’s the thing about books, they let you travel without moving your feet.
—Jhumpa Lahiri

 

 

 

Making the Most of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2019

 

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! Which means it’s time to create–worlds, plots and subplots, characters, conflict, music lists, and a space in which you love to spend time. Because if you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month, you will be spending a LOT of time in that space. And with your characters.

Over the years, I’ve come up with a list of must-haves for a successful NaNo experience. That list changes from year to year, but a few of the things that are on that list every year, without fail, are:

Music. Pandora is my choice every year. Instead of spending time putting together playlists, I can select a radio station to match the scene I’m writing at the moment. It’s convenient, effective and for a small fee you can avoid typical radio station commercials.

Pen. Pencil. Notebook. Yep, all three. And not just any old ones. I take care in finding favorites. Even though I use my computer for writing my story, I love good smooth-writing pens (gel and glitter, and in several colors) and a good mechanical pencil for taking notes. And a fun notebook to carry around with me. Always. You never know when you’re going to come across that gem of an idea to add to your story, that perfect conversation you hear on the bus or in the grocery store that you just have to add between your characters, or those spare minutes that when added up, also significantly add up your word count. And during NaNo, word count–and fun–is what it’s all about.

Internet Blocker. For productivity and focus. There are several good ones–Freedom, StayFocused, Limit, WasteNoTime, Forest, LeechBlock, Pause…Personally, I use Freedom. It’s easy-to-use and inexpensive. If you want to try it, you can get seven sessions free. After that it can be yours for as little as $2.42 per month. Freedom also allows you to keep some websites available during a blocked session in case you just simply cannot do without one.

Scrivener. I was a Microsoft Word girl for the longest time. Until I met and fell in love with Scrivener. While there’s a learning curve, I’ve taken the pressure off of myself by realizing that I can learn as I go. I still don’t use it to it’s full potential, but I couldn’t do without it anymore. If you want to try before you buy, you can get a 30-day free trial. After that it’s $45 for a standard license for Windows and $49 for Mac. And to sweeten the deal, if you participate in NaNoWriMo, you get a discount. There are a ton of YouTube tutorials available.

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo. It’s chock full of motivational tips and tricks, suggestions, ideas, and so much more. Every year in October I read it, highlighting and underlining more than the year before. I swear more is added every time I read it!

Snacks. Preferably those that you don’t allow yourself on a regular basis. And those that aren’t sticky or crumbly so you don’t spend your writing time wiping off your keyboard or washing your hands. Procrastination is a big enough beast without adding yet another thing to do during your writing time. And don’t forget special drinks. Though you might want to save those of the alcohol variety until after your writing session. 🙂

Support. Having that one person to support your endeavor is fabulous. But NaNo provides an entire community of people from all over the world. There are chat rooms, word sprints, pep talks from famous authors, write-ins, and forums with active conversations on every topic you could possibly imagine. Writing is often a solitary act. But during NaNo, you’re part of a tribe to cheer you on to the finish line and celebrating with you when you do.

Imagination! During NaNo, anything goes. It’s a time to let loose and have fun. Have your characters do and say outrageous things. Write in a genre you’d never thought you’d write. Create a world in which you’ve always wanted to live. Just write. Anything. And everything.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this November, what are some tools that lead to your success? Those things that you just couldn’t do without.

Rhonda Blackhurst

There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.   ― Chris Baty

 

 

 

 

Short and Sweet

I have out-of-state family visiting so family has been my priority this week. So this Wednesday’s post is short and sweet. Next week I’ll be back with some good information on making the best of NaNoWriMo.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.
Barbara Bush

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Wild animals are less wild and more human than many humans of this world 
― Munia Khan

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See you next week for some talk about NaNoWriMo!

 

 

Book in a Day

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Last week was perhaps one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a long time, in large part due to Crime Victims’ Rights week (more on that next week), causing me to fall a bit behind on my Camp NaNo hourly goal. Nothing I can’t make up, though. And Saturday’s all-day event made it worth it.

Book in a Day, put on by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, was an all-day event in beautiful Golden, CO. Although, to tell the truth, I didn’t get to see beautiful Golden because I was in a conference room all day with nary a window.

But, again, it was worth it.

The event began with Stuart Horwitz, founder of Book Architecture, a firm of independent editors, and Anita Mumm, teaching a class based on Stuart’s latest book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts. Given how informational and motivational the class was, I would strongly recommend the book.

Following that was lunch with fellow creatives. And there’s nothing that gets a room more fully charged with inspiration than writers brainstorming, sharing information, and networking–with FOOD! 🙂

Tummies and brains fed, we moved into simultaneous afternoon sessions, one on Indie Publishing and one on the path to Traditional Publishing. While I’m an indie author with seven published books, I attended the latter. I really enjoy being an independent author and it was my choice to do so (in fact, I didn’t even consider traditional publishing for a very long time), but with a new series brewing in my head, I’m considering shopping around for an agent. Considering. I’m still undecided. The class was taught by Angie Hodapp of Nelson Literary Agency. Now, let me say that I’ve attended several of Angie’s classes and have never been disappointed. The woman is a genius and knows how to deliver a message. In fact, when I attend the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference in May, you can bet I’ll be attending her classes there as well.

The last session? Marketing. I tend to shudder when I say that word. Simply because if there’s one weakness I have in the writing life, it’s marketing.  The session, however, was a treat! Successful, talented, and kind-hearted indie authors (Bernadette Marie, Lisa Manifold, Corinne O’Flynn, Nathan Lowell) and, again, the wonderful Angie Hodapp, shared in an entertaining, informative, attention-keeping manner the ins and outs of what has and has not worked for them. Social Media appears to be the most agreed upon success.

To make it easy to find them, I’ve included the links to their websites. It’s well worth your time to check them out.

 

And now…I’m back off to Camp to begin week three of revising book two, Abby’s Retribution, in my Whispering Pines series. The lanterns are lit, the bonfires are burning, and the campfire conversation is flowing. I think it’s time to break out the s’mores!

 

Setting Goals

Camp NaNoWriMo began April 1st and I’m off and running. One of the best parts is the virtual cabins. We have 11 people in our cabin and the support, comradarie, and inspiration we get from each other is priceless. And, pardon me if it sounds like I’m bragging, but we do have the best cabin ever. 🙂

One of the things that has come up in conversation with my cabinmates is setting goals and it got me thinking.

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Camp NaNo comes around twice a year and NaNoWriMo every November. I set goals for these months and more often than not meet them if for no other reason than I won’t allow myself not to. So why, oh why, do I struggle to meet writing goals the rest of the months? Granted, it’s not that I’m unproductive in my writing life. I have seven published books and belong to a few writer’s groups. But I could be so much more productive if I set goals and was determined to meet them as I am during the NaNo months.

I’ve determined that as much of a blessing as electronics are, they’re equally a curse. It’s all too easy to hide behind a screen, whether it’s the computer or television screen, to “recover” from a long, hard day. Or to be mindlessly entertained. And to drag oneself away once settled in? Forget it. It has a vice-like grip.

All this from just the first week of Camp and there are still three more weeks to go! Having virtual cabinmates and chatting around a virtual campfire have proven to be most beneficial. 🙂

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Some of my cabinmates have blogs that I’ll list here in case you want to visit them. You won’t be sorry.

https://kitdunsmore.com/

https://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/

What about you–do you set goals, writing or otherwise? Are you more likely to meet them or not? If you do set goals, what goals do you have? I’d love to hear and will be checking in between writing sprints.

Time to head back to Camp so I can meet my goal. Happy Reading, Happy Writing.

Off to Camp

Writing Goals

 

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Nowhere does it say goals need to be set in January. In fact, it’s never too late to set goals. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life. I spent some time this weekend reviewing my writing accomplishments from the past year and made some goals for 2019.

What I did in 2018:

  • Participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July, meeting my goal in both.
  • Participated in NaNoWriMo in November and won by completing 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days.
  • Entered into an agreement with a narrator through ACX, making my Melanie Hogan Series available as an audio book. Thus far Shear Madness and Shear Deception are available.
  • Attended the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver in September, spending three days fully immersed in all things writing.
  • Completed the first draft of book two, Abby’s Retribution, in the Whispering Pines mysteries.
  • Completed the first draft of book four, Shear Fear, in the Melanie Hogan mysteries.
  • Had a creative non-fiction essay chosen to be published in an anthology, Colorado’s Emerging Writers (2018).
  • Published book three in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Murder, on New Year’s Eve.

My goals for 2019:

  • Participate once again in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July; and, once again, meeting my goal.
  • Participate once again in NaNoWriMo in November; and, once again, win by meeting the 50,000-word goal. (I have to admit this one gives me a bit of anxiety already.)
  • Attend the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Ft. Collins, CO in May.
  • Complete the project of finishing books three and four in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Malice and Shear Murder, in audio.
  • Work on learning and implementing some marketing techniques. I’ve never been comfortable with marketing and it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and just do it.
  • Teach a four to six-week creative writing class to kids ages 12-17. I’ve got the agenda and the location planned. I just need to schedule it.
  • Submit a short story to the Colorado’s Emerging Writers 2019 anthology.
  • Revise, edit, and publish book two in the Whispering Pines mystery.

Whew! I’ve got some work ahead of me. Work that will require cutting down on TV time. Ready! Set! Go!

Do you have any writing goals for 2019? I’d love to hear what they are.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Jim Rohn

Rhonda Blackhurst