NaNoWriMo Prep Time: Story Idea

It’s that time of year again! Time to get ready for the biggest and best writing month of the year — November!!! It’s countdown to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), friends!

If you have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it’s a one month writing challenge that surrounds you with a community of others who all want to write a novel. All you have to do is commit to (at least trying to) write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s the length of a very short novel (ex: The Great Gatsby).

I’m not going to spend any time talking about why you should or shouldn’t participate. There are plenty of other blogs and articles for you to read if you’re curious about that. I’ll just say that I love NaNoWriMo.

What I like most about NaNoWriMo is the built-in community aspect of it. Writing a novel is a lonely slog, no matter if you’ve never written one or if you’ve written hundreds. You have to get those words on the page in order to turn your brilliant idea into a book, and even experienced authors struggle with that. At least in November, I know there are millions of others who are writing alongside me. We’re all in it together and cheering each other on.

This post (and the others that I’ll post in the coming weeks) are focused on the prep work that goes into writing a novel. Since it’s officially NaNoWriMo prep time, and I am currently in the process of solidifying my own idea and getting it ready to write in November, I thought it would be fun to share a little about my process here on my blog.

Note: I’m not going to talk about what I’m actually writing in November. (I don’t usually talk about what I’m writing until after the first draft is done, except with my newsletter subscribers.) But, I will tell you about my process, with the obligatory caveat that process is personal and sometimes one person’s process changes from story to story. Basically, don’t listen to anyone who says you must do it a certain way or you are not a “real writer.” There is no “right way” to write. You do you.

Also, if you are not a writer and/or you’re not curious about writing process, then just skip these posts. My reading wrap-up and reading journal posts aren’t going anywhere. This is just a little additional content for folks who are interested.

Now that all that’s out of the way, let’s get started. The schedule for NaNoWriMo prep is as follows:

  1. Develop a Story Idea (September 12-18)
  2. Create Complex Characters (September 19-25)
  3. Construct a Detailed Plot or Outline (September 26 ‚Äď October 2)
  4. Build a Strong World (October 3-7)
  5. Organize Your Life for Writing! (October 10-16)
  6. Find and Manage Your Time (October 18-24)

As you can see, this week’s prep task is to develop your story idea. If you’re anything like me, you have a million story ideas floating around in your head at any given time, and you’re probably thinking, “but which one do I choose?”

The answer for me is that I try to pick several that might fit together and then mash them all into one novel. I know that sounds messy and like it would never work, but here’s the thing: novels are long. (Shocking observation. I know.) They’re also complicated. They really need more than one idea to sustain them.

You need multiple characters, and they all have to feel like they could be the main character of their own story. You need a main plot and sub plots and character arcs and interesting world-building. You need stuff to keep you going when you get stuck. So, I say, the more the merrier when it comes to ideas.

But even if I’m planning on using more than one idea in my novel, how do I pick which ones to use?

One thing I like to think about is what sort of stories I’m really drawn to at the moment. Making lists really helps here. I make lists of my favorite “comfort food” movies. I write down everything I’ve watched or read lately that I just can’t stop thinking about. I think about the settings and tropes that appeal to me.

Then, once I’ve done that, I step back and have a look at all of it. I try to identify any commonalities or trends. I consider which, if any, of those things would work as a plot or a setting or a trope for the main character(s) that are bouncing around in my brain.

Or, sometimes (most of the time), I have a plot and/or setting idea already, but I don’t have my cast of characters figured out. In those cases, I brainstorm lists of my favorite heroes and/or heroines. I think about why I like them. Am I drawn to stories about outcasts and underdogs (ex: Katniss Everdeen)? Or do you I competence (ex: James Bond)? (Answers: yes and yes). I list my favorite ensembles and try to identify what they have in common (ex: are they mostly small groups of close friends, or found family, or actual families, or sports teams, etc.)?

Finally, I make sure to spend some time thinking about the elements of a story that make me auto-click or auto-buy. This could be genre, at a high level, but it is also more specific elements found within and across genres. As an example, one of the things I talk about in my reading recaps is that, while I love sci-fi and fantasy in general, I’m a sucker for an academy story. I also love training montages. (I actually love both of those things regardless of genre, but hopefully you get my point.)

A few months ago, when I realized that I was going to be wrapping up my Modern Fae series (at least as far as the current series arc goes), I dedicated one of my many blank notebooks to being the place where I keep lists like this.

This works for me because I love writing things in notebooks (and also I’m spending most of my time at home). You may prefer to keep lists like these on your phone or on your computer. It doesn’t matter where you put them, so long as they are easy to find when you need to add to them and you have a place to put new ones that you create. For example, we haven’t even talked about listing favorite magical creatures, or types of magic, or romantic pairings, or…. you get the idea. You never know what’s going to be helpful when it comes time to work on your novel.

This week I’m working on my lists in my spare time, and seeing what fits with the core ideas I have for the story I want to write in November. I’m trying not to get too bogged down thinking about specifics, but I did go on a bit of a tangent earlier in the week, trying to come up with names for my characters. At some point, all of these elements of prep start blending together and building on each other. But, for now I’m trying to stay at a high level and pin down the vibes I want for my story. Next week, we’ll talk more about characters.

Let me know in the comments if you’re planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year and if this is your first time or how many years you’ve participated. If you want to be buddies on the official website, here’s a link to my profile:

November reading summary and NaNoWriMo recap

Well, it’s taken me all weekend to (mostly) recover from NaNoWriMo. I made achieved the 50k words in 30 days goal, but the first draft of book two isn’t done yet. Right now it’s looking like I’ll need to write a total of around 70-75k words to get to “the end” in this first draft. But still… Winner!!! ūüôā

NaNoWriMo is always a challenge for me. The “writing with abandon” mantra is not always a good fit with how I write. That’s partly why I enjoy participating. It pushes me a bit because it favors the pantser, and I like that it brings an infusion of serendipity and whimsy into my writing, because I’m a planner. I write really lean and organized first drafts. I don’t like writing words I’m just going to have to cut later. And I don’t write super fast, because I tend to edit as I go. Even though I tried not to edit during NaNoWriMo, it was pretty much impossible. So, I just wrote the way I write and took extra time to make sure I got to 50k words before the end of the month. It worked, but it took a lot out of me, as it does every year.

Based on the past few months of writing, I think a target of about 25k (new) words per month is probably about right for me in a non-NaNo month. I like to write every day, when I can, but I don’t like to feel like I have to write 1700 words every day. That’s about three hours of writing for me, when you factor in breaks. And I have other things I need to do in a day, even if I’m not “working” at a “real job.”

The other thing I figured out this month is that every single time I got stuck it was because I didn’t do a good enough job planning where I was going next or because I forgot to research something or figure out how I wanted it to work ahead of time. For example, I did a great job thinking through character names in October, because I know that always slows me down. But, I forgot to spend time working out the details around the magic system, and I didn’t do nearly enough prep around the capabilities and characteristics of my antagonist and her crew. So, some of those scenes were much slower to write then they needed to be. I may spend some time working out those details this week, now that the big push for words is over.

Since NaNoWriMo kept me busy in November, I didn’t have much time for reading. This is so unusual for me, but I only finished one book in November. I did get about halfway through Muse of Nightmares during Tome Topple, but the writing came first. So, as much as I’m loving that book, I didn’t allow myself much time to keep reading and finish it.

Seafire by Natalie Parker was the one book I finished in November, and it was pretty great. My only gripe was that it ended on a cliff-hanger. I wasn’t expecting that. For some reason, I hadn’t grasped that this was supposed to be a series. Even if I had, I still don’t think I would have anticipated that the book would end where it does. So, if cliff-hangers bug you, maybe wait until the next book is out to read this one. But, definitely add it to your TBR. I love the female pirate crew in this book. The characters are great, the friendships are so well done, the world-building for lives primarily lived on the sea or near the sea is thoughtful and logical. It’s listed as “fantasy,” but I’m not sure I would classify this as fantasy. It could be fantasy if you assume that the setting is meant to be secondary-world, but that world operates under laws of science like our own, so that’s why I think of it as more futuristic, possibly even post-apocalyptic, sci-fi. So, if you like your speculative fiction more on the plausibly realistic side, and if you like found family and female friendships, you definitely need to check this book out.

The first few weeks of December are going to continue to be busy as I finish this first draft, edit a novella, and prep different novella for release later this month. My goal is to have everything wrapped up by launch day (12/18), and then spend the rest of the year reading, hanging out with family, and having a little reflection and goal setting time in my bullet journal. But, don’t worry, I’ll definitely be posting for “Top Five Wednesday” and other fun stuff throughout the month.

Until then…Happy last month of the year! Happy reading! And happy holidays!

Bullet Journal Set-Up for NaNoWriMo 2018

It’s time. I finally set up my November month at a glance and NaNoWriMo tracker.

This month I’m going minimalist as possible. Only five habits to track, chosen for what I think will keep me healthy and sane while I shift my focus more fully to writing. In terms of health and fitness, my habit goal is to hit my step count every day, try to eat fewer calories than I burn, and shoot for getting at least 45 minutes of continuous movement each day. In terms of mental well-being, my habit goal is at least 5 minutes of meditation and at least 30 minutes of reading for fun. That frees me up to focus the rest of the day on writing. Woo hoo!

This is the first year that I’m not working full time in addition to trying to hit my NaNoWriMo word count goal. I haven’t been able to focus on writing like this since my very first NaNoWriMo, back in 2007. So, this year, I’m shooting for 70,000 words in November instead of 50,000 words. We’ll see how it goes.

You’ll notice I have three benchmark columns in my NaNoWriMo tracker. The first is the basic “peanut butter” goal based on writing 1667 words per day. The second is based on the “reverse NaNoWriMo” method which front-loads the month and decreases your daily word count goal until you get to one word on the last day of the month. I like that method a lot. But, since I’m shooting for 70,000 words this month, I’ve added a third “modified” column. This one starts off using the reverse NaNoWriMo method for the first ten days and then shifts to 2100 words per day for days 11 thru 30.

Ultimately, my goal is to track to the “Modify” column total word count goal. But, I wanted to include all three so that I can make sure I’m at least staying ahead of the “peanut butter” and/or the “reverse” goals.

If you’re planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year, let me know in the comments, and feel free to add me as a buddy on the website. And share your bullet journal word count trackers. I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration.

September Reading Recap and NaNoWriMo Prep

September flew by. I read some books. I wrote a lot of words. I got the first book in my “Modern Fae” series ready to publish. I also finished the first draft of a prequel novella in that series. Oh, and it was my husband’s birthday. Phew.

Here’s what I read in September:

I started off the month with a re-read of The House With a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs. This book was one of my favorites as a kid. However, on my re-read, I’m not entirely sure why I liked it so much. The mystery is pretty weak, and there’s a lot of name calling. Plus I didn’t really like the main character. I know I read a LOT of books by John Bellairs as a kid. This is likely the first one I read, but maybe it wasn’t my favorite? Unless my tastes have changed enormously in the past thirty years (maybe, but I don’t think so), I honestly can’t figure out why I remember liking this book. Oh well. I’m still interested in seeing what they do with the movie.

After that disappointment — seriously, I hate it when a childhood favorite doesn’t live up to the memory — I read From Twinkle, With Love. This was another really cute book by the author of When Dimple Met Rishi. This author does adorable heart-warming teen romance between smart, passionate girls and sweet cinnamon roll boys better than any other YA author I’ve read. This is one of those books you read with a dopey grin on your face. I liked her first book a little better than this one, but only because I think the heroine’s character arc gets a bit muddled at points in this book. But this is still a really fun read, and I recommend it if you liked Dimple and Rishi.

While I was waiting for my library hold on Two Dark Reigns¬†by Kendare Blake, I read the second novella in this series,¬†The Oracle Queen. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this novella, but it happened to come off hold, so I thought I’d give it a try. Boy am I glad I did. This is a really good novella, especially if you’re already into this series. I didn’t know why I should care about the Oracle Queens after the first two books. You’re always hearing that there aren’t any more because this one when crazy. Then, in this novella, you read what really happened, and you’re like, woah. I won’t spoil it, but I can’t wait to see how this plays into future books. But…if this doesn’t change the game in some way, I’m going to be very disappointed.

After that, I dove into The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This new contemporary romance has been getting all the hype. After reading it, I think that hype is justified. The book features a heroine with high-functioning autism who hires an escort to teach her how to be in a relationship. (Note: this is also written by a woman with high-functioning autism, and I’m all about #OwnVoices.) It’s kind of a reverse Pretty Woman, but only at a very basic level. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a heroine like this before in any book, and I have to say, it’s refreshing. I really liked Stella. At times I also got really annoyed with Stella. I plowed through this book up until it got to “the black moment” with the obligatory break-up scene near the end of the book. When it got to that part, I closed my Kindle. It took a few days to get back to it because I was so frustrated and disappointed with how that scene was handled. Everything else about this book felt fresh and awesome, but that last bit, from the dark moment to the end, wasn’t as satisfying for me. I still highly, highly recommend this book. I still gave it five stars. I just thought things got a little out of character at the end there.

This month, I just scored a bunch more new releases from my library (Seafire¬†! Two Dark Reigns¬†! Yay!). This has been a big digital library loan year for me, and that’s throwing off my reading plans a bit. But it reminds me…if your library let’s you recommend books to buy, would you mind requesting that they add my book (Eve of the Fae by E. Menozzi)? It should be available on Overdrive, and I would love it if people could borrow my book from the library, because libraries are awesome and not everyone has budget to buy books.

Now that the book launch is over, I was planning on spending some quality time reading my pre-order of¬†Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I think I’m still going to, but first I need to catch up on my NaNoWriMo prep. Plus I’m¬†trying to finish up two short writing projects that I want to get done before November. My new plan is to carve out a chunk of “do not disturb” time in the next few weeks, because I have been waiting for that book for a long time, and I want to savor it.

Speaking of savoring…I hope you are all enjoying the fall! (Or spring, if you’re in the northern hemisphere.) For me, fall means “back to school,” which as an adult, translates into reading and writing. In case you can’t tell, I’m already getting excited for NaNoWriMo next month. If you’re also planning on joining this fun writing challenge in November, I’ve posted a link to a bunch of resources I like over on this page. I’ll probably also do a post on my bullet journal writing tracker once I’ve got that set up.

Until then, happy October and happy reading, everyone!

November reading summary and December TBR

Well, I did it!

November was a very busy month with a TON of travel and very little stability (we’re moving, location TBD after the holidays). But, I still managed to push through and write 50k words in 30 days. Phew. I have to say, as cool as it is to have “won” NaNoWriMo again — this is my 6th win — the thing I’m most proud of this month is that I wrote every day. Regardless of how crazy life got, no matter what got in the way, I put my butt in the chair and typed. Even if it was just 79 words (my worst day: the day after Thanksgiving). Even if it meant that I had 6 days where I wrote at least double the daily “par” word count of 1667 words in order to catch up.

So, what do I have to show for it? I have just over 50k words of something that is starting to become novel-shaped. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has a (very weak) plot. It has one or two scenes that I’m particularly proud of and a TON of holes that need to be filled in. Gaping holes. Now, I just need to actually *finish* this first draft. But before I do that, I need to tinker with last year’s NaNoWriMo project so that I can send it out for a developmental edit.

Because of all this writing (and life) craziness, I didn’t read much in November. I finished one book. It was a really good book —¬†The Sisters of Alameda Street by¬†Lorena Hughes. It’s a family drama with some romantic sub-plots and an underlying mystery driving the story, and it takes place in Ecuador — a country I lived in for about two months back in 2008. I’d recommend it for anyone who liked My Brilliant Friend.

On my way to Thanksgiving, I bought myself an autographed copy of Kirstin Cashore’s new novel, Jane, Unlimited. I started it, but I didn’t have much time to read over Thanksgiving. I’m almost to the end of the first branch of the story. If you aren’t familiar with this book, it has a kind of “choose your own adventure” or Sliding Doors (though I haven’t seen that movie) premise to it. There’s a base story that sets things up and introduces the characters. Then there are five (I think) possible branches for what happens directly after that base story. Apparently, each of those branches is a different genre of story. It sounds really creative, and I loved her Graceling series, and the story has a lot of elements that I love (huge, creepy house on a private island, odd rich people behaving badly, lots of references to ocean creatures). I’m planning on spending the better part of my weekend curled up with this book.

I’m not sure what else I plan to read in December. I have a “kinda sorta” TBR list, but it’s basically just a list of the books I was going to read for the remaining Read Harder Challenge tasks. I have eight left to read. They’re mostly all books that I really want to read. Some of the ones I picked are really short. So, we’ll see how it goes.

More than anything, I have a lot of reading-related thoughts floating around in my head that I’m going to work on organizing into blog-posts for December. I have a lot of thoughts, folks. Especially about book buying and Goodreads and TBRs and life. So, stay tuned for more on that.

And, I know I don’t talk about writing a lot on my blog (on purpose). But, if you want to hear more about what’s going on with my writing, I’m starting a newsletter. You can sign up for it here. It will contain content that I don’t offer anywhere else on the internet (or at least newsletter subscribers will get that content months before everyone else). I’m shooting for a monthly schedule to be sent each month on or around the 15th, starting in December. This month’s newsletter may just be a giant photo of me watching The Last Jedi with my friends. Plus a few other writing-related tidbits. We’ll see…

Happy holidays, everyone!

October reading summary and November TBR

Hello, readers! Happy Halloween and happy NaNoWriMo-Eve!

There’s a LOT going on right now in my world, and October was not a great reading month for me. I only managed to read TWO books. I know. Scary.

Here are the books I read in October (links go to Goodreads):

  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — This was not exactly what I expected, but it was also even better than I’d anticipated. I think it’s shelved as “YA,” but the chapters are split evenly between the 1980s and the late 2000s. The characters are fifteen in the flashback chapters and in their thirties in the “present day” chapters. I’d thought it was going to be more definitely YA, but I actually liked this format better. Another thing I wasn’t expecting was the romance, but the romance in this is SO GOOD. It’s a sweet “reuniting with your childhood best friend who broke your heart at fifteen by not returning your affections” kind of story. There are a LOT of references to music, not all of which I’d heard of before, and it definitely made me wish there were a playlist for this book. If anyone knows of a playlist for this book, please let me know. If you like magical realism, records/music, and/or childhood friends who are destined to be soul mates, you should check out this book.
  • Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn — This is the follow up to Heroine Complex and is a SFF romance series featuring a group of friends with super powers who live in a house together in San Francisco. It’s a very fun and very cute read. It’s way more about friendships and relationships than “saving the world,” though there are some fun (and funny) action scenes as well. I loved the hero in this one, and I found the heroine very relatable. I definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a light sci-fi romance. This book does stand alone, but you may want to start with the first book in the series or the plot of the first book will be spoiled for you.

Now that there are only two more months in this year, I think I have a TBR dilemma. To make matters worse, I’m not sure I’m going to have a ton of time to read in November. The next two months are going to continue to be VERY busy for me, and my outside of work priority is switching over to writing from reading, at least for the next 30 days (NaNoWriMo Time!).

I really wanted to complete all 24 Read Harder tasks this year, but I also have five books that I REALLY want to read before the end of the year because I’ve really been looking forward to reading them and have a feeling they are going to be five star reads for me. Let’s compare and contrast and see if I can come to a decision about what to do…

These are the books I wanted to read for Read Harder challenge:

The problem is that there’s nothing on that list that’s jumping out at me as a book I know I’m going to love. There are some books that are supposed to be really good (ex: 1984, The Parable of the Sower, The Boys in the Boat, Reading Lolita in Tehran), and there are most likely going to be some surprise favorites in there (my money’s on Falling in Love with Hominids and/or Lagoon), but there’s nothing really jumping out at me and screaming “Read Me!”

Meanwhile, these five books are calling to me because I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time:

The first two (The Stone Sky and Our Dark Duet) were pre-orders that have been sitting on my Kindle, waiting for me to get around to reading them, but they’re both the last in their series, and I’m not really ready for those series to end. The middle one (Jane, Unlimited) is on hold for me at the library, but I put a temporary freeze on it because I didn’t think I’d have time to read it in November. The last two (Three Dark Crowns and The Queen of Blood) have been on my Kindle since nearly their publication dates, and now they both have sequels out this year. All of them sound like I will LOVE them and devour them.

So, do I do the responsible thing (Read Harder)? Or dive into these delicious SFF books that are calling to me?

I think the answer is obvious. The thing I should be putting a temporary freeze on is my Read Harder challenge so that I can pick one of the lovelies to read next. Except…any one of those books will definitely distract me from writing….Ugh. What do I do?

#ReaderProblems. ūüôā

September reading summary and October TBR

It’s October and officially FALL! Now, if only we had some nice crisp fall weather around here so that I could break out my sweaters and boots… I love fall, and I love that we’re now only one month away from National Novel Writing Month! But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s catch up on what I read in September…

Here are the books I read in September (links go to Goodreads):

  • The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by¬†Rachel¬†Friedman (Kindle) — I chose this book to read for the “Read a Travel Memoir” Read Harder task, and it was even more enjoyable than I’d hoped. The only problem was that it stoked my wanderlust in a major way and made it very hard to get excited about going to work.
  • A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (Kindle) — This, on the other hand, was less enjoyable than I’d hoped. On the surface, this appeared to be everything I’d ever wanted in a secondary world fantasy romance. I liked the characters and thought the world-building was good. However, I found it to be plagued with consent issues, and had a less than satisfying ending for both the plot and the romance. I’ll probably keep reading because I like the world and the characters, but I’m not feeling a burning desire to run out and get the next books.
  • Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron (Kindle) — This one was also a little disappointing. Again, I liked the world and all the side characters. It’s fine as a first book in a series, but the main character (Julius) is possibly the least interesting character in this book. For large swaths of the story I had a really hard time caring about what happened to him. I’ll definitely keep reading, not just because I happen to own the next two books in the series, but again I’m not feeling a burning desire to jump into the next one.
  • The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan (Kindle) — Now THIS is the romance that I wanted from my month of reading romance. This is a novella prequel to her Brothers Sinister series, of which I’ve read the first two and one other novella. The heroine in this book is excellent, the hero is just exactly reluctant enough in all the right (reasonable) ways. Their romance is perfectly paced, and I appreciated the hero’s handling of the heroine’s previous (bad) experience in the bedroom. This is a hot, fast, entertaining read. Now why can’t I find an author who writes romance like this for the (secondary world) fantasy and/or sci-fi genres?
  • Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker (Kindle) — I thought this was a romance. I was wrong. It was categorized as romance on Amazon. There’s some romantic tension, but it’s mostly just a sci-fi adventure that is heavily influenced by Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. The crew that the heroine assembles for her ship is nearly a direct one-for-one copy of the characters Mal gets to join him on the Serenity. As for the not-quite-a-romance, it’s like the author swapped Mal and Zoe’s roles, making Zoe the pilot/captain (with a dead husband) and Mal the badass fighter (in this case a cyborg), then twisted their backstory so they were on the opposite sides of the war instead of fighting alongside each other. It’s not a bad sci-fi adventure. It’s just not what I was expecting, and the world-building was a little weak.

Overall, I really enjoyed focusing on reading romance this month. I’d hoped to read more sci-fi and fantasy romance, but I definitely need to do some more work to find new authors to read in those genres. To that end, I asked for sci-fi and fantasy romance recommendations on Twitter and ended up getting re-tweeted by Courtney Milan which landed me a TON of recommendations. I started a list on Goodreads. So, if you’re on Goodreads and have suggestions, feel free to go vote on what’s already there or add your recommendations. I’m probably going to start there when I create my next romance reading list.

Most of October is going to be consumed with work (day job), and NaNoWriMo prep (for myself and for my region). So, I’m not anticipating having much time for reading outside of my insane commute. I’ll probably use whatever reading time I have to catch up on my Read Harder tasks and the new releases I’ve purchased but haven’t had a chance to read yet.

Here’s what’s on my TBR for October:

I’ve already started Signal to Noise and one other book. I’m anxious to read both The Stone Sky and Our Dark Duet, but I am painfully aware that they are both the last books in their respective series, written by authors I love. Since I loved the earlier books in both these series (5 stars, all of them), I really want to savor these last ones. As far as I’m concerned, these aren’t really commute reading…these are more like “Do Not Disturb” binge reading. Finding time for that is going to be tough. Hence, the other three books on my list: Superheroes Anonymous (a book that’s been on my Kindle for a while), Falling in Love with Hominids (a book of short stories), and Heroine Worship (the recently released follow up to Heroine Complex that I read and enjoyed last year). I picked the two super hero books to help get me in the right mood for this year’s NaNoWriMo…for reasons that I’ll be ready to talk about more in November…maybe.

In case you can’t tell, I’m ridiculously excited about NaNoWriMo. This will be the ten year anniversary of the first NaNoWriMo I ever participated in (2007), and it will be my third year as Municipal Liaison for my region. Today I started setting up my Scrivener file for my new project, and updated my novel and bio on the NaNoWriMo website. It’s beginning to look a lot like Novel Writing Season!

If you want a behind-the scenes updates on NaNoWriMo and my other writing projects, you may want to sign up for my monthly newsletter. I’ll still post general writing updates here, but newsletter subscribers will be the first to know about new projects and get sneak peeks of what I’m writing.

If you’re not interested in that sort of thing, no worries. The blog isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s turning 5 this month! Happy almost-blogiversary to me!

Oh, and don’t forget to vote for or add your sci-fi and/or fantasy romance recommendations to my list on Goodreads, or just add them in the comments…. until next time, Happy Reading!

#NaNoWriMo Night of Writing Dangerously

Yes, I am completely aware that it’s mid-July, and there are four more months until NaNoWriMo and The NaNoWriMo Night of Writing Dangerously. That doesn’t dampen my excitement one bit.

I’ve already set up my donation page to attend this year’s event. If you can attend, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the most fun writing events I’ve attended, and I look forward to it every year.

Even if you’re not a writer or not able to attend this year, I’m hoping that you might consider a donation to support the NaNoWriMo organization (and my fundraising campaign).

If you’ve already donated, THANK YOU! Your name has been added to my “reward” list. I haven’t figured out what the reward is going to be yet, but stay tuned. I’ll make sure it’s awesome.

I know there are countless worthy causes out there hoping to get their hands on your charitable donation budget. Here’s why I encourage you to make (even a very small) donation to NaNoWriMo:

  • NaNoWriMo does inspiration like nobody else. It’s so inspiring that it’s been the catalyst to me writing 4 novels during past Novembers. With the magic and inspiration of NaNoWriMo 2017, I plan to do it again.
  • The money from donations is used to provide children and adults the encouragement, structure, and inspiration they need to achieve their creative potential.
  • Proceeds from the event will fund National Novel Writing Month’s free creative writing programs in hundreds of schools and communities around the world. For an example of what that looks like in action, watch this video:

So please, if you like my blog and want to support my writing while also supporting an excellent organization, click through to my donation page and consider a $5 or $10 donation. Anything helps. My goal is to reach $275 raised by the end of July. So, help me out? Pretty please?

My #NaNoWriMo month in review

Well… I did it!


Through sheer force of will and determination, I made it to 50k. On the days I wrote, I wrote like the wind. By the end of the month I was easily averaging over 1k words per hour. But there were days in there where I just couldn’t write, and it had nothing to do with the story.

Even though almost everything seemed to be conspiring against me to throw roadblocks in my way, I pushed through. Because, when it came down to it, I had been looking forward to¬†NaNoWriMo all year. I freaking love NaNoWriMo. I know its¬†not for everyone, but it works really well for me.¬†I wasn’t about to¬†let the election and everything else take my November novel writing tradition away from me. Sheer stubbornness does¬†come in handy some times.

So, I made it to 50k and I did it one day early. I still have probably about 30k to go in order to finish the first draft of this novel, but for once I’m not coming out of the month drained. I’m invigorated and pumped to keep going. Right now I’m planning on writing ~1k per day through December so I can have this first draft done before the end of the year.

So, I suppose I could tell you a little about my novel now. Nothing too specific, yet. I am still working on it, after all, and I don’t like talking about projects before the first draft is done. But, basically, it’s a space opera influenced by a Jane Austen novel and by basically all my favorite sci-fi novels and movies. I don’t have any ideas for a title¬†yet. I’ve given it the working¬†title of¬†“Sparks” because that’s the hero’s nickname for the heroine.

I know that’s not much to go on, but stick around. Assuming I finish with the first draft as planned, I’ll probably be looking for beta readers who¬†are available in January/February. And, before I (officially) ask for beta readers, I’ll at least have a blurb written so people can learn¬†more about the story before signing up to read and provide feedback. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’ll likely focus on¬†fun post through the end of the year, including my usual “best of” posts, my year end summary, and my goals for next year. If you know of an Instagram photo challenge, or a book blogger challenge that you think I might like, let me know in the comments.

Happy Holidays!