Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

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For some reason, NaNoWriMo entirely aside, November seems to be the busiest month every year for me. It’s the season of winter craft sales for those doing that circuit. If anything goes sideways at work it is always November (for me, at least). At home it’s the beginning of Christmas planning, decorating, gift lists, baking, and trying to figure out how to make that Christmas budget stretch farther than humanly possible. Even notwithstanding that, November just seems busier at work, home, and everywhere.


And then, just to make a busy month more so, we have NaNoWriMo. I hope you fared better than me. With working Monday to Friday at the ‘pays the bills’ job, my commitments to the Manitoba Writer’s Guild, and working doing book events and playing catch-up on the weekends, my NaNo time amounted to a random hour or so, dwindling to that in a week if I’m lucky.


Yet we writers persevere and push on, counting those words and plugging in five minutes here and ten minutes there of writing. The stress builds as our word counts rise, perhaps falling above or below the curve of 1667 words per day of the NaNo arc.


By November 30th you feel like you need to decompress or your will implode, or maybe explode, with that self-imposed pressure. It can be hard to put it down after obsessing over that project for thirty straight days. So, how do you do that?


As a general rule, I don’t let myself look at or even think about that NaNo book for two months. (This year will be different since I split it between multiple works in progress and essentially had to give up the ghost mid-November and accept failure). But this does not mean I take a months long break from writing.



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First, breath! It’s over. You did it! You survived National Novel Writing Month. Let yourself take a well-deserved breather. Take a bubble bath with a glass of wine or binge watch something cringe-worthy. Whatever your go to relaxation method is, you deserve it.


Focus on another writing project. Whether it is outlining a new project, editing a finished one, working on an existing one, poetry, short or flash fiction, articles, it does not matter. While you are backing off the manic pace of NaNovember, put some of that drive and habit you gained into keeping a writing routine going.


Accept that your NaNo project may be junk and move on. It’s okay to feel like you wrote trash and you won’t be alone in that feeling. Heck, a lot of first drafts will incite that even with meticulous time and care put into them. And that is exactly what it is, a first draft. Do not dwell on it (yet). It’s not a waste of time or of writing. Editing fixes all (usually).


Think on what you learned through NaNoWriMo. What did you discover about yourself and your writing strengths and weaknesses? What will make next year’s challenge more survivable? How can you use it to improve your daily life and writing?


Through December put that compulsive drive into family and the holidays. After all, it is the season and a very busy month too, and you probably neglected them just a little through NaNovember.


January is the month of … Exactly! You will have made your New Years resolutions and maybe even meant it when you said them. You are probably already thinking of how you will get out of them, am I right? Keep that writing routine going. Life marches on.


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March is when I traditionally revisit my NaNoStory. This is when I finally let myself look at it. First with an editing savagery that would do my Celtic/Viking ancestors proud. No sentence is safe. Over time that will work into the more finely detailed edits of spiffing the story up all pretty and cultured from developmental and structural edits to copyediting, line editing, and proofreading. Whether March comes in and out like a lion or a lamb, it’s editing madness month! Why do I wait two full months? For the same reason I will put a manuscript aside for months or longer – to come at it with a fresh eye.







Online articles for writers:







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November. Are you ready? Will you spill yourself heart and soul out onto the written or virtual pages this month?

It’s November. That month where the world grows gloomy and cold, commuters begin their winter trek in the dim twilight or somber darkness, seeing little of daylight in their false indoor lights, and the long shadow of winter is upon us. Some of us are wallowing in regret from eating all that sweet Halloween candy bliss we had to panic re-buy last minute before we get tricks for not treating the ghouls, princesses, prancing unicorn ponies, and Ninja Turtles racing door to door October 31st.

Leaves have turned shades of yellows, oranges, and reds, like a burned effigy to summer, and fallen crisp and dry to the ground to house the creatures surviving the winter outside. Soon, tangled strings of mostly working lights will be pulled out to create a carnival of Christmas color.

November is the month of remembering those lost to us in forgotten wars of the past and the sacrifices made by both the living and departed veterans of yesterday’s and today’s battlegrounds.

It is also the month of awareness for too many causes to list; Movember (men’s health issues including prostate cancer), pancreatic and other cancers, crohn’s and colitis awareness, national domestic violence awareness, fall prevention, … let’s stop there.

What else is November? For some us it is the month of mad writing spurts, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Are you ready for it?


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For those unfamiliar with that strange term “NaNoWriMo”, it is an acronym of the first few letters of each word for this wordy month: National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo is about writing and getting out of your comfort zone. It’s about putting aside meticulously plotting and thinking out each word and sentence carefully before committing it to literary art.

The month long writeathon pits participants (Wrimos) against their own inner doubts with the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s on the short end for a novel, and it doesn’t actually have to be a novel. It can be anything so long as you meet that goal of 50,000 words. You could be finishing a work in progress or starting something new; writing any genre or type: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short stories. There is also a youth version of NaNo. The kids set their own word goals.


It’s free to participate and is a worldwide massive internet-based writing competition. If you win, you get to download virtual badges. If you lose, you can boast participation badges. There are no monetary awards and no magic publishing button at the end of the rabbit hole. Wins are awarded on a self-declaration basis. That is, you upload words to a counter that determines if you won or lost. So, yes cheating is easy and is done; but, who are you really cheating?


Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

NaNo is about challenging yourself to put aside thought and free your inner muse. Write. That’s it, just write. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be planned or outlined. It’s an exercise in freedom to write without constraint, to simply let the words flow. You might be surprised at what you learn about your own writing ability if you have never done this before.


More importantly, NaNoWriMo is about encouragement, support, and awareness. Yes, and having fun in a weird writerly way that non-writers will probably never understand.


From the NaNo Org:

“NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization that supports writing fluency and education. But it’s also a social network for writers like LinkedIn is for job professionals, or DeviantArt is for artists, or Facebook is for moms whose kids accept their friend requests only to provide them with “limited profile” access. It tracks words for writers like Fitbit tracks steps for the ambulatory. It’s a real-world event, during which 900+ volunteers in places like Mexico City, Seoul, and Milwaukee coordinate communal writing sessions in thousands of partnering libraries, coffee shops, and community centers like… well, like nothing else.


It’s internet-famous. It’s a community-powered fandom (before there was the Beyhive, or Nerdfighters, there were Wrimos). It’s a start-up incubator for novels (books like Water for Elephants, Fangirl, and WOOL began as rough drafts in November!). It’s a teaching tool, it’s a curriculum, and its programs run year-round.


Whatever you thought NaNoWriMo was, it is more than that.”



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How the heck do you survive NaNovember?


50,000 words in 30 days is daunting. It’s the mountain of incomprehensible impossibility. The molehill the ant could not imagine to build. It is also only 1,667 words per day (rounded off). That’s only 69 1/2 words an hour. You got this! Okay, accounting for the need to sleep, eat, go to work/school, and all that, you might get two or three or four hours a day in, so realistically 417 to around 830 words an hour.


But hey, who really needs that eating and sleeping thing, right?


The NaNo community is very supportive of their fellow Wrimos. There are groups online and off to find encouragement in. You can get endless writing prompts and cues for NaNo sprints. A sympathetic shoulder to lean on, you go girls/guys/theys, and even encouraging articles from known authors. You can buy self-affirming posters, coffee and travel mugs, shirts, buttons, and other swag to litter your writing space with reminders.


The trick is not to let yourself feel overwhelmed. Give yourself a daily goal. If you can exceed that, great, you have a buffer for those days that will invariably come where you flop or cannot write at all. Life does have a habit of getting in the way of best intentions sometimes. The more wordy buildup you can get early on, the better you stand later. (I usually flop around the three-quarter mark of the month.)


Every word adds up.  If I get half a dozen words in before racing out the door in the morning, it’s a win. Write a scene on your phone notepad, or a real notepad, while your bus or ride trundles along through traffic. I strongly recommend against that if you are in the driver seat. Nope, no, not a good idea. And, it’s likely illegal wherever you are. (It definitely is illegal here in Manitoba!) Coffee breaks, lunch breaks, waiting for that ride home; every bit of scene, dialogue, and drama adds up. I will write in bits and spurts in the evening too, between supper, house stuff, fur babies, other commitments, and family.


Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash

Find local NaNo gatherings where they encourage sitting quietly and writing, offer writing prompts and tips, and muse support. Hide away in a quiet corner in a coffee shop where you can disappear from family and friends (although you might want to let them know where you are so they don’t call the cops when they don’t hear from you for hours), focus, and unplug from the constant buzzing bleeping of your phone alerts to every post and picture of your extended online life.


The other trick is to ignore that inner editor. They can have at it later to wreak havoc on whatever you write. Don’t let yourself question or second guess the words spilling out. There is no going back to edit, revise, or fix anything, not even spelling. You can run it through the dreaded Spellcheck later, that nefarious creation which I’m sure was spawned with evil intentions and purposely tries to make you sound like an eighteenth century professor who hasn’t a wit about what half the words in existence now mean, or how people actually talk. You can rip, revise, and edit to your heart’s content – after the sun sets on November 30th and dawns on the crisp road gunk dulled snow of December 1.


If you’ve never tried it, don’t be afraid to give it a go. No one in the NaNo community will denigrate you for failing to reach that 50,000 word mark. You have nothing to lose, except maybe your sanity to the NaNo muse.


Don’t forget to join your local NaNo chapter!


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November is over, and as the dust settles (quite literally) December has come upon us to take hold of our lives.



With NaNoWriMo 2017 finished, the first thing that had to be done was rallying the troops, my unwilling participants (aka the family), into a day of binge cleaning.


Custom hat made at Lids

We did my birthday.  Happy birthday to me.  The best present being the custom made hat from Lids and Tuxedo cake from Costco.

Then the dreaded mall crawl.  That ovicerous mental and physical torment that involves traipsing through crowds to buy presents for the people in your life, who you have absolutely no idea what to get for them because a) they can’t think of anything they want, b) they don’t do anything, no hobbies, no interests, and c) your gift picking skills leave something to be desired, namely actually having gift picking skills.


P.s.  I just completely made up that word.  Ovicerous.  There is no word in the English language that describes my dislike of crowds over-filling the too small aisle spaces in the aimless pursuit of shopped for products.


The #BigDumbBunny aka Roxy the shelter dog no. 2

I came home to find the furniture rearranged.  I now have a desk view of the back yard and the rascal, the wild rabbit that lives under the deck and continuously teases and torments the #BigDumbBunny, aka Roxy the shelter dog no. 2.  It’s better than looking at the wall, although It’s only dark Monday to Friday and all but between the hours of too late in the morning to way too early in the afternoon.


Now, nine days into December, and the dust that settled over November only to be disturbed at the start of December is finally starting to settle.  We had to do another mini purge, this time getting rid of furniture to make room for a Christmas tree in our new to us house with less space than the old one.

Yeah, after fourteen years living in a small town not far from the city, we moved inside the world of city living.  Sort of.  More on the outskirts, but still within the bubble of city life.


Mouse pad at Cafe Press


I made a mouse pad.  It’s not bad.  Great for home, a little thick for on the go.  I refuse to learn how to use the mouse pad built into the laptop because it makes me swear too much.  A pair of runners gave up their life for me to get the photo used for the mouse pad.

P.S. you can buy this mouse pad here


So what now that it’s December?

Today, we will find the tree and decorative remnants among the boxes of still unpacked debris of moving and put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house.


I am making pancakes.  Oops, in thawing them out, the package of breakfast sausages sucked into itself like a bowl of half soggy wieners intent on avoiding being eaten.




And it is time to prioritize and sort out what projects to concentrate on.

The Gypsy Queen is in final edits.  A read through, an upload and download on Kindle for another read through.  Then I can decide if it is good enough (is it ever in the eyes of the questioning uncertainty of the author?) for anyone else to read it and brave the opinions of the beta readers.

I need to finish my NaNo from this year.  The next installment and hopefully the last (except for White Van which is a standalone) of the McAllister series.

I also promised a book two of the Latchkey Kids.  That is a work in progress.

And I made a promise to myself to focus on editing and finishing the myriad of completed, mostly complete, and semi-completed drafts that have been left to sit over the years.

And there are my more beloved projects that I just don’t want to leave sitting on the back burner.

There is also that one immitigable truth.  Editing is not fun.  I would much rather be immersed in the spell of some dark scene flowing through me spontaneously onto the page than endlessly editing and re-reading the same words more than a hundred times over.

Unfortunately, like every author I know, I don’t have the luxury of saying, “Wow, I am making so much money off this writing gig I can just quit work and do it full time!”


I don’t expect to have a lot of time this weekend to get done what I need to do for me, for my writing.  Laundry, groceries, house cleaning, and all the other drudgeries of real life.




We also have only a few short weeks to consider finishing the Christmas shopping, baking (it’s not Christmas without some damned Christmas baking!), the endless list of various donations to everywhere you live, work, school, play, etc joining the cause of bettering Christmas for the less privileged, and the family get togethers.



Next month is January, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the nonstop Christmas merry-go-round has stilled, and greet the NaNo start of the “What Now” months with the making of an official promise to revise your NaNo novel.  Are you game?

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Photo by Al x on Unsplash

Photo by Al x on Unsplash

National Novel Writing Month has come quivering to a close.  We lay down our exhausted pens, pencils, laptops, and other writing tools, take a long sigh, and rub our weary foreheads.

It is done.  As of midnight tonight, wherever you are, this chapter is closed.

We laughed, cried, and groaned at our writing ineptitude.  We spent hours feverishly pushing our writing abilities to the limit, staring in mute despair at the page before us with bleakly blank minds for even more hours.

Our stories soured and then soured.  Words turned cryptic and characters spouted overlong speeches, the words pouring from their mouths as if vomited in a panic to get words on the page.

We revelled in the thrilling flow of action pouring from us, uncertain where in our imagination it is coming from.  We bowed our heads in deference to the darkness oozing from our fingers onto the page, the love, the laughs, and the diabolical diatribes.

Now that it is done we move on.

Validated to confirm your wretched loss or your voracious victory, you pour yourself a stout glass of wine, brandy, vodka, hot cocoa, or whatever it is that soothes your now shredded soul.

Take a hot bath with soothing mineral oils, bubbles, a warmed brandy, chocolate, soothing music, and a good book.

Tomorrow you can resume the normality of daily life glowing in the aftermath that whether or not you reached that 50,000 word score, you did it.  You faced NaNoWriMo and stared it straight in its insidious eye.  You stared down the gullet of a veritably impenetrable goal.  You did what your friends, family, co-workers, and loved ones feel is incomprehensible, dedicating your soul for thirty days to something that will always  make you a little mysterious to them.  Something they likely will never truly understand.

What comes next?

Now that normality settles on your life and you perhaps feel a little empty for leaving that part of you behind, you ask yourself a simple question.

Now what?

Keep writing.  You don’t have to push. The drive of the impossible no longer hangs over you.  Take what you learned about yourself over the past thirty days, the newfound ability to find the writing spark on demand, or keep working to discover that ability if you are still struggling with it, and just enjoy the writing.  Let yourself gently guide your story to completion on your timetable.

Come January and February, the ‘Now What?’ months, it is time to follow the pledge you will now make to yourself and the NaNoNite community.  The pledge to not abandon what you just wrote with wanton abandon.  Come January and February embrace your work and dig in with both feet and your hands as you rip and shred it into a new masterpiece through editing both savage and refined.  It is revision time!



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It is Saturday morning, and the house is sleeping except for me and my dogs as I sit and ponder #NaNoWriMo2017.



Which coffee?

First, the most important question.

Which coffee cup will I use?




Next, what plots do we brew today?


A seemingly sweet innocent little girl, who reveals a hint of evil.

A softly whispered voice in David’s head which only he can hear.

Thickening tensions between the elderly William McAllister and his son Jason, who William on more than one occasion swore he should have “put down” that day in the woods.

The delightfully wicked elderly Mrs. Bheals, who is new to the series and William and Anderson broke out of the care home along with William’s wife Marjory.


What plots are thickening and brewing up a storm of coming suspense in your #NANO world?

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Hello NaNonites.


I met a few of you at the kick off.

I’m Lori.  I write dark fiction and Halloween is my favourite flavour of holiday decoration.  I don’t get online every day, busy life and all.

You can find me on NaNoWriMo under my published name: LV Gaudet



Are you ready for thirty days of obsessive writing?  One of the tools I like to use is mocking up a book cover for inspiration.  A visual of the literary feel of the story.


For those who don’t know what it is, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  For the month of November you pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  Yeah, we’re nuts.  We are writers.  There is a wine that goes nicely with that.


I had to look back on my Nano books to figure out this is my 8th year.  Oops, I was a year off tonight.  I won three of those years.

Here are my NaNo creations in chronological order:

Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front cover


Garden Grove – Self published.


NaNoWriMo 2011 Cover


Untitled – I will come back to it.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]


The McAllister Farm (winner!) – Published by Indigo Sea Press, a small indie press in the US.

Blood cover


Blood (winner!) –  Based on the short story.  I will finish it, but it’s getting weird.



Butterflies in the Garden (winner!) – Needs a do over and I vote this worst ever mock cover.  This will eventually be published under my alter ego to frighten the middle years/teens.


Old Mill Road cover idea


Old Mill Road – Still a work in progress. On the back burner.  I’m still looking for the old Mill Road monster.

Nathan copy-NaNoNathan – Yeah, and then there is Nathan.  Nathan was born in Hunting Michael Underwood.  But, he wouldn’t stay there.  I only made 9000+ words and gave up.  But, the voices in Nathan’s head are still there.  They will get out.  Run.

Killing David McAllister

And this year’s Nano is Killing David McAllister.  Fourth book in the McAllister Series and it will be the final.  Hunting Michael Underwood was supposed to be the last, but the story was not done.  Well, except for the spin off.  White Van.  That was not a NaNo book.  I will get back to it.


If you find me on Twitter (@lvgaudet), you will probably see random posts about the #BigDumbBunny.  The name is self-explanatory.  She’s big.  She’s dumb.  And she looks like a big dumb bunny with those ears and the bunny hop.


Feel free to check out one of my blogs.

The Intangible World of the Literary Mind (lvgwriting.wordpress.com) is my first blog.  It’s a blog about writing and being a writer for writers.  I haven’t been as active as I would like to be.  Life and stuff.  Writing.  You get it.  I’ve posted stories, tips on writing, editing, creating platform, and promoting yourself and your writing.  I post my own tips as well as hitting the reblog button to share the advice of others.  I share (reblog) the odd book review and write my own book reviews when I have time to finish and review a book.  I have a lot of reviews I am behind on writing.  I post some random stuff too.

LV Gaudet, author (lvgaudet.wordpress.com) is a fan blog.  It’s all about the reader.  I share weird and creepy news stuff.  Sometimes podcasts by some other people who like dark stories.  And I post my own stories here.  I am working on being more sharing.

Vivian Munnoch, author (vivianmunnoch.wordpress.com) is a nom de plume.  An alias.  My sometimes alter ego.  I use this name for the child friendly stories.  This is where I would post anything to do with the younger realm of darkness.



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end of the world.

It’s the day before the last day of the world.


Okay, so the world is not going to end tomorrow night at the stroke of midnight.  This is not a Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, or Stephen King the world is ending thing.  Nor is it the end of the world in real terms.


end of nanowrimoTomorrow is the last day of November.  The end of National Novel Writing Month, a month of madness where authors, writers, aspiring hopefuls, writer wanabes, and whatever else they choose to call themselves join forces in a mass online campaign to deluge the world with newly and hastily crafted works of literary art from the atrociously bad to brilliant.


The last few years have shown me how easy hitting that 50,000 word mark can be.  After the initial years of failure, disappointment, and even abandoning all hope (and abandoning writing the NaNo novel) as early as halfway through the month, the past few years were a revelation; perhaps one that made it seem too easy.


This year has shown me once again how hard it can be to reach the goal.  A mere 1,667 words per day, made easier by the good days that allow you to slack on others, can seem so simple.  And yet, it can be so out of reach that you stare forlornly at your measly 156 words you managed that day, wondering, “What the hell is wrong with me?”


its not about youIf you are like me this year, and utterly failing at NaNo, I am here to tell you that it is not you.  And it is not about you, not in the sense of whether you achieve that magical number of 50,000 words.


This year, for the first time in an absolute failure year, I did not give up.  I know I cannot possibly scrape together the necessary words to meet the 50,000 goal, not without cheating and copy and pasting.  (But then, who would I be cheating if I did that?  Only myself.)  I still plug on.  Even if I only manage a sad 76 words right now.  I will still write on my NaNo today, and I will still write on it tomorrow, even if tomorrow will likely give me a whopping twenty minutes to work on it.  I will still post my results and validate my failure.


keep calm and don't give upWhy don’t I give up?


Why should I?


Sometimes life has plans other than yours.  Life can be busy.  This year just happens to be one of those years for me where life takes control of my plans, other priorities come first, and too many priorities leave too little time for each.


That doesn’t mean you should just give up.


NaNoWriMo is more than just slapping a bunch of words on a page.  It is about releasing your inner creativity.  It is about allowing yourself to let go of your preconceptions of what a writer is and what they must do.  Release yourself from what holds you back, the fear of somehow doing it wrong.  Gleefully wallow in knowing that what you write does not have to be perfect.  Every word does not have to be carefully plotted, formulated, or follow strict rules and guidelines.  Imagine what the greatest painters in history would have accomplished if they aspired like so many writers do, to follow *the rules* of what other artists before them said was allowable art.  I doubt we would have any greatest painters in history.


be realIt is about being real with yourself.  Embrace both your strengths and your weaknesses, your doubts, your feelings of writing success.  Embrace your writing limits and push them.


It is an exercise in writing.  Teaching yourself to conquer the doubts you call “writer’s block” and teaching yourself to write regularly.  The more you retrain yourself to write regularly, the easier it will come.  It is the exploration of your capabilities.  Nothing is done well without practice.  The more you write, the better you get at it.



Post NaNo brings a new challenge.


challenges aheadDecember first will bring with it the month of post-NaNo blues or victory celebration valedictory.  Will you continue the novel to its end, or abandon it?  Maybe you already finished it.


Maybe you will go back now to do that careful plotting you were gnashing your teeth over the need for all month.  Now you can return to the novel, tear it down, and rebuild it if needed.  Edit it until both you and your story cry.


Months and endless hours from now, when you have finished writing and editing until you simply cannot edit it any more, after you perhaps let it sit and then attack it again with more edits, you might declare it publish-worthy.



If you thought National Novel Writing Month was a challenge, you are now about to face an even bigger challenge.


Are you ready for what could be the worst streak of rejection you will ever experience in your life?


Did you think dating as an awkward teenager was hard?  Did that fear of rejection make you abandon all hope of every finding love (or at least a comfortable semblance of it)?


You may choose the traditional publishing route.  If you do, the best of luck to you.  The reality is that it will probably take more luck than talent. Unless, of course, you happen to be a celebrity.  But that does not mean it’s impossible.


Smaller independent publishers will give you better odds.  They don’t have the big corporate name, money, and advertising of the big publishing houses.  And you may not get your book onto the shelf of the major bookstores.  Your odds of having smash success sales are smaller too.  But, are you looking for moderate success, or to be the next J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyers, Stephen King, or Dean Koontz?  Be warned, though, to thoroughly research any independent press you choose to court.  Research them more if they actually offer you a contract.  They are not all equal.  Some are more helpful, some less.  Some you may find yourself locked into a contract that is not worth the paper it is printed on, your book languishing unpublished indefinitely, or as on your own in every sense as if you are self-publishing, except that you are forever waiting for them to reveal whether or not you sold a single copy.  Others will prove to be fantastic publishers and allies.


You might decide for any one of many reasons to take the self-publishing route.  Here, you are on your own for everything.  No one is vetting your manuscript for salability.  It is up to you to make sure your manuscript is written and edited to the closest to perfection that is possible.  You need to find a book cover that fits the story, and appeals to the readers.  You are your own publisher, editing manager, marketing team, and everything else that goes with it.  Your book will only be as good as you can make it, and that might be mediocre or marvelous.



welcome to rejection.jpgRejection and obscurity.  Two ugly words.  All three publishing routes are filled with these two words.


My first published novel, Where the Bodies Are, took what felt like an exceedingly long time to be published after signing a contract with an independent publisher in the U.S.


In its first year of publication, I made enough in royalties to buy a coffee.  Depending on where I bought it.  The second year was worse.  Now it sits in limbo, waiting to be re-released under a new publisher name, with little hope of improved sales.


The second book, The McAllister Farm, is in pre-publishing limbo.  The contract is signed, promises are made, and a book that I am told is even better than the first sits unpublished and unread with no end in sight.


But I do not give up.  I know any publisher is in it ultimately to make money.  Even if they are in it for the love of literary art, they have to pay the costs associated with it.  That puts authors like me, lacking in a history of selling large numbers, on the backburner behind the authors that already make them money.  It isn’t personal, it’s just business.



My newly released book Garden Grove has already had more success in the fifteen days since it was released than my first book in two years.  That success is not counted in paid sales, unfortunately.  It has “sold” more free coupon copies than the first book did in total sales.  And even those free copies are a very small number.  It is too soon to have sales numbers from most of the retail sites listing it.


no failSo, why do I call that a success?  Simple.  If nobody ever reads a single thing I wrote, not a short story or book, then how will they know if it’s any good?  People have to experience a thing to love or hate it.


Millions of writers sit in obscurity, their books not even showing up on a search. If I search either published book title, I get books by others with both similar and not even vaguely close titles.  But not a sign of mine, unless I include my name in the search.


What hope do you have of anyone reading your work, hating or loving it, if they never know it exists?  Each click, like, rating, view, download, sale, and review up your chances that just one other reader might accidentally hit on your book.  Each person who reads it increases your chances someone somewhere will talk about it.  Word of mouth is your most powerful sales tool.


The biggest reason I don’t give up?  I don’t do it for fame and fortune.  I’m a realist.  I know that likely will never happen.  I don’t care to make a name for myself.  I write for the love of the art, for the artistic expression.  I publish because art is meant to be shared.  Hate it or love it (and if you don’t have a propensity to be drawn to the dark world of books, you will probably hate it), each person who reads and is moved by a story is a success.


.where the bodies are

Where the Bodies Are
is still available on Amazon while waiting for the changeover to the new publisher.



Garden Grove Cover-FinalGarden Grove is available in multiple formats on various online retailers, if you can find it in a search, including these places:

Amazon author page

Barnes and Noble


McNally Robinson – watch for Garden Grove to hit the bookshelf in physical form for a limited time (time dependent on sales volume)


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the half way point..

The first two weeks of National Novel Writing Month are down, we are half way there, and today we all gear up for the second half.



.just not feeling it

This was supposed to be a light-hearted post, full of encouragement and humor because that is what NaNoWriMo is about.  But, I’m just not feeling it.


With the recent terror attacks in Beirut and France, all the blind hatred against so many who are innocent of these crimes and knee-jerk fear it has caused against people for the sole crime of their appearance as someone of middle-Eastern descent (as if that even were some heinous crime), and the daily atrocities being committed across the world by a multitude of terrorist and hate groups, today I find it impossible to feel light-hearted.


farHate is an ugly thing.   It makes people live in fear, hating people they know nothing about, just because of what they look like, which church they go to, how they dress, what little piece of dirt on this planet their ancestors were born on, how much money they earn, and even whether they were born male or female, among countless other non-reasons.  Hate has touched every single country, every people, every culture, at some time in history.  People make assumptions about people because of how the look.  No one is immune, and it never makes sense.  Haters hate for the sake of hating, it seems.


Terrorism is even uglier than hate.  It is a power game.  A cry for attention.  No one will ever truly understand why people commit acts of terrorism, why they feel the need to join with others and do horrible things to other people who they don’t even know.  They are the schoolyard bullies of the world, only they seriously up the ante.  We can only cry for the hurt, and pity those who are so broken inside that they cannot live their life without the need to hurt others.


Okay, now that I got that out, let’s turn the focus on what this blog is about, writing.


PrintIf you are participating in National Novel Writing Month, at this point you are falling somewhere in the spectrum of the three groups of the half-way NaNo point.


  • The woot-woot, I totally have this group.
  • The hopefully optimistic group.
  • And the I’m so dead in the water I should just roll over and quit group.


The woot-woot, I totally have this group are those who are so on track they are smoking.  Maybe you already have the 50,000 words and are just waiting to sail across that finish line at the end of the month with a record-smashing work count.  Maybe you are just at or above par, but you know you have this.  You rock!


The hopefully optimistic group are in the zone where they may fail or they may triumph.  You are at par, struggling to keep up, but you are still hopefully optimistic because you know that if nothing unforeseen happens you can still do this.  Maybe you are behind a little or a lot, but you still have hope.  Hell, you still have half a month to go!  If you knuckle down now, you can push your way through to make that 50,000 count by the end.


The I’m so dead in the water I should just roll over and quit group.  Yeah, you know who you are.  You are feeling it.  You are still plugging away at that NaNo novel, even while you wonder, “Why am I even bothering?”  You are so far behind, haven’t the time, and know that you have already lost.  You feel defeated already, without hope, lost.  But you are still plugging away at it, too bloody stubborn to give up even though you keep telling yourself to give it up and just go have a glass of wine and drown your losses.  So why are you even still trying?  Why?  Because you are a writer and that’s what writers do.  They write.  They keep writing when all feels lost, when no one around them understands what they do or why they do it.  They keep writing when people around them think they should just quit, when they themselves think they should quit.  They keep writing when even they don’t know why they bother to keep writing.  Why?  Because they must, it’s who they are, a drive only other writers truly understand.


This would be the category I fit best in, although I am trying hard to be in the hopefully optimistic group.  I am woefully behind on NaNo.  I’m maybe just not cut out for this, but am too stubborn to give up, no matter how many times I voice out loud that I give up, that I quit.


I did the stay at home parent thing for years, and have now been back to work for four years (holy crap, has it been that long already?!).  And now, it feels more like I’m still a stay at home parent, with all the things a stay at home parent has to do because that’s all the things every parent has to do, only ten hours a day, five days a week, are sucked out by the need to earn a living and pay bills.  The kids are hitting the age where their bed times are growing later, their activities more numerous, and their demand for attention even greater, as if that were even possible.  And the housework is forever behind.


So where does that leave writing?  That leaves writing in the world of blind determination.  Sitting in a corner with my laptop while the kids have their taekwondo lesson.  Spending my lunch breaks writing or editing.  Impossibly trying and failing to tune out the chaos of kids surrounding me because I have no quiet place at home, and finally knocking off some real writing after eleven o’clock at night on a weekend night when I don’t have to be up at five-thirty in the morning.  And throwing in whatever words I can manage when and where I can manage in between.


Writing needs inspiration.  But inspiration does not always come just because you are writing.  Without inspiration, your writing is dry and as lifeless as that soggy sandwich you didn’t eat two days ago when you missed lunch.


inspiration just aheadNational Novel Writing Month is about committing yourself to trying to knock out those 50,000 words regardless of time and inspiration.  It is about pushing away all your preconceptions about what writing is about, the rules you think you must follow, and just giving yourself the freedom to write without stressing over whether it is good or bad or whether you followed every rule.


And, if this makes no sense to you, then you might be missing the point.  Writer’s block is yourself not being willing to let that inspiration flow.  It is a self-made crutch.  Do you go to work or school, look around, and say, “I can’t do this today because I’m just not feeling it.”  Do you stare blankly at that unfolded laundry basket, sink full of dishes, or empty stove and decide you just can’t do it?


These are things you do every day because you must.  You trained yourself to do them, to know automatically how to fold those socks vs. a pair of pants, to take separate things and put them together into a creative work of art called “supper”.  The thought process to do your job comes automatically, whether your job is data entry, flipping patties, or creating something masterful and inspirational.


NaNoWriMo is a month long exercise in pushing yourself to maybe do something you did not think you can, to write on demand when and where you can, whether you *feel* it or not.


lets get creativeTo train yourself to bring on that inspiration on demand.


Now let’s get out there and NaNo!

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week doneThe first week of National Novel Writing Month is done, and if you are participating, at this point you should be starting today at no less than 11,669 words.


At this point, I am usually still optimistic of being able to do this.  After all, we are only one week in on a month long stretch.  This year, I’m less so.  I’ve been trailing a little further behind every day.  This year has been an especial challenge with my time stretched further than ever before.


Everything has been a bigger challenge since transitioning from stay at home parent to working parent.  You still have all the same things to do as before, only now you have no less than ten hours a day, five days a week dedicated to earning a paycheck.  But now it is even more so.  The kids have hit that age, tweens that in a few short years will both be in or hitting their early teen years, where their needs seem to be growing faster than a B movie monster.  Between later bedtimes than before, homework, activities, and the need for those parent/child talks to help them navigate the changing world of a tween, they are the biggest time goblins that exist.


“Me time” is relegated to that drive to and from work, and writing time to the snippets of time after the kids have gone to bed and before I do.  Often on days the spouse is working evenings or nights, because you need to give your partner time too.  Time, that is usually needed to do household chores.


So, how does one with a busy life find time for writing?  Particularly for the daunting task of pushing out no less than 50,000 words in only thirty days?


Persistence is the key.  Persistence and determination.


Don’t discount that five or ten minute chance to pound some words out.  Not at your computer and an idea or sentence or two comes to you?  Note it any way you can.  Notes apps on your phone are great.  No matter how short or long, not that down and you can later copy it over into your NaNo story.


Eliminate contractions.  Having too many contractions is just being lazy.  Sixty contractions are sixty extra words you are squeezing into that precious word count.  If it feels ungainly later when you return to edit, then you probably should be rewording sentences so that so many contractions do not feel necessary.  While dialogue can feel more natural with more contractions, descriptions are less so.  And even dialogue contraction use depends on each character’s personality.  A more proper character will use more proper language, while a more laid-back one will use more.  Smooth out that dialogue later in editing.


Use Microsoft Word comment sticky notes at any chance you get.  No, it won’t up your word count, but it will flag those random thoughts and things you need to come back and research when it’s fresh in your mind to come back to after November ends.

.dr suess weird

Lighten up.  Don’t be so serious.  There is nothing serious about NaNo. It’s the crazy ass writer’s version of fun.  Get crazy with it.


Take advantage of those moments when the words flow.  Forget about worrying so much about where the story is going and if it is sticking to the script.  If the words are flowing, let them.  Let them take on that life of their own.  Any writer with experience on the writing end will tell you that even the most carefully plotted out story can change direction in the writing.  Stories take on something of a life of their own.  Just like your kids, your best laid plans for their future may not be the future they are meant to have.


Overwrite that scene.  It’s okay.  Throw all the passion and feeling you can into it.  Describe it at length.  Feel it.  Describe those feelings at length.  Put every ounce of yourself into it.  You can tighten it up later when you edit, but that passion will still shine through.

.week two

Now roll up those pajamas, pour that coffee with a shot of Baileys or Kahlúa, and let’s get our NaNo on!


Week two is ON!

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day of the deadOctober 31st.  It is the 304th day of the year and the mid-point of autumn.  And, on this day in 1926, the famous escapologist Harry Houdini died of gangrene and peritonitis from a ruptured appendix.

More important for many of us fans of things that go bump in the night, October 31st is Halloween.  Halloween is believed to be rooted in many different origins, all depending on your beliefs.  Paganism, Christianity, Satanism, and Witchcraft to name just a few of the origins believed to have spawned what we now call Halloween, a celebration of costumes and children wildly roaming their neighborhoods in search of candy handouts.

It is believed to have originated as a celebration to honor the dead, the end of the summer and harvest, and believed by some to be the one day of the year the dead can cross over to the world of the living (please don’t say ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE, although I know you are thinking it).

Halloween also happens to be my favorite holiday, the one holiday where you can just have fun and dress up; there are no major expectations of you.  It really is all about the kids and filling them with the sugar rush of sweet gobs of candy bliss and a night of frolicking in the dark in ghoulish costumes and trying to frighten the neighbours who dutifully pretend to be frightened. (Now when will *they*, the powers that have the power to make these decisions, get with it and make is a *real* holiday with a day off?)

But, for those of us with a lust for putting words to paper in a form that thrills, excites, angers, and saddens those who read them, October 31st has a different meaning.


October 31st is the last day before the new you, the you who has tackled NaNoWriMo 2015.

NaNoWriMoNational Novel Writing Month, a seemingly senseless annual tradition of writers worldwide.

When dawn breaks over the horizon tomorrow, on the first of November, millions of writers around the world will already be hunched over the glowing screens of their laptops, staring in overwhelmed awe at that lighted screen and willing the words to come.

Tears will flow and coffee will be drank.  Millions of writers worldwide will endeavor to pound out a 50,000 word masterpiece in only 30 days.

Yes, we are a crazy lot.

And so are you if you are even thinking about trying it.


Why should you try NaNo?

Are you the kind of writer who agonizes over every word, that it is perfect, that they all fit together, and that you are following all the rules of writing?

NaNo is a good lesson in the first rule of writing.  There are no rules in writing.  Writing is an art, and thus subjective.

NaNo is about putting aside all those rules that are holding back your true creativity and just going with it.  Run naked in the rain, eat supper for breakfast, and use split infinitives.  Break free, run free, and just write without giving any though of the rules of writing you think you should be following.

Write without editing.  Editing is the magic fix that will come later.  When you start thinking about those rules you should be following, remind yourself that is why editing exists, to fix that later.


NaNo can be overwhelming.  How in bloody blazes am I going to do this?  Well, it’s not as impossible at is seems.  And it took me three years of NaNo to figure that out.  Notes are your best friend.  Any time something comes you to, make a note.  I use comments in Word all the time.  Highlight a selection of text, and write your note of whatever thought occurred to you.

Don’t let random thoughts slow down your writing process or be forgotten.  They can add depth to your story later.  Jot them on sticky notes or as a Word comment, whatever works for you.  When something hits that should have happened earlier or should come later, jot it down.  You can go back to those notes when your creative bug wears out or when you return later to edit your story.


Break down your writing.  Just as I tell my kids when they have an overwhelmingly large homework assignment or chore (like cleaning their rooms), breaking down an insurmountably large task makes it much easier.  50,000 words in only 30 days!  Really?   That’s really only 1,667 words per day.  And good days count as make up days.  If you blast out 2,000 words in one day, that is 20% of your word goal for the next day too.  If you can start strong, keep those word counts up through the first while, when you hit that low midway through the month, you already have a build up of words to get you through the slump.


So, you don’t think you can do it? What the hell am I going to write?  What if I get stuck?  Outlining is okay.  If you need to outline and plan your story ahead, that is perfectly okay in NaNo.  The only rule is that you are writing something new.  Hell, you can take something from your personal slush pile that you started before and discarded because it was not working and rewrite that.  Just write something from scratch, whether it is totally original or a rewrite.  Outlining ahead can help you get through those slumps when you feel like you don’t know where the story will go.  So will going back on those random thought notes you made.


NaNo is about writing crap and loving it.  This is where we ring the buzzer of B.S.

Some revel in NaNo being about writing utter crap.  Others disparage it for the very same reason, because they believe that is what it is about and you can only write garbage.

This is NaNo nonsense.  NaNoWriMo is about what you need and want it to be about.  It is freedom from the writing rules, a personal challenge, a coming together or strangers and friends to support each other and your love of writing.  If you want it to be about having fun and writing crap, that is perfectly fine too.  You can also accept that not all writers have to write painstakingly slowly to write well.


sosSurvival tips for NaNoWriMo:

  1. Put aside all those rules that are holding back your true creativity.
  2. Write with wild abandon, no fear, let it be as good or bad as it will be.
  3. Write without editing.
  4. Notes are your best friend.
  5. Break it down. It’s only 1,667 words per day.
  6. Take writing moments when they come. Every ten minutes of writing adds to the word count.
  7. Outline ahead if you need to.
  8. Remind yourself, nobody ever has to see what you write until you are ready to show them.

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