National Novel Writing Month

All my writing ambitions were put on hold due to illness for the last few months. Today, the first day of NaNoWriMo, I am feeling much better and able to write—but I’m not writing a novel. I’m back to writing short stories for my anthology, because that’s a project I committed to.

I am currently working on my tenth story for the anthology. I had originally thought that ten would be “enough,” but I feel like I need a total word count of at least 50,000, and I’m not there yet. I believe I will need at least two more stories after I finish this one—which I’m struggling with, to be honest.

What I really need, to be honest, is a road trip. Hours of driving alone in the car are the absolute best thing to dredge up potential stories from my well of ideas. But thanks to the pandemic and my own serious health issues, I haven’t been on a solo road trip since May. I’m hoping later this month I will be able to hit the road!

O Frabjous Day!

Did you hear my massive sigh of relief from wherever you are on this terrestrial ball? This month has been a hard, hard slog. Why, oh why do they have NaNoWriMo in November?

BUT—I did it. Last night I passed the 50,000 word mark and today I finished the novel, which I’m tentatively calling Simon and the Sky Gypsies. So here are my statistics:

Total word count: 53,327

Average number of words written per day: 2,133.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Most of my novels land more in the 100,000 word range. How can I say I’m done after only 53,327 words?

Well, because this is my first middle grade novel, and this is a typical length for this genre. I wanted to end up between 50,000 and 60,000 words, and I nailed it. I assume it will be closer to 60,000 by the time I’ve done my revisions and added in some detail, but right now I’m very, very happy to have written “The End.”

Better yet, I love my characters and the story world and am looking forward to doing four more stories about Simon Somerset. Whew!

NaNoWriMo 2017

I’ve been threatening for almost a year to start a new novel, but my revision focus of the last several months meant that I kept putting it off. Now that National Novel Writing Month is here again, I decided the time had come to finally start my Sky Gypsy story.

I did not sign up on the NaNo website, but I am faithfully following the rules and have been averaging just over 2000 words a day. I really need to have a few 3000 word days to “bank” for days when I don’t have time to write the normal amount. Like, Thanksgiving for instance.

This is my first foray into writing for middle grade readers. Because I am planning a five-year arc, my main character is starting off at fourteen years old. By the fifth book he’ll be eighteen.

The beginning of this book has been difficult, because I’m setting everything up and trying to keep it interesting. I’m just about to get to the fun part though. One thing I didn’t expect was for my main character to play my own instrument—the autoharp. It has ended up being essential for his character, because he starts off as a very “uncool” kid, and there are few things more “uncool” than playing what many think of as an “old folks” instrument.

This is the only story I’ve literally “dreamed up.” I had a very vivid dream, that was really just a few seconds of seeing the sky gypsies, but it was enough to spark a whole world and give me the genesis of a story. I am excited to see where it will take me.

Completion Report

I am continuing do the rest of the WIPjoy posts, even though technically I have finished my novel, tentatively titled Sohalie’s Search. This has been a long journey for me. Sohalie’s Search is my sixth completed novel. All the others were written in a much shorter timespan–usually within a couple of months.

This one started in a class I attended during the Realm Makers conference of 2015. I had the kernel of an idea, and I wrote it down. Over the next few weeks, I kept thinking of ways to make it more awesome, including setting it in a story world I created for two of my other novels, though on a different part of the continent.

I started writing in November of 2015 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, and somehow I managed it. However, I knew I was only about halfway into the story and there was no time to keep writing in December.

The story languished until summer of last year, when I managed to squeeze out a couple of chapters. I thought maybe I could finish it during 2016 NaNo, but I simply did not have time to write. So when some of my fellow writers suggested having a “JaNoWriMo,” (January Novel Writing Month) I figured this was my big chance. It has been hard to put in the necessary hours and brain work, but I did finally finish on Tuesday morning.

Of course, there are many revisions that will need to be done, but as I’ve recently been reminded, my manuscript at the moment is the worst it’s ever going to be! I love the story and it was a bit of a departure for me as it’s my first story written in the first person. The main character, Sohalie (pronounced SO-hah-lee) narrates most of the story, but I have two other first-person narrators who have their own side of things to tell.

Now I will work on revising one of my other novels while letting this one sit for a month or two. I also have a great idea for a short story, so I may give into the temptation to work on that also.

But really, my first priority ought to be trying again to find an agent now that I have six completed novels. It’s just so intimidating . . .

WIPJoy #2

Today I tell you where I am with this project. I started it as a NaNoWriMo project last November and made the 50,000 word goal. I haven’t had much time to work on it since then and my current word total is only 55,684. I am expecting the final length to be in the neighborhood of 100,000 words, so I’m a little over halfway through my first draft.


I passed the 50,000 word mark yesterday morning, and just kept going. I’m really into my story now. The first 30,000 words are always the hardest! I am up to 53,000 now and hoping to make at least 55,000 before I close the books on November.

It has been great to be writing again. That is the bright side of NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t been writing regularly for a while, you realize how much you love and miss it and want to keep doing it. I really hope I don’t lose my momentum, because I really love this story and want to finish it.

Believe it or not, I have also actually been working on some poems.


The thing I hate most about NaNoWriMo is how relentless it is. You put forth all this effort, and it’s very intense, and you make your word goal for the day, and you feel very noble and proud of yourself. Then you have to get up and do it all again the next day. And the next. For thirty days in a row.

Unless you’ve had a really fabulous day where you wrote, say, 5000 words or more, there is no taking a day off to celebrate or recover. Instead, when you’re not writing, you’re always thinking about your story and trying to figure out how to have something interesting to write the next time. There is no “down time.”

Whenever I find myself resenting this, I remind myself that this is what I actually want to do full time in my empty nest years. This is what successful writers do. They write lots of words, every day. They don’t take time off. It is hard enough to make money as a writer, even if you do write every single day. So the reality is that what I’m going through this month is what I can expect all the time in years to come. However, I won’t have so many other responsibilities by then, so I am hopeful I won’t find it quite so onerous at I do now.

Almost Halfway There

It’s been a rough week trying to keep up with NaNoWriMo. I am past the 20,000 word mark and hope to make 25,000 by the time I go to bed tonight, if I want to stay on track. At the same time, I’m dealing with a cold and many other responsibilities too.

On the plus side, I’ve thought of a few great plot twists to add to my story, so it seems a good place for me to admit here that I am an “organic” writer, more commonly known as a “pantser.” This was a big surprise to me when I started writing seriously several years ago. After all, I teach writing, and I teach my students to make an outline. It makes sense, right?

But what I’ve found is that that my mind doesn’t work that way. Sometimes I do draw up a rudimentary outline, but usually it is out the window pretty early in the story because much better ideas occur to me when the characters refuse to obey me.

Furthermore, on the one occasion when I decided I would draw up a detailed outline, because I just knew it was a more organized way to do things, I ended up not even writing the story. All my creative energy went into writing the outline and then I was done. I had no interest at all in re-writing what I had just written, except in greater detail.

Let me hasten to explain that I always know where my story is going. I know how it starts and I know how it ends, and I even have some ideas about the middle as I start writing. But most of the specific scenes of the story are created as I go along, and often some plot elements surprise me. I actually love that.

So, off to see what my characters are going to do next!

Is NaNo Making Me a Bad Writer?

As I believe I said before, I have done a month-long writing blitz several times before, but usually in July. The one time I did it in November I don’t think I signed up on the official NaNoWriMo site like I did this year, so no one was holding me accountable for my word totals.

I broke the 10,000 word mark today, and hope to get another couple thousand words written before it’s over, but I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Over time, I have learned to catch myself when I use unnecessary words–the word “that” being the most egregious example. When I see a useless “that” in the lines I’ve just written, I delete it at once. I do the same for most adverbs and suchlike.

Now, though, I think I can’t afford to lose those words! Word count is more important than concision! I can always take all the extra words out after NaNo is over!

Do you see how warped my thinking has become? I’m kind of disgusted with myself!

Rocky Start

NaNoWriMo is off to a rocky start. I had a great idea. I was so jazzed about it. Then, when I started actually writing, I wrote one big pile of steaming hog swill after another. Even after all these years, I struggle with beginnings. I hope that over the next few days I will pick up steam and start writing words that I might actually want to keep!