Tag Archives: Author

NaNoWriMo… And A Bunch of Anthologies

It’s NaNo time! Time to get away from all the pressures and stresses of life, kick back, put your feet up on the coffee table and do nothing but write, all day and all night.

HAHAHA!

Never mind. I’m running around crazy and am lucky if I can get 20 minutes to work on my new novel. Not to mention I’ve got my hand in about every other pie I can stick it in. But, hey, that’s life, and that’s what makes it fun.

This year for NaNoWriMo, (Write 50,000 words in one month. Come on people, you should know this by now. :-P) I am taking a break from all the editing of my other works, and creating a brand new novel, the first in a trilogy. The novel is titled Mercy McNary, (And I have to tell you the names of the other two, because they’re so cool.) The second novel will be called No Mercy, and the third and final will be For Mercy’s Sake. It’s going to be a while before all three of them are done. They are likely to be my NaNo projects for the next 3 years, because it seems like November is the only time I ever get any actual Writing done anymore.

The trilogy, however, is about a woman named Mercy McNary, who happens to be a mercenary. One of the best, actually. When she gets sent to the rural world of Rostim to complete a long list of assassinations, she ends up meeting Jeremiah Justice… Who makes her start wondering if there’s a better life for her. But retiring from being the kind of mercenary that Mercy is, well, that’s not as simple as giving your two weeks notice.

The book is coming along well so far. I’m certainly having a lot of fun with it, and I’m looking forward to this month’s project. It’s not the only thing I’ve been involved with right now, though.

Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending a reading of the Spokane County Library’s anthology, Spokane Writes. My short story, “Tipson and the Wedding,” was included in the anthology, and I had a great time reading it to the group that was gathered there.

As my life normally goes, I can’t have only one thing happening at a time, so I’m also very involved in getting the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group’s next anthology out. The title is “Get There,” and I’m involved in creating the cover again. That is due to come out later this month.

And I published my own little anthology of my own work. (I guess that’s called a collection, but hey, we’re on the topic of anthologies here.) It’s called What You Want To See, and it’s a collection of kind of creepy short stories that I put out for Halloween this year. I think it’s a great read. I’m too much of a chicken to get into anything really horror-genre, but I do love something a little creepy, so if you’re like me and don’t want blood and guts, it’s a good collection to read, (Says the Author. :D)

And that’s about it, other than being neck deep in projects, cleaning, kids lives, appointments, Snow, (yes, neck deep) and paid work, that’s all I’ve really been up to! LOL

So Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

Another thought on “perfection”

I should have a “perfection” category on my blog. I’ve had a lot of posts related to those. The reason is that I want things to be perfect in my writing, but I know I can’t have that.

I go to a monthly writer’s group where we often will write a short piece and share it with the group, get feedback on it, etc. We keep the writing under 2,000 words, so it’s a nice easy writing exercise, at least for me. I love short pieces. But in the month between when we decide what we’re going to write, and when I actually share it with the group, I probably read and edit it at least three or four times. I go to the group and share it, hoping to get lots of good feedback and suggestions on how to improve it and most often what I get is this kind of stunned silence and a general, “That’s really good” comment. It sometimes frustrates me because I look at it and see all the problems. That’s my biggest stumbling block when it comes to publishing stories. I keep reworking them because I never feel like they’re perfect.

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I recently had an incredible experience in regards to this. One of my writing friends, Julia Ward, just published her first book. Every writer talks about how their novel is their baby. Well if Julia’s novel was her baby, I was the novel’s Auntie. I was there through the writing stage of the book, the editing stage of the book, the “why did I write this? It’s awful!” stage of the book, the “Oh wait, there are a few funny parts. Actually, this is pretty good,” stage of the book and finally the, “Holy crap, I’m just about to hit the publish button!” stage of the book. Through the whole thing, I saw that endless struggle for perfection, that endless self-doubt that she would ever be able to reach it. It was the same kind of feeling I had when working on my first novel, the same kind of doubt that it would be any good.

When the novel came out, I picked up my copy and started reading. It was cute, it was fun, it was funny. It wasn’t perfect, but I really didn’t care. I enjoyed it, and I was glad I had it to read. And it made me realize that, yes, I strive to make my novel the best it can be, and that struggle makes it such a much more enjoyable read to someone else, but I will never get it perfect, and I don’t need to, because people want to be transported to some other world, some other life, and as long as the imperfections aren’t extremely distracting, they’re happy to read what has been written.

If you’re interested in Julia’s debut novel, go check it out It really is a great read. (And I’m not biased, being the novel’s Auntie.)

Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

Inside “It Gets Darker”

Guest Blog Post

Today is kind of a special day. I get to post my first guest blog post! My post last month was all about how I designed the cover for It Gets Darker. This month, Lorna M. Hartman is talking about how she laid out the book interior. It’s a great post, and I definitely learned a thing or two just from reading it. Here are a couple pictures I took of the interior layout of the book. (I was not at all biased in which story I decided to post a picture of… hint, hint, L.P. Masters is the best.)

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Front page of a story

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Author Bio of one story, and front page of another

So now that you know what the inside looks like, and without further distractions from me, I’ll let you get to Lorna’s post.


Inside It Gets Darker: Laying Out the Book Interior

Lorna M. Hartman (www.LornaHartman.com)

To lay out the interior of a book appears straightforward. Drop in the text, some page numbers, add chapter titles and a table of contents. Piece of cake.

Here’s where I (obviously) say it’s not as easy as it looks. This shortened version of the process gives you a bird’s-eye view of a book layout project.

To prepare for It Gets Darker’s print layout, I read the entire book. There’s no other way to get the feel and flavor of the book, and the layout must reflect that as well as harmonize with the book’s cover. Emails flew back and forth as the group decided on their story order and sent me their author bios.

I’d originally received the chapters in separate Word files from the members of Spokane Fiction Writers Group who wrote for this anthology, but It Gets Darker author Erik Schubach (www.ErikSchubach.com) later sent me a single long text file he’d created to use in his design of the e-book.

Since e-books start with a fully stripped-down file, this was helpful. When starting the print book layout with this file, I didn’t have to deal with variations in font sizes, random indents, and other surprises.

While the others worked on their parts of the book, I laid out a single chapter in Adobe InDesign and tried out different fonts and artwork. I chose to use spiky artwork to go with the book cover font, which is called Dark11 (find it at UrbanFonts). The spiky circular swirl art at the beginning of each chapter worked better than any other option.

After I landed on a good visual look for the chapter, I used the pieces of that chapter to set up Styles for the whole book. A single Style is a set of formatting details used for a specific recurring piece of the book, such as a chapter title: the font, font size, alignment, and so on.

For example, the Body Text style for It Gets Darker is 12-point Minion Pro, left-aligned, with a first-line indent of 1p6, and so on. Readers of the book will remember that there are sections of radio commentary in one chapter, and the Radio Dialogue style was 12-point Corbel with indents on both left and right to set it off visually from the body text.

Want to know what’s fun? Getting your drop cap (that big first letter) at the beginning of each chapter to left-align, which ignores your first-line indent—but keeping the indent for the rest of the chapter. I’ve long ago learned this trick, but I haven’t forgotten the entertaining experience of figuring it out for the first time. Good thing no one was around to overhear that.

Even a straightforward book like It Gets Darker, with no footnotes, illustrations, or index, took well over a dozen styles to lay out.

I also created Master Pages. Each chapter’s first page contains the chapter title plus the swirl art, the author’s name, and the beginning of the body text for that chapter. To make sure each such page was laid out identically, I created a Master Page with alignment guides. These guides show up in the on-screen layout but don’t print.

Chapter titles and automatic page numbers can also be added to Master Pages, which saves considerable wear and tear on the layout editor.

(“Wear and tear” is a technical term. “Wear” refers to the way the seat of the pants wears thin over a long project; and “tear,” of course, refers to the customary tearing out of hair as part of the layout process. Possibly “tear” also refers to the tearing of clothes in frustration, but I couldn’t verify that. It is lost to history.)

I applied this Master Page to each chapter’s first page so the guides would show up on that page. I used a different Master Page with different guides for each different type of page.

I also added the spiky swirl art to my Library tab in InDesign because it appears in two different sizes in each chapter. With both sizes available in the Library, I was able to easily drop the right swirl in the right place.

InDesign has a Table of Contents tool that uses Styles to pull out chapter titles and whatever else is to be included in the TOC. It’s not the easiest tool in the toolbox, and it doesn’t cover all the bases, but once you learn it, it does save time for straightforward TOCs.

After completing the full book layout I sent it to several sharp-eyed editor types. They sent their feedback and I incorporated it into the book–there’s no such thing as too many eyes on a book when it comes to proofreading.

Finally, I saved the file in the proper format for the publisher and submitted it. The publisher ran it through an analysis to make sure it would print properly, checking for common layout problems. Last, it went to print, and now you can buy it in paperback as well as e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.

To keep in touch with Spokane Fiction Writers Group, follow @It_Gets_Darker on Twitter, check us out on Meetup, or visit the It Gets Darker landing page. We’ve got someone working on a new website right now, and we’re in process of setting up a new Facebook Page.

Our Twitter account is active, so if you would like to be notified when the Facebook Page is up, message us there.

Most importantly, if you write or want to write, we welcome you to a monthly Meetup group meeting. We don’t just talk about writing—we write. Thanks for your interest.


What a great post from Lorna M. Hartman.

Here’s a little more about Lorna, she writes fiction from the scenic Pacific Northwest. She’s two-thirds done writing a feature-length action/adventure screenplay. See more of her varied careers at http://www.LornaHartman.com and connect with her on Twitter (@Maro_Virino).

LornaHartman

Lorna M. Hartman

 

It Gets Darker As You Go

I’m excited to announce that the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group Paranormal Anthology is just about to hit the shelves (Virtually, and literally.)

Let me tell you a little about it, then we’ll come back to that.

A woman walks in the forest at night with a lantern.

It Gets Darker As You Go Cover

There’s nothing to fear…

This anthology features paranormal stories by the award-winning authors of the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group.

Erik Schubach
O.C. Calhoun
L.P. Masters
Lorna M. Hartman
David Jewett
Jerry Schellhammer
Patti L. Dikes
Charles R. Oliver
and R.N. Vick

As you journey into the new realities held within this anthology, you will encounter the snaggle-toothed monster under the bed. Meet a sweet, cookie-baking grandma, and discover a ghost who may not be as scary as he seems.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking there is nothing to fear because…

It gets darker as you go.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The stories are incredible. Some of them fun and lighthearted, and some of them extremely dark. That’s what I love about the layout, though, is that if you’re a scaredy-cat like me, you can decide when it’s getting too scary. (I’m probably the only one scared enough to stop partway through an anthology.)

I did swallow my fear and read the last few stories, though, and I can attest that they really are wonderful, albeit frightening.

Now, about those virtual and literal shelves…

Find the print version here, or get an ebook and read it anywhere.

But those are both virtual shelves. Didn’t I say something about literal shelves?

The Barnes and Noble at Northtown Mall in Spokane will be hosting a signing for It Gets Darker on Saturday, June 3 from 1 to 5 PM. They’ll have a big box of the books there, so come support us, come watch me at my very first signing, and come learn a little more about the anthology. UPDATE: The signing is currently up in the air and sounds like it may be pushed back a little. I’ll keep everyone posted on the date.

Okay. Plug your ears now cause I’m about to scream.

I’M SOOO EXCITED!

Whew. Thanks. I needed to let that out!

Have fun and enjoy the writing.

Afterdeaths, Audios, and Anthologies

All right. It’s alliteration time already. Although all I want is to advise you about the amazing events approaching in my author life, I also want to attempt to do a little exercise in alliteration.

As you know, the Afterdeath series has an audience that is aching for another novel.  Believe the author when she says she’s addressing that very need. Turning Point, with its alternating point of view chapters, has afforded itself the admirable station of being over halfway done with edits. Anyone who is following my publishing tendencies may already have noticed a lack of publication in February. Let me assure you, this was not an accident. I decided to focus my actions on accomplishing a fully edited Afterdeath Book 2 before attempting another short story for publication. And not to fret. An audiobook is in the near future.

Audiobooks are amazing. Anyone can sit and listen, and they don’t have to stress their eyes at all. Now, Weights is almost finished as an audiobook format, and will be available sometime in early march! I’ll be sure to announce its arrival on my blog and all other social media I attend to. And if you want an email sent straight to you when it’s available, by all means, sign up for my email list. You’ll attain my short story, “See You Tomorrow” for free when you do.

And don’t think Afterdeath and audiobooks are my only accomplishments. An anthology is in the near future as well. Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group is planning to publish a collection of paranormal short stories. I’ve already read 5 of them, and have heard about all of them, and all I can say is the stories are astounding!

As a final note, I have to bring this up now, simply because I attempted this, (probably annoying) tactic of alliteration today. Another short story that I am announcing soon is titled, “An Acceptable Future.” This story is exciting because it’s the first in a series of Adult Scifi “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories and novellas. Although “An Acceptable Future” doesn’t allow readers to “choose” yet, it is actually based in the same universe as other soon to be written “Dark Tales” are in, a great many of which shall have a choice associated with them.

And with all that, I’ll at last let you free from my mind-numbing yet–yes–amazing alliterating blog post.

Have adventures. And appreciate all authors.

Publishing Update

We are just days away from a new short story out on the market. But (shh!) don’t tell. You can get it right now, for free by signing up for my email list. “See You Tomorrow” will be up for sale by the end of next week at the latest. The cover is currently with the cover designer, the ebook is formatted and ready to go. It’s just sitting. Waiting. Itching for people to read it.

I have mentioned a few times that I write in several genres. “See You Tomorrow” is in my adult Science Fiction genre, and it’s a Romance to boot. It’s a sweet story about Tammi, a Texas girl who runs into the handsome, blue-skinned, sharp-toothed alien Domino Sim in the off-limits part of a National Forest. They spend the entire summer together, but when his assignment on earth is unexpectedly cut short, Tammi spends the next fifteen years trying to prove to his people that mankind is worth their attentions. If she can’t get manned missions out of the solar system, she’ll never see Domino again.

I’m very excited for this short story, and while I’m here I might as well update you on how things are going with my other projects. I’m only a few thousand words from finishing up “Turning Point” which is Book 2 in the Afterdeath series. Sorry, Afterdeath lovers, you’ll have to wait a little longer. “Turning Point” won’t be out until early spring 2017, because as soon as I finish the rough draft I get to focus my mind on revisions of “Last Breath,” which should hit the shelves early next year. “Last Breath” is an Adult Scifi novel about a man stuck outside on a planet with an extremely deadly atmosphere. It’s a page-turner, filled with unexpected twists and turns, and plenty, (I mean plenty) of villains.

Be sure to sign up for my email list so you can get updates anytime a new book comes out. And you can smile a few days from now when everyone else is scrambling to buy their copy of “See You Tomorrow” and you already know how it ends. 😀

Have fun. And enjoy the writing.

Be…Her…Guest

Today I had the honor of being a guest on DeAnna Browne’s blog. She posted about my upcoming release of Love is Death. She also has an exclusive inside look that will give you a little insight into the world of the Afterdeath.

I’m so excited about my upcoming novel that I can’t help but share my cover here on my blog as well.

LoveIsDeath

Regardless of where you’ll be reading this, either on your phone, computer or in the comfy pages of a paperback book, it looks gorgeous!

What a rush it is for me to be here, only a few weeks away from publishing my first novel. If you would like to receive an email on the release date, sign up on my mailing list.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to hop on over to DeAnna Brown’s blog to read that excerpt!

Have fun, and enjoy the writing, (and the reading.)

My Turn to Rave

I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but here’s why.

I just edited a 56,000 word novel in 10 days. Not to mention having to take care of children and do all the other amazing things I do.

I’m not saying the following things to brag about myself, more to brag about my editor. My editor had a lot of really nice things to say about my novel, Love is Death. You know, it’s great to have your family and friends read your work and tell you it’s good, but there’s just something different about having a professional look at your work and tell you this was a great story and she really enjoyed it.

And speaking of professional, that’s what my editor is. She had a chance to rave about my book in her comments and emails to me, and now it’s my turn to rave about her.

Let me tell you a little more. The “Edited By” acknowledgement of my novel will proudly hold the name Miranda Miller of Editing Realm. Their “tagline” at Editing Realm is “High-quality editing services at affordable prices!” and that’s the truth. I had been looking for an editor for a few weeks before I found Editing Realm, and I was seeing quotes of $2,000, $3,000, sometimes even $5,000 for my novel. It was simply unattainable. I have to be honest, when I stumbled upon Editing Realm’s services I was a little leery of how cheap the prices were, but I desperately wanted an editor, and I figured if I made a mistake picking them, then at least it wasn’t an extremely expensive mistake.

Now that I’m done with my edits, I can assure you it wasn’t a mistake at all.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that an editor should improve your work, but not change your voice. Miranda was brilliant at exactly that. She immediately identified several of my weaknesses: My characters looked a lot. (look, people gotta look at things worth looking at, right?) Using repetitive phrases repetitively, (see previous parenthetical.) Passive voice, (Although the passive voice was trying to be fixed by me as the author as I was doing my own edits.) Oh… And overuse of ellipses… but, I mean… they’re just so dramatic when you have ten of them in one sentence… aren’t they?

Sorry if that previous sentence was painful to read. It was a bit painful to write, and I totally got off track with it. Miranda was probably twitching as she read it.

Not only did she find my weaknesses, but she strengthened my word choice. She was like a magician. I brought in this beat up old parrot of a word, she put it in a box, waved her magic wand and out came a shinning, glorious new dove of a word. I mean, I use the thesaurus sometimes and end up pulling out a pterodactyl, but pretty much every word change she suggested I looked at and thought, That’s a perfect word for that. Why didn’t I think of that word?

As I started out this post saying, Miranda had a lot of great things to say about the story as it went on. As authors, we don’t get to hear our readers’ gasps when that love interest gets hurt or see their eye rolls when that antagonist does something stupid. Miranda put those gasps and eye rolls in the comments, as well as a lot of really great suggestions on how to improve the characters and flow.

I had a few questions and several scenes that I had changed heavily in the edits. I sent them to her and she was always quick to respond, and clear in her answers.

My point is that I want to tell the world, (or at least, anyone who reads my blog) all about Miranda Miller of Editing Realm. I will definitely be using her for my future novels, and have already recommended her to a friend who is planning to publish soon as well. She has erased one of the major concerns I had about self-publishing, and that was having a book that I didn’t feel was truly “polished.” It’s less than a month until my novel hits the virtual shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited.

So have fun, and enjoy the writing, (or editing as the case may be.)

Love Is Death-Blurb Reveal

It’s like dreams are coming true all over the place.

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(I wanted a picture to put in the post, and what better than a dog dreaming? Perfectly adorable.)

I’ve been working with my designer the last few days to get my cover just right. We’re not quite ready for a cover reveal yet, but it’s getting close.

Today I splurged, and spent a whopping seventy-five cents to get my cover printed. I had some running around to do this evening, and I spent some time with friends as well. I carried that piece of paper around with me everywhere.

I showed it to my friends who were all excited, and already fighting over who gets to buy the first book. They kept asking me if I knew the girl who posed for it. (I do. She’s my friend’s daughter.) and one woman tonight said, “Everyone keeps asking if you know her because she’s just so pretty.” I’ll have to pass that message on.

At one point I went to get back in my car and I saw the cover in the dim light from a street lamp and thought, “That’s a nice looking cover. What book is that?”

“Oh right. It’s mine!”

I’m not trying to brag, (although, really, any bragging I would do would be all about my cover designer because he’s incredible.) All I’m trying to say is, that dreams are coming true. The count down is on to November 16th when my novel will be released. And although we’re not quite ready for that cover reveal just yet, I decided I would give you all a break and do a blurb reveal. So here it is.

Rest in Peace?

What a joke. Ghosts rarely rest, and when we do, it’s never in peace.

Gina’s plan for her afterlife is simple: survive as long as possible. The afterlife is a ghost-kill-ghost kind of place. When she meets newly-dead Alec, she can’t help her desire to protect him. Before she knows it, she finds herself falling for him, despite the little voice in her head telling her it’s a bad idea.

Alec’s goals don’t mesh well with Gina’s plans. Determined to save his living sister from a murderer, he’s willing to disobey the laws of a well-established cult in the afterlife. If the cult finds out, they’ll kill him. Again. He’s hesitant to accept Gina’s help and threaten her afterlife, but he’s guaranteed to fail without her.

Together they embark on a perilous mission, but the most dangerous aspect of all is the threat of falling in love. Because in the afterlife…love is death.

Cover reveal coming soon. Be sure to check back, or to make life easier on you, follow my blog. (Just click one of the options to the right…)

So have fun. And enjoy the writing. (And have some dreams come true.)

Oh, Why Not?

It’s almost October, and I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s blogs. Everyone is talking about NaNoWriMo, so I thought…. NaNo? WhyNot?

NaNoWriMo has been extremely influential and literally life-changing for my writing career, but there were several years that I turned my nose up at it. I used to say, “NaNo? Hell No!” This post is all about why I thought that…and when I changed.

I gotta say. I love the theme this year!

I gotta say. I love the theme this year!

So let me tell you a story.

I began writing when I was twelve years old. By the time I was fourteen I was certain I was going to be a best seller before I was sixteen. When I was sixteen I realized I had to get working at this whole publishing thing or I was going to get too old to do it. (I mean, who publishes their first book AFTER they’re 18? Heck no. I wouldn’t be, like, cool in high school if I did that!)

So I sent my query letter off to an agent. I waited the required number of weeks until I got my SASE back, and then I cried myself to sleep when it said basically, thanks, but no thanks. (It was, however, a personalized rejection, which I now realize is quite an accomplishment in the querying writer’s world.)

My life, however, was ruined. I mean. The first agent I ever sent my novel to, didn’t want it. What was I going to do? (Yes. I was a little dramatic.)

But no, really. What could I do? I don’t know. Maybe just keep writing.

That’s what I did. Novel after novel after novel. Usually three or four or five all at once. I had several people tell me, “Don’t ever take a creative writing class. They just want to tell you rules and destroy your natural genius in writing.” So for a long time I didn’t take creative writing classes. And then I decided that I wanted to. I grit my teeth, promised myself I would cling to my natural genius, and I would not allow this single creative writing class to destroy me.

It didn’t destroy me. It remade me.

I learned. So much. I took several creative writing classes in college. One of them I honestly thought was intended to destroy my natural genius. I didn’t like the way the teacher taught. I didn’t like the short story examples I had to read. I didn’t like the formulaic crap we were forced to write. And do you know what? I dropped the class.

It was around this time that I learned about NaNoWriMo. I had a friend who loved doing it, and the first thought that came to my mind was, “That’s only something amateurs do. I want to be a professional writer. I’m never going to touch something so awful as NaNoWriMo.”

I kept plodding away on my writing projects. This was kind of a dry spell in my writing life. I had no real umph, no real drive. I kept writing, because I knew it was what I wanted to do, but I felt like every word I put down was wrong, every character I created was flat, every story I thought of was crap.

I moved away from home in 2006 and started getting more serious about my writing again. Although, I can’t say how serious I was when I was younger. I found that original query letter I sent out at 14 and I cried again. This time I cried because I never knew how terrible the query had been.

These were the years when I would randomly think of NaNoWriMo in the middle of the summer. Or I would remember November was the month for it and look at the calendar to see that it was already the twenty-third. I allowed myself to consider the possibility of perhaps participating in it. After all, those creative writing classes certainly hadn’t squashed my inner writer like a bug. Perhaps NaNo wouldn’t, either.

In April of 2010 (I was unaware there was more to NaNo than just November. Funny that I did this during Camp.) But that year I sat down to the computer and started writing this idea I’d been thinking of for a while. I got the first chapter done and read it to my husband, and he said, “Well, what happens next?” I said, “I don’t know.” and he said, “So go write it!”

That next week was a whirlwind of writing a few chapters, reading them to the hubby, getting scolded for stopping on a cliff-hanger ending, and hurrying back to my computer so I could discover the next big reveal. (Yes. I am a pantser, in case anyone was wondering after that paragraph.)

Ten days later I had 30 or 40,000 words written and a complete rough draft of the novel.

That November in 2010 was the one when the realization that NaNoWriMo happens this month, and the proximity to the end of the month were both reasonable. I didn’t think of NaNo until the tenth, but I figured I wanted to be a professional writer, and those daily word count goals would be easy enough to catch up on. I’d finished that novel in April that was almost long enough to be a NaNo. I signed up and started writing.

You know those mid-November blues. Don’t deny it. You know them. Well, I got them. Bad. Long story short, at two days to the end of the month I still had 16,000 words to write to “win” NaNoWriMo. I have my husband to thank for me winning that year. He said, “16,000? You can do it.” So I locked myself in a room with the computer and pounded out six thousand words that first day. The last day saw me up early in the morning. Hubby brought me breakfast. He brought me lunch. He brought me dinner. The whole day long I sat there pounding keys. This was a word war to the max!

donotdisturb

Eleven o’clock PM I smiled to myself and typed out the last two words. The End. I validated my word count with just over fifty thousand words, celebrated with my husband that I’d done it, and I went to bed.

And My. Life. Changed.

Createspace was giving away free proofs of your NaNo novel as a prize for winning that year. I read through the novel once, fixed a few of the spelling errors, slapped together some cover art and hit, “Send me my proof.”

Three days later I had a novel in my hands. My novel. My book. I could feel it, flip through the pages. I could smell the fresh ink. I could curl up in bed and read it. Which I did. Then I lent it to my mom, who loved it. And she lent it to my sister, who loved it. My dad, my sister in law, my other sister. The book was passed around from hand to hand and with every pass I heard the same thing. “I love it.”

It was the first time since I was fourteen years old that I honestly believed I could publish something. It was a re-ignition of that fire I’d felt as a young adult. I could write. I loved to write. And I wanted to be able to share it with people.

NaNoWriMo did that for me. I don’t even want to imagine how different things would have been if I’d said, 16,000 words were too many to write in two days. I don’t want to imagine where I would be if I never finished that NaNo. I like to think that I would have tried again the next November and that I would have gotten that same ignition then, but all I can say is I’m glad I won that first year. Because it truly changed my mind set.

Okay. The story’s not really over. That was 2010, and now it’s six years later and I’m finally getting my first novel published. It still took me a while to get over that, “I’m good, but I’m just not good enough” mindset that I had when I was younger. But I started to change. NaNo was my catalyst. I can track the very beginning of that change in my writing life to November 10, 2010 when I said…NaNo? WhyNot?

I know it’s hard. It is. That’s a lot of words to write in one month. But what kind of writer do you want to be? If you’re serious about being a professional writer, then you’re going to have to write a lot of words. There’s just something electric, something incredible about the community and the excitement of NaNoWriMo that can be life changing. There’s something amazing about holding your novel in your hands. So have fun this November. And enjoy the writing.