The End Of NaNoWriMo

I regret to inform you … I failed.  Bombed hard.  I finished this wonderful month with a whopping 8,000 words.  Sad and pretty pathetic.

I had good intentions, of that I can assure you.  But the month was like … pure insanity.  Between out-of-town guests and holiday shopping, I got really, really sidetracked.  I couldn’t focus on writing like I could with my first novel and somewhere along the way I made the decision that if this was going to be a true follow-up … then it needed my undivided attention, something I couldn’t give it since I was so tethered to finishing THE MILESTONE TAPES strongly and still staying totally involved in “real life”.  The book will be fleshed out … soon … but not in November.

I’d like to also take this moment to thank the authors who jumped head long into my month-long Blog Party.  I can honestly say, it was it was amazing experience for me.  I had just the best time hosting you all and giving the platform in the pursuit of inspirational tales from the trenches.  Thank you!

How did you all do?  Put me to shame … share your successes!

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Blog Party for Michael Kingswood

Well, our last interview is going live.  It’s been a beautiful month and all the authors who freely gave of their time and knowledge have my deepest gratitude.

Last, but certainly not least, is author Michael Kingswood.  A Boston University graduate, pilot and scuba diver, Michael somehow manages to find time to write novels and short stories.  This is his NaNoWriMo journey…

 

-Name:

 

Michael Kingswood

 

-Blog/Website Address:

 

http://michaelkingswood.com

 

-Tell us about you:

 

I’m 36.  Married with three kids (oldest turns four next month pastedGraphic.pdf ).  My degree’s in Mechanical Engineering (minor in Astronomy), and I have masters degree in Engineering Management and a Master of Business Administration.  I grew up on Tolkien, Eddings, Feist, and Brooks, as well as a heck of a lot of Dungeons and Dragons.  During the day, I’m a professional Naval Officer.  I’ve been on Active Duty for 14 and a half years, most of it on submarines though now I’m an education and training management specialist.  I grew up just outside of DC, so I’m a hardcore Redskins fan (even though they’ve sucked for a while).  I went to school in Boston and married a girl from Maine, so I’m also a Red Sox fan.  I like dogs, and as far as I’m concerned the only good cat is General Tso’s Chicken.  pastedGraphic_1.pdf  I started playing violin at age three.  At 13, I shifted over to the guitar because that was more cool.  I’m still proficient at both instruments.  I enjoy pretty much all music except rap, though I will admit there are a few rap tunes that I’ve enjoyed over the years.  As far as books go, I enjoy reading scifi, fantasy, techno-thrillers, economics, astronomy, history, and military fiction (ala Tom Clancy).  My other hobbies include running, cycling, karate, flying airplanes, skiing, scuba diving, sailing, and video games.  One of these days I need/want to get back into D&D again.  It’s been too long.  pastedGraphic_2.pdf

 

-NaNoWriMo is a lot of work, so we all want to know, what inspired you to join the writeathon?:

 

It’s a challenge.  I like challenges.  I’ve been writing seriously for a bit less than a year now.  I heard about NaNoWriMo and it instantly resonated, just like running a marathon, biking a century, or any of the other things I’ve done just because they’re challenging.  It should be fun!

 

-Do you have a plot idea, how about character description?

 

The novels I’ve written (or am writing) so far have all been scifi, while a lot of my short stories have been fantasy.  For this one I think I’ll roll out a fantasy tale.  I’m thinking something along the lines of Seven Samurai in a fantasy setting.  We’ll see how it goes.

 

-If so, how much pre-writeathon work have you done?:

 

Just thinking about a general plot.

 

-If not, why not?:

 

So far I’ve found outlining to be annoying.  Plus, I always deviate from the outline anyway, so screw it.

 

-What do you think your biggest personal challenge will be when it comes to NaNoWriMo?

 

I know for a fact I can git ‘r done if I’m not distracted.  But with a wife and three very little kids, distractions abound.  Carving out time and sticking to it will be the biggest difficulty.

 

-What sort of experience are you bringing to the table?

 

I’ve been writing seriously for almost a year.  I’ve completed one novel, three novelettes, and six short stories.  I have another novel about 1/3 done, a third 1/10 done, and either a novelette or novella (not sure how long it’ll really be) that’s in the begging phase still.

 

-If you’re already a writer, what your the “normal novel” pace?

 

Given no restrictions on time, how long would you say it takes you to write 50,000 words?  I finished my first novel in four months.  The second is taking longer.  *shrug*  Back in July, I challenged myself to crank out words while my wife and kids were away for 10 days.  I got out 29,000 words.  So I know for a fact I CAN do NaNoWriMo-level writing production.  With no distractions.

 

-Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo?:

 

But of course.

Back From The Editor–Now, I Edit

You know what I love?  When people say they’re going to do something … and they just do it.

This afternoon I received back the copy of my book from the editor.  Lauren had promised that it would be about 28 days in her care, and it was just that … 28 days.  Nothing more.

The manuscript arrived back to me completely edited with tons of grammatical track changes, but (much to my surprise and joy) nothing structural–which was an amazing moment for me as a first time author to know, under the tutelage of a seasoned professional, that I did tell a story with no glaring hole and divots.  That I had managed, with my piecemeal skill, to flesh out my characters and give the reader a glimpse of life.

All thats left to do is muddle through the 400 plus pages and click accept.  Now, I can just be really excited to share the finished work with you…I know how it begins and how it ends.

As an early gift to you all, a thank you of sort for your patience and support, check out the tab “The Milestone Tapes” for the first excerpt from my forthcoming novel…

Blog Party For Shiromi Arserio

Shiromi Arserio, British born author, avid traveller and editor joins us on this Black Friday to discuss her NaNoWriMo journey of 2011.  I’m really excited to have the chance to host her since she just so happens to live in my dream location–the Pacific Northwest!

-Name:

Shiromi Arserio

 

-Blog/Website Address:

http://www.shiromi.net

http://www.igp-scifi.com

 

-Tell us about you:

I am a British writer and performer. I’m currently calling the Pacific Northwest my home, and loving every minute of it. In my “day job” I write travel and outdoor articles for both online and print publications. However, I also write plenty of science fiction and fantasy and run a Sci-Fi website called Inter-Galaxy Portal.

 

-If you’re a writer–professionally speaking–what is your “normal novel” pace?  Given no restrictions on time, how long would you say it takes you to write 50,000 words?:

 

I don’t tend to write novels outside of NaNoWriMo, so it’s hard to say. I tend to write a decent first draft 5,000-10,000 word story in a month, but it varies depending on the story.

 

-This isn’t your first NaNoWriMo…tell us about your first time?:

 

My first NaNoWriMo experience was in 2007. I heard about it and knew I wanted to try it. My novel was a fantasy story set in the Regency Period. That year I was so new to it, I didn’t even really know about all the write-in’s and such. I did win that year, but I remember having to really “stretch” the story out.

 

-Since there is an end goal–which makes you a “winner”–did you win and reach 50k in your past NaNoWriMo’s?  How many words total did you write (more or less or dead even)?:

 

I’ve won three out of the four years that I’ve done NaNoWriMo, and the year I didn’t win, I quit because I was in the process of mvoing and didn’t have the time for it. I usually don’t write too far over the 50,000 word goal, although last year, I did 50,000 words, but I’m only about halfway through that story.

 

-NaNoWriMo is a lot of work, so we all want to know, what initially inspired you to join the writeathon movement and then, what has kept you coming back for more?:

 

I had never written a novel length piece of work before, so it was a cool goal to try and achieve. Some years I’ve thought about skipping, but I’ve moved around a lot these past few years, and going to the write-in’s is a fantastic way to meet other people. The shared goal and the constant encouragement helps a lot. Last year, I even got to do NaNoWriMo with my 15 year old niece. We cheered each other on, and she won, which makes me so proud. If I did my novels without that support, like I did the first year, I would probably quit. The social interaction keeps me coming back for more.

 

-What were some of the things you taken away from past NaNo’s?  Any lessons you’d pass on to a newcomer and things you’d personally do different this year?:

 

Definitely go to the write-in’s. The encouragement really is essential, especially if you’re surrounded by non-writers who look at you strangely when you tell them you’re doing this. Also, I always try to write a little extra over the daily word count, because life has a funny habit of getting in the way.

 

-What happened to your story–did you publish it?  Junk it?  Still working on it?  (this is the place where it is A-O.K to mention a published book, if that book came from NaNoWriMo’s of the past):

 

Two are on the backburner right now. The first one I wrote badly needs some editing- it really didn’t need to be novel length. The second book doesn’t feel quite ready yet. As for the third, half-finished book, I plan on finishing that book, and releasing it as a serial online. I’m hoping to release the first part by the end of the year.

 

-What do you think your biggest personal challenge will be when it comes to NaNoWriMo this year? (examples: time, other obligations, consistency of participation, writers block)

 

I’m hoping to move to a new house soon, so between that, and the fact that I have a lot of short stories that I’m also working on publishing, it’s going to be a busy November for me.

 

-Since you’re obviously back for more–tell us–what prep work have you done for 2011 NaNo?  Do you have a strong plot mapped out?  Character development?  What are you current plans?:

 

Honestly, I haven’t done much prep work, which is kinda bad, since it’s less than two weeks away. Unlike most of my stories, this one is one I haven’t mapped out. I will have to do some research so I don’t get writer’s block halfway through, but this year’s novel will be far more fluid than my previous work. I know who the main character is, and the general situation and tone I want, but that’s about it.

 

-Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo?

I hope to finish this one and self-publish it, but we’ll see. It’s too soon to say, I haven’t even begun mixing the dough, much less putting it in the oven to bake!

A Lot To Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

This year has given me much to be thankful for…some old, some new, all cherished.  But, this post is all about you…the readers of The La Bella Novella blog.

I could never really put into words how grateful I am to you all…but, that doesn’t mean I won’t try…

I started this blog on a whim.  I never dreamt of it going anywhere.  I never dreamt of followers or comments or even breaking 10 visitors.  But, with each day you prove me wrong.  Thank you for buckling into this wild ride and allowing me to share my thoughts and mistakes and hopes for the future.  I adore you all.

Now…go have some turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving from me to you!

 

A Writer’s Holiday

I woke up this morning, the day before Thanksgiving, and immediately checked my e-mail.  I’m working with a few people overseas right now on my website and my communication with them often happens at odd hours of the day–either late at night or early in the morning.  It reminds me very much of when I was actually writing the book, as those magic hours amounted to my “author work day”.

Normally, I wouldn’t notice such a thing as it is almost common place now, but, this is also the morning before Thanksgiving.  In years past, I would have made a cup of coffee to go, deposited myself in my mother’s kitchen and been up to my elbows in potato peels by now.  I would have stopped along the way for a newspaper, removed all the Black Friday ads and started scouring them for the best deals.  I would have been setting the table and boiling pumpkin and running to the store to join the droves of the other just-like-me last-minute and frazzled shoppers hoping all they need hasn’t been picked over yet.

This year is decidedly different.  I have to work.  I no longer have the luxury of free time.  Just because I’m not going to my day job doesn’t mean my other job isn’t clamoring and chiming for my undivided attention.  I anticipate bring my laptop along to Thanksgiving tomorrow and either blogging, answering e-mails, working with my team across the globe or simply staring at the open Storyist page while going glassy-eyed without the benefit of a globed glass of red wine (if I drink while I write, it looks a lot like a mess 🙂 ).

It’s a writers life…and this is a writers holiday.

When I compressed my book into a neat little word document and mailed it off to the editor, I blissfully believed this would be an easy month, a nearly free month.  I figured that I could lose myself in my second book and that when the holidays crept around, I would be able to kick back and really just decompress.  Uh…no.  Not at all.  Silly me, I should have know, holidays are for people with normal lives, people who aren’t running towards publication and people who have the good sense to realize publishing around the Holidays is an almost certain disaster.

I’m busier now than ever, November has officially knocked me on my ass–I can’t wait for December (can you see the sarcasm dripping from the page?).  As the book comes to completion, I’m scrambling.  I have to write a dedication, table of contents, blurb–and that’s simply for print.  For my site, I have to do all of that and then some.  Not to mention to aligning the next steps for THE MILESTONE TAPES and making sure those people are in the know.  Somewhere in there, there is a second book that would like to be written and of course, this blog begs to be updated (thank you Jesus for giving me the foresight to do a blog party!).

It’s finally clear, my time is no longer my own.  Writing the book was a cake walk compared to this.  Writing was my time, if it didn’t get that done perfectly each day–oh hells bells–eventually I would.  Not now, now my time belongs to several other people and projects and plans, each one needs to be given 100% of my effort and focus–I’m no math savant but that seems highly unviable.  If I don’t get-right-on-that I slow them up.  That’s not fair–especially to the people who I have commissioned who would like that final cheque.

So, I work.  And that means–yes–over the holiday.

This is a brave new world…a writers one 🙂

 

 

 

 

Blog Party for Donna Brown

Donna Brown, admin of one of the most successful indie websites around, joins us today from the UK to discuss her NaNoWriMo 2011 adventure!

Name: Donna Brown

 

Blog/Website Address: http://bookbagsandcatnaps.com / http://adoptanindie.bookbagsandcatnaps.com

 

Tell us about you: I’m self-employed and live in Yorkshire, UK with my husband and our six cats.

 

NaNoWriMo is a lot of work, so we all want to know, what inspired you to join the writeathon?:  I’ve had an idea in mind for a long time and I knew if I didn’t do something like NaNoWriMo, I’d never get it down on paper.

 

Do you have a plot idea, how about character description? My character is a man called Harry Schmidt.  A couple of years ago I wrote a short story about Harry that began when he inadvertently killed his mother with a shoe.  I liked the story but always felt I’d sold Harry a little short so I wanted to write a novel about him.

 

If so, how much pre-writeathon work have you done?:  I’m not going to use any of my previous writing but I have gone through it and my notes to keep the ideas fresh in my mind.  Other than that, not much!

 

If not, why not?: Two reasons. 1) It’s my first NaNoWriMo so I’m not sure how to prepare in a way that works for me – I guess I’ll know next year!  2) I’m working on  ‘Adopt an Indie’ month, which is also happening in November and trying to bring bloggers, readers and indie authors together.

 

What do you think your biggest personal challenge will be when it comes to NaNoWriMo? (examples: time, other obligations, consistency of participation, writers block…):  Definitely time and discipline.  There are about 140 authors taking part in ‘Adopt an Indie’ and then there are around 50 book bloggers and readers galore.  I like to make sure I stay in touch and support people.  I’m going to have to be really disciplined about NaNoWriMo time!

 

What sort of experience are you bringing to the table? (examples: already an author): Not a lot.  I mostly write short stories but my husband, David, he’s the author of the house.  That’s one of the reasons I’m doing it: I don’t know how I’ll ever commit to a novel otherwise.  I’m too flighty with my ideas!

 

If you’re already a writer, what your the “normal novel” pace?  Given no restrictions on time, how long would you say it takes you to write 50,000 words?

 

Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo?: Definitely.  Even if I don’t do anything with it other than finish it, edit it, edit it some more, read it and keep it in a cupboard, I think I’ll regret it if I don’t tell Harry’s story.

Vanity Presses…Author Beware!

As a new author, I can honestly tell you, I knew nothing about vanity presses until this whole fiasco with Book Country blew up across the blogosphere and forums.  Authors everywhere were nothing sort of steaming pots of outrage.  I honestly didn’t know enough to have an opinion one way or another.  But, after a bit of research, I started to wonder why anyone would sign up for such a racket.

I’m writing this blog to warn independent authors to steer clear of the likes of Book Country, and here’s why…

While it might sound lofty to say “I was published by Book Country, a subsidiary of Penguin” the truth is, that’s rubbish.  By signing with Book Country you’re not signing with Penguin–as in the publisher with the muscle to move your book to the NY Best Seller list–no, no, no…what you’re doing is signing away a cheque and handing over the royalties of your work forever.  The company can and will gloss the fine print up to spin it every which way…but the bottom line is that you’re paying them for absolutely nothing.

People making money off the backs of “the talent” is nothing new.  Agents, publishers, lawyers, managers, and so on have taken cuts and retainers and percentages since way back when.  And likewise of course you, as an author, can’t expect to get anything for free.  If a company is formatting your book, you’ll pay them.  If a company is doing your cover, you’ll pay them.  If a copy is uploading your book to be sold at XY&Z, you’ll pay them.  But, once you’ve cut those cheques…the book is yours as is the money rolling in from the book–that’s how it works when you’re an independent.  But not if your sign with Book Country–they’ll continue to take royalties.  Why thought?  What makes them entitled to such a thing?  And that remains the 30% question.

Since the revolution of “self publishing” in the era of Amazon and B&N, Vanity Presses are popping up like web companies in the 90’s.  They’re almost everywhere.  But there is absolutely nothing they can offer you that you can’t do for yourself.  That’s the bottom line.  That’s the truth.

Book Country wants nearly $600.00 to format for you and create a cover.  But that’s a high number considering what you can freelance it for.  Book Country wants to print your book–but, sites like CreateSpace or LuLu offer the same thing without demanding a slice of the pie in return.

Consider this blog a public service announcement.  Please, do your homework before getting caught up in a true publishing web.

Let’s Talk Websites

One of the very first things I do if I discover a product I love or a person in a profession I’m curious about is type the I have information into Google and hope that a website jumps up.  My favorite authors, actors, or personalities…well, I could spend hours on their sites playing around overcoming information and reading excerpts and background information.

Before Twitter or Facebook or blogging…all we had were websites…it may smack of the dark ages of the internet, but it’s still very relevant.  They were the place we went to connect with our favorite things and people.  A good website is like a virtual storefront, greeting folks and welcoming them inside.

Still, I never thought I’d “have a website”–it all seemed very, very above me.  But, after blogging a lot and hosting a bunch of interviews I noticed a common theme…everyone had a site. Couple that with the fact that on this blog I’m been fairly candid…something I wanted to do for all of you, but maybe not for a reader since a lot of what I’ve discussed is, well, industry mumbo-jumbo. It was then I realized, while I love to blog–and hope to continue doing so for a good, long while–I needed a professional doorstep as well.

I discovered Scarlett Ruger’s on the Kindleboards.  She was introduced to me as a cover artist, but after visiting her website, I realized she does far more than that.  She makes websites, too.  Warm and affable, I knew I really wanted to work with her in some capacity or another.  After e-mailing her back and forth and discussing the price with Mark, I decided to jump right in and have her do the heavy lifting of website design.

Since I don’t have a lot of “me” to share…no backlist, no previously celebrated accolades…I knew the site would be small, but I wanted it to have a heart.  I wanted to capture the Olympic Peninsula in pictures, let you all inside the world I write and give someone a place to go to if they want to connect.

And, I’m very excited.

There are many moments when writing a book becomes bigger than you are as an individual and amounts suddenly to the sum of its parts.  The first time you hold the manuscript in your hand, the first time you see your cover, the first time an agent takes you seriously…and now, for me, it’s having a domain name that is my own.

So, blog buddies…my question is this…do you have a website?  What do you do with yours?

Blog Party for Rebekah Webb

Rebekah Webb writes anything that suits her fancy, and she’s attacking NaNo with that mentality this year.  She gave me this interview about her adventures in NaNo land…

Name: Rebekah Webb

 

Blog/Website Address:

www.carjohnson.com

http://carjohnsonrocks.wordpress.com/

 

Tell us about you:

I’m a writing from California. I recently published a comedy e-book (which was not a NaNo story.)

 

If you’re a writer–professionally speaking–what is your “normal novel” pace?  Given no restrictions on time, how long would you say it takes you to write 50,000 words?:

It would still take me about a month. My normal pace of writing is about 1,000-1,700 words a day if I’m going at a comfortable pace, provided I don’t get a case of the lazies.

 

This isn’t your first NaNoWriMo…tell us about your first time?:

My first NaNo was last year. I’d put off signing up for the longest time, as I was working on a novel that was taking up all my time and I didn’t want to start one just for November. Well, that novel was stagnating and I realized I should just go for it with something  completely new (which turned out to be horror.) That completely new novel became something I could actually work with and the stagnate novel that I spent so much time on became a short story.

 

Since there is an end goal–which makes you a “winner”–did you win and reach 50k?  How many words total did you write (more or less or dead even)?:

I ended up with a little over 50,000 words. I would have had more, but a lot of things were going on in my life that conspired to make my first NaNo the most difficult possible.

 

NaNoWriMo is a lot of work, so we all want to know, what initially inspired you to join the writeathon movement and keep you coming back for more?:

I wanted to see if I could slay the procrastination demon and actually write. In other words, I wanted to force myself to stop the “Oh I’ll do it later” attitude that plagued me. As for coming back for more, it’s a lot of fun.

 

What were some of the things you took away with you–lessons you’d pass on to a newcomer and things you’d personally do different this year?:

My first NaNo taught me a lot of things, mainly to actually do what works for me when writing. Before, I was attempting to write an epic fantasy, despite the fact that I prefer science fiction and really don’t like much epic  fantasy. And I made an extensive outline, even though I write best with a minimal outline. Basically, I was a moron trying to write a genre I don’t like and in a way that isn’t compatible with my brain. That’s the best advice I have for people:

Don’t be a moron. Writing is like any other skill. Figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are, not someone else’s.

 

What was the hardest part?:

The hardest part was actually all the stuff that was going on outside of NaNo. We’re talking family strife, broken computers and trips to the library to use their internet.

 

What was the easiest part?:

The actual writing.

What do you think your biggest personal challenge will be when it comes to NaNoWriMo this year? (examples: time, other obligations, consistency of participation, writers block)

Actually, I think it’ll be a lot easier this year. Of course, that might lull me into a false sense of security and cause me to procrastinate, but I’m bound and determined not to let that happen.

 

Do you plan to pursue your NaNoWriMo story past the November 30th deadline?:

Yes. I did it with last year’s story and I see no reason not to do the same thing this year.

 

What happened to your story–did you publish it?  Junk it?  Still working on it? (this is the place where it is A-O.K to mention a published book if that published book came from NaNoWriMo’s of the past):

I edited it and it is currently on submission at a small press. They respond to every request they get, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

 

Since you’re obviously back for more–tell us–what prep work have you done for 2011 NaNo?  Do you have a strong plot mapped out?  Character development?  What are you current plans?:

I’m going to do the same thing I did last year. I’ll make an outline of plot ideas three days before November 1st and use those to craft the novel.

 

Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo?

Of course. Otherwise, it would just go to waste.