Blog Party for Sheila Perry

Shelia Perry, author, art enthusiast and community theatre actress joins us this dreary Tuesday to share some light on her NaNoWriMo history!


Name: Sheila Perry (mystery writing pen name Cecilia Peartree)

-Blog/Website Address:

-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’ve got so used to the pace of NaNoWriMo that 2,000 words a day is now my normal pace! But I couldn’t keep that up day in and day out for months – one month at a time is fine and then I can spend several months (sometimes years!) editing.

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

I first did NaNoWriMo in 2006. It was a bleak time for me as my mother and brother had both died suddenly within the past year, both my cats had just died and I had inherited two cats and a dog from my brother and they were only starting to settle in. I wrote a bleak novel about Scotland having a totalitarian regime and (just to pile on the misery) an environmental disaster. I found it quite hard to keep up with the word targets in those early days, and as well as writing a novel that month and working full-time I was also co-writing and directing a play for a youth drama group – an adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol.’ It was sheer determination that got me through it! However it was good for me to focus on NaNoWriMo and in a sense it saved my life or at least my sanity (just about).

-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)?:

Yes, I’ve completed all 5 NaNoWriMos so far plus the extra Camp one in July – at first with just over 50,000 words but more recently with around 54,000 words.

-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 always said I wanted to be a writer but I hadn’t really made a huge effort to do anything about it, although I had written novels before and then never done anything with them. When my brother died I suddenly realised life isn’t endless and we only get one chance at it so I had better get on and write – it had taken me quite a lot of years to understand that!

What kept me coming back was the wish to write more and better novels, and the feeling of being part of something bigger with other people who had similar dreams to mine and who didn’t think it was weird to want to be a writer. During the 3rd year of doing it I made contact with a local NaNoWriMo group and that was a lot of fun as we had real-life meetings and regular write-ins.

-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?:

NaNo really convinced me that if you run out of ideas or don’t know what will happen next, you should just keep on writing! You can write your way out of most things, and into other things that are better or help the story along.I usually have my best ideas completely randomly, either when out for a walk and thinking things over, or when I get bored with the direction the novel is going in. I have an instinctive urge to edit as I go along, but that isn’t a good idea if you want to keep going.

I hope not to write the whole novel on my netbook this year as it isn’t good for my shoulder and wrist joints!

-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):

I have 4 NaNoWriMo novels currently available as ebooks: The Mountain and the Flood (this is the first, bleak one from 2006), and my 3 mysteries under my pen name:Crime in the Community (2007 NaNo), Reunited in Death (2009 NaNo) and A Reformed Character (2010 NaNo).

I am currently working on a romantic suspense novel (Murder in the Midi) I wrote for Camp NaNoWriMo, in July 2011. I haven’t abandoned hope of eventually publishing NaNo 2008 which started out being called A Place of Conflict and is now tentatively called Song of Vanora – it’s a historical novel with time-travel and possibly some elements of Arthurian legend which I keep taking out and putting back in again.

-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)

In theory I should be OK to finish as I have done it 5 times before (6 counting Camp NaNoWriMo) but I always worry that the magic won’t work.

I don’t think I will get writers block. I think a more likely issue is getting RSI or some other physical complaint.

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 plan to write another novel in my mystery series, so I already know the setting, most of the characters and quite a bit about where they’re going, although I always have some new ones too.

I have a title and a theme and a tentative and quite flexible plot – of these I can only mention the title at the moment as the others may change once I start. The title is ‘Death at the Happiness Club’.

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

Yes, I will work on it until it’s finished to my satisfaction and then publish it.


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