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.

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!

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.

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.

Blog Party of Monica La Porta

Monica is truly the definition of an artist.  Born and raised in Italy, she now lives in my favorite place–the Pacific Northwest.  Not only can Monica write words and turn them into beautiful books, she is also a painter and sculpture balanced by being a mother and wife.  I am really excited to get to share her NaNo experience with you all!

-Name: Monica La Porta

-Blog/Website Address: www.monicalaporta.com

-Tell us about you: I am an Italian transplanted in misty Washington State.

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 write 1000 words every day, or at least I try my best to. When I am particularly inspired I can write up to 5000 words, but I’d say that normally it would take two months to write a 50,000 word novel.

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

My first time was three years ago, and I approached it like a vacation from reality. A month to write whatever my mind concocted without worrying about contents, characters, flaws in the plot. Just pure, unadulterated writing. Loved it. The house suffered from it.

-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 won both times I participated; dead even. I tend to write more than the recommended word count every day, so that I finish earlier and celebrate Thanksgiving without worrying about deadlines.

-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?:

The first time, I wanted to push myself to see if I could write more than the 1000 words I had settled on. I had lots of fun in the process, my family was very supportive, and I decided to do it again.

-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?:

Free your mind and write for the sake of it. Don’t’ worry too much about house cleaning and cooking. My house and my family survived the last two Nanos, and I am confident they will survive 2011 Nanowrimo as well.

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):

2009 Nano’s  is safely stored away. The story I was trying to write took a life of its own; it started as a young adult tale of a blind girl going through daily life struggles, and soon enough dragons and princesses made their appearances. Promising, but messy. Maybe, one day, I’ll take a look at it again. 2010 Nano’s, The Priest, is going to be on Kindle later this month (October 2011). Last year Nano’s was born as a prequel of a novel I was already writing. I was almost done with Pax in the Land of Women, when two characters came alive: the Priest and Rosie. Their story was sad and worth telling, but there wasn’t space for them in Pax. Nanowrimo came around, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to put Pax on hold and write The Priest. One year later, the stories of Ginecea, a land where women keep men under captivity, and love between a man and a woman is a sin, are ready for public consumption. Lots of writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing, professional editing (twice), and proofing in the last 365 days…

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)

2011 Nano’s is going to be a challenge because I haven’t made up my mind, yet, about what I am going to write. I should be working on the third and final installation for the Ginecean series, and give The Priest and Pax their conclusion, but I have been toying with an idea for a while, and the other story is calling 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?:

Well, for Pax at War I have the whole story mapped out. If, instead, I give in to temptation and I work on the young adult paranormal story I have been thinking of lately, I haven’t planned much. I have a general idea for the atmosphere and the setting, two main characters already talking and wandering around, but the plot is still open to endless possibilities. The only certainty at the moment it is that no vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, witches, or elves will be enrolled in the cast.

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

Definitely, in both case scenarios. If I write Pax at War, it will be the final chapter of a trilogy, and I have already reserved a spot with an editor for May 2012.  If I write the young adult paranormal, I’ll keep working on it later on.

Blog Party for Jason G. Anderson

Successful in the past, Jason opted out of NaNo this year…read more to find out why!

 

Name: Jason G. Anderson

 

Blog/Website Address: www.jasonga.com

 

Tell us about you:

 

I live in Australia, in the small island state of Tasmania. I was born in the north of the island (Devonport), but moved to the south (Hobart) to attend university. I was lucky enough to get a job soon after graduating, and ended up staying here. I work in Antarctic science (as an assistant, not a scientist), where I help scientists manage the large amount of data they generate/collect. It’s interesting work. I have a wonderful wife (Marina), and we live in servitude to the several cats that allow us to live in their home 🙂

 

 

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

 

My first time was in 2010. I go a bit more into why I joined up below, but after I had decided to do it I needed a story. I had one come to mind straight away (I had been toying with writing it for a few years), so I began doing what I could to outline it in a basic way (just figuring out what scenes I wanted, and the order they fell in).

 

Then, in early October, a new idea suddenly burst into my mind. As often happens with new ideas, it wouldn’t go away. So I abandoned my first idea, and set about outlining my new idea. That was the story I went with into NaNoWriMo, and that’s how Gears of Wonderland was born.

 

 

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)?:

 

There’s a fun story about that. I always knew that the story wouldn’t be finished in 50k words, so my goal during NaNoWriMo was just to get more than 50k words down (for purists who say you should finish the story, I was ready to add a “Then rocks fall, and everyone dies” sentence at the end to make it count 🙂 ).

 

Late on the 29th, I was only a few hundred words away from the goal, so decided to call it a night and cruise in on the 30th. The next day I did my extra words (it took less than half an hour from memory), then went to the site to submit it.

 

Only for the “official” word count to come back over 2000 words short!

 

Needless to say, there was a mad scramble of writing. I don’t think I’ve ever written that quickly before (or since), but just over an hour later I resubmitted the manuscript, and had passed the goal (by a few hundred words).

 

Why was there a problem with the word count? After some testing, I found the reason. I was using OpenOffice to write the manuscript, and the word count feature in OpenOffice is really stupid when it comes to smart quotes. It counts the opening parenthesis of dialogue as a word! The last time I tested (a few months ago now), that bug is still there.

 

 

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’d heard about NaNoWriMo several years ago (my wife did it unofficially, and managed to win), but I’d never thought of trying it myself before. But the mention of NaNoWriMo back in late August/early September last year struck a chord in me, and I decided I wanted to do it.

 

It was events earlier in the year that made NaNoWriMo appeal so much. I’d been running a tabletop roleplayiing game for a group of friends for years, but around the middle of the year the group broke up. Which meant I had lost my main outlet for creating stories. When the idea of writing the stories down was presented, my mind just grabbed it. The rest, as they say, is history 🙂

 

 

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?:

 

I have three tips. I managed to do all of them last year (one by chance, two by design), and I think they were the main reason I managed to succeed.

 

First, plan your story in some way before November 1. You don’t have to go overboard (in fact, you don’t want to – you’ll probably just stifle yourself), but having a rough idea of where you want the story to go means you don’t ever waste valuable writing time trying to figure out what happens next. I made my plan by getting a pile of old business cards, and writing a sentence describing each scene I had thought of on a card. I then played around with the order of cards, added and removed cards, etc, until I was happy with the flow of the story. I stayed reasonably close to my plan, but did change a few things as I went along.

 

Secondly, make use of your non-writing time, especially if you have a very limited time to write. Think about what is going to happen next, either in the current scene you’re writing, or the scene after the one you’re writing. When you sit back down at the keyboard, you’ll be able to make the most of your writing time.

 

Finally (and this was one I found out by accident), do everything you can to write as much as you can on November 1. I started as soon as midnight hit, and took the day off work to continue writing. By the end of November 1, I’d written 5000 words. This gave me a good buffer for later on, as there were many days where I was only able to write a few hundred words.

 

 

What happened to your story–did you publish it? Junk it? Still working on it?

 

I continued writing my story until mid-December, when I decided I was happy to call draft one of the story finished. I then let it sit for several months, while I worked on other things.

Finally I came back to the manuscript, read through it all in as short a time as possible (two days), made some notes about what I wanted to change, and then set about re-writing and adding sections. I added an entire chapter to the front of the story, moved some things around in the first quarter of the book, and added a number of scenes.

 

Once I was happy with it, I hired an editor (Lynn O’Dell) to go through it. She really outdid herself, and the story is much better because of the work Lynn, her proofreaders, and a friend who was my beta reader all put into it.

 

Gears of Wonderland went live on Amazon on October 12, and needless to say, I’m extremely happy! You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005USJ5U8

 

 

You had a really successful NaNo last year….what made you decide to take a pass for the 2011 go around?

 

Unfortunately, it’s a case of bad timing. I have a book in progress that I really need to finish (it’s booked in for Lynn to edit), so I can’t afford to take November off to work on something new. And there’s no way I could do NaNoWriMo and work on the current book in progress 🙂

 

 

Do you think you’ll ever do a NaNo again? Why or why not?:

 

I will definitely do NaNo again. Next year I hope to plan my time in a better way, so I can start a new book as part of NaNo. I’ve certainly got enough ideas running around in my head!

Blog Party for Shel Delisle

Shel Delisle, author of DOLPHIN GIRL, joins us from Florida today to discuss her NaNo project.

-Name: Shel Delisle

-Blog/Website Address:

http://sheldelisle.wordpress.com/

http://whatchareadingnow.com/

-Tell us about you:

I’m the author of the contemporary YA novel Dolphin Girl and one of the founders of Whatcha’ Reading Now?, the popular kids lit community.  I also have a wonderful hubby, three sporty boys, and a very hairy dog.  When I have spare time *grins*, I make truly scrumptious cookies.

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

I have a burning desire to finish this novel!  Plus, I want to write quickly to outwit my inner critic and end up with a fresh and honest first draft.  I can always haul that critic out later during revision.

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

That’s a funny question!  Let me tell you why.  All of my books involve characters that are “rule breakers”.  Clearly, I’m one too, since this book had more than a hundred pages at the beginning of NaNo and that would be a big no-no.  NaNo. No-no. That’s kinda’ funny.

But, that said, I don’t want to be a cheat on the word count, so I’m throwing in some other projects, including a short story for an upcoming collaboration with some other writer friends.  On that, I know the character quite well and have a basic idea on plot.

-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/other obligations.  I’m the mother of three.  The kids’ lit writing community Whatcha’ Reading Now?  takes a bit of effort. I’m promoting my newly released e-book and am at work on publishing-type stuff for another book that will release in early 2012.

-What sort of experience are you bringing to the table? (example: already an author):

I’ve written my whole life, but have only taken it seriously for the last seven years.  By seriously, I mean treating it like a job.  During the past seven years, I’ve set goals and participated in critique groups.  I’ve studied craft by taking classes, reading books and practice, practice, practice.  They say it takes 1 million words to become proficient.  Um, did I mention practice?

-If you’re already a writer, what’s 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 think I’ve written enough novels to have a “normal” pace. The first novel I wrote took just under one month, but that was before I knew anything about writing. *grins*

I think the appeal of NaNo for me is to write with that kind of freedom and freshness again.  In my experience it’s not hard to write 50,000 words, but it can be challenging to write 50,000 good words.

When I think of time, it definitely includes revision.  So, my completed novels have taken anywhere from six months to two years.

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

I plan to publish this book post NaNo!  After revisions, of course. J

Blog Party for E.S Lark

Emily grew up with a fantastical imagination and parlayed that into a stunning career as an author.  With an unwavering belief that her books should be read–whether they fit traditional markets or not–E.S Lark has given readers beautiful stories.  Today, she joins the La Bella Novella blog to discuss her 2011 NaNoWriMo plans!  Thank you Emily!

-Name: Emily Lark

-Blog/Website Address: http://www.eslark.com

-Tell us about you: I’ve been writing fantasy fiction for about twenty years now. I’ve tried other genres, but they never seem to stick as long. A few of my favorite authors include Mercedes Lackey, Andre Norton, Piers Anthony and R. A. Salvatore.

-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?: This really comes down to how easily the story flows for me. I’ve been known to writer 30,000 words in as little as six days. I’m sure if a story really grabbed me, I could easily achieve 50,000 in one week. Unfortunately, it usually takes more time than that because I obsess over the smaller details.

-This isn’t your first NaNoWriMo…tell us about your first time?: Last year was actually my first Nanowrimo, but I didn’t write under this name. I was working on a piece of non-fiction at the time (making me a Nano rebel) and didn’t want to confuse my readers by using the same name.

-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 won Nanowrimo last year a few days before it ended. I believe I finished with about 52,000 words, and then through edits I cut that down to around 47,000 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’d seen a lot of my writing peers getting geared for it and I kind of felt left out. I’m doing it this year because I enjoy the community as it’s going on. You can join chatrooms, chat on the forums, join in writing sprints or even meet up with local authors.

-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?: About halfway through Nano last year I started to fall behind. I let myself get stuck on a scene because it wasn’t flowing as smoothly as I would’ve liked. I’m one of those writers who edits as she writes, which makes the writing process longer than it has to be.

When I realized what was holding my novel back, I forced myself to ignore the internal editor. Sometimes we forget that the first draft isn’t supposed to look polished and that it’s just there as another piece of the foundation. So, for myself and new Nano writers out there, I order you to turn off the editor. Get the bare bones of your novel down in the first draft. Basically, your head’s full of words and letters. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, and the only way to get rid of it is to throw the novel onto the page as quickly as possible. Get it out and move on. You can fix any mistakes during the editing process.

-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): The book I wrote last year has been edited about six times. It’s ready for publication, but I got sidetracked with my fantasy. At the moment, I don’t have enough time to do the interior layout and cover work, so it will have to wait. I do plan on publishing it in the future though.

-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) Time management. Ever since I released my first book this fall, I’ve been unable to manage my time as well as I’d like. I tell myself to do one hour of marketing/connecting with readers in the morning, but that one hour soon becomes two or even three hours long. I do the same in the evening. So when I’m not marketing or connecting, I do my very best to write, but I’m constantly checking email, my blog for comments, Twitter and online writing communities.

-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 had three ideas for Nano earlier this season, and it kept changing. Now, with Trueblood’s Plight coming out next month just as Nano begins, I’ve decided to work on the sequel. I’ve done very little prep for this. I’m using a plot idea I had about a year ago, changing a few things and winging it. I know it’s not for everyone, but I cannot use an outline.

I feel restricted if I do, like I need to follow the exact outline. Besides, most times when I plan on something happening, my characters decide they want to do something else. They’re the ones that write my books. I’m just there for the ride and to make sure no one dies (usually).

-Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo? I do. Since I started on my road to publication about two years ago, I’ve made myself a promise. I’m not allowed to start a book and not finish it, even if I get stuck. If I gave up when I had a writer’s block that lasted two weeks last year, Trueblood’s Plight wouldn’t exist. It’s hard trudging through the meat of a novel at times, but we never know how good it could’ve been unless we finish it.

Blog Party for Edward M. Grant

And the party continues!  British author, Edward M. Grant, stopped by to share his past NaNoWriMo experiences and what he hopes to accomplish this year.

-Name: Edward M. Grant

 

-Blog/Website Address: www.edwardmgrant.com

 

-Tell us about you:

 

I grew up in Britain and studied Physics at Oxford, but I moved to

Canada several years ago. I make a living in IT and in the UK I spent

about a decade working on indie movies in my spare time, and only really

returned to writing fiction when ebooks made self-publishing viable;

every time I thought about finishing a novel and sending it out the

prospect of waiting years for agents and publishers to reject it left me

looking for better things to do with my time.

 

Lately I’ve been too busy writing to do much for hobbies, but in the

past I’ve been a VIP at several space shuttle launches, traveled all

over the world, climbed Mt Fuji and visited ground zero of a number of

nuclear explosions.

 

Over the years I’ve written various short stories, a lot of unproduced

movie scripts and some magazine articles. I co-write an indie vampire

movie which was shot in 2006, but it didn’t come out as well as we’d

hoped. Right now I’m doing a final tidy on a novelization of the first

horror movie script I wrote back around 2001 and hope to have it

available soon.

 

-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 been trying to average 1,000 words a day all year and I’ve come

fairly close to that but unfortunately the words are spread across about

half a dozen novels and a few short stories rather than all in one

place. So on that basis about two months, though I’d normally be

revising a previous novel at the same time.

 

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

 

That was ‘Petrina’ in 2006, which I’ve just started revising to

self-publish sometime next year; I was roughing out a series of five SF

novels when my girlfriend suggested doing NaNoWriMo because she and some

of the people she worked with planned to do it, so I thought I’d write a

separate novel set in the same universe with some of the same characters.

 

It was a useful experience because at the time I had several

part-written novels that I had abandoned but had never completed a first

draft (oh my God, all those words in one story!), so it gave me an

incentive to do so. Fifty thousand words seemed daunting at the time,

but I’d managed to write feature-length movie scripts in a couple of

weeks so it wasn’t as daunting as it would have been a few years earlier.

 

-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)?:

 

To be honest, I’ve never been that worried about actually completing the

story that month, so I just aim for the 50k words and call it done once

I pass that. Every NaNo novel I’ve written has a beginning, middle and

end, but also a number of places saying ‘[stuff goes here]’ or ‘[The

magic hamster arrives and saves the weasel princess]’

 

I see it more as a way to write a detailed outline than a complete novel

with all the words in the right places. For example, ‘Petrina’ ended up

around 65,000 words after I went back and wrote the parts I’d left out

and I wouldn’t have managed that extra 15,000 words before the end of

the month.

 

-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 work best with deadlines, so having a simple deadline (50k words by

the end of the month) is a good incentive to get something written. I

have a ton of ideas stashed away that I’d like to write and so it’s a

good excuse to pull one off the list and write it.

 

-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?:

 

Mostly that it showed I could sit down and get a story pretty much

written in far less time than I’d imagined. The downside is that it is

just a very rough draft so you really need to revise it into a readable

story if you want to learn as much as you can from the process. Having

proven I could write the words I’ve learned a lot since from revising a

story to make those words worth reading.

 

I always made a rough outline before I started so that I’d have some

idea of where I was intending to go, but I didn’t always follow it; I

would say that helps because you don’t waste too much time thinking

about what should happen next and can concentrate on putting the words

down. In addition, if I realised something needed to be fixed I’d

normally just put a note in the margin rather than spend the time to go

back and rewrite it then.

 

One idea I like but have never used in Nano is the ‘snowflake method’

(there’s a web page of that name) where you start with a very basic

outline of the story and then expand it in multiple stages until you

have a very thorough outline. If I was starting from scratch this time

I’d probably give that a try.

 

-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 five and at the moment they’re waiting for me to get around to

revising them; I think at least four of them are worth further work.

Hopefully ‘Petrina’ and ‘Highgate Horror’ will be out sometime next year

along with the new Nano novel.

 

-What do you think your biggest personal challange will be when it comes

to NaNoWriMo this year?

Time, I think. When I first did Nano I was single (well, my girlfriend

was on the other side of the Atlantic) and living in a log cabin so I

could start as soon as I got back from my day job and finish at 4am if

need be. Now I have to deal with cooking and mowing the lawn, and I’m

on-call for my day job for part of the month so hopefully no disasters

will happen.

 

-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 deciding between two stories, both of which I have as half-written

screenplays; hence I already know the characters, the beginning and the

end but I need to figure out the middle. One was written to be a really

cheap indie horror movie with a few people in a warehouse and plenty of

gratuitous sex and violence, the other is a war movie which would

require more research. I’m tending toward the war story but I hope I

have enough time for any research I have to do while writing it…

otherwise there may be more ‘[things go here]’ notes than usual this time.

 

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

 

I’d like to get it finished and published before Christmas, but I

suspect I won’t make that deadline if I go for the war story.