Camp NaNo18: Day 5

Yes, everyone! It’s July! It’s Camp NaNoWriMo! The entire U.S. has been shooting off fireworks all week! (Okay, maybe not for that, but still.) I’m a few days late in posting something about my progress, but I’ll update frequently this month.

I had planned (if it can even be called that) to write one of two new fantasy stories I came up with on the fly about two weeks ago. I love both concepts and want to take them places, but… they’re just not sharing much with me right now. I really want to be their best friend–probably too much. I think they’re a little alarmed by my interest, so we’re not really on speaking terms yet.

Instead, I’m using this month to brainstorm. After getting ripped apart at my critique session in January, I’ve had some time to think about my NaNo14 novel Cursed and where it’s going. The plot itself is staying the same, but I’m trying to streamline plot elements that have, frankly, been annoying the snot out of me. What kinds of things? Oh, just minor stuff: how magic works, why this character is making a decision that changes all the character interactions, the pacing… you know, just little things.

My “official” goal is 50,000 words. My stated goal (on the forums, anyway) is 100k. My dream goal is 150k. And I might go for 200k. As of the end of Day 5, I’m at 17,290 after a 3800-word day, a little over 1k words ahead for the 100k track. This experience is so different from NaNo–instead of devouring every hour for wordsmithing, I’m only sitting for maybe 1-2 hours a night to write. It’s a nice change of pace.

Writing Soundtrack: Victory by Two Steps from Hell on repeat

Are you writing/editing/revising/scripting for Camp? If not, you should be! If you’re on the normal NaNo site, feel free to add me as a buddy!


June Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a real update, but I have been hard at work on the wordsmithing front. The bellows are pumping harder than normal lately, even though my concentration has not been on the words themselves but on longer-term planning.

After a less-than-stellar-but-still-productive April Camp, I have decided to join July’s Camp NaNo. I’ll be going for the November standard of 50,000 (I think), but this time around I’m going to explore some new projects. I’ve consulted “the list” I created of things I like and possible plot strands and narrowed my camp novel choice down to two concepts—not quite plots. The plot bunnies are proliferating like mad this year, so I’m regularly beset by about four hundred thousand other ideas at any given moment. Continue reading

The Dragon Breathing Fire Down My Neck

I have not written a creative word since January.

Yes. January.

Even when I simply think of writing something, I feel tightness and discomfort in my chest. My hands become sticky. My thoughts scatter. The tape in my head that constantly plays criticism, derision, and scorn cranks the volume up to eardrum-bursting level. My computer and keyboard become enemies. Each blink of the cursor on my Word document slices through my soul, and I cringe in fear, scuttle away, and nurse wounds that never were.

In short, I have trained myself to flee. Continue reading

The Danger of Writing for Others

Happy New Year, everyone! As part of my reflections, I’ve been reviewing some of my writing weaknesses and trying to pinpoint a specific one on which I should work to improve in the new year. Usually the selection is overwhelming, but this year, one particular concept has been tugging at me for some time.

When I sit down to write, I’ve usually got a basic idea of what I intend to put on the screen. I might not know every character that will show up, how to get from point A to point B, or even what the ultimate twist in the story is, but those are all aspects of my narrative that unfold over time, revealed to me as I write and brainstorm. When I’m writing a first draft, my main concern—for the most part—is making sure that the story is coming out in a manner that gives me the possibility of returning to rewrite or edit. The writing of it should be enjoyable, which, to me, is the point of the first draft. The second and all following drafts, however, are meant to be enjoyable to read.

But something sinister occasionally stirs into the mix when I’m working on any draft. Something with the power to stop me mid-word, to drive me away from my desk, to deflate the balloon of excitement and adventure that normally propels me forward. Something that, in short, burns my zeppelin out of the sky.

Expectations. Continue reading

[Short Story] High Noon

I wrote this piece during NaNo17, between the hours of 12pm and 2am the day it was due for my local writing club’s annual short story contest. The prompt was “Snowbirds.” (They are everywhere in Florida, people from up north who come to live down here during the winter to escape the snow. For the record, as a whole they are terrible drivers.)  I was half-delirious when I wrote it, but I think it turned out okay. It’s pretty much a one-shot–not much editing involved except for a last-minute review just before I submitted it for judging.


“I’m sorry, Mrs. Leona, but our system seems to have glitched. The courtesy car we were planning to give you was double-booked with another appointment at the same time.”

On any other day, Maggie would have laughed it off and joined the other unfortunates lounging in the waiting room of the dealership. She might have gladly taken a break from life to sip at a hot mug of coffee, and even at that moment the aroma of a fresh brew wafted over her like country air.

But she had to be back at the Riverrun Country Club House at noon if she hoped to defend her HOA presidential nomination against Luanne Marcone, the one woman in the world she would relinquish even coffee to sabotage. A transplant from Chicago, Luanne called Florida her home from the first week of November through the last of March. Maggie, however, came down from the Adirondacks from October through April. Luanne’s greater absence alone should have been sufficient to lay the matter of the presidency to rest.

Maggie fixed the clerk—Becky, as her nametag read—with the kind of glare that had kept her husband faithful for thirty-four years.

“I must have that car. Is it still here? If it is, I was here first.”

“I—I think it is, but let me talk to my supervisor.”

Before Becky could skulk away, the glass double doors of the dealership’s service center swung open amid a torrent of dust kicked up by the autumn breeze, and there stood Luanne Marcone. She was tall, slender only because of it, her face long and eyes shrewd. She paused a step inside, her arms still stretched wide to hold the doors ajar as she narrowed her eyes at Maggie. Maggie stared back at her, her heart pounding against the jail of her ribs. Slowly, Luanne dropped her arms to her sides, and the doors swung closed behind her with a final thud.


“Luanne.” Continue reading

NaNoWriMo17: Day 30

*throws streamers* *shoots off fireworks* *releases doves* *reconsiders the intelligence of mixing doves with fireworks*


I hope you all managed to write that at the bottom of your document today, but if not, keep going and make it happen! We survived, everyone! (At least, I assume you did, if you’re reading this.) NaNo17–for better or worse–is over!

My NaNo17 grand total: 506,605 words.

The half million has been vanquished. What a run. I wrote 6k this morning before work, and the remaining 4k I needed to reach 500k I really dragged my feet on this evening. I validated at exactly 500k (my 500,000th word was “accomplish”), and then just wandered the forums. Then suddenly in the last two hours, I couldn’t stand it and decided 506,605 was the number to get. I was shaking like crazy in the last three minutes, so worried I wouldn’t reach it, and the shaking made me type even more slowly–but I did it! I wrote the last word 20 seconds before midnight. Novel #5, Sky Lords, is not yet finished, though I didn’t expect it to be, so that’s cool–I’m getting into the harrowing rise to the climax, so I know there isn’t more than maybe 15-20k remaining in the story.

Now for some nerdy statistics. Because I’m a nerd, that’s why.

  • Total words written: 506,605 (New Record)
  • Most words in a day: 30,125 (11/4) (NR)
  • Fewest words in a day: 6,179 (11/18)
  • Daily average: 16,886 (NR)
  • Number of words past original goal (500,000): 6,605
  • Number of words past previous best (425,524): 81,081
  • NaNo Lifetime word count: 1,921,735
  • Number of projects: 6 (4 completed novels, 1 incomplete novel, 1 complete short story)
  • Total MC/SC deaths: 2
  • Cried for characters: 6 times
  • First word/last word: I (in dialogue)/voice
  • Ranking on Beyond 50k NaNo Faces: 4th
  • Average daily sleep: 5 hours
  • Strangest writing place: In a corner of a full, busy house, dictating quietly into my phone
  • Painkiller of choice: Aleve
  • Weight lost: 4.5 lbs.


Just like that, it’s December! My writing goals, of course, will be diminished in the coming days–I would like to finish Sky Lords within the next two weeks, definitely before Christmas. I will also be getting back to editing Cursed Book 1 and hope to have the first round of edits finished by February 11.

As a side note–I feel silly not having thought of this sooner–but you can add me as a buddy on the NaNo site if you want, even though it’s over for the year. I can guarantee I’ll be there next year!

Let us revel in our victory!

NaNoWriMo17: Day 29


People, we have one day–I repeat, ONE DAY–left of NaNo. I’m not sure whether to laugh like a maniac or sob inconsolably.

After writing 20,102 (a beautiful and unintended palindrome!) today in spite of a full day at work, I’m up to 490k and some change. I know, it’s so tantalizingly close to 500k! You can’t imagine how many arguments I had with myself today on whether or not 30k was in the mix. (Obviously no. Self, you crazy.) I was actually blowing myself away with my own typing speed today: I was keeping a consistent 70+wpm speed over the course of 4 hours. It was insane. Tonight’s 15-minute word wars were slamming my usual 800-900 words into the dust, and I was routinely averaging between 1050-1200.

This story has actually been easy to write. (Thus far. That might change tomorrow.) There aren’t a lot of moving parts in it, which is a bit different from my normal stories, but because it’s a pantsed project, I know I’ll rewrite it anyway, so there is zero pressure to get the story perfect. Consequently, I’m having a blast with it. Crazy cannibal boy-king was introduced today (the last chapter I wrote), and I’m on the verge of the rising action, so that’s been fun and promises to be entertaining tomorrow, too.

I work all day tomorrow, but I’m going to try to hit 500k before I get to work, which means a very early morning. I don’t know if I can do it–the real trouble is getting up at 5am. It’s already 12:30am. I’m already dizzy with weariness (either that or my screen and the rest of the world have been tilting back and forth for the last three hours).

But this is it. This is the culmination of a month that has been a literal marathon. Whether you need 1,500 or 15,000 words more to reach your goal, you’ve got this. Your novel deserves your best effort, and you deserve to have a finished novel (or completed goal) after working so hard for so long.

Let’s do this.

NaNoWriMo17: Day 28

Ack! We’re literally in the last 48 hours, guys!

I managed to get 16k out again today, which digs into my buffer by about 650 words, but I’m cool with that, as I am now sitting at a little over 470k. I’m still ahead of schedule by about 3.5k, and everything has been cancelled this week for NaNo, so time should not be an issue.

This new story, Sky Lords, is coming along just fine. I was worried for a while yesterday about it, as last night it seemed to derail (90% pantsing, 10% planning on this particular project), but it derailed for the better, apparently, because it’s all actually tying in, even when I thought it wouldn’t. So yay for that! Just can’t wait for the cannibalistic boy-king to show up and the accompanying jokes and back-and-forth dialogue my MCs will have concerning him. I don’t think I’ll end up finishing the story by Thursday, but I’ll wrap it up in the beginning of December.

Tomorrow, I might try for 18k–that will cut down on what I need for Thursday, and I am so looking forward to validation. I also don’t want to try validating when the site is super busy with others entertaining the same thought, so the sooner I hit 500k, the better.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we begin our descent, please ensure your keyboards are in their full upright and non-caps-locked position. Check that your novel is securely backed up and all plot bunnies are stowed safely on the document in front of you or in your scratchpad notebook. Thank you.

NaNoWriMo17: Day 27

Three days left? Three days left!

I closed up shop today with a tad over 16k, which brings me up to about 454k. That’s 4k beyond what I needed to be at today (450k), so I’ll take it! Now 500k is getting so close I can almost taste it. And it is even more delicious than 400k was.

I didn’t get a lot of writing done until after work for one primary reason: I usually dictate on the way to and from work, then at lunch in my car. But I was legitimately laughing too hard at my characters to dictate at more than half my usual speed. The characters in Sky Lords, carried over from Angels of Ilesanzi, are so incredibly hilarious. As stated before many a time in this blog, I’m probably the only one who finds my writing humorous, but wow. I could hardly get a word out for snickering. They are the most irreverent, non-PC side of me and it is glorious.

I’m hoping for another 16k tomorrow; I’m canceling my usual walk with my mom to allow for more time. The only thing that gets equal priority with NaNo this week (work has a higher priority) is violin. I have committed to my very first violin recital in two weeks and I need to practice. So that alone has survived–all else has been tossed aside for focus later.

And I totally forgot to celebrate here in my last post: yesterday, I officially surpassed my previous highest NaNo word count of 425,524. And now I’m almost 30k ahead of that!

Good times, people. Write on!