Free Writing

NaNoWriMo 2014 – WINNER

I honestly didn’t think I would make it, but as you can see from the title, I managed to win NaNoWriMo 2014! I was behind for almost a week, got caught up, and then fell behind again during the holiday. On the last day, I bust out little over 3k words to hit 50,002 words (according to Scrivener – Validation gave me over 51k.) This time I didn’t count any notes, blog posts, or word sprints. Only words that went directly into the novel itself.


Sadly, I’m still not finished with Soul Weaver. My word count currently sits at 115,806. I’m estimating about another 15-20k words (give or take) before I can officially say that the first draft is complete.

NaNo14WinnerGraphTo be honest, I’m worried that I’m pushing the limits on my word count. If I were to self publish I wouldn’t be too concerned, but I have plans to try to submit to a few publishers first and I know that they may refuse my manuscript on excessive word count alone. That being said, I know that a lot of it will be cut during the first round of editing. I’m banking on that.

With that in mind I’m fighting the urge to start learning how to edit. While I’d like to think that most of my first draft doesn’t have too many grammar and spelling mistakes, what I’d like to learn is how to make sure I have proper flow and continuity. That my characters are fleshed out and consistent. That there’s a great hook at the end of each chapter to keep readers reading. Everything that a professional editor would look at. That’s what I want to learn. My goal is to have my novel impeccable before submitting it to any publishers. The less work their editor needs to do, the better.

NaNo14WinnerCertificate2I’m also starting to do some research about beta readers. I won’t start taking names until I’m through the first round of editing. I’ve already got my two teenage boys who are chomping at the bit for me to finish so they can read through it and help me out, but I’ll need more. Preferably readers who have beta’d before and can offer some awesome feedback.


But all that can be saved for the future. Right now, I still have a few more chapters to write. If all goes well I’d like to be done with the first draft by the end of December. I’ve already got a few ideas in mind for what I’m going to write in April.

Speaking of April. I’ve managed to motivate both of my boys to join me for Camp NaNoWriMo! I even got them a copy of Scrivener to use. My younger son has already started using it to transcribe the book he’s been writing for the past few months. All he had before was a notebook full of scribbling so he’s excited to see it all typed out and divided by chapter. I’ve directed him towards the Young Writers Program that NaNo offers as well. So lots of awesomeness to look forward to.


For those who won WriMo – CONGRATULATIONS! To those who didn’t – as long as you wrote, you’re still a winner. Even if you only wrote a couple words, it’s better than nothing. Just keep at it! And keep in mind, there’s always CampWriMo in April and July too.



Free Writing

Down in the Writing Dumps…

Click for larger image.

I saw this image on Pinterest and I just had to save it. I think every writer goes through this.

Right now I’m most certainly feeling the images on the right. There are times when I don’t feel like writing. Just opening up Scrivener – no, just looking at the icon on my desktop – makes me cringe.

Since Camp NaNoWriMo ended I have written all of 16,000 words. 16,000 words in the past 37 days. How is it that I can pound out 50,000 words in less than 30 days, but the following 37 days I can’t even break 20k? Even though I took a week off after Camp, that’s still 30 days, and all I’ve been able to write is 1/4th of what I was able to write in April.

Why is that? Why is it lately that every time I sit down to write it feels like a chore and not something that I enjoy? Why is it that as I’m typing the words, my mind wants to drift off until I eventually find myself browsing Facebook or Twitter? Or finding something that needs done in the house?

I think I know why. This image describes it exactly. Sometimes I feel like my scenes are hideous. I feel like my story is awful. I feel like I’m a despicable writer. And lately, all I feel like doing is sobbing because I’ve been telling myself that my writing will never amount to anything more than “meh”.

It’s a combination of a lack of self confidence, too high of expectations, and a lack of stick-too-itiveness. In April I had a goal of just simply writing. In April I had a goal of not caring if I get published. In April I just wanted to say I wrote a book. In April I wasn’t comparing myself to other writers, I just wanted to tell my story. In April I just wanted something that I could leave to my children when I’ve left this world; something that I could be proud of.

For some reason, my goal has morphed into much more. I want to be published. By TOR no less. I want to be found in bookstores. I want to be told my story is excellent. My characters believable. My scenes intriguing. I want people to tell me that my writing is a million times better than anything I wrote ten years ago and ask me why didn’t I stick to it back then because I could have written this a long time ago.

I want to be told this, because it’s not what I think of myself. I think, “What else have you written, Amanda? A couple pieces of flash fiction almost ten years ago – romance fiction at that – and you think you can just step into the world of fantasy writing? You think you can call yourself even remotely ready for any sort of publishing just because you’ve managed to write 50,000 words? Crappy words I might add. Words that suck and are going to need editing a dozen times. Call it quits now. You don’t even have a chance at publishing traditionally anyway. Those publishers are going to chew you up and spit you out. You have no online presence. You have no style. You have no talent. You haven’t even developed your own writing voice yet. Do you really think anyone is going to be even remotely interested?”

To which I reply to myself, “But I’m interested. Every time I go back and read previous chapters I become engrossed in it. I want to keep reading as if I’m reading someone else’s work. Doesn’t that count for something?” That’s when I start getting impatient. I want to start editing what I have so far. I get excited and I think maybe, just maybe, I might be able to do this.

That’s when my self doubt comes back and gives me the same argument as before. Instead, what I need to do is get back into the mindset I had in April. Write for the joy of it. To say I’ve finished a novel and be proud. Then take a step back and breathe. After some time away, I can come back and go through the first edit. Only then should I start thinking about possible publishing. And as much as the thought feels like a needle stabbing me in the heart, I need to forget about TOR. Sure I can submit an inquiry, but I shouldn’t expect or even hope for any sort of positive response. This is my first novel after all.

I know that may sound pessimistic, but I’ve always been one to think “Hope for the best, but expect the worst.” If I get lucky, I get lucky. It’s not like I don’t know the amount of work involved before I will even be close to that point. I’ve done my research. The problem is, I’ve done so much research that I think I’ve overloaded my brain.

What I need to do now is re-wire it. Go back to the excitement of April. The can-do-it attitude and the thought of “I don’t care if this is published. I just want to finally say I’ve done it.”

Free Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo – WINNER!

See that title? Yup, you guessed it. I have won Camp NaNoWriMo!

It was kind of odd at first, because Scrivener told me I had 50,112 words. I compiled it all into one Word document to validate on the website and Word told me I was 55 words short of 50k. So I hemmed and hawed and tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to do that, and then got kicked in the bum and told to write 55 more words. So I did.

In the end, Scrivener told me I had 50,203 and Word told me I had 50,011 words. Either way – I broke 50k!

This is all strictly for my novel. Once I broke 50k, I added in all the word sprints and blog entries. All the chapter summaries and blurb rewrites. Basically all writing for the entire month of April short of Twitter and Facebook posts. Once I added that in, it came up to 63,916. Granted, I probably could have counted that all from the get-go, but I wanted to be true to my novel and write 50k for Soul Weaver alone.


So how do I feel now that I’ve won?

CampWriMoWinnerCertificate2014I’m slightly disappointed that I can’t say “I finished my novel,” but I’m happy about where my novel has taken me. When I first started WiMo I thought I didn’t have enough story planned out to get 50k words and I would end up finishing my novel prematurely and forced to write short stories to make up the rest of the goal. However, that is far from what happened.

I’m likely around the halfway point of the book. While I wish I could say that I finished a novel during Camp NaNoWriMo, that would be an utter lie. I could probably write another 50k words before I’d even be close to finished. Which is good right? That would make my word count for the completed novel around 100k words. Unfortunately, it means that I’m not ready to take a good long break from it right now (which after this month, I feel like I need one.)


What have I learned?

CampWinner2014I will admit that the last week was the toughest to push through. I honestly hadn’t thought I’d make it as far as I did and I didn’t plan certain parts very well. So when I finally got to that point, it was slow going because I had to make it up as I went along. I had to let the characters take it out of my hands and write the story for me, which proved to be very very very slow going. However, it’s worked out pretty well so far. I got to taste the true world of “pantsing” [writing by the seat of your pants – not having plotted it out beforehand]. While I had considered myself a pantser before, I did have the ‘cheat sheet’ (aka I plotted it out a bit.) I wrote with a generalized idea of the whole story and where it would go, how it would end ect. Now I’m finally back on track with my cheat sheet and could probably hammer away another 5-10k on the next few scenes before I’d be forced to pants again.

For my next novel (which will be a sequel to Soul Weaver. Title to be announced later -aka I have to come up with it), I think I may try to plot more and see where that takes me. I may have learned the hard way that pantsing isn’t as easy as it looks.

I’ve also learned that I allow my characters to write themselves. Keeping in mind that this is a first draft, I think I like that. I feel like I’m able to allow themselves to be natural, not forced. If I feel like I’m forcing a character to do something, I try to throw something in the way that I know would naturally make them go in the direction I need them to go that way they don’t seem forced.

However, I’ve also learned that sometimes I really need a character cheat sheet, so I don’t accidentally write them doing something they wouldn’t naturally do. Hubby caught me a few times making some of my characters a little too agreeable for the sake of pushing through the scene. Usually that would happen when I was too stuck in the mindset of one character and not jumping to the mindset of the others.


Now what?

2014-Winner-Square-ButtonNow that I’m officially done with Camp NaNoWriMo I think I’m going to take a couple days off. Or at least if I do write, I won’t push myself with a huge word count. I think I’ll try to plot out the rest of the novel as best as I can before I try to push myself like that again. Come November, I will definitely have a well thought out plot to follow.

I would like to be able to finish my first draft in the next 2 months. I think that will be my goal. By the end of June I should be done with the first draft. Maybe I’ll use the July WriMo to edit. Who knows?


Will I do a NaNoWriMo again?

Absolutely. I may not do another until November (I know they’ve had June and July WriMo’s before, but I won’t commit to anything at the moment,) but I quite enjoyed writing during Camp NaNoWriMo. I would recommend it to any writer out there. Even ‘aspiring’ writers. If you really put your mind to it, and are serious about writing, give yourself a goal and stick to it. WriMo helps. It really does. And the community is phenomenal. Follow WriMo on Twitter, or join the Facebook group. It’s wonderful to be a part of, and a huge motivator while you’re writing.

Even if you don’t think you have anything to write about. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Write from prompts and keep a blog or a personal journal. If you don’t think you can write 50k, then don’t. You can make your goal any number of words. Go for 5k. You’d be surprised how easily you can do that. Heck, just rambling in this blog post has brought me over 1,100 words.

And if you find yourself stuck, reach out to the writing community. You’d be surprised at how supportive they are. I know I was.


In the end, I came, I saw, I had fun, and I plan on buying the t-shirt from the WriMo store.

For those of you who have already won – CONGRATULATIONS!

For those of you still working to reach your goal – YOU CAN DO IT! You’ve still got a few days left! Write your heart out!




Free Writing

NaNoWriMo Day 23 – 41k+

Last night I busted 40k for Camp WriMo. For some reason I don’t seem to be as proud of that as I was of 25k. I now know I won’t be satisfied until I hit 50k. I’m in the homestretch now, though. I’ve done my best to keep above the daily goal. My first weekend have been the only two days so far that I was unable to do so, but only by a few words, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

As I write this novel, I know I’m going to end up with much more than 58,233 words (which is my current goal for WriMo purposes.) While I’m not sure if I’ll get to the 100k mark, I do think I can easily get between 60-80k with what I have left to write.

I’ve also decided to re-work my chapters once again. I’m pushing 40 right now and I think I’ve just hit the halfway point (and slightly beyond.) I could probably get away with halving the current chapter count and still having close to 30+ chapters when it’s all said and done.

I must say, it’s been hard keeping my inner editor at bay while pushing this out for WriMo. While it gets easier with each passing day, any time I need to look back at previous chapters, my inner editor likes to pop out and say hi. Most of the time I beat him back with sweets or hot tea, but I have to make sure I’m not too abusive to him otherwise he may not be so happy to help when I need him. 🙂


I must add that this past weekend brought some pretty cool news. I managed to get in touch with an old writing friend of mine who I have not talked to in nearly 10 years. I admit that due to our playing catch up, my writing suffered for it. Not that I’m complaining at all. I was still able to keep above the daily goal, so I think it’s only fair that I allowed myself some “me” time right?

What’s really motivating to me, is seeing that my old writing buddy – Aaron Steinmetz – has managed to go much further with his writing, than I ever dreamed I could with my own. He has 4 novels published already. One of which is a collection of short stories that he wrote around the time I came into his life. It’s been fun reading through them again, and once WriMo is over, I’ll be taking a look at his other novels. I know if they’re anything like what he used to write, I will love them. So be on the lookout for a review on them. In the meantime, if you’re interested, here’s a link to his Amazon. I invite you to take a gander at his works and support a dear good friend and fellow indie publisher by purchasing one of his books. I’ve been told that one of them has been dedicated to yours truly. 😉


So with 9 days left before WriMo is over, I have less than 9k words left to go. I have no doubt that I will be able to knock those out within the next couple days and consider myself an early winner. My inner editor has been, for the most part, pretty tame. As an added bonus, now I have another person on my cheering squad to motivate me to finish this thing (even bigger bonus that he’s already been in my shoes so I’ll probably use that to my advantage – Sorry Aaron!) I’m looking forward to doing NaNoWriMo with him in November. He’s managed to win the past 4 years of November WriMos, so I have someone to look up to!


My next blog will likely be once WriMo is over. With any luck, the title will be “NaNoWriMo: Winner!” or the like.

Good luck to the rest of you out there also doing Camp WriMo. Push yourself and reach the goal you’ve set for yourself! Dedicate the time to do it, and just put one word after the other. Even if it’s crap. You can always edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page.

snoopy writing