NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner

NaNoWriMo Winner 2014

This is my fourth consecutive win. It sort of feels a little less-satisfying that the others. For one thing, I’m writing something that’s intensely personal, so I kind of felt pretty drained by it. Also, there was a lot of research involved because it’s historical fiction, so even when I wasn’t writing, the topic was all-consuming of my time. I have a bibliography with 20+ titles on it, and links to hundreds of websites. I have a web folder full of images, maps, and two different pinterest pages, one for the novel and one for one of the main characters.

Another reason I feel drained is because it isn’t done – and I have two other unfinished novels that I haven’t been able to get past the 75% mark. This novel I plotted out far more than the others, and I feel like it has a better chance of having some resonance, but the last two days of writing were excruciating and involved me basically throwing junk on the page. I’m so far off my outline it isn’t even funny, and I definitely need to regroup.

NaNoWriMo is great for getting a ton written in a short amount of time and staying motivated. It’s terrible for causing burnout. And all my efforts to pick up the threads and try to finish at a less punishing pace in the months that follow NaNoWriMo have fallen into failure in the past.

I’m committed to changing that scenario this year and getting the book to something readable to others. But I also need to take the month to do some reading as well.

So basically, I’m optimistic, but dazed. Which is probably normal for me, right?

The running tally of my word count this year. Compared to last year, I was far behind most of the time, rather than ahead. I didn’t plan my resources properly and I let a lot of distractions in the door this year, which didn’t help.

1. 1,667 - 4218 (4218, +2551)
2. 3,334 - 1691 (5909, +2575)
3. 5,001 - 1060 (6969, +1968)
4. 6,668 - 1701 (8670, +2002)
5. 8,335 - 1051 (9721, +1386)
6. 10,002 - 126 (9847, -155)
7. 11,669 - 1031 (10878, -791)
8. 13,336 - 3922 (14800, +1464)
9. 15,003 - 1817 (16617, +1614)
10. 16,670 - 1762 (18358, +1688)
11. 18,337 - 0 (18358, +21)
12. 20,004 - 0 (18358, -1646)
13. 21,672 - 0 (18358, -3313)
14. 23,338 - 0 (18358, -4980)
15. 25,005 - 4720 (23078, -1927)
16. 26,672 - 3747 (26825, +153)
17. 28,339 - 1837 (28662, +323)
18. 30,006 - 638 (29300, -706)
19. 31,673 - 0 (29300, -2373)
20. 33,340 - 161 (29461, -3879)
21. 35,007 - 366 (29827, -5180)
22. 36,674 - 4782 (34586, -2088)
23. 38,341 - 2268 (36854, -1487)
24. 40,008 - 440 (37294, -2714)
25. 41,675 - 4656 (41950, +275)
26. 43,342 - 1734 (43684, +342)
27. 45,009 - 813 (44497, -512)
28. 46,676 - 23 (44520, -2156)
29. 48,343 - 2733 (47253, -1090)
30. 50,010 - 2747 (50179, +179)

Winner Winner, Turkey Dinner – 2013 NaNoWriMo Finish

50,119 Words, validated, means that I “win” National Novel Writing Month. I’m very grateful to Stephanie, who has been really supportive of me doing this, even though she’s had a lot of difficulties going on right now. We’re adjusting to her lengthy commute to her new job and a family illness, so it’s been a hard month, but she has been my cheerleader the whole time.


I still have a couple chapters to write, but I’m definitely closer to a finished product than I was in my last two winning attempts. And there is lots of editing to be done, in addition to finishing chapters. But I think this is the most satisfying win I’ve had of the three. This is one I think I might have a shot at getting published some day soon. It’s got some topical stuff in it, so if I want it to actually mean something, I have to get it done and try to get it out there.


2013 Final Word Count


Good gravy do I have a lot of television piled up on the DVR to watch.

NaNoWriMo 2013 Wordcount, day 19

2013 NaNoWriMo Word Count, Day 18

I’m three fifths of the way through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and still on track for word count. I wouldn’t say the last few days are works of genius or anything. Or even spelled correctly. But they are word strung together on a page in some sort of semi-coherent fashion. So there’s that. Week 2 sucked. I don’t have high hopes for week three. I think I can make word count, I just don’t know if it will be anything anyone will want to read.

It’s also quite possible that I’m just responding to the weather like a pavlovian pooch, so never mind the doldrums.

I’m at 30,175 words. 120 some pages. So, there you go.

Some other NaNoWriMo Thoughts

Trying to write 50,000 words in a month felt like holding my breath under water – everything else was suspended while I worked on writing. I basically ate, slept, went to work and wrote. I cut out television, most socializing and practically all other stuff that invades my day. Trying to keep the house clean, pay attention to twitter or running errands all those distractions went on the back burner. (Facebook was a must, though – because interacting with the NaNo Indy group was a lifeline to keep me going.)

It worked, largely because I removed a lot of barriers to focusing and getting in the zone to writing, and the forced deadline can work wonders.

Is that sustainable, though? Can I really zone out my friends, turn off the television and blow off the house all the time?

I wish there were a better way to balance. Because not writing is not an option, now.

Cutting out the television is pretty easy. Helping around the house, running errands and socializing are more difficult. I’m considering whether twitter really has much of a place in my life anymore.

I need to simplify things so I can both write and interact with my spouse and go to my job without becoming an ascetic.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated on this matter.

NaNoWriMo 2012 – Validated

So.. I won NaNoWriMo again this year.

NaNoWriMo Winner 2012

I finished three days early – with 50,058 words written this year added to what I wrote last year. Now I need to write the actual final chapters and not just scenes from the climactic ending, but hey – I’m a lot closer to a complete work than last year. Now it’s not a question of if I will ever self-publish, but when.

Last year at this time, I was reading over my novel, and I was really frustrated, because it seemed complete unrealistic. At about the half-way point of the story, I had one of my two main characters do something completely out of character for the way I had written about her up to that point. I did it because I couldn’t think of any other way to get her in the excruciating position she needed to be in so the villain could torment her and drive the rest of the plot. But that false note made all the rest of it seem really hard to believe. It just didn’t read right, and all the following events seemed flat and desperate, like a huge rationalization. I chewed on that for the whole rest of the year and didn’t know what to do. I loved the beginning and loved the characters, but I hated the middle and the end.

This year Garrett Hutson said something at the being of November about plot development along the lines of – “know where your characters are going to go, but to get them there, use a compass, not a map.” That set me thinking – okay, if that plot point seems out of character for my main character, what would she actually do instead? I threw out everything except the end where the characters needed to go, and started writing from just before that false note… and I realized if I changed the villain slightly, and added secondary villain who was working with and also at cross-purposes to the first one, I could get the MC into that excruciating position in a more real way, and then all the dominos started to fall one by one. Now I like the whole story from beginning to end. Even though I threw out 23,000 words I wrote last year and started over, this is a much better story, and one that makes me really happy to read throughout.

I’m in danger, though, of not keeping up with the story now. I hate that the 50,000 word mark was a finish line of sorts, because it’s not done at all, and I still need to keep writing it. It’s good, I think, and original, and interesting, so I need to actually push through and finish.

It was a huge accomplishment that I never thought I could do once, let alone twice. I need to make it work for real. If you could – cattle prod me, please? Bug me about it as much as possible so I don’t get complacent. This was cool, and something that was important to me to do, so I don’t want to let it slide.

NaNoWriMo 2012 – Day 9

8. 13,336 – 2750 (14497, +1161)

Those are my notations for Day 8 of National Novel Writing Month.

13,336 – that’s “par for the course” or the least word count for day 8 to stay on track to “win.”

2750 – the number of words I wrote yesterday.

14497 – total word count for November 2012. I have the chapters I wrote last year, but I’m not counting them in this years’ event. Some of those will get trashed and some considerably altered when I’m finished.

+1161 – the number of words I have as a “word count cushion” over the minimum to stay on course.

So I’m keeping up the pace pretty well. I’m poised to do more this weekend that I hope will really put me ahead. I have a pretty clear idea of where I’m going, too, but I’m trying to be flexible enough to make sure I can make changes. As our friend Garrett says – “Know where you’re going, but use a compass and not a road map.”

I have a much more fully formed notion of setting this year than last, which really helps me add detail to scenes and paint a more interesting visual picture than last year, and helped me add detail to the action as well. And I think I have a more complete and satisfying ending in mind that I did last year, with some nice turning points to get us there.

I’m very optimistic that I can get closer to complete by the end of November, and ready to polish. My goal is to have it ready to show my editor – that would be Stephanie – by February. I have one or two other people I want to get feedback from as well. And with editing and revisions based on feedback, I’d really like to have it ready for publication by the end of April. I’m going to use Book Tango to self-publish for e-publication, I think. I don’t have an agent lined up or anything, so I don’t anticipate being able to get the attention of a traditional publisher at first. We’ll see.

Nanowrimo Participant 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

Yup, I’m going to do this again. I’m basically going to add 50,000 words to my novel from last year in hopes of finishing it. Wish me luck. I did it once; I can do it again. Of course last time I took a week off work to do it, and this time I’ve already used my vacation. But if other people can do it, so can I.

Nanowrimo Participant 2012

Indiana Romance Writers of America: Golden Opportunities Contest

From the Indiana chapter of Romance Writers of AmericaIndiana Golden Opportunity Contest.

We welcome you to help us celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Indiana’s Golden Opportunity (IGO), one of the Midwest’s premier contests. The Indiana chapter of Romance Writers of America® (IRWA) has a well-deserved reputation for offering detailed, encouraging comments to our contest entrants from experienced professionals. Our four-page score sheet is designed to help entrants identify the elements of storytelling at which they excel while pinpointing the elements that require more attention. This means entrants will receive feedback that will help them create a quality polished manuscript. Many past winners have successfully sold the manuscripts they entered in the IGO, and we like to think we played a part in that. The contest is also a great way to prepare your work for Golden Heart. IGO attracts some of the most well-respected names in the industry as category and final judges.

This is an interesting opportunity for me, especially given that I’ll hopefully have a much more complete manuscript at the end of June than I do currently for my NaNoWriMo book. I could potentially enter this.

NaNoWriMo 2011: Validated.

I’m validated at 50163 words.

Technically I’m “done” writing my National Novel Writing Month project. Except that I still need to write chapters 12-15 and chapters 2 and 5. But 50163 words makes it “finished” for the purposes of the contest. I’m a winner. I’ve written more than Slaughterhouse Five and The Great Gatsby. Not “better than” just “more than.” 🙂

Nano 2011 Winner

So here’s the general plan for the rest of this – I’m going to edit/write through December, but put together an outline for another story in that time, too. Then take January to write that story, and edit/rewrite more of this one in February. I hope to keep a daily word count every day, and I’ll track it the way I tracked the word count for this, so I can keep up a daily routine and not get off track.

NaNoWriMo 2011: Still chugging along.

I’m at 43,506 words. That’s 6,494 words away from “winning.” And I have 4 days. I think it’s a safe bet that I’ll get there, especially since I have all day tomorrow to work on it. I didn’t write at all on Thanksgiving Day, but I wrote in the car both to and from Iowa (not easy at all; it’s very distracting to try to write with cars whoosing by and the bumps in the pavement) and on Friday while everyone went out shopping.

Interesting to try to explain to family members what I was doing. My family is not always supportive of creative endeavors unless they’re attached to work or school requirements, so… yeah. I basically explained it as “I’m in a contest to write a novel in a month, and I’m close to winning, so…” because if you’re trying to win a contest, that’s okay. If you just writing a novel for the sake of writing – a bit on the loony tunes side.

And of course, everyone wanted to know what it was about, and yeah… haven’t even shared that with Stephanie, yet. Too afraid it sucks ass. Actually, I know it sucks ass, at least right now. Hopefully it will not suck ass in the future when I get a chance to re-write it and remove the suck from it, replacing it with less-than-suck, or possibly even with pretty-damn-good if I can figure out where to get that. Chances are you will never get to see this novel. I’m sorry about that. I make no guarantees. I’ll do my best, I promise.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2011 – Still on target

My word count is now 35,521 words. Not quite beating out Ole Yeller on the “famous books word count list.” I’m under par by 1,153 words, but I should have time to get caught up (and hopefully ahead) tomorrow on the road to Iowa for the family Thanksgiving. Stephanie is driving, and I’m planning on writing in the car on a lap desk that I’ve used to write in bed several times. It should work fine. If not, I’ll come up with a new plan. I have 14,479 words left to write, and 9 days left to write them. If I keep averaging as many words as I have, I’ll pass the finish line on time. I’ll have the basics of the plot built, with lots of back story and character development to return and add in during December and January. The whole thing should be well above 50,000 words when I finish.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2011 – Still in the game

I’m at 28,932 words – above par for the first time since the first week. (Par for day 17 is 28,339.) Around 115 pages. Parts of this story are poor, parts of it make me really happy and there are large chunks that need to be better researched. I know what the end will be but I’m still working out how to arrive there.

But just getting this far makes me pretty giddy. This is definitely more than I thought I could achieve.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2011 – Still Cautiously Optimistic

It is NaNoWriMo 2011 Day 13, par for yesterday’s work (Day 12) should have been 20,004 words/80 pages. Mine was 17,234 words – about 68 pages. I’m 2770 words behind par, which isn’t too bad.

This is definitely more than I have ever written before in a single sustained effort on any single subject, so I’m proud of myself for getting this far. Some of what I’ve written is really pretty bad. Some of it is pretty good. And I can see that some of it, when I get to the editing phase in December and January, could be really good. And I’m entertaining myself with the story at least.

I’m hoping that at worst I can finish this up, get it cleaned up, and self-publish it. Probably under a pseudonym, to tell you the truth. But I still have a long way to go and there are many potential pitfalls, so I’m not counting chickens yet. I have some vague hope about some chickens, though.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2011 – very tentative outline

I spent some time yesterday trying to work out how my story is going to go, and came up with some potential chapter titles. Which, looking at them now seem completely over the top and fraught with the possibility of failure, but what the hell. I may as well look stupid. It wouldn’t be the first time.

The Journey – a very dumb working title. This will be the last thing I figure out, probably.

Act I
0) The Kraken
1) Siège Perilous
2) Melusina
3) Daughters of Nyx
4) The Dolorous Stroke
5) Walpurgis Night
Act II
6) Clotho
7) Lachesis
8) Atropos
9) Praxinoscope (Proust’s Lantern)
10) The Blizzard Dream and the Brocken spectre
11) Melusina
12) The Sangreal
13) amor fati
14) the Wasteland 
15) Thumos

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2011 – Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic

I didn’t say anything about joining National Novel Writing Month this year because I haven’t gotten very far with this in the past, and I’ve learned talking about stuff tends to kill projects before they get off the ground. I’m doing much better this year, though, and I’ve managed to keep my word count up four whole days in a row. And I’m realizing that I can indeed actually write 1,667 words per day, if I hit upon the right thing to say. This is not unpossible. My word count right now is 7095 out of a par of 6668 for day 4. (50,000 words in 30 days being the criteria for “winning.”) Not as great as some of the folks in the Indianapolis Facebook group, but definitely a solid effort.

What I’ve written so far is pretty terrible, but I can see where it could be good later, maybe, when I revise. Which will be after November. First drafts, first… editing later. Right now, it’s all about getting words on the page. Which I can do, it seems. So…

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant

And I’ve notice an insane new trend in my writing – lots of ellipses all over the place. I like to imply things. I probably do this all the time without noticing it, but it’s really jumped out at me. Ah well; no editing under after November. Thems the rules.

December? Oh my.

Wow – time to wrap up the year, and I’m utterly at loose ends with various projects. I’ve been working steadily on knitting projects, and organizing the house, two areas where we’ve made some pretty big gains. We’re steadily getting through the mounds of papers that need to be filed or thrown out, with the help of our organization lady. The room is becoming what we want it to be – a guest room where people can visit from out of town, and a crafting room where we can sit and work on craft projects. Don’t get me wrong – it still needs LOTS of work – there are still tons of boxes to go through and purge, and we’re in danger of acquiring new crap to replace all the old, but it’s starting to look more like what it should look like.

The knitting is fun and very relaxing. I’m concerned though, about what I really want to do with it. It’s enjoyable to make things for people, but it’s not exactly a lever that will move the world.

We’ve spend all the weekends of November bagging leaves for the most part (we really grabbed a lot of time back by paying someone to pick them up last year!) which is really satisfying, until the next round of them fall off the trees. We currently need to redo the backyard. I’m completely frustrated by how much time and energy this takes, and we don’t even have that many trees; they’re mostly from the neighbors.

I’ve lost complete track of what I’ve read and am woefully behind on photo editing.

I attempted a brief stint at NaNoWriMo but gave up after a few days. That seems to happen at the utterly wrong time of year for me. Why don’t they do it in March? Except that’s about the time I’m driving hard to get a painting project done somewhere in the house though; last year in March I was painting the staircase room I’m in now. But the writing – it’s so hard to do, and my life is too chaotic to achieve it, I think.

And web projects. Boy oh boy. I’ve been neglecting this blog, and my photoblog, and several other domains to remain nameless.

I think I need to make different use of my time at times. I’m frustrated with how little time I have to accomplish things I think are important, and how much time we spend doing stuff that doesn’t move us forward. I’m frustrated by the sheer number of projects we have that remain unfinished, as well.

November is National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing MonthThis year, for National Novel Writing Month – I have a plan! I’m going to do something really innovative — I’m going to spend the month of November…

… building a website for my friend Chi.
Yes! I know, it’s not a novel. However…

1. I actually know how to build websites (unlike novels, which I seem to be unable to achieve).

B. I promised her I’d do it months ago.

3. It will be fun, and not stressful, like trying to write a novel was.

D. Chi is an actual published writer, so, it’s LIKE I’m getting some writing done, because I’ll be helping her.

So, that’s my grand plan for National Novel Writing month – to once again NOT get a novel written, only this time with less stress and some actual pretty, creative stuff to show for it at the end of the month.

Think it will work? I hope so.

NaNoWRiMo Update

I’m hopelessly behind and have no reasonable expectation of ever catching up by the end of November deadline. I know what the general story is, but when it comes to writing scenes that make any sort of sense, I’m completely stalled. And the stress of being so far behind is really interfering with my actually sitting down and getting any writing done. The idea of this is no longer fun, it’s a chore, and a painful one. I realized yesterday, after I had a big argument with Stephanie about how we scheduled our time this weekend, that this is ridiculous, because this is a stress I can control.
Unlike the other stress that is occurring in my life right now, which includes, but is not limited to:

  1. The Stress of The House that Would Not Sell
  2. The Stress of Attending Meetings with Potential Renters Who Do Not Show Up to Appointments 2/3rds of the Time
  3. The Stress of the Shitty Roofers Who Would Not Show Up To Complete Their Work
  4. The Stress of Attempting to Merge Two Households Worth of Stuff and Not Knowing What to Get Rid Of
  5. The Stress of The Weather that Rains Every time I Want to Rake Leaves
  6. The Stress of the Looming Apocalyptic Chaos That is The Impending Holiday Season (refer to Ghosts of Holidays Past)
  7. The Stress of Four Cats Who Just Don’t Want to Be Roommates
  8. The Stress of Not Being Able to Get a Good Night’s Sleep And the Ensuing Problems of Walking Through Every Day Fuzzy Headed and Bleary-Eyed
  9. The Stress of the Work Projects That Spiral Out of Control
  10. The Stress of the Cascading Style Sheets That Just Don’t Seem to Work in IE6, No Matter What Hacks I Apply (AKA, I Hate Microsoft, Part 987)

… The stress of NaNoWriMo is one I imposed upon myself. So I hereby release myself from the the deadline, in the hope that I’ll actually be able to accomplish the task at some point in time, because at the very least, the story I was planning on writing cracked me up, and I got much further in the task than I was ever able to do before.

Nanowrimo: Day 3

Okay, I really, really have the plot all worked out and I’m very excited by my idea, which I think is fun, entertaining, and a Big Idea, also.
But I have to do some more research, in the form of purchasing the Historic Plan for our neighborhood, at a cost of $5, from the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Society.
Back in a flash to get caught up on the actually writing. And if you been following along with my blog posts over the past several days, you can see hints and drops of my idea scattered among them. Except for the Slush Mug commercial; that’s just silly fun.
National Novel Writer's Month