Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNo update

I promised to report in a few times this month about writing progress. Not that I’m convinced anyone particularly cares to hear about anything other than a finished book, one they can read, but I said I would so . . .

I was making respectable progress, up until last Sunday. Then anticipation and anxiety set in and I couldn’t focus on fiction, waiting for the election to be over. And then the results came in and, honestly, that pretty much wrecked me.

I’ve probably written (and deleted) 10,000 words since the election, but none of them fiction. There are things I want to say, things about politics and civics and our basic humanity, but so far I haven’t figured out how to say them.

I’m a political person, it’s how I was raised. I don’t want to turn this blog into a political thing, but neither do I find it acceptable to say nothing. When I try to be all calm and optimistic, I sound like an apologist for bigotry. Then I write something fiery and motivational and . . . sound like I’m advocating rebellion and revolution.

Clearly, neither is acceptable. So I’m struggling. Along with everyone else I know.


Until I figure that out, here’s where I stand with the fiction writing. I’ve added 7,097 words to one novel, which is not a shabby effort for the first seven days of writing, considering it was filling in and enhancing scenes and not fast rough draft writing. But now it’s day thirteen and I’m way behind what I’d hoped to accomplish.

Perhaps worse than that, the story I’ve been working on is written with a very different and distinctive . . . attitude, for lack of a better word. A departure from my usual style. It’s wildly adventurous and imaginative and confident, which is exciting to write. Except, I’m feeling none of those things right now. The scenes I’ve tried to write since Tuesday sound horrible, like not even salvageable, they’re so out of place.

After some reflection, I’ve decided not to continue with that particular story right now. It’s the kind of thing that would take more work to fix than is worth the dubious progress. In fact, I’d just end up deleting all the words.

But I refuse to let that make me feel discouraged or insufficient. Stuff happens and you deal with it the best you can.


My way of dealing with this is to work on something else, something I had planned to work on later in the month anyway, once I finished fleshing out the first story. It’s a story that feels more familiar, more in my usual style.

It’s a romance, the second in the McIntyre trilogy, something I intend to self-publish. The kind of story I want to read right now. The one that starts like this:

The first time she saw him he was shirtless and wearing a kilt. The second time, he was wearing a custom-tailored suit and destroying her grandfather on the witness stand. She didn’t much like him either time.

That is, unless I change it.

So, onward.



Filed under goals, writing

Once more unto the breach

Well, it’s the end of October and time to answer the question we all ask ourselves this time of year: How many “extra” bags of chocolate Halloween candy should I buy?

No, wait. Not that question.

This one: Should I participate In NaNoWriMo this year?nano_logo-830912ef5e38104709bcc38f44d20a0d

That is, if you’re a writer, probably you ask yourself that question. I’ve been going back and forth about this for a week or so, given that I’ve had mixed results with NaNo in the past. Setting a marathon goal of writing 50,000 words in a month — and not just any month, but November — seems a bit unreasonable. Like, stupidly masochistic. Kill-me-now foolish.

But then I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll become even more of a hermit? Give up planning nutritious meals, abandon personal hygiene, ignore the menacing accumulation of dust bunnies, forego sleep, snarl vaguely at the cat’s demands for attention . . .

. . . and maybe write a bunch of words?

I’m not normally a “write every day” kind of writer. So I’m not the best fit for NaNo, where the usual reassuring advice is to write 1,667 words a day, consistently, and you’ll be just fine. I tend to do a lot of intense thinking, composing and moving words and ideas around in my head before I commit them to paper, er, the screen. Then, when I do write, words pour out in the thousands. And then I pause again to refill the well.

Except that’s not really working for me right now. And if a thing no longer works, it’s time to try something else.


I’ve been thinking back to April and the A to Z Challenge, and how surprisingly productive I was, writing to a deadline every day like that. There wasn’t a word count requirement, but I wrote roughly 43,000 words in April. It was insane. Although, that was very different from NaNo in the respect that I also had to edit and polish and post those words every day. I won’t be doing that during NaNo, so in theory should be able to write MOAR WERDZ without the editing slowing me down. In theory.

So anyway, I bookmarked the NaNo site and made a wild guess as to what my user name was four years ago and got a new password and I’m all set to go.


Ahem. Actually, there won’t be much to see. I’ll try to post a few word count updates during the month (not daily, that’s ridiculous) in an attempt to make myself accountable over here. Wish me luck?

If any of you writers out there want to . . . follow me? . . . friend me? Huh, looks like the correct term is “be my buddy,” my user name is KD James. I’ll kick your butt be all supportive, if I can figure out how to do that without breaking anything.


What about you non-writers? Is there anything you want to accomplish in November? Some momentous task you’ve been putting off and need a little push of inspiration to get going? Let me know and I’ll cheer you on in the comments.

Oh, and the answer to that first question? Two, of course. Unless you’re doing NaNo. Then probably the answer is four. Yes, four sounds right. Four family-size bags of chocolate.



Filed under goals, writing

The Power of Three

“I’m not dead yet!”

Sorry for the extended silence over here. I’ve actually written a small handful of posts in the past two months, but they were either too trivial or too whiny or involved too much navel-gazing. So I deleted them and decided to wait until I could fit all those qualities into one post.


I’ve been busy writing. And deleting and editing and writing and deleting some more and . . . I swear, I will never participate in NaNo ever again. I suspect I’ve deleted or completely re-written every single word spewed forth in November. Mind you, I think NaNo is a terrific thing for writers if it works for them. I’d absolutely recommend that any interested writer give it a try, because you never know what might work if you don’t try it. But it’s just not a good fit for my writing process. Geez. I’ve never had to do such a major overhaul.

There, that takes care of the trivial whining portion of the post.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about marketing. Trying to think like a reader. Luckily, I am one! In fact, I am a voracious and highly experienced reader. So I’m the perfect person for me to ask about what works in terms of marketing books [just nod and agree as if that made sense].

What works for me? When I discover a new-to-me writer and read a book of theirs that I really like, the first thing I do is check to see whether they’ve written anything else. If they have, I’ll buy another book. If I like that, I’ll buy a third. And a fourth. And probably the entire backlist, provided it’s priced such that my budget can handle it.

But what happens when I read a book I really like and there are no more books by that person? Well, of course, I make a mental note to remember that person’s name. Because that works so well. Not. Sure, I could make an actual list. But I know how hard it is to write a book. I hope that person will write another, but I’ve seen dozens of writers disappear in my decades of reading. So I’m not counting on it.

Seeing an author’s name once or twice is not going to make it stick in my brain, no matter how much I might have enjoyed their writing. There are just too many other books and authors out there. And I read A LOT. But three times . . . there’s something memorable about that. Seeing something three times, searching Amazon three times, buying an author’s books three times, and — this is KEY — really enjoying something three times. That would leave a lasting impression, even with me.

Now, the importance of having a backlist is not a new concept. I’ve heard it from several sources, but probably heard it first from Bob Mayer. He has an uncanny knack for being way ahead of his time. Our time? The times? Whatever. I’m sure his prescience is a direct result of all those alien abductions. Anyway, I remember him saying there’s not much point in marketing your books until you’ve published at least three of them (there’s that number again).

I’ve decided to take that advice a step further. I’m not going to publish any of these stories I’m currently writing until I have at least three of them ready to go. Because if someone really likes a book I’ve written, I want them to be able to buy another one immediately. And, if they enjoy that, yet another. I might never get a second chance to capture that person’s attention. There are just too many other books out there.

I want that person to remember my name when future books are published. I figure three books ought to do it. I might be wrong. I have no statistics or publishing experience to back this up. All I have is my intuition and experience as a reader. But I’m pretty average in terms of remembering things [just nod and agree, humour me] and it seems to work for me. It makes sense to me.

As a writer, putting books out there as soon as they’re ready to go is a seductive prospect. Everyone does it that way, even traditional publishers. It would certainly satisfy my towering impatience. I also think it’s a mistake.

Yeah, I know, most of you reading this post already know my name (as well as my new pen name) and will argue that you don’t want or need to wait until I have three books ready. I know that, and I’m sorry to make you wait. Really, I am.

But I’m sort of hoping to sell books to more than five people. Looking at this from the perspective of an unknown reader, it just doesn’t make sense to rush to publication and do this piecemeal. The importance of seeing things from that perspective, being aware of the discovery process of the unknown reader, is something writers can’t afford to ignore in this new realm of DIY publishing.

So if you’ve been wondering why I haven’t published anything yet, that’s why. Yes, I could have. But just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should. And I believe there are compelling reasons why it would be foolish to do so.

Of course, none of this matters AT ALL if no one enjoys the books. So, back to working on that part of it.


Filed under goals, marketing, self-publishing

An update and an excerpt

Well, here we are, approaching the last week of the 30 days of NaNo, and I thought it was time for an update. Words so far: 26,058. A bit behind, according to their timeline, but I’m happy with it.

My goal is not so much to write 50,000 words as it is to write as many words as I can, consistently. Not to write faster, necessarily, but to spend more time doing it. To get better at not letting myself be distracted by all the Shiny Things on the internet — something I’ve been horribly guilty of the past couple months.

After YEARS of wishing I didn’t have a day job to intrude on writing time, I’m finding it difficult to make the transition to having all the time in the world to write. I’m not accustomed to having more than an hour here and there to focus on writing. It’s tough, forming new habits.

I know, I know. Let’s find the world’s smallest violin and play a thin weak tune to accompany my ridiculously inappropriate whining.

So I’m getting better at focusing and spending more time writing each day. Well, most days. Because there are distractions. There was the day last week when the plumber was here. And I wrote, “And then he kissed her, hard. With all the passion– [pause to answer doorbell] –and longing . . . um, yeah, so then they . . . oh hell . . . finish this scene later, because I am NOT going to write a sex scene while some stranger is messing with my plumbing.”

No, that is not a euphemism.

But the plumber didn’t finish that day and the dispatcher called and said Ray (not his name) couldn’t come the next day and was it okay if his brother Steve (not his name) came instead and, after I reminded myself she didn’t mean it the way it sounded, I was all “sure, as long as he can get the job done.” Did I just say that? And then Steve shows up the next day and HE IS RAY’S IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER. And then my mind exploded. I swear, you can’t make this stuff up. But you can perhaps imagine how difficult it is to write steamy romance with people spouting double entendres in your general direction and with strong sweaty clean-cut romance tropes flexing their lean muscles all over the place while they do things to your pipes. So to speak.

I mean, c’mon. My imagination is a fearsome and filthy thing.

Anyway. I suspect it might take more time to edit this “fast writing” than it did to actually write it. [Note to self: delete all random references to ménage with twins; save for next book.] When this month-long experiment is over, I’ll have to evaluate whether the benefit of increased quantity [ahem] is worth the loss of . . . what was I saying?

In the meantime, since I know this talk of process is boring, here is an excerpt for your amusement. It’s rough. It hasn’t been edited. Well, maybe a little. Probably it needs to be completely re-written. Or maybe deleted. But I’m posting it anyway BECAUSE I AM FEARLESS. Um, wait. No, not that.

I’m posting it because it has been tough getting back into the mindset of writing romance. I keep wanting to add a conspiracy. Or maybe kill someone. In the story. Obviously, I hope you enjoy it. But also, if you feel inclined, I’d welcome any feedback. Please let me know whether I’m doing this right. Does this sound like the set-up of a steamy romance? Is it something you’d want to continue reading? Do you care about these people? I’m close to being done with the first draft, but it’s not too late. I’m sure I could knock off one or both of them in the edit.

It’s ridiculously long– er, lengthy– um, there are a lot of words, so I’m inserting it after the– oh hell. The excerpt is after the jump. If you want to read it, click the “continue reading” thing:

Continue reading


Filed under goals, reader opinion, writing

There’s a first time for everything

Oh, help. I’ve signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo. For the first time ever. And I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. Well, other than writing like crazy for the next 30 days.

Anyone else out there participating? Do you want to be my “buddy?” Or tell me what that even means? Or how it works? Because I’m completely clueless.

Here’s the “bio” I posted over there, in which I confess that I’m breaking the rules right off the bat. Which I’m sure surprises exactly no one:

I’ve temporarily set aside the umpteenth draft of the thriller I’m writing to try my hand at steamy romance in the form of short stories and novellas. My goal is to write 50K+ words in November, which will finish the novella-in-progress and also complete a rough draft of the next two projects I’ve outlined. Yeah, I know it’s breaking “the rules” to work on a project already begun, but I don’t really care about that. I won’t be reporting words written prior to November 1st.

My goal is not to “win” according to the standard definition of finishing a 50K novel, but to get a ton of words on the page without stopping to edit or get all angsty over whether they’re good enough. Even if those words belong to different stories. Really hoping some public accountability will help with that. Feel free to (virtually) beat me up if I’m not making progress.

I’m “KD James” over there and here’s the link to my profile:


Wish me luck. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.


Filed under goals, writing