Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Progress is progress is progress.

Hey, world. Guess what?

I actually made my NaNo goal!! 50,000 works in a month? Check!

I know, I know. You’re thrilled for me, right? Thanks you! I’m thrilled, too! Not as many of those words as I’d like are a part of The Dream War Saga, but progress is progress in any of my projects. Those 50,000 words helped me get closer to The End on two different books, both of which I love. They’re very different–seriously. SOOO different–but they’re  both amazing stories that need to be told.

Honestly, I’m kind of amazed I made it through. I know it’s possible to write this much in a month (I did double this last year), but last year I didn’t go out of town. Last year my cousin didn’t go into labor (OMG HER BABY IS SO CUTE!). So, yes. I didn’t meet the standard I set in 2011, but that’s okay. I met the goal I gave myself for 2012 and I’m super pleased with that. 😀

Why do you write?

I was kind of amazed when my local NaNo group asked me to contribute a pep-talk for this mad month of mayhem. Technically, this was my first request as an author! It made me all warm and fuzzy inside. 😀 The problem was that I had absolutely no idea what to write. But, in the end, that’s what helped the most.

Here it is, posted for you to read and for me to remember.

“Why do you write?”
It’s a question authors get asked a lot. What always amazes me is when people can provide an answer that makes sense.
“Why do you write” is like asking, “Why do you breathe?” I write because it keeps me sane. I write because I like telling stories. Because it connects me to other people. Because reading has always inspired me and I want to bring other people the same feelings I had when reading my favorite books growing up. I write because. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. And sometimes it’s as complicated.
National Novel Writing Month seems to be a point of contention in the writing world. It as though you’re either one hundred percent for it or against it. Until last year, though I supported the idea of NaNo, I’d never participated. I’d written 50,000 words in a month before, but always when I had a lot of free time and was driven by a heavy dose of inspiration. In 2011, I realized on November 2nd that I had already set myself the goal of a book in a month. I was supposed to be turning two short stories into a single novel and I wanted to finish it by December.
Hard, but not impossible. I wanted to do it. I wanted to write. Because. Just because. Did I hope this story would one day be published? Sure. Okay, definitely. I did. I had hopes. But what really drove me through the month of November was the question that should (hopefully) drive every reader: What happens next?
I joined NaNo and found a community of fantastic people all working toward the same goal. I found support and people who could empathize when I wanted to toss my computer through a window because this minor character I threw into the mix suddenly wouldn’t go away. We all toiled away with computers or pens and paper and got closer to our goal word by word. Some of us reached it before the first of December, some of us didn’t, but we all felt better knowing there was an entire community behind us.
I went forth into the world at the end of November with a book to show the world. Not that it was ready to show the world, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I did what they always tell you you shouldn’t do and dove straight into edits. I filled in little pieces I’d left blank the first time around. I added voice where before there was just narration. I fleshed out my characters even more and tried to foresee where the story would go from here. I took advice from an author and entered some contests for unpublished manuscripts because you can’t win if you don’t enter, right? I sent it to readers, held my breath, and edited some more. And then things started happening.
Now this book was not the first I had sent out into the world. It was the third I’ve ever finished and the second to see daylight. But this one actually had legs. I won an award. And then I sold the book to Spencer Hill Press this summer. And guess what? I’m going right back in. Writing, editing, sending to readers, holding my breath, editing some more.
Whether you’re one day hoping to see your book on a bookshelf—or, you know, Amazon’s shelves—or plan on hiding your words away in a filing cabinet or hard drive, the important thing is that you’re here. Trying. You’re putting words down and recording your thoughts and dreams and characters and stories. You’re expressing the thoughts that drive you. You’re answering the call that drives you to create and you’re joining the rest of the NaNo community in reaching for the seemingly impossible goal of 50,000 words in a month. But you can do it. And at the end of the month you can look back and know that, even if you didn’t hit that mark you still have part of a story that didn’t exist before.
So, now I only have one question to ask: Why do you write? 

NaNoWriteNoMore or How November Took Over My Life.

Eating My Own Words (c) Ry Young

This is where I should be in my NaNo count: 23,333

This is where I am in my NaNo count: 11,983

This is what my brain is currently doing: ksufgh sahgakj.dbh

Looking back at last year, I honestly have no idea how I managed to write an entire book in a month. And not a 50,000 word book. The first version of Sing, Sweet Nightingale clocked in around 106,000 words. Where did I find the time? I don’t remember sleeping much that month, so that might be it. I also didn’t travel at all, so that helped.

It’s not like I don’t have ideas. I have full outlines for all three projects I’m working on this month (and let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the absolute oddity of that occurrence… me? Outlines? What?). I know where the stories are going and every time I sit down to write words appear. They may not flow like Niagara Falls onto the page, but they at least trickle like a creek. There’s forward movement every time and that’s the important part because I could be stalled completely and I’m not. Yay for that, at least.

Can I still catch up to the goal and at least hit 50,000 by the end of the month? Yes, I think I can. But it won’t be easy. Things keep seem to pop up that eat away at writing time. Things like deadlines and day jobs and holidays. But life will always do this to us, so I look at it as a challenge. If I want to be able to call writing my day job one day, I need to be able to make it work despite what life throws at me or what distractions pop up. Even despite Pinterest. (But, speaking of, I’m totally in love with my boards right now and you should absolutely go check them out here.)

So, November, I will take your challenge. And I’ll beat it. Because I’m a writer and nothing can change that now.

At this time last year I was…

Agenda 3 (c) Dragan Rusov

For some reason it hit me yesterday that a year has passed.

“Well, of course it has,” you say. “Technically a year has passed every single day.”

True, but it’s more significant this month, at least to me. This is National Novel Writing Month and this is the month where everything started changing for the better very quickly in my life.

Quickly is a relative word, especially when we’re talking about writing and the publication process, but looking back I have to admit that everything did happen very fast. “How so?” you ask. To illustrate, here’s a recap of my year from November 2011 to November 2012:

November 2011: Begin writing novel version of Sing, Sweet Nightingale for NaNoWriMo
December 2011: Go back through SSN and make significant changes because, you know, first drafts and all.
January 2012: Frantically try to polish first 30 pages to submit to writing contests; squeeze in under the deadline of said contests and then try to forget I entered them
February 2012: Begin planning trip to BEA in NYC
March 2012: Find out SSN is a finalist in one of the previously mentioned contests
April 2012: Finalize plans for BEA 2012
May 2012: My birthday! Also, I find out SSN won the Marlene Award!
June 2012: Attend BEA. Crash a party at Lani Woodland’s insistence. Meet Danielle and Patricia. Send Danielle and Patricia my book. Have first Skype call with Danielle and Patricia about possible revisions.
July 2012: SSN officially becomes a future publication from Spencer Hill Press!
August 2012: Get so-called preliminary edit instructions that somehow turn into a rewrite project. Spend month stressing.
September 2012: See August
October 2012: Send SSN revision off to betas and CPs. Breathe sigh of relief. Later this month, spend ten hours in one week on Skype with Lani plotting books 2 and 3. Even later this month, do more tweaks on SSN and send book plus new outlines plus notes plus other random goodies to Danielle and Patricia
November 2012: Send EVEN MORE goodies to Danielle and Patricia. Wait with barely concealed anticipation/eagerness/terror/etc. for scheduled editorial Skype chat. Also, begin NaNo, this time working on three projects at once including the as yet untitled Dream War Saga Book 2.

That has been my writing-related year. I did other things too–finish first drafts of two different contemporary YA projects I really love, write a short story in TDWS universe, connect with the amazing Twitterverse of writerly people, and other things I can’t even think of right now–but the timeline above are my big moments and why realizing a year has passed since last November is a nostalgic moment for me. November is also the home of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday!), so I wanted to take this time to have a gratefulness moment. Sometimes it may feel like the ultimate goal (holding a physical copy of my book) is so far away, but at least the end is finally in sight. I’m working with editors I adore and I have a support network who is amazing. All-in-all, this past year has been very good for me. I’m even on track to knock out most of my New Years Resolutions! 2012 was great, 2013 will be even better, and I have high hopes that 2014 will be a banner year!

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment you’re in. You never know when you’ll suddenly be standing a year in the future going, “Wow. Remember when…?”

Writing: My Milestones

This past weekend was phenomenal both for the family time I enjoyed and the writing milestones I hit.

First, on Saturday I broke 100,000 words! Yaaaaay!

This meant that, no matter what, I’d reached my personal writing goal for the year of writing 100,000 words. However, I hadn’t quite reached The End. No, that’s not right. I’d technically reached the end of the book, but there were still pieces missing, bits I had to go back and fill in because I hadn’t been sure how the timeline would work or what to put there. Not many, but enough for me to hesitate calling it finished.

Well, I’m not hesitating any more.

It’s here! I’ve hit The End!

Let the editing begin. 😀

Holidays: In Celebration Of My Favorite Day Of The Year

As I knew would happen, I couldn’t choose just one winner. I had so many entries, and here are the ones I liked best for one reason or the other. These are posted in no particular order, comments I added after each are in blue, and my own Thanksgiving Thanks are at the bottom.
May you have a happy, fulfilling, delicious, fun and family-filled Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my son Nicholas, born 12 years ago right after Thanksgiving, two months premature and still the most beautiful 3.5 pounds of human being I’ve ever seen. His knees and elbows were baggy, like a Shar Pei, and he had a light coating of blond hair, but he also had the most remarkable stormy blue-grey eyes and such a confused look on his face, as if to say “Mom, what the heck?” My water had broken, but the doctors insisted on putting me in the “ante-natal unit” where they wanted me to somehow keep that child from being born for another month, but Nick was having none of that, and when I went to the bathroom, something slid out of me that felt like an umbillical cord, but when the nurse came in, she gasped and said “That’s a FOOT!” and started running me down the hall to the OR, where literally 15 minutes later, they cut me open and pulled Nick out, rump first! The doctors said he was “Amazing” because he had no physical health problems, other than his lungs being a little small at first. Still, he grew fast, and now he’s 5 foot 3 and weighs 135 pounds, and he is a happy, healthy, smart boy who loves to read, just like his mom.

What an amazing story!

I am more than thankful for the man I call my Dad. He chose to be my father, my friend and my rock. Amidst my biological parents divorce and the turbulence of my teenage years my Dad stepped up. I will be eternally grateful for all the support and guidance he has given me and the unconditionally love he has provided to me. I am thankful he is here to listen to me, here for me to hug and here to continue to tell me that I am special, worthy and good. He is what a parent should be and he is one by choice and not because he has to be. Thank you Dad for being you and loving me. I love you!!

I have a soft spot for amazing dads.

I’m thankful for all the wonderful blogs offering me chances to win this awesome book 🙂

Flattery gets you everywhere! 😉

This Thanksgiving I, along with my family, will assemble CARE packages for our troops who are overseas and away from the people that they love this holiday season. This is how we counteract the obsessive “”me”” attitude that tries to rear its ugly head as Christmas approaches. I find that we are all less greedy after we are reminded that our troops are wishing for things like warm socks and toilet paper.
And with the notes are all written, the custom’s forms all filled out and the boxes sealed and ready to go I will make myself a cup of hot chocolate and giggle about the fact that I have once again purchased underwear for men I don’t know.

I literally laughed out loud reading this one! Thank you for your work helping the troops and thank you for making me laugh.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that my kids, who have been sick for two years with a chronic medical condition (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome – POTS) are getting their lives back & are back in school. I’m thankful to everyone in my community and all my friends who have helped out so much during these last couple of years and to Children’s Hospital, Boston, for their fabulous rehab program!

Congratulations! News this good is definitely worth sharing!

I am thankful for my mother. Since the beginning, she has instilled in me a love of reading. Some of my first memories come from the walks we would take daily to the public library. I also want to thank her for finding the time during her busy day to read aloud to my sister and I before bed each night. With my mother, I learned to explore the universe with Madeline L’Engle, the world beyond the wardrobe with C.S. Lewis, and many many more.

My mother is one of my favorite people in the world

This Thanksgiving I give gratitude for the lessons. I have learned how to be a better friend – both to myself and to others. I have learned that NO is a complete sentence. I have learned that I can say YES to myself, too. My YES to myself includes curling up with a great book, a few cats, and a hot cup of tea…. And saying NO when the phone rings. Happy National Novel Month – and Thanks.

My favorite part of this one: I have learned that NO is a complete sentence. Sometimes I think I still need to work on that.

I am thankful for my son, who brightens each and every day
I am thankful for my job, which provides me with my pay
I am thankful for my friends, who support me in all that I do
I am thankful that I am a reader, because reading gets me through
I am thankful for today, because tomorrow is not promised
I would be thankful if I won this contest… because Jacqueline Carey is a writing GODDESS

If this gets posted I would like to note that Jacqueline is so very talented and out of the thousands of books I have ever read, the Kushiel Saga is my all time favorite, and the only series I have ever read twice!

She wrote this in verse! Just for that this gets posted. 😀

What I am most thankful for is the change to have Tuesday through Sunday off from school so that I may get some homework finished. 🙂 I would love to be able to visit my *lovely, awesome* family in Florida, but will not be able to until the Christmas time. I do not miss the father figure getting frustrated at the women folk because they did not eat the meat substance, but miss the family dinners. I will thoroughly enjoy the visiting that will commence when I get to come down in December.

I’m sure your family will be very happy to see you!

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for authors. For giving us hundreds (thousands, millions) of new worlds and people to explore and get to know. For giving us an escape when our real life gets too stressful. For making us think, believe, and hope. For teaching us lessons about ourselves and about life. For challenging us. For believing in us. And most of all, for awesome sex scenes ^_^ 

My life has never gone according to plan. When I pictured myself at this age ten years ago, the life I had in mind was very different from the one I’m living now. What I have learned in the past three years, though, is how to be grateful for everything I have, whether it’s what I thought I wanted or not. I am grateful for my mother who has never let me down, even though I’ve sometimes failed her. I am grateful for my middle sister who has always been one of my best friends and who I miss dearly because she lives too far away. I am grateful that moving home earlier this year has allowed me to become closer to my youngest sister who is no longer an alien sent to torment her elder siblings, but an actual human being! I am grateful for my job–which I lucked in to–for putting me on the first step in an actual career path. I am grateful for friends who take the time out of their insanely busy schedules to read my rough drafts, ask a million questions, and spend hours they could be sleeping looking up words in dead languages because they think it might help me. I am also grateful for friends who drop everything at a moments notice to spend an evening with me.I am grateful for successful surgeries, book fairs, Microsoft Word, air-conditioning, good movies, awesome jewelry, authors who give advice, Broadway shows, new desks, NYC, and the color blue. I am also grateful for NaNoWriMo, inspiration, baby name books, amazing music, cork boards, digital cameras, and Flickr. Most of all, I am grateful for the chance to do what I love and the hope that I’ll be able to keep doing it for a very long time.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’ll be back on Monday. Enjoy the weekend and make sure you spend it with someone you love.

NaNoWriMo: Back On The Horse

After my consuming worries yesterday morning, I’m happy to report that I’m back on the horse!

In fact, I think I may be stronger for taking a day off. So, in that vein, last night I caught up on missed episodes of Once Upon a Time (such an awesome show!! :D) instead of chaining myself to my computer until it was time for me to collapse into bed. I’ve been buried in this novel so deep I forgot that I need breathing space every so often, time for my creative batteries to recharge. I’ll have more of that this weekend as I will be attending the Miami International Book Fair–even if it decides to rain, which it will if the sky right now is any indication. Either each night or at the end of the weekend, I’ll post updates of interesting things I see or books I find that I’ve never heard of before but want to read. I’m excited! It’s off to work now so I can leave early and go spend my time in a much more amusing fashion! 😀

Writing: Hitting The Wall

Since October 31st, I’ve been moving forward in this draft at bullet-train speed. Some days my word count jumped by almost 10,000. That is unheard of for me! Most days my I averaged closer to 3,500, but even that is way above my normal productivity range.

And then yesterday I wrote about 650…

And, now, I’m worried I might end up like one of those guys who dresses in velcro and throws himself at a sticky wall…

Have I hit the wall? Have I pushed myself too hard the last few weeks? Do I need time to recharge? Or was yesterday just a day where a hundred other things were going on?

Even having hit this point before, I can’t yet tell if I’ve reached it again.

Then again, I did fall asleep before 9:00 PM last night. So maybe I was just exhausted.

What do you guys do when you stall on a story? And tricks? I’m hoping a LONG sleep will help me get back into the flow.

NaNoWriMo: I’m Halfway There!

Having never attempted NaNo before, I’ve never realized how consuming it is. Especially when you set yourself a goal that is double the normal NaNo goal. HOWEVER…


And, to make this victory even sweeter, I hit this very crucial landmark before the official halfway point of the competition. This is such an important occasion for me that it is now time for a happy dance!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone! And don’t forget to enter my giveaway contest!!

News: Sing, Sweet Nightingale

So, it’s officially official. But it’s also a long story, so I’m going to go back to the beginning.

After I wrote Sing, Sweet Nightingale, I wanted to get to know my second main character better. This sparked an idea to write some of the scenes in Sing from his perspective. Like most of my projects, this turned into something a lot longer than I’d anticipated–longer than Sing, even–but I liked it a lot and it allowed me to get a much better understanding of his character and his background.

When the editing was about to start for Sing, I sent the editor this second story (which I’d titled The Damsel in Distress) just as a source of extra information about the world I’d created. “There is a lot of extra background information in here,” I told her. “If you feel any of it should be included in Sing to help round out the story or explain some of the idiosyncrises of the universe, please let me know.” So she read it and then sent me an email that essentially said this: I think you should turn these two stories into a novel.

A small part of me was kind of sad to hear that because I’d been SO proud of myself for finally writing something SHORT! However, this didn’t last long. The novel extension is an idea that had actually already passed through my head. Since I’d been trying to publish it in short story form at the time, I didn’t give the fleeting idea much thought. With this push however, I started to seriously consider the possibility of heading back to the drawing board:

I started messing around with ideas and, not surprisingly, ended up with more than I’d bargained for. In fact, I have a solid new beginning for the extended version of Sing (I like the title, so I’m keeping it for the novel). For those of you who have read the past few posts, this is the NaNo project I’ve been pumping through so forcefully. It’s kind of taken on a life of it’s own and therefore taken over my life. I love it when this happens!

The plus side of all this is that I’m working on something that I really think could be great. The downside is I’m back where I started from on the whole publication process. Have to get the draft done and edited and then resubmit to a few places. Well, no one ever claimed becoming a writer was an easy road to walk. Here’s to hoping that inspiration + perseverance (+ a little good luck) = publication