It’s that time of year again when writers the world over decide whether or not they want to take the November challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.
Known as National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo – I took the challenge for the first time in 2008 when I wrote the first draft of what would become my novel Choice. I found the experience to be exhilarating and the set word count to be a great motivator.
The 50,000-word goal breaks down to about 1,666 words to write each day, which I found doable in the morning, over my lunch break and in the evenings. I had such a great time during that first challenge that I have taken it three more times since in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
My 2011 draft become Vuto, the novel published this past July that was inspired by my time in Malawi, Africa, as a health volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps.
While I completed the challenge for the drafts I wrote in 2009 and 2012, I was not happy with the way my novels turned out those years. In 2012, the premise of The Pileup came to me after I was nearly hit by a driver who was texting on their cellphone. But when all was said and done, I didn’t like the histories I gave to most of the characters in my novel and I have put it on the proverbial shelf — perhaps I’ll circle back to it one day.
As for 2009, I am planning on taking the basis for that novel and reworking it in NaNoWriMo 2013 to create a more fleshed out, robust novel that will approach the 100,000-word mark instead of the 50k. I think this will challenge me more as a writer with several books already on the market and, since the NaNoWriMo challenge is whatever you want it to be, this is the way I want to go into it this year.
Feel free to friend me through the NaNoWriMo website – my user name is WriterGrl313.
Here’s to another great month of writing!
My 2009 novel, Choice, is now being listed in the Barnes & Noble Rising Star Collection!
Filed under Choice, Writing
Have you heard of Wordle.net? In the site’s own words:
“Wordle is a yot for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.”
Using this site is highly distracting, but so much fun! Here are my two self-published books and current NaNoWriMo novel-in-progress as seen through Wordle:
QUEER GREER (2009)
VUTO (NaNoWriMo 2011)
Hey faithful readers! I am 10 days away from tackling the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge for the third time. My first year, 2008, I wrote my second self-published novel, Choice. The result was wonderful – it won the Barnes and Noble Rising Star Award and made its way into B&N bookstores across the east coast.
The second year, 2009, I started writing a book based on the life of Texas inmate Elizabeth Burke, incarcerated for the murder of her seven-week-old son. While I met the 50,000-word goal at the end of November’s 30 days, I never actually finished the novel. I will one of these days!
I took 2010 off due to work responsibilities, but now, in 2011, I’m ready to take up my pen for the third time and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’ve started to plan my novel in the very basic sense – I have a potential title and heroine.
The title: Ending at the Start
The heroine: Malawian teenager Vuto (which means “trouble” in the Chichewan language.)
The plot will be loosely based on an experience I had when I was a health volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa, in 2007. I witnessed a girl giving birth, alone (as is tradition) – it was her second or third child and she was only 17 years old.
That’s all I’m giving you at this point…stay tuned as November 1st rounds the corner and I begin a 30-day writing frenzy!
Here are my answers to the top 30 questions about my books Queer Greer, Choice and the forthcoming Burke:
Hey everyone! I’ve just been featured on Mahalo’s Author Series myself. The videos are slowly being uploaded now. To give you a little taste, here are a few of my videos where I answer reader questions.
Question 1: What are your self-published books about?
Question 2: What is your Elizabeth Burke project about?
Question 3: What research have you been doing for the Elizabeth Burke project?
Question 4: How do you stay objective while writing about controversial topics?
So this week marks my first ever book promotion since I self-published two novels in 2009. I have gone through hell and high water to promote my books over the last two years and, without a publishing company backing me, I must say it has been a very challenging thing to attempt.
For my first novel, Queer Greer, for instance, I set up my own press release and sent it to as many newspapers and magazines as I could on my own. I got a couple of reviews out of this method, as well as an invitation to speak at the largest LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) conference in the United States. Not too shabby, but I also have yet to make all of my money back from self-publishing costs.
My second novel, Choice, I went a different route. First off, I wrote it over the course of 30 days during November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Then, I decided to invest a bit more money and self-publish with a more quality self-publishing company. The result was a much more professional-looking hardcopy and a chance to be featured in Barnes and Noble stores.
While I do not regret the investment, despite being even further away from breaking even on costs than I am with Queer Greer, I do have a problem with the publicity package I purchased from that second company. Nothing came of it whatsoever, despite a press release on the book allegedly being sent to over 1,000 media outlets across the United States. I might as well have burned that money with a match.
Despite still being in the red in terms of cost output versus profit two years later, I am a great proponent of the self-publishing path. I’ve gained clout as a writer that I wouldn’t have otherwise and I intend to utilize these examples when I pitch my next book to actual publishing companies and literary agents.
If you have a first manuscript or a book idea and are not sure where to go with it, take some advice from me and Mahalo.com: