The Next Steps: Life After NaNoWriMo

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two months since NaNoWriMo 2017 ended. I was able to complete the rough draft of the third book in my three-book series, which was a relief for numerous reasons. Not the least among them was the fact that I had little idea of where the story was heading when I sat down at the keyboard on November 1. But it is complete, and the manuscript is in the drawer until a date yet to be determined.

The next order of business now that the holidays are over and we have settled in after a quick move to another town? Re-write the first book in the series.

My goals at this point are simple. First, re-write the first book into a stronger and truer first draft. Second, do more research to make sure my historical tidbits line up. Third, write the second draft and make it presentable for a group of early manuscript readers. Then from there it will be a matter of re-writing the areas that need it, do any more research that is suggested/needed, and prepare the work for a second round of reading.

I may need to reconsider my definition of simple…

The most simple part of the plan is to chronicle my journey via this blog. My hope is that you’ll join me and share your experiences as a writer (or a reader!) along the way.

How did your NaNoWriMo go? Did you ‘win’? What are your plans for writing in 2018?

– Melinda

NaNoWriMo: Day One

Whether you stayed up to write the first word at midnight, rose early to get a good crack at it, or are going to slip away this evening to delve in to your new novel, I wish you the best of luck and don’t give up! Keep working, unleash your creative side, and have fun. πŸ€“

How many words did you accomplish today? Did you find it fun or frustrating? How do you combat frustration so you can keep pressing on?

– Melinda

Life: NaNoWriMo Prep

Ah, life. Bills need paid, groceries need shopped for, and cakes ‘need’ to be made. The tasks of life seem to pile up so quickly that it can feel like there’s little time for writing. While that may be true for many of us, it doesn’t have to stay our reality. 

I’ve written about it before – find those little moments where you can jot down a few lines or paragraphs. Manage your time so you can carve bits and pieces out of your day. Be persistent and intentional in pursuing your passion, and you’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished. And if you need a place to start, I suggest NaNoWriMo 2017.

This year will be my third year in a row and I can’t recommend the organization enough. The support and encouragement to put paper to pen and simply write. Not edit, not proofread, not beat your brains out trying to write the perfect first chapter before moving on to the second, but rather the invitation to bring to life that story idea that’s been wiggling around in your mind so long it feels like a pet. 🐢

NaNoWriMo isn’t about putting life aside to focus on your dreams. It’s about blending your dreams into your everyday so that you can bring your stories to light and start living the life you want – the life of a writer.

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo before? Is it easy or hard for you to find time to write? How do you manage your time?

– Melinda

The What-If: NaNoWriMo Prep

My NaNoWriMo novel idea is all wrong.

That’s the revelation I’ve had in the last twenty-four hours. Twelve days before November 1st, with pages of planning already under way, it struck me that while the story I was plotting was a good story in itself, it’s the wrong story with which to wrap up my series. Hence, all wrong for NaNoWriMo 2017 since my goal is to have a complete series written by November 30th.

The plotter/planner in me is freaking out. The panster in me is excited for the challenge. So with only eleven days until go-time, what do I do? The only thing I can do: grab my favorite drink, find a back seat in my favorite cafe, and create a whole list of ‘what-if’ scenarios.


The ‘What-If’ writing tool is great for the third book in a series (or really, any book), because in the case of a series you can draw ideas off of the material you already have instead of pulling them out of thin air. Since a writer wants to have threads carry from one book to the next in a series, the ‘What-If’ can assist greatly in this endeavor. To start my ‘What-If’ thread I asked one simple question based off my first book…

“What if my main characters buried a treasure somewhere around town that they thought no one else knew about?”

This one simple question has already lead to five other ‘what-if’ questions, and I know more are soon to follow. New ideas for book three are floating around in my imagination, and my plotting side is starting to feel the excitement of my panster side. πŸ™‚

So while my previous idea for the third novel was all wrong, and November 1st is lurking around the corner, there’s no need to panic. Armed with an effective writing tool, and some really good chai latte in a Hobbit-esque mug, it’s time to let the ideas flow.

What writing tools do you use when you need to start from scratch? How do you handle panic when something in your writing doesn’t seem to go ‘right’? What’s your favorite place to write?

– Melinda

Road Map: NaNoWriMo Prep

Eighteen days until November 1 and the excitement is thick in our home. Or, more accurately, I’m so full of excitement that it’s spilling over into every corner of our one room apartment. 😁 I’m grateful for my supportive husband who is pursuing his own passions – he understands the drive that pushes me to spend hours at the keyboard typing away. 

In preparation for NaNoWriMo 2017, I have laid out the road map that will help me get from beginning to end. While I’m sure each person’s method of mapping looks a little different, numbering chapters and dividing them in to sections is how I best prepare for the twists and turns in my story. 

For example, I know exactly where the starting action, mid-point, and ending are: Chapter One, Thirteen, and Twenty-Six. The doted lines represent other important major plot points, which are 1/4th and 3/4ths through the story. The dashes around Chapters Four, Ten, Sixteen, and Twenty-Three are where minor but equally valuable plot points take place. 

I develop this road map for three reasons:

  1. Helps control the pacing of the story while I write the first draft. This in turns helps make re-writing easier. 
  2. When I know where I need the story to go, I can create scenes that make the journey more enjoyable and not bog down the middle of the trip (as I have been known to do in past attempts at novel writing).
  3. And if along the way I decide to do some unplanned sight-seeing (I am a recovering ‘panster’), I can take the little side trip without worry because I have a map to get me back on track!

So as I continue to plot and plan, I’ll fill in the major plot points/scenes first and then go on to connect the dots with scenes that will build the story and help make it cohesive from beginning to end.

What sort of road map do you lay out before you begin writing? If you don’t plan, how do you determine where you will start and stop?

– Melinda

The Beginning, Again

Just as the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so the journey of a story begins with one idea. As of this morning I find myself at the beginning again; it is time to step forward with that one idea that will lead to the journey of writing my third novel.

I’m both excited and apprehensive for this particular journey because while I have plenty of time to plan for NaNoWriMo 2017, I have fewer ideas of where this story should start and where it’s going. As of now there is a cast of characters in my mind and a few situations they find themselves in, but that’s it. 

And that’s okay. One of the most exciting parts of a journey is exploring, and I can’t wait to find what I discover as I wrap up my first series with this third installment. 

How do you approach the start of a new piece? Do you wait until your are brimming with ideas or begin with just a thought or a single scene? Something in between?

– Melinda

The Deadline: A Lesson Learned

Saturday, August 5th, 2017 is the deadline for submitting my manuscript to my writers’ critique group.

I’ve known since the end of the winter that I was in the slot for the August critique, and so months ago I laid out my elaborate timeline: a month dedicated to research followed by two months to write the second draft, with June and July dedicated to polishing the piece before submission. 

So how am I looking three days before the due date? 

Truth be told, I beat the deadline and got it in today! And by it, I mean the first half-of the book that could stand to use a little more research and was not nearly as polished as I would have liked. πŸ˜– (It works out because I was only required to submit as much as I had, not the whole manuscript). πŸ™‚

Here’s the lesson learned: life happens. Bills are due so attendance at the day job is mandatory, friends wish to remain as such so there are gatherings and outings, dinner needs made every night, family matters, and sleep is necessary. It all happens while you are being creative, so even the best and most elaborate plans sometimes fall by the wayside. And that’s okay. Especially when being with a loved one could be for the very last time.

As I write this I am sitting in a room with a very special lady who has known me since the day I was born. She is sleeping so I am pondering. These are likely the very last days I will have to be in her presence.  Three more days of polishing words that I can tinker with later are not nearly as important as spending time with someone who might not be with us tomorrow.

Create the elaborate plans. Work hard, get the work done, and do your best to be professional and make the deadline. But whatever you do, don’t do it at the sacrifice of time you can never get back.

– Melinda

Update: Five Months After

I hit 50,000 words around the 15th during NaNoWriMo 2016. You can imagine my elation at achieveing the goal and still having two weeks to go! A new finish line formed in the distance: complete the entire first draft of the novel. I was set. I was ready. Then I was stopped. 

Stopped by one of those curve balls of life that catches you off-guard and leaves you speechless. 

I fell in love. ☺️

Our friendship of three years laid a foundation that after only a few weeks of talking led us to being a couple. The date was determined before I even had the ring. Two months after he asked me to marry him I became his wife. It’s been a whirlwind, and while my writing has been on hold so I could focus on starting a life with my best friend, I wouldn’t change a moment of the last five months. My writing will be richer for this experience. 

So now that my days have settled into a blessed routine, I take up pen and keyboard once again and continue on the journey of writing the stories that have been tromping around in my mind these last few years. I hope you’ll come along. 

What unforeseen curve balls in life have made your writing richer? 

– Melinda