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. 🤓

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. 🙂

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

NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 9!

The last day of NaNoWriMo Prep for 2016 is upon us. Buried in a back booth, delicious dinner over and fresh cup of coffee at hand, I plan on scribbling away until closing time. Cue the Traveler’s Notebook.


But for as much as I plan on utilizing the next few hours for note taking, the most important prep work I’ll do today is the last thing I’ll do today: sleep.

Gone are the days of working a full shift on four hours of sleep. Dead is the romantic notion of burning the midnight oil for the sake of my writing passion. Dark are the bags under my eyes if I don’t hit the covers by 9:30p.m. If I don’t want to have to deal with a manuscript choke full of plot holes, unfinished thoughts, and run-on sentences come December 1, I’m going to have to protect my sleep time just as fiercely as I will my writing time.

Because while my imagination can light up at any time, my brain depends on sleep to think logically. And logic is a vital part of writing an entire novel in a month. (Well, reckless abandon in terms of the clock along with copious amounts of coffee and candy might work for some writers, but I have no desire to return to my early 20s.) 🙂

So I’ll sleep tonight, and tomorrow at 5:00a.m. I’ll be up to begin the maddening, thrilling, fulfilling adventure of writing a novel in a month. Fellow writers, I hope you’ll join in, even if it’s just spending one evening with pen in hand!

Good luck to any participating in NaNoWriMo 2016!

– Melinda



NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 8 of 9

With only two days of prep time left, I’m relieved that the chapter-by-chapter outline is complete! Yesterday afternoon I had a spurt of inspiration that allowed me to be able to fill in the remaining blank lines. That means today’s focus is creating the character list.

Undoubtedly, there are writers who don’t even create a formal list. I am not one of them. Especially for this novel, which is the second in a series. The list for me is vital in remembering how everyone is connected from the first story to this story.

A character list can be as sparse or as detailed as you like. Starting with the main characters, I list name, year they were born, and basic background/backstory information needed to keep character motivation fresh in my mind. I’ll also throw in any physical details of the character that are important but which might be left out in the fury of attempting to write a novel in only thirty days time.

Having this information close at hand while writing aids greatly in keeping all the relationships of the characters straight, and to serve as a reminder of where the characters are coming from at the beginning of the novel. That’s why I create them, and why I would recommend creating a list to other writers.

What about you? If you write, do you create character lists? How detailed do you get?

– Melinda


NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 7 of 9


This spot in Georgia was a great place to sit and dream. Natural beauty usually stirs my imagination. Fresh scenes and bits of dialogue seem to float in to my mind like a soft spring breeze. I’m not trying over romanticize the experience; wooded areas are my muse.

As I continue to work on the rough outline of the my intended NaNoWriMo novel, I’m realizing that I may need to take a walk in the woods soon.

The major story elements are there, yet I’m staring at a mostly blank chapter-by-chapter outline. The time to truly worry about lack of scenes and dialogue is the last week of November, but I am trying to fill in the empty lines with at least a little something now, i.e. trying to curtail the possibility of ‘writer’s block.’

So I’m multi-tasking today by taking care of my responsibilities and and letting my imagination run free in the back of my mind so that by Monday I will have a full chapter-by-chapter outline. Even if they aren’t my best ideas. Even if the story isn’t as strong as it could be.

That is, after all, what editing is for. 🙂

What is your muse? Where does inspiration consistently strike you?

– Melinda


NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 6 of 9

Day 5 was lost in a sea of cookie baking. Like I said in the previous post, the demands of life, even the delicious ones, have a way of sneaking up on ya. I did, however, get something accomplished yesterday which dictates today’s prep work.


Plot structure. For me, it’s not enough to know what happens in the story I’m about to write; I have to know when it’s going to happen. So I start with the basics.

  • Beginning: the incident that launches the story.
  • Middle: the event that turns everything upside down, leading to…
  • End: the climatic event that brings the story to its conclusion.

From here my left-brain kicks in. I’ll list the chapter numbers in order and mathematically determine where each of these events falls on that list. From there I’ll fill in the rest of the general events of the story, one for each chapter, creating a complete, albeit rough, outline.

It’s what works for me, and I find it very helpful in achieving the goal of 50,000 words in the month of November.

How do you plot? Is there a specific method you’re fond of? Or do you just prefer to wing it? 🙂

– Melinda

NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 4 of 9


Today I plot, but admittedly, distractions abound. Not in the form of groceries, house work, or paying bills. Not even a nice walk in the woods at dusk. No, the distractions for the day are none other than Napoli, Lindor, and company, i.e. the Cleveland Indians.

Having waited 19 years for this World Series appearance, I can’t hardly not watch. Sure, sure, I may need to work on my plot so that I can outline the novel before Tuesday, when the countdown to 50,000 words begins, but…how can you say no to World Series baseball? 🙂

Isn’t that typical of life, though? We have plans to write. We plot and dream and scratch down ideas, and then the groceries, house work, and bills need tending and friends need visiting and woods need walked in and the next thing you know, months have gone by and you’ve hardly written a page. It’s not always big (miracle) distractions like October baseball, but no matter how distracted we get, the key to writing is picking the pen back up and writing.

What are some of your biggest/smallest distractions? How do you overcome them? #RollTribe

– Melinda