A Collection of Nanowrimo Pep Talks

GreatNanowrimoPep TalksOver the years I’ve done all kinds of Nanowrimo themed things here on the blog, including hosting fellow Nanowrimo veterans for pep talks. This year I’m more focused on other aspects of writing–I happen to be in the middle of edits and thinking a lot about different genres–but I thought I’d compile all the pep talks I’ve hosted here for those of you participating in the challenge.

Ready to be inspired? Read away:

Nanowrimo Veteran Pep Talk This pep talk might not have a particularly original name, but the article itself is chock full of inspiration.

Tips From Nanowrimo Veteran CapnQuirk — Several times Nanowrimo winner and now self published author CapnQuirk shares some tips for success.

A RedParrot Offers Pep — One of my all time favourite guest posts on this blog regardless of time of year, this excellent pep talk uses a mixture of words and silly cartoons to walk you through the process of writing a novel.

Peppy McTalk — Written by long time Nanowrimo veteran and now self published author Dylan Madeley, this pep talk was written for week two but will give you an inspirational boost at any time of the month.

Pep Talk: Sunstreak — Another Nanowrimo veteran who started young and successfully beat Nanowrimo multiple times while in high school(often writing well over 50K), Sunstreak has a lot to say about this amazing competition.

What are you waiting for? Go get inspired!

Lessons You Should Have Learned From Nanowrimo

For me, this year’s first draft turned out to be easier to write than any Nanowrimo novel I’ve written before, and thanks to switching point of view characters and writing the first half twice, it’s also the best written novel I’ve ever come out of November with.

That said, it was absolutely exhausting. So you can expect some awesome, fresh content next week, but for now, I’d like to point you to something I wrote last year: 5 Things To Take Away From Your Nanowrimo Experience.

Please do enjoy the post and feel free to leave your thoughts and suggestions for what I should be writing next here on The Dabbler.

10 Things To Do After Nanowrimo

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileFor better worse, novel or no novel, Nanowrimo is now officially over and it’s time to think about returning to your normal life. Or your not-so-normal life, whatever the case may be.

If you’re at a loss for what to do now that you’ve finished Nanowrimo, I’ve got some ideas to help you out:

1. Relax. You probably already spent yesterday doing this, but if you haven’t stopped to relax and smell the roses yet, it’s about time you did. You just spent a month frantically trying to write a novel. You deserve a reward.

Plus, if you live in the northern hemisphere, it’s definitely a good time of year to curl up with a big mug of hot chocolate and catch up on your favourite TV shows.

2. Get some exercise. How often did you get out last month? How much did you walk around? Did you get to the gym or do a yoga routine at home?

If reading this is making you feel guilty about your lack of exercise last month–or you’ve noticed that you managed to gain some weight you’re really not comfortable having–maybe you should commit to taking a 15-20 minute walk every day this month, or otherwise exercising. After all, you don’t want to die of a stroke before you get your masterpiece published.

3. Go out for karaoke. If you think about it, Nanowrimo is actually pretty ridiculous. So why not make December the month where you do other ridiculous things?

You can gather up some friends and find a nearby bar to terrorize with some truly awful singing. Odds are no matter how big your town is you can find somewhere that does a karaoke night, and if not, maybe it’s time to invest in a machine.

4. Buy your loved ones gifts. Now that Nanowrimo’s over, we’re really closing in on the arrival of Christmas. And if you’re anything like me, you already have a good idea what you’re getting people for Christmas, you just haven’t actually gotten anything yet.

You might want to get on that before it gets later in the month. Malls are frightening at this time of year, and it gets a little bit worse every day leading up to Christmas.

5. Buy yourself a gift. Did you actually finish a novel? Write 50K but not actually finish your novel? Write something shorter that you’re actually proud of?

Odds are pretty good that if you’re reading this, you accomplished something awesome last month. You should be proud of yourself, and you should definitely reward yourself.

My present to myself this year will be a copy of The Prince Lestat, and I have a funny feeling a few of you will be getting yourselves the same thing.

6. Make some art. Do you like all the arts, not just writing? Or maybe just some of the arts?

If you’ve finished your novel, this is the best time to start a new creative project, while you’re still feeling energized because you accomplished something awesome.

7. Go on a date. Do you have a significant other? Did you spend much of the last month pretending they don’t exist so you could focus on your novel instead?

If you’ve been neglecting your romantic relationship(s) all month, maybe it’s time you took them on a date to show how much you appreciate that they stuck with you anyway. And as luck would have it, the first MockingJay movie just came out, so you don’t even have to think very hard about what your date will be.

8. Start learning a language. If you can write a novel in a month, you can do pretty much anything.

Odds are it’ll take you more than a month to learn a language, but that’s only more reason to start sooner rather than later. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll know another language, and the more languages you know, the more fun you can have traveling the world.

9. Read a book. When you’re trying to write a novel in a single month, everything else tends to fall by the wayside. But you’re doing this because you love books, right?

I bet you have a stack of unread books somewhere in your house. Make your goal for the month to shrink that stack significantly, and you’ll be well on your way to having a great December.

10. Write something else. You’re still a writer, right? Which means your work is never really done. I bet you’ve got tons of story ideas locked up in that brain of yours. Now is a better time than any to set them free.

You also want to make sure you start writing again this week so you don’t completely lose your momentum from Nanowrimo. One of the best things you get from Nanowrimo is the habit of writing regularly. Don’t let yourself fall out of the habit.

As for me, I’ve got some outlining to do, some blog posts to write, and a backlog of novels that need varying amounts of editing. So while I finished early and have already spent a few days relaxing, there’s always a lot more work to be done.

What are you going to do now that you’ve finished your novel? If you didn’t finish your novel, are you going to keep writing? Let me know in the comments section below!

Nanowrimo Veteran Pep Talk

Bethlyn Today I have a special treat for you as we close in on the end of the month, a pep talk sure to get you back on the writing treadmill from a Nanowrimo veteran who happens to be a good friend of mine.

Please give Bethlyn Bechtel a warm welcome.

Hi Nanoers!!!!

Oh gosh. Nano is ALMOST over!! You’re almost to the end of this INSANE war against words….and you see that you aren’t done yet. You’ve had to deal with school or work or kids or wisdom teeth being yanked after a horrible toothache. Or some other such horrible distraction.


That’s me. I’m not done yet, either. If this was last year, I would have been done. I’ve done this! I can do it! BUT: no words want to play with me this year! NOOOO! So it is a WAR instead of playtime!

You know what? We CAN do this! We CAN beat those words into submission and FINISH THIS!!! We can do it!

You know why?

Because we have ALREADY WON!!!! We have battled through the words and come out with something! Whether or not we have hit 50k or only 25k or a mere 5k, we have something and that right there is something to be proud of.

Should we give up on the 50k (or 200k or 1million) words we strive for? NO!!!!! But now, lets take a deep breath and remember WHY we started this war in the first place.

Was it REALLY to write 50k words? or was it to have FUN?

Well for me, it was to have fun! Fun writing stories, fun with all my writing friends, fun being a part of acommunity of like minded people who make me feel like I belong.

SO let’s take a DEEP BREATH. Come one. Breathe in! Hold it

5…4…3…2..1..thats good, now let it out….

and let’s write for FUN. Forget about the word count right now. Take your story into a place that doesn’t show you your word count and just write. Write out your story, leave your heart and soul on the page. LIVE your story and have fun! Let yourself flow into the place of you MC and BE the MC. Take it all in and enjoy writing. BEcause I bet, 50k or not, you will feel very happy withyourself for doing so because you have accomplished something all the people who never bothered to start nano can never claim to have done.

You have written a story in a month! it may or may not be a complete rough draft, but it is a STORY and you are awesome.

NOW get out there and finish that story! Because where that story ends, a whole nother adventure begins…and around here, that adventure could easily be your own adventure into the world of publishing and that is a grand thing to strive for!

See you on the other side!


P.S. YOU CAN DO THIS!!! YES YOU CAN!!! IF YOU CAN’T DO IT, NO ONE CAN!!! And, well, we KNOW others can because they have done it so therefore…it proves that since if you can’t, they can’t, that since they already DID you CAN. Logic in action 🙂

Ok that was my pep talk, you are gonna want a bio or somthing so here goes:

Bethlyn Bechtel is a third year Wrimo who has high hopes of publishing her first Nano Novel in the near future. She is a fun loving, gal who proudly struts around to the motto “I embrace my inner adult and let my outer child shine!” On a typical day you can find her scribbling away in her journal, playing with a virtual pet online, reading a book, or playing silly games with her girls, among other things, and you rarely will find her at a loss for imaginative ideas (whether or not they pertain to the current topic!)

5 Reasons Not to Give Up

Participant-2014-Twitter-Profile The month is almost over and hopefully you’re close to hitting your goals for the month, whether that means 50K, 100K or a finished novel.

Of course, life has many different ways of preventing you from reaching your goals, so there’s a pretty good chance that you’re nowhere near your goals and wondering what made you think it was a good idea to pursue them in the first place.

If you’re far behind where you wanted to be at this time of the month, you’re not alone. There are thousands of other Wrimos struggling through the same things right now, and you can find a great many of them on the forums.

More importantly, having fallen behind doesn’t mean you should give up. No matter what your word count is, don’t stop writing now. You’ve already come this far, and you might as well keep going. Besides, you still want to finish your novel right? If you keep writing into December, you’ll still have the comfort of knowing thousands of other Wrimos are finishing their novels with you.

But if knowing that you’re not alone isn’t enough, here are five other reasons why you shouldn’t stop writing:

1. Finishing this novel is good practice. I’m sure you’ve already met at least one writer who tells you they’ve started many different novels but never finished anything longer than a short story.

If you actually are one of these writers, it’s crucial that you finish this novel. You need to get into the habit of finishing things, and this novel is a good start.

If you’ve finished a couple novel drafts before, that doesn’t mean you should stop now. Letting yourself give up once makes it easier to give up again. Finishing the book, on the other hand, makes it easier to finish next time.

2. You’ll never be like J.K. Rowling if you don’t finish the book. Realistically, you’ll probably never be like J.K. Rowling anyway, but hey, at least if you finish a book you can pretend. Or maybe try.

3. Telling people “I wrote a book” always makes them think you’re interesting. A great many people will then go glossy-eyed and start asking you all kinds of questions. Half of them will stop talking to you when you tell them it isn’t published yet, but the other half will still be impressed and might even tell you they want to buy your book.

Of course, when people say they want to read your book and it’s a messy first draft still, that causes all kinds of complicated feelings, but one of those feelings is pride, and that’s awesome.

4. You’ve already ingested too much caffeine to turn back now. Stop for a moment and think about how much money you’ve spent to stay thoroughly caffeinated this month so you could write.

All of that money, all of that caffeine was pointless if you don’t finish the damn book. So finish it. Regardless of how long it takes. And keep writing every day like you might just hit your word count goal by the end of the month, because who knows? You just might.

5. Everybody likes to be a winner. Winning Nanowrimo used to really only be about the honour of finishing. Every year since I started there have been more and more sponsors offering cool prizes to Nanowrimo winners.

This year, there are more prizes than ever before. I’ve scrolled through the page myself and been stunned. There are free books, discounts on self publishing packages, and multiple opportunities to get free copies of your own book.

So you might not win this year, but it’s still worth trying.

You may decide to do Nanowrimo again next year, or you might decide it’s not for you and never try it again. Either way, don’t stop writing now. You’ve come this far, and I know you have words left in you.

What’s your current word count? Do you think you’ll finish your novel this month?

Author Spotlight: Dylan Madeley

DylanDylan Madeley is special for three reasons: he’s won Nanowrimo multiple times, he’s a rather good friend of mine, and he’s on his way to self-publication after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Please give Dylan a warm welcome!

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, The Gift-Knight’s Quest?

The Gift-Knight’s Quest is the end result of the first novel ideas I ever had. Well, the first two of them, actually, put together because I couldn’t get a full novel (or even close) out of either idea on its own. That’s why it ended up with two protagonists. The backstory of Derek and of Chandra is somewhat like the novel they were going to star in all by themselves, and they kind of start out as each other’s antagonist. Every time I get asked this I write a new and more convoluted thing, so I’m going to fall back on a write-up I did which gets to the point: “Chandra never asked to rule Kensrik, but fate took a strange course. Now she scrambles to preserve the fragile balance once established by her father. Considered a usurper and a sorceress by many, traumatized by all that has transpired, she must nevertheless make use of her wits and of the truly loyal few. While holding a restless empire together, she must identify and defeat the conspirators who inadvertently landed her in power, for they are eager to rectify their mistake. Hers is not the only life in peril should she fail.

Derek was an aimless wanderer until life imposed a direction. He is the youngest in a lineage which has long fallen from nobility. Now he finds himself summoned by tradition to serve a family historically considered bitter enemies of his own. As he journeys down the same path a fateful ancestor once traveled, he struggles with personal demons and begins to reconsider his loyalty to the mission. His vengeful father may be right after all. He may have been summoned to his own execution, or worse, but where can he flee from the world’s largest empire? When he arrives, what is he prepared to do?

Duke Lenn found one true cause in love and it cost him everything. His legacy shaped the present in which Chandra and Derek find themselves. Now their choices will shape the future.”

2. When did you realize you wanted to make a living writing?

This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Unfortunately, I kept listening to anxious thoughts and people who would say, what if the books don’t sell, it’s important to have a Plan B, try to have another career and write on the side… after trying, and dropping out, of numerous courses like Computer Science and Accounting, I gradually came around to the idea that whatever I did would have to do with writing. So I got a degree in Professional Writing, which had a focus on periodical journalism (magazines), and ended up a freelance transcriber and editor for years anyway. I’ve been a temp at a bindery, a blogger at a marketing agency, a clerk at a postal outlet, and I’ve arrived in such a roundabout way at the terrifying truth: I may as well go all in as a writer, because there really is nothing else for me personally. You’d think that would make everything simple and satisfying, but in a way it’s also unsettling.

3. Did you ever write a novel before participating in Nanowrimo?

I did try, twice. It felt pretty sad. But those two or three pages of material, and hours of thinking, became what I would eventually write in 2008, and also what I’m publishing now. There’s a pretty big downside to doing things this haphazard way, but I think my explanation why fits better in Question 5.

4. Now that you’ve done Nanowrimo a few times, what advice would you give to somebody about to set out on the same adventure?

I want you to think about how much you care. How much do you care about the characters and the world that you’re creating? And do you care enough to make this story work no matter what? Are you willing to write when you may not feel like writing? Are you willing to churn out uncomfortable sections, knowing that, yeah, you’ll have to go back and revise that later, but also knowing that such struggles are how you can get things done–are you willing to accept that a first draft is a first draft, really, and that you probably won’t like a lot of what comes out on the first try? Are you ready to take all that advice people give you, pick out the parts that resonate with you, discard the parts that really don’t work for you, and accept that you have perfectly valid needs as an individual writer, in order to figure out your very own “right way” of doing things? Are you going to feel okay when that cool looking planning method doesn’t gel with your needs, even though you feel like people treat it as the awesome and smart way to write? I don’t have the answers, but I know you do. Search your feelings. You got this.

5. Do you think A Gift Knight’s Quest has gone through more editing because it is a Nanowrimo novel?

Well, to a point; all my novels have started as November novels, and NaNoWriMo has become part of my method. I think the fact that The Gift-Knight’s Quest began as Frankenstein’s monster, two different ideas stitched together and hideous to behold, had more to do with how much revision and editing was necessary. NaNoWriMo has helped me accept that some first drafts will need to be rewritten entirely, but if you believe in the story as I did this time, you’ll do exactly what’s required to make it work. The dream sequence with the tapestries coming alive is the most original surviving artifact of the original manuscript, and even that underwent a verb tense change; my very first attempt was entirely in present tense, and the dream remained that way the longest because I thought this made the dream more immediate and real at the time.

6. What inspired you to run a Kickstarter campaign for A Gift-Knight’s Quest?

I spent two years submitting my manuscript to various big publishers, hoping to belt a “home run”. I figured this was at least more realistic than hoping to win the lottery, which I kept playing anyway. The first rejections were form letters that didn’t tell me whether my book was awful, or whether they just didn’t have room on their schedule at the time. Some of the later rejections were more telling: I am an unknown author, and breaking out unknown novelists can be a huge gamble. Given the state of the industry, I can understand what a difficult decision it is for interns swamped with huge stacks of unsolicited manuscripts, and their editors who could stand to lose big if a book flops after all the money invested by the company. Meanwhile, small press companies were either uninterested, or they liked it but couldn’t fit it into the theme of their schedule for the next year. I realized that I could wait for a small press company to have room, or I could try something different, and if I wanted to self-publish I had neither the marketing experience nor any budget to speak of. Artist friends had seen some success fundraising for their albums, photography books, and independent films, and I had some experience with Kickstarter through a campaign for Auxiliary Magazine, so I decided to try something different than what I had already been doing. I thought that if I could become somewhat known through the self-pub channel, at least I could provide some sales statistics, some evidence of a fan base, to take away that perilous element of simply being unknown.

7. What are the three most important factors in the success of a Kickstarter campaign?

Determine your absolute minimum base of support, and what you think they can spare. Make an estimate based on what you could reasonably expect per person, and if it doesn’t add up to your needed goal, you may have a problem. Make connections with many different kinds of artists in your community, support what they do, and see if they can help with promoting when it’s your turn to need their support for what you do. Remember that the internet is a multisensory experience, and go for stylish visual content–videos, fan art, sketches–as often as you can; even if you’re selling words at the end of the day, and the quality of those words will matter so much, visual components can help keep people’s attention long enough that they can begin to appreciate your words. Consider hosting a live event to coincide with what you’re doing, but not on such a massive budget that it would take away from your ability to pay other expenses or reach your main funding goal; provided you’re expecting local support, consider selling admission to the event through your campaign to boost your numbers. Have a partner to help you out, because it’s a lot of weight to carry on your own; get whatever help and support you can. Learn to manage stress and anxiety well, because even if things seem to be going great, you may not feel okay until it’s over and successful.

8. If you could give an aspiring writer one piece of advice and only one, what would it be?

Remember to breathe.

9. What are your plans for this November and beyond?

My 2009 ‘script came out in chronological order, but was an even bigger disaster than my 2008 first draft. So I’m going to explode that 2009 manuscript, and whatever survives the explosion will become part of a new “prequel” trilogy. It’s in the same world as The Gift-Knight’s Quest (I’m returning to writing in this world after two years straight of trying other things). I have downgraded my expectations to just writing the first of this new trilogy, as I know that work for The Gift-Knight’s Quest will necessarily require a lot of my time.

Dylan Madeley is a Torontonian currently working out of a headquarters in Vaughan, Ontario. He is the copy editor of and a frequent contributor to Auxiliary Magazine, an alternative fashion and music zine. His junior copy editors are two chinchillas named Basil and Liam. His first published novel, The Gift-Knight’s Quest, is slated for a spring 2015 release.

The Gift-Knight’s Quest will be available in just a few months. Stay tuned to find out when it’s released and you can finally obtain your own copy!

Questions or comments for Dylan? Please leave them in the comments below!

Tuesday Tips & Tricks

pencils-447480_640Week three of Nanowrimo is already here and if you’re anything like me, you’re filled with a combination of excitement and fear. Can you actually reach the lofty goal you’ve set for yourself? Is your novel garbage? Will you ever actually want to look at it again? Are you going to cross  the finish line?

It’s completely normal to doubt yourself at this point, and it’s completely normal to think you’ll have to throw away your novel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say throwing away your novel is fairly standard among Nanowrimo participants. I’m certainly not trying to salvage every single novel I’ve written during Nanowrimo.

Whatever your feelings are about your novel, you can overcome them and you can write a novel in a month. All you need to do is believe in yourself and keep writing.

Here’s some advice and inspiration to keep you going:

A Tip


A Trick

If you really feel like you absolutely must edit more than a couple sentences, add any deleted scenes to a separate file. You might end up wanting them later and either way it’s fiction written during Nanowrimo, so it can be counted to your word count(this is part of how I get such a high word count every year).

Some Inspiration

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”
– Sidney Sheldon

What’s your word count like? Do you hate your novel? Love it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Author Spotlight: Devorah Fox

Naked_Came_the_Shark_Cover_for_KindleToday’s author has written pretty much anything you can imagine writing and won Nanowrimo multiple times. She’s also self published a textbook with her husband and multiple Nanowrimo novels, but you’ll find out more about that in the interview.

Please give author Devorah Fox a warm welcome.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your books?

I have National Novel Writing Month to thank for launching my novelist career. The Lost King, Book One of The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam high fantasy series was my NaNoWriMo 2010 project. The createspace coupon that I got for winning that challenge spurred me on to put the book between covers. The Lost King was received with enthusiasm and fans asked “when’s the next book coming out?” Gee, I hadn’t planned on series but since they mentioned it, there was more story to tell. Book Two, The King’s Ransom, was my NaNoWriMo 2012 project and Book Three, The King’s Redress, was my NaNoWriMo 2013 project. For Camp NaNoWriMo in 2012 I worked on my contemporary thriller, Naked Came the Sharks.

2. When did you first decide you wanted to become a published author?

I first became published in 1988 when my late husband, Mike Byrnes, and I released our textbook, Bumper to Bumper, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations. We were self-publishers before self-publishing was cool. Continually updated, that book has been in print ever since.

3. How did you find out about Nanowrimo?

A fellow member of the Rockport Writers Group sent me an email about it. I had never heard of it. I can’t say what it was about trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days that sounded like fun but I decided to give it a whirl.

4. How much planning did you do before starting Nanowrimo?

I don’t recall doing any planning the first time. I had had the story in my head for years and pretty much knew where I was going with it, or thought I did.

5. What was your first Nanowrimo experience like?

It was a lot of work and it continues to be a lot of work. There were days when it took nearly the entire day to write those 1667 words and that’s still true. Perhaps I don’t write very fast or maybe it’s that I keep stopping to do research. At some point during every marathon I find myself despairing, “This time I’m just not going to reach the goal.” However, I do find the process of stifling the inner editor and just letting the words fly to be liberating.

6. What advice would you give people attempting Nanowrimo this year?

  1. Take advantage of the fellowship opportunities. A local writer group that still meets today got its start to support NaNoWriMo 2010 and the woman who served as Municipal Leader then continues to facilitate the group year ‘round in addition to her ML duties. I often think that I should take a pass on the November meet-ups and stay home and write instead. However, the meet-ups always prove to be worthwhile. Sometimes I come away with an idea to advance my project, other times I simply get revved up about writing and go home recharged.
  2. Give write-ins and sprints a try. Our local ML hosts both in-person and online events. I’m a morning-energy person and rarely write at night, but during NaNoWriMo I surprise myself by getting hundreds of words written during evening online sprint sessions.
  3. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Throw writing caution to the wind and let your imagination run wild. Write something, write anything. It doesn’t have to make sense. You can go back and change it later, even throw it out entirely. A scene that represented an entire day’s work on The King’s Ransom never made it into the final version because the story took a different direction.

I should take my own advice about having fun. I tend to get obsessive compulsive about the whole thing. The month-long marathon is about the only time that I get to work on novels so I feel that I have to make the most of it. I steal time from my day job and other writing responsibilities such as my blogs and my Island Moon newspaper column. For 30 days I make writing 1667 words on my NaNoWriMo project Priority Number One. I must say I am really looking forward to cutting loose during NaNoWriMo 2014. I find the steampunk-inspired graphics for this year’s marathon to be especially energizing.

7. What are your plans this coming November?

To my surprise I’ll be working on Book Four in my King Bewilliam trilogy (a little writer humor there). “Book Four” is likely to be Book One of a “King Bewilliam’s Continuing Adventures” series. When I wrote The Lost King I never imagined that it would go on to become a series but the King’s fans want more and frankly, I miss the guy and his knights. I’m looking forward to seeing what trouble they’ll get into next. I already know there will be castles and dragons and battles fought not only against mythical monsters but also personal demons.

I will be taking time out for the Fifth Annual Great Turkey Fry. The day before Thanksgiving I gather with friends and we deep-fry about eight birds. Each takes about half an hour and while we’re getting everyone’s Thanksgiving Day dinner cooked, we sit around talking, snacking and drinking. I wrote about the first Great Turkey Fry on my blog at http://devorahfox.com/index.php/festivals/fried-turkey.

Devorah1About the Author:

Winner of multiple National Novel Writing Month marathons, Devorah Fox has written for television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Publisher and editor of the BUMPERTOBUMPER® books for commercial motor vehicle drivers, she is also developer of the Easy CDL apps for the iPhone and iPad and has written test preparation guides for Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she has lived in Port Aransas, Texas, since 2005. Secretary of the Rockport Writers Group, Fox writes the “Dee-Scoveries” blog at http://devorahfox.com and column of the same name for The Island Moon newspaper. She wrote her first novel in the third grade and has written several more since including The Lost King, The King’s Ransom, and The King’s Redress of the acclaimed literary fantasy series The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam, and Naked Came the Sharks, a contemporary thriller set in the Texas Coastal Bend.

Visit her at http://devorahfox.com

Tuesday Tips & Tricks

workstation-336369_640Can you believe we’re already in the second week of Nanowrimo? It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun–or when you’re freaking out about an upcoming deadline…

With any luck you haven’t actually started freaking out yet and your word count is soaring well above where it’s supposed to be at this point in the month.

Either way, I’ve got a tip, a trick and a quote that should help see you through to the other side of this crazy novel writing adventure:

A Tip

If you keep stopping to edit, maybe it’s time to turn your monitor off while you write–or at least tape a piece of paper over it so you can’t see most of what you’ve written. This will help your words flow more freely and prevent you from editing too much.

A Trick

Join the word wars/sprints and just have FUN. ~ Hedgymama

Some Inspiration

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”
– C. J. Cherryh

How’s your Nanowrimo novel coming along?

Author Spotlight: Dana Sachs

TheSecretofNightingalePalaceAre you ready to meet yet another awesome Nanowrimo author? Well then, you’re in luck. Please give Dana Sachs, author of The Secret of Nightingale Palace, a warm welcome.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your books?

The first time I tried Nanowrimo was in the fall of 2007, when I used it to write the first draft of the novel that would eventually become The Secret of the Nightingale Palace. I had already published my first novel, If You Lived Here, and a memoir, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam, and this idea of writing a first draft in a month was a new prospect for me. I found that Nanowrimo helped me quite a bit in just getting the basic form of the book down on paper (well, on computer). I can’t say, for sure, that it sped things up for me (it still took many, many drafts to complete the book), but it did help me to see where I was going a bit more clearly. I find that it works very well for fiction. For nonfiction, I haven’t tried it. I wrote my second book of nonfiction, The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam the old fashioned way, just by slowly working my way forward.

2. When did you first decide you wanted to become a published author?

I’ve loved writing since I was a little kid, when I wrote a lot of “books” about farm families and horses. I didn’t really think about traditional publication for a long time. After college I became a journalist, then eventually started thinking about long-form writing—books. I took me a very long time to really believe that I could complete a whole book. If you’ve only written short things, it’s hard to see how you could complete something so long. I think that’s part of the reason Nanowrimo is helpful. It encourages writers to think in terms of a whole book.

3. How did you find out about Nanowrimo?

My son’s fifth grade class was participating in the program (in a shortened version), so I decided to do it with him. That November, we’d go to cafes together at night and he’d drink hot chocolate and I’d drink coffee. He was writing a novel about a guy named Bob and I was writing a novel about a grandmother and granddaughter named Goldie and Anna.

4. How much planning did you do before starting Nanowrimo?

Almost none. I just had an idea in my head and started writing. I do a huge amount of research for all of my books, including my novels, but I don’t research during the Nanowrimo month. I just write and keep a list of things I’d like to learn more about later. That said, I teach a class at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington that follows Nanowrimo. The class meets for the entire fall semester, so I have my students begin doing research and outlines and character development (all sorts of stuff like that) starting in August. By the time they start writing their books in November, they’ve got a lot of material to help them move forward.

5. What was your first Nanowrimo experience like?

Fantastic. I was so happy to have a rough draft at the end of November. After that, I let it sit for a long while before I read it again. Once I picked it back up, I was happy to see that it wasn’t all bad. It helps to have very low expectations because you’re not going to write a masterpiece in a month. I remember that the people at Nanowrimo sent out a congratulatory message at the end of November to all of the “winnners” (winners are people who finish their 50,000 words in the month.) It basically said, “Congratulations! You’ve just completed a not-awful novel.” And that about sums it up.

6. What advice would you give people attempting Nanowrimo this year?

1. When you get bored, make a change. Bring in a new character, make an old character move or change in some way. Shake things up.

2. Get off to a strong start because things will slow you down later in the month (Thanksgiving). I try to go into Thanksgiving week way ahead, so I don’t absolutely have to get much, if anything, written. That way I can relax.

3. Don’t read over what you’ve read when you start writing again after taking a break. Doing that will just freeze you up because you’ll see all the problems. If you must, go back a page or two to get the feel of what you’re characters are up to. Then move forward.

One more thing. Nanowrimo is a fantastic community, but don’t let yourself get so swept up in chatting and investigating the site that you lose time writing. Focus on your own novel, not on what other people are writing and saying about theirs, or even what they’re saying about Nanowrimo in general.

7. What are your plans this coming November?

I realized after doing about 5 or 6 Nanowrimos in a row that I needed to take some years off. I have a backlog of “rough drafts” and I don’t need any more right now. I need to do the work to make those drafts better. On the other hand, one great thing that I’ve done is write the same book twice (I’ve done that several times). My first year, I wrote a draft of my book The Secret of the Nightingale Palace from the granddaughter Anna’s point of view. A year later, I wrote it all again, this time from the grandmother Goldie’s point of view. That really deepened the narrative in interesting and unexpected ways. Eventually, for the finished book, I incorporated passages from both.

This November, I’m working on my new, as-yet-untitled novel about an American family in Budapest. I’m trying to finish it, so I’m skipping Nanowrimo because I don’t want anything to distract me.

If you can send this back as a .rtf file and include a 2-3 sentence bio, that would be much appreciated. Please do include links and send either cover art or an author photo–or both if you like–with the questions so I can include that with the post.


DanaSachsDana Sachs
is the author of two novels, If You Lived Here and The Secret of the Nightingale Palace (both published by William Morrow) and two works of nonfiction, The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam (Beacon Press) and The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam (Algonquin Books). She writes the monthly “Lunch with a Friend” column for SALT, an arts and culture magazine in Wilmington, North Carolina, and she teaches writing classes at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.