NaNoWriMo 2018 Results

Even with a holiday visiting my mother – on the other side of the nation, I might add –  I managed to make it passed the 50k mark and win NaNoWriMo. The rest of the year will be spent finishing this novel about ghouls and goblins and dragons. It has been great fun to write Pru’s story, though I did have to drift away from hand writing and start typing the thing.

Wrist cramps are a thing. And sometimes my fingers get sore when I’ve spent too much time writing by hand.

That being said, I am pleased with the results for this year. As soon as I have the entire book completed (which should happen on the 31st of December, if not before) then it will be tucked away until April.

Also this year I had my son participate. While his goal was not 50,000 words, he was assigned to write 200 words a day and for the first half of the month he did this beautifully. But then the laptop died and with it, his means of typing.

It was a joy to watch him work. Around the third or fourth day that he came to me, wide-eyed, and said; “I get why you like writing now. Anything can happen!”

My heart swelled with so much pride in that moment, I feared it would burst. I look forward to including him in future National Novel Writing projects when I’ve secured a personal laptop for him.

To those of you who participated and made your goals, I applaud you. Imaginary confetti is dusting your shoulders as you read this.

To those of you who participated but missed the mark, I still applaud you. Writing is a frightfully dangerous endeavor. As my son says; “Anything can happen!” The fact that you braved the blank page and started to fill it tells me you’re the courageous sort and I truly believe you’ll finish that story no matter what.

Progress Report – Camp Nano 2018 – Week 1

As of the end of the day yesterday, my Camp Nano Stats are at 12,927 words.

That’s spread over two projects – a young adult fantasy novel and a romance thriller. This isn’t the traditional way of doing a national novel writing month. Traditional national novel writing months focus on writing one novel, starting day 1 of the month.

However, because I do this multiple times during the year (November and April as well) I tend to take the summer camp to catch up anything flagging.

I’m actually over 40,000 words into the young adult novel, and the romantic thriller is undergoing the 3rd edit.

In the effort to get back to work, I’m going to slap a snippet of the young adult fantasy novel up here.


His arms burned from holding Isabo and he lifted her higher, forcing her face into the crook of his neck. She made a hiccup of pain but otherwise didn’t fight him. Corbin took the moment to secure his cape around her torso better, then froze, his gaze locked on something behind Kevin.

“What is it?” He asked, pivoting on his heel.

A hooded figure in white stood there, too transparent to be solid. A thick fog poured out from it, curling around their ankles and mixing with vines. The face was in shadow, if indeed there was a face, and it floated forward until it was close enough to touch. It smelled like summer rain and green things, but there was a chill that seemed to sink deep down into Kevin’s bones and for several seconds he couldn’t move.

“No,” Corbin whispered beside him.

“W-What is it?” Kevin asked again.

The figure leaned forward and Kevin could see that yes, there was a face. Not hideous or frightening, but smooth and young, with a full mouth that could only be feminine. An ethereal hand moved toward Isabo and paused, hovering just above the arrow in her back.

“It’s a Keeper,” Corbin said.

Kevin kept his gaze on the ghostly figure. “What?”

“The curse keeps everything in balance,” Corbin said, but his attention remained fixed on the Keeper too. “That includes how many people each House commands. If a person dies in House Dorne, then two others are claimed as well. One from Christof and one from Liir.”

It was getting harder to breathe but Kevin managed. “And this thing…”


“This Keeper thing… it kills people?”

“To maintain the balance, yes,” Corbin said. He seemed to shake himself from his momentary shock and concentrated on Kevin again. “They’re indiscriminate about it. They take young, old, healthy, sick, doesn’t matter. And this one is waiting to see if Isabo dies.”

Kevin took a step back. “But that’s just cruel.”

“That’s why it’s called a curse, Kevin. It isn’t meant to be pleasant.”


To anyone participating in this month’s Camp Nano, I hope you’re having fun! Keep writing and moving forward with your work.


NaNoWriMo 2016 Round-Up

I am pleased to say that this year I actually won National Novel Writing Month! I completed the extremely rough draft of Ashwood at 50477 words. I know that there are a lot of things I’ll be changing when I start editing it next year, but … Hey. I won!

Ashwood was a lot of fun to write and this outlining process I’ve been doing seems to be working fairly well.

At least to get the skeleton of the book written, anyway.

About a year ago I took James Patterson’s Master Class on writing and one of the big takeaways I had was his outlining process, which I’ve been trying to implement. There are some things I like about it … and there are some things that I don’t like about it.

I’ve used this for three stories now; Torven, Dead Weight, and Ashwood.

Torven, my little novelette, it worked beautifully for. I was able to cut eleven chapters down to eight and had a lot of fun writing the story.

Ashwood, my romantic horror story thing, it also worked great for. I had an outline that had been brainstormed with another over the course of several weeks and, while I did change some things last minute, this outlining process worked wonders to see me to the finish line.

Dead Weight …


I don’t know what it is that went wrong with Dead Weight, but something was off. My knee-jerk reaction is to say that I had a lot of great ideas but when I went to actually write them they fell flat.

Or it could have been the fact that I was typing the first draft instead of hand writing it. That’s the only difference I had between Dead Weight and the others.

Why yes, that means I hand wrote all of Ashwood in 30 days AND typed it up in time to win.

Because I’m awesome.

And I love hand cramps.

In any case, the outlining seems to be working. There are a few things I’ve tweaked here and there to make it my own process, but overall it works.

For those of you who participated in NaNoWriMo this year, whether you won or not, you’re awesome! Well done! I hope you got words on the page and that you love your story.

To close out this year’s NaNoWriMo season I think I’ll leave you with a snippet from Ashwood … In all its unedited glory.


“Oooo,” Marisol crooned, sliding out of bed and to her feet. She was built like a pixie, just a little over five feet tall with a spiral perm that made her chocolate brown hair bounce whenever she moved. “A social rescue. He just might be the one.”

One can only hope, Tessa thought, reaching into the hutch for her boots. But she said; “Based on six weeks of drowning in coffee and the worst possible introduction in the history of dating?” She shook her head. “We need more Intel.”

“And dimples,” Marisol said with a cheeky grin. She stretched her arms over her head, her every move fluid and graceful and for half a second Tessa was glad Brendon would be meeting her out front. The last thing she needed was to be standing side by side with Little Miss Size Two when he picked her up.

“And dimples,” Tessa said, agreeing with her friend. “But we still need more Intel.”

“That’s what a first date is for,” Marisol said, dropping her hands to her sides and sashaying her way to the opposite hutch.

Tessa had never moved like that in her life, which was a shame because she had a feeling her love life would have seen more action if she could. She felt another spurt of jealousy well up inside her, but it was short lived. Mary had the big amber eyes and porcelain skin every woman would die for, but she was also the sweetest damn woman ever.

Definitely a good thing Mary was staying up here.

“So how’s Psychology Guy?” Tessa asked, desperate for a change of subject.

Marisol’s rosebud mouth quirked up into a shy smile. “Good,” she said. “He’s really into this paranormal investigating stuff. He wants to prove it’s all a trick in our heads or something so …”

Tessa finished lacing her boots, realizing as she did so that they looked quite a bit like combat boots and frowned. Not exactly sexy, but her only other alternative was her sneakers and those were getting a hole in the toe.

Unsexy or poor and unsexy; the decisions she had to make.

But then she realized Marisol was watching her, neatly arched eyebrows raised in expectation like she’d asked a question.

“Soooo?” Tessa asked, already not liking where this was going.

“So we’re planning a paranormal investigation party out at the old Ashwood place and I really, really, really need you to come,” Marisol said quickly, clasping her hands in front of herself and giving Tessa a wide-eyed, entreating look. “Please.”

“A … what?” Tessa blinked, wondering what alternate universe she’d stepped into where she was being begged to attend a party. That hadn’t even happened in the Army and there’d been plenty of opportunity there.

“A paranormal investigation party,” Marisol said, abandoning whatever she’d been doing with her hutch to bounce over to Tessa, all animation and excitement. “It’s a party where we go through the Institute after dark and try to find some kind of proof that it’s haunted, or that it’s just playing tricks with our minds. We’ll record everything so Lundy and I can go over it all the next day.”

Tessa stared at her, speechless.

“You know, like Ghost Hunters,” Marisol said, beaming.

“And … uh … why do you need me?”

“Have you seen the Ashwood Institute? It’s huge! We need all the help we can get.”

Tessa’s phone blared, buzzing in her coat pocket, which was hanging by the door. She got up to retrieve it thinking; Yes, I’ve seen the Ashwood. It’s big and it’s falling apart and no one should go in there, especially after dark. It probably had football sized rats and bird-eating spiders lurking around. Hell no, she wasn’t going in there.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week #2

Before I get into my post about this awesome week of November where I got lots of writing done …

Politically and nationally it has been a not-so-awesome week.

Those who have followed me from the beginning know that I rarely, if ever, discuss political issues on this blog. However, I do discuss humanitarian issues. And, sadly, this year’s election has worked itself into riots and demonizing the other party (whichever side of the fence you happen to hitch your tent on) and it has become a humanitarian issue.

And so, very briefly, let me say this …

Stop it.


Things are a mess right now. If you’re not willing to start cleaning it up, at least stop adding to it.

If being in the Army taught me anything, it’s that you don’t have to believe the same thing to get work done. And you don’t have to agree with everything being said around you to deserve and receive respect and dignity.

So please … Stop. If you voice your opinion, do it as respectfully as you want to be treated by the counter point. Lay out your concerns – if you have them – without assuming you know the response to it. Or be sensitive to the concerns of your fellow Americans – if you’re in that camp.

Treat each other with dignity and America really will be great.

Now … National Novel Writing Month 2016!

I ended last night at 19047 words! I am right on track to win this thing and I’m hoping to boost those numbers up this weekend. The story itself is a lot of fun. I’m just now getting into the spooky parts – remember, it’s a ghost story sort of thing – and I’ve discovered some really awesome stuff in there that I’m going to be exploring more deeply.

Which … I should get back to now. So here’s the snippet for this week. To those of you participating in NaNoWriMo … Good luck! Keep going! You’re awesome.

They stepped out of the classroom and Brendon waited while Phil locked the door, intending to walk with him to the parking lot. But she was there, her bag packed away, clasping her hands in front of herself with almost as much nervous energy as his uncle.

If someone didn’t lighten up soon they were all going to suffocate, he thought as she walked toward him.

She had that look on her face again, the same one she’d had last night, like she was on a mission and determined to see it through. It made her look a little severe, all things considered, but at least this time she had her hair down. She had long, brownish-blonde hair that hung just passed her shoulders, with enough of a wave to it that it had some body. He had a feeling she didn’t spend much time on it.

Not that it looked bad, of course, just that it wasn’t the focal point of her day. Which could actually be said about her attire too – blue jeans and a beige shirt and a pair of worn out Nikes. His sister would have a field day with this woman, he thought. Sara Morant would take one look at those shoes and whisk the girl off for a shopping spree.

Of course, Sara would love the girl based solely on the fact that she read, a lot, and then ruin the poor thing by trying to make her into some Cinderella heroine by playing fairy godmother. And then, of course, Brendon would become the very poor, very dysfunctional prince in this fairy tale. Which wouldn’t be so bad, especially if the girl continued to smile at him like that – she had a really great mouth – but at some point everything would go wrong.

And it would somehow be his fault. Again.

Best to just tell her to move along, he thought.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week #1

I haven’t typed up what I’ve written so far today but I wanted to get this post up before I forgot. Yesterday put my word count total up to 7464, which is right on track. I was hoping to be at 8,000 by end of day yesterday but my brain finally decided it was time to take a break.

I should reach 10k today and, with a little luck, 13k tomorrow.

For those of you who are on this crazy NaNoWriMo journey with me, furiously typing out as many words as possible this month … What the heck are you doing reading this blog? Get back to work!

Or maybe you just need a break like I did yesterday, in which case … here’s a snippet of my NaNoWriMo project. If you have a snippet you’ve written, give me a link in the comments and I’ll jot over there the next time I take a break.

I’m always happy to see what other writers are doing.

**Mild language warning.**

Tessa Pines snuggled into the old comfortable arm chair in her favorite corner of her favorite bookstore and settled down to read. An Introduction to Poetry lay open in her lap and she tried desperately to pay attention to it, but her eyes kept wandering to the storefront, to the door of Book Land. Her heart did a little hiccup every time she heard the ding of the doorbell, but every time she checked she slumped a little more.

It wasn’t him, not yet, and she began to wonder if fate was conspiring against her. Only three hours earlier she’d decided to make her move, to just talk to her little bookstore romance and see where it went. For the last several weeks they’d been smiling at each other from across the room, not speaking but definitely noticing one another. Tessa wasn’t great in the romance department but even she had managed to pick up on those signals. But as of yet he hadn’t come in to work the front counter and she had the horrible thought it was his night off.

Of course, the poor many needed a night off every now and then, she just wished it wasn’t on the night where she’d worked up the courage to speak to him.

And I would that my tongue could utter the thoughts that arise in me, she thought, gazing down at her poetry book; thank you, Lord Tennyson. My tongue would love to utter, I just need the man here to utter them to.

Groaning a little in exasperation, she closed the poetry book and tossed it onto the side table. Marisol was going to reproach her again, probably spend two hours pushing and prodding to know how this went and Tessa would have to confess that it didn’t happen because for some reason she couldn’t just tell her sweet, open-hearted, eighteen-year-old roommate to mind her own business.

Maybe she could deflect all night, keep Marisol at bay by asking about her own love life. Mary had her sights set on some kid from her afternoon Psychology class but for the life of her Tessa couldn’t remember his name.


No. No woman in their right mind dated a “Bundy”, the name was synonymous with murder and date rape.

Chastising herself for being so elitist – there had to be some decent men named Bundy after all – Tessa reached for her book again, resigned. She would try again tomorrow. For now, she needed to find the D-Fac – cafeteria, her mind corrected, we are not in the Army anymore – and get back to the dorm.

Proud of herself for referring to it as the dorms instead of the barracks, she stuffed the book in her bag and stood, reaching for her beat-up coffee mug just as the door chimed again.

Glancing up in habit she froze. This time it really was him and she felt that low kick in her blood again, felt her mouth go dry, and opened her mouth in surprise.

Several hours late and looking delectably tousled, his six-foot frame filled the entryway, blocking the doorway for a moment as his gaze settled on her.  He had sandy brown hair tied back into a loose knot at his nape, and a full beard that hid some of his mouth but she could see the faint traces of a smile there. Even from this distance she could see the clear blue of his eyes, could read the humor and intelligence there, and it was only when his friend called him over that she was able to look away.

Oh, God, she’d been staring.

Blushing furiously, she slung her bag over one shoulder and tried to gather her courage again. He probably thought she was a stalker, coming here every day, hiding in the chair, casting him flirty glances every so often. What had she been thinking? Talking to him was the worst possible idea.

Snatching up her mug, she headed for the door, determined to escape.

In her peripheral view she saw her bookstore romance move to the counter and shrug off his own bag. He greeted his friend, who reported that the day sales had been decent, which was true. She’d seen over two dozen people come through in the three hours she’d been sitting there, ostensibly doing her homework.

With her hand on the door she paused, kicking herself as a coward.

She’d been in the Army for four years, dammit. She’d had bullets fly over her head, dodged IED’s in Afghanistan, and argued with her Captain once; she could talk to a boy in a goddamn bookstore for pities sake.

Releasing the door she turned, striding purposefully for the front counter. Halfway across the room she realized it looked like she was advancing on a target and tried to slow down, annoyed at how socially awkward she was. But then, she’d always been awkward with people and had, until this moment, accepted that as part of her personality. Most writers were unsettled in social settings, she reminded herself. It didn’t matter that she had yet to complete a full-length novel, she was still an aspiring writer and her mind was constantly in overdrive, absorbing people and places and experiences for later use.

Under any other circumstance she would have embraced her unique awkwardness, but as the distance closed between herself and her would-be bookstore romance, anxiety clutched tight in her belly. He was smiling at her, dimples forming on either side of his face just visible with his beard and she thought; Oh, god, dimples too?

If he hadn’t already piqued her interest with the worn-out copy of Iliad she’d spotted him with earlier, he certainly would have caught her with that smile.

“Hi,” she said as casually as she could. Her heart was hammering in her chest and she suspected he could hear it as she groped for her next line.

“Hey,” he said back, equally casual but with undeniable curiosity. “Can I help you?”

“Help me?” She asked, thrown off her stride, and then she kicked herself; his job, dummy. He thinks you need something. “Oh, right.”

He looked more amused than anything else as she scrambled to regroup. She really sucked at picking up men, she thought as an uncomfortable silence stretched. There had to be a guide book for the socially awkward somewhere. Maybe she should ask him for that.

She laughed, a little nervously, and his broad forehead creased in what looked like concern and she panicked, blurting; “I need a copy of the Iliad.”

God, she was so lame.

And she couldn’t afford another book, not if she wanted to eat.

“The Iliad, huh?” He said, his eyebrows lifting.

And your name, she thought, wishing again that this store required nametags. But instead she said; “For school. My English professor has it on our list of suggested texts.”

Which was true, she just wouldn’t need that until the middle of November and it was only October third.

“Which professor?” He asked as he came around the counter, leading the way deeper into the store.

Shit, she thought. Of course they would have a copy.

Well, Marisol had a meal plan. Maybe she could talk the girl into snagging a little extra.

“Michaels,” she said, turning down a familiar aisle and trying hard not to admire the man’s profile.

She really was turning into a stalker.

He had that comfortable stance of a man who knew exactly who he was and wasn’t afraid to embrace it. Broad shouldered and burly, the antithesis of the stereotypical lean-formed hero one found in the movies, or in nearly every romance novel she’d encountered for that matter. He had good, strong hands too, she noticed them as he reached to pull a slender volume from the shelf. Long fingers and blunted knuckles and she imagined he might have been a boxer at one point; those knuckles had seen some sort of action.

“Michaels is pretty tough,” he said, turning the book over to her. “Should have requested Iverson. She’s a little more liberal, easier to deal with.”

“Easy is never as rewarding as the things you have to work for,” she said without thinking.

“You say that now,” he said with a grin that set her heart to skipping. It took her a long moment to concentrate on his voice again. “Just wait until you dare to disagree with Michaels. You don’t strike me as the sort who’s going to back down, not even for a better grade.”

Tessa took the book, a little stunned at his observation. “I don’t?” She asked and he flinched a little, looking suddenly as awkward as she felt.

“Yeah,” he said, regrouping quickly. “You have that no-nonsense bearing to you. And with how often you’re here doing homework I’d have to say you’re too self-disciplined not to take your work seriously.”

She almost asked him how he knew it was homework but stopped herself just in time. They were discussing professors, after all, and it wasn’t hard to connect the dots. She felt her cheeks warm and bit her lip, smiling down at the little paperback in her hands.

So he had noticed her after all.

Ready, Set … NaNoWriMo!

Coffee … Check.

Paper … Check.

Pens (assortment) … Check.

Outline … CHECK.

General food plan for 30 days of craziness … Check.

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed something in there, but for the most part I think I’m ready!

For those who do not know what NaNoWriMo is, I would encourage you to check out their page. I’ve inserted the link for you but the gist of the game is that you try to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

It’s as easy (and as hard) as that.

I’ve been participating in one fashion or another for several years now and I really think I’m going to win this year.

Dead Weight, the sequel to Tapped, is being set aside until March. It isn’t quite finished but it’s close enough that I can take the next few months and let it simmer in the back of my mind. I’ve found that going through and doing an edit of what I have helps me in the long run.

It allows me to really see where the characters have been so that I can tie everything up in the last few chapters.

Which brings me to Ashwood, also known as “That Ghost Story I Want To Tell” or “The NaNo Project” or … any number of names I’ve given it over the last several weeks.

I have the outline already up and on my corkboard AND in detailed form on paper that I carry around with me every day and make notes on. (No, this isn’t cheating. I haven’t written a word of the manuscript yet, just the outline.)

And I am SUPREMELY excited to start it. I had help making the outline of this novel – Thank you, Brendon! – and while it is loosely a romance novel, it is heavily a supernatural/ghost story dealing with an Institute …

Because all the really scary stuff comes from Institutes.

Seriously. Have you looked into what was done to some of these poor people? Just knowing what happened there is creepy.

In any case, to help me remain on task and to give myself something to look forward to every week, I will be posting snippets of the work in progress here with updated word counts and whatnot.

Because … why not?

This is supposed to be fun, after all.


Crappy First Drafts

The last several weeks I have been focused on Dead Weight, the sequel to Tapped, and I’ve been taking my NaNoWriMo approach with it.

What is my NaNoWriMo approach?

Well, for those of you who might not be aware, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is held by the Office of Letters and Light, and it is basically a free-for-all competition where you try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. They have little competitions run throughout the year, but the main one starts November 1st.

That’s a lot of words in 30 days and in order to achieve this lofty goal, one must set aside certain things …

Like their internal editor.

So when I say I’m taking my NaNoWriMo approach with Dead Weight right now, I mean that I have gagged my internal editor and shoved her in a dark closet somewhere. She’s still screaming at me, especially about Chapter 14 because I think I broke the rules of gravity in there somewhere, but I’m not listening.

Not yet.

The focus is to get a draft down that I can edit. The focus is that the story line makes sense, the plot is engrossing, and the basic elements of the characters are fleshed out. I can add more color and life to the page later.

The goal is to have a completed crappy draft by the end of October so that … I can participate in NaNoWriMo for real this year. I think I say that just about every year and I end up having to use November as a motivational month to get my current projects done, but this year …

This year I’m going to win NaNoWriMo.

With a paranormal romance novel, no less.

That’s right. I will be writing a full-on romance novel. I know several of my books are in the “fantasy romance” category, but when push comes to shove those are more Fantasy than they are Romance.

It’s going to be fun.

It’s going to be a challenge.

And I am going to win … leaving me with two crappy first drafts that will desperately need editing in 2017.