Tips for a Successful NaNoWriMo

You’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. You have your plot outlined and your character and worldbuilding planned. You feel completely ready and prepared for NaNoWriMo and complete the first rough draft of your novel. Many people who participate in NaNoWriMo think they are prepared, but many never complete the challenge. In fact, only an average of 15.6% of NaNoWriMo participants from 2006-2015 ever complete the challenge and surpass 50,000 words written for the month. Understandably, life can often get in the way and unexpected events arise. Regardless of the reason, I know more of you can succeed, so I want to share some tips that helped me win NaNoWriMo two years in a row now. Plan Your Time Besides planning your novel, many people forget to also plan their schedule around NaNoWriMo. Try to set aside some time every day to write. We all live busy lives, but try and find Read More

Follow the Tangents: Going Beyond the What-If?

Many of the best stories begin with a ‘what-if’ premise. What if I were the last person alive? What if cats are really aliens? What if there really is a monster sleeping under my bed? Once you have the premise for your story, then what? My mind very often goes off on many and varied tangents when I daydream and when I write. Once I have that opening premise, I begin to write and I let the various tangents lead me down winding and crisscrossing paths until I have a complete, if somewhat messy, story. I let my stories develop organically, instead of rigidly sticking to an outline. I don’t always create an outline, and when I do, I rarely follow them outside of the major plot points. As you write your first draft, if your mind takes you on a tangent, follow it and see where it leads. I Read More

Why I Lack Self-Doubt

I have written about this before, but I seem to lack the sense of self-doubt–and occasionally borderline loathing–that many of my fellow writers’ experience. I’ve had some accuse me of either lying to myself or just outright lying. Some writers cannot fathom that any writer doesn’t experience any level of self-doubt in either their ability as a writer or in a piece that they have written. I know I’m not the only writer like this, but I do feel we are a small minority. I started to think about what makes me different from the vast majority of other writers, and I think I have a theory. Most writers need to share the stories they write with the world. They write as a means of seeking other’s approval, at least on some level. In which case, they write to please others and self-doubt can creep in when they worry that Read More

You’re Not a Real Writer if…

As I interact with others in the writing community, I keep seeing the sentiment that someone is “not a real writer if…” What follows that seems to be a never-ending list of criteria to being a “real writer.” As if the act of actually writing itself is not adequate enough to be a writer. Here is a small sample of some of the things I’ve seen people claim you must be or do in order to be a “real writer.” Doubt yourself and/or your work, sometimes to the level of complete loathing. Develop detailed outlines or plans before you ever begin to write. Only use a pen and paper (or typewriter) instead of these newfangled gadgets. Have conversations with the characters you create. Never edit your own work, instead spend thousands to hire a professional editor. Never, ever like anything you’ve ever written. I could go on, but I think you Read More

Including LGBT Characters

When I began writing my novel Artifact of the Dawn, I knew that my protagonists would ultimately end up in a romantic relationship together, although that journey for them is merely a subplot. I could have chosen for one of them to be female and have them be a heterosexual couple. However, I know there isn’t enough LGBT representation in mainstream fiction. My novel falls into the science fiction genre, and I wanted the fact that my protagonists are bisexual and gay just to be a part of who they are, without it having an impact on the overall story. Why LGBT Representation Matters While there is LGBT literature available to read, when looking specifically at mainstream fiction with LGBT characters (primary or secondary) the representation seems to be extremely low. I didn’t do an exhaustive search, but from the numbers I could find, it looks like there is less Read More

The Importance of Research

It makes sense that anyone writing a non-fiction work would do extensive research on the topic they are writing about. What not everyone may be aware of is the fact that even fiction writers have to do their fair share of research when working on a novel. The entire novel may be completely fictional and based entirely in the realm of fantasy, but that doesn’t negate the need to do research. Why Research is Important Even the most fantastical tale must have some believability to it. Otherwise, your readers will get pulled out of the story you are trying to immerse them in. If you solve every impossible nuance in a story by simply explaining it away with magic, then your readers will eventually be unable to suspend their disbelief. This is why many fantasy stories include limitations for magic users. Omnipotent characters are ultimately boring unless they have some flaw Read More

NaNoWriMo 2017

It’s Almost NaNoWriMo Time! November is approaching and so my mind is on NaNoWriMo once again. For those who don’t know what that is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is an event that takes place every November, where anyone who wants to try to produce a novel can challenge themselves to write (at least) 1,667 words per day, to produce a 50,000 word first draft of a novel. NaNoWriMo 2017 will be the third time I will participate. I wrote Artifact of the Dawn during NaNoWriMo 2015. What I produced was a rough draft, but I was very proud of having put down into words this story that had been whirling around in my brain. It was by no means perfect, but it was a good start. I then took 2 years to edit what I’d written and I continue to put a little spit-and-polish on it Read More

Back to the Drawing Board

During the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been submitting my novel, Artifact of the Dawn, to various literary agencies. I am about one-third of the way through the current list of literary agents that accept science fiction and fantasy works for representation. Needless to say, none have chosen to represent me yet, and about half have officially sent me rejections. I am undaunted by this, as I know many famous published authors went through many rounds of rejections as well. That being said, from those rejections I’ve received some very constructive feedback regarding my work and this has prompted me to halt my submission process, for now, and go back and rework some elements of my novel. I still stand by where the novel was when I finished my last round of edits as being fairly solid, but I knew there would always be room for improvement. Receiving feedback Read More

Why I Decided Not to Self-Publish

As I’m writing this blog, I’ve now sent out over two dozen queries to literary agencies, looking for representation for my first novel, Artifact of the Dawn. Finding an agent is merely one of the many steps on the journey of trying to become a published author. I could have just self-published this novel, which is the route I chose for the children’s book I wrote a few years ago, Dittle Little Lion and Dittle Little Bear, the Adventure to Coconut Island. I am more than familiar enough with the process of self-publishing now. Holding the first copy of that book in my hands and receiving the official copyright notice from the US Copyright Office was a great accomplishment for me at the time. I know many new authors these days are opting to self-publish. However, I will admit that marketing is not one of my strong suits, and that’s a Read More

Deciding Whether or Not to Use a Professional Editor

I am still in the early stages of attempting to have my first novel professionally published. There are many aspects I hadn’t thought of until now, but I am grateful for all the online resources and writer’s groups that are helping to guide me. One thing I had always assumed was that I wouldn’t need an editor to land a publishing deal. That being said, I know trying to get a rough first draft published these days isn’t going to fly either. I spent two years working with a group of people who worked with me to improve my novel. I had an alpha reader, a group of beta readers and a proofreader go over my manuscript. They gave me a lot of fantastic advice in terms of fixing pacing, consistency issues, and improving the believability of some of the “science” I used in the story. So, while I’ve edited Read More