Happy NaNoWriMo 2016!
Well, you guys, it’s that time of year again, when every author in your life starts busting out the wordcount widgets. Here’s mine:
I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo for more than a decade to varying degrees. I first learned about the event from my girlfriend–I was 14 at the time and the longest thing I’d ever written was a couple thousand words of Angel fanfiction. It wasn’t until i was 16 that I really sat down and tried to seriously write a novel for the event and even then, I only managed 16,000 words before time ran out.
Some of you may not know that The Duality Paradigm began life as a Camp NaNoWriMo novel back in the summer of 2012. That was the first time I’d ever completed the 50k word challenge and at the time I was motivated to win it so that I could get a 50% off coupon for scrivener.
That summer and that camp nano really launched me as a writer. I’d dabbled here and there, writing bits and pieces of things, writing flash fanfic and fannish shorts, but until that summer I’d never written a completed novel (of course, at the time I wasn’t FINISHED with it, but I wrote the other 35k of Duality over the rest of the summer).
Even now that I write full time, the event still holds a special place in my heart, and I still love to participate in it, even if some years I stretch the limits of the rules.
What I’ll Be Up To This Month
Technically, you’re supposed to write a *novel* for NaNoWriMo, but after writing 61k words of The Profane Series Book 2: Vaper Trail in October, I won’t lie, I’m looking to break things up this November working on 2 longer novels as well as a couple of short stories.
NaNoWriMo Day 1 Check-In
2957 words on Vaper Trail, bread baked for the month, cookies baked for Week 1 writing fuel, and now I’m going to reward myself by reading a little more HP3.
Palouse County Series Announcement
About 2 years ago I wrote a little short story called Cold Press set in rural, small town Eastern Washington. If you haven’t read it and you’re looking for something cute and fuzzy perfect for a blustery day of reading, I suggest you check it out, it’s only 99cents on Amazon and free on KindleUnlimited!
I always intended to write more stories set in this small town, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to do it. But then, lightning strikes as it likes to do at the oddest times. Going forward, the Palouse County series will feature short stories about the quirky residents of Belleville in and around the holidays!
So, keep your eyes peeled this December for #2
Did you notice the subtle title change there? The Blood & Bone Trilogy is officially no longer a trilogy! Starting near the end of November I should be breaking ground on a new follow-up novel to the original trilogy! I’ve mentioned this book a couple times off hand over the last year, but I’m finally in a position to say with certainty that it WILL be coming winter 2017, sometime after I release The Profane Series Book 2: Vaper Trail.
The working title for this book is The Sanguine Solution and it picks up a couple of months after the end of The Symbiotic Law. While I ended Symbiotic where I always intended to end it, I found that there was still a lot the characters had to say and work through, especially Ethan. And there is quite a lot in their world left to explore, so I’m really excited to be opening up that series again.
You can expect more news and excerpts from book 4 in December and January so stay tuned 😉
And I think that’s all for Day 1! I’ll be checking back in later in the week and I might even have a new vid up on youtube soon about what I’ve been reading this season…
I mentioned this on my twitter a week ago but it’s really easy for things to be overlooked on twitter.
I’m interested in putting together a multi-author box set of M/M shorts/novellas/novelettes particularly those in the speculative/fantasy/paranormal genre.
If you’re an author interested in participating, drop me an email with the subject “M/M Paranormal Box Set” here: liacooperromance @ gmail . com
You may have noticed there was no blogpost last week–my apologies! I fully intended to write a short sum-up of my first couple days of Camp this year but Camp had a bit of a late start in Lia’s world.
- The draft for Blood & Bone Book Two: The Convergence Theory is done!
- Writing has begun on Book Three! I’m a little (see: A LOT) behind on my word count but I’m steadily catching up.
- To everyone who has volunteered to beta read book 2–my editor is about 3/4 finished so the book is still on track to reach you by the middle of the month!
- To anyone interested in reading chapter 1 before release day, I will be sending out a sneak peak of Book 2 to mailing list subscribers 😉
- To everyone else, be sure to check back here May 1st for The Convergence Theory cover reveal!! I’m super excited to share it with you guys, I’ve been sitting on this cover for months.
A Few Words About Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1
My goal was to write 2800 words/day. I started a couple days late and I had a couple slow days. So far my mean word count has been ~1000/day. Not great but not the end of the world. I’ve also been interviewing for a barista job and started a 7 Week Walking Challenge, all of which have no helped me be more focused on writing. Nevertheless, the month and my goal of 85,000 words is not lost!
This weekend I’m planning on doing a bit push to close the gap and get my daily word count back down to 3k/day to finish on time.
Here are my 4 strategies for beefing up my word count:
- Outlines: so far I’ve got an outline for the first 8 chapters of Book 3 and I’ll be adding to that the more I write. I use my daily walks to brainstorm (aloud, since I live in a pretty isolated place and I like to talk to myself :))) and then type up what I’ve worked out into scrivener.
- Timed Writes: these are invaluable! I set the online timer for 30 minutes and start typing in scrivener. I can’t do anything else while I’m on a TW except write (this means discipline, no checking social media, no responding to facebook IMs, no reading, nada) and I try not to check my word count until the timed write is over. I find that as long as I’ve got a general idea what needs to happen in the scene, I can bust out anywhere between 700-1000 words per timed write.
- Take Breaks: I break my timed writes down into 30 minute blocks and I take breaks between each block to read, check-in with my writing partner and check twitter. The key (and I don’t always do this well) is to keep the breaks to a reasonable amount of time–e.g. 20 minute break not a 60 minute break.
- Start Early: The day’s I’ve met my word count goals I started early (by early I mean 2 PM, or early afternoon). The day’s I’ve struggled to meet my goals or failed to meet them, I didn’t start writing until 9 PM or later. You don’t have to wake up at 6 AM and jump right into your story, you just have to give yourself enough time to write comfortably.
That is all for this week. If you have questions or comments leave a comment down below or feel free to email me ( liacooperromance AT gmail DOT com) I always love hearing from you guys! And come hang out on twitter @LiaCooperWrites 😀
Buckle up guys; week two is about to begin!
This will be my last post in the Countdown to Camp NaNoWriMo (we’ll be ~3 days out when this post goes live). April 1st you can follow my twitter for daily writing updates, word count progress, snippets from The Convergence Theory (which I’ll be editing during April while I’m writing Book 3), and TCT’s cover reveal!
For this last planning post I’m going to talk a little bit more about my Camp goals and prep.
Camp NaNoWriMo Goals 2014
- Write 85k draft of the Blood & Bone Trilogy Book 3
- Edit/revise Book 2: The Convergence Theory
Pretty simple goals, right?
Book 3: Is it too soon to announce the title?
As I head into writing Book 3, I’ve already had several brainstorming conversations with my writing partner. I’ve been thinking about what this book would be about for about 8 months–almost as long as I’ve been working on Book 2, tbh–though it’s only in the last month or so I’ve made concrete decisions about what the plot will look like.
I can tell you that Book 3 will be more of an adventure novel rather than a procedural mystery, and it will feature a LOT of Ethan & Patrick, which I think you guys will enjoy. Basically, after the first two books I figure you guys all deserve a little tooth decay WITH your badass werewolf/mage duo ;D
I like going into Camp with a general idea of what my Beginning, Middle, and End and in the last couple days of this month I will be drawing more detailed plot outlines for the book. I’ve won NaNoWriMo’s 50k challenge once before, back in 2012 and this April I’m going to try pushing myself a little further with an 85k word goal. I have a habit of writing ⅓ or ⅔’s of a book and stalling out on it, letting it sit for six or eight months before getting around to finishing it. So I think this one book from start to finish goal will be good for my process.
I’m still accepting Beta Readers for Book 2. If you’re interested sign-up over here. A revised copy of the draft will be going out to beta’s in early April. Chapter 1 will be available April 1st for everyone signed up to my Mailing List as a thank you for following.
Also, stay tuned for The Convergence Theory’s COVER REVEAL which will be coming at the end of Camp. And guys, let me tell you, I’m super excited to show it to you 😀
Kind of a short post this week but I figure you’re probably sick of hearing about camp and it hasn’t even started yet, woops. I’m just excited and I want to share that excitement with everyone who reads my blog.
Cya next month!
There are two primary approaches to preparing for a new novel: outlining and discovering. People use many different words to describe these two terms but they all boil down to the same spectrum–and don’t get me wrong, writers definitely fall on a spectrum between these two extremes. I know that I do for sure.
Outline means you create a map or a timeline or maybe a traditional outline or a beat outline just something before you start writing. You make a roadmap for your book before you write. Maybe this is really detailed where you write a paragraph or half a page or a whole page for every chapter. Maybe this is as basic as writing down the Beginning, Middle, and the End of your book in bullet points.
Discover writing is the opposite–big shock, I know. Maybe you start with a character or a place and you just start writing. Maybe you just give yourself some time to freewrite and see what grows out of that freewrite. The point is, pure discovery does not involve outlining. It involves writing your novel and seeing what happens, following rabbit trails without predetermining where they lead.
Most Writers Write On A Spectrum
I generally start all of my books with the protagonists–usually there are 2. I know who the story is about but not what it’s about. I might have an overarching theme, but not the plotty details. I will begin writing, a scene or two, then I’ll stop and outline the plot. I don’t really feel that I discover plots. I have to pull them out of a earth that I’ve discovered but they rarely present themselves. I spend a lot of time throwing plot ideas at my writing partner and asking: does that sound interesting? does this sound plausible? And from our discussions I begin to outline a plot.
Generally, I know the last scene in my book before I know what the plot will be, because to me the most important parts are character and character themes.
The more I write, the more I have to outline, otherwise I tend to have really bad writer’s block. For my own sanity, I cannot discovery write the middle of a book because if I left myself to do that nothing would ever get written.
My outlining methods have changed over the years as I’ve written more and as my writing programs have changed. Back in 2011 when I started writing regularly again I did all of my plotting by hand because I wrote in gdocs. I kept a notebook and I wrote the big plot outline in 1-2 pgs (sometimes with post-it notes overtop when things changed) and then I wrote chapter beats in the margins of the pages where I also hand wrote the story.
Now that I use Scrivener to write all of my stories I use Scrivener’s corkboard feature to lay out the story. I often brainstorm by hand but then I put all of those notes into Chapter and Scene files in Scrivener where I flesh them out, rearrange, and sometimes even re-write them.
Preparing For Camp NaNoWriMo 2014
An important part of NaNoWriMo is to start the event with a new project. Something that you haven’t written anything for yet and I actually think this is a good rule. This does not preclude me from planning for camp.
When I wrote The Duality Paradigm I didn’t have much planned. All I knew was that I wanted to try writing a romance novel, that it would be m/m because I hadn’t written het in a while and I often find het romances very problematic. I wanted to write something that would be quick without an eye for anything “literary,” I just wanted to write something fun. So I went with a few of my favorite trope flavors:
- soulbonding (this link to Tv Tropes is the closest I could find though it’s not 100% what I mean by soulbonding)
I had those tropes in my head but nothing else planned. I had to discovery the characters, the plot, and the emotional arc. Suffice to say, The Duality Paradigm was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written.
Now whether you decide to outline anything before Camp starts is a personal choice. I’ve found–through trial and error–that I write more quickly if I have a goal in mind (e.g. some plot or series of points to hit). So I’ll be doing progressively more outlining as Camp approaches. I suggest trying both methods and then see where you fall between those two methods that makes you most productive.
Do you enjoying outlining or do you find it stifles your creativity? Let me know in the comments.
What Is NaNoWriMo?
I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo so long, it surprises me how many people out there have never heard of it.
The name stands for National Novel Writing Month. It began as a challenge hosted by the Office of Letters and Light to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. The key was, kill your inner editor and just write, and was intended to spur a lot of wannabe novelists into becoming actual novelists. It’s a no holds barred, mad dash take on novel writing. It’s terrifying the first time you do it, sometimes overwhelming and frustrating, but absolutely exhilarating to win at.
A lot of people ask me, so what do you win? And I say, “At the end I have a first draft of a novel; that’s what I win.”
2 Ways Camp NaNoWriMo Is Different From Regular NaNoWriMo
Camp NaNoWriMo happens in April and July and embraces the same breakneck approach to noveling with little more leeway. Here are the two ways Camp differs from November NaNo:
- Pick your project: Camp Nano is open to more than just novels. You can write a script, a picture book, book of poetry, etc
- Variable wordcounts: You can pick the standard 50k or you can set yourself a more personal word goal (from 10k-999k)
Why Should You Try NaNoWriMo?
Back in 2012 I told a friend of mine about Nanowrimo, partially so that she would keep me accountable. At that point I’d been trying to win nano for years without ever succeeding, but this was the first year I tried it during the summer and I hoped that with a less hectic schedule I might succeed.
Anyways, my friend looked at me and said, “I’ve always thought I’d like to write a novel. But I don’t have time.” (She’s a full time teacher and November is a terrible month for adding on extra projects.)
I said to my friend, “Why don’t you just try nano with me? We can keep each other accountable. And then if you win, you’ll have finally written a novel and you can stop saying you want to write one.”
She agreed to my proposal and so in the month of June (this was when they were trying June/July as a camp combo) we met regularly, brainstormed, tossed ideas off one another, nagged each other about our word counts and eventually, finished writing 50,000 words each. Neither of our novels were actually complete but this marked a milestone for both of us. We weren’t just people saying we wanted to write a book, we were two people who had written books (or most of 2 books. I have since finished my original nano novel, which became The Duality Paradigm (available on Amazon), and my friend went on to write another children’s books the next summer.)
Camp NaNoWriMo is a great way to ease yourself into writing, especially if November is a bad month for you like it is for my friend.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t wait for the muse to inspire you. That may work in the ideas stage of writing, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of putting a whole novel on paper, you’ve got to be disciplined enough to sit down at your keyboard every day and write. Nanowrimo is a great way to teach yourself how to do that. If you’re just starting out, 1667 words a day sounds like a lot and, believe me, it is a lot. But the feeling of reaching your goal every day and being able to type The End on a 200 page manuscript—well, that’s the whole reason we say we want to write, isn’t it?
The Road To Camp 2014
In March I’m going to be talking about the preparation that goes into writing a novel and getting ready for camp. Then in April, I’m going to share with you updates about my progress. This year, my April camp goal will be 85,000 words and I’ll be writing the third Blood & Bone novel. I’ll also be editing the second book (The Convergence Theory) in anticipation of releasing it in June.
I hope you decide to stick around and see how my progress goes and I hope that if you’ve ever said “I want to write a novel” you take this chance as the kick in the pants to make good on those words.
Planning to write something for camp? Tell me about it in the comments! Or follow me on twitter to chat and stay up to day.