Category Archives: NaNo

How I spent November and what NaNoWriMo means

NaNo-2017-Winner-BadgeYes, you can tell a lot from a picture. This particular one is not worth a mere thousand words, though. It’s worth 50,000. And yes, it means I did indeed “win” National Novel Writing Month.

What does that mean? It means I spent a month learning, again, how to refocus whatever writing talent I actually do possess into a businesslike attitude. I did not allow life to get in the way of my writing for a change. I wrote, consistently, almost every single day of November. (I did skip one day due to being sick.) And almost every one of those days, I wrote more than I actually wanted to.

It means a lot to me this month in particular. I didn’t know if I would make it through this National Novel Writing Month. If I had known at the beginning of the month what would be happening throughout the month, I might not have begun. But I did begin. And in spite of everything, I finished. I won.

But what do you win at the end of NaNoWriMo? Fifty thousand words are not $50,000. Do you at least have a complete novel, ready to send out to publishers? No. I always end up with what I consider to be a sort of fleshed out outline of a novel that is probably lacking between ten and twenty thousand words. The story and plot and characters are there, but some of the connections and scenes are not. Heavy editing and rewriting are required to turn such an outline into an actual book. So what’s the point? Why give up daily workouts, binge-watching Netflix, and going to bed at regular hours?

It’s not just for the accomplishment, though writing 50,000 words is an accomplishment. It’s not to have a completed product at the end of the month. As I’ve said, it’ll be another year or more before this novel is ready for public consumption. As a matter of fact, tomorrow I get to work on editing last year’s NaNo.

To me, what National Novel Writing Month really is is a renewal. It’s a pilgrimage back into the writing world, a sort of training session that will help me stay on track for the next year. Finishing the 50,000 word goal—and recognizing that it is not yet a book—remind me of what I really am. A writer.

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National Novel Writing Month Retrospective: A Good Month’s Work

Winner-2014-Web-BannerOn Sunday I achieved my goal. I slayed the NaNoWriMo beast: I wrote 50,000 words of my next Sleight of Hand novel in 30 days.

So what next? I took a day off. I baked a cake. I shopped for towels. I watched three episodes of The Gilmore Girls (my current guilty pleasure). And then I sat down to think about the crazy, hazy (caffeine-fogged) days of November.

I noticed some things about my writing during NaNo that are different from the way I normally write. For instance:

1. Writing was THE most important thing in my life this month (except–in most cases–for my family). Everything else, including daily exercise and even food, was a luxury.

2. With a daily word count in mind, I could make myself sit at the computer until it was done. I let Facebook and Twitter go. I totally neglected this blog. I haven’t done nearly enough to promote my newest book, Island Magic.

3. I only took one day (Thanksgiving) off writing the entire month of November, and even on that day I wrote a couple hundred words.

4. I wrote straight through the storyline. Well, almost. Normally, I am wont to skip around and write whatever scene most appeals to me at the time. This usually results in a lot of discarded writing. For my NaNo this year, I wrote straight through, beginning to end. I skipped a couple of scenes in the middle, but I made a note about what they would be.

5. I didn’t stop, even when I knew I’d screwed something up in the beginning. I didn’t go back and fix it either, which is what I normally would have done. Instead, I went back and made a note about what needed to be done to fix it and kept writing from where I was as if it had been that way all along.

So what’s next NOW? Well, that particular novel is going to sit on the shelf for a while. At least until January. I’ve got a couple of other ideas percolating that I will eventually begin on, though I may take another day or two off. I know there are a LOT of things to fix in my story. I know, for instance, that I accidentally named one of my minor characters after a country music star. Oops. That will have to change. I also know there are scenes to add and references to fix and I think I left at least one blank instead of trying to come up with a place name. It was just easier.

I also know that this book, Movie Magic, will eventually join my Sleight of Hand series. It will be book 4 and it will be done by October 31 of next year. That’s pretty good for one month’s work.

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NaNo Halfway Point: What It Means to Me

twentyfivek_earnedNational Novel Writing Month means different things to different people. Some people start it to prove to themselves that they can write a novel. Others brag a lot about how many words they’ve already written. I think still others (hopefully not many) consider it a farce and might even type “the” 50,000 times just to say they finished NaNoWriMo. There’s nobody to say you can’t do that. If you want to spend several hours typing “the”, the powers of NaNo aren’t going to stop you from wasting your time.

Today marks the halfway point in my own NaNoWriMo Quest, so I figured I’d take a minute to examine what it is to me. After all, I’ve written nine novels and a novella. Writing 50,000 words is no longer the nearly insurmountable objective it once was. Writing 25,000 words in 15 days hasn’t seemed horribly hard, and I’m fairly certain that, even taking into consideration travel time later this month, I should be able to fit the other 25,000 words into my schedule too. So why do NaNo when I can write a book without it?

National Novel Writing Month is a sort of boot camp for me. Over the course of a year or two of writing, it’s easy to get discouraged when the words aren’t rolling off my fingertips. It’s easy to forget the number one requirement to be a writer: YOU. MUST. WRITE. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Without fail. Without pandering to self-doubt. Without wondering where the words will come from. Because if you force yourself to sit at the computer, the words WILL come. They may not always be the right words, but once they’re on the screen, you can move on until the right words do show up.

So what will I end up with at the end of a month? A book? No. A manuscript. I don’t even think it will be a complete manuscript. Fifty thousand words isn’t really long enough. I’ll probably keep writing for another ten or fifteen thousand words before I declare it done. And then will it be a book? No. It’s still just an unedited manuscript and while it will contain a lot of words, I’ll know they’re not all the right ones. But at least they will be written ones.

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November 26: Stars aligned, NaNoWriMo complete.

It’s official. I finished NaNoWriMo a few days ago. Then I edited the novel, added chapters, formatted it…and sent it to my editor. I’ve NEVER done anything like this before. I’m one of those write-it-let-it-sit-and-then-eventually-edit-it people. I’ve got a couple of novels sitting on my hard drive that I wrote more than a year ago. I think Stephen King calls them “trunk novels”. One of these days I’ll pull them out and figure out what to do with them.

So what’s different about this one? For one thing I wrote it faster than I’ve EVER written a novel. I’ve finished National Novel Writing Month twice before, but I’ve never finished it this much ahead of the deadline. And when I finished it, I wasn’t tired of it, so re-reading and editing wasn’t a chore. Plus, I’m actually energized and excited about the ideas this novel has inspired in me. It’s the first of what I hope is a series. I’m already working on the next one. Of course, by “working on the next one”, I mean the idea is simmering in my head. I have a vague idea of who the characters are and haven’t really decided about the plot. But the ingredients are simmering and congealing and eventually will come together in a delicious stew. (Now I’m getting hungry!)

NaNoWriMo was a fast ride this year, but it was a smooth one. I guess the stars aligned just right. Now I can afford a brief breathing moment before the next novel-writing frenzy overtakes me!

Last stop of the book tour: Check out My Devotional Thoughts for an interesting, if complimentary review of Where the Heart Lies and my own description of my writing schedule. Since this is my last stop of the tour, it’s also your last chance to enter to win my great prizes! (10% off coupons to Carina Press and a copy of Bartlett’s Poems for Occasions) Also, I would like to thank Goddess Fish for organizing the book tour, all the gracious hosts who shared their blogs with me and everyone who stopped by! It’s been a blast!

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NaNoWriMo: What’s Going On? (exclusive excerpt from my NaNo novel)

No, I’m not confused. I’m updating. Finally. I feel like I’ve been in a daze most of this month, and I guess I have sort of been in a writing fever. Consumed. I’d like to credit National Novel Writing Month with this, but I’ve participated in this annual event often enough to know, if the story hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have written itself like this. NaNoWriMo probably did help me keep going, but this story was just kind of there. The characters weren’t hard to bring to life because by the time November 1 rolled around, I already knew them well enough to write about them.

I’ve already said the story is about magic. I’ve spent most of my life looking for magic, even finding it every now and then in everyday life, trying to capture it and cage it on the page in black and white. It doesn’t work, usually. I’m not sure I managed it this time. Maybe you can tell me:

She could feel the dry desert breeze on her skin, a welcome relief after the canned air she’d been breathing all day. This far up, the air smelled fresh, free from the musty mix of sweaty bodies and sewage that often pervaded the street level of Vegas. If she kept her eyes closed, she could almost imagine what it had been like hundreds of years before when the cowboys rode through the desert…

She was wasting time. If she were going to do it, she should go ahead. She bit her lip, felt his hands on her hips, the warmth of his body behind her. As if he understood her inner battle, he leaned forward, his lips almost touching her ear, making her dizzy with desire at a time when she desperately didn’t want to be dizzy. At first she barely understood his words, but when they penetrated, she found her courage. “Sometimes you have to do something that frightens you just to be sure you’re still alive.”

Her eyes fluttered open, and she waited for the vertigo and fear to crash down on her. But with him at her back, she found she could look out at what was undeniably an amazing view. Somehow beautiful in its blatant excess, the Strip spread out below her in a medley of lights, looking like crystal and jeweled glass. She could see the people strolling along the street, slower and more peaceful at this late hour and at this great distance than she knew they would if she were among them. Light of every color bloomed and blossomed and split through the night. The light breeze brushed her hair back from her face, almost as gentle as his touch. For the first time, she could understand why Vegas had become known as the flower of the desert. “It’s amazing.”

He stood close enough so she could feel him nod. “From up here it is.” He moved to her side, and she immediately wished he hadn’t. She liked the solid feel of him behind her. He contemplated the view for a moment. “Do you know what I see down there?”

She shook her head. “What?”

“A lot of people looking for something. I’ve always believed it’s magic. Do you know what I think magic is?” He turned, searching her eyes.

Again she shook her head. A gust of wind whipped her hair across her face and he reached up to brush it back, his palm warm against her cheek. “Magic is the absence of doubt.”

So far, my magic novel is 48,000+ words. I anticipate finishing it today. It’s the first time I’ve ever finished a NaNo novel before Thanksgiving. It’s still untitled, although I have a few ideas. But if you want to help, feel free to leave a comment below with your suggestion.

And while I’m bragging, I got two reviews yesterday for Where the Heart Lies! One was from my gracious blog tour host Stitch Read Cook. Here’s an excerpt:

“Michelle has a way with words, she draws you into the small town life of these characters and keeps you hooked until the last page.” — Stitch Read Cook

The second was unexpected, however, and I found it by chance on Bookaddiction. Check this out:

“Where The Heart Lies by Michelle Garren Flye is a lovely story about guilt, redemption, and the power of love. …a well-written romantic novel with an unusual amount of depth.” –Bookaddiction

How cool is that? Makes me think my quest for magic might be progressing after all!

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Weekly NaNo update and blog tour stops; Plus, YES!

National Novel Writing Month this year has been awesome. My word count right now stands at 47,588 and the story is pretty much done. It’s a very simple romance this time, but my hero and heroine fall in love much faster than usual, like over the span of about two days. Of course, then you have a monkey wrench thrown into the works, because they both have trust issues, but, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you this…there’s a happy ending.

So on from NaNo to my blog tour. We have two stops today! First off, over at Stitch Read Cook, you can read my take on Life in a Small Town. Later on this morning, there’ll be a post on Guilty Indulgence about, ahem, my particular guilty indulgence.

Finally, look to your left at the YES! (Year End Splash) party promo pic (I know, not too hard to look at that, huh?). Over at the Romance Reviews, there’s a huge end-of-year party going on and you’ll find my book featured there tomorrow through Saturday. Check out the YES! party page for some great games and giveaways and find out a little about some great romance books and authors.

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A Brief Announcement and Redirection…

Yes, I realize I haven’t posted anything real in over a week. (Last Tuesday’s Get Out and Vote Post doesn’t count.) Sorry about that, but I’ve been very busy with normal everyday life as well as anything-but-normal NANOWRIMO life. I’m happy to say I’ve had great success with NaNo this year, though. And here’s the big announcement: I’m up to 31,000+ words! I’m having so much fun with this one. I’ll tell you more about it later, but here’s a little hint: It’s about magic and the odd places you go to find it. It is a romance and it’s still untitled, so if anyone wants to leave me a suggestion for a title, I’d welcome it.

But if you want to read a real post from me today, I’m going to redirect you to Jersey Girl Book Reviews. As part of my blog tour, they’ve put up a very nice post featuring a little info about me and WHERE THE HEART LIES, a guest post titled “Capturing Magic: Lightning Bugs in a Mason Jar” and even a very nice, well-written, four-star review! Here’s a little tidbit from the review:

Where The Heart Lies is a poignant story of loss, grief, secrets, love, redemption and second chances.–Jersey Girl Book Review

Can you guess how much I enjoyed that review? So pop over and let JGBR know how much you appreciate their kindness to your favorite author–no, not Nicholas Sparks or J.K.Rowling. ME, silly. 🙂

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