Tag Archives: novels

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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What the heck is “Saturday Love”?

Saturday Love Cover

It’s been asked. What the heck do I mean by “Saturday Love”? Is it a once a week thing? A one-night stand? If so, why did I choose that for the title of the sequel to Ducks in a Row? This is, after all, the book that follows the further adventures of Will Hubbard, the man many people was done totally wrong by Cady Summers in Ducks. We want him to have a happy ending, don’t we? So why not call his book “24/7 Love”?

Well, in addition to not sounding like a 24-hour gas station, Saturday love is a feeling that refers to more than a time period. It’s forever love. The kind of love that lets you rest, safe in the knowledge that you’ve reached the prize you were aspiring to. It’s the kind of love that lasts fifty, seventy-five, even a hundred years if it’s called on to do so. And even if there are hard times and difficult passages, Saturday love is still there.

Saturday Love, the sequel to Ducks in a Row, will be published January 1. As you can tell by the cover above, it’s in the final editing stages right now. I’m cleaning up the final typos in my last thorough read-through. So you’ve still got time to get up to speed if you haven’t read Ducks. Plus, Ducks in a Row, the novel that has been called “thought-provoking”, “unsettling”, “wonderfully beautiful” and “painful”, is currently only 99 cents for your Kindle on Amazon!

In the meantime, here’s a bit of Will’s introduction to “Saturday Love”:

“Being in love with Stephanie is awesome.” Patrick looked out at the vineyard for a second, thinking. “It’s kind of like Saturday morning when you’re a kid. Remember those?”

“I’m not sure I get what you mean.” Will shook his head.

“Remember how it felt to wake up on a Saturday morning and know there wasn’t anything you had to do? You’d slept late, and maybe you had a few chores around here, but other than that, most of the day was yours. It’s kind of like that with Stephanie. It’s like I spent my whole life working and waiting and looking for her, and now it’s Saturday and I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Will felt a slight hitch in his chest at his brother’s words. He wanted that and he suspected he could find it with Accalia. He’d seen that kind of Saturday love: between his mother and father, now with Patrick and Stephanie. And even, if he admitted it, between Cady and Neil. He reached over and grasped his brother’s shoulder. “Thanks. I’m really happy for you, man.”

“Yeah, me too.” Patrick stood and stretched. He looked down at Will. “I’m happy for you, too, you know. You know why?”

Will shook his head.

“Because even if you haven’t found it yet with Accalia, you’re getting there. You haven’t asked me even once about Cady.”

Patrick went back inside, but Will remained where he was. His chest felt strangely hollow. Strange, because it wasn’t a totally unpleasant feeling. It felt clean, not empty, and he knew why. Whether Accalia was his Saturday love or not, he’d finally faced the fact that Cady wasn’t.

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Living the Alternative Write-Style

Yes, that’s right. Me. Joe Romance Novelist. I live an alternative write-style.

You never would have guessed? Or you have no idea what I’m talking about?

Well, here it is. I take writing very seriously. I identify myself as a writer, an author, a storyteller, a book-maker. Hell, last year when I filled out my taxes, I put “writer” in as my profession. It is, and someday I even hope to make a living at it.

But I can’t swear I write forty hours a week or two thousand words a day or whatever is considered the going rate for a working writer. And I’m starting to accept that I don’t have to.

Last night I stayed up late because I hadn’t written all day. Well, nothing but tweets, and I just can’t count those. I have two works-in-progress ongoing right now, a vague outline of a romance featuring a sexy male librarian hero, and a complete novel waiting for my edits. I’ve got plenty to do, ideas percolating in my brain at all hours. If I had my way, I’d be indulging in a write fest nine to five every day.

Ah, but there’s a rub. I also have three kids getting ready to start school, a puppy who insists on being walked every hour and a half, a hard-working husband who deserves to be fed at some point after he comes home from work, and a house that hasn’t been completely clean since summer started…or possibly since we moved in.

This is where the alternative write-style comes in. Over the summer I’ve given up on set writing time. I’ve made the decision that I will write when I can. Like last night. I stayed up thirty minutes later than I should have and wrote a grand total of about four hundred words. And you know what I saw when I gazed blearily at my computer screen at 12:30 a.m.? I saw the one thing that I needed to see.


(For some reason, that little song Dory from “Finding Nemo” sang keeps running through my head: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”)

If you have to live an alternative write-style, don’t worry. You may not hit the two thousand prescribed words a day a serious writer is supposed to write. The question is, would you like to? If you could get someone else to do your grocery shopping and kid carting and day job for you, would you sit down and write until you hit two thousand words a day? If the answer is yes, then you’re a writer.

However, if you’d rather be rock-climbing or skydiving or playing Minecraft all day (I mean, hell, if you’ve got someone working your day job for you, who can blame you?), then you might be more of a hobbyist writer. Nothing wrong with it, but you probably shouldn’t call yourself a writer on your income taxes.

In the meantime, writers, here’s the one bit of advice I really feel like I can give you: Whatever you do, just keep swimming…

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