Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

2014 vs. 2015, Hopes and Accomplishments

2014 has been an interesting year for me, both personally and professionally. The year was full of professional accomplishments and personal trials. My family has been wrought with deaths, divorce and health struggles. It has certainly taken a toll on everyone. Yet, professionally, I wrote a book that I am about to start querying and I’ve moved into a dream company of mine, Nickelodeon, as a production assistant.

So here is my year in review:


-Health struggles for my nephew

-Marital struggles of close family members

-Death of my grandfather

-Health struggles of two other grandparents

-Getting let go from a job I liked


-Getting a better job on a better show

-Starting to work for my dream company

-Finally living alone in a wonderful apartment

-My IMDB page has gotten pretty long

-I won at National Novel Writing Month on a separate book project: A YA Sci-Fi project.

-And the biggest one: Completing the first draft (and several rounds of revisions after that) of my first book, an epic fantasy called Burn Like Stars!

So, for 2015, I have a few specific goals:

1. Get a literary agent. This is a task that I will be starting mid January, after I wrap up my final Slow Edit of my book. It may take all year, but I will be querying hard and long to achieve this one!

2. Get a promotion at work. I work in television as a lowly PA. However, in 2015, I hope to get a promotion of some kind and leave the unappreciated ranks of PA-dom. The job can be very fun, but it is long and hard work with much physical labor and very little financial reward. Here’s hoping that I’ll be able to pay my bills by the end of 2015!


NaNoWriMo in Hindsight

NaNoWriMo is over, and with it went my motivation. December 1st was supposed to mark the end of working on my intermediary Space Cowboy project and the first day back editing my Epic Fantasy project for the third round of revisions. Here’s the catch: 50,000 words does not a book make. My NaNo book needs at least another 30,000 words before it is complete, and I don’t want to stop yet. I am on a roll! The first draft isn’t really done. And that is why I felt NO sense of accomplishment after winning NaNoWriMo. It’s really unfortunate, actually.

In truth, I should have foreseen this. Projects are always more fun when they’re new, and I’ve been working on my Epic Fantasy for several years. I’m not ready to go back, but I know I have to. In December, I will have several weeks off of work and want to use that time to make any final revisions on my Epic Fantasy story. This is because I really want to start querying agents in January (February at the very latest).

Although, I will be honest- now that I put that down in writing, I begin to wonder: what’s the rush? I obviously want my book to be perfect, that’s no surprise, but probably, in the back of my head, I know I’ll always want to tweak it and at some point, I should just get it out there! I will definitely start editing this month, but I think it will be good to stay flexible and know that it will be ready when it’s ready.

And perhaps, while I’m editing Book A, I can keep writing chapters and snippets of Book B. The only one saying ‘no’ to me is me!

NaNoWriMo: The Week 2 Slump

At some point, the nightmares came and I stopped sleeping well. They were weird and very stressful. After that began, my mood went quickly and my writing inspiration followed. Sleep isn’t just essential. It’s everything.

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It was Day 7 of NaNo when I couldn’t take it anymore. I took the day off from writing. I should probably explain that I work 12 hour days. I’m also someone who needs to write in the morning. On weekdays, I get up 90 minutes before I have to start getting ready from work, so that I can get through a solid 2,000 words before I go to work. On Friday I couldn’t make myself get up and I took the day off. While I needed the extra sleep, it started a complacency with my NaNoWriMo that is never a good thing. I had already hit 20,000 words and was comfortably ahead. On Saturday, I had planned to write a solid 5,000, as I had done the last Saturday on Day 1. I squeezed out a meager 1,800. On Sunday, I squeezed out only 3,600. Way short of my weekend goals.

My realization: Week 2 is hard! The initial excitement has faded and I’m deep into the trudging along phase. No fun. However, the important thing is that I at least get that 1,667 every day. Even with just doing that, I’ll finish well ahead of schedule because of writing so much in Week 1!

NaNo Week 1: The Fervor

NaNoWriMo Week 1 has commenced. Here is what I’ve experienced so far.

1. Week 1 is the time to get ahead.

Invariably, the feverish enjoyment you experience in your characters will dim slightly as November hits the double digits. Use the Week 1 excitement to get massively ahead! On Day 5, and I stand 17,000 words into my story. I wrote 5,000 each for Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 1 and 2), and have written 2,000 each for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 3, 4, and 5). On Tuesday the awesome @NaNoWordSprints led me to write an extra 1,000 words which puts me at 17,000 (+change).

2. Be An Overachiever

A lot of people that I’ve seen on Twitter seem to hit their word count and then call it quits for the day. They call it reaching their goal, but I call it doing the bare minimum. We can all be honest: 50,000 words does not make a book. 50,000 words is 2/3 of a short-ish book or 1/2 of a long-ish book. Yet, everything all over NaNoWriMo’s site talks about writing a book in a month. I’m trying to accomplish a bit closer to this. Sticking to my goals, I should write about 70,000 words by the end of the month (even including all of the stuff that has gotten in the way.)

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3. Things will try to stop you. Don’t let them.

On October 29, my Grandpa passed away. He was very important and very special. We knew it was coming for a few months, which helped, but it would have been easy to say, “well that’s it. NaNo over.” Luckily, I didn’t. I channeled my upset into the story and told myself that I’m writing a story he would have loved. (Though he probably would have waited for the movie version to hit theaters, rather than reading the book!)

So now, in November, here are all of the things that are trying to take my writing time/focus:

  • my birthday
  • my parents and grandma coming into LA to visit me for 4 days
  • my grandpa’s memorial service, which I have to fly to and miss 3 days of work
  • thanksgiving
  • extra busy work schedule, because we are shooting our final episodes of the season (we’re talking working 14 hour days busy)

Any one of these things probably could have derailed me, if I chose to let it, but I’m not. And I’m even ahead on word count.

4. Use the sprints!

I mentioned above that the sprints bought me an extra 1,000 words after my 2,000 word weekday goal. However, it also pushes me through moments where I want to say, “Hmm… I’ll stop and think about how I want this to sound for a while.”

I particularly like the #1k30min sprints, which are targetted to get you 1,000 words in 30 minutes. No, this is not easy. I usually hit around 960 words in 30 minutes during these sprints, but the exercise is totally worth the time!

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Above all, guys, just enjoy NaNoWriMo! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And you get a book at the end, instead of an ugly Christmas sweater!

What I’ve Learned: Editing Book 1

When I sat down across from my beta readers after they read an early draft of my first book, I expected that I had already fixed most of the major issues. I was prepared for “more about X, less about Y, why does Z do this? I don’t get it” kind of comments. Instead, I got something wonderfully enlightening: I had made consistent, stupid mistakes. I knew I wasn’t happy with my first 50 pages, but I couldn’t have told you exactly why. All I knew was that it needed to be ‘punched up.’ Instead, I found that I made a few crucial mistakes, like overuse of the word ‘had’ and the fact that NO ONE had a conversation in my first TWO chapters. Yes, that kind of bad.

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Looking back, it’s terribly obvious. But as you write your own book, you will miss major errors like that. You’re focused on the idea and the feeling, less on the wordy minutia. I went through the book once after I wrote the wrote the first draft. I wanted to do my own revisions before I gave it to my beta readers. I caught some smaller issues and added some excitement in the middle of the book, but I missed SO much. I should have taken a month break away from it before I edited it.

Enjoy the experience with your beta readers, take criticism and keep in mind, your beta readers don’t have to be writers, they just have to read and pay attention!

What I’ve Learned: First Draft, First Book

I am currently deep in editing for my first complete novel, an epic fantasy called Burn Like Stars. I conceptualized the book for about eighteen months before I began writing. The writing itself took me seven months (some of this time I was between jobs and ultra-dedicated to word count), and editing has so far been taking me three months, but I think it will take me a total of six. The process has been lengthy, and I haven’t even started querying yet, but I have learned a lot! Here are a few major lessons:

1. Go for a walk.

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Stuck on an idea? Go for a walk around the block. Leave the headphones at home and bring a notepad. Stay focused on the story. I always have my best breakthroughs while concentrating on the idea as I walk around the fountain near my apartment.


2. Everything can be unwritten.

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Have fun and write what you enjoy. So what if you have a ridiculous amount of self-analysis in your first two chapters? You’ll take it out later. For now, your only task is to get your thoughts down on the paper!


3. You’re never too good for books.

books, kitties and tea

Reading books on writing is often scoffed at by true artistes. However, I always read them with a particular story in mind and always come out with more ideas! I am currently enjoying Writer’s Guide to Character Traits and Bullies, Bastards and Bitches.


4. Give yourself a break.

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Once you’re done with your first draft, give yourself time. If you’re like me, you want to plunge right into editing and get it done! However, you won’t be able to see your own mistakes clearly without some distance. I waited 6 weeks after my first draft to begin editing and I caught mistakes I was shocked I didn’t see when I read through it after the first draft. You will be surprised at your own crazy typos! (My favorite of mine- I spelled ‘the tree’ as ‘three.’ Talk about lazy!)


Have a great NaNo! I’ll be working on my Space Cowboy project, tentatively titled Outworld. Follow my tweets at @camerynf. 

NaNo Prep: Trudging through October

I am participating in NaNoWriMo for my first time this year. While I’m still editing my epic fantasy novel, Burn Like Stars, I decided to take off the month of November so that I could write the Space Cowboy idea that is currently burning a hole in my brain. (It’s tentatively titled Blackout.) I’m in love with Firefly, Star Wars and Doctor Who, which left me with a burning desire to contribute to my favorite genre. (I’m being Kaylee for Halloween– I will share pictures soon!)

Here’s how I’ve been preparing this October:

1. Notecards

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Ah, notecards. The end all be all of my outlining strategy. I have a massive cork board that I threw the basic points of my story onto, using purple notecards. After this, every time I have an idea, I throw it up on a green (side plot/character growth) or yellow (small moments of major events) cards. It’s been incredible. Now all I have to do is periodically glance at my board while writing to make sure I’m on track!

2. Listen

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I’ve never written to a playlist before. However, the time pressures of NaNoWriMo have me branching out into areas that I wouldn’t normally use. A lot of people say that playlists keep them going. So, I set out to create the perfect playlist for my Space Cowboy novel. It’s a mix of rock and electronic. Check it out here.

3. Errands, errands, errands!

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I work twelve hour days. I have no time. I will not waste precious NaNo time on grocery shopping when I run out of coffee and toilet paper. I am stocking up before hand on Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend, apple cider scented candles from Anthropologie and Bath and Body Works, and new PJs.

4. Reading

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I’ve been dedicated to reading books on writing, such as First 50 Pages and Bullies, Bastards and Bitches. I always read these books with a particular story in mind. This helps me come up with small moments and ideas as I read.

5. Watching

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Space Cowboy is much more of a film/tv genre than literature, but I couldn’t resist expanding the market. To prepare, I watched all 13 episodes of Firefly, watched some Star Wars and Doctor Who as well.

6. Character Profiles

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I’m much more plot focused than character driven, which is unfortunate because I love unique, detailed characters, like those in Firefly. To prep myself, besides reading Writer’s Guide to Character Traits and watching every episode of Firefly, I made detailed character outlines, so I will know how all of my characters should react when I sit down and start writing them on November 1st!