Life, it Changes.

    Most of us know if you’ve lived over a certain number of years, that life changes. And even though that probably sounds scary and awful to many of us, it’s often a good thing.  

    Small changes happen all the time, many of which we don’t notice or even consider life changes. For example, when I decided I was going to be a writer I changed my life. Deciding that’s what I was going to do changed me. But it didn’t register to me as a big life change. I didn’t have to move, or quit my job. Really, it only changed my state of mind.

    Now my husband's career choices are usually different. These almost always involve a BIG life change. This is where things get exciting.

    Let me give you a bit of backstory. In our awesome nine years of marriage there have been no less than six life changing career decisions. Each involving a moving to another state or sadly being apart for extended periods of time. It’s kept things interesting. Life’s an adventure and we are pretty good at it.

   When life changes come, I think it’s more than fair to say it’s a rollercoaster of emotion. In one day, you can go up and down, back and forth, between excitement and dread. Excitement for something new and dread for the loss of the familiar.

    If you haven’t caught on by now, we have had another life change, this one involving moving to another state. Surprise, Surprise. We will be moving from the home we have lived in for the last five years. The longest we have done life in one spot since we got married. I left the job I had been at for the last four and a half years. Zero complaints about that. Now I get to focus on my writing. (Thanks Babe!)  We are starting the next chapter in our adventure and I am a roller coaster of emotions. Mostly I just want to get this adventure started.

   Over the next four weeks I’ll be packing, organizing, making phone calls, striking deals and selling my soul. You see we have four weeks and we don’t exactly have a place to live yet. No worries. (kinda) Thank God for good friends.

    As fresh and exciting as it all is, it can also be terrifying. But the point is that life changes. How boring would it be if it never did? What kind of awesome lives would we be missing out on? If nine years ago I had said no to big, scary life changes, not married my husband and moved across the country, I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences. Most importantly, I would have missed out on him. So, big life changes be damned. If he came home today and told me we needed to move to the moon my response would be, “Do we know what the real estate market is like up there?” and I would pull out my laptop and start researching. Obviously, it’s a metaphor, because the idea of really being in space terrifies me. But I digress.

     All of this to say, I may or may not be posting consistently over the next four weeks. Also to convince myself that life changes are good. Adventure is out there!

Goals for 2017

I’m gonna go ahead and say that I killed it in 2016. Sure I didn’t reach every one of my goals but half aint bad! Now I’m headed into a new chapter in life and I get to focus on what I really love to do, write. I’m excited and totally ready to Slay 2017! (Ya! That's right I know hip millennial lingo.) Before January gets away from me I wanted to set some goals for the year. Telling you guys about them can really help me motivate myself it to accomplishing them so here we go!

Goal 1: Finish revising my manuscript from NaNoWriMo 2016.

Yes I have a finished manuscript! Once it’s all polished and shiny I’ll talk about it more. I’m hoping this will be done by June. That’s my own revisions, than one from my critique partner, then an editor.

 

Goal 2: Read 36 Books!

I upped my reading goal this year. Since this was one of the goals I did accomplish in 2016. I really enjoyed it so I decided to go even bigger in 2017. That comes out to 3 books a month. Since I already have 40 books on my TBR (to be read) shelf it should be one of my more attainable goals.

 

Goal 3: Participate in 2017’s NaNoWriMo.

I had a wonderful experience that taught me a lot about myself as a writer during the 2016 NaNo. So this is a goal I am happy to put on my list again. I already have a story concept picked out and I can’t wait to try for another Win!

 

Goal 4: Learn more about the world of publishing.

My ultimate goal is to be a published and successful author so learning about that world is a pretty important part of the quest. This might also include finding representation (Literary Agent) but I’m not sure I will be quite to that point this year.

 

Goal 5: Bring Sci Fi, Oh My readers (Hey that’s you!) good content.

I really tapered off my posting at the end of the year because I felt like I was posting for the sake of posting and not because I was producing quality stories. That’s not what I want. I don’t want to put out mediocre garbage because I have to write something. That’s not fair to any of us. Yes I want to post consistently but I want those posts to have quality content! Whether that’s helpful writer’s stuff or entertaining fiction.

 

Goal 6: Finish another Manuscript.

Whether it’s the time travel book I have been working on for 2 years or a new project entirely I want to finish at least one novel this year not including the one for NaNoWriMo. This feels like my most ambitious goal yet. I have a list of story ideas that are waiting to be brought to life and this year one of them will be.

I think that’s a good amount of possibly attainable things for one year don’t you? Me too. Let's do this 2017!

Sci Fi, Oh My's 2016 Reading Round Up

At the beginning of 2016 I decided to set myself a goal of reading 2 books a month. That might not sound like much to some but that’s 24 books total and a lot for me. Happy to say that I made it! Effectively tripling the number of books I read in 2015. Yay!

I tried to read a wide variety of book in 2016 everything from thrillers, romance, fantasy, British comedy and of course Science Fiction. With all that came many different writing styles. I can truly say that reading more makes you a better writer. Not only does it help your creative side it also helps you to realize styles and devices that you really like and don’t like.  It reminds you what a reader likes and then you can take that back to your own writing. Now, I’m not saying you should write for anyone but yourself but you should write something that you would want to read. Just something to keep in mind.

I want to talk about the books I read this year. I’m going to do my very best not to have spoilers. Mostly I want to talk about things I learned as a writer from reading these books. Here we go. (LOTS of book talk ahead)

In no particular order…

  1. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
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When I hear C.S. Lewis, one word comes to mind. Prolific. But I’ll admit the only thing I had ever read from him was of course The Chronicles of Narnia. So I saw this and had to get it. C.S. Lewis in space! How could I not. I went in not knowing what to expect and found of course that even though the words were coming for a blobby type alien they were deep, profound and spoke to me. Leave it to C.S. Lewis. This is the first book in a trilogy and I haven’t had the chance to read the others yet but I hope to in 2017.

One thing I have noticed in many space travel stories is the common theme that we on planet earth are oblivious to the vast life that spreads across the galaxy. Instead of painting the human race as a pack of idiots, C.S. Lewis gives us the feeling that it is more of a tragic state than a laughable one. I was surprised when I found this book to be so profound in theme but I’m not sure why since the author is so well known for just that. Looking forward to finishing the series.

  1. The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock
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Another first in a trilogy, a Nomad of the Time Streams novel, I guess you might call this a steampunk science fiction. I very much enjoyed this book. Thought I would throw that out there before I say it was while I read this book I realized how much I’m not a fan of forwards and prefaces. I know they have a purpose I’m just saying they are not my particular favorite.  It was also while reading this book or maybe right after I finished it that I realized something I loved about it, it’s pacing! The timing and pace was wonderful, everything in it was pushing the story forward. No chapter after chapter of forest descriptions or paragraph after paragraph of how to make a sandwich (silly example). It made me realize I like a story that gets down to business. My imagination can fill in more of the blanks of what's around me. Tell me something about the plot.

This also helped me realize that an author who paces stories like this, then takes the time to elaborately describe something it must be because it’s important. An example of this isHarry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in which J.K. Rowling actually describes Rowena Ravenclaw's lost Diadem and its location, (We had seen the thing!) but it’s only a moment and doesn't come into play again until the Deathly Hallows.  

Good pacing can add weight and gravitas to other elements of a story.

  1. Veronica Mars, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham.
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If you were a fan of the show this is a great way to get more of Veronica’s Nancy Drew like sleuthing. It feels very familiar since in the show we often had Veronica’s inner dialog to tell us what snarky things she was thinking, this book has much the same feeling. Falling into the mystery/thriller category, it’s not a genre that I usually gravitate towards but containing a character I was already invested in made it easy for me to dive in.

The character of Veronica Mars does remind me of something I struggle with in my writing and that’s character development. Taking my character from being one person when the story starts to a changed in some way person at the end. I tend to make people who I want them to be from the beginning. I’m working on it.

  1. Red Dwarf by Grant Naylor
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The first 2 books in the Red Dwarf series says the author is Grant Naylor. Grant Naylor is really 2 different people Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Something I didn’t realize till I started looking for the 3rd book in the series.

What can I say about Red Dwarf… Okay. Red Dwarf (Infinity welcomes careful drivers) is easily a stand out favorite for me! Bringing the idea of what British comedy is to a whole new level of storytelling. You might remember (or not) that this was also a show on the BBC back in 1988. I still haven’t tracked it down to watch it since I haven't finished the books yet.  

This space adventure comedy showed me that something can be totally, completely, absurdly ridiculous and still be fantastic! The British have a way of doing this. I can’t fully explain. This book had more moments than I can remember that I found myself in stitches thinking “Really? This this really happening right now? This is the most amazing thing I have ever read.” I enjoyed it immensely. So much that is made it onto my favorite books list and that’s a pretty short list.  

The other thing that I found interesting about the Red Dwarf series (and please don’t let this deter you from picking it up) is its lack of likeable characters. It almost feels like a whole story filled with supporting characters that in any other novel would be a background character that showed up for comic relief but instead these guys are what you get.

I realize that this book will probably not appeal to everyone, but in my opinion it’s pure brilliance.

  1. Better Than Life (Red Dwarf #2)  by Grant Naylor
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Continuing with a ship full of buffoons that you are now somehow inexplicably attached to, Better than Life takes us on to the next chapter of the Red Dwarf’s journey. Giving more of the crazy goodness.

  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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Talk about the kind of book I usually wouldn’t have picked out. But a friend suggested it and I did enjoy it. This falls in the romance drama category. Really, I should probably read a little more in this area since I find it difficult to write romance into my stories. This was very informative one ways to slowly grow two characters closer to each other. And SPOILER not all romance ends in a wedding and riding off into the sunset.

  1. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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This was an exciting book. Made all the more exciting by the fact it was written during a NaNoWriMo. Erin Morgenstern takes a beautiful story concept and weaves a magical tale full of whimsy. I didn’t love this book as much as it seemed many others did but I was still happy to take the ride. The author has a wonderful way of describing fantastic scenes of impossible things, but you know “magic” so…

Erin Morgenstern also uses a style in small sections of “Present Tense Writing”. A style you rarely see in novels. It reminds me a lot of the odd choose your own adventure books. “You’re standing in front of a forked path. To the left you see a forest. To the right an open glen.” That kind of thing. Writing that makes you feel like you’re living it. I can’t imagine an entire novel like this but it does remind me that you can try new things new styles?. Some of them might work some might not but it’s okay to try.  

  1. The Siren by Kiera Cass
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This is a  standalone novel by The Selection author Kiera Cass. It’s a haunting tale of a Siren’s life. You know a Siren, the mythical women that sing to bring boat crashing into rocks killing all that are one board. Yeah, those sirens. I like the originality of the concept. Though I had some small things I would have liked for her to explain more. This book reminded me how nice it is to read a standalone novel. A quick read that doesn't lock me into reading 3 or more books just to complete one story.

  1. The Crown by Kiera Cass (Spoilers)
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The 5th book in the Selection series. We are now following Eadlyn, the daughter of America. America is the heroin from the first three books in the series. I have liked the other books in the series but I wasn't overly in love with this one. I found that I cared about every supporting character more than I did Eadlyn. It might have been more about the kind of character I like more than the writing itself. What it lacked in keeping me invested it made up for in giving me what I wanted in the end.

  1. The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson
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An Autobiography of the actor that played Dwight K. Schrute. The only non-fiction book I read this year. It read like fiction as Rainn Wilson had the kind of life you would think had to have been made up. Nothing like  I would have imagined him in real life. It was odd to see behind the veil. If you’re interested in Rainn Wilson and his eccentricities this will give you deep insight but if you’re not it’s a pass.

  1. The Cosmic Puppet by Philip K. Dick
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Another author that qualifies for the word Prolific. You might not  recognize the name Philip K. Dick but you have probably heard of some of his work. Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly are all his handy work. Can I also point out that Blade Runner is based on a book called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Now is that a name or what? (I love it).

This novel reads much like an episode of the twilight zone. (Spoilers) A man rolls into the town he was born in only to find that things are a little off and according to the current town, he was never born.

  1. FanGirl by Rainbow Rowell
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This was my first read from Rainbow Rowell and another that was written during NaNoWriMo. Since this is the only book I have read from Rowell I’m not sure if this is her usual subject or if all her books deal with different themes. This is basically what I would call a coming of age story. Set in the real world and driven by the relationships in the book. I listened to it on audiobook and enjoyed it for what it was. A not too heavy story about a girl figuring out how to life.

  1. Prodigy: (A Legend Novel #2) By Marie Lu
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Honestly, I read this early in the year and I having trouble remembering a lot about it. Which just reminds me that I wasn’t overly wowed with it. I think at this point I was getting burnt out on teenage dystopian futures. I remember I liked it enough that I do plan to finish the series. What it’s taught me as a writer is to work towards coming up with something new and fresh. Don’t get me wrong; nothing wrong with a dystopian future but unless you have something that really makes you stand out you might just get lumped into a category that readers are bored of.   

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass
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This adventure into a fantasy world of faeries was enjoyable. I like to read and learn how other writers do their world creating. Since I find that exhausting, it’s the thing I dread about writing fantasy more than anything. That’s probably why I tend toward Science Fiction where I can base my stories loosely in the ‘real’ world. In that aspect, my hat  is off  to Sarah J. Mass. She does a great job at painting you into a new place with magical and impossible creatures.

  1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
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Alright I had to take a deep breath before this one. I LOVE this book! It was a gift and I read it without the tiniest idea of what it was about and I am so glad I did. I finished it in 3 days. (Which is fast for me.) This Science Fiction thriller came to me at the perfect time. I was dealing with writer's block and a heavy dose of laziness in my writing. Dark Matter was the kick in the pants I needed. Wonderfully exciting, clever, and original it’s very hard to put down. I’m pretty sure at one point I had the book in one hand and I was flipping pancakes with the other.  I cannot recommend this book enough.

16, 17, 18, 19, and 20. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, Life the Universe and Everything, So Long and Thank for all the Fish, and Mostly Harmless: by Douglas Adams   

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Back to my British sci fi comedy kick, I immensely enjoyed this series. Some of the books more than others but I see them all as one story. The first book is a fantastic nonsensical romp in the galaxy immortalized not only by Douglas Adams writing but also by Martin Freeman in the 2005 film adaptation. Though the script wasn’t as strong as it could have been, the casting was on point. With Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, and Zooey Deschanel being perfect matches to their characters. (In my opinion, which is the right one because this is my website ;D) But this isn't about the movies, I just appreciate that the Arthur Dent in my head will always be my hobbit friend in a bathrobe.

Each book the story becomes more exciting and even more confusing. It’s only one of the few times I find it pretty easy to let go of the glaring continuity errors. In fact, many times they are explainedlater. I mistook foreshadowing for plot hole more than once in this series. Sadly, Adams died in 2001 with the series uncompleted. There is only more “Official” book in the series but it is written by another author and I have yet to read it because am a skeptic.  

If you like British humor, it’s a great series. I even gave a compendium to a friend as a gift. I force her to read all the books I want to talk about.

  1. Armada  by Ernest Cline
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I’m a big fan of Ready Player One so when Armada came out, I had no hesitation in getting it. I wasn’t disappointed. It definitely felt like an Ernest Cline novel but that’s not really a bad thing, he just has a subject he really gravitates towards and that’s 80’s pop culture. A very different story and premise than Ready Player One but a similar feel that reminded me not only of his own work but also of Ender's Game. Definitely worth the read if you liked either of those books.

  1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
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Because it was a screenplay this was a quick read. Although not a “book,” I decided to count it on this list because… why not. Reading a screenplay requires a bit more imagination but lucky for us J.K. Rowling and David Yates have already established the visual aesthetic of the wizarding world.  Making it easy for me to create my own mental storyboard as I read it before seeing it on screen.  While I read this, I discovered that I wanted to write my NaNoWriMo project into a screenplay as well as a novel.

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Script by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling
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There was so much excitement around this script from Harry Potter fans everywhere and I was no different. Even more so once I started reading and found it dealt in time travel. (Insert fangirl squeal here)

I hear a lot of people say they couldn’t really get into it because how it’s written. (Script and not a novel) My brain sees everything I read in a film adaptation in my head so I had no problems and got REALLY into to. I read it in only 2 days. It’s a great addition to the story but I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pick  apart the time travel.

The Prisoner of Azkaban had always been one of my favorite in the series probably because it has a time travel element. Moreover, it handles time travel as I prefer which is a fixed time line. (I’m not going to go into that right now, this post is already long enough. If you want to talk about it, message me.)    But in the Cursed Child, Rowling abandons the theory of fixed time lines and moves to using a Dynamic time line. A HUGE continuity error that drives me CRAZY!

I understand that the whole plot of the Cursed Child hinges on a dynamic timeline so I pushed it to the back of my mind and enjoyed the story. But since I hate plot holes and the like, and this story has many, it was a bitter sweet read for me.

  1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
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When I found this at the used book store, I had to pick it up. I had seen the movie but wanted to read the original story and see how the author approached the unique situation.  Zero disappointment. Chuck Palahniuk blow me away with the odd style this is written in, that somehow works. Although I wondered if I hadn’t seen the movie first would I have been able to follow it as well as I did. (I guess I’ll never know.) I think it’s one of the best film adaptations from a book that’s out there. The film differs only very slightly from the book from scene to scene. This is a great book to read and take in different ways to foreshadow. If you already know the story you really appreciate all the small details more.

25.-ish (Reread) Ready PlayerOne by Ernest Cline

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I really do like it that much. It was my only reread of the year. It helps I have it on audio and Wil Wheaton narrates it. He’s amazing FYI. I enjoyed it just as much as I did in 2015 when I read it the first time. It’s another I highly recommend if you’re a fan of 80’s pop culture.

So that’s it! I’m looking forward to all the reading to come in 2017!

NaNo Wrap Up!

NaNo Wrap Up

December already! November flew by, probably because I had my nose to the grind stone, type, type, typing away at my NaNoWriMo goal. It was all worth it too; because for the first time, I won! If you read my post NaNoWriMo 2016 explaining what NaNoWriMo is then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not and you want to know what I’m talking about, click on over to NaNoWriMo 2016. I’ll wait here…

Alright! So, yes, I won! The goal was to write 50,000 words toward a novel between November 1st and 30th. I Won on November 26th, and ended November with 54,703 words. I have almost completed my story. I’m still working on the last 2 chapters and then I’ll have my first draft complete! I’m using a lot of exclamation points because that’s how excited I am! I am so glad I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. It was on my list of goals for the year and it’s now one that I can put a checkmark next to. It will also be going on my list again for next year.

How NaNoWriMo Went for Me

November 1st came and I was ready to get the ball rolling. On the NaNo site they have a word tracking graph and all kinds of achievements and badges you can earn throughout the month. This really speaks to the gamer in me, and when I saw there was a badge for updating your word count every single day in Nov I  knew I had to have it. Therein  meaning I needed to write every day. I had already planned to, but having that in the back of my mind helped me make sure I always got my words in for the day.

Overall,  the stats say I averaged around 1,823 words a day.  I got big chunks of it on the weekends or days I took off from work. I write best in the morning, so on days I had to work after I got home, I could only get a few hundred words before I was falling asleep on my laptop as I wrote nonsensical things. I had to shake myself awake and delete whatever the last silly thing was that accidentally slipped out of my head. To make up for those days, on my days off I would get up at the same time. (4:30-5:00ish) and start writing. Usually I was able to get at least 3,000 words on those days. I think I even had a day I wrote 6,000 words!  

Writing every day is a great habit to be in. What I learned most from it is that sometimes you’re not going to feel creative. You’re not always going to feel like a good writer.  You can’t stop writing just because you don’t feel like it, or aren’t feeling inspired. I mean you could, but you’ll probably never finish anything.

When I was at a stall, I just looked at my outline and looked where the story needed to go. It might not have been pretty but I just wrote what it took to get me to the next part of the story. “Keep moving forward, I’ll fix it later.” became my mantra. Because of that mindset, I have a FIRST DRAFT! Not just an idea, a character, an outline, a chapter, a general sense of where it’s going, but a WHOLE first draft! My first, first draft of a book! That’s crazy talk!

Overall I am 100% glad I participated in National Novel Writing Month and I know that I’ll be doing the same thing next November. Hope you do too!

NaNoWriMo 2016

Let’s talk about National Novel Writing Month! That’s right November is almost here and that means NaNoWriMo is almost here. During the month of November hundreds of thousands of writers all feverishly work to puke out 50,000 words of a novel. We sign up online, band together, try to encourage each other, and build community. The term “Hermits United” comes to mind.

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Since it started in 1999 with just 21 participants and only 6 “Winners” (winners being anyone that hit 50,000 words) it has grown exponentially. In 2015 351,489 writer's participated and 40,423 Won. That’s a lot of people! That also means only 12% of the participants finished/won. This year I want to be on that 12%. Oh and I got all these numbers off wikipedia so we know they are 100% accurate.

I myself haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo since 2011 and I was not even close to winning. I didn’t know at the time that the story I was writing was an epic odyssey much to grand a tale to try and pump out in one month. That was the first match in the inferno of a Novel I have been working on all year.

For November however I’ll be taking a break from that story (I really should give that this some kind of working title). I’m going to break from that novel, my reading and Fiction Friday to focus as much energy as possible on NaNoWriMo. I know I just got the ball rolling again on Fiction Friday but realistically I can’t be able to keep up with both Fiction Friday and NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got to say I’m more excited than I thought I would be. It helps that I am getting prepared. I have a concept, characters and a general outline that’s taking shape more and more everyday. Plus the fact that this story is about 300 times less complicated than my last NaNoWriMo story concept. It really feels like this is my year! I feel it’s best to go in with hope and big dreams. Big dreams meaning I’m going to hit that word goal and just hope I don’t end up with a steaming pile of garbage I’ll call my first draft.

If you are interested in how I’ve been preparing for NaNoWriMo might I direct you to my last Manuscript Monday post How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.  After those 5 steps I’m feeling vastly more prepared than last time. I’m also trying to get some blog writing done ahead of time, and finish a few extra books.

This is how I’m planning for a successful NaNoWriMo 2016.

  • No reading in November. It sounds silly I know, but I’m a slow reader and that ends up as hours I could be writing.
  • Little to No TV. I’m not going to lie and say No TV but I will say I’m going to cut it way down
  • Less Social Media. This one will be easy right now since I have been avoiding facebook more and more anyway.
  • I’m planning a few days specifically set aside for writing. I get not 1 but 2 holidays in November. Huzzah!  
  • Writing on my breaks at work. This one is more iffy really, I’ll try but it’s hard to get my head in the game in a 15 minute break in which I also need to eat and convince myself not to flip a table.
  • No editing as I go.  
  • Use [Brackets]. Getting hung up somewhere? Through in some brackets with a generally gist of what you need [Insert Science Here] and move on. Come back to it latter.
  • Get with other Writers. This might be the one that’s got me pumped. I have a few friends that are also participating. Having someone to encourage you or keep you accountable can be a great help in finishing.

I’m looking forward to November and I hope you are you too. If you’re participation in NaNoWriMo let me know. If you’re not just know I might be a bit MIA.

I’m glad it looks like the end of the year is shaping up to finish strong.