NaNoWriMo
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NaNoWriMo 2016; The Lost Month

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I lost November, this time I have an excuse and next year will you be joining me? I hope so and I will be pestering!


 

NaNWriMo 2016 was the first time I’ve tried writing with such intensity. One that caused social media to get entirely put on hold. Granted, I’ve dipped into here now and then to react to messages, but interaction with bloggers has been pretty scarce. Facebook has suffered too, with my author page looking like a case of early retirement. Twitter was maintained because, well, it’s Twitter and Pinterest was all but forgotten. Not hard because I only set it up just before NaNo!

NaNoWriMo finished, in principle, at the end of November unless, like me, the novel is not quite finished. For those not aware of it (if, as a blogger, that’s possible) it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Simply sign up and write 50,000 words in a month. Easy yes?

Errr, not really. But even that answer could be a yes, if you are fortunate to set off with a project that doesn’t end up losing its will to live after around 10,000 words. For me, that’s about the benchmark telling me the story has enough potential. It means my narrative voice is engaged and the schizophrenic mind is possessed by half a dozen characters at the same time. Altered realities and all that. If you write fiction, then you will probably get what I mean, if you don’t, then you’re probably saner than I am. In which case I am most envious!

A question often cropping up here, and on Twitter, is how do I plan my writing for something like NaNo? In answer, I have a badge; its this one.

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The description with it reads; “Outlines? Who needs ’em? You’re a pantser!”

In other words, I make it up as I go along and let the characters lead me through events. If I don’t, then invariably they tell me off. I see things visually and let them unfold like a movie I’ve never seen. Not really a conventional approach if courses I’ve been on are to be believed.

The things I need most in a first draft are an idea, some characters to drift with that idea and one, or a few, antagonist(s) to throw spanners in the works. In general that’s about it. The narrative voice kicks in and the first draft gets underway. If it’s working the characters dictate the pace, and if it’s not they stop speaking.

I worry about continuity and the minutia after getting that first draft down. Even character sheets are left until then, simply because I don’really know who they are until I’ve worked with them. I tried planning once, and figured by the time I’d done it I could have written a first draft. So, for me it’s the pantser approach every time.

Second drafts are where things get ironed out, shaped and changed. I need to concentrate more here because many of my tales are interlinked, so chronology and consistency become important; not only in the book being written, but also between different novels.

I say novels with a pinch of salt. I have a few, but they sit in a pile waiting for some epiphany that says, “Yes, that’s the route I will take to publish.” #procrastinate and all that.

I digress, returning to NaNo. Some interesting stats, if you like that sort of thing. According to an e-mail from the site admin the numbers are as follows;

Nano participants 312,074
Winners 34,555
Young writers programme participants 71,229

Using the top two figures gives 11% of those enrolling actually achieving the 50,000 word goal. If you are amongst those the kudos to you on a job well done. It’s not easy.

My thoughts on labelling winners against participants are two fold;

One is that not everybody has time to write with the intensity required to hit the prescribed target; real life has a way of saying “Can’t sit and write, there’s other stuff to do.”

The other is, as I hinted at above, a project that runs out of juice, well, runs out of juice. One stares at a page and it just stares right on back. The problem with NaNo is that if the staring goes on too long, your daily word count keeps rising. There comes a point where you just cannot claw it back. You can either over stress about failing, or accept that this year it’s a hurdle too far. Dose it up with mindfulness.

 

My strategies-ish

Before November I had an idea, well it was an idea from the previous November. A project that got sidelined as another Rose ascended. Which, is a bad pun given that was entitled “The Ascent of Rose Marie Gray.”

I therefore entered this November knowing what I was going to write about. Along with a few names and characters to work with. Alas being over a year meant, like old friends, they had to be reacquainted with. More like starting anew as it turned out and hijacked from posts made here ages ago.

The Bequest Character Trials

For my method that is about as much planning as I can conceive of. A few test pieces to see if they resonate with me.

For NaNo, I then set a daily target of 2,000 words. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It took me a week to find a sustainable rhythm.

I also set, what I thought, was an achievable target of 30,000 words. That was my personal success criteria, the win win scenario. If I did not meet the NaNo winners post and I hit my goal, then I have, in fact, won by having a solid start to a novel that would not be there if I hadn’t participated.

As it turned out the narrative voice did wake up and I actually hit 59,378 words at a daily average of 1,979. Not bad, in my humble opinion, considering my initial daily target was 2,000.

Having said that, I was inspired by dubious word counts at base camp. I work from an iPad most of the time as it’s portable and can sit on school runs, coffee shops, sofa, armchair and, well you get the picture. I write, on average, 5,000 words per chapter before uploading to DropBox ready to download onto my PC and paste into my manuscript template. Alas the compiling part got left behind and I was using a poor word counter, a calculator and a text file with counts per chapter to keep on track. To my knowledge I was entering numbers into the NaNo site thinking I was miles behind, and scraping to get to the target. When I actually submitted the text into their validator things hit a DOH moment.

Lesson one; next year compile as I go and use a proper word counter to avoid unnecessary panic. I know I said goal one was 30,000 words, but when you find yourself at 45,000 with three days left, it becomes a must do this obsession. Had I known at that point I’d already hit 50,000 then life would have been more peaceful and calm! I may even have blogged this last week.

Lesson two; buddies. NaNo has a buddy up system that lets you see where other people are in their novels, send messages and so on. It’s a support structure. If you are flagging you will see some better off, some worse off and some the same. It doesn’t leave you feeling isolated and wondering if you are on track. There are also word sprints, local forums, NaNo camps and local groups in your area that link up and work together for inspiration.

Lesson three; this was my first ever NaNo. Next year I’m open to doing Lesson two as early as possible. It also grows networks. In fact over 400 writers this year joined together in a blog hop thanks to Raimey Gallant 

I say blog hop, more a “you name it social media platform and we will hop onto it” type of thing. I’ve already met some unbelievably talented people.

 

To sum up

Almost a new book written, a few chapters left yes, but it was no words at the end of October.

Excellent way to kick start a project or writing that’s stalled.

Good way to increase your networks by linking up with fellow bloggers and writers.

If you set a personal target then winning is not defined by statistics based on 50,000, but by achieving your own target

Negatives

It’s fun, until it stops. Had a week of jelly head post event.
Social media hibernation. Write or that. The two cannot coexist unless you are a hermit, living in a room and have no dependants living with you!

Actually, the negatives are pants ones really…a week of mental exhaustion means you have a novel and dropping social media for a month is probably not a bad thing as it shows you where writing time exists. Make use of it!

Lastly, and because someone (you know who you are) asked, here is an extract.

Unedited, raw first draft. I’ve not even had chance to read back the whole project yet.

If you wish to read it, be warned, though nothing disturbing happens, its genre is HORROR.

 


THE BEQUEST – EXTRACT CHAPTER SIX

Conrad Carmichael sat with his brothers, Allan and Joseph, around a coffee table. On another night they would be chewing the fat about amateur paranormal activity scheduling. Not much different from professional scheduling except they were lacking in Compton, so to all intents and purposes amateur it was. Tonight, Conrad was the odd one out. While the other two were of normal complexion, he was a shade off colour and shaking rather nervously. After all, it’s not often a man of large girth sits in a pub whilst telling you that Death is, in fact, stalking you.

It wasn’t that such statements, or potential life threatening encounters, were not hazards of the hobby. Paranormal entities had, according to myth and legend, been the cause of many a dour thing. The old Hamilton place being one. Burnt down in 1875 amidst cries of foul play and something else about a room that swallowed people. Research into that was ongoing and, at some point in the future there were plans afoot to do a deeper investigation.

That was not now. Now was Joe Stringer. The man of overgenerous girth with a convincing power of foresight that chose to declare the end game was in sight.

“Are you absolutely certain he was not having you on?” asked Allan.

“An excellent question Al, we are, after all, one step up from the norm in that we require solid evidence before concluding something odd is happening.”

Conrad looked from one to the other. Granted in the cool light of day, here and now, the idea seemed somewhat far fetched. However, Stringers eyes had no sign of deceit and a great deal of haunted fear. All his instincts said this chap was the real deal.

“All I’m saying is I believe he believes what he is saying. And that scared the hell out of me.”

“Then,” said Joseph, “we should perhaps interview this man again, with all of us present and glean more from his vision in an effort to avert disaster.”

The other two nodded in agreement.

Conrad reached for the phone.

###

Joe Stringer sat at home. He did that a lot these days. Takeaway cartons littered the immediacy of his armchair. Cleaning was not high up on his agenda, but then again not much was. He ate, watched TV and kept himself to himself. Safer that way, nobody could point fingers if you stayed indoors. Kids, teens in particular, pointing fingers and staring or laughing. Heart attack walking big man, drop the food and start the exercise. Hey look, there’s an eclipse waiting to happen.Oh yes, Joe knew them all. Staying home was best. After all they all looked down on him.

Nobody really got inside his head though. As a kid he was quite athletic, not uber thin but run of the mill fine by normal standards. Good diet, plenty of exercise and friends. That was before his hidden talent showed up. Not that he considered it a talent back then. Just some scary shit that turned him into himself and forced his game to go all wrong. Nightmares and sleep disruption. He’d seen doctors of all descriptions, pumped meds, dropped caffeine and quite a few not so traditional methods too.

Nuts and bolts remained the same though; nightmares. Proper in your face ones. Not all the time, most days, or nights were OK. But every now and then the demons came in. Screaming and showing him things that left his waking mind in shock. It got to the point where going to sleep was an event he wished to miss. Freddy Kreuger eat your heart out.

That was when life got out of control. Food became comfort in the depths of night. He made University and left with a solid degree in computer science. Programming was easy. It gave him a nocturnal distraction. It also dropped the will to socialise. App development and network troubleshooting were out of hours and the day job turned to front end software development; graphic user interface. The job nobody wanted. Suited him fine for a while. The insomnia became normal and his weight grew.
Then it started in the day too.

Vision flashes. “Where you been Joe? We’ve been looking for you a while now, stopped dreaming have you?”

That was the opening gambit, the introduction. The big hello, guess what, I’m back.

Joe felt sweat dripping from his forehead, moistening the bald patch growing on the top of his head. The voice was the same as it always had been. Dripping emptiness, insanity and filled with vitriol.

“What the fuck do you want?” he’d shouted.

That had got security in the local supermarket escorting him outside. One minute he was pushing a shopping trolley, the next, zone out with the demon inside. He empathised with the guy escorting him out though. What was he to do? Big bloke going off on one inside, scaring kids and parents alike. No doubt some cam boy saw it on the CCT and buzzed down saying “Get rid.”

It wasn’t that though. Granted he couldn’t blame the chap for doing his job and truth be told, Joe needed air and getting outside was a good move. The thing that struck a chord was Joe knew the man was dead. Not right now, but in a few hours he was going to pull out of a junction and get swallowed by an articulated frozen goods truck.

Bit like the cyclist in the paper except there he’d never met the guy. That was a vision, a dream, the power of foresight. The point where he realised there were things in the world that defied logic. The demons were back and they were telling him things.

That was why he’d asked to see Conrad Carmichael. The man who, if he were not about to die, might have been able to help. But how do you explain to someone that you just had your last ever weekend? Chances were they’d see the fat bloke and laugh. Yup, once again they’d all look down on him.

Except Conrad had gone white and started shaking before just walking out of the Royal Oak. Of course that had not phased Joe because he’d already seen the happen. Just like he knew his phone was about to ring. Which it did.

“Hello Mr Carmichael.”

“How did you know it was me?” The voice on the other end was, as expected, quiet and full of apprehension.

“I told you, I have the…”

“Yes, the power of foresight, I know. I expect you…”

“Know why you are calling, yes. To arrange a further interview.”

“Quite,” said Conrad, “but this time with my brothers Allan and Joseph.”

“Oh dear, I didn’t know you had family.” Joe could now see grief and frustration in the future too. Not by foresight, but by knowing an event was going to occur and not being able to stop it.

“I thought you had the power of foresight though?”

“Yes, but it’s not them that feature in your particular vision.”

“I suppose not.” Conrad sounded disappointed. But then again, thought Joe, who really wants to die alone?

“Where is it you wish to meet?”

“How about the pub? We book a table for lunch and have an informal discussion there?”

Joe, mused this for a moment. The first meeting had been an effort in social interaction. His eyes scanned his room again. A cycle of ill mannered mental health. His home was quite disgusting. Then again, so was his head. Full of bad shit and that screaming demon. The one that was buried alive and trying to get out. That was his own personal nemesis if, and it was a big if, his cardiovascular system held out long enough.

“Very good, shall we say eleven o’clock on Thursday?”

“Can you not do Saturday?”

“Mr Carmichael, Saturday will be too late.”

With that Joe hung up. He exhaled deeply into a wheeze. Three brothers, that was unexpected. Might be they could help him though. Make some sense of this. If, of course, they were also paranormal investigators.

###

Conrad put his mobile carefully onto the coffee table.

“Well,” said Allan, “how did it go?”

“He’s frightened Al,” Conrad stared at his phone. “Thats what disturbs me most. I have no doubt Mr Stringer knows far more then he lets on.”

Joseph looked on. Thursday 11 a.m. Royal Oak was scrawled in pencil on the notepad before his distressed brother. “Why not Saturday?” he ventured.

Conrad looked at him. “Apparently I will be dead by then so an earlier booking was more favourable.”

Each looked at the other.

“And we are taking this seriously yes?” enquired Allan trying not to mention the levitating cat and general hilarity foisted at them in the aftermath.

Conrad so wanted not to, but something didn’t fit. Joe Stringer didn’t fit. They met mediums and people allegedly touched by the spirit world before and thus far none had convinced them of any particular trait that might prove genuine. Apart from those a good psychiatrist might resolve. Stringer was way off that zone. Overweight yes, but if Conrad read it right, that was caused by a dread of going out. A realisation that his gift was a curse and he was trying to hide from it. Either that or he was a new type of nutter. How he hoped that was true.

“I am,” he said, “and tonight I’m going out to get reasonably drunk.”

“Is that a wise move Con?” asked Joseph.

“If it were your last Tuesday night and you just found out, what would you suggest?”

“That we go for a few beers and formulate a line of questioning that will find out if Mr Stringer is a fraud or…” Allan paused not liking what he was thinking, “…the real deal.”

“And if it’s the latter?” asked Joseph.

“Then we have to decide what is the best course of action to alter the future.”

“Al,” said Conrad, “do you realise how ridiculous that last bit sounds?”

###

Across town, the same afternoon, Emmie Monks was staring into the carpark through a Costa window. Part time work as a school receptionist was good in some ways and bad in others. Good in that she had employ, something to occupy her mind. Keep it from straying into the dark side where she was vulnerable. Trucks, potholes and a dead husband were still haunting her dreams. She, like Joe Stringer, found sleeping haunted by nightmares. Her existence held little joy once night settled. The bad was it gave her a whole day to match up with the after-hours.

Soon it would be full time though. The old biddy overseeing her induction was due to retire next Easter, after which she would be able to take up the role proper. A case of brave face for the social demands and entirely the opposite alone. It was little Callum that kept her from doing something real stupid.

A caramel latte sat cooling in front of her. The rain outside was drifting sideways with a wind that swirled. It held her fascination while deeper in she contemplated murder. You can’t just take a life by accident. Least ways not her husband. Nothing would make her believe otherwise. In her coat pocket her left hand idly turned two shotgun cartridges over and over. Practice on Saturday at the gun club. Regional finals shortly after. That seemed an infinite time away.

She stood up, unable to finish what used to be her favourite coffee. Saturday, she would get by to Saturday and shoot a few clays; or something like that.

Outside she felt the full force of the rain. Not that it bothered her, being distracted and distant left the external facade tolerant of most things. The real storm was within. Her mind seemed engulfed in a tornado, out of control and under some directive steering her at the rocks. It had started slow after the police informed her of an accident. Once shock ran its course her insides began their path to here. A pressure cooker waiting for release. She needed help. Maybe call Dr Whitaker again next week.

Elsewhere, at the bottom of Emma Strickland’s stairs a ghostly figure rested in the mirror, waiting for Archibald Cleethorpes. Saturday was going to be a ball.

###

At Draycott’s Autos, Jack was swinging. Tuesday afternoon was half day and the mechanics were gone by one o’clock. Made sense really, if you work them weekends then there has to be give elsewhere. It also suited him fine too; ever since it was clear coping at home was not working. His ex-wife, as he considered things now, had no option but to go into a more specialised establishment.

Weekends he worked to avoid that blasted nursing home. He could go now, but there was another six pack with his name on it and the fan heater in his office had just about cut through the damp. He figured he should go home at some point, but that was crap too. A house full of happy times and memorabilia, when things were all smiles and Jennifer was the light that kept him on the path. Love was a powerful weapon when the safety catch was on. Take it off and boom, a stroke shoots you down leaving a wake of memories and a vegetable sat in a nursing home. He didn’t blame her, just every God he could call up. Cut the crap, no excuses, just why?

He kind of knew why, it was getting old. You come into the world under a death sentence. When and how long is the lottery. Sure as there was beer in his bottle you were coming to the end at some point or another. Thing that ticked him right off was the end came in a variety pack. Just turned up one day out of the blue and sent everything into free fall. Day before all good, awesome, under appreciated; day after and fuck up. Regret, nostalgia, guilt and anger. All in one pot bubbling like some slow cook meal.

Jack just didn’t get it. If you were going to have a stroke why couldn’t it just be quick? Get it over, c’est la vie, the end and thanks for the memories. Why were there so many naff paths to the door at the end? Jennifer couldn’t remember who he was half the time and needed constant care. He doubted she even knew who she was for most of it either. In fact it would be better if she didn’t. Waking up and realising you were in the home of the living dead waiting for whatever came after must, at best, send you careering back into whatever fantasy world existed when lucidity failed. Not only would it be better for all concerned if the end just dropped in and took you away, it wouldn’t cost your life savings to drain away at the same time.

Beer was morbid, he knew deep inside that his coping strategy was screwed. Avoiding the crap and wallowing with the nectar. He pulled another ring pull and took another gulp of ale. What he should be doing and what he was doing were two entirely different things. Staring at his invoice board wasn’t doing much either. Not that he actually saw the board as such. Not now. His stare was into a window in the past where a young Jack was slow dancing with the most beautiful woman he’d ever met.

###


Now, if you’ve got this far and have thoughts on the extract feel free to comment. Please keep in mind, it’s not Chapter one. I’ve taken a part of a later chapter just for the hell of it. If things don’t make sense then you’d need to see the previous chapters first.

To wit, shortly I will be needing beta readers to see if the unedited version has enough merit to spend time and energy to rectify the flaws that are present.


© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in: NaNoWriMo

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Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the blog will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career writing from home around children!

124 Comments

  1. Love NaNoWriMo. I write all my first drafts quickly now after doing NaNoWriMo. Then I seem to ruin them on the second draft – not sure why. Will work on this. Great post and good writing!

    • Oh dear Lucy, maybe you need some supportive direction in those second drafts. I find it troublesome too, mostly because my characters often dispute things I want to change! Help is always out there for….no hang about that was Dumbledore and advice to Harry Potter 🤔

        • You’re welcome and I bet some had bad third drafts too! Keep going and take the positive comments as a good sign and ignore self esteem internal corrosion x

    • I’m intending to start looking for buddies in late August, well that and start to get the mind prepared to do it again! I aim to put up a few posts about then asking for buddies and support to actually do it! Lovely to hear you are also a NaNo fan 😊

  2. I’ve never tried NaNo but I’ve met many writers who have and swear by it. Maybe this year…

    • I think it’s one of those things that many people look at and see potential for that awful word “failure.” Others look at it and think any words are better than no words so even not reaching the goal of 50K is an achievement in it’s own right as without it then there might be no words at all! I was like you this time last year… maybe…then I looked into it, especially the buddy up system and thought what have I actually got to lose so in a rush of blood signed up!! Post event I was rather pleased I did… although during it I was riding possibly the most intense writing ride I’ve had in years. No time to step back and let the emotions settle, as it were. If you do, let me know and I will gladly buddy up 🙂

      • Hey Gary – Thanks for the reply – I really didn’t mean to ignore this for so long (I have no excuse – it’s summer, what can I say?!). I’m not sure if I’ll do NaNo this year, but if I do, I’ll for sure get in touch 🙂

        • Never consider it ignoring!! Life is always throwing in curve balls that need more urgent attention. I’m well behind here, because, like you said…it’s summer 🙂

          Current plan is to do NaNo still here; it may change depending on work loads and the unexpected, but really want to do it 🙂

  3. How is it going this year, Gary? I’ve done Nano twice and really enjoyed being swept up in the energy. It really made me crank out the words!

    • The CampNaNo this month has not started too well so I aim to up that starting tomorrow. I set it at 20K to try and finish my current novel which has suffered from life interruptions and procrastinating way to much!! Last November was my first one and it was an intense ride for sure. Hoping to start rallying for buddies in August with the ambition to try this November too!! Thank you for taking time to pop over and comment too 🙂

  4. I’ve never done Nano. I try to write every month and now I’m trying to work at a professional pace so I’ve been trying to write a book every month. I just set this goal a few months ago. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going. 🙂

    • I think that is an excellent practice! I’d love to be able to do that, well inside I know I can given I have a settled pace of a chapter a week (Mon to Fri) without really struggling. Last NaNo proved to me 50K words a month is possible. Intense yes, but very reachable. However, here with school runs and life interludes it becomes more challenging because things break up the thought trails. A lot of it is getting a habit routine too with me. I am about to construct a writing project book covering all aspects from blogging, to novels to publishing. I need to break the perceived loads to do into chunks where I can visualise the steps and start being more reactive to news things and proactive in clearing the back log! Love to know how you do with your goal though. Pretty essential component of sanity is knowing how other authors do stuff! Thanks so much for the comment 😊

      • You’re welcome, Gary. I try to write at least one thousand words a day. Sometimes I go over because I’m in the zone, but I’m rarely under that. The only time I don’t reach that number is when I’m really busy with the kids or work. Usually at the end of the school year, I falter a little bit, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. 🙂

        • Very good practice that Lisa; I need to get that back really myself. almost treat it like work, work where not doing is not on the cards. As you say elevating it to a more professional level. Very good advice that 🙂

  5. josypheen says

    I love your description of Jelly head! I have felt jelly legs after I’ve walked too long for one day, but I never thought to describe that feeling when you’ve studied too hard as jelly head. 😀

    • Oh heck yes, jelly legs reminds me of terrible school cross country days, hated that with a passion. Have to say after that NaNo month it was, immediately satisfying, and then the emotional aftershock hit wrt character identification and boom…jelly head! Terrible really, and for some reason I’m considering doing it again this year! What gives there???

  6. Gary, I didn’t have the chance to read the extract (yet), but I have to comment.

    I’m seriously thinking about joining the NaNo this November. Your post was inspiring. I could also see a plan beginning to form, and life seems to be positioning me for a huge swath of free time around November. Linking with accountability-type buddies sounds like an essential ingredient to success here.

    I may be in touch via email in the near future if that’s ok with you…

    • No rush Gabe, it will be there when time allows my friend. NaNo is quite a challenge, but as I always say; set your own targets as some words are better than no words at all. I’m on July’s CampNaNo at the moment so will be posting about that shortly and August will start punting posts out to rally people that want to buddy up this November. I found that really helps too.

      Feel free to email too and thanks for the comment too. NaNo needs a bucket load of inspiring 🙂

      • I’ll keep an eye out in August for those “buddy-up” posts. November is really beginning to feel like a great time to hunker down and stretch my writing muscles to the limit.

        • Looking forward to it. Hopefully mid to late August. I’ve got a CampNaNo one due soon too. In fact I’m way behind in posts so might be a glut coming shortly to catch up!!!

  7. Wow you are a maxhine Gary! A great insight into your writing world, thanks for sharing your writing process and an extract.

    • Flipping looney more like! I did it and looking back really can’t remember much about life in that month apart from this book. Very draining and here I am in July CampNaNo finishing it off!!!!!

      Thank you so much for the kind comment too 🙂

  8. I “lost” NaNo for the first time in ages this past November. I’m a dedicated pantser as well, and while it usually works for me, this time, I just couldn’t get it going. Kudos to you for trying, and I’ll definitely connect with you for NaNo ’17!

    • Oooh Traci, is lost the right word? I mean, with the pantser approach not all writing roads work out. In NaNo if a project stumbles then there is no real way to start afresh and hit their target. The positve spin there is that an idea has been tested and found not to be a goer. It’s been explored and not rocked any boats, so it can be put to rest rather than sit in the mind wondering if it might work. Or, tested and maybe created a path to revisit at a later date. In my opinion (humble though it be) anyone trying NaNo is a winner. It’s why I suggested in the post setting a personal target that is realistic for the writer given real life constraints. Anything above that is a bonus. I was fortunate this time because my project was one that’s been buzzing around for a while. In fact I’m tossing ideas around now to find something for November now. I’d also like to get a group of buddies connecting around August so we can all bump ideas and start prepping. Maybe devise some flash fiction projects to get into the zone. Anything to help people look at NaNo and not think have to hit 50,000 or failed. To me it’s the start of a journey into a new book and I want to arrive there with a project I know has a story to unleash and a support group that inspires that extra effort to get it down. Looking forward to connecting on there for this years effort! Thank you so much for commenting too. Really appreciate it !

      • LOL! Yep, I completely agree with you, Gary – that’s why the quotes around the word lost. As I said to my local writers’ group, even if you only manage five words for the entire month, they’re still five new words you didn’t have before.

        Oh, and you’re very welcome. 🙂

        • Ha ha, yes I figured it might be, but I hear so many people saying “I failed NaNo” and it sets of rantimatic diatribe with no promoting….pantser in action lol. Dead right too…no words is nowhere at all. Every word written is a step closer….which reminds me, I must try a few post haste 🤔

  9. NaNo is something that really scares the Bejesus out of me! I hate to fail, and the thought of needing to write over 1000 words a day, is very disciplined but tough! Kudos to those that complete it,… maybe one day that dusty old manuscript of mine which promises to be the start of a good book will get an airing and I can finish it.. but I don’t think the pressure of NaNowould help me! I’m nearly finished with JusJoJan, posting every day….!

    • My take on its is participating requires a personal target rather than I must achieve 50,000 words or its failure. I never anticipated reaching their goalpost, my story decided otherwise. My ambition was to see if I could write in a disciplined manner. Seems I can…but not all the time. April is my next tester with the A to Z challenge. Then the Kindness one in May. Oh, and I resisted a friends call to do NaNo for four years !!!

      • I was thinking of setting my personal one in August. Like a RiNoWriMo (Rotus Nov Writing Month!) That’s the only month I’m not at work (teacher!)and able to focus… but last August swept by in family commitments!

        • Crumbs, no wonder November would prove difficult to generate the time for consistent word counts. Maybe try a sequence of weekly targets rather than bang it all into one month? In fact I should do that myself too! A GaTu writes initiative !

          • We could start a new thing!!! That could be our collaborative blog mission!!! #GaTu
            But you’re right. I need to create a realistic target and get back into it!
            I’ve done my poetry book – all published.
            Now I need to get back to my fiction. I’ve been reading loads of indie author books recently. They are so good that I want to be one of them too!

            • I think I’m in the same boat. My writing (all across the board) has stumbled since the Christmas break and I’m out of the habit. One reason I started participating in the blog share group. Trying to get back into the swing of interacting with people in a similar position and also look at those moving with positivity. I’ve really got to find that mojo again because this is the year I targeted publishing my first novel. January is always a bad month for my mojo. Might be collaborative blogging is the stimulus to get back in the driving seat 🤔

              • Im still set for August… despite a bunch of inconsiderate family members arranging weddings and functions! I’ll do something Lol!

                • I think the best idea is to set your own word count and not take heed of the 50,000. Any words are better than no words at all 🙂

                  But your family does sound rather selfish LOL…

                  I shall be posting in August about buddy hooks ups too 🙂 #GaTu

  10. Very interesting take on NaNoWriMo. Makes me think I might even do it one year… and that ‘s a first. (I write novels but the last one took too long.) Your style is racy and natural and real, and maybe that’s just you, but maybe it’s a result of Just. Doing. It. (It being a first draft, sure.) Nice to meet you!

    • Thank you Rachel and very kind of you to both read and comment on this one! I was sceptical for several years myself, but having decided success criteria should be a personal goal rather than MUST hit 50,000 words helped tremendously. Writing is very author dependant in terms of timescales too. I’m still working on one I started coming up thre years ago. Granted I’ve written two more since, but my opus magna, as it were, is taking its time. NaNo is now going to happen for me loads now…in fact come August I’m going to put up posts to try and get buddies to hook up with there (and any other social platform they want). Buddies help you stay focused and less isolated. Seeing their stats can keep you on track. Even if that is just 20,000 words into a new project. Last year there was a post NaNo blog hop amongst participants and that was an unexpected bonus. Do seriously think about it and if you’ve any questions about it then feel free to ask!
      My style comes from my narrative voice I guess. It took a while, but once I found it things flowed better….I suspect it’s part me and a lot of what you said….doing it!
      Lovely to meet you too 😊

      • I love your “fiction is food” tagline. NaNo may never be quite right for me because of many factors including those you mention plus my other work and a growing desire to write poetry instead. But I will now keep it back of mind in case I can adapt it to my needs. Endless possibilities as a hurry-up tool!

        • Thanks Rachel…How I arrived at it, I have no idea now! It’s was part of a brainstorm list, there were other names, but when this one came out it just felt right. I think it’s similar to how I name book characters. It feels right, or it doesn’t. Not sure how one quantifies that!

          Well, you could adapt the NaNo model into a target of poems….an anthology of them or similar. It might create some yet unseen creativity or pressure flamboyance… Just a thought of course 😊

  11. The Millionaire's Digest says

    Hey there Old Sport! I’m K&L, the Author, Publisher & CEO of The Millionaire’s Digest, I just want to apologize for not being able to publish all the articles fast enough on The Millionaire’s Digest. Believe me, when you’re in college and you’re up past midight writing papers every night, you know how hard it can be to also run a team of more than 300+ people who are constantly uploading posts every day. That brings me to my next point Old Sport.

    I would just like to ask you before I get ready to have our magazine published if you would still like to be in it. I mean, I don’t want you to feel like I’m forcing you to do this because I know I wouldn’t like it if someone made me do something I didn’t want to do either. But I mean, I just wanted to make sure because you are one of my team members, and I just didn’t want you to feel left out when you see it go live in all the stores!

    Also, please know that if you do choose to do this, you do this for yourself, not me. I do perfectly fine for an individual, as you know that I could’ve launched this myself and not let anyone on it. But I’m not that type of person (Nor will I ever will be). This is just something that I want to be able let you guys do, so I can help you get more exposure to your blog!

    Sincerely,
    K&L

    • It’s been a while my friend and I thought, perhaps, you had put it in the back burner. I believe I have two drafts for the magazine in my profile labelled as such. I’m still keen to be involved so if you lost any updates on proceedings point me straight at them.

      Hope college is going well to and speak soon I hope.

      Regards

      Gary

      • The Millionaire's Digest says

        Lol, believe me, once you finally make it into college, especially when it’s your first year, your lifestyle completely changes. You spend countless hours studying every day, and sleepless nights past 1:00 A.M. writing essays and 10 page papers due the following day.

        Anyway… But yes, I know. I just haven’t had the time, but I’ve been working hard lately to roll everyone’s out, and it’s not necessarily writing out the article credits that takes away all the time, but it’s having to read them all and revising and editing them too.

        I also realized that I had made a huge mistake before launching the first magazine, and that was not having a main theme. Most magazines do better if there’s a theme to it, rather than just a bunch of extraneous topics congested into one whole mess. (That’s a recipe for disaster my friend.)

        Now that all that is said and done, I’ve emailed you the application that all our other team members have lately been filling out. Also, you’ll have to read and agree to the Terms of Service on the application, but that’s not as important as reading and agreeing to the Rules & Restrictions for the magazine. The Rules & Restrictions will tell you how everything is going to work, including what you can and can’t write about, as well as what’s in it for you. Hope to see you soon!

        Sincerely,
        K&L

        P.S. – Also, not that I force anyone too, but I allow my digest team to make decisions for the magazine too, but since this one’s about successful living, I’ve only allowed my team full of Successful Living writers coordinate and collaborate ideas with each other, but when we launch a Poems & Stories edition, you can be one of the head decision makers of that one, while the Successful Living team will just be decision takers.

        • Ha, you don’t have to convince me…been there, bought the T-shirt not once, but three times. Have to say, amidst the workload it was a damn fine experience!
          I have the form and will be perusing it all shortly….time of year and family is pressing over the next few days….can’t think why !!

          Re the PS…no worries there. I had quite a bit of blog interest on my mindfulness posts some time ago. That subject is one I can write about too in relation to depression and how to try and change deeo rooted thinking. The magazine focus is a good one too by the way.

  12. Well done for getting as far as you did with Nanowrimo. Kind of makes me wish I could join in next year. The extract is awesome. Though didn’t find any horror in it. I think your style of writing would really suit a detective type genre…

    • Thanks Marje…and maybe you should give it a go! You’ve got almost a year to plan 🤔
      Hmm self advice there too! Thanks re the extract too. I think I mentioned that, although it’s genre is horror, the extract steered clear of it. I know some of my followers are not keen on it. But a detective type genre? Really….I’ve never even considered that before !

    • Better than getting to 20,000 though…lol… I use the ten thousand marker as a way to see if I’m feeling the story. If it’s working there’s a gut feeling saying it will come, if it’s not then I find it a good point to save the project and leave it. Obviously if the latter happens inside NaNo then it’s a bit of an problem lol

  13. You said HORROR so I skipped reading the actual story, but kudos on winning NaNoWriMo’17!!! 😀 You surpassed your mark by almost double too! I haven’t done NaNo since the first year I did it. I made goal in 20 days, but I honestly am impressed by people who can do it and work full time jobs whilst having family and a ‘life’ to boot!

    • I did caveat it…the excerpt had no horror in it lol…but I did put it in to make sure folk knew the overall genre….I inow its nit everyone’s cup of camomile. Good point…my dubious maths method did near double the original personal target. And agreed. Life juggling and slotting writing in to that intensity has to be disciplined…and it helps if you find the story flowing and not stuck n limbo with you hating it!
      Thank you Rachael 😊

      • Since there’s no horror in the excerpt I might have to go back and read it, but I am afraid I’ll enjoy it so much I’ll want to keep reading and then I’ll get all freaked out and never be able to get the horror monsters out of my head! As it is, I was out shoveling yesterday and I swear someone said my name but there was no one there! *shivers*

        • Seriously, there’s no horror in this extract…it was picked because I know some of my friends aren’t keen on scary stuff. This is more about states of mind. The bad stuffs a chapter away from here and fortunate for you this is likely to be the last I post on this project because the manuscript is aiming to be published 😊

          However…I have been discussing wordless horror posts lol

            • You’ve probably seen two word story posts, the concept is similar. You post a word or a sentence and leave the rest of the prompt reader’s imagination. The conversation started as a joke with the word “clowns” and it quickly turned into a series of reasons to fear them … It, Zombieland, and so on. The wordless part is the absence of anything leading the prompt further. Thought it might be a bit of fun lol

  14. Congrats on your NaNo win!

    I know I’m using December to catch up on everything I let slip in the push for NaNo. 🙂

    I’ll get back to finishing the story in a couple weeks, right now, it’s downtime.

    • Thank you Morgan 😊
      And I’m so with you on catch up, all my social media have cobwebs on them…I’m a bit behind on the blog hop too…not by intention, just by time which is flying past way too quickly ! I’m hoping to finish my book soon too…I’ve just had a blip since finishing NaNo due to jelly head! That said I’m plugging folk already for next year to buddy up with. This was my first time so it was slim on that front 😱

  15. cwhawes says

    Hey Gary! Very much enjoyed your insight into NaNo. Makes me want to give it a shot next year. And I thought your novel excerpt was excellent – I want to read more!

    • Brilliant to see you here and thanks for the generous comment! I delayed doing this post as post NaNo was a bit jelly head…that’s absolutely the only downside. I’m definitely up for it next year and will start plugging for buddies in August…so expect a reminder lol.
      Thanks too for reading the excerpt. I’m hoping to finish another chapter this week and take it into the final phases over the next few weeks. NaNo broke its back as it were but I’m aiming at 70,000 to 80,000 words in total. Then it’s a case of getting a couple of folk to test read and see if it’s really worth pushing it into print. OK, how am I kidding…it will get there…but it does need reading by other eyes than mine !!!

  16. Gary- funny thing. I read “WriMo” in your title as “WINNER”!!!
    You are a winner, big time! Everyone is a winner who hit their own target! I’m in awe at your accomplishment!!

    • Quite right you are, technically I did “win” and have the certificate saying so too. However, winning on NaNo, to me, is about signing up and writing what you can. Set your own goal and if you reach that then brilliant. I hit mine (30,000 words) quite early, so reset my margins and forced myself to head onwards. I needed to get the bulk of me new book down because I have procrastinated over it for absolutely ages….not good that lol
      And thank you so much for the supportive accolades 😊

  17. This is fantastic….you are so impressive and I thoroughly enjoyed this read–as always…as I said before, you write in a language that is so comfortable for me to understand…your voice is at once, familiar…yet, it is saying things I’ve never heard before…you are a master at creating suspense and drawing the reader in…your dialogue reads effortlessly….your descriptions are awesome…and, poor Joe…you really have a way of connecting the reader and character….that reflects your own capacity for empathy….I love you writing 🙂

    • Not sure about fantastic…it’s just the first draft!! But if you find the narrative style easy to drop in on and follow, even though it’s an excerpt from later in the book then I’m pretty pleased with that! Likewise getting the reader to identify. This one does drift quickly from character to character in places…not so much in this extract..but it does have a flavour of it.
      Poor Joe…yes…his journey gets much worse…
      Thank you so much for th encouragement 😊

      • Gary, your excerpts are so entertaining and rich…the fact that they can stand alone is evidence of the rightness/writeness of what you write…keep doing what you are doing, it’s awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

        • That is tremendously kind Truly, even when I’m uncertain about something the comments here seem to uplift things and say carry on. We shall see whether the draft, once completed, has the same resonance that this part seems to hold.
          Thank you so much !

    • Excellent to know, I’m finding there are quite a few the write that way, despite “convention” saying one must plan first. Each to their own in my opinion. Find what works for you and write on! Never thought of it as a fictional community, but what a lovely expression. I might use it ! Thank you so much for the support and I’m going to spend some time catching up this week and you are on to hit list 😊

  18. Why didn’t you TELL me instead of watching me mess about on my blog…
    LOVE it! It has a real 21st century feel to it with all the social habits etc. of people. Love the distinctly different dialogue and speech patterns of the characters…am I too late to plead for the life of the major character..?
    Thank you very much, great post and extract 🙂 just need the rest of the book now please! 🙂

    • Just testing your reaction times. Normally it’s very quick and I did post it quite late on.
      I assume you mean Conrad? My young goth is on the hit list two 🤕
      In fact at this juncture (chapter 11) there are three deceased folk. I will take your word upon feedback too. This is proper as it went into NaNo. Totally unedited.
      Rest of the book? Is that you lobbing your name in to the beta hat then 👀

      • My replying to comments is rubbish at the minute..butterfly brain..easily distracted…
        I didn’t want to say any names in the hope you, as their creator , might have mercy…
        Yes, thoroughly enjoyed it and as I believe I said before, real ongoing series potential 🙂 And yes. Of course. Advance viewing? YES PLEASE!!

        • That’s because we are hopping between several posts! Maybe…I have been known to answer posts out of sequence AND in response to the wrong comment! I am aiming to finish this book and then return to the short story blog ones and begin turning those ideas into a manuscript too. Just to be absolutely clear…you want to beta read it 👀

            • I’m hoping it doesn’t take a year lol. I want to knock the series up quickly…and try to get back to my opus magna…or the anthology….or both….maybe publish something too!
              I shall add you to the list of two post haste, but will have to have an email to send it to when the time arrives 🤔

                    • You on Facebook too? That’s an easy way to message as well lol. I’ll look out for it…mind you, that is also my Twitter email so it really gets hundreds of emails a day 😱

                    • It’s easy enough to lock your profile down to friends inky and if your not posting anything sensitive then it’s not worse than here. Mind you, I appreciate its not everyone’s cuppa 🙃

                    • Only sometimes…I do that all the time, especially these days because I don’t trust a single politician to be uneconomical with the truth 😕

                    • It’s so obvious it might just work….although openly saying we’re sorry, but it’s all gone wrong might not buy the electorate lol

                    • I am rather pleased not to have he the misfortune to have hard that one…or, maybe I have and my brains bricked it up into the don’t go there ever again box! I am thinking Terry Wogan now with that song he did once join a yore…the title to which is also in that box!

                    • Ahh, that was it…thank you for reminding me of celebrity horror 😱

                    • Oh dear…there’s Klingons on the starboard bow….Pandoras Box of bad music is opening. Must turn to Cream and a Badge 🤕

                    • Fortunately I am not a cider drinker and have no idea what you are referring to 😜

                    • Come now, we haven’t even toouched on Mr Blobby, by that we’ll know singer Mr Blobby….not forgetting the seasonal Wombling Merry Christmas…..you have just reminded me that I owe my friend, who’s hobby is writing to popstars challenging their lyrical content, a book review 🤔

                    • You are excused indeed…although Inam now WINGing it while everyone is having “A Wonderful Christmas Time.”
                      Wordless horror has nothing on the way this thread is going 😱

                    • No n my head…I’m still preparing so it must surely be last week still!

                    • Egg nog…haven’t touched the stuff in years…gran relic and messy messy times!

                      Sprouts…now there’s a book….Robert Rankin, The Sprouts of Wrath…if you like comedic fiction try that one 😁

                    • I’ve never actually tried it… isn’t it something totally vile like egg yolks and sherry…emphatic horror!
                      I’ll have to give that a go, hoping sprouts don’t feature too much. My mother tried to persuade me that sprouts with chestnuts are a GOOD IDEA…

                    • Actually, it’s book FOUR in The Brentford Trilogy….which I think is now nine in total! First one is called The Antipope. Not huge things, but made me chuckle 😊

                    • Yes, I did, your memory is definitely very good! I barely remember yesterday! Have to say I’ve not read them all though. For me they began to get a bit samey after about 25. I also found Rankin, who I probably closer to my own sense of humour….although Pratchet’s Death character always cracks me up

                    • Not on GoodReads are you? I just discovered that and am organising my read and to read books on there. Granted it may be a shade more shameless author promotion platform building… But hey ho…. Kings Dark Tower too….before the movie comes out 😊

                    • Oh yes.. thank you for the reminder. Haven’t looked at GoodReads, will get round to Googling it as I’m catching up on everything.

                    • You could just go there via my link on the gnome post. I quite like it s a bit of fun…but then if I’m publishing next year then my book may well get stuck up there so I figured I’d investigate first !

                    • No n?? Not in….sheesh….my characters speak with clearer diction

  19. Hi Gary,
    You lost November? I am sorry you are so busy. Perhaps the upcoming holidays will afford you a break. It has been a turbulent year politically for both our countries. Sounds like we could both use a break.
    Your friend Janice

    • Hi Janice, a metaphorical loss…apart from social media. I stayed off that for most of the month. Writing a book and social media don’t make good bedmates, especially during NaNo.
      By break….you aren’t going on another cruise are you!!! And yes, I could certainly to with a break for sure!

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