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What I Learned from Camp NaNoWriMo

I won Camp NaNoWriMo!

I set a word count goal of 10,000, the lowest option, because I knew April would be a difficult month for me. Part of my goal was to write every day of April, not just to make the 10k word count. So far I’ve fulfilled that too, and plan on making sure I finish it. I’ve learned some good things this month.

1. It’s not that hard to be a little productive on my writing every day. With a goal of 10,000 words over 30 days, that works out to an average of writing 333.3 words a day, which I rounded up to 334. That’s not a lot. The book review I wrote yesterday was 375 words, and the last update I wrote about Camp NaNoWriMo was 299. The total for this post is 696. It really isn’t that hard to get in 334 words a day, or 500, or even 1000. My word count for Tuesday was 1026, which didn’t actually feel like much at all. I’ve done a lot of the writing this month in small chunks as I had the chance, and probably over half of it on my phone. There were times that meant I spent two minutes on writing while waiting for food to cook, or while the kids played on the playground. I use Scrivener on the computer, but when I’m not at the computer have my phone, I use Google Docs and later just paste what I wrote into Scrivener. That’s been a huge help toward me getting this done. Sometimes all I can do is slowly chip away at it, but that’s a whole lot better than not doing anything! So by setting my word count low, to what I felt was reasonable for me this month, I learned a valuable lesson.

2. I need to start planning and plotting more. I think I would have been a lot more productive this month had I actually had a structured plan on what to write. Instead, I bounced around between different projects and felt a little lost. I did make some good progress on a few projects, but I could have done so much more had I known what to write about instead of spending so much time floundering as I tried to think up what to work on. Now I’m finally making myself go through K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel (http://amzn.to/23akB2d) and Outlining Your Novel (http://amzn.to/1QDhF7a) , and will start going through the workbooks to plan out a couple of stories as soon as April is over. However, even though that was a big struggle, that’s not what limits me the most, which brings me to my next point.

3. A lack of confidence is my biggest obstacle when it comes to writing. Sometimes I tell myself I just don’t know what to write, when actually, the problem is that I don’t feel like I can write well enough. What if it’s cliche? What if my characters are flat? What if my characters are unbelievable? What if I just don’t know how to write well? What if… And the list goes on. What I really need to do is lock up my perfectionistic inner editor, just get the words on paper, and stop worrying about it. That’s what editing is for! It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. That’s why it’s called a rough draft.

While I might not have as productive as I’d like on certain projects, Camp NaNoWriMo was very beneficial for me. Now my plan is to take a step back from the writing on my novella, and spend a lot of time planning, outlining, and structuring. I’ll keep up the writing in small bits though, because now I know I can do that in addition to everything else. I’m definitely planning on doing Camp again in July. I hope to shoot for 25k words, but since we’re moving in June, I’ll re-evaluate as July gets closer.

If you did Camp NaNoWriMo, how did it go for you? Did you learn anything from the process? If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo in its various forms, check it out!

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Book Review: The Riddle-Master Trilogy

Whenever I go to the library, I have a set routine. I walk past the used book store and skim over the books, then go pick up my holds. A few weeks ago, I was excited to find Robin McKinley’s Beauty for sale. I read it a few years ago and loved it, and have been wanting to read it again. Of course, I bought it. When I went to pay for it, the librarian assisting me was excited to see what I was buying, and showed me a few other books she thought I would like.

Her first choice for me was Patricia McKillip’s Riddle-Master trilogy. I had never read any Patricia McKillip before, but simply reading the introduction, I knew I would love her. The version I got contained all three books from the trilogy in one volume, but you can get them individually as well, which is what I generally prefer. However, it seems a lot more difficult to find the books separately. The individual titles are The Riddle-Master of Hed; Heir of Sea and Fire; and Harpist in the Wind. They were beautifully written, and reminiscent of both J.R.R. Tolkien and Robin McKinley. How could I not love them?

The story follows the journey of Morgon, prince of Hed, as he seeks answers to the riddles that haunt him. It was a slow moving story at times, with a lot of moments of confusion and not really knowing what was going on. But I think some level of that is acceptable in a high fantasy story about answering riddles, and it kept me reading in need of discovering the answers. Why are these riddles so important? What is the meaning of the stars? Who is the High One, and who is his harpist? Questions abound to keep you wondering and reading on, but don’t expect to get many answers for a while. The prose is beautiful, but slow moving. I enjoy that at times, but it isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy epic high fantasy in the style of Tolkien, read The Riddle-Master trilogy. I picked up McKillip’s book The Bards of Bone Plain at the library a few days ago, but haven’t started it yet. I look forward to reading more of her work.

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Monday Updates

I’m still chipping away at Camp NaNoWriMo, though I’m several hundred words behind after a busy weekend. Saturday, we went to the zoo for our 4-year-old’s birthday. Then Sunday was our anniversary. We ran errands that afternoon, then after the kids were in bed, we (finally!) watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I enjoyed it overall, though parts of it seemed too forced. It felt like they were trying too hard to reference the original trilogy, and re-used too many old lines. It was good, though, and something I’ll watch again. I’m looking forward to the next one.

I’m slowly working on my Christmas novella, though I think I need to plan it out more. I’m going to keep working on it until April and Camp NaNoWriMo are over, then probably take a break from the writing and work more on plotting and structure before finishing up the first draft. Hopefully I can also have my next novella well planned out before July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Here’s my current one-line summary of the Christmas novella: “A man dressed up as Santa hears a Christmas wish he can’t refuse.” I don’t think it’s the best representation of the story, but it’s what I’m working off of for now. I’m really liking my character Isaac. He’s the son of the main female character, Lauren. Right now, he’s trying to convince his mom she needs a sweater with jingle bells all over it. He seems like a fun kid. I’m hoping to make some good progress on this story over the summer, and hopefully have it ready this fall.

Tomorrow is the release date for Chautona Havig’s new book, Sweet on You. I’ll be posting my review tomorrow, as well as links to information for her bonus short story!

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Camp NaNoWriMo Updates

Winning begins today for Camp NaNoWriMo! I’m not there yet, but hopefully I’ll finish up early. I got a few days behind, but finished catching up yesterday. I want to be a day or two ahead going into the weekend, so I’m working on that today. Thankfully I kept my word count goal low. It’s working out to be a manageable amount for me this month.

I came into Camp working on a few different projects, but I think that was hurting my progress. It was harder to just go ahead and write when I felt torn between multiple projects, none of which were very planned out. I’m still working a bit here and there on a few, but now I’m mostly concentrating my efforts on a Christmas novella I’ve been thinking over for several months. I initially thought it would be a short story. However, it seems to need more words than that, to better tell Andrew and Lauren’s story. I had the idea yesterday to make it the first in a series of Christmas novellas, revolving around secret Santas. Those should be fun to write! I’m looking forward to getting this first one finished and polished, and plan on releasing it for free later this year. I’m hung up on the title right now. I’ve had a few ideas, but they all feel too generic. Hopefully soon I can hit on one that feels right.

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Newfangled – Book Review

Today is the release day for the book Newfangled! I read an advanced reader copy of the book in exchange for my review. It was written by an online acquaintance of mine I know through another advanced reader group.

Newfangled is a sweet, slow-paced story, following the day-to-day life and struggles of a Christian girl trying to figure out how she fits into life. The characters grow and develop well, and Olive has to face some predicaments that are typical, but difficult issues. It was refreshing to read because it’s different from most books in that it’s dealing with more everyday problems, rather than out of the ordinary, unrealistic events that most people would never face. However, despite the ordinariness of her life, the story held my interest and I found myself invested in Olive and wanting to get to know her better. I felt her pain and uncertainty, and appreciated how she grew through her obstacles. I would love to read more about her.

Newfangled is free for Kindle through Tuesday. Get a copy from Amazon here!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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April Camp Day 1

Camp NaNoWriMo starts today! I went into not knowing what I was going to write. I have a long list of project ideas, but I didn’t really have anything planned other than some very general story ideas and writing prompts. I was trying to figure out what to work on when I remembered an idea that’s been simmering for a while. A friend of mine wrote a blog series on trying something new every day for a month, which gave me the idea to write a journal-type story from the point of view of a character doing something similar. I decided this afternoon that would be the perfect project for this month! It gives me something to write about every day, it doesn’t need an over-arching plot right now, and the entries can vary in length. I looked over my current list of name ideas and the perfect name for the character jumped out at me. Things are starting to fall into place, and I have a long list of ideas for new things for her to try. Depending on how it turns out, I might do some revisions over the next couple of months and post it when I’m done. I think I’ll continue it as a series as well, with her and her best friend doing various challenges together and learning and growing through the journey. I’m excited about where it will go!

This blog post brings me to 518 words for the day, which is great, because I need to average 334 a day to reach my goal for the month!

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