Monday, November 24, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Thoughts on Hitting 50k

Wait--if you're reading this and you haven't hit your daily word count for NaNoWriMo yet, go do that first, then come back.

All set? Okay!

Woo-hoo! I hit 50k!!!!!!

I think it was around 4:30PM Sunday that I hit the magic number for this year's NaNoWriMo event. And while my book is definitely not finished yet, I did reach the goal all Wrimos set for themselves when they embark in this crazy adventure at the beginning of November--50,000 words in 30 days.

I actually looked back at the post I made last year when I finished NaNoWriMo, and my feelings this year are pretty much the same. The sense of accomplishment, the love for the NaNo community, the reinforcement of how important it is to write regularly--all of it. The more NaNo events I participate in, the more I love them, and the bigger evangelist I become for what everything they are about.

Here is the mission statement of NaNoWriMo (from their ABOUT page):

National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.

What a great sentiment. And I can say from experience that NaNoWriMo does exactly what it sets out to do. These events inspire and encourage people, and they build community among those who take up the challenge. they have inspired me, helped me make some great friends in the writing community, and without them I never would have gotten my first book out into the world.

If there is a new lesson I took away from this year's event, it was the importance of starting strong. For the first time time, I actually stayed up until midnight and began writing the second NaNoWriMo started. That night I got over 3,100 words down, and within three days, I had over 10,000. That strong start took a lot of the pressure off as I moved forward, as I was always working with a cushion of words that I could fall back on if there was a day I couldn't get a ton of writing done. Because of that, my average never dipped below 2,000 words a day. This allowed me to truly enjoy the experience as opposed to playing catch up.

There's no rest for me now that I've hit my 50k mark, I've still got plenty to do, and I will be writing for the rest of the month alongside all of my fellow Wrimos, cheering them on and celebrating their successes with them. In the coming months, I will be dedicating an entire new season of the See Brian Write podcast to NaNoWrimo, and I will be putting out an open call for people interested in being on the show. Stay tuned for that one.

So, if you're somewhere along the way to 50k, keep going! I'll be the crazy bearded guy at the finish line screaming and cheering for you.

P.S. If you enjoy NaNoWriMo as much as I do, I would encourage you to donate a few dollars to help them keep these great events going. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

See Brian Write--Episode #23--Joel T. McGrath and Kindle Scout

In the twenty-third episode of See Brian Write, I'm joined by my first ever return guest, as Joel T. McGrath stops by to talk about his new book Dwellers. The book is currently entered in the Kindle Scout program, and Joel shares a lot of great information about the program and his experience with it so far.

You can listen to the entire episode right here in the player below, or head over to to download the MP3. You can also subscribe to the podcast with these feeds:


iTunes: itpc://


Joel T. McGrath

Dwellers on Kindle Scout (Vote Now!)

More About Kindle Scout

Body Language in Literature by Barbara Korte

NOTE: If you are a writer and want to be on the podcast, either email me (, or DM me on twitter: I am now scheduling new interviews!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Amazon's Premium Headphones Offer Great Sound for the Money

Between listening to podcasts and music, as well as editing a few hours of audio per week, I spend a lot of time with earbuds stuck in my ears.

I wouldn't characterize myself as an audiophile, as I listen to a lot of radio quality audio and streaming '80s metal. But, I do appreciate a good listening experience, and I am quite picky when it comes to the form factor of my headphones/earbuds. I cannot stand the current style of earbuds that you basically plug into your ear canal. Even when they come with multiple sizes for the covers, I can never find a good fit, and the earbuds are constantly falling out. Not to mention, I find them terribly uncomfortable overall.

I like the kind of earbuds that just sit in your ear, and the ones I found most comfortable for the past few years are now discontinued. When my last pair started to fail, I wan on the lookout for a decent pair of earbuds, but didn't want to spend a lot of money on a set I had no experience with. I wanted something similar to Apple's current EarPods, which sit in your ear the way I prefer. At $30, I was considering just buying a pair of those, as I've read good things about them.

As luck would have it though, Amazon ran a deal on their premium headphones that were designed to go with the new Fire phone. Normally $25, they were on sale for $10 back in September, so I ordered a pair. After about two months of usage, I can say that overall, I'm pretty darn impressed by these headphones, and would even recommend them at the $25 price tag.

The headphones are very similar to the Apple EarPods, although they are slightly larger and the tips of them flare out a little, to provide a more snug fit. I like the way they sit in my ear.

The cord of the Amazon headphones is longer than most I've had, but more importantly--it's flat. They are designed to be tangle-free, and while I'm not sure that is 100% accurate, I can tell you I have not had any major tangles with them at all. As you can see from the pic above, the other cool thing about the design is the magnetic backing of each earbud. When they're anywhere close to one another, they snap together, which also helps prevent tangles.

All of that stuff wouldn't mean anything if the sound quality was terrible, and I'm happy to report that the Amazon headphones sound quite good, especially for the price. I get a very full sound out of them, with good highs, mids and lows. I like a lot of bass in my music, and these headphones can give the sound a nice bottom without drowning everything else out. I have used them for editing podcast audio as well as listening to higher quality audio, and was very happy with how they sounded.

My only real gripe about the earbuds is that they aren't great for calls. I think the mic itself works fine, but it's positioned too low on the cord, so I often have to hold the mic closer to my mouth or it sounds like I'm across the room to the person I'm talking to. It's not the end of the world, and I don't make a ton of calls with my earbuds in anyway. But if that's a sticking point for you, you may want to consider something else.

All in all, the Amazon headphones are a solid deal at $25, and if you see them for cheaper, you should grab them. And you can, right here.

One note of warning--the longer cord has a habit of getting caught on things if you leave it dangling. Take it from someone who had almost torn their ears off on numerous occasions.

Monday, November 10, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Hitting 23k and Feeling the Love

Ten days into NaNoWriMo 2014, and I'm at just over 23,000 words. Remember last week when I posted about my annual Pre-NaNoWriMo Freak Out? Well I have another annual tradition as well--the mid-November "I Am So Freaking Glad I Signed up for NaNoWriMo This Year Exclamation of Joy."

But seriously, it's so worth it. Even if I stopped today, I would still have a huge jump on the fourth book in the Parted Veil series, just as I'm about to release book three (Lovecraft's Pupil).

But what's even better than cranking away on the new book is the totally amazing, supportive and wonderful people that make up the NaNoWriMo community. I've said it before, but they are the real reason I participate in both NaNoWriMo and Camp Nano. Not only are the message boards over at the NaNoWriMo site and the Twitter hashtag #NaNoWriMo filled with daily inspiration and great writing tips, but anytime I'm struggling with my own project, I just crowd surf that amazing community. Any post about struggling or needing support is immediately met with your own personal cheering section, picking you up and urging you forward until you hit your word count. It's really amazing, and it makes this event so much fun to be a part of.

I love giving support just as much as getting it, and after I hit my own goal for the day, i like to hop on the twitter hashtag and interact with others, offering support where I can and just basking in the awesomeness of that community.

If you happen to be participating in NaNoWriMo and haven't yet engaged with the community, I really hope you throw yourself out there. It's the best part of the whole experience.

Oh, I almost forgot--I'm considering doing an entire season of the See Brian Write podcast dedicated to NaNoWriMo, and featuring interviews with fellow participants of both NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned for more on that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Sprinting 2k a Day

I got off to a great start for NaNoWriMo this year. Because the event kicked off on a weekend, I started writing at midnight on Halloween and hit my word count goal (2,000) before I even went to bed. Saturday was a really busy day for the family, so I only added another 1,000 words or so, but still--3,000+ words on day one of NaNoWriMo is a great start.

Sunday was a day I had set aside writing time, so it wasn't hard to hit my count for day two, either. But I was already starting to worry about hitting those 2k a day counts during the work week.

Right now, my writing routine is to get up at 5:15AM and get about an hour's worth of writing in before everyone else gets up and we start the work/school day. But I haven't had to be really efficient with that hour in some time now, so I'm not regularly coming anywhere close to 2k during an average weekday writing session.

So, during my writing time on Sunday, I practiced with a few one-hour sprints. Here's what I was able to get done:

Sprint 1: (10am-11am): 1276

Sprint 2: (2:30pm-3:30pm): 958

Sprint 3: (3:45pm-4:45pm): 1142

Overall, I was pretty happy with the results. Sure, I'd love to hit 2k in an hour and nail my word count for the day first thing in the morning, but I now that's not going to be realistic most days. If I can get 800-1000 words down to start the day however, I can get a shorter session in at lunch and then another sometime at night to try and hit my goal.

I find that if I approach writing sessions as defined blocks of time, I'm much more productive than if I just sit in front of the computer for hours on end. So whether I have an hour or just fifteen minutes, having that end time pushes me to focus more and just get the words out.

Sometime next week, I'll post about how the morning sessions are shaping up. Stay tuned!

By the way, if you're reading this and you're a NaNoWriMo participant this year, add me as a writing buddy! You can find me at: Happy sprinting!