Monday, November 30, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week Four Report--It's Okay to Celebrate!


This past week our NaNo project crossed the 50,000-word mark, which means we've officially "won" NaNoWriMo 2015. This is the fifth time I've participated in NaNoWriMo, and the fifth time I've hit 50K. Honestly, it's a feeling that never gets old.

But you know what's weird? After a short time of celebrating, part of me started to minimize the accomplishment. I see a lot of other NaNo winners do this as well, and I can only attribute it to that self-critical part of every writer that rears its head as soon as you come up for air from any project. Here are some typical things I've either said or have seen other Wrimos say in the past few days, especially in response to the congratulations they get from others:

"My story isn't done yet. I still have a really long way to go."
"The draft needs tons of work."
"I'll be doing rewrites for months."

It's like we feel guilty for celebrating our accomplishment, so we immediately start to take away from it.

But here's the thing--if you've written every day this month--that's a victory. if you've got 20, 30 or 40,000 words down on a project--that's a victory. And if you've written 50,000 words or more in a month--THAT'S FREAKING AMAZING.

For many of us, we did this in addition to our full-time jobs, our family obligations, and everything else life has thrown at us over the month of November. So, if you've participated in NaNoWriMo, YOU HAVE WON.

Congratulations, and let's all celebrate together.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week Three Report

Here we are, entering the final week of another NaNoWriMo. It's kind of unbelievable, the more I think about it. This will be my fifth NaNoWriMo event since 2007, and my third in a row. And every time I cross that finish line, it still blows me away. It's a great feeling, and a reminder that the answer to an often-asked question about writing never changes.

The question: When do you find time to write?

The answer: You don't. You make time.

That's it--you make the time to write. It's not some mystery, it's not some hidden thing that you might be lucky enough to put your hands on if you look in the right place. It's there, all the time, staring you in the face.

You have to make time to write. And when I say you, I mean me. I mean us. We have to make time to write.

I love to write. If I could, I would make it my full-time job. I WANT writing to be the way I make my living. Hopefully someday I will be able to write full-time.

But that isn't my life right now.

So, in order to write, I have to make time for it. And one of the things I love most about NaNoWriMo is that through its community, it's never-ending waves of positivity and its audacity to dare us to write a novel in one month, NaNoWriMo helps us make time to write.

Right now, at this stage of my writing life, I need NaNoWriMo. The NaNo events are the only times of the year that I've consistently been able to write 2,000 words a day for a prolonged period of time. I've gone through good stretches of writing at least 500-1000 words a day outside of NaNo events, but only within them have I been able to hit those counts for a whole month.

But regardless of the word counts, what NaNo has helped me to do over the past several years is create a routine that involves regular writing. Whether it's a blog post, a short story, or the latest book I'm working on, I write almost every single day. Because way back in 2007, NaNoWriMo showed me that it was possible, if I just prioritized my writing and made time for it.

That's not to say that life doesn't get in the way, or that you don't need to take a break from writing now and again. It just means that you can't let life derail you, or those breaks to stretch into long periods of inactivity. There will always be times when we cannot write. The trick is to keep writing as something sacred that you will make time for.

I hate running, but I like to think of my approach to writing and NaNo events like training for marathons. You don't run the big events all the time, but you never stop training. So, while 2K a day is not an every-month thing, I'm still getting my daily training in. And unlike running, I actually love spending time on my writing.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week Two Report

How's it going, fellow Wrimos? Everyone hanging in there, plugging away each day? Even if you're behind on your word count, don't panic--there's still a lot of November left to make up ground.

I wrote a lot of words this week, and I feel pretty good about most of them. Our NaNo project sits at 32,000 words as I write this, which is pretty much exactly where we should be. I can already tell this story will go way beyond 50k in terms of total word count, but Jolene and I will get as much of it done as we can this month.

As far as the story itself, an interesting thing happened this week. The more Jolene and I talked about it, the more we realized that one story was not going to be enough for our characters and the world we've created. And so, Orchard Pointe will now be a series!

I'm not at liberty to talk more details yet, but we've dropped a couple hints if you're following Jolene or I on Twitter. Needless to say, we will now have two YA horror series under the Horror Twins banner, and we are very excited about both of them! They're both very different, but we think that if you dug HARROWED, you'll like the Orchard Pointe series as well.

I can tell you is that this week I wrote about clowns, peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches, origami, nightmares and arcade games. So, make of that what you will.

Okay. I'll tell you one more thing. The Lost Boys is one of the many inspirations for this book, but maybe not necessarily in the way you might think.

Okay, that's it. Don't tell Jolene I said anything. I have to get back to writing now. I'll check in again next week, and don't forget to follow Jolene and I on Twitter for more hints about our current project and other stuff to come.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Artists Amy Kukta and Don Cardenas Bring the Woodsview Harvester to Life

My friend and fellow Midnight Society member Faith McKay came up with the wonderful idea of keeping our Halloween spirit going all year long with the Spooky All Year blog hop, which takes place on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. You can find out more and see the posts for each installment over at The Midnight Society. I'm kicking off my series of posts with one about a character I created with another fellow Midnighter, Jolene Haley.

I'm speaking of course about the Woodsview Harvester.

The Harvester is the slasher who terrorizes the students of Woodsview High School in HARROWED the first installment of our Woodsview Murders series (which you can get right here on Amazon).

As huge horror fans, it was important for Jolene and I to craft a character that could stand on its own as a slasher. When you say that word, it conjures images of Jason, Freddy, Michael, Leatherface, and other iconic villains from some of our favorite scary movies. And from the response we've gotten, it seems like the Harvester fits the bill!

But as scary movie lovers, there was a part of us that wanted to actually see a visual representation of the Harvester. So, I put the word out to my artist pals, and a couple of them sketched their interpretations of the Woodsview Harvester:

Drawn by Amy Kukta

Drawn by Don Cardenas
How awesome are those?! Thanks so much to Amy Kukta and Don Cardenas for their amazing work! Jolene and I have some cool plans for the harvester over the next several months, so stay tuned. And don't forget to check out The Midnight Society for more Spooky All Year posts and follow the #SpookyAllYear hashtag on Twitter!

Monday, November 9, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week One Report

The first week of NaNoWriMo 2015 is in the books (pun intended), and the project that Jolene Haley and I are working on sits at 18,000 words. That's a great spot to be in as we begin week two, and our story is really starting to hit its stride.

As I've talked about before, Jolene and I live on opposite coasts, so that presents a bit of a challenge as far as writing a book together. I've talked a bit about our process before (here and here, among other places), but the short version is that we make heavy use of the comment and chat system in Google Docs, and we have a planning doc and a Pinterest board that we are constantly updating and referring to as well. We also have periodic Skype calls to talk through any issues, and we Skype more frequently when we get to edits.

After using the aforementioned process for HARROWED, it was like putting on my favorite pair of wool socks this time around. We have a system that works, and we roll with it.

As much as we love the Woodsview Murders series (we are already a good ways into book two), we are working on a totally different story this month. It is a YA horror story, and I can't wait to tell folks more about it in the coming months (although Jolene and I are already dropping hints on Twitter if you follow us).

One of the ways Jolene and I get our ideas.

The biggest challenge for me so far is that we are writing this new story in first person. I write third person almost all of the time. In fact, until now, I think one short story is the only thing I've written in first person. So, it's been an adjustment, but I'm really enjoying the challenge. Not to mention, Jolene is a fantastic writer who frequently writes first person, so I am learning a ton working with her on this project (yet another benefit of collaborating).

So, week one was a success, and we look to keep the momentum going this week. The second week is where a lot of NaNo projects tend to slip, so we are determined not to let that happen. It helps that our story is really picking up, so we'll be writing a lot of the fun stuff this week as we start to destroy the nice little world we had built for our characters.

Here's hoping all our fellow Wrimos have a great week two!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Join Jolene Haley and I on 11/8 for a HARROWED Chat!

Every single month, my friends over at The Midnight Society host a book chat as part of the Midnight Book Club. Each month the club picks a book, and early the following month, Jennifer Brinkmeyer leads the chat on the Midnight Society twitter handle, under the hashtag #MidnightBooks

The book of the month for October 2015 was HARROWED, and tomorrow night, we're chatting about it at 8pm EST (7pm CST)! 

So, if you've got questions for Jolene and I, comments about the book, or just stuff you want to discuss, jump on the hashtag and join the discussion! 

And of course, if you haven't picked up HARROWED yet and want to binge read it in one night to get ready for tomorrow, you can get it right here!