My First NaNoWriMo

I joined NaNoWriMo in October 2008 because that’s when Kris discovered it and told me all about it. I skipped that year, though.

I didn’t feel as though I’d prepared enough to write a novel when I had only just found out about the challenge a week before it started. So, I hung around on the website all month long lurking in the forums and getting to know the community.

It wasn’t until November 2009 that I decided to give NaNo a real shot.

My First NaNoWriMo

I wrote a novel called The Others. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken of this story on my blog since I started blogging in May 2012 and by that time The Others was already a memory.

I remember planning as best as I could the October before. However, at this point, I had never actually completed a first draft of a novel before. I didn’t even know how outlining worked best for me, so I didn’t have my system all worked out just yet.

But I did it! I wrote 50,000 words that November on The Others. The only downside to it was that I had no idea you needed to validate your word count.

So, when November 30th came and went, I was disappointed to see that I had no certificate. Kris asked if I validated my novel and I believe I responded with, “What does that mean?”

Yep.

I won, but it’s just not official. You have to take my word for it. I wrote 50,000 words, but I never completed the novel. There was a lot more to it.

The Others was an interesting story, from what I can remember about it. There have been novels about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), or Multiple Personality Disorder, and I thought I would write one with a twist.

Those kinds of stories are always told from someone else or the main personality as they try to figure out what’s going on. The Others was told by the various personalities inside the protagonist’s mind.

I promise is sounded much better than how I’m explaining it right now. I remember the basic gist of the story, but I can’t remember too much else about it. Other than the fact that the main character’s name was November… very original.

I don’t have the novel anymore. This was a time when my desk was in the basement of my house and I only saved my stories onto my flash drive.

In January 2012 (I think) my flash drive died. I lost a lot of novels and I was devastated.

Though, now that I think about it, the flash drive might have died in January 2013 because I vaguely remember talking about it on the blog… I don’t know.

Either way, that’s why I have Google Drive, Dropbox, and my flash drive now (except now my USB ports on my laptop don’t work anymore, so my novels are kind of stuck in my flash drive until I get a new laptop).

Maybe I’ll go back and try to write The Others again, maybe I won’t. It was a fun idea to explore and maybe someday I’ll expand on it. But it won’t be anytime soon.

What did you write for your first NaNoWriMo? Do you still have it or did you stop working on it after NaNo? Let me know in the comments! 

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An Hour A Day

If you know anything about me, you know that I work on one writing project after another. I alternate working on multiple projects at once. I get a lot done on these projects. But when it comes to editing, it’s a slow-going process. Sometimes it’s non-existant.

My plan was to have my mystery novel 100% edited by the end of this year and start querying it in January. I did really well working on it at the beginning of the year and then somewhere I got lost along the way. Or my novel got lost. I don’t really know.

Needless to say, I’m taking a break with that one. I hate to say it, but I really need to re-evaluate my plan to tackle that novel. There’s a lot more to figure out than just “editing” it as far as research and deeper plot holes go.

Writing mysteries are hard. I love it, it’s fun, but there’s so much information to remember and to figure out when writing each mystery. And since my novel is the first in a series, I feel the need to figure out the rest of the books before I can fully understand the first mystery. It’s a little hard to explain, you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

So maybe that novel will be ready by December 2017. Because I’ve decided that George and Lilah need a vacation. So I’m not going to look at my manuscript until January 2017. If inspiration happens to strike, then I will most definitely put that to good use, but for right now I’m going to take a step back and then look at it again as though I’m editing the first draft in January.

I know I said I was going to have my sister look at it, but I’m not even going to do that just yet. Maybe next summer.

So, the point of this whole post (now that we’re over 300 words into the article) is that Kris and I had one of our quarter-life-crisis-things when it comes to our writing.

I try to make deadlines for myself and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the end, I know the deadline is “fake” because it was set up by me and I have no one to answer to, except me.

But the reason I do so well with NaNoWriMo is because the deadline is “real.” I have to give my manuscript to someone by the end of the month. That someone being the NaNo validator, but still, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Plus, NaNo is kind of like a competition. And who doesn’t like a fun competition?

So Kris and I decided to commit to one novel each. We both have a novel that’s mostly written, but the first draft isn’t quite finished.

For me, it’s The Lost Girl. I wrote 58,000 words of the novel back in April for Camp NaNoWriMo, but the actual story wasn’t complete.

I know I wrote a post a while ago saying my plans were to finish the novel, edit it in the summer, and then post it on Wattpad in November or December. Well, this may come as a shock to you, but I haven’t touched that story since the end of April.

I was focused more on why George and I couldn’t get along and then when I finally threw in the towel for that one, I decided to work on short stories.

Anyway, Kris and I are going to hold each other accountable for our novels. She committed to her fantasy novel and I committed to The Lost Girl. We’re going to work on our manuscripts for at least one hour each day and finish our first drafts by October 1st. Including today, that gives us 32 days, 32 (or more) hours to finish these drafts.

Then, on October 1st, we’re going to write each other letters about our manuscripts, things that we think need work, what we need to edit or research, the works. Then we’ll swap manuscripts and the other will read and critique it. We’ll set a deadline for that and then we’ll go from there.

It’s still a deadline set up by me, but I have someone to answer to other than myself. My manuscript will be leaving my hands in a month even if it’s just going on the desk across from mine.

I think this will work.

How are your writing projects coming along? Let me know in the comments! 

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This Loss is a Win

Camp NaNoWriMo is officially over for another year. I’m proud to say that my winning streak has broken.

This would have been my fifth win in a row, but I never reached 50,000 words. I only made it to 33,259 words. While it feels weird not to make it to 50k, I’m oddly okay with not winning that certificate.

Losing Camp NaNo July 2016 Rachel Poli

I decided to add 50,000 words to my already 50,000-word novel Hunter. As I continued the story where I left off last July, I slowly realized that the story most likely wasn’t going to need another 50k. But I kept writing anyway because… why not?

I think I only added another 20k or 25k or so to the novel before the draft was complete.

I was going to edit it but didn’t want to start it right away. So, I decided to write some Short Story Sundays.

I ended up finishing those for the rest of the year leaving me with the word count I have now: 33k.

I had hoped to get a lot of handwriting done while I was away on vacation. That didn’t work out as I only wrote about 550 words one night and that was it. However, I hung out with my parents and cousins instead so I’m not complaining about not getting any writing done.

There was one day left when I got home and I wondered if I was able to bang out a bunch of words by August 1.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had already won Camp.

No, I didn’t reach my goal of writing 50,000 words in one month. But I got over half, which is better than nothing, I completed the first draft of another novel, and I also completed five months of Short Story Sundays (which is a load off my shoulders, seriously).

NaNo is just about getting the words down. It’s about quantity, not quality. The first draft of everything is crap. The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.

That’s what I did. I got the first draft down. I wrote a bunch of shorts.

So I wasn’t able to print out that winner’s certificate or get the winner’s badges.

But I did win.

Unofficially, but I’m counting it.

Did you win Camp NaNo last month? How did your writing go?

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Story Excerpt: Hunter

I finished writing Hunter within the first couple days of Camp NaNoWriMo. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 27. It’s been proofread, but not edited. So I hope you guys enjoy it.

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016 Story Excerpt by Rachel Poli

            Cat walked around to the other side of the couch and noticed a small end table behind it. There was an oval-shaped picture frame sitting on top. Cat put her gun back into her holster then picked up the frame in one hand and dusting it off with the other.

The picture was of a man and woman, both smiling at the camera looking very happy. Cat squinted at the man. He looked familiar to her. It took a minute and then realized the man must have been Michael Hurst, Brandon’s father. If she was right, then Cat deduced the woman in the picture must have been Brandon’s mother.

Cat peeled her eyes away from the picture. She remembered when she went back in time with Brandon, that Michael went to X-Terminate to try to bail his wife out. She didn’t realize it before, but four-year-old Brandon grew up with no father and no mother because she was captured. Where did he go? How did he take care of himself?

Cat wondered where his mother was now. That was 14 years ago and she didn’t remember ever seeing a woman with the last name Hurst in the building. Cat swallowed a lump in her throat realizing that Brandon’s mother must have been dead.

“Cat,”

Startled, Cat dropped the frame and turned around while taking her gun back out of her holster. She stretched her arms out pointing her weapon to the man who spoke. Before anything else could happen, she heard glass shattering.

Cat squeezed her eyes shut realizing what she had just done. Still pointing her gun outward, she glanced down to her side. She had dropped the picture on the ground by accident and the frame was completely broken.

“What are you doing?” Brandon asked staring blankly at the broken photo.

“I am so sorry…” Cat breathed. She peeled her gaze away from the picture and back at Brandon. “I missed the table.”

“I see that.”

“Catherine?”

Cat looked towards the stairs. Max must have heard her dropping the picture.

“I’m fine, Max! I just walked into a table and something fell.” She explained trying to keep her voice steady, but it still shook anyway.

Cat turned her attention back to Brandon who kept a steady gaze on her. Neither one of them said a word.

What was Cat supposed to say to him? She knew she couldn’t help him. She was a Hunter from X-Terminate. Yet, she felt guilty bringing him back there. She felt guilty capturing the other mutants. She couldn’t be on both sides. She especially couldn’t be on Brandon’s side and let him go right now. Not while Max was just upstairs.

Speaking of Max, Cat turned to look at the stairs again. She was pretty sure he was on his way back down.

“What are you doing here?” Brandon whispered.

“I’m on a mission to bring you in.” Cat said in a low voice.

“And…?” Brandon stretched out his arms as though he was waiting for Cat to make a move.

“And…” Cat mimicked him waiting for him to say something else, even though she knew what he was waiting for her to do. She also knew that he knew she wasn’t going to do anything to him.

“I’m right in front of you, Cat. And you have a gun.” Brandon took a step closer to her.

Cat glanced back down at the picture she broke. She then lowered her gun looking Brandon in the eyes. “I’m a Hunter for X-Terminate. I’m going to be running the company some day.”

“That’s great.” Brandon deadpanned.

“I am on a mission right now. And my orders are you to capture you and bring you back to X-Terminate where you’ll rot in a cell for the rest of your life.”

“If your father doesn’t murder me first.”

Cat winced at the word murder. Was that what her father was? A murdered? She had seen him kill in cold blood and she didn’t agree with it, but she never thought of her father as a murderer. But that’s what killing in cold blood for no reason means… Her father has murdered many people.

Max’s footsteps were getting louder. It sounded as though he had finally made it to the staircase.

“I can’t screw this up anymore, Brandon. I’m sorry.” Cat raised her gun again. She couldn’t let Max see her talking to Brandon and she especially couldn’t let Max see her letting Brandon go. She was in enough trouble as it was and the other Hunters and her father already seemed annoyed with everything she’s messed up with lately.

Cat pulled the trigger and blinked.

Her eyes shot back open and her whole body jolted. She remembered pulling the trigger, but she didn’t remember hearing a shot or feeling the kickback. Once her eyes were open all the way once more, she realized Brandon was no longer in front of her. Cat drew in a deep breath and stumbled backward, gripping the back of the couch to help keep her steady.

“What the hell just happened?” Max clomped down the stairs and put his arms out as though trying to hold his own balance.

“I…” Cat tried to catch her breath. “I saw Brandon. I tried to shoot him. Or, I did shoot him. I don’t know… I pulled the trigger at least.”

Max staggered over to Cat and took her gun out of her hand. He opened it up and counted the bullets. “Nothing shot out of your gun. Are you sure you pulled the trigger?” He closed it and handed it back to her.

“I thought I did.” Cat rubbed the back of her neck putting her gun back into her holster. “I remember starting to pull the trigger but didn’t hear a sound. It was almost like I fell asleep on my feet, but no time passed… And I didn’t actually fall asleep.”

“I feel like I just woke up as well.” Max checked his watch. “But no time passed.”

It was at that moment that Harold, Adam, and Greg burst through the front door of the building, guns at the ready. Once they all looked around and realized Max and Cat weren’t in any danger, they all relaxed.

“Is everyone okay?” Harold let out an exasperated sigh.

“We are, are you?” Max asked.

Harold nodded.

“Did we just get frozen in time?” Adam asked.

“I think so,” Max replied.

Cat blinked a couple of times. She didn’t like the feeling of being frozen in time. She remembered the feeling she had when she teleported with Brandon and she didn’t like that feeling, either. But she would take the teleportation any day over time stopping.

She looked down at the ground next to her and realized that Brandon did indeed stop time. Then he most likely teleported away before unfreezing everything.

The glass was still shattered on the floor, but the fame and the picture were gone.

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So I Had A Post For Today…

I scheduled a post for today way back at the beginning of the month. Except I never wrote it.

I never wrote it because I never finished what I needed to do for my novel in order to write this post.

So I have moved this post to be uploaded on Monday, with some hope that the weekend will allow me some extra time to make it through this little mini-project on my novel and I’ll be able to talk about it on here, my blog.

But I’ll give you a sneak peek, anyway because I really don’t have anything else semi-intelligent to say.

I’ve been slowly working on my detective series, Detective Florence. Notice I said series, not novel.

Sure, I’ve been working on the first novel since November 2013 and I’ve made a lot of changes to it since then. But there’s just so much information that goes into the first novel and I have so many ideas for the novels to come.

You know how when you finished reading the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, you most likely said to yourself, “Wow, Rowling had this all planned from the very beginning!”

I swear she must have thought of the series as a whole and not just novel-by-novel. Or she must have had some idea anyway… I do remember when the fourth novel came out Rowling was interviewed and said she needed to change something in that novel because she noticed a huge plot hole.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been looking at Detective Florence as a whole, not novel by novel. Sure, I’m still sending bits and pieces of the novel to my writer’s group, so I am I mainly focused on the first installment.

But when you have cases that date back to previous cases and people that were connected to cases in the past, I figured I needed to map out all the dates for all the cases I have planned… It’s a lot more work than you would think.

If you know me, then you know math and I don’t get along very well. I’ve already messed it all up twice before finding dates that made sense with one another. George aged five years, but that’s alright I guess… We’ll see how it all works out.

But more on that later.

When you write a series, do you look at it as a whole or just book-by-book?

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