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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Camp: Week Two

camp nanowrimo week two update rachel poli

Two weeks down, two more to go!

Here’s an update of my second week of Camp NaNoWriMo and my novel, The Lost Girl.

The Ups

The story is continuing at a nice pace. I’m sticking to my original ideas and plan for the story. And the characters have (so far) been cooperating.

I ran out of outline (I never finished it before Camp started). This isn’t necessarily an “up,” but I’ve been continuing to write the outline before I start writing for the day. It’s been helping me keep the flow going as I write. So that’s been working out well.

The Downs

I’ve started thinking about the editing process. Already.

I haven’t actually edited anything, but I’ve started thinking about how I want to edit the story and I know what I may leave in, take out, or add later on. This isn’t really a “down,” but I do want to just focus on writing the actual first draft before I go in over my head with thinking about the edits.

Favorite Quote

Tinkerbell flew off of Peter’s shoulder and landed on Grace’s.
“What is she doing?” Grace asked eyeballing Tinkerbell with caution.
“She’s going to help you do something incredible.”

Word Count

Day 7: 2,220
Day 8: 2,066
Day 9: 2,037
Day 10: 2,018
Day 11: 2,073
Day 12: 2,013
Day 13: 2,049
Total for the week: 14,476
Overall total: 28,207

How are you doing with Camp?

Inspiration Station: Checklist For a Novel Idea

Inspiration Station Checklist for a novel idea

Do you have an idea for a novel? There are some things you should have before you start.

Check if you have at least these three things…

1. An interesting unique plot (a conflict as well as a resolution)
2. Compelling characters readers can relate to
3. A clear setting

Or…

You could just wing it. I’m sure that would make for an interesting story.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Editing a Novel

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be a part of this, feel free to check out the Be a Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Herminia, which she discusses editing your novel. Thanks, Herminia!

Are you ready to find out what you should and shouldn’t do during the editing process? Obviously, you don’t have to follow anything mentioned below. Consider them guidelines to make your life a little easier.

If you haven’t written your novel yet, what are you waiting for? Get your story down and then come back to this article.

In theory, editing doesn’t have to be that painful. So why can’t it be that way in practice?

Do save all versions.

Save everywhere. Save as often as possible. Every time you’re tempted to shut down without saving, just imagine losing all your work forever. You can use online cloud storage options like Google Drive or Dropbox. You could invest in a USB flash drive. You might even want to save your manuscript as a draft on WordPress. Besides can you think of one writer who regrets saving?

Don’t be lazy.

If you wrote a novel, you’ve already devoted a lot of time and energy into the project. After all that hard work, why let it go to waste? Slacking off now isn’t an option.

Do read out loud.

You want to catch when you used the wrong word or added an additional one, don’t you? Even better convince someone else to read your work out loud. Then pay them handsomely.

Don’t hold yourself back.

Assuming you aren’t lazy, it’d be a shame if fear stopped you from taking risks. Push your editing to the next level by challenging yourself each time you come back to the page.

Do stay organized.

Use a notebook to jot down what revisions you need to make or create index cards to reorganize the scenes in your story. Whatever works for you will work wonders for your story.

Don’t get defensive.

Especially if you’re defending yourself with excuses.

Do make deadlines.

And meet them. It’s easy to drag out the editing process when you don’t have people breathing down your neck, expecting a polished novel by a certain date. Discipline yourself to be your own boss so work actually gets done. Without a time frame as to when you’ll complete each revision, you may fall into the trap of never giving your novel the attention it deserves.

Don’t chase trends.

At best, the trend will end by the time you publish your novel. At worse, you’ll spend all your time writing something to please others and end up not pleasing anyone. Not even yourself.

Do set reasonable goals.

Setting unreasonable, almost impossible goals you can’t accomplish becomes discouraging over time. On the other hand, think of every time you meet a goal as an encouragement.

Don’t give up.

You didn’t give up on this blog post, did you? Then do the same for your writing, your editing, and everything else in your life.

Another good year full of great stories awaits you.

Have your own editing do’s and don’ts? Feel free to share them below.

Herminia Chow is a creative writer, a brief blogger, a recreational dancer, and an avid reader of all things.

If you would like to know more about Herminia, visit her on her social media:

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First Draft Complete

First draft complete george florence

It took me nine days, but I edited the first draft of George Florence!

One of my 2016 resolutions was to have a better routine with my writing, editing, reading, blogging, etc, etc.

January is and “editing” month for me. That means I don’t plan on writing anything new, though I do continue to blog and read throughout the month.

With that being said, I have specific days to blog and edit/write. This is so I don’t burn myself out with my novels or my blog. Alternating between the two allows me to have a break but still get stuff done.

This is something I’ve mentioned many times before, but I’ll say it again because it’s been working for me. Maybe a similar schedule will work for you as well.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays I write or edit. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays I works on my blogs.

I write and edit in the morning before work Monday through Wednesday. I take Saturdays to write as well because I don’t have work so I have more hours in the day. Plus I go to the bookstore to write. A change in environment is always a good thing and it gets me out of the house.

Since the first day of January was a Friday I started editing George Florence on January 2, a Saturday. Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday after that I edited George Florence every morning before work. On Saturday January 16, I ended up edited over 50 pages. It took me most of the day, but I finished the whole draft.

Now here’s the catch…

When I rewrote this novel in Lilah’s point of view, I never actually finished the novel. I had a lot of information to hold on to as well as tons of research to do.

I originally planned on having each case split into two novels. Then later I decided not to. Then I switched the point of view and didn’t know whether the book would be too long or too short. So I decided to see where it led me.

I ended the draft where I would have ended the “first book” if I was going to continue this particular plot and case through the second book. Though, I don’t think I want to drag it on that long.

So next month I plan on typing up the second draft. As I do, I’ll conduct some research, make notes, and then try to finish the novel. I don’t think the novel will be that much longer anyway. As of right now, unfinished, the novel stands at 233 pages. I may get up to 300 pages or so as I finish it. Then I’m sure I’ll cut some out during the next editing process.

If you’ve read my post Editing Goals, you’ll know I definitely have my work cut out for me next month.

I am going to put George Florence to rest until February comes along. I want to type it up with fresh eyes.

In the meantime, including today, there’s still seven editing days left of January. I started yesterday, which gave me eight days total to edit something else.

So yesterday I started editing Take Over. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with that novel just yet. It’s a standalone novel, so I hope to have it audience worthy by next Fall. I just don’t know if I’m going to query it to agents or maybe put it on Wattpad. Or maybe self-publish it. Who knows?

I guess we’ll have to see how it turns out.

How is your novel coming along?

Beyond NaNoWriMo

Beyond NaNo

NaNoWriMo has come and gone. It’s been a week since the end of the 50k-word challenge.

Did you hit 50k words? Did you complete your novel entirely? Do you still have more to go even after the 50k words?

Whether you’ve finished or not, here are some things you can do now that NaNo is over.

Step Back.

Take a break from your novel. Writing 50k words in 30 days is a lot, especially if you’re an overachiever and reach way over 50k within the month. It’s a lot of strain on your brain, your eyes are crossed, and your fingers can no longer type. Give your characters some space and take a rest.

Write Something Else.

If you still have the itch to write or are afraid you’ll get out of your writing routine, write something else. Write a new novel, a short story, or a poem. Take a break from typing and hand-write for a change. If you hand-wrote your NaNo novel, take a break from that and type something up.

Edit.

Okay, okay. If you really can’t part from your beloved novel go right ahead and start editing it. Start rearranging those scenes, deleting whole pages, or just be on the look-out for typos. Print out your novel and gaze upon the beauty of printed words and breathe in the smell of wet ink.

Read A Book.

Writing aside, I’m sure you got a bit behind on your reading during NaNo… Am I right? Read a book in the genre you wrote for NaNo (or a different genre). It’ll give yourself a break, but the creativity will still be flowing through your bloodstream.

Outline Your Next Project.

Hey, Camp NaNo is only four months away.