Link: Winterview with Me

To celebrate 13 weeks of winter, Hàlön Chronicles will be conducting one interview a week for 13 weeks. Join us on the hashtag #13Winterviews, or check out our right-side blog hop to sneak a peek at all the wonderful authors and artists I’ll be interviewing in the coming weeks. Hosted by: K. J. Harrowick Without…

via Winterview with Author Morgan Hazelwood — Daily Cup o’ Coffee

How to Win NaNoWriMo

Happy National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo!

In which crazy, determined, and optimistic writers aim to write 50,000 words, or 200 pages in the 30 days of November.

I’ve only won once, but friends and friends of friends who are trying keep asking me for advice, so here you go:

How To Win NaNoWriMo:

  • Get your 1,667 words in every day
  • If you miss a day, it’s okay to take more than 1 day to catch up
  • Try to get ahead, so if life happens, you’re not screwed
  • Sit down at your desk with a glass of water and force yourself not to browse the internet until you’ve finished your glass
  • Bribe yourself – I’m binge watching Gilmore Girls for the first time, so no TV til I’ve gotten all my words in
  • If the scene sucks? Leave the words on the page and rewrite it!
  • Can’t think of a name? Your analogy doesn’t fit in  your world? Put a tag in and move on. You can always search on the ‘[‘ and find-replace all the words.
    • [Girl’sName]
    • [Elephant]
    • [12th century Japanese underthings]
  • DON’T self-edit.

Don’t Self-Edit:

Sometimes you’re writing and your realize you’re droning on and on about the bookshelf and the sky and the weather.

You know your story won’t need that, so you start to delete it.

Stop! Write it anyway.

All that “unneeded” backstory is for YOU. Write it so you can figure it out. You can always edit it later, AFTER you’ve finished the book.

And maybe all that description will end up being used, sprinkled throughout the book sparingly.

If You’re Stuck

  • Characters always have to eat (now I know why GRR Martin has so many feasts!)
  • Write some vignettes
    • Write short story backgrounds of secondary characters
    • Write world building mythologies
  • Ask yourself, what would the worse thing to happen here be?
  • Figure out what your character wants and what’s in his/her way
    • What are the steps needed for your character to succeed?
    • How does your character fix the issues in the way?
    • After fixing the issues, does your character still want the same things?
  • Some people swear by sex scenes, but I’m a fade-to-black kinda writer
  • Some people swear by fight scenes, I’m not great, but I’m learning
  • Add a love interest!
  • Kill a love interest!
  • Add a nemesis – who might not even be the villain. Just that annoying kid who always teased you about doing the assigned reading–then asked for a summary just before class.
  • Add iguanas. The iguana lobby is severely under-served.

Every word you write,

every word you edit

is one word closer to a finished novel.


P.S. Support my sprint on the 12th, or sign up to help yourself. I’m raising money for Syria Relief.

What Do You Do?

I always wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. I had teachers who encouraged it, parents who fed my love of books, and my mother even sprang for me to take some writing classes by mail when I was a teen.

Then college and full time job happened. Because I knew that writer was a ‘hobby’ and I needed something to pay the bills. I wanted a job I liked and writing to be what I did. But, I didn’t want it to feel like a chore.
I tried a little writing here and there–mostly when inspired for a couple days, a few half-inspired attempts at NaNoWriMo.
Then, I started volunteering at a convention. I’m a webcomic addict and was thrilled to help out with the webcomic guests. I was enjoying it and went to more cons so I could see my webcomic writer/artists friends. Just before the NaNoWriMo where I started the first novel I’ve finished writing, I attended Intervention. Internet+Convention, where real life meets the internet.
The convention is all about the internet creators, the webcomics, the bloggers, the podcasts. The people who create. It’s focused on helping them grow as creators, helping them connect, and working to build their brand.
I’m walking around that convention and checking out all the new comics and things I need to check out when I get home and the conversation keeps coming back to, “what do you do?”
In the suburbs of Washington D.C., where I live, ‘What do you do?” is the 2nd question that comes out of peoples mouths, right after they find out which quadrant of the beltway you leave nearest. Most people are government contractors of some sort, some teachers, many IT types.
At Intervention, the question was different.
All I could say is that I was a fan. That I was a consumer. My purpose at the convention was to find more stuff to buy. I could help support the artists and writers that I enjoyed financially. But, I didn’t do anything. It reminded me of my dream and my failed novel attempts.
It made me want to have a better answer.
What do YOU do?

To Know What’s Write…

This past weekend, I was wandering around Old Town Manassas, in Virginia, looking for dessert when I peeked in Grounds Central Station, a cute, independently owned coffee shop.

Two young men manned the coffee bar, while the back half was full. Tables were pushed together, to make a long table with a microphone on one end. A well-dressed middle-aged man talked, his booming voice and steady tones were reminiscent of a sermon. I turned to the baristas and asked,

“Is this a Bible study?”

“Poetry reading.”

I picked out my dessert and waited patiently, listening in as the speaker finished and a new one began. But, to my ear, it was prose, not poetry that I heard.

At the end of the counter sat several pamphlets. The one nearest me was from Write By The Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writer’s Club. In it, it told me that tonight, a 4th Friday, was Open Mic Night and Saturday afternoons from 2-4pm were write-ins. I assume the barista explained it as a poetry reading because it was faster. Everyone knows what a poetry reading is.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but I’ve never done a Writer’s Group. I’ve seen some writers swear by theirs, while others turn catty or stagnant.

Should I stick with my beta readers? Join this group? Or try and custom build my own private writing group?

What would you do?

Q/A: The Biggest Surprise About Writing A Novel [Also! Novel-versary Week!]

One Year Ago, Monday, I finished my rough draft.

(Or at least put down my pencil and stopped)

When you sit down to write a novel, the novel seems like the biggest thing ever. You have an idea, maybe even a plan on how it’s going to happen. But there’s over 100,000 words between you and it.

Everyone writes differently. I found word count was a good way to keep my progress going. Even if I didn’t feel like it, I would push through and get my words for the day done, knowing I could edit it later. Starting with 1,333 words per day for my kick-off month of NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month).

The goal for NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words. It’s a great start and there’s a supportive community of people all writing towards the same goal. (A standard YA (Young Adult) novel is 50,000-80,000 words. A standard fantasy novel is 80,000-120,000 words.) After taking December off, I lowered my goal to 10,000 words per month. 2,300 words a week is a much more sedate pace, and let me have a life outside of writing. A little reading, a bit of the gym, the ability to see my friends and family.

And I made it. I finished my novel after 10 months. 9, if you recognize that I took December off.

Yet, here it is, a year later and I’m STILL editing. It sometimes feel like I’ll never be done. Editing is harder to quantify, deciding when you are done is arbitrary. Like recognizing the obscene, you know it when you see it. Or, when you just can’t look at your novel any longer.

I’ve done a lot, I’ve taken a few months off to let beta readers review my work. I’ve tentatively started a sequel twice (although, as I’ve been changing the novel and the ending, the sequel is more of an idea that will need rework than a solid concept at this point.)

In my day job, I’m a programmer, we often start counting at 0. So, my drafts are labelled thus:

0 – Rough Draft (1 year and 1 day old)
1 – 1st Draft (I read through and made sure it was coherent.)
2 – 2nd Draft (I added revisions from my 1st round of beta readers, as appropriate. And rewrote the ending.)
3 – 3rd Draft (Major word count cuts, revisions from a new beta reader)

But, my newest beta reader only read the first third of the novel. So, once I finish this revision draft, I’ll be sending back out to willing beta readers, to see what they think of the edits. I imagine there will be a 4th round of edits from there.

And then?

Depends on how large the edits from that are. It will be either time for a copy-editor (sentence structure, punctuation, etc) or time to start submitting the novel to agents and publishers.

bloody keyboard gif

Am I done yet? Now? How about now?!