Nanowrimo – To Use All Year (not just November)

  For many of us writers, we look forward to November every year for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The website is awesome, it provides goal trackers, motivating articles, interviews and blog posts, and connects you with other writers around the world. Many of us meet up with local writers at locally-scheduled write-ins, parties, contests, prizes and fun. The annual goal of participating in NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words – to write the first draft of a novel, all during the month of November. Many writers spend the rest of the year planning and outlining in preparation for writing in November.

Nanowrimo Virtual Camps

So if you’re ready to try and write a whole novel in November, you’re all set. Sometimes, though, my writing timing doesn’t line up with that (though I try to plan it so that it does). In 2017, I was revising the novel I had finally finished (with the help of previous Nanowrimo’s). So there’s another website called Camp NaNoWriMo. They have virtual writing camps throughout the year, where you get paired up with online cabin-mates for a specific month (usually April and July).

The beauty of the camps is that you can set whatever goal you need for that month. So when revising I set an hourly goal – 50 hours of revising for the month, for example.

All of these are immensely useful in providing structure, a deadline, motivation and support for us writers trying to actually write.

Nanowrimo Writing

But here I am in February, sometimes struggling to get in the word count I need in my current writing project.

Having some kind of structure helps me so much.

Well, enter nano wrimo once again! I recently discovered that on their main website, under “My NaNoWriMo,” they have a Goal Tracker. So anytime during the year, you can set up any kind of goal and use the site to track it for you, with whatever deadline you give it.

There’s just something about updating my word count on a daily basis and seeing my little graph go up and meet my deadline. I’ve always been a charts & stars person. (“Here’s a golden star for you today, Jerilyn!”)

Nanowrimo Young Writers

I’m fifty-one years old. But these tools are helpful for any writers at any age, especially nanowrimo young writers. Keeping up with a chart, updating daily word count goals, all of that, is so helpful.

Writing Goals Work – Especially for a Freelance Writer

Setting and structuring and updating your writing goals work. Whether you’re a freelance ghost writer working from home, like me, or working steadily on your own novel. Did you know that nanowrimo also offers extra tools like writing prompts, ideas to overcome writer’s block, forums, velociraptors and awesome merch?

Take Advantage of Nanowrimo (it’s free)

I am not affiliated with them in any way, and their tools are free – they live off of donations and their shop merchandise. I just love using all that nanowrimo has to offer, as it has helped me so much in own writing journey. Whether I’m doing my freelance writing (ghost-writing at the moment), or working on my own novel, setting and tracking writing goals works really well.

A Bit of Improv Writing from Me to You

Here’s a bit of my own writing, totally off the cuff and not edited, from a writing prompt I did recently:

Ridge came fully awake. He was lying on the cold cave floor, deep underground. Something was strange – what was that sensation on his front hip? He looked down and saw a slight bulge – something was in his left front pocket.

He reached inside and pulled out a miniature pyramid made of limestone, pale and perfectly proportioned. It was like an exact replica of Khufu’s Pyramid.

“Am I still in the pyramid?” He looked about. Yes, he was in the cave, the deep subterranean chamber under the Great Pyramid. “How did that get in my pocket?” He examined it. It pulsed, like a throbbing heart, in his palm. For a second it glowed, reflecting light from his dark eyes.

“Ridge, what is that?” Ash asked. She reached her hand out and the boy put it in her palm. It looked dull and dead, just plain stone, in her hand.

“Do you feel anything?” he asked.

She shrugged. “No, it’s like a souvenir. Where did it come from?”

“I don’t know, it just appeared in my pocket.” She handed it back and he held it for a long minute, then closed his hand and crushed it to crumbles of stone and dust…

(This was some Improv Writing I did at a recent Pike’s Peak Writer’s half-day conference preview workshop (Write Your Heart Out 2019). I’d never tried Improv Writing before, it’s just like Improv Acting – you’re given a one-sentence prompt, two seconds to think, then you write without any editing or revising, for seven – ten minutes – the moderator sets the time.)

Congratulations if you’ve gotten this far into this article. Google has some strange rules now, if I don’t write an article with at least one thousand words in it, it won’t do well in the search rankings. But most blog posts, all that I’ve done in my writing life, are closer to five hundred words. So this is a bit ridiculous. Why force a writer to write one thousand words, when a good writer can convey the information you need in five hundred?

So if you’ve gotten this far, great job! Leave a comment below with the phrase “Google can be so ridiculous sometimes” and I’ll see if I have a prize for you, or at least will acknowledge your comment.

Here’s another fun contest. Can you identify which are the keywords I was targeting in this post? Yes, I write what’s on my heart but I use the keyword and educational tools at Wealthy Affiliate to help me get my posts out there, so people can actually find them. I used five keywords / keyword phrases in this article. I will find you a prize for that! (Maybe something from my house.)

Get a Book Agent – I’ve been signed!

This journey of becoming a novelist and writer has been so fascinating. After working on my great big idea, my very unusual novel, on and off for about ten years, I finally finished and got a book agent (also called a literary agent). This author can’t stop dancing!

Becoming a Writer

From the beginning and throughout the entire process I’ve been studying, learning and practicing the principles of the Law of Attraction – reading all the books by Esther Hicks, the original source of this material. There are also a ton of YouTube videos where you can listen to Esther Hicks answer all kinds of questions. You can also search under Abraham Hicks.

Through these principles I first asked for an original idea for my own novel. The next morning I awoke with the first few sentences in my head. The whole idea was full of magic and I’ve been enchanted with it ever since, even though my work on it was on again – off again, for many years.

Finishing the Novel

At a sci-fi/fantasy conference I took an author’s workshop. When she learned about my idea, she became so excited she offered to write the blurb on the back for me. Her enthusiasm acted as a catalyst and I began writing in earnest. I joined a local writer’s group whose main goal is to get our novels done. In about a year, and with the help of NaNoWriMo virtual camps, I finally finished my novel. Then I spent another whole year plus a few months revising and editing the novel, studying and applying the craft of writing from recommended books like The GMC, My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, and Editor-Proof Your Writing.

Get a Book Agent

A writer friend highly recommend I attend the local annual writer’s conference. We have a big one here in Colorado Springs: The Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference. It is so popular and fun that even the speakers often ask to come back.

While I was still writing my novel, not quite finished, I went to the writer’s conference one evening to attend “Bar-Con,” where everyone networks around the bar. A writer friend introduced me to my future agent, though I didn’t know it at the time. But I was able to pitch my story to her and she immediately saw the vision of my unique book. She asked for the full manuscript–a miracle in itself! I told her it wasn’t quite done, and she said to take my time, not to worry. Of course, I didn’t expect it to take over a year later!

Many Queries Later

I completely finished my book, revisions and everything, in June 2018. This year I attended the full 4-day writer’s conference and pitched my story to five agents, receiving five rejections and one literary director and editor who loved it. I sent the full ms to the original agent from the year before, and also queried it out to about 15 agents, in the U.S. and the U.K. (my story is set in 1665 London). Then I waited for two months, sending it out to agents here and there, waiting.

In August 2018 my agent, Natalie Lakosil, told me she loved my book. She arranged a phone call and offered me representation! By now, I’d received enough rejections that I accepted from the original agent who saw the vision.

Next Steps

It was so exciting to get a book agent! Now I’m in the interesting phase of Natalie and I collaborating to make my novel even better with more revisions and edits. I knew going in this would happen somewhere along the line towards publishing, and I’m really enjoying watching my novel get better and better. I’m learning that a good novel is sometimes more about what the author takes out, than what she leaves in. Less can be more, allowing the reader to bring more of themselves and interpretations to the story.

So what is the big idea, what is my unusual novel? It’s a potions textbook that has accidentally gotten out of Hogwarts and into the muggle world. It looks like an old encyclopedeia, with black and white woodcuts throughout. When you start reading Encyclopedeia Magica: Volume 1 – Alchemy, you discover there is something weird and alive in this book. Without giving it away, let’s just say you will be pulled in to becoming the magical hero of the story, if you wish to take on the challenge, and learn about a young girl who had to dress like a boy and became an alchemist’s apprentice, before the book defeated her. Now it is up to you to save her!

What is the take-away to get a book agent?

  • Study and practice the Law of Attraction, to bring the right ideas, circumstances and people into your life – everything by Esther Hicks and Abraham Hicks
  • Join local writer’s groups. Go to your nearest, best writer’s conference (they offer scholarships).
  • Make yourself write, study the craft, and finish your novel.
  • Network with agents and editors at conferences. You can also query your writing to agents with the online service, DuoTrope – worth the $5/month.

Onward and upward, my writing friends!

 

 

 

 

US Literary Agents for Young Adult – How I Got my Agent

To clarify, my first novel is technically Middle Grade. I had originally planned it to be YA, but then I met my agent – over a year before she became my agent. She and others since her told me to make my story MG, so I changed it. Here I share my journey to agenthood with ideas and resources on where to find US literary agents for Young Adult (and Middle Grade too).

How I Got my Agent – Local Writer’s Conference

First, I highly recommend attending your local writer’s conference, or go to the nearest good one you can find. I happen to live in Colorado Springs where we have one of the best conferences every April: Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference. Denver hosts the Rocky Mountain Writer’s Conference every August, and now Utah has a big one in September. I know the Romance Writers Association hosts their annual conference in a different city each year.

A year ago I didn’t have the money to attend the full conference. So I took the advice of the other writer’s in my writer’s group – at least go to Bar Con. Show up in the evenings when everyone is hanging out at the bar – this is where much of the networking happens. One of my friends was there attending the conference, as well as several of my writing buddies, so when I arrived Saturday night I got to visit with them first.

Before I even came I attracted and intended and prayed that I would meet exactly those I was meant to meet tonight. I’ve been studying the Law of Attraction and everything by Esther Hicks for a little bit now – if you want to land an agent, I highly suggest you read every book by Esther Hicks and listen to the videos on YouTube (search Abraham Hicks). It will change your life.

Join a Writer’s Group

Now I wouldn’t even have known to go to Bar Con if it weren’t for my writer’s groups. I had been in one writer’s group for a while which met weekly. I made strong connections there. One of those writing buddies later became one of the main leaders of our local conference – he was the one who introduced me to my agent that night at Bar Con, because he knew my story and knew she would be interested.

It was valuable being a part of that writer’s group for a while. Later I switched to another one – its main focus is for us to get our novels done – this was invaluable to helping me actually finish my novel.

When I was at Bar Con that night, I was still writing my novel, it wasn’t done yet. But I mingled and visited with several people. One writer had just gotten published – he highly recommended I get the book My Story Can Beat Up Your Story. He said before that book he couldn’t get published. Then he applied the principles in that book to his novel and he got published. This is the kind of vital information you get from visiting with other writers.

I ran into my old friend from my first writer’s group. He introduced me to an agent, Natalie Lakosil. I chatted with her for a little while, then got to pitch my novel. Right away she asked for the full manuscript – this was a miracle!

“Okay, I will finish it as fast as I can,” I said. She told me to take my time. I’m sure glad she said that, because my novel didn’t get finished until a year and three months later! But the reason it got done at all was because of my writer’s group. I finished writing the novel, then spent a year revising and editing it.

DuoTrope

This year I joined another writer’s group which meets weekly for coffee and chatting. I get such valuable information there from other writers I often take notes. One of the writers had just sold a short story using Duotrope. I had never heard of it, so checked it out and tried the free subscription, then joined for $5/month.

Duotrope shows all the current market, contests, agent and editors and what they are looking for. You can submit to paying markets and contests as well as non-paying. It has a Submission Tracker to track who you query or submit to, it is so useful! A great resource to find both global and US literary agents for young adult and other genre novels – it’s all organized and listed right there.

Duotrope: an award-winning resource for writers
I find it really fun to enter the various writing contests. I also used this platform as my tool for querying out my novel to many agents.

(Note – I do not get any compensation for recommending Duotrope – I’m just passing on valuable information and sharing this wonderful resource. At $5/month, they’re not in it for the money either!)

Of course I sent the full manuscript to Natalie, but queried about 15 agents over the course of a month this past summer. The Submission Tracker shows when you are expected to get a response by.

I also got to attend the full writer’s conference this year – I was awarded a partial scholarship which helped greatly. It was so fun being there for the whole thing. One editor helped me rework my whole first page – it was wonderful. I learned so much from all the classes, connected with a couple of editors, and got to pitch my novel to five agents! Most of them told me my novel was too novel, that publishers wouldn’t want to take a risk on such an unusual idea.

So, two months later, when Natalie emailed me back telling me she absolutely loved my story and wanted to talk to me on the phone, I knew that she got the vision of my novel – she’d seen it right away. By this time I’d received several rejections and was still waiting to hear from many other agents.

Do Your Research

Before talking to Natalie on the phone I researched online to see what a standard agent-writer contract looks like. After I had spoken with her last year I researched her and her agency. I knew she was legit since this large writer’s conference only brings in legitimate agents. Be careful who you hand your novel over to. Using platforms like Duotrope and meeting agents at writer’s conferences is a safe way to go.

When she offered me representation, I knew I wanted to go with her. She’d known right away which publishers would be very interested in my unusual novel. She has the confidence to go with it, and loves my idea and my book. I looked over the contract and saw it was the standard one I’d already researched.

All of the Above, but Law of Attraction most of all.

When it comes down to it, everything that’s happened with my novel, from its inception to landing an agent, has come from me attracting it successfully and in perfect timing. The more you study and practice the Law of Attraction, the better you’ll get at bringing forth your desire. Practicing these principles also taught me to completely trust all of this to God and relax about it. Then things just began falling into place – it’s awesome to watch.

In the revising process I did study and apply My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, as well as two other highly recommended books: The GMC and Editor-Proof Your Writing. The more you study and hone your craft, the better your novel will be. Attending the conference and going to writer’s groups also vastly improves your writing and changes your novel towards the best – don’t neglect these. These things are what marks a professional writer taking this seriously, from those who just dabble.

All of this applies to US literary agents for young adult as well as for other genres and other literary agents. I even queried agents in England, since my novel takes place in 1665 London.

Which techniques have worked for you? Where are you in the process? Please comment below, we all benefit from each other’s journeys and stories.

 

 

 

 

Motivate Yourself to Write – How I Did It

motivate yourself to writeWhen you embark as a writer, one of your first and earliest challenges is: how do I make myself actually sit down and write? We have no boss, no time-clock, no paycheck to motivate us, and we have to fit it into our already busy lives earning a living, caring for family, etc. How do you motivate yourself to write?

Get Inspired

Do you remember when you first got that great idea? You were so excited and writing from an inspired idea charges your batteries like nothing else – it’s fun!

Working from the energy of inspiration will help you a lot. Do whatever you need to get back into that inspired place again, whether it’s reading what you’ve written so far, brainstorming over your idea, meditating on it, talking to someone who is equally excited about it. I don’t suggest talking about it too much, however, as you don’t want all that inspired energy to dissipate in just talking about your idea. But if you have a close friend or two who loves your idea as much as you do, discuss it with them and let their enthusiasm keep you going.

Looking for inspiration? When I decided I wanted to write a novel, I asked and prayed for an inspired idea. Next morning I awoke with the first few sentences in my head – my life has never been the same.

Get Structure

Sometimes a little structure goes a long way. To motivate yourself to write is often as simple as building a daily or weekly habit – modifying your schedule and putting it in as an appointment. Keep this appointment. Some people like to make themselves write every day – they’ll make a goal of one sentence a day (which usually leads to many more sentences), or one hour a day, or 1,000 words a day or week. You can start small like 15 minutes a day – again, it usually leads to much more. Or maybe you’ll set aside one or two days or evenings a week to work at your writing desk.

Getting started is the biggest hurdle. Setting even a tiny goal like those above gets you past this hurdle and into your writing groove.

Other habits you may want to build and incorporate:

  • Spend time writing in your personal journal each day. Once you start doing this you’ll see just how cathartic and fulfilling daily writing is.
  • One writer I know finishes the previous day’s writing mid-sentence, so that he can pick up on that same thought immediately next day to transition back into writing mode.
  • Build “getting ready to write” rituals to help you get into writing mode. This may be just making yourself a coffee, or meditating or brainstorming briefly before writing.
  • Go somewhere to write, like a coffee shop. This will minimize distractions at home and help you to focus.
  • Participate in local or virtual writing groups and aids, like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). These provide awesome structure that is not solely reliant on you.

Get Accomplices

Writing with a group is a surefire way to keep you motivated. Try out several local writing groups to see which one is the best fit for you. I tried one at first, which I liked, but their focus was not on getting our novels done – what I needed. I found another group on Meetup, they meet every other Monday night and the focus is getting our novels finished – we write and submit around 2,000 words a week in that group. The feedback is amazing and I was able to grow as a writer and finish my first novel (after around ten years of on and off writing).

Take advantage of online virtual groups like NaNoWriMo as well. Besides the big writing month every November, Camp NaNoWriMo hosts several virtual writing camps throughout the year to help you reach whatever writing goal you set. I used these camps to set hourly monthly goals for revising and editing my novel.

Know Yourself

Everyone is unique, and what works for one will not work for another. Are you an early morning person? Set your daily writing appointment for early morning. Night person? Set it for night-time. Are you more motivated to write after a brisk walk outside? Does it help you to study a book about the craft of writing? Do you need to meet up with another writer to write together once a week? Or have a close friend hold you accountable to your goals? Are you motivated by a chart where you can add shiny stars each day you meet your writing goal?

Figure out what makes you tick, which tools and tricks motivate you, and use them – use your own personality quirks – to your best advantage. Outsmart yourself.

Get the Ball Rolling

Though it’s often hard at first to get into the regular habit of writing, once you master this and write consistently, you will discover how much fun it is. The ball will get rolling and then it’s easy – you find yourself writing on a consistent basis and getting your work done. You may have setbacks here or there, but you’ll quickly pick it back up again. This is one habit that once you master it, it becomes easy – like riding a bike.

And hopefully soon you’ll start making money from your writing – the best motivator of all.

What tricks have helped motivate you to write? I’d love to hear them – please comment below.

 

 

 

 

Women Writers Block – Help for both Men and Women

Both men and women get writers block sometimes. It just happens. Here’s an write drunk edit soberaccidental method I came across to help writers blocks. It greatly helped me as a woman but I suggest it will help any writer.

DISCLAIMER: Some people should never drink. Check with your doctor and use your own discretion. This is not intended to be medical advice and I am not a doctor. By reading this post you hold me harmless from any negative consequences from using this writers block help.

Writers Block Help

I was registering for my very first writer’s conference. I’d won a partial scholarship so was able to go this year – I was so excited.

One of the extra sessions they offered was called “Write Drunk; Edit Sober.” They were going to meet in a bar and enjoy a beer flight while writing to a prompt given at the session. Next morning they would meet in a conference room, sober, to edit their creations.

Naturally it cost extra to attend this session, so I wasn’t able to participate in it at the conference.

Try it at Home

But I didn’t let that stop me. I was working furiously on my first novel, trying to get it done on time for the conference.

Then I ran smack into a writers block. Help!

Well, I thought, I can’t attend the class, but I could certainly try this technique at home. Why not?

Unexpected Results curing Writers Blocks Writing Drunk

I set aside a day, I tend to write in the mornings. That’s right – uh oh.

I’m a lightweight so a couple of glasses of champagne and I was beautifully buzzed.

I opened a new page and just started writing, additional material I needed for my novel.

I was in the flow, felt really great, and completely unexpected things came out – a direction and ideas I’d never intended to go with my novel, but it was flowing and I felt great. It all just poured out. I sensed that the writing was really good, too, but since I was a little drunk I knew I couldn’t trust my judgment just then.

So I got in a wonderful writing session, filling several pages. When finished I no longer wanted to be drunk. Uh-oh! It took me quite a few hours and lots of coffee to come back down. I wished I could just flip a switch and stop being tipsy immediately.

I can’t do this on a regular basis, especially not in the mornings!

Tip: Only use this technique sparingly, and only in the evenings or late in the day, when you have no other obligations and will not be driving.

Edit Sober

Next day I looked at my new material. I was right, it was really good! Goodness, I’m a gifted writer when I’m a little drunk!

An exciting new development was created for my novel. I edited and fit into my book and it worked seamlessly.

Men & Women Writers Block Aid

Since then I’ve used this technique a couple more times, making sure to do it in the evening with no upcoming obligations. I use it sparingly, of course, but I did buy my own special Lavender Gin just for this purpose.

Later I was chatting with one of the leaders of the writer’s group who hosts the “Write Drunk, Edit Sober” writing night once a month. I shared how this technique has helped me a lot.

“You’re not supposed to really get drunk, that’s just an expression – a quote,” she said.

Uh oh.