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Are you ready for Nano? #AmWriting #NanoWriMo


National Novel Writing Month.


Write 50,000 words in one month. Around the holidays.

That’s an average of approximately 1, 667 words per day.

I’ve attempted Nano three times, and succeeded twice. The first time, well, lets just say the results weren’t pretty. What helped me win was preparing before the month began – but then, I’m a plotter, LOL.

What I like best about Nano, though, isn’t whether I hit the word count or not, but diving into the habit of daily writing with specific goals in mind.

This year, I have a small goal. Write every day except for Sundays, and Thanksgiving. I’m not concerned with making the 50k, but I’m going to try for it 😀

With the last few months researching and building a new world and a new series, hopefully I’m prepared!

So, who’s doing Nano this year?

Have you done it before? How do you get ready for the push?


And if you’re interested, I’m higleyb on the Nano website if you’d like to add me as a friend


~Amber Kallyn

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Writers…

Change has come to stalk the Wicked household, or more specifically, for Wicked herself. It’s a good thing she has three books out this year, because getting two more out next year is going to test her time management skills.  And here’s why…after many, many, many (add thirteen more) years of being blessed with a telecommuting position, Wicked has decided to take a newly opened path of gainful employment. Not that she strayed far from her original path, just laddered up to the parent employer and new challenges. Including the one where she has to dress like an adult and leave the house to pursue said challenges.

What this means, is now for an hour, one-way, Wicked and her brand-spanking new filly, must brave the crowded roadways, dodging carts and overdrawn carriages (no, that’s not a mis-spelling), stop at the new giver of pay’s offices, toil away for a set number of hours, re-brave the clogged travel arteries, and then kick off the torturous devices known as “heels”.  While on one hand, this is wonderful, on the other it meant re-organizing a writer’s schedule.

Most writers hold day jobs while they craft their art. It’s not easy and something always has to be sacrificed (sleep, time, chocolate, homemade dinners, handcrafted gifts).  In this case, it meant the every other week meeting of like minds of the Evil 7’s critique group. A decision not easily made, mind you. After seven years with the Evil 7, I must take a reluctant step back.

There is no magical potion to imbue when trying to balance work, family, and writing, it comes down to your personal goals/needs. While I am behind on my writing counts for the last month due to all the upheaval, my overall plan has not changed.

One book from each series each year. That won’t change because I am a writer and this is something I’m willing to sacrifice for, to keep to.

While I’m uncertain how well my plans will be carried out, I’m determined to make it work. So it’s:

Monday through Fridays, get up, get the Prankster Duo out and Knight out and running, then gallop away.

Fulfill my contractual obligations for my pot of gold at the end of working person’s rainbow.

Come home, touch base, check in, ride herd over the three males and one fur rug.

When everyone’s settled in fighting off ogres, snipers and various other individuals of coded fame, I shall plant my butt in chair and pound out words of fancy while they battle in the background.

Saturdays shall become days of Writer Biz–marketing, blogs, and various sundry items that come with being a writer.

Sundays are mine–for family or writing or both, they are all mine.

So if I seem a bit quiet, don’t worry, I’m still here, just a tad busy settling into my well laid plans, and you can keep up with me at www.jamigray.com where my personal blog is updated each Wednesday. I’ll keep you posted on just how well it works out though. Maybe I’ll be able to give up the 8-5 to peddle my own magic formula.

Alarm Clocks Have Never Been So Fun

I have a confession: I have writer ADD. I start to write and I go oooh ooooh there are new dresses on Modcloth or there’s a new Longmire! Sorry guys there’s something about a tough as nails sheriff who never loses his hat, that gets me. Sadly (and happily) my typewriter (laptop) allows me access to all of these wonderful shiny things. It’s easy to get distracted, in fact it’s nearly impossible not to. On a brighter not I think I have found a cure.

Amber aka Snarky had emailed the swamp to tell us about a sprinting method. I will admit I don’t remember the exact name of the method so if you know it, feel free to comment. The gist of it is simple: set an egg timer and write for twenty five minutes straight. Take a five minute break even if you’re in the middle of the scene, come back and do twenty five more. Repeat as necessary. I will admit I do not follow the exact directions.

The only egg timer I have is built into a knife block in the kitchen and my roommates would start to worry if I was constantly carrying a set of knifes into my bedroom. I use an online alarm clock instead that makes a noise that sounds like either aliens are attacking a military compound or that the hounds are about to be released. I hope it’s the hounds, I love puppies.

I digress, the other thing I do differently is I leave for a lot longer than five minutes. I putter about making chili, reading a novel, working out or taking a nap. The miraculous thing is that I keep coming back for another twenty five minutes and that’s likely due to the huge word counts I have been able to accomplish. Let’s just say that I have been kicking ass and taking names (for my series bible).

The beauty of it is that I think we all have the mentality that we can endure for certain amounts of time. I know I can sit my ass down and be productive for twenty five minutes straight. I can resist the lure of the internet during that time because I know in a bit I can go check out what is happening on Twitter.  The other plus is that even though I’m trying to be a reformed panster (look ma! I outlined!) I still feel like I’m pansting when I let go for twenty five minutes. So far I don’t see a downside.  Maybe I will when edits begin, but now everything in rainbows and kittens. 


I’ve been trying to stay motivated with my writing lately, especially when everything I read basically tells me that “you’ll never have more time to write than now.”  But, I’m not sure if that’s true.  Life is so crazy right now that I have to believe I will eventually have more time to write than now.

Someday, I imagine, I’ll sit in a coffee shop all day and just write.  Instead of writing feeling like something I do in stolen moments, it will have an important place in my daily life.  Now, I’m sure a lot of people feel this way, which is probably where the above saying came from, but I honestly believe I’ll achieve this dream of mine.

Until then, however, I am going to continue striving to make writing a part of my life, even if it falls to the background sometimes.  I’ll take pride in the one or two pages I get written each day, because at least it means I haven’t given up.  Even if my writing isn’t always at the level I want it to be at, and even if I spend half the time I have for writing re-reading what I wrote the day before, I’ll try to be proud of myself.

Where to Start

I’ve been trudging along, barely editing my book for the past few months.  Life, as always, seems to be getting in the way a lot, and when I finally have a chance to sit down and work on my book, it feels more like a job than it ever has before.  I know that’s what writing is, work, but it is also supposed to be work I enjoy.  Otherwise, why would I do it?  So, I have taken a bit of a break from my novel to play around with some other ideas and to read a little.

Reading is also usually a really pleasant way to pass my time, except that I’ve started reading some books written by an absolutely exceptional author who makes me feel motivated to write more.  The way she creates her world and her people is on a level that is awe-inspiring.  It makes me wonder how she created it all.  Did she spend months and months just mapping out her world and how it worked before ever putting pen to paper?  Or did she start writing a story and the world just came together for her?

The new idea I’ve been working on, that’s supposed to be my fun break from editing, now makes me pause.  I wonder if I should be mapping this world out carefully before writing, or just enjoying writing.

It’s all just a complicated mess where all roads lead right back to me not writing.  But, at least, in talking to my fellow writers, I’m not alone in my struggles to stay focused on my work.

Editing Requires Motivation

Lately, I’ve been having trouble focusing on just one thing.  I think, mainly, because I am avoiding my book.  You see, I just recently “finished” the first book in my new series, but as pointed out by some of my group members, there are a couple of big things I need to fix.  These things will require a great deal of patience, and a great deal of editing.

I know it needs to be done, but I’m struggling with doing it.  This is because during Nano I also started on the second book in my series, which is still at that glorious beginning stage when everything is just about writing and creating, not about editing.  I’ve also started working on a couple of short stories.  They were exercises in trying new and different writing styles, and I feel they are valuable projects, if nothing else, to expand my writing abilities.  All of this, however, gets me back to my main issue: I think I might be avoiding my first book.

My first book needs work, as most first drafts do.  I need to sit down with it for a few hours at a time and read it from beginning to end, working out any inconsistencies, timeline issues, character motivations, and even making certain that the relationships work.  This is the part of editing I really don’t enjoy.  I don’t mind combing through a book for grammatical issues, but it is adding these essential things, in just the right amounts, that tends to stress me out.

I know there are probably more organized, less time consuming, ways to go about editing a novel, but this seems to be the only way that works for me… if only I don’t avoid the mountain of work awaiting me.

Outside Your Comfort Zone

I have a comfort zone when it comes to my writing.  It is a reflection of what I enjoy most to read.  I create worlds in which I myself want to get lost in.  I create characters who are flawed but wonderful.  They speak to me as if real people, and a small part of me feels guilty when I place one challenge after another in front of them.  But my worlds are very different from the one I live in.  They are worlds of fantasy where dragons and heroines fight to preserve what is right with the world.  Good and bad are more defined than in the real world, not always entirely clear at first, but by the end, both my characters and I know with absolutely certainty.

There usually isn’t much room for the “real world” in my writing.  The real world is more complicated, and less magical.  It’s still beautiful, still mysterious, and still full of miracles, but the closest thing to a dragon is the angry lady ahead of me at the checkout counter.  So, I usually stay away from this kind of reality, allowing my imagination to create a new reality.

Lately, however, I’ve been finding my fantasy worlds being constantly assaulted by the outside world.  They don’t seem to be able to escape the real world, both in a good way, and a bad.  This has led me to strange dreams that later become strange short stories.  They are far outside of my comfort zone.  Reality sprinkled with fantasy, rather than fantasy sprinkled with reality.  I’ve read them over and over, wondering if they say what I want them to say, questioning whether they should ever see the light of day.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to find the answers in my words, so I’ve decided to show them to the light of a dim room, filled with my writing buddies, and see whether they should be read by others, or buried away in a file somewhere.

NANO, Just Writing

The plan for NANO (National Novel Writing Month) is to just write, not edit, not outline, just write.  But how do you just write?  What does that even mean?

When I begin writing, I naturally crave some kind of structure, some kind of guidelines to follow.  Often my characters take me off my decided path, but then, a new path is created based upon what my characters want.  Does that make any sense at all?

BUT, this month I am just writing.  I am creating words on a page, without my usual obsessive compulsive behavior.  I am not going to re-read my work (at least I’ll try not to).  This plan, however, really worries me.  I think I might end up creating more work for myself in the end by doing things in such an unorganized way.  But at the same time, I am really looking forward to trying a different writing process.  Hey, I may even realize I like this way of writing better!

What do you think?  Does writing without a plan simply cause more problems in the long run?

NANO- National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month!  We Evil Dwarves are proud to say we are participating this year (and November is ALMOST here).  I have prepared my blogs ahead of time with a plan, so I can spend November working on the second novel in my new series.  But, I do have some reservations.

First of all, you have to understand my writing process to understand why something like NANO could get me a little stressed, so here it is:

  1. Wake from an intriguing dream.  Write it down.  Mull it over.  Write it down again, with some of the weird that doesn’t make sense when you wake up stuff, gone.
  2. Start writing.  Understand my character and my world.  Adjust how the character changes what I originally thought.
  3. Stop writing.  Create a general outline for the remainder of the book.
  4. Start writing again.  Make it to about the halfway point in the book.
  5. Stop writing again.  Go back and edit/revise the first portion of the book.
  6. Rewrite the outline with more details, adjusting for the changes that have occurred during the writing process.
  7. Start writing again.  Write until the end of the book.
  8. Finally, the hardcore revising begins.

Okay, so I never claimed my writing process was neat and organized.  What is your process like?  Also, this is why I fear NANO so much.  I am expected to go against my obsessive writing behaviors and just write for an entire month.

I don’t know how successful I will be in this process.  Our expectation is to write 50,000 words in one month, BUT it has taken me three months to write the first 50,000 words of my current novel.

So, wish me luck!  I hope I can proudly say, come the end of November, that I accomplished my goal, but if I end up mumbling something less than 50,000 words as my accomplishment, don’t judge me too harshly.

Also, does anyone else plan to participate this year?

Tiiiiiiiiiiiiime Is Not On My Side, No It Isn’t!



Very few of us have the luxury of writing full time. We have jobs, school, kids (or at least I’m assuming some of you do), and general obligations that make finding time to write difficult if not a pain in the ass. Yet we’re here and we aspire to be that person who no longer works the nine to five or graveyard shift to pay the bills. I hope to one day be that person I also hope to finish my degree so I can set down the textbooks for a while. My goal is to not have to get out of my pajamas to work. I probably will get out of my pajamas but I want the option.

The past week with school back in session I find that I’m very stressed out trying to figure out when I can get it all done. I will admit I am not the best time manager and need to find a way to change my habits. I bought a day planner to try and organize but it is difficult as homework and my job as a server leave me with an erratic schedule at best. Then again many others have had the same if not worse schedules and have gone on to be best-selling authors; so please go ahead and have some cheese to go with my whine (I myself am a fan of goat cheese and gorgonzola.)

Since the stress has led to insomnia I have decided to ostrich a bit and pretend that writing a novel is easy and that the publishing world is all rainbows and ponies, at least for one more night before reality must again rear its evil head. To help me do this and so that you may join me on this magical journey I have for you the lovely and talented Jackson Pearce’s video:


I hope you all enjoyed that, and do take her advice and watch it while listening to “Do You Believe In Magic.”

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