The Cheater’s Guide to Winning NaNoWriMo

Do you dream of winning NaNoWriMo?

November is just around the corner, and with it comes National Novel Writing Month: that time of the year when many people decide to write a novel, and many of them succeed.

If you’ve won NaNoWriMo in the past and are happy with your process, then this post probably isn’t for you. I want to take this time to talk to the people who haven’t won yet—the ones who have tried year after year and failed, or the ones who are just starting out and have no idea what they’re doing. Does that sound like you? Keep reading.

First things first: I called this the cheater’s guide to winning NaNoWriMo, but planning is far from cheating—in fact, it’s encouraged! It’s a good idea to have an idea of who your characters are, what they want, where their story is going, and how they get there—all before you start your official word count on November 1st.

I’ll walk you through five steps to success below, but first, a disclaimer—the process I’m suggesting here is based pretty closely off a basic three-act outline. It’s a great way to get started and get the words on the page, but be prepared to rewrite and restructure your novel into a less-forced structure later on when you’ve recovered from your post-November writing crash.

Ready to get started? Let’s go! Continue reading

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Writing Strong, Flawed Characters: A Conversation

despairing silhouetteI was working on who-knows-what the other night when a chat window from a friend popped up on my laptop screen. He wondered if he could ask for some writing advice or if I only answered questions when I was paid for it.* Seeing as how this particular friend is a lawyer who has freely answered my questions about copyright and other legal odds and ends before, I quickly assured him he could ask me anything he wanted.

What followed were some questions that I feel like a lot of people have—and my two-part answer is really one of the biggest secrets to deeper characterization. Actually, I saved the script of our conversation largely as a reminder to myself. As I work on my own writing, one of my struggles is getting to know the characters well enough to let them, not my impulses, drive what happens in the story. With permission from my friend, I’d also like to share the conversation with you, leaving informal grammar and punctuation as it was used that night.

*Note the question he raised, especially if you have a friend or family member who is an editor, writing instructor, etc. While we care about our loved ones and enjoy our work, giving writing advice is exactly that to us—work. We usually don’t want to spend our free time thinking about work instead of relaxing and enjoying our time with you.

Here’s the important bit of our conversation:

Friend: so, I’m working on a script/story/something that qualifies as a narrative

Friend: any tips on how to make the good guy/gal/etc. characters good and yet still realistic (i.e. still fallen)? Continue reading

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ShoreIndie Specials

shoreindie editorIf you’re an indie author coming from the #ShoreIndie community, welcome! Whether or not you entered the contest this year, I want you to know that your story is valuable and that I support you in your efforts to make it strong and engage readers. For this reason, I have a few specials going on this summer. If you mention this #ShoreIndie specials post when contacting me (whether or not you entered this year’s event), you may request any of the following specials that will only be available through September.

I’m already booked out through the end of July (with the exception of the blurb & pages package), so contact me soon to get in before the specials end!

Blurb and pages package: $60

This includes a two-pass critique & edit of your book blurb as well as a one-pass line edit of your first five pages, up to 1500 words. This line edit will involve suggestions on strengthening the flow and style as well as correcting errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Partial critique: $90

This includes a critique of your first 50 pages (up to 14k words). You will get an in-depth critique letter analyzing the plot, pacing, characterization, dialogue, descriptions, continuity, and clarity of your opening pages.

Note: If you would also like comments at the end of each chapter in the partial manuscript, you can add these on for an additional $25.

Partial line edit: $250

This includes a line edit of your first 50 pages (up to 14k words). It will involve suggestions on strengthening the flow and style as well as correcting errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Any continuity or story flow issues will also be noted.

Note: If you are looking for a full line edit or copyedit, you may choose to purchase this special and then book the additional edits on the rest of the manuscript at normal prices. Ask me about sample edits and price quotes.

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ShoreIndie Post: 7 Signs You’re Not Ready for That Editing Contest

After several rounds of helping authors get their manuscripts agent-ready through Pitch to Publication and RevPit events, I’m excited to get on board with ShoreIndie, helping indie authors get ready to share their books with the world. In these contests, I’ve read through hundreds of entries, and now I can quickly tell the difference between people who are ready for an editing contest and those who aren’t.

Are you thinking about entering ShoreIndie or another editing contest? It’s important to make sure you’re ready first. Take a look at the seven red flags below—if any of them apply to you, stop and take notice. It doesn’t mean you should give up and walk away; it means you should think about why they apply, how you can fix them, and whether or not it’s a good idea to enter the contest. How are you doing in each of these areas?

Read the full post on the ShoreIndie blog here.

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May the Fourth be with you: How Star Wars saved my creativity

Star Wars Logo

Happy Star Wars Day! Whether you roll your eyes at the Force/Fourth pun or embrace the excuse to pull out the memes, there’s no denying that this franchise—this story—has found another way to make itself a part of our life and culture.

Star Wars has been a part of my own life for years, and not without major impact. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing else that has so deeply, consistently inspired my creative journey. From my drawings before I had actually seen Star Wars to the spark that the new movies reawakened in me, there’s never been a time that I’ve felt my most creative without  Star Wars right there playing its part.

Here is my tribute of memories to the story that helped shape mine.

Continue reading

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