Going AWOL and Writing a Book

Hey Friends,

It’s November, and here in Manitoba, the weather has caught up.  There is snow, and thus we are launched into our 4-6 months of winter.  But I don’t mind, because I probably won’t see daylight until December.

It’s NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month.  Writers all over challenge themselves to write a novel of not less than 50,000 words in length.  This has been in progress for a week now, so blogging has not been a priority.  It won’t be until NaNo is done.

What am I Writing?

I am very excited to begin a trilogy, which falls roughly into the genre of urban fantasy, but with immortal humans instead of demon-slayers, vampires and werewolves.  The protagonists are Jack, the youngest of the Immortals who in this first book has yet to come to grip with the burden of living on while everyone else dies.  He compulsively tries to die, if only to get as close to death as possible before rebounding back to life.  The other protagonist is Alannah, an immortal Holocaust survivor who teaches history and hides from society as much as possible.  Another key figure is Alexander, a seven-hundred and some year old former knight.

Meanwhile, Alannah fights the fear that someone is stalking her–perhaps someone from her past?  Jack resists Alannah and Alexander’s attempts to assimilate him into the secret Immortal society, meanwhile battling increasing self-hatred as he cannot keep his promise to his late wife that he would stop harming himself.

Once again, I find myself writing on dark themes.  In We are the Living I wrote on themes such as PTSD, loss of hope and loss of loved ones, and finding reasons to live when the life you knew has been destroyed–all against the backdrop of a post zombie apocalyptic Italy.

This story deals with self-harm and addiction, and finding the courage to chase after a life-purpose.  As the series unfolds, their will be a thread about the consequences one bad choice can have.  And there will be romance, because I can’t seem to go without it.

This book won’t be released until well into 2015, as there is a SciFi novel in the queue before it.

Coffee and Lots of It

I’ve written about 20,000 words now–more before I go to bed at 1:00 am tonight.  🙂  This is all fuelled by copious amounts of coffee.

How do you know you are drinking too much coffee, exactly?  One clue: I became wide awake this morning when I heard my sister pouring the beans into the grinder.  No lying in bed for me, oh no.

I also have decaf, so if need be I can drink it right to the end!  The other day all the caffeinated coffee was gone, and I had nothing but decaf all day.  I was concerned I might be going into withdrawal.

And while I drink coffee and write, I have Spotify on a continuous stream of contemplative (read: depressing) indie and folk music.

Oh yes, and tomorrow I’m going to run on a treadmill for the first time.  I am not excited.  But maybe I can take my coffee and my laptop with me and write, drink and listen to Spotify while running.  Worth a shot, no?

So if I don’t post for a few weeks, it’s because I’m off writing like a madwoman… or I flew off the treadmill and am confined to a body cast.

An Exceptionally Good Summer

Summer is over.  Manitoba’s autumn is the equivalent of winter in the coastal and southern areas–brain-freezing winds, thick frost, and gun-metal grey skies.

But it was a good summer.  I’ve been reflecting on this past summer and I’ve been so grateful for the great things that have happened this summer.  Here are the highlights.

Losing 30+ Pounds

This began in March, when I was introduced to the book Trim Healthy Mama.  The book advocates a low-glycemic, superfood approach to eating, which I have embraced.  This led to…

Green Valley RunRunning my First 5K

And my second, third and fourth.  I began the Couch to 5K program in mid-June, and ran my first race on August 17th, about nine weeks later.  Since the completion of the program, I have slowly been increasing my distance and speed.

Road Trip with Jess

In the first week of July, my sister and I packed up my little car and booted off to Minneapolis for a week of shopping, touring, and sister-time.  Neither of us had shopped at the Mall of America.  So we spent two eight-hour days shopping!  After that we were sick of the place, and toured a historic mansion, attended a Independence Day celebration at Fort Snelling, and drank a LOT of coffee.

 Publishing my First Novel

living_kindleAfter a marathon of editing, and formatting, We are the Living was released as an E-book in August, and a print edition was released in September.  My friends and family, who didn’t have to format and edit it, were much more excited than I. 🙂

It’s a post-zombie-apocalypse-lovestory mishmash, and a beautiful story of hope in bleak places.  I hope it will be a stepping stone to greater things.  I sure learned a lot from it.

A New Church

Leaving the church of my childhood was like leaving home and family.  Now I am safely ensconced in a new church in town.  It is slowly becoming home.  I became a member of the choir two weeks ago, and now I feel like I have a family within the church family at large.

What Next?

So what will the winter hold?  For starters, I’m going to learn how to run on a treadmill.  I have no interest in running in -40 weather, so the treadmill will need to be my best friend.  I’ve never used one, so this might be funny for everyone else.

I have plans to complete National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) by writing the first book in a series, which I plan to debut late next year.  In the meantime, I am editing a sci-fi novel, for release in the spring.

And you know, I’m kind of looking forward to Christmas.  Too soon?

How was your summer?







Exit Interview: The Nanomath

Well, I’m done.

Yesterday I looked down and saw that my word count had reached 50,000.  I validated my novel on the NaNoWriMo site and it was official.  I win.

I feel like I should be more excited about this.  Truth was, I knew I would do it.  About two days in I knew I would do it, which takes a lot of the glory out of it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy, I’m proud. I’m just not elated.

Plus, I’m still writing.  50,000 words brought me to the point just before the point before the climax, if that makes sense, so of course I have to keep going.  Coupled with the fact that this morning I killed a character…

I had to do it!  I’m sorry!

So, to recap the whole thing and maybe to make it all sound grand, here are three of the best things about NaNo.

1.  Getting immersed in a new story.

Just for a month I had nothing else to write.  I could focus on my characters, my world, my plot, and just getting it out there.  I didn’t have to worry about editing or censorship (though I did edit and censor).  I really got to love my characters, or at least some of them.  Hence, why I feel bad for killing one off.

2. I get a new story.

A new, full length, first draft is like a heap of playdough that I now get to mould into something awesome.

3. Pushing myself and blasting past boundaries.

I’ve never ever written 50,000 words in a month.  And now I know that it’s actually not that hard.

And then, lest you think it was one giant picnic, three of the worst things about NaNo.

1. Editing and censorship.

This novel covered ground that I’d never written before, and sometimes it was confusing.  For the sake of the story the characters had to do and say things that I wouldn’t do or say.  That challenge was not to appear to be condoning them so much as just saying ‘this is what this person is like’.

2. So called “writers block”

Getting in the bulldozer and writing crap until I busted through the block wasn’t fun, but it needed to be done.

3. Getting tired of coffee.

I drank so much coffee while writing that, after a while, I didn’t feel like drinking it, but I did, which made it worse… and now I’d probably go through all kinds of withdrawal if I quit.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo?  Got any stories, lessons, or hardships to share?


The Halftime Report

Hey!  Long time no… see, read, whatever.

As some of you will recall, I haven’t been blogging because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which writers endeavour to write a 50,000 word novel.  I thought, ‘hey, this will be insane.  I can’t blog’.  And, I was wrong-ish.

Here’s how it’s going so far.

Today is 18 days in, just past half, and I am sitting at 40210 words–well past target.  I’ve had several days when I have been able to write 5000+ words.  Making 1700 words isn’t as hard as I thought.  Not to say it’s all been wine and roses.  It has really pushed me to write when I don’t feel like it, am tired, or can’t think of anything–to get out and push, or shovel, when I got stuck.

And that is the sort of discipline that every writer needs.

I’ve also learned about structure and organizing.  I am writing from a scene-by-scene outline, and while it hasn’t been perfect, it has helped keep things moving, on target, and in a proper structure.  I’m a by-the-book person.  I want a perfect 3 act structure (not possible, but we’ll try).

I’ve learned that whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.  Cliche, I know, but my big reason to NOT do NaNo was that the most I’d written in a month was 30,000 words, and that was when I was unemployed.  Definitely NOT unemployed now.  But, it turns out I am far more disciplined than I was just six months ago.

I’ve learned a few random things as well.  For instance, while procrastinating I learned that the Graham Norton show is very entertaining.  And, while writing at McDonalds, I was watching the TV from the corner of my eye and got a small education about the UFC.  I don’t understand it at all, but I find it a most interesting psychological study (bet you never expected to see ‘UFC’ and ‘psychological’ in the same sentence).  As a Mennonite and a pacifist, I don’t know what to think about it.  Anyone care to ‘splain?

I’ve drank way too much coffee, and listened to way too much music, and watched at least one really weird movie.

Good times, in other words.

Stay tuned for scenes from “Sons of Earth”.

The possibilities are endless.

Over and out.