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Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Honest Post About #nanowrimo

As you can see, I'm an official 2011 NaNo Winner! (though I can't claim my winnings officially until the 25th I think). I've actually blown by the 50k mark, which is still quite amazing to me, since I've always been known as an under-writer.

Even at nearly 74k I'm still not done my book, so I'm racing against the clock to try and get it finished by the end of the month. I figure if I don't wander too much, I might get there in another ten thousand words.

But as this year comes to a close, I've been reflecting on my NaNo experiences, and thought I would share, for those who might be interested.

2007 was my first year participating in NaNo. As many of you probably know, my debut YA novel, LOSING FAITH was my first attempt at NaNo (but definitely not my first attempt at writing a novel). I wrote the first draft in 21 days. It came in at around 46k, and I had to pad some of the descriptions and so forth to get it up to 50k by the end of the month.

I took almost a year to revise it with the help of stellar critique partners. I sent out queries to agents starting in September, and by November, 2008 I had myself an agent. My agent helped me with some small edits and then submitted it to editors in January 2009. By April we had a deal with the amazing Anica Rissi from Simon Pulse. LOSING FAITH hit the shelves of bookstores throughout North America in September 2010.

This is the quickest I can imagine getting a novel traditionally published, from conception to on sale. Really, the edits all along the way were not the "rewriting-the-whole-book" variety.  And it still took THREE years. Just sayin.

2008 - This year during NaNo, I wrote a YA novel called BELLY UP.  And because of my success from the last year, I also decided to write a second novel simultaneously. We'll call this one "The Novel We Don't Speak Of Because It's So Bad." (TNWDSOBISB). I wrote BELLY UP  with an outline, revised it a couple of times, sent it to my agent, and I still need to do one more revision before we try to sell it, but I have confidence that one day it can be done. TNWDSOBISB, on the other hand, was written without an outline, just on a spurt of an idea, and yeah, we don't talk about that one.

2009 - This year I wrote a YA novel called PERFECT AIM. It's about a teen archer, and I still really love this book, but it needs some major work before I send it to my agent and so far I have not had the time. I started this one with a 38k outline (yes, you read that correctly). The one problem I found with this is because so much of the story was in the outline, I got a bit lazy while writing during NaNo, and the voice ended up a bit stilted. So that will be one of the main things I need to fix when I go back to revise.

Also, during this year's NaNo, I was under a deadline for LOSING FAITH revisions for my editor, so that kept me VERY busy!

2010 - This year I attempted a companion novel to LOSING FAITH for my NaNo Project. I wrote a basic outline, discussed with my critique partner, and started writing with a basic idea of where the plot would go. I ended up going out of character quickly with my MC, I figured out later because many of the plot points in my outline just didn't suit her personality. So I'm still in the midst of revising this one and the plot has changed so much that it really is a brand new book.

2011 - I've been working on another YA contemporary novel. The working title is Milano, but I suspect that will change. I had a short synopsis written prior to NaNo, which I had sent to my critique partner, which she shredded apart. I went through her criticisms and wrote a return email to her with some ideas of how to fix her concerns. Because of the busyness of life, I never got around to revising my synopsis. I just worked from the email that I had sent back to my CP, and I only looked at that once before November the first. I haven't looked back at it since.

To be honest, this has been my easiest year. I haven't felt blocked hardly at all. It has required a lot of research, but other than that, it has been going just amazingly well. It's definitely the most words I've ever written in a month, and I've loved this story every day I've been working on it. For those who follow my blog, you know I've had an incredibly hard year, and all I can say is that I believe this is just the favor and grace of God, a much needed refresher for my life. I'm so very thankful.

So those are all of my experiences with NaNoWriMo. I hope they help add some perspective to what you may have (or are) gone through, or at the very least, I hope my pain and suffering has made for entertaining reading! :-)

If you're looking to check out a published novel that was originally written during NaNo, there are several on the NaNo website, but some of my favorites (besides LOSING FAITH, of course) are WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

Happy writing, and I'd love to hear about your NaNo experiences if you'd like to share!


  1. Fun to read about your NaNo years! :)

    I'm disappointed not to be writing much of anything these days. I got fired up, as you know, and put out about 6k or so of what basically amounts to brainstorming. But I'm still lacking a plot, which is a wee bit important, lol, so I'm holding off really beginning work until things start to come together in my head a bit. It'll come....

  2. Congrats on such a quick publication. Looks like you're on a roll.

  3. Loved your excerpt. Great tone and voice. This is my first time doing NaNo and I think I'll barely break even with 50,000 (though the novel is nowhere near finished).