NaNoWriMo 2016- LET’S DO THIS

In six-ish hours it’ll officially be NaNoWriMo prep time. For me anyway. Some have been preparing since September 1st, some before that, some may not gear up for a few more weeks. But! No matter when, or how, NaNoWriMo is coming for us all.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those that don’t know) takes place November 1st-30th. It’s a challenge for writers to complete a novel draft of 50,000 words during those thirty days. Basically, write a book in a month. Boom. Easy, right?

Um…. no.

It is not.

This is my first year participating. While very excited, I’m doing my best to OVER prepare so as to avoid getting overwhelmed. As a result, I’ve gathered some awesome resources. And, lucky you! I’m going to spill it all here, so you can play too!

NaNoWriMo advice, resources, and general help for National Novel Writing Month

Okay!

Let’s start with NaNoWriMo in general.

First, I found this great, probably pretty accurate, representation of what to expect. Our friends at BuzzFeed wrote this up a few years ago. While not SUPER helpful for participants, those who know someone involved may learn a thing or two. I’m planning on sending this to my husband come November 1st. It has some hilarious info and gifs on the stages we writers will experience during NaNoWriMo. Like this gem. Stage one:

 

NaNoWriMo Madness from BuzzFeed

(It is from like… 2012 I think? But still relevant)

 

Next up, some great posts on preparation:

Checklist: 30 Things to do for NaNo Prep

A great list of stuff to do. Everything from plotting to social calendar clearing. Even a handy graphic I may print out and carry around with me. She’s has great visuals with every step. Many of which cracked me right up:

 

Game of Thrones NaNoWriMo funny meme

 7 Strategies for NaNoWriMo Prep

A lovely compact list to help with plotting. I especially like the idea of drawing a map. Fantasy or not, a map of your character’s surrounding and geography can be immensely helpful. Also, thoughtfully choosing a point of view helps a ton. Pick one and stick with it.

The National Novel Writing Month official website

Alrighty. Head over here. Register. Get yourself set up for success. I did. My profile is still a bit bare for the moment, but find me. Add me. Let’s be friends and cheer each other on. I love to hear from readers and writers. And, I love talking and joking and sharing ideas. All that jazz. Sign up!

Now for the juicy stuff.

Once November is here, these will help you stay organized and keep you going.

Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline: Your 30-Day Cheatsheet

An awesome day-by-day process of where your story should go. Great for the planners (like me) to read through before you outline. Can also be good for the Pantsters*. You crazies can peek at it to keep your plot moving along. Super great list for story construction. Also contains a neat graphic. Woo!

*A “Pantster”, I learned, is a writer who “flies by the seat of their pants” when book writing. For example, they don’t outline and such. Pretty sure I would actually die a death if I tried it. They’re cool and badass and I want to hear their war stories…

NaNoWriMo: The Art of 1667 Words Per Day

Great tips on how to keep your micro-goal of 1667 words per day. That’s all we have to do. One thousand six hundred sixty-seven words. A day. For thirty days. We can do that, right? It’s going to be fine.

If you’re like me, and have momentary panics about achieving even a hundred words a day, this post will really help. Awesome advice, about distractions, momentum, etc… I also loved her idea of changing your font color to a super light gray. To keep from editing as you write. I’m a major culprit (victim?) of that. I’m horrible. Fixing every little problem that shows up when my atrocious first draft crap spews out. I tweak here and there. Bad! No! I’m the worst person to tell you not to do that, because I can’t stop doing it myself. But, DON’T. I’ve actually made a sub-goal for NaNoWriMo. JUST LET THE CRAP FLOW. Don’t edit. This blog made some great suggestions for overcoming that. Awesome.

This Generous Person’s Spreadsheets

If you’re like me, I love to see progress. While I’m usually one for instant gratification, sometimes it’s nice to see steady progress toward my goal day-by-day. Especially if I have thirty days where I have to stay focused and finish. These spreadsheets (all totally and completely free) can really help us keep track of word counts. Which, as we all know, are important to be watching.

The spreadsheet with this link is technically for 2015. But! The post states there will be an updated one for this year posted soon. Hooray!

Also, you can donate to the cause for more spreadsheet goodness. If you’re feeling extra nice, it’s a cool thing you can do.

Write a Novel in a Month (without Losing Your Mind)

This one isn’t NaNoWriMo specific. But, it’s a great resource for reminding you why we write first drafts. It’s got some good stuff on plotting and discovering your story. While the post is sort of an ad for a book about writing a novel in thirty-one days, it still has some great points about first drafting.

I hit up this blog a lot for advice and motivation. So, browse through some other articles. This is where I first read about publishing shorter stories on Amazon. And even though my novellas are longer than what is suggested, I found that I loved writing shorter fiction. It taught me a lot and I’ll keep doing it. My point? You never know where you’re going to find inspiration, or have an “ah ha!” moment. So poke around. Read a little about what you don’t think will interest you. You’ll be surprised. This applies to ANY blog, of course.

To conclude…

NaNoWriMo is going to be awesome. I’m really looking forward to it. Even though it’s my first ride on this merry-go-round, these are the things I’m going to keep in mind that you’ll also want to consider:

  • Don’t forget to prep your friends and family. Let them know you’re not going to be as reachable as normal.
  • Guard your writing time. This is one month out of the year when you are going to choose you. You owe it to yourself to write. You love it. You deserve it. For thirty days, say no to the other stuff. Protect the time you’ve set aside for yourself to do what you love.
  • Write through writer’s block. That syndrome doesn’t get to exist in November. My best advice when you think you’ve got it? Pretend you don’t. Write anyway. The point of this exercise is to write. Not to write well. Remember that. Just put words on the page.
  • Don’t edit as you go. Just say no, kids.
  • Try to get enough sleep.
  • Plan. Plan. Plan. Have an outline. Set micro-goals. Word counts, page counts, scene completions, whatever. Strategize so you can be successful. And so you don’t get overwhelmed. (As a side note, this point may be lost on the Pantsters. I don’t know how you do it, and I have MAD respect for you dudes that can fly like that. PLEASE tell me how you do it. I think I’d just end up weeping under my desk.)

The point of #NaNoWriMo is to write. Not to write well. Remember that. 

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There you have it! For now, at least. As I find more throughout this crazy writing spree, I’ll update this post. Again, find me on the NaNoWriMo official website so we can hold hands and cry together. I mean… win together.

LET’S DO THIS!

A Sneak Peek of “Maia”

The story of Thumbelina is breathed new life in this retelling of the classic fairytale. Maia is a young woman. Short, sweet, and sheltered. Her life was quiet until her best friend, Ben Swallow, admits his feelings for her. Then her mother announces it’s time for her to get married.  She’s quickly taken away by Mama Claiborne, whose son is perfect for her.  Will she ever see Ben again? Faced with horrors she’s never imagined, Maia will have to learn to fight for herself.

Here’s a sneak peek at K.D. Reed’s next novel, Maia

Maia confidently, but carefully, walked through the front door. It was time to face Mother, and though nervous, she was ready.

Mother sat at the table, facing the door. A statue, with her mouth in a strait line. Her face didn’t change when Maia entered.

“Oh, hello Mother,” she smiled. “Do you want me to set out dinner now, or wait until six?”

“I want you to sit down, and it is six o’clock.”

Maia looked to clock in the living room. She saw it was one minute after. “I can set out dinner first-”

“I said sit!”

“Yes, Mother.” She sat. “How was your afternoon?”

“I don’t want to discuss my afternoon, I want to discuss yours.”

“Well,” Maia began, “I finished the things you asked me to and cooked dinner. Then, I noticed we were low on a few things, so I made a grocery list. Maybe we can go to the market tomorrow?”

Mother stood so fast her wooden chair fell over. “Where were you?” she demanded.

Maia was startled. “I went for a walk,” she answered, as calmly as she could. There was only a small tremble in her voice.

“A walk?”

“It was such a lovely day, I thought I’d take advantage of the nice weather. Winter isn’t that far off. I wanted to enjoy the sunshine. I really didn’t go far, and I guess I lost track of the time. I’m sorry if I upset you, Mother. I only-”

“Stop rambling this instant!” She took a step closer to Maia, towering over her. “You were with Mr. Swallow.”

“That is true.” Maia decided before she walked through the door to be honest and finally stand her ground. She did nothing wrong. Well, almost. She really shouldn’t have let Ben kiss her the way he did. But, one crisis at a time. “Ben did accompany me.”

“I knew it!” Mother shouted, banging her fist on the table. “What have I told you about that boy? He’s a sinner! He’s a ruffian! He’ll ruin you!”

“Oh Mother, please. Ben is very kind, and generous. He’s smart too-”

“He must be smart! He’s convinced you to defy your mother and your God! He’s probably taken your virtue too!”

“He would never!” Maia raised her voice, then caught herself. She relaxed before adding, “He’s a gentleman, and has too much respect for me to do such a thing.”

Mother did not calm down. “A gentleman? He’s a scoundrel and you know it! He’s just like his father. A good-for-nothing who took advantage of his mother and abandoned her before she gave birth. It’s a blessing she died young, so she didn’t have to live with the shame of it all.”

“He’s not a scoundrel! Ben is a good person!”

“Why are you so quick to defend this boy?”

“He’s my friend.”

“I think he’s more than that. Has this boy tampered with your innocence?”

Maia rolled her eyes. “No.”

Mother bent down, bringing her eyes level with Maia’s. She stared hard at her. “Have you let this boy touch you?”

She didn’t look away, and hesitated only a second. “No.” Maia’s heart thumped like a stone against her sternum.

Taking a deep breath, Mother stood straight. “I’m not sure I believe you. But, at any rate, things are going to change.”

“What do you mean?”

“You may set out dinner now, while we eat, we’ll discuss your future.”

Maia stood slowly. There were too many thoughts to choose from. Her future? She mechanically took the roast and potatoes from the oven. Her hands shook as she carved the meat. She set the plates and silverware on the table, trying hard not to clang them together. She was afraid to look at her mother. But, she felt eyes watching her. After she poured them each a glass of milk, she returned to her seat.

“I thought we were having peas?” Mother asked.

“Yes, sorry.” Maia jumped from her chair, and retrieved the peas from the refrigerator.

Once they were both seated Mother bowed her head and said grace. Then, she plucked her napkin from the table and draped it across her lap. She loaded her plate modestly. Maia was too nervous to eat, but took food anyway. There was a fight coming, and she didn’t want to appear weak or afraid. So she ate steadily.

After a few minutes Mother said, “We formed a new committee at church a few weeks ago.”

Maia had to clear her throat before she could respond. “Oh?”

“Yes. Just three other ladies and myself. It’s a temporary committee, and the task is almost complete. I only mention it because it involves you.”

Swallowing her lump of food, Maia asked, “How?”

“We’re finding you a husband.”

“You’re what?” her fork fell with a clank.

“Please don’t be so dramatic. It’s not that ridiculous. You’re old enough. A husband wants his wife young, so she can keep up with his children. I don’t really want you much older. Then you’d become undesirable. I’m not going to see you having to settle for a widower, or worse, a divorcé. You’ll be a good wife, if you follow all the guidance I’ve given you over the last twenty-two years. I want to see that you end up with a good husband. Now is the perfect time.”

“But, Mother-”

“We’ve found a few candidates. A few from town, you’ve seen them in church. Mrs. Donahue’s boy, Charles. A strapping man, with good genes and upbringing. He’s a bit old, though, may have some bad habits. I’m also considering Mrs. Brown’s youngest son, Emmett. Although, I have yet to ask her about him. There’s a young man in Traversville. Mrs. Wilcox used to give him piano lessons and is good friends with his mother. He’s very promising. He’s going to run the bank sometime in the next few years. Again, a bit old, but can you imagine! Being a banker’s wife! Quite a life you’d have with him. Let me see…”

“But what if-”

“Oh! That’s right. There’s a young pharmacist in Pleasant Junction. At least, he’s going to be a pharmacist. Still in school. A bit of a risk, but still a contender. He’d be able to take care of you nicely. He’s the college roommate of Mrs. Brown’s other son, Joshua. Of course, I considered Joshua, but then I learned he’s studying art. No daughter of mine is going to be the wife of a painter or the like.” She shook her head. “Despicable. At any rate, you should be pleased to know the committee is dedicated to finding the most suitable match for you. In fact, Mrs. Bradshaw (she’s on the committee) is insisting we inquire about her nephew. Her husband’s sister is visiting from down south a little ways, but returns home tomorrow evening. We’re meeting with her after church tomorrow. Mrs. Bradshaw didn’t give us much detail on the young man, but she did mention money. So, I figured he was worth a look.”

“Mother stop!” Maia shouted and leapt up from the table. “I don’t want to hear another word! Have you even thought to consider what I might want?”

“Don’t raise your voice to me,” Mother said, calm but direct. “My patience is thin with you this evening. I don’t suggest you continue in this manner.”

“Your patience is thin? My patience is thin! My whole life you’ve chosen everything for me. Every last detail! Shouldn’t the man I marry be my choice? I’m the one who has to live with him!”

“Maia…”

“I may not want to marry at all! I could go to college. I could have a career. I may want to run away and join the circus!”

“Maia -”

“No!”

Mother was silent.

“I realize you only want what’s best for me,” Maia went on, trying to regain control of herself. She unclenched her fists. Folding her hands neatly she said, “But, you can’t choose for me. Not this time.”

“Are you finished?” her mother asked.

“For the moment…”

Mother set her napkin on the table. She slowly stood. “Let me make myself perfectly clear, Maia. You don’t get a choice. You will be a wife. That’s what God has intended for you. You will serve your husband and obey him. You will bear him as many children as he sees fit. You will raise them with a heavy hand, and you will raise them to fear God. That is your lot.” She took a deep breath, “I don’t know what happened today that changed you, but it has only convinced me that the time for you to marry is now.”

“I-”

“You will say nothing more tonight. You will clean up your dishes, and go to bed. I am ashamed to be your mother, and I will not lay my eyes upon you a moment longer. Now, go.”

Maia silently followed her orders. Shaking, she set her plate in the sink. She dumped her milk down the drain. Then, she made her way to her room. As she reached for the knob Mother had one last word.

“Maia,” she said. “You will never see Ben Swallow again.”