NaNoWriMo Tricks and Halloween Treats

Free Today on Amazon

Today is a very scary day for writers. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins at midnight tonight, which means the hours are ticking down and the time to prep your novel is coming to a close. This can be more frightening than walking through a haunted house, but fear not! I have some tricks and a very fun and useful link to share.

I’ve also included in this post a handful of horror freebies and a dealio from Amazon. You can read one of these between handing out candy to the kids.

NaNoWriMo Tricks

Winning NaNoWriMo means writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s possible. I’ve done it twice. Here are a few tricks I’d like to share.

One of the main goals of NaNoWriMo is to learn to turn of your internal editor and just write. This is a first draft and there is no need for it to look nice and clean. It can be as messy as a kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner. So, let’s say you write a paragraph, a page or even a chapter and you don’t like it. Don’t delete it. If you do that, you’re deleting precious words towards your word count and goal. Plus, you never know if there’s a gem of an idea that’s later worth salvaging. My method is to gray out that text rather than delete. That way, when I go back and edit, the text is marked as something I initially didn’t like.

Descriptive prose and action scenes can be difficult to write and take up valuable time. This is when you need to remember that 50K words does not mean a full manuscript. It means a first draft and getting your ideas for your novel written down. When I come to a place with action or descriptive prose, I bracket them like this:

[Describe house. It is gray and dilapidated on the outside, but nice on the inside. Very cold. Fires in the fireplaces, but no one seems to be home.]

[Karen fights the Masked Menace. MM gets the upper hands. Karen falls to the floor. Uses her feet to push MM down the stairs.]

When you go back to edit, you know what is supposed to happen and you can flesh the scene out. And, yes, these bracketed scenes are definitely to be used in your word count.

If you write speculative fiction, you can get slowed down trying to think up names. I don’t just mean people, I mean creatures, taverns, spells, countries, planets, etc. Don’t waste trying to think up the perfect name. Instead, use a placeholder. But thinking up an appropriate placeholder can waste time as well. That’s what makes Seventh Sanctum such an awesome resource.

Seventh Sanctum is a portal for all kinds of name generators. Need a name for a magic spell, a martial arts move or a type of space phenomena? Go to the appropriate generator and quickly find one that will work for now. Who knows, you may even find a keeper. Be sure to generate a list of at least 10 names to give yourself a choice.

Halloween Treats

Just so you know, I haven’t read any of these books, but they look pretty creepy and fun. All are free, except the first one, “999,” which costs $0.99. This is a great deal, considering it includes stories by authors such as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.

  999: New Stories Of Horror And Suspense Not Free. $0.99.
Award-winning writer and editor Al Sarrantonio gathers together twenty-nine original stories from masters of the macabre. From dark fantasy and pure suspense to classic horror tales of vampires and zombies, 999 showcases the extraordinary scope of fantastical fright fiction. The stories in this anthology are a relentless tour de force of fear, which will haunt you, terrify you, and keep the adrenaline rushing all through the night.

  Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter by Brian P. Easton
It takes more than silver bullets to kill a werewolf. Sylvester James knows what it is to be haunted. His mother died giving birth to him and his father never let him forget it; until the night he was butchered by a werewolf–the night a full moon ruined his life. Alone in the world, Sylvester is taken in by Michael Winterfox, a Cheyenne mystic. Winterfox, once a werewolf hunter, trains the boy to be a warrior–teaching him how to block out pain, stalk, fight, and kill.

  Dollhouse by Anya Allyn
Following the characters down into the creepy underground world they discover is exhilarating and absorbing. I was always wanting to know the answer to so many dark secrets. Allyn’s writing style at times reminds me of Lovecraft, managing to capture that same dread of the unknown.

Product Details  The Vampire Handbook by PJ Jones
So, after a painstakingly long soul-searching (at least five minutes) and after grappling with the possible fate of your immortal soul (who cares if you’re not going to die, anyway), you’ve decided to become a vampire. Congratulations! But before beginning that dark and shadowed journey into a life of eternal damnation, every vampire is required to read THE VAMPIRE HANDBOOK, a short step-by-step guide to becoming a vampire and then adjusting to the bloodsucking lifestyle.

  The Halloween Collection
The Halloween Collection showcases spooky reads from nine very different authors. Whether you enjoy light or dark paranormal, YA or adult-themed genres, there’s bound to be a story to suit your tastes

  Eaters by Michelle DePaepe
Cheryl and her fiancé Mark, a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, are on their way back to Denver after a reunion camping trip in the mountains when they receive word an epidemic is spreading like wildfire. But this is no ordinary virus. Those infected, dubbed “Eaters,” are reanimated corpses whose lust for rotten food quickly turns to an insatiable desire for human flesh. When Mark becomes infected, Cheryl is forced to venture into this insane new world on her own. Hoping to find her family still living, she strikes out on a blood-soaked journey that forges her will to survive.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.

NaNoWriMo: More Free Resources

Resources For Wrimos and Nonparticipants as Well

Whether or not you are participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November, you will probably find most of the resources listed below to be of some use to you as a writer.

I also wanted to note that although the word “National” is used, this is an international event. Writers in countries all over the globe will be participating. Wherever you live, after you sign up, you’ll be directed to join your region, which will put you in contact with fellow writers in your part of the world. It’s a great way to meet new people.

First, I want to once again shout out the free Young Novelist’s Workbook made available by NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. It’s geared to high school writers, but I think it’s a valuable resource for any writer, particularly if this is your first NaNoWriMo. Did I mention it’s free? Go get it!

Want a nifty word counter like the one appearing in my sidebar? You can find it here.

Companies that sponsor NaNoWriMo offer participants some sweet freebies and special dealios. For example, CreateSpace will give NaNoWriMo winners (i.e., those who write 50,000+ words by midnight, November 30) 5 free printed copies of their novel. You can find the sponsor offers here.

If you’re looking for word processing software that offers more inspiration than Microsoft Word, you many want to check out yWriter5 and Storybook. I’ve tried both and while there’s a bit of a learning curve, both programs offer lots of fun and useful features for writers. yWriter is always free. Storybook has a free lite version and the option to purchase a pro version.

I’ll list more free resources as I find them. If you have any free resources to recommend, please share in the comments section.

Writing Prompts and Guides

Free Today on Amazon

The first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month, I didn’t attempt to write a novel. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to write and needed something to get me going. I decided instead to write a story a day that had to include Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day.

I got mixed results because sometimes the word was fabulous and inspiring, and other times, not so much. I didn’t write 50K words. I did write 30 short stories and vignettes. Overall, it was a great writing exercise.

Even if you already have your novel outlined and ready to go, it’s easy to get stuck. A little inspiration can go a long way. Below, I’ve listed three websites containing prompts that can help get the juices flowing.

Need some help focusing that creativity into a novel? The freebies I’ve listed below are geared toward newer writers, though more experienced writers will probably find them helpful as well.

  The New Author by Ruby Barnes
A self-help guide to novel writing, publishing as an independent ebook author and promoting your brand using social networks. With foreword by Jim Williams, author of ten internationally published novels including the Booker Prize nominated Scherzo.

  Firsts In Fiction: First Line Hooks, Hints & Help by Aaron D. Gansky
Maybe you struggle with the first line, and that’s okay. To a large extent, we all do. It’s hard to find a line that’s going to entice readers and propel them onward with eager anticipation. But crafting a stellar first line doesn’t need to be confounding. A fisherman has many types of bait. A writer has many ways to open their fiction—character, setting, voice. More often than not, the best bait is the unexpected, the question-proposing line that skims across the surface of the water to attract impatient readers slogging through the river. The first line has become organic and has breathed, and the reader can smell its breath. These are the lines that live in our memories—the stuff literary dreams are made of.

  Write To Be Heard: Write Like You Talk: Help With Voice, Character, Dialogue… and more! by Aaron D. Gansky and Diane Sherlock
Learning one skill will improve everything you write. Ready? Here it is: Write like you talk. That’s it? Yes, that’s it. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s a skill and like any skill, it can be learned and with some practice, you can master it. What’s in it for me, you ask? First, writing will be easier, less of a chore. Instead of fighting the page, you will sound like you. You might even find you really like to write. Who knows. You might have a story inside you that other people really need to read.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.

My Bully

Free Today on Amazon

This morning, while checking out the Kindle freebies, I found a book on bullying. It’s a subject that’s been in the media a great deal and one that is close to my heart. If you have kids, you’re probably dealing with the issue in some way. If not, you were once a kid and may have been bullied, or you might have been a bully.

In my novel, “Fake,” one of my protagonists, Rhian, deals with a bully in school, while her mother, Bridie, deals with the adult variety. Bullying does not end when we graduate high school. Bullies can be found everywhere and in any age group.

I still remember the name of my grade school bully, though other names have faded away. For privacy sake, I’ll call her Cheryl. She took an instant dislike to me for reasons I will never know. A big, loud, intimidating girl, she hounded me from second grade until fifth, turning other girls against me and driving me out of our Girl Scout troop.

I lost many friends due to her. At the end of the fifth grade, Cheryl caught me alone and, with a sneer on her face, announced, “You have no friends.”

I stood up tall, put my hands on my hips, and said in a loud, “Yes, I do. I have Deana and she’s my best friend.”

Cheryl looked stunned. She walked away without saying another word. To this day, I don’t know why this affected her so much. I can only speculate that perhaps, despite her gang of girls, she didn’t have a best friend.

In sixth grade, I became friends with a wonderful, boisterous girl who let it be known that bullying me was not allowed. I have no memories of Cheryl from middle school and few from high school, except for one poignant incident.

Cheryl was absent for a lot of high school. When she did show up, she often wore some kind of cast, either on her arm, her leg, or even a neck brace. I didn’t give it much thought beyond thinking she was accident prone. In my heart of hearts, I thought, “Karma.”

One day, while I was at my locker, she pulled up next to me on her bike, her arm in the ubiquitous cast, and said, “Hi, Lori! How are you?”

She seemed so friendly and eager to talk to me. I brushed her off with a cautious “Hello.” and a lame excuse that I had to get to class early. I can honestly say I wasn’t trying to be mean. I simply didn’t want to give her the opportunity to start in on me again.

Looking back, thinking of her absences and her injuries, it’s very likely Cheryl was a battered child. She was a target and her way of coping was to place the target on someone else and spew her hurt and wrath on them. I can sympathize with that. I have forgiven her, but despite her pain, her actions are not excusable.  Bullying is never justifiable.

I know that’s a lot of heavy stuff. After that, we all deserve a little comfort, so along with the book on bullying, I included a couple of freebie comfort food cookbooks to lighten the load.

  Help! I’m Being Bullied – 10 practical strategies to stop bullying by Dr. Emily Lovegrove
A fast-track approach to helping children who are experiencing bullying. Dr Emily Lovegrove, an expert on the psychology of bullying, has written this book to help both the children who are being bullied, and their parents. It is based on her research and work with many hundreds of young people and their families. Whilst there are books aimed at teachers on this topic, this is the first book on the subject written especially for the parents of bullied children. It features a new approach to bullies and bullying that has been enormously successful largely due to the fact that it was developed in collaboration with teenagers.

  Easy Coffee Cake Recipes by Jeen van der Meer
It is not like baking a loaf of bread, nor is it as complicated as making a regular cake. Coffee cakes combine effortlessly and bake up into a nice hot sweet treat in a matter very little time. You can go from scratch to eating a slice in less than an hour, and coffee cakes are best piping hot right out of the oven.

  Hot Soups for Winter Warmth by Carol Becker and Linda Wilson
Girl Talk Cookbooks combine stories from actual real-life experiences while growing up and learning to cook with great recipes. This edition focuses on Hot Soups for Winter Warmth. Take a few minutes and remember your own childhood memories along with Carol and Linda. Then create some new memories as you prepare the scrumptious soups. In each cookbook from the Girl Talk Cookbooks series the recipes will change as well as the stories.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.

Resources for NaNoWriMo 2012

Preparation is Key to Success

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins on November 1, 2012. For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is an exercise in group madness, wherein people all over the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

It is possible. I’ve done it and the proof is here. The first draft of my novel, “Fake,” was written and completed during NaNoWriMo.

Writing is a solitary business, which makes November and NaNoWriMo an awesome occasion for writers. After signing up on the official website, you can join your local region. On your local region’s forum, you can find a calendar of events that includes write-ins throughout the month. During these write-ins, participants meet at local cafes, restaurants or even private residences, and settle down to work on their novels together. It’s an opportunity to meet other local writers, exchange ideas, and participate in fun activities.

If you would like to participate or just want to check it out, this is the official website.

50,000 is a lot to write in 30 days. It’s not a finished novel, but it is a reasonable size for a first draft. I was able to accomplish this by preparing in advance. The official rules for NaNoWriMo state that you must not begin your novel before November 1. However, you are free to do as much research and preparation as possible prior to that date.

Where to begin? I’ve listed some free resources below that I’ve found helpful.

NaNoWriMo’s Young Novelist Workbook
Although the intended audience is high school students, this 91-page workbook is helpful for adults writers, too. Inside, you’ll find helpful worksheets as well as advice on character development, conflict, setting, plotting, etc. I highly recommend this for beginning novelists.

How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method
This method was developed by Randy Ingermanson, author of “Writing Fiction for Dummies.” His 10-point process will take you from a one-sentence summary to beginning your first draft. For NaNoWriMo purposes, I used the method up to Step 5. However, you may want to use the whole method.

Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure
Author and writing coach Holly Lisle developed this method of using note cards to plot out a novel. I’ve found this to be a very useful method for the getting the story out of my head. One thing I highly recommend is, after finishing the note cards, don’t hesitate to shuffle them like a deck of cards. This can help you let go of your story as something written in stone and allow serendipity enter into how the characters and scenes interact.

25 Ways to Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story
Novelist Chuck Wendig offers 25 different methods on his blog. One or more may suit you.

If you decide to participate, good luck! You can do it.

Halloween Already

Free Today on Amazon

People seem real excited about Halloween this year. Several friends have eagerly carved their pumpkins, only to have them disintegrate into piles of smelly goo. I went to IKEA on Wednesday and saw a young woman (a customer) dressed as a witch. At dinner last night, a girl in the booth across from ours was wearing zombie makeup. And speaking of such, Denver’s 7th Annual Zombie Crawl is happening this Saturday, October 20. I love the address of the website:

I thought I’d get in on the act and find some Halloween and horror-related freebies. There were plenty to be had on Amazon. These were the ones I chose.

  Easy Halloween Costumes (Instructables Halloween)
Don’t skip this year’s Halloween party because you spent most of October watching football or settling in at school. We’ve got 20 quick, simple Halloween costumes that will make you the life of the party. If you can use scissors and tape, with a dash of sewing skill, you’ll ready to take on any one of these creative costume projects. Roll up in style dressed as giant toilet paper. Turn the classic sheet-ghost into something a little more original. It’s never too late to throw something clever together, so get started with these and you’ll be rocking out to the Monster Mash in no time.

  Horribly Good Halloween Recipes with Coffee by Billy Taylor
Part of the ‘Seasonal Collection of Recipes with Coffee’- This Halloween recipes book combines many of the traditional holiday recipes with the author’s love of coffee, bringing an entirely unique twist to your Halloween.

  Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
Hollowland – the first book in the young adult dystopian series The Hollows.. “This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.” Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

  Scraping the Bone: Ten Dark Tales by William Malmborg
Ten dark tales that step into the shadows of humanity that few dare to enter. REDSTONE LAKE – a newlywed couple ventures to a family cabin in the woods that conceals a disturbing incident from the past. REST STOP – a fed up wife runs into terror rather than away from it while fleeing her abusive husband. JACOB’S GIFT – a boy takes a midnight tip to the graveyard to dig up his brother who he believes is still alive.

  The Turtle Boy by Kealan Patrick Burke
School is out and summer has begun. For eleven year old Timmy Quinn and his best friend Pete Marshall, the dreary town of Delaware Ohio becomes a place of magic, hidden treasure and discovery. But on the day they encounter a strange young boy sitting on the bank of Myers Pond, a pond playground rumor says may hide turtles the size of Buicks, everything changes.

  The Deepest Cut by J.A. Templeton
Sixteen-year-old Riley Williams has been able to see ghosts since the car crash that took her mother’s life and shattered her family. Guilt-ridden over the belief that she’s somehow responsible for her mom’s death, Riley is desperate to see her mother’s elusive spirit to gain her forgiveness. When her father moves the family to Scotland so they can all start over, Riley believes her life couldn’t get worse–that is until the ghost of nineteen-year-old Ian MacKinnon catches her purposely cutting herself. An uneasy truce quickly turns into friendship, and soon Riley’s falling hard for Ian.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.

Romance in the Air

Free Today on Amazon and Harlequin

Although I write fantasy, as a reader I enjoy books from many different genres. I can’t imagine reading just one kind of book. It would be like going to a dinner buffet and deciding I was only going to eat the potatoes. Now, maybe it’s an awesome buffet and there are many different potato dishes. Still, that means I’m ignoring the meats, salads, vegetables, pasta and, worst of all, the desserts being offered. Why would anyone do that?

Same thing with books. If I decided I was only going to read speculative fiction, I would have a wide variety of good novels to choose from. However, I would miss out on so many other good books.

Which brings me to the romance genre. It doesn’t get a lot of respect. The stereotypes of “bodice ripper” and “lady porn” have turned potential readers away. Which is a shame. Romance is one of the most varied genres out there, having a whole bookstore’s worth of subgenres, including historical, suspense and science fiction.

Romance novels have been dismissed as easy to write, which is simply not true. They must be well written to even be considered by a publisher. Readers, contrary to some opinions, won’t read just any old crap because it contains sex scenes.

While romance isn’t my number one genre of choice, I do like to pick up one every now and then. They make for a nice variety in my reading. One book I recently enjoyed was “Ridiculous” by D.L. Carter. It was a Regency romance that included subtle social commentary. I got it as a Kindle freebie. It’s now $0.99 and well worth the price. Currently, I’m reading “Midnight Marriage” by Lucinda Brant, which is available for free on Amazon. So far, I’m enjoying it, though I can’t quite recommend it yet.

If you’re interested in checking out a bestselling romance author, you can pick up a two-in-one freebie of historical romance, “Of Nobel Birth” and “Honor Bound” by Brenda Novak.

But wait, there’s more! This is for both readers and writers.

Readers, Harlequin Books offers 18 novels as free downloads. 15 are in English and 3 are in Spanish. They can be downloaded here.

Writers, even if you don’t write romance, you could probably benefit from Harlequin’s helpful writing articles and examples. Though these are geared toward romance, much of the information is general and applies to most genre writing. You can find these articles here.

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store and Harlequin Books. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

A Grimm Companion

Free Today on Amazon and iTunes

I am a big fan of the NBC television show, “Grimm,” so I was delighted to find a companion book available for free. The edition on Amazon is only available for the Kindle Fire, Kindle Cloud Reader, and the Kindle app for the iPad and Android. I have an iPad, so woo-hoo! I downloaded it and happily fired up my tablet.

What a disappointment. It looked like crap. No interactivity and lots of blank pages. No wonder it had so many 1 star reviews. I looked at the those reviews and one reviewer recommended downloading the book from iTunes.

I went to iTunes and found the book there for free, so I downloaded it. So glad I did! It looks beautiful and has all kinds of interactive features. If you are a “Grimm” fan, you will want this book.

If you have a Kindle Fire, you will probably want to try downloading it from Amazon first. I don’t know about the Android, but it’s certainly worth a try.


Grimm: The Essential Guide is here! Download this free interactive eBook and let the NBC hit drama series Grimm, inspired by the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, come alive!

  • Learn about Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt and the rest of the characters on Grimm.
  • Enter Aunt Marie’s Trailer and view her mysterious artifacts.
  • Read the pages from the family journal passed down by generations of Grimms.
  • Navigate through the Creature Gallery.
  • See behind-the-scenes photos from the filming of the television series.
  • Be one of the first to see the terrifying new creature, Mauvais Dentes.
  • Meet the cast and so much more!

iTunes Version

Amazon Version

Descriptions provided by Amazon and iTunes

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found this book via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store and iTunes. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

Free books are usually limited time offers and there is no guarantee this book in either format will still be free when you click on the links. Grab it sooner rather than later.

Harper Voyager Submission Deadline Extended

I just checked and the Harper Voyage submission form remains active as of 8:45 a.m. MDT (I live in Colorado, if that helps.) The Harper Voyager website posted this message:

We apologize for the early closing of the form. Technology error! We have now re-opened it and extended the period until this time tomorrow, October 15th.

There was no time stamp on the message, so I can’t say how much longer the portal will remain open. Here are the links:

I’m certain the staff at Harper Voyager feel bad about the confusion and they have done their best to rectify the situation. From what I can tell in the forums, they spent the weekend at New York’s ComicCon, which must have been crazy crowded and they had to have been crazy busy.

Harper Voyager has provided a great opportunity for unpublished writers. If you want to show them a little love, think about buying one or more of their books. Don’t have a lot of cash? You know you’ve come to the right place. Harper Voyager is offering two new eShorts by bestselling authors and the prices are nice.

“Pet Shop Boys ” by Kim Harrison costs $0.89. “The Asylum Interviews – Trixie” by Jocelynn Drake costs $1.99. Both are approximately 100 pages in length. Electronic copies are available on Amazon, B&N and iTunes. You can find both books here.

Good luck to everyone who submitted a manuscript to Harper Voyager. I’d love to hear back from anyone who gets accepted.

Harper Voyager Submission Portal Reopened

This morning, a reader posted on my blog that the Harper Voyager Submission portal closed early, at midnight on October 13. This appears to have been a mistake and the portal is reopened. The deadline still appears to be midnight, October 14. I’m not sure how this works for different time zones. I suggest submitting your work ASAP. If I hear about an extension on the submission deadline, I will let you know.

Harper Voyager Guidelines

Harper Voyager Submission Form