NaNoWriMo Fun and Useful Resources

With NaNoWriMo almost upon us, I thought I’d post a few links to some fun and useful resources.

Designer David Seah has made available a printable NaNoWriMo word count calendar for 2013. It can be downloaded in PDF format on his website.

NaNoToons is a daily web comic about NaNoWriMo. You’ll recognize yourself and fellow writers in the characters.

Author Chuck Wendig offers solid NaNoWriMo advice along with the usual hilarious dose of snark on his blog “Terrible Minds.”

Not satisfied with your word processor as a novel writing tool? Literature & Latte is offering NaNoWriMo participants an extended free trial of their writing software Scrivener. As an added incentive, NaNoWriMo winners will receive a 50% discount off the purchase of the software.

Still don’t know what to write? TV Tropes has created a couple of hilarious, yet oddly useful generators with endless story ideas from their huge inventory of tropes and media lists.

The story generator does just that, generates story ideas.

The pitch generator comes up with high concept pitches for your next agent meeting. My favorite was “A Charlie Brown Christmas” meets “Say Yes to the Dress.”

Useful? Well, I gave the above pitch a little thought and came up with this idea for a romance.

Chuck Brown, an injured placekicker with the Minnesota Vikings, returns home for the holidays and his upcoming New Year’s Eve wedding to psychiatrist Lucy van Pelt. However Lucy seems to have gone crazy in her quest for the ultimate wedding gown. She’s even signed up for a reality TV show. Chuck suspects this might be a ruse for Lucy to take one last shot at her old flame, the show’s musical director, Schroeder. After his fussbudget fiance flies to New York for the show, Chuck takes refuge in Christmas preparations. Can his loyal dog and a red-haired beauty stranded in the snow help him see the red flags and have a truly happy New Year?

Fun, though not necessarily a story I’d like to write. Nonetheless, it did get my creative juices flowing. You never know what trope might lead to your own original story.

Good luck to all who are participating in NaNoWriMo this year!

NaNoWriMo Rebellion

You want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but you can’t follow the one basic rule: write a 50K novel from word one. Maybe you’re not a fiction writer. Maybe you have a work in progress that you can’t just drop in favor of a new novel. This might make you feel like there’s a huge writers’ party and you’re not invited. And you’d be wrong.

All writers are welcome to participate, regardless of what they are writing. If you don’t follow the rule, you aren’t a cheater: you’re a NaNo Rebel.

A NanNo Rebel is anyone not writing a brand spanking new 50K novel. This includes nonfiction, memoir, short stories, graphic novels, poetry, plays, etc. Editing last year’s NaNo novel? Writing a 30K novella? Feel free to join the rebel ranks.

NaNoWriMo is an event that generates an enormous amount of creative energy. The organizers realize this and they don’t want anyone to feel left out. They have created a forum especially for nonconformists: NaNo Rebels

Here you can find out more about what it takes to be a rebel. The moderators discuss the conditions of being a rebel and whether or not to validate your word count at the end of the month. You can also find your fellow dissidents here and discuss your alternative works.

Full disclosure: I am going the rebel route this year for a big reason. My husband and I are moving from Colorado to California at the beginning of November. Yeah, timing is everything. With all that’s going on, I can’t commit to a new novel, but I can continue to edit my current WIP and work toward a personal goal.

NaNoWriMo is a contest, a 30-day sprint with a finish line and shiny prizes for the winners. However, the most important goal is the one you set for yourself. Whether you write 1,000 words or 100,000 words in 30 days, those are words you hadn’t written before and that right there is winning.

NaNoWriMo: Inspiration Before Perspiration Part 4

So, maybe you’re thinking “I’d really like to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I don’t have a clue what to write.”

The solution is surprisingly simple. You don’t have to pull a story out of thin air. Consider these sources of endless inspiration: fairy tales, Shakespeare, pastiche and fan fiction.

Putting a modern twist on a classic fairy tale is a great way to use an existing plot and characters to tell a fresh story. The popularity of television’s “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm” attests to a wide audience eager for these stories.

The same is true for Shakespeare’s plays. For example, the movie, “10 Things I Hate About You” is a retelling of “The Taming of the Shrew.” The musical “West Side Story” replaces Verona with New York City and places Romeo and Juliet in rival gangs.

If fairy tales and the Bard don’t appeal to you, consider writing pastiche from public domain works. “Pride and Prejudice,” “Dracula” and Sherlock Holmes have been adapted countless times in a wide variety of genres and media. For that reason, you might want to find a less familiar, but equally powerful story to adapt. For example, the TV series “Revenge” is based on “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

Still not inspired? You may want to try your hand at fan fiction. This can be especially helpful for new writers. Working with familiar characters can help spread your wings and inspire you to create your own characters and situations. While you can’t legally publish this work or be paid for it, you can post it to fan fiction websites, where readers are eager for novel length works.

You can rewrite stories to fit almost any genre. “Something Rotten” by Alan M. Gratz turns “Hamlet” into a modern murder mystery set in the town of Denmark, Tennessee. “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer is a science fiction retelling of “Cinderella.”

Find a story or play that strongly appeals to you. This is key. You won’t sustain enough creative energy to write a novel if the original story doesn’t excite and engage you.

Check out these links for free resources on Shakespeare, fairy tales, public domain works and fan fiction.

NaNoWriMo: Inspiration Before Perspiration Part 3

A plot bunny is wonderful yet nefarious creature. It will hop into your brain and take your creative process on journeys that are amazing and/or terrifying. A plot bunny can also take you on a journey that leads to a dead end, and then turn around, smirk and say, “Yeah, that’s all I got.”

What is a plot bunny? It’s a story or plot idea that gnaws at your brain, demanding to be written down.  It can start out like Alice’s White Rabbit, but end up like Donnie Darko’s Frank. The concept inspired me to create this gif.


During the rest of the year, it’s pretty much fine to let the plot bunnies roam free. During NaNoWriMo, though, they can lead you astray to the point of becoming discouraged and dropping your story. Don’t let this happen!

During October, write down your novel ideas. Let one idea lead to another. If a plot bunny pops up and beckons you down its hole, chase after it and see where it leads. Be inspired by the bunny, but take control if the idea is going nowhere.

Of course, during NaNoWriMo, plot bunnies will persistently pop up. You don’t have to ignore them. A big part of NaNoWriMo is allowing your creativity to flow freely without critical restraint. Here’s what to do if a persistent bunny starts to nibble at your story.

Let’s say you’re writing a novel about vampires vs. fairies set in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Your main character is half-human, half-fairy and lives in an apartment building. A new neighbor moves in next door. For the purposes of the story, this neighbor should be a vampire or fairy. But, a plot bunny hops in and says, “Hey! The new neighbor is a professional chef and serial killer who uses poison on his victims.”

Follow that bunny. It could lead to an interesting plot twist and get your creative juices flowing. However, if the bunny leads nowhere, all you have to do it stop and go back. Don’t delete those words. Grey them out. The idea could still be useful. Go back and make the neighbor a fairy. Doesn’t work? Make the neighbor a vampire… a vampire chef who puts drugs in the food of his intended victims to knock them out. See, that bunny was useful after all.

You can read more about plot bunnies, including the different breed, in this amusing article on Wikiwrimo: Plot Bunny.

NaNoWriMo: Inspiration Before Perspiration Part 2

Writing a novel isn’t easy. Does that really need to be said? In the case of NaNoWriMo, it really does.

I’ve seen people walk away from NaNoWriMo because they thought they could start a novel-length work from scratch on day one. If you don’t care about story structure or character development and are basically writing a stream of consciousness piece, it’s possible, but in most cases it’s not. If you don’t know the basics of novel writing, chances are you’re going to get frustrated and stop far short of your goal.

There’s no reason for this to happen. You don’t need a creative writing MFA to write a novel, even in 30 days. You do need to understand the basics and do some preparation.

There are some great online resources to help both newbies and experienced writers succeed at writing a novel in 30 days.

If you are a newbie, I strongly suggest checking out the novel writing workbooks provided by NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers program. The link I’m providing is for the high school level workbook. Though some of the language is for younger readers, the information on novel writing is solid. The book includes lots of useful worksheets. It’s available free online in PDF format.

National Novel Writing Month’s Young Novelist Workbook

For more experienced writers, the Writer’s Digest website had made freely available nine worksheets from their publication, “Write Your Novel in 30 Days.” These include a Story Idea Map, an At-A-Glance Outline and a Character Sketch worksheet. All worksheets are in PDF format.

Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index

These resources are meant to inspire your creativity. Don’t look at the worksheets as pieces of stone you’ve chiseled on. Print multiple copies. Write stuff down and scratch stuff out. Let your ideas flow freely. In other words, have fun!

NaNoWriMo: Inspiration Before Perspiration Part 1

October is the month when many writers begin planning for their participation in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. It’s the time to plan and plot before the mad, creative dash that is November.

If you’re a plotter, you write an outline or synopsis, fill out character charts, index cards, timelines, etc. If you’re a pantser, you decide you’re going to write a story about fairies and demons set in Santa Fe, maybe.

Whatever your writing style, it’s best to do some prep work before beginning NaNoWriMo. Get your creative energy flowing now so you can ride the tide into November.

To win NaNoWriMo, that is, to write 50,000 words in 30 days, you need to know what it takes. A novel is not an easy thing to write and doing it in 30 days is just plain crazy, but it can be done. If I can do it, anyone can.

So here is the gem of advice I offer all NaNoWriMo newbies: this is your crappy first draft. Part of the creative process here is throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. Yes, you will have a hot mess at the end, but you will also have a first draft that you can edit.

A big part of the NaNoWriMo process is turning off your internal editor, that voice in your head that is never satisfied and wants every sentence you write to be spun with gold.

Turn. It. Off.

That is the only way to win NaNoWriMo.

Chris Baty, the man who started NaNoWriMo, best explains the process. Luckily, his book, “No Plot? No Problem!” is currently on sale for the Kindle for $1.99. If you’re planning to participate this November, I strongly suggest reading this book. It’s the best prep you can make for the coming month of madness.

  No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
Chris Baty, motivator extraordinaire and instigator of a wildly successful writing revolution, spells out the secrets of writingand finishinga novel. Every fall, thousands of people sign up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which Baty founded, determined to (a) write that novel or (b) finish that novel in—kid you not—30 days. Now Baty puts pen to paper himself to share the secrets of success. With week-specific overviews, pep “talks,” and essential survival tips for today’s word warriors, this results-oriented, quick-fix strategy is perfect for people who want to nurture their inner artist and then hit print! Anecdotes and success stories from NaNoWriMo winners will inspire writers from the heralding you-can-do-it trumpet blasts of day one to the champagne toasts of day thirty.

Description provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

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

The quoted price is a limited time offer and there is no guarantee it will still be that price when you click on the link. Grab it sooner rather than later.

Life After NaNoWriMo

Winner badge 180x180

Yeah, I gotta shout it out. I’m a winner! I passed the 50K words mark last night, after being behind for almost the entire month.

How did I do it? Basically, I just decided I was going to do it. I went to a write-in on Wednesday night and wrote almost 4K words. On Thursday, I made up my mind to make the goal that day and wrote over 4K words.

Something that helped is I found a new-to-me technique. Several days ago, I wrote an email to a close friend. Then, after I opened my book file, I stared at the blank page and thought, “If only I could write this chapter as an email.”

Cue the light bulb above my head. I think I might have heard an angelic choir in the background as well.

I’ve read similar advice before, along the lines of “write the chapter as a letter.” However, that never resonated with me because letters, for me, have always been somewhat formal affairs. An email, on the other hand, especially to a close friend, is where I write like I talk and don’t have much of a filter. I can let my feelings out and describe a situation from my point of view.

The chapter zipped from my fingers. I wasn’t worried about describing the scene. I let the character describe what happened and his emotions surrounding the situation. After that, I wrote a couple of regular chapters. Then, last night, I wrote two more chapters as emails and I reached the 50K mark.

In the next draft, will these chapters remain in email form? Probably not. But when I rewrite, I’ll have a much better idea of how the characters feel about events because they’ve told their closest friends.

NaNoWriMo is over for me, but the book still needs to be completed. I have another 25K words to go, I’d say. My new goal is to have the first draft completed by December 31.

Anyone out there who participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo, I hope you reach goal at the end of today, whether is was 10K or 50K words this month.

I’ve listed two Kindle books today, one free-for-now and one for $0.99.

The free-for-now book is basically a rant by an indie author about indie authors. It’s a complaint about the bad quality books that are being self-published, but also contains advice on how to write and edit a good quality book. After finishing NaNoWriMo, you might think you’ve written a masterpiece. Think again and consider reading this book. No matter how brilliant an idea, a hot mess is a hot mess until you clean it up. You can find the author’s blog here.

The other book is one I wish I had before November 1. It give advice on how to write fast and well. The author has a blog which describes some of her techniques, and if you like what you see, I suggest showing the love and buying the book. It’s only $0.99.

  Rage against the Indie by Stella Deleuze
Those who have been following my blog, know that I hold a Ph.D. in ranting. Be it about self-published authors and their behaviour in social media, or the mediocre to non-existent quality of self-published books. Not all of them, but certainly the ones I’ve deleted. To help lift the overall quality, I decided to do what I do best: write a lengthy rant about my observations and experiences, followed by suggestions on how to make it better, and a few additional tips and tricks. Beware: it’s not for the faint-hearted. Whether you are a suffering reader or a self-published author, I hope you’ll get a giggle and some useful advice, or maybe even both from this book.

  2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron Not free. $0.99.
Have you ever wanted to double your daily word counts? Do you sometimes feel like you’re crawling through your story? Do you want to write more every day without increasing the time you spend writing or sacrificing quality? It’s not impossible, it’s not even that hard. This is the book explaining how, with a few simple changes, I boosted my daily writing from 2000 words to over 10k a day, and how you can too.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

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

This freebie is a limited time offer and there is no guarantee it will still be free when you click on the link. Grab it sooner rather than later.

So Many Words, So Little Time

Free Today on Amazon

I’m still trying like crazy to catch up on my NaNoWriMo word count. It didn’t help that this last weekend was a long, holiday weekend here in the United States. How far behind am I? I calculated that I can still make my goal if I write 2600 words each day between now and Friday.

Whew. Can I do it? Yes! Will I do it? I sure hope so. If I can get into “no guts, no glory” mode, I shall succeed. Wish me luck!

I hope everyone else participating in NaNoWriMo is doing well and going full steam ahead toward the finish line. Feel free to celebrate and/or bitch-n-moan in my comments.

Anyone who’s done this before knows that on December 1, you will be staring at a hot mess of a manuscript. Before you begin editing, you may want to consult a writer’s guide or two, or ten. I like to find guides that address the particular problems I’m having with my prose. Below, I’ve listed some free-for-today guides that may help you clean up some of that mess and inspire you to further creativity.

Get ’em now, but don’t read ’em yet. Keep writing!

  Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Dear Novelist: Would you like your readers to live your stories, not merely read them? Deep Point of View anchors your readers inside the point of view character(s) of your novel. This handbook shows you how to perform the transformation from ordinary narrative to deep narrative in clear, easy-to-master steps. I invite you to sweep your writing to the next level with a technique that creates immediacy and intimacy with your readers and virtually eliminates show/don’t tell issues. My Best to You, Jill

  Telling Details by Kat Duncan
Telling Details explains the use and misuse of factual information in fiction, particularly in romance fiction. The updated second edition contains several new articles on how to effectively use details in fiction.

  Inspired Creative Writing by Alexander Gordon Smith
In Inspired creative writing Alexander reveals some brilliant insights into making your writing more effective. Drawing on his years of experience as a writer, editor and publisher, Alexander shares insider tips on every aspect of writing, from overcoming writer’s block, to creating characters so real they leap off the page, via how to chose your writing style, how to develop and maintain the right atmosphere for your writing, and much more besides. Packed with practical and realistic advice, ideas and techniques, this book will prove an invaluable aid to any writing experience. Whether you write part-time as a hobby or are intent on being the next Grisham or Proust, combining Inspired creative writing with your passion and talent will prove a winning formula.

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.

Jim Butcher and the Great Swampy Middle

On the mend and way behind, that’s the best way to describe me right now. I’m trying to catch up on my big NaNoWriMo word count deficit.

This isn’t a blog post. More like a reblog. The Boulder region NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison (i.e., regional head volunteer), Nicole J. LeBoeuf, recently sent out a letter to our region that included some gems of advice on getting through the middle of the novel.

The best of those gems was a LiveJournal post by Jim Butcher. It’s funny and informative, and gives good, solid tools to navigate across that vast swamp that has sucked down many a hapless novelist. Read it! It’s that good. You can find it here:

The Great Swampy Middle

If you’re a writer, keep writing. If you’re a reader, keep reading. If you have a cold, have some chicken soup.

Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Cold

Free Today on Amazon

I’ve caught the mega-monster cold that’s been going around. It came out of nowhere. Seriously. Tuesday morning, I was happy as a clam. Tuesday night, I was clam chowder. I haven’t written anything since Wednesday and am now way behind on NaNoWriMo.

I’ve spent most of my sick days on the couch, catching up on episodes of Revolution, Beauty and the Beast, and Vampire Prosecutor. Yes, you read that right. It’s a K drama with a prosecutor who is also a vampire. He doesn’t sparkle, but his eyes turn blue and he wears guyliner. Trust me, it’s awesome.

I also made my version of chicken soup. It’s very simple and wholesome, and great for sick days.

Lori Writer’s Chicken Soup for a Cold

  • 1lb chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 can of chicken stock
  • Salt, pepper, garlic, herbs

I use a Creuset, but a stock pot should work fine.

Over medium high heat, melt the butter in the pot. Place the chicken in the pot and cook lightly on both sides, about a minute each side. Pour in half a can of chicken stock. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Lightly season to taste. Turn heat to low and cover the pot. Allow to simmer until chicken is tender. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to half an hour.

When the chicken is done, pour the remaining half can of chicken stock into a single serving bowl. Microwave to boiling. I like to add a little white pepper when it’s done. Then take a piece or two of chicken out of the pot, slice it up and place in soup. This way, the broth stays clear, but you also have yummy chunks of chicken.

Store the leftover chicken with juice from the pot to keep it moist. Then, when you want some soup, just nuke the broth, chop up some chicken and yum.

I am feeling a bit better today and hope to get some NaNo writing in. I took a looksie at Amazon, hoping to find a good soup book. Found a seven-in-one recipe book that includes a soup cookbook. I also found what looks like an pretty awesome writer’s guide. It’s only available free until November 18, today, so grab it now.

  Best Recipes Ultimate Collection – Casserole, Chicken, Chocolate, Pie, Salad, Soup, Smoothies
Best recipe books brings you exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to great eating – a vast collection of easy-to-make and bake recipes that you can turn to over and over again to create dishes for any occasion. Over 500 recipes! There’s no mindless chatter, no fluff and stuff – just delicious and tasty homemade recipes made with ingredients you recognize. The instructions are basic and easy to understand.

  MFA in a Box: A Why to Write Book by John Rember
Part craft talk, part philosophical tome, part memoir, MFA in a Box is not so much a book about how to write as it is about whyto write. In chapters that explore the relationships between the writer and love, grief, place, family, race, violence, and other topics, Rember helps writers dive deep into their own writing. He tells them how they can breathe down there and how they can get back.

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.