How My First Book Came to Be…

If you didn’t know, I wrote a book! It is available to purchase from Amazon.

Since I’ve finished my book and have started the second one (yippee!), several people have asked me “how” I did it. The snarky part of me wants to say I typed it on a computer and then uploaded it to Amazon, but that’s not what they’re asking. They want to know what my process was.

I am happy to share that with some people, (those who are actually listening and not just being polite).

So, here’s the process for my first book (book two has been a bit different and maybe when it’s done, I’ll write about what changed):

  1. How I started writing a book and why?
    • My book started as one of the short story of the month posts on my blog. Even as I wrote it that month, I knew I wanted to do more with it. It was just screaming for a bigger story. So, I wrote a second story, and then those led to my novel.
    • This is not the first time I’ve started writing a book. I actually have two other books that were started before Unicorns Are Really Vampires. Those two remain unfinished, but who knows, maybe one day….
    • In addition to feeling like I wanted to work on the story some more, my sister invited me to try something called NANOWRIMO (I’m sure many of you are familiar with it). Basically, the idea is that every November is National Novel Writing Month. During that month, if you participate, you are to challenge yourself to write a novel. Most people actually aim for 50,000 words (which is a bit short for a novel). The idea is to get as much writing done as you can in a single month. No editing, just keep pushing forward till you get that word count.
  2. The First Draft
    • I used that initial short story as my idea. And if you are wondering if I had an outline, the answer is no. I am not a planner; I am most definitely a panster. I won NANOWRIMO that year, which means I wrote at least 50,000 words.
    • After that, I put it aside till after the holidays, then I just kept writing a little every day until I felt like it was finished. The first draft was the hardest part but also the most fun. I was building a world, creating characters, and it felt at times that it was writing itself. I enjoyed every painful moment of it (if you have created anything, you know what I mean).
  3. Editing
    • This is the hard part. Spending so many hours creating something and then cutting and changing it is very challenging and almost impossible to do on your own. If you get anything out of my post, this is what I want you to most remember:
      • HIRE AN EDITOR
        • (By this, I mean, pay someone to edit. An unbiased opinion that is not just checking your grammar. My editor told me things about my style, overall pacing, and character development that was immeasurably helpful when I was editing.)
    • Before I sent it to the editor I hired, I did “shop” around. I sent samples to multiple editors and then compared their feedback. I went with the one who was the toughest on me. Hiring someone to edit your entire novel is expensive, and I wanted the most bang for my buck.
    • In total, my book actually went through four rounds of editing.
      • First round: me reading through and making changes. I’m pretty good at editing grammar mistakes and small things.
      • Second round: hired an editor. She suggested a lot of small and big things I didn’t see myself.
      • Third round: following making the changes the editor suggested, I did one more round of editing. (I have a list of things that I look for. For this stage, I used an online editing program called Autocrit.com. It’s only a computer program, but still very valuable as a tool).
      • Fourth round: By this point, I considered the book done. I read it out loud to the living room (my daughter set up a stuffed animal audience for me). I found small things at this point. I call this my final read through. My living room seemed to like it.
  4. Done and Done
    • At this point, all that was left was formatting and creating a book cover. I did both of these things myself. Maybe I’ll write more about this part later; it’s not super exciting.
    • And then I uploaded to Amazon the print edition and kindle version.

And that’s how it was done. All in all, it took me a little over a year and there were a couple of months in there where I didn’t work on it.

Hope this helps for anyone working on their own novel.

Happy reading and writing this month!!!

Boom Bam Baby!

Things are coming together! I’m having a great month, and I hope all of you are too.

The biggest news is that I finished the revisions on my novel and sent it to an editor. This is a huge step. If all goes well, I’m hoping my book will be ready in mid-January! I’m so excited!

In other happy news, NANOWRIMO is going really well for me. I am writing a sequel to my first book, and it kind of feels like it’s writing itself. As of last night, I was at 37,373 words.

All in all, this month has been really productive.

Happy reading and writing every day!

November’s Prompt

IT’S NANOWRIMO!!! So, why aren’t you writing? Stop reading this and get writing.

Only kidding.

I have yet to write one word today.

If you are participating in NANOWRIMO, good luck to you! I am attempting it and editing my novel at the same time. My brain is sort of fried, and I’m beginning to question what the point of a comma is….

Anywho… if you need something to get you started, here is this month’s writing prompt:

Even after a long day at work, my mother’s hands worked tirelessly: chopping vegetables for dinner, stitching our clothes, whatever needed doing. I loved her hands and admired them. I wanted to be strong like her. But at the time, I couldn’t be. I would have, and gladly, if I weren’t so…

Happy reading and writing this month!!

Editing and Prepping My Brain Out

I am very excited to announce that my novel is finally in the midst of editing. I didn’t know what to say about this at first, but let me start with…

I HAVE A FULLY WRITTEN NOVEL.

There, that’s out of the way.

That being said, the hard work of getting the first draft complete was nothing compared to editing. Editing has been both educational for me and heart wrenching.

I say heart wrenching because it is very challenging to go back to something you’ve worked so long on and start chopping it up and dissecting it. After I got past that initial shock, I began to see the experience as rewarding.

I am learning a lot about putting together an actual book that I didn’t know before. I found an editor to work with, and I cannot stress enough how much that experience is teaching me.

In addition to being knee deep in revisions, I am also prepping for NANOWRIMO. Yep, I’m doing it again. My plan is to write part of the draft for book two of the book I just finished. I am really excited about how the outline is shaping up.

It’s been a busy writing month for me, and it’s nothing compared to what’s coming up!

Happy reading and writing everyone!

Writers are weird…

Over the course of the last couple of months, I have discovered that writers and people who want to be published authors are weird, but in like the best possible way!

(And I should warn you that I am going to talk about NANOWRIMO again…)

The reason I say that writers are weird is because I learned some things about myself and other writers during my pre-NANO and NANO month.

First, I joined the NANOWRIMO Facebook page, and I find it amusing and reassuring.

It’s reassuring because there are other people who are going through the same struggles as a writer that I am, and it’s nice to be able to discuss it with someone who gets it. It’s also nice to “shout into the void” that is the internet and have someone get where you are coming from.

I say that it’s amusing because of the hilarious questions, comments, and memes that are posted about writing. I can’t tell you how many NANOers have posted about their questionable google search history. (The things you have to research as a writer are strange and horrifying).

Secondly, some things I learned about myself during NANOWRIMO:

  1. I write best between the hours of 8 – 11 pm. If I sat down to write during any other time of day, it was like pulling teeth. But during those hours, I could churn out words like a bad ass.
  2. I get more writing done if I have shoes on. WHAT! Apparently I don’t write well if I’m TOO comfortable.
  3. I don’t actually like to write at my desk; I prefer the dining room table.
  4. The tv can be on, people can talk, but NO MUSIC.
  5. I am not a planner. I am not a panster. I use what someone else called the “flashlight method.” I outline about 3-4 chapters at a time, and when I get to the end of that, I write another 3-4 chapter outline. Basically, shining the light into the dark so I can see, but only a little bit.
  6. I don’t like to talk about my story as I’m writing it to most people. When people asked me what I was writing about, I gave them a very vague answer. Only a few lucky ones get real details.
  7. I like to write dialogue, but have to struggle to write description.
  8. And the most important thing I learned — I can write a book. It’s not done yet, but it’s A LOT closer than it was.

Happy writing and reading this month!

Nanowrimo Brain

It is the 20th and that means there are only 10 days left of National Novel Writing Month! 

How is everyone fairing? I hope your month has been going well, and if you too are trying to win Nanowrimo, I hope you are reaching your goal. 

My goal is to write 50,000 words this month. As of today, I am at 36,481 words for the month. This is by far the most I’ve ever written in a single month. I am so excited about my novel. When all is said and done, 50,000 words is not going to be the whole novel. I am going to push myself to finish my first full draft in December. 

I hope everyone is as excited about this experience as I am! I feel like I am learning and growing as a creator. 

Happy reading and writing this month! 

November’s Prompt

November is here! Or as I am calling it because it is consuming my time right now, NANOWRIMO is here!

Even though I am trying to write 50,000 words for my novel this month, I am still doing the short story of the month. I might even try to incorporate it into my novel somehow.

Without further ado, here is November’s prompt:

Until that day, fear had been an idea, a concept. Now it was real: a feeling I would carry inside me for the rest of my life. The day began innocently enough, with….

Happy reading and writing this month! And if you are participating in NANOWRIMO, best of luck to you!!! YOU GOT THIS!

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Prepping for NANOWRIMO

How is October going for everyone else? I feel like it has FLOWN by. I have been using some of my free time this month to prep for Nanowrimo. Most of you who are reading this probably know what that is, but for the few who don’t, I will explain briefly.

NANOWRIMO = National Novel Writing Month.

During November, people from all over the world dedicate themselves to writing 50,000 words in one month. Most people try to write a fiction novel of some sort, though there are certainly others who write non-fiction, short story collections, and other things.

The idea behind this is simply that the hardest part about writing something is getting the first draft done. For me, this is definitely true… I get easily distracted.

For my novel, I am continuing one that I started as a short story on this very blog from earlier this year – UNICORNS ARE REALLY VAMPIRES. So, you may be wondering, what have I been doing to prepare for writing an entire novel in a month?

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Some things that have helped me prepare:

  1. Resources
  • In particular, the book Ready Set Novel
  • Worksheets from other writers that I found on Pinterest. Here is my pinterest board with some of the writing links I’ve found helpful: https://pin.it/d6dn4e73z666vm.
  1. Write-Ins
  • I attended two of the prep season get togethers, which are called write-ins. I didn’t do much writing at either, but I met some of the people who run things in my region.  Plus, I was able to ask questions about the process from real life people. (Some of them have been participating in NANOWRIMO for more than a decade!)
  1. Revising
  • I have already started this project, but I haven’t worked on it since July, so I dusted it off and reread what I’ve already written. It’s surprising after time has passed that I didn’t remember writing some of the scenes. I am actually funny on occasion.
  • I looked through for small errors and large plot holes so I have a pretty good idea of where I want to start in November.

Now after all that prep, I feel ready. I can’t wait for November 1st.

Happy writing and reading this month!

Brains are Awesome

This month has been crazy! I have been participating in my first ever Camp Nanowrimo challenge. If you don’t know what it is, you should check it out. A few times a year, people actually commit to writing an entire novel in a month. My personal goal was to write 50,000 words in July. I do not think I am going to reach my goal, but the idea of making myself work on a project for that much time this month has made me realize something…

I can write a lot more than I do. I really have the time.

So, as I said, I don’t think I am going to reach my goal for Camp Nanowrimo, but I have written more this month than I normally do in 3 months! That alone made me realize I am capable of so much more.

As for my project for Camp Nanowrimo, I used my short story “Unicorns are Really Vampires” as a starting place for a novel. I knew there could be more to the story, but I am just amazed at the ideas I’ve come up with.

In addition to actually spending more time writing, I have also spent more time thinking about writing. Several times this month, I’ve felt like I hit a block in my story, with no idea how to continue it. However, by actually putting in the effort every day to either brain storm or actually write, I have been able to work through my writing blocks instead of being bogged down by them.

Sometimes without even meaning to, I will be going about my day and think, “That’s how that could work.” It’s like my brain is working on it even when I am not 100% focused on it.

All in all, and despite not meeting my goal, this Camp Nanowrimo has been a great experience for me.

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