Category: Challenges/Contests

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up: I Won…What Now?


There you have it, folks. My winner badge (or, one of them). It feels good, I will admit that. Anyway, let’s delve into this a little further, shall we?

Background/Timeline

As you already know, especially if you’ve been reading this blog or if you follow me on Twitter, that this was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo. I signed up back at the beginning of October and I won’t lie—the idea of writing 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days was downright frightening, especially since I’m also carrying a full graduate course load. I had been putting NaNoWriMo off for years, content to watch everyone else’s successes or “failures” (that’s in quotes for a reason, which I will get to a bit later on). This year was different. It only tok a few days at the end of September for me to decide that I wasn’t going to just sit back and watch everyone else this year. I was going to do it, even if I didn’t get to the 50,000-word mark, even if it killed me.

I had a busy October, and when November 1st arrived, I had three items ready for my story: the title and names for two of my characters. Throughout October, I kept convincing myself that Id sit down and come up with some sort of outline. It never happened. I knew how I wanted to start the story and had a vague idea of how I wanted to end it, but that was all. On November 1st, I dug in, writing just over the suggested 1,667-word daily limit. I didn’t even hit that on the second day and that was when I began to wonder if I’d even make it to 15,000 words, let alone 50,000.

After those first two days, though, the story exploded. The characters came to life and did what they wanted to, driving the story in directions I didn’t think it would go. I managed to write at least 2,500 words almost every day after that. I had a few yellow days and a few red ones (excluding the string of them after I quit writing on 20th-21st). Some days it was hard to keep writing, especially with schoolwork constantly calling. There were days when I just didn’t want to write. At all. But I did it anyway. Discipline, folks.

In the afternoon of November 20th, I crossed the 50,000-word mark. The next day, I wrote nearly a thousand more words. After that, I knew I’d have to stop and work on school things again, so that’s what I did. I finished my first NaNoWriMo with 50,801 words. The story isn’t finished yet, but I feel that it’s just under three-quarters of the way done. On November 26th, I uploaded and verified my word count for the win.

The Story

If any of you have read any of my work, you should know that I don’t typically write “happy” stories. Nearly all of them have sad endings and/or someone dies, etc. This story was no different. Here’s the banner I came up with for the NaNoWriMo forums:


The basic premise of the story goes something like this: Symon, my main character, learns along with the rest of the family, that his sister, Sia, is gay. Their parents don’t agree with this and kick her out of the house. Symon is accepting of his sister and her lifestyle and tries to talk to his father, with no luck. After some time of talking with Sia and after help from Symon’s best friend Sam (whom is also gay), Symon’s mother comes around and admits that she really is okay with her daughter’s lifestyle. Convincing her husband is another story. After Sia agrees to come back to the house for a visit, the father again kicks her out. Symon and his mother move out and the parents get a divorce. Symon grapples with the changes and just as he gets straightened out, Sia commits suicide at school in California.

I can’t explain much more than that, because that’s as far as I’ve written to this point. I like how it’s come along thus far, though, I have no doubt it’ll need a lot of edits and changes.

I Won…What Now?

My story has been uploaded and verified. I’ve been declared a “winner” and have collected my “winner goodies.” What now? Well, I’ve sent my story to one person (my boyfriend). It’ll be put away for now, as I’ve got finals to work on. After those finals, I have to shift back to resume work on “Forward Together,” since it’s going to be my master’s thesis next fall. So much needs to be done with it! I will finish the NaNoWriMo novel, though, I can’t say when. I’ll work on it here and there. I can’t just drop it completely, especially since the story was so cooperative for the twenty days it took me to get as far as I did with it.

NaNoWriMo is done. I feel good about what I’ve done. Many people won’t get to 50k and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. If you’re participating, you’re already a writer and you don’t need NaNoWriMo to confirm that. You write about what you want, when you want, and on your own terms. NaNoWriMo is not mandatory. It’s a fun challenge and nothing more, so if you weren’t declared a “winner,” don’t beat yourself up over it.

What’s on the docket now? First and foremost, my finals that are due next week. After that? Well, I believe I’ll work on “Forward Together” some more (that chapter seven needs some work). I’ll have six weeks off before the spring semester starts, so I’m hoping to be able to get a good amount of writing done. And as always, I’ll be reading, too. The possibilities are endless, really.

[Tell me, how is writing coming along for all of you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? How is that coming along?]

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo Update: Three Weeks In (11/22/2010)

Here we are, three weeks into NaNoWriMo 2010 and I have exciting news! This update will be a short one, because I have a busy day, but also because I’ll be writing a warp-up post next week.

When I updated last week, I was sitting in a great spot and was ahead of pace. This week, things got even better. On Saturday (the 20th), I broke the 50,000-word goal! I went a little over that day and yesterday, I finished the chapter I was working on. As it stands, the novel is a little less than three-quarters of the way finished. I’ll print it and put it away for a bit, as other writing is calling, mainly the novel for my Master’s thesis. No worries, though, this one will be finished. So, here we go. Total word count is:

50,801 words

This, my friends, is a winning word count! I’m not sure that I’ll do anymore work on it before the end at midnight on November 30th, so I’ll upload it for verification purposes as soon as I can, which will likely be whenever I get back from Thanksgiving with the family.

For those of you who are still writing, good luck! And as always…

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo Update: Two Weeks In (11/15/2010)

Well, well…

Here I am, two weeks into my very first attempt at NaNoWriMo. It’s such a fun and exciting process! I have 117 pages thus far, which is the longest work I’ve ever written. I knew something this long would be coming, but I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. I’ve never been good at gauging these types of things, but I think my novel is sitting comfortably between halfway and three-quarters of the way finished. After I finish it, I’ll have what I like to call a skeleton of a story. I call it that because the story will be in its very rough first draft form. I’ll print it and edit by hand, as I do with all of my writing.

The story is coming along well, I think. I took a day off last week to think a few plot points over and decide how I’d like to end the story. I’ve never been good with endings, so we’ll see what happens when that time comes (which, I’m hoping, will be by the end of this next week). Anyway…without further rambling from me, here is my official word count as of last night:

35,026 words

Astounding. In my own mind, anyways. I think this kind of structure, this forcing myself to write a certain number of words every day in order to meet a long-term goal is exactly what I needed to jumpstart my writing habits and get them back to where they need to be. It’s a great feeling!

There you have it. Progress! How are the rest of you fairing?

Stay tuned for another update next Monday, or if I’m feeling especially bloggy, later this week.

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo Update: One Week In (11/8/2010)

As I wrote back on October 13th, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I came up with an idea, a title, and a banner much quicker than I thought I would, but did almost no planning before the start date of November 1st, mostly because of school midterms and the vacation I was on the week before.

Going into the challenge on November 1st, I had named one of my characters. That was it. I had recovered (mostly) from my vacation and lack of sleep during it, and sat down to start writing at about noon. The rest, up until now, has been history (excuse that horrible cliche).

I’ve reached the daily goal of 1,667 words every day but one, when I was a couple hundred shy, thanks to a blinding migraine. Here I am, on Day 8 of the 2010 NaNoWriMo Challenge. My grand total thus far?

17,670 words

I’m proud of myself. I’ve been averaging between 2,000 and 2,500 words every day so far, and if I can keep up that pace, I should, according to the NaNoWriMo website stats, finish (hit the 50k word mark) on November 20th. At this point, that’s what I’m aiming for. We’ll see how things go, though, as I’ve got to start thinking about/working on my final portfolios/papers for classes. If only I could a completely free November just for NaNoWriMo! (Hey, I can dream, right?)

So, there you have it. Update number one. I’m sitting pretty, I think.

Stay tuned for another update next week!

Happy Writing!

William Richey Short Fiction Contest

Where: The English Department at the University of South Carolina/Yemassee Journal.

Call: A short story or novel excerpt not to exceed 10,000 words; previously unpublished.

Entry Fee: $10

Submission Deadline: November 15, 2010 (can be done via the Internet or standard mail)

Prizes:$1000 cash prize for the winner; two $100 prizes for runners-up, 10 additional finalists will be listed on the Yemassee website.

More information: William Richey Fiction Contest

What did I enter? Because none of my short stories are anywhere near any kind of publishable quality, I decided to send 10,000 words of my novel. I did a bit of “house cleaning” on it before sending it (I noticed a few blips while reading through some chapters a few days ago). I’m not holding my breath for anything here, but one never knows. We’ll see how things go!

National Novel Writing Month! November 2010

It’s that time again, folks! Or, that time is right around the corner, I should say…

From the Official NaNoWriMo Site:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”

My Decision to Participate:

I’ve been aware of NaNoWriMo for the longest time, but was always pretty afraid to actually participate. Writing a novel, let alone writing one in thirty days, is a daunting task. I know people who’ve done it for years and, through the process, have grown as writers.

So, what made me change my mind?

Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I started a novel last spring as part of my graduate studies at Mount Mary College. I plan to use that novel as my master’s thesis in December 2011, and the entire process, though very daunting, has been a tremendous learning experience thus far.

Enter NaNoWriMo 2011. While I have to write this from scratch, I welcome the entire opportunity with open arms. Cliché, I know, but it’s the truth. I’m not sure if I’ll even come close to the 50k word mark, but the experience should be an interesting one. I’ve finally come up with an idea (whew!). The tentative title is “The Consequence of Liking Girls,” though this will probably change at least once. I’ve never been good with titles for my own work.

As I said, this is my first year f participation, so I’m still figuring some things out, but I’m looking forward to it.

Want to add me as a buddy so you can track my progress? Click here or click on the NaNoWriMo badge on the sidebar to get to my profile. If you add me as a buddy, I promise to return the favor!

And if you’re taking the plunge this year too, I’d love to hear about your past experiences or what you’re hoping will happen this year. Let’s discuss it all in the comments!

Reading Challenge: R.I.P. Challenge V at Stainless Steel Droppings!

It’s September 1st, which means it’s time for the R.I.P. Challenge over at Stainless Steel Droppings! I’ve been watching how this reading challenge unfolds for the last two years, but am finally taking the plunge and participating this year, despite grad school and other such craziness. The challenge runs from September 1st through October 31st.

The Details According to Carl (the host):

You can read: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, and/or Supernatural.

There are two goals for the challenge:

  • Have fun reading.
  • Share that fun with others.

There are different levels of participation (we all function on different levels of “busy,” so options are a plus!):

  • Peril the First: Read four books that you think fit the broad definition of scary.
  • Peril the Second: Read two books that you think fit the definition of scary.
  • Peril the Third: Read one book that you think fits the definition of scary.
  • Short Story Peril: Read any short stories during the length of the challenge.
  • Peril on the Screen: Watch any movies, TV shows, etc you think fit the definition of scary.

Carl asks that if you review anything you read for the challenge, please link to it on his review site.

What I’m Doing:

My Reading List:
“The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova
“Misery” by Stephen King

My Reading List:
“Poe’s Children: The New Horror: An Anthology” by Peter Straub
“Four Past Midnight” by Stephen King
Selected Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe

My Movie List:
“Secret Window”
“Psycho”
“The Amityville Horror (1979)”
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”
“The Masque of Red Death”
“Halloween (1978)”
“The Lost Boys”

Want to Participate?

If you’re interested, hop on over to Carl’s blog and sign up! Happy Reading!