Day 14, 2019

Last night someone was riding in our neighborhood, firing a gun. Not a small gun. Something loud. (That’s just an aside. We’re okay.)

I thought this morning I would add a few hints of how to get through the rest of the month by looking at what the experts say. We’re almost halfway done with this writing venture and that means you are almost halfway done with your novel.

Half. Way. Done!

Here are a few hints from me and then I’ll link the experts below sighting where to start reading. Some of these tell how to prepare for NaNoWriMo and we are way past that.

~Are you rewriting? Don’t!  Okay, anyone who has been in my writing classes knows I’m all about the word as well as the story, so not rewriting is hard. And when I write a book, I rewrite from Day Two. It’s the way the process works for me.

But not this month. I’m putting the words down and letting them fall as they may.  Sometimes I’m cringing but mostly I’m trying to ignore if something isn’t as crisp as it should be. December will tell me if I have a good dirty draft or one that ain’t worth nothing.

Rewriting is my favorite sport, after all!

~Are you allowing your characters to move the action of the story? Do!

When my aliens arrive on earth they need a place to stay and a few humans to help them. When I was figuring things out, writing and discovering, I realized that these hosts were going to help in a way I never expected. I was happily surprised at what my characters chose to do.

~Are you trusting yourself? Do!

I just added a character that’s gonna end up dead and nekkid (maybe not nekkid, nekkid). I didn’t see her coming and then there she was in line. I’m keeping this surprise character and using this poor Floridian as a first kill and to further the plot.

Okay, so below, I found three articles you might find interesting. There are truths in each that will help you no matter if you are competing in NaNo or not.


This one has lots of memes!


This is a collection of lots of people’s experiences.


Start at Finishing Your First Draft, #13


Are you reading these articles instead of writing your words? Don’t!

Get back to work!

(By the way, did anyone decide to reward themselves for getting halfway through the month? It’s time!)

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Day 13, 2019

This is my first time ever successfully working on NaNoWriMo. I’m thirteen days in and I’m where I’m supposed to be word-wise. This is thrilling! I love it. But why is this a more successful venture?

I had a reason to not write last year. I started the month off strong but was too sad after Mom left me.

Other years I’ve been rewriting for an editor.

The year before last I worked hard, even having people over to write once a week, and I got a loose draft of a novel but I didn’t reach the 50,000-word wordcount.

There are a couple of reasons why this feels like a more successful attempt and the most important one is this book has felt easier to write.

Why? I’ve thought about this novel, always wondering if I would write it, thinking the idea was funny, imagining it’s completion for, truly, years.

There wasn’t a plot written out, but I talked about this novel with Cheri Pray Earl. At one point we were going to write this together from different alien points of view. I hung the idea on the wall in my office where I saw it often. I thought about the three main characters and giggled about what they could be. I wondered about fake vampires and real vampires. I watched the movie Dark Shadows when it came out.

The second reason this feels easier is, because, I sort of saw the main characters as being 13-year-olds Cheri, Carol and Rick. Best friends. The way we were. (All my characters start out as a little bit me. And they end up being their own selves by the time the book is done. But in the beginning, my heart tries to beat in their chests.)

In this book, there would be smart Cheri. Glittery vampire lover me (though, I must say I believe in the vampires that suck you dry). Kooky Rick with all his facts and pencils between his toes and guitar playing skills.

Rick was alive at the time we brainstormed this story and we had no idea what was going to happen or how the end would be, of course. I remember Cheri and me smiling at this idea of Rick being the third wheel on an alien trip to earth. He would be comic relief. (I knew, back in the olden days, that if I spent any time with Rick Walton, I’d have at least one huge laugh. The kind where you have to wipe away tears.)

So this is the second reason I’m enjoying this writing. Putting him in a novel brings me great joy. Every time my character Ricky does anything, I think of Rick. I don’t have to think about who he is, I just have to search my memories. Even writing this right now causes me to smile.

Last night, I lay in bed doing what I usually do when it’s dark and I’m alone. I thought of how one day I, too, will die. I’m scared of that. But the idea of being greeted by my momma and my aunties and my cousins and my grandmother and maybe God and Jesus and then of course, Rick, brings a bit of hope to me.

The last thing I said to Rick before he died was, “Wait for me.”

I think he will.


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Day 12, 2019

Getting Through the Middle of Your Novel (part 2)

I know you’ve heard this before, but I have found it to be very true as I’m writing for NaNoWriMo this year. Stop your work in an interesting place so you can pick up the writing with excitement the next time you sit down to work.

The truth is, each chapter you write SHOULD be interesting all the way through and, of course, you should end each chapter with a reason to move on. A reason for you and the reader, too.

If you are bored as you write, imagine an editor will be even more bored. I promise. Even when we are bored with what we are doing, we keep writing because there’s this little vain part of us that’s saying, “You are so good!” Remember, few people think we are as exciting as we think we are. Write with the idea that each chapter should have a rise in tension as you make your way to the climax.

Three Things to Add to Your Novel this Week

  1. Someone saying, “I like turtles.”
  2. Someone looking in the mirror and seeing, not themselves, but someone or something behind them.
  3. Add a dream. (I love dreams in books. And as I wrote this prompt I just came up with a way to have my alien have a dream. Yippe ti yi yo!)

Don’t give up! We are on Day 12 now! You’re a third of the way done!

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Day 11, 2019

First, a great big thank you to all the people, over the generations, who have served in our military.

I’ve been reading a few novels by Harry Mazer. They’re old books published between 2001 and 2005. There are three novels in the series about a boy named Adam Pelko who’s father is stationed in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor is bombed.

My father served in the air force and retired honorably from there. My ex-husband served in the Navy for nearly a decade. One of my dear friends, Trent Reedy, served in Afghanistan (read his award-winning novel Words in the Dust).

I have deep respect, and a great deal of thankfulness, for those who have served our country.

This morning I wanted to talk about why I take Sundays off when I write. During NaNoWriMo it means I have to write far more words each day if I choose not write on Sundays.

Yesterday, after a week of nearly 2000 + new words a day, and revision, and blogging, and applying for jobs, and meeting with a little group to write for 90 minutes, and teaching, and YOU GET IT! it became clear I needed a break. And the Sabbath seemed a perfect day to do that.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe in keeping the Sabbath holy. When I ended my long day Saturday of writing and working and spending time with Carter, I felt really tired. It had been a hard week (that included a headache for several days). I honestly can’t imagine people would call writing physical labor, but it sort of felt like it by the end of the week.

(I used to write religious books on Sundays. My friend, Launi Anderson, and I wrote the Latter-day Daughters series together.

She told me to keep Sundays free.

“I’m not working,” I said. “I’m researching about LDS church history.” And then, after a long dialogue, I said, “So I better get to work.”

“Work?” she said.

I said, “Ummm,” and now, unless I absolutely must, I do no writing on Sundays.)

Resting is good for the body. Good for the mind. And, I think, good for my writing. By Sunday, I needed a moment to not worry about words. It was nice to sleep in a couple of extra minutes. Take a hot shower and hum and then consider how I might spend the day doing things for me, and serving the God I love. I laughed with the primary children I teach. Sang hymns in church. Peered in at my friend Nicole Bay as she sat in church, willing her to look at me. She didn’t, but all the people around her did. Drove to the glass recycle place. Watched a show that didn’t reach the climax the way I felt it should (I’ve noticed that in this series) and wondered if the writers knew they weren’t making the shows as exciting as they could. I rested my brain from my alien story.

This morning I was ready to go. The writing was fun. And, bonus, I reached the word count much more quickly.


Read this about working out:

Or about writing:

Or about our brains:

Or even about our whole selves:

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Day 9, 2019

Writing is a job for people who want to stay in their jammies all day, order Christmas without leaving the comfort of their housecoat, and who refuse to answer a knock on the door unless a box of books is due to arrive.


during NaNoWriMo, I think it’s a good idea to have friends.

This past Thursday evening, three NaNo writers met together for an hour and a half to work on our books. We sat in front of a fire and a large dog named Mae visited me. I’d already completed words on my morning novel, so I edited 7 pages of another book, adding nearly 500 words to that total. (I need to get this romance novel done. My agent keeps gently suggesting he’d like to see it.)

It was nice to be with people who were doing the same thing I was. It was nice to have no interruptions except dog-petting and kid-teasing (yes. I do my fair share of that).

Then last night there was a Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers meeting that I missed because of my stoopid headache that has plagued me this week, leaving me only one 24-hour period with no pain. I sent a message to the 2020 assistants asking them what writing hints they had for NaNoers.

Here’s what Susan Cady Allred said: I have a pre-set time each night I meet with friends and we do three 20-minute sprints each night and message each other between sprints.

See that? FRIENDS!

Perhaps, this month only, you loner writers could add a friend or two to your ‘busy’ schedule. For the sake of the writing, of course!



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Day 8, 2019

How to Get Through the Icky Middles (part one)

  1. Don’t get freaked out.
  2. Remember the middle of the book is the part where readers really get to know the main character, their troubles, loves, dreams, ideas, hopes etc and what the major dramatic question is.
  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  4. Don’t be afraid. This is a one-word-at-a-time adventure.
  5. Now’s a good time to understand what the climax of your story is.
  6. Knowing what the climax is, gives you direction on where to go and how to get there.
  7. Do you know what your character wants? Are you keep her from getting it?
  8. Do the climax and the character’s desires work together?
  9. When you get that lost feeling, brainstorm what will get you to the climax.
  10. Brainstorm worries for the character.
  11. Meditate for a few moments, thinking about your story. Make sure you are still on the path to the climax. You don’t have time to wander around in the telling. Wandering can get you lost and being lost will make it hard to move on toward an ending.

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Day Seven, 2019

It happened. I got to the beginning of the middle of my novel. And I froze. Froze.

This happens every time I write a book. I get to the beginning of the middle and then I have this little whiny panic attack and then, after a week or so, I start writing again.

But that can’t happen now. I don’t have a week or two. That would put me behind at least 12,000 words. (There are those of you who can write that many words in a couple of days, but not me!)

My word count stood at about 1300+ words. I ended a chapter and then–the FEELING that I couldn’t do this, no matter what I had written before, hit me.

What to do? I took a deep breath and typed at the top of the next page: What Could Happen Next? For the next fifteen or so minutes, I brainstormed all about the aliens and the newly introduced humans (Yes! The aliens are on earth!).

I kept close to the story as I wrote ideas. I do have that bit of a shape in my head. I know, sorta, what’s going to happen.  I brainstormed why or why not something would or would not work. I put in bits of dialogue that might happen. I shaped the next day or two in the story timeline.

What happened with this freewriting? I talked myself away from the panic that the beginning of the middle always causes for me.

Tomorrow I know where to start.

What about you? Where are you headed? How are you getting through the tough areas?

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