my 10 novels

Since my social media vacay apparently has catapulted me into random-abundant-blogging mode, and since I have books on the brain (HA HA BUSINESS AS USUAL AMIRITE), here are the titles and statuses? stati? of my finished…um…”finished” novels.

Egad, I bet ya’ll thought that sentence would never end.

(BUT I HAVE A MILLION OF THEM OH YES YOU CANNOT HIDE OR FLEE YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED AND YOU WILL LIKE IT)

*ahem*

*eyeroll*

My Ten Novels

1. “‘S’ Is for Survival” — a practice novel

  • completed at age 15
  • YA soft sci-fi/coming-of-age
  • not related to Sue Grafton’s mystery novels
  • inspired by The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

2. Mindsnatcher — a practice novel

  • completed at age 17
  • YA sci-fi
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

3. Tomato Electric Destroy Force 9: Writer Dearest and the Interlopers

  • a novel about one writer’s adventure through NaNoWriMo
  • 3rd or 4th draft stage
  • will see the light of Publication Day if I can firgure out how to author-pub it; it contains must-have images and would work best in color

4. Colors of Deception (Demons of Saltmarch, #1) — published by Consortium Books

5. Shadows after Midnight (Demons of Saltmarch, #2) — published by Consortium Books

6. Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch, #3) — published by Consortium Books

7. Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1) — published by Consortium Books

8. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2) — published by Consortium Books

9. The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #3) — author-published, Faeddra Books

10. The Elevator — author-published, Faeddra Books

Big ol’ FYI. 🙂

What’s next?

Next is the Legends of the Light-Walkers short story anthology I’m working on. My goal is to pub by December 31st; preferably earlier, so I can do a Christmas special and whatnot. But I’m not pressuring myself. The holidays are stressful enough as it is, and I plan to enjoy myself in any case. So we shall see what we shall see. In the meantime, my coffee cup needs a refill. Laterz, inklings!

UPDATED: Why Amazon deleted all my ebooks

UPDATE: Rethana’s Surrender, Rethana’s Trial, Colors of Deception, Shadows after Midnight, and Stains of Grace are once again live at Amazon. And the reviews for R’S TRIAL and STAINS have transferred. HALLELUJAH! Hopefully, the other books’ reviews will transfer soon. (Draft2Digital has notified me that I shouldn’t be surprised if it takes a week or more for this to happen [if it happens at all {I remain dismally skeptical on this point }].) (I hope I got that punctuation right.)

(You should interpret my overuse of ( ) as an indication that I am keeping a stiff upper lip, old chap.)

To my dismay, D2D also corrected my misconception that ranking would transfer. Ranking will, in fact, NOT transfer. I guess it’s not such a big deal for me, since I’ve never ranked terribly high anyway…but it really sucks for a ton of other D2D authors who DID have a decent ranking. Great sympathies to them. This situation is so very frustrating for all of us.

~C.

Hile, lovelies,

Once upon a time, you might recall, I wrote a review of a great tool for writers called Draft2Digital. In brief, Draft2Digital (D2D) does all the work for me of uploading my books to the vendors Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, CreateSpace, and Barnes & Noble. I called D2D “the only thing you need to self-publish.”

Thanks to Amazon, I’m having to rethink that assessment.

I still believe 110% in the D2D model. It works fantastically, it saves me time, and it’s more author-friendly than its competitors (mainly because it was conceived of and executed by writers).

But for reasons* unknown to me, Amazon this week decided to remove all ebooks published through Draft2Digital. According to D2D, Amazon claims that D2D is…

“…in violation of [Amazon’s] terms.” Amazon gave D2D “…no opportunity to appeal or correct their complaints, and showed little concern for the impact that action has had on [D2D’s] users….”

–Draft2Digital,
January 31, 2014
February 4, 2014

Amazon’s course of action was to block D2D’s access to its account and to de-list all ebooks published through D2D. Notably, all notification I’ve received on this situation has come from the very apologetic Draft2Digital. I have yet to receive a single communication from Amazon.

Today is when the fit really hit the shan (thank you, Zelazny). One of my books, Rethana’s Trial, has disappeared from Amazon entirely, because I only ever had the ebook for sale. (I am remedying this by at least finally getting around to uploading the paperback file to CreateSpace.)

The rest of my novels — Rethana’s Surrender and all three Demons of Saltmarch books — are still available at Amazon in paperback, but the ebooks are gone. I’ve still got ebooks for sale at Kobo, iTunes, and Nook, but those sales are barely pocket change. Since ebooks at Amazon comprise most of my sales, you can imagine where this leaves me. (READ: high and dry.)

Oh, and the A Consortium of Worlds anthologies in which I have short stories — available only as ebooks — have disappeared just like Rethana’s Trial. So much for those.

I probably don’t have to tell you that I am beyond frustrated over this situation. Today I spent a total of 6 hours filling out tax info at Amazon, as well as filling out information on five different books and uploading book files and cover art.

I was involved in getting the Consortium of Worlds anthologies on Amazon, so I’ve at least worked with their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) system before. But that was several years ago. And there’s a reason I went with Draft2Digital in the first place: SO I WOULDN’T HAVE TO TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN USER INTERFACES AND FILL OUT FIELDS AND UPLOAD FILES.

GAH.

I’m relearning/learning KDP in the middle of knowing that I’m losing sales as we speak. No, I’m not a best-seller, but I at least make enough on my novels to contribute to the grocery budget every month. And that happens to be money my family needs. Amazon is directly responsible for taking grocery money out of my pocket — READ: food out of my baby’s mouth — and oh honey you better believe that burns me up.

No, nobody’s gonna starve. But things are going to get a little tight around here if I can’t fix this fast.

However, since all five of my novels were indie-published (meaning I didn’t have to do all the uploading to D2D myself in the first place), I’m having to hunt down mobi files and cover art files and make sure I’m uploading everything exactly the way the original files were uploaded. Otherwise I lose my rank and all of reviews.

Oh yeah. There’s that, too. If I don’t do it all exactly right, the ranks and reviews of all my books won’t transfer to my new sales pages, and it’ll be like I’m starting my indie/self-pub career from scratch.

No, I don’t have a high ranking. No, I don’t have a lot of reviews. But I fought hard for what I do have, and to know that I might lose it all in one fell, Amazonic swoop is just utterly demoralizing.

I’m mad. I’m frustrated. I’m irritated. I’m discouraged. I want to sling profanities haphazardly.

Really, I just want to cry.

But I’m not going to cry. I’m going to do what I have to do to get my grubby hands on the mobi files and the jpg files and the rest of the info I need, and I’m going to get those ebooks back up on Amazon. And if the rankings and reviews don’t transfer, then so be it. I’ll start over. Because, yes indeed, friends and neighbors and assorted pets, I AM IN THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL, no matter how long it takes or how hard I have to work or how discouraging the road gets at times. This is a roadblock, and I’m going to flatten it.

Noli nothis permittere te terere.

I’m also going to watch this a few times because it’s FUNNY.

MAKE ME FRIES.

__________________

*I have my suspicions, but it’s probably good form to keep those to myself for now, considering that I have no shred of evidence that certain big-name companies have anything at all to do with this situation. 😛

Pubbed and Read in 2012

Just a quick review!

Rethana's Trial front

Published

SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT, Book 3 in my paranormal fantasy trilogy Demons of Saltmarch.

RETHANA’S SURRENDER, Book 1 in my epic fantasy series Legends of the Light-Walkers.

RETHANA’S TRIAL, Book 2 in Legends of the Light-Walkers.
 
 
 
 

Read

The asterisks indicate particularly enjoyable reads. And I beat last year’s total. Yay readin’ me. : )

1. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
2. Whitechapel: The Final Stand of Sherlock Holmes (Gentlemen’s Edition) by Bernard J. Schaffer
3. Into the Flames by Jessie Sanders
4. Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King
5. Recursion by Tony Ballantyne
6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett*
7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll*
8. A Consortium of Worlds, #2 by Consortium Books, ed. Joshua Unruh and Courtney Cantrell
9. Another Fine Myth by Robert Aspirin
10. Myth Conceptions by Robert Aspirin
11. Queen of Dragons by Shana Abé
12. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
13. Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey
14. Legends 3 edited by Robert Silverberg
15. Velocity by Dean Koontz
16. The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt
17. The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
18. Camouflage by Aaron Pogue
19. Jesus Manifesto by Leonard K. Sweet and Frank Viola*
20. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede*
21. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
22. Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
23. Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
24. The Servants of Twilight by Dean Koontz
25. Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie
26. Revise Us Again by Frank Viola
27. Midnight by Dean Koontz
28. Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz
29. The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott*
30. Foreign Identity by Becca J. Campbell
31. A Consortium of Worlds, #3 by Consortium Books, ed. Joshua Unruh and Courtney Cantrell
32. The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
33. The Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams
34. To Green Angel Tower, Pt. 1 by Tad Williams
35. To Green Angel Tower, Pt. 2 by Tad Williams
36. Metamorphoses by Ovid (not finished)
37. The Dragonprince’s Heir (The Dragonprince Trilogy, #3) by Aaron Pogue
38. Saga of the Myth Reaver: Downfall by Joshua Unruh
39. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (still in progress)
40. Soft Come the Dragons / Dark of the Woods by Dean Koontz
41. Breathless by Dean Koontz
42. Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz
43. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith*
44. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
45. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini*
46. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi*
47. Karavans by Jennifer Roberson
48. The Gunslinger by Stephen King
49. The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King*
50. The Waste Lands by Stephen King
51. Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
52. Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
53. Song of Susannah by Stephen King*
54. The Dark Tower by Stephen King*
55. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card*

Conclusion: I need to read and review more indie-pubbed and self-pubbed novels in 2013. This will slow down my progress on my to-read shelf, but oh well. There’s nothing like sacrificing for the cause, right? ; )

Happy New Year, dearest inklings!

ENJOY THE NEW YEAR’S READS!

OPINIONS WANTED! Win free books!

Hile, inklings!

If you were paying attention last fall and winter (and I know that you were, because that’s just the attentive sort of darlings you are), you might recall that my novel for NaNoWriMo 2011 was a low sci-fi story workingly entitled Elevator People.

Should you require a reminder, do please click here for relevant blog posts.

Unfinished Business

By my calculations, when pregnancy-related woes brought my post-NaNo work on Elevator People to a screeching halt back in January, I had about 20,000 words left before finishing the story.

Since then, I’ve published two more novels:

Stains of Grace, the third book in my paranormal fantasy trilogy Demons of Saltmarch

and

Rethana’s Surrender, the first book in my epic fantasy series Legends of the Light-Walkers.

In spite of the work and focus that went into producing those two books, and in spite of the work and focus that has gone and is going into producing a baby, the somewhat-abandoned Elevator People has never been far from my thoughts.

Finishing the Business

I am under no illusions that I will have time or energy for writing during the first few months of my child’s life. I anticipate having the attention span of a hamster.

But.

It would be really cramazingly cool — it would flip my bangerang switch — it would really swing my verge if I could write the final 20,000 words of Elevator People‘s first draft before the end of 2012.

Seriously. All I’ve got left is the final approach to the climax, the climax itself, and the denouement.

That’s not a lot, y’all.

Delegating the Business

So.

Here’s where you and your opinions come in.

Ready?

As a title, Elevator People is not sufficient. Several fellow writers have told me it sparks nothing in them. Other fellow writers have said it makes them think I’m writing about elevator technicians. Or maybe office workers.

This will not do. After all, this story is sci-fi. And the title should invoke something to that effect.

Therefore.

I want your opinions, people. I want you to re-title my novel. And I shall reward you for doing so.

Why do I ask this of you? Well, mostly because I can’t think of anything myself. ; ) But also, if I know others are already invested in this project, then I am more likely to complete it. It’s like working out: I can rarely stick to an exercise regimen if I’m just working out at home by myself. But give me a yoga class or an aerobics class in which I can see others invested in the “project,” and I’ll step up my game.

Aerobics. Step up. Get it? GET IT???

I crack me up.

Anyway. I hereby formally request that you, my dear inklings, ponder title possibilities for my novel and share them with me in the comments below. Here are a few things about the book that you should consider whilst pondering:

Genre: low sci-fi with steampunk undertones
There’s not a huge amount of science in this story. It’s set in the main character’s present (but our future?). It’s set on multiple worlds, possibly in multiple dimensions. The main character is not tech-savvy but is familiar with Industrial-Revolution-style trappings.

Main character: Wentworth “Went” Banning, male, mid-20s, not from Earth, traveling the galaxy via elevator

MC’s goal: use elevator find his real father, whom he knows only as “Mr. Banjoman”

Elevator: runs on magic in the sense that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from “magic”; one myth about elevator says it was created from music

Supporting characters: 2 Earthling urchins, Jop and Skee; 1 tech-savvy non-Earthling woman, Risk

Main antagonist: galaxy-traveling sociopathic pedophile slave-owner

Other antagonists: 1 wanna-be female slave owner, 1 vampire

ROUGH STORY QUESTION: Will Went Banning find his real father while protecting Jop, Skee, and Risk from their enemies?

If you need more information than that as you ponder your titular ponderings, let me know. I’ll endeavor to answer without spoilers. ; )

Rewarding Business

Okay! Now for the really fun part:

You ponder a title.

You share it with me in the comments below by end-of-day, September 30, 2012. (No more than one title each, please.) Don’t forget to leave a valid email address.*

As my future hamster-like attention span allows, I will pick my favorite and one runner-up.

Whether or not my indie publisher chooses to adopt your title, I will reward you as follows:

If I pick your title as my favorite, I will give you a free e-copy and a free paperback copy of the novel once it comes out.

If I pick your title as runner-up, I will give you a free e-copy of the novel once it comes out.

GO.

_______

*I promise to use your email address for contest-contacting purposes only.

Paaaaperbaaaack Wriiiiiterrrrr (sing it!)

Greetings, hardy readers!

This message is brought to you by the letter “P”! As in, PAPERBACK! As in, I wanted to let you know that we’re close to having the paperback of Stains of Grace ready. : )

“But, Courtney,” you ask, “why is the paperback coming out so much later than the e-book?”

Well, my loves, I’m so glad you asked. You see, the file we upload to Amazon for the e-book is not the same file we upload to Amazon for the paperback. The formats are different. And when we change the e-book format over to the paperbook format, all sorts of fun little errors crop up.

Such as font changes where there shouldn’t be font changes. Plain text where there should be italics. Oh, and random bullet points, as though the document suddenly thinks I’m writing a PowerPoint presentation instead of a novel.

Yay!

So, my job over the past few weeks has been to scour the paperback file of Stains and find all those pesky little weirdnesses that weren’t there before. Lemme tell ya, ’tis great fun. I’ve been trying to get it done while getting hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books; finishing acquisition edits and painting cover art for Aaron Pogue’s latest fantasy novel, The Dragonprince’s Heir; and finalizing edits for my own soon-to-be-released epic fantasy novel, Schism Rethana’s Surender (retitled since this post originally went live).

I love my job(s), but it’s been a rather tiring few weeks. (If you recall, I’m also putting together a baby inside my body. So there’s that.)

BUT. I’ve finally finished reviewing the paperback file for Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3), and it is now in the hands of the publisher. As soon as I find out that the Amazon sales page has gone live, you lovely people will be the next to know!

In the meantime, happy reading to all (here’s the Stains e-book if you wantiz it, and please watch out for unexpected and unusual salt formations. ; )

P.S. Did I mention I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books? I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books.
😀

Stains of Grace is LIVE!

Demons and zombies and spirits, oh my!

WE HAVE A BOOK, Y’ALL!

I am beyond thrilled to announce that the Amazon sales page for Stains of Grace is live and happily awaiting your readerly clicking! Here’s a short synopsis of the novel, as well as the sales page link:

Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3)


Anne Waylock thought she was safe. Safe from the madness of demons and the auguren who hunted them. Safe from her tumultuous feelings for the troubled Owin Moran. Safe from the pain of her best friend’s betrayal. Anne ran away from it all, and she never planned on looking back.

But when Legion and another new demon start hunting her, Anne realizes the only way to set earth, heaven, and hell right again is a return to Saltmarch — where she’ll have to face every fear she’s hidden from. But will redemption be her most terrifying enemy yet?

(Approximately 80,000 words.)

Buy now for $4.99 on Kindle!

Happy reading, sweet thangs! And don’t forget to leave a review. : )

Stains of Grace: More Music to Demon By

Novel Noveling Status Update

Oh, my dearest inklings: Stains of Grace is so, so very close to publication, I CAN TASTE ITS DONENESS.

“But alas!” you’re thinking. “Wherefore doth this much-desired tome not yet appear upon ye olde Amazon sales page?!?”

The answer, my dears, to that unhappy question is that (1) your author is pregnant and tired and (as of this writing) sleepless, and she therefore can’t write and edit and finalize as fast as she thought she could; and (2) the head of her indie publisher just yesterday completed his Master’s in Professional Writing and has been frantic to finish his studies.

We do apologize, loves. Sometimes, life just happens.

3:00pm Addendum:

Now, I am not just tasting the novel’s doneness. I HAVE CHEWED AND SWALLOWED ITS DONENESS. Stains of Grace is officially in the hands of the publisher, y’all. BANGERANG.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO READ THIS BOOK.

So. With that out of the way, let’s move on. I anticipate our uploading the novel file to Amazon within the next 24 hours. After that, the Kindle version of Stains will hopefully go live — meaning that you can have the e-version of the book in your lovely, eager hands — no later than Monday!

In the Meantime…

You might, perhaps, recall the time I told you about the music I’ve listened to while writing the Demons of Saltmarch series. (If you don’t recall, just click on that link and check it out.) That post covered the playlists for Colors of Deception (Saltmarch #1) and Shadows after Midnight (Saltmarch #2).

Since you dears have all been so patient with me as I’ve scrambled to get Stains ready for you, I decided to go ahead and share its playlist with you. So here we go…

Stains of Grace Playlist

“The Strangest Party” by INXS (Anne)
“Girlfriend by” Phoenix (Peter)
“Devil Inside” by INXS
“Lights Out” by Breaking Benjamin (Polednitsa)
“Prodigal” by Porcupine Tree
“Papercut” by Linkin Park (Anne)
“I Don’t Care” by Apocalyptica (Anne)
“Burn for You” by INXS
“Suicide Blonde” by INXS (Dante)
“Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin
“Afterglow” by INXS

As with the previous post, I’ve included characters’ names in parentheses. Each song has a particular meaning for that character — so, if you can’t stand the tease and you’re not afraid of a few teensy spoilers, you can look up the lyrics and get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of each named character.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include names for some of the songs. That’s because I didn’t want to provide you with *too* many potential spoilers. If you want to know what characters belong with these songs, you’ll just have to read the book and see if you can figure out who goes with what. If you’re really brave, you can pay close attention to the fact that the playlist follows the chronology of the story. ; )

All right, sweeties, I’m off to grab a snack and see if I can go back to sleep. It’s 5:15am, I’ve been awake since 2:30, and I think it’s time to attempt this voluntary unconsciousness thing again.

Oh, and if you just can’t stand the wait, and the playlist isn’t enough to keep you busy, pop over here for a reminder of how the Demons of Saltmarch started. It involves a vacuum cleaner.

G’night! (I hope.)

P.S. May the Fourth be with you.

Stains of Grace: Supermurgitroid Cover Art!

Hello, my dearest inklings!

Today, I start my final edits on Stains of Grace, the third and final novel in my paranormal fantasy trilogy Demons of Saltmarch. To celebrate, I’m giving you lovelies a preview of the Stains cover art, with which I am beyond thrilled. So, without further ado or adon’t, here it is:

HUGEST thanks to Julie V. Photography for the incredible artwork.

Another HUGEST thanks to Amy Nickerson Design for — as always — the superb trade dress.

These artists have done cover art and trade dress for all three Saltmarch novels. Their work blows my mind every time, and I feel that they make me look a whole lot more professional than I really am. ; )

Special thanks to the lovely Shauna, who was good enough to pose as main character Anne Waylock.

Stains of Grace is now on Goodreads, if you’d like to add it to your to-read shelf!

Specific publication date will be forthcoming. It’ll be before the end of the month, so I will keep you posted!

Being an author is so supermurgitroid, I can’t stand it. : )

Click to embiggen the cramazingness!

An Interview with Christian Smith on The Bible Made Impossible

Hello, my lovelies!

It’s been awhile since you’ve seen me around here regularly. I know, sweet things, I’ve missed you, too. Just a brief update: Pregnancy is going well, and Week 15 begins tomorrow. Nausea is receding, and energy is returning. Can I get a hallelujah?! It feels soooooo good to be back among the living!

I promise that come next week, you’ll get several, more detailed updates. But for now, today’s post shall step off the “Court Can Write”-beaten path. Today’s post shall showcase a little bit about something called faith.

If you’ve been Faithful Readers (and I know you have, you adorable dears, you), you know that I don’t talk about my faith a whole lot on this blog. The main reason for this is that “Courtney’s faith” is not the reason most of you visit me here. Most of you settle in for a virtual cup of coffee and the reading of All Things Writerly, as well as the occasional, (hopefully) entertaining anecdote.

But. If you’ve read my Demons of Saltmarch series, you also know — or have probably guessed, anyway — that faith is a cornerstone in the foundation of who I am. If you’ve read Demons of Saltmarch, a paranormal Christian fantasy series, you will also have noticed that this cornerstone is of a Christian persuasion. ; )

You might even have guessed, based on the themes in these novels, that my own understanding of the nature of that cornerstone has been in flux for the past few years.

I don’t want to go into a whole lot of detail, because that would take a whole separate site. What I really want to do is point you in the direction of fellow blogger Frank Viola. To summarize: Viola is a non-fiction Christian author who has written a ton of books, six of which I’ve read and which turned my belief system upside down — specifically so that a bunch of nonsensical traditional junk could spill out.

Recently, Viola blogged an interview with author Christian Smith concerning Smith’s book The Bible Made Impossible. I haven’t read the book yet, but what Smith and Viola present in their interview intrigues me. To me, who grew up in a denomination that touts (but does not actually adhere to) the famous line “speak where the Bible speaks, silent where the Bible’s silent,” the book’s title alone touches some chords offers a resonating challenge to a plethora of preconceptions. Some of the things Smith mentions in the interview directly contradict principles I was taught in church my entire life. To say this book would blow my mind is likely an understatement.

I’m adding it to my To-Read list.

You can read the complete interview with Christian Smith on The Bible Made Impossible here.

I recommend it if…

…you’re a believer who has questions about how to approach the Bible.
…you’re a believer who finds the title of this book offensive. ; )
…you’re a not a Christian but have questions about why Christians think/feel the way they do about the Bible.
…you’re not a Christian but would like a peek at a “non-traditional” take on a pillar of the Christian belief system.

You’re welcome to leave comments here, as always — but I encourage you to comment on Viola’s post as well. The comment threads on his blog generally contain some pretty thought-provoking discussions!

See you next week, sweet thangs.

C.

Why #NaNoWriMo? (Of Plot Bunnies and Ninja Zombies)

Hello, my lovelies.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I spent November firmly and happily ensconced in this year’s National Novel Writing Month, abbreviated to NaNoWriMo for your convenience.

NaNoWriMo is the manic, overcaffeinated, unpaid, underslept, head-desking, face-palming, keyboard-hammering, plot-bunnying, ninja-zombieing, annual November endeavor of hundreds of thousands of writers world-wide, each writing their own 50,000-word novel between November 1st and 30th.

2011 marks my eighth year participating in this adventure. Because I am a crazy person.

I first stumbled across the NaNo website in January? February? of 2003 — and I knew this was my kind of party. AW yeah. With bated breath, I waited most of a year before the next November rolled around. When it did (because how could it resist?), I banged out 50,000 words of what would eventually become my high fantasy novel Triad.

In 2004, I tried it again. I got 12,000 words into Triad‘s sequel and quit. Only last year did I realize that this happened because I had no plot.

Chorus: DUH.

In 2005, I staged a comeback and got my 50k in. Bam.
In 2006, I did it again.
In 2007, I moved across the Atlantic Ocean. This is conducive to *headdesk*ing and *facepalm*ing but not to NaNoWriMo-ing.
In 2008, another successful comeback. Another win in 2009, and another in 2010.

And, as you can see, I just garnered my seventh win a couple days back (click to embiggen):

But Is This Getting Me Anywheres?

You bet your patootie it is.

Colors of Deception, my 2008 NaNo novel, came out in April 2011.
Shadows after Midnight, my 2009 NaNo novel, came out in October 2011.
Stains of Grace, my 2010 NaNo novel, is slated for release in April 2012.
Triad is on the publishing schedule for 2012 and will come out in two volumes: Legend’s Artisans: Schism and Legend’s Artisans: Triad.

NaNoWriMo works for me.

A Few Reasons Why NaNoWriMo Works for Me

1. DEADLINES!
Myers-Briggs-wise, I’m an INFP who, in some things, turns into an INFJ. It’s really kind of scary how accurately parts of both profiles describe me. I don’t want to go into detail about either right now, because that’s not what this blog post is about.
But if you click through those links and read the profiles, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I am crazy passionate about writing, and yet I have trouble setting myself writerly deadlines and actually adhering to them. Note that I’m a master at setting the deadline; I just sail past it with a wave and a wink, and the easy sailing-past doesn’t bother me one whit.
NaNoWriMo gives me a deadline I can’t ignore — because somebody else sets it. If I ignore it, I’ll feel like an abysmal failure and spend the rest of the year kicking myself for disappointing…somebody. (Myself.)
Deadlines are great for me. But only if they come from outside.

2. PEOPLE! PEOPLE DOING THE SAME THING I’M DOING! AT THE SAME TIME!
I cannot count how many exercise videos I’ve purchased and tried to do at home. It never works out. I get bored with them. I talk back to them. They don’t talk back. I hate not getting a reply. I move on.
I’m an introvert, which means I get my energy from my alone time. But I also crave interaction. I crave the meeting-of-minds that happens on a deeper level. I crave that instant in which the other person gets me.
NaNoWriMo is like 300,000 people getting me all at once, sustained for a whole month.
I swear I don’t mean that as dirty as it sounds.
Fortunately, I don’t have to talk to all 300,000 of them. I get to interact with a choice few, and they meet my mind in a big way. They keep me going, and I keep them going, because we grok. When I talk, they talk back. To an INFP like me, that’s water in the desert, y’all.

3. PLOT BUNNIES AND NINJA ZOMBIES!
Honestly, I don’t know what plot bunnies and zombie ninjas are all about. They have something to do with getting unstuck when you get stuck during NaNoWriMo. I think.
If I were to make up my own connections: Bunnies proliferate; it’s great when plots keep going and spawn new ideas. Ninja zombies…mindlessly…kill people…in interesting ways.
And eat them.
Yeah. I got nothin’.

4. COFFEE!
Moving right along! Coffee is a writing elixir. It is a writing balm. (Please note, that’s “balm,” not “bomb.”) It is a salve unto the writer’s wounded, weary spirit during the Dreaded Week Two (during which many NaNo-ers tend to give up). I take my joe with stevia and almond milk.

5. #WORDWAR AND #NANOWORDSPRINTS ON TWITTER!
This year, I participated in these for the first time ever. The idea is to meet up with other WriMos on Twitter via these hashtags and challenge each other to meet a certain wordcount goal in a certain number of minutes. I might tweet, “#wordwar for 10 at :20! Who’s in?” which would be my invitation for others to join me in writing like chimpanzees on meth for 10 minutes straight, starting at 20 minutes past the hour.
These meet-ups worked okay for me. They worked because of everything I nattered on about in point #2 above.
They didn’t work, because if I did too many of them on any given night, I burned out fast. Some writers can pound out 1500 words in 30 minutes and turn right around and do another 1000 during the next 30. Me, I struggle to get 600 or 700 in half an hour. There’s something about my attention span and stamina that requires me to take frequent, brain-resting breaks. Anytime I ignored this, I burned out on #wordwar and #nanowordsprints.
But still, there is point #2, which is why point #5 is worth including.

6. EXCLAMATION MARKS!
Don’t mind this. It’s nothing but gratuitous silliness.

7. NO INNER EDITOR!
The last time I completed the first draft of a novel separate from NaNoWriMo was in 1999. (It was my final project for my bachelor’s degree; I had a deadline; see point #1.) Since then, every time I’ve tried to finish a non-November novel, my Inner Editor has tied my hands to the back of my chair and refused to let me finish the story. She has to tinker with it, and she is never satisfied.

The hussy gets in my way.

Every November, I banish my Inner Editor to the deepest mental dungeon I’ve got. She rails at me from behind those bars. She weeps and gnashes her teeth. She pleads. She wheedles.
She sucks.
Happily hammering away at my keyboard, I ignore her and get my first draft out. Once I purge it from my system, I’ve got something to work with. (See Inner Editor licking her bloody lips even as I type this paragraph? She knows what’s coming, and she is hungry for it.)
When I have something to work with, I let Inner Editor out of her prison. She is up the stairs in a flash, pretty much rabid with desire to get her hands on my story.
By this time, you see, she is hungry.
Me, I meander upstairs and make myself another cup of coffee. I can already hear her in there, crowing with delight as she highlights, deletes, and backspaces. Every so often, I peek over her shoulder to watch her progress. She might even ask me a question or two about plot arc or character development. For a manic, starving thing, she can be disturbingly generous.

But mostly, I just stay out of her way and let her work.
She’s gonna craft and hone me a story that will knock your socks off.

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Inklings, fellow WriMos, writer friends, and coffee lovers: the comments are yours. Tell us what you’ve gleaned from NaNo, from your own editing, from this post. Share and share alike! Inquiring minds want to know. Feed us. : )