NaNoWriMo Results

Im a few days late checking in with my official NaNoWriMo results.  In case you missed it,  my goal was to write the first draft of a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  Although I fell drastically short of my goal, I am going to consider NaNoWriMo a success.  I wrote approximately 23,000 words of my first YA novel, Foxwoode, and Im still going strong.  The ill-timed holidays are throwing a wrench into my writing progress, but I will keep writing when I have the time (that probably means in January!)

Writing my novel has been a learning process, for sure.  The first day, I literally just stared at the blank computer screen.  I had no idea where to begin and was overwhelmed by the task ahead.  Eventually, I bit the bullet and just started typing.  I didnt start from the beginning.  I started from a scene that I had in my head and built the story back (and forward) from that point.  I love seeing how the personalities of the characters develop and the sub-plots emerge seemingly out of nowhere.  I think its safe to say, I am addicted!  If only I had more time . . .

As for PiBoIdMo, I met my goal of coming up with 30 ideas for picture books in 30 days.  This should give me plenty to work on in the year ahead!

And finally, Id like to share a little bit of good news.  My article, The Goal vs. The Journey, about my lifelong quest to own my own horse is going to be published in the My Life column of the February issue of Practical Horseman magazine.  I have been a life-long subscriber to Practical Horseman, so this publishing credit means a lot to me.  Practical Horseman has a paid circulation of over 60,000 subscribers and is a top authority on English riding and horsemanship.  Ill be sure to let you know when the February issue is released.

Until next time, happy writing (and riding!)

November: A Month of Writing Challenges

First of all, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Aside from pumpkins, costumes, and too much candy, how was your October? Mine started off with a bang. I graduated from Dr. Mira Reisbergs Picture Book Academy, I finalized two of my favorite picture book manuscripts and sent them off to agents, and I wrote a magazine article that is currently looking for a home.

But something happened during the second half of October. First, I received four rejections in one day (Ouch!). Then I checked out a stack full of Halloween picture books from the library to read to my kids. A couple of the books were delightful, but I was disappointed with the majority of them. Really disappointed. I couldnt help but wonder, how did these books get published while my clearly brilliant manuscripts are collecting dust in the recycling bin? I felt the fire within me start to fizzle out. Maybe I am not cut out for this. Maybe I really dont know what Im doing. Maybe I should just give up.

Thankfully, I found a match (actually two) to relight my writing flame.  I will be participating in two challenges in the month of November: NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo.

Lets start with NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. That breaks down to about 1,667 words a day. Im extremely nervous because Ive never written a novel. But Im also extremely excited because Ive always wanted to write a novel. Ive been gearing up for this one for a while now. I have a Young Adult mystery/thriller novel in my head which I have roughly outlined on my computer. It involves a teenage girl at a prestigious summer riding academy. It involves a ghost story, a missing woman, a creepy barn hand, a cute boy, and plenty of horses. I was going to call my novel Ghost Rider, but after doing a quick search on Amazon I discovered there are approximately 27 other published books with the same title. Back to the drawing board on that one . . .

The second challenge, exclusively for picture book writers, is Tara Lazars PiBoIdMo or Picture Book Idea Month.  The challenge here is to come up with one idea for a picture book every day so by the end of the month you have thirty ideas for books you can write in the coming year.  I have to admit, Im probably going to cheat a little on this one because I am constantly thinking of ideas for picture books.  If you dont believe me, look at my white board.  It looks like a crazy person lives here.  Ive been saving up my ideas for the last couple weeks, so I think I have my first 10 days covered already.  Sshhhh!  Dont tell anyone.

Now, both of these challenges are on the honor system.  I have no responsibility to report my actual productivity to anyone, but I am going to keep my faithful blog followers updated on my progress.  Ill post one update mid-month and Ill check in again on November 30th to let you know if I completed the challenges.  Hopefully, Ill have finished a first draft of a novel at the end of this.  Note, I didnt say it would be a GOOD novel.  So, are any of you joining me?  Please let me know!  We can cheer each other on!

Write What You Think You Cant

A presenter at my local SCBWI meeting shared this insight from a recent writing conference she attended: Write what you think you cant. This phrase has resonated with me since I attended that meeting about two months ago. Ive been searching for ways to challenge myself with my writing, but have been scared to venture too far outside of my comfort zone.  (For those of you new to my blog, my comfort zone consists of writing horsey picture books!)  I started thinking, what do I wish I could write but think that I cannot? This person, who after all is a professional in the industry, is giving me permission to try it. I mean, its practically an order: WRITE WHAT YOU THINK YOU CANT!

So between you and me, I really want to write a Middle Grade and/or Young Adult novel. Im not sure I can do it. I guess that means Im going to give it a try. Dont worry, Ive been doing my research before diving in on this 40,000 word odyssey. I just finished reading Writing Irresistible Kidlit, by Mary Kole. I highly recommend this book to anyone considering venturing into the world of writing for tweens and teens. It is incredibly comprehensive, covering the kidlit market, foundations of storytelling, character, plot and structure, voice, imagery, and even gives advice on finding an agent and/or publisher. My fellow MG and YA writers have helped me compile a list of several other resources for anyone seeking to write successfully for the middle grade and young adult audience. Here it is, in no particular order:

 

BOOKS:

* Writing Irresistible Kidlit, by Mary Kole

* Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder

* Second Sight, by Cheryl Klein

* Chapter After Chapter, by Heather Sellers

* Page After Page, by Heather Sellers

* The Novelists Notebook, by Laurie Henry

BLOGS:

* From the Mixed-Up Files

E-COURSES:

* Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction Writers Digest Shop

My new adventure in writing does not mean that Im going to stop writing picture books (horsey or otherwise).  In fact, Im still going strong with Julie Hedlunds 1212 Challenge.  Ive completed 10 picture book drafts in 8 months.  I also just completed my first week of a five-week eCourse called Picture Book Academy, which I am absolutely gobbling up and loving every bite.  More on that another day . . .  But Im adding to my list of goals because apparently my to do list isnt long enough (ha!).  Really though, I want to continue to grow as a writer and Im generally motivated by challenges of one sort or another.

So, who wants to join me?  What do you think you cant write?  Go ahead, give it a try!